Political RoundUp: March 2008
No more in Darfur: In the latest legislative foray into foreign policy, a bipartisan group of state senators introduced a bill that would prohibit the state’s pension funds from holding investments in companies that are selling military weapons to the government of Sudan or helping finance that country’s terrorist campaign against the Darfur region. “I am not dismissive of the concern about slippery slopes,” said one of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. David Shafer (R-Duluth). “But I am persuaded that the atrocities being committed in Darfur are of such magnitude that simply doing nothing is not an option.” Shafer’s co-sponsors include Senate Majority Leader Tommie Williams, Sen. David Adelman (D-Decatur), Sen. Judson Hill (R-Marietta), Sen. Kasim Reed (D-Atlanta), and Sen. Dan Moody (R-Alpharetta).
Federal funds for me, but not for thee: U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland is one of several congressmen from Georgia who are giving up earmarked projects in the writing of the next federal budget to show his support for halting pork-barrel spending in Congress. “First, I want to lead by example and I want to send a serious message to the people in Georgia’s 3rd District that I share their concern about Washington spending,” West-moreland said. “Second, I want to work to reform how Washington does business.” He will still try to get federal money for his congressional district, however, which he says has “serious infrastructure needs.”
New appointment: U.S. Rep. Tom Price of Roswell has been named to the executive committee of the National Republican Congres-sional Committee (NRCC), which raises and distributes campaign funds for GOP candidates in congressional races. Price substituted for Roger Wicker of Mississippi, who was appointed to replace Trent Lott in the Senate. “We have a terrific opportunity to demonstrate to the American people the fundamental differences between the two parties in Washington,” Price said.
Build them both?: There are plans for the University System to build a new dental school and undertake a major expansion of the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta. Lawmakers are pushing system officials to build both facilities at the same time as a way to save millions of taxpayer dollars. “You can save $20 million if you build a combined dental/medical facility at MCG,” Rep. Barry Fleming (R-Harlem) said during a budget hearing. “If we can achieve those savings in that medical school building, we need to look at that,” said Rep. Ben Harbin (R-Evans), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. “We need to look at putting those two buildings together now.”
By the wayside: Rep. Ron Forster (R-Ringgold) was as serious as a heart attack in his attempt to have Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle im-peached for not acting quickly enough on House overrides of Gov. Sonny Perdue’s vetoes. “I’m saying he violated his oath of office,” Forster told reporters when he introduced the impeachment resolution. But Forster’s attempt wasn’t taken very seriously by other folks at the capitol, including aides in Cagle’s office. “We appreciate Rep. Forster injecting some humor into a stressful legislative session,” said Jaillene Hunter, Cagle’s communications director.
Barr in class: Former Cobb County congressman Bob Barr took a teaching job at Kennesaw State University, leading a class on “Privacy and Public Policy in 21st Century Business and Society.” Barr was a Republican during his eight years in the U.S. House but has since switched to the Libertarian Party because of his opposition to policies of President George W. Bush that he says are harmful to individual liberties.
New chairman: Public Service Commission member Chuck Eaton, just days after wrapping up his first year as a member of the regulatory board, assumed the PSC chairmanship at the group’s Jan. 15 meeting. He replaced Commissioner Bobby Baker under a long-established tradition of rotating the PSC chairmanship among the group’s five elected members each year.
Nahmias reappointed: U.S. Attorney David Nahmias of Atlanta was one of four federal prosecutors who were reappointed by Attorney General Michael Mukasey to another term on the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee, which advises on various criminal justice issues.