Archive for September, 2009

Stonewall Democrats back Kasim Reed for mayor

Atlanta Stonewall Democrats today threw their support behind Kasim Reed in the race for mayor, indicating a splintering – if not a split – in the contest for the gay and lesbian vote.

Earlier this month, Georgia Equality endorsed Lisa Borders for mayor.

Tim Cairl, a member of Stonewall’s board of directors, conceded that Georgia Equality is the larger group. Stonewall has 1,900 members, while Georgia Equality claims 17,000 statewide.

But Stonewall is made up of political activists, and that could make a difference.

Read the entire endorsement here. But this is the gist:

Kasim Reed has spent the last 11 years representing Atlanta in both houses of the Georgia General Assembly. During that time in office, he has a 100% voting record from Georgia Equality and other LGBT-advocacy organizations.

He has delivered concrete results and advanced progressive policies to level the playing field and give more protections to the LGBT community. As a State Representative, he was the chief …

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Warner Robins mayor dead of gunshot wound to head

This update was just posted by the Macon Telegraph:

Warner Robins Mayor Donald Walker was pronounced dead at 1:49 p.m. today after he suffered a gunshot wound to the head, Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones said.

The wound appears to have been self-inflicted, Police Chief Brett Evans said.

Walker, 60, was rushed to The Medical Center of Central Georgia early this afternoon. Authorities were dispatched to his Warner Robins home this morning after a report of a gunshot there…..

Evans said that Walker and his wife, Patricia, were at home this morning at the time of the shooting. He would not confirm any other details of what happened.

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Ex-speaker settles 5-year-old ethics complaint

Jim Walls of Atlanta Unfiltered reports that former state House speaker Terry Coleman, often mentioned as a 2010 candidate for agriculture, has “tentatively settled” a long-standing ethics complaint arising the use of campaign cash for condo payments:

Beginning in 1997, Coleman made monthly payments from campaign funds on a downtown condominium purchased by Nameloc Corp., a company he controls. Nameloc reimbursed the campaign for $38,120 in 2002, after the payments had been disclosed in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and shortly before Coleman sought and won the speaker’s post.

At the time, a number of legislators had been using campaign money to make mortgage, rental or maintenance payments on housing in the Atlanta area. The State Ethics Commission ruled in 2004 that legislators — who then collected about $128 per day in state funds for expenses while on state business — should use that money for lodging, not campaign cash.

The amount of the settlement is about $2,900, …

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Your morning jolt: High court upholds touch-screen voting and the rights of young strippers

The Georgia Supreme Court this morning upheld the right of young women under the age of 21 to shed their clothes at locales in Atlanta where alcohol is served.

Five young erotic dancers had challenged a city ordinance that prohibited those too young to drink from entering a business where alcohol is sold.

Deanna Willis, Danielle Barbee, Ashlie Startley, Olivia Almeida and Rachel Haxo were dancers at the Cheetah Lounge strip club when the City enacted the ordinance in 2007. At the time, all five were either 19 or 20 years old.

The court found that the local law conflicts with two state laws. “It is clear that the Legislature’s intent is to allow persons who are over the age of 18 but not yet 21 years old to dispense, serve, sell or handle alcoholic beverages as part of their employment,” the opinion written by Chief Justice Carol Hunstein reads.

The decision was brief and unanimous.

Click here for a summary of several decisions released Monday by the court.

The state Supreme …

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David Johnson and a troubled Strategic Vision promise crosstabs with every poll

Mark Twain divided falsehoods into three categories: Lies, damned lies, and statistics. Had he lived to see them, Twain might have added a fourth: Public opinion polls.

Atlanta has two political polling firms that routinely tell us who is ahead this race or that, whether for mayor of Atlanta or governor.

Front-running candidates often use numbers generated by these companies to raise campaign cash. Journalists sometimes use the same statistics to help determine which candidates are worth their time.

One of these survey companies, Republican-oriented Strategic Visions LLC, has just finished a very bad week.

The firm was censured by a national organization of pollsters. And Nate Silver, a prominent political statistician, publicly suggested, in a series of posts on his much-read blog, fivethirtyeight.com, that Strategic Vision might be making up its results.

