One Georgia, But With Many Parts

This week’s Courier Herald column:

I began writing this column in early 2011. It began after a lunch conversation with DuBose and Carol Porter. Both had just run for statewide office. They were rural Georgia Democrats. They were in the traditional print media business, running almost a dozen papers serving the greater I-16 corridor out of their offices in downtown Dublin.

I was a new media blogger sending random opinions onto the internet. I was a Republican. And I lived in Atlanta. My audience was primarily those in Atlanta that make policy and law for the state.

We knew each had different readers. We knew the state was changing. Politics itself was changing. We were concerned that social media was driving us farther apart. Politics not only was unable to bring people together for common purposes but seemed to be cementing the division and driving new wedges.

What was originally scheduled as a lunch to catch up after the November 2010 elections turned into a discussion of how to bridge the gap between rural Georgia and “Atlanta”. South Georgia, long fearing being left behind, seemed to understand that with the election of a Governor and Lieutenant Governor from Hall County and a Speaker from Blue Ridge, their distance from power was growing literally and figuratively. Continue reading “One Georgia, But With Many Parts”

Jeremy Berry Named City Of Atlanta Attorney

Score one for the good guys.  Mayor Kasim Reed has named Jeremy Berry of Dentons to be the new City Attorney for the City of Atlanta.  Per Meridith Hobbs of the Fulton County Daily Report:

Dentons partner Jeremy Berry is the mayor’s pick for Atlanta city attorney. Mayor Kasim Reed announced today that he’s naming Berry as the new city attorney. Cathy Hampton, the current city attorney, announced April 18 that she will be stepping down on May 19. Reed said at the time that he’d name her successor by next week.

Other than that he’s an Emory grad, there’s not much wrong with this pick. While well established in Democratic political circles, Berry is also very active in the community, and I’ll state for the record he works quite well across party lines. The Mayor made a good pick.

Speaker Ralston Names Rural Development Council

A couple of weeks ago I previewed the need to get the issues of rural Georgia into the 2018 statewide campaigns. The plight of rural Georgia affects us all, as policy decisions made in Atlanta (and often influenced by the 55% of the state that live in “Atlanta”) make a disproportional impact in that other Georgia. House Speaker David Ralston has named members of a Rural Development Council that will be looking at a variety of issues unique to rural Georgia. This isn’t your average “study committee”. Look at the names and titles of the members below. This is a serious effort to not only identify and isolate well known problems, but foster actual solutions – and translate the need for those solutions to those of us that live up here in “Atlanta”.

Press release follows:

ATLANTA – Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) today announced the members of the House Rural Development Council. This council, which was created during the recent legislative session, will work with rural communities to find ways to encourage economic growth.

“Georgia is a growing and prosperous state, and we are thankful for that,” said Speaker Ralston. “But that prosperity isn’t being felt in every community across Georgia. Some of our rural areas are still struggling, and we must do everything we can to help private businesses grow jobs in every corner of our state.” Continue reading “Speaker Ralston Names Rural Development Council”

Runoff! Speakers Weigh In

The hour is late (early) and Fulton County is still Fulton Countying, but it appears most parties agree we have a June 20th runoff in CD6.

As such, we have the following statements:

From Georgia House Speaker David Ralston:

“I’m proud to support Karen Handel as our next member of Congress from Georgia. Unlike her opponent, Karen lives in the 6th District and she understands the needs and views of the citizens in that district. She will represent the 6th District in Washington — not Hollywood or Manhattan. I will ask the GOP members of the Georgia House to join with me and engage in an aggressive way to elect Karen Handel to Congress.”

From U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Expect a lot more unity to be published from the GOP side tomorrow.

Special Election Day Prediction Thread

Today in Georgia, we have the following special elections:

Sixth Congressional District,
State Senate District 32,
Roswell Municipal
Johns Creek Municipal
City of Stonecrest (NEW!)
City of South Fulton (NEW!)

