“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.”
– Though the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll

Here:
Oops.
– Yeah. You knew they were watching you.
– Carl Sanders was the only Georgia governor who earned his letter jacket at UGA. Ahem.
MARTA in Clayton County.
One way to fill the seats.
– Where to get a Thanksgiving meal if you want to skip the family drama gathering.
Shop local.
– Representative-elect Barry Loudermilk is a bit-head. Who knew?

There:
Oops.
– The Twilight Zone?
– The President gave a speech on an interesting choice of day. Or something.
– Speaking of wannabee Kings.
Shocker.
Shell games.

Random Everywhere:
Sit-shaming… Space hogging. Call it what you want. It’s just stupid.
– Surely there is something, somewhere, more important to freak out about.
Doomsday prep… it’s on everybody’s post-Thanksgiving list.

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It appears one Democrat doesn’t seem thrilled with DuBose Porter’s decision to run for reelection. And that Democrat is an important one.

Speaking to the Associated Press, Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed said he doesn’t think Porter “should be rewarded.”

A couple things to keep in mind about Reed, supposedly the most powerful Democrat in the state, and his comments. The first is that Reed backed former State Senator Doug Stoner when he and Porter were running for DPG chair a year ago. The other is that Reed lost that proxy war–pretty badly too.

With those things in mind:

“I do not believe the kind of failure we saw in November 2014 should be rewarded in politics,” Reed said, adding he didn’t appreciate Porter citing President Barack Obama as the reason for the losses. “I think he should have taken greater personal responsibility rather than blaming the president who did exactly what the party advised him to do, which was to stay away.

Reed also questioned the timing of a state party mailer designed to rally black voters by invoking the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

“The Ferguson mail piece was a last-ditch attempt to generate enthusiasm that you should have been working at for a very long time,” Reed said, adding the mailer put Nunn on the defensive at a time when she’d been gaining traction in her attacks on GOP businessman David Perdue’s outsourcing comments. Reed said the mailer had a “significant impact” on independent and swing voters.

Reed alluded to a run for higher office in 2018 and didn’t rule it out. However, he’s painting himself into a very odd corner very early on. He doesn’t seem to have much support from DPG members as evidenced by not getting Stoner elected. He’s not entirely supportive of DPG leadership. On top of that, the strongest relationships he’s building in Georgia are with Republicans.

All that said, he has very strong support from D.C. and he will have a very excellent record as Mayor to fall back on (both of which are not inconsequential). But the above and his unnecessarily-thin skin are creating some serious political hazards for him.

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On Wednesday, the House Democratic Caucus convened to elect their leadership. Simone Bell is the new Chief Deputy Minority Whip. As the title says, she is now the first openly-gay/lesbian legislative leader. Pat Gardner is the other addition she will serve as secretary.

Two noteworthy things about their leadership: only one member is white (Gardner), and only one (Hugley) comes from outside of Metro Atlanta, but she represents Muscogee County.

Here’s the Democrats’ leadership lineup.

  • House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams
  • House Minority Whip Carolyn F. Hugley
  • House Minority Chairman Virgil Fludd
  • House Minority Vice-Chairman Billy Mitchell
  • House Minority Treasurer David Wilkerson
  • House Minority Chief Deputy Whip Simone Bell
  • House Minority Secretary Pat Gardner

“I look forward to working with the members of the caucus and those voted into leadership positions in promoting legislation that will ensure Georgia’s families have access to affordable healthcare, the best public education, and a secure economy to support their families,”  said Rep. Abrams.

Rep. Fludd added, “The Caucus will continue advancing our legislative agenda of promoting economic security and educational opportunity for the citizens of Georgia who deserve more from their government.”

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Fayette County Commissioner David Barlow issued an apology on Wednesday for statements last week calling Democrats “Demoncrats.” Erick wrote about Barlow’s remarks yesterday. According to the Fayette Citizen, Barlow apologized by saying,

My passion for Jesus Christ and saving lives was wrongly portrayed by me this past Thursday evening. During a regular commission meeting, I gave a prepared statement to our local press and during commissioners comments read the statement into the record. I was wrong. I spoke with Ms. Pota Coston and offered my humble apology to her and asked for her forgiveness, which she graciously gave. Also, I am sending this apology to the other board members to include the local Democratic Party, asking for their forgiveness as well. I truly regret my comments and would like everyone to know that I look forward to working with Pota as we move Fayette County forward.

