Ten years ago tomorrow, Hurricane Katrina made landfall at Buras, Louisiana. Soon after, the levees broke. The SomeTimes-Picayune and The Advocate have extensive coverage of what the past decade has meant for the region, and it’s easy to find compelling first-person accounts from residents and those who acted behind the scenes.

In the remarks that President Obama delivered yesterday in the Lower Ninth Ward, he stated, “What started out as a natural disaster became a man-made one—a failure of government to look out for its own citizens,” and I don’t entirely disagree. A common theme among many narratives is that the immediate response to the catastrophe by Inmate New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, Governor Kathleen Blanco, President George W. Bush, and FEMA is worthy of criticism, evaluation, and – yes – even some praise. By the grace of God, it’s been ten years since a hurricane of that magnitude made landfall in the US, but it will happen again, and we will only benefit from thorough analysis of what did – and didn’t – work in preparation for, and response to, Katrina.

Here’s where there’s a Georgia connection, as more than 100,000 New Orleans evacuees found their way to metro Atlanta and Georgia. WABE’s Katrina coverage offers a range of oral histories from evacuees, first responders, and Georgia politicians.

[click to continue…]

{ 4 comments }

Thursday night, several of Peach Pundits editors and contributors gathered in Duluth to have a conversation about transportation, and what Gwinnett County might consider for future transportation planning. We covered a number of topics, from using transit, to developing live-work-play communities, to trying to figure out how to work with other counties in the region so that commuters could get to their jobs.

The hour-long conversation was broadcast live on Periscope by Mere Jones of the Gwinnett Young Republicans. she sent the video to us, and it is below in all its glory. Thanks to everyone who attended in person,

{ 1 comment }

Here:
– Is Meagan movin’ on up? Keep a close eye on her.
– Who knew BigCorp was really SkyNet?
Armageddon is surely upon us.
– As if the Ol’Ball Coach doesn’t cause enough of a spectacle on his own…

There:
Why is anyone surprised?
– Boys, boys, be civil now.
– Why is a hurricane one man’s fault? Is he some kind of level-50 weather wizard?
– Has Sparta been found?

Random Everywhere:
– Your handy-dandy family budget calculator.
If you like your doctor 401K, you can keep your doctor 401K.

{ 17 comments }

Tonight was the Morgan County Founders Dinner, and as you might expect, the attendees had a straw poll. Here are the results:

Donald Trump 32.2%
Ted Cruz 19.5%
Ben Carson 11.5%
Carly Fiorina 11.5%
Marco Rubio 6.9%
Scott Walker 4.6%
Jeb Bush 3.4%
Mike Huckabee 3.4%
Chris Christie 2.3%
John Kasich 1.1%
Undecided 3.4%

If this looks familiar, the top four results are virtually the same as what we saw last weekend in Barrow County.

** Update ** The person who sent me the results last night missed a few minor things, like confusing Scott Walker with Rand Paul and overestimating the vote for Ted Cruz. The figures have been updated to reflect this.

We regret the error, and have every good reason to blame others.

{ 17 comments }

Now that former congressman Jack Kingston is at the helm, the Georgia Republican Party Foundation is wasting no time setting up a number of events designed to generate enthusiasm and attract sponsorship dollars.

The foundation will sponsor a Legislative Cocktail Series which will provide an opportunity to support the party while interacting with someone in the GOP congressional delegation. First up is a reception with Rep. Lynn Westmoreland next Tuesday at the Peachtree Club in Atlanta. With Westmoreland’s position on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Benghazi and the Iran nuclear deal may very well be discussed. The foundation expects to have a number of these receptions leading to 2016, with possible guests including House Budget Committee Chair Rep. Tom Price and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee member Rep Rob Woodall.

The Foundation also announced a Fall Banquet that will feature pollster Frank Luntz. On Tuesday, Luntz told the Georgia Chamber of Commerce that he doesn’t know who will will the presidency in November 2016, and that Donald Trump is likely to stay in the mix. The banquet will be at the Hyatt Atlanta Buckhead on October 5th.

The Foundation is seeking high-dollar sponsors to the events, with levels ranging from $5000, which gets you a table at the banquet and invitations to two of the cocktails; to $20,000, which includes a much broader set of perks, including invites to a reception with constitutional officers at the banquet. Presumably, information on purchasing tickets to the banquet will be available soon.

{ 2 comments }

Unlawful immigration is a hot topic in the 2016 presidential race, primarily due to Donald Trump’s campaign and position paper on illegal immigration. Trump’s hard line stance has drawn cheers from some, and condemnation from others.

