Politics

Politics
6:00 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Veterans' Suicide Prevention Bill Blocked

Credit The Department of Veterans Affairs

A U.S. Senate bill aimed at preventing veteran suicides has been blocked. The measure has the backing of Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson.

The bill would create independent evaluations of VA programs to prevent suicide. It would also give student loan repayment for mental health specialists who commit to work at a VA hospital for two years.

The measure was stopped from coming to a vote by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma). He argued it would cost too much and would duplicate already existing programs. The bill is unlikely to be voted on before next year.

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Politics
7:35 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

PolitiFact's "Lie of the Year:" A Talk With Jim Tharpe, Editor Of PolitiFact Georgia

Jim Tharpe, editor of PolitiFact Georgia, which appears in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and myajc.com
Credit Atlanta Journal-Constitution

2014 was an election year, which meant it was a tougher year than usual for the truth.  But PolitiFact gave the title "Lie of the Year" to a batch of statements - political and otherwise - about a health crisis: the Ebola outbreak.  

Denis O'Hayer spoke with Jim Tharpe, editor of PolitiFact Georgia, which appears in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and myajc.com.

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Politics
3:43 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Perdue Receives Committee Assignments

Sen.-elect David Perdue and his wife Bonnie walk through the halls of the Senate on Capitol Hill.
Credit J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

Georgia’s Republican U.S. Senator-elect David Perdue has received his committee assignments ahead of the 114th Congress.

Perdue will sit on five committees: Agriculture, Foreign Relations, Judiciary, Budget and Aging.

Georgia State University political science lecturer Steve Anthony says Perdue’s spot on the Senate Agriculture Committee is good for Georgia because it’s the state’s largest industry.

“To be able to have a seat on that committee means that he has an initial voice and a more powerful voice for that industry,” Anthony said.

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Politics
7:29 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Kennesaw City Council Reverses Mosque Vote

The Kennesaw City Council listens to Carlene Fregeolle, who opposes the mosque.
Katie King for WABE

Exactly two weeks after the Kennesaw City Council voted down a proposed mosque, to be located in a strip mall, it changed its mind Monday night.

The council unanimously approved the mosque this time. Four ‘no’ votes changed to ‘yes’.

“They have substituted the vote they had two weeks ago for the vote they had tonight, which is for approval, unconditional,” said Doug Dillard, the mosque’s attorney.

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Politics
3:59 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Isakson Explains Voting Pattern On Spending Bill

“I know how much work had gone into [the spending bill]. As far as the state of Georgia, there were a lot of things we’d worked on for a long time,” Isakson said.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press

Georgia Republican U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson was one of 56 senators who over the weekend helped pass a $1.1 trillion government spending bill after a marathon voting session. 

But prior to that vote, Isakson was one of 22 Republicans who joined Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in challenging the constitutionality of the bill through a point-of-order vote. At issue was President Obama’s executive action on immigration, but Cruz’s move failed 22-74.

When it came to the actual vote on the spending bill, however, Isakson and eight others changed course and supported the measure. 

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Politics
2:29 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Kennesaw City Council Expected to Reverse Mosque Decision

The Kennesaw City Council voted 4-1 against a proposed mosque on Dec. 1.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

The Kennesaw City Council will vote again Monday night on a proposed mosque to be housed at a strip mall on Jiles Road.  On Dec. 1, the council voted 4-1 against the plan. The Suffah Dawaad congregation had 30 days to file a lawsuit challenging the decision. Their attorney, Doug Dillard, says they plan to sue even if the council reverses itself.

“If they change their vote, anyone who wants to challenge that has 30 days in which to do that,” Dillard says. “So, if somebody challenges what they did, and we haven’t been in court protecting ourselves, then we’re done.”

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A Talk with State Sen. Renee Unterman
8:14 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

New Measures Would Ban Criminal Charges Against Young Sex Workers, and Get Them Treatment As Victims

State Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) has pre-filed two measures for the upcoming session aimed at offering more protection to young people who are trafficked for sex.
Credit Renee Unterman

(Note:  This story is part of WABE's continuing coverage of the fight against human trafficking in Georgia.)

