Archive for September, 2009

No more on running through Scripture on football Friday


Catoosa County in far northwest Georgia has become the site of the latest skirmish in the war over religion in public schools.

For six years or so, cheerleaders at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School have painted elaborate paper banners, adorned with Bible verses, through which football players have dashed at the outset of games.

For instance, recently, from Philippians 3:14: “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me in Christ Jesus.”

After receiving a complaint, the Catoosa County school system cracked down. Reported the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

A school system statement released Monday said the message constitutes “a violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution for signs with Bible verses to be displayed on the football field.”

Those offended included the Rev. Brad Scott, a Republican activist who was LFO High’s class president in 2004 — and who sent us the above photo, plus some others. A Facebook page has been …

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Nate Silver again prods David Johnson and Strategic Vision for poll info

Nate Silver of continues to worry David Johnson and Strategic Vision like a terrier with a chew toy.

After the American Association for Public Opinion Research censured Strategic Vision last week for his refusal to disclose his methodology, Silver ran several years of SV poll results through a randomization test, and declared the results to be suspicious — though not definitive.

In a weekend post, Johnson rejected the suggestion that his numbers might be fake, termed Silver’s comments a matter of libel, and promised legal action. He also promised to release crosstabs with all future polling.

But Silver wants more, and is willing to pay to get it – to a bona fide charity.

Here’s what he posted late last night:

Subject: couple questions
From: Nate Silver

Hi David,

I’m writing you for two reasons.

Firstly, I wanted to make sure that you had some decent contact information for me. Was really looking forward to the lawsuit and …

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ATL mayoral candidates and the Beltline

The Beltline — a 22-mile loop around Atlanta that would combine mixed-use development, parks, trails and transit — has been one of Mayor Shirley Franklin’s big ideas.

But the real estate crash has placed its financing in question.

On Tuesday, four Atlanta mayoral candidates gathered at All Saints Episcopal Church to describe how they intend to keep the project on track.

My AJC colleague Eric Stirgus was there. As was former City Council president and commuter Cathy Woolard, who served as moderator.

“Still driving,” Woolard said to some responses, drawing laughter from the standing room crowd of about 250 people.

The candidates, by and large, said it will take time and money to get some of the work done.

Council President Lisa Borders: Spoke about allowing people or organizations to pay for sponsorships of city parks to generate revenue. Borders also reiterated her idea of a “revolving fund” where homeowners can borrow money from the city — possibly with low-interest — to pay …

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U.S. Supreme Court takes up local handgun control

This just moved across the Associated Press wire:

The Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether strict local and state gun control laws violate the Second Amendment, ensuring another high-profile battle over the rights of gun owners.

The court said Wednesday it will review a lower court ruling that upheld a handgun ban in Chicago. Gun rights supporters challenged gun laws in Chicago and some suburbs immediately following the high court’s decision in June 2008 that struck down a handgun ban in the District of Columbia, a federal enclave.

The new case tests whether last year’s ruling applies as well to local and state laws.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld ordinances barring the ownership of handguns in most cases in Chicago and suburban Oak Park, Ill.

Judge Frank Easterbrook, an appointee of President Ronald Reagan, said that “the Constitution establishes a federal republic where local differences are to be cherished as elements of liberty rather than extirpated in …

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Your morning jolt: Creating an early, strong consensus on water

Just before the close of the Tuesday business day, Gov. Sonny Perdue announced that two prominent business leaders had agreed to help create a massive – and probably expensive — to-do list intended to make Georgia more independent when it comes to water.

Coca-Cola Enterprises CEO John Brock and Tim Lowe of Lowe Engineers have agree to co-chair a task force that will have until December to draw up contingency plans that will be put before the Legislature in January.

“We will consider conservation measures as well as opportunities to enhance our water supply options,” Perdue said. I.e., reservoirs and low-flow toilets.

This “water contingency task force” – blue-ribbon panels are passé, possibly because they lack drama – is intended give the governor a deep, unassailable consensus within the business community from the outset, before state lawmakers assemble.

“That’s absolutely correct. It’s not just business leaders. It’s business, community leaders, …

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How health care reform became ‘a Washington takeover’

That the town hall meetings of August were something less than spontaneous should surprise no one. Whether for health care or any other issue, it’s hard to generate crowds in the dog days of summer without some organization.

