Congressman Jack Kingston’s office sent out a presser reminding high school juniors who are aspiring to go to one of our nation’s service academies to apply for a congressional nomination by October 1st:

Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA) reminds students interested in receiving a congressional nomination to one of the U.S. Military Academies that they must submit their completed applications to his office no later than October 1. Each year Congressman Kingston nominates deserving young men and women to the Service Academies.

“The First District has a rich military heritage. We have many qualified students who can carry on that tradition,” said Kingston. “We have the privilege of interviewing and nominating the finest young men and women to the Academies each year. These are the future leaders that will serve with honor and skill in the United States Armed Forces.”

The application periods for the Academies generally begin in April, and now is the time to start working towards admission into these top institutions.

High school juniors interested in attending the United States Air Force Academy, the United States Military Academy, the United States Merchant Marine Academy, or the United States Naval Academy should apply directly with the Academy as soon as possible.

Those students should contact Congressman Kingston’s office for a Congressional Nomination Application. More information and the nomination application can be found on Kingston’s website at http://kingston.house.gov or by calling Brooke Childers in his Savannah Office at 912-352-0101.

{ 0 comments }

We’re starting to get a sense of how Jason Carter might fund his education program.

He wants to go after tax cheats.

“There’s $2.5 billion that is uncollected out there from people who are cheating on their taxes, and against whom we aren’t enforcing the law. That’s $2.5 billion dollars of money that’s gone uncollected by our state government for years now.”

That’s all well and good but it might not be enough.

People familiar with the state budgeting process tell me that that $2.5 billion figure is very ambitious and it will be very difficult to collect that much. In addition to the  problems the AJC lists, it is unclear how much of that theoretically-collectible amount of money is fees and interest. Any of the old taxes that were caught up in bankruptcy are absolutely not collectible and could violate federal law if pursued. Some of the tax is just too old to collect, too.

So it’s a good first start, but he’s still probably nine figures away from fully funding his initiatives.

{ 12 comments }

Sen. Johnny Isakson agrees with me. 

He said in order for Michelle Nunn to replace Saxby Chambliss as our Senator, she’s going to have to be more articulate in explaining what she believes. And by “going to have to be” I mean “start.”

On Wednesday, Isakson was quoted by Walter Jones as saying: “The oldest rule in politics … is you can’t have it both ways. You can’t say, ‘I might,’ and say, ‘I might not,’ and expect the people of Georgia to believe it one way or another. You’ve got to ultimately declare what you’re going to do.”

Isakson was responding to Nunn’s non-statement statement  how she doesn’t know if she would vote for Harry Reid as Democratic Senate Leader.

{ 4 comments }

Uber Launches In Athens

August 28, 2014 13:39 pm

by Will Kremer · 3 comments

The rumble you are feeling is not an earthquake; it is the entire student body of the University of Georgia cheering.

Uber announced today that it is launching its service in 24 new cities–mostly college towns. Despite tremendous pressure from state governments to increase regulation on ridesharing companies such as Uber, the company continues to grow and exceed its own goals.

Today we are one step closer to our vision of UberEverywhere — a bold idea that no matter where you are, a reliable ride with Uber is just 5 minutes away. With today’s launch of 24 new markets, the Uber network is now available in 205 cities across 45 countries and 6 continents worldwide (bring it, Antarctica!) — more than double our #Uber100 milestone reached just four months ago. With more than 100 cities in the U.S. (now covering 55% of the U.S. population), 10 cities in India, 6 cities in China and 43 cities launched in August alone, those numbers are growing every day.

It is worth noting that some House members proposed a measure targeting Uber and Lyft during the most recent legislative session, but after a public outcry the measure never made it to the floor for a vote. However, rideshare services are to be studied this fall by House members.

{ 3 comments }

The Atlanta Regional Commission is in the process of finalizing a massive rewrite of its bylaws. Some citizens groups are not happy with the proposed changes because they believe the Commission should be more accountable to local residents. Many attended a meeting of the ARC Board on Wednesday to express their frustration.

