blow the whistle
$show the love

March 25-29, 2013

March 29, 2013 --

Ex-APS Superintendent Beverly Hall, 34 others indicted Ethics reform passes with push from Deal Open Meetings case used to protest $2M land deal Charges expected in APS test-cheating scandal Judge tries to halt hearing in DeKalb grand jury case Lawmakers agree on more money, transparency for private school scholarships Brunswick commissioner indicted on racketeering charges […]

Juvenile Justice secrecy bill fizzles at sine die

March 29, 2013 --

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.

Ethics reform for dummies, Part 2: Campaign finance

March 28, 2013 --

March 28, 2013 — Sen. Jeff Mullis wants to level the playing field regarding campaign fund-raising for legislative races (because incumbents are at such a disadvantage). A worthy goal, but I’d do it a little differently. Five ideas to improve Georgia’s campaign finance laws:

1) Bar incumbent legislators from accepting political contributions if they don’t draw opposition at qualifying time.

Common Cause: Robocalls spur personal attack by House leader

Common Cause: Robocalls spur personal attack by House leader
March 27, 2013 --

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 […]

Ethics reform for dummies, Part 1: Lobbyist gifts

Ethics reform for dummies, Part 1: Lobbyist gifts
March 26, 2013 --

March 26, 2013 — To Georgia legislators: As you struggle toward a compromise on ethics “reform,” here are five suggestions that would REALLY help to restore Georgians’ faith in government.
1) Limit lobbyist gifts to $25 per day, with a limit of four per year. That allows them to buy you a meal and a beer, but not the bottles of wine that really drive up the cost up of these $100 meals. And no gifts for spouses. Pay for those yourselves. Suck it up.

Tolleson loses bid to strip buffers from Ga. wetlands

Tolleson loses bid to strip buffers from Ga. wetlands
March 25, 2013 --

March 25, 2013 — Sen. Ross Tolleson lost badly last week when he tried an end run around a judge’s ruling protecting Georgia wetlands. Tolleson, who chairs the Natural Resources Committee, took to the well Friday seeking to amend an unrelated bill with language that, he said, would clarify the state’s rules for development around state waters. The amendment would also have cleared the way, however, for Grady County to proceed with building a 960-acre lake near Cairo, Ga.

March 18-24, 2013

March 24, 2013 --

Lawsuit: Cobb EMC withholding millions in refunds from members PolitiFact: Is Georgia one of top 3 states for gun traffickers? Foreman sues judge to make DeKalb corruption report public The ‘zero’ at the center of the Capitol debate over ethics reform 2001 redistricting led to latest battle for Fulton County Panel approves revised bill for […]

$170K in ALEC junkets untouched by gift cap

$170K in ALEC junkets untouched by gift cap
March 22, 2013 --

March 22, 2013 — Under the ethics bill and $100 gift cap that Georgia senators will debate today, lawmakers could continue accepting tens of thousands of dollars a year in travel expenses from corporate interests. Not only would the bill let them keep traveling to posh resorts on special interests’ tab, you often won’t even know about it. The conservative American Legislative Exchange Council makes these jaunts possible. Big business and trade associations give the money to “scholarship funds” controlled by ALEC, which doles the cash out to legislators attending ALEC events.

DJJ bill could seal reports of staff misconduct

DJJ bill could seal reports of staff misconduct
March 20, 2013 --

March 20, 2013 — Allegations of wrongdoing in the state’s juvenile prisons could be sealed from public view under a bill considered today by a House subcommittee. Witnesses for the state Department of Juvenile Justice said the bill was intended to protect children in custody from retaliation for reporting gang or other criminal activity. The current version of the bill, though, makes no mention of gangs or juvenile crime. Rather, it would exempt from disclosure “the information provided by children who report abuses or wrongdoing in the juvenile justice system.”

March 4-17, 2013

March 18, 2013 --

Equalization fund: Some schools more equal than others Reform legislation is retaliatory, tax commissioner says House lobbyist gift ‘ban’ has loopholes Audit finds potential fraud in state child-care program Promise of stadium tickets raises council’s concern Bill tears down firewall between DNR board, fundraising arm Troup County Dem officers dismissed after refusing to drop embezzlement […]

Ex-Rep. Ed Lindsey: Charter school point-man

Ex-Rep. Ed Lindsey: Charter school point-man
March 4, 2013 --

Rep. Ed Lindsey, with the help of some deep-pocketed friends, is one of those leading the charge for more publicly funded charter schools across Georgia. In 2012, Lindsey chaired Families for Better Public Schools, a political committee heavily funded by for-profit charter school interests to push for another avenue to launch such schools. He co-sponsored the House resolution placing a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot and, in 2013, authored a so-called “parent trigger” bill that would give families a way to virtually force conversion of a low-achieving school to a charter.

The committee’s single biggest funder, Walmart heiress Alice Walton, donated $600,000. (The Walton Family Foundation has given millions more since 2009 to other pro-charter groups here: $2.7 million to Georgia Charter Schools Association, $450,000 to the Georgia Family Education and Research Council and $135,000 to the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.) The latter foundation works with the Conservative Policy Leadership Institute, chaired by Lindsey, to “train Georgia’s leaders to shape the public policy debate and to govern by adhering to conservative principles.” Its key policy areas include choice and accountability in education.

Feb. 25-March 3, 2013

March 3, 2013 --

CDC bioterror labs cited for security flaws in audits Imperial Sugar: No prosecution Founders of Angel Food Ministries plead guilty Ex-DeKalb superintendent hired by program she promoted Vogtle nuclear project to take longer, cost ratepayers more Why were ParkAtlanta officials’ tickets dismissed? ATL streetcar project faces scrutiny Macon to get subsidized flights again A Savannah […]