From Stupid Government Tricks

Harris County Sheriff Puts Up a Politically Incorrect Sign

In Harris County, Sheriff Mike Jolley has caused a stir by posting a controversial sign in front of the sheriff department’s headquarters. Below a standard welcome to the county sign, he adds a second one, which says,

WARNING: Harris County is politically incorrect. We say: Merry Christmas, God Bless America and In God We Trust. We salute our troops and our flag. If this offends you… LEAVE!

The six term sheriff paid $553 out of his own pocket for the sign. The sign has become the talk of social media, with comments such as these:

and

What do you think about the sign? Take our poll:

Georgia SOS Office treats data breach like nude selfie; asks boyfriends to delete from phone

Every month, usually the second week of the month, I receive a CD-ROM from the Georgia Secretary of State Election Office. About two years ago, I requested a copy of the Georgia voter file to perform some analysis of Georgia voters. As a press outlet (yes, we really are), I continue to receive this disk every month, delivered like clockwork to my home address. It’s useful on occasion when preparing investigative pieces, or for background for voter trends in Georgia.

I tend to save the data every few months to have a ‘fresh’ version, but don’t keep every copy. There are plenty of political parties and for-profit entities that track this data, and can provide much more meaningful analysis than I can.

Yesterday, Erick forwarded an email he had received via both the Redstate and WSB contact forms from an investigator with the GASOS office. The investigator was looking for me, and didn’t have anything but my name and address. This, despite the fact that the SOS form that I filled out requesting the Voter File contained my mobile number and contact information. The investigator sent the requests to Erick at 3:20PM, he forwarded them to me at 4PM, and I called at 4:10PM. The investigator asked if I still lived at the “Newcastle Drive” address, and if I was at home. I was not, I told him, but I could take a look for the disk later in the evening. “OK, then”, he said, “I’ll turn around”.

Excuse me?

Somebody wanted that disk back pretty badly.

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Reminder: Peach Pundit Road Show – Sine Die Edition

What sounds better than drinking with your favorite Peach Pundit pals while talking Sine Die politics? Nothing (or everything).

Charlie gave y’all the details earlier, but a reminder never hurts. Come for the drinks, stay for the Sine Die existential crises.

Where: Gordon Biersch Midtown (848 Peachtree Street Northeast, Atlanta, GA)

When: 7pm-10pm; however, you may come and go as you please

Why: To drink

Who: Some, others not so much

As always, I look forward to seeing, like, eight of you. The eight are TBD.

(Un?)Intended Consequences

Those lofty, big picture thinkers rarely can imagine the consequences of their lofty, sweeping plans.

This press release from the National Federation of Independent Business points out a tiny, little problem…

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Kyle Jackson, 404-876-8516, or Todd Pack, 615-791-9079
STATEMENT: Shutdown of E-Verify ‘Problematic’ for GA Small Businesses

ATLANTA, Oct. 2, 2013–Kyle Jackson, Georgia state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, released the following statement today in response to the shutdown of the federal government, including the E-Verify program, which allows business owners to confirm employment eligibility:
“The shutdown of E-Verify is problematic for small businesses that are required to participate in the program. On top of that, the combination of ongoing massive debt, the implementation of a deeply flawed health-care law, and the government shutdown exacerbates the uncertainty that small-business owners have been feeling for some time. There’s no doubt that Washington is making the small-business community very nervous, and small-business owners aren’t going to invest in new facilities or equipment or create jobs unless they’re confident about the direction of the economy.”

NFIB/Georgia is the state’s largest small-business association, with over 7,000 member businesses representing a cross section of the state’s economy.

###
Commemorating its 70th anniversary, the National Federation of Independent Business is the nation’s leading small-business association, with offices in Washington, D.C., and all 50 state capitals. Founded in 1943 as a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, NFIB gives small- and independent-business owners a voice in shaping the public policy issues that affect their business. NFIB’s powerful network of grassroots activists sends its views directly to state and federal lawmakers through our unique member-only ballot, thus playing a critical role in supporting America’s free enterprise system. NFIB’s mission is to promote and protect the right of our members to own, operate and grow their businesses. More information about NFIB is available at www.NFIB.com/newsroom.

