Political Insider

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

The Jolt: DeKalb school chief warns of lawsuit over Emory University annexation


 

It looks like one of the first tempests that Atlanta Mayor-elect Keisha Lance Bottoms could face is a court fight over the annexation of Emory University and surrounding properties.

The AJC's Marlon A. Walker has snagged a letter from Stephen Green, superintendent of the DeKalb County school system, that lays the groundwork for a court challenge to the city of Atlanta’s annexation of the Emory University campus and surrounding properties.

Specifically, Green objects to the last-minute decision to extend the district lines of the Atlanta Public School system into the newly acquired territory. Original plans had the 10 students, and $2 million in annual tax revenue, remaining with the DeKalb system.

It’s that $2 million that bothers Green. From the letter:

[T]he contemplated change in school districts represents an enormous transfer of wealth from the children of DeKalb to an already-wealthy school system, with no comparable transfer of obligations.

And here’s the bottom line:

While it is not our preference, we are prepared to enter litigation to protect our children and safeguard their educational resources. We have retained counsel, A. Lee Parks and his law firm Parks, Chesin &Walbert, P.C., to initiate the legal process if the parties cannot find a resolution through either a direct or mediated dialogue.

***

If you want to understand the psyche of Kasim Reed, who is about to leave his job as mayor of Atlanta, you should read the just-out Atlanta magazine opus by Steve Fennessy.

It includes the list of high-profile folks on his naughty list, his struggles in his first year in office, and the legacy he leaves behind. Then there's this quote former mayor and U.N. ambassador Andrew Young: “Kasim is like a bowling ball. Get the hell out of my way, or get knocked down."

Oh, and it highlighted a parallel with Stacey Abrams, a candidate for governor who recently revealed a spreadsheet plotting her course to the White House. From the piece:

When he was a teenager, Reed began mapping out his life on three-by-five cards. Go to Howard. Then law school. Run for state representative. Win. Run for state senator. Win. Each accomplishment was a stepping stone toward the ultimate goal: becoming mayor of Atlanta.

As for his future plans, here's what Fennessy wrote of Reed:

I asked if he would consider running for mayor again. “I don’t know,” he said. But he seemed eager to put to rest any thought that he’d play a behind-the-scenes role in a Bottoms administration. “I really have a strong ‘leave’ personality. I never wanted to be the guy who went back to his high school with his varsity jacket on. If you look at my career, I haven’t gone back." (Greg Bluestein)

A significant issue was just added to the to-do list of the 2018 Legislature: A task force appointed by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle urged lawmakers on Wednesday to set aside at least $7 million in state funding for salary hikes to local law enforcement amid a growing debate over how much to pay police officers and sheriff’s deputies.

It also recommended studying a potential 1 percent tax on auto-insurance policies that would flow to the state’s retirement fund for law enforcement officers, but stopped short of endorsing a statewide sales tax hike for increased police pay. (GB)

***

Sally Yates, the acting U.S. attorney sacked by Donald Trump in the early days of his administration, continues to ring alarm bells about the president’s behavior. From an op-ed piece in USA Today:

[T]here is something else that separates us from an autocracy, and that’s truth. There is such a thing as objective truth. We can debate policies and issues, and we should. But those debates must be based on common facts rather than raw appeals to emotion and fear through polarizing rhetoric and fabrications.

Not only is there such a thing as objective truth, failing to tell the truth matters. We can’t control whether our public servants lie to us. But we can control whether we hold them accountable for those lies or whether, in either a state of exhaustion or to protect our own political objectives, we look the other way and normalize an indifference to truth.

***

In Wednesday’s print edition of the AJC, we have a take on Tim Echols, the state Public Service Commission member who appears to at the center of negotiations with Georgia Power over the continued construction on two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle.

The issue, expected to be resolved Thursday with a vote by the five-member utility commission, has produced a substantial rift among Republicans.

In 2009, at the outset of their movement, tea partyers Julianne Thompson and Debbie Dooley were peas in a pod. Plant Vogtle has become another issue that divides them. First, here’s Thompson’s take on the issue:

As a conservative, I support free market energy solutions. A diversified energy portfolio of nuclear, fossil fuels, natural gas, wind and solar all work together to ensure the United States is not only energy independent, but also keeps costs more affordable. At the forefront of the most practical and cost-effective forms of energy today is nuclear power.

 Through nuclear, we have the opportunity to have a reliable energy source of carbon-free power for decades to come. As a consumer and a ratepayer, I want to make sure we take advantage of that energy source, and for that reason I support the completion of Plant Vogtle.

As Georgians, we find ourselves in a dilemma without an easy answer. Units 3 and 4 are nearly 50 percent complete. While initially ratepayers were protected with a fixed price contract, in the end the contractor could not perform. Fortunately, that same contract required a guarantee by the parent company, which has made good on that guarantee and is now benefitting ratepayers.

As fiscal conservatives, it would not be the ideal situation to leave several billion dollars in ratepayers stranded assets and lose thousands of jobs. We need to be able to harness that energy source for generations of Georgians to come while at the same time protecting Georgia ratepayers.

However, this is not a blanket statement. The Public Service Commission, which represents us, must work together to make sure we consumers are protected in this process. The PSC has already enacted mechanisms that cut shareholder profits by hundreds of millions of dollars as construction drifts off schedule. Even more protections are being considered.

 We can protect Georgia ratepayers and make sure we have a clean, reliable energy source. Let's not give up. Let's make sure Georgia continues to lead.

And here’s a note that Dooley sent out this week:

Many of you have read my previous emails calling out Georgia Power for the abuse of their customers on Plant Vogtle. This travesty affects everyone, not just Georgia Power customers.

Members of the state Public Service Commission are elected statewide by voters and they will make the ultimate determination this Thursday whether or not to allow Georgia Power to make a $5.2 billion profit on the cost overruns on Plant Vogtle, in addition to the $7.4 billion in profits they will make off of the original projected costs.

Since when do conservatives believe in rewarding failure? That sounds like something the Obama Administration would do. The PSC will determine if Georgia Power customers will pay out at least an additional $14 billion more than expected in Georgia Power bills in the coming years.

Georgia Power requested the PSC rush the decision on Vogtle by pushing up the timeline from making the decision in February to Thursday. The PSC agreed to Georgia Power's request.

It is well known among activists that Georgia Power wields a tremendous amount of clout among the political class in Georgia. Many elected officials bend over backwards in efforts not to upset Georgia Power.

I was thrilled to see that GOP gubernatorial candidate Sen. Michael Williams had the courage to stand up to Georgia Power and call them out for their Vogtle mismanagement. Senator Williams stood up for consumers against very powerful special interests.  I wish others would as well and I will notify you if they do.

 


Reader Comments ...


About the Author

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