Archive for April, 2011

Donald Trump and the F-bomb

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Gone fishing

With the Legislature gone and presidential campaigns still in non-campaign status, the Insider is taking the rest of the week off for a little recuperation.

We’ll be up and running again Monday. Unless we hit the Powerball – and then all bets are off.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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The first GOP casualty: Haley Barbour says no to ‘12 presidential race

Here’s the statement posted on the web site of Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour:

“I will not be a candidate for president next year. This has been a difficult, personal decision, and I am very grateful to my family for their total support of my going forward, had that been what I decided.

“Hundreds of people have encouraged me to run and offered both to give and raise money for a presidential campaign. Many volunteers have organized events in support of my pursuing the race. Some have dedicated virtually full time to setting up preliminary organizations in critical, early states and to helping plan what has been several months of intensive activity.

“I greatly appreciate each and every one of them and all their outstanding efforts. If I have disappointed any of them in this decision, I sincerely regret it.

“A candidate for president today is embracing a ten-year commitment to an all-consuming effort, to the virtual exclusion of all else. His (or her) supporters expect and …

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That 3-cent increase in gas tax? More like a nickel – and higher still in Atlanta

Beth Brown at the Association County Commissions of Georgia has confirmed what we were told this morning: That 3-cent sales tax that kicks in on May 1 will actually be more like 5 cents, or more, once special local option sales taxes are counted.

The matter is complicated, but the state tax on gasoline is a flat 7.5 cents per gallon, plus an amount based on price – which increases if the price per gallon goes up more than 25 percent.

And that it has indeed done, which means the secondary state tax will automatically increase from 10.1 cents to 12.9 cents per gallon on May 1.

But that doesn’t count the sales tax that local governments add. Communities that levy SPLOST pennies for education and local county governments will add an average of 2.1 cents per gallon, Brown said.

So now, we’re up to 4.9 cents. And in the city of Atlanta, the automated tax hike will be more like 6 cents, because of the extra sales tax for the reconstruction of the city’s sewer system.

A …

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Georgia voters narrowly approve outcome of the Civil War

State offices are closed today in observance of Confederate Memorial Day.

According to a three-state survey by Public Policy Polling, Georgia voters – by a slim margin – have come to approve of the way the Civil War turned out. North Carolinians are slightly less satisfied. But Mississippi – here we must invoke that famous Nina Simone tune.

The largest portion of Mississippi voters remain undecided when it comes to the outcome.

From PPP, an N.C. firm:

Except in Mississippi, most voters in these states are glad the Union won the “War Between the States” instead of the South. 53% say that in Georgia, 48% in North Carolina, and 34% in Mississippi. But still fewer in Mississippi (27%) would prefer that General Lee’s troops had prevailed; a 39% plurality are not sure. Similarly, only 21% in North Carolina and 23% in Georgia wish the South had won.

When hostilities broke out, Republicans were the party of Abraham Lincoln and unionism, and Democrats, by and large, were …

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An awkward mention for Johnny Isakson

With the departure of U.S. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., a seat opens up on the powerful Senate Finance Committee – whose jurisdiction covers Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and taxes.

Roll Call opines that most Republicans in Washington expect U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson to get the nod. Which would give Georgia two senators at the center of a mounting debate over the federal deficit.

Saxby Chambliss, of course, is up to his ears with Gang of Six negotiations.

But before we get all excited, let us look at the facts, as presented in that same Roll Call article. Isakson is vice-chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee, and with chairman Barbara Boxer has been – for the last 22 months – at the head of an investigation into Ensign’s affair and its ramifications.

Let’s see: Senator resigns and is replaced by the fellow who, in the way of things, helped force his resignation. The optics are awkward.

Isakson is in Asia and thus out of pocket. But as much as many would like to …

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Fort Benning military begins ‘courtesy patrols’ of downtown Columbus

Over the Easter weekend, military personnel from Fort Benning began “courtesy” patrols in downtown Columbus, accompanying civilian police into local hotspots. From WRBL News 3:

The arrangement comes after a beating incident, allegedly involving five soldiers, earlier this month. From today’s Columbus Ledger-Enquirer:

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, an officer and senior non-commissioned officer will walk up and down Broadway from about 10 p.m. to 4 a.m., seeking to keep the peace.

“We’re going to be stepping inside bars, clubs and restaurants that run between Ninth and 12th Street and asking security guards and bouncers whether there’ve been any problems,” said 1st Lt. David Fabozzi. “For example, if the soldier’s too drunk, we can ask him to get in a cab or we can ask for him to call for a ride. We cannot physically restrain the soldier in any way and if it comes to the point when the confrontation is about to get physical, we can ask the Columbus …

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Your morning jolt: In Alabama, Jay Walker’s ex-boss pleads guilty to bribery, conspiracy

If you are a public figure and want to reduce your exposure, Friday is the day you pick for handing out less than flattering news. From the Montgomery Advertiser:

Country Crossing developer Ronnie Gilley pleaded guilty to 11 counts in an alleged conspiracy to bribe lawmakers to legalize electronic gaming in the state.

Gilley, you may remember, was the employer of Jay Walker, former chief of staff to House Speaker Glenn Richardson in Georgia – and a lobbyist here as well. Walker, too, has been charged with conspiracy and bribery. To continue:

Gilley agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and implicated fellow casino owner Milton McGregor in the alleged vote-buying scheme.

Gilley pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy, six counts of bribery and four counts of money laundering.

Federal prosecutors agreed to drop 11 counts against the developer, but Gilley could still face between 22-27 years in prison for the others, although the prosecutors could ask the judge to reduce the …

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The archbishop and Georgia’s illegal immigration debate

We are about to enter Stage Two of the debate over illegal immigration in Georgia.

With its endorsement of an Arizona-style crackdown on illegal immigrants, our Legislature has simply pushed past the preliminaries.

Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta, left, talks with Maria Elena Castro Malagreca at the state Capitol on Good Friday. Jason Getz, jgetz@ajc.com

Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta, left, talks with Maria Elena Castro Malagreca at the state Capitol on Good Friday. Jason Getz, jgetz@ajc.com

Nathan Deal’s signature on House Bill 87 — the governor has said he will add it — will begin a predictable series of lawsuits, appeals, boycotts, demonstrations and counterdemonstrations.

We know that post-signature support for HB 87 will be peopled with hard-core Republicans and tea party activists. They insisted on the measure’s passage. But the most prominent face of the opposition may surprise you.

Its owner is African-American — and Catholic.

For the General Assembly may have just thrown a pitch into the wheelhouse of Archbishop Wilton Gregory and a surging Catholic Church in Georgia.

In a Good Friday interview …

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Using debit cards to phase out paper checks for state income tax refunds?

This one slipped by us: Earlier this week, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reported that the state has embarked on a pilot program of using debit cards for state income tax refunds – with the aim of ultimately eliminating paper checks:

The debit cards will be mailed to some taxpayers who elected to receive a 2010 Georgia income tax paper refund check. Taxpayers who chose electronic direct deposit of their income tax refund will continue to receive their refunds electronically.

Certain taxpayers will receive a debit card worth the amount of their 2010 Georgia income tax refund. Debit card recipients can transfer the amount on their card into their bank account without charge, just as they would deposit a paper refund check. The debit cards can also be used to make a variety of retail transactions including payment of bills either online or over the telephone.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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

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