The subpoenas follow claims from past Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission staffers that current Executive Director Holly LaBerge meddled with an investigation into Deal's 2010 gubernatorial campaign. Back in September, an AJC investigation revealed that she allegedly removed documents related to the state probe and met with Deal's staffers during the process.
Now LaBerge and others will head before a federal grand jury. Reporters Greg Bluestein and Aaron Gould Sheinin report:
Commission attorney Elisabeth Murray-Obertein told the AJC on Wednesday that she and executive secretary Holly LaBerge were served in the commission office. John Hair, a former ethics IT staffer, also said Wednesday he received a subpoena.
"I think federal involvement is long overdue," Hair said. "I'm glad they're pursuing the investigation."
Another person with knowledge of the case who was not authorized to speak for the record told the AJC that former commission director Stacey Kalberman and her top deputy, Sherilyn Streicker, also received subpoenas for documents related to the commission's investigation of Gov. Nathan Deal's 2010 campaign for governor.
Deal lawyer Randy Evans has continued to deny the governor's involvement in any of the allegations. Neither the U.S. attorney's office or the FBI, he said, had contacted his office regarding the federal grand jury.
Nevertheless, the feds are in search of more documents from the probe into Deal's alleged campaign finance violations. Deal was cleared of major charges in a July 2012 settlement where he agreed to pay $3,350 in "administrative fees."
"If documents have been removed, altered or destroyed then there should be an investigation," Evans told the Associated Press. "That's what we've said from the beginning."
Georgia's high school graduation rate increased by nearly two percentage points over the last year. The overall graduation rate now stands at 71.5 percent.
Shannon Guess Richardson, a Flowery Branch native, pleaded guilty to sending ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Mark Glaze, the director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Richardson has had minor roles in "The Walking Dead" and "The Blind Side." Richardson's ricin plot appears to be an attempt to frame her estranged husband.
The hottest gift this holiday season might be Sriracha. Currently embroiled in a fevered legal battle with the city of Irwindale over spicy odors that residents claim are causing a series of health problems, the California hot sauce manufacturer is now facing enforcement of stricter guidelines from the California Department of Public Health that forces the company to hold all their products for at least 30 days before they can be shipped to food distributors and wholesalers.
For the first time in over 20 years, the Food and Drug Administration has put in place a new policy to curtail the indiscriminate use of antibiotics given to livestock being raised for human consumption. Experts believe that the haphazard practice has played a major role in fueling the massive rise of antibiotic-resistant infections in humans.
Uruguay is poised to become the first nation to create a national marijuana market. Their federal government will regulate the entire process of production and consumption. The effort is framed as a means to combat organized crime and reduce drug abuse. Interestingly, the legalization effort has been strongly supported by billionaire philanthropist George Soros.
1. Tanz Farm kicks off at the Goat Farm
2. A John Waters Christmas at Variety Playhouse
3. David Bromberg at Eddie's Attic
4. Laugh and Bid at Monday Night Brewing
Atlanta Tea Party Patriots are expected to file a lawsuit against the Cobb County Commission sometime during the next 10 days in hopes of stopping officials from spending public funds on the new stadium. Last month, county officials voted to contribute an estimated $300 million in taxpayer dollars to the new $672 million sports facility through local cash, car rental and hotel and motel taxes, and transportation funds.
Tea Party Patriots Co-founder Debbie Dooley, who criticized the stadium deal prior to Cobb's approval, told WSB-TV last night that the county's vote was an "unconstitutional use" of public money:
Dooley said the problem is the proposal uses almost $9 million a year from the general fund to help pay off the $300 million in bonds.
She calls it creative financing by the Cobb Commission.
"We believe the legal advice they received was on shaky ground," Dooley said.
Earlier this week, the Associated Press reported that Dooley and company considered options other than taking the county to court:
The coalition of opponents initially asked commissioners to postpone the Nov. 26 vote for a memorandum of understanding between the county and the team. Pellegrino says the next step is submitting a detailed list of questions that the MOU outline hasn't yet answered.
