The latest census data was released yesterday, and along with the news that Georgia’s population growth now lags Tennessee’s, we know which parts of Georgia are growing fastest. The top five cities are all part of metro Atlanta:

Smyrna (represent!) – 2.7 percent
National rank: 50

Sandy Springs – 2.1 percent
National rank: 93

Atlanta – 1.7 percent
National rank: 146

Marietta – 1.4 percent
National rank: 199

Alpharetta – 1.4 percent
National rank: 220

The AJC has more details on Georgia’s growth – and lack thereof – and is quick to note that Atlanta’s population decline “was largely obscured by the region’s growth.” The folks up at the Cleveland (not our Cleveland) Plain Dealer have a handy tool that can search census data from every city and county in the U.S., which is how I now know that the population in Hahira grew at a rate of 4.53%.

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Georgia law permits local law enforcement to arrest and incarcerate parents who allow their students to miss too many classes. Like most of Georgia’s laws, this sometimes catches ridiculous cases in its wide net. That happened recently in South Georgia’s Screven County.

Julia Giles, a mother to an honor roll student, was investigated because her son exceeded the allowable unexcused absences in the county school district. Despite doctors notes and character references, a warrant was issued for Giles arrest.

Giles posted on here Facebook page:

Sam has had 6 more unexcused absences (an absence without a doctor’s note) than the county allows per year this year. I received a certified letter Saturday about this issue and Keith [my husband] contacted the [Board of Education] on my behalf yesterday while I worked subbing. I have been notified that a warrant for my arrest will most likely be issued. My family’s doctor has written a character reference for me, and I have the support of many [Board of Education] employees, but at the moment it still appears I will be arrested. If the Sheriff and the Attendance Officer moves forward I will be given the opportunity to turn myself in. I spoke to a county employee yesterday that says arrest IS likely.

[click to continue…]

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Photo Courtesy of Yelp.com

Photo Courtesy of Yelp.com

We fight about a lot of stuff that really doesn’t matter around here.  Candidates.  Bills.  Conventions.  Taxes…

Then there’s the one thing that really matters. BBQ.  I don’t understand why some of you still want to fight about this.  You’re welcome to have a different opinion than mine.  You just need to accept that it would be wrong.

If Lewis Grizzard taught us nothing, it’s that BBQ is a noun, and that it means pulled or chopped pork.  Full stop.

(OK, he also taught us that you love the Bulldogs and Kathy Sue Loudermilk no matter what, but those are topics for another post.)

Anyway, along comes news yesterday that TripAdvisor has used the comments of all their reviews nationwide and proclaimed Joe’s BBQ in Blue Ridge Georgia the best in the Country.  As Mike noted in today’s Daily Newsletter (sign up here), regular guests to Joe’s include local residents Speaker David Ralston and Chipper Jones.  Yet, as of yet, not me.

So, given that I’ve been known to eat a plate of two of the stuff, I decided to read the trip advisor reviews to determine what makes Joe’s so great.  I only had to read a few until I found this one – a reviewer that only gave it three stars – and I decided I liked Joe. A lot: [click to continue…]

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Today we’re back to our normal noon-1PM Friday time slot with Sully on WGST.  We’re going to talk a little politics and try to ease you into your weekend.  You’ll have plenty of time to listen to us at 640AM in your car as you try to beat the traffic by heading out of town at noon.  Hint:  Everyone else will be doing the same.  Just don’t let the traffic beat you. And may God have mercy on your soul as you approach the Hudson Bridge Rd exit on I-75 South.

We’re going to spend the show talking a bit about how Georgia is now considered the benchmark for…Criminal Justice Reform.  Yep, that’s right.  I’ll explain.

We’re probably also going to talk a bit about BBQ given that it’s a holiday weekend.  We’ll have a word or two about why the holiday is about so much more than BBQ.

Listen live on 640 AM at noon, or follow this link here.

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Here:
– Many in Douglas County say, “It’s about time.”
GA STEM standards need improving. Faster, please.
– Gnats and Savannah break up. Who gets the couch?
“As DeKalb Turns.” Heh. I like that.
– Just because it’s technically legal, doesn’t make it right.

There:
No weekend for you!
Thomas Sowell says the darnedest things.
– Poof! Just like that!
This. This will end badly.
– NIMB here, NIMB there, NIMB everywhere.

Random Everywhere:
– If the math is right, then of course, the idea can’t be wrong.
Just for Jessica.

