Archive for July, 2009

Gambling on a three-day furlough for teachers

You have to wonder if Gov. Sonny Perdue, on behalf of six Republicans in the 2010 race for governor, just placed a large bet on the table — with a three-day furlough of more than 100,000 teachers statewide.

At $33 million per day, the furloughs will make up nearly 10 percent of the $900 million in cuts that Perdue outlined to reporters late Tuesday afternoon.

Ask Roy Barnes: In a close race, the teacher vote — with friends and family — can swing a campaign.

To smooth the way, the governor had a conference call with the state’s school superintendents before breaking the news to reporters late Tuesday afternoon. Perdue can’t technically order teachers furloughed — they’re governed by contracts with individual systems.

(He’s put a cap on other state workers — no more than 12 days in a 12-month period.)

Instead, Perdue said he would be slicing system allocations equivalent to those three furlough days, and let superintendents do what they think best. The governor advised the …

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When the water wars were a fresh, all-Republican game

Gov. Sonny Perdue has scheduled a new conference in less than an hour to discuss the implications of a federal court decision against Georgia in the 19-year-old tri-state “water wars” with Florida and Alabama.

For background, let us take you back to a Jan. 6, 2003, article in the AJC that looked how the first Republican administration in Georgia might affect negotiations, given that Alabama and Florida also had GOP governors.

Read the entire thing here.

Actually, it seems that a post-election, pre-inaugural Perdue was reticent on the topic. Writer Stacy Shelton had to go back to the clips:

In his exuberant campaign last summer, Georgia Gov.-elect Sonny Perdue predicted the Republican sweep and said he would immediately call a “water summit” with his counterparts.

“We’ll come together face-to-face with no staff and hammer this thing out, ” Perdue said.

Since his underdog victory over Roy Barnes in November, Perdue’s staff has said the governor-elect’s first priority is …

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Senate strips extra F-22 funding from defense bill

Two U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor aircraft after inflight refueling off the coast of Florida. Associated Press/U.S. Air Force

Two U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor aircraft after inflight refueling off the coast of Florida. Associated Press/U.S. Air Force

The U.S. Senate just approved a measure to strike increased funding for the Marietta-built F-22 Raptor, bowing to a veto threat from President Barack Obama.

The vote was 58-40 — not as close as many expected.

U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss led the support for the purchase of seven additional stealth fighters, forming an alliance with Democrats from states whose economies would be affected by the vote.

The vote was marked by a cross-party flow. John McCain (R-Ariz.) allied himself with President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Gates advocated that the U.S. military cap the number of stealth fighters at 187. Obama promised to veto the $680 billion defense spending bill if the extra F-22 spending were not removed.

Two of the more notable votes against extra F-22 funding were John Ensign (R-Nevada) and Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). Moderate Republican …

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Obama extends Secret Service protection for Cheney

This posted by the New York Daily News this morning:

Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s Secret Service protection has been extended for at least another six months, beginning Tuesday.

Normally, ex-veeps only get six months of protection at taxpayer expense. But Cheney asked for an extension, and President Obama – whom Cheney has excoriated in several interviews since leaving office – recently signed off….

If the Obama administration hadn’t gone along with Cheney’s request, he would have been forced to hire his own security agents – or go without.

Cheney’s friends have said he has become more concerned about his privacy and personal safety in recent years.

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

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Your morning jolt: White House arm-twisting on F-22

A vote on increased funding for the F-22 is set for high noon today, and Politico reports that the tide has shifted to favor President Barack Obama and other opponents, as Democrats in the U.S. Senate respond to some heavy arm-twisting:

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is the public point man for the administration, making calls to senators and delivering a toughly worded speech last week in Chicago.

But as the political stakes have become more evident, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has also begun working the phones, and Vice President Joe Biden last week even called his old friend, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), an ardent F-22 backer.

In Georgia, a curious war has broken out on the far right side of the political spectrum, between the Republican candidate for governor who has led most polling, and a rival GOP candidate known for his embrace of states’ rights.

The John Oxendine camp is objecting to the use of the phrase “Ox Nazis” by …

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Lawmaker argues there’s no law to back up docked pay. The Speaker says, ‘We know.’

