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