Thursday, May 28, 2009

Former Macon resident dragged away from Air Force One

The Macon public relations machine knows no borders. I'm sure a ton of papers will run this AP story, but here's our version:
A former Macon resident and current freelancer for the Macon-based Informer newspaper was dragged away from Air Force One today shortly before President Obama arrived at Los Angeles International Airport to depart California.
UPDATE: You might as well read Ms. Lee's latest column.

Gov's office: HTRG checks nearly in the mail UPDATE: But big new cuts for state agencies

UPDATE: It looks like I was sniffing around the wrong rumored cut. From Aaron Gould Sheinin at The AJC:
Perdue, in a letter to top state lawmakers, said he is being forced to lower the state revenue estimate by more than $274 million for the 2009 fiscal year that ends June 30.
Original post below.
There's been some concern lately among local government types that the state wouldn't send them funding for the Homeowner's Tax Relief Grant.

That, despite the $428 million or so being included in the budget, Gov. Sonny Perdue would hold back on the money due to diminishing state revenues. With the state's budget year ending June 30, and no checks received yet by local governments counting on them to balance their budgets, you can understand their worry.

But this does not appear to be the case. From Bert Brantley, the governor's communications director: "OPB has approved the allotment for the 09 HTRG, which means the money has been released and checks will be issued soon."

The HTRG is a state payment to local city, county and school board governments, which allows those governments to give homeowners a tax break on their primary home. It's basically an expanded homestead exemption.

It will be funded this year, but not in fiscal 2010, which means property taxes will probably go up in many jurisdictions this fall.

UPDATE: More from Mr. Brantley:
It goes through a process -- OPB releases the allotment, it goes through the Comptroller to ensure there are funds in the Treasury to cover the allotment, then to the Dept. of Revenue to get the individual amount that each government will receive, then the checks are cut.

So, I can say its in process, I don’t think anyone should be waiting by the mailbox, but they will come soon.

Capping, trading, pandering

The GOP is turning up the heat to beat back the Democrats "Cap and Trade" energy policy.

The main talking point seems to be this, from an e-mail blast going out from House Minority Leader John Boehner's office: "Indeed, America can lower energy costs, create jobs, and protect the environment at the same time."

We should totally do that then. Then send someone to the Kroger on Tom Hill Sr. Blvd. in Macon, because I want all my groceries to fit in one bag, and I don't want that bag to be heavy.

Interestingly enough, Cap and Trade was a big part of environmental policy for the H.W. Bush White House, according to The New York Times:
A month later, the Bush White House sent Congress a cap-and-trade plan for sulfur dioxide emissions that 18 months later became the linchpin of the 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act, considered by many to be the most successful domestic environmental legislation ever enacted.
I mention all that to mention this: I had to cut, for space, U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall's thoughts on Cap and Trade policy from a Q&A we ran in yesterday's paper. And I feel bad about that:
TELEGRAPH: What about cap and trade? Will it help the environment? Will it significantly increase the cost of energy?

MARSHALL: Both, I suspect. ... Will cap and trade cause, improve the environment and cause energy costs to go up, yeah, I think it would. It would have the effect in the long run of diminishing the use of fossil fuels for energy, which the vast majority of expert scientists assert as a major cause of global warming. ... There are minority voices out there who say it's not. ... I don't know who's right. I just know that the consensus seems to be greater and greater and greater and greater that we do have a problem with fossil fuels. ... And the stakes seem to be pretty high. So I think some action should be taken. I just don't want to... put us at a competitive disadvantage, or impose unnecessary costs. And I don't know whether this bill does that. You certainly hear a lot of critics saying it does exactly that. ... Four friends of mine, who I often vote with... were on the committee, and who sat through all of this... they voted no. Four Democratic friends of mine.
Cong. Marshall thinks carefully before he speaks, and more so before he votes. But it sounds like he's hinting toward a no vote on this legislation.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Open records workshop in Macon

If you're in the Macon area tomorrow, stop by The Telegraph for a workshop on Georgia's sunshine laws. The Georgia First Amendment Foundation will hold a session and answer questions on the state's open records and meetings acts.

