As was telegraphed earlier, a second “inland port”, similar to a very successful one in Cordele, has been announced for North Georgia, in Murray County.  The Georgia Ports Authority Describes the Appalachian Regional Port from their website below.  What you need to know about it is this:  Currently about 80% of the freight that arrives from the Port of Savannah leaves by truck.  Every container that can leave that port by rail takes a truck off of the road.  By placing these “inland ports” around the state, the first leg of the freight traffic can skip our freeways and get the cargo closer to the end destination before it becomes traffic on our roads.  By placing an inland port in North Georgia, this freight traffic can now completely bypass Atlanta’s gridlock.  …and all the travelers of I-75 through Henry County said “Amen.”

From the Georgia Ports Authority:

The Appalachian Regional Port is a joint effort of Governor Nathan Deal’s office and the State of Georgia, Murray County, CSX and the Georgia Ports Authority. This transportation asset will provide a powerful new gateway to the Port of Savannah, the second busiest port on the East Coast.

  • The Appalachian Regional Port, through CSX, will provide a direct, 388-mile rail route to the Georgia Ports Authority’s Garden City Terminal. It will create and expand international markets for regional businesses.

  • The inland port offers an efficient option to an all-truck dray to the deepwater Port of Savannah for target markets in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky.

  • The availability of import, export and domestic transit will benefit shippers and Beneficial Cargo Owners (BCO) throughout the region.

  • Located in an industrial belt — including the production and export of carpet and flooring, automobiles and tires — the Appalachian Regional Port will make those commodities more competitive in the global market, while reducing carbon emissions.

  • The inland port sits on 42 acres in Northwest Georgia’s Murray County. The site features easy access to Interstate 75 and U.S. 411, as well as direct rail service to Savannah.

  • The state of Georgia, GPA, Murray County and CSX Transportation recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement, creating a partnership which will provide cost savings, traffic mitigation, and additional operational services benefiting shippers, truckers and steamship lines.

  • The facility will open by 2018 with a capacity of 50,000 containers per year. A 10-year development plan will then double that capacity.

  • Each container moved by rail to the Appalachian Regional Port will offset 355 truck miles on Georgia highways.



So say some Gainesville lawmakers, who are talking about issues likely to come up in the 2016 legislative session.

Republican state Sen. Butch Miller is part of a group of lawmakers reviewing how cannabis oil might be manufactured, sold and purchased, according to the Gainesville Times.

Rep. Emory Dunahoo, another Republican, expects to see bills calling for the removal of Confederate flags and other images from Stone Mountain Park, something he opposes.

Miller has also said he expects to see legislation addressing the flag, one way or another.

Georgia Republicans have proposed legislation that would allow clergy members to refuse to perform marriages for gay and lesbian couples.


A Question of Ethics

July 28, 2015 9:12 am

by Jon Richards · 7 comments

While on the campaign trail last year, Governor Nathan Deal declared some interest in changing the way the State Ethics Commission (formally known as The Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission) works. In January, the governor decided to wait another year to see if some of the problems the Commission confronted over the last few years work themselves out. And, that may be fine. If nothing else, the delay provides an opportunity to give some thought to considering how we work towards having an ethical government, both under the Gold Dome, and in the various city halls and county courthouses in the Peach State.

Part of that thought process should involve determining what actually constitutes an ethics breach, whether it should be administrative or criminal, and who should respond to an alleged violation.

The state already has a system set up to record and document campaign donations and lobbyist activities. I’m certainly someone in the camp who believes in fewer restrictions on donations, as long as they are disclosed promptly. But if the idea is to document contributions and expenditures, then it seems to me that the staff of the Ethics Commission should be acting as auditors more than anything else. Many of the issues that can arise, such as failure to file a disclosure, or a donor exceeding the allowed contribution limit permitted during an election cycle are administrative snafus that can be caught by staff and rectified by the candidate or lobbyist.

Now consider a more serious charge: a government official accepting a bribe in order to influence his vote. I’ll put crimes like those committed by former Senator Charles Walker or Gwinnett Commissioner Shirley Lasseter in this category. These two cases were handled in federal court, although other similar charges could be handled by a district attorney. If a candidate or lawmaker violates the Georgia Code, it seems like the case should be handled by a D.A. or county Solicitor, depending on the nature of the crime. [click to continue…]


On this date in 1938, the B-17 Flying Fortress made its first flight. It is also World Hepatitis Day. Either way, something to celebrate. On to the reads!

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In a complaint signed by Shawn M. Keefe that was received by the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission today, Taylor Bennett, Democratic candidate for GA House District 80, is accused of failing to “file his Personal Financial Disclosure under the law within the time alloted [sic].”  Early voting has begun in that district.

A copy of the complaint can be seen after the break.

