Archive for November, 2011

Your morning jolt: Herman Cain’s ‘Peach State Travelers’ — don’t call them a Peanut Brigade

After months of focus elsewhere, the GOP presidential campaign of Herman Cain is buckling down and establishing an operation in Georgia.

On Saturday, the Cain campaign intends to establish a state headquarters in DeKalb County, just off I-85 inside the perimeter. Cain’s national headquarters has been in a Stockbridge office complex near his home.

The Cain campaign also named as Georgia co-chairs Dave McCleary and Rachel Little, both longtime GOP activists.

Cain intends to make a party of the 11 a.m. opening at 3700 DeKalb Technology Parkway, Atlanta, Georgia 30340. On the guest list, including the candidate: State Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, and state Rep. Josh Clark, R-Buford; Republican National Committee member Linda Herren; and radio talk show host Neal Boortz, for whom Cain often subbed on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

Update at 10:30 a.m.: GOP chairman Sue Everhart, whose name appeared on the Cain guest list, sends word that she won’t be there — an appearance would …

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Jack Kingston and the return of horse meat plants

U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston is being credited as a player in a successful, bipartisan move to bring horse meat processing back to the United States. From The Oklahoman newspaper:

Horse slaughter plants have become legal again, after Congress quietly unbridled restrictions on processing horse meat. President Barack Obama signed the enabling bill on Nov. 18.

Entities already are considering opening plants in Oregon, and possibly Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Georgia and Missouri, slaughter plant proponent Sue Wallis said.

Between 120,000 to 200,000 horses will be killed for human consumption per year, she estimates.

Kingston, a Savannah Republican, pointed to the economy:

“We wanted to allow horse slaughter again in America because of an unanticipated problem with horse neglect and abandonment,” he said.

Congress effectively put a halt to horse meat plants in the United States in 2006 by withholding federal funds for food inspectors. But Kingston told the Oklahoma …

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Jerry Shearin passes on challenge to Tom Graves, but Bob Barr still in wings

We’ve confirmed that Jerry Shearin, the former chairman of the Paulding County Commission, will pass on a Republican primary challenge next year to U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ranger, in the new 14th District.

That makes it more likely that former Libertarian presidential candidate and congressman Bob Barr – as a renewed member of the GOP — will take a stab at unseating Graves, who won the spot last year.

But given that we’re on the cusp of the holiday season, when the much of the body politic turns away from politics, don’t look for Barr to make a formal decision until next year.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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Georgia Republicans prepare to change direction on crime

Inmates at Phillips State Prison make their way to the cafeteria. Vino Wong, vwong@ajc.com

Inmates at Phillips State Prison make their way to the cafeteria. Vino Wong, vwong@ajc.com

A new, hyphenated word is about to enter your political vocabulary. Say it with me: Over-criminalization.

For conservatives in particular, the word will introduce a concept both fresh and counter-intuitive — that the desire to mete out disproportionate punishment to some criminals, while highly satisfying and politically popular, is ultimately ineffective.

And not at all fiscally conservative.

Last week, the Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform for Georgians released a report looking at the bill that has come due for doubling the state’s prison population.

It included a list of cost-cutting recommendations for the Legislature, which will return to Atlanta in January.

For most incumbent lawmakers in Georgia, whether Democratic or Republican, crime has always been a topic that required the gas pedal — never the brakes. Slamming jail cell doors makes for great TV ads.

Zell Miller …

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The inherent, inherited dangers of being a Georgia Bulldog

The quick succession of bulldogs at the University of Georgia – Uga VII, Uga VIII and Uga IX – are at the center of a provocative New York Times Magazine piece on the dangers of overbreeding and whether it amounts to animal cruelty. Something to read while you wait for Saturday’s game with Tech.

The late UGA VII at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium in Jacksonville, FL October 31, 2009. Brant Sanderlin, bsanderlin@ajc.com

The late UGA VII at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium in Jacksonville, FL October 31, 2009. Brant Sanderlin, bsanderlin@ajc.com

It includes this thought from James Serpell, the director of the Center for the Interaction of Animals and Society at the University of Pennsylvania:

“We have, to some extent, accentuated physical characteristics of the breed to make it look more human, although essentially more like caricatures of humans, and specifically of children,” he told me. “We’ve bred bulldogs for their flat face, big eyes, huge mouth in relation to head size and huge smiling face.”

So it’s not just a happy accident that so many animals look like their owners.