But Rolling Stone magazine says it has come across a May memo in which pollster Frank Luntz outlined the Republican approach to the Democratic initiative. In essence, the Luntz memo became a script for the GOP and town hall organizers, briefing them not just on what to say, but how to say it.

From the magazine:

The logic of the language is simple, Luntz writes: “Takeovers are like coups — they both lead to dictators and a loss of freedom.” For a third of all Americans, he adds, the top worry about health care reform is “being denied a procedure or medication because a Washington bureaucrat says no.” Luntz concludes by telling Republicans how best to play the fear card. “It is essential that ‘deny’ and ‘denial’ enter the conservative lexicon …

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Sonny Perdue: ‘Don’t fret about where flood aid dollars are coming from’

Georgia’s two senators, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, had no problem showing up in Cobb County to greet Vice President Joe Biden last week.

But the state’s Republican congressmen kept a lower profile when it came to pressing for federal aid. Possibly they feared charges of hypocrisy. Remember that, in 2005, Lynn Westmoreland was one of 11 GOP members who voted against $51.8 billion in disaster aid for New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

But Gov. Sonny Perdue has no such qualms. For every $3 that Washington sends to help with the Flood of ’09, the state budget must cough up $1 to match it.

Perdue told Georgia Public Broadcasting this morning that the money will be found:

“These are not times where you count the dollars or fret about where they come from. It’s just a matter of doing what it takes, keeping people safe, and helping people recover their lives”.

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

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Business coalition rates Borders, Reed highest in Atlanta mayoral race

Committee for a Better Atlanta was started 13 years ago by Metro Atlanta Chamber President Sam Williams and Sam Massell, the former mayor, in order to concentrate the clout of the business community in Atlanta city elections.

The coalition, currently chaired by Jeff Wansley, vice president of Equifax, is out today with a rating of candidates. Bottom line: CBA gives its highest marks to Atlanta City Council President Lisa Borders, but just barely. Kasim Reed, the former state senator, is rated nearly as high.

Councilwoman Mary Norwood and Atlanta attorney Jesse Spikes were rated “well-qualified,” but short of the “excellent” ratings given Borders and Reed. Norwood may be the candidate most affected by the scoring. The lower CBA rating implies that the business community thinks of her more as a neighborhood candidate.

That the CBA gives Reed near-equal ranking with Borders is also interesting, and implies that — despite polls that uniformly show him in third place — the …

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Your morning jolt: Al Gore’s champion in Republican ranks

Within hours of a Georgia Supreme Court decision upholding the use of touch-screen voting machines, Secretary of State Karen Handel celebrated with a press release.

“Georgia has the most secure elections in the nation due to our four levels of security testing on touch-screen voting machines,” crowed the Republican candidate for governor.

But if Handel is fer it, then GOP rival John Oxendine must be agin it.

Said the Ox, in a counter news release:

”With all due respect and appreciation for the Supreme Court of Georgia, I am deeply disappointed in the decision today to reject the challenge to touch-screen electronic voting machines.

….[M]any Georgians will suggest, and I agree, that the 2000 presidential election demonstrates the exact need for a back-up paper system to establish the integrity of the voting process.”

Who knew that Oxendine was an Al Gore man?

A third Republican candidate for governor, Eric Johnson, was at the state Capitol on Monday, packing up his …

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Atlanta police union backs Cleta Winslow’s opponent

We’re written before about the Atlanta police union and its effort to make a point in the 2009 race for mayor.

The International Brotherhood of Police Officers (Local 623) last month endorsed Lisa Borders in that contest.

But the group has also stepped – hard – into the District 4 council race, where Cleta Winslow, chairman of the council’s public safety committee, is defending her seat.

The cops are endorsing challenger LaShawn Hoffman. “The women and men of the IBPO have been woefully ignored by the current city council representative of District 4 and we look forward to new leadership in that community to address our member[‘s] concerns,” writes Local 623 President Sgt. Scott Kreher.

Read the entire letter here. District 4 includes parts of West End and the Atlanta University campus.

Winslow voted against the property tax increase credited with ending the city’s furloughs of police officers and firefighters.

Hoffman is to announce the police union …

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