Starts 1t 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, May 27.
At The Telegraph
120 Broadway, Macon, Georgia

Friday, May 22, 2009

Georgia DOT goes NASCAR

The DOT is going to put State Farm Insurance Co. ads on its HERO roadside assistance vehicles. It's a $5.1 million, 3 year deal.

When you think about it, there is a lot of potential advertising revenue out there for the state, with all the buildings, cars and Web sites it operates. From the governor's office:
"We know that incident management is one of the most effective, efficient methods to relieving congestion," Governor Perdue said. "This partnership ensures sustainable funding is available to keep our HERO trucks busy clearing wrecks and keeping traffic moving."

As a result of this sponsorship agreement, Georgia DOT will receive over $5.1 million ($1.7m/yr) in sponsorship fees from State Farm over the next three years to support the HERO program. There is an option to renew the contract for an additional two years, with the Department receiving $1.825 million for each renewal year. All monies received will be used to support the HERO program. In return, State Farm logos will be placed on HERO vehicles, operator uniforms and signs delineating the HERO service area. And the program will henceforth be known as the Georgia DOT HERO Program, sponsored by State Farm Insurance.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Karen Handel: Bringing it on

When I first saw Catchy Cox's front-porch-rocking-chair ad during the 2006 gubernatorial campaign, it seemed an opportunity was missed.

"Why isn't she in a sweet business suit, kicking down doors on a bunch of old white dudes who are smoking cigars, laughing and playing poker with taxpayer money?" was my first thought.

I'm interested to see how soon a shorter version of Secretary of State Karen Handel's first ad, or something like it, makes it onto television.

Awesome. And a little mean spirited.

"It is not a good-old boy who wil make Georgia work, it is a proven, battle tested, accomplished reformer, who just happens to be a she. Got problems, Georgia? Bring 'em on."

UPDATE: Team Oxendine responds:
After 72 hours of overwhelming negative reaction to her Clinton-style hit piece, Karen Handle performed the first of what is sure to be many excuses in this campaign. In an interview on WSB TV, Channel 2, Karen Handel said the centerpiece of her campaign, this very expensive ad, is now nothing more than a joke.

Karen Handle may think it is a joke to run a negative, Clinton-style ad; however, most Republicans who were subjected to this surprise video view it as anything but a joke. They saw it and have called it for what it is.

Two other entities took a look at Karen Handel's video - Capitol Impact and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

It appears that Karen failed on the facts - a lot.
No word on whether this means that The AJC now believes Handel to be the front-runner.

Cleland to get Obama appointment

From a White House press release today:
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals for key administration posts: Christopher Schroeder, Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy, Department of Justice; Paul Anastas, Assistant Administrator for Office of Research and Development, Environmental Protection Agency; Sherry Glied, Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Department of Health and Human Services; Winslow Sargeant, Chief Counsel for Advocacy, Small Business Administration; Ambassador Nancy Powell, Director General of the Foreign Service, Department of State; and Deborah Matz, Chair, National Credit Union Administration. President Obama also announced his intent to appoint Max Cleland as Secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission.

Poythress: I ain't going nowhere, brother

Gen. David Poythress: Leader, soldier, secretary of state, labor commissioner, Macon native, 2010 candidate for governor.

I'm not sure how fair a depiction of GOP candidates some of this is, but it's pretty awesome.

Democracy and freedom aren't free. They aren't even cheap.

For the record, Lucid Idiocy might be willing to secede from the United States of America, but never from the idea of America.

Hat tip: Every Georgia political blog. Ever.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Gingrich on The Daily Show ... "meh"

Why am I posting something I don't really recommend you spend 10 minutes watching? That's a pretty good question.

Part 1: Bunch of stuff you've already heard about Nancy Pelosi.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Newt Gingrich Pt. 1
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor

Part 2: Obama's a socialist, but "I'm not using it as a pejorative."

