By Todd Rehm

Senator Greg Goggans will not run for reelection

From the Blackshear Times:

“It was a difficult decision to make,” said Goggans, who has served South Georgia causes in the state legislature for the past eight years.

Goggans said in his statement he “believes it is time to return my attention to my expanding orthodontic practice I share with business partner,” Dr. Dana Fender.

After his current term is completed, he plans to return to join Dr. Fender full time in their orthodontics practices.

Mayor Kasim Reed “Let’s Flush Our Money Down the Toilet” UPDATED

A group called Citizens for Clean Water 2012, which appears to have not filed any reports with the State Ethics Campaign Finance Commission, mailed an 8.5 by 11 postcard to voters in the City of Atlanta supporting a “Yes” vote on Atlanta’s sales tax for sewer repairs.


The Mayor’s office was kind enough to send over the following:

1.       A report has been filed with the State Campaign Finance Commission with contributions listed as of 2/24/12.

2.       There has been “no advocacy of a tax measure using city resources.”  All city-produced videos, posters and materials have been educational in nature, and convey factual information regarding the MOST as allowed by Georgia law.  The materials do not expressly call for the approval or rejection of the MOST referendum by the voters.

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Ku Klux Klan flyers distributed in Newnan

The Newnan police department has received a number of calls about flyers that say, “You can sleep tonight knowing the Klan is awake!”

Residents in neighborhoods around College Street, Waverly Circle and Riva Ridge all reported finding the flyers on their driveways Sunday morning.

“I was kind of shocked,” said Susan Conlan, who lives on College Street. “I didn’t think that organization still existed. I’m disappointed to think it might be here in Newnan.”

Conlan said she saw several flyers on College Street between Wesley Street and Temple Avenue.

In a prepared statement, the Newnan Police Department officials said it “has received several telephone calls from Newnan residences as well as inquiries from the news media about handbills being passed out this weekend in Newnan.”

The police stated in the release that any person or organization wishing to distribute handbills must have a permit from the chief of police. The Klan organization did not get a permit, according to police.

Ancona said the intent of the flyer was so residents will know the Klan is watching out for crime and will report it to law enforcement.

Exactly how many handbills were distributed is unknown.

In a follow-up response, Newnan Police Deputy Police Chief Rodney Riggs said, “At this point there are no known members of the group to take action against. If members are identified and the person responsible for the distribution can be identified, we will consider action at that time.”

Morning Reads for Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Today’s morning reads are on time-delay. I post them first over here, where you can sign up to receive them in your email inbox every weekday morning.

Tiana is about 5 months old and 20# and is a recent arrival at Walton County Animal Control. She’s described as a “spunky, playful girl” who looks to be mostly German Shepherd. Walton Animal Shelter is a great bargain if you’re interested in rescuing a dog, as they come pre-vetted for a $40 adoption fee. Their Director does an outstanding job of photographing the dogs and cats that end up there, and as a result they appear to have a pretty high adoption rate.

Legislative News

A subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee House Bill 397, which would rewrite the state’s Open Records and Open Meetings laws to clarify the requirements for other state bodies and subdivision and raises the fines for government workers who knowingly violate the acts. The bill is expected to be heard by the Full Committee today at 1:30 PM.

The Senate Regulated Industries Committee passed Senate Bill 483, to allow the state’s Public Service Commission to elect its own Chairman, rather than the currently-mandated rotation among the members. Passage came after the bill was amended to allow embattled PSC Chairman Tim Echols to finish his current term as Chairman.

House Bill 1176, by Rep. Rich Golick, proposes reduced prison sentences for some offenders and expansion of diversionary and treatment programs. According to the AJC “The governor will need to see changes in the current bill that will bring it back toward the recommendations of the Criminal Justice Reform Council,” said Brian Robinson, Deal’s spokesman. “The process is intended to reduce costs to taxpayers, and it’s his opinion that this bill might actually increase costs.”

Senator Buddy Carter took what was described as a “walk of shame” yesterday after pulling his solar bill from consideration before the Senate Regulated Industries Committee. Greg Roberts of Georgia Power writes that allowing third-party financing of solar and power purchase agreements is likely to raise the rates for all other users.

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GOP ads on BFD get even funnier

The GOP ad wars on Blog for Democracy just get funnier and funnier. Now it’s the Romney-supporting SuperPAC “Restore Our Future,” that’s generating revenue for the libs over there.

Both the Gingrich ads earlier this week, and now the Romney-superPAC ads appear to have been placed through Google, but it’s still pretty funny that Restore Our Future is paying to have their anti-Gingrich ad placed (a) on one of the most anti-Gingrich sites in Georgia, and (b) directly next to a story about how much Romney sucks.

Railroad, Port and Freight Update

From my days working for the Secretary of Transportation in Virginia, I retain a strong interest in freight, which is a major component of Georgia’s economy. The items below are par of my weekend political news summary, but I thought they’re interesting enough to share here.

Photo courtesy of Kevin Andrusia. Click it for more of his railroad photos.

