Archive for August, 2009

Your morning jolt: Who knew? Georgia becomes example of calm in health care debate

The New York Times this morning uses Georgia — who knew we were a bastion of rationality? — to describe the impact that calm, serious questioners are having on the debate over health care reform:

Montezuma, Ga. — Until Thursday evening, nothing in Bob Collier’s 62 years had stirred in him the slightest desire to take a stand — about anything — in public.

He skipped the antiwar protests of his college years, took a job as a regional salesman of paper and chemical products, and built for himself a quiet life of family and church (and hunting and fishing) in his rural hometown in southwest Georgia.

But on Thursday, Mr. Collier drove more than an hour down Route 19 to attend a health care forum in Albany, Ga., being held by his congressman, Representative Sanford D. Bishop Jr., a Democrat serving his ninth term.

To his wife’s astonishment, as the session drew into its third hour, Mr. Collier rose to take the microphone and firmly, but courteously, urged Mr. Bishop to …

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Tom Mishou dies of cancer

Sometimes the best contacts are the ones you rarely mention. By a data base count, I quoted Tom Mishou only five times in 25 years.

I’d known him since he ran Cobb County’s public defender program in the early ‘80s. The last time I put his name in print was in 2007, after he’d thrown off politics to become a private contractor in Iraq. He called himself a “combat bureaucrat.”

“War creates a lot of paper work and I’m currently working in ‘document control.’ I expect to move through a few bases while I stay in-country, so I don’t want to get too settled in, ” Mishou wrote from the “general area” of Mosul. “We take in-coming mortar fire virtually every night. The nearest bunker is 12 paces away. I can make it in three.”

Mishou, a Democrat, served around the state Capitol for a number of years in the Secretary of State’s office, first under Max Cleland, Lewis Massey, then under Cathy Cox, for whom he served as boxing commissioner.

He died Monday morning, after a …

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Three senators with income tax issues now off list of delinquents

Three members of the state Senate have cleared up their state income tax problems, according to Eric Johnson, chairman of the state Senate Ethics Committee and a GOP candidate for governor.

In the House, three lawmakers have yet to pay income taxes owed, though one may satisfy requirements by the end of this week, said state Rep. Joe Wilkinson (R-Sandy Springs), chairman of that body’s ethics committee.

In a presser held Monday, Johnson said that, of the three senators, originally on a list issued by the state revenue commissioner for non-payment of state income taxes, “there are none on there now.”

“It’s sad that a little sunshine or a little exposure is sometimes necessary to get people to do the right thing,” Johnson said.

The Savannah senator was the sponsor of S.B. 168, a new state law which discloses the names of scofflaw lawmakers to the ethics commissions of their respective chambers. That report is made only after each lawmaker is notified and given 30 …

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Sonny Perdue to health care czar: What’s President Obama’s bottom line?

At a meeting of the Southern Governors Association in Williamsburg, Va., Gov. Sonny Perdue was part of a discussion today with President Barack Obama’s health care reform czar, Nancy-Ann DeParle.

About a dozen governors attended. This from the Associated Press:

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, a Republican, said there is bipartisan agreement among governors on the need for reforms that cover pre-existing conditions, arbitrary policy cancellations and exorbitant, skyrocketing premiums for new health conditions.

“You mentioned the president has a blueprint and that there’s about 85 percent agreement [with governors]. I think we could benefit as governors from understanding what those principles are that are unalterable for him. What are the bottom line provisions,” Perdue said. “That’s where the anxiety really exists.”

DeParle said she would defer to Obama on that. “I’m going to leave it to the president to find his bottom line.”

The response seems poorly phrased, at minimum.

For …

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Sonny Perdue, environmentalists, and the water war

Last week, Gov. Sonny Perdue said he was planning to meet with Georgia’s environmental leaders to fill them in on the latest in the saga of the tri-state water wars.

Looks like the meeting will happen tomorrow. Invited groups include: Georgia Conservation Voters, Georgia Conservancy (led by former lieutenant governor Pierre Howard), Nature Conservancy, Upper Chattahoochee River Keepers (led by Sally Bethea), Georgia Wildlife Federation, the Georgia River Network, the Coosa River Basin Initiative, and Satilla River Keepers.

The governor held a similar — and well-attended — meeting last week with 2010 candidates for governor.

It’s an easy guess that environmental groups will be emphasize conservation as a quicker and cheaper way to make gains in water supply than new reservoirs. Lakes of any size would take years to build.

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

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Ala. city decides not to use 1,000-year-old Indian mound for Sam’s Club fill dirt

Sometimes you have to step back and applaud a government for simply coming to its senses. According to the Anniston Star, this is the case in Oxford, Ala.:

The city may be backing off its decision to destroy a mysterious and controversial stone mound near a major retail development.

The city originally planned to destroy the hill underneath it and use it as fill dirt for a Sam’s Club….

The mound, which archaeologists and preservation officials say could contain funeral artifacts or remains, is on a hill behind the Oxford Exchange. It’s estimated American Indians constructed it at least 1,000 years ago.

The Alabama Historical Commission said it’s the largest known mound of its kind in the state.

Best response so far comes from Chris Farris, via Facebook:

“Probably not a good idea. I’ve seen the movies.”

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

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According to the New York Times, a generation of American males are waiting on word from Atlanta:

Public health officials are considering promoting routine circumcision for all baby boys born in the United States to reduce the spread of H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS.

The topic is a delicate one that has already generated controversy, even though a formal draft of the proposed recommendations, due out from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by the end of the year, has yet to be released.

“Delicate,” indeed. Feel free to discuss, but keep it clean.

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

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Something called POTUS Tracker

The Washington Post this morning unveiled a new tool called POTUS Tracker, which analyzes the time that President Barack Obama spends “with key members of his administration, Congress, foreign dignitaries, interest groups and regular citizens.”

It’s worth checking out.

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Your morning jolt: On the need for a ‘watermaster’ to knock heads in three states

We’re overflowing with material on water this morning:

— Another group of stakeholders has been spotted in the tri-state water negotiations. Electrical co-ops say they’ve been shortchanged by U.S. Army Corps of Engineer decisions to reduce water flow to generate power, giving it instead to metro Atlanta for drinking purposes.

The co-ops say they’re owed $59 million, according to my AJC colleague Kristi Swartz.

— We haven’t heard this one before. Michael Campana of the American Water Resources Association is arguing for a court-appointed “watermaster” to help knock heads until Georgia, Florida and Alabama come to an agreement over Lake Lanier:

The watermaster would not only help the three states reach an agreement, but would also be in charge of managing the basin’s water. That’s an unusual dual role – my limited experience suggests that a watermaster is appointed to enforce an agreement, not to help broker one.

This step might be viewed as some as an …

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Shining a light on the water

Gov. Sonny Perdue says that, back in 2007, Georgia and Alabama nearly resolved one part of a generation-long fight over water — the part that deals with the water drawn from Lake Allatoona.

But Alabama walked away, Perdue says.

Bob Riley, governor of the state to our west, doesn’t call Perdue a fibber. No, Riley uses the word “disingenuous.”

The point is, we don’t know which governor is talking straight. Every document that might back up Perdue’s account is under lock and key. Both he and Riley have sworn to keep details of their negotiations secret.

Want to see a copy of the document each man signed, vowing to keep his mouth shut? You can’t. It, too, is off-limits. One of the rules of court-ordered mediation, a spokesman for Perdue said.

In what has become known in Montgomery circles as the “Your friend Sonny” letter — that’s how Perdue signed it on July 31 — our Georgia governor challenged Alabama’s governor help him to make public the innards of past …

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