Author: Lawton Sack

Morning Reads – Friday, October 9, 2015

This Date

  • This is the 282nd day of 2015! 83 days to go until 2016.
  • President Obama’s dog Bo turns 7 today
  • Joseph Pilates, developer of Pilates, died on this day in 1967
  • Che Guevara died on October 9, 1968
  • Math geeks unite: (1+0) + 9 = (2+0) x (1 x 5) Can you make any other equations using today’s date?

Peach Pundit

  • Charlie Harper (Icarus) and Jon Richards to speak at Athens GOP meeting on Monday, Oct. 12 @ 6 p.m.  Details

Governor’s Office Recap

  • Over $4.1 million awarded in Innovation Fund grants to 12 winners for STEM education
  • Gov. Deal integrates agencies to reduce government size for criminal justice reforms
  • Georgia Pre-K is shown in study to improve student readiness
  • Alcon has created 550 jobs and invested $500 million in Johns Creek area since 2013


  • Former President Jimmy Carter cancels November trip to build houses in Nepal due to civil unrest
  • Sen. David Perdue and Michelle Nunn seem to be getting along (scroll down just below DeKalb county news)
  • Lobbyists feed committee members
  • Georgia National Fair started yesterday. Military members, veterans, and their immediate families get in free on October 12.
  • Don’t forget to vote in the Presidential Peanut Poll if you go to the fair. Results will be updated after 5 p.m. each day on the peanut poll website. Trump currently leads all candidates.
  • Macon Rapper Sonny Spoon indicted as part of a drug ring, five years after his early release from prison in 2010 for his 2003 arrest on drug and gun charges
  • Rise Up Georgia wants former Deal adviser out of Atlanta school district’s revamping


  • Interactive map of 2016 primary dates (H/T Icarus)
  • SC Gov. Nikki Haley calls for expanded evacuation in South Carolina
  • Hero that thwarted French train situation was stabbed repeatedly in California
  • McCarthy, Trump, McCarthy, Trump, McCarthy, Trump – Rinse and Repeat

Off the Beaten Path

Saturday @ 3:30 p.m.

  • The GSU (Georgia Southern University) (4-1, 2-0): Off
  • Georgia (4-1, 2-1) @ Tennessee (2-3, 0-2): CBS
  • Georgia Tech (2-3, 0-2) @ Clemson (4-0, 1-0): ABC/ESPN2
  • Appalachian State (3-1) @ Ed’s Panthers (1-3, 1-0): ESPN3

UPDATED: McCarthy Leaves Speaker’s Race; Price for Speaker?

Rep. Kevin McCarthy has dropped his bid to replace John Boehner as the Speaker of the U.S. House citing that he was “not the one to unify the party.” It is being speculated that he may not have had enough support to reach the 218 votes necessary to win the position due to approximately 40 Republicans expressing support for Republican Daniel Webster of Florida.

Is Tom Price of Georgia the right man at the right time to unify the House Republicans? Rep. David Jolly (R-FL) said it is going “to take a hard family conversation” to unify the party.

UPDATE – Price Calls for Interim Speaker

The AJC is reporting that Tom Price is calling for an interim speaker to serve through the end of the 2016 session:

“Now is the time for our members to come together and have an honest conversation about how we unify our Conference. The best course would be for us to select a candidate for Speaker who will serve in that capacity for the next 15 months. This would allow the House to complete the business in a responsible manner, providing ample time for everyone’s voices to be heard, leading into full leadership elections in November of 2016.”

And then, there’s this:

Hillary Clinton Announces Georgia Team

Hillary Clinton has named over 60 Georgians to her Georgia Leadership Council, including Congressmen Hank Johnson, John Lewis, and David Scott and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. A full list of the Council can be seen after the break.

Congressman John Lewis:

“As our former Secretary of State, Senator from New York, and first Lady of the United States, Hillary Clinton is the most qualified person to be President of the United States. I know her heart. We need her leadership, not just here in America, but all over the world. She is tireless in her advocacy for those who have been left out and left behind. She is ready to be President on day one. Hillary Clinton has my wholehearted endorsement, and I plan to work and campaign for her to see that she is elected the next President of the United States.”

House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams:

“I am honored to join the Hillary for Georgia Leadership Council. Secretary Clinton’s vision for a just, fair and economically robust nation reflects the values of Georgia. We are excited to welcome the growing ranks of volunteers and supporters to ensure that Hillary Clinton becomes the next President of the United States.”

Representative Stacey Evans:

“I am excited to be a part of the Hillary for Georgia Leadership Council, and am proud to lend my active support to Hillary because she and I share the same goal of expanding access to higher education.”

