A Republican state Senator who voted to place the proposed constitutional amendment on charter schools on the November ballot now says he’ll vote against the measure.
Frank Ginn of Danielsville declared his opposition at an Athens forum last night – as did Regina Quick, who defeated state Rep. Doug McKillip, R-Athens, in the July primary. From the Banner-Herald:
Quick and Ginn, both Republicans, were panelists for the forum in Clarke Central’s Mell Auditorium Tuesday night.
Ginn, R-Danielsville, voted to place the amendment on the ballot so Georgia voters could decide, he said…
“I’m going to vote against the amendment,” he said. “I’m for the teacher. Bureaucracy, we see, is not helping.”
“There are portions of this bill that really bother me, as far as the charter school commission,” Quick said. “I’m against government run amok.”
A first hearing on a lawsuit filed by charter school proponents against Georgia’s 180 school districts, asking a Fulton County Superior Court judge to order public school officials to stay out of the fight, will get its first hearing at 2 p.m. today.
That suit, which names the Fulton and Gwinnett school systems as its principle targets, was filed by Atlanta attorney Glenn Delk on Monday.
What many don’t know is that a second lawsuit was filed the same day against the Gwinnett County school district; its school superintendent, Alvin Wilbanks; and the Georgia School Boards Association. Among the attorneys filing the action is Josh Belinfante, the former Republican candidate for state Senate.
Read the complaint documents here, here and here. Like the Delk complaint, the second lawsuit accuses educators of engaging in an “illegal conspiracy to use taxpayer funds.” Belinfante said Tuesday that the two lawsuits were not coordinated – and that he and Delk hadn’t discussed the actions until this week.
In many ways, this second lawsuit may be a more serious threat to opponents of the charter school amendment than the Delk suit. It specifically asks a judge to declare a resolution passed by the Gwinnett school board opposing the charter measure to be beyond the scope of its authority.
It likewise targets Wilbanks for “impermissibly using school resources, including his time, to campaign against the Amendment.”
But most importantly, the lawsuit targets the GSBA – the lobbying arm for public school systems in Georgia. Because the organization is funded with annual dues from every local school system (“at least $15,000” from Gwinnett), the GSBA should be barred from participating in any discussion of the charter school campaign, the lawsuit argues.
However, the first hearing on the lawsuit won’t be for another two weeks — on Oct. 24, less than two weeks before the Nov. 6 vote.
The reaction on Tuesday from Sis Henry, the executive director of the GSBA:
”The timing and breadth of the complaints make clear that they are an attempt to shut down one side of the debate on the Amendment right as early voting begins throughout the State. The focus of the suits continues to be allegations of inappropriate use of public funds.
“Board members, superintendents, teachers, parents and citizens continue to have basic First Amendment rights to speak out on whatever side they may support and it is more crucial now than ever that citizens exercise that right.”
And from Wilbanks, the Gwinnett school superintendent:
“In providing information to the public regarding Amendment 1, I have done nothing wrong or improper. These lawsuits are simply another attempt to bully, intimidate, and silence the citizens and public servants who are trying to clarify the amendment in order to counter the misleading language of the preamble and the ballot question itself. This is not a partisan issue….
“I fully understand and abide by what legally I can and cannot do regarding the use of public funds in this effort. I also know that as an American citizen I have freedom of speech rights that are protected by the United States Constitution. I fully intend to continue exercising those rights, regardless of the tactics employed to try to keep me quiet.”
A resurgent Republican presidential nominee continues his move to the center. From the New York Times:
Continuing to embrace a more moderate political persona, Mitt Romney offered assurances on Tuesday that he would protect tax deductions for the middle class on home mortgages and charitable donations.
He also said he had no plans to pursue new laws limiting abortion.
“There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda,” he told the editorial board of The Des Moines Register.
The Washington Post today has a fascinating piece on the digital assistance that Iran is offering Syria to undermine rebels in its civil war:
An array of sophisticated techniques used to entrap Syrian opposition activists has already been unearthed by tech privacy and security groups.
Pro-government hackers have covertly installed spyware on activists’ computers by sending them e-mail and Skype messages purporting to be from opposition sympathizers that include attachments containing surveillance tools, said Eva Galperin of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an Internet privacy group based in San Francisco.
The surveillance software can record keystrokes, steal passwords, turn on webcams and record audio conversations.
U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss and several of his colleagues are demanding answers to these very specific questions from the U.S. State Department about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya one month ago:
–First, within 48 hours of the attack, was there credible information and reporting to suggest that the assault on our Consulate and other U.S. facilities in Benghazi should be characterized as a terrorist attack? This is certainly how it appeared to many Americans, allegedly including some members of the Administration. It has been reported that Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy – a Foreign Service Officer with decades of experience, and the senior official responsible for the security of State Department operations – offered his personal judgment during a briefing to Congressional staff on the day after the attack in Benghazi that it had the hallmarks of a sophisticated, well-coordinated terrorist act. We are eager to know what the intelligence community knew, and what initial judgments it reached, at that time.
– Second, at what time did intelligence community agencies or elements first assess that the events in Benghazi were a terrorist attack? This is important because, as late as five days after the attack in Benghazi, senior policymakers were still characterizing it as the result of a spontaneous demonstration in response to a disgusting video insulting Islam. Furthermore, in a letter last week, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice maintained that she was relying on the best assessments of the intelligence community when she characterized the cause of the attack in Benghazi as a spontaneous protest, not an act of terrorism, during a television interview five days after the fact.
– Finally, what information did you and the intelligence community provide to senior policymakers that led some of them to draw the conclusion as late as five days after the attack in Benghazi that it was the result of a spontaneous demonstration, not a terrorist act? Was there no credible evidence at that late date that was compelling enough for the intelligence community and the senior policymakers to draw a conclusion with at least moderate confidence that the attack in Benghazi was a terrorist act?
The AJC’s Politifact Georgia today takes a look at Clayton County Juvenile Court Judge Steven Teske’s assertion that high school students arrested on campus are twice as likely not to graduate and four times less likely to graduate if they’ve appeared in court.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider