Archive for the ‘Sam Olens’ Category

Your daily jolt: A state Senate under new management

In the minutes surrounding the passage of Senate Bill 24, Gov. Nathan Deal’s solution to the “bed tax” dilemma, the sharp-eyed could – through the door leading to President pro tem David Shafer’s office – spot a giddy state Sen. Jeff Mullis dancing through the anteroom, arms in the air.

That’s how happy the new leaders of the state Senate were on Thursday, following passage of the Hospital Medicaid Financing Program Act. The bill, which now will receive the same railed treatment in the House, solves the sticky problem of legislative approval for a continued levy on hospitals by shoving the issue behind the executive curtain of the state Department of Community Health.

In fact, the contrast with Senate passage of the original “bed tax” in 2010 couldn’t be starker. Three years ago, GOP senators tortured themselves over the issue for three months. The caucus split, and two Republicans lost chairmanships when they refused to go along – despite furious …

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Saxby Chambliss: ‘I don’t want to be dictated to by anybody in Washington’

Updated below with some back-and-forth between Norquist and Chambliss staffers.

Original post: U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss on Saturday morning made the case for ignoring Grover Norquist and his anti-tax pledge before an all-important group of Cobb County Republicans.

It was the largest home-state crowd Georgia’s senior senator had addressed since his pre-Thanksgiving Day declaration that the coming fiscal cliff and a $17 trillion federal deficit has changed the way that Republicans must think about taxation.

“I think that you sent me to Washington to think for myself. And I want to vote the way you want me to vote,” Chambliss said. “I don’t want to be dictated to by anybody in Washington, as to how I’m going to vote on anything.”

The packed hall of 150 activists included Attorney General Sam Olens; state GOP chairman Sue Everhart; J.D. Van Brink, chairman of the Georgia Tea Party; and Phil Smith, national political director of the Concord Coalition, a bipartisan …

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On Sam Olens and the power of Twitter — plus some angry Tech fans

Attorney General Sam Olens has just been given an education in the power of social media and angry Georgia Tech fans. This morning, the following was sent out from his Twitter account:

“I just saw a billboard congratulating Tech ACC Coastal football champs! Miami won it, Tech is 6-6, how embarrassing.”

The Yellow Jacket response was apparently swift and sharp. The above Tweet no longer exists. But this one does:

sam2

Olens, by the way, is an Emory University law school grad who did not attend the University of Georgia. Which means no blood feud was involved.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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

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John Barge: No plans now to enforce anti-campaign laws against school systems

Attorney General Sam Olens this afternoon sent a promised letter to state School Superintendent John Barge, outlining how to enforce state prohibitions on the use of public resources on referendum campaigns.

In other words, Olens outlined how sanctions might be applied against local school boards that are making themselves heard in opposition to the Nov. 6 ballot issue on charter schools. (Or for the measure, let us hasten to add.)

Read the letter here. The courts are one remedy, Olens wrote. The withholding of state funds is another. But then the attorney general wrote this – the emphasis is ours:

In the absence of specific facts, it is difficult to determine which mechanism – if any – ought to be considered for use. I will note, however, that it appears highly unlikely that any substantial state funds have been directly expended for the purpose of electoral advocacy.

It is more likely that potential violations would include expenditure of other public resources: …

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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 …

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Lawsuit alleges ‘Education Empire’ conspiracy to defeat charter school measure

Atlanta attorney and charter school advocate Glenn Delk has finally filed that lawsuit against 180 school districts in Georgia, alleging that along with “the Education Empire,” they have been engaged in a “coordinated campaign and conspiracy” to defeat the November ballot question on charter schools.

Signing onto the lawsuit are Rae Anne Harkness, a charter school parent from DeKalb County; Rich Thompson, founder and CEO of 100Dads; Kelley O’Bryan Gary, chairman of the Jackson County GOP; Kara Martin; and Allen Hughes.

Read the lawsuit here. Some excerpts:

This case is brought by individual taxpayers and registered voters of Georgia who believe in the rule of law and the right of taxpayers to freely exercise their right to vote on the Amendment without Defendants and entities such as the teachers unions, the Georgia School Boards Association, the Georgia School Superintendents Association and others (collectively known as the “Education Empire”) using taxpayer …

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Sam Olens orders local school boards to stay out of charter school fight

Attorney General Sam Olens this afternoon sent a letter to state School Superintendent John Barge, in which Olens ordered all local school boards to shut down any opposition to the proposed state constitutional amendment on charter schools that involves official time or taxpayer funds.

Olens’ ruling applies to school boards that endorse the measure as well. But by and large, local boards of education, particularly in rural Georgia, have been firmly against the November ballot measure. Many have passed resolutions condemning it.

Read the entire letter here. Wrote Olens:

Local school boards do not have the legal authority to expend funds or other resources to advocate or oppose the ratification of a constitutional amendment by the voters. They may not do this directly or indirectly through associations to which they may belong….

That means organizations like the Georgia School Boards Association, and perhaps, the Georgia School Superintendents Association, would be barred from …

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Two Sams, an Elliott and a Sanford on polarized politics

This was alumni weekend at Emory University, possibly because they don’t have a football team.

Part of the program on Saturday was a panel of law school graduates discussing the polarized state of American politics: Former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn (’62), U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop (’71) Attorney General Sam Olens (’83); former congressman Elliott Levitas (’52).

Herding the cats as moderator was Yvette Miller (’88) presiding judge of the state Court of the Appeals. Tom Clark, associate professor of political science, also sat in on the discussion.

Here’s the video turned out by Emory:

Below is a rough, incomplete transcript.

For the last few weeks, Nunn has been engaged in an unofficial campaign to rally the nation’s political elders – Republican and Democrat – in support of a bipartisan deal to address the federal deficit and avoidance of the “fiscal cliff” that looms in January. So he loomed largest in the discussion.

The panel closed with a brief skirmish over …

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Your morning jolt: Charter school support holds steady at 58 percent

The forces behind Georgia’s charter school amendment to the state constitution are out with a new poll this morning that shows voters still comfortably in favor of the measure.

Fifty-eight percent of voters are prepared to vote in favor of the amendment – unchanged since the previous poll in July. See the polling note from John McLaughlin and Rob Schmidt here.

The real purpose of the poll was to measure the effectiveness of arguments we’re likely to see put forward in coming weeks. Opponents have argued that giving a state agency the power to grant charter school licenses over the objections of local systems would sap education funding from traditional schools.

Here’s one test argument from the poll:

If approved, this amendment would not take a single dollar away from traditional public schools. This amendment simply provides for a fair appeals process for families that are not fortunate enough to have great public schools or enough resources to enroll in private …

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Two witnesses for the GOP prosecution in Tampa

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens address the Republican National Convention in Tampa on Wednesday. AP/J. Scott Applewhite

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens address the Republican National Convention in Tampa on Wednesday. AP/J. Scott Applewhite

TAMPA — A speech before a national political convention begins with a phone call and a surprisingly tight deadline. For Attorney General Sam Olens, that call came three weeks ago.

And it arrived with a slight twist: Olens would perform a rhetorical duet before delegates with his Florida counterpart, Pam Bondi.

Days of emailing and editing, some late-night tweaks and two dress rehearsals later, the bespectacled lawyer — who had been chairman of the Cobb County Commission only two years ago — stepped in front of thousands of delegates to the Republican National Convention and millions of TV viewers with his partner on Wednesday night.

“We know that the Constitution limits federal power, but President [Barack] Obama clearly believes those limits just get in his way. So he ignores them,” Olens began. “He …

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