Archive for July, 2011

A Republican caucus fleeing its House speaker?

U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ranger, announced this afternoon that he couldn’t support House Speaker John Boehner’s deficit-reduction/debt-ceiling plan.

From the press release:

“While I’m supportive of the Speaker’s fierce resistance to job-destroying tax increases, the debt reduction elements within this proposal have already been tried in the past and failed to stop our government from amassing the $14 trillion debt we have today. Most concerning is the failure to demand the passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment.

“Merely promising another vote will not get the job done. Any spending cuts or caps enacted today will eventually disappear without a constitutional requirement for a balanced budget.”

Graves is hardly alone. From the Wall Street Journal:

The leader of a large group of House conservatives said Tuesday he was “confident” there weren’t enough GOP lawmakers to pass a plan by Republican House Speaker John Boehner to increase the debt ceiling and reduce the …

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State Rep. Bobby Franklin found dead

State Rep. Bobby Franklin, R-Cobb County, was found dead today, Cobb police say

State Rep. Bobby Franklin, R-Cobb County, was found dead today, Cobb police say. Hyosub Shin, hshin@ajc.com

Cobb County police just confirmed that state Rep. Bobby Franklin, a Cobb County Republican who skirted the outer reaches of conservatism and helped design the current state flag, has been found dead at his home.

“Our investigators are out there now, at the residence,” said police spokesman Mike Bowman. He promised more details later this afternoon.

From my AJC colleague Chris Joyner:

According to Cobb County sources, a family friend came to check on Franklin this morning after he didn’t show up for church Sunday. The friend saw Franklin’s truck in the driveway and, peeking through the window, saw his computer was on and called the police.

Franklin had complained of chest pains Friday and planned to seek the advice of a family friend who is a nurse.

Police found Franklin in his bed, dead.

Members of the Cobb County legislative delegation funneled press calls …

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’80% chance’ that Alabama’s largest county will declare bankruptcy

The news below is particularly relevant, given tax-rate votes today in both Cobb and Clayton counties. From the Associated Press:

Alabama’s largest county is laying the groundwork for filing what would be the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

The Jefferson County Commission approved resolutions Tuesday to both hire prominent bankruptcy lawyers and to sell bonds later in case money is needed to emerge from bankruptcy later.

Two of the five commissioners say there’s an 80 percent chance the county will file bankruptcy over a more than $3 billion debt for its sewer system. The vote could come at a meeting scheduled for Thursday in Birmingham.

The commission president, David Carrington, says other possibilities include extending talks with creditors or accepting a settlement offer.

Jefferson is Alabama’s most populous county. It’s been trying for three years to avoid filing bankruptcy over debt payments it can no longer afford.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

For …

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Your morning jolt: Linking the APS cheating scandal to the transit tax vote

The Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal has produced one of those odd unions between Republican conservatives and Democratic liberals.

Members of both factions are calling for the head of Sam Williams, president of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, one of many business leaders who supported ousted superintendent Beverly Hall throughout the investigation.

On Monday evening, state Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) upped the ante with a protest in downtown Atlanta – to argue that Williams’ defense of Hall will reflect on next year’s regional penny sales tax for rail and road projects.

At one point, in an e-mail, a Chamber executive suggested that the findings of an early investigation should be “finessed” past then-Gov. Sonny Perdue.

Williams is also treasurer of Citizens for Transportation Mobility, and will have a major hand in fund-raising for the campaign.

Williams has been out there defending himself. He gave two TV interviews last Friday – one to Channel 2 Action News. …

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The Gang of Six plan, Social Security and other entitlements

Jim Galloway’s Political Insider blog will return later this  week.

Some additional points on the deficit reduction plan by U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss and the Gang of Six:

– When U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., withdrew from the bipartisan effort to reduce the deficit after five months of negotiation, many in Washington pronounced the Gang of Six dead – or at least, irrelevant. Which in D.C. is worse than dead.

But on Tuesday, there was Coburn in the members-only briefing of the Senate, endorsing the proposal. What brought him around? For one thing, an increase in 10-year savings from Medicare and Medicaid, from $370 billion or so to $500 billion. Just how those savings will be accomplished are details that would be left to the proper Senate committee.

