Kennesaw State University

Study: Yard clippings, dog waste contaminating Sandy Springs streams

Name of Publication: 
Reporter Newspapers
Excerpt of Article: 

Yard clippings and dog waste are some of the reasons two streams in Sandy Springs become contaminated, says a Kennesaw State University class, whose members presented findings of a six-week summer study to the community on June 24.

The study marked the fourth year the class has teamed with the Watershed Alliance of Sandy Springs to conduct field studies monitoring the health of Long Island and Marsh creeks.

“It’s a service for the community and an educational experience for [the class],” said Dick Farmer of the Watershed Alliance.

The class started after Farmer came across a study of Long Island Creek conducted in 2001 by KSU Professor Mark Patterson and got in touch with him.

Farmer asked Patterson if he would be interested in following up on the study.

Patterson, along with fellow professor Nancy Hoalst-Pullen, Farmer and Patty Berkovitz of the Watershed Allliance, starting devising a full-credit summer course giving geography students real-world experience in the field.

“On average we have 18 to 24 students each summer,” said Patterson, adding that during the course students conduct studies such as water quality testing and urban tree risk assessment.

Students in KSU’s Watershed Assessment and Watershed Analysis classes say that while overall the streams are in good condition, there are signs of contamination, in some cases, extreme. “In only the second week, one site found extremely high E. coliform counts,” Patterson said. ...


Ways Parents, Students Can Research Campus Safety

Name of Publication: 
U.S. News & World Report
Excerpt of Article: 

Prospective students should explore campus safety and crime statistics as they consider colleges. 




Sexual assaults, school shootings and other forms of on-campus violence are a major part of the national discussion of campus safety. The threat of a stolen laptop isn’t as frightening, but there are many types of crime that can affect college students.

As prospective college students and their families try to choose the right school, researching campus safety can seem daunting, uncomfortable or even impossible.

To thoroughly evaluate a school's safety, prospective students need to research crime statistics, ask current students and campus staff the right questions and explore the programs universities have to protect and assist students, experts say.

[Learn how to stay safe on a college campus.]

Under the law, schools must submit an annual security report, maintain a crime log, share statistics for a variety of crimes that happen on campus and in some off-campus facilities, issue timely campus alerts, maintain a fire log and create policies to handle reports of missing students.

Families should first check the annual security report, which schools must submit by Oct. 1 each year, says Abigail Boyer, assistant executive director of programs at the Clery Center for Security On Campus.

The Department of Education has a site that allows users to research statistics by institution. Families should also be able to find the information through a university’s website.

The Clery Act provides basic rules, but colleges have flexibility in how they implement certain sections, including how they handle campus alerts about safety issues such as a shooter.

For example, the length of time it takes for a student to receive a notification from the campus in an emergency is important but varies by school, says Robert Lang, who heads up security efforts at Kennesaw State University. Lang says that families should also ask about the variety of alerts a school uses beyond text messages and emails. Kennesaw’s alert system includes computer pop-ups that can override classroom lectures, messages that display on digital signs around campus and a siren system.

Lang encourages families to ask schools who handles campus safety measures and how those measures are divided up. Some schools may have departments and programs dedicated to campus security and safety or have university police, while others may work with local police.

Families should also think about where students will spend time when they’re not on campus.

"You need to do some homework too, about not just the campus itself, but the city surrounding it," Lang says.Under a federal law known as the Jeanne Clery Act, brick-and-mortar schools that receive federal student aid are required to share information about crime on and around their campuses. ...


State to pay $1.8 million to settle ethics cases

Name of Publication: 
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Excerpt of Article: 

Updated: 9:30 a.m. Saturday, June 14, 2014  |  Posted: 5:37 p.m. Friday, June 13, 2014

By Aaron Gould Sheinin - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The state of Georgia on Friday agreed to pay more than $1.8 million to settle two lawsuits against its ethics commission and one that had yet to be filed.

The decision to pay, and avoid trial, brings to nearly $3 million the cost to taxpayers to end a series of legal battles that have dogged the commission and Gov. Nathan Deal for two years.

