Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Where will you hate watch CNN's GOP debate?

Posted By on Wed, Sep 16, 2015 at 4:34 PM

Any viewing of a GOP primary debate requires alcohol and/or camaraderie. - JOEFF DAVIS/CL FILE
  • Joeff Davis/CL File
  • Any viewing of a GOP primary debate requires alcohol and/or camaraderie.
Tonight at 8 p.m., CNN will host its first GOP debate of the 2016 presidential cycle. (CL, like the rest of America, will most likely listen to the 6 p.m. "undercard" debate while we knit.) Not everyone these days has cable, so we either have to hunt online for livestreams or endlessly reboot news outlets' overloaded apps. Or just follow along on Twitter.

Why not escape the house and view the shenanigans with friends and strangers and a long beer list? Thus far we know that Hudson Grille Midtown, Westside Pizzeria, and (of course) Manuel's Tavern will show the debate with sound. Let us know where else we can witness Donald Trump duckface his way through another debate. 

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Georgia Supremes weigh liquor sales, coin-operated amusement machines in industry's legal battle against Clarkston

Posted By on Wed, Sep 16, 2015 at 2:57 PM

Aster Gebrekidan, who co-owns a Clarkston convenience store with her husband, is suing the city over its COAM ordinance. The Georgia Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday. - JOEFF DAVIS/CL FILE
  • Joeff Davis/CL File
  • Aster Gebrekidan, who co-owns a Clarkston convenience store with her husband, is suing the city over its COAM ordinance. The Georgia Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday.
Forty-two Circle K convenience stores have hopped into a Georgia Supreme Court battle between the video slots industry and the tiny city of Clarkston over eight-bit one-armed bandits, liquor sales, and millions of dollars in gambled cash. The court's justices heard arguments in the case on Tuesday morning.

The stores, some in Atlanta, care because they want two things under one roof: the familiar business of selling six packs and bottles of wine, plus the somewhat less-widespread business of video slots. 

In some of those 42 Circle K-affiliated shops you can already play some games —  technically known as coin-operated amusement machines, or COAMs — when you pick up some alcohol.  

The other stores don't have COAMS, according to a brief the shops filed together with the Music and Amusement Operators Association, the industry group representing game owners, at the state Supreme Court.

The stores are interested because, if the Supremes side with Clarkston, other cities and counties could pass a law requiring the two types of sales be separate. And that ain't good for a business worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

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Saturday, September 12, 2015

Bernie Sanders comes to Atlanta

Posted By and on Sat, Sep 12, 2015 at 4:52 PM

Vermont socialist who's enjoyed a groundswell of grassroots support tells packed crowd in Downtown they are 'part of a political revolution.' - JOEFF DAVIS
  • Joeff Davis
  • Vermont socialist who's enjoyed a groundswell of grassroots support tells packed crowd in Downtown they are 'part of a political revolution.'

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders told a packed crowd in Downtown on Friday that they and the  thousands of other supporters across the country were part of a "political revolution." At a $50-a-head fundraiser for the Vermont Democrat's White House campaign — one of several stops on a swing through the South aimed at boosting support among black voters — Sanders outlined his plans to win the party's nomination. 

Sanders took the stage of a muggy event space at 200 Peachtree St. just after 6 p.m. to the roars of more than 1,200 rowdy attendees waving blue-and-white signs. Some were so familiar with his platform they even finished some of his sentences.

"The American people are sick and tired of establishment politics," he said. "The American people are sick and tired of establishment economics. And the American people are sick and tired of establishment media."

Flanked by a sign language interpreter, the socialist underdog rolled up his sleeves and, with wonky stats and populist flair, focused on the hardships hamstringing the country's middle class. People can't find work, he said. College graduates are stymied by student loan debt. People are disgusted by billionaires and corporations buying elections. Income inequality is growing. 
To Sanders, there's a way forward and it's in the form of a progressive's wishlist that he's pledging to push should he win the election. Think universal healthcare, tuition-free college education, a master federal work program, 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, and infrastructure investment, he said. Do away with corporate contributions to political campaigns, reform the criminal justice system to help combat racism, and take serious action to ease the effects of climate change. 

