The Atlanta City Council voted 10-4 this afternoon in favor of giving themselves a 50 percent pay bump, raising their salaries from $39,473 to $60,300.
If approved by Mayor Kasim Reed, councilmembers would see their salaries increased in January 2014 after next November's elections. That means that some councilmembers wouldn't actually see the benefits unless they earn another term.
In October, a commission recommended the raise after looking into "fair compensation for Atlanta's elected officials." As Thomas Wheatley noted, the increases could potentially attract better candidates for these positions, which technically are considered part-time jobs. Some political scientists, however, say that's not necessarily the case.
Councilman Kwanza Hall - along with his colleagues Natalyn Mosby Archibong and C.T. Martin - voted against giving themselves raises, while Ivory Young abstained.
"My gut feeling was not to be inclined to do anything like this in this economic climate, as well as looking at the fact we have to consider our employees as well," Hall told 11 Alive today before City Council's meeting.
Reed's remained adamant on not accepting a proposed 25 percent increase for the mayor. Spokeswoman Sonji Jacobs says that her boss has not decided whether he will sign the legislation.
"While [Mayor Reed] does think members of Council deserve higher compensation, he has concerns about the timing," Jacobs tells CL. "As such, he is reserving judgment about the measure itself until he has time to fully vet the legislation."
If the proposed legislation earns the mayor's signature, the AJC reports that the pay bump would be "the largest in Atlanta's history." It would also mean that councilmembers' salaries will have tripled over the past 12 years.
We've inquired with the Mayor's office as to when Reed would take action on the legislation, and we'll post an update once we hear back.
UPDATE, Dec. 5, 2:18 p.m.: In addition to Councilmembers Kwanza Hall, Natalyn Mosby Archibong and C.T. Martin, Keisha Lance Bottoms also voted against the pay raise.
Were I to run for the Senate, it would be a terribly nasty campaign. It'd actually be really awesome, but it'd be really nasty. I have a seven year old, a soon to be four year old, and a wife who does not like being anywhere near a stage. I'm not putting my family through that when the best outcome would mean a sizable pay cut and being away from my kids and wife all the time huddled in a pit of vipers often surrounded by too many who viewed me as a useful instrument to their own advancement.
I appreciate all the support. I really do. In the past week I've learned who real friends are and are not. It has been eye opening. I had been all along very, very dismissive of running. But given the efforts of several and the financial pledges of support, I figured I should actually take the time to seriously and prayerfully consider it out of respect for those who asked and offered to help.
I don't understand these people who take a bunch of time publicly wringing hands over these things. A week of thinking about it was enough.
I've refrained from writing about this here the entire time because I know, as the Hotline already did despite not a byte wasted on this here, people would say it was just some effort of self promotion. Were I to run, the campaign would be about me and not about ideas. My campaign would be a lightning rod for both sides and a distraction, consuming resources on both sides that are better spent elsewhere. I think in a state like Georgia it would play to my advantage, but it would not advance the ideas I care about through the election, just me.
We will find someone to catapult into the arena. It just won't be me. I'll instead still be standing here to keep the bridge with thee.
With Erickson out of the running, former Georgia secretary of state Karen Handel remains Chambliss' main competition for the time being. That is, at least, until another potential challenger gets tossed up for consideration.
Conservative blogger Erick Erickson says he's considering running against Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Georgia, who earned the ire of hardcore conservatives after he dared show disrespect toward Grover Norquist, pledge aficionado. The Washington Post reports:
Erickson, the founder of RedState.com and a CNN contributor, told listeners that he'd been approached about a campaign and would give it "prayerful consideration." [...]
In a blog post Tuesday, Erickson argued that Chambliss, whom Erickson worked for on multiple campaigns, should face a conservative primary challenge. "Saxby Chambliss has been part of the problem and remains part of the problem," he wrote.
A commenter on Peach Pundit, the right-leaning Georgia political blog founded by Erickson many moons ago, raised a good point about the senator.
I dont know, but being that Erick has had some things to say in the past which would make him toast in a general election IMO. Lets also not forget, this is the guy (Saxby) who ran an ad comparing his opponent (Max Cleland) who lost multiple limbs defending this country, to Osama Bin Laden which to this day is the most disgusting ad I've ever seen in a political campaign. Imagine what he would put Erick through.
Add to the equation that Karen Handel, a former Georgia secretary of state, one-time gubernatorial candidate, and Erickson ally who raised her profile with a Planned Parenthood spat, is also considering running against Chambliss, and things get even more interesting. And who can forget the other politicos apparently waiting in the wings?
As the pending budget showdown in Washington intensifies and the much-hyped fiscal cliff looms, we take a look at some of our favorite cliff scenes from the world of popular culture.
How appropriate that somtime comic, fulltime wing nut Victoria Jackson stars in the best of the lot:
Imagine John Boehner asking Michele Bachmann to "give him some dirt" as he revs his hot rod:
In addition to touting some successes and promising to push for light-rail along the Atlanta Beltline and high-speed rail to Savannah, Mayor Kasim Reed told a developer crowd this morning that he's not planning a move to Washington, D.C.:
Are you guaranteeing us you're sticking around till 2017? Yes, Atlanta Mayor @kasimreed tells @atlbizchron Publisher Ed Baker. #CarterBfast
— Tony Wilbert (@twilbert) November 8, 2012
Political watchers had speculated that Reed, one of the President Barack Obama's most vocal and visible supporters, would be appointed to a White House cabinet position. Were Reed to pass the background checks, sitdown interviews, and unpredictable Senate confirmation process to get such a gig, Atlanta City Council President Ceasar MItchell would have assumed the mayor's office until the next regular election.
But Reed, who repeated his intention to Atlanta this morning at a breakfast event sponsored by real estate developer Carter, says he's focused on convincing voters next November that he deserves a second term as Atlanta mayor.
Reed might not have to break a sweat doing so. So far, we haven't heard of any established political figures even considering a run against Reed.
Were they to do so, they need to get moving. According to the mayor's most recent campaign reports, he's sitting on a war chest with more than $1 million and a strong political network that could contribute more cash if needed.
Should no one step up, we could see a repeat of former Mayor Shirley Franklin's 2005 re-election campaign, when her main opposition was Dave Walker, the City Hall gadfly best known for his rabble-rousing performances during the public-comment period in Atlanta City Council committee meetings. Franklin received more than 90 percent of the vote.
Check out more photos from the election parties last night.
Take a deep breath, everyone. After months of brutal races, myriad campaign promises, questionable remarks, and Internet fodder galore, the 2012 election season is finally over. President Barack Obama defeated former Gov. Mitt Romney to win a second and final four-year term in the Oval Office.
Last night, Thomas Wheatley and I scurried around the Republican and Democratic parties and kept tabs on the races worth watching. Now that the ballots have been counted and the dust has settled, here's how yesterday's key local races played out.
* The controversial charter school amendment passed by a much larger margin than expected going into Election Day. The ballot measure, which many opponents believed was misleading given its unclear wording, received more than 58 percent of the vote.
So what does this mean for charter schools moving forward? The amendment itself doesn't actually create a state-appointed commission — a group that would allow for charter schools to be created without local school board support — but it does allows for the Georgia General Assembly to create that entity. That will likely happen sometime during the next legislative session, which convenes in January.
* The second amendment, which allows for state agencies to enter into multiyear rental agreements for office space, also passed. If you're unfamiliar with this amendment (we don't blame you), Thomas Wheatley covered it in CL's election issue.
* Both incumbent Public Service Commissioners Chuck Eaton and Stan Wise were re-elected. CL hoped Wise would get the boot but withheld an endorsement in Eaton's race against Democrat Steve Oppenheimer and Libertarian Brad Ploeger.
* Congressmen Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, and John Lewis, D-Atlanta, unsurprisingly nabbed themselves another two-year term in office, blowing out their opponents in respective landslides. Likewise, Congressmen Tom Price, R-Alpharetta, and Phil Gingrey, R-Marietta, claimed their districts once again by roughly a 2-to-1 margin.
* In what seemed to be the only competitive congressional race last night, U.S. Rep. John Barrow, D-Augusta, held on against state Rep. Lee Anderson, R-Grovetown, to win another term as the 12th district representative.