No doubt, passions run high on the issue of immigration. I had a conversation with a gentleman who attended a Rob Woodall town hall on Tuesday in which he refused to believe that any sort of border fence had been constructed pursuant to the Secure Fence Act of 2006, despite evidence to the contrary. He refused to believe that fewer illegal immigrants were entering the country, and that the population of Hispanic illegals had decreased from its peak.

Passion also exists on the side of undocumented immigrants already in the country, especially those brought to the U.S. at a young age, effectively without their knowledge or consent. Their status became a bone of contention last August, when Governor Deal visited the University of Georgia.

Since that time, President Obama proposed extending his executive action to permit deferred action on deporting both children and adult illegal immigrants. The Georgia Senate held a hearing in February about extending in-state tuition to Dreamers. And at a press conference this summer, Senator Josh McKoon of Columbus promised to introduce a revision to his Senate Bill 6 that would extend the measure’s original purpose of prohibiting the issuance of drivers licenses to those here illegally to include sanctions against sanctuary cities and counties. The bill would also clarify the intent of the legislature that Dreamers should not receive in state tuition, nor should they be eligible for Hope scholarships.

It’s Throwback Thursday, and a year ago today I wrote about the Governor Deal’s visit to UGA. What I had to say a year ago is just as relevant today. [click to continue…]

{ 9 comments }

State Senator PK Martin praised Georgia’s film tax credit in a recent op-ed reported by the Gwinnett Daily Post. The film tax credit brought several major films to our state including “The Hunger Games” and “Captain America: Civil War” and several television shows such as “The Walking Dead.” Senator Martin’s district is reaping the film tax credit’s benefit as well with the recent announcement that “The Sleepy Hollow” season three is filmed in Lawrenceville.

The film tax credit’s $6 billion positive economic impact in Georgia is certainly worth praise.

Senator Martin discussed the huge positive economic impact from the tax credit

Diverse landscapes, an international airport and a generous state tax credit are among many reasons Georgia has become the No. 1 state in America for growth in the entertainment industry. Lawrenceville and other areas across the state are witnessing a positive economic impact due to our state’s growing popularity as a filming destination.

Georgia is home to several major movie studios including Pinewood Studios in Fayette County, Moon River Studios in Effingham County, and Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta. The Georgia Film Academy–created to train people for the demands of the movie industry–recently named film and writing professor Jeffrey Stepakoff as their executive director. Needless to say, the movie industry is quickly becoming an intricate part of Georgia’s economy.

{ 11 comments }

Back in 2000, former County Commission Chairman Wayne Hill decided to start bus service in Gwinnett, in large part because it was the largest county east of the Mississippi without transit. On Halloween 2001, Gwinnett’s HOV lanes opened on I-85, simultaneously with the start of express bus service to downtown Atlanta and back. Of course, a lot has changed in fifteen years. The county’s population exploded by more than 340,000 people, from 515,296 recorded in the 2000 census to the 2015 ARC estimate of 859,800 people. The former HOV lanes, which were accessible to those cars with two or more occupants became HOT lanes, where vehicles with three or more could ride for free, and others could pay a sliding fee based on congestion that has gone as high as $15 for the 16 mile trip between Old Peachtree Road to Shallowford Road, inside I-285.

Region wide, things haven’t improved very much either, according to newly released statistics from the Texas Transportation Institute. Between 2000 and 2014, Atlanta went from being the 11th largest metropolitan area in the U.S., with 1,645,000 commuters to 9th, with 2,069,000 commuters. Back then commuters drove 45.8 million miles each day on the region’s freeways, and 39.8 million miles daily on its streets. In 2014, that increased to 51 million miles on freeways, and 46 million miles on surface streets. Commuters waste 1.459 million hours each year, or 52 hours per person, the same number of wasted hours per person we had back in 2000.

This week, people living or working in Gwinnett County, along with those who pass through it, have been having conversations about transportation, called The Gr8 Exchange. From impromptu lunchtime discussions at a Chick-Fil-A to presentations at Rotary Club meetings, Gwinnettians have talked about what they think the county’s biggest transportation challenges are, and how to solve them. And all have been urged to participate in a survey by texting JOIN to 74029, or by completing it online.

