Two young men were sentenced to five years in prison and five years on probation last week for the YouTube-recorded beating of Brandon White, a gay man, as he exited a convenience store in the southwest Atlanta community of Pittsburgh.
But reverberations will continue through the July 31 Democratic primary.
On Friday, after Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jackson Bedford handed down his sentence, Project Q Atlanta published a letter written by several gay rights activists, asking that the assailants be subjected to no further incarceration. The most prominent signature belonged to state Rep. Simone Bell, who is locked in a District 58 Democratic primary race with fellow incumbent Ralph Long.
From the letter:
”Our primary interest is seeing an end to the homophobia that seems to have been a dominant factor in the attack on Mr. White. We do not believe that this will be accomplished by a long sentence of imprisonment….
We believe that the time each of these young men has already spent behind bars has been a significant loss of freedom. We ask that any additional term of imprisonment you impose be probated…”
The letter asks that the two young men up for sentencing last week be allowed to complete high school or earn a G.E.D., so that they might “move their lives in a positive direction that can ultimately serve their community.”
Long, who also testified at last week’s sentencing hearing, posted the following on his Facebook page:
I was proud to give a statement in court this morning asking that Brandon White’s attackers be sentenced to five years plus probation. Leaders know better than to ever forget that these are real people we’re serving out here, not just symbols for a movement. Shame on those who minimize Brandon White and Pittsburgh’s pain.
But Matt Hennie of Project Q, the reporter who attended the hearing, says that the number “five” never left Long’s lips during his testimony. From his article:
“They’ve disrespected themselves, they have disrespected the individual, they have disrespected the State of Georgia,” Long said from the witness stand. “With that being said as a representative, I see all kinds of stuff. I would like them to do some time, but at the same time 10 years is a very long time.”
“I would like to see the court be lenient in regards to that length of time, but I do want them to know the inside of that cell,” he added.
Abt pushed Long to specify the length of the prison term the state lawmaker would like to see in the case. He demurred.
“I really don’t feel comfortable answering that question specifically because I am not the judge. But I would leave it as specific as this court showing leniency so perhaps these young men can change their lives. I would like to see them tethered for 10 years with some probation or some giveback to the community. I like that 10-year number,” Long said.
Bell is the only out African-American lesbian in the state Legislature, and has been endorsed by Georgia Equality. Long has complained that the gay rights organization didn’t even grant him an interview.
An administrative law judge has upheld the candidacy of businessman Bill Carruth of Paulding County, who has mounted a Republican primary challenge to state Sen. Bill Heath of Bremen. Heath and his supporters had challenged Carruth’s residency – he had moved back into the district after being drawn out – and his claim that he owed no federal or state taxes.
The latter charge arose from a $2.3 million line of credit Carruth and his wife had drawn from a now defunct bank. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has taken legal action to see that the money is paid back. Carruth’s opponents had claimed that this amounted to money owed taxpayers. See the ruling here. Wrote Judge Ronit Walker:
“[T]he FDIC is not an integral part of the governmental mechanism but is rather a separate legal entity serving essentially a proprietary … function. ” Accordingly, a debt to the FDIC in the instant case does not involve public funds, and therefore there is no bar Respondent’s candidacy.
Here’s a statement from Carruth:
“I said from the beginning that this challenge has no basis in fact and will be thrown out. Today, I am vindicated by Judge Walker’s decision. This was a frivolous complaint from the beginning that wasted time and taxpayer money so that Senator Heath might score some cheap political points. Senator Heath ought to be ashamed of himself.
It is no wonder that Georgia leads the nation in bank failures when the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee does not know the difference between public funds and private funds. The people of Haralson, Polk, and Paulding counties deserve better.”
On Saturday, the re-election campaign of President Barack Obama put out a TV ad that featured Republican rival Mitt Romney singing “America the Beautiful.” Badly.
This morning, the Romney campaign declared turnabout fair play:
Several of you have pointed to a Forbes article that details the 35 questions that GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney must answer to make the Bain Capital attacks go away.
Over at the Daily Beast, a look at Mitt Romney’s failure – so far – to offer former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin a speaking role at the Republican National Convention in Tampa includes this from a certain national tea party leader who lives in Cherokee County:
“Romney’s just not a fighter,” says Jenny Beth Martin, head of the Tea Party Patriots, the largest of the activist groups. “That’s why it would be good for him to have someone like Palin speaking at the convention. He needs to do something to rile up his base, to make them enthusiastic. And I don’t mean just the Tea Party. I mean die-hard Republicans. I live in the second-most-Republican county in the state of Georgia, and the folks around here are not enthusiastic about him.”
Meanwhile, former GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain, another metro Atlanta resident, will be part of an Aug. 26 tea party rally in Tampa, on the day before the GOP convention begins.
One of the more disturbing three paragraphs that you’ll read today, from the New York Times:
The push and pull over what is on the record is one of journalism’s perennial battles. But those negotiations typically took place case by case, free from the red pens of press minders. Now, with a millisecond Twitter news cycle and an unforgiving, gaffe-obsessed media culture, politicians and their advisers are routinely demanding that reporters allow them final editing power over any published quotations.
Quote approval is standard practice for the Obama campaign, used by many top strategists and almost all midlevel aides in Chicago and at the White House — almost anyone other than spokesmen who are paid to be quoted. (And sometimes it applies even to them.) It is also commonplace throughout Washington and on the campaign trail.
The Romney campaign insists that journalists interviewing any of Mitt Romney’s five sons agree to use only quotations that are approved by the press office. And Romney advisers almost always require that reporters ask them for the green light on anything from a conversation that they would like to include in an article.
The AJC’s Politifact Georgia today takes a look at a statement by Brian Robinson, spokesman for Gov. Nathan Deal, on the potential impact of the federal health care overhaul on the state’s budget.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider