Political RoundUp: August 2007

Help for Davis: Southern Poly-technic President Lisa Rossbacher was named interim chief academic officer for the University System until a permanent choice can be selected. She replaced Beheruz Sethna, who returned to his fulltime job as president of the University of West Georgia. A final selection of an academic officer by Chancellor Erroll Davis is expected by late summer.

Charter advisors: Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who pushed through legislation this year to expand the development of charter schools in Georgia, has appointed three people to an advisory committee on charter issues: Charles Knapp, former president of the University of Georgia, Coweta County banker Mark Whitlock, and Marietta newspaper publisher Otis Brumby, former chairman of the state board of education.

What Flynt did: Former congressman John J. Flynt of Griffin died in June at the age of 92, nearly 30 years after retiring from Congress. Al-though Flynt served 24 years in the U.S. House, one of his biggest accomplishments happened outside the Beltway: He won his last two campaigns for Congress in 1974 and 1976 by defeating an obscure young professor from West Georgia College named Newt Gingrich. When Flynt decided not to run for another term in 1978, Gingrich ran a third time for that House seat and finally won it, starting his own lengthy tenure as a congressman.

Coming after him: State Rep. Mike Jacobs of DeKalb County switched to a new political party when, as long expected, he made the leap from the Democrats to the Republicans. His former friends in the Democratic Party haven’t forgotten him, however. Within 24 hours of the party switch announcement, a new website called “Democrat for District 80” had already been launched to recruit a Democratic opponent for Jacobs in 2008.

Doremus Award: The annual Ogden Doremus Award for the practice of environmental law was given to three attorneys who obtained a $50 million settlement to help clean up marshlands in coastal Glynn County that were polluted by Allied Chemical (now Honeywell International) with mercury and PCBs for almost 40 years. The award winners are Joel Wooten of Columbus, a former member of the state board of regents, and Augusta attorneys John C. Bell, Jr. and Pamela S. James. The award is named after the late Ogden Doremus, a former judge, environmental activist and founding member of the Georgia Conservancy.

State Bar head: Attorney Gerald Edenfield of Statesboro has been installed as new president of the State Bar of Georgia. He’s managing partner of the Edenfield, Cox, Bruce & Classens law firm.

New child advocate: Gov. Sonny Perdue ousted Macon attorney Dee Simms as the state’s child advocate and replaced her with Juvenile Court Judge Tom Rawlings of Sandersville to serve as the watchdog for abused children in foster care. Simms was widely commended for the way she ran the child advocate’s office, but she embarrassed Perdue by calling attention to deficiencies in the way the Division of Family and Childrens’ Services (DFCS) was administered. “I don’t think the [child protection] system is better than it was,” Simms said in an interview after she was replaced. “I think that there’s a lot of room for improvement.”

Cancer program: St. Joseph’s/ Candler’s, a Savannah community hospital, has been selected by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to participate in a three-year pilot program intended to bring leading-edge cancer care to patients in community hospitals across the country. “By working with the Georgia Cancer Coalition as well as other prestigious facilities in Rome and Columbus, our state can make an enormous contribution to the treatment and eventual eradication of cancer,” said Paul Hinchey, president of St. Joseph’s/ Candler.

Isakson assignment: The death of Wyoming Sen. Craig Thomas resulted in a new committee assignment for Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson. He replaced Thomas on the Senate Select Committee on Ethics.

New president: Dr. Kendall Blanchard was named president of Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus after the board of regents made an exception to its policy of excluding the interim president of an institution from consideration as permanent president. Blanchard had been interim president of Georgia Southwestern since January. He is past president of Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo.

Categories: Political Notes