In agreements signed Friday, former commission deputy director Sherilyn Streicker will be paid $1 million and the agency’s computer specialist, John Hair, will receive $410,000. Former commission attorney Elisabeth Murray-Obertein, who had threatened to sue, will receive $477,500.

The settlements come two months after a Fulton County jury awarded former commission director Stacey Kalberman $700,000 plus attorneys fees — $1.15 million in all — after a week-long trial.

The payments will come out of an insurance fund the state maintains with taxpayer dollars.  ...

Kennesaw State University political scientist Ralph Durham said settling the cases in June is better for Deal than having trials spread out through the fall. Still, the governor had better be ready for more of that kind of rhetoric from Carter and the Democrats.

“If I were in the Carter camp I’d be wanting to emphasize that this is a persistent cloud that follows Deal around,” Durham said. “He has just always sort of been hounded by accusations and can’t seem to get away from it.”

Bergdahl adds heft to campaign silly season

Name of Publication: 
11 Alive News
Excerpt of Article: 

Doug Richards, WXIA8:11 p.m. EDT June 5, 2014

ATLANTA-- The emptiness of political discourse is measurable by the commercials. Exhibit A this year would be the series of commercials for U.S. Senate candidates that featured babies depicting politicians. It is theater that can starkly contrast with the importance of the office sought.

"it's just a very different type of activity, governing and politicking," said Kerwin Swint, Kennesaw State University political science professor.

It's demonstrated with the issue of Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. Army sergeant freed by the Taliban -- and the controversy that has stirred. Central to it has been Saxby Chambliss, the retiring U.S. Senator from Georgia whose seat is sought by the men behind the baby commercials.

As Intelligence Committee chairman, Sen. Chambliss arguably follows the lineage of other national figures who occupied Senate seats from Georgia -- including Senators Sam Nunn, Carl Vinson and Richard Russell.

"Saxby Chambliss currently has a heightened role on the intelligence committee. And he's able to play a role in substantive foreign policy issues that Kingston or Perdue (or Michelle Nunn) would have to perform once they're in office," Swint said. ...

Jason Carter says Democratic turnout key to governor's race

Name of Publication: 
Savannah Morning News
Excerpt of Article: 

Posted: June 2, 2014 - 10:36pm  |  Updated: June 3, 2014 - 12:05am

The prevailing theory among political analysts is that as red as the Peach State is today, it’s ripe for Democratic victories in the next two to three election cycles, when demographics changes favoring the party will make it a true swing state.

Carter isn’t buying it.

The numbers he and his campaign staff have been crunching offer the gubernatorial candidate, who two weeks ago secured the Democratic nomination, hope he can defeat Republican Gov. Nathan Deal.

In 2012, President Barack Obama garnered more than 1.7 million or 45.5 percent of votes. Carter said he will likely need to capture 1.3 million of those votes to win the off-year election.

However, last month’s primary turnout of just under 20 percent doesn’t bode well for Democrats. Carter received 304,243 votes to the Republicans’ 596,218 votes, of which Deal captured 72.2 percent. And nearly 60,000 more Republicans than Democrats participated in early voting.

Carter’s campaign believes upward of 600,000 Democrats who aren’t registered to vote are in the state. Registering and getting just 200,000 of them to vote in November, campaign officials calculate, will give them the win.

Getting potential supporters not only motivated, but also physically to the polls will be crucial to the Carter campaign. ...

Kerwin Swint, a political science professor at Kennesaw State University, says Carter will need not just Democratic support but independent voters this year.

“It’s a midterm election year and could be a tough one for Democrats nationally,” he said in an email. “If it was a presidential year then maybe he could rely more on Democratic voters. But considering the hurdles a Democratic candidate in Georgia faces this year, he’s doing quite well.”

Does Low Primary Turnout Spell Trouble For Democrats In November?

Name of Publication: 
WABE (Atlanta's NPR)
Excerpt of Article: 

Voters from both parties showed up in fewer numbers for Tuesday’s primary election, and some say that’s far more significant for Democrats than Republicans.

Georgia Democrats have high expectations for the 2014 ticket led by gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter and U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn.