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Allen Peake for Lt. Gov?

July 27, 2015 16:52 pm

by Will Kremer · 6 comments

2018 may be two years away, but the rumor-mill dictates it is never too early to discuss potential candidacies. This one piqued my interest. Representative Allen Peake (R-Macon), said he is considering a run for Lt. Governor. You might know him as the guy who led the charge to legalize medical cannabis.

Our friend, Maggie Lee, has the details at

“All I’m concerned about is making sure I win my next re-election (to the state House) in 2016. And then assuming I win in 2016, we’ll give a good strong look at what the options may be in 2018” for a lieutenant governor run, Peake said.

The lieutenant governor is elected statewide and runs the state Senate, making that person one of the key power brokers under the Gold Dome in Atlanta.

Representative Peake is well-liked within the House and Georgia. Not to mention his fight for medical cannabis gave him statewide name recognition. Let the games begin.


Lepore EmailIt kind of looks that way. A few minutes ago I received this email from the Fulton County GOP through their membership management system, inviting me to participate in a conference call with the presidential candidate tomorrow afternoon. The email was sent by Loretta Lepore, who is the state co-chair for Carly.

Usually, when a county party sends out information on a candidate in a contested primary, it’s accompanied by a disclaimer saying that it’s not an endorsement. Usually, there’s information on how other candidates can get their news out to the party mailing list. That’s what happens in Gwinnett and Cobb counties, at least.

Hopefully, the Fulton GOP will clarify its position soon. Otherwise, they risk looking like the 6th District GOP Chair.

Update: I spoke to someone at the Fulton GOP who told me that an option was set in their member calendar system to email the event instead of simply putting it on their website’s event calendar, which is what they usually do with candidate events like this. While they are not sure how this happened, or how Lepore’s name was listed as the sender, they sent out a clarification as part of their regular Monday email saying they do not endorse candidates in primary elections.


The longtime Democratic fundraiser known as the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner is now to be known as the Democratic Party of Georgia State Dinner.

And party chairman DuBose Porter announced today that this year’s keynote speaker on September 26 is U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota.

Democrats nationwide have begun scrubbing the party’s past allegiances with historic figures who owned slaves, it seems, and Georgia Democrats are following suit.

In an email to party supporters, Porter said, “Georgia could learn a lot from Minnesota—they’ve expanded Medicaid, invested in infrastructure, made education and job training priorities, and asked those at the top to pay their fair share.

“Sen. Klobuchar was the first woman elected to represent Minnesota in the U.S. Senate. She’s a champion of our Democratic values, from creating good jobs to protecting civil rights to improving public education … Klobuchar appeared on a recent list of women most likely to become President and is often mentioned as a potential Supreme Court nominee.

“Plus, I hear she gives a helluva barnburner of a speech.”

The event will be held at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta.


The cost of providing insurance and healthcare are the biggest concerns of rural Georgians, according to a survey conducted for the Healthcare Georgia Foundation. 59.9% of those surveyed said that affordability of insurance was a barrier to accessing healthcare, while 53.1% cited the cost of care as an issue. When asked what was the biggest problem with local healthcare, 68.8 of those surveyed cited the cost.

The cost issue outranks other concerns within the healthcare arena. Only 24.8% cited quality of care and 6.4% cited access as the biggest problem with local healthcare. Survey respondents personally experienced issues with lack of insurance (41.9%), lack of doctors (32.6%) and insurance not being accepted by their healthcare provider (28.2%).

In the report accompanying the survey results, the foundation used the two Georgias analogy to compare healthcare in the rural parts of the Peach State with that available in metro Atlanta:

We in Georgia are dealing with older, sicker and poorer people relying on a severely compromised healthcare system. A disproportionate burden of uninsured patients, the shifting healthcare landscape under the Affordable Care Act, healthcare workforce shortages, and an aging rural population are factors compromising the delivery of rural healthcare. If ignored, our healthcare delivery system is at risk of collapsing on the shoulders of these frail rural communities.

Many rural Georgians reside in “medical deserts” where access to affordable, quality healthcare does not exist. The capacity to deliver and sustain the “traditional” model of a healthcare system in a rural community is simply not possible. As long as we continue to rely on such a model of care, there will be winners and losers, including rural Georgians, their families, and their communities.

The survey results appear to bear this out. 27.7% of those surveyed said there was a severe or extreme shortage of doctors in their area, while 59.5% cited a moderate shortage. Attracting more doctors to their community was considered an important healthcare initiative by 80.2% of those surveyed, just ahead of 78.8% citing providing access to emergency care.

