From Politics

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.

And just like that…

He was gone.

I came from parts unknown, and I depart for a similar destination.

It’s been not a job, but not a vacation,

And I’ve enjoyed it more than a smidge,

from the Cheesecake Factory Bridge,

to explainers on campaign finance and Lifeline,

It’s been greatly rewarding getting up off the pine.

My time here, with the people of the front page and the comments, has changed my life. Thanks for all of that, and if you’re looking for me, you can find me @stefanturk

 

 

 

We’re Taking the Fork With Charlie

At the noon hour on WGST, Charlie will be making an announcement about a project that ultimately led him to leave Peach Pundit. You can listen online or via radio waves at 640 AM in the appropriate listening area.

Prior to his announcement, we would like to share that the undersigned have also chosen to leave Peach Pundit as contributors to begin work on Monday with Charlie’s new project.

This was not an easy decision for any of us, as Peach Pundit has been a part of our lives for a long time. For some of us, a decade or more. We cherish the opportunity that Peach Pundit has provided to us. We are thankful for each of y’all for reading what we have wrote, contributing to the discussion, and putting up with us, especially Ed.

We sincerely wish nothing but the best for Peach Pundit going forward.

We have a lot of marbles to stack between now and Monday.

#byefelicia

Anthony M Kreis
Ed
Edward Lindsey
George Chidi
Jessica S.
Jon Richards
Katelyn Ledford
Lawton Sack
Nathan Smith
Obi’s Sister
Stefan Turkheimer
Teri Anulewicz

SoLongThanksForFish

When You Come To A Fork In The Road, Take It

Late on the evening of February 13th 2007 I got a little wild hair to create a name – Icarus – and make a somewhat smart assed comment on a blog I had been reading for months. Almost 9 years later and after switching to my real name I find that I’ve been Editor In Chief for over five years. Until today.

When it’s time to move on, it’s time to move on. And it is that time.

Peach Pundit has been a great platform for me. A journey that began as an anonymous commenter on a somewhat raucous blog that was mostly a back room of Georgia politics turned into being the editor of a publication that is now a mainstream news source. I couldn’t have planned this journey if I had tried. Nor would I have wanted to. It’s been a good run.

Many times I’ve been asked what Peach Pundit is. I’ve always avoided being specific. Peach Pundit has always been what it is in the eye of the reader, the beholder. I can define why I’m here. Every other contributor or commenter has had to decide why they participate for themselves.

What it has become for me is a platform where motivated volunteers from across Georgia’s political spectrum – from an Occupy Atlanta organizer to a card carrying Freedom Caucus apologist – can discuss the issues that affect Georgians where we live in a civil and respectful tone.

I’ll admit I’m a bit proud of what we’ve become. I also remain keenly aware of why I chose the name Icarus.

I’m not leaving for greener pastures or a direct path to upward mobility. The days of what Peach Pundit was are gone, and nothing dynamic will ever stay the same. Blogging in 2016 is not the same as blogging in 2007. I do have future plans that I will not use this space or site to announce or promote. Instead I wish to thank Erick and Clayton for the opportunity, and to all of the members who have made Peach Pundit the community that it was and is for all of these years.

Peach Pundit began for me as a new beginning when I wasn’t expecting one. The next chapter is waiting to be written. I’m looking forward to it.

And I am grateful to most of you. Others, not so much.*

*Kidding**

**Mostly

Rest in Peace Mike Egan

Growing up in the leafy Brookwood Hills neighborhood in Atlanta, all of us knew Mike Egan. He was our state representative and one of the few Republicans in the Georgia State House in the 1960’s. Everyone respected his integrity. He was one of the few legislators of either party to vote against the move to oust Julian Bond from the General Assembly over his anti-Vietnam War views and consistently called for more open and transparent government.

Although a strong pioneering Republican leader, Mike was appointed in 1977 by President Carter to be associate attorney general under Griffin Bell. He returned to the General Assembly in 1989 as a state senator serving until his retirement in 2000. He was rightly regarded during his tenure as the “Conscious of the Senate.”

Given his distinguished career, I was understandably nervous when I called upon him in 2004 to ask for his endorsement when I first ran for the State House. It was a tough political grilling and his subsequent endorsement is easily the one I am most proud of having ever received. In the end, Mike simply asked that I take care of his community, his political party, and his state. He also told me that the key to political success was to keep my opponents temporary and friends permanent.   A lot of folks would do well to follow that advice today.