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Newt Gingrich Pt. 2
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor

Feel free to buy Speaker Gingrich's new book. Apparently he and his daughter have distilled the secrets of success into 5 steps, which is 28 percent fewer steps than the average paperback that will vastly improve your life.

Monday, May 18, 2009

TVA: We're sending hazardous waste to your state. We don't know where.

From Heather Duncan, who sits next to me at The Telegraph:
Test loads of that dredged and dried material started traveling by train Monday to two landfills, one in Alabama and one in Georgia, TVA spokesman Gil Francis said. He said he did not know which landfills were the destination.

But Jeff Cown, solid waste program manager for the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, said the ash is headed for the Veolia Environmental Services landfill in the Taylor County town of Mauk.

Veolia officials referred all questions to the TVA.
Awesome. So these trains, are they magic trains that can fly? Because usually those things run on tracks. And the tracks, like, go to specific places. So you'd think you could figure out where they'll stop.

To continue:
Residents of Taylor and Talbot counties contacted this week knew little or nothing about the coal ash coming to Mauk. Most of them expressed concern, noting that the landfill is perched on sandy soils and the water table is only 20 to 30 feet down.

“Putting coal ash with toxic metals in it over an aquifer recharge area is about as stupid a decision as you could make,” said Mark Woodall, who became an environmental activist two decades ago when the state proposed to put a hazardous waste incinerator and storage facility in Taylor County.

Lots of good stuff from Savannah

All courtesy The AJC. Scroll through this morning if you haven't already.

The Insider.

Some of the straight coverage.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Team Oxendine: On a boat

In what I believe is the first political press release / email blast to ever use the word "Ahoy," Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine's campaign is promising "an evening of fun" on the Team Oxendine Boat this Friday night.

The GOP convention is in Savannah this weekend. No word on whether T-Payne is invited, though he absolutely should be.

This is as good an excuse as I'm ever likely to get to post this here. If you haven't seen it, your life is slightly poorer for it. All the bad words are bleeped out.

Get your towels ready, it's about to go down.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Gov. Perdue signs 2010 budget, line item vetoes

Gov. Sonny Perdue has signed the budget, according to his press office. But there were three line item vetoes, and 12 directives to agencies to basically ignore how the General Assembly said to spend the money.

The vetoes are listed below, from the press office:
Section 33, pertaining to the Department of Natural Resources, page 222, line 507.1 and 507.100: The General Assembly appropriated $25,000 in state general funds for the Georgia State Games Commission. State funding for this program is not justified, as the intention of this funding is inconsistent with the mission of the program. Therefore, I veto this appropriation.

Section 50, pertaining to State of Georgia General Obligation Debt Sinking Fund, page 316, line 397.261 BOND:This language authorizes the appropriation of $22,700 in debt service to finance projects and facilities for the Herty Foundation, specifically for the Herty Advanced Materials Development Center to design and construct a covered biofuels testing facility through the issuance of $250,000 in 20-year bonds. The State of Georgia issued $2,000,000 in bonds for the Herty Foundation to fund renovations and equipment of which remains a balance of $900,000. Of this balance, $250,000 can be redirected to fund the design and construction of the testing facility. The need for this appropriation, therefore, is not evident at this time. Therefore, I veto this language.

Section 50, pertaining to State of Georgia General Obligation Debt Sinking Fund, page 320, line 397.605 BOND:This language authorizes the appropriation of $145,280 in debt service to finance projects and facilities for the University System of Georgia, Board of Regents, specifically to acquire and renovate strategic property for Darton College in Albany, Dougherty County through the issuance of $1,600,000 in 20-year bonds. The Albany Museum of Art is housed on this property. Due to current economic conditions, the museum will remain at this location, which will delay sale of the property to Darton College. Therefore, I veto this language (page 317, line 397.605) in the provisions relative to Section 50 State of Georgia General Obligation Debt Sinking Fund and the state general funds of $145,280.
The "directives to ignore" deal with Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (that's the new department created out of the DHR this year) programs, Department of Community Affairs and OneGeorgia grants, a Department of Community Health program and one from the Department of Economic Development.

