Political Notes – Perdue appointees are ‘burrowing in’


One of the surest signs that a governor’s administration is nearing the end is when the chief executive starts appointing his aides and supporters to well-paid positions in the government bureaucracy.

Political scientists call the process “burrowing in” and you will see it going on at the federal level when a president nears the end of his term in office and tries to shelter his people by placing them in regular government positions.

Gov. Sonny Perdue, whose administration will end in January, has been taking care of his people for several months now.

Heidi Green, who was one of Perdue’s policy advisers early in his administration, was named commissioner of the Department of Economic Development in June, a $140,000-a-year job formerly held by Ken Stewart.

Last Friday, Perdue appointed Green’s husband, Cobb County attorney Reuben Green, to replace Ken Nix when he steps down in October from his $120,000-a-year position as a Superior Court judge.

Perdue recently named his chief financial officer, Tommy Hills, as state treasurer, a job that pays $157,000 a year.  Hills replaces Dan Ebersole, who is retiring as of the end of August.

The governor’s personal adviser on transportation issues, Jannine Miller, was named executive director of the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority in July (her predecessor, former BellSouth executive Dick Anderson, was being paid $140,000 a year).

Erin Hames, the former middle school teacher who was Perdue’s policy director until last week, is in line to get a healthy bump in pay from the new job she got as chief of staff at the Department of Education.

Hames was paid $63,558 in fiscal year 2009 as a policy adviser to the governor.  In her new position at DOE she replaces Stephen Pruitt, whose salary was $118,145.

Barnes winding down

As Perdue ramps up the appointment of his aides and advisers to other state jobs, Roy Barnes is winding down his involvement in his lucrative Marietta law practice.

The Macon Telegraph’s Amy Leigh Womack has an interesting article in Monday’s edition that looks at how Barnes, a renowned trial lawyer, is easing out of some major cases as he continues his campaign for governor:

But as a full-time gubernatorial candidate campaigning across the state, he’s no longer involved in the day-to-day operations of the Barnes Law Group. Still, Barnes has continued to be involved in a few cases, said John F. Salter, Barnes’ son-in-law.

Among Barnes’ cases is the defense of Macon businessman William David “Billy” Ramsbottom Jr., who is accused of embezzling nearly $476,000 in connection with a St. Simons Island shopping center.

Salter said Barnes became involved in the case through Craig Gillen, another Atlanta area lawyer, who serves as lead attorney on the case.

Gillen said Barnes has been on Ramsbottom’s legal team for about a year.

“He is working with me on pre-trial matters,” Gillen said. “He will not be a part of the trial team.”

Salter said now that Barnes is running for governor again, almost all of Barnes’ cases have been absorbed by other lawyers at the Barnes Law Group.

“Due to the campaign, Roy will not be involved in any possible trial,” Salter said in an e-mail.

How big is the teacher vote?

Ben Benton of the Chattanooga Times-Free Press examines the potential impact of the teachers’ vote on the governor’s race and includes these comments:

Walker County teacher Jim Barrett, is a member of the Georgia Association of Educators and Walker County Association of Educators, predicted “a tough race for both of them.”

“I have concerns that Nathan’s plan for education is not specific enough to address systemic issues across our state,” Barrett said, noting that Georgia Association of Educators’ membership is about 40 percent Republican despite the Barnes endorsement.

He thinks teachers will be split between conservative values and state funding reductions that led to furloughs, cutbacks and layoffs.

But he also said he is “extremely apprehensive about Gov. Barnes based on his past performance.”

“Because of his alienating so many teachers in his last administration, he has worked very hard, it seems like, to put together a very specific plan for education. It is garnering more attention from teachers around the state,” Barrett said.

Executive appointments

Gov. Sonny Perdue has appointed outgoing state Sen. Dan Weber (R-Dunwoody) to the Professional Standards Commission, the agency that licenses and hears complaints of professional misconduct against teachers.  Weber, a member of the Senate for six years, decided not to run for another term as a legislator.

The governor’s office also announced these appointments to state boards and commissions –

Professional Standards Commission:  Alice P. Clements of Rome, a third grade teacher at Darlington School; Valerie S. Williams of Cleveland, a fifth grade teacher at Mossy Creek Elementary School.  Georgia Commission for Service and Volunteerism:  Kimberly K. Brannen of Statesboro, a senior vice president at Sea Island Bank; Elaine S. Pritchard of Warner Robins, vice president of Donaldson, Garrett & Associates; Heather H. Teilhet of Smyrna, government relations representative for the Georgia Electric Membership Corp.

The flow slows to Atlanta

The latest population report from the Atlanta Regional Commission says the economic slowdown has drastically slowed population growth in the metro region:

ARC estimated that the 10-county Atlanta region added 31,500 new residents between April 1, 2009, and April 1, 2010. This growth is dramatically slower than historical levels, as the national recession and the housing slowdown continue to take their toll. Since the recession began more than two years ago, the 10-county region has added approximately 56,000 people, which is the slowest growth period in the region since the 1950s.

The Atlanta region’s slowdown is directly attributable to the national economy. During weak economic periods, people don’t move as much for several reasons. Job opportunities are slim, meaning people don’t move to take new jobs. And, with the housing market in such disarray, it is hard to sell a house, which tends to keep people stationary. An earlier Regional Snapshot about domestic migration, confirmed these trends by showing that migration from states that had “hot” housing markets before the crash – California, New York and Florida – has largely evaporated.

© 2010 by The Georgia Report


Tags: Metro Atlanta population growth , roy barnes , Sonny Perdue , teachers' votes