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Several members of Georgia’s congressional delegagtion, led by Democrat John Lewis, have co-signed a letter to Senate leaders opposing efforts to extend portions of the Patriot Act dealing with National Security Agency surveillance of telephone records. The letter, which was released by the office of Republican Justin Amash of Michigan, was also signed by 10th District Rep. Jody Hice and 14th District Rep. Tom Graves. The letter reads in part,

The American people deserve congressional action that secures their constitutional rights. While we recognize the government’s legitimate interests in certain surveillance activities intended to protect the United States, these intrusions must be carefully limited and overseen in order to avoid encroaching upon the freedoms they are intended to preserve. The recent decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit declaring the government’s interpretation of “relevant” unlawful underscores that Congress must do more. We urge you to join us in ensuring the federal government’s surveillance practices comport with the U.S. Constitution, are conducted under effective congressional oversight, and are limited to efforts proven effective at safeguarding our country.

Controversy over the NSA surveillance program began after its existence was revealed by Edward Snowden. It allows the agency to store metadata, such as the telephone number being called and the number of the caller, along with the date, time and length of the call. The NSA says that that information can be used to identify and make connections between terrorists abroad. The program must be reauthorized in some form by the end of May, or it will end.

Despite the support for a clean reauthorization of the Patriot Act by Senate President Mitch McConnell and other leaders, the House passed the USA Freedom Act of 2015 last week by a vote of 338-88. In that vote, 7th District Rep. Rob Woodall joined Lewis, Graves and Hice in voting no, while the rest of the Georgia delegation voted yes.

Some claim that the USA Freedom Act, although it may not resolve all the issues over surveillance, is a better option than letting the data collection program expire completely. Others, including Kentucky Senator and presidential candidate Rand Paul, want the program ended. In an effort to slow progress on the Freedom Act in the Senate, Paul gave a 10 and a half hour speech on the Senate floor Wednesday.

Whether the bill will pass or not in the Senate is unclear, especially after Paul’s speech. Although it was technically not a filibuster, it ate up the clock, and will likely keep the Senate in session over the weekend.

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As our own Joash Thomas reported earlier, Republican Congressman Barry Loudermilk (GA-11) recently joined his colleagues on a 10-day trip through Europe and the Middle East, including a stop in Israel.

While there, the Congressman was apparently surprised by how secure he felt in the country, prompting him to later tell the conservative Washington Watch radio show, “In fact, I can say that we felt safer in Israel than we would in certain parts of New York City or Chicago,” Loudermilk said.

That didn’t go over so well with Republican Congressman Peter King of New York City.

Buzzfeed reports the following retort from King:

“People from outside of New York, certainly from the South or the West — they seem to have this compulsion to look upon New York as this high-crime den of evil,” said King. “The fact is, if we’re going to single an area out for being dangerous, Atlanta would come far ahead of New York.”

“New York is, by most accounts, the safest big city in the United States; Atlanta is — the last I saw — on the FBI’s list of most dangerous cities,” King continued.

“It’s just wrong when members of Congress take shots at New York and imply that we’re some kind of crime area, when we’re actually the safest.”

It’s unclear exactly what Rep. Loudermilk originally meant by “safer.” In fact, he could very well have meant safe from terrorist attacks, though that puts the use of Chicago in question.

But if we’re going by violent crime rates, Rep. King is right. According to statistics from the FBI, Atlanta is ranked 28th in terms of violent crime. New York City doesn’t even crack the top 100.

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On this date in 1980, the movie “The Empire Strikes Back” was released.

Peaches

Jimmy Carter

Sweet Tea

Liberty Drum

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Ever wonder what State Senator Lucas’s side hustle is? Well, wonder no more. The interview and music video (which is just a static shot of Senator Lucas while the music plays) are after the jump. It is not to be missed. [click to continue…]

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Happy Birthday Nathan

May 20, 2015 9:47 am

by Charlie · 6 comments

Today is Nathan Smith’s birthday.  Since his last one he’s gone out and found him a wife and managed to get himself elected as Chairman of the 14th District GOP.  Despite all that activity he still manages to cross enemy lines every day to perform a day job while contributing to us here.

Given the birthday I guess I should note that I’ve known Nathan since he was a student at Dalton State.  We’ve literally watched him grow up here.  I’ve always respected the person that he is, and am extremely proud of the man he’s become.  If more people took Nathan’s approach to politics (and life) the country would be in much better shape and the world would be a better place.  But then we probably wouldn’t need Peach Pundit, so I guess it’s a wash.