Read more

Rep. Hank Johnson Speaks on Averting Government Shutdown and Women’s Health

In his weekly e-mail newsletter, Rep. Hank Johnson shared some comments about some of his colleagues’ actions on government shutdowns and women’s health.
Avoiding Government Shutdown:

“While I’m pleased to report that a government shutdown was averted this week, I’m growing increasingly concerned about how the majority party have governed from manufactured crisis to manufactured crisis over the past three years.

I, for one, don’t think the American people are pleased with the way we are managing our affairs – limping from crisis to crisis is a not smart way to run things.

Two years ago when the government was needlessly shuttered for 16 days over a vain attempt to defund the Affordable Care Act, it cost our nation billions of dollars in lost production. Coupled with the threat of defaulting on our debt, the government shutdown cost us 120,000 new jobs, according to the Council of Economic Advisers.

We cannot afford to play the political games of brinkmanship with our economy, which is just now recovering from the Great Recession.

My constituents sent me to Washington to do real work for the American people – such as reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank and supporting American jobs, extending the Land and Water Conservation Fund to protect our natural resources, fixing our broken immigration system, and investing in our nation’s infrastructure by repairing our roads, bridges and highways.”

Women’s Health:

“Unfortunately, some of my colleagues have declared open season on the health care of millions of American women. This week, they only offered us a radical new bill targeted at drastically reducing access to affordable family planning for low-income women and their families by stripping lifesaving health care away from millions of women – including cancer screenings, birth control, STI testing and treatment, well-woman exams and advice on family planning.

American women deserve better than this; the American people deserve better than this.

As long as I’m in Congress, I will be committed to keeping all American families safe and focus on creating jobs and providing bigger paychecks to the American people.”

UPDATED – An Execution Tonight In GA: Gissendaner Denied Clemency

ABC News (and others) is reporting that the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles have decided not to issue clemency to Kelly Gissendaner, despite Pope Francis requesting that she be spared. Her execution will take place tonight at 7 p.m. at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification in Jackson by lethal injection. She is currently the only woman on death row.

In a press release given to ABC News, the State Board of Pardons and Parolees stated:

“After carefully considering the request for reconsideration, and meeting with Gissendaner’s representatives again today, the Board has voted to let the decision of February 25, 2015, denying clemency stand. Gissendaner was convicted of murder in 1998 for the February 1997 death of her husband, Douglas Gissendaner, and sentenced to death.

In reaching its decision, the Board thoroughly reviewed all information and documents pertaining to the case, including the latest information presented by Gissendaner’s representatives. To date, the Board has reviewed the parole case file on Gissendaner and three clemency applications in the case: the original application and two applications requesting the Board reconsider its decision to deny clemency. Gissendaner’s conviction and sentence have been upheld throughout the appeals process. Gissendaner’s appeal to the United States Supreme Court was denied on October 6, 2014.

Gissendaner is scheduled to die by lethal injection tonight, September 29, 2015, at 7 p.m. at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson.”

Updates can be seen after the break.

Read more

Bob Barr Named National Chair For Cruz’s “Liberty Leaders for Cruz” Coalition

Former Congressman Bob Barr (R, IL, R, ?) was named by Ted Cruz today as the National Chair for his “Liberty Leaders for Cruz” Coalition.

Sen. Ted Cruz:

“The U.S. government is crushing liberty at nearly every turn. Our Constitutional rights are under attack like never before and we must fight back. I am thrilled to have Congressman Barr, a proven defender of liberty in this country, chair our Liberty Leaders coalition. Bob’s long history of protecting our Constitutional freedoms and his consistent, conservative record make him best equipped to lead this important coalition.”

Bob Barr:

“I am truly honored to be asked by Sen. Cruz to chair ‘Liberty Leaders for Cruz.’ More than any other candidate for President in 2016, Cruz understands that the oath the President takes is a solemn commitment to always act in accordance with the Constitution, which is after all, the mechanism whereby our individual and collective freedoms as a country are secured. It is that commitment to the Constitution and to Liberty that has drawn me to serve Sen. Cruz.”

The Cruz campaign also released a video, which can be seen after break, that highlights eight Liberty movement leaders that are supporting Cruz.

Read more

Georgia’s Obesity Rate Still Above 30%

Andy Miller published an article with Georgia Health News (GHN) yesterday that revealed that Georgia’s obesity rate, considered as a BMI of 30 or above, was 30.5% in 2014. This ranks us at 19th in the nation.

The obesity rate has grown from 10.1% in 1990, 20.6% in 2000, and 30.3% in 2013. African-Americans are at a 37.5% obesity rate in Georgia, while whites are at 27.5%. The numbers were released in a report earlier in the week by Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, the Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health, stated to GHN:

 “While we recognize there is significant work to be done in Georgia to reduce the adult obesity rate, the fact the state remained statistically flat from year to year is a positive. We are seeing significant improvements in our youngest Georgians.’’

