Archive for July, 2012

Get ready for that Tuesday night miracle

Prepare for a miracle next week. And we’re not talking about the transportation sales tax. Not exactly.

At midnight, as Tuesday turns to Wednesday, a layer of fairy dust will fall across Georgia, and your state government will suddenly become a model of competency and efficiency.

That’s because the contest for the transportation sales tax – win or lose – will come to an end that day. In its place, a new, November ballot campaign will rise up, aimed at restoring the state Capitol’s authority to compel local systems to accept public charter schools.

Georgia Republicans have been looking forward to this new fight. The TSPLOST argument has been uncomfortable, splitting two crucial GOP constituencies – its business wing and its anti-tax base. Little else unites the GOP, on a state or national level, like the belief that our educational bureaucracy is a Gordian knot that requires a swift, sharp sword.

You think that, 24 hours after the last vote on the transportation …

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Your morning jolt: Kasim Reed slams DeKalb NAACP chief over TSPLOST

A fascinating and heated non-debate over the TSPLOST, between Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and the president of the DeKalb County NAACP, took place this morning via radio station V-103 and its large African-American audience.

DeKalb has the highest concentration of Democratic voters in Georgia, and is crucial to the formula for passage next week of the transportation sales tax in metro Atlanta. But John Evans, who heads up the DeKalb NAACP chapter, has come out against the TSPLOST, saying it doesn’t do enough for south DeKalb.

Evans and Reed appeared back-to-back on V-103’s “Frank and Wanda Show” to discuss the issue. Evans was first, and said:

“Everybody has a reason they don’t want to pay the tax. They may not all be related to transportation. There are those in these outlying counties who want no part of transportation where we’re going to be bringing black folk and others to their communities. They don’t want it. And so they’ll have their reason for …

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Sarah Palin endorses Martha Zoller in 9th District race

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin this evening endorsed former talk radio host Martha Zoller, who has been positioning herself as a tea party favorite in the GOP race for the new 9th Congressional District.

The endorsement is an effective comeback for Zoller. Only last week, her chief rival, state Rep. Doug Collins, had been flashing his endorsement by former U.S. senator and Gov. Zell Miller.

Says Palin, as reported by the Zoller campaign:

“If you agree that it’s time our elected officials stopped talking at us and started listening to us, then I hope you will join me in supporting Martha Zoller….

“Martha is running against the establishment, which, as we know, is an uphill battle; but with all of our support she can win. In Congress, she’ll vote to cut spending, lower taxes, and repeal Obamacare. In addition to being pro-life and a firm defender of our Constitution, including our Second Amendment rights, Martha is a strong fiscal conservative….”

Zoller says she began …

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House ethics chairman: 49 candidates tout ethics, flout campaign laws

Supporters of a $100 cap on gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers were at the state Capitol this morning, setting off on a final bus tour intended to make ethics reform a part of legislative primaries. My AJC colleague Kristina Torres has details here.

On July 31, both Democratic and Republican ballots will contain non-binding questions on gift limits. Even so, Tuesday’s press conference undoubtedly riled House Republican leaders, who have emerged as the most vocal critics of the cap.

In this file photo from the 2012 legislative session, House Ethics Chairman Joe Wilkinson, R-Sandy Springs, center, talks with Rep. Andy Welch, R-McDonough. Jason Getz, jgetz@ajc.com

In this file photo from the 2012 legislative session, House Ethics Chairman Joe Wilkinson, R-Sandy Springs, center, talks with Rep. Andy Welch, R-McDonough. Jason Getz, jgetz@ajc.com

This afternoon, House Ethics Committee Chairman Joe Wilkinson, R-Sandy Springs, took the extraordinary step of turning reporter. The former Coke executive and UGA journalism grad turned the following press release, polished by publicist Phil Kent:

“It is disappointing, ironic and hypocritical that 49 candidates for …

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More than 1 million young illegal immigrants expected to seek waivers

The first details on President Barack Obama’s plan to waive deportation for children of illegal immigrants, from the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration’s new plan to grant temporary work permits to many young, illegal immigrants who otherwise could be deported may cost more than $585 million and require hiring hundreds of new federal employees to process more than 1 million anticipated requests, according to internal documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The Homeland Security Department plans, marked “not for distribution,” describe steps that immigrants will need to take — including a $465 paperwork fee designed to offset the program’s cost — and how the government will manage it. Illegal immigrants can request permission to stay in the country under the plan by filing a document, “Request for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” and simultaneously apply for a work permit starting Aug. 15.

