Emmett Miller was at a campaign fish fry last year when he learned he had an opponent in his race for an open seat on the Baker County board of commissioners. He was surprised but not alarmed, even though his opponent was white.
“I just knew I had it,” said Miller, 62, an affable but shy former factory worker. He figured that even if, back in the 1960s, he was too young to join voting rights protests with his sister, he could still do his part by helping his neighbors get paved roads and better drainage. “All the time I figured I was going to win,” he said, “because I had more blacks than he had whites.”
He was wrong. Miller, who is black, lost the race, despite winning his own, largely black, precinct by a wide margin. Even though nearly half the county is black, it is governed by an all-white commission.
However, if Baker County’s five commissioners were elected from districts rather than by a countywide vote — the way local governments are elected in 52 of Georgia’s 159 counties — Miller would likely have won.
The same story, with various local permutations, is repeated all across Georgia. After almost a half century of battles targeting at-large elections as a violation of the Voting Rights Act, African-Americans remain under-represented in local governments across the state, an exclusive analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution revealed. At-large voting and black under-representation still go hand-in-hand, leaving some local governments, which decide matters of great importance for day-to-day living, without any black representation.
Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens (R) has a message for the estimated 57.2 million Americans suffering from diabetes, asthma, cancer, genetic disorders, and other pre-existing medical conditions: it’s your fault.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution uncovered video of Hudgens from a November meeting at the CSRA Republican Women’s Club in Evans, Georgia in which he makes the case against the Affordable Care Act’s mandated coverage for Americans with pre-existing medical conditions. In fact, Hudgens compares requiring insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions to requiring auto insurers to pay claims to any reckless drivers without comprehensive auto insurance who crash their cars.
Jim Galloway reports:
Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens is no friend of the Affordable Care Act, and he recently opened up a new front of attack on an aspect of the law that even many of his fellow Republicans say they like: guaranteed coverage for pre-existing medical conditions. …
Here’s what Hudgens said:
"I’ve had several companies come in and they have said just the fact — just the fact — that in the individual market pre-existing conditions have to be covered on Jan. 1, that that is going to double the cost of insurance. And if you don’t really understand what covering pre-existing conditions would be like, it would be like in Georgia we have a law that says you have to have insurance on your automobile. You have to have liability insurance. If you’re going to drive on Georgia’s roads, you have to have liability insurance. You don’t have to have collision. You don’t have to have comprehensive. You don’t have to have rental car or towing or anything else. But you have to have liability. But say you’re going along and you have a wreck. And it’s your fault. Well, a pre-existing condition would be you then calling up your insurance agent and saying, ‘I would like to get collision insurance coverage on my car.’ And your insurance agent says, ‘Well, you never had that before. Why would you want it now?’ And you say, ‘Well, I just had a wreck, it was my fault and I want the insurance company to pay to repair my car.’ And that’s the exact same thing on pre-existing insurance."
Activists in Georgia and across the nation are fasting in support of the passage of immigration overhaul legislation, hoping to ratchet up the pressure on Congress to act before the end of this month.
Son Ah Yun, of Smyrna, and others are drinking only water and going without food for 48 hours. Among other things, they are pushing for a pathway to citizenship for immigrants living illegally in the U.S. A naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in South Korea, Yun started fasting Monday and plans to finish Wednesday. She said she has kept herself busy so she won’t think about eating.
“As an immigrant myself I really believe in this issue,” said Yun, a campaign organizer for the Center for Community Change, a Washington-based group that helps poor people organize and improve their communities. “We are not just talking about other people’s families. We are talking about my family.”
Two symbols of North Carolina politics — the chief opponent of Republican-approved laws and the state budget director who’s helped promote conservatism for decades — met Monday in a rare back-and-forth over GOP policies and the director’s family business.
The Rev. William Barber of the state NAACP and budget director Art Pope debated briefly outside the government office building in Raleigh where Pope works and as Barber wrapped up a news conference singling out Pope for his activities. Barber, who has led a series of weekly protests against laws passed by the Republican-led General Assembly known as Moral Mondays, handed Pope a letter urging him to renounce legislation approved by the General Assembly and GOP Gov. Pat McCrory that requires photo identification to vote; refuses to expand Medicaid; and reduces or eliminates unemployment benefits.
The civil rights group and allied organizations also announced a plan during the holidays to picket outside Roses, Maxway and other discount stores operated by Variety Wholesalers Inc., of which Pope is CEO and board chairman.
"The extremist laws and policies that you support disproportionately impact your customers and the communities in which they live," which are primarily working-class and minority communities, Barber wrote in the letter. He said Pope should back a special legislative session to reverse those laws.
Art Pope is an extreme right-winger with vastly out-sized influence in North Carolina.
Here’s one more paragraph from the article we’re quoting from:
Do shoppers “know what kind of political machine their money supports?” asked Chris Kromm with the Durham-based Institute for Southern Studies and a frequent critic and chronicler of Pope and Pope family money. “Would holiday shoppers still go to Pope’s stores if they knew that Pope-backed lawmakers and groups moved to cut off unemployment benefits [and] denying Medicaid expansion to hundreds of thousands of struggling North Carolinians?”
Kentucky is the only state in the South to build its own insurance exchange and also expand Medicaid — two elements of the health care law that are critical to its aim of insuring millions of Americans. Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear ordered Kynect’s creation without legislative action, circumventing any roadblocks from the state’s Republican Senate. Opponents and tea partiers tried but failed to pass a law barring the move and also sued, unsuccessfully, in federal court.
Providing the Bluegrass State’s 640,000 uninsured residents with coverage is a moral obligation, Beshear told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a September interview. He also saw implementing the law as something the state couldn’t afford not to do. Expanding Medicaid alone is expected to produce $15.6 billion in economic impact and create nearly 17,000 new jobs for the state, according to an independent study by the University of Louisville.
Smokers’ days may be numbered on many of Georgia’s college campuses, as the state Board of Regents considers a total tobacco ban for all 31 institutions in the university system.
The ban is being pushed by Regent Thomas Hopkins, an orthopedic surgeon from Griffin who wants it to apply to students, staff and visitors.
The proposal, which he would like the regents to discuss early next year, follows a national trend of similar bans — promoted as health initiatives — implemented at schools, parks, around hospitals and in restaurants. Last September, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched a national tobacco-free college campus initiative to promote bans like Hopkins is proposing. The initiative counts more than 1,100 colleges and universities in its smoke-free fold.
The Republican in Virginia’s attorney general race will request a recount after the official results released Monday showed state Sen. Mark Obenshain behind Democratic state Sen. Mark Herring by a razor-thin margin of about .007%. Obenshain lost by 165 votes out of 2.2 million, marking the closest statewide race in Virginia’s history.
The chairman of the Republican Party of Florida on Monday called for U.S. Rep. Trey Radel to step down following his recent cocaine conviction.
Chairman Lenny Curry joined a growing number of Republican leaders from Radel’s district demanding his resignation.
"The people of Florida’s 19th Congressional District need a Congressman who is 100 percent focused on the needs of Southwest Florida," Curry said in a news release. "Therefore, Congressman Radel should step down and focus his attention on rehabilitation and his family."
Timothy Egan writes:
… [W]hat is distressingly similar today is how the South is once again committed to taking a backward path. By refusing to expand health care for the working poor through Medicaid, which is paid for by the federal government under Obamacare, most of the old Confederacy is committed to keeping millions of its own fellow citizens in poverty and poor health. They are dooming themselves, further, as the Left-Behind States.
And they are doing it out of spite. Elsewhere, the expansion of Medicaid, the health care program for the poor, has been one of the few success stories of Obamacare.