Archive for June, 2011

Michael Johnson makes the case for a run against John Lewis

Former Fulton County judge Michael Johnson on Monday made his case for next year’s Democratic challenge to U.S. Rep. John Lewis to Lori Geary of Channel 2 Action news.

Said Johnson: “You can’t change the results of the game without sometimes changing the players in the game.” Watch it here:

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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Your morning jolt: Parsing claims of victory in illegal immigration decision

In the aftermath of Monday’s decision by U.S. District Judge Thomas Thrash to block, at least temporarily, key provisions of Georgia’s new immigration law, Attorney General Sam Olens tried to look on the bright side.

“[E]ven after this ruling, 21 of the 23 sections of HB 87 will go into effect as planned. My office plans to appeal the court’s finding that Sections 7 and 8 of the law are preempted,” Olens said in a quickly issued news release.

Last night, former DeKalb County judge Keegan Federal, one of the attorneys seeking to block HB 87, used his blog to dismiss any attempt by Olens or other state officials to claim victory. From Federal’s Law:

We only challenged two of provisions. The other 21 weren’t argued, and Judge Thrash certainly didn’t “uphold” them. We won total victory on those sections of the statute we sought to invalidate at this phase…..

It is true that a “substantive” provision dealing with E-Verify was not overturned by the judge — and that was because we …

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Excerpts from judge’s ruling on Georgia’s immigration bill

As Attorney General Sam Olens points out, in the aftermath of U.S. District Judge Tom Thrash’s ruling, 21 of 23 sections of Georgia’s new illegal immigration law remain intact and go into effect on Friday.

Other victories for the state side of the argument include the judge’s dismissal of plaintiffs’ assertions that the law would violate a citizen’s right to travel.

Read the entire decision here.

However, it’s clear that Thrash is no fan of the core thought behind the bill. Here’s what he said about the key portion of the Georgia law — which he enjoined — that permits law enforcement officers to require proof of legal U.S. residency after individuals have been stopped for other purposes:

”HB 87 is state regulation of immigration. Section 8 attempts an end-run – not around federal criminal law – but around federal statutes defining the role of state and local officers in immigration enforcement….[B]oth the United States government and several foreign nations have expressed …

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The role of George W. Bush’s campaign manager in N.Y. gay marriage vote

Worth reading from today’s Daily Beast — and note the quote at the end:

Ken Mehlman managed President George W. Bush’ s re-election drive in 2004.

Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman at the 2005 National Conference in 2005. AP

Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman at the 2005 National Conference in 2005. AP

Courting the evangelical Christian voting bloc so crucial to the Republican Party, Mehlman’s boss campaigned on a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. When asked by Tim Russert in 2005 whether homosexuality is a choice, Mehlman, famous for sticking like pine tar to his talking points, said, “I don’ t know the answer to that question.”

But last year, Mehlman, at the age of 43, announced that he was gay. Turning the personal political, Mehlman then worked alongside a host of tightly organized conservative donors and operatives to plot a victory for same-sex marriage in New York.

When the effort paid off, after days of high-wire suspense, arm-twisting, and a dramatic late-night vote, gay New Yorkers flooded into the streets—and packed …

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Your morning jolt: Georgia car tags and ‘In God We Trust’

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This post has been updated below.

Original: Georgia car tags may be about to get a dose of religion. The state Department of Revenue on Friday posted images of the eight semi-finalist entries in its competition to design a new look for your back bumper.

Three of those eight incorporate “In God We Trust” – the same motto found on U.S. currency:

Online voting concludes July 8. The three license plates garnering the most votes will be presented to Gov. Nathan Deal. There the selection process gets foggy – the press release merely says the winner will be announced July 15.

But if a car tag bearing the word “God” makes it to the finals, it’s hard to imagine a Republican politician who would want to be seen rejecting it.

Still, if a declaration of faith is inevitable, we would at least suggest adding an asterisk, followed in small print with this:

“*All others must provide proof of legal U.S. residency.”

Updated at 5:05 p.m.: The rules for Georgia’s license tag contest mandated …

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The brewing of a bruising fight over charter schools

For the last couple years, the focus has been on transportation as the public policy issue likely to dominate the 2012 political season.

