Morning Reads for Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

Georgia:

  • Augusta Commissioners Self-Dealing Clear, but still they fail to shrive (AugustaChron)
  • DeKalb school board nominees cut to 55 (WSB)
  • Atlanta Carries State’s Water on Falcons Stadium (SaportaReport)
  • Sadly, there were no stories this week about radium
  • Stalled Attempts to Cripple Fulton See Backlash (AtlBiz)
  • Revised tax tourism bill clears house in a flash (GPB)
  • Georgia Assembly to take action on financial plan (AthensBannerHerald)
  • Miss MoMoCon? Here’s a gallery of the dressed up clan (Clatl)
  • Atlanta to see a “Forward” Renaissance (AtlantaMagazine)
  • Bill Dropped to Fix Ogeechee Response (SavannahNow)

Not Georgia:

  • When ‘Jazz’ Was a Dirty Word (WSJ)
  • Wherein Nate Silver Schools CJ Roberts on being a nerd (538)
  • British Empire’s Dollar Diplomacy portended doom  (Echoes)
  • Want a longer, happier life? Embrace the gloom (National Post)
  • Whistleblower tries to keep Wells Fargo in check (naked capitalism)
  • How to predict the progress of tech (MIT news)
  • Covert Malaysian Campaign was perhaps the greatest story ever sold (BuzzFeed)
  • The father of all men is 340,000 years old (NewScientist)
  • Does a robot take away more jobs than it provides? (The Washington Post)
  • After 15 Years, The Laid-Back World of ‘Big Lebowski’ Worship Still Abides(The Atlantic)
  • How Disney Bought Lucasfilm—and Its Plans for ‘Star Wars’  (BusinessWeek)
  • The Life of a Freelance Journalist is worse than yours (Natethayer)
  • Rejected from a job because of poor credit (Demos)
  • and lastly, the future of Reddit (The Daily Dot)

55 comments

  1. Ed says:

    1) WTF, Stefan there is tremendous history taking place downtown today and you didn’t mention it! I am of course referring to the first sand volleyball match taking place at GSU this afternoon. Title IX, ftw!
    II) I don’t think all our readership will know how to get to WSJ articles for free so you might want to use this link: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324582804578344330801433790.html
    C) “The Big Lebowski” is easily one of the most over-rated films of all time.

  2. Noway says:

    Too bad Michael Vick’s book signings have been canceled due to threats. Couldn’t have happened to a worse piece of human debris.

    • Harry says:

      Michael Vick is not the monster they make him out. He’s put his dog days behind him. Unfortunately he was involved in an activity that’s been all too prevalent in many places. I think he got the message it’s not acceptable.

  3. Ghost of William F Buckley says:

    PP Daily explanation of The Standoff is a clear and concise rundown of what may become Standard Operating Procedure in Georgia, as a single Party state.

    I wonder if any prescient pol wonk/ettes know if the GOP used the same type of legislative wrangling techniques when they were the minority Party?

    Seems like Minority Minority Leader Abrams broke some new ground, yesterday, which I think is THE big pol story, whether you agree or disagree with her position.

    Here’s the story:

    “”The Standoff.” Background: Local legislation is the stuff that only affects one county. Usually, once it’s approved by the local delegation the House or the Senate at large passes it as a courtesy. But not HB 541, a tax bill that could raise the homestead exemption in Fulton County to as much as $60,000 if approved by voters. Fulton County had been a majority Democrat delegation for years, but thanks to new elections (and some clever redistricting) is now majority Republican. The legislation was approved and requested by the local, now Republican, delegation. But it needed 120 members to be approved, because it was legislation putting a homestead exemption on a ballot. Local legislative requests are routinely approved unanimously by the legislature. It’s custom, even tradition. But House Democrats heard from somebody in Fulton County Government that a $60,000 homestead exemption would slash Fulton County tax revenues and threaten basic County government operations. House Minority leader Stacey Abrams was sympathetic, and reportedly told all House Democrats that opposing HB 541 was a caucus position. Meaning, no Democrat could vote for the bill -or else. Some non-Fulton County Democrats were stunned. One long-serving Democrat said he’d never seen a caucus position on any piece of local legislation in his 39 years in office.

    “The Standoff” Starts: On Thursday, House Republicans rolled all the local bills on the calendar into a single item, and asked the House to approve it. Because HB 541 was included, the package needed 120 votes. Democrats refused to budge -HB 541 could only muster 119, even with a rare vote cast by the Speaker himself. As a result, every measure passed except 541. But Monday would see the Republicans exact retribution for Democratic intransigence. Majority Whip Ed Lindsey rose and asked for reconsideration of half a dozen piece of local legislation -most not related to Fulton County- and one by one, each measure was tabled on a party-line vote.