David Pendered with the Saporta Report has the story:

At least nine organizations sent representatives to voice opposition to proposed revisions to the ARC’s bylaws. They want the bylaws to prohibit the ARC from seating on its board developers and others who have an interest in development. The proposal does not do that.

“I have a problem with a person or employer who could benefit” from actions taken by the ARC board serving on the ARC board, said Fayette County Commission Chairman Steve Brown.

Brown’s concerns about the citizen members of the board go beyond whether they should be representatives of the development community. In April, he issued a press release after writing a memo to the ARC Bylaws Committee with his concerns:

One problem Brown cites is the division between the mayors and commission chairmen which, in turn, allows the citizen members to have a controlling influence. Some of the citizen members have been on the ARC Board for decades. “I worry when the ARC Chairman, a very powerful and influential position, is controlled by a citizen member whom the citizens cannot touch,” said Brown.

“I believe the situation is worsened when that citizen chairman is on the board of a community improvement district, which should exclude them from being a citizen member of the ARC board. Both the previous chairman and the current chairman are CID board members and are employed in the lucrative real estate development industry, which means ARC votes related to infrastructure can
influence their profitability.”

The makeup of the ARC Board, however, is determined by its enabling legislation. Changes to the board’s composition would require legislative intervention. And while both the current and proposed revisions to the ARC bylaws prohibit members at large from holding public office, courts have ruled that Community Improvement Districts and their Boards of Directors do not qualify under that limitation.

Representatives from the citizens groups, including Common Cause of Georgia, the Transportation Leadership Coalition, and several Tea Party groups, are wary of regionalism because they fear a decision affecting an entire region could force their county to participate in something it opposes. They see the proposed bylaws changes as strengthening the power of unelected individuals to mandate regional solutions. Their concerns about regional government stem from the failed 2012 TSPLOST, which Brown also opposed.

The ARC Board is expected to vote on the proposed bylaws changes at its September meeting.

{ 0 comments }

Sen. Jack Hill (R-4, Appropriations Chair) recently penned some of his views on a few of the transportation issues in Georgia, with a particular focus upon the 4th Senatorial District that he serves.  He also provides some potential options for handling the growing transportation problems.  As usual, he is forthright with his comments and lays out the facts plainly.  Sen. Hill’s District covers all of Effingham, Bulloch, Candler, and Evans counties and parts of Tattnall and Emanuel counties.

WHERE ARE GEORGIA’S TRANSPORTATION NEEDS?

Georgia is the 4th largest state, with nearly 10 million people and growing.  As concentrated as part of the state is around Atlanta and as spread out as the rest of the state is, it is little wonder that there is a long list of transportation needs that grows larger as the state grows and the projects become more expensive as inflation increases the costs year after year.

In the Fourth District, two counties with pressing transportation needs are Effingham and Bulloch Counties.

Effingham, as a rapidly growing county of over 50,000, has major transportation problems with commuting between Effingham and Chatham counties on a congested Ga. 21, a four lane GRIP highway, that has a choke point at the intersection of 21 and I-95.  A secondary route in and out of the county is badly needed and a route is well along in the planning stage.  But it is an expensive project that may languish unless new sources of funding, local and state are found.

Bulloch County has Ga. 67 connecting to I-16 (which is the main corridor for Statesboro and Georgia Southern University traffic) going to and from Savannah.  This highway is a two lane highway in the plans to four lane, but funding is the issue.

In other Fourth District Counties, a number of new roads need to be paved, but those remaining counties are all collecting and spending the additional 1 cent TSPOST funds that are in place for ten years.  Those counties will come close to meeting their transportation needs.

GA DOT has a long list of expensive state projects including the Northwest Corridor ($598 million), I-75 South Express Lanes ($176 million), I-285/SR400 ($950 million) and the Jimmy DeLoach Connector ($73 million) now under construction to the port in Savannah.  The GDOT’s Major Strategic Plan, which are all aimed at the traffic in and around Atlanta and out of state from there, totals in excess of $12 billion.  Lists exist that approach $100 billion.  

