Perdue picks Georgia Power CEO to lead state water fight

About 130 lawmakers, city and county officials, lawyers, lobbyists, developers and corporate heavyweights gathered in the basement ballroom of Gov. Sonny Perdue’s house this morning for a private briefing on where Georgia takes its fight for water from here.

Gov. Sonny Perdue after water meeting.

Gov. Sonny Perdue after water meeting.

A federal judge last week stunned the state’s political and business community with his decision that the U.S. Corps of Engineers had lacked authorization for releasing more and more water from Lake Lanier for the support of metro Atlanta and its growth.

Asked why the “stakeholders” meeting had been closed, Perdue spokesman Bert Brantley said the purpose of the gathering was “open, candid conversation. We also went through legal strategy that we won’t get into publicly. The legal strategy is the most important. We don’t want to tell Alabama and Florida.”

In other words, lawyer-client privilege was extended to a roomful of metro Atlanta’s most powerful and well-connected. “These are 130 trustworthy leaders,” Brantley said. Afterwards, he provided a list of all those who were invited.

The list is below. Nearly everyone showed up, Brantley said.

The after-meeting photo is important. On the governor’s left was a tanned Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, in one of his first public appearances since back surgery.

To Perdue’s right was Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin; Cobb County Commission Chairman Sam Olens, who is also chairman of the Atlanta Regional Commission; then John Brock, chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises.

Behind Perdue — barely seen in the photo — is Michael Garrett, president and CEO of Georgia Power. The governor named Garrett as the quarterback for our “multi-pronged impact team.” This is more than interesting, and goes well beyond the fact that water and power production, whether hydroelectric or nuclear, are closely tied.

Georgia Power is owned by Southern Co., which operates a nuclear plant downstream — but on the Alabama side of the Chattahoochee River.

Then there’s this paragraph from Garrett’s official biography:

Prior to being named to lead Georgia Power, Garrett was president and CEO of Mississippi Power. Before heading Mississippi Power, he was an executive vice president at Alabama Power with responsibility for Customer Operations and Regulatory Affairs. Garrett also held Alabama Power positions as vice president of Finance; Birmingham division vice president; senior vice president of External Affairs and later, executive vice president of External Affairs.

Read that last phrase. Garrett, by job description, was the chief contact between the state’s largest power company and the Alabama legislature and governor’s office. You can presume that Garrett knows something of the Alabama side of the water argument.

Perdue called the meeting “very productive.” He spoke of an immediate appeal, and “a contingency plan of other supply, other storage capabilities.”

But the governor again insisted that the real fight lay in Congress. And he called on the Georgia delegation “to nationalize this issue to make sure all Congress understands that this is not just an issue that affects the Chattahoochee basin.”

Expect some push-back from members of Congress, both Democrat and Republican, who might not see the wisdom of winning a fight by making it larger.

One more thing to note: Many state lawmakers were in attendance, but few of them were ranking Democratic members. Which tells you this is about to be a very big issue in the race for governor.

Franklin made no public comment, but neither did anyone — other than the governor. One attendee noted the large number of Gwinnett County representatives. It’s not surprising, the attendee said. Gwinnett is almost wholly dependent on Lake Lanier for its water.

Read more details here on our Gold Dome blog.

Below is the list of 130 trustworthy leaders invited to the meeting at the Governor’s Mansion:

Kerry Armstrong, Duke Realty;

Kathy Ashe, Legislator;

Tommy Benton, Legislator;

Harold Bevis, Delta Air Lines;

Walt Britt, City Atty for Buford;

Tyrone Brooks, Legislator;

John Brock, CEO, Coca Cola Enterprises;

Andy Bush, Congressman Westmoreland’s Office;

Casey Cagle, Lt. Governor;

Chris Carr, Johnny Isakson’s Office;

Doug Carter, Carter Realty;

Tricia Chastain, Congressman Johnny Isakson’s Office;

Anna Cherry, Congressman Lewis’ Office;

Jordan Chinout, Congressman Broun’s Office;

Chris Clark, DNR Commissioner;

Brooks Coleman, Legislator;

Doug Collins, Legislator;

Toney Collins, Legislator;