You can read the governor's reasons for those moves in the full press release.

I don't know that any of these changes are a big deal. If they are, someone will scream. Feel free to scream my way.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Gov. Perdue signs SB 200, HB 2, ridiculous number of other bills

House Bill 2 is the legislation threatening state grants to local governments that don't participate in a federal program to verify the citizenship of new employees.

Senate Bill 200 is the DOT overhaul, which allows the governor to appoint a planning director to shape state transportation policy and spending.

The full list of today's announced signings from the governor's office:
House Bills: 2, 60, 114, 178,179, 186, 189, 202, 261, 318, 383, 386, 437, 459, 509, 518, 534, 541, 557, 561, 562, 564, 583, 584, 593, 594, 596, 598, 618, 624, 626, 632, 633, 638, 642, 643, 646, 659, 666, 670, 672, 678, 682, 685, 686, 687, 688, 689, 696, 701, 706, 711, 712, 713, 714, 715, 718, 720, 721, 722, 725, 726, 728, 741, 743, 745, 746, 749, 751, 755, 756, 757, 765, 766, 770, 776, 778, 781, 782, 783, 784, 787, 791, 793, 794, 796, 798, 801, 802, 803, 806, 808, 809, 810, 813, 830, 841.

Senate Bills: 66, 104, 191, 200, 265.
I bet you went through your life the last year totally unaware that we so very badly needed a few hundred new laws in Georgia. Shows what you know, idiot.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Props to state Sen. Eric Johnson

If I haven't given state Sen. Eric Johnson hell here the last two years, I meant to. But you've got to respect his unwillingness to go against Gov. Sonny Perdue on an easy one: The governor's veto of House Bill 481.

The bill would have cut taxes, and Sen. Johnson is in a crowded Republican primary for the 2010 governor's race.

Secretary of State Karen Handel and Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, both also running for governor, put out press releases today saying they would have signed the law. Nothing wrong with that, but it's also easy to say when you don't have to balance the state's budget in this economy.

Said Sen. Johnson, per The AJC: “I don’t care for Monday morning quarterbacks and don’t want to be one now."

Gov. Perdue issues signing statements, vetoes

You can read the full signing statements and veto message here.

From the governor's press office:
ATLANTA – Governor Sonny Perdue today issued signing statements on 3 bills and vetoed 16 bills passed by the General Assembly.

Governor Perdue issued signing statements on the following bills: HB 60, HB 186, and HB 189.

The following bills were vetoed: HB 56, HB 100, HB 481, HB 553, HB 662, HB 710, HB 734, HB 735, SB 123, SB 159, SB 178, SB 211, SB 261, SB 266, SB 267, and SR 431.

April revenue figures down again

From the governor's office:
ATLANTA – Governor Sonny Perdue announced today that net revenue collections for the month of April 2009 (FY09) totaled $1,399,047,000 compared to $1,761,180,000 for April 2008 (FY08), a decrease of $362,133,000 or 20.6 percent.

The percentage decrease year-to-date for FY09 compared to FY08 is 9.5 percent.
Last month they were down 8 percent for the year to date, so April was substantially worse than the rest of the year together.

Gov. Perdue to veto capital gains tax cut, HB 481

According to Bert Brantley, Gov. Sonny Perdue's director of communications, the governor will veto House Bill 481.

The bill includes a rollback of the state's capital gains tax, as well as numerous tax credits meant to spur hiring, and particularly the hiring of unemployed workers. Perdue has previously expressed concerns that the state, in an ongoing budget crunch, might not be able to afford the tax cuts.

Said Brantley, via e-mail: "He confirmed today that he will veto it during a q&a session at a bill signing."

UPDATE: The governor did sign House Bill 261 today, which provides a $1,800 income tax credit for home purchases. It takes effect immediately and will be available for six months.

