Archive for December, 2010

Oaky Woods at double the price in a down market

The Political Insider blog is on hiatus until the new year.

Here’s something to ask yourself today: Is your house, and the land it sits on, worth twice as much today as it was in 2004? Probably not.

In fact, odds are that your little slice of heaven is worth a good deal less. No matter what your mortgage says.

But the real estate market can be a tricky thing.

On Wednesday, the Board of Natural Resources agreed to pay $28.7 million for 10,015 acres of Oaky Woods wilderness in middle Georgia. Six years ago, the price was roughly the same — for the entire 20,000-acre tract.

By passing on the property in 2004, over the protests of environmentalists, the state allowed the pristine black bear habitat to pass into the hands of Houston County developers — whose plans to build a private city did wonders for local land prices.

The assessed value of 101 acres adjacent to the Oaky Woods property, purchased by Gov. Sonny Perdue a year or so earlier, more than doubled to $750,100.

Oops. …

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Gone fishing for eggnog

The time has come to say thank-you for looking in on the Political Insider – more than 4.5 million times in 2010.

Your comments, your tips, your criticism, even your grammar policing have been much appreciated. After one more post, I’ll be taking some much-needed time off, to do a few long-neglected chores and drink a little eggnog.

My colleagues will take up the slack, so keep in touch through ajc.com. See you in 2011.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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Sarah Palin about to dump on tax cut compromise?

Congressional Democrats aren’t the only ones balking at the compromise reached between President Barack Obama and Senate Republicans over the Bush tax cuts.

GOP presidential presumptive Sarah Palin may be about to come out against the package as well. Below are two Twitter messages she’s passed along in the last few hours.

Both appear to endorse remarks in opposition made by U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.:

palintweets

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider
For instant updates, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on Facebook.

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Georgia Farm Bureau fires a warning shot in state immigration debate

Some tension is building over the Legislature’s push for an Arizona-style approach to illegal immigration. From Ray Henry and the Associated Press:

LYONS, Ga. — Georgia farmers, many of whom are dependent on immigrant labor, have fired a warning shot at state lawmakers considering ways to crack down on illegal immigrants.

Delegates to the Georgia Farm Bureau’s annual convention voted Tuesday to adopt a policy that opposes any state immigration measure that “discriminates against the farm worker” and puts farmers at a competitive disadvantage. The vote marks the first time the Farm Bureau has adopted an immigration policy directed specifically at Georgia state leaders.

“We think immigration is a federal issue, and it needs a federal solution,” said Jon Huffmaster, the Farm Bureau’s legislative director. “And we think a patchwork of state laws could cause more problems than it solves.”

Many farmers are heavily dependent on immigrant labor to harvest crops by hand, particularly …

Continue reading Georgia Farm Bureau fires a warning shot in state immigration debate »

Your morning jolt: Oaky Woods at double the price in a down real estate market

Something to ask yourself today: Is your house, and the land it sits on, worth twice as much today as it was in 2004? Probably not.

In fact, odds are that your property is worth much less.

Even so, the state Board of Natural Resources today will agree to pay $28.7 million for 9,595 acres of Oaky Woods wilderness in middle Georgia — nearly double the cost when the state was offered the land and passed on it in 2004.

Instead, most of the land went to developers – a move that boosted the value of a nearby tract owned by Gov. Sonny Perdue. But plans to create a private city on the land went bust with the housing market. With the DNR purchase, at least the developers, Oaky Woods Properties LLC, will be able to recoup their investment – and still hold onto half their purchase.

You will be happy to know that, according to one board member, no corruption was involved. Just greed. From my AJC colleague Jeremy Redmon, who attended the preliminaries on Tuesday:

Dwight Davis, another …

Continue reading Your morning jolt: Oaky Woods at double the price in a down real estate market »

Casey Cagle loses his chief of staff

You’re about to hear that Bart Gobeil, chief of staff to Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, has accepted a position within the coming Deal administration.