Norfolk and Western locomotive 1776 was originally painted red, white and blue to celebrate our nation’s bicentennial. It currently belongs to the Virginia Museum of Transportation, where it is kept on display. It has recently been moved to the NS paint shops in Chattanooga for a repaint. With the simple addition of the Georgia coat of arms to the front hood inside the circle of stars, it would look just like our state flag. I wonder if Senator Jeff Mullis (R-Upper Left Hand Corner) can make that happen.

The Georgia Department of Transportation and Department of Economic Development released a report that details the state’s priorities for expanding the intermodal freight system. Included in the report are the fact that the logistics industry contributes 18 percent of Georgia’s gross state product, and includes more than 5000 companies employing more than 110,000 Georgians and generating $50 billion in annual sales.

Norfolk Southern has delivered some of the heaviest components for Plant Vogtle nuclear reactor units 3 and 4. The 3600-ton steam condenser is arriving in pieces as prefabricated parts. The parts are transferred through the Port of Savannah after an ocean voyage from Korea.

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SOS Brian Kemp pulls SB 445 to streamline professional licensing

Secretary of State Brian Kemp has asked that Senate Bill 445, which his office helped developed and was introduced by Sen. Bill Hamrick (R-Carroll County) be withdrawn from consideration:

Secretary Kemp stated, “In October, I began discussions with the Governor’s Office, legislative leaders, members of the professional licensing boards, leaders of professional associations and license holders themselves to identify options for reducing the time required to approve license applications, renewals and to determine sanctions. These discussions provided the impetus for legislation to streamline operations at PLB.”

“Due to time constraints in drafting a compromise and the ability for stakeholder review, it was not realistic to have a final bill drafted by day 30 of the legislative session. Therefore, I have decided to withdraw the bill from consideration during this year’s General Assembly session. Withdrawing the legislation will allow my office to continue to meet in a spirit of cooperation and compromise with all stakeholders so we can produce a bill that addresses the critical needs facing PLB and, most important, the 460,000 licensed Georgians and businesses we serve.”

“Frankly, the easiest thing for me to do would have been nothing, and allow the license application waiting time to gradually grow over time, year after year. But, as General Colin Powell so succinctly states, ‘Leadership is solving problems.’ I was elected to be a leader and public servant, which means increasing operations efficiency in each agency division and reducing regulations for license holders and entrepreneurs. I would rather spend the coming year crafting a bill that addresses the needs and concerns of all parties than to haphazardly rush the legislative process.”

“Please feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or comments about Senate Bill 445 and streamlining our licensing procedures. Together we can make government a friendlier and more efficient partner of Georgia’s businesses and professional license holders.”

The act was intended to streamline licensing operations under various professional boards attached to the Secretary of State’s office and reduce the time and expense associated with applying for a license without sacrificing the boards’ strict quality control procedures.

Morning Dogs for Thursday, Feb. 23d, plus a little news

Today we’re featuring two Golden Retriver-ish dogs. 22233 and 22235 are both friendly young males and will both be available for adoption starting Saturday, Feb. 25th from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter.

To receive my favorite adoptable dogs and morning news summary in your email every morning, sign up here.

Last week, I advised Daniel Fullerton that he’d probably get more donations for his kidney transplant from Peach Pundit readers if he sends us a picture of himself dressed in a puppy costume. No photo has been forthcoming, but maybe if we help him reach his first fundraising goal today (he needs $80), he’ll see the light.

On Saturday, voters will be able to cast votes in person for the March 6th Presidential Preference Primary.

InsiderAdvantage says that Newt Gingrich holds a slight lead in the Georgia Republican Primary with 26% of the vote; IA shows Romney at 24% and Santorum at 23%, making this poll statistically meaningless.

Yesterday was National Guard Day at the Georgia State Capitol, with Gov. Nathan Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and the Speaker of the House welcoming Georgia National Guard members to the Capitol and their respective chambers. Also attending and honored were family members of Guard members who lost their lives in overseas service to our state and country.

Also celebrated yesterday with a house resolution was “Georgia Tea Party Day.”

Senator Jeff Mullis (R-Extreme Northwest Georgia) has proposed a bill to ensure the legality of reservoirs on north Georgia creeks and rivers and aimed squarely at water from the Tennessee River.

The House Judiciary Committee passed HB 872 by Rep. Jason Shaw (R-Lakeland) a version of a bill designed to make metal theft less attractive by requiring buyers of recyclable nonferrous metals to pay sellers by check rather than cash.

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Raise your (very small) drink — House legalizes liquor samples in distillery tours

The state house passed HB 514 by Rep. Rusty Kidd (I-Milledgeville) by a 146-20 vote, which will allow Georgia distilleries to provide a single half-ounce sample per day for each person of drinking age on a tour of the distillery.

On a tangential note, Rep. Kidd’s father, Senator Culver Kidd, once gave a speech in the well of the Senate wearing a suit custom-tailored from 160 purple velvet Crown Royal bags. When I spoke to Rep. Kidd last year, he told me he still owned his father’s famous suit. On another note, the papers of the late Senator Kidd are held by Georgia Southern University Library’s Special Collections and contain at least one Crown Royal bag.