Scandal

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Three former DeKalb County principals indicted for alleged roles in cheating scandal

Posted By on Tue, Apr 16, 2013 at 3:57 PM

A DeKalb County grand jury has charged three former school administrators with numerous crimes related to a 2011 test cheating scandal.

According to 11 Alive, former principals Agnes Flanagan, Angela Jennings, and Derek Wooten all face at least five charges for offenses including forgery, making false statements, and public record fraud.

The move follows last month's grand jury indictment of nearly three dozen Atlanta Public Schools educators, including former superintendent Beverly Hall, for their alleged roles in an unrelated cheating scandal. The 35 administrators, principals, and teachers are charged with similar crimes, including racketeering.

It's been a rough few months for DeKalb County Schools. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools placed the entire school system on probation last December. A tumultuous battle with its school board members soon followed, which led to former Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson's resignation as well as the suspension of six board members by Gov. Nathan Deal.

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Friday, April 12, 2013

Emory College faculty members reject no-confidence vote for its president

Posted By on Fri, Apr 12, 2013 at 10:00 PM

After casting ballots throughout the week, the faculty at the Emory College of Arts and Sciences has expressed its support for embattled president James Wagner with a 201 to 133 vote.

The non-binding vote was held to determine whether Emory College faculty stood behind Wagner's leadership. The symbolic gesture followed his controversial Three-Fifths Compromise remarks in February, which made national headlines and sparked protests on campus.

Regarding the decision, Board Chair Ben F. Johnson III said in a statement:

Continue reading »

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Deal spokesman calls integrated prom push a 'silly publicity stunt'

Posted By on Fri, Apr 12, 2013 at 2:29 PM

Don't expect Gov. Nathan Deal to make a statement in support of Wilcox County High School students' push for an integrated prom.

In an email to 13 WMAZ, spokesman Brian Robinson said that Deal wouldn't respond to Better Georgia's call for state politicians to "publicly support" their cause.

"This is a leftist front group for the state Democratic party and we're not going to lend a hand to their silly publicity stunt," Robinson wrote.

It should be noted that not just Democrats, but also Republicans, including state Reps. Ed Lindsey of Atlanta, Buzz Brockway of Lawrenceville, and others have expressed their support for an integrated prom.

We've reached out to Robinson for comm...oh, who are we kidding? We're probably just "living in la-la-land."

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Emory president uses 'three-fifths' agreement to teach lesson about compromise

Posted By on Mon, Feb 18, 2013 at 10:16 AM

Emory University Administration Building
  • Daniel Mayer/Wikimedia Commons
  • Emory University Administration Building
If you didn't check the Internet this weekend, first, congratulations. You are most likely rested and relaxed.

If you did, you probably noticed that Emory University President James Wagner made national news for using the so-called Three-Fifths Compromise - the agreement between Northern and Southern states to count three-fifths of the slave population for representative purposes - as an example of two sides coming together for the greater good.

Wagner made the comparison in his column for the winter edition of Emory Magazine. In the piece, which was published online, he riffed on the idea of dysfunction in politics and the ongoing discussion between university officials and students and faculty over the closure of several liberal arts programs. In the long piece, he noted:

One instance of constitutional compromise was the agreement to count three-fifths of the slave population for purposes of state representation in Congress. Southern delegates wanted to count the whole slave population, which would have given the South greater influence over national policy. Northern delegates argued that slaves should not be counted at all, because they had no vote. As the price for achieving the ultimate aim of the Constitution-"to form a more perfect union"-the two sides compromised on this immediate issue of how to count slaves in the new nation. Pragmatic half-victories kept in view the higher aspiration of drawing the country more closely together.

Writing is hard. Writing about vague issues such as "compromise" can be really hard. But good God, man, there are better examples.

The column made national news. One day later, the alumni magazine posted a follow-up by Wagner. He apologized and asked for forgiveness from those who were "hurt or confused by my clumsiness and insensitivity." "The point was not that this particular compromise was a good thing in itself," he wrote. "It was a repugnant compromise. Of course it is not good to count one human being as three fifths of another or, more egregiously, as not human at all, but property." (Salon notes, however, that Wagner's original piece didn't paint the compromise as "repugnant." You can read the full column and his apology here.)

Tyrone Forman, director of Emory's James Weldon Johnson Institute, an on-campus organization aimed at improving race relations, expressed disappointment.

"The president's comments were unfortunate," he told CL in an email. "They reflect a poor understanding of our nation's history and the stain of slavery. The 3/5th compromise represents a tragic moment in our past where our nation's highest ideals were compromised for political expediency."

In addition, someone's started a tumblr collecting reactions to the president's comments. More reactions can be found on the Facebook page of Emory Cuts, the student group protesting Wagner's decision to cut the liberal arts program.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

GPB producer resigns, cites Chip Rogers' 'unconscionable' salary (Update)

Posted By on Wed, Jan 23, 2013 at 10:56 AM

The uproar over Chip Rogers' first week at Georgia Public Broadcasting continues.

