Archive for January, 2011

An effort to persuade Grover Norquist to back off — at least temporarily

One of the more important closed-door meetings of the legislative session is set for 10 a.m. Friday on the fourth floor of the state Capitol.

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. AJC file

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. AJC file

The Georgia Center Right Coalition will host an invitation-only discussion of the proposals issued in December by the special panel examining tax reform. The one that would restore the state sales tax on groceries in return for lower corporate and personal income tax rates.

The draw: An “open conversation” between A.D. Frazier, chairman of the tax reform panel, and Grover Norquist, president of Washington-based Americans for Tax Reform.

Earlier this month, Norquist condemned the proposed tax code rewrite as a tax increase, and thus a violation of ATR’s no-tax pledge, signed by many state lawmakers and – according to Norquist – Gov. Nathan Deal.

“This is akin to shards of glass in a delicious crème brûlée. It is a bit of desirable tax reform ruined by an …

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Newt Gingrich (and Jeb Bush): Allow voters to send their states into bankruptcy

In today’s Los Angeles Times, Newt Gingrich and Jeb Bush have double-bylined an argument for a federal law to permit state bankruptcies. From the op-ed:

“The figures for next year’s budgets are staggering. California, which faces a $25.4-billion budget shortfall, will pay $100,000+ pensions to more than 12,000 state and municipal retirees this year. A Stanford study puts the state’s unfunded pension obligations at more than half a trillion dollars. Illinois has a $15-billion budget deficit, prompting its governor and lame-duck Legislature to hike its personal income tax rate by 66%. New York, where 73% of the government workforce is unionized, is staring at a $10-billion deficit.

“…[A]s with municipal bankruptcy, a new bankruptcy law would allow states in default or in danger of default to reorganize their finances free from their union contractual obligations. In such a reorganization, a state could propose to terminate some, all or none of its government employee …

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A hot GOP chairman’s race: Eric Johnson backs Tricia Pridemore, Sue Everhart cites governor’s ’strong-arming’

This race for the chairmanship of the Georgia GOP is heating up like an out-of-control toaster oven.

Tricia Pridemore, the choice of Gov. Nathan Deal, announced this morning that she has picked up the support of Eric Johnson, the former Senate leader and GOP candidate for governor.

Sue Everhart, the incumbent seeking a third two-year term, this morning was on the Martha Zoller Show on 103.7 FM – which is syndicated across the state. Here’s the 10-minute clip sent by Zoller:

Said Everhart:

”I feel like I’m in a race with four people. I have two opponents plus Governor Deal. He is making calls to people, to [ask them to] not support me, but to support Tricia. And it’s very difficult when you’re in that mode. I don’t have the power of the governor’s office to do this.

“I would not want to get an endorsement that was strong-armed…If I have any endorsements, I want the endorsements of the grass roots. I’ve never asked elected officials to endorse me, because …

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Your morning jolt: For the first time, Senate leaders explain the Casey Cagle coup

On Wednesday, President pro tem Tommie Williams and Majority Leader Chip Rogers sat down to discuss at length, for the first time, the motivation behind the Republican caucus decision last year to strip Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle of his authority over the state Senate.

The Senate is now formally ruled by an eight-member Committee of Assignments, chaired by Williams, a Republican from Lyons.

Among the points made by Williams and Rogers:

– The Nov. 5 vote by the Senate GOP caucus in Macon was motivated not by anger of last year’s arm-twisting over the hospital bed tax, but a fresh reading of the state Constitution.

Senate President pro tem Tommie Williams, R-Lyons. AJC file

Senate President pro tem Tommie Williams, R-Lyons. AJC file

– That their 2006 decision to award Cagle authority over the Senate – the lieutenant governor’s powers had been taken away from his Democratic predecessor, Mark Taylor – was a mistake based on their affection for Cagle. Which they still have.

– And that they have not, over the last three months, explained …

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‘A night of polite’ between Jews and Muslims in Atlanta

If you curled up in front of the TV on Tuesday, you saw members of Congress, Republican and Democrat, pair up like awkward fourth-graders at the school dance.

“The night of polite” became an underlying theme of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union evening — a bipartisan effort to muddy the clichés of talk radio and cable TV.

But if you had ventured into a bone-chilling rain and pointed yourself toward The Temple in midtown Atlanta that same evening, you might have seen the real thing: A Muslim scholar — one of the world’s best — explaining the Quran from the pulpit of a major synagogue.

In front of him was a mixed audience of 200 or so. Not of Republicans and Democrats, but Jews and Muslims, men and women, some in yarmulkes and some in hajibs. With the occasional bare-headed gentile thrown in for good measure.