UPDATE 2: Gov. Perdue's comments on 481, as transcribed by his press office:
I am not going to be able to sign because while I believe in simulative activity, unlike the federal government who can run a deficit, Georgia is a balanced budget state and we can not run a deficit. So while I believe that many of the provisions in 481 would stimulate job growth and the economy, it has to be affordable or its not possible. And at this point, I don’t know that its possible based on the fiscal situation that we are in. I would love to see some of the provisions of 481 implemented once the economy begins to grow again and we can afford it, that to trim off that growth, we can afford it at that time. We are a balanced budget state and at this point in time I think unattainable to bridge from where we are to get where they believe the stimulation would kick in. So unfortunately as much as I regret it, I won’t be able to sign 481.
UPDATE 3: April revenue figures are in and no doubt contributed to the governor's decision.

Oxendine: With facts in, I'm returning the money

Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine has put out the press release he probably should have started with. He's returning the money The AJC reported on Sunday. From the press release, which you can read in full here:
As it appeared to us, these were not checks from an insurance company we regulate. Additionally, it appeared that these checks were from different entities, not controlled by the same person or people. Under those facts, as we understood them, accepting these contributions was perfectly legal.

Based on facts that have recently come to light, previously unknown to us, we have concerns whether our understanding of the facts were complete. Last week, before these facts fully came to light, we filed an advisory opinion request with the Georgia State Ethics Commission.

Out of an abundance of caution, I decided to return the funds pending advice from the State Ethics Commission.
When the facts point to your not having all the facts, the fact of the matter is matter of fact, in fact.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Team Oxendine: Nothing says "professional" like using air quotes

I'm sure you've seen The AJC's Sunday piece about $120,000 in shady campaign donations made to Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine's gubernatorial campaign.

The Oxendine campaign responded this evening with a press release / e-mail blast to supporters. It doesn't address the details of the story, but it does call The AJC liberal. I counted six phrases in "air quotes."

For those of you who aren't quite as clever as Team Oxendine, those typically denote sarcasm. The press release in full:
AJC Declares John Oxendine the Front-Runner for Governor 2010

Date: 10 May, 2009
To: Georgia Republicans
From: Kathryn Ballou, Campaign Manager

Team Oxendine is aware the "professional, objective, and transparently unbiased journalists" over at the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) have answered the most debated question in the Georgia Republican Party at present time: Who really is the front-runner for the GOP nomination for Governor?

How did those conservative folks at the AJC decide? Was it from our John Oxendine Contract with Georgia press release we sent them stating what John will do for Georgians if elected Governor? A positive, issue-oriented, conservative piece with solutions to 12 of the major issues facing Georgia taxpayers. No.

The staff of the AJC, who are seeing record increases in new subscriptions, increasing the size of sections, hiring new staff on a daily basis, and expanding the area they sell the paper... wait, no, we have that backwards. They are losing subscribers at an historic pace, shrinking the actual size of the paper, laying people off left and left (they can never go right), and decreasing the areas they sell papers. Yes, these intrepid, profit generating, cracker jack "reporters" have attacked John Oxendine with a front page "story" which they consider to be serious investigative reporting.

What they have really done is confirm to conservatives which Republican candidate they are afraid of - which Republican candidate they do not want to win. This is a time honored tradition at the AJC. Attack and smear any real conservative who might actually win. Attack, attack, attack. Talk about anything but the issues.

At Team Oxendine, we wear this hit piece as a badge of honor. Georgia Republicans know perfectly well a candidate is not a serious front-runner until they have been attacked and smeared by the AJC. That day has come and the AJC has sent a message loud and clear - John Oxendine is a conservative the liberals cannot tolerate. We are proud to know the "fair and balanced" crowd at the AJC is not for John Oxendine.

We concede today that Georgia Republicans should anticipate the AJC will endorse Karen Handel in this primary. They will swoon about her "mainstream" approach and her "center of the road consensus building" approach to government. The AJC will praise her as a John McCain, go-along-to-get-along, centrist Republican.