Barlow was roundly criticized for his remarks by the chairs of the Fayette County Democratic Committee and the Fayette County GOP, along with Commission Chair Steve Brown, who penned a letter to the editor condemning the content of his remarks but defending the commissioner’s right to say them:

In prepared remarks, Commissioner Barlow demeaned people in the audience and others in our community, namely Democrats, calling them “demons” and “evil.” There have been consistent verbal and written attacks on the Internet that consist of name-calling and venomous insults of Democrats and specifically female Democrats.

Commissioner Barlow often adds that his insults are given in the name of God as witnessed in Thursday’s display at our meeting with him saying, “I declare this, in the mighty name of Jesus.”

I had to sit through one tirade where Commissioner Barlow debased “the Blacks” with stereotypical racial insults, saying he knew such things to be true from his days of living in Mississippi. I reminded him in front of colleagues that he was talking about my wife and he offered no apology.

Yes, I think his remarks are incendiary and serve no other purpose than to divide local residents. However, I believe Commissioner Barlow has the right to express himself no matter how many of us disagree with him, noting that his words will only cause division if we allow them to do so.

Here’s where I have to politely disagree with Chairman Brown. While he claims Barlow’s statements will only divide people if they are allowed to, it’s remarks like these that make it much more difficult for the Republican Party to expand its base.

Leo Smith, Minority Engagement Director for the Georgia GOP, tweeted this story yesterday morning. It’s a piece about the Republicans at Morehouse College. The young men talk about why blacks don’t vote for Republicans. In addition to saying that social issues like gay marriage keep people away from the GOP–an opinion shared by many white College Republicans–they brought this up:

[O]ne student blurted out “And Stop bashing Obama”. While everyone in the room considered themselves a Republican or Libertarian, every single person in that room thought highly of President Barack Obama the man, if not the politician.

“I respect the man, he’s done historic things” says political director Mark, dressed in a dapper suit and tie in the middle of the room,

”But Policy is fair game”.

There’s an old saying that you can’t unring a bell. Statements like Barlow’s and Facebook posts like this are not going to be helpful if the GOP hopes to expand beyond its current base.

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Congressman Tom Graves (R-GA-14) has been selected to serve as chairman of the Legislative Branch Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee. From a presser:

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA-14), a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, was selected today to serve as chairman of the Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch for the 114th Congress.

“I joined this committee because of the unique opportunity to fight for taxpayers and reform the federal government,” said Rep. Graves. “I want the Appropriations Committee to be known as a place where taxpayer dollars are saved, not spent. As the Legislative Branch Subcommittee chairman, I’ll have a prime opportunity to walk the conservative talk. It’s an honor to have Chairman Rogers and the House Majority entrust me with this major responsibility.”

Rep. Graves was elected to the House in 2010 and joined the House Appropriations Committee at the start of the 112th Congress in 2011. It is rare for a House member to ascend to a subcommittee chairmanship after just four years, particularly on the Appropriations Committee, which is considered one of the most influential congressional committees due to its power over federal spending. The Committee has cut over $165 billion in federal discretionary spending since Rep. Graves joined.

The Legislative Branch Subcommittee has jurisdiction over expenditures for the House of Representatives, Capitol Police, Library of Congress, Government Accountability Office, Government Printing Office and other related areas.

I’m glad to see my own congressman chair an influential committee. I’m sure that he will work closely with Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price.

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DuBose Porter announced on Wednesday he and First Vice Chair Nikema Williams are running for reelection. Judging from initial reaction on FB, Georgia Democrats seem happy with decision, despite their poor showing at the polls on Nov. 4.

While Democrats where shellacked (which Porter acknowledges “stung like Hell”), his chairmanship was one of the few bright spots. He and Williams inherited a mess, with their former chair being run out of office 18 months ago and recently being indicted by a federal grand jury. Williams basically saved the DPG from immediate insolvency and then Porter righted the ship to be able to conduct a campaign.

