Archive for February, 2010

There’s the government you need, and the government you’re willing to pay for

The sober language of reality is slowly spreading through the state Capitol.

The Legislature is in the midst of a two-week hiatus, while knots of lawmakers pore through the innards of an $18 billion state budget.

They’re looking for $1.2 billion or more that can be sliced away, or paid for with new funds — be they called tax hikes, fee increases, revenue enhancements or tuition maximizations.

We are used to Republican rhetoric from Washington, where a congressman can rail against out-of-control federal spending from dawn to dusk — and in the evening still take credit for the money that Democrats send the way of his voters.

But in the state Capitol, where the GOP is actually in charge of the machinery, Republicans have gone quiet as they grope for the line that divides sloganeering from real life — the balance between what you and I need from government, and what we’re willing to pay.

The important parties are giving themselves plenty of room to maneuver.

House …

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David Ralston: One House member hasn’t filed 2008 income tax return

The office of House Speaker David Ralston just pushed out this statement:

“Upon receipt of the report from the Department of Revenue, House Ethics Committee Chairman Joe Wilkinson delivered the report to me. Legal counsel and I have reviewed the report, in conjunction with the law, and only one House member has not filed a personal income tax return with the Department of Revenue for tax year 2008.

As provided by law, Chairman Wilkinson will conduct an appropriate investigation consistent with the rules of the House Committee on Ethics and report the findings to me.”

The single House member was not identified. Last year, at least 19 House and Senate members received the letters. All of the senators and all but three House members were able to clear up the Revenue Department’s concerns or paid their outstanding tax bills, plus penalties, legislative leaders said.

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John McCain attacks GOP challenger for his support of ‘birther’ movement

U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the former Republican presidential nominee, has launched this Web video attacking GOP primary challenger J.D. Hayworth for his “birther” challenges to President Barack Obama.

“These are serious economic times, yet some are consumed by conspiracies,” the video begins.

Take note. You could see a version of this in Georgia’s race for governor:

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Carol Porter schedules a Thursday news conference

Carol Porter, wife of a Democratic candidate for governor, has summoned the press to the state Capitol at 11 a.m. Thursday.

The topic, no doubt, will be the Porter family musings over whether she should run for lieutenant governor. Read the background here.

Put your bets down here.

Full disclosure: The press release identifies her as “Spouse of Gubernatorial Candidate DuBose Porter.”

Which may or may not be a tip-off. But it would be hard to imagine someone beginning a campaign for lieutenant governor using that sole title.

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Adelman nomination up before Senate Foreign Relations Committee

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State Sen. David Adelman of Decatur is President Barack Obama's nominee to become U.S. ambassador to Singapore. Vino Wong/ vwong@ajc.com

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee at 2:30 p.m. today is scheduled to take up the nomination of state Sen. David Adelman (D-Decatur) as U.S. ambassador to Singapore.

Here’s a link to what may be the video, come meeting time.

Adelman’s nomination is one of 15 being considered this afternoon. It was postponed during Washington’s last round of blizzards. Another is on the way.

This is the penultimate hurdle – a floor vote could quickly follow, if the weather holds.

Locally, Adelman’s formal nomination would set off a special election contest for his state Senate seat. The field would include Jason Carter, grandson of the former president.

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Your morning jolt: The pursuit of Toyota by a major U.S. auto investor

On Tuesday, the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce heard from Toyota President Jim Lentz on his company’s problems with cars that keep going and going and going and going.

You get the idea.

During that session, U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta) gave voice to a nagging thought. This appeared in the New York Daily News:

Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) also said the federal government, which invested in bailouts of U.S. car manufacturers, might have an ulterior motive in exposing Toyota’s problems.

The government “may have some incentive in highlighting the flaws of a competing manufacturer,” Gingrey said, “but I do not believe that to be the case.”

Denis O’Hayer of WABE (90.1 FM) has posted an eight-minute discussion with House Speaker David Ralston over the re-introduction of a resolution by state Rep. Al Williams (D-Midway) that would apologize for Georgia’s official participation in the institution of slavery.

The interview is worth listening to in its entirety. Said …

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Roy Barnes: Pay no attention to those poll numbers

We told you this afternoon how Republican Karen Handel is spinning yesterday’s Rasmussen poll that declared Democrat Roy Barnes vulnerable to any of four GOP candidates.

Now here’s what the former governor has told his supporters, in a similar fund-raising letter:

You might have seen some press stories this week – folks like to play the horse race game when it comes to elections, but frankly, it’s far too early in this campaign to be talking about winners and losers. There is much work to be done before we cross the finish line in either the primary election or the general election, and we cannot grow complacent.

In the upcoming months, there will be countless stories written in the press about poll numbers and personal attacks and political rhetoric in this race. We will not be able to control what is printed in the paper or published online, but we can and must stay focused on the goal of our campaign – making Georgia work.

While we are pleased and encouraged by the …

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Justice Department again rejects Georgia voter verification system; court fight over citizenship proof looms

For the second time, the U.S. Justice Department has rejected Georgia’s system of identifying voters who might not be U.S. citizens.

In a letter to Attorney General Thurbert Baker in May, the Justice Department said the state’s voter verification program is frequently inaccurate and has a “discriminatory effect” on minority voters.

“[A second] review indicates that the state has not provided any additional information or arguments related to the original voter registration verification program to which an objection was interposed, to support its request that the objection to the original program should be withdrawn,” writes Thomas E. Perez, assistant U.S. attorney general of the Justice Department’s civil rights division.

Read the Feb. 22 letter here.

But here’s the real news: Last year, the Legislature passed – and the governor signed – S.B. 86, which requires new Georgia voters to provide proof of citizenship at the time of registration.

In the above letter, the Justice …

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Talking points for hard times, by Casey Cagle

This two-week recess of the Legislature to tackle the 2011 budget and a shortfall that’s likely to exceed $1.2 billion is an unprecedented situation certain to attract attention throughout the state.

How do we know?

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Because Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle has given every Republican member of the Senate, over which he presides, an 18-page full-color collection of charts and talking points, with the title: “Budget Planning Session Messages and Themes.”

We’ve got four of the pages for you here, here, here and here. We have them all, but scanning can be a pain.

Writes the lieutenant governor to senators:

“…By prioritizing spending, cutting waste, and remaining true to our conservative principles, we will balance the budget in a fiscally responsible manner that makes our state the most attractive destination for new business and growth….

“I strongly encourage you to reach out to local elected officials, constituents, and media outlets over the next two weeks to communicate our share …

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Handel’s take: Rasmussen poll shows Oxendine, Deal hurt by scandal

Former secretary of state Karen Handel is using yesterday’s Rasmussen survey of the Georgia governor’s race as her own personal fund-raising tool.

The poll, which showed former Gov. Roy Barnes running more poorly among voters than ever before, has become the basis of a memo sent this afternoon to members of Handel’s finance committee. And the odd reporter.

The Rasmussen poll showed Republicans John Oxendine, Nathan Deal and Handel beating Barnes in a head-to-head. Former state Sen. Eric Johnson of Savannah was running even.

Handel keyed on a Rasmussen favorite – crosstabs that show “very favorable/very unfavorable” ratings of each Republican – on the theory that, this early, passion rules.

See the entire memo here. Sayeth the key paragraphs:

In just two months Oxendine has seen a drop from 22-7 to 12-11. This is a significant hit in public opinion. Deal has seen his numbers drop from 10-6 to 8-8. On the other hand, Karen’s numbers have improved from 8-4 in December to 13-7 …

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