Mike took great pride in his family. He and his wife Donna raised six children – Moira, Michael III, Donna, Donald, William, and John, as well a lot of grandchildren.

Today, Mike’s family lost a beloved patriarch. My party lost a trail blazer. Our state lost a great leader. May the Peace of the Lord be with his family and all who mourn on this sad day.

Navy Honors John Lewis, Congress’ Most Outspoken Pacifist, by Naming New Fleet Class After Him

Atlanta Congressman John Lewis said as recently as July 2012 “war is not the answer. War is obsolete. It cannot be used as a tool of our foreign policy. It’s barbaric.” 

So then it makes perfect sense to put his name on the newest class of ships in the United States Naval fleet…right?

Because that’s exactly what the Navy did. 

On Wednesday, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Cong. Lewis announced that a new class of fleet oilers will be named after Lewis. Each oiler will bear the name of a civil rights icon. The first of which is expected to begin construction in 2018 and will be named the USNS John Lewis.

In a statement, Secretary Mabus said:

“As the first of its class, the future USNS John Lewis will play a vital role in the mission of our Navy and Marine Corps while also forging a new path in fleet replenishment. Naming this ship after John Lewis is a fitting tribute to a man who has, from his youth, been at the forefront of progressive social and human rights movements in the U.S., directly shaping both the past and future of our nation. T-AO 205 will, for decades to come, serve as a visible symbol of the freedoms Representative Lewis holds dear, and his example will live on in the steel of that ship and in all those who will serve aboard her.”

Lewis added:

“When the Secretary came by my office and shared the idea with me that he would like to name a ship for me, we both teared up a bit, and I almost lost it.  This is such a magnificent vessel.  It is a great honor.  It is my hope that the USNS John Lewis and the entire class of ships commemorating civil rights heroes will inspire future generations to do all they can to serve humanity and this country.”

The future USNS John Lewis will be operated by Military Sealift Command and provide underway replenishment of fuel and stores to U.S. Navy ships at sea and jet fuel for aircraft assigned to aircraft carriers

I suppose this is more appropriate than, say, a new class of destroyers.

Congress Passes Measure Repealing Much of Obamacare

On a virtual party line vote of 240-181, the U.S. House voted to approve H.R. 3762, the Restoring Americans Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act. The bill contains several measures popular with Republicans and conservatives, including a repeal of portions of the Affordable Care Act and the defunding of Planned Parenthood. Because the bill was passed under reconciliation rules authorized by the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the bill was not subject to a Senate filibuster, unlike the more than 60 previous attempts to repeal Obamacare.

The measure now goes to President Obama, who is all but certain to veto it. According to the Associated Press, the next act in this political Kabuki Theatre will be an attempted override vote on January 22nd, which coincides with the annual March for Life and the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. Republicans likely will not have enough votes to override the President’s veto.

Legislative passage of a measure repealing the health care law does mean that a major goal has been met by the Republican congress, something demanded by the party’s base. And, Georgia’s representatives didn’t hesitate to crow about their achievement. You can read their statements below the fold. Read more

Morning Reads – Thursday, January 7, 2016

On this date in 1959, the US government recognized Fidel Castro’s new government in Cuba

Peaches

Jimmy Carter

Sweet Tea

Liberty Drum

State Rep. plans to file bill halting executive appointments of legislators

Representative David Stover has announced his plans to file legislation that would prohibit members of the Georgia General Assembly from being appointed by the Governor to any position as a state employee while they are serving in the legislature – and for the one year following their departure from the General Assembly.

The bill seeks to curtail the continued appointments by the Governor of members of the Georgia General Assembly. The process has long been scrutinized as suspicion grows that some elected officials serve for the purpose of appointments -be it to the Court of Appeals or as a well-compensated head of a state governmental agency – instead of to be a voice of The People. Legislators who oppose the appointments have long claimed political favors and votes are exchanged for the coveted positions, but little can be done when the Governor exercises his executive authority.

Additionally, when an appointment is made in the middle of a term, tax payers are saddled with the bill of a special election to fill the vacant seat.

The forthcoming legislation would halt all appointments of legislators effective immediately.