* It looks like the GOP will just fall short in claiming a two-thirds supermajority under the Gold Dome. In the state House of Representatives, the Republicans now hold 119 seats — just one short of what they were aiming for. (Thank state Rep. Rusty Kidd of Milledgeville, the Capitol's only independent.) At the moment, they're in line to claim 37 Senate seats, and are expected to pick up no. 38 when a special election favoring a Republican candidate takes place this January. That 38th seat is crucial for the GOP, as it would give them a supermajority in the upper chamber.
And in other races:
* Hunter Hill, a security company executive and U.S. Army veteran, defeated state Sen. Doug Stoner, D-Smyrna, to represent the upper chamber's redrawn sixth district.
* Despite Chris Boedeker's deceptively edited attack ad, state Rep. Scott Holcomb, D-Atlanta, won District 81 without much worry.
* Former House Speaker Glenn Richardson, who resigned his powerful post after his affair with a lobbyist was made public, failed in his attempt to become the 30th District's state Senator. He only managed to garner 14.8 percent of the vote in a four-way special Republican primary. State Rep. Bill Hembree, R-Winston, received the largest number of votes but failed to sway a majority of ballot casters. He will face Republican Mike Dugan, who earned the second-highest number of votes, in a runoff to fill the seat.
Follow CL's coverage about election results, controversies, victory party gossip, and other nonsense.
So a brief round-up: Based on unofficial results from Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the so-called charter schools amendment passed. So did the mindblowingly boring ballot measure asking whether the state should be allowed to sign multiyear leases. Georgia Public Service Commissioner Chuck Eaton and Stan Wise both appear to have won re-election. So did Georgia's incumbent congressman. As of this writing, it appears GOP challenger Hunter Hill narrowly defeated state Sen. Doug Stoner, D-Smyrna, in a crucial race for the upper chamber.
Look for more recaps and number-crunching in the morning. Until then, have a great night.
12:21 a.m. CL photographer and treasure Joeff Davis sends photos of the Manuel's Tavern crowd hearing that Obama won another term:
11:37 p.m. More photos of the celebration:
11:24 p.m. And CNN and other networks have called the race for President Barack Obama. The Freight Depot went nuts.
11:17 p.m. Last stop for the evening (aside from Manuel's Tavern, perhaps): The Democratic Party of Georgia and Obama for America's Georgia campaign headquarters at the Freight Depot near Underground Atlanta. This place is jam packed.
One person who's apparently missing: Mayor Kasim Reed, one of the evening's sponsors. We're told he was invited to Chicago to join President Barack Obama.
10:15 p.m. Fulton County election workers count absentee ballots at the Fulton County Elections Preparation Center, a large warehouse in northwest Atlanta. As of Nov. 5, 2012 there were over 31,000 requests for absentee ballots in Fulton County. There are 659,011 registered voters in Fulton County.
10:10 p.m. After a solid hour at the GOP parties, we're headed out to see the Democrats. We'll leave you, though, with this lovely Romney supporter.
10:01 p.m. FItness With Jeff, the personal trainer who will advertise on every bench, sedan, and wall in Atlanta, amazes us again:
9:52 p.m. Republican Public Service Commissioner Chuck Eaton says it’s too early to declare victory in his race against Democrat Steve Oppenheimer and Libertarian Brad Ploeger. “There’s too many [precincts] out in Fulton, DeKalb, and Clayton,” which are Democratic strongholds, he told CL. He does like the fact, however, that his results are tracking those of Mitt Romney. He thinks that in another 30 minutes we’ll have a better idea of where things stand.
9:41 p.m. The charter school amendment appears well on its way to passing, boasting a 13 point lead with about a third of counties reporting. In Fulton and Dekalb counties, it's winning by nearly a 2 to 1 margin.
9:14 p.m. And the Wi-Fi works. Max and I are now hunkered down at the Grand Hyatt, where the GOP's bigwigs are gathered in ballroom with 10-point star chandeliers, sipping on $11 premium cocktails, and giving rah-rah speeches. (Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, the evening's host: "Tonight is going to be victorious.")
The crowd's been glad-handing with Congressmen Tom Price, R-Roswell, and Phil Gingrey, R-Marietta, state Sen. David Shafer, R-Duluth, Public Service Commissioner Chuck Eaton (who appears to be on his way to winning another six-year term), and others. In addition to state lawmakers, we've spotted lobbyists and campaign consultants.
