It’s Friday, and that means it’s time to spend your Friday lunch hour listening to a discussion of this week’s political goings-on. Charlie, Mike Hassinger and I will be in the Talk Radio 640 WGST studios from Noon-1 PM, sharing some time with Rich Sullivan. What might we be talking about today?

  • Whither the Republican Party?  A diverse group of Republicans talked about how to move forward at the Atlanta Young Republicans meeting on Wednesday.  We’ll tell you what they said, and what it might mean.
  • Whither MARTA?  The Atlanta transit agency announced they are working with Uber to provide additional connectivity options for Atlantans.  MARTA also said you can expect to have WIFI on their buses and trains in the near future.  Is that going to boost MARTA ridership?  Plus, what does that mean for the Atlanta Streetcar?
  • Whither space exploration?  Could Camden County become the next Cape Kennedy?
  • Whither the Highway Trust Fund?  The House has one plan, the Senate another, and there needs to be some sort of agreement made bu a week from today.
  • Whither the FY 2016 appropriations bills?  The new fiscal year starts in just over two months, and Congress is taking August off, so there isn’t much time to find an agreement.  Seems like little details including the sequester and the fate of the Confederate flag might make agreement difficult.
  • Whither Donald Trump? Or for that matter, the other 15 candidates for the GOP presidential nomination?  The debates start in two weeks, and the lineup still isn’t settled.

I hope you’ll join us. Well, not literally, The studio is way too small, and there are only a few microphones. Plus they haven’t finished remodeling the seventh floor, where IHeart Radio is located. It’s still a bit messy. But do listen in, at 640 on your AM dial, on the Internet, or by using the App.

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Fresh off a new wave of enthusiasm for transit in Atlanta, MARTA is now announcing two new initiatives to solidify its new image as a draw for Millennials: free wi-fi and Uber.

The wi-fi proposal is relatively simple, according to Saporta Report’s scoop: MARTA executives announced Thursday that it would immediately implement free wi-fi services on 50 MARTA buses, with plans to expand that service to all buses, rail stations, and trains in a year’s time.

Uber on the MARTA AppAlso, MARTA has teamed up with Uber in a partnership to further invigorate the MARTA experience. Truthfully, however, the word “partnership” may be overselling what is actually happening here. At this point, that partnership seems to entail simply giving MARTA users a free discount at Uber in exchange for Uber advertising on the MARTA app.

But Uber regularly gives out free rides to first-time users, so the MARTA discount (just type “MARTAGuide” into your Uber app) is nothing new.

Additionally, even the integration into the MARTA app isn’t all that revolutionary. I pulled up the app myself on my phone to see how MARTA is using Uber and discovered the transit agency had simply included a link out to the Uber app on a list of options buried under the “More” menu.

That said, there’s no denying that both MARTA and Uber share a common goal: building a metro Atlanta region where owning multiple cars becomes increasingly unnecessary. Uber makes it more likely that residents will feel more comfortable giving up one of their cars, and the ride-sharing company also helps those outside MARTA’s corridors connect to transit.

But if Georgia’s leaders want to continue to attract talent to the state, they’ll need to continue investing in these initiatives that make our cities more livable. It’s no secret that Millennials (like myself) are flocking to cities in droves, and more and more people are beginning to realize the economic impact a robust transit system can have on a region.

But to Saporta’s credit, the article also includes a sobering thought that should be a required kicker for every promising story praising the future of MARTA:

MARTA is the largest transit agency in the nation to not receive annual operating funds from its state government.

Without buy-in from the state, Atlanta may never be the Mecca for Millennials and jobs of which the corporate community so often dreams.

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Here:
Sneak peek at the boondoggle new stadium.
Fort Benning in the Fed’s sights, again.
RIP Jeannette Cathy.
MARTA aiming to be more customer friendly.

There:
Grasping…
– Just because I like the title.
Who better to be your new PR director?
The past is such an inconvenient thing.

Random Everywhere:
What could go wrong?
Thank you 7th Circuit Court.

