Archive for January, 2011

An awkward moment during that what-to-do-with-ATL-schools meeting

We’re picking up word that the Wednesday closed-door meeting called by Gov. Nathan Deal with Atlanta lawmakers, to discuss the city school system’s accreditation problems, almost fell apart in the first few minutes.

Deal announced that he wanted House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta, and former Republican candidate for state Senate Beth Beskin to monitor the public school system on behalf of both the Legislature and the governor.

Abrams, given her position, was a natural choice. But within the room, Beskin was another matter. Considered an up-and-comer among Republicans, Beskin ran against state Sen. Horacena Tate, D-Atlanta, in November. Tate, who was re-elected with 64 percent of the margin, was in the room when Deal made his announcement.

There was an immediate impression among the Democrats who filled the room that this was an attempt to boost Beskin for yet another run against Tate — despite the governor’s emphasis on setting aside partisan politics.

“It …

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Your morning jolt: Senate banking chairman says he won’t step down

A cross-ideological alliance of tea partyists, good government-types and traditional Republicans in pursuit of ethics reform in the state Capitol will unveil its demands this morning.

Bob Irvin, the former state GOP legislator and past chairman of Common Cause Georgia will have the mike. Other groups include the Georgia chapter of Tea Party Patriots, Georgia Watch, and Ray Boyd, the former candidate for governor.

Jack Murphy, R-Cumming, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. Jason Getz,jgetz@ajc.com

Jack Murphy, R-Cumming, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. Jason Getz,jgetz@ajc.com

Timing is everything in politics. Look for a federal lawsuit alleging that Jack Murphy, chairman of the state Senate banking committee, to be a major topic at the 11 a.m. presser.

Murphy told the AJC on Wednesday that he has no plans to resign his spot as a chief advocate for banking legislation in the Capitol. He issued this statement, which we reproduce in its entirety:

“First, I must point out that I am limited in what I can say regarding my involvement with Integrity Bank …

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The coming fight for chairmanship of the state GOP

You’re the ruling party in Georgia, and you’re at the height of your power. There’s not a statewide politician left standing with a “D” next to his name.

So how do you celebrate?

With a five-month, three-way battle for leadership of the state Republican party that — at its worse — could pit some of Georgia’s most powerful political figures against each other. And throw a wrench into preparations aimed at beating back a second surge of Barack Obama voters in 2012.

The main question is whether a Republican governor of Georgia should be allowed to choose the chairman of the state GOP. That’s how Democrats did it for a century and more.

Gov.-elect Nathan Deal and Tricia Pridemore (left), his choice as state GOP chair, during a pre-inaugural visit to Atlanta Union Mission. AP/David Goldman

Gov.-elect Nathan Deal and Tricia Pridemore (left), his choice as state GOP chair, during a pre-inaugural visit to Atlanta Union Mission. AP/David Goldman

But among Republicans, such top-down style is still open to debate.

They have pages of arcane rules that say the chairman of the state party — which now controls millions upon …

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Michael Steele: ‘Now I know how Julius Caesar felt’

Earlier this morning, we told you that former Sonny Perdue aide Nick Ayers has been tapped by Reince Priebus, the new chairman of the Republican National Committee, to help rebuild the RNC. He’ll be “transition director.”

First order of business: Weather the slings and arrows from ousted chairman Michael Steele, who doesn’t think much of his Priebus, his former ally and ex-chairman of the Wisconsin GOP.

From an interview with Tim Mak on FrumForum.com:

“I know exactly how Caesar felt,” Steele says, without a hint of irony. “It is what it is.” He claims that Priebus had been planning to defect for six, seven, eight months before announcing a bid for the chairmanship. Steele was blindsided. “I trust my friends. Well, I guess the adage is right. In Washington, you should get a dog… We put a lot of resources in Wisconsin over the last two years… that’s what you do for [the] team.”

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter,

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Your morning jolt: Casey Cagle and the advantages of not being in charge

All things being equal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle would still rather be the unchallenged leader of the state Senate.

But demotion comes with its advantages. For instance, late Tuesday it wasn’t Cagle, but the leaders of the Senate Republican caucus who were forced to defend their appointment of Jack Murphy, R-Cumming, as chairman of the chamber’s banking committee.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle/Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle/Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

Federal banking regulators on Tuesday accused eight former insiders of a failed Alpharetta bank — including Murphy — of gross negligence and various breaches of their financial responsibilities. Click here for the article by my AJC colleagues Scott Trubey and Chris Quinn.

