Your morning jolt: Apply charter campaign restrictions to governor, Dems say

Suddenly, the hottest debate in Georgia is over who can say what about charter schools and the November ballot issue.

We told you yesterday about the Glenn Delk lawsuit against the state’s 180 school districts, demanding that a Fulton County judge order public school officials into silence – at least during school hours. See the lawsuit here.

The court petition leans a great deal on a letter of guidance issued by Attorney General Sam Olens to state School Superintendent John Barge last week, reminding those same school systems that public resources aren’t to be used on either side of the argument. Barge, for instance, removed notice of his opposition to the charter school amendment.

Democrats have now demanded that Olens apply the same measure to Gov. Nathan Deal, an advocate of the proposed constitutional amendment to give the state another avenue through which to create charter schools – over the objections of local systems.

From a letter sent to Olens by Mike Berlon, chairman of the state Democratic party:

Based upon your legal conclusion, the actions of the Governor are clearly in violation of the law. Consequently, we are formally requesting that your office take immediate action against the Governor to ensure the proper enforcement …. It doesn’t seem reasonable or fair that the application of your opinion would not extend to the Executive branch of the government….

Berlon noted that, on the governor’s official website, press releases are posted here and here, in which Deal endorses the measure.

Moreover, the party chairman noted, the governor’s use of government resources hasn’t been a fluke of the charter school campaign. The governor was also active in this summer’s TSPLOST campaign, and used public resources to get his message across.

***
Last night, Atlanta Tea Party Patriots declared its neutrality on the charter school amendment. From ATPP’s Julianne Thompson:

“The Atlanta Tea Party is 100% in favor of school choice. We support vouchers, educational savings accounts, and Charter Schools. However, we are currently remaining neutral on this Charter School Amendment and we intend to provide extensive information from both proponents and opponents of the issue so that voters can have the information necessary to make an informed decision at the polls in November. We are addressing this issue on our website as an interactive blog, and in emails we are sending out to activists around the state.”

***
Opposition to the charter school measure may be strongest in rural Georgia. Better Georgia Schools, which is opposing the proposed amendment, is passing around an op-ed penned by Jesse Bradley, is the retired superintendent of the Griffin-Spalding County public schools and former superintendent of the Tattnall County system. Read the entire piece here.

One of the opening paragraphs:

While there is much to like about charter schools, particularly their emphasis on parental involvement, the primary problem with this amendment is that it will very likely do much more than its supporters acknowledge, and much of what it does could be harmful-not just to public schools, but to entire communities. By establishing a mechanism for the state to approve charter schools that are not supported by local school systems, the amendment can help divide communities and decrease the role of the local public schools as important social centers.

***
As part of a series on how members of Congress invest, the Washington Post has a fine state-by-state graphic on who’s worth what. Within the Georgia delegation, U.S. Rep. Tom Price, R-Roswell, is the wealthiest – beating U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Marietta, by a whisker.

U.S. Reps. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, and Hank Johnson, D-Decatur, are the poorest.

The details:

U.S. Rep. Tom Price, R-Roswell: $12.2 million

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Marietta: $12.0 million

U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Marietta: $5.0 million

U.S. Rep. John Barrow, D-Augusta: $3.8 million

U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Savannah: $3.4 million

U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ranger: $2.3 million

U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton: $1.8 million

U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, R-Athens: $584,507

U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Moultrie: $337,505

U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta: $383,001

U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville: $373,503

U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Coweta County: $291,001

U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta: $72,000

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Decatur: $0

U.S. Rep. Sanford D. Bishop Jr., D-Albany: -$159,497

***
The AJC’s Politifact Georgia today takes a look at a statement by Patriot Majority USA declaring that Gov. Nathan Deal “has taken at least $15,600 from the (Koch brothers), their businesses, and their employees.”

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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

37 comments Add your comment

DJ Sniper

October 9th, 2012
10:46 am

I’m against this charter school amendment, and it sickens me how this administration is trying to bully opponents into silence.

