Your morning jolt: Discordant notes over Port of Savannah funding

This bipartisan effort to obtain federal funding for the dredging of the Port of Savannah has some serious messaging kinks to work out.

On Thursday morning, members of the metro Atlanta business community held a kind of rally to emphasize the need for federal funding of the $551 million project. The dredging, needed to accommodate larger ships passing through the Panama Canal, has been identified it as the most economically important infrastructure project in the state.

Mayor Kasim Reed of far-away Atlanta has committed to acting as a kind of liaison to the White House, dropping these details to my AJC colleague Dan Chapman:

Reed, in an interview Thursday, said he met four months ago at the White House with one of the president’s top domestic policy advisers to discuss the deepening. He brought along Alec Poitevint, a prominent Georgia Republican and the GPA’s chairman, and Curtis Foltz, the ports’ executive director. Reed will make another White House pitch in January.

“It’s important that [Obama] include it in his budget because we believe the deepening is a national priority,” Reed said. “And it would be less subject to political turbulence” if earmarks aren’t involved.

But hundreds of miles away, in synchronized discord at an eggs-and-issues meeting in Savannah, certain Republicans were already anticipating failure. From today’s Savannah Morning News:

Several local legislators want Georgia to pick up the whole tab for Savannah harbor deepening if Washington, D.C., won’t help.

“We’ve got … to step up to the plate for the future of Georgia,” Rep. Ron Stephens said Thursday at a Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce breakfast.

Four other local lawmakers agreed, but top state officials – including Gov.-elect Nathan Deal – are noncommittal….

“We as a state cannot afford not to,” said Stephens, who chairs the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee.

Poitevint, the former state GOP chairman whom Reed had escorted into the White House, was at the Savannah event. He said he wasn’t ready to give up on federal help.

Back in the state Capitol, one prominent Republican who witnessed the Savannah display could only shake his head. A request for help isn’t likely to be as impressive if – at the same time – you’re saying you don’t need it.

A key figure in holding disparate factions together when it comes to the remaking of the Port of Savannah will be Chris Cummiskey, Gov.-elect Nathan Deal’s nominee to become commissioner of the state Department of Economic Development.

The state economic development board, meeting Thursday at a Kia training center in West Point, Ga., quietly approved Deal’s choice. Cummiskey, a former aide to both U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson and House Speaker Glenn Richardson, will assume his job in January.

The revamped National Journal is trying something new with its mix of video and print reporting. Here’s its attempt to explain how U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston’s pursuit of the chairmanship of the House Appropriations Committee and the hoopla over earmarks could affect funding for the Port of Savannah:

Former Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin directs your attention to this article from Business Week:

Newark Mayor Cory Booker began firing 15 percent of his police department today, illustrating the actions that cities in the second-wealthiest U.S. state are being forced to take to confront lower aid and tax revenue.

The 167 dismissals in Newark, New Jersey’s largest city, come as Camden Mayor Dana Redd won approval to cut the police force by almost half, eight days after CQ Press rated her town the second most-dangerous U.S. city.

Paterson, New Jersey’s third most-populous city, may boost the property-tax bill on a typical home to $6,819 from $3,896, according to information filed with the state’s Division of Local Government Services.

The recession has begun and ended, she points out, and some cities, counties and states, including Georgia “ “have yet or have just begun to make the serious choices Atlanta did in 2008 and 2009.”

The vote to censure U.S. Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., on Thursday split Democrats from Georgia along racial lines.

Voting yes were U.S. Reps. John Barrow of Savannah and the exiting Jim Marshall of Macon. Voting no were U.S. Reps. Sanford Bishop, Hank Johnson, John Lewis and David Scott.

Lewis was in Atlanta yesterday evening, and explained himself. From the Associated Press:

The Atlanta Democrat spoke to the annual meeting of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators in Atlanta on Thursday. He told the crowd he couldn’t stay long because he had to get to Washington, D.C., for votes on continuing unemployment benefits and extending tax cuts.

He defended Rep. Charles Rangel, a New York Democrat who faces a possible censure vote for violating House rules. Lewis said Rangel’s 40 years as a congressman and service in the Korean War “should count for something.”

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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30 comments Add your comment


December 3rd, 2010
9:39 am

What were the serious choices Atlanta made in 2008 and 2009? Payroll has continued to grow and the out-of-control, unfunded pension liabilities will smother us all.