Dr. Fitzgerald gives credit for to the Georgia SHAPE program and its Power Up for 30 initiative for helping to prevent childhood obesity. This program “encourages schools to give children an additional 30 minutes of physical activity daily.”

Rodney Lyn, an obesity expert and an associate dean in the School of Public Health at Georgia State University, stated that more programs and funding have been added over the last decade to help prevent obesity. The steps taken include serving healthier food in schools and the development of more parks and greenspace.  He has also seen a reduction in the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. Lyn added that “there are signs of progress among children” but concluding that “we have a long way to go.”

He said that poverty is a major risk factor for obesity. He believes that poverty can lead to people skipping meals or eating less due to a lack of food and then binge eating when food is available. This can often lead to weight gain. He further cites that fast food restaurants are often the choice in communities where there is a deficiency in access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

Lyn further stated that a heavy burden of chronic diseases stems from obesity and that “we haven’t really seen the full toll of this epidemic.” The report reflects the chronic disease issue by showing that Georgia ranks 10th in the nation with an adult diabetes rate of 11.6% and 12th in  nation with a hypertension rate of 35 percent.

Read more

A Democrat Becomes a Republican To Run In Democratic District

From a press release sent to us:

Diane Daniels-Adoma has decided to go against the political trend in her district. As the district steadily becomes more Democrat, she is making a party switch to the Republican camp. Her move has attracted attention from as far away as Washington, D.C., but voters in her own district have expressed doubts that she can muster the funds—and votes—necessary to win in the special election for the seat recently vacated by Ronald Ramsey, Sr.

Senate District 43 includes a portion of much-observed DeKalb County, an entire third of Newton County and the majority of Rockdale County. Ronald Ramsey, a Democrat who assumed the seat in 2007, has assiduously avoided contact with contenders for the seat, going as far as re-locating to another address in the middle of the night. His former address is now occupied by people who have rebuffed repeated inquiries and requests for comment. Ramsey was sworn in to a newly-created non-partisan judgeship in a newly-created Dekalb County traffic court by Governor Nathan Deal on July 30.

Much like her race against current State Representative Dorothea “Dee” Dawkins-Haigler, for the seat representing Georgia House District 91, this race is filled with mystery, posturing and intrigue. Dawkins-Haigler, who is Georgia Legislative Black Caucus Chair and sits on several House committees, is rumored to be interested in the Senate District 43 seat, but has made no announcement concerning the special election to be held in November of this year. Daniels-Adoma was defeated by Dawkins-Haigler in the 2014 Democratic Primary for the House District 91 seat. Dawkins-Haigler was unopposed in the general election.

Read more

Roy Barnes Seeks to Have Special Master Removed from Speaker Ralston’s Case

Aaron Gould Sheinin of the AJC has reported that a request has been filed by former Gov. Roy Barnes to remove Robert Castellani as the Special Master for Speaker David Ralston’s disciplinary case brought by the Georgia State Bar. Barnes serves on the legal team representing Speaker Ralston, who is accused of violating several State Bar Rules while representing a client. Ralston could face anything from disbarment to an outright dismissal.

Castellani, a former DeKalb County Superior Court judge, was named by the Georgia Supreme Court as the replacement Special Master after Mark Dehler stepped down in late July. Dehler was named as the Executive Director of the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission (JDQ) on July 17, which he provided as a reason for relinquishing his position as Special Master in a letter to the State Bar.

Barnes feels that Dehler resigned under pressure after lawyers for the State Bar argued a conflict of interest was in effect due to the Georgia Legislature setting the budget for the JDQ and Speaker Ralston’s influence on the legislative body. Barnes believes that the same type of conflict exists with Castellani, as he serves a senior judge for DeKalb County and his pay and retirement fall under the review of the Georgia Legislature.

Barnes stated that “if the State Bar were demanding Mr. Dehler’s removal, the State Bar should be consistent and insist upon the removal of Judge Castellani.”

A copy of the original complaint by the State Bar against Speaker Ralston can be seen after the break.

Read more

Campaign 101: Things To Do And Not Do When You Lose

I have had the opportunity to work with campaigns at every level for well over a decade. I have seen dozens of losing campaigns, including my own when I lost (badly) in a county commission race almost 12 years ago.

I observe people, listening to what they say and how they say it. I take note of their actions and file them away for future usage. Politicians are human beings, and thus they can err, especially during difficult times. I have learned from their mistakes (and my own).