A clearly exhausted David Johnson, CEO of seven-year-old Strategic Vision, on Friday called the intimations libelous. “We …

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Capitol casualties in Georgian Bank failure

Regulators have closed Atlanta-based Georgian Bank, the six largest lender in the state, and the 24th to succumb in Georgia since August 2008.

Writes my AJC colleague Paul Donsky:

Georgian, founded in 2001, was one of the state’s most profitable banks during the housing boom earlier this decade. But the bank ran into big problems this year, losing $36.7 million loss in the second quarter alone.

This from the Atlanta Business Chronicle:

Georgian counts some of the city’s highest profile suburban developers amongst its clientele, and respected business leaders on its board.
Those directors– a who’s who among Atlanta business– included Charlie Watts, Taylor Smith, Robert C. Wynne and Mark W. Hennessy. Shareholders in the bank had their investments wiped out.

The Marietta Daily Journal notes some specific damage to Cobb County’s political elite:

Adams D. “De” Little of Marietta, owner of Greenstone Properties, and Fred Bentley Jr. of Vinings, a partner in the law firm of Bentley, …

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Johnny Isakson: You don’t have health insurance, you get taxed — and if you do, you get taxed

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson delivered the weekly Republican address on Saturday, acknowledging the flood deaths in metro Atlanta before tearing into Democratic legislation on health care.

Here’s the YouTube clip:

Isakson specifically targeted the latest version, introduced by Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, as looking “an awful lot like the Democrats’ earlier proposals.”

Said Isakson:

“It would still impose taxes on virtually every American and small business. If you have insurance, you get taxed. If you don’t have insurance, you get taxed.

“If you’re an employer who cannot afford to provide health insurance to your employees, you get taxed. Manufacturers of medical devices such as hearing aids will get taxed. That means anyone who needs these devices will pay higher prices.”

Isakson also addressed new objections from the GOP over what they’re calling a “gag order” on private insurers. Here’s a quick backgrounder from the Washington Post:

The …

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The Obama smile that never falters

The following video clip comes from gawker.com, where someone with too much time on his hands merged 130 sequential photographs of Barack Obama with visiting foreign dignitaries at the G-20 conference in Pittsburg on Wednesday.

Throughout, Obama’s face never changes. He’s got the grip-and-grin thing down pat.

Barack Obama’s amazingly consistent smile from Eric Spiegelman on Vimeo.

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Saxby Chambliss: White House response to flood was ‘magnificent’ and ‘quick’

I’m listening to WSB Radio and its live broadcast of Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to the flooded areas of metro Atlanta.

U.S. Rep. David Scott and U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss have spoken. There’s no echo of the frustration expressed by Cobb County Commission Chairman Sam Olens on Thursday, about the days it took to get official federal attention.

Chambliss praised the Obama Administration for a response that was both “magnificent” and “quick.” Isakson said he had spent last night on the phone with local officials, all of whom reported FEMA workers on the ground.

The one voice that was conspicuously absent: Gov. Sonny Perdue, who is in Panama, leading a state delegation to discuss the canal’s expansion and its relationship with the port of Savannah. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle filled in for Perdue during Biden’s visit, and received a shout-out from the vice president.

It’s hard to criticize the federal government for untimely response in the face of a crisis, …

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Future governor’s fight club: Porter vs. Graham, Barnes vs. Poythress, and Oxendine vs. Norwood

We’ve got an healthy Internet debate brewing between DuBose Porter, the Democratic candidate for governor, and state Revenue Commissioner Bart Graham.

Graham has taken exception to Porter’s call for local control of sales tax collection, saying it would lead to an avalanche of audits and paperwork for businesses. He made his points in a few paragraphs we posted on Thursday.

You can read Porter’s entire response by clicking here. But this is the gist:

It is clear that, instead of standing up for Georgia’s taxpayers, Commissioner Graham is more interested in defending his turf – the Department of Revenue. The problem is, the Department of Revenue is leaving uncollected taxes on the table every year. These taxes are paid in good faith by Georgia consumers, at the point of sale, but that money is not going to reform our transportation system, or strengthen our public schools, or keep police officers, G.B.I. agents and state troopers on our streets and highways. That money is …

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