Earlier this week, we told you that Gov. Sonny Perdue might appoint a successor to state School Superintendent Kathy Cox — who would then conduct an independent campaign to win a full four years in November.
Otherwise, the timing of Cox’s resignation restricts Perdue to the five candidates – two Republicans and three Democrats – already on the ballot. Or, Perdue could pick a caretaker who would simply fill out the last six months of Cox’s term.
On Tuesday, after signing a bill that gives the governor more power to intervene in the affairs of troubled school systems, Perdue dropped a very large hint that he is indeed considering Door No. 3 – the independent route.
Denis O’Hayer of WABE (90.1FM) was there to pick it up. Listen to the interview here. Here’s the part that matters:
O’Hayer: Will you be trying to pick someone who can simply hold the fort and get us through a new school year and through the elections, or will you try to pick somebody who’s already on the ballot?
Perdue: You know me well enough to know that I’m not much of a caretaker. I don’t believe in just holding the fort. I don’t think we can hold the fort on education. I think we’ve got to move. And I think anytime you hold the fort, you risk the possibility of slipping back. We’ll make an appointment with that in mind.
O’Hayer: Does that mean you’ll look at someone who’s already declared?
Perdue: It means I’m going to look at everyone.
O’Hayer: Would you consider appointing a Democrat?
Perdue: I would consider appointing the best person I can find to the job of superintendent of education. It’s that important. I, frankly, asked for legislation this year that that position be appointed, because I don’t think it should be a partisan position.
The Republican governor also defended the Board of Regents against those who argue that the university system should actively verify whether all its students are citizens or legal residents. (See this MDJ piece on a complaint filed by immigration activist D.A. King.)
“I think the university system’s primary responsibility is to educate students in higher education. And I think to expect them to be the immigration agents or [to determine] whether someone’s here legally or illegally is really beyond their scope of work….We have our Department of Driver Services to determine in a very clear way whether someone is a citizen or not.”
Perdue also told O’Hayer that U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-DeKalb County) had ticked him off by co-sponsoring legislation to ban firearms from unsecured areas of airports – an attempt to head off two gun bills now on the governor’s desk.
I don’t know whether I’ll sign those bills or not. But frankly, the meddling that I see from Congress is not helpful in my decision.
Republican candidate for governor Eric Johnson sends this snapshot of yours truly at the FreedomWorks debates last Saturday – as I was demonstrating that, from my house, I can see Alabama:
At that debate, when asked about transportation, only two of the Republican candidates for governor mentioned the need for more rail. And only one candidate – former secretary of state Karen Handel – alluded to rail as a means of moving people.
Even so, Georgians for Passenger Rail are optimistic that they can prompt an “adult conversation” on the topic. Walter Jones of Morris News Service writes today about a Brookings Institute study released by the group, detailing how passenger rail could be financed:
[The study] calculated a complex “layer cake” for funding the operating costs on the first rail line from Atlanta to Macon.
A transportation sales tax could begin generating money quickly for the $25 million needed each year to pay the operation costs not covered by fares, according to the Brookings study.
Later funding could come from so-called tax-allocation districts around each station that increase tax collections as the value of the property rises in value.
The authors of the report call it “value capture,” in which governments reap revenue benefits from the rise of property values that come from passengers living and shopping near train stations.
Planned real estate development around the stations is critical to the success of the funding, and [Gordon Kenna, executive director of Georgians for Passenger Rai] said his organization would advise rail-line cities like Hampton, Morrow and Griffin on ways to maximize their development potential.
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