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With one week remaining before funding for the nation’s roads and bridges runs out, the Senate began debate Wednesday on a bill that would authorize six years worth of transportation projects, but would only provide funding for the first three years, leaving a future Congress to determine how to fund the remainder.

Georgia Senator David Perdue wasn’t happy with the arrangement, so he introduced an amendment that would limit spending authorization to the amount of available funding, and he took to the Senate floor to explain his reasoning:

As proposed, the highway bill authorizes spending for the next six years, yet only funds these programs for the next three years.

Passing responsibility over to the next Congress to find additional funding mechanisms for the remaining three years is unacceptable. It’s what got us in this debt crisis in the first place.

Some of my colleagues have suggested that this is simply the way the Senate has acted in the past. Yeah, I got that, and again that’s what got us here.

That may be true, but it doesn’t make it right. I wasn’t sent to Washington to accept the status quo.

A serious long-term solution needs to be fully funded, not filled with half-empty promises that can’t be kept or could add to our national debt.

I am working to find a responsible way forward, in order to provide Georgia and other states, with more certainty through a longer-term solution, instead of settling for just another short-term fix.

Today, I am introducing an amendment to simply match the authorization period with the available funding. Sounds basic, sounds simple. It’s what I have to do in my home budget. It’s what most Americans have to do. If they don’t have the money, they don’t spend it.

This amendment ensures that Congress is not authorizing spending programs beyond a point where there is no money to pay for them in the future.

I urge my colleagues to join me in breaking Washington of its chronic overspending problem.

Watch Senator Perdue’s floor speech here:

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City of Marietta sent out a notice regarding the tribute to Lance Corporal Skip Wells after he lost his life last week in an attack on a Chattanooga military recruiting office (here is the article from Nathan last week). If you’re in Cobb County around 1pm today please consider stopping by to pay tribute as the motorcade goes by, you can find parking directions here. Visitation will be held tomorrow at Wikenhofer Funeral Home with the service being held Saturday at First Baptist Church of Woodstock according. For more information on services tomorrow please click here.

MARIETTA – On Thursday, July 23, 2015, the City of Marietta, the Marietta Police Department, and the Marietta Fire Department invite the public to help pay tribute to the life and memory of Lance Corporal Squire “Skip” Wells as he makes his final journey home to Cobb County.

Lance Corporal Skip Wells will be escorted via motorcade from Hartsfield Jackson International Airport at 1pm and continue north along Interstate 75 towards Kennesaw.  The Marietta Police Department will shut down a portion of the Canton Road Connector Bridge over Interstate 75, so that the City and citizens can gather on the roadway to pay their respects to Lance Corporal Wells and the other United States Marines and Navy Sailor who were killed in Chattanooga in the line of duty. 

Please join the City at 1pm to pay our respects to Lance Corporal Wells and his family as they travel along Interstate 75 by bringing your American flags and your thoughts and prayers for the family and friends of those who lost their lives.

*Citizens may access parking for this event by traveling I-75 southbound to exit 267A (Highway 5 North, Canton Road) and exit to the right at the over pass construction parking lot.

Please continue to keep those involved (and families) in this terrible attack in your prayers.

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How long will Trump last?

July 23, 2015 12:00 pm

by Tim Darnell · 8 comments

As Donald Trump continues to make news, speculation abounds regarding the candidate’s popularity as well as how realistic his chances are, of winning the GOP presidential nomination.

Tell us what you think about Trump’s future in our latest poll.

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The monthly meeting of the Atlanta Young Republicans Wednesday night featured a panel discussion that touched on the diversity within the party, and which principles the different parts of the party can use to attract others to the party. The panel included three members, Beth Beskin, Leo Smith, and David Bachman.

Beskin represents House District 54 in the General Assembly. Her Buckhead district is one of the most highly educated in the state, but it is also one of the most moderate districts controlled by the GOP. Leo Smith is the Georgia GOP’s Minority Engagement Director. His role within the party has been to encourage minorities — from African Americans, to Hispanics to Asians — to support Republican principles, and vote for GOP candidates. Bachman is the former chair of the College Republicans at West Georgia College. Bachman, who is gay, participated in a March, 2015 demonstration against Religious Liberty legislation.

