Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Ah goody, statistics and politics

On Tuesday the first numbers from the census were released, outlining which states are gaining congressional seats and which lose them. No big surprise, Georgia gained a seat. We saw an 18% increase in population over the last 10 years, and though the state hasn’t quite broken the 10 million mark, we’re close. Check the complete state stats here, but for our fair state and city:

Previous districting, blue and red, spread out over population segments of ~630k (thanks, Washington Post)

Georgia

8,186,453: population, 2000

9,687,653: population, 2010

18.3% increase

Atlanta

416,474: population, 2000

540,922: population, 2009 (details of the 2010 census will be released in the next few months)

23% increase

So Georgia (Atlanta, really) earned a 14th congressional seat based on population gains, which will probably be in the northern suburbs, which will most likely mean another republican congressperson. In the summer Governor Deal will call a special session to redraw districts for state House, state Senate, and the new congressional seats based on population changes. I’m sure based solely on the population changes. Surely gerrymandering was just a vocab word from middle school. I assume everyone will behave like gentlemen and women.

Just for some more fun with numbers, congressmen in the 113th Congress will be representing an additional 63,520 citizens (going from 631,306 citizens per congressman in 2000 to 694,826 citizens per congressman in 2010).

The Peach Pundit update has more discussion than I care to follow, much less recap, but has information worth sharing…

Reading the paper

Most mornings I sit down in front of a computer screen and have an entirely unproductive 20 minutes while the coffee is steeping and getting cold. Then the day is peppered with emails and tweets and newsflashes and blog checkings, all of which are definitely 100% work-related. Still, though, I’m surely missing something – I’m just curious to see if there’s a good source of information for Atlanta culture and goings on.  What blogs should I be paying more attention to?  Is there a google calendar someone put together floating around out there? Does your friend have a hilarious weekly email that he sends to 30 people?  Where do you guys get your Atlanta-based intel? I’ll go first.

I love Scoutmob, like Thrillist (as a stingy female I’m not their primary demographic), and read Creative Loafing blogs and features pretty religiously for things to do/buy and cheap places to eat.  I read CL’s Omnivore blog (love Cliff) and actually go to the AJC for John Kessler’s food column.  For business news I turn to the Atlanta Business Chronicle and Global Atlanta, for Georgia politics I skim Peach Pundit, and I click through Paste Magazine for music and various culture (not Atlanta-specific but based here and such an awesome publication). For neighborhood news I’m on a listserv or two (I think most of the intown neighborhoods have these) and look to the EAV Buzz as well.

What say you guys?

Vote Again Already!

Today’s the primary runoff, guys, a day where voters decide the players in major races but traditionally sees less than half the turnout of regular primaries and a fraction of regular elections.

Just a reminder, if you voted in the primary you must choose the same party ballot today. If you DIDN’T vote last month, you can choose either party today. That’s not binding – you aren’t declaring yourself a registered party member by voting or anything dramatic like that.

Today’s major race is the runoff between Republican candidates Karen Handel and Nathan Deal, but there are a few other statewide races (and congressional ones) still up for grabs in both parties. Take 15 minutes and inform yourself this morning – I’ve used the AJC’s voter guide, as it has candidate responses, but does anyone have any other (non-biased, please) suggestions?

And one last reminder, though you ought to already know where it is, you can find your polling place here through the Secretary of State’s office. Happy responsible citizening!

Vote or Die (just kidding!)

Historically, midterm elections do not see the turnout of a presidential election year. But for those that do go to the polls, pundits and the media alike usually think the outcome provides a commentary on a sitting president’s job performance so far.

Whether you agree with this or not, it’s time to go to the polls. The midterm primary is upon us. Next Tuesday, July 20, voters will go to the polls across the country and cast their ballot. Here in Georgia, primaries are being held for the majority of statewide offices and quite a few local offices as well. But, you do not have to wait until next Tuesday to vote. Advance voting is available in each county through this Friday, July 16. Contact your local Board of Elections for details.

Whether you vote early or vote next Tuesday, please just vote!

Dare I say it … Progress on the Transportation Front?

I sincerely hope that Metblogs isn’t your sole source for local news, but just to catch up any readers who may be a few days behind: last night the Georgia Legislature (on its third-to-last day of the 2010 session) passed the “Transportation Investment Act of 2010.”  Great news!

photo Vino Wong, vwong@ajc.com

But first, a nod towards a little bit of background: On Tuesday MARTA staged a rally and “publicity campaign,” dramatically marking huge red X’s on a third of their fleet to represent the buses and trains that would be taken out of service later this year in order to help fill a $120 million budget hole.

The kicker (well, one of the kickers) is that MARTA has money – not a lot, but what they do have they weren’t allowed to use. By law, they can only spend 50% of their revenues from sales tax on operations. That’s why, I assume, we have all the brand-new fancypants black buses driving around in a time of rate hikes and service cuts.

There are obviously about 50 layers of issues here that I’m not going to pretend to know about and/or can’t get into, including the fact that MARTA is the only major transit system in the country without state funding, that leadership supposedly wants state funding but not state oversight, that the legislature has been debating a transportation funding bill for three years, and so on. (and on).

BUT! Last night we made progress! They’re going to let us tax ourselves! Hooray! A bill passed last night that will divide the state into 12 regions, and let each region vote in a referendum to thumbs up or thumbs down a list of transportation projects in the region, along with a 1% sales tax to fund them. Money has to come from somewhere, I suppose, and it’s better than nothing. HB277 also lifts that restriction on MARTA’s operations funding, though just for 3 years.