A group of political junkies is huddled around the Jumbotron that's tuned to, what else, Fox News.
Oh, and about Fulton County's Board of Elections woes:
Ga Sec of State just called voting snafus in Fulton County "a debacle." Provisional ballots will take days to count. #gapol
— Charles Gay (@ajclocaleditor) November 7, 2012
8:30 p.m. On to the Grand Hyatt! Pray to God we get Wi-Fi!
8:22 p.m. In Cobb County, where I spent my formative years, I’m watching the race between state Rep. John Carson, R-Marietta, and 34-year-old challenger Kevin “Big Kev” Westphal. Not just because I’m happy to see a young person involved in politics, especially in such a conservative area like East Cobb. But because holy sweet Jesus look at that moustache. And he manages a hobby shop.
Unfortunately, Carson leads Westphal 75-25.
8:20 p.m. If you want updates directly from the Secretary of State's website, you can check them out here. Only a few counties have reported this early in the evening, most of which are outside metro Atlanta. So take those numbers with a grain of salt for the time being.
8:09 p.m. CL music genius Chad Radford, who's watching returns at Manuel's, sends word via text:
Beer took about 5 min... People here seem happy... They keep cheering but they boo'ed Oklahoma...Kind of an awesome vibe here... Giant screen TV on the back of a truck... I'm hanging out with Bean... No other notable faces so far.
Only the best for you, dear readers.
8:02 p.m. Thomas here. Max and I are still slamming our hobbit hands against our keyboards at the Buckhead Whole Foods, considered by
many no one to be the Republican Manuel's Tavern, before we venture to the Grand Hyatt to kick it with Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle. Here's what we're watching now:
* The charter school amendment is one of the tightest races on the ballot right now. As of this writing, 52 percent of voters support the amendment. However, only one precinct has reported. And we're only seeing some of the more rural counties reporting. Watch for how metro Atlanta votes on the measure.
* The "other amendment," which would allow the state agencies to enter into multiyear leases for office space, has strong support. So far, 60 percent of voters are in favor of the measure, which the state thinks would save as much as $66 million over ten years (and which we said lacked enough safeguards to protect from corruption).
Sec of State Kemp says his investigators are in Fulton Co. Could be a long night on English St where they tabulate results #yourvoteon2
— Lori Geary (@lorigeary) November 6, 2012
7:59 p.m. FOX News has already predicted that Gov. Romney will take Georgia. While it's early in the night, that's hardly a surprise to anyone.
BREAKING: FOX News projects Mitt Romney wins Georgia #youdecide #fox5atl
— FOX5Atlanta (@FOX5Atlanta) November 7, 2012
6:53 p.m. Seven minutes until the polls close. If you're reading this while standing in line, congrats. If you're walking to your polling precinct, walk faster. Wherever you're watching the election, keep us open in a tab and refresh for occasional updates. Max Blau and I have commandeered the controls of CL's Twitter account, so follow us there as well.
On Saturday afternoon, about 25 people gathered outside the Gold Dome to protest Georgia's anti-cannabis laws as part of the third annual Capitol Cannabis Reform Jam. The event, which was hosted by various local chapters of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, aims to urge lawmakers to legalize marijuana and police to stop arresting people who use the drug for medical purposes.
"This isn't about smoking [marijuana], it's about not arresting people [for using marijuana]," said Georgia Project 420's Tim Trout, one of the event's organizers. The afternoon featured speakers such as longtime local pot activist Paul Cornwell, Jon Herman of Georgia NORML, and a performance by Force of Habit.
One attendee, Sam Hood, told the crowd that none of the medications doctors prescribed him during his battle against cancer six years ago to help battle nausea and appetite loss worked as well as marijuana.
Most of the protesters stood in matching black shirts that read "no victim no crime" and featured a marijuana leaf with the American flag inside of it. Some protesters brought their children. One passerby wanted to know why there was a screamo band playing outside of the Capitol on an otherwise pleasant Saturday afternoon. Some motorists waved or honked at the signs being held on the side of the road as they drove by. Others just slowed down and laughed.
People wearing t-shirts that said, "High as Fuck" were ordered to remove their shirts by Capitol Police. CL's waiting to hear why.