Y’all please wish Nate a happy birthday today.

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Tuesday, the effort to find a long-term solution to pay for the nation’s highway infrastructure before the current funding authority for the Highway Trust Fund expires at the end of the month failed. Instead, the House passed H.R. 2353, the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2015, with a bipartisan vote of 387-35. All Georgia representatives voted in favor of the measure.

As Daniel Malloy and Andrea Simmons with the AJC report, the short term fix will allow several Georgia highway projects to begin. However, the lack of a long-term solution makes project planning more difficult for the Georgia DOT. Although the state legislature passed a plan that provides $900 million in additional revenue for transportation purposes, that money won’t be available until FY 2017, which is over a year away.

Lawmakers have been unable to figure out how to pay for a long term solution to the nation’s transportation needs. There isn’t any appetite for raising the 18.4 cent per gallon federal gasoline excise tax. President Obama has proposed a fix by using money from repatriated overseas tax revenue to bridge the gap between what the gas tax brings in and what is needed to pay for projects, but the GOP controlled congress wants to tie funding to a longer term tax reform plan that could take shape this fall.

Quoted in the AJC story, Congressman Rob Woodall brings up a concern about voter trust that’s was also heard under the Gold Dome during the effort to pass Georgia’s transportation funding bill.

U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, a Lawrenceville Republican who is the only Georgian on the House Transportation Committee, said the problem is about more than funding. A long-term transportation bill, he said, should prevent the federal government from using highway trust fund money on sidewalks and bike lanes, which should instead be paid for by local governments.

“Should Washington pay for them is a fair question,” Woodall said. “But this conversation isn’t about not having enough revenue. There is enough revenue coming in. It’s about: Are the users who are paying the user fee believing those dollars go to road construction?”

Sixth District Congressman Tom Price, who heads the House Budget Committee, also expressed support for a long term funding solution, saying in a statement,

While the House acted today on a short-term extension of the Highway Trust Fund, a long-term, comprehensive solution to improve our transportation infrastructure must remain a top priority in the months to come. Keeping our roadways, highways and bridges safe contributes a tremendous amount to the economic vitality of our communities – particularly for the individuals, families and businesses who live and work in and around Atlanta. A long-term solution would provide states, ongoing and future transportation projects, and workers with much needed stability and certainty.

The Senate is expected to take up and pass the short term measure before leaving Washington for a Memorial Day break, but many Democrats in that chamber aren’t happy with it, and also prefer a long term solution. Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois is quoted in the New York Times as saying, “What the Republicans have given us now is an opportunity for America to patch its way to prosperity. They believe that if you fill enough potholes, you can actually build a highway.”

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I was asked if today’s Morning Reads would be good. I said no. They will be excellent. 

“Golden Brown” by The Stranglers. 

  1. Fmr. GA Supreme Court chief correctly says the death penalty is “unsupportable.”
  2. Poor Tim Lee. Biased media outlets are out to sink him.
  3. Richard Anderson says your Delta flights have a higher likelihood of being on time this summer. 
  4. C’mon people, it was clearly an emu running amok on I-20 yesterday. 
  5. TNT Academy which became infamous last week thanks to its principal, is now asking alumni/parents to write letters to its accrediting body. School is now really sketchy. 
  6. Symptoms, signs and abnormal clinical and laboratory findings, not elsewhere classified are the leading cause of “distinctive” deaths in Georgia. 

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Senator Ted Cruz, who appeared in Georgia over the weekend at the Republican state convention in Athens, sees his candidacy for President of the United States as Reaganesque. Comparing the 1980 and 2016 election cycles, he noted the similarity between incumbent Democratic presidents Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama. And in an interview late Friday afternoon, he told me how he hopes to win the presidency in 2016.

Jon Richards interviewing Senator Ted Cruz. Photo: Cruz campaign

Jon Richards interviewing Senator Ted Cruz. Photo: Cruz campaign

Cruz noted that since World War II, the GOP has only won the presidency when they ran on all three legs of the proverbial Republican Stool. The winning candidate has been a fiscal conservative, a social conservative, and a national security conservative. Bringing up a phrase Reagan used during a 1975 speech at CPAC, Cruz said that in order to win, a candidate must speak in bold colors, and not pale pastels. Republicans will win in 2016, Cruz said, if they nominate a strong conservative with a positive, optimistic, hopeful vision.

