Archive for November, 2012

An attempt to bypass S.C. objections to Savannah port dredging

Russ Bynum of the Associated Press reports that the U.S. Corps of Engineers is attempting to neutralize South Carolina opposition to the dredging of the Port of Savannah:

SAVANNAH, Ga.— The federal agency seeking to deepen the Savannah harbor sent letters to Vice President Joe Biden, House Speaker John Boehner and eight other Washington lawmakers saying the $652 million project should be allowed to bypass environmental review by South Carolina, which shares the Savannah River with Georgia.

The letters from the Army Corps of Engineers were disclosed in filings Thursday in U.S. District Court. The Corps wants to deepen more than 30 miles of the river from 42 feet to 47 feet to give supersized cargo ships room to reach the Port of Savannah.

The federal government gave final approval to the project in October and the Corps wants to begin construction in 2013. However, the federal Clean Water Act typically requires environmental permits from affected states.

Georgia granted one …

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David Shafer, Ronnie Chance new GOP Senate leaders

We’ve received word from Little Ocmulgee State Park down south Georgia, where state Senate Republicans have gathered and elected a new leadership team:

– David Shafer of Duluth beat Bill Cowsert of Athens in the contest for president pro tem, the No. 1 leadership position in the Senate. The current Senate president pro tem, Tommie Williams of Lyons, announced earlier this year that he would not seek another two-year term;

– Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers of Woodstock withdrew his re-election bid and endorsed Ronnie Chance of Tyrone, the governor’s floor leader, for the position.

– and Cecil Staton won re-election as majority whip.

No vote totals available yet. We’re told that changes in Senate rules – which could determine the extent of Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s authority over the chamber – will be tackled next month.

Updated at 5 p.m.: This press release from Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers shows one of the more obvious face-saving maneuvers that took place …

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Your daily jolt: Allen West rejects move to Ga. — ‘I’m not an NFL free agent’

U.S. Rep. Allen West continues to hold out hope that he can prevail with a recount in his coastal Florida race. But the Republican firebrand has ruled out a return to Georgia should he need to restart his political career.

My AJC colleague Daniel Malloy caught West in a Capitol hallway on Wednesday, and asked him about the invitation from Georgia GOP chairman Sue Everhart, who noted West’s Atlanta roots and said she hoped they would lead West to replant his standard here.

West wasn’t interested. “No,” the former lieutenant colonel replied. “Look, let me tell you something. I have moved my wife around for 20-some-odd years, being in the military, and she was also the daughter of a career military guy. When I retired, she chose Florida. That’s where my daughter’s in school, in college, my youngest daughter’s in high school. That’s our home. It’s a very nice thing, but I’m not an NFL free agent.”

***
Johnny Isakson took to the floor of the U.S. Senate on …

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Watching the Falcons stadium debate, the Braves pursue something different

The Atlanta Braves would like to see this sprawl of parking lots north of Turner Field become a mixed-use neighborhood on par with Atlantic Station. Hyosub Shin, hshin@ajc.com

The Atlanta Braves would like to see this sprawl of parking lots north of Turner Field become a mixed-use neighborhood on par with Atlantic Station. Hyosub Shin, hshin@ajc.com

For the much-needed attention she paid to the city’s infrastructure, Shirley Franklin became known as Atlanta’s sewer mayor.

Kasim Reed may have something flashier in mind as a legacy. If things go his way, by the time he’s finished, Reed may be known as the stadium mayor.

You already know that Reed is a major force behind Arthur Blank’s effort to build a new, $1 billion-plus home for his Atlanta Falcons. The Georgia World Congress Center Authority would hold the title. A state-approved hotel-motel tax would pay for at least $300 million of the structure – perhaps more, if the Legislature and governor can be persuaded.

This winter, the Falcons project could require the mayor of Atlanta, a former state senator, to return as a full-time resident of the Capitol. While he’s there, Reed may also …

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WellStar buys a broken shard of Newt, Inc.

One of his former constituents is picking up one of the shattered pieces of Newt, Inc.

Marietta-based WellStar Health System announced today that it has purchased the trademark, website and whatever else is left of the Center for Health Transformation, a think-tank started by former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich that declared bankruptcy this spring during his run for president.

Begun as the Gingrich Group in 2003, the Center for Health Transformation, the think-tank brought in “at least $37 million” over an eight-year period from major health care interests and industry players, the Washington Post reported last year.