B. Thenet

October 9th, 2012
10:52 am

If anything our governor is a consistent law breaker.

Just Wait

October 9th, 2012
11:01 am

Delk doesn’t want the school districts spending tax dollars to oppose the charter school ammendment, but has no problem having them spend tax dollars to defend his suit.

[...] My colleague Jim Galloway just posted on whether Olens is selectively targeting charter amendment opponents and ignoring the lobbying for proponents, including Nathan Deal. Democrats have now demanded that Olens apply the same measure to Gov. Nathan Deal, an advocate of the proposed constitutional amendment to give the state another avenue through which to create charter schools – over the objections of local systems. [...]

honested

October 9th, 2012
11:06 am

Have they filed suit yet to prevent those who oppose the unConstitutional Charter School Amendment from voting?
ALEC has some wily means of voter suppression. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see them bring those means to bear.

td

October 9th, 2012
11:08 am

DJ Sniper

October 9th, 2012
10:46 am

I am also against this amendment but I disagree with you that there is any bulling from Deal going on. Ms. Deal has been all over the state with Dr. Barge over the past 18 months with the same message. Dr. Barge is against this amendment and I do not think Ms. Deal is going to let Nathan bully Dr. Barge.

Tom

October 9th, 2012
11:13 am

Paul Broun worth less than $600K? That’s a lie straight from the pit of hell.

cc

October 9th, 2012
11:14 am

Hank Johnson used to be worth much, much more money. Unfortunately, he moved it offshore to an island that capsized.

CharterStarter, Too

October 9th, 2012
11:18 am

@ DJ – it’s not about silencing anybody. Individuals are certainly welcome to their individual opinions – not as representatives of the schools or systems. They just can’t use tax payer money to oppose it. That is wrong.

Marlboro Man

October 9th, 2012
11:23 am

The tea party, like the KKK, who cares what either thinks, they waste good air by breathing.

td

October 9th, 2012
11:23 am

CharterStarter, Too

October 9th, 2012
11:18 am

That is silencing your critics. I do not care if I am for or against this amendment, I elected a state superintendent and a local board member to look out for my interest in the field of education. Since this amendment effects education in this state then I want to know what they think and the positions they take on the issue.

Nitemare

October 9th, 2012
11:28 am

If Tom Graves is worth over $2 million, how/why did he default on the motel loan with Chip Rogers?

Reality

October 9th, 2012
11:32 am

Our Georgia tax dollars have been so mis-used in so many ways, why stop now?

1. Politicans Promote Charter Schools.
2. Our Governor wasting millions on lawyers to sue Healthcare Reform Act.
3. And, so on.

The republicans in Georgia have been given free-reign to waste our tax dollars any way that they see fit. And, this includes ways to promote their agenda.

Period.

R U Kidding Me?

October 9th, 2012
11:35 am

Tom Graves worth $2.3M? Pretty good for a guy whose only other job than politician was cutting grass in a lawn maintenance business. Since he’s a millionaire, how about paying back the $2M+ that you stiffed the Bartow County Bank for and ultimately the tax payors.

jd

October 9th, 2012
11:41 am

TD is right. The founding fathers created a republic, not a direct democracy. These elected officials and those appointed by our boards, represent us the taxpayers. If we don’t agree with em, we can vote em out. But, they speak for us — or that was the intent of the founding fathers.

Any attempt to silence them is UN-AMERICAN!

WOW

October 9th, 2012
12:04 pm

Jim:

Do you have a link to Chairman Berlon’s letter?

honested

October 9th, 2012
12:19 pm

This is a Blue Letter day because I actually agree with td on something.

I am aghast at the level of authority those selling the for-profit charter schools have gained over State governance. I wonder how long before it all shows up on campaign disclosure reports?

The excuse is essentially ‘you can have whatever opinion you wish as long as you don’t disparage this external takeover of educational resources.

I certainly hope that (for once) the Georgia Electorate has the good sense to see this thuggish tactic for what it is an VOTE NO on the UnConstitutional Amemndment!

