A photo of a line of colorful clothing strewn atop hedges beneath an apartment window allowed one of 13 participants in a Clarkston, Ga., community engagement project designed by Kennesaw State doctoral candidate Birthe C. Reimers to vent about an issue of concern.
By WALTER C. JONESMORRIS NEWS SERVICE – updated Monday, June 30, 2014 - 1:11pm
ATLANTA | Voters in the Republican Senate runoff who want an experienced hand who came up through the party ranks have that option in Jack Kingston.
His career is the life’s dream of teenaged political junkies. The volunteering he and his wife were doing at a fundraiser as members of the Savannah Young Republicans led to the chance to meet one of his heroes, Ronald Reagan, then a former governor running for president.
Kingston’s hard work and connections led to winning a seat in the state House of Representatives for Savannah in 1984. Six years later he became the first Republican to hold the First District congressional seat since Reconstruction, and he’s been in Washington ever since, rising in seniority and power over those 22 years.
Although he never had serious opposition after his first legislative race, he says he still likes campaigning. Yet, these days, he frequently runs into questions about his years in Congress spawned by negative television ads from runoff opponent David Perdue attacking him primarily for his votes on spending.
“One of the constant concerns you have is that people are too polite when they come up to you,” he said. “I’d rather have them ask me head on.”
So, here they are, head-on.
He’s being called “king of the earmarks” because he used them more in a three-year period than all other Republican members of the Georgia legislative delegation combined. ...
The biggest difference between Kingston and Perdue is that one had a career in Congress while the other held a career as a senior executive in private enterprise. Perdue is appealing to voters who want a change while Kingston’s support comes from those who appreciate his conservative voting record.
Kingston has won the endorsements of the National Rifle Association, National Right to Life, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as well as many tea party leaders who generally oppose the chamber.
He has a lifetime voting record of 100 percent in accord with the National Conservative Union and 96 percent with the National Federation of Independent Business.
“When he goes around saying that Jack Kingston is a liberal, it just doesn’t have credibility,” Kingston said of his opponent’s attacks.
Kerwin Swint, a political science professor at Kennesaw State University, said while primary voters may be more attuned to attack ads than general-election voters, he said they are not ploughing new ground.
“The content of the ads is pretty well known,” he said. “There is nothing striking or new in them, but I guess it’s about repetition.” ...
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. ...
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.
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. ...
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. ...
Georgia may be dominated by Republicans in virtually every top political office, but Democratic state Sen. Jason Carter of Decatur believes 200,000 previously uncounted votes will be crucial to winning back the governor’s mansion.
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.”
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."
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. ...
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.”
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.