Not that Democrats care or should heed my advice but the problem this cycle was not DPG leadership. The GOP wave, unpopularity of Obama and some lackluster campaigning were the problems. There doesn’t seem to be any reason to get rid of Porter or Williams.

In a statement to DPG State Committee members, Porter said:

And in the end, we did better than anyone would have predicted just one year ago, and we did better than we have done since the Republican Party became competitive in our state in 2002.

Progress is incremental. Sometimes it is a small step forward, sometimes it’s a giant leap. In different capacities, we have moved in both of these ways over the past year and a half.  Now is not the time to start over from scratch.

When I stood for election as your chair, I laid out more than complaints about what had gone wrong.  I offered a vision for where we would go next.  Then I put my shoulder to the wheel, helped recruit smart candidates, find resources and establish trust in our party again.  From local races to national contests, Georgia matters.  With your support, I will continue our march to majority – refusing to be set back and demanding of myself, and every one of us, that we redouble our efforts going forward. They are scared and we’re gonna keep them that way.

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On this date in 1993, the U.S. Senate passed the Brady Bill and legislation implementing NAFTA.

Peaches

Jimmy Carter

Sweet Tea

Liberty Drum

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We told you earlier this week about the failure by groups proposing new cities in north central DeKalb County to come to an agreement about boundaries for what could become the cities of Tucker and Lakeside Briarcliff LaVista Hills.

With the November 15th deadline to submit boundary line proposals having come and gone, Georgia House Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Amy Carter (R-Valdosta) has named a five member panel to play Solomon and divide the baby draw the boundaries for the proposed cities. State Reps. on the panel include Chairman Rep. Buzz Brockway (R-Lawrenceville), Rep. Barry Fleming (R-Harlem), Rep. Mark Hamilton (R-Cumming), Rep. Howard Mosby (D-Atlanta) and Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur).

In a press release, Carter said,

At the outset, I was very hopeful that the DeKalb cityhood proponents could come together and agree upon boundaries for the proposed cities. Unfortunately, their efforts failed to result in one, unified map. I am following through on the pledge to appoint a five person subcommittee of state House members to draw a map for the proposed DeKalb cities after stakeholders couldn’t come to an agreement on their own. This bi-partisan group of Governmental Affairs Committee members will convene a meeting, gather input, draw a map and complete this effort by December 31, 2014. I want to thank the members of this subcommittee in advance for their commitment to seeing this effort through to the end.

The baby to be divided is the commercial area surrounding Northlake Mall. The property taxes paid by the owners of the commercial land will go a long way towards paying the operating expenses of whichever city or cities it is part of.

Here is a thought experiment for members of the committee: Which would you prefer to do over the holidays, negotiate boundaries that will keep all parties happy, or campaign for a January runoff between David Perdue and Michelle Nunn?

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Our Opponents Are Not Our Enemies

November 19, 2014 13:54 pm

by Erick · 30 comments

David Barlow, a Fayette County Commissioner, has welcomed Pota Coston to the Fayette County Commission is a way that’d make anybody wonder if they’re welcome. Coston is the first black person to be elected to the Fayette County Commission. Barlow’s welcome refers to the Democrats as “Demoncrats” and calls them “evil.”

I am unsure if he next intends to burn a cross to keep Commissioner Coston warm in the Commission chambers.

This is really horrific coming from an elected official. Commissioner Barlow may be surprised to know, but the GOP did better with black and hispanic voters this year than any time in the past. His comments go a long way toward telling everyone that black and hispanic voters are not welcome with the Republican Party.

Equally troubling, Mr. Barlow says “conservative Christians have been unmercifully attacked by liberal demoncrats.” Note his spelling.

Jesus tells us to do under others as we’d like them to do to us. Does Commissioner Barlow want to be called a rethuglican? Oh wait . . . Republicans are. But Jesus said to turn the other cheek. Paul and Peter said to not seek revenge or to behave toward others in the negative ways they behave toward you.

We’re all sinners. We all like sheep go astray. But Commission Barlow could have set a great, Christian tone for this historic milestone in Fayette County. Instead, he behaved in the very way he is attacking others for behaving. He stooped to the level he accuses others of stooping.