The legislation is expected to be filed some time Wednesday. Whether or not it will make it out of committee chaired by legislators who would lose the benefit of appointments remains to be seen.

Morning Reads in the New Year

I want a refund on 2016 already.

“The Provider” by Angels of Light.

  1. Reviewing 2015: the Year of the Panther. 
  2. Truly that is how the history books will record that epoch.
  3. Al Jazeera report: Atlanta’s AIDS epidemic reminiscent of 1980s New York City.
  4. Really? Sam Olens is Georgia Trend‘s man of the year? 
  5. Sidenote: guess how many opinions Olens issued in 2015. If you guessed anything over one you would be wrong.
  6. Science: no one in this country is angrier than whites and Republicans. Shocking? No.
  7. On Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills’ attempt to solve what might be his most baffling case.
  8. It seems every few years there’s a story about Piney Grove Cemetery in Buckhead, a slave cemetery that has festered in ruination. This time, however, it seems to be a slightly different story. 
  9. Is Appling Georgia’s most conservative town?
  10. London’s The Daily Mail: Naked prostitutes chase gunmen through Buckhead hotel after they posed as clients and robbed them. 
  11. Former Atlanta paramedic goes on “Fresh Air” to discuss making it big in the world, his book on being an Atlanta paramedic. 
  12. Former Atlantan Walton Goggins goes on “All Things Considered” to discuss making it big in the world, being an actor. 
  13. His best role was as “the belle who doesn’t tell.”

Bill Would Prohibit Legislative Conference Committee Members from State Employment for Two Years

You might call it the “No More Jay Roberts Promotions” bill.

Roberts was chairman of the House Transportation Committee during the 2015 session, and managed to shepherd House Bill 170 through both House and Senate, and fulfilling a goal expressed by Governor Deal, Lt. Governor Cagle, and Speaker Ralston during the early days of the session. A month after the end of the session, Roberts was nominated by Governor Deal to run GDOT’s planning department, replacing Toby Carr.

Under Senate Bill 256, prefiled on Monday by Senator Josh McKoon of Columbus, an offer like Roberts had would be prohibited for two years after a legislator serves on a conference committee. From the bill’s text:

No member of the General Assembly who serves on a conference committee shall be eligible for employment in state government, other than as an elected official, for a period of 24 months immediately following such member’s service on such conference committee.

Roberts, of course, served on the conference committee that produced the final version of the bill that was voted on during the penultimate day of the 2015 session.

Morning Reads for Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Good morning! School is back in session, so now the break is really over. Or it’s just beginning, depending on who you ask.

Reads!

  • Earlier this month, the Washington Post political team sat down with Donald Trump and Ben Carson at each candidate’s DC-area home:
    • Trump: Interviewers described it as, “A nearly 90-minute one-man channel surf that landed on, among other topics, golf, the polls, whether he planned to drop out of the presidential race, what he’s afraid of, whether he’s a nice person, the media, the media and the media.”
    • Carson: The candidate offers proof that he’s not weak by saying, “A weak person doesn’t have all of these honorary degrees. Most people of accomplishment have one, maybe two or three honorary degrees at most. It’s the highest award that a university gives out. I have 67. That’s probably not indicative of a weak person who doesn’t get things done.”
  • The New York Times overviews President Obama’s anticipated moves on gun control.
  • WABE prognosticates how Atlanta’s neighborhoods will continue to evolve in 2016.
  • The Wall Street Journal reports how more Americans are looking to faith-based organizations for their health insurance coverage.
  • Georgia lawmakers vote now, read later. It’s tradition!
  • In the AJC, Maureen Downey (from her new location on the front page of the Metro section) kindles the conversation on merit pay for teachers.
  • Also from the AJC, hateful talk is protected by the first amendment. But hate talk accompanied by criminal activity is a whole other story.
  • The City of Atlanta quietly made a $9 million Beltline payment to Atlanta Public Schools.
  • From CityLab, one congressman wants to preserve our right to pee – freely.
  • WSAV covers the pending legislative conversation about whether firefighters in Georgia should carry guns.
  • The world didn’t know it needed a George Costanza-themed bar. Thank you, Australia!
  • NYC CFA remains DOA.

And below the fold, if you’re willing to wait for it –

Read more

And So It Begins. Again.

