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Ga. man arrested after attempting to build guard rail on spot where daughter died

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A grieving north Georgia father took the state’s infrastructure backlog into his own hands last week when he attempted to construct guard rail along a bridge where his daughter recently died.

White County sheriff’s deputies arrested Shannon Hamilton of Cleveland, Ga. over the weekend for attempting to construct a safety barricade on the spot where his 16-year-old daughter and her boyfriend died after their vehicle overturned and plugged into a creek earlier this year.

The county commission voted last month to add guard rails to the spot but Hamilton considered the government’s pace dangerously sluggish — so he acted himself and now faces a felony charge.

“For 30 days to go by and nothing to happen is disgusting, disrespectful, it’s negligent, and it’s reckless disregard,” he told a local Fox News affiliate after his arrest.

Hamilton’s arrest was caught on film. In the cell phone-recorded video, he’s seen saying, “[i]t’s sad the community of grieving parents have to make things happen when the White County roads department can’t do shit.”

He was booked into the White County Detention Center on a felony charge and posted a $5,000 bail. Read More

RFRA sponsor: nondiscrimination rider would hold hostage people of faith
2 years ago

RFRA sponsor: nondiscrimination rider would hold hostage people of faith

The author of Georgia’s failed religious liberty legislation says he will revive the divisive proposal next year as written — without non-discrimination protections for gays and lesbians that supporters in the General Assembly deemed a poison pill.

State Sen. Josh McKoon, the Columbus Republican who authored the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, said in a Monday radio interview that possible discrimination based on sexual orientation is totally immaterial to his bill—it’s already the case in Georgia that private businesses may refuse service to LGBT persons barring municipal nondiscrimination ordinances—and accused activists of dishonestly leveraging the debate over free exercise of faith to force an unrelated discussion about nondiscrimination.

“There’s nothing about this bill that impacts the current state of Georgia law as to whether we’re going to recognize sexual orientation as a protected class,” McKoon told Atlanta NPR affiliate WABE. “I think that one of the objectives of the opposition to this bill has been to create confuse about [religious freedom] to then leverage it to try to talk about [nondiscrimination].”

McKoon evaded questions by host Denis O’Hayer why those two debates—the barring of government from interfering with the free exercise of faith, and codifying in state law sexual orientation as protected class—could not be had in tandem as a means of diffusing criticisms of his bill and similar measures in states like Indiana and Arkansas.

“I don’t think that people of faith in this state should be held hostage to any other issue, any other public policy issue,” he said. “That debate … has nothing to do with the fundamental protection of the first freedom of all Georgians, which is the right of free exercise.”

The GOPer also said he expected state party activists to send a “very strong message” to the General Assembly that the base supports his bill. Party activists will huddle this weekend for district conventions and again next month for the state Republican party’s convention in Athens.

“I’ve been spending most of my time talking to congressional district Republican party chairmen around this state. We’ll be having conventions this Saturday,” he said. “And I expect you’re going to hear a very strong message sent from all over this state and all 14 congressional districts on this issue.”

Asked if that strong message might translate to primary challenges for the three Republicans who were instrumental in the bill’s demise by supporting the inclusion of nondiscrimination clause in committee, McKoon said he wasn’t “in the business of getting into threatening people” but expected it would “certainly impact the debate.”

Listen to the full exchange at WABE’s website. Read More

Dem. congressman: it’s ‘open season on black men’ for bad cops
2 years ago

Dem. congressman: it’s ‘open season on black men’ for bad cops

A Georgia Democratic congressman said in a Monday speech that it was “open season” on African American men by bad actors in law enforcement.

Rep. Hank Johnson, who has represented his southwest Atlanta district since 2007, took to the floor of the U.S. House Monday to condemn his colleagues for falling to address recent police-involved shootings of black men.

“It feels like open season on black men in America and I am outraged,” Johnson said. “In fact, all Americans are at risk when bad actors in law enforcement use their guns instead of their heads.”

Johnson asked for unanimous consent to enter into congressional record an index of recent police-involved shootings, including several from Atlanta.

One Georgian Johnson named, 23-year-old Nicholas Thomas, was shot last month by Smyrna police after an arrest attempt went awry. After serving an arrest warrant for a probation violation, police allege Thomas stole a nearby vehicle and used the vehicle as a weapon against the arresting officers.

Watch Johnson’s speech after the jump. Read More

House GOP leader to resign: source
2 years ago

House GOP leader to resign: source

The third most senior GOP lawmaker in the Georgia state House of Representatives will resign his leadership post in exchange for a state appointment, a Republican with knowledge of the arrangement told Tipsheet.