I may not agree with Commissioner Coston on issues. We have never met. Being a Democrat, I doubt there is a lot we do agree on. But democratic organizations depend on respect between members of function properly for those they represent. Saying he prayed with the new commissioner really does not absolve Commissioner Barlow of the statement.

I hope he will apologize.

And perhaps Commissioner Barlow might want to take a deeper course in evangelizing, both politically and religiously. Christ said to go forth. Maybe Commissioner Barlow should go forth into Commissioner Coston’s district, spend time together, and understand the lives of others that do not look like him.

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Because it’s too dang early never too early to speculate about the next election cycle, there is a Facebook page out there hoping to draft Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson to run for US Senate in 2016.

Discuss.

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A balanced budget within “a 10-year window”, reforming the Congressional budget process and robust oversight of the Obama administration (shocking) are among Cong. Tom Price’s priorities as the new chair of the House Budget Committee. The Marietta Republican was elected to the post and in a statement released on Wednesday, outlined five priorities.

Other items topping his agenda are creating a budget that “invests in the nation’s priorities while saving and strengthening our health and retirement programs,” using reconciliation to move policies to Obama’s desk and “a continued focus on the current unsustainability of the nation’s entitlement programs.” The last point, I’m sure, means he will grandstand about making cuts, but won’t actually risk angering any constituents by reducing government spending.

Price gave a few details about his plans:

“We will put forward a budget that restores balance to the nation’s books. It will provide a blueprint for how to save and strengthen vital health and retirement programs while ensuring needed resources for those who protect and defend our great nation. Key to accomplishing real results will be to use budgetary processes at our disposal to move meaningful legislation through the House and Senate and to the president’s desk for his consideration. This can and must be done in a transparent manner with consultation and input from members across different committees of jurisdiction and Congress at large.

“Unique to our committee will be a continued commitment to the review and reform of the Congressional budget process. Congress budgets and assesses the fiscal and economic impact of policies using a 40-year old framework in which the default is to spend more, not less. The current Congressional Budget Office rules and analytical limitations lead to unrealistic projections and are vulnerable to manipulation. We need to modernize the budget process so Congress has a more complete and realistic understanding of the impact policies will have on the nation’s fiscal health, the economy and the well-being of families and businesses.”

 

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Stacey Abrams  Photo:  Jon Richards

Stacey Abrams Photo: Jon Richards

GOVERNING Magazine has named Georgia’s own Stacey Abrams a “Public Official of the Year” — a distinction given to only 8-10 state and local officials nationwide.

The magazine, which previously presented the award to Gov. Sonny Perdue and Mayor Kasim Reed, paid particular attention in its write-up to the history-making rise of Abrams, who currently serves as Minority Leader in the State House.

A Democratic Representative from Atlanta, Abrams is the first woman to serve as a party leader in either chamber of the General Assembly and the first African-American to lead either party in the State House of Representatives.

GOVERNING credits her ability to work across the aisle for her growing prominence. One key excerpt recalls the role Abrams played in pressuring Governor Nathan Deal to make concessions on his Hope Scholarship reforms:

Abrams walked that tricky line, for example, by supporting legislation championed by Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican, to overhaul the state’s Hope Scholarship program. While she disagreed with the governor that the program should be based on merit rather than need, Abrams was able to convince Deal and a majority of Republicans to compromise on other parts of the bill. Ultimately, the two sides agreed, among other things, to include low-interest loans and preserve most funding for pre-K programs. “My fundamental philosophy,” she says, “is that my first job is to cooperate and collaborate with the other side whenever I can.”

The magazine is not the first to recognize Abrams’s growing political influence in the Peach State. This year, the pro-choice women’s group EMILY’s List awarded Abrams its inaugural Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award.

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Could it be that a settlement near what is now Atlanta is older than Jamestown? 

The Oscar Peterson Trio with “Autumn Leaves.”

