Political Insider

An AJC blog about Atlanta politics, Georgia politics, Georgia and metro Atlanta election campaigns. Because all politics is local.

Airport shutdown is a worrisome tale of vulnerability, poor timing for Georgia Power


First is the question of vulnerability. When I-85 caught fire last spring, the loss of the interstate that connected downtown Atlanta to a large portion of its northern suburbs underlined the need for redundant forms of transportation. Minds were changed, specifically on commuter rail, as a result.

Sunday bared another thread that, if severed, could produce chaos. Georgia Power officials seemed to say that all its back-ups were placed in a single basket. Or at least were in reach of a single fire.  From the AJC’s Scott Trubey:

“Georgia Power believes that a piece of Georgia Power switchgear located in an underground electrical facility could have failed and started a fire,” Georgia Power said in a written statement overnight after the power was restored. “This fire was located adjacent to redundant circuit cables and switching mechanisms serving the airport and those cables were damaged, resulting in the outage and loss of redundant service methods.”

If there were a list of airline passengers you don’t want to tick off during the Christmas travel season, a former U.S. secretary of transportation might be on it. Here are the Sunday meltdown Tweets of Anthony Foxx, who before he was transportation secretary in the Obama administration, was mayor of Charlotte, N.C.:

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But beyond the issue of the Atlanta airport’s vulnerability is the poor timing for state’s largest and most powerful utility. On Thursday, the state Public Service Commission will pass judgment on Georgia Power’s decision to continue construction on two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle.

The AJC’s Alan Judd laid out the PSC’s options over the weekend:

In fact, the Vogtle expansion is in jeopardy. It faces a pivotal moment Thursday, when the state Public Service Commission will vote on whether to allow the project to proceed. The PSC might impose conditions that would cause Georgia Power and its partners to abandon the expansion. Or it could simply let construction continue with no new restrictions, billions of dollars over budget and years past schedule. And consumers would continue paying, on top of the nearly $2.4 billion they’ve already sunk into the project.

Chances are good that the five-member state board will green-light the request. But any restrictions the board might impose are likely to reflect the confidence members have in Georgia Power’s ability to complete its task. And that makes the power outage at the Atlanta airport highly inconvenient. (Greg Bluestein)

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One reason why the state Public Service Commission is likely to approve the continued construction of nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle: Jobs. This weekend’s Augusta Chronicle painted a grim picture that would follow a decision to pull the plug:

The immediate scenario would mirror what happened this summer during the V.C. Summer construction shutdown in Fairfield County, S.C.

The first thing to empty would be the 42-acre lot where Vogtle’s 6,000 construction workers park. Then there would be an exodus of RVs, travel trailers and campers from the mobile home parks and campgrounds they’ve called home for the past few years.

“The day they announced here, the parks were vacant within three hours,” said Ty Davenport, Fairfield County’s director of economic development. “They all just drove off.”

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The mayor of Camilla, Ga., has hired civil rights attorney Ben Crump of Tallahassee, Fla., to represent him in an ongoing feud with other city officials. Mayor Rufus Davis, who is black, says he is being shunned for attacking “segregationist practices” by the city, which include a refusal to bury people of color next to whites in the city-owned cemetery.

Camilla, located just above the Florida border, is 70 percent black.

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As many of you know, former state Rep. John Yates,  the last World War II vet in the Legislature, died last week at age 96. Here's the tribute that U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk and his staff put together for him:

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Citizen-journalist Nydia Tisdale goes before a superior court judge in Dawson County this morning, to see whether she will be jailed or fined for her refusal to cease recording a public GOP rally on private property in north Georgia in 2014. She was acquitted of felony charges earlier this month, but found guilty of a misdemeanor charge of interfering with an officer.

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Incoming New Jersey Gov.-elect Phil Murphy had a special guest at a fundraising dinner last week: Democrat Stacey Abrams, a candidate for governor in Georgia. “He is the emblem of what we have to do in 2018,” Abrams said in praising Murphy, according to NorthJersey.com. “And that is, we have to be right, we have to be real and we have to be ready.” (Greg Bluestein)

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A merger of two national GOP political consulting firms will have ramifications in Georgia. Axiom Strategies announced last week it purchased High Cotton Consulting, a Washington-based fundraising operation. The combined firm's clients include state Sen. Josh McKoon of Columbus, who is running for secretary of state, and U.S. Reps. Buddy Carter of Pooler, and Rob Woodall of Lawrenceville (GB)


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About the Author

Jim Galloway is a three-decade veteran of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution who writes the Political Insider blog and column.