Leadership in the Senate?

March 31, 2011 16:03 pm

by Jason · 33 comments

As you may or may not already know from Jim Galloway’s reporting this morning, Sen. George Hooks (D-Americus) offered a resolution that would change when points of personal privilege, short speeches where a member can talk about any topic, are done. They are currently done at the end of the session for that day. Hooks wants to change the rules to bring them back to the start of business for the daily session. This vote is extremely significant in that it opens up the possibility for a vote for on a new President Pro Tem of the Senate.

According to Galloway, Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) moved that the resolution be engrossed, which would prevent any amendments from being added. Rogers lost that vote. As the caucus rules stand now, when the President Pro Tem or the Majority Leader takes a position it is considered a caucus position and the rank-and-file follow suit with support. Not this morning. Democrats voted against him and 14 members of the Republican caucus took a walk. And Rogers motion failed by a vote of 23 to 19.

The discontent among Senate Republicans during this session has been no secret, but you know it runs deep when nearly half of your caucus skips out on a vote for a motion pushed by the Majority Leader. And if you’re Rogers, you see the writing on the wall. With the 19 Democrats voting “no” and 14 Senators (13 Republicans) not voting, the nays clearly have the majority, leaving Rogers and Williams with an ominous sinking feeling.

Word is that Rogers, Pro-Tem Tommie Williams, Sen. Ronnie Chance and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle met in private to discuss some sort of compromise. Williams is rumored to have offered to give up the office of Pro-Tem before the next session (he may have done that if he decides to run in GA-12). The compromise offered by the Lt. Gov. Cagle was simple; he would chair the Committee on Assignments, which would include the President Pro-Tem, the Majority Leader and five appointees of the Lt. Gov. Given that the Cagle has the leverage and the votes, one could only guess as the prospects of the “compromise.”

A two and half hour Senate GOP caucus ended a short while ago with Cagle making a surprise appearance to offer his compromise. No vote on the proposed compromise was held. One has to wonder, with the close relationship between Gov. Deal and Lt. Gov. Cagle and with the Governor’s Floor Leader and Lt. Gov.’s appointee to the Committee on Assignments – Sen. Jim Butterworth – pushing this amendment, which statewide elected official from Gainesville will really will hold the power in the in the Senate?

What will come all of this, I don’t know. But there is a real possibility that the Senate leadership could be different tomorrow, and it also seems that Gov. Deal is making his mark on the body that he was once a member of as many feel that his presence is being felt with this compromise.

Calypso March 31, 2011 at 4:19 pm

We need a scorecard to keep up with all the players and changes in the line-up coming from the Senators dugout. The House seems to have things in order, best I can tell. At least they know who their manager is.

Sorry, it’s Opening Day, I got caught up in all the b-ball excitement.

Bloodhound March 31, 2011 at 4:52 pm

If they can dethrone that pompous little marionette from the 19th it will tickle the hell out of me!

debbie0040 April 1, 2011 at 9:36 am

Why are we selling state owned aircraft to a company then leasing it back? Who does this “sweetheart” deal really benefit?

http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/displaybill.aspx?BillType=HB&billNum=414

Buzz Brockway April 1, 2011 at 10:03 am

Ummm…that’s not what that bill does. It transfers assets (specifically helicopters) from the Aviation Authority back to the State Troopers where they had been until a couple of years ago.

rut roh April 1, 2011 at 10:12 am

Actually…what this really means is that Deal will be able to use state aircraft for his own personal political uses without getting caught. The State Patrol is not subject to Open Records Act Requests.

This is purely for Nathan Deal and Chris Riley’s crooked purposes.

Buzz Brockway April 1, 2011 at 10:20 am

Not true.

A few years ago the helicopters the Troopers use were transfered to the Aviation Authority thinking it would be more efficient and save money. It did not and they are being transfered back to the Troopers.

rut roh April 1, 2011 at 10:48 am

Yet another lie told to a freshman. You’re so gullible.