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the industry trade group known as PhRMA, was among the center’s clients, paying as much as $200,000 a year for membership, according to company documents.

By the time it filed for Chapter 7 liquidation in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Atlanta, CHT listed $1 million to $10 million in debt, with only up to …

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Your daily jolt: Florida governor drops opposition to ‘Obamacare’

The biggest post-election policy shift we’ve seen so far, from the Associated Press:

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Rick Scott, one of the most vocal critics of the federal health care overhaul, is dropping his staunch opposition to the law.

Scott said in an interview Tuesday that he now wants to negotiate with the federal government. He said it’s time for Republicans to offer solutions to help families after they lost their bid to defeat President Barack Obama.

“The election is over and President Obama won,” Scott said. “I’m responsible for the families of Florida … If I can get to yes, I want to get to yes.”

Scott had previously stated that he would not go along with any parts of the health care overhaul that the state controls.

States have until Friday to notify federal authorities whether they plan to set up health insurance exchanges, a marketplace where individuals and smalls businesses can shop for the most affordable coverage and where many will get help from the …

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A Tom Price/Paul Ryan alliance to challenge John Boehner

In this obscure D.C. race that’s turned into a kind of strength test for U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., had pledged himself to Tom Price, R-Roswell, even before he became the Republican nominee for vice president.

That said, Ryan’s endorsement of Price in tomorrow’s election for House Republican conference chairman – the No. 4 ranking position in the chamber – does carry weight and is an indication that the most conservative of House Republicans don’t intend to meekly submit during the coming fiscal cliff negotiations.

From the letter Ryan sent to his colleagues on Tuesday (emphasis in the original):

In the House of Representatives, we have an obligation and a real opportunity to produce and promote a positive and principled agenda for the American people. Over the past two years, we have offered bold solutions to our fiscal and economic challenges. We must not let up, but rather continue to focus our energy on doing what is necessary to …

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The Rand Paul solution: Path to citizenship, de-criminalized pot, fewer U.S. military forays

An impressive post-election paragraph from U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., with Politico.com:

….Paul said he’ll return to Congress this week pushing measures long avoided by his party. He wants to work with liberal Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy and Republicans to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for pot possession. He wants to carve a compromise immigration plan with an “eventual path” to citizenship for illegal immigrants, a proposal he believes could be palatable to conservatives. And he believes his ideas — along with pushing for less U.S. military intervention in conflicts overseas — could help the GOP broaden its tent and appeal to crucial voting blocs that handed Democrats big wins in the West Coast, the Northeast and along the Great Lakes.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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Your daily jolt: An invitation to Allen West from the Ga. GOP

Though he has yet to concede, U.S. Rep. Allen West, a former Army lieutenant colonel and Republican firebrand, narrowly lost his re-election bid last week.

U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla./AP file

U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla./AP file

So what’s in the cards for the coastal Florida congressman after his lame-duck duties are done? Sue Everhart, chairman of the Georgia Republican party, said Monday she would love it if West, an Atlanta native and Grady High School grad, returned to his roots.

“I would be glad to have him come back to Georgia and at some point run here,” Everhart told my AJC colleague Daniel Malloy during a discussion about diversity within the Republican party. “I would certainly try to help him because he has done his job. The way he ran his race didn’t in any way interfere with the job he did. He ran as a Republican, a conservative Republican.”

Everhart called the one-term West “one of the finest congressmen this country’s ever had.”

Returns show that West’s Democratic challenger, …

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Georgia’s own 52-minute video on the ‘Agenda 21′ conspiracy

You think we’re done with people captured on video while listening to private groupthink? Ah, think again.

Mitt Romney wasn’t the first, and obviously won’t be the last.

Bryan Long of Better Georgia, a progressive group, sends the following 52-minute video of a session held at the Capitol for Republican state senators last month on Agenda 21, the alleged United Nations-driven conspiracy to harness private property through rezoning and planned-use ordinances passed by local governments.

The session was held Oct. 11. We have not checked their accounts, but we’re told that several senators claimed their per diem for attending the session. Long said his group delayed release of the video to avoid the media clutter of the presidential campaign. Watch it here:

Agenda 21 Full Video from Bryan Long on Vimeo.

The October meeting was called by Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock. In the foreground of the video, you can also see state Sens. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler, and …

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