State legislators say they welcome transparency regarding their personal finances — corporate and real estate holdings, government contracts and the like. But who decides what constitutes transparency and how diligently to check whether they’re truly telling us what we’re entitled to know? They do. Just as war is too important to be left to the generals, transparency is too important to be left to the politicians.
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Here's the plan... The Internet brims over with opinion. Facts? Not so much. We want to restore the balance. We dig up & share public records on ethics and transparency in public institutions. Tips, documents & feedback are welcome. We also offer tutorials (we know, it's geeky) so you, too, can dig up public records.
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May 14, 2013 — Gov. Nathan Deal last week unexpectedly vetoed a bill that would have given $9 million in sales tax breaks to charitable medical clinics, federally qualified health centers, food banks and other charities. The measure, which breezed through the House and Senate, would have benefited many safety-net providers that expect to carry an extra patient load once the federal Affordable Care Act begins phasing out hospital subsidies for indigent care next year.
Deal’s veto message noted that a 2010 tax reform panel recommended that all non-government and non-business exemptions be allowed to expire so the Legislature could decide whether they should be renewed. He did not apply that principle, however, when he signed a bill last month extending an estimated $18 million tax break to Gulfstream Aerospace Corp., a Savannah-based manufacturer of luxury jets.
An early backer of Rep. David Ralston, Benton supported the Blue Ridge Republican’s unsuccessful 2008 effort to unseat Glenn Richardson as speaker of the House. After Richardson later resigned, the GOP Caucus chose a new speaker in Ralston, who named Benton to chair the House Human Resources and Aging Committee.
Benton’s top campaign donors — including trade groups for teachers, highway contractors and trucking and billboard companies — reflect his longstanding assignments to the Education and Transportation committees.
Tru-Vision Security Consultants, Tanner’s private security business, gave up its six-figure contract with Lanier Technical College in January 2013 on the day he took the oath of office to serve as a state legislator.
Tanner said he did his research and found Tru-Vision could have continued doing business with the college if it won a new contract through a competitive sealed-bid process. “However,” he wrote in a Jan. 14 letter to a university official, “I feel it best that I turn this work over to another company to avoid any appearance of impropriety.”
Rampage shootings have often prompted legislators in those states to contemplate tightening rules after rampage shootings, but a ProPublica survey shows few measures gained passage. In fact, several states have made it easier to buy more guns and take them to more places.
Some of the nation’s top medical schools cracked down on professors who give paid promotional talks for drugmakers last year, and the firms themselves cut back on such spending in the wake of mounting scrutiny. ProPublica first published its Dollars for Docs database in October 2010 listing payments to doctors from seven drug companies. When we updated it this September — with data from five additional companies — spending by some of the firms was down.
Political parties and other powerful players use the once-a-decade redistricting process to advance their own goals — often at the expense of voters. A recently released trove of email messages from Ohio offers a rare inside glimpse into how it works. The messages, sent from June to September, show collaboration between the national GOP and state Republicans to redraw Ohio’s maps and thus cement control of both the statehouse and a majority of congressional districts.
- Richmond Co. Sheriff’s Office benevolent fund violates law
- Report: GA could feed 200K more low-income kids during summer
- Jekyll Island staff asks AG whether high marsh is considered land; development plans hang in the balance
- Previous DUIs reduced for former Hawks star
- DJJ suspends 19 investigators over backlog of open sex-abuse inquiries
- Legislature did little to slow foreclosure crisis
- Duluth PD reprimands gay officer involved in discrimination dispute
- Lawmakers take varying approaches to per diem allotment, reimbursement
- Ex-student sues Regents over Open Records Act
- Fulton County chief judge blasts police report on sentencing
- Wells Fargo settles foreclosed-home complaint
- Ex-Sumter Co. commissioner sentenced for bribery
- Audit: GA Labor Department missed chance to recover millions in improper payments
- Fulton DA spent seized money on dinners, home security
- Blacks in Ga. 3 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession
- Mental health director makes changes at Atlanta VA Medical Center
- Ex-APS tech chief indicted for alleged kickback scheme
- Cherokee County activist fuels controversy
- Augusta mayoral candidate defends use of tickets, money from contractor
- Audit: Labor Dep’t ‘missed opportunities’
- Lawsuit accuses Scientologists’ drug treatment center of fraud
- Ex-Gwinnett planning commissioner gets probation for $426K theft
- Georgia depends heavily on federal money
- State leasing official, broker traded info on Gwinnett deal
- Thousands of Fulton votes uncounted in 2012 election
- Water war leaves an oyster hub depleted
- Supremes rule ATL school taxes can go to Beltline
- City Hall says stadium referendum not possible, watchdog group continues push
- Griffin-Spalding County Land Bank homes skirt violation citations
- Mounting legal woes led to Democratic leader’s resignation
June 3, 2013 — A candidate did not present enough evidence of irregularities to overturn a 2012 election that he lost to Baker County Sheriff Dana Meade, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled today. Tim Williamson received about one-third more votes than Meade in the 2012 Democratic primary but lost a runoff by 39 votes. Williamson challenged the results claiming there were irregularities with absentee ballots and votes bought with money or liquor, but the high court said it wouldn’t have changed the outcome even if true.
March 29, 2013 — A bill to seal allegations of misconduct inside Georgia’s juvenile prisons remained stuck in committee when the Legislature adjourned last night. Senate Bill 69, sponsored by Jack Murphy and others, would have exempted reports of “abuses or wrongdoing in the juvenile justice system” from disclosure under the Georgia Open Records Act and authorized dismissal of whistleblowers leaking such allegations to the news media or advocacy groups.
Common Cause of Georgia just sent out this news release, which I post here in its entirety: Atlanta, GA – In a surprising response to a letter sent to ethics committee conferees requesting consideration of amendments and informing members of advocacy calls to voters in their legislative districts, House Majority Leader Larry O’Neal (R-Bonaire) replied [...]
Jan. 17, 2013 — Atlanta city officials bought at least $128,000 in gift cards since 2008 but can’t say exactly what they did with them, the city auditor has found.
Jack Murphy lost his chairmanship of the Senate Banking Committee on Monday, two years after the feds sued him for his alleged role in a quarter-billion-dollar bank failure. At least Murphy got a new committee — Regulated Industries — with something to do. Don Balfour, as expected, was also removed as chair of the powerful Rules committee after paying a $5,000 ethics fine. Now he’ll chair one of the least significant, at least until the 2020 Census — Reapportionment.