Lady Thinker April 1, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Sounds about par.

debbie0040 April 1, 2011 at 10:21 am

Buzz, Section 2, lines 37 -39 states , “The general purpose of the authority shall be to acquire, operate, maintain, house , and dispose of all state aviation assets, except those aviation assets of the Department of Public Safety. All aircraft previously transferred to the authority by te Department of Public Safety and associated parts and equipment and a percentage of the budgeted operatihng funds assoicated with such aircraft shall be transferred on September 1, 2011 back to the custody and control of the Department of Public Safety.

I have a friend that works for GAA and he said they were told that the aircraft were going to be sold then leased back…

Buzz Brockway April 1, 2011 at 10:33 am

Actually lines 37-39 state:

37 (a) The general purpose of the authority shall be to acquire, operate, maintain, house, and
38 dispose of all state aviation assets, except those aviation assets of the Department of Public
39 Safety, to provide aviation services and oversight of state aircraft and aviation operations

You’ll notice when you read the bill at the link you provided above that the underlined portion (which indicates a change in current law) states ” except those aviation assets of the Department of Public Safety.” The Aviation Authority will no longer have control of the assets being transfered back to the Troopers.

debbie0040 April 1, 2011 at 10:34 am

Also there is this, “All state aircraft required for the proper conduct of business of the several administrtive departments. boards, bureaus, commissions, authorities, offices, or other agencies of Georgia and authorized agents of the General Assembly or either branch authority shall be transferred back to the Department of Public Safety on September 1, 2011. The cost for the use of such state aircraft shall be charge by the authority to the using state entity. The amount of such charge shall be determined by the authority. The authority shall be authorized to dispose of any sate aircraft and apply the proceeds derived thereof to the purcahse of replacement aviation assets.

(b) In the futherance of its purpose, the authority shall have the power to:
1. Organize, staff train personnel to operate, maintain, house, purchase, and dispose of aviation assets
etc.

Buzz Brockway April 1, 2011 at 10:37 am

Debbie we can argue about this all day long but you are incorrect. This bill does not sell assets to a private company. You’re friend at GAA is mistaken.

debbie0040 April 1, 2011 at 10:43 am

Does this bill give the Authority rights to sell state aircraft if it so choose to? I don’t believe that anyone voted for this bill thought the aircraft may be sold then leased back. The aircraft is being transferred back to Public safety but from reading the bill, it looks authority is given to sell (dispose ) of state aircraft. Am I wrong?

Buzz Brockway April 1, 2011 at 10:50 am

The only changes to current law are the underlined portions of the bill. Text not underlined is existing law.

debbie0040 April 1, 2011 at 10:42 am

The Department of Public Safety is a state agency and owns state aircraft. This bill seems to grant enourmous power over state aircraft to the newly formed authority. With aircraft being put back in the Public Safety Department, you can track the use of the aircraft..The Lt. Governor and Governor would have control of the board.I am trying to find out what this bill does . I did receive this that GAA put out:

GAA Position Paper HB 414

Advantages:

Prevents dilution of the valuable aspects of the GSP culture
Provides increased focus on DPS law enforcement missions at local level by reducing multi-mission tasking
Provides more direct communications and control over GSP law enforcement air operations by department of Public Safety

Disadvantages:

Complicates standardization of State aircraft, equipment, procedures, and training
Re-creates two helicopter and airplane support organizations
Requires hiring two (2) additional GSP mechanics, assuming a return to pre-GAA staffing levels
Reduces the transparency of the State’s aviation support budget, usage and expenses
Complicates scheduling of pilots and maintenance between GAA and GSP to maximize availability. GAA currently schedules all aircraft maintenance and pilots to support both known missions and surge requirements
Reduces the value obtained from the diversity of pilot backgrounds and experience levels
Complicates cross utilization of pilots in both helicopters and fixed wing aircraft
Reduces current dedicated helicopter pilot availability for GSP on call duty standers by 2 pilots
Reduces current helicopter airframe availability for GSP on-call duty by 4 airframes
Places GSP aviation management under an organization whose primary focus is not air operations
Complicates communications and air support requests from user agencies, ie. Which aviation group (GAA or DPS) is most available? Most capable? Properly trained?
Removes all GAA Law Enforcement Authority for DNR and GFC missions

Buzz Brockway April 1, 2011 at 10:49 am

Debbie,

What you posted from GAA says exactly what I said the bill does: transfer assets back to the Troopers. Of course GAA oppose it because their budget will be reduced.