If you are still in doubt as to the left-wing, anti-conservative, anti-American bias of the AJC, then consider this - with over a year to go before the Republican primary, they rushed this anti-Republican story in the Sunday Mother's Day edition. They placed it above a story of a real Georgia hero - Karmen Callaway, a Georgia Mom whose three sons are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Even on Mother's Day, the AJC would rather place a smear attack on the Republican front-runner ahead of a positive story about a Georgia Mom and her hero sons. That tells you all you need to know about the credibility of the AJC.

We accept that John Oxendine is a target of the liberal, leftist, big government AJC and that Karen Handel is their type of centrist, anti-conservative Republican.

John Oxendine
Governor 2010
"Brilliant strategy."

Friday, May 8, 2009

Air Force One photo released, Caldera resigns

Louis Caldera, the White House Military Office director who said he OK'd the New York fly-by, has resigned, CNN reports.

CNN also has a copy of the picture that was taken in the photo-op, which was released today by the White House.

It's not even that great of a picture.

UPDATE: The more I look at the picture, the cooler it gets.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

You may now download Pres. Obama's budget

Go here.

There's a blog post about the budget from OMB Director Peter Orszag, and you can download various parts of the budget or a 140-page document that can't possibly be the entire budget.

The theme of this budget (budgets always need a theme) is "A New Era of Responsibility." Said responsibility appears to cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $3.5 trillion.

The New York Times coverage of the budget.

UPDATE: A statement from House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, who may or may not know the meaning of the word unprecedented:
The Administration’s proposed cuts, while welcome, don’t go far enough, and they appear to be a diversionary tactic – an effort to change the subject away from the unprecedented debt this budget heaps on future generations. Republicans will send President Obama our recommendations for further cuts in waste, but we’ll also be working to ensure these cuts don’t divert attention from the huge debt being piled on our children and grandchildren through this budget to pay for new programs and projects America cannot afford.
UPDATE: I fixed the link.

Awesome stuff the federal government is doing

1. Extraditing a man from Canada to Macon for the unlicensed selling of a polar-bear-skin rug.

2. Spending $391 million to send census workers to people's homes to verify the addresses before attempting to mail them a census survey.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Gov. Perdue signs various bills

Dear Gov. Perdue,

Please stop signing bills. I'm tired of cutting and pasting them out of emails and inserting all the commas and stuff.

And don't even get me started about how long it takes to look all these bill numbers up... which of course I totally don't do.

The 2009 legislative session is over. Let's all just move on and not worry about what actually became law until such time as one of those new laws comes back to bite us.

Bills signed today, from the governor's office:

House Bills: 123, 126, 127, 129, 147, 160, 170, 181, 233, 248, 251, 300, 306, 310, 326, 349, 364, 379, 388, 438, 441, 457, 485, 487, 488, 492, 495, 555, 607, 639, 667.

House Resolution 336

Senate Bills: 20, 63, 69, 82, 86, 89, 94, 97, 98, 109, 117, 201

Senate Resolutions: 176, 333

House Bill 233 is the two-year moratorium on property tax assessment increases. The governor will sign legislation creating the state's new aviation authority tomorrow at Fort Benning, according to his press office.

CNN: Air Force One flyover pics classified. UPDATE: Wait... no they're not.

UPDATE, 5:15 p.m.: Looks like the photos will be released after all, as CNN reports in this written article.

I also received an email late this afternoon from the White House press office. The spokeswoman noted the following exchange during this afternoon's press briefing with White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs:
Q: You took Mark's question yesterday on the status of the video flyover. What's the status?

MR. GIBBS: The President -- I'm sorry -- the report I believe will be concluded at some point this week. We'll release its findings and release a photo.
There you go. I'm not sure where the initial CNN report came from, but I want to thank the White House press office for following up on this with me. I work for a medium-sized newspaper in Macon, Georgia, and I don't typically cover the White House. But they took the initiative to keep me in the loop.