“It’s been years since we’ve seen this kind of excitement and energy," said Georgia Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson in November. "We’ve got such good candidates that are announcing for office and we’ve got so many important issues to talk about. This excitement level is just off the scale."

But about 75,000 fewer Democrats voted Tuesday than in the 2010 primary, the last nonpresidential election year and one that turned out historically bad for the party.

Republicans had a similar drop-off this year, but it didn’t stop Brian Robinson, spokesman for Gov. Nathan Deal, from boasting on Twitter that even with opposition, the governor received more votes than the total number of Democrats that showed up to the polls.

Kennesaw State University political science professor Kerwin Swint said a number of factors were at play, including an earlier primary than past years. Still, Swint says the writing appears to be on the wall - he says any anticipated demographic shift favoring Democrats is still several years away.

“Obama’s not on the ballot. It’s not a presidential year. Turnout is deflated. And so Democrats – even those with famous names like Carter and Nunn – are swimming upstream,” said Swint. ...


State’s cost in ethics lawsuit climbs to $1.15 million

Name of Publication: 
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Excerpt of Article: 

Posted: 5:56 p.m. Wednesday, May 21, 2014

By Aaron Gould Sheinin

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Stacey Kalberman’s claim that she was forced from her job as head of the state ethics commission will cost the state a total of $1.15 million, according to documents obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.



A Fulton County jury in April ruled that Kalberman was pushed out for investigating Nathan Deal’s 2010 campaign for governor and ordered the state to pay her $700,000 plus court costs and legal fees. The agreement signed Wednesday shows the total cost for the first time.


The final amount is nearly equal to the commission’s $1.35 million annual budget and will be paid by the Department of Administrative Services through its self-funded insurance program.

Under the terms, Kalberman is to receive $725,111.79, and the law firm Thrasher Liss & Smith will be paid $424,881.21.

Kalberman and her top deputy, Sherilyn Streicker, were investigating a series of complaints against Deal’s campaign and in May 2011 presented draft subpoenas for records from Deal’s campaign and others. Just weeks later, the subpoenas remained unsigned and Kalberman was told her salary would be cut deeply and Streicker’s job eliminated. ...

The Kalberman case is one of three involving the commission and its Deal investigation that could be decided in the next several months — all before November’s election when Deal will next face voters.

Streicker’s whistleblower lawsuit is scheduled for trial in Fulton County in June. Former commission media specialist John Hair’s whistleblower case is tentatively scheduled for October.

Hair was hired by current commission director Holly LaBerge, who took over after Kalberman’s departure. Hair claims LaBerge ordered him to alter and remove documents from the Deal investigative file and that he was fired when he refused.

LaBerge has denied the allegations. 

Steve Anthony, who lectures on state politics at Georgia State University and served as chief of staff to longtime House Speaker Tom Murphy, said these cases will continue to give Deal heartburn if the results are similar.

“It will cause problems on a variety of fronts,” Anthony said. “It will make him have to respond to that and, space and time being what it is, it means he can’t respond to something else.”

It will also draw voters’ attention away from Deal’s own message and gives ammunition to Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jason Carter. ...

Kennesaw State University political scientist Kerwin Swint, a former GOP activist, agreed.

The cases “are like a storm cloud hanging over the Deal administration and the governor’s campaign,” Swint said. “The fact that more court action involving the state ethics commission and its gross mismanagement over the last three years is coming soon has to be unwelcome news to the governor’s re-election team.”



Live Updates: ‘Super Tuesday 2014′: Perdue advances to runoff in GA GOP primary

Name of Publication: 
The Washington Post
Excerpt of Article: 
Katie Zezima
MAY 20, 10:47 PM

David Perdue has advanced to a runoff in the Georgia Republican Senate primary, and he’ll have to get back to campaigning soon.

Perdue will likely face Rep. Jack Kingston or former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel in a runoff July 22. Kingston is currently in second place, six points ahead of former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel. The second place finisher has not yet been declared.

Georgia election law requires that a candidate get at least 50 percent plus one vote in order to be elected. No one in the crowded GOP field did that Tuesday night.

So that brings us to July, when two candidates will square off to decide which of them will face Democrat Michelle Nunn in November. ...