To your first point about granting “enourmous power over state aircraft to the newly formed authority” again you are incorrect. There is no newly formed authority.

The only changes to current law are the underlined portions of the bill. Text not underlined is existing law.

bowersville April 1, 2011 at 11:24 am

Debbie, let me help you out a bit I hope.

The Georgia State Patrol is a law enforcement division of Georgia. As such, by design by an act of the legislature in 1937, the Department of Public Safety was created as a State law enforcement agency.

Diversity of pilot backgrounds does not work in law enforcement use of aviation assets. There arises certain times in law enforcement aviation usage where a law enforcement officer is required. An example may be a SWAT operation in restricted airspace like recently occurred in Athens during the recent hostage situation involving the accused killer of a police officer. Airspace in those instances are controlled for law enforcement purposes. Allowing a civilian pilot to operate in a law enforcement area of control not only puts a civilian pilot in jeopardy, it also puts the law enforcement officers in danger as the civilian pilot is in no way certified nor trained in SWAT operations like this particular hostage situation.

Also, civilian control through an Aviation Board is slow and bureaucratic by nature and inefficient when emergencies require prompt usage of aviation assets. Law Enforcement supervisors of aviation assets are familiar with the need for prompt response, examples; manhunts involving armed robbery suspects, fleeing murder suspects, lost children, and law enforcement supervisors of aviation assets are keenly aware of when the aviation asset needs a law enforcement pilot etc. A civilian in the Aviation board is not and putting a civilian in control of law enforcement aviation is not wise in many instances. After all, SWAT wouldn’t be needed or law enforcement for that matter if civilians were able to handle hostage situations.

Sometimes things can’t be figured in black and white data. Georgia may decide law enforcement aviation assets can’t be afforded, that’s up for debate. But let’s not hamstring law enforcement from doing their job. While law enforcement pilots can serve a dual role as in administrative type business flights, civilian pilots shouldn’t be flying law enforcement missions like the hostage situation I mentioned. Not all law enforcement flights can be calculated by “peak demand.” Emergencies occur when they occur.

debbie0040 April 1, 2011 at 11:36 am

This explains it and thank you. So the public should be able to track the use and sale of state aircraft?

bowersville April 1, 2011 at 11:52 am

As far as I know the public has always been able to track the sale of aircraft through the open records act. Where you, or anyone else for that matter, might run into a problem with an open records request for strictly law enforcement usage of aviation assets are those flights used by law enforcement specifically for law enforcement purposes. Using the same example in Athens, the usage there would be restricted by maybe even the District Attorney in that area of the State. Before an open records request in that example is released it would go under review of a legal department of the state. The usage there would eventually come out in discovery or trial but even then the State should respond to the open records request with a response as to why it might be denied. Also, a release of usage that would jeopardize an on going investigation would also come under legal review before releasing and could come under the jurisdiction of a US Attorney as an example.

On the other, administrative type flights, you shouldn’t have a problem with the open records request.

debbie0040 April 1, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Administrative is what we would be concerned with. Thanks for your information and we do support it..

Keep in mind when a bill is posted online, there are tea party activists that look at many bills now.

It appears to the average person that what is listed is new ammendments to the bill

“Chapter 5 of Title 6 ot the Official code of Georgia Annotated, relting to the Georgia Aviation Authority, is ammended by revising subsection (a) of Code Secdtion 6-5-3, relating to the creation of the Georgia Aviation Authority, its membership and personnel, and admininstrative purposes as follows:

debbie0040 April 1, 2011 at 11:02 am

Why transfer back then? Why not just leave it as is where the public will have access to see the use and sale of aircraft?

rut roh April 1, 2011 at 11:05 am

Because this way the Governor, Chris Riley, and other legislators can call on the State Patrol to ferry them wherever they need to go to get to a political event and not have to disclose it via Open Records Act request.

Tricia Pridemore has been seen with Deal in Georgia State Patrol vehicles as she goes to GOP events in her bid to be state GOP chairman. They want to use these helicopters for the same purposes.