Despite predictions that rural healthcare would become an issue during the 2015 Georgia legislative session, it instead was dominated by transportation funding and education reform. In the meantime, at least four rural Georgia hospitals have closed, and an AJC investigation earlier this year pointed towards more problems down the road. During the legislative session beginning next January, the questions of access to healthcare, existing Medicaid funding, and possibly expanding Medicaid as envisioned by the Affordable Care Act could come up.

The Rural Health and Healthcare poll was conducted in February, 2015 by OpinionSavvy of registered Georgia voters. After weighting so that the survey sample measured 2014 voter statistics, the poll of 491 people has a 4.4% margin of error.


So…You Say You’re Angry?

July 27, 2015 10:00 am

by Charlie · 63 comments

This week’s Courier Herald column:

So you’re angry. Congratulations.

Assuming the first line applies to you and is your justification to be supporting Donald Trump for our next Presidential nominee, you seem to wear this anger as a badge of honor. I thus wish to pay you with these words the tribute you believe you have earned and are entitled to.

This column is my reaction to the fact that, for years now, you’ve told me the excuse for every questionable act you’ve committed against our party is that you’re angry. It hasn’t always been this way. I’m old enough to remember all the way back to 2010 when you were put off when media members said you were “an angry mob”.

Perhaps I misunderstood, and you were more upset with the “mob” characterization than the angry part. Regardless, these days you’re quite proud of your anger.

You are a self-described “conservative”…but not just any conservative. You loudly tell anyone that will listen that you are “the base”. And as such, we must listen to you. Or else. [click to continue…]


Slain Marine laid to rest
New photos: Beneath the White House on 9/11
New CNN poll shows Trump leading
Cruz rebuked in Senate on Sunday
Trump vs. Clinton: A tale of two Iowa rallies
More Planned Parenthood controversy

The best Crime Stoppers video we’ve seen in a long, long time, from Louisiana.


Senior US Senator Johnny Isakson paid tribute to Cobb County-native Lance Corporal Skip Wells, who was killed on July 16th during the attack of military sites in Chattanooga, by eulogizing the fallen Marine on the floor of the US Senate today:

Lance Corporal Wells was laid to rest today at the Georgia National Cemetery in Canton. May he rest in eternal peace.

The full text of Senator Isakson’s eulogy can be read below the fold:
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It’s Augusta!

July 25, 2015 14:19 pm

by Jon Richards · 4 comments

The news is out that the 2016 Georgia Republican Convention will be held in Augusta on June 3-4. Based on what I’m seeing on this Facebook page, the event will be at the two year old Augusta Convention Center.

Why the June date, instead of the second week of May, as it the usual custom? Probably because the new primary schedule will put the Peach State’s primary on May 17th, 24th, three days* after the convention would have gaveled to a close if it had been held on its normal weekend. There was no convention in 2014, when the primary was May 20th.

Excited about Augusta in June? Let us know in the comments.

* I’ve been alerted by the ever-astute Senator Josh McKoon that according to 2014’s HB 310, the primary is supposed to be the 24th week prior to the general election. Because Election Day 2016 will be on November 8th (The first Tuesday after the first Monday in November,) that makes Election Day take place during the second week of November, and moves the primary and runoff dates a week later than in 2014.

The good news is that because May 2016 has five Mondays, Memorial Day will still be the Monday after the primary. The runoff, if required, will be July 26th.


On Thursday, 11Alive ran a story in which investigative reporter Catie Beck confronted Newton County Commissioner John Douglas over racially charged comments he made on Facebook about a controversial and offensive #NotMyFlag post.
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It seems that the version of the petition for voluntary discipline provided by FetchYourNews was incomplete. In addition to being a photograph of a .pdf document (which makes it impossible to search) the version of Ralston’s petition they provided didn’t include all the documentation that went with it, and couldn’t be printed or downloaded. One can only speculate why a news site would be so, umm, “selective.”

Here’s a link to the exhibits that FetchYourNews didn’t include. It’s a 267-page pdf, but it’s downloadable and searchable. There are some investigative notes that may tickle a prurient interest in some of you, and lawyers may have some questions about responses to some interrogatories.


Coming out of the complaint filed against David Ralston by a former client are some details that make the matter look appear to be a bad case of “snake-bit.” From Aaron Gould Sheinin’s piece in the AJC: “Ralston is accused of violating nine State Bar rules and of allowing his duties as a legislator “to adversely affect his representation” of his client.” Ralston has submitted a “Petition for Voluntary Discipline” in the matter, but the state Bar wants to dish out more punishment to Ralston than he is willing to accept.

The Bar contends Ralston’s petition suggesting some reprimands for himself to resolve the complaint were “inaccurate, incomplete or immaterial,” and want an evidentiary hearing “where the proof of each party can be tested for accuracy.”

Ralston’s petition can be found via this link (provided by the website -and it has some interesting footnotes. [click to continue…]