  1. Brad Edwards: Disagree with Ed about the SEC if you want. You’ll just be wrong. 
  2. Georgia’s senior Senator in the running for two committee chairmanships. 
  3. The latest, haunting story exploring what caused Geddy Kramer to attempt a mass shooting at the FedEx facility where he worked. 
  4. Just as an aside: having the AJC tell readers to go to AJC.com to listen to the songs on Kramer’s playlist seems pruriently macabre.
  5. Kennesaw City Council tables vote from xenophobes level-headed citizens who are concerned with a mosque in their backyard. 
  6. You haven’t seen the last of Jason Carter!
  7. Fiat-Chrysler CEO ordered to be deposed in Georgia court. 
  8. The other big labor dispute in Atlanta was settled. 
  9. Maria Saporta offers a remembrance of Herman Russell. 
  10. Another letter from J. Edgar Hoover to King. Its just as bizarre as all of Hoover’s other attempts to entrap his targets. 
  11. Info on the definitive MLK biopic. 
  12. Atlanta Magazine: books are better than non-books.
  13. GSU star shortlisted as one of the country’s best basketball players. 

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In a show of bipartisanship, Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson (D-Tucker) has endorsed Senator David Shafer (R-Duluth) for re-election as President Pro-Tempore of the Georgia State Senate. Sen. Henson is quoted in a press release sent out shortly after Sen. Shafer was successfully re-nominated by his Party’s Senate Caucus:

“I congratulate Sen. David Shafer on his re-nomination as President Pro Tempore.  Sen. Shafer has always had an open door for the Minority Caucus and is willing to work fairly with us to address the concerns of the people we represent. I will be proud to second his nomination and fully expect Senate Democrats to support his re-election to the position of Pro Tempore.”

According to the Constitution of the State of Georgia, the President Pro-Tempore of the State Senate is elected from among its members. As Republicans have control the State Senate by a significant majority, Sen. Henson’s endorsement could do little to help or hurt Sen. Shafer’s chances at re-election as the chamber’s President Pro-Tempore. Nevertheless, his nomination is a symbolic gesture of support and confidence towards the Republican’s leadership.

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On the night of August 28 at a Statesboro bar called Rude Rudy’s, the life of Michael Gatto, an 18-year-old Georgia Southern freshman from Forsyth County, was allegedly taken by the hands of Grant James Spencer. Spencer, an off-duty Rude Rudy’s bouncer and a 20-year-old Georgia Southern junior, has been accused of repeatedly beating Gatto in the head and causing his death from skull fractures and other head injuries. Spencer has been changed with felony murder and aggravated battery and is being held without bond.

Since the death of Gatto, the owner of Rude Rudy’s, Jonathan Earl Starkey, has permanently closed the bar, as per a voluntary agreement with the City of Statesboro. The agreement also stated that Starkey would surrender his alcohol license and forfeit his rights to obtain another license from the City of Statesboro.

The death caused the City of Statesboro to increase the occurrences of alcohol compliance checks, including checks for underage drinking, and the number of hearings held on alcohol license compliance issues. The City was already in the process of revamping the alcohol codes for the City, but the process has been extended since Gatto’s death. There has also been discussion locally about better training and education for employees that work in businesses that serve alcohol.

Gatto’s death may also have an impact for all Georgia businesses that serve alcohol. When Gatto’s parents contacted Starkey about helping cover the costs for over $150,000 in medical and funeral bills, they found out that they had very little recourse. The bar had closed and the State of Georgia did not have a requirement for businesses serving alcohol to have liquor liability insurance.

Rep. Mike Dudgeon (R-25, Johns Creek) wants to change Georgia law to require the insurance. Dudgeon has been working on a bill for the upcoming session entitled Michael’s Law that would add Georgia to the list of 15 other states that require the insurance.

Some businesses in Georgia already voluntarily carry the insurance to protect themselves and their assets. Many businesses do not, though, including some smaller operations that have stated that the insurance is not affordable. Rep. Dudgeon stated:

“The state is giving them the privilege to sell alcohol which is something the state, by our constitution, regulates and if you’re giving them the privilege and they have to pay a fee for that it seems we can make requirements.”

There will obviously be discussions and debates about adding another cost and layer of government to operating a business in Georgia versus protecting the overall welfare of Georgia citizens.

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