Bryan Preston

October 9th, 2012
12:29 pm

Ed's Neighbor

October 9th, 2012
12:34 pm

honested – your property values remain high in your area because of Chamblee CHARTER High School – one of the best PUBLIC schools in the state.

these PUBLIC CHARTER schools in DeKalb are the draw for many familes with young children.

Parents from all over the county bring their children to these PUBLIC CHARTER schools so their kids will get a better education.

Liberals want to keep the populace dumbed down – so they will vote Democrat!

td

October 9th, 2012
12:49 pm

Ed’s Neighbor

October 9th, 2012
12:34 pm

You are comparing two totally different things. I do not believe anyone has said local school boards should not be able to start charters (like Chamblee). This is about a state appointed commission being able to dictate to the local BOE what schools in their district become into being.

Travis McGee

October 9th, 2012
12:55 pm

@Ed’s Neighbor: I’d like for someone to show me, stistically, where Charter Schools are more successful than public schools even though the cherry pick their students — a privilege the public schools don’t enjoy.

Bob Loblaw

October 9th, 2012
1:14 pm

This is an out-of-hand game of “gotcha”. Politicians are going to weigh in on ballot questions. They’re goaded by both sides to choose. Then they say how they feel about it in a public statement on a website that they put out other political messages on and everyone screams about taxpayer waste and misuse of funds. Waaahh. They do the same thing every day! It’s just that this political message has locals fueding against the State, so the games begin.

Politicians being politicians and using medium they use all the time to express political expression. They’re not gassing up the car on the taxpayers’ dime and getting 50 cents a mile to appear at a rally for school choice. No per diems. They write political speech on a website used for political speech.

Stop the doubletalk and talk about the issue of educating our children!

Eddie Hall

October 9th, 2012
1:15 pm

I have always said if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck!
You have millions in support dollars coming from OUTSIDE the state, you have crony republicans lining up to support this, you have a governor twisting off arms to get it passed. It smells bad to me! I usually vote with the elephants, but I am of the Reagan variety, give me local control at the local level and LESS government EVERYTIME. Is it just me or does smill a lot like a thing called TSPLOST? They did not get their hands on that money!

yuzeyurbrane

October 9th, 2012
1:18 pm

I basically agree with td on this one. I find the bullying tactics to stifle free speech to be quite distasteful and hypocritical. Proponents of the amendment on one hand say local school boards and teachers should keep their mouths shut because they are public employees while at same time, literally (see their website), they urge teachers and others at publicly funded charter schools to vigorously advocate for the proposed Amendment! Only a lawyer like Glenn Delk would have the gall to make such an argument. For those of you who are not familiar with Delk he has been a shill for almost every proposal to privatize and otherwise destroy public schools that has come along. Of course, advocating for the rich and powerful has long been a Delk trademark since his days representing stockbrokers accused of fraud. Happy for him that he has found a new field to plow.

DJ Sniper

October 9th, 2012
1:20 pm

Ed’s Neighbor, please read the facts on this. The opposition to the charter school amendment has absolutely nothing to do with “liberals wanting to keep the populace dumbed down.”

And yes, this is one of those rare issues that seems to unite damn near everybody on this blog.

honested

October 9th, 2012
1:20 pm

to ‘my neighbor’,

Chamblee Charter High School exists within a framework that does not need the UnConstitutional Amendmen and can be replicated at any existing Public School with the same level of dedication from the PARENTS.

My property values will not change when the amendment fails, but my PROPERTY TAXES will likely increase should it pass and the money that gets further diverted from the State has to be made up somewhere!

DJ Sniper

October 9th, 2012
1:25 pm

Aren’t the charter school proponents using taxpayer dollars to support this amendment?

td

October 9th, 2012
1:26 pm

Ed’s Neighbor

October 9th, 2012
12:34 pm

“Liberals want to keep the populace dumbed down – so they will vote Democrat!”