Sanders' vision isn't "utopian" or "pie-in-the-sky," he said, especially not for the wealthiest country in the world. And it can be achieved partly by telling corporations they have to "start paying their fair share of taxes." A tax of Wall Street speculators could also help, he said.

Sanders' campaign has gained its footing with a still-growing volunteer base. According to the candidate, 100,000 men and women are helping spread the word about the campaign. He's refusing to accept donations from corporate lobbyists and not relying on Super PACs. To date, he said, more than 400,000 people have contributed to the campaign.

"Their average contribution is $31.20," he said.

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Jimmy Carter, in good spirits, says melanoma has spread to brain

Posted By on Thu, Aug 20, 2015 at 2:17 PM

  • Joeff Davis

Former President Jimmy Carter says the melanoma that doctors found on his liver has spread to his brain, causing the 90-year-old humanitarian to drastically curtail his philanthropic work. But Carter seems less worried about the cancer than about the prospect of missing a Habitat for Humanity build in Nepal due to his treatment schedule.

“I’m perfectly at ease with whatever comes,” he said at a press conference at The Carter Center on Thursday morning, saying his future is in the hands of God and he will follow doctors’ recommendations.

Doctors removed cancerous melanoma from the former president’s liver earlier this month. Carter will undergo radiation treatment for four spots of melanoma on his brain this afternoon.

Each of the spots is very small, “about two millimeters,” Carter said. It could show up in other places he said.

The problem is, a weeks-long drug treatment may coincide with a trip he had planned.

“I really wanted to go to Nepal to build houses,” said Carter, for what would be his 33rd annual build in the Himalayan nation. Carter said he can't anticipate how he will be feeling. It is likely he will be represented by his family instead.

The former president found out about the cancer only in the last few months, when he came back from an election-monitoring trip in Guyana with a bad cold. He ended up getting a whole physical. An MRI exam revealed a growth on his liver. The day it was removed, a subsequent scan showed spots on his brain.

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Gov. Deal taps Andy Davis for Capitol's MLK statue

Posted By on Mon, Jun 29, 2015 at 2:00 PM

click image Sculptor Andy Davis - CHRISTINE FONVILLE
  • Christine Fonville
  • Sculptor Andy Davis
The city's plan to place a statue honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Capital Grounds is finally picking up steam. On Mon., June 29,  Gov. Nathan Deal and Rep. Calvin Smyre assigned Georgian sculptor Andy Davis with the honor of creating the historic statue. 

Davis is a Henry-County based artist who began his career in 1999. His past works include sculptures of Ray Charles, Chick-Fil-A founder Truett Cathy, Patrick Henry, and the Georgia Police Memorial. With his extensive portfolio, Davis seems more than qualified for the significant project. 

“Placing a statue of Dr. King at the Capitol of his home state is a long overdue honor, and selecting an artist is an important step forward in this process,” Gov. deal said in a statement. “I am confident that Andy Davis’ past works, including a statue of Ray Charles in the singer’s hometown of Albany, have prepared him well for this historic project. I commend Rep. Smyre for his diligent efforts and leadership on this project and I look forward to seeing the final work of art.”

The statue will reside on the northeast quadrant of the Capitol grounds overlooking Liberty Plaza. To check out more of Davis' work, click here.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Run the State: Killer Mike on his political aspirations

Posted By on Tue, Jun 16, 2015 at 7:45 AM

DO THE RIGHT THING: Killer Mike says his push for the District 55 seat was a way to bring more awareness to local politics. - DUSTIN CHAMBERS/CL FILE
  • Dustin Chambers/CL FIle
  • DO THE RIGHT THING: Killer Mike says his push for the District 55 seat was a way to bring more awareness to local politics.
Killer Mike came close to breaking the Internet after announcing his plans to run as a write-in candidate for the District 55 seat left open by former state Rep. Tyrone Brooks. Never one to back down to addressing issues that plague his community, via his Instagram account, the Grammy-winning rapper and one-half of the popular duo Run the Jewels, posted the message, "In Atlanta Georgia there will be special election tomorrow for District 55. Former state representative Tyrone Brooks no longer sits in the seat. I would like as many people as possible to go to the polls and write in Michael Render. Why because if I win we win. Thank you now go vote."