UPDATE, 2:41 p.m. The Georgia Capitol Police's public information officer tells CL via email: "The supervisor at the rally observed the shirts and out of concern for the children that were present discussed his concerns with the rally organizer. The organizer then asked the four people to cover their shirts while participating in their rally. Capitol Police did not approach the people wearing the shirts."
More photos after the jump
The battle to represent House District 81 between state Rep. Scott Holcomb, D-Chamblee, and Republican attorney Chris Boedeker is a testy one. And it's produced one arguably the most hilarious ads of the election season.
In the spot, a man speaking into what sounds like a 1980s pay phone says Holcomb, who served in the U.S. Army as a lawyer and was deployed overseas three times to Bosnia and Iraq, "talks about using illegal drugs" while in military. And that's why he doesn't think people receiving welfare benefits should be tested for drugs. Stick with us for a second. The spot then cuts to video of Holcomb speaking from the well of the state House of Representatives during debate over House Bill 861, a controversial piece of legislation which would have required welfare recipients to submit to random drug tests.
Holcomb was one of the proposal's biggest opponents. He even introduced a bill that would have required state lawmakers to take drug tests, a proposal which earned him media attention and an Arnie Award from CL — not to mention some scorn from fellow lawmakers. Standing at the lectern, Holcomb recalled how, while in the Army, "he'd always get the call [to take a random drug test] after I had... you know." Cue the ominous dun and slow-motion footage of Holcomb making a hand gesture that's eerily similar to someone puffing on a joint. The idea being that the lawmaker was always asked to pee in a cup shortly after smoking weed. And notice the nose rubbing! Here's the hilarious ad:
But when you watch Holcomb's unedited speech, you realize that he's talking about being asked to submit a sample shortly after emptying his bladder, forcing him to drink bottles of water to produce enough urine for a test. Not smoking weed. State Rep. Matt Dollar, R-Marietta, even fetches Holcomb a bottle of water, which he places on the lectern, as a joke. Holcomb starts mentioning his concerns with the legislation's "random testing" component and his military experience around 4:53. The nose rubbing and talk of water bottles follows. Here it is:
Holcomb blasted Boedker's ad, calling it the "shameless act of a desperate coward."
"Chris Boedeker has no record of service, so his campaign is bult on saying lies about my actual record," Holcomb told CL. "I have an impeccable service record of 12 years in the military, I'm proud that i served and i think about those with whom I've served every day. They were honorable people. Chris Boedeker is a liar and a coward. He wasn't tough enough to serve so all he can do is lie about my record. He and his Republican colleagues know this ad is untrue. Republican money is paying for this ad. Republicans should be ashamed and denounce Chris Boedeker for what he is."
We've sent Boedeker a line and will update when we hear word.
UPDATE, 2:56 p.m.: As one commenter pointed out, Boedeker's ad has since been removed from YouTube.
Clay's morning post mentioned this mindblowingly ridiculous story about state officials hanging the Ten Commandments in the Gold Dome, a public facility which is operated and maintained with taxpayer funds.
But I thought it was really worth mentioning again to acknowledge this quote from state Rep. Tommy Benton. The Jefferson Republican sponsored the legislation allowing the state to display the document. Via the AJC:
“I’m not concerned if anyone will take offense... If they don’t want to look at it, they don’t have to look at it.”
Read that again and again and again. We left a message with Benton, who was one of more than 90 state House members who signed on to legislation requiring presidential candidates prove their citizenship, asking if he'd be open to displaying other types of religious documents in the Gold Dome. We'll update the post if we hear back.
UPDATE, 4:46 p.m. Atlanta redditor "walkertexasharanguer" argues why challenging the placement of the Commandments should be avoided:
By placing the TC on the wall, they are openly defying the courts. But to get it taken down, someone has to challenge it and get a judge's order to have it removed. This generates a lot of publicity, makes the conservatives look like heroes to regular God-fearing Georgians, makes the challengers look like oppressive communist atheists and creates a rallying point for the conservative base.
But it's bullshit. It has nothing to do with how Georgia is being governed or misgoverned, doesn't create jobs or better schools or reduce crime. It's just a wedge they hope liberals will be stupid enough to fall for.
Like I said, I hope no one takes the bait. The smart play is to just leave it alone. It doesn't really hurt anyone to have the TC hanging there.
Let the babies [.] have their bottle.
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