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Politics
5:17 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Talk Of Tax Hike For Transportation Has Some Already Concerned

State leaders say what’s being raised by Georgia's gas tax isn’t enough for improvements.
Credit Gregor Smith / flickr.com/flc

Republican state lawmakers appear ready to raise taxes or fees to pay for Georgia’s underfunded transportation network, a development setting off alarm bells for some voters.

"I think they can find what they need to improve the roads with what they've got," says George Bicknell, a midtown Atlanta resident."We fund a lot of things that don’t need funding and nobody’s willing to let their own pet projects be cut and so the cry is always 'more taxes,' not 'let’s prioritize what we've got.'"

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Politics
8:21 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

A Talk With Outgoing U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss, Part Two

United States Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), in a conversation with WABE's Denis O'Hayer on Dec. 5, 2014 at the Senator's office in Atlanta.
Credit Jason Parker / WABE

Georgia's senior U.S. Senator, Republican Saxby Chambliss, will leave office at the end of 2014. Chambliss decided not to seek re-election.  

In part two of a conversation with WABE's Denis O'Hayer, Chambliss looked back at his work on the Senate Intelligence Committee, where he is the ranking Republican member.  Chambliss discussed his working relationship with the committee chair, Democrat Diane Feinstein of California, and the complex decisions facing the U.S. in its battle with ISIS.

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Politics
5:20 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Deal Remains Noncommittal On Approach To Transportation Funding Gap

Gov. Nathan Deal

State officials agree Georgia needs more money to fix its transportation infrastructure, but no one yet is saying where that money will come from. At a transportation conference Tuesday in Athens, Gov. Nathan Deal was noncommittal.

State officials say at a minimum - just to maintain the current network of roads and bridges - a billion more dollars per year is needed.  

Deal acknowledged the issue.

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Politics
4:06 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Will Kennesaw City Council Revisit Mosque Proposal?

Members of the Suffah Dawaad congregation (right) huddle during last week's Kennesaw City Council meeting. Attorney Doug Dillard is to their left.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

The Kennesaw City Council is expected to revisit a proposal to allow an Islamic activity center to rent space in a local strip mall. The council voted 4-1 against the plan last week. Members are scheduled to meet for a work session Wednesday. They will be able to discuss the issue, but won’t be able to vote until its meeting next Monday.

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Politics
8:45 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

A Talk With Outgoing U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss, Part One

United States Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), in a conversation with WABE's Denis O'Hayer on Dec. 5, 2014 in the Senator's Atlanta office.
Credit Jason Parker / WABE

Georgia's senior U.S. Senator, Republican Saxby Chambliss, will leave office at the end of 2014. Chambliss decided not to seek re-election.  

In part 1 of a conversation with WABE's Denis O'Hayer, Chambliss talked about the reasons for his decision, his frustration with the last few years of gridlock in Congress, and the controversial ad that was part of his successful 2002 campaign to unseat then-Senator Max Cleland.

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Politics
8:00 am
Mon December 8, 2014

Should Georgia Explore Medicaid Expansion Alternatives?

Dr. Ileana Fuentes, examines seven-year-old Cardji Caliste, who is covered by Medicaid, at the Borinquen Health Care Center in Miami.
Credit Lynne Sladky / Associated Press

Georgia, and many other states with Republican governors, turned down Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. Last week, Florida unveiled an alternative plan that could allow the state to take advantage of the federal money that’s up for grabs.

WABE’s Michelle Wirth spoke with those on both sides of the federal healthcare debate to see if they think Georgia should come up with a similar plan.

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Politics
6:09 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

DeKalb Sheriff Won't Honor ICE Detainers

Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

Another metro Atlanta sheriff’s office announced it won’t honor detainer requests by  U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). DeKalb Sheriff Jeffrey L. Mann joined Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill and Fulton County commissioners in refusing to comply with the requests.

ICE detainers ask jails to hold prisoners 48 hours past their release dates so the agency can check immigration status. Some recent federal court decisions have determined such requests violate the Fourth Amendment.

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Politics
5:42 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

House Committee Finalizes Wrongful Conviction Compensation Proposal

Under the proposal, those wrongfully convicted would receive $50,000 for every year they were imprisoned.
Credit Keith Allison / KeithAllisonPhoto.com

In Georgia, if a person has been convicted and imprisoned for a crime and then later found innocent, there’s no standard for how the state will make it right.