Technically, Killer Mike can't run, even as a write-in candidate, without the proper registration paperwork. However, that doesn't mean the liberal musician will be any less politically active. CL caught up with Killer Mike on the eve of the election, and the MC spoke about why all politics are a stunt, Georgia 's biggest problem, and which politicians are actually doing their job right.

When did the nugget in your head get planted to actually go from being somebody who has been very vocal and active in their community to actually jumping into the political arena?
Well, I can't run officially because in Georgia you have to register, even as a write-in, but I wanted to bring awareness to the fact that there is this empty seat in District 55 that [Tyrone] Brooks had held forever, and it just seems like no one is paying attention to the seat, and it's a pretty powerful seat. I didn't feel like Atlanta was paying enough attention to what was going on, so I was like the best way to bring attention is to say, "Hey, if you write me in and I win I'm wiling to do it." I would have really gone to Washington and represented the great people of the state of Georgia. Whether I was elected or anyone else it was just important to me that people on a local level are engaged in politics know that there is an election happening. 

So ultimately, this all about just bringing attention back to local politics ... 
Yeah, if I would have gotten voted in I would have had to do step the fuck up and do my job, but my political aspirations are not in the immediate. I just want to continue smoking weed and making dope rap records, touring — very simple rapper stuff [laughs]. You know I can't not pay attention to my community and what's going on, so I'm always saying something or compelled to speak on it. This time it was really overwhelming to see how many people were willing to support a run for public office. So eventually, yeah, I am going to run for public office. 

What's your response to people who will just call this a rapper doing a publicity stunt, and in the process taking attention away from the seven candidates that have been campaigning for 55 weeks?
The people that are fussing about me are the people who have already decided who they're voting for and they're hoping for a lower voter turnout because that gives their particular [candidate] a greater of chance winning. The same can be argued for two black people running against one another for mayor and there's a white candidate in the race too, so I'm familiar with that argument. I'm simply saying that that seat has not done the amount of good for the community it could do. And I don't care who gets in that seat, I care who gets in that seat with a vision and a purpose.

So, if you say people have been campaigning for 55 weeks yet the people that responded to me didn't know there was an election, I'd say your candidate wasn't doing good enough. And, if they weren't doing good enough, the question becomes, "Why?" A lot of politicians on a local level count on low voter turnout because it increases their opportunity to win. I'm trying to counteract that and say, "We want more voter turnout," because I want more people actively engaged. When you're at the casino and you don't gamble you can stand around and tell people how silly they are every day, but the minute you bet on the table you care about that more than anybody else in that casino. So I'm simply telling people to put a chip in the game, get out and vote. Once you vote and once you're in the game, you're going to care more about what your school board is doing with your vote, you're going to care about what road work is happening because of your vote, and you're going to care more about what that state rep is doing. So when people say, "It's just a stunt," — what political thing isn't a stunt? Well, that candidate you support goes out and kisses a baby or drinks coffee at a local Starbucks — that's a goddamn stunt. That's what they're doing to let people know, "This is what I stand for." So, absolutely it was a stunt to let people to know that I want you to know that there is an election going on, and I don't want you to be unaware of that. I want you to be greatly aware of that. I worked damn-hard to get this celebrity so I can broker it against whatever I need to, and whatever I like. I think that getting people out to the polls is important.

In your political opinion what's the issue that needs immediate attent
ion in our state?
The school system. It's broken. Our school system is broken, which leads us to a prison industrial complex type of system that's even more broken. Our prisons are not reforming people. We have a prison system in which you can go to prison, learn how to be a barber, and then when you get out of prison you're not allowed to be a barber because you have a felony. Someone needs to work on changing that. There needs to be prison reform. There needs to be actual reform of the young men that are going in there. There needs to be a change in the drug laws and the drug policy in the Georgia on a state level.

