Political Notes: November 2010

Water Wars, Part 7,962: Just as Congress was adjourning for the fall election break, Georgia senators Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss introduced legislation aimed at a resolution to the long-long-long-running water dispute involving Georgia and its neighbors Alabama and Florida.

The legislation would officially authorize Lake Lanier and Lake Allatoona for municipal and industrial water supply and would give credit to cities and counties for water returned to reservoirs.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

The measures, however, are not likely to make much of a ripple. Once the lawmakers get back to Washington for a lame-duck session, they will probably have their minds on things other than Georgia’s water problems.

State Chamber Chief: Chris Clark, a veteran of Georgia state government, is the new president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, effective this month. He succeeds George Israel, who headed the chamber for eight years. Under Israel’s leadership, the chamber stepped up its public policy initiatives and lobbied successfully at the state capitol on behalf of business-friendly legislation.

Clark, most recently commissioner of the Department of Natural Re-sources, was deputy commissioner for global commerce at the Department of Economic Development, where he was part of the team that successfully lured the Kia plant to Georgia.

New Name, Big Price Tag: As of February, the Medical College of Georgia will change its name to Georgia Health Sciences University. Cost to implement the change is estimated just below $3 million.

University System of Georgia Chancellor Erroll B. Davis, Jr. said in a press release that the new name “more accurately reflects and encompasses the broad and growing health sciences teaching and research mission we have, not just in Augusta, but statewide.”

The Medical College of Georgia name will continue to be used for the School of Medicine; the four other schools, including nursing and dentistry, will change their designations to colleges.

More Quarters: Georgia 400 drivers will need to keep that pocket change handy for another decade or so. The state transportation board approved an extension of the toll, which was scheduled to end this year. Gov. Sonny Perdue cited the “phenomenal growth” of Metro Atlanta and the Georgia 400 corridor and said tolls will be used to pay for roadway improvements.

Former DOT Commissioner Tom Moreland, who has the dubious honor of having the I-85/I-285 Interchange – also known as Spaghetti Junction – named after him, spoke in favor of continuing the tolls. “Tollways are still one of the best ways to effectively build, improve and maintain intercity expressways, and Georgia 400 is no different. Keeping the tollway makes perfect sense,” he said. Moreland is now head of Moreland Altobelli Associates, Inc.

Stepping Down: North Georgia College & State University President David Potter has announced that he will leave his position, very likely to return to the classroom. Potter has been president of the Dahlonega school since January 2005.

Power Appointments: Georgia Power President and CEO Mike Garrett had been named by Gov. Sonny Perdue to the Board of Governors of the George L. Smith World Congress Center Authority. W. Paul Bowers, Georgia Power COO, has been appointed to the state Board of Economic Development.

John K. Watson of Powder Springs, a former Perdue chief of staff, now principal of real estate development at TPA Realty Services, was also named to the World Congress Center Authority’s board.

Immigration Reform Panel: Looking ahead to the 2011 session, House Speaker David Ralston and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle have appointed a 14-member committee on immigration reform, for the purpose of drafting legislation that “stems the flow of illegal immigration activity in Georgia.”

Rep. Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City) and Sen. Jack Murphy (R-Cumming) are co-chairs of the Special Joint Committee on Immigration Reform.

Preview of Coming Attractions: Tax reform looms large in Georgia’s future, House Speaker David Ralston told the Americus Times-Recorder, indicating he wants tax law to be friendly to small businesses. “The remedy at the state level is to promote policy through tax code regulation – get government out of the pocket of small business and let them do what they do best. It is the strongest and soundest way to make an economic comeback.”

Advising the State Department: Atlanta attorney Glenn Hendrix, managing partner of Arnall Golden Gregory LLP, has been named to the U. S. State Depart-ment’s Advisory Committee on International Law. He is a graduate of Emory University law school and a specialist in business litigation.

Categories: Political Notes