Should Kingston win second place, the runoff between him and Perdue is bound to be a lively one, said Kerwin Swint, a professor of political science at Kennesaw State University.

“If it’s Perdue and Kingston that is going to be an expensive, mean runoff,” Swint said.

When Censorship Becomes a Cultural Norm

Name of Publication: 
Editor & Publisher
Excerpt of Article: 

On a historic basis, the widespread use of these barriers is new and it’s radical. On the federal level, at least, most agencies prior to the last two administrations did not do this.      

 It’s censorship that’s now a cultural norm. It comes from the same motivations and has the same type impact as censorship everywhere. It’s nearly ubiquitous in Washington, but from reports it’s happening in many other areas as well.  

As years have passed with little push back from journalists, agencies have begun to block requested interviews altogether, if they so wish.             

What journalists don’t want to face is that the restraints are effective, like censorship in other countries, despite reporters’ occasional triumphs. With millions of people blocked from talking to reporters at all or at least not without the public information “guards” tracking and monitoring them, journalists are losing perspectives and important stories regularly.             
In one example out of thousands, the New York Times ran a story last December on the soon-to-be implemented ICD-10 medical coding system, a massive change for the health care system that will affect the whole public. But the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), one of the federal agencies in charge of ICD-10, wouldn’t allow staff to talk to the reporter.  ...  

Last year a reporter asked about important rules for, the registry for medical studies, ironically meant to make medical research more transparent. Five years after Congress had called for them, the rules had not come out.             

The Food and Drug Administration and National Institutes of Health just said no. No one would talk about it.             
And they got offended when the reporter persisted.  

Note the control here: Reporters must go back to the same people for permission to speak to someone for a future story. So if they know what is good for their paycheck, they take what little the agencies give them—toxic to public understanding though it may be—and live to interview another day.             

Such power can’t exist and go unused: In a 2013 survey of public information officers, sponsored in part by the National Association of Government Communicators and conducted by Dr. Carolyn S. Carlson, assistant professor of communication at Kennesaw State University, 40 percent of PIOs admitted they had blocked certain reporters because of “problems” they had with their previous stories. Three years ago an HHS PIO informed a room full of reporters he had told his whole staff to ignore a certain reporter.   ...    

In another survey by Carlson released this March and sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists, more than half of local reporters from across the country said they had been prohibited by PIOs from interviewing agency employees at least some of the time and 10 percent said most of the time (see chart A).   

Georgia Republicans Warm to Businessman David Perdue

Name of Publication: 
The Wall Street Journal
Excerpt of Article: 

Political Novice Poised for Strong Showing in Senate Primary

ATLANTA—A multimillionaire Georgia businessman is poised for a strong showing in Tuesday's Republican Senate primary race by stressing his business acumen over a field of longtime political officeholders.

David Perdue, a 64-year-old former chief executive of Dollar General Corp.DG -1.20% , is Republican voters' leading candidate, according to a recent survey. Last week's poll by Saint Leo University in Florida showed that of 689 likely primary voters, 26% supported Mr. Perdue to fill the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss.

U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston and former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel are fighting for second place, according to the poll, with 16% for Mr. Kingston and 15% for Ms. Handel.

They appear to have edged aside U.S. Reps. Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey, both doctors who dominated airwaves early on, making vocal opposition to the Obama administration and the Affordable Care Act cornerstones of their campaign. Mr. Gingrey had led in earlier polling.

Mr. Perdue, by contrast, has stressed his experience as an executive working to turn around troubled companies, including Dollar General and shoe and apparel company Reebok. He said candidates who have spent years in political office don't have the business experience needed to turn around the government's finances, calling the nation's debt the biggest threat to national security. ...

Mr. Perdue, who has given his campaign nearly $2.7 million in loans and in-kind donations, was little-known when he entered the race last year. He gained support in part thanks to widely viewed television commercials featuring crying babies labeled with his opponents' names. The ads have helped him run "a great outsider's race" to take the lead, though the other candidates could get substantial support in what is expected to be a low-turnout election, said Kerwin Swint, a political-science professor at Kennesaw State University. ...

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