Staff producer Ashlie Wilson Pendley, a GPB employee for more than 15 years, has resigned in part due to Rogers' exorbitant salary. This follows a petition that was launched yesterday calling for the public radio network to fire the former state Senator, who is set to rake in $150,000 per year.

GPB tapped Rogers, who stepped down from his upper chamber position in December, for the executive producer position, which would allow him to "create programming that will aggregate job opportunities, job growth areas and career counseling." Critics, including Better Georgia, have likened the position to a "taxpayer-funded golden parachute."

A source who asked not to be identified forwarded Pendley's resignation letter to CL, which was originally sent to president and executive director Teya Ryan. You can read the full letter after the jump:

Continue reading »

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Monday, January 7, 2013

DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis' home and office searched by investigators

Posted By on Mon, Jan 7, 2013 at 2:57 PM

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  • John Nowak/CL File
DeKalb County authorities raided DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis' office and Stone Mountain home this morning as part of an ongoing investigation.

Police detectives reportedly removed four boxes and a computer from his residence, which 11Alive says was related to a special grand jury investigation into the county's watershed department. In a statement this afternoon regarding the search, Ellis denied engaging in any inappropriate behavior. In addition, he admitted that he was "a little perplexed" by a request to appear before a special grand jury this morning.

"We were here to talk to the grand jury about watershed management and the procurement process in DeKalb County," Ellis told Fox 5. "We've been here before. We've answered all of the questions truthfully and honestly and straightforward. And I've always directed my folks to cooperate with the grand jury, and make sure that they get all of the answers that they need."

We've reached out to a DeKalb County spokesman for more information and we'll post an update once we know more. DeKalb County Commissioner Jeff Rader told Tucker Patch that it was too soon to comment.

According to the AJC, DeKalb District Attorney Robert James began investigating the country's watershed bidding process last year while "addressing claims of bid rigging and kickbacks" with a contractor.

"It's not just looking at people who may have had their hand in the cookie jar, as it were," James told WSB-TV convening a special grand jury in 2012. "It looks to see how deep and how pervasive an issue or problem may be."

UPDATE, 3:40 p.m.: Burrell Ellis has not released a formal statement, but as we reported earlier he did speak about the investigation. We've embedded the audio below.

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Gov. Deal will not appoint panel to consider the suspension of Clayton County sheriff facing 32 felony charges (Update)

Posted By on Thu, Jan 3, 2013 at 4:47 PM

One day after Gov. Nathan Deal said he would take a "close look" at possibly seeking re-elected Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill's suspension, he has decided that there will not be a review panel at this time.

In February 2012, Hill was indicted on 37 felony charges that included counts of racketeering, making false statements, and theft by taking. Five of those charges were later dropped. As for the remaining 32 counts, however, Deal says that state law prevents him from taking further action.

The governor's office issued a press release a few minutes ago that said:

After careful evaluation of the facts in the case and the applicable state law, Gov. Nathan Deal announced today that he will not appoint a panel to consider the suspension of Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill.

Deal has concluded that the law outlining the procedures for the suspension of public officials under indictment applies only to officials indicted while holding their elected office.

Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 45-5-6, the governor must appoint a three-member panel to investigate the indictment of a public official. The law defines "public official" as "any elected county officer." Victor Hill was indicted on Feb. 29, 2012, at which time he was a private citizen and not an elected county officer. Therefore, state law prohibits the appointment of a suspension panel at this time.

Hill took office on Tuesday for his second non-consecutive term and shook up the department's staff in the process. That included reassigning former Chief Deputy Garland Watkins, who almost beat Hill in November's election despite campaigning as a write-in candidate.

Hill will remain Clayton County's sheriff for the time being and is scheduled to appear in an appeals court on Feb. 12.

UPDATE, Friday, 6:11 p.m.: Clayton County resident James Brockman has filed a petition in Fulton County Superior Court today, seeking a judge to force Gov. Deal to "execute his statutory obligations" by appointing a panel to assess whether Hill should be suspended.

"He doesn't have to suspend Hill but he has to appoint a panel," says Page Pate, Brockman's attorney who filed the petition. "Does the indictment adversely affect [Hill's] ability to do his or her job? That's what the panel is to consider. (But) I don't think there is any question the pending indictment will affect his ability to do his job."

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Friday, December 21, 2012

Emory TV show apologizes for racist joke made by student anchor

Posted By on Fri, Dec 21, 2012 at 5:40 PM

An Emory University student TV show apologized yesterday following an anchor's racially-insensitive on-air remarks.

The Dooley Show, an ETV news program funded by the university's Student Government Association, typically discusses issues with a satirical angle.