But after months of meetings, a state House committee has come up with some ideas on how to standardize compensation in such cases. They’ll take the shape of a bill to be introduced in the upcoming legislative session.  

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Politics
10:59 am
Thu December 4, 2014

Interfaith Group Urges Kennesaw City Council To Reverse Mosque Decision

Kennesaw Mayor Mark Matthews (center) had a hard time getting the council to vote on the proposal.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

Monday night the Kennesaw City Council rejected plans to house a mosque in a local strip mall.

While some residents applauded the move, others expressed disappointment.

A group made up of people from different faiths drafted a letter to the council (below) criticizing the decision.

An Interfaith Open Letter to the City Council of Kennesaw, Georgia

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Politics
2:14 am
Tue December 2, 2014

Holder Discusses Ferguson In Atlanta

The setting was steeped in symbolism, especially in the wake of protests in Ferguson, Missouri.

During a packed interfaith prayer service at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Martin Luther King Jr.’s former congregation, Holder said there was still work to be done to fulfill Dr. King’s dream.

“As we recommit ourselves to the cause with which he entrusted us, it’s apparent that our nation’s journey is not yet over," the attorney general told the hundreds gathered.

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Politics
1:36 am
Tue December 2, 2014

Kennesaw City Council Votes Down Proposed Mosque

Protestors oppose plans for an Islamic center at a Kennesaw strip mall.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

Monday night the Kennesaw City Council rejected a plan to house an Islamic center in an empty retail space in a strip mall.

The vote came a month after a heated debate at the last city council meeting. Doug Dillard, the attorney for the Suffah Dawaad congregation, says they took painstaking efforts to comply with the community’s demands.

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Politics
1:23 am
Tue December 2, 2014

Obama's Immigration Policy Reaches Beyond Latino Communities

Raymond Partolan is relieved his parents qualify for temporary deportation relief.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

President Obama’s latest executive action on immigration will provide temporary deportation relief and work permits to millions of undocumented immigrants. The policy will certainly affect Latino communities. But it will also impact Asian immigrants.

Raymond Partolan’s family came to the U.S. legally from the Philippines when he was a baby. They settled in Macon. But his father hit a roadblock when he tried to become a legal resident.

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Transportation
4:08 pm
Fri November 28, 2014

Lawmaker Wants To Expand Cellphone Ban While Driving

If this pre-filed bill passes, only hands-free devices will be allowed while driving. There are exceptions made for individuals like police officers.
Credit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  In Georgia, it’s illegal to text and drive. And if you’re a bus driver – or under the age of 18 – it’s illegal to use a cellphone at all while you’re driving.

Nationwide, there are more than a dozen states that ban the use of hand-held cellphones while driving.

Democratic Representative Rahn Mayo of Decatur wants to take that a step further. He’s the sponsor of a new bill in the state legislature banning all drivers from using anything except hands-free cellphones.  

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Ferguson
10:25 am
Tue November 25, 2014

Protesters Plan Atlanta Protest Of Ferguson Ruling

Protesters hold candles during an earlier Ferguson vigil in Atlanta.
Credit Evan Jang / WABE

Activists plan to rally in downtown Atlanta in response to a grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer who fatally shot an unarmed 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri.

Organizers say the "Community Speakout" is set for 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Underground Atlanta, a shopping area in the heart of the city.

Thousands of people demonstrated late Monday in several U.S. cities to protest the grand jury's decision not to indict Darren Wilson, a white police officer who killed Michael Brown, who is black, on Aug. 9.

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Politics
6:01 am
Tue November 25, 2014

For State Lawmakers, High Court Ruling Highlights Need For Private Probation Bill

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Wendell Willard, R-Sandy Springs.
Credit GA House of Reps.

Georgians who can’t afford to pay off traffic tickets and other misdemeanor fines are routinely put on probation until they can pay, but that may be changing soon.

Georgia, by far, has more people on probation for low-level offenses than any other state in the country. About 300,000 at any one time, in fact. And at a rate that’s quadruple the national average.

“We have to wonder is that because people in Georgia are so much less law-abiding?" says Sarah Geraghty. "I have to believe the answer to that is no."