There also needs to be education. I'm support of the idea of charter schools because I've seen the difference they've made in my nephew's life. I think more minorities need to be open toward something we're not usually. Charter schools are not an evil thing when public schools aren't serving their purpose. Either we're going to shape up our public schools in Atlanta or the state of Georgia or we're going to continue to suffer the horrendous — not only test scores — level of education our kids are getting. They're being denied a prime education because we're only focusing on test scores. I would support things like year-around school, believe it or not , because I believe that kids would retain better. I believe having smaller breaks through the school year is actually more productive and better for kids, progresses them more. I would like to see a school system that works less like the one now and more like, say, a Paideia [School]. 

I'd also like to see a jobs program where, particularly, you have young black men that are jobless. I'd like to see an entrepreneurial program and trade program that targets young black men and gives them the opportunity to be budding entrepreneurs in a place like Atlanta where so much money is coming.

So Brooks might not have set the best example of how to do politics the right way, but are there a local politicians you feel are doing right by the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia?
I can say there are people I like. I like our mayor. Some people have had differences with him. I like Kasim [Reed]. I also like Cesear Mitchell. I like Kwanza Hall a lot. I think Kwanza Hall could potentially be our next mayor. With that said, no one matches the standard of Maynard Jackson — yet. Notice I said, "yet," because I understand it's a process in this position of power, but I honestly feel he is the standard for what a politician should be in Atlanta. Maynard set a standard for how to do business with small, local, and black business. He set a standard for how to be brave as "a minority in office." He set a standard for how Atlanta is to be mayor'd and how it's to be ushered and I think that he should be the standard that we aspire toward in terms of politicians that have been good for Atlanta on a whole; not just good for black Atlanta, not just good for white Atlanta, but good for Atlanta on a whole. I think Maynard was the absolute finest mayor we've had, and I would like to see mayors step and I'd like to see some fiery city councilmemebers. I want to see what Hosea Williams was, even in all his controversy. He cared about the regular people, the small business owners along Boulevard and Edgewood and in Kirkwood. He cared about them. I liked Derrick Boazman when he was on City Council, and I think we need people like that, that are fiery and care about Atlanta and only care about Atlanta. I'm a big fan of Able "Mable" Thomas. I think we need more fiery, grassroots women in Atlanta politics. We have a great number of women involved in Atlanta politics and I have a great love and respect for them all, but Able Mable and Cynthia McKinney in particular were two rabble rousers for the grassroots and I think that we need those type of people in Atlanta and even out in DeKalb [County].

Regardless of whether you actually can run, there will be folks writing your name in. What's your message to your constituents? 
I was genuinely overwhelmed by the amount of people who were willing to change their day around and go out to [vote]. I'm sorry that laws prevented me from doing it, but we'll be ready the next go-round. We'll be ready the right way, and we're going to give them hell.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Bernie Sanders' plan for world domination starts to take shape in Atlanta

Posted By on Wed, Jun 10, 2015 at 3:23 PM

More than 130 supporters packed the new bar of Manuel’s Tavern on Sunday to start building a grassroots network for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, the perpetually ruffled and outspoken socialist who’s running for the Democratic presidential nomination.

One by one, men and women signed up to volunteer, pick up literature, and snag a free button reading “Bernie, y’all” and “Bernie 2016.” Surrounded by signs saying “people and planet before profit,” the supporters ate, traded names, and discussed the 2016 election before co-organizer Daniel Hanley, a local activist, led a call-and-response chant to kick off the event.

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U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, vows to continue with re-election bid

Posted By on Wed, Jun 10, 2015 at 1:01 PM

Last November U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, wasted no time launching his campaign to win re-election in 2016. But rumblings about the septuagenarian's health — be it back surgery or cracked ribs — have dogged the second-term lawmaker in recent months. Now he's faced with an even more serious diagnosis: Parkinson's disease.

Isakson this morning revealed that doctors two years ago diagnosed him with the degenerative central nervous system disorder. In a statement, the U.S. senator says the disease, which is still in its early stages, has caused symptoms of stiffness in his left arm and a "slowed, shuffling" gait. He since has started physical therapy and has taken two kinds of medicine on a daily basis.

“While I am facing this health challenge head on, I have wrestled with whether to disclose it publicly," Isakson said in a staetment. "I recently shared the news with my three grown children and my senior staff a couple of months ago. Their support, along with the steadfast support of my wife Dianne, helped me to take this step today. In the end, I decided I should handle my personal health challenge with the same transparency that I have championed throughout my career."