Once they have gotten past the embarrassment of being canned from a House chairmanship, lawmakers often speak of a sense of liberation.

State Rep. Bobby Franklin of Cobb County, the former chairman of the House Reapportionment Committee, recently penned some free verse.

In this letter to House Republican caucus members, Franklin takes Republican issue with Speaker Glenn Richardson’s decision to slice the monthly salary of lawmakers by one day each month — a symbolic gesture to nervous state workers:

Dear fellow Caucus Members:

Yesterday we received a letter from Glenn about his proposed furloughing of ourselves and how we should “lead by example.” I find the “leading by example” rhetoric to be disingenuous. For years I have been calling attention to OCGA 50-3-3, which states in part that “the citizens of the state are requested to take the pledge of allegiance set out in Code Section 50-3-2″ and how we should “lead by example” by taking that pledge each morning when we are …

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Senate vote on F-22 spending put off for a day

My AJC colleague Bob Keefe called a few minutes ago from his perch in the U.S. Senate, to say that a vote on increased spending for the Marietta-built F-22 will probably be delayed until Tuesday morning.

Supporters of the effort to cap such spending wanted a vote today, but debate on amendments to an all-encompassing defense bill will fill the remainder of the Senate’s calendar.

Here’s how Congressional Quarterly couched it:

The F-22 vote will be preceded by a series of votes pertaining to hate crimes and one on an amendment by John Thune, R-S.D., that would allow citizens with permits to carry concealed firearms in their home states to carry the weapons to other states that permit concealed weapons.

There is no time limit on the Thune amendment. If the debate runs long, a vote on the F-22 could be delayed until Tuesday, aides said.

Whenever the F-22 vote occurs, it will mark only the beginning of what should be a week of debate, and maybe more, on the defense policy bill. Up …

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That D.C. ban on legal marijuana? Barr says it needs to go

Bob Barr fleshed out more of his post-Republican persona this afternoon with an endorsement of a decision by the U.S. House last week to repeal an 11-year-old provision that had prohibited the District of Columbia from implementing a referendum that authorized the legalization of marijuana.

The kicker? Barr was the guy behind the ban.

Said the former Georgia congressman and ‘08 Libertarian candidate for president in a press release:

While I, in fact, sponsored the initial appropriations limitation in 1998, the years since then have witnessed such a dramatic increase in federal government power and an unprecedented decrease in individual liberty, especially since 2001, that I have come to realize that such limitations as the so-called “Barr Amendment” are not and cannot be justified.

It has become necessary to reevaluate the power of the federal government that I and others once were able or willing to justify, and do what we can to roll back the tide of government control.

I …

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Barnes promises teachers more than a seat at the table — he’ll give them an office with a view

Paul Yates with Fox5 just put up some video of Roy Barnes, the Democratic candidate for governor, who says the state of Georgia should have taken the tri-state water dispute to the U.S. Supreme Court “no later than 2003.”

But the most interesting part of this catch-up piece is Barnes’ continued courting Georgia teachers.

“One of the things I intend to do is have at least one teacher in residence — that is, a part of the governor’s staff, every day,” Barnes said.

See the clip here:

Somewhere in the Great Beyond, George Gershwin is singing to himself: “I know I could always be good — to someone who’ll watch over me…..”

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Yet another apology from Mark Sanford

And you thought you’d heard the last apology from Mark Sanford. But no.

The governor of South Carolina has penned a long, mea maxima culpa — an op-ed piece — in today’s The State, the Columbia newspaper.

A few tidbits:

I have struggled with how best to convey my regret in letting so many down, and in that regard I realize this column does not do justice to the process of saying “I am sorry.”

A hand-written note or phone call would ultimately be more appropriate, but given the number of people I need to apologize to, I write this to begin the journey of trying to get things more right with you and others….

If you ever have the misfortune of being at this point, whether self-induced as in my case or not, it will give you an indeed amazing perspective on life and on what really matters. I read notes from someone who worked in a sandwich shop I ate at 10 years ago, from 7th-grade classmates, from state employees and more….

I’ve been humbled and broken as never before in my life, …

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