Archive for May, 2009

Gwinnett commission chairman puts a hold on 25% property tax increase

Bowing to intense public pressure, Gwinnett County Commission Chairman Charles Bannister just announced that he will table a proposed 25 percent increase in property taxes.

“We have heard the message sent to us by the citizens,” he told reporters, including the AJC’s Pat Fox. More details to come.

Only yesterday, state Sen. Don Balfour (R-Snellville) promised a recall of all five Gwinnett commissioners should they pass the tax. A vote was scheduled for Thursday.

Two anti-tax groups had already begun organizing for a mass rally in Suwanee on Monday. The words “tea party” were becoming ever more prominent.

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Two congressmen to pay a visit to Georgia’s death row

U.S. Rep. John Lewis just let it be known that he and fellow congressman Hank Johnson of DeKalb County will pay a visit to Georgia’s death row and inmate Troy Davis on Friday.

Davis was convicted of murdering a police officer in Savannah in 1989. Since the time of his original trial, seven of the nine witnesses have recanted or contradicted their testimony. Davis’ attorneys have filed a final legal measure to avoid his execution — asking the U.S. Supreme Court to send the case back to a judge for reconsideration of the changing testimony.

Lewis has been involved in the Davis case for the last two years, and testified at a parole board hearing on the inmate’s behalf.

But Lewis has never visited death row, spokeswoman Brenda Jones said — although during his Freedom Rider days, the much-jailed congressman was once hauled off to a maximum security prison in Mississippi.

Jones also pointed out that Lewis had made a quiet prison visit to Genarlow Wilson, who was sentenced …

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More ‘tweets’ from Newt Gingrich: ‘I wasn’t in Auschwitz when I called Sotomayor a racist’

From somewhere in Europe, former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich is defending himself, 140 characters at a time.

The former Georgia congressman created a ruckus from afar on Wednesday with a Twitter-produced message to his followers, calling U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor a “racist.” He said she should withdraw.

But just a few minutes ago, Gingrich tapped this out on his PDA:

A bizarre xomplaint on the left is that I tweeted about a federal judge from auschwitz showing disrespect. it is simply false.

The accusation showed up on DailyKos this morning:

This has to be one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen from a senior figure in the GOP. According to Newt Gingrich’s Twitter Timeline, the former Speaker of the House is using Twitter to push GOP talking points about Sonia Sotomayor being a “racist” while he is visiting the Auschwitz concentration camp memorial–where millions of people were killed and imprisoned as a result of real racism.

Gingrich …

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Nathan Deal: ‘Birthright’ measure has nothing to do with his race for governor

U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal today finds himself explaining that his measure to remove the right of those born on American soil to claim citizenship has nothing to do with his recent entry into the Republican race for governor.

This from the Gainesville Times:

Although Deal introduced the bill into the U.S. House of Representatives on April 2, it made headlines earlier this week.

The timing — less than one month after Deal announced his bid for governor — drew accusations from critics that the bill was nothing but political pandering to Deal’s conservative constituents.

Jerry Gonzalez, executive director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, was one such critic. Gonzalez said the bill, entitled the Birthright Citizenship Act of 2009, was a political ploy to garner attention. He called the move shameful and despicable.

“(Deal) wants to tinker with the U.S. Constitution to further his xenophobic political ideology, and that is just not what we should expect from …

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UGA study: Younger drinkers result in more unplanned pregnancies and problem births

The University of Georgia, while famous for its beer-fueled partying, may have just scotched any attempt in the Legislature to lower the drinking age from 21, with a study issued today linking young imbibers with an increase in unplanned pregnancies and problem births.

You already knew that, of course. You just couldn’t prove it.

The study was authored by Angela Fertig, assistant professor in the university’s College of Public Health. We’ve only seen the press release, but a summary says a drinking age of 18:

— Increases prenatal alcohol consumption among 18- to 20-year-old women by 21 percent;

— Increases the number of births to 18- to 20-year-olds by 4.6 percent in white women and 3.9 percent in 18- to 20-year-old African-American women;

— Increases the likelihood of women under age 21 having a low-birth weight baby by 6 percent (4 percent for white women and 8 percent for African-American women);

— And increases the likelihood of premature birth by 5 percent in …

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Your morning jolt: Shirley Franklin goes to D.A., and the feds, over baseball bat remark

Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin has filed complaints with both federal and state authorities against an Atlanta police union leader who said the city’s treatment of disabled cops made him want to take a baseball bat to her head.