Derick Corbett, Congressman Linder’s Office;

Bill Cowsert, Legislator;

Clay Cox, Legislator;

James Crozier, Congressman Bishop’s Office;

Elly Dobbs, Legislator;

John Downs, Coca Cola Enterprises;

Kit Dunlap, CEO, Hall County;

John Eaves, Chair, Fulton Co;

Matt Echols, Coca-Cola Company;

Sheila Elliott, Congressman Kingston’s Office;

Burrell Ellis, CEO, DeKalb County;

Melvin Everson, Legislator;

Myrtle Figueras, Mayor, Gainesville;

Vincent Fort, Legislator;

Shirley Franklin, Mayor, Atlanta;

Mike Garrett, CEO, Ga Power;

Kyle George, Congressman Marshall’s Office;

Bart Gobeil, Lt. Governor’s Chief of Staff;

Ford Gravitt, Mayor of Cumming;

Steve Henson, Legislator;

Judson Hill, Legislator;

Rob Hunter, Commissioner of Watershed Mgmt;

Mike Jacobs, Legislator;

Ben Johnson, Alston & Bird;

Sheila Jones, Legislator;

Emmanuel Jones, Legislator;

Jackie Joseph, President, Lake Lanier Assoc;

Margaret Kaiser, Legislator;

Mark Ketchum, CEO, Newell Co;

Katie Kirkpartick, Metro Atlanta Chamber;

Chick Krautler, ARC Exec. Dir;

Tom Knox, Legislator;

Charles Lambert, Staffing Burrell Ellis;

Charlie Laughinghouse, Chair, Forsyth Co;

Leonard Ledbetter, Former DNR Commissioner & MAC TEC;

Kevin Levitas, Legislator;

Tim Lowe, Lowe Engineers;

Randal Mangham, Legislator;

Stephen Maples, Congressman Scott’s Office;

Chuck Martin, Legislator;

Steve Meeks, Congressman Chambliss Office;

Kyle McGowan, Congressman Price’s Office;

James Mills, Legislator;

Howard Mosby, Legislator;

Carol Mumford, Congressman Johnson’s Office;

John O’Keefe, Congressman Phil Gingrey’s Office;

Sam Olens, Chair, Cobb County Commissioners;

Mary Margaret Oliver, Legislator;

Tom Oliver, Chair, Hall Co.;

Trey Paris, General Electric;

Chip Pearson, Legislator;

Val Perry, EVP, Lake Lanier Assoc.;

Matt Ramsey, Legislator;

Kelly Randall, Gainesville Dir. Of Public Works;

Bobby Reese, Legislator;

Tom Rice, Legislator;

Carl Rogers, Legislator;

Ann Rosenthal, Staff member, Burrell Ellis’ Office;

Lynthia Ross, Congressman Barrow’s Office;

Richard Royal, Legislator;

Bill Scott, Lumpkin County Commissioner;

David Shafer, Legislator;

Donna Sheldon, Legislator;

Georganna Sinkfield, Legislator;

Susan Sitherwood, AGL;

Lynn Smith, Legislator;

Rick Smith, Equifax;

John Somerhaulder, AGL;

Ben Spears, Congressman Lewis’ Office;

Kessell Stelling, Bank of North Georgia;

Frank Stephens, Gwinnett Co. Water Dept;

Pam Stephenson, Legislator;

Rick Story, Congressman Deal’s Office;

Holly Stripling, Congressman Marshall’s Office;

Bradford Swann, GE;

Joe Tanner, Joe Tanner & Associates;

Horacena Tate, Legislator;

Brian Thomas, Legislator;

Curt Thompson, Legislator;

Greer Todd, Lake Lanier Mgmt;

Clyde Tuggle, Coca-Cola Company;

Len Walker, Legislator;

Jim Walters, DNR Board Member;

David Washington, Congressman Lewis’ Office;

Dan Weber, Legislator;

Joe Wilkinson, Legislator;

Wendell Willard, Legislator;

Tim Wessinger, Congressman Kingston’s Office;

Sam Williams, Metro Atlanta Chamber;

Virgil Williams, Lake Lanier Mgmt. (bringing Greer Todd)

Jim Lientz, Governor’s Office;

Tommy Hills, Governor’s Office;

Josh Belinfante, Governor’s Office;

Bert Brantley, Governor’s Office

Rollin Downs, Governor’s Office;

Heidi Green, GDEcD;

Sydne Moody, Governor’s Office;

Nels Peterson, Governor’s Office;

Jud Turner, Georgia 360;

Pat Wilson, Governor’s Office;

Joyce White, Governor’s Office;

Carol Couch, GA EPD;

and Ken Stewart, GDEcD.