While this “bump in the road” won’t get the media attention of heavily be-medaled octogenarians and nonagenarians hurtling over Barry-cades to see their memorial, these businesses can face real consequences (i.e., jail time) if they contract with the Federal Government and don’t use E-Verify for the required tasks, even if it’s not available through no fault of their own.

Only government bureaucrats could come up with this twisted scenario.

Befuddles Me, This Does

Why do Democrats hate poor people? Fox 5 Atlanta:

Two Democratic lawmakers are pushing legislation that would make buying a firearm much more expensive. The bill would nearly double sales taxes on guns, and more than quadruple the tax rates on ammunition.

The bill is sponsored by William Pascrell, D-N.J., and Danny Davis, D-Ill., who say their legislation takes aim on gun violence starting at the pocketbook. The bill is called the Gun Violence Prevention and Safe Communities act. It calls for taxes on weapons to be raised well above what they are currently.

Under the proposed legislation, the tax rate on firearms purchases would increase from 11 percent to 20 percent. Tax rates on ammunition would rise from 11 percent to 50 percent. The proceeds would go to anti-gun violence programs.

Regressive taxes always hurt the poor. And the money “raised?” Watch it disappear…

Making guns and ammo more expensive for those of us who want (and need) to protect ourselves only emboldens criminals. And politicians.

I bet Danny Davis wouldn’t walk to school in Chicago these days. He’d ride in his limo, with his Stormtroppers trotting along side, waving at the little people.

Whose side are these wise guys on, anyway? They must be silent partners in (language warning)
Chris Rock’s Bait Shop and Ammo Emporium ?

Befuddles me, this does.

A Snapshot Of The DeKalb Incorporation Debate

Want to know why half of DeKalb County is thinking about incorporating as cities? Ask Bruce MacGregor.

MacGregor leads the Druid Hills Civic Association, one of the largest and most powerful homeowners’ associations in the county. His 75-year-old association has about 4000 homes — perhaps 10,000 residents — surrounding the Centers for Disease Control and Emory, with a lawyer-to-actual-human ratio roughly equivalent to a Washington D.C. suburb. Two current DeKalb County commissioners are past presidents.

And he told me he can’t seem to get the DeKalb CEO to pick up his phone. Read more

How Popular Is The Atlanta-Macon Flight Route?

How many folks would you say fly from Atlanta to Macon on a daily basis?  30? 20? 10?  Try less than 3 per day, but yet we’re continuing to fund it.  Georgia Skies was chosen by the Department of Transportation to fly the route in 2008, but also received federal funds in order to keep the route in operation.  There are 2 airlines currently vying to replace Georgia Skies and continue the daily flight between the sprawling metropolis and the lesser, but both airlines are asking for $1.5 million in federal subsidies in order to operate.  The request is under the “Essential Air Service” where smaller communities were guaranteed to have air service:

The Airline Deregulation Act, passed in 1978, gave airlines almost total freedom to determine which markets to serve domestically and what fares to charge for that service. The Essential Air Service (EAS) program was put into place to guarantee that small communities that were served by certificated air carriers before deregulation maintain a minimal level of scheduled air service. The Department currently subsidizes commuter airlines to serve approximately 140 rural communities across the country that otherwise would not receive any scheduled air service.

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Georgia Sues EPA Over Cross-State Air Pollution Rule

– Ten States Granted Easements to Lessen Costs –

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens has filed suit on behalf of the state of Georgia against the Environmental Protection Agency. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution story states that Olens filed suit because the the rule would cause a major disruption in how the state produces electricity. Sixty-seven percent of Georgia Power’s electricity is produced by the affected coal-fired power plants.

Attorney General Sam Olens said the rule would cause major changes to the way electricity would be produced in the state.

“The EPA has overstepped their authority with a heavy-handed federal takeover of the enforcement of environmental regulations,” Olens said in a statement Thursday. “More significantly, implementation of this rule will be extremely damaging to our already struggling economy.”

The EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule imposes caps on sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide in 27 states. Ten of those states, including New York, New Jersey and Texas; were granted cost-lessening adjustments to the regulation.