– Look for a good deal of emphasis today on making Democrats more comfortable with the Gang of Six plan. “Balancing the deficit on the backs of the elderly” is the slogan they’re vulnerable to. Proponents today are …

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Saxby Chambliss and restored Gang of Six join debt-ceiling debate

Something worth interrupting a vacation for: U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss and a restored Gang of Six this morning presented a $3.7 trillion deficit-cutting plan in a bid to couple the mix of cuts and revenue increases to a Senate solution to the debt-ceiling argument.

“Some of the people who don’t want to solve the problem will be critical of it,” said Chambliss, who called only a few minutes ago. The senator said the plan had yet to be presented to House Republicans, where the proposal – based on a bipartisan commission’s recommendations last year – is expected to come in for some rough sledding.

Chambliss reported 50 senators in attendance at the morning session. Among them was Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who months ago had left the bipartisan negotiations led by Chambliss and Mark Warner, D-Va. Coburn endorsed the results, and Chambliss said the presentation won a warm, bipartisan reception.

The plan, said Chambliss, is to couple the deficit-reduction outline to the …

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‘The Undefeated’ and Sarah Palin’s message for the GOP establishment

On Friday, metro Atlanta will be one of 10 spots in the country that will see the debut of “The Undefeated,” the glowing documentary of Sarah Palin.

The Palin movie will have an exclusive seven-day run at the AMC Barrett Commons theater complex off Barrett Parkway in Cobb County. Director Steve Bannon, a former investment banker turned filmmaker, is already in Atlanta and plans to be in Kennesaw tomorrow evening – possibly with a CNN crew.

"The Undefeated" director Steve Bannon/CRC Public Relations

"The Undefeated" director Steve Bannon/CRC Public Relations

We were able to catch Bannon for a brief chat this afternoon. The highlights are below:

Insider: The film is an hour and fifty-minutes long. Only at the 65-minute mark do you finish with experience as governor of Alaska. Why is that?

Bannon: Everybody comes into Sarah Palin’s story at the Republican convention, when she was selected [as the vice presidential nominee]. Here, you’re over an hour into the movie before you actually get to see that. That’s why the convention …

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Gone fishing

Unable to persuade a single editor to send him to Hawaii in search of Beverly Hall, the Insider has gone to look for the former APS superintendent in places he can afford. Cleveland, perhaps.

In the meantime, feel free to resolve the debt-ceiling crisis.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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

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Your morning jolt: Andrew Young says APS needs an honor code

Andrew Young, the former mayor and U.N. ambassador, thinks the Atlanta Public Schools system needs an honor code – and not just for students. From Mark Winne of Channel 2 Action News:

From the Channel 2 web site:

“The cheating speaks to the character, and that’s where the failure is,” Young says. “This is a time for us to decide what we want to do with our school system.”

Young told Winne he was casual friends with [former APS school superintendent Beverly] Hall, but never close to her. Young says Hall was too isolated in her position as superintendent, “but we’re the ones who isolated her.”

***
Early this week, Monica Pearson of Channel 2 Action News popped up on the island of Maui to interrupt former school superintendent Beverly Hall’s Hawaiian vacation. On Wednesday, it was the turn of 11Alive’s Karyn Greer. She didn’t get much, either. From the 11 Alive web site:

Greer: I want to ask you, people are very, very upset back home. People were saying …

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On moving the date of the 2012 transportation tax vote

It is not uncommon for civic leaders and politicians to push tax referendums into isolated corners of the calendar.

Manipulating a small election — turning out supporters through phone banks and advertising — is easier than trying to shape the outcome of a large one. Cheaper, too.

Anti-tax forces liken the practice to judge-shopping. It drives them nuts.

So this sudden talk about shifting next year’s regional votes on a transportation sales tax from the July 31 primaries to the larger November general election seems counterintuitive.

But the idea is gaining steam, as supporters come to realize that next summer’s voters — especially those in metro Atlanta — are likely to be throwing one large tea party. And are unlikely to approve a $6 billion, 10-year sales tax for road and rail improvements.

One of the major proponents of moving the date is Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. “We really have one opportunity to pass this referendum. If you check the data, higher voter …

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