In the portion of the discussion devoted to questions from the audience, 11th District Republican Party Chairman Brad Carver noted that if the GOP fights among itself, it will lose. He asked the panel members what they would do to keep the party focused on winning in November 2016, rather than having the party’s different factions attacking each other.

Starting out, Smith said that the Republican Party needs to focus more on policy, since policy is less personal, and more about ideas. Noting that Democrats are quick to follow social trends, such as search and seizure or civil forfeiture, Smith said the GOP should pay attention to what people are talking about. He mentioned Uber as an example of something free market oriented. Then, Smith brought up education reform as a way of appealing to a wider audience. [click to continue…]

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On August 14th, officials announced an agreement had been reached between the United States, Iran and five other countries regarding Iran’s development of nuclear weapons. As the White House sung the praises of the arrangement, others compared the agreement with Neville Chamberlain’s bargain with Adolf Hitler, which the British Prime Minister claimed would lead to “Peace in our time.”

Georgia Senators Johnny Isakson and David Perdue each serve on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the duo will have a voice over whether the agreement is approved by Congress. In April, he two joined the other members of that committee in a unanimous vote on a measure known as Corker Cardin, that defines the ground rules for how the Iran deal can be disapproved by Congress. As a result, Congress now has 60 days to review the measure and potentially issue a resolution of disapproval. While a regular treaty requires two thirds of the Senators to approve the deal, Corker Cardin in essence will require a two thirds vote of Congress to override an expected veto by the president of the disapproval resolution. [click to continue…]

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On this date in 1938, the first federal game preserve was approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The area was 2,000 acres in Utah.

Peaches

Jimmy Carter

Sweet Tea

Liberty Drum

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Happy Birthday Buzz

July 22, 2015 14:05 pm

by Charlie · 9 comments

There was a time where I led a futile effort to build my own Buzz Brockway in my basement.  Buzz is one of the few people that’s been around here longer than me, and thus he remembers the strange things that went on years ago when I only had a fake name and he hadn’t yet gone on to a position of great esteem high recognition having a title.

It can be a largely thankless (and underpaid) job to be a State House member.  Our electeds these days seem to get yelled at for everything, and their motives questioned the day they say they’re willing to put a name on the ballot.  Buzz adds to his own a degree of difficulty because he’s chosen to remain here, and to have a constant dialogue publicly with not only his constituents, but all the rest of us from around the state.

That’s either the sign of a true statesman, or someone who is mentally ill.  His therapist (Mike Hassinger) tells me he’s healthy and fine.  So….statesman it is.

Regardless, I gave up building my own Buzz Brockway because we already have an original who is truly one of a kind.

Happy Birthday old man.

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Received via email:

It’s been a while since we last touched base, and I’ve got some exciting news to share.  As one of my strongest supporters during my time in Congress, I wanted you to be the first to know: Beginning this fall, I’ll be joining my alma mater, the University of Georgia, as a “Scholar in Residence” at the School of Public and International Affairs.

I couldn’t be happier about this new adventure.  During my time in Congress, I met hundreds, if not thousands, of students from UGA.  I was always impressed by their willingness to get involved in the political process.  Over the course my many campaigns, I saw students from all walks of life who had a real passion for public service.  Teaching at UGA will give me the opportunity to share my experiences in the halls of Congress with many more students.

More than anything, I’m excited to return to my alma mater and spend time with a bunch of smart, young adults who are open to new ideas and experiences.  Your support over the years has made this possible, and that’s why I wanted to share this new adventure with you.

Hopefully, I’ll see you around campus, and, as always, please don’t hesitate to contact me if there’s anything I can do for you. Your friendship and support have meant the world to me.

Go Dawgs!

— John

P.S. The official announcement from UGA is available by clicking here.

 

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Rep. Doug Collins (GA-9) issued a response today after a second video was released that shows a Planned Parenthood affiliated doctor in negotiations for the sale of aborted baby parts. Discussion on the first video and Georgia’s involvement in the Planned Parenthood investigation can be found HERE.

