Political Notes: May 2011

Ups, Downs And In-Betweens

Retooling HOPE: Not everybody was happy about the changes to Georgia’s HOPE Scholarship, but a bipartisan effort resulted in some adjustments proponents believe the state and its college-bound students can live with for the sake of preserving the program.

In signing the Enduring HOPE legislation into law, Gov. Nathan Deal called it “a new law of generational importance.”

He said, “We have closed a $300-million shortfall in the next year, we have pulled HOPE and Georgia Pre-K from the brink of bankruptcy and we have preserved our state’s status for having the most generous benefit programs in the nation.”

The lottery-funded scholarships, established under former Gov. Zell Miller, have been widely praised and imitated by other states.

Musical Chairs: Three new members of the Geor-gia Music Hall of Fame Authority came on board in March: Rose Lane Leavell, a tree farmer from Dry Branch; Dr. Timothy R. Stapleton, an orthopaedic surgeon from Macon; and Charles Humbard, CEO of the Gospel Music Channel, from Atlanta.

Leavell is married to musician Chuck Leavell, and Humbard is the son of televangelist Rex Humbard.

Hall Executive Director Lisa Love is stepping down June 1.

Ready For Their Close-ups: Seventy-three additional Georgia counties are now designated Camera Ready Communities. The recognition was conferred by Gov. Nathan Deal and the Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office, part of the state’s Department of Economic Development, in ceremonies at the Capitol.

Camera Ready designation indicates that film and television production companies can expect easier access to local resources. Some 16 counties were previously designated.

The Department of Economic Development says the impact of the entertainment industry in Georgia was $1.4 billion in 2010.

“We have experienced a significant increase in jobs, investment, infrastructure and film-induced tourism,” says Economic Develop-ment Commissioner Chris Cummiskey. His department credits the 2008 Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act for much of the success.

No-Bashing Zone: Sen. Saxby Chambliss, in an interview by Denis O’Hayer of Atlanta’s WABE, a Nation-al Public Radio affiliate, separated himself from a number of his Republican colleagues who would like to see NPR de-funded. He paid the network a compliment: “You know, an awful lot of conservatives listen to NPR. It provides a very valuable service.” He indicated that NPR might have to do with less funding from the federal government, but said, “I think total elimination of funding is probably not the wisest thing to do.”

New School Board Members: Gov. Nathan Deal has appointed six new members of the State Board of Education. They are Hel-en Odom Rice, LaGrange, a classroom teacher, represents the third congressional district; Daniel Israel, Atlanta, a Home Depot executive, fourth district; Kenneth Mason, Atlanta, director of urban initiatives for the Southern Regional Education Board, fifth district; Barbara Hampton, Roswell, a CPA who is senior VP and chief financial officer of the Georgia Transmission Corp., sixth district; Mike Royal, Lawrenceville, an insurance professional who works at BWT Risk Advisors, LLC, seventh district; and J. Grant Lewis, Rome, a physician who practices internal medicine, the eleventh district.

Stepping Down: Chick Krautler, director of the Atlanta Regional Commis-sion (ARC) since 2000, is retiring in June. On his watch, the ARC has taken the lead in coordinating regional transit and helping guarantee the region’s water supply. He was the recipient last year of the Walter Scheiber Leadership Award from the National Associa-tion of Regional Councils given to the outstanding regional planning agency director in the country.

Top-Ranked: The credit rating firm Standard & Poor’s has affirmed its highest money market fund rating of AAA for the state’s Georgia Fund 1, a local government investment pool administered by the state treasurer.

State Treasurer Tommy Hills says, in a press re-lease, “This is a clear signal to Georgians that their governmental funds are being invested in adherence with the highest standards of money management.”

New State COO: Bart Gobeil assumed the duties of Georgia’s Chief Oper-ating Officer in April, succeeding Trey Childress. Gobeil was previously deputy COO and has served as chief of staff to Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and was on the staff of the late U.S. Sen. Paul Coverdell.

Regents’ Vice Chair: Benjamin J. Tarbutton III, Sandersville, is serving as vice chair of the Board of Regents through June 30, completing the term of the late Felton Jenkins, who died in January. Tarbutton is assistant vice president of the Sandersville Railroad Company.

Categories: Political Notes