Under the new program, which President Barack …

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When John Barrow channeled Maria Sheffield

Empathy is such a rare commodity in political campaigns, and cross-party compassion is even more so.

So consider this Tweet from U.S. Rep. John Barrow. For context, a certain member of a four-person contest to take Barrow’s job away recently complained that GOP rival Wright McLeod was stalking her — by setting a video tracker on her heels. From Barrow:

barrowtrack

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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

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Statewide sales tax campaign raises $2.1 million

The Georgia Transportation Alliance, the outfit responsible for the transportation sales tax campaign in the 11 non-metro Atlanta regions across the state, reports raising $2.1 million in a report out today. The GTA has roughly $521,000 to spend in the last week – not a great deal of money when you consider the vast geography.

By comparison, the metro Atlanta campaign for the sales tax raised $6.5 million. The imbalance is striking. One-third the amount to cover 149 counties.

The GTA, backed by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, is having some problems loading the information on the website of what was formerly known as the State Ethics Commission.
However, they’ve sent us their info, for your inspection:

For the cover page, click here;

For the summary page, click here;

For contributions, click here;

And for expenditures, click here.

Have at it.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on …

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Your morning jolt: State’s share of Georgia school costs down to 38 percent

On Aug. 1, the day after the statewide vote on the transportation sales tax, you won’t find Gov. Nathan Deal crying in his beer.

You’ll find him at Bones restaurant in Buckhead, raising cash at $1,000 a head or more, for his campaign to re-assert the state’s authority to create charter schools in Georgia – even if local systems would rather not. Here’s the invite from BetterGASchools.org.

On that same note, my AJC colleague Wayne Washington has mined one of the most important stats likely to be bandied about in the fight over the November ballot issue, which pits much of the state’s education leadership against the core of the Republican political establishment:

For the first time in 16 years, local governments paid a higher share of the cost of public education that state governments, a recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau showed….

Georgia’s public primary and secondary schools got about 38 percent of their funding from the state, with local government …

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YouTube and a hot state Senate race in south Georgia

Think of Mark Hatfield of Waycross as the bad boy of the state Legislature. He supplies more than his share of “no” votes and, contrary to the wishes of House Speaker David Ralston, favors a gift cap for state lawmakers.

In 2011, Hatfield sponsored legislation to require President Barack Obama to supply his birth certificate – and pushed it even after House leaders asked him to back off. When that effort failed, he served as attorney for a group that mounted an unsuccessful challenge to Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s decision to give Obama the sole and solitary position on the Democratic presidential primary ballot this last March.

He isn’t a popular guy inside the state Capitol. But outside, he’s a tea party favorite.

Still, it surprised no one when House Republican leaders placed Hatfield and Jason Spencer of Woodbine – both Republicans – in the same district so that, on July 31, one could knock off the other. Hatfield’s reaction? He jumped into the …

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On the link – seriously – between student performance and school bathrooms

Over at Saporta Report, my former colleague Tom Baxter has this excellent column about a mutual state Capitol friend, Tom Keating, who has drawn a link between student performance and hostile school bathrooms:

“It is the most basic educational work that I’ve done, including being called the Dropout Doctor, including lobbying, including getting world languages into the Decatur school system,” he said. “Health, education and citizenship – all of that is tied up in poop.”

…A key element in this particular scheme for making the world a better place is, obviously, getting people to discuss something they seldom talk about directly. He has a variety of strategies for bringing the subject out in the open, including showing up at meetings in yellow rubber janitor’s gloves.

“Out of every 10 middle school and high school kids, four of those 10 avoid the use of the restroom every day,” Keating said. “Nobody has ever told me about the health costs of that statistic, …

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