Archive for August, 2010

Someone turned off the people faucet: Metro Atlanta population growth slows to trickle unseen since the 1950s

For anyone who’s grown up in metro Atlanta during these last four boom-boom decades, the monthly report from the Atlanta Regional Commission is simply astounding:

[The] ARC estimated that the 10-county Atlanta region added 31,500 new residents between April 1, 2009, and April 1, 2010. This growth is dramatically slower than historical levels, as the national recession and the housing slowdown continue to take their toll.

Since the recession began more than two years ago, the 10-county region has added approximately 56,000 people, which is the slowest growth period in the region since the 1950s.

The Atlanta region’s slowdown is directly attributable to the national economy. During weak economic periods, people don’t move as much for several reasons. Job opportunities are slim, meaning people don’t move to take new jobs. And, with the housing market in such disarray, it is hard to sell a house, which tends to keep people stationary….

Overall, however, this decade has …

Continue reading Someone turned off the people faucet: Metro Atlanta population growth slows to trickle unseen since the 1950s »

Former RNC chairman and Bush campaign manager says he’s gay

From Marc Ambinder at The Atlantic:

Ken Mehlman, President Bush’s campaign manager in 2004 and a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, has told family and associates that he is gay.

Former RNC chairman Ken Mehlman. Associated Press

Former RNC chairman Ken Mehlman. Associated Press

Mehlman arrived at this conclusion about his identity fairly recently, he said in an interview. He agreed to answer a reporter’s questions, he said, because, now in private life, he wants to become an advocate for gay marriage and anticipated that questions would arise about his participation in a late-September fundraiser for the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), the group that supported the legal challenge to California’s ballot initiative against gay marriage, Proposition 8.

“It’s taken me 43 years to get comfortable with this part of my life,” said Mehlman, now an executive vice-president with the New York City-based private equity firm, KKR. “Everybody has their own path to travel, their own journey, and for me, over …

Continue reading Former RNC chairman and Bush campaign manager says he’s gay »

Your morning jolt: For Roy Barnes, I-3 may be a case of deja vu in concrete

Eight years ago, the alliance that lined up against Gov. Roy Barnes included opponents of the Northern Arc, a proposed roadway that stretched across the top of exurban Atlanta.

People won’t vote for you because of a road. But they sure will vote against you. It was an exercise in the power of NIMBY that Barnes apparently hasn’t forgotten.

I-3map

This from Larry Peterson with the Savannah Morning News:

Republican governor hopeful Nathan Deal likes at least part of a proposal for an interstate linking Savannah and Knoxville via Augusta.

But Deal’s Democratic opponent, Roy Barnes, is wary about the potential thoroughfare, under study by the Federal Highway Administration.

Barnes says he’s concerned about environmental and quality of life impacts – which are among the issues the study will address.

Deal, a former north Georgia congressman, is especially upbeat about portions of the route that would tie Savannah to Augusta.

“With the deepening of the port of Savannah,” he said, “we must …

Continue reading Your morning jolt: For Roy Barnes, I-3 may be a case of deja vu in concrete »

Republicans and the complicated topic of education

schoolbus

The first day of school at Milton's new Birmingham Falls Elementary School. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

Next to the economy, no issue is likely to be as decisive in this fall’s race for governor as education. Or as complicated.

Fans of Democrat Roy Barnes will list the topic of school funding as the former governor’s top advantage in the campaign.

And most Republicans will concede that cuts to education — forced upon them by the Great Recession, they argue — pose the chief weakness of a GOP ticket dominated by former Congressman Nathan Deal.

Republicans are slightly awkward in their discussions of education, bedeviled by conflicts in philosophy.

The same GOP activists who dominate suburban Atlanta politics — with a party platform that lauds home schooling and vouchers — have built the strongest public school systems in the state. And guard them jealously.

Then there’s the matter of money for education. And where, in this economic emergency, it should come …

Continue reading Republicans and the complicated topic of education »

House Judiciary chairman asks Thurbert Baker to rule on contribution loophole

Jim Walls at Atlanta Unfiltered says the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee has asked Attorney General Thurbert Baker to rule on whether the State Ethics Commission is about to open the barn door when it comes to campaign contributions:

The State Ethics Commission on Aug. 17 dismissed a complaint against Warner Robins mayoral candidate Chuck Chalk for accepting a $10,000 check (the so-called “Chuck Chalk check”) from the campaign of the late mayor Donald Walker.

Donations in municipal elections are capped at $2,400, but commission members held that the limit may not apply to contributions from other political candidates.

The decision applied only to that complaint, but it raised the possibility that unopposed candidates with fat campaign accounts could give unlimited amounts to candidates in close races, creating a legal path to circumvent contribution limits….