    Speaker Speaks: Rep. Rusty Kidd, an Independent from Milledgeville, apologized for missing Thursday’s vote and not being able to give the local calendar the 120 votes it needed to have passed in its entirety, which “put us through all these gymnastics.” House Speaker David Ralston replied: “We’ve got some more gymnastics to go here,” as House Republicans tabled a slew of Democrat-backed local legislation. Democrats were stunned and outraged. Republicans were unfazed.

    Quote du jour of the day: Minority leader Abrams made a valiant effort for the other local bills, asking for reconsideration of two procedural slap-downs first “in the spirit of bipartisanship,” and then later in the “spirit of regionalism.” Speaker Ralston noted: “There’s a lot of spirits in here today.”

    “The Standoff” -What Next? All the proposals are in parliamentary limbo, and you would think that somebody needs to blink. Lindsey does not want to kill the other local bills -he just wants the same deference that local legislation has always received. Republicans could probably rustle up 120 votes (with Rep. Kidd and some key Republicans, even some Committee Chairmen, who were absent Monday) so that they might not need Democrat help to pass their coveted HB541. But if they don’t get any Democratic votes on HB541 -what incentive do they have to help the Democrats with their local legislation? And a more important question: How long will the Speakers’ patience hold out while a Fulton County intra-delegation squabble holds up other local legislation? Fulton County Republicans run the risk of making their business the House’s business. State Democrats run the risk that always comes with martyrdom: being dead, and unable to push any agenda at all. And both groups risk the wrath of the Speaker, who relishes a smooth-running House a bit more than partisan sniping. Stay tuned.”

    Hat Tip: Peach Pundit Daily

    • noparty says:

      I say that the Democrats should sit tight. Why go along with Jan Jones’ attempt to eviscerate Fulton County, including parks, Grady etc. to allow them to be able to claim down the line “this had bipartisan support”? “One long-serving Democrat said he’d never seen a caucus position on any piece of local legislation in his 39 years in office.” Yeah, because no local legislation in 39 years has been a non-subtle attempt to sink its locality.

      “But if they don’t get any Democratic votes on HB541 -what incentive do they have to help the Democrats with their local legislation?”

      Hey, go ahead and let the Republicans own that issue too. Let the GOP do their dirty work by themselves and deal with the consequences by themselves.

      • Andre says:

        Your righteous indignation might be merited if only the Democrats had not introduced legislation (House Bill 1190) to increase Fulton County’s homestead exemption to $50,000 in 2008.

        Many of the same Democrats who oppose House Bill 541 supported House Bill 1190.

        But hey, don’t let the facts get in the way of an attempt to tear down the majority party.

        • Bob Loblaw says:

          Question (I really don’t know this answer there’s been so many):

          Does the presence of new cities in Fulton county make this attempt at raising the homestead exemption different? Is the impact on the County different?

          • Andre says:

            The impact on Fulton County is the same in 2008, when Democrats voted for raising the exemption to $50K, as it is now.

            The homestead exemption only affects the general fund.

            The schools are not affected. The cities are not affected. Only the general fund is affected; and money in the general fund goes towards the county performing its constitutionally-mandated responsibilities [Article IX of the Georgia Constitution].

        • noparty says:

          Andre:

          And your defense of the majority party might be merited if Jan Jones wasn’t on record as saying that she was trying to reduce Fulton County to the size of a postage stamp, and if it wasn’t a long term stated goal of the suburban Atlanta Republicans to force the city of Atlanta and Fulton County into a single government by doing their level best to cut off the purse strings for both so that neither is financially viable by itself.

          But hey, don’t let omitting decades of context be used to distort your facts.

          • Andre says:

            What facts have I distorted?

            Is it not true that Fulton County Democrats sponsored and voted for a bill increasing the homestead exemption of their county to $50,000 over a five-year period?

            Is it not further true that many of the same Fulton Democrats who backed an increase in the homestead exemption then are bucking it now?

            If, as you say “noparty”, House Bill 541 is a “attempt to eviscerate Fulton County, including parks, Grady etc,” what do you call the Democrats’ bill raising Fulton homestead exemption to $50K?

            A little consistency would be nice.

            • bgsmallz says:

              @noparty

              “if it wasn’t a long term stated goal of the suburban Atlanta Republicans to force the city of Atlanta and Fulton County into a single government”

              LOL…Feel free to go back and look at the origins of the three mile rule and the history of Atlanta’s attempt to force Sandy Springs into the single government of the city of Atlanta.

              It’s fun watching Dems blame the GOP in North Fulton for winning a fight they started.

      • Ghost of William F Buckley says:

        We are witnessing an attempt to ‘correct’ the morass of poor governance that both Fulton and DeKalb have built over the last 30 years. Thirty years is a long time, longer than some of y’all have been ‘on-the-job.’

        The chickens are coming home to roost.