The original post remains below.
Since the New York City fly-by of the 747 that serves as Air Force One I've asked the White House Press Office, the White House Photo Office, the Department of Defense and the Air Force to release the pictures taken during the alleged photo-op for the plane.

I'm not the only one who got the run-around. CNN reports, in this video available online, that the photos have been classified.

So you secretly fly a plane low over New York harbor, cause a panic, apologize, say it was a photo-op that cost nearly $329,000 to stage, then refuse to show anyone the photos.

Stuff like this is why I have trouble with the third commandment.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Gov. Perdue signs bills, certifies sitmulus projects, hanges with Andre 3000...

Must have been a nice little Tuesday. No word on whether there was time for bed bath and beyond...

Gov. Perdue signed the super speeder's bill today, as well as the pay-your-taxes ethics bill, and state Sen. Cecil Staton and Secretary of State Karen Handel's proof of citizenship bill.

He also certified 51 road projects in the stimulus program, which should eventually be listed here.

And he hung with Outkast's Andre 3000, who attended the Super Speeder bill signing because he was arrested recently doing more than 100 in Atlanta.

From left to right: State Rep. Jim Cole, the governor's floor leader, Andre 3000, the governor's secretary of heeey yaaa, and Gov. Sonny Perdue. Image courtesy governor's press office.

A list of bills signed today, from the governor's office:

House Bills: 57, 80, 116, 120, 193, 195, 212, 221, 228, 283, 304, 324, 334, 358, 395, 410, 439, 440, 444, 482, 550

House Resolution 161 (which pays a wrongly convicted man $500,000).

Senate Bills: 38, 64, 133, 141, 144, 155, 168, 199, 213, 246

Senate Resolution 96 (which urges Georgia Military College to do stuff).

Why Georgia leads the nation in bank failures

Russ Bynum at the Associated Press has an interesting piece about why Georgia leads the nation in bank failures:
Experts say it’s a combination of an antiquated state law that favored a plethora of smaller community banks over multi-branch giants; a population explosion in metro Atlanta that fueled massive suburban real estate development and a crush of new banks formed to cash in on the Atlanta boom shortly before the market tanked.

First, Georgia is home to a huge number of state and federally chartered banks. At the end of 2008, Georgia had 334 banks. That’s more than California, which has nearly four times Georgia’s population, or Florida, which has twice as many people. Only five states — Texas, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa and Kansas — have more banks than Georgia, according to the FDIC.

What these states had in common, until the mid-1990s, was some of the nation’s most restrictive laws on branch banking. Georgia, for example, prohibited banks from opening branches across county lines until 1996.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Doesn't anyone pay their taxes anymore?

The Georgia Department of Revenue updated its lists of delinquent taxpayers last month. You can download them via that link.

The list of businesses alone is 1,604 pages. The list of individuals is 1,964 pages.

Keep in mind, these are people and businesses that have had FIFAs filed against them. That means they've been through the system, been given a chance to appeal, etc.

Erick Erickson loses mind, says Justice Souter has sex with goats

Macon City Councilman and nationally known head of Erick Erickson sent the following out via his twitter account Thursday to mark Supreme Court Justice David Souter's announced retirement:
# LMRM: The nation loses the only goat f***ing child molester to ever serve on the Supreme Court in David Souter's retirement.
#TCOT #RS7:27 PM Apr 30th from TweetDeck

# The nation loses the only goat f***ing child molester to ever serve on the Supreme Court in David Souter's retirement.
7:24 PM Apr 30th from TweetDeck
So libelous, he posted it twice. The stars I added. He used the full word. Erickson followed this "tweet" up with this:
# Lefties really get offended when you point out what David Souter does in his spare time with goats and kids.
8:34 AM May 1st from TweetDeck
I called Erickson about this an he was unapologetic, though he said he shouldn't have said it. He said he doesn't really believe Justice Souter is a child molester or into beastiality.