[click to continue…]

{ 4 comments }

On this day in 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his “I Have a Dream” speech at a civil rights rally in Washington, D.C . to a crowd of more than 200,000 people.
Peaches

Jimmy Carter

Sweet Tea

Liberty Drum

{ 19 comments }

Earlier this week, the Georgia Republican Party made a donation of thousands of dollars to the Bowen Story Fund. The Bowen Story Fund is a non-profit organization that focuses on enhancing the lives of the families of pediatric cancer patients by providing help, care and support during emergency hospitalizations and long-term stays. The following is from the Georgia Republican Party’s press from earlier this week.

(Atlanta, Georgia) – The Georgia Republican Party Committee Service Committee led by GAGOP 1st Vice-Chairman Michael McNeely donated thousands of dollars to the Bowen Story Fund this weekend after a multi-month fundraising drive.

GOP“Service to others is one of the highest callings any person can have,” said McNeely. “When we give of our time, talent, and treasury to help those in need, we make our country a better place to live.  We must consistently show people we care and not only tell them.  The Community Service Committee is proud to support the Bowen Story Fund and look forward to working with many more organizations across the state of Georgia.”

With the help from 14 county parties and the DeKalb Young Republicans, the Community Service Committee raised $7,217.00 in gift cards to benefit the Bowen Story Fund, which provides food, shelter, and transportation to families who travel more than 50 miles from home to receive treatment at Children’s Hospital of Atlanta. Many families are drained financially because of their child’s diagnosis and the gift cards donated by Georgia Republicans will alleviate the financial burden they face during their hardship.

Participating counties include: Cobb, Fulton, Gwinnett, Jackson, Greene, Upson, Oconee, Oglethorpe, Henry, Muscogee, Lowndes, Clayton, and Douglas.  The Cobb County, Jackson County, and Henry County Republican Parties will be honored at the GAGOP Victory Dinner this fall for their exceptional fundraising efforts.

The GAGOP Community Service Committee is now working with the Georgia Federation for Republican Women to donate pocket-sized constitutions to 5th grade students in honor of Constitution Day. The Committee will also volunteer to serve meals with the Veterans Empowerment Organization of Georgia.

Kudos to the Georgia Republican Party for pro-actively advocating for and contributing towards good, charitable causes. Do you think such GOP efforts are sufficient enough to dispel myths / beliefs (depending on your perspective) that Republicans are cruel, heartless bigots who hate everyone? No seriously, discuss.

{ 5 comments }

The Brookhaven Post has released a story that a special election will be held on November 4th to fill the District 1 position formerly held by Elaine Boyer on the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners.  If a runoff is necessary, it would be held on December 2, 2014.  Qualifying will begin on Monday, September 8 and run through noon on Wednesday, September 10.  The official posting by the DeKalb County Board of Registrations and Elections can be found here.

Boyer resigned her position on Monday of this week and is facing federal charges for improper financial actions while serving as Commissioner.

{ 1 comment }

I wrote a post this morning that illustrated how the same event could be interpreted in different ways, depending on who was telling the story. Here’s another, perhaps better case.

On Monday, FetchYourNews.com published the story of how Nydia Tisdale was arrested after she was asked to stop filming a Republican campaign event at Burt’s Pumpkin Farm in Dawson County. The story (complete with video of the occurrence) painted Tisdale as a citizen journalist who was badly mistreated, and whose arrest should embarrass anyone who values the first amendment.

The FYN story and video was relayed by the AJC’s Political Insider, and drew a press release denouncing Governor Deal from the Jason Carter gubernatorial campaign.

Watching this, and a similar sympathetic reaction on social media, I posted on Facebook, “Nydia Tisdale is becoming a martyr. That’s exactly what she wanted to be, and it’s a shame.”

Now comes DawsonNews.com with perhaps a more honest telling of what happened Saturday afternoon. The story quotes Johnny Burt, the farm’s owner as saying,

“I told [Sheriff's Capt. Tony Wooten], ‘Have her cut the recorder off.’ He went up to her and she refused,” Burt said. “Then I told him to get her out. He asked to her leave politely, very politely, and she refused to leave. So he had no choice but to forcefully remove her.

