Archive for January, 2011

Sunday sales bill blazes a new, perhaps faster, path

The bill to permit Sunday sales of beer and wine in Georgia was just introduced in the Senate, and immediately hit a set of greased skids designed to increase its chance of passage this year.

In past years, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle has assigned the measure to the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee, chaired by state Sen. David Shafer, R-Duluth, where it has sometimes languished.

This morning, Cagle chose a new direction. SB 10 is now under the wing of the State and Local Government Operations Committee – nicknamed “Slo-go” – chaired by newcomer Butch Miller, R-Gainesville.

As did previous versions, SB 10 would allow local communities to hold referendums on whether to allow Sunday sales of beer and wine in grocery and convenience stores. “It’s a local matter for local government to offer local referendums,” explained Cagle spokesman Ben Fry.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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A Senate crisis to interrupt bacon, eggs and grits

A late post, because – if you’re a member of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce – you might be interested in why your Eggs & Issues Breakfast will be so thinly attended Tuesday morning.

Or why Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle might be a tad distracted during his address.

Late Monday morning, as the Senate was about to convene, a housekeeping measure was introduced for unanimous consent. Included in the legislation was a slight modification of the Senate rules.

It would have made Senate President pro tem Tommie Williams, R-Lyons, automatic chairman of the chamber’s Committee on Administrative Affairs, which holds the Senate’s purse strings. Right now, the chamber’s fiscal affairs are controlled by Cagle.

The language would also have allowed Williams to deal directly with House Speaker David Ralston on certain matters. The formation of some committees – we’re not sure whether conference committees were included.

In essence, it was an attempt to complete the coup against Cagle that was launched …

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Is ‘the Ocho’ over?

In his first meeting with reporters this session, Majority Leader Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock, was asked why the Committee on Assignments has been so silent since it was awarded control of the Senate in November.

Message-wise, they’ve been outgunned by the man they meant to sideline – Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.

My AJC colleague Chris Quin passed along Rogers answer:

“I have to let each member determine how often they want to do that and what format they want to do that in,” Rogers said. “The Committee on Assignment’s work is done for the most part and already complete. I don’t know that there is going to be a lot more action by the committee.”

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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A Muslim lecture on Shariah law – at the Temple in Atlanta

The Insider doesn’t normally post calendar items — especially for events without general admission. This Tuesday evening event at the Temple in Atlanta is interesting in and of itself.

The Anti-Defamation League and the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta are joining forces to present “Understanding the Quran,” a program that will examine how the Quran guides the daily lives of Muslims. The principal speaker will be Dr. Joseph Lumbard, chair of the Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies program at Brandeis University. Rabbi Joshua Lesser, of Congregation Bet Haverim in Atlanta will offer a Jewish perspective on the teachings of the Quran.

ADL Southeast Regional Director Bill Nigut and Islamic Speakers Bureau founder and Executive Director Soumaya Khalifa came together for this event because they share a common belief that few non-Muslims have more than a superficial understanding of what the Quran teaches.

Dr. Lumbard will discuss what the Quran says about how Muslims are expected …

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Johnny Isakson: Use debt-ceiling debate to reach accord on deficit reduction

Congress should use this year’s debate over raising the debt ceiling to reach a deficit-reduction proposal that will require candid discussion of across-the-board sacrifices – including the elimination of many tax exemptions, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson told a group of business leaders on Monday.

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson/AJC file

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson/AJC file

The morning address to the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce was the first of two groups Isakson was to deliver his message. During a second appointment with the Atlanta Press Club, Isakson endorsed the idea of allowing states to declare bankruptcy.

Isakson, who won a second term in November, told his morning audience that the federal deficit threatens national security. If nothing is done, he said, “there’ll be no commerce to chamber.”

Said Isakson:

”We don’t have much time. In fact, I think we’ve got nine months to begin the process. By the end of September, the 2012 elections will be driving what everybody does in Washington D.C. And getting something …

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Atlanta’s schools and a disturbing outbreak of common sense

Question your dog closely today. There’s every chance that he has declared a truce with the neighborhood cat.