“This is truly sickening. For years, Planned Parenthood has had questionable practices, both morally and medically. Now there is proof of activity that is not only unethical, but also illegal. As the father of three children, we have no greater responsibility as human beings than protecting life. It is profoundly unsettling that both videos depict doctors casually sitting around dinner tables sipping drinks while they talk about the business of selling the organs of unborn babies. Planned Parenthood should be defunded of all the taxpayer dollars it receives, and fully investigated for illegal activity.

I am a co-sponsor of the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, and the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act, which withholds taxpayer funds from organizations that perform abortions. As a member of the Judiciary Committee, I will be following this issue closely as Congressional hearings are held in the coming months.”

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Georgia’s Attorney General says DeKalb County’s largest city has violated the state’s Open Records Act.

The Brookhaven Post is reporting that on Monday, the Attorney General responded to its request that Brookhaven city officials release public records relating to an alleged sexual harassment incident involving the city’s former mayor.

“The Attorney General’s letter … confirms Brookhaven officials violated the Georgia Open Records Act by failing to produce documents pursuant to our request and urges the City to release any other documents in its possession that are related to this issue,” the Post reported.

Last month, the media outlet filed an Open Records Act complaint after requesting the release of public records relating to the cover up of an incident where former Mayor J. Max Davis was accused of sexual harassment after he allegedly sprayed a female city employee on the back-side with Lysol.

“New city attorney Chris Balch read the Attorney General’s letter during Tuesday’s Council Meeting,” the Post said. “Balch told the Council there are no sanctions at this time – assuming Kurrie and Davis being gone as the reason.”

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Morning Reads for July 22

July 22, 2015 4:18 am

by Ed · 31 comments

The one thing the nation needed more than anything else? 16 GOP POTUS hopefuls.

“The Warning” by Hot Chip. 

  1. Our oceans are warming faster than we thought. 
  2. Four of the five hottest months on record occurred in 2015. 
  3. Good thing the jury is still out on that whole global warming thing, right?
  4. Matt Towery says Trump could find support in Dixie. 
  5. As an aside: I would so dearly love it if Trump became the GOP nominee.
  6. GA DoR issued their guidance on same-sex couples filing. 
  7. Cobb’s proposed BRT system won’t reduce traffic jams. 
  8. On the effort to overturn the ridiculous drone ban in Atlanta. 
  9. The Elbert Parr Tuttle Court of Appeals in Atlanta is officially a historic place now. 
  10. What is most impressive about this story is that there are such things as Atticus Fich impersonators. 

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Almost predictably, after the news got out that the Georgia GOP is financially in basically the same shape it was back in February, I saw social media status updates decrying the financial stewardship of GAGOP chair John Padgett. The complaints were very similar to those made prior to Padgett’s re-election at the state convention. The gist of one was that the party had ignored its base, and the disappointing cash flow was the result.

I’m reminded of a conversation I had on the Sunday after the convention. It was with a big muckety muck who works at a major Atlanta based company. You would know the company if I mentioned its name.

“Who won the chairman’s election?” he asked. “Padgett,” I said. “That’s good,” he continued. “My company usually makes a big contribution to the Georgia GOP, but we were waiting this year until we knew the results of the election.”

He told me that had Alex Johnson won the chairmanship, the company’s money would have gone to a SuperPAC instead of the party. I asked him if he knew if other companies were doing the same thing. He allowed that his was not the only one to hold back. That made me wonder. “So maybe the complaints by Alex’s supporters that the party wasn’t raising enough money were the result of the fact that Johnson was in the race.”

“It was.”

I have no idea whether his company, or any of the others he referenced, made their contributions to the party yet or not. I’m not going to speculate as to why the party’s cash position hasn’t improved much in the last six months. I may not have quoted my conversation with the company exec exactly, but it’s pretty clear that those who think the party would be in a better financial position now if a different chairman had been elected back in May don’t understand where much of the party’s money comes from.

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