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Politics
6:00 am
Tue November 25, 2014

Faith-Based Groups Split on Obama's Action on Immigration

Immigration rights activists staged a protest last fall outside Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Atlanta Headquarters.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

President Obama’s executive action on immigration will provide temporary deportation relief and work permits for millions of undocumented immigrants. But some faith-based communities are split on whether it was wise for the president to take matters into his own hands.

Atlanta’s Catholic Archdiocese favors the president’s plan.

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A Talk With Attorney General Sam Olens
6:11 pm
Mon November 24, 2014

Georgia Heads For Supreme Court Water Fight With Florida

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens, on the left, speaks with WABE's Denis O'Hayer in the Attorney General's office on November 24, 2014.
Credit Lauren Kane

Georgia and Florida are preparing to fight the latest round of the water wars in the nation's highest court.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Florida's lawsuit, challenging what it says is Georgia's overconsumption of water flowing through the state into Florida.  

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Politics
6:10 pm
Mon November 24, 2014

GOP Congressional Delegation Spurns Obama In Hagel's Resignation

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, left, and Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Credit J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

Members of Georgia’s Republican Congressional Delegation are criticizing the Obama administration after U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s resignation.

In prepared statements, Republicans Sen. Johnny Isakson and Rep. Tom Price said Hagel’s departure reflects President Obama’s failed foreign policy.

Sen. Isakson said the move shows uncertainty over the president’s stated mission to destroy the group calling itself the Islamic State.

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Politics
6:02 pm
Mon November 24, 2014

GEMA Head English To Step Down

Credit John Bazemore / Associated Press

Georgia Emergency Management Head Charley English is stepping down as the agency’s leader, moving down the ranks to deputy director starting at the beginning of next year.

In a press release, Gov. Nathan Deal Monday announced the shakeup as part of a larger staff reorganization in his upcoming second term.  

English has been with GEMA since 1996 and served as director since 2006.

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Politics
5:56 pm
Mon November 24, 2014

Rev. Bernice King Releases Statement On Ferguson

Rev. Bernice King, the daughter of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., speaks during a "I Have a Dream" Gospel Brunch at Willard Hotel in Washington.
Credit Jose Luis Magana / Associated Press

 

Rev. Bernice King, one of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s children and CEO of the King Center, has issued a statement asking for nonviolent and restraint while the world waits for the grand jury verdict in Ferguson. The grand jury's findings are expected to be announced Monday evening.

The full statement is below.

As the world awaits the grand jury decision regarding Officer Darren Wilson, my thoughts and prayers continue to be with Michael Brown’s parents, Michael Brown, Sr. and Lesley McSpadden, his family, and the entire Ferguson community. 

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Politics
5:02 pm
Mon November 24, 2014

Head Of Georgia's Emergency Management Agency To Step Down

Georgia Emergency Management Director Charley English speaks during a news conference in the Governor's office last February.
Credit John Bazemore / Associated Press

Charley English, the Director of Georgia's Emergency Management Agency is set to step down.

English, who has led GEMA since 2006, was in charge of the emergency response during the snowstorm in January 2014. He was strongly criticized for not acting fast enough during the early hours of the storm and not opening the state emergency operations center until hours after roads were already gridlocked. In emails released after the storm, English seemed hesitant to react during the emergency - a decision that he later would say was a "terrible error in judgment."

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Politics
5:47 pm
Fri November 21, 2014

Isakson, Now In Majority, Expects More Productive Congress

Sen. Johnny Isakson, left, and Sen. Patty Murray confer before walking into the Senate chamber.
Credit J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

Georgia U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson expects to have a more productive next year in Washington.

He says the new Republican-controlled Senate plans to force the President’s hand on a number of hot-button issues, including authorizing the Keystone pipeline and eliminating the Affordable Care Act’s medical device tax.

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Politics
4:25 pm
Fri November 21, 2014

Isakson: Obama Immigration Plan An Effort To "Buy Friends"

Georgia U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakon
Credit facebook.com/isakson

Georgia U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson said Friday President Obama’s recent moves on immigration overstep executive authority and should be challenged in court.    

“What he was trying to do was buy friends last night. That’s all he was trying… I mean, that was a political speech. This whole thing is a political exercise," said Isakson at a GOP luncheon in Marietta. "We’ve got to make sure we don’t get trapped into playing the political game. The president was constitutionally and legally wrong and that’s the issue.”

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