Do not pretend this is a Conservative, lib issue because it is not. The regular posters on this blog will tell you that there is hardly anyone more conservative then I am and I am 100% philosophically opposed to this amendment.

There is no way you can say that it is a conservative value to take local control away from the voters. NO WAY. If you do then you are either not philosophically conservative or you are not telling the truth.

honested

October 9th, 2012
1:34 pm

DJ,
It will be interesting over the next couple of months to find out just where the money came from and who supplied it.

GaBlue

October 9th, 2012
1:47 pm

PAID FOR BY “FAMILIES FOR BETTER PUBLIC SCHOOLS.”

A paid telemarketer just called me to encourage me to vote YES on the amendment. Who’s paying this organization that pays these telemarketers? Man, that must be a lot of money if they’re calling every voter in Georgia, huh? I straightened the young man out on what this is really about. He clearly was reading from a script and had no idea.

td

October 9th, 2012
1:50 pm

Here is the exact enabling legislation for the amendment:

http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/20112012/126621.pdf

honested

October 9th, 2012
1:56 pm

GaBlue,

Chances are, he was in prison anyway.

yuzeyurbrane

October 9th, 2012
2:11 pm

honested—as of about 2 months ago, the pro-Amendment group had raised about 7 times as much as the anti group. Of the pro’s funds, over 80% came from out of state. The biggest contribution came from one the Walmark heirs and the 3 largest after that came from 3 for-profit education contractors whose business is to run charter schools. On the other hand, the anti’s have raised more grassroots Georgia contributions than the pro’s. The company hired to manage the pro campaign is the same one that managed the pro-T-Splost campaign. It would indeed be interesting to see current fundraising details.

Todd

October 9th, 2012
2:35 pm

This really tells the story!
America’s Most Corrupt States

1. Georgia
> Overall grade: F (49%)
> Public access to information: F
> Legislative accountability: F
> Political financing: F
> Ethics enforcement agencies: F

Georgia has the worst levels of corruption risk and lack of accountability of any state in the country. The state scored a D or worse in 12 of the 14 categories. The state’s biggest problem is the absence of a strong ethics enforcement agency. Republican governor Sonny Perdue managed to get an ethics bill through the legislature, but by the time it passed, his proposals to ban gifts to state workers and clearly define appropriate campaign spending had been stripped out. According to State Integrity reporter Jim Walls, while Georgia has provisions to prevent certain kinds of corruption in campaign finance and lobbying, the state is full of unaddressed loopholes and lax enforcement. “About 2,000 Georgia officials, including one in five sitting legislators, have failed to pay penalties for filing their disclosures late, or not at all.”

Public School Parent

October 9th, 2012
2:43 pm

@ Bryan, I just reviewed that link you posted. The pro-amendment side’s ethics report is interesting. I noted the large number of $5 and $10 donations, mostly from charter lobbyists and their families. Obviously, they contributed small amounts to refute claims by anti-amendment folks who alleged that the overwhelming percentage of contributions came from outside GA and from for-profit charter management companies. I noted that the pro-amendment individual donors gave in very low amounts–probably because they feel confident that Alice Walton, the Koch brothers, and the charter management companies are successfully underwriting the pro-amendment campaign.

As a donor to the anti-amendment campaign myself, I sure wish we had that luxury!

Bryan Preston

October 9th, 2012
4:46 pm

Public school parent, thanks for checking out the money trail. While the percentage of individual or family donors are high in number, it the LARGE DOLLAR percentage by corporations and the attys they will need to setup their businesses in Georgia that’s the eye opener. As a conservative, smaller government proponent my question for people considering voting yes is to ask, “Why in the world would you vote away your right to vote? Vote yes and you will lose your right to elect a representative and an unelected, politically appointed committee will be named to the job.” UN-believeable!

Ginerva

October 9th, 2012
7:48 pm

What about the propoganda film “Making the Grade?” Was that made using any “taxpayer” resources? Was any of it filmed during school hours in the state charter schools? YES