According to Isakson, Parkinson's disease has not affected his abilities to serve as a lawmaker, citing his work on five different Senate committees, two of which he chairs. His neurologist, Dr. Thomas Holmes, says Isakson is "fully capable of running for re-election and serving for another term." Gov. Nathan Deal, who received a personal call from Isakson about the diagnosis, said "there's not a doubt" in his mind the senator will be able to hold his post.

“Anybody that follows me around for a week in Washington will recognize it’s not a debilitating situation," Isakson said on a conference call. "It’s a matter of me being in charge and I’m in charge."

Isakson's re-election bid will continue as planned. He's spent much of the last seven months already on the campaign trail, including a major event at the Capital City Club this month. Isakson, one of the state's most respected Georgia lawmakers on all sides of the aisle, has so far scared off a Democratic challenger. Only one Republican candidate, MARTA Sr. Network Engineer and former U.S. Senate candidate Derrick Grayson, has decided to mount a challenge in the primary.

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Friday, May 15, 2015

Eaves to AG Olens: Look into councilwoman's hiring as rec authority director, please

Posted By on Fri, May 15, 2015 at 3:21 PM

Fulton County Chairman John Eaves
Fulton County Chairman John Eaves is asking the state Attorney General’s Office to review Keisha Lance Bottoms’ controversial double-duty service as an Atlanta City Councilmember and executive director of the authority that will oversee the sale of Turner Field.

In a letter issued yesterday, Eaves asks Attorney General Sam Olens to “investigate whether any ethical or legal provisions have been or may be violated by such an appointment.”

Bottoms was appointed executive director of the Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority last month in a surprise move that apparently involved no job posting or application. Bottoms, slated to start the job June 1, has said she will remain a City Council member as well. She told CL after the announcement that the thought she could not perform both duties with integrity was "insulting." The City’s Ethics Office said there is no “per se conflict of interest” in such double-duty.

Eaves is far from convinced that’s the final word. In his letter to Olens, he notes that the Ethics Office opinion also said the situation might warrant a deeper review of all ethical implications.

Eaves also raises another Code of Ethics provision that has not been addressed. That provision prevents officials from representing private interests before government agencies in exchange for pay. And he notes that AFCRA has its own “Standard of Conduct” code that similarly could prevent Bottoms from appearing before City agencies in her role as AFCRA’s chief.

“To the extent that Councilmember Bottoms would be lobbying or seeking funding on behalf of the Authority from the City of Atlanta, her dual roles could present at the very least the appearance of an ethical conflict,” Eaves writes.

We reached out to Olens for comment yesterday and did not hear back. Bottoms was not immediately available for comment. We will update if we hear back. Eaves’s full letter appears below.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Deal vetoes bills for tax credits, bicyclists running red lights, new agency for seniors

Posted By on Wed, May 13, 2015 at 10:36 AM

Since the legislative session ended in early April, Gov. Nathan Deal has taken several victory laps across the state to sign pieces of legislation approved by the Georgia General Assembly.

He's signed into law measures dealing with medical marijuana, public-school takeovers, and roads and bridge funding, among others. And don't forget the tax break benefiting Mercedes Benz that passed minutes after the legislative session (technically) ended! Earlier this week, he made several stops from Dalton to Albany to hold ceremonial signings of the state's $21.8 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Deal, who has 40 days to take action on bills approved by the General Assembly, this year decided to veto 11 different bills. Taking a page from the ol' Golden Sleaze Awards, the governor struck down a controversial bill that sought to increase economic development in low-income and rural parts of the state with $110 million in tax credits. If you recall, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle made a few minor last-minute tweaks by re-directing $55 million toward his pet venture capital project, Invest Georgia. The bill was panned for directing cash into what critics claimed could become a slush fund.

The governor nixed measures to create a state Adult and Aging Services Agency, let motorcyclists and bicyclists run through red lights after stopping if their vehicles failed to trigger sensors, and other measures.

We've included Deal's list veto, plus his explanations for taking such actions, after the jump.

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