By Mike Hassinger

Thank You, I Must Be Going.

As much fun as I’ve had, the time has finally come for me to sign off here at Peach Pundit. I’ve enjoyed my time here as participant in Georgia’s best political conversation for at least a decade, and especially enjoyed serving as an editor for the last five years. 

Whether getting lessons in libel laws from Pedo Bear, trying to find Paul Broun a job, discussing Georgia Power’s menu, or interviewing the former governor who invented Common Core, I’ve tried to keep it entertaining and provocative. (And who could forget the jet packs?) Some of you have appreciated my point of view, others not so much, but thanks to all of you for reading and responding. 

I want to leave this space making sure to thank Clayton and Erick for putting Peach Pundit together and letting me be a part of the conversation. I also owe a great deal of thanks to Charlie, who “elevated” me to the role of “front pager” and then editor. But I especially want to thank you commenters -who laughed at my jokes, challenged my positions and made me defend my arguments. The comment threads here have been raucous and  sometimes rude, but they never failed to teach me something. There’s an internet rule to “Never read the comments.” Y’all have always been the exception to that rule, and proven that conversation, dialogue and debate are always valuable. 

As far as what’s next for this site, that’s not up to me, but I encourage anyone who wants to write about Georgia politics at the most public place on the internet to do so to contact Clayton (via clayton -at- peachpundit.com) and offer up your services. Peach Pundit is a highly visible platform under a white-hot spotlight, so bring a big soapbox and sing your best song. I recommend being able to write and having a thick skin. And I hope the next set of contributors will take good care of Peach Pundit -I’m kind of fond of it. 

My plans include more of the same, only elsewhere. The Peach Pundit Daily will continue, although obviously under a different name and probably with less frequency. Look for it in your inboxes later this week. As much as some of you might not like it, you’ll continue to hear from me. I hope you’ll keep reading and listening and arguing back and calling me out when I make you mad and laughing when I deserve it. 

Thanks again. I’ll see you on the other side.

How Conservative Does A Latino Need To Be?

DeKalb State Court Judge Dax Lopez’s nomination to the federal bench is being held up, according to Daniel Malloy in the AJC, because US Senator David Perdue, who sits on the Judiciary Committee, believes that the opinions of convicted felon DA King and professional huckster Phil Kent carry more weight than those of genuine, long-time conservatives. Lopez, by all accounts a sharp attorney with a fine legal mind, once sat on the Board of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, an organization that doesn’t support rounding up all illegal immigrants and sending them home.

While GALEO has opposed immigration restrictions and advocated for a path to citizenship, Lopez “abstained from GALEO’s policy votes and fundraising,” and resigned entirely once he was nominated to the federal bench.

From Malloy: “The judge is a Republican and a member of the conservative Federalist Society. He volunteered for Bob Barr’s successful run for Congress as a Republican in 1994. Lopez was first appointed to the Georgia bench by David Perdue’s cousin. (That would be Governor Sonny Perdue, a Republican.) And the counsel for Perdue’s Senate campaign, Josh Belinfante, served on the panel convened by the senators to vet potential nominees that sent Lopez’s name to the White House.”

That sounds like exactly the kind of conservative an organization like GALEO needs to be effective or credible. They should recruit a dozen more like Judge Lopez to their board. But GALEO isn’t Lopez. And Lopez ain’t GALEO.

Dax Lopez was born in Puerto Rico, grew up in Cobb County and graduated fourth in his class at McEachern High school in Powder Springs. He graduated from Vanderbilt and Vanderbilt Law School, where he served as president of the Vanderbilt Bar Association and as an editor on a legal journal. He clerked for a federal judge appointed by Ronald Reagan. Read more

Trump Leading In Current Poll, For Real

WSB-TV commissioned a poll from Landmark/Rosetta Stone, and reported Friday that the New York billionaire is currently leading the pack among Georgia Republican Primary voters. You should notice two things: first that the poll was conducted AFTER Trump’s proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States, and second that I didn’t use the word “likely” to describe the voters that were polled.

I emailed Landmark President Mark Rountree and he confirmed that the universe of voters for this poll was people who had actually voted in a Republican Presidential primary at least once. Here’s a snapshot of the crosstabs:

LandmarkCrosstabs121015 Trump’s candidacy and sustained popularity in nearly every survey of any kind or type has befuddled so many pundits that some are now questioning the accuracy of the polls themselves. It’s important to note that polls are a picture of a snapshot in time, and don’t have to be predictive in order to be accurate. And as Nate Silver points out: “In general, there has been a strong correlation between how well a candidate is performing on the ballot test and how much media coverage he’s receiving, although the causality is hard to determine. Trump seems to understand this; indeed, he seems to issue his most controversial remarks and proposals precisely at moments of perceived vulnerability.”  In other words, it may not just that Republican voters are enthralled with Trump, it may be that they’re hearing 15 times more “news” about him, which drives his poll numbers up, which creates more “news,” which creates another rise in the poll.