Senate President Pro Tem Tommie Williams, R-Lyons, who chairs the ruling Committee on Assignments, admits he was caught by surprise at the allegations against Murphy:

Williams said he knew Murphy had worked with the failed bank but had no idea further trouble was brewing.

Williams said the fact that …

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Jack Murphy, Senate banking chairman, named in federal suit over bank failure

My business colleagues at ajc.com have a shocker:

Federal banking regulators announced on Tuesday a lawsuit against eight former insiders of a failed Alpharetta bank – one of them a state senator who was just named chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.

State Sen. Jack S. Murphy, R-Cumming, is among the former Integrity Bank executives or directors accused by FDICl regulators of gross negligence and various breaches of fiduciary duty related to a series of loans made from 2005 to 2007. The FDIC seeks damages of “over $70 million.”

Former state senator Clint Day was also named in the suit. See 77 pages of documents.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on Facebook.

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Governor calls for meeting with ATL lawmakers to talk school accreditation

This release just arrived from the governor’s office:

Gov. Nathan Deal will take an active role in helping Atlanta Public Schools prevent loss of its accreditation. Upon the announcement today that the system’s high schools are on probation, the governor has reached out to Mayor Kasim Reed and has called a meeting tomorrow with the entire Atlanta legislative delegation.

“I will make every effort to ensure that Atlanta’s children are not harmed by the adults who have failed them,” Deal said. “I have begun the process of working with Atlanta’s leaders, including my friend Mayor Reed, to implement corrective action immediately. The high schools are on probation but they have not lost their accreditation. We must do everything possible to stop an embarrassing situation from snowballing into a destructive situation.

“Children’s futures are at stake. My budget showed the priority I place on education. My actions in this situation will demonstrate similar resolve. In addition to …

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About that photo of Nathan Deal in Hitler garb

If you are an editor at El Nuevo Georgia, a Spanish-language newspaper, commit the following to memory: El primero que citar Hitler pierde.

The first one to invoke Hitler loses.

Republican Twitter feeds were buzzing bright and early this morning with the newspaper’s photo depiction of Nathan Deal with a swastika armband and a bottle-brush moustache.

That discussion about civil discourse? It didn’t make it across the language barrier.

We won’t show you the photo – you can check it out here if you’re so inclined.

But the Insider’s in-house translation service did come up with a quick-and-dirty English version. A certain Democratic lawmaker from Duluth might be a little red-faced this afternoon at being quoted in the article that ran with the Hitler illustration.

The piece was a fairly straightforward look at Governor Deal’s campaign for governor, including a review of the his family’s financial woes and the congressional ethics investigation.

Here are the last …

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Your morning jolt: Let states declare bankruptcy, says Newt Gingrich

Say you’re the governor of a large Southern state and the pensions that you and your predecessors have promised are killing the bottom line.

Bankruptcy for states should be an option, says former U.S. House speaker and possible 2012 presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.

Former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich

Former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich

In an article published in Pension and Investments, a spokesman recently confirmed that Gingrich is working “inside and outside of Congress” for federal legislation that would give troubled states the right to declare themselves financially insolvent – and renege on pension and other benefits.

Writes P&I:

Proponents of the measure — which include Americans for Tax Reform, a Washington lobby group that fights tax increases — said the legislation is desperately needed to clear the way for struggling states to slash costs before they go belly up, and should be regarded as a preemptive move that could preclude the need for massive federal bailouts.

“It’s in the …

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An afternoon jolt: MLK was the occasion, but the spree in Tucson was the topic

At Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta this morning, the occasion was the 82nd birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

But the topic was Tucson.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder decried gun violence:

“Last week a senseless in Tuscon, Ariz., reminded us that more than 40 years after Dr. King’s own tragic death, our own long struggle to end and eradicate violence goes on.

“But today, once more, we can see the stars. We see them in the courage of a man who died shielding his wife from a spray of bullets, in the kindness of strangers who raced to the aid of those in need, and in the strength of a young, energetic congresswoman who’s fight for her own life has inspired each of ours.”

Said U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson:

Today we are all citizens of Tucson….Today we rejoice always for the life of Dr. King, for his contributions and all that he’s meant to this country. And we rejoice as citizens of Tucson, for the recovery of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and those others who …

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