Get Real

December 3rd, 2010
9:55 am

John Lewis …….Get Real …. Exactly what does 40 years as a congressman and service in “Korea” have to do with the FACT that Mr. Rangel is a CROOK and that he BROKE the law …. Are you just trying to protect him because he is black or that he just got caught and now needs to face the music. He should be tried in court on any charge that is criminal and put in jail. Why should he be treated any differently that any other person that has worked for 40 years and served in any war ……I am sure you can find some people ion jail with the same credentials. …. I’m just surprised that Queen Pelosi even let his Centure come up for a vote ……. I am guessing that a lot of his fellow congressmen and women are worried that they might get caught doing similar things, like Rangel did …. YOU INCLUDED …….


December 3rd, 2010
10:07 am

No taxpayer funding for the Savannah deepening!


December 3rd, 2010
10:22 am


Last Man Standing

December 3rd, 2010
10:27 am

Rangel and Lewis have something in common. Lewis will support Rangel as a pigmentation issue.


December 3rd, 2010
10:39 am

I am not defending Rangel. However, the Korean War reference is true. He was wounded in combat and received the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.

Keith Helms

December 3rd, 2010
10:49 am

Don’t hold your breath waiting for Obama to support any thing for the State of Georgia. We have already seen his hate for the State and other states with a majority of Republicans. If he knows that the project will aid all of Georgia and not just Savannah and Atlanta he will block it. The only whites the bigot wants to help are the liberals like in Oregon and California, homosexuals, baby murderers, and Marxist (welfare).


December 3rd, 2010
11:08 am

The elected Republicans from GA couldn’t dare look bad for the Tea Party and ask for an earmark now…so they send the Democrat from Atlanta to do it. Nice…


December 3rd, 2010
11:10 am

Last Man Standing –

Be careful, LMS. You’re bigotry is starting to show again.

Last Man Standing

December 3rd, 2010
11:13 am


It isn’t bigotry, it is simply the truth.


December 3rd, 2010
11:16 am

Hoisted by his/their own petard, as my daddy used to say.

The Centrist

December 3rd, 2010
11:17 am

Keith. Don’t let facts get in the way of a good story. Please name one circumstance where Obama has prevented Georgia or any other State from receiving Federal Funds. We have seen where States that happen to have Republican Governors like Georgia and New Jersey who have failed to qualify for funds because of ineptness, incompetence, or both.

The Centrist

December 3rd, 2010
11:35 am

Lewis and others voted for reprimand but against censure because it was unprecedented. Normally, censorship had been reserved for congressmen who had been accused of a felony or ethical violations that could lead to criminal prosecution, like Tom Delay. So why did Tom Delay only receive reprimands for his various ethical and criminal wrongdoings from his collegues?


December 3rd, 2010
11:47 am

Why should Obama help this state? People here are proud that they hate him and that the state is RED. Why now ask for help from someone you happily admit you desprise?

tom mitchell

December 3rd, 2010
11:57 am

Last Man Standing…pigmentation seems to be your chief priority when attacking politicians on this blog. So racial prejudice is very much at play here, and you are incapable of seeing yourself as others see you. In other words, sir, you are an ignorant bigot.

dorothy stapen

December 3rd, 2010
12:02 pm

I think this whole federal funding idea for the GA ports is hilarious! Georgia’s leaders hate Obama, right? Less than a month ago all we heard on TV and radio was RoyBama, RoyBama ad nauseum. Now our hypocritical GOP leaders are whining for Obama to give us a Federal handout. If I were Obama I would tell Georia to go pound sand.


December 3rd, 2010
12:04 pm

I voted a straight democrat ticket in November with the exception of Nahminas, but can tell you that deepening the port of Savannah is critical to this state, and applaud Mayor Reed for looking beyond partisan interests to make this happen. Rep. Johnson is also on board and has influence in the White House given is role in the campaign.


December 3rd, 2010
12:28 pm

Deepening the port of Savannah presents a problem when we also want to end ear-marks and get the federal government out of the business of over-taxing and over-spending.

It is a Georgia problem and, supposedly, will benefit Georgians. If it is so valuable, we should be willing to be taxed to pay for it. But, I don’t want to see anyone become a multi-millionnaire with my state tax dollars covering his/her rear. If they do, we need to heavily tax them because they made their millions off the backs of the rest of us. Lets say we tax them until the wealthy recipients have paid back the rest of us Georgians every tax dollar we spent giving them the “opportunity” to make their millions.