Charlie April 1, 2011 at 11:24 am

1) The State Patrol is subject to Open Records laws.

2) The helicopter of which you speak is not the state’s.

http://www.peachpundit.com/2011/03/12/no-liftoff-for-helicopter-gate/

debbie0040 April 1, 2011 at 11:26 am

That is all I wanted to know. Thank you Charlie. I just wanted to make sure the public could be able to track the use and sale of aircraft.

rut roh April 1, 2011 at 12:34 pm

The State Patrol does not log who rides in a car or who takes off in a helicopter in the same manner as the aircraft division does at Charlie Brown airfield.

Different rules apply to the Georgia State Patrol because they are assigned the task of protecting the Governor. Everything they do is under the auspice of “protection” and therefore, they are not required to record anyone who is riding along with the Governor.

I misspoke. While the GSP is under the ORA, they are not required to record anything regarding who else is riding along with the Governor. So, filing an orr will not garner any information as it would if the said helicopters were to remain under the jurisdiction of the non-GSP department.

bowersville April 1, 2011 at 12:49 pm

So which is it? Can you not tell if it’s an administrative flight or a law enforcement flight? Are you interested with who is with the Governor or you interested in saving money on administrative flights?

One other question, you didn’t address anything about why aviation pilots needed to be law enforcement officers in a law enforcement operation, why not?

See that’s the problem with people like you. Your priority is in catching some one with the Governor on a helicopter flight. Law enforcement is charged with public safety but you are willing to sacrifice public safety so you can better able yourself to know who is with the Governor. PATHETIC!!

rut roh April 1, 2011 at 12:58 pm

When the Governor is using state-financed GSP vehicles for political purposes like allowing Tricia Pridemore to travel with him as she seeks the chairmanship of the state Republican Party, then yes, I believe that is wrong. Do you?

debbie0040 April 1, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Agree with rut roh on that one. State owned aircraft should only be used for conducting state business-no campaigning.. If the Governor uses state owned property for that purpose, then ethics complains should be filed and the public should be notified..

debbie0040 April 1, 2011 at 11:08 am

So they will have enournous power in not having to disclose the use of aircraft as they could use aircraft to ferry supporters t events, campaign stops, etc?

If aircraft are sold, then would the public be able to obtain those records under open records requests? Could an aircraft be sold to someone at a really reduced price and would the public be able to find out?

Buzz Brockway April 1, 2011 at 11:14 am

There’s plenty to worry about in this world without making stuff up.

Signing off now. Debbie, you and rut roh have fun in conspiracy land.

debbie0040 April 1, 2011 at 11:24 am

Buzz, I am just trying to find answers to my questions. I did not know the significance of underlined passages when the bill was read but the bill did raise red flags..I don’t just take what I am told at face value like many do. I seek to find out answers by reading the bills and do not listen to talking points put out by Leadership like on the Tax Reform Bill. The devil is always in the fine print and what is not obvious.

If aircraft are sold while under the GPS control, would we be able to track that sale and also track the use of the aircraft?

Buzz Brockway April 1, 2011 at 11:35 am

Perhaps my comment above was a bit harsh. I apologize.

Whatever authority the GAA had before they still have except as it relates the assets being transfered back to the Troopers. As Charlie said Troopers are subject to open records requests. I articulated the reasons for the bill above and bowersville added additional valuable information as well.

debbie0040 April 1, 2011 at 11:43 am

No need to apologize Buzz. I was on a fact finding mission about the bill and knew that if I posted it on here, I would be able to find out the information. BTW, I did call Lt. Gov. Cagle’s office and tried to find out information but the person I spoke did not provide information.

I don’t have an issue as long as the use and sale will be subject to open records requests.

It appears to the average person that what is listed is new ammendments to the bill

“Chapter 5 of Title 6 ot the Official code of Georgia Annotated, relting to the Georgia Aviation Authority, is ammended by revising subsection (a) of Code Secdtion 6-5-3, relating to the creation of the Georgia Aviation Authority, its membership and personnel, and admininstrative purposes as follows:

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