Sgt. Scott Kreher has apologized and has been suspended, but apparently that hasn’t satisfied the mayor, according to Jon Lewis and WSB Radio — via tape from WSB-TV.

Franklin has filed complaints with both Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard and the U.S. Attorney’s office in Atlanta. Writes Lewis:

“My family was upset. They still are upset,” Mayor Franklin tells Channel 2. “It’s bothered me more than I thought it would….”

“When you take a bat and hit someone in the head, that’s an effort to kill you,” she says.

Franklin has similar unforgiving comments posted on the city’s web site:

“His threat cannot be tolerated or explained away. I believe his threat to be serious and an attempt to intimidate me and other city officials and my …

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State lawmaker to Gwinnett commissioners: Vote for this tax increase, and you’re gone by year’s end

One of the most influential lawmakers in the Legislature weighed in on the Gwinnett County Commission’s proposal to raise property taxes by a minimum of 25 percent.

And he’s not happy.

Senate Rules Chairman Don Balfour of Snellville. Kimberly Smith/AJC

Senate Rules Chairman Don Balfour of Snellville. Kimberly Smith/AJC

The message from state Sen. Don Balfour (R-Snellville): A tax increase in one of the most Republican counties in the state will cost all five commissioners their jobs.

“If they pass this on Tuesday, they will not last to the end of the year. A recall is hard to do. In this case, it would be easy to do,” the lawmaker said.

Balfour is chairman of the Senate Rules Committee and controls much of the legislation that passes through the General Assembly. He said that by passing the tax increase, the commission threatens the standing of every other Republican elected official in Gwinnett.

Balfour conceded that the commission had met the letter of state law, which requires three public hearings before a vote. But he didn’t …

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Newt Gingrich on Twitter: ‘Latina woman racist should…withdraw’

Former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich just twittered the following to his closest 344,357 friends about five minutes ago, never mentioning U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor by name:

White man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. Latina woman racist should also withdraw.

Sonia Sotomayor, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals/Bloomberg

Sonia Sotomayor, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals/Bloomberg

That message was preceded by this one:

Imagine a judicial nominee said “my experience as a white man makes me better than a latina woman” new racism is no better than old racism

We called a spokesman for Gingrich, who said the former Georgia congressman is currently in Europe.

The aide said the “tweets” are genuine, which makes Gingrich the most prominent Republican yet to take a hard line against Obama’s nominee for the high court. And that could presage more resolute GOP opposition in Congress.

Conservative talk show giant Rush Limbaugh said something similar on Tuesday, after the Sotomayor nomination:

“Here you have a …

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Meanwhile, in Florida, next Bush generation weighs in

Hotline On Call has posted this:

Jeb Bush Jr., son of the last FL governor and grandson of the first Pres. Bush, endorsed Marco Rubio today in his looming ‘10 primary battle against Gov. Charlie Crist for the Sunshine State’s open Sen seat.

Much speculation centers on whether this forebodes an endorsement by Jeb Bush the father, which would raise the heat on a Republican primary race. Many centrist Republicans have already christened Crist as the candidate most likely to retain the seat now held by Republican Mel Martinez.

But Rubio, himself Hispanic and bilingual, might be looking better to some nervous Republicans in light of the Sonia Sotomayor nomination by President Barack Obama.

Said Bush the younger:

Marco Rubio is a candidate who can help to bring our Party back on track by reaching out to our youth, entrepreneurs, Hispanics and those who believe that if you work hard enough, anything you dream can be achieved.

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Your morning jolt: Stephens joins race for Congress, Barrow catches heat for cap-and-trade vote

Former state Senate majority leader Bill Stephens shook off a three-year hiatus from politics this morning to announce himself as a candidate to replace U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal.

The Fannin County native becomes the third Republican to announce for the 9th District seat. Mike Evans, the former state transportation chairman, and Tom Graves, the state lawmaker, are already in the race.

Stephens once served as Gov. Zell Miller’s press secretary, and is tapping that same base for his finance committee. Businessman Virgil Williams will head it up. Miller and his wife Shirley are also part of Stephens’ core support.

“North Georgia deserves a member of Congress who knows them, will represent their interests and knows how to take on the power structure–and win”, said Stephens, a banker, in his press release.

Stephens was elected to the state Senate in 1998, but lost the GOP primary for secretary of state to Karen Handel, who is now running for governor.

According to May 2009 …

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