“She tried to hit Tony with the camera and he had to remove the camera from her hand and she slapped him in the face and I saw that. Tony only done what he was asked to do by the property owner and that was me.”

Had she cooperated with the request to stop recording, Burt said she could have stayed.

“If she had in the least cooperated, just cut her camera off, and sat there through the meeting and asked all the questions she wanted to at the end, it would have perfectly fine. But she misrepresented herself to start with,” he said.

This year, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with many political trackers. Every time we would ask one to turn off his or her camera, it was turned off. And I’ll say that I fully support Tisdale’s right to record a public meeting.

Did Tisdale have the right to film the event, given it was billed as open to the public? In the DawsonNews story, Sheriff Billy Carlisle clarified the property owner has the right to eject a guest, even at a public event.

One way to avoid situations like this is to set ground rules for media coverage well before the event starts. And, that’s what the Forsyth County Republican Party has done. In an ironic bit of timing, the party published its new media policy on Tuesday. It’s very well done, defining how meetings are defined to be open to the press, defining what constitutes the press, and specifying how to obtain media credentials to cover an open event. It can serve as a model for other party organizations to adopt.

Even better, the party announced it would be making its own videos of events and posting them on YouTube. That will provide transparency, and eliminate the possibility of doctored or heavily edited video being the only record of an event.

And, I bet Nydia Tisdale would not have received media credentials under the party’s new policy.

{ 25 comments }

The Georgia Environmental Finance Authority announced three Georgia reservoirs will receive low-interest state loans that amount to approximately $26 million. Increased water demands from the region spurred the loans.  The Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Dave Williams has the details:

The 305-acre Richland Creek Reservoir in Paulding County and the 643-acre Indian Creek Reservoir in Carroll County will get $6 million and $10 million, respectively, representing the next installment in multi-year funding for the two projects. The Etowah Water & Sewer Authority will receive the other $10 million loan for the 137-acre Russell Creek Reservoir in Dawson County, that project’s first funding through the state program.

Gov. Nathan Deal created the water supply program in 2011 to finance a planned network of reservoirs in the northern third of Georgia to help meet the growing region’s increasing water demands. He committed $300 million in grants and loans to the four-year initiative. [click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

 

The veterans administration has seen its share of recent challenges. From the egregious wait times to the coverup of the egregious wait times, it hasn’t been the best of times for either the administration or the veterans they serve. With the cloud of malfeasance comes Congressional attention. Towards that end Representative Doug Collins and Senator Johnny Isakson visited the Augusta VA recently. Collins was once active duty military and is still in the reserves, as such the issues of veterans are close to his heart. The ongoing theme in the coverage of the VA shortcomings has been that the administration itself has caused the problems while the actual front line caregivers are working to solve them. Certainly polls from May showed that Veteran’s rated the care that got from the VA very highly. Though the problem seems to be not with the veterans who did receive care but for those that did not.

That group appears to be a bit grouchy, or at least the VA thinks so. Their guide to dealing with veterans at town halls depicts them as Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street. While using PBS imagery is a good recycling of government resources, in many areas the VA could improve on its efficiency. Part of the problem is that the VA’s mission seems to be out of step with its administration. Maybe that’s due to funding, but a lack of focus on serving veterans may also be to blame. Visiting Augusta was an important step, and Collins hopes to visit all of Georgia’s VA hospitals by the end of the year. Given his continued service and dedication to the task, perhaps he can use his position to bridge the gap between bureaucrat and soldier. Here’s hoping.

{ 0 comments }

GAE Endorses Carter

August 27, 2014 11:55 am

by Ed · 6 comments

The Georgia Association of Educators endorsed Jason Carter today. That’s not totally surprising as GAE almost always endorses Democrats–when they endorse candidates.

In a press release announcing their support, GAE President Dr. Sid Chapman said:

“The trend the current governor has overseen of a demoralizing and dismantling of our public education system in Georgia, needs to be reversed or there will be irreparable damage done to one of the great foundations of our state – public education.  We believe the next leader of our state government needs to see public education for what it means for our children as well as what it means for the health and welfare of our state and society.