Tonight, Peach Pundit will be joining in on that conversation, and you are invited to participate. Buzz Brockway will moderate a conversation between attendees and Charlie Harper, Stefan Turkheimer, George Chidi and me between 7 and 8 PM at the 1818 Club, on the third floor of the Gwinnett Chamber building, 6500 Sugarloaf Parkway. Stop by beginning at 6:30 for appetizers and to grab a seat.

Afterwards, we’ll adjourn to the nearby Arena Tavern at 2000 Satellite Boulevard for a traditional Peach Pundit Road Show. If you can’t make the conversation, stop by the road show, or vice versa. We look forward to seeing some of you. Others, not so much.

{ 3 comments }

On this date in 1938, Robert Frost, in a fit of jealousy, set fire to some papers to disrupt a poetry recital by another poet, Archibald MacLeish.

Peaches

Jimmy Carter

Sweet Tea

Liberty Drum

{ 10 comments }

If you will please allow me a “moment of personal privilege”…

I guess I’ll start by first explaining that’s what we call the non-political posts internally.  And while this deals with today’s tragic events in Virginia that played out live first on local TV and then through an evil person’s Twitter and Facebook feeds, I beg of you who wish to read this to put down your political lens and pick up a lens of humanity.  Everything can be made to be a political event. Not everything need be.  There is nothing partisan/political about the point I will now likely inelegantly try to make.

I live in a world inhabited by political operatives and media types. Most of you know their profile or you wouldn’t likely be reading this. Many of you probably resemble the type. We are sometimes a cold and desensitized bunch. It takes a lot to break through to the inner person that is usually well guarded by scars and calluses developed by years of experience. We too often believe that you can’t go wrong underestimating the civility of man, and even more too often are proven right.

Anyone in a newsroom this morning, or those who know where to look, quickly found the Facebook feed and/or Twitter feed of a sick and evil man. It was bad enough that evil went viral this morning when respectable news outlets were pimping the on air execution of two reporters to get their share of clickbait. It was another level of evil on display entirely when the murderer unleashed his first person account of the deed. I’ve made a conscious decision to look for nor watch either. Many of my friends were not so lucky.  Auto play can add evil to evil.

That’s perhaps a too long setup to say this. Those people that are my friends – the tough, seen it all before, steady hand emotional types – had a real hard time with what they saw today. It struck a deep nerve on many who believed themselves professionally desensitized.

Grown men cried today.  There’s no shame in that. Today proved that this country – hell, the world – could use a good cry.

I’ve seen a few tweets saying that this is merely the media doing a bit of navel-gazing, and that because this ridiculously inexplainable action hit home that this is why it matters more. Respectfully, I don’t think that’s it at all. [click to continue…]

{ 13 comments }

I attended a townhall, sponsored by the Walker County Republican Party, in LaFayette on Monday evening.  It was a well-attended event organized by Walker GOP Chairman Matt Williamson.  The topics covered federal, state, and local concerns.  I had to leave early, but I was able to catch the update from our own Congressman Tom Graves (R-GA-14).

One of the topics that the Congressman discussed were the victories that conservatives have actually made since taking the House in 2010.  Here are a few that he discussed:

  • The UN Arms Trade Treaty cannot be funded or implemented.
  • Obamacare’s Risk Corridor program is prohibited from receiving a taxpayer bailout.
  • There is no funding for the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
  • Race To The Top, a main driver of Common Core, was eliminated.
  • ACORN and its subsidiaries are prohibited from receiving federal funds.
  • The Export-Import Bank expired on June 30, 2015 and has not been renewed.
  • The House and Senate both passed legislation approving the Keystone XL pipeline (ultimately vetoed by President Barack Obama)
  • Actually passing a budget since President Obama took office in 2009.

With the exception of the Keystone pipeline, the list above is a sampling of the legislation signed into law by President Obama.  In addition to that, discretionary spending is lower today ($1.013 trillion) than what was proposed ($1.019 trillion) in the “Path To Prosperity” budget proposed by Congressman Paul Ryan and received overwhelming support from conservatives back in 2012.

We are on the right track and heading towards a good direction towards reducing federal spending.  I know there are some who want to use the fun words of “slash”, “gut”, “cripple”, “destroy”, “decimate”, etc. to describe how they would budget federal spending.  It’s not ideal, but in spite of the noise the “silent base of the Republican Party” is making about how awful everything our Party does, at least we can hang our hat on a few victories.  It doesn’t mean we should stop and say our mission is complete.  It’s not, but I believe it’s good to be encouraged by being reminded of what has been done.