House Majority Leader Larry O’Neal, who was elected to leadership in 2010 after his party’s representation under the Gold Dome jumped by triple digits, will be appointed to a state board in about a month’s time, according to a GOP source who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the plans.

O’Neal, a tax lawyer, had originally sought to lead state Department of Revenue, but Gov. Nathan Deal instead appointed then-state Rep. Lynne Riley as commissioner last November.

The source, who cautioned that the jump had nothing to do with the majority leader’s role in the recent transportation spending package, said that O’Neal’s timeline may be accelerated now that word of the arrangement has leaked.

Attempts by Tipsheet to contact O’Neal and a Deal spokesman Monday morning were unsuccessful.

O’Neal’s plans to resign were first reported over the weekend by Tom Crawford of GA Report. Read More

Atlanta airport cracking down on Uber

A driver for the ride-sharing service Uber was ticketed and had his vehicle impounded by Atlanta police after attempting to service an airport fare last month.

Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport requires that car services be permitted by state and airport authorities. Only those for-hire services specifically authorized by the airport may service travelers.

An employee for Atlanta NBC news affiliate WSB said he requested an Uber driver meet him on March 25 at the airport’s lower level, away from the designated taxicab stand, but was stopped by a police officer.

“The officer told him that ‘You’re not supposed to pick people up at the airport. I’m going to have to give you a ticket and impound your vehicle,'” the passenger, WSB’s Rich Thomas, said in a segment the station aired this week.

An Uber spokesman told the station that it hopes the General Assembly’s recent passage of ride-sharing legislation would provide a framework through which it could “engage Atlanta airport administrators in a constructive dialogue that paves the way for more consumer choice.” Read More

ExIm chief to Atlanta, home to top critic Delta
2 years ago

ExIm chief to Atlanta, home to top critic Delta

The chairman of the U.S. Export-Import Bank will visit Atlanta, the hometown of the embattled agency’s fiercest corporate critic, for a series of small business-focused speeches Wednseday.

Bank president Fred Hochberg will join Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson for a tour of Opportunity Hub, an Atlanta startup nursery, and TOMCO2, a Loganville carbon dioxide systems manufacturer that received a taxpayer-backed ExIm loan last year for $236,000.

In both stops Hochberg is expected to stress ExIm’s utility to small business, part of a larger rebranding campaign the agency has undertaken as it again fights for congressional reauthorization.

But the bank’s critics, including Atlanta-based Delta Airlines, criticize the bank as a slush fund for the well-connected—primarily Boeing, which won $10.8 billion in long-term loan guarantees from ExIm last year.

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By subsidizing loan and loan guarantees for foreign air carriers who buy Boeing’s planes, US-based airlines, of which Delta is the loudest, say the government is harming the domestic airline industry while giving a leg-up to oversees competitors by reducing borrowing costs courtesy of the American taxpayer. (By one industry estimate, ExIm’s lending policies have eliminated 7,500 US airline jobs.)

Even as Delta lost a court battle last week against the agency, whose operating charter will expire June 30 if not reauthorized, the company says the real battleground isn’t the courts but Congress.

“We pursued all our options in court, but we’ve known all along this is going to be won or lost in Congress,” Delta spokesperson Trebor Banstetter told the New York Times Tuesday.

On that count, Delta has the support of most of the state’s congressional Republican lawmakers. Last year, all of the state’s nine (now ten) Republican congressmen voted to allow the agency’s charter to expire, but both senators wanted instead to see it reformed. Read More

State Dem. chair: Rand’s so extreme our Republicans look sane
2 years ago

State Dem. chair: Rand’s so extreme our Republicans look sane

The chairman of the Democratic Party of Georgia responded in color terms to the presidential campaign announcement of U.S. Senator Rand Paul Tuesday by calling the Kentucky Republican a “whackadoo” who would dismantle the country’s social safety net and erase strides made by minority groups.

In a lengthy statement haranguing Paul as hostile to women and gays, state party chair DuBose Porter said the GOP hopeful was so extreme he made Georgia’s congressional delegation look moderate.

“Rand Paul’s announcement should alarm every woman, college student, and hardworking family in the state of Georgia,” Porter said. “Even by Georgia standards, Rand Paul is a whackadoo that would turn the Office of the President into a breeding ground of the bizarre and extreme right. The guy is on the record criticizing the Civil Rights movement, saying he doesn’t believe in LGBT rights because they’re ‘based on behavior,’ and saying that vaccinating our children is a step toward ‘martial law.’

A handful of Georgia Republican pols were on hand for Paul’s kickoff in Louisville, Ky. Tuesday. They included state Reps. John Pezold and Scot Turner and failed State School Superintendent candidate Ashley Bell. Read More

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