The purpose in Atlanta was the same as in Washington — an attempt to escape the cartoon corner we have painted ourselves into.

On one hand, we …

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If this illegal immigrant bill passes, watch what you say to strangers

Legislation just introduced by state Rep. Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City, to control illegal immigration is getting some scrutiny.

From my AJC colleage Jeremy Redmon:

Similar to Arizona’s controversial new law, Ramsey’s bill would require state and local law enforcement officers to investigate the immigration status of people they reasonably suspect of being in the country illegally. It would also authorize police to arrest them if they are in the country illegally and transport them to a federal jail….

Ramsey’s bill would also require private businesses with more than five employees to use a federal program called E-Verify. That program seeks to verify that newly hired employees are eligible to work in the United States. A coalition of businesses and immigrant rights groups is suing to stop a similar law in Arizona that requires all businesses to use E-Verify, arguing that it is unconstitutional.

Not exactly pioneering concepts. But below is an excerpt from the press …

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Your morning jolt: Post-election intrigue and an attack on the RNC’s Nick Ayers

Two weeks ago, a Democratic operative sent news of a curious online ad – with a link to this new web site – that he had run across at nyt.com.

It was an attack on Nick Ayers, the former aide to Gov. Sonny Perdue who made good in D.C. as the executive director of the Republican Governors Association.

nicksbrewtube

The anonymous web site takes a look at a DUI charge that Ayers, at age 24, was hit with in 2006 while he was campaign manager of Perdue’s multi-million dollar re-election bid. The charge was later reduced, as these things often are in Georgia.

Without knowing the source of the attack, we let the tip pass. But the Ben Smith team at Politico.com, knowing a little more about the Internet, did not:

”We’ve tracked an anonymous site set up to attack Ayers to the IP address of a Georgia Democratic consulting firm with informal ties to former governor and losing 2010 gubernatorial candidate Roy Barnes….

An email to the site was not answered — but an IP tracking tool in a …

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The words Georgia Republicans want to hear from President Obama: ‘Port’ and ‘Savannah’

If you are a Republican elsewhere in the nation, there are certain phrases you hope to hear come out of President Barack Obama’s mouth this evening in his State of the Union speech.

Most of them begin with the words, “I surrender.”

But if you are a Georgia Republican, or the mayor of Atlanta, or a member of the state’s business establishment, you will be on the edge of your seat – waiting for “port” or “coastal” and “infrastructure” or “construction” to escape Obama’s lips.

The Amerigo Vespucci is unloaded at the Port of Savannah in Savannah, Ga./ AJC file

The Amerigo Vespucci is unloaded at the Port of Savannah in Savannah, Ga./ AJC file

The state’s political elite will be looking for any hint that next month – despite bipartisan insistence on a decrease in federal spending – Obama will include $700 million or so in his budget proposal, due out in mid-February, for the dredging of the Port of Savannah.

Refurbishing the port so that it can handle super-container ships that will pass through the Panama Canal in 2014 has …

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Casey Cagle wins an obscure but important tiff over redistricting

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle apparently survived another attempt to circumscribe his authority over the state Senate this morning.

As previously reported, there was an attempt on Monday to insert language into a resolution on the Senate consent agenda that would have given President pro tem Tommie Williams, R-Lyons, control of the Senate committee that holds the chambers purse-strings.

Say-so over the money, means say-so over staff. And that’s important.

But Cagle refused to call the item to a vote, and a days’ worth of backroom strategizing followed. (The exact wording of the Monday proposal remains a mystery. For some reason — no doubt a Senate staffer obsessed with recycling — all copies have disappeared.)

A morning meeting of the Senate Republican caucus stretched into overtime while a compromise was hashed out.

Under the measure that was approved by a 37-16 vote today, Williams indeed wins the chairmanship of the Committee on Administrative Affairs. But Cagle retains a majority …

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Nathan Deal says he’d support Newt Gingrich

After this morning’s Eggs and Issues Breakfast hosted by the Georgia Chamber, Gov. Nathan Deal was asked about that visit Newt Gingrich paid him last week.

According to my AJC colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin, Deal said:

“He’s, of course, a long-time friend and a supporter of my efforts to become governor of this state. It’s no secret he is taking exploratory actions to determine whether or not he’s going to pursue the presidency of the United States and we talked briefly about that.

“I don’t think he’s made that decision. He indicated he’s still in the deciding process.”

Reports from Republicans we’ve talked to say Gingrich is much further along in his decision-making process than he lets on.

In any case, Governor, will you support Gingrich if he runs for president in ‘12?

“I will,” Deal said.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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