This week’s Courier Herald column:

With the dawn of the new year brings us another 40-day session of the Georgia General Assembly. Some of the process will follow a familiar routine. But there’s always a wrinkle or three to keep things fresh.

This will be the second time in recent history that qualifying for legislators will occur during session, with primaries for state and local offices to be held in May. In order for those who will stand for re-election to return to their districts and campaign (as well as be able to raise money – something prohibited when the legislature is in session), few are expecting the session to extend past the end of March.

As a bonus, Georgia will host a presidential preference primary about the time the legislature hits high gear. Presidential politics – and highly charged partisan rhetoric – will dominate the political news cycle this year. That doesn’t mean that this will be a “do nothing” legislative session. It just means that you may have to work harder to find out how legislation of substance is moving.

Education will take up a good bit of the legislative energy over the next three months. The Governor’s Commission on Education Reform has released eighty some-odd pages of recommendations to improve the return on investment state taxpayers make on K-12 students. The suggestions regarding funding reform have garnered the most headlines and perhaps signal one of the larger fights of the session. Read more

Ronnie Mabra will not seek reelection

Ronnie Mabra announced today that he will not seek reelection. His reasons are below. He will be missed in the legislature for good humor, thoughtful advocacy, and sartorial splendor.

After much discussion and praying with my family, I announce that I will not seek re-election as State Representative for House District 63.  As many of you know my son, Ronald E. Mabra III (Remiii) was born in September.  Dawn and I appreciate all of the phone calls, emails, and other congratulatory messages as we welcomed our first child into this world.  Remiii’s birth has changed our lives in so many wonderful ways and as a family we are doing some restructuring.  Dawn has decided to return to school.  She has always dreamed of becoming a physician and I am very proud that she has enrolled in a Masters Program at Morehouse School of Medicine.  I am very fortunate to have a loving wife that has supported me while I was building a law practice, while I ran for public office, and as I have served the people of District 63.  It is now time I be by her side as she pursues her dreams.  This means taking an extremely active role in raising our son while she continues her education. 

Read more

Another Big Data Breach Releases Personally Identifiable Voter Information

A little over a month after it became known that the social security numbers, drivers license numbers and dates of birth of more than six million Georgia registered voters were sent to news organizations and political parties in what is known as the Peach Breach, a much bigger database of voter information was discovered in the wild. Databreaches.net reported that a database with 191 million records containing voter information was available publicly on the internet. After this report, public access to the database was removed.

While the information in the database didn’t include social security or drivers license numbers like the Peach Breach did, it did include dates of birth, phone numbers, email addresses and possibly more. Is this significant? Or as was pointed out in a tweet, is it no more than someone accidentally leaking Facebook?

A story in this morning’s New York Times tries to answer that question. In addition to talking about how voter information is aggregated and used by political campaigns, it talks about how the information can be used for less noble purposes:

Big data advocates argue that what is in most voter files is nothing more than the White Pages of a phone book augmented with party affiliation and voting history (not which candidate people voted for, but whether they voted.) But for privacy experts, that alone, especially when compiled in one place, is cause for concern.

“Simply by digitizing the data, collecting it in one place, making it freely available in one place — it’s a Christmas gift for thieves,” said Neal O’Farrell, the executive director of the Identity Theft Council. “I interviewed an identity thief, and he said credit card numbers are for chumps. It’s much easier to get caught. The cybercriminals really want to know who you are. And voter information and any kind of information that fills in all the blanks makes it easier for phishing, for social engineering, and for extortion.”

There is no doubt that this type of data has become essential to modern political campaigns. Democrats and some others use NGP/Van to aggregate voter data and enable voter contact. NationBuilder is a popular tool used by a wide variety of candidates and organizations to build support. And don’t forget that the voter data exposed in the Peach Breach except for personally identifiable information is required by Georgia law to be made available to those willing to pay a fee.

Many people, myself included, are willing to provide personal information to social media sites like Facebook in order to be able to enjoy social media. Plenty of people use a Kroger Plus Card or other shopper card to get discounts at retail while providing a wealth of personally identifiable information about what we purchase and use on a daily basis. And while the benefits can be great, there are also risks, as not only the unauthorized release of voter information but the legally required distribution of voter records shows.