Polls are open until 7pm but you may weigh in now. I am out of the prediction business and shall practice self-restraint and not publicly share mine. At least, not yet. You guys go head and tell us what’s going to happen. (And yes, on at least one of your Facebook pages, I noted at least one of you is expecting about 120% of the vote in CD6. May want to do the math and try to make sure the votes you’re predicting don’t exceed 100%). Go:

2019 Starts Now

This week’s Courier Herald column:

There’s a certain cadence of the calendar for those who work in the politics and policy fields in the state of Georgia. We’re all familiar with the 40 days’ rush of the Georgia General Assembly that begins in early January and, if at all possible, ends before Masters week. It’s a time of long days, even longer nights, and little rest.

There’s usually a brief lull where a lucky few are able to go over to Augusta and look at some of the prettiest azaleas in the world, or go virtually anywhere else and be left alone for a few days. Many of us are tired of being around other people by then, and of pretending to have to enjoy the company of others that really just want something from us.

It’s now been two weeks since the gavels in the Capitol signaled Sine Die. Sergio Garcia has his first ever green jacket. Easter eggs have been hidden. Most of them have been found. And thus, those that work on the 40-day session of passing laws get back to work now. Continue reading “2019 Starts Now”

The Fun (Birthday) Adventures Of Ed And Cody

Sure, the headline sounds like a bad show on the Disney Channel.  It’s also part of our reality.  Two of our contributors, Ed Hula and Cody Hall, apparently are having birthdays today.

Ed has been with us for quite a while.  Seriously, he won’t go away.  From a pseudonym at the old place when I started commenting to a named contributor when I took over to today’s “Best Morning Reads Ever that day”, Ed’s been with us for a while. I think he’s finally in his thirties.

Cody is a bit newer and with a new job a bit more infrequent, but still tries to keep us straight (or at least, something he can defend to Dr. Charles Bulloch.) It’s not just his birthday, but he has only a couple of weeks left to be a single man. Congratulate and/or warn him now.

Happy birthday to you both, gents.

Everything New Is Old Again

I don’t write a lot of personal stuff here anymore. There was a time when a “blog” was all about pouring feelings all over the internet. The internet has changed. Blogs have changed. Commenters now have Facebook. Our readership has remained stable over the years, but we’re no longer comment driven. Here, we now lean more towards being a news source than a clearing house for discussion.

All of that is OK, I guess. When I signed on to the old place ten years and two months ago, there was no agenda. It was a lark. Alcohol “may” have been involved. I only wanted to make a smart-assed comment. I made up the name “Icarus” in less than two minutes. Two minutes bought me a decade and counting.

For those that want the back story, there’s a link here. Another link is in that one that goes back to the very beginning. To borrow the term used by my friend Thomas Wheatley, it’s an “epic tale of woe”. It has a happy ending, more or less. Less in that the journey is still underway. If there’s one thing the last 90 days have reminded me, it’s that life IS the journey. I remain a lucky man.

There’s only one end, and it’s very final on this side. Luckily, it’s eternal on the other. There’s one thing about the timing of the anniversaries of revealing who was behind the Icarus moniker for three years – now on it’s eighth commemoration. It’s usually close to Easter. This is a story of redemption. Mine, especially the blogging part, it all about that. Continue reading “Everything New Is Old Again”

Ex Atlanta Employee Claims City Improperly Diverted Grant Funds For Cars, Chauffeur

Kayla Goggin of Courthouse News brings word that the investigations swirling around Atlanta City Hall are growing. On top of the still unresolved bribery scandal, we now have a former employee of the City –
the business manager of the Atlanta Police Department – claiming she was fired after discovering the City was using federal grant money to supply the Mayor with cars and his personal driver.

In a complaint filed in Fulton County Superior Court, Tracy Woodard says she discovered the alleged illegal activity while investigating other purported improper fund allocations within the department.

Woodard claims that federal money earmarked for purchasing police patrol vehicles was being used to buy personal cars for the mayor and members of his family instead.

Woodard also alleges that Atlanta Police Department officers were driving and escorting Mayor Reed and his family on personal errands.

The April 5 complaint states that the department engaged in other illegal activity as well. According to the complaint, the department ran an “incentive” program to reward officers working overtime during the holidays with money from federal drug seizure programs. The money was never approved to be used for holiday overtime compensation, Woodard says.

Continue reading “Ex Atlanta Employee Claims City Improperly Diverted Grant Funds For Cars, Chauffeur”