There's also the possibility of legal challenges for various components of the financing deal, including the plan to redirect existing property tax revenues to pay off stadium debt. Then, Dooley says, there's the task of going after the commissioners' jobs, first through recall petitions and, if that fails, when they're up for re-election.
"This is not over," Dooley said, "not by a long shot."
Dooley says that between five-to-ten plaintiffs, namely residents or activists, will join the lawsuit. Merry Christmas, Tim Lee!
You now have an easy place to find the answers to these questions. And see how it's envisioned to evolve over the next 17 years.
Atlanta Beltline Inc., the nonprofit tasked with planning and developing the 22-mile loop of parks, trails, and transit, has officially released its "strategic implementation plan," or SIP, a 140-page document that outlines how the project will progress from now until 2030. ABI's board of directors unanimously approved the plan this morning.
If you follow the $4.8 billion project closely, you'll want to give it a read. (Yes, the Beltline's grand total now over the 30-year construction period is $2 billion higher than originally estimated in 2005. A spokesman says that figure was based on the cost of Beltline projects in 2005 dollars. This plan's cost estimate is more realistic, he says, as it's based on an actual schedule of projects stretching over 17 years, anticipated inflation, and future construction costs).
The plan took approximately one year to complete and included public input from nearly 800 people. It's different from previous efforts, such as the five-year work plan ABI produced at the project's onset, ABI CEO Paul Morris told CL in an interview yesterday. He says it's the first time officials have laid out exactly what they want to build - and when - on paper and for the public.
"It's a little like growing up," Morris says. "Creating the plan, establishing the district, forming ABI was all about starting something. That period, probably the first three to five years, was all about the first stages of development. The last three years or so have been about adolescence, figuring who we are and being a mature business enterprise. And now we are staking our commitment and developing the maturity to be an adult, grown-up organization who, as a team, understands how, and is committed to, fulfilling the objectives."
First-term state Sen. Mike Dugan, R-Carrollton, has introduced a pre-filed bill that would let educators in local public school systems teach different holiday traditions to students. The lawmaker, rather than ban religious-themed practices, basically wants to keep 'em all in the classroom.
The measure would also allow for schools to display "scenes or symbols associated with traditional winter celebrations." School administrators would be required to display symbols from multiple religions - or showcase both a religious and secular item - if they choose to offer some holiday-related lessons.
"A display relating to a traditional winter celebration shall not include a message that encourages adherence to a particular religious belief," the bill reads.
No word yet on whether the legislation would include Festivus poles.
In an effort toward transparency, Cobb Chairman Tim Lee says a communication plan will soon be released with details on the county's future plans to help build the Atlanta Braves' $672 million stadium - a deal that was approved last month. "Now that it's happened, it's appropriate to keep as much information as possible on our progress and our status available to the folks that are involved," Lee told the Marietta Daily Journal.
MARTA won't operate the Atlanta Streetcar once it's fully operational, a city official says.
Some Georgia inmates who were previously sentenced to life in prison may receive new jail terms due to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision.
The Weather Channel is threatening to leave metro Atlanta if they don't receive tax breaks to help with a planned expansion. "But given our future growth, to stay in our current location requires significant levels of investment," Executive Vice President Shirley Powell told the Associated Press.
State Sen. Jason Carter, D-Decatur, takes a look back at his one-time meeting with former South African president and civil rights icon Nelson Mandela. Yes, he spoke Zulu back in the day. (though he's rusty now!).
The weather has been pretty miserable lately, but we nonetheless had some fun outdoors when we happened upon the Zachary Coffin piece Rockspinner, a public artwork that was recently installed at the corner of 10th and Peachtree. The Midtown Alliance has leased the work, consisting of a ten ton granite boulder from the Nevada mountains attached to a spinning base, from the Atlanta-based artist for three years.
It's not difficult to turn, but it does take a good push to get it going - you definitely get a sense of the huge mass of the thing - but once it's moving, it's surprisingly easy to keep it revolving. It will even stay turning for a while after you've left, as it does in the video above. Next time you're up that way, do give it a whirl.
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