Should you have a tattooed teenager in the house, check the trash. If the garbage can has made it to the street without your usual pleading, nagging or threats, do not summon police.

Whether the result of sunspots or a virus, strange experiences are being reported all over the state. Unfathomable marvels, in fact. This week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta even documented a case in which fully grown adults on the public payroll were caught doing the right thing — possibly for the right reason.

Again, there is no reason to panic. We have drugs for everything now, and surely this, too, will pass.

The most recent outbreak of good judgment occurred in and around the state Capitol. The event quickly caught the eye of epidemiologists, like a green blade of grass springing up in the Gobi desert.

By way of background: On Tuesday, the outfit in charge of …

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A Saxby Chambliss shift to a leadership position on Senate Intelligence Committee

Saxby Chambliss on Friday said he intended to give up his status as ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, swapping it for a similar position on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The move would put him in line for chairmanship of one of the most powerful – and face it, intriguing — committees in Washington, should Republicans take control of the U.S. Senate.

U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., speaks Friday at a 70th anniversary celebration for Delta Air Lines in Atlanta. Bloomberg/Chris Rank

U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., speaks Friday at a 70th anniversary celebration for Delta Air Lines in Atlanta. Bloomberg/Chris Rank

And yes, Chambliss plans to run for re-election in 2014.

Committee assignments in the new Senate haven’t been formalized yet. (And Chambliss would keep his seat on the Senate Agriculture Committee.)

But a leadership move from agriculture to intelligence would remove Chambliss from negotiations over the next farm bill in 2012 – sure to be marked by an intra-GOP fight over subsidies. “I did the last farm bill — carried the ball on it. And it’s probably time for somebody with …

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Newt Gingrich tells Georgia Republicans he’ll be a candidate in ‘12

In the last 24 hours, former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich has touched base with several prominent Republicans in his former home state, telling them that he intends to make a run for president in 2012 using Georgia as his base – and that he already has his eye on office space in Buckhead for a campaign headquarters.

Former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich

Former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich

Gingrich met on Thursday with Nathan Deal, whom Gingrich endorsed during a critical phase of last year’s Republican primary for governor.

House Speaker David Ralston introduced Gingrich Thursday night at a downtown Atlanta affair hosted by the Paulding County Chamber of Commerce.

The visits and conversations – some face-to-face, others on the phone — appear to be an attempt by Gingrich to revive his old campaign network and lock down as much support as possible in a state won by Republican Mike Huckabee in the 2008 presidential primary.

A spokeswoman for Johnny Isakson said Gingrich called the U.S. senator earlier this …

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Your morning jolt: The video that has Sanford Bishop steamed

From Washington, my AJC colleague Bob Keefe has this:

Democratic U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop called Internet insinuations that he was somehow involved in fraud surrounding last year’s settlement between the government and African-American farmers “one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard.”

Videos featuring two Georgia farmers that are being circulated on the Web by conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart hint that Bishop, of Albany, may have known about possible fraud in last year’s so-called “Pigford” settlement between the government and black farmers who claimed that a Department of Agriculture farm loan program discriminated against them.

Read the rest here. Below is one of the videos at issue. It’s pretty thin gruel:

Keefe also offers up this reminder:

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Governor receives land from bankrupt daughter

Just in from the Associated Press:

The daughter of Gov. Nathan Deal has transferred Habersham County property to her father that had been used as collateral in a failed sporting goods venture.

Habersham County records show Carrie Deal Wilder and her husband Clint Wilder had lived on the nearly 16-acre Habersham County property. The couple declared bankruptcy last year, leaving Nathan Deal and his wife, Sandra, on the hook for some $2.3 million in loans.

County property records show Carrie Deal transferred the property to her father for $10 on Dec. 31.

Jimmy Allen, who oversees personal finances in Deal’s blind trust, said he expects the property will be sold to help satisfy some $1.35 million in debt he incurred from backing Wilder Outdoors.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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