The bill just passed last night, and is on the Governor’s desk to be signed (he technically has 40 days past the end of session to sign it, I believe), so it’s not final yet. And nothing will actually happen for another couple of years (referendums would take place in 2012).  But I am allowing myself to hope, just a teeny bit, that Atlanta might eventually be, in my lifetime, a place where people ride a train or take a bus and it’s a quick, reasonably priced, perfectly normal means of getting from one place to another. Hoping this is a good step.

More info on the legislation – bill itself here, CL’s fresh loaf here, GPB Lawmakers here, AJC here .

Voter choice

Georgia Senate Bill 359, sponsored by Senator David Shafer (R-Duluth), was introduced and referred to the Ethics Committee on February 4.

What is Senate Bill 359? Well, I’m glad you asked. SB 359 (in a nutshell), if passed, would open the state’s ballots to any political party that receives the support of at least 1 percent of voters in a statewide race. The current percentage stands at 20 percent, which seems almost insurmountable. There are other means by which a candidate may get one’s name on the ballot, if they don’t meet the 20 percent, but that’s not really the issue. The issue is the right of other political parties to have their candidates’ names on the official ballot.

The Libertarian Party endorsed SB 359 yesterday and I suspect many more grass-roots type parties will follow. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to this bill as it progresses through the Senate and on to the House (if it makes it that far).

will the legislature fix marta or will jerry keen (r-disney world) rule the roost?

paging david ralston - fix this

paging david ralston - fix this

longer waits during non-peak times on trains. service modifications to bus routes. whole bus routes cancelled. for me that is the legacy of the 2009 georgia legislative session.

failing to secure an alternate funding measure to ensure marta’s operations glenn richardson and jerry keen let the legislature leave town with a big f-you to atlanta commuters. keen was rumored to have quipped that he was closer to disney world than the city of atlanta (my own feelings on the majority leader can be found here.) in fairness the casey cagle-led georgia senate did pass a bill that would have sustained marta’s operations by removing the onerous reserve restriction on marta’s sales tax funding.

well glenn is gone, although jerry keen is still hanging around, and the reprehensible jill chambers, who actually seems to be anti-public transit is still leading the state marta oversight committee (ask yourself, btw, if the state contributes ZERO dollars to marta’s budget why they have any oversight) but one can hope that the new leadership in the house might consider actually trying to do something to fix marta’s funding.

let’s hope.

the people i ride with every day deserve a world class transit systems from their leaders. at the very least they deserve one not tottering on the brink of bankruptcy every six months. and before you give me the “marta is just run poorly” tripe consider two things; first, marta makes cuts all the time, spends little money on marketing or other bottom line expenses and second, reliably transports a whole lot of commuters with absolutely zero funding from the state.

look i am a libertarian, but this is one thing the government SHOULD do.

so fix it, david ralston. this is your chance to make a break with the past and show us that georgia republicans care about the city of atlanta and its residents.

begging you.

don’t know much about local politics.

atlanta has a new mayor. and he is apparently getting down to work.

and it’s sad to say that i actually don’t know much about him or local, atlanta politics – the personalities involved, the issues – i really don’t know much about any of it. i learned enough during the recent election to make a (somewhat) informed decision about the mayoral race, but that really was the only election i felt even remotely qualified to vote in as a city resident.

and i don’t really like that.

i consider myself to be the type of citizen that wants to be informed, but i just don’t really know where to start. i read ben’s blog and get some inside info there and creative loafing does a decent job. despite it being hyper-partisan i got good info out of blog for democracy too, but then their feed stopped responding in my feed reader. and none of this was enough to really feel informed.

so suggestions anyone? what do you do to really get informed about what is going on in this city from a government and political standpoint?

i also might try going to a city council meeting sometime, although that would really be upping the ante. maybe i can convinice ben to go with me.

can we kill the run-off? plz?

well, i voted. yet again. it seems like all i do these days is vote. a presidential election last year, then a senate run-off last year, then a mayoral election this year, then a mayoral run-off this year. it’s getting a tiny bit out of control.

at least i can assume that 2010 will not bring any run-offs as both johnny isakson and john lewis are pretty much assured at least 50 percent. that being said, can we do away with the run-off and just elect the person with the plurality after the first ballot?

it’s no secret i voted for mary norwood (although it was one of the least enthusiastic votes i have ever cast), so yes, in this instance, the lack of a run-off would have elected my candidate, and now, it appears, although a recount is imminent, that the run-off will elect her opponent, but look, i would support this either way.

it’s not that i dislike voting, it’s just that i am not sure what the point of the run-off is. it’s not like it’s the exact same electorate. some people vote in the run-off who didn’t in the previous election. a lot of people who voted in the general election never make it out to the run-off. so it isn’t about who most people support, but more about who can get people to go out and vote yet again.

i am all for people’s civic duty, but when we are voting over and over and over, and as ben mentioned for positions most people don’t even know what they do, it’s easy to see why people throw up their hands and don’t vote.

so i say kill the run-off.

i am sure i am wrong about this, so tell me why.

get out and vote!!!

here it is, the obligatory get out and vote post.

as much as i hate run-off elections (probably a topic for another post or maybe i will let ben elaborate) we have them in georgia and today is municipal election run-off day.

they’re going on all over of course (ex. roswell has a run-off for mayor today) but the biggie is the city of atlanta run-off for mayor (atlantans are also voting for other offices today) between mary norwood and kasim reed.

they were <a href="“>monitoring turnout today at blog for democracy and the morning numbers looked solid. still plenty of time.

for poll location, sample ballots and more goodness head to the secretary of state web site.

go vote!!!

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