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18 comments Add your comment


July 23rd, 2009
3:15 pm

Sorry Sonny and passengers aboard the sinking ship.Sonny shows his failed leadership.

The Snark

July 23rd, 2009
3:25 pm

I’m glad the Governor is giving the political aspect of this his full attention. Also nice to see that Georgia Power is being given such a prominent role. After all, Georgia Power certainly owes the state a favor, seeing as how the Governor and Public Service Commission and Legislature have fallen all over themselves in recent years to give them everything they could possibly want.


July 23rd, 2009
4:07 pm

Good to see Sonny getting right on top of this so early in his tenure as governor.


July 23rd, 2009
4:17 pm

who else is on the impact team

[...] Georgia’s next step in the ongoing water wars dispute with Florida and Alabama. (Jim Galloway has a list of those who [...]

Imperial Sugar

July 23rd, 2009
5:02 pm

Good think we have Saxby on the payroll, Florida will get all the water we need.

James W.

July 23rd, 2009
5:48 pm

There is not law against using the river for drinking water that runs through the area. There is no large metro region in the country that don’t use the nearby river as it’s drinking water sources. That said, the Atlanta region should just put some pipes on the river and get it’s water right off the river.


July 23rd, 2009
6:03 pm

It’s about time we start kicking butt and taking names. I’m sick of Alabama trying to take us down because they think it will help turn Birmingham into a real city. And I’m sick of Florida trying to trump up the species issue. If you think they’re going to negotiate in good faith, I have a bridge to sell you.


July 23rd, 2009
6:05 pm

don’t blame anyone but yourselves. We are at fault for abusing what little water we have. If you want to water your lawn at noon and waste whatever you can, move somewhere with unlimited water. May I suggest the great lakes region?

Columbus Charlie

July 23rd, 2009
6:18 pm

Look at the list of attendees. Now look at the number of folks standing with the Guv. Does not look like Perdue has everyone on the same page. Stop wasting money in court and get to work on real solutions.


July 23rd, 2009
10:42 pm

Check out the list it has nine people from the governors office attending.They all need to be on furlough since they can’t solve any problems, it would save our tax dollars.

Jim Callihan

July 24th, 2009
12:03 am

LATE! (and once again, aimless)

Jim Callihan

July 24th, 2009
12:08 am

And the only reason Florida is in this fight is because the screwed the fishermen of that State. And in doing so (collecting all their nets, dismantling boats, etc) they promised them shellfish farms in the panhandle. Guess what? Change the salinity by more than 200ppm and they die! OOPS!

This is what happens when governments play God; we are all being ruled by rigged elections and idiots that stay in power…only to make things WORSE!

The Oddball

July 24th, 2009
4:41 am

Is this a joke? A federal judge makes a legal ruling after ten years of litigation and the governor assembles a “team” of businessmen to fight it? Does this man actually think every problem can be solved by politics and who-you-know?

Midday News « Goat Hill News

July 24th, 2009
12:57 pm

[...] A water meeting at the Governor’s Mansion Political Insider [...]

[...] who’s who yesterday. You can read all of the attendees below. Interestingly, he has chosen the CEO of Georgia Power to represent the state in negotiations. Michael Garrett began his career at Alabama Power, where he [...]

SpaceyG on Twitter

August 3rd, 2009
9:16 am

I can’t wait to see how all this plays out in social media! All the suits in the world stuffed in one room simply can’t compete when that tsunami comes to town/Georgia. And it will. Mark my word.


August 10th, 2009
1:34 pm

How about a prayer vigil lead by Sonny for the “dream team” of hacks he has assembled. What a waste of 8 years in office.