Political Notes: August 2013
Brooks Will Stay: A three-person review commission appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal unanimously determined that a 30-count federal indictment against State. Rep. Tyrone Brooks (D-Atlanta) is not related to his duties as a state lawmaker and that he should remain in office as his case progresses.
The panel consisted of Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens, a Republican, and two Democratic lawmakers, House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D-Atlanta) and Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson (D-Tucker).
The indictment against Brooks charges that he misappropriated nearly $1 million in funds from Universal Humanities, a charity he founded, and from the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials.
Brooks has pleaded “not guilty” to the charges. His attorney, former Gov. Roy Barnes, said his client has broken no laws but acknowledged “bad bookkeeping.”
Brooks has said the charges were in retaliation for his attempts to solve the infamous Moore’s Ford lynchings from the 1940s.
Second Term For Jepson: Savannah businessman and philanthropist Robert S. Jepson Jr. has been elected by the Board of Directors of the Georgia Ports Authority to serve a second term as chairman. He was first appointed to the board in 2008.
James A. Walters is the new vice chairman, and Stephen S. Green is secretary/treasurer.
Jepson noted that the ports authority has made important strides in moving the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project toward construction.
“Much of that success is due in large part to the support we have received from Governor Deal, Georgia’s Congressional delegation and the talented staff at the Georgia Ports Authority,” he said in a press release.
New Commissioners, Etc.: Gretchen Corbin, formerly the deputy commissioner for Global Commerce at the Georgia De-partment of Economic Develop-ment, takes over Aug. 1 as commissioner for the Department of Community Affairs.
She replaces Mike Beatty, who is leaving to head up Great Prom-ise Partnership, Inc., a nonprofit.
Kevin Hagler is the new commissioner of the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance, replacing Commissioner Robert Braswell, who is retiring. Hagler has been deputy commissioner for supervision at the banking department since 2008.
Both appointments were made by Gov. Nathan Deal, who also named Braxton Cotton executive director of the new Governor’s Office of Transi-tion, Support and Re-entry. The office will work to implement criminal justice reform initiatives.
Jacqueline Bunn replaces Cotton as executive director of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.
Blake Ashbee is the new director of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development.
Thomas Resigns: State Rep. Brian Thomas (D-Lilburn) gave up his house seat July 1 to move to Maine and become national director of cultural resources services for Natural Resources Group. He was first elected in 2005.
Olens Is Chair: Attorney General Sam Olens was elected chair of the Southern Region of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) earlier this summer. He will serve on the organization’s executive committee and be responsible for the agenda of the southern region.
“I am honored to be chosen by my peers,” Olens said in a press release. “I look forward to working with my counterparts in the other Southern states on ways to better our individual states and the entire Southern region.”
Ellis Out: Gov. Nathan Deal has appointed DeKalb County Commis-sion Chair Lee May to replace Burrell Ellis as county CEO, following the governor’s suspension of Ellis, who is un-der indictment on corruption charges.
Local Control: Legislative positions approved by the Georgia School Boards Association’s delegate assembly in June include support for “vesting exclusive control over public schools to local boards of education as the level of government closest and most responsive to the taxpayers and parents of students being educated” and opposition to any legislative measures “infringing on that authority.”
Additionally, the association believes that publicly funded charter schools should be formed “with the approval of local boards of education” and should be “under the governance of those local school boards.”
The association, representing 180 elected boards of education in the state, will use its statement of legislative positions to adopt its legislative priorities for the upcoming 2014 session.
Voting Rights: Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, in a statement after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Section Four of the Voting Rights Act is outdated, noted that “Georgia and the rest of the nation have made tremendous progress in the past 50 years,” and said that the ruling validates that progress.