The show's efforts to sardonically raise awareness, however, recently went awry during a bit about the Supreme Court's Fisher v. University of Texas ruling last month, which reviewed the use of affirmative action in the college admissions process. Student anchor John Roofeh said:

"It's up to you to find those kids that shouldn't be here, and are at the school only because of affirmative action. Proven methods here at The Dooley Show include lynching, tarring and feathering, and cross burning."

"By including disbelieving laughter in the episode," The Dooley Show producers said in a Facebook post on Wednesday. "We hoped to further highlight that The Dooley Show was using extreme sarcasm to voice disdain for a potentially detrimental policy decision."

The Dooley Show posted another statement yesterday about the remarks, saying that:

Continue reading »

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Friday, December 14, 2012

Karen Handel accuses Planned Parenthood of wrapping themselves in a pink 'cloak of legitimacy'

Posted By on Fri, Dec 14, 2012 at 11:40 AM

Karen Handel lashed out against Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards yesterday, ten months after stepping down from her executive role at the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation.

The former Georgia secretary of state and one-time GOP gubernatorial candidate, who some have speculated will challenge U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss in 2014, defended Komen's controversial decision to pull grants from Planned Parenthood in a discussion with the Family Research Council.

"Planned Parenthood counted on conservative elected officials to be quiet, and they were silent," Handel said. "But they didn't count on me. Cecile Richards has absolutely no idea who she's picked a fight with, folks."

Despite Handel's forced resignation in early February, she has refused to back down against Planned Parenthood in subsequent months. The former non-profit executive recently published a book, titled Planned Bullyhood, in which she refers to non-profit as "a bunch of schoolyard thugs." She continued her attack on Thursday.

"Public scrutiny around Planned Parenthood was really growing ... so [they] decided to make mammograms and that they were a primary deliverer of health services one of their key messages," she said. "They literally co-opted the color pink, and for most people the color pink is associated with the fight against breast cancer. Their website, everything they did was pink, pink, pink, wrapping themselves in what I like to call a cloak of legitimacy."

Planned Parenthood spokesman Eric Ferrero said in an email to the Huffington Post:

It is hard to believe that there are people who still want to inject politics into women's preventive health care like breast cancer detection and treatment. Planned Parenthood is proud of our work to help detect breast cancer, and our focus is always on the patients who rely on Planned Parenthood health centers for this lifesaving care.

We're not really sure why Handel is still making these kind of remarks regarding a controversy that has died down. Maybe she's adamant about setting the record straight. Or perhaps she's just biding her time until the 2014 U.S. Senate race. Either way, it doesn't seem like Handel wants to bury the hatchet with Planned Parenthood anytime soon.

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Artist's painting removed from Atlanta airport

Posted By on Mon, Dec 10, 2012 at 9:13 AM

The painting Voter Suppression was displayed in the airports T Gallery as part of a group exhibition
  • Vinnie Sherfield
  • The painting "Voter Suppression" was displayed in the airport's T Gallery as part of a group exhibition
An artist whose work was displayed at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is crying censorship after his work was removed by the air hub's officials.

Vinnie Sherfield submitted two paintings as part of a group exhibition sponsored by the National Arts Program in the airport's T Gallery. Both works were approved by airport officials, he says. One week later, however, he says he was told that one of the works would have to be taken down and replaced with a different painting.

The piece, titled "Voter Suppression," depicts a prison-cell scene in which a shackled, blindfolded man tries to cast a ballot that's clutched between his teeth in a voting box out of his reach. Above him hangs the blade of a guillotine. Rays of light shine on the man from a small barred window. A large American flag is painted on the opposite wall and bleeds on to the floor. The work, Sherfield tells CL, is a "visual representation documenting the Cost of Freedom and those who paid the price for it."

The Douglasville-based artist says he's worked with "countless numbers of young adults who were oblivious to the struggles and sacrifices that have been made throughout history for the right to vote - and how important it is to continue to exercise that right." He says voter suppression is real.

Sherfield says "numerous airport employees and [Transportation Security Administration] workers" told him when he took down the painting that they were "outraged and even saddened" that the artwork was being removed.

"I was very disappointed to know that the world's largest airport that sees thousands and thousands of people on a daily basis would remove a painting from an art exhibit because one or two people made a negative comment about it," he tells CL. "I find it ironic that a painting about voter suppression is being suppressed in a country where one of our fundamental rights is freedom of speech. If freedom of speech exists in America, it certainly does not exist at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport."

An airport spokesman this morning offered the following comment: "The Airport Art Program staff, who have complete discretion regarding works displayed in the National Arts Program Employee Art Exhibit, made the decision to replace Sherfield's painting with another of his works after complaints from passengers that the first piece was disturbing. The staff discussed the decision with Sherfield, who agreed to give them an alternative piece."

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