Walls points out that Baker could rule that the loophole indeed exists. The response from …

Continue reading House Judiciary chairman asks Thurbert Baker to rule on contribution loophole »

Your morning jolt: ‘I’m a big boy. It’s over with,’ says John Oxendine

More than a month after his plunge to fourth place in the Republican primary for governor, 11Alive on Tuesday caught up with state Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine – at a news conference about that arson case up in Calhoun.

ox11alive

Oxendine, who plans to open his own law firm after he leaves office in January, pulled on his big-boy pants and gave this quick analysis of his fortunes:

“Part of it’s the fact that if you are the frontrunner for a long period of time, it makes you the natural target. I’m a big boy. Whether I think the media was always fair or unfair doesn’t matter. I’m a big boy. I don’t cry over spilled milk or anything.

“I think a lot of the media was not always as flattering as it could be. I think of that may have had play in it. But it doesn’t really matter to me. To be honest, it doesn’t really matter. It’s over with, it’s done with. And I’m good.”

We’re told that Oxendine’s decision to hammer on a rising Karen Handel in the final days of the primary was a …

Continue reading Your morning jolt: ‘I’m a big boy. It’s over with,’ says John Oxendine »

George T. Smith, a man for all branches, dead at 93

Supreme Court Justice George T. Smith during a 1999 interview in his office in Marietta. AP/John Bazemore

Supreme Court Justice George T. Smith during a 1999 interview in his office in Marietta. AP/John Bazemore

The most versatile man in all of Georgia politics is gone. From the Associated Press:

George T. Smith, a veteran Georgia politician and jurist who served at the heights of all three branches of Georgia’s government and continued practicing law long after he left public office, has died at the age of 93, his wife said.

Smith, who died Monday evening of natural causes, holds the unique honor in Georgia of having served as speaker of the Georgia House, lieutenant governor, and a member of the Georgia Court of Appeals and the Georgia Supreme Court. Even after he stepped down from the bench in 1991, he continued practicing law until weeks before his death, friends say.

“He did just about everything — not only in his life but his legal career,” said Tyler Browning, an associate at Smith’s Marietta firm Browning & Smith. “It’s safe to say he wasn’t cheated out of any …

Continue reading George T. Smith, a man for all branches, dead at 93 »

Sonny Perdue to fellow Republicans: Be not afraid of this federal cash

After thanking the proper state school officials, the first message that Gov. Sonny Perdue sent regarding Georgia’s winning of $400 million in federal education money could well have been directed at Nathan Deal, the Republican nominee for governor.

“I want to say one again, for many who have feared that this is federal intrusion, the feds gave us no rules. They said, you put together a plan that you can implement,” Perdue said Tuesday afternoon at a celebratory press conference.

Gov. Sonny Perdue addresses the state school board last week about his tasks forces' findings of suspicious discrepancies in state standardized test scores. AP/John Amis

Gov. Sonny Perdue addresses the state school board last week about his tasks forces’ findings of suspicious discrepancies in state standardized test scores. AP/John Amis

During the runoff, the Deal campaign fumbled when asked its position on Perdue’s pursuit of “Race to the Top” money – first dismissing it, because of the alleged strings attached. Deal quickly reversed his position.

John Barge, the Republican nominee for school superintendent, has specifically questioned the wisdom of pursuing Race …

Continue reading Sonny Perdue to fellow Republicans: Be not afraid of this federal cash »

Your morning jolt: Speaker David Ralston wants Roy Barnes and Nathan Deal informed of tax deliberations

Beginning Thursday in Atlanta, a special council assigned the task of overhauling the state tax system will hold a two-week series of hearings across Georgia.

dralstonmug

House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge)

Which may be why an entity calling itself Georgians for Ethical Government chose this week to launch a series of robo-calls and a YouTube video aimed at House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge).

And who is/are Georgians for Ethical Government? No one’s saying – which is not entirely ethical, because money is clearly being spent.

“I would hope that whoever this is, that if their real interest is in promoting ethical government and if they have an interest in our state’s fiscal policy,” Ralston said Monday evening, “that they would come out from under their rock and engage in a constructive discussion with us.”

The production values of the attacks on Ralston leave something to be desired. The robo-call asking voters to contact the House speaker gave out the phone number for a …

Continue reading Your morning jolt: Speaker David Ralston wants Roy Barnes and Nathan Deal informed of tax deliberations »

Andrew Young: ‘Nobody with any common sense wants Beverly Hall to resign’

Former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young has come out swinging in defense of city School Superintendent Beverly Hall, who has been fielding calls for her resignation in the wake of the CRCT cheating scandal.

Here’s the video from Fox5/WAGA-TV last night:

Said Young:

“There’s nobody that’s got any common sense and concern for the future of the city of Atlanta that would call for the resignation of this woman.”

And how does Young explain all those erasures?

“I don’t. I don’t care. I’m not worried about the test scores. I know that everywhere I go, I find students from Atlanta public schools doing well….

“Give me subpoena power and point out any institution in the world, any institution in this city, and I can find [something] to put somebody in jail, or to raise a lot of fuss and to keep you all in the news…..”

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on Facebook.

Continue reading Andrew Young: ‘Nobody with any common sense wants Beverly Hall to resign’ »