"I shouldn't have (written it)," he said. "I was just creatively expressing my disdain for a guy that hates America. ... I was expressing my opinion of the man. I don't think anyone took it as fact."

Asked if it was appropriate for an elected official and nationally known political figure to call a retiring Supreme Court justice a goat ****er, Erickson replied:
"Probably not. In hindsight I shouldn't have said it. I felt good at the time saying it."
If any of you ever wonder why we can't get things done in Macon, it's partly because we spend an inordinate amount of time dealing with things like this.

Erickson and Macon City Councilwoman Elaine Lucas also plan to argue tonight about whether to name President Barack Obama an honorary member of the Macon City Council.

There were three murders in Macon this weekend. Our budgeting process makes it difficult for the police department to recruit new officers. And I'll be shocked if the city doesn't raise taxes later this year.

But, yeah, this is a more constructive use of time.

Shafer suspends L.G. campaign, will seek re-election

From state Sen. David Shafer:
Today I am fully suspending my campaign for Lieutenant Governor with the intention of seeking re-election to the State Senate. ...

I would not have entered the race had it not been an open seat, and there is no point in remaining in it as long as the Lieutenant Governor is well enough to be a candidate for re-election.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Mike Luckovich: The current Lewis Grizzard

... aka Mike Luckovich is a Georgia treasure.

When I went to vote for the best of 21 cartoons in April, the first three were essentially perfect.

How that guy captures everything in a panel, I'll never know.

Gov. Perdue: Optimistic economy is bottoming

Gov. Sonny Perdue was in Middle Georgia today, signing an agritourism bill and the food safety bill. He also addressed the economy, saying he feels like we are just touching the bottom.

He used the analogy of a new swimmer, who can feel the bottom with his tip-toes and has his head just above water.

"I am optimistic we are bottoming. ..." Gov. Perdue said. "We're tip-toeing around on the bottom."

The governor said he hasn't decided yet whether to sign HB 481, which includes several business tax cuts and a rollback in the capital gains tax. He noted that state revenues always lag behind economic recovery.

Said Perdue: "We've still got to be very cautious with expenditures of the state tax dollars as well as tax cuts that we possibly could defer to better times."

Get you some stimulus

I went to a seminar a couple of weeks ago about stimulus programs available to every day businesses. It sounded like there are a lot of them.

This is from The White House today:
WASHINGTON – Today, Eric Zarnikow, Associate Administrator for Capital Access at the Small Business Administration and Brian Deese, Economic Advisor for President Obama will hold a conference call with reporters to discuss the Small Business Administration’s announcement today that it will expand eligibility for SBA-backed loans. The move will make more than 70,000 additional small businesses – including auto and RV dealerships, auto industry suppliers and others – eligible for these loans.

Gov. Perdue signs various bills

From the governor's office:

House Bills: 68, 69, 71, 86, 93, 101, 117, 156, 157, 184, 210, 227, 302, 315, 452, 476, 477, 528, 549, 552, 575, 608

Senate Bills: 14, 48, 61, 177, 207

House Resolution 279

Senate Resolutions: 257, 294

UPDATE: This is the language of HB 210:
Article 3 of Chapter 23 of Title 47 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to membership in the Georgia Judicial Retirement System, is amended by revising Code Section 47-23-43, relating to preservation of prior rights under this Code section by certain attorneys employed by the office of Legislative Counsel or the Department of Law, as follows:
Any person employed pursuant to Code Section 28-4-3 or 45-15-31 subject to the provisions of this Code section on June 30, 2005, shall retain all rights and obligations as exist on that day. Such persons shall be subject to all provisions of this chapter applicable to solicitors-general of the state courts. Employer contributions shall be paid by the respective employers under such Code sections."

All laws and parts of laws in conflict with this Act are repealed.
I'm pretty sure money changes hands in that one, as with many laws.

UPDATE 2: Just to be clear, I chose 210 at random, to show the exciting kinds of things that are becoming law. There is no particular significance to it.