But the Georgia Supreme Court may have changed that with its recent decision that declared the state’s involvement in the establishment of public charter schools was unconstitutional.

A small crowd braved the rainy weather to attend a rally for charter schools at the state Capitol on Thursday. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

A small crowd braved the rainy weather to attend a rally for charter schools at the state Capitol on Thursday. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

Specifically, the court said the state had no business depriving local school systems of nearly $8 million in funding in order to establish alternative schools in their midst.

The only way to overturn the 4-3 decision is through a constitutional amendment that would be presented statewide to voters in November 2012. All the ingredients for a knockdown, drag-out fight are there:

– School choice is a foundational tenet of current Republican philosophy. Depending on the GOP nominee for president, turning out core voters could be …

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We can give you the information, says Cherokee school board — but it will cost you $324,608.52

Things are getting testy between charter school advocates and the Cherokee County Board of Education.

Ever since the Georgia Supreme Court put the state out of the charter school business, a dozen and more charter schools have been forced to go back to local school systems to ask that they be given the financial wherewithal to survive.

Among them is the Cherokee Charter Academy. Suspicious that the school board hasn’t been playing fair with the request, the Georgia Charter Schools Association dropped an open records request on the Cherokee school board – demanding what to know what it’s been saying about the request in emails and other communications.

You can read the request here. The response from Barbara Jacoby, director of public information for the school board, closed with this:

The administrative costs for available documents are estimated at $286,600.27, for 6,185 hours of work by seven different employees. This total includes a manual search of emails. If CCSD staff …

Continue reading We can give you the information, says Cherokee school board — but it will cost you $324,608.52 »

Court: College Park has right to collect occupation and alcohol taxes at airport

The state Court of Appeals on Thursday ruled that the city of College Park – and only that city – may impose an occupation tax and tax sales of alcoholic beverages in the parts of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport that fall within its boundaries.

Read the decision here.

Wrote College Park attorney Steve Fincher in an email:

Not only did the Court rule that College Park is the sole authority for the collection of gross receipt taxes at the portion of the airport located within College Park, but it ruled that Atlanta itself must pay College Park a gross receipts tax on its “proprietary” operations at the airport for those portions within College Park. It is a very far-reaching opinion.

This was the latest round in a series of bouts over the issue with the city of Atlanta, which had claimed the right to all revenue within the airport’s confines – pointing to a 1969 agreement with College Park. Much money is at stake – at a time when both cities are struggling to remain …

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Your morning jolt: Tim Pawlenty heads to Georgia for much-needed cash

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will make his first appearance in Georgia as a presidential candidate next Tuesday at a West Paces Ferry fundraiser.

GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota. AP

GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota. AP

The $500-a-head event will be held at the Cherokee Town & Country Club, just down the way from the state’s most prominent public housing occupant, Gov. Nathan Deal – who has declared he’s sticking with Newt Gingrich.

But as you can see on invitation, the list of hosts – after former Gov. Sonny Perdue, former state Sen. Eric Johnson, and Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus – includes Tricia Pridemore, Deal’s unsuccessful candidate for state GOP chairman.

Otherwise, the host list looks like a reunion of Perdue staffers, led by Nick Ayers, Pawlenty’s campaign manager. Click here to see the entire invitation.

The cash is much needed. With a campaign contribution disclosure looming — which will be a measure of his viability — the Washington Post reported on Thursday that at …

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The deal is struck: Atlanta pension overhaul agreement reached

The peace-and-love press release issued, significantly, by the Atlanta City Council:

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Council President Ceasar Mitchell on Thursday applauded the Atlanta City Council for taking a major step toward approving pension plan reform. If approved by the Atlanta City Council next week, the legislation would avoid the need for personnel reductions and service cuts, and put the city on a path toward greater fiscal stability in FY2012 and beyond.

The Council voted 14-0 in favor of an amendment to the proposal recently put forth by Finance Executive Committee Chairwoman Yolanda Adrean and sponsored by Councilmembers H. Lamar Willis, Aaron Watson, Keisha Lance Bottoms, Alex Wan, Howard Shook and Ivory Lee Young. The amendment contains some features of the proposals developed by the Reed Administration and Councilmembers Adrean and Felicia Moore, with input from other council members.

“I strongly support the Atlanta City Council’s actions today in taking this …

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