Georgia Power can either install expensive pollution-reduction machinery in its coal-based power plants or Georgia can buy “emission allowances” from other states. Either way look for your power bills to increase. So what are emission allowances? It appears they are just the recycled, Carbon Tax Credit idea that failed miserably in Europe.

So you thought carbon tax credits were dead because they were such a stupid, expensive, socialistic idea that did nothing to lessen pollution? No, they’re back because Washington loves stupid, expensive socialistic pollution regulations that do nothing to actually lessen pollution. I call them: Son of Carbon Tax Credits or Friday the 13th Part 2012.

From an EPA paper on the regulation:

The rule allows air-quality-assured allowance trading among covered sources, utilizing an allowance market infrastructure based on existing, successful allowance trading programs. The final Cross-State Air Pollution Rule allows sources to trade emissions allowances with other sources within the same
program (e.g., ozone season NOX) in the same or different states, while firmly
constraining any emissions shifting that may occur by requiring a strict emission
ceiling in each state (the budget plus variability limit). It also includes assurance provisions that ensure each state will make the emission reductions necessary to fulfill the “good neighbor” provision of the Clean Air Act

So we have the ability to pay another state for the right to pollute or we can pay to install expensive anti-pollution equipment – and what better time to do so than in a lengthy period of high unemployment? All because it’s more important to have more regulations than more jobs.

City Of Atlanta To Offer Low Interest Mortgages

Apparently there just aren’t enough companies out there offering mortgages, and you people just won’t live where you’re told. Later this week, the Atlanta Development Authority will begin offering mortgages at 3.5% with up to $50,000 in down payment assistance to those who are willing to live where the ADA tells you, which happens to include areas along proposed Beltline.

“It is very exciting to be able to offer a below-market interest rate on our first mortgage product,” said ADA home-ownership manager Tracey Powell in a statement released on Wednesday. “We strive to create programs that aid home buyers in successfully sustaining their homes to create wealth for their families and generate home appreciation for Atlanta communities.”

Huh, I would have thought demand for property along the Beltline would be rising since it’s such a fantastic project.

Fear and Loathing on the Internet 2011

We all know that Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, gonzo writer and Lord of Excess, would have likely had the internet hard-wired into some type of brain port if he had chosen to continue his existence. Senior citizen or not, Thompson embraced new experiences and over-stimulation and so the internet – if done to excess – was a likely destination for his attention. Unfortunately, the good doctor shuffled off this mortal coil at the time and method of his own choosing, so he is not here to serve as a role model for other seniors.

I would remind seniors of Thompson’s words, at least the ones I can use here, “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”

For some reason senior citizens seem to fear the internet. Perhaps it’s because they know, on some cosmic level, that Hunter S. Thompson’s quotes still lurk there. As Walter Jones writes for Morris News Service, as reported in the Augusta Chronicle:

While 94 percent of all Georgians have access to broadband Internet service, only 65 use it, largely because older Georgians don’t think it’s relevant to their lives or they’re afraid of it, witnesses told a Senate committee Tuesday studying the economic and generational digital divide.

“There is an ongoing fear that I’m going to be digital-ed out,” said Marcia Wallace, a 64 year-old secretary. “It’s not that I don’t want to be on the Internet … I need somebody somewhere that can teach me.” Story continued here.

Of course there is a committee. Senator Valencia Seay (D-Riverdale) has sponsored legislation to create a committee to study the divide between internet users and those who avoid the web. The committee will meet throughout the year and study different programs within the state of Georgia as well as programs in other states. They will report during the next regular session of the Georgia legislature.

Of course, one way to help senior citizens is to make them less afraid. Again, Dr. Thompson could serve as a role model for seniors planning a road trip on Al Gore’s internet highway:

We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers… and also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether and two dozen amyls. 
Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked into a serious drug collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can
                                                               – Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Please note that you may have to help Granny find the mescaline. It’s not as popular as it once was.


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Regional Solutions v. Local Interests: Why T-SPLOST is now T-LOST

The issue that may ultimately doom the statewide T-SPLOST is the clash between the need for regional planning and the ultimate self-interest of rational voters. An economically-rational voter might consider the benefits he or she will derive from their extra penny sales tax and decide it’s not worth the cost.