Or, lets just admit that federal spending on infrastructure is needed and start up a modern version of the WPA. There will be lots of stupid things funded. But, meanwhile, some really important things will get done.

dorothy stapen

December 3rd, 2010
12:31 pm

Maybe Sonny Perdue’s trucking company that makes big $$$ off the GA Ports should chip in a few million for the project.

Keith Helms

December 3rd, 2010
12:36 pm

Yes!!! Georgia leaders hate Obama’s stances. And with good reason. The vast majority of Georgians are decent human beings. That is why I voted against Jim Marshall after supporting him until this last election. He supported Obama, the mulatto who is half muslim and half Jewish white trash, one two many times. All of you supporters of Obama need to remember it was him and his cohorts who bailed out the big banks and stock cheaters. His Marxist health care law is illegal and only helps Marxists. Why aren’t we winning in Afghanistan? He refuses to send enough troops, handcuffs the ones there, and kisses the butts of the terrorists. Where are the carpet bombers, the smart bombs, and the missiles? They would kill too many of his brothers.

Keep doing this GOP

December 3rd, 2010
1:02 pm

Boy, the racists are on here today!! Would someone tell Keith that HE is benefitting from the so-called Marxist Health Care Law. Why aren’t we winning in Afghanistan? Try 7 years of non-attention, lackluster support and lack of importance. And as far as bailing out Big Banks, that was the previous adminstration ,not the current one. And i voted against Paul Broun, one of only three congressmen to vote against a ban on videos depicting small animals being subjected to being killed by women with high heels and other means.


December 3rd, 2010
1:17 pm

LMAO as the governor elect has hat in hand for money from a man he doesn’t think is an American. LMAO as my pork is not pork just good business.
LMAO as RoyBama chuckles
LMAO as the weasal mayor of Atlanta has to stand up for the great red state of Georgia. Surely he is using this as a political quid pro quo. Can’t wait to see what he gets. LMAO


December 3rd, 2010
3:11 pm

Hopefully a metro transportation plan and a water use plan for Lake Lanier are the number 2 and 3 issues. Number 1 remains Sonny’s new shipping business at the Port that must be funded.


December 3rd, 2010
3:23 pm

Speaking of Tom Delay, he was convicted last week by a Texas jury.

The Centrist

December 3rd, 2010
3:53 pm

Are we talking about the financial bailout that Bush instituted with no oversight? Or those same bankers Boehner wants to make their 2%’er tax cuts permanent? Are we talking about the GOP vote against increasing troop levels in Afghanistan but at the request of military leaders? Or that Obama has more doubled troop levels over the levels Bush had deployed? Are we talking about Carpert bombing and other tactics were good for wars between nations, not terrorist cells, and the same engagements that Boehner has been crying that Obama has had too many drone attacks?

The Centrist

December 3rd, 2010
3:58 pm

NEWS FLASH!!! Keith Helms says that Obama lied in saying his mother was an atheist. But it really doesn’t matter, since real Southern do not care for Jews or atheists.

Last Man Standing

December 3rd, 2010
4:40 pm

tom mitchell:

“Last Man Standing…pigmentation seems to be your chief priority when attacking politicians on this blog. So racial prejudice is very much at play here, and you are incapable of seeing yourself as others see you. In other words, sir, you are an ignorant bigot.”

For what it’s worth, I don’t particularly care how you or “others” see me. YOU, sir, are a pompous, mentally challenged nincompoop.

An American Patriot

December 3rd, 2010
5:41 pm

Just some more “Pork Barrel Politics”…..if it needs dredging, the people of Georgia should pay for it, not the whole country……get real, folks. Why would someone in S. Dakota care about this enough to pay for part of it?

Good Ole Boy

December 4th, 2010
3:14 pm

Savannah needs to get off the Federal dole. This “harbor deepening” is just another form of the current rot in Washington, D.C. Hey Savannah, didn’t you just get the cash for that GIANT bridge to nowhere–oh, wait, it goes to a hotel for tourists. Yea, that’s sustainable.
If you want it, Savannah, pay for it!

-Georgia resident


December 6th, 2010
4:22 pm

It is always better to fund projects like the deepening of the Savannah River channel without federal funds. It is stealing from the nation’s taxpayers. The State of Georgia and private industry can and should fund the project. The shipping channel is a State of Georgia and private industry’s asset. Keep the federal government out of it.Then they can’t tax us more and threaten us.