But that doesn’t explain a straw poll in Oglethorpe County that showed similar results.

Trump celebrated the news on Twitter and Facebook, of course, as though the first caucus vote in Iowa isn’t still six weeks away.

Predictive? Manipulated? Accurate? Leave your take in the comments.

So, School Choice Is Murder?

Verdaillia Turner, president of the Georgia Federation of Teachers, was interviewed by Molly Bloom in the Atlanta Journal Constitution about Atlanta being “…one of the top ten cities nationally for “school choice”—a category that includes charter schools as well as private-school vouchers and public magnet schools— according to a new ranking from the Fordham Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that advocates for school choice.”

All that choice doesn’t sit well with Ms. Turner, who said: that Calling Atlanta one of the most “choice-friendly” cities isn’t much of a compliment, said Verdaillia Turner, president of the Georgia Federation of Teachers.

“That’s like saying Chicago is the most murder friendly-city in the nation,” she said.”

The remark shocked Kyle Wingfield:

Wingfieldtweet Which it should, because it’s pretty stunning to see such a level of callous disregard for the violence in Chicago coupled with such vehemence to any changes or progress in education.

 

UPDATE: PolicyBEST has a statement about this issue:

Murder is more than a concept to a lot of the kids trapped in failing schools. The reason too many are trapped is because some in the education establishment have chosen to prioritize the needs of the bureaucracy over the achievements of their students. Thus, too many are doomed to a cycle of poverty, living in neighborhoods where crime is not only an option but a way of life. The alternative is to provide every choice available to give these kids a chance to escape what many have written off as their destiny. This could even include a future that provides them high paying jobs in safe work locations where they can write edgy statements about murder as if it’s just a theoretical rhetorical device.”

Brian Kemp Is Done Releasing Things, Accidentally Or Otherwise

They call it a data “breach” but it was really more of a data “blunder.” Nobody hacked into the Secretary of State’s computers, nobody shoulder-surfed your personal information while you were registering to vote. Somebody in the Secretary of State’s office is getting blamed (and has been fired) for accidentally adding personal information to what’s publicly available in every voter file on all 6.2 million of us registered Georgia voters.

And then sending that information out to folks like the AJC, Georgia GunOwner Magazine, the Democratic Party of Georgia, and Peach Pundit.

But Secretary Kemp is done with letting things slip out of his office, and is now not even releasing publicly available documents: From Kristina Torres in the AJC: “The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office has refused to release public documents that likely detail how a massive data breach in the office happened and exactly how outside groups handled more than 6 million voters’ personal information.

Among documents the office will not release because of an ongoing internal investigation are the field notes from investigators describing how 12 organizations handled sensitive data including Social Security numbers and birth dates accidentally given to them on compact discs a month before officials discovered the breach.”  Read more

Mike Bowers Has Some Harsh Words For DeKalb District Attorney Robert James

News broke yesterday that DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James had reduced nine felony charges he had brought against Bob Lundsten, former Chief of Staff to DeKalb Commissioner Elaine Boyer*.

Lundsten had been facing more than 10 years in jail when DA James indicted him in March of this year. But after James’ misuse of his own P-card and illegal reimbursements came to light, the charges were reduced to misdemeanors. Lundsten has reimbursed the county the $310 in question, and has already started his community service. But former Attorney General Mike Bowers, who led the infamous investigation into DeKalb corruption, has some serious questions about the conduct of the District Attorney.

 

*Disclosure: Commissioner Boyer used my company, Apache Political, for constituent communications and mailing services in 2014.

Who Should Be Georgia’s Next Secretary Of State?

Brian Kemp had one job, and registering voters was pretty much it. 15 years after the start of the 21st century, one should be able to safely assume that Georgia’s Secretary of State would be able to fulfill the basic task of the office to which he was elected. Instead, Secretary of State Kemp said that “Due to a clerical error where information was put in the wrong file, 12 recipients received a disc that contained personal identifying information that should not have been included. This violated the policies that I put in place to protect voters personal information.”

That’s from the AJC, with lots of details about which details on Georgia’s 6,000,000 + voters got misplaced into the ether. One wonders when the Secretary of State came to think that blaming a “clerical error” would somehow absolve him of the duties of his job, which are important, but, at their heart, CLERICAL. But that’s in the past. The real question is, who should replace Brian Kemp?

Georgia deserves a competent Secretary of State. Kemp’s been there since 2010, and clearly proven he’s not up to the job. The next question is: Who should the Governor appoint to replace him after Kemp resigns, as he obviously will?

My nominee would be Lynn Ledford, the Elections Supervisor in Gwinnett County. I’ve dealt with many elections folks in my career, and Lynn is one of the best. The best recommendations for Ledford are 1) she has absolutely ZERO political ambitions and 2) would probably refuse the appointment if it was offered. Eminently qualified, no ambitions. What more could you ask for in a public servant?

Feel free to offer your nominations in the comments.