        The economic engine of Georgia is Atlanta; poor Fulton and DeKalb County governance is finally recognized as the hindrance to progress that they are, and the adults in the room are not happy.

        Excellence in public education determines J O B S, and jobs determine growth and development. Ergo, events such as the Atlanta Public School cheating scandal and DeKalb School Board gubernatorial-level fiddling is like pouring sand in our economic engine.

        Charlotte, Chattanooga, Nashville, etc. are tuned-up and ready to race.

          • Ghost of William F Buckley says:

            Unified City/County governance would go a long way toward resolving many of the issues we see in Atlanta. Fulton County was created from the western half of DeKalb County in 1853.

            • noparty says:

              No it wouldn’t. All it would do is change who gets elected mayor of Atlanta. And that is what this is all about. You know perfectly well that what is going on in DeKalb doesn’t have squat to do with Atlanta, and that save the APS scandal – which incidentally was fixed with the cooperation of the mayor – Atlanta is doing fine. Budget surplus, increasing population, less crime and so forth. Even the education morass is going to be addressed by charter schools, now that state law has been altered that will allow those who wish to start them to bypass the local education board. (Gwinnett and Cobb not so much … why not merge them in response to their scandals?) This isn’t in response to bad governance for 30 years, but frustration that 30 years of trying everything else hasn’t worked so now they resort to this.

              • Ghost of William F Buckley says:

                DeKalb County has a 10% DeKalb stake in City of Atlanta, which creates redundancy, political turf wars, and inefficiency. Virtually every major City function is adversely affected by this divide.

                The City is doing really well, kudos to Mayor Reed, in spite of dual jurisdictions creating a lousy hand.

  4. Scott65 says:

    I was looking at the list of which lawmakers voted for the “Municipal Broadband Bill” which would have stripped the ability of local communities to wire themselves for broadband if one person in the zipcode had at least a 3mb/s connection (the FCC btw defines BB as 4mb/s) and saw a rather disturbing name on that list

    Buzz Brockway (R – Lawrenceville) District 102

    I would love to know what his reasoning is to vote for such a horrid bill that is harmful to his constituents best interests if they want to wire themselves. Buzz posts here…so lets hear it. Spare the free market crap because we all know there is not free market in broadband in the fixed wire sector. There is usually only 1 choice or possibly 2…neither of which is good. Municipal BB provides competition for entrenched incumbents. Look at Chattanooga. Comcast offers higher speeds (much higher and symetrical) at lower costs than 100 miles away in Atlanta where you’d pay double if not more for comparable products (if you can even get them…in ATLANTA)…because Comcast is the only game in town that can provide those speeds which are increasingly important. How many times do you watch a video online only for it to stop to “buffer”

    • “Spare the free market crap because we all know there is not free market in broadband in the fixed wire sector.”

      Perhaps there’s a limited market in fixed wire (due to the build out costs / ROI), but what about wireless? CLEAR has been expanding it’s service and AT&T / VZW are rolling out LTE. Do you really think there’s going to be an incentive for a cable company or telecom to bring broadband to an area once there’s competition from a municipality? How familiar are you with the costs of deploying broadband? Furthermore, why should people be forced to pay for the buildout of a broadband network in their area through taxation? (Especially if it’s paid for through property taxes.)

      Wired broadband, like mass transit, requires certain densities of population to really be profitable or break even. Running fiber isn’t cheap, and becomes even more expensive if you’re talking underground vs aerial.

      • Scott65 says:

        They are not forced if they approve it by referendum…which this bill would outlaw. Give me a break on the wireless argument. 1. you cant even approach the speeds with wireless that you can with wireline. 2. Wireless is prohibitively expensive for many people, and its capped at ridiculously low levels 5 gigs per month of course unless you want to pay more. Take a look at how much you use a month. I am not a heavy user but I can blast by 5 gigs in a day. The point is if it way to expensive for a multibillion dollar company to wire a rural area, why shouldn’t the citizens in the area not be able to wire themselves, keep the revenue local, and keep the jobs local. By the way…when was the last time you used Clear, David? They are not consistent in their coverage. Wimax was the loser in the specs war. The only value Clear has is the spectrum they own. Also…seems Comcast competes quite well in Chattanooga…they just had to lower their price and have better service (in other words…compete)…something providers in much of Georgia dont have to do. Fyi…Thomasville was able to ELIMINATE their property taxes with the revenue from their network
        Electricity had people making the same argument in the 30’s as far as density, so are you gonna say some places shouldn’t have it?

        • “They are not forced if they approve it by referendum”

          So if I vote against it, but the majority of my neighbors vote for it, I won’t be forced to pay taxes towards the build out?

  5. Noway says:

    No politics in this one: Dallas did a fantastic send-off of JR last night! The rest of the season is billed as Who Killed JR? It will be a ratings smash and Linda Gray just earned an Emmy for her eulogy.

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