I think this is part of what underlies the widespread opposition of commenters on this blog, where any post mentioning TSPLOST becomes an opportunity for MARTA-bashing by OTPers, and for “we’ve been paying for it for 40 years now it’s your ” by the smarter and better-looking denizens of intown neighborhoods. I’ve been guilty of that last part myself, not just in regards to MARTA but also Grady Hospital.

In the 1990s, this dynamic played out along Johnson Ferry Road, where Cobb County residents pushed for widening in order to ameliorate rush-hour traffic but Fulton homeowners opposed the widening that threatened their front yards and homes.

With respect to the Atlanta metro area, we should understand that the benefits of a project are not necessarily constrained to its immediate area, but ramify outwards as bottlenecks are relieved, or demand sated elsewhere. OTPers who travel intown or across 285 benefit from the cars taken off the roads by MARTA, regardless of whether they ever step foot on bus or train. However, this type of benefit does not translate across larger regions, such as northwest Georgia where traffic hotspots tend to be local, population density lighter and the areas where transportation improvements receive more money are farther away.

God and Country

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The photo above shows the church where I exercise my First Amendment right to worship as I am called to. On April 15, 2009, many of us gathered at the Georgia State Capitol under the protection of our right to assemble. Most weekdays in January through April we may petition the legislative branch of our state government. And on this blog, as well as other place online and off, we exercise our rights to free speech and to publish opinions and information that the government may not like.

(Before you say it, SOGTP, the Supreme Court held in Gitlow v . New York that the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution extends the protections of the First Amendment to the states. Love it or hate it, I don’t make the rules.)

I’ve written here recently about the pitched battle between Atlanta Progressive News and the Atlanta City Council.

Now, the Fulton County Daily Report is covering the actions of the City of Atlanta Law Department as it sought and received in Fulton County Superior Court a prior restraint (subscription required) against APN’s publication of the infamous memoranda.
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Georgia Supports South Carolina Against NLRB Action Against Boeing

Atlanta Business Chronicle:

“The amicus brief filed today by a bi-partisan coalition of 16 right-to-work and unionized states is about protecting jobs,” Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens said in a statement. “During this difficult economic climate when countless Americans are still unemployed, the NLRB has decided to insert itself in a purely business decision to the detriment of workers. Although the NLRB action was not taken in Georgia, it is a real threat to our ability to recruit business and create jobs in the future.”

In a nutshell, the NLRB was miffed that Boeing decided to build a new manufacturing facility in South Carolina, a right-to-work state. Labor Kabuki Theater. More background here.

At what point does the funding become funny money?

Via Shannon McCaffrey/AP: Georgia is changing the way domestic violence programs are funded.

Georgia is set to eliminate all state money for domestic violence programs, replacing it with federal funds that some advocates say will limit the services shelters for battered women can provide.

Officials with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have raised questions about the proposal from Gov. Nathan Deal to use some $4.4 million in federal welfare money — Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or TANF — to fund domestic violence shelters, according to memos and e-mails obtained by The Associated Press through an open records request.

But the state is pressing forward with the plan anyway. It’s included in budget proposals that have passed both the House and the Senate. The chambers are working out differences in the spending plans before sending them to Deal’s desk for his signature.

HHS are the same folks who are trying to get their heads around Obamacare by issuing 1,168 waivers (to date) to mostly Democratic campaign friends and relations. Quibbles over annual coverage maximums are a far cry from a shelter being closed and/or underfunded to the point that a terrorized woman loses her life.

Alan Essig of the non-partisan Georgia Budget and Policy Institute said the rationale the state is using to justify the use of the TANF funds for the shelters “sounds like a stretch.”

And he said the state appears to be crossing its fingers that by the time federal officials rule on the funds, Georgia’s revenue picture will have improved.

What comforting words for a woman seeking shelter from abuse – “We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the shelter will even be open tonight, you know how all that federal funny money can be…”

Swapping out state funds for federal money may look good on paper to panicked budgeteers, but in real life it is a disservice to the women of Georgia.