 

LaVista Hills: Doomed From The Start

If there’s one incontrovertible fact in the still ongoing mess that was “LaVista Hills,” it’s that the cityhood referendum didn’t deserve to be on the ballot in the first place. As supporters actively seek sufficient evidence from confused voters in order to convince a judge to invalidate the results of their narrow defeat, they are reinforcing the need for reforming the legislative process currently used to create cities.

The most recent version of LaVista Hills lost, and could never have truly won. 136 votes out of 13,789 cast is less than 1%, and both pro- and anti-cityhood camps should acknowledge that the LaVista Hills incorporation could have easily gone the other way. But even if LaVista Hills had “won,” such a narrow margin would still have been a loss.

There was never any community outcry for a city of Lakeside, nor Briarcliff, nor LaVista Hills, and a glance at the now-failed city’s map shows why. It was a Frankencity, cobbled together by consultants, lobbyists and potential vendors of city services, rather than a community of interest, because there’s nothing uniting areas as distinctly different as say, Embry Hills and Druid Hills. You don’t have to live in metro Atlanta for very long to learn the distinction between ITP and OTP, and cities –brand new governments designed to be permanent and eternal- shouldn’t be created just because a political consultant draws an arbitrary line around a disjointed area. Read more

Hill Might Stomp Bernie, But Will Lose Georgia To Trump

WXIA sponsored a poll on the presidential preferences of Georgia voters in next year’s election. Trump and Carson are neck-and-neck, while Hillary Clinton is curb-stomping Bernie Sanders. But if the general election pits Trump against Clinton, Trump wins, 46% – 37% among decided voters. Key findings:

* Donald Trump leads Ben Carson 35% to 28% in the contest to be the Republican nominee for President for 2016.
* Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders 73% to 16% in the contest to be the Democratic nominee for President in 2016.
* If those two candidates are in fact the major-party nominees, Trump defeats Clinton in a general election today, 46% to 37%.

See for yourselves, right here.

It’s far enough out from the primary and the general that any poll taken right now can’t be said to be inaccurate. Check the temperature of the “average” Georgia Republican voter in the Presidential Preference primary and you’d probably see exactly those results. Just remember, we’re four months from that day, and things will change between now and then.

Most interesting, though is the potential match-up of Trump vs. Clinton in the general -which is still more than a year away. That’s an eternity in politics. I don’t think that number will change, because as bombastic and irritating as Donald Trump has been, he’s still preferable to Hillary Clinton.

Leave your own take in the comments.

Hill Might Stomp Bernie, But Will Lose Georgia To Trump

WXIA sponsored a poll on the presidential preferences of Georgia voters in next year’s election. Trump and Carson are neck-and-neck, while Hillary Clinton is curb-stomping Bernie Sanders. But if the general election pits Trump against Clinton, Trump wins, 46% – 37% among decided voters. Key findings:

* Donald Trump leads Ben Carson 35% to 28% in the contest to be the Republican nominee for President for 2016.
* Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders 73% to 16% in the contest to be the Democratic nominee for President in 2016.
* If those two candidates are in fact the major-party nominees, Trump defeats Clinton in a general election today, 46% to 37%.

See for yourselves, right here.

It’s far enough out from the primary and the general that any poll taken right now can’t be said to be inaccurate. Check the temperature of the “average” Georgia Republican voter in the Presidential Preference primary and you’d probably see exactly those results. Just remember, we’re four months from that day, and things will change between now and then.

Most interesting, though is the potential match-up of Trump vs. Clinton in the general -which is still more than a year away. That’s an eternity in politics. I don’t think that number will change, because as bombastic and irritating as Donald Trump has been, he’s still preferable to Hillary Clinton.

Leave your own take in the comments.

Paul Jennings, RIP.

Former State Representative Paul Jennings has died of leukemia at the age of 83. Jennings represented the Lakeside and Tucker areas, and retired from the state House in 2006.

Visitation will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Milligan Hall of Clairmont Presbyterian Church, followed by a noon memorial service.

Snarky, Humorous Take On Stone Mountain

From former AJC reporter Jeffry Scott comes news about the latest attraction at Stone Mountain, via “Like The Dew.”

Georgia plans to build a “We Exhibit – You Decide” racial strife museum atop Stone Mountain to address the state’s long and troubled history of discrimination against dozens of minorities and blacks by making it a tourist attraction.

The museum will offer exhibits on both sides of the controversy over civil rights: people for them, and people against them.  And, instead of passing judgement, the museum will allow people to decide for themselves, said Georgia Governor Nathan Deal in an afternoon press conference.

“I’m just beside myself with satisfaction that we have found a way to resolve a conflict some people have called insoluble, by presenting both sides of the issue, Civil Rights, versus racism, human decency, versus bigotry, hate versus happiness, and doing it all under one roof in a way the entire family can enjoy,” said Deal.”

If you can’t inject rude humor into a controversy, what’s the point of the internet? Read the whole thing -and check out “Like The Dew” from time to time. (Bonus points to the commenter who knows where they got their name.)