The following are a few tidbits I have picked up along the way from observing losing campaigns or from my own personal experience:

  1. Give yourself time to decompress before making any statements that you will regret. Typically, the news media will want a quote or two from the losing side. Keep it brief and generic.
  2. Do not blame others for your loss. Period. I have seen way too many campaigns give too much credit to one person, typically a former political opponent, for their campaign’s downfall. Campaigns can be won and loss for a multitude of reasons. Seldom does it come down to one person, unless it was the candidate.
  3. Thank your supporters. They invested in you.
  4. Stay involved. Losing is not an excuse to quit. I cannot count how many times I have seen somebody lose an election and then disappear.
  5. Study and learn from your loss. Either use the knowledge and wisdom to help others or use it to better prepare yourself for your next challenge. Listen to what other people have to say, but take it with a grain of salt. Some just want to tell you what you want to hear, but there will be some that are sincere in their advice.
  6. Think positive. Losing sucks, but life goes on. Remember that the best candidate doesn’t always win.
  7. Find a good listener or mentor that you can trust to vent to.
  8. Keep filing your financial disclosures until you are no longer obligated.

Feel free to share any others that you may have.

GA Congressional Delegation Wants Savannah Harbor Project Prioritized

All fourteen U.S. Representatives and the two U.S. Senators from Georgia have called upon the Army Corps of Engineers to request at least $100 million a year from 2017-2020 for the Savannah harbor deepening project in their annual budget request to President Obama’s administration. If less than $100 million is allocated per year, the project cannot be completed by 2020 and could cause the $706 million project to cost an additional $200 million.

Currently, the Federal government is on tap to pay $440 million of the project’s cost, while Georgia will cover $266 million. The project’s total cost includes construction and environmental mitigation. The federal government is involved in the project due to their Constitutional authority over navigable waters.

The end result of the project is to deepen the port from 42 feet up to a maximum of 48 feet in order to handle larger vessels that will eventually pass through the Panama Canal. The Corp believes that the project will bring in an additional $174 million in annual benefits to the United States.

The Georgia Delegation stated:

“The key to the success of this project will be whether the administration’s budget proposal next year includes at least the approximately $100 million that [the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers] has identified as the level that would keep the project on the path to timely completion.

By every measure, our ability to grow our economy is tied to our ability to have competitive international shipping rates, and those rates are determined by having cost-efficient port infrastructure. And no port infrastructure project in the nation can more efficiently and more quickly stimulate job growth in our country than SHEP.”

A copy of the Congressional Delegation’s letter to Jo-Ellen Darcy, the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works), can be seen after the break.

Read more

Ethics Complaint Filed Against Taylor Bennett in House District 80 Race

In a complaint signed by Shawn M. Keefe that was received by the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission today, Taylor Bennett, Democratic candidate for GA House District 80, is accused of failing to “file his Personal Financial Disclosure under the law within the time alloted [sic].”  Early voting has begun in that district.

A copy of the complaint can be seen after the break.

Read more

Rep. Doug Collins Wants To Defund Planned Parenthood

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.”

Gov. Deal and A.G. Sam Olens Ready To Investigate Planned Parenthood

It appears that Georgia is geared up to investigate the recent allegations raised by an undercover video that Planned Parenthood is selling fetal organs for profit. The allegations are rebutted by Planned Parenthood as being untrue and that only fetal tissue is being donated for research.

Gov. Nathan Deal’s Office:

“Gov. Nathan Deal is committed to protecting life at all stages, particularly the most vulnerable and defenseless among us. In light of recent revelations regarding alleged illegal Planned Parenthood activity and to ensure this horrific practice is not occurring here, the governor is directing the Department of Community Health and the Department of Public Health to conduct a joint review of the clinics run by Planned Parenthood Southeast in Georgia.”

Attorney General Sam Olens:

“I applaud Governor Deal’s swift call for a review of Planned Parenthood in Georgia following alarming allegations of horrendous practices occurring at its clinics. Every life is sacred and should be respected, especially the most vulnerable among us.

My office stands ready to assist the Department of Community Health and the Department of Public Health with their joint review of Planned Parenthood if needed.”

Georgia Life Alliance also issued a call for action:

“The Georgia Life Alliance Committee (GLA) is calling on the Governor and members of the Georgia Legislature to launch a state investigation into Planned Parenthood. GLA’s call comes after the release of a disturbing video showing Planned Parenthood’s Sr. Director of Medical Services Dr. Deborah Nucatola casually detailing the process of altering abortion procedures to harvest specific fetal body parts for the purpose of selling or delivering them intact and per request of buyers.

‘The horrific and illegal acts described so callously by Planned Parenthood in yesterday’s video should give even the most ardent pro-choice advocate cause for grave concern,’ said Executive Director Emily Matson. ‘We urge Georgia’s lawmakers to acknowledge the gravity of this evidence and launch an investigation to ensure this is not happening in Georgia. In addition, and in light of the lacking nature of our state’s abortion provider regulations, the time is now to ensure abortion procedure and practices receive the scrutiny and attention of our regulatory and enforcement agencies.'”