The Senator spoke of a need to bring in the old Reagan coalition of conservatives, libertarians, evangelicals, young people, Hispanics, African Americans, women and Reagan Democrats. In order to do that, Cruz said, the candidate must appeal to shared values. He noted his success in doing that when he was elected as Senator in Texas in 2012, saying he was able to get support from each of those groups, along with “hard working men and women who want to believe again in the miracle of America.”

The theme of Cruz’s campaign is “Reigniting the Promise of America.” It will be based on broad, unifying issues that resonate with a majority of Americans and fit within the three legs of the GOP stool. On fiscal issues, Cruz plans tax and regulatory reform to bring back jobs and economic opportunity. On social issues, Cruz emphasizes defending Constitutional rights, including the Bill of Rights. And he wants to restore America’s leadership in the world; an issue appealing to national security conservatives.

Cruz told me that all three of these principles are not narrow 51% wedge issues. Instead, they are based on the same path Ronald Reagan used to take the country back.

Our conversation turned from broad campaign themes to specific issues that could be important to Republicans who will decide next winter and spring who will represent them in November 2016. One issue, which had been expected to have been debated as part of a convention resolution was religious liberty. [click to continue…]

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Republicans are criticized, sometimes fairly, for not offering solutions to the problems they complain about. One Republican in Congress who has been offering alternatives to Obamacare since before there was an Obamacare is Georgia Congressman Tom Price. His latest plan was introduced with 46 co-sponsors and is gaining national attention as evidenced by this article in National Review this morning.

The new model of H.R. 2300 differs from the prior model in several key ways. Instead of a combination, in the individual market, of income-based tax credits and tax deductions, it now calls for simple age-based tax credits, which will let people quickly see what they’ll receive, reduce the I.R.S.’s role, and avoid work-disincentives. In addition to making it easier for people to have and use health savings accounts, it now offers a one-time tax credit of $1,000 per person for having or opening an HSA. Instead of an open-ended tax break for employer-based insurance, it now closes that tax loophole while continuing to give those with employer-based insurance their full tax break on insurance that costs up to $20,000 for a family or $8,000 for an individual. In other words, the tax treatment of the typical person’s employer-based plan wouldn’t change one bit (and anyone with, say, a $23,000 plan, would still get the full tax break on the first $20,000).

Price’s alternative, therefore, would deal with both costs and coverage while finally fixing a longstanding inequality in the tax code for millions of middle-class Americans who have to buy health insurance on their own. Since the 1940s, those with employer-based insurance have gotten a generous tax break, while those without employer-based insurance generally have not. Obamacare’s 2,400-plus pages managed to assault Americans’ liberty without correcting this unfairness in the tax code. Price’s 242-page bill achieves what Obama’s could not — at one-tenth the length.

Kudos to Congressman Price for continuing to offer sound policy on this important issue.

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This post needs to start off with a caveat: I like Mayor Reed. I think he’s doing great things for the city. I think his vision of where cities will be in the future is innovative and spot on. I think he might have a bright future ahead of himself but, he’s got to become friends with the local media.

To wit: Maria Saporta wrote two columns on the Fort McPherson deal. The now-closed army base was sold so that a new Tyler Perry Studios could be built on site. The first column from Saporta said the deal “may become known as one of the worst transactions in the city’s history. The second added to the criticism saying, not entirely incorrectly, that turning Fort Mac into something more than a movie studio was Atlanta’s “greatest missed opportunity.”

Both were fairly harsh but not harsh enough to warrant a mayor of major metropolitan area issuing a statement denouncing the columns. Which is exactly what Mayor Reed did.

In a 1,280-word statement, Reed blasted Saporta saying:  “Maria Saporta has chosen not only to disregard, but also to distort these facts and instead create a false narrative based on misguided assumptions and questionable sources.” And that’s the tip of the iceberg.

Mayor Reed is entitled to a rebuttal but man… going to such great lengths to do so and personally calling out a reporter is beyond petty. Reed can say he doesn’t want to run for governor in 2018 but let’s be honest, he has higher aspirations. If he does want to go far, he’s going to have to warm up to the local media. The most frustrating thing about his communication “strategy” is that he can be the cuddliest person to the media, just watch his appearances on MSNBC, NBC or his successful attempts to cozy up to the national press. What will happen when the news outlets he’s wooed start taking a critical eye toward him? Will he coil up and strike them, too?

If the mayor or his aides are still reading this I would tell them to simply take a low-profile approach for his final two years as mayor. Apologize for being a bully, get the Atlanta press corps on his side and then Reed will be able to write his own ticket to the future.

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