This is the second endorsement of the year for GAE. Earlier, Valarie Wilson, the Democratic nominee for state School Superintendent picked up the professional organization’s support. She faces Richard Woods in November.

As with any GAE story it is worth jumping the gun and reminding people they are not a union.

You can read the full text of their press release below the fold (I know the right button to click now, too so it will be there.)

[click to continue…]

{ 6 comments }

Governor Nathan Deal was the speaker at Tuesday evening’s meeting of the University of Georgia College Republicans in Athens. A crowd of over 100 listened to him as he gave a version of his stump speech, touching on education, jobs and business recruitment, and sentencing reform. It was all pretty standard stuff, until Carver Goodhue stood up and asked Deal why undocumented students cannot attend the University of Georgia. And that’s when things got interesting.

Carver Goodhue, second from left, addresses Governor Deal, along with Kevin Ruiz, Preethi Raja and Lizbeth Miranda.

Carver Goodhue, second from left, addresses Governor Deal, along with Kevin Ruiz, Preethi Raja and Lizbeth Miranda. According to Flagpole, all are UGA students.

What happened has been written up in at least five different publications. I was in attendance as well.

Goodhue, who appears to be a 2013 Star Student graduate of Clarke Central High School, is a member of UGA’s Undocumented Student Alliance, which “engages in service and advocacy to promote equality and inclusiveness within our community despite a person’s legal status,” according to its Facebook Page. The group would like the Board of Regents to eliminate a four year old policy that prevents illegal immigrants from attending Georgia’s selective universities.

According to the Athens Banner Herald, this was the Governor’s response to Goodhue’s question:

“It can only really effectively be dealt with by the federal government at the congressional level in dealing with the DREAM Act children, which I presume maybe you are,” Deal said. “The policy of requiring that you be a legal state resident is one that’s been in place for a very long time, and I think that you would find that it would be a policy if it were overturned it would be a huge concern for the residents of our state. And that’s why I think the Board of Regents has continued to require that.”

Goodhue pressed on, and Ruiz chimed in with his own points, to which the governor asked, “Let me ask you this, can you give a Social Security Number?”

Maybe not, Ruiz said, but he and other detractors of the Board of Regents policy argue academically qualified students who have been lifelong Georgia residents should have the same rights to an education as their United States-born counterparts.

Flagpole continues the story:

During his response, Deal said, “I presume that you are” undocumented.

“I don’t know why you thought I was undocumented. Is it because I look Hispanic?” one of the students, Lizbeth Miranda, told him, prompting boos from the audience at a UGA College Republicans meeting.

“I apologize if I offended you,” Deal said.

Governor Deal continued to insist that the issue of undocumented immigrants wanting to become college students should be dealt with at the federal level. And, the ex-Congressman complained that whenever a proposal to reform the immigration process comes up in Washington, it is denounced as amnesty, and the proposal goes nowhere. That drew a standing ovation from those in attendance that ended the discussion about undocumented students.
[click to continue…]

{ 28 comments }

The federal government is cracking down on cities around the country when considering retirement benefits, mandating that local governments must consider same-sex couples the same as married couples despite the fact that Georgia doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage. The City of Marietta says they are in the process of reworking the definition of ‘spouse’ in order to comply with new regulations in light of the Supreme Court decision, United States v. Windsor.  The ruling essentially says that if a couple was married in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage, retirement benefits must be offered, regardless of the state of employment. Previously, if an employee was setting aside money for retirement from a city salary, they were unable to leave the allocated money to a same-sex partner should they pass. Mayor Tumlin of Marietta says the city is not complying by choice, but simply as a ‘matter of legalese’ and revised benefits apply strictly to retirement- not any other category of benefits.

This comes weeks after the City of Smyrna, along with a few others around the state, voluntarily considered offering employee benefits to same-sex couples, though most have yet to issue a final decision.

Wind up the Liberty Drum…It will be interesting to see whether or not municipalities and counties eventually challenge the ruling -or the states do so on their behalf asserting sovereignty- or if this becomes the norm.

{ 10 comments }