Gobeil has served as Cagle’s top aide since 2008. Initial reports say the parting is amicable, and is not a result of Cagle’s troubled relations with Senate Republicans.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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No. 2 Democrat in Georgia House switches to GOP side

Not one month ago, state Rep. Doug McKillip of Athens was elected the No. 2 Democrat in the House, as caucus chair behind House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams.

State Rep. Doug McKillip, R-Athens

State Rep. Doug McKillip, R-Athens

Today, he became the latest Democrat – sixth in the House – to become a Republican after a devastating Nov. 2 election for his party.

The office of House Speaker David Ralston assures us that this is no early April Fool’s Day prank. Devastating to the already fragile morale of Democrats, yes. But not a prank.

In an interview just completed, Abrams said she learned of McKillip’s switch when he called her, just before 2 p.m. “He’s been making fund-raising calls for the caucus over the last few weeks. He’s been helping freshmen House members raise money,” the Democratic leader said.

While other Democrats who have switched in the last few weeks have a basically conservative philosophy, Abrams said McKillip does not. “By and large, Doug McKillip has been a fairly liberal Democrat. Certainly …

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Hope fading for Jack Kingston in House Appropriations bid

Things aren’t looking good for U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston’s bid — backed by movement conservatives, the Wall Street Journal and some tea party groups — to become chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Just posted by Politico.com:

Tea party favorite Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) said Monday that Republican leaders haven’t shown strong support for his bid for the Appropriations Committee chairmanship. That makes his selection by the GOP steering committee at a meeting Tuesday afternoon unlikely.

If Kingston loses to one of the two remaining establishment front-runners, he will be the second tea-party-endorsed member to lose a bid for a top position in the past few weeks. Tea party icon Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) dropped her campaign for the Republican Conference chairmanship in November.

Moreover, tea party forces appear to have split their support. From The Hill:

A new letter from the Tea Party Express endorses Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) to be the next chairman of the …

Continue reading Hope fading for Jack Kingston in House Appropriations bid »

With Jim Marshall gone, Sanford Bishop and John Barrow become the next GOP targets

Over at The Fix, Washington Post writer Aaron Blake has an excellent, lengthy take on the games Republicans might play with U.S. Reps. John Barrow, D-Savannah, and Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, when redistricting rolls around next year.

In part:

In a Republican dream scenario, they could try to draw both Barrow and Bishop tougher districts, by borrowing GOPers from strongly Republican districts held by Reps. Jack Kingston, Lynn Westmoreland and Paul Broun.

A more likely scenario, though, is that Republicans actually shore up Bishop, potentially turning his district into a majority-black district, and use the more Republican areas of his district to help shore up Rep.-elect Austin Scott (R), who just beat Marshall next door. Once they do that, they need to decide whether they want to go after Barrow.

The GOP could strengthen Bishop by moving the heavily black parts of Macon (from Scott’s 8th district) and Valdosta (from Kingston’s 1st district) into Bishop’s 2nd district in the …

Continue reading With Jim Marshall gone, Sanford Bishop and John Barrow become the next GOP targets »

Your morning jolt: Port authority members paid for Sonny Perdue portrait

Money for Gov. Sonny Perdue’s portrait in the state Capitol was donated entirely by members the board of the Georgia Ports Authority.

So board chairman Alec Poitevint, former chairman of the state GOP, tells Tom Crawford of Georgia Reports:

The portrait of Gov. Sonny Perdue and his wife Mary that will hang in the state Capitol. John Spink, jspink@ajc.com

The portrait of Gov. Sonny Perdue and his wife Mary that will hang in the state Capitol. John Spink, jspink@ajc.com

Poitevint declined to disclose how much money the authority members donated for the artist’s commission. “It was very reasonable for the quality of the portrait,” he said.

Rossin’s portraits of the high and the mighty – he has painted both presidents Bush and Sen. Saxby Chambliss – reportedly bring him commissions in the range of $18,000 to $35,000.

The decision to raise the money from Ports Authority members is ironic, in light of recent media reports that representatives of Perdue’s trucking and grain businesses had met several times with port officials for tips on how to increase the amount of business the Perdue companies …

Continue reading Your morning jolt: Port authority members paid for Sonny Perdue portrait »