- By Jim Galloway, …

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Your morning jolt: A one-man investigation, and a request for whistle-blower status

State Rep. Keith Heard, D-Athens, has been busy. Walter Jones of Morris News Service had this earlier in the week:

The state’s second-newest department is facing personnel problems and a one-man investigation by a veteran legislator at the same time it’s attempting a major shift in how it delivers services to mental patients across Georgia.

Officials at at the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities say nothing sinister has occurred. But it hasn’t satisfied Rep. Keith Heard.

So far, he has uncovered the payment of 46 bonuses ranging from $1,034 to $22,000 given to employees for taking jobs as lowly as filing clerk all the way up to commissioner. All were paid outside of the state’s normal procedures….

And he’s raising questions about outside consulting done by the commissioner. What else is there, and how are patients affected?

One thing that comes next is a state employee, one Elizabeth Hurst, seeking formal whistle-blower status. Her request, …

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Feds deny request to waive three-person car pool rule

From the Associated Press this morning:

Federal authorities have denied Georgia’s request for a waiver to allow two-person carpools in a new toll system on a metro Atlanta freeway.

The state had requested the waiver after repeated traffic backups in the new toll lanes on Interstate 85 in parts of Gwinnett and DeKalb counties.

CBS Atlanta reports that U.S. Department of Transportation officials said they believe it’s too early to evaluate the effectiveness of the so-called HOT lanes. In a letter denying the request, federal authorities also said the toll rates and motorists not being familiar with the lanes may be contributing to their low use.

The waiver would have allowed more drivers to use the new lanes for free.

Without the waiver, vehicles must have three or more people to use them for free.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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President Barack Obama signs the Kate Puzey bill

The bill signing on Monday: At President Barack Obama’s left hand are Kate Puzey’s brother David, and her parents Harry and Lois Puzey. Source: White House photo

The bill signing on Monday: At President Barack Obama’s left hand are Kate Puzey’s brother David, and her parents Harry and Lois Puzey. Source: White House photo

On Monday, the day that Washington’s chasm between Republicans and Democrats challenged the imagination, a small sliver of Thanksgiving Day peace was in evidence at the White House, as President Barack Obama pronounced a quiet benediction on the life of 24-year-old Kate Puzey of Cumming, Ga.

Puzey, Peace Corps volunteer, was murdered in the west African country of Benin in 2009 after informing her superiors that a fellow employee was molesting female students in her village.

The bill signed by Obama this afternoon was sponsored by U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., provides more protections for volunteers in the 50-year-old organization. From the Miami Herald:

The law is the culmination of Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson’s two-year-long advocacy on behalf of Puzey. The law is aimed at …

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A shift to grassroots tactics for Georgia Right to Life

Georgia Right to Life, the state’s most active anti-abortion group, announced this afternoon that Mike Griffin, the group’s lobbyist at the state Capitol for the last four years, has been named GRTL’s field director.

From the press release:

In his new role, Griffin is available to educate legislators and prolife advocates around the state about GRTL’s effort “Personhood–the Paramount Right to Life”.

The program’s ultimate goal is to adopt an amendment to the state’s constitution which would affirm that a “paramount right to life” is vested in each human being from the earliest biological beginning until natural death.

“Mike is a dedicated, inspirational advocate for protecting the sanctity of human life,” said Daniel Becker, GRTL president. “He will bring added passion to encouraging our grassroots supporters to join our efforts.”

Griffin has turned many Republican lawmakers off with his bare-knuckled, sometimes confrontational approach to pushing GRTL-endorsed …

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Savannah congregation that revolted over gay bishop must forfeit 18th century building

The Georgia Supreme Court has ruled that a Savannah congregation of a 278-year-old church that revolted over the affirmation of a gay bishop will have to give up the historic building to the national Episcopal church.

Read the decision here.

This undated file photo shows Christ Church of Savannah, founded in 1733, in Savannah, Ga. The Georgia Supreme Court voted six to one in a decision released Monday to uphold a lower court's October 2009 ruling confirming the national Episcopal Church's claim to the historic institution. AP/Savannah Morning News

This undated file photo shows Christ Church of Savannah, founded in 1733, in Savannah, Ga. The Georgia Supreme Court voted six to one in a decision released Monday to uphold a lower court’s October 2009 ruling confirming the national Episcopal Church’s claim to the historic institution. AP/Savannah Morning News

From a summary issued this morning:

Christ Church was founded in 1733, when English General James Oglethorpe designated the land on which the church stands as a place of worship. The church received title to the building by land grants from the royal government in 1758 and post-Revolution state legislature in 1789. In 1823, Christ Church co-founded the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia and formally joined the national Episcopal Church. …

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