{ 5 comments }

We at Peach Pundit like to support good causes when we hear about them, so I give you Sandra Scott’s reelection campaign fundraiser:

But you don’t want to just go…you want to sponsor it:

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 11.16.10 AM

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 11.16.16 AM

{ 0 comments }

Ginger Howard sends over word that there are two events scheduled for Georgians interested in learning a bit more about the former Texas Governor’s campaign for President.

Tomorrow and Friday Mrs. Anita Perry will be the guest of honor at two campaign events. Tomorrow (Thursday) evening Ginger Howard will host a meet and greet at Ginger Howard Selections, 5:30 to 7Pm, 3164 Peachtree Road Atlanta. RVSP’s are requested to [email protected]

Governor Perry’s wife will also attend an “afternoon tea” in Roswell Friday afternoon from 2:30 to 4:40. The location will be at 799 Roswell Street, Marietta GA. (That would be more commonly known as the Cobb County GOP’s HQ.) RVSP’s are requested to [email protected]

Per the invitations, “Anita Perry spent 17 years serving in health care as a nurse in surgery, pediatrics and intensive care. Perry’s commitment to health care extended into her work as First Lady. She was an active advocate for nursing and other health care causes. The Anita Thigpen Perry School of Nursing at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center was renamed in her honor, and two nursing endowments were set up in her name at West Texas A&M University and the University of Texas at San Antonio.”

{ 1 comment }

Brookhaven Innovation Academy logo

The Georgia State Charter School Commission today unanimously approved the state charter application of the Brookhaven Innovation Academy (“BIA”) charter school. This initially K-6 state charter school will open its doors to an expected 420 students in the metro Atlanta region in the 2016-17 school year and grow by one grade per year over the next two years until it reaches full enrollment of 540 students in grades K-8. As a member of the BIA Board I wanted to share our good news and provide some details about our new school.

Student enrollment will be based on a lottery system and Bates Mattison, our BIA Board Chair, explained the expected student body makeup of the school and our community outreach efforts: “Because we will have a state-wide attendance zone, we expect our student body will mirror the demographics of existing public schools in Brookhaven, Atlanta, Sandy Springs, Doraville, Chamblee, and DeKalb County. For instance, the traditional public schools in our area serve a significant number of Hispanic students. Through our collaboration with the Latin American Association and other direct service organizations, we will have a strong outreach program to Hispanic families, as well as all other populations in our area. All interested families will be encouraged to take a close look at what we can do for their students.”

The BIA program will be facilitated by teachers with the flexibility to both individualize and personalize a student’s learning and has these design principles at the core of the program:

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

You Spin My Head Right Round

August 26, 2015 9:30 am

by Teri · 21 comments

When you’re commuting in Georgia, it’s generally because (with apologies to Flo Rida) you’ve got people to see, and your time is precious. Daily commutes are getting longer, so perhaps communities should defer to traffic engineers – and the Mythbusters – and embrace the roundabout.

As reported in the AJC, roundabouts are on the increase in Georgia. Since 2005, 145 have been built in Georgia, and another 130 are either under construction or in the design process, so if there’s not one in your community yet, chances are, you’ll see one soon. In Smyrna, we currently have three roundabouts, and one is in the works for the 2016 SPLOST. Smyrna’s nascent roundabout will replace a traffic light that controls a six-point intersection. Traffic there is light, but the time drivers spend waiting for the lights to cycle through each street is frustratingly long; that’s the kind of interchange that was made for a roundabout.

The AJC notes that feelings on roundabouts range from love to loathe:

Surveys have shown that before roundabouts are installed, a lot of people don’t want them, said Mike Hunter, director of the National Center for Transportation Systems Productivity and Management at Georgia Tech. But afterward, they tend to be well-received.

“I think there has definitely been a tipping point in Georgia, where you are now starting to see more and more people request them,” Hunter said. “It’s not the transportation agencies going in and saying, ‘We think this is a good location for one.’”

It’s also clear that driver education is key – although, arguably, if you have the wherewithal to operate several thousand pounds of steel, you should be able to figure out how to circumnavigate a circle. The Georgia Driver’s Manual currently gives roundabouts only a passing glance, but they will be covered in greater depth for next year’s edition. (Admittedly, if there’s a stop sign at the roundabout, the situation is sometimes fraught.)

Alternatively, some believe that roundabouts are kin to ten-foot sidewalks as a tenet of Agenda 21. Benignly innovative traffic calming tactic, or part of the UN’s onward march towards global domination? Discuss in the comments.

{ 21 comments }