Political Notes – Chambliss links military assaults to ‘hormone level’

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Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss created a bit of a stir Tuesday by attributing sexual assaults in the military to “the hormone level created by nature” in servicemen.

“The young folks who are coming into each of your services are anywhere from 17 to 22 or 23. Gee whiz, the hormone level created by nature sets in place the possibility for these types of things to occur. So we’ve got to be very careful how we address it on our side,” Chambliss said during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

Chambliss told military officials: “But guys, we are not doing our job. You’re not doing yours, and we are not doing ours with the rates we are seeing on sexual assaults.”

One of Chambliss’ Republican colleagues, Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), issued a statement pushing back on the senator’s comments:

“It’s simple; criminals are responsible for sexual assaults, not hormones. Perpetuating this line of thinking does nothing to help change the culture of our military. We must be focused on combating this issue directly. The numbers speak for themselves.”

Chambliss is known for uttering these kinds of off-the-cuff remarks that put him in the media spotlight.

In March, he was asked by the publication Politico about gay marriage and said: “I’m not gay, so I’m not going to marry one.”

Train hearing brings out the public

A hearing in Suwanee on proposed routes for a Charlotte-to-Atlanta passenger rail line drew an estimated crowd of 75 people Tuesday night.

From the report by Walter C. Jones of Morris Newspapers:

The meeting, held at a city building in Suwanee because it’s the site of a likely station, was the first of a series of meetings in three states during the early phases of planning the train line. Significant details, such as the cost of construction and the price of a passenger ticket, remain to be worked out, including which entity would actually own and run the railroad.

The biggest question, how to pay for it, will be left to the politicians sometime in 2015 after the $4 million study is completed.

Most of the people looking at the maps and asking questions were from metro Atlanta, but a vanload from Athens came to campaign for the city’s inclusion.

“We’re lobbying for a route that will connect Athens to the line,” said Doc Eldridge, president of the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce.

Although a Republican, Eldridge points out that Athens generally votes Democratic, giving it political connections to the Obama administration that could be helpful in getting federal funding to build the train line.

Jack Crowley, a University of Georgia professor who once served as Oklahoma’s transportation chief, said the train would benefit the Classic City.

“If Athens and the university are going to connect to the rest of the world, it’s got to connect to the airport,” he said.

State will get $717,000 in training funds

Georgia will get $717,000 in federal funds to distribute to job training programs through the Governor’s Office on Workforce Development.

The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) grant is administered by the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education, which said Georgia is one of 15 states that will be receiving the federal money.

“This is a great accomplishment for Georgia’s workforce development and education efforts,” said Blake Ashbee, interim executive director of the Office of Workforce Development. Ashbee’s agency will be in charge of distributing the funds to eligible workforce education programs.

Atlanta school official indicted

Another official of the Atlanta public school system, Jerome Oberlton, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of receiving kickback payments in return for using his influence as chief information officer to award a $780,000 computer project.

“As the Chief Information Officer for APS, Oberlton was entrusted with overseeing a program designed to centralize student data,” U.S. Attorney Sally Yates said. “Rather than ensuring that venders were selected based upon what was best for the school system the defendants are charged with using Oberlton’s public position to line their private pockets.”

The Atlanta school system issued a request for proposal in 2007 for a data warehousing project. The indictment charges that from the start of the project, Oberlton influenced the request for proposal process and ultimately caused the winning bidder to be selected in exchange for kickbacks.

Chrysler says ‘no’ to recall of Jeeps; Georgia case involved

The automaker Chrysler Group, which four years ago was bailed out by the federal government, is now refusing a federal agency request that it recall 2.7 million Jeeps considered to be hazardous because of gas tank fires.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sent Chrysler a letter Monday requesting a recall of the 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee and 2002-2007 Jeep Liberty models because it says the rear-mounted gas tanks are vulnerable to catching fire in a rear-end collision.

Chrysler officials said Tuesday they disagree with the recall request and will not honor it.

“We believe NHTSA’s initial conclusions are based on an incomplete analysis of the underlying data, and we are committed to continue working with the agency to resolve this disagreement,” the company said in a statement.

NHTSA’s letter to Chrysler included a photo of a Jeep crash that occurred in Bainbridge, Ga. in 2012. The Jeep was hit from the rear and burst into flames, and the resulting fire killed a four-year-old boy, Remington “Remi” Walden.

“Automakers, including Chrysler, have known for decades — at least since the Pinto explosions — that putting gas tanks in the rear unprotected by the vehicle’s frame rails poses a grave danger to occupants,” said Columbus attorney Jim Butler, whose firm is representing the Walden family in a lawsuit filed against Chrysler.

Lindsey snares Garrison’s endorsement

House Majority Whip Ed Lindsey (R-Atlanta) has been endorsed in the 11th Congressional District race by one of Cherokee County’s top elected officials, Sheriff Roger Garrison.

“I believe Ed Lindsey is the kind of conservative reformer and leader we need in Congress,” Garrison said in a statement released by the Lindsey campaign. “He has an unmatched, proven record of problem solving leadership in the State House that gives me the confidence to back him.”

Lindsey is running against state Sen. Barry Loudermilk, former congressman Bob Barr and GOP activist Tricia Pridemore in the Republican primary to replace U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey.

And to replace Lindsey . . .

Angelic Moore, who’s running in the Republican primary to replace Ed Lindsey in the Georgia House of Representatives, will have her campaign kickoff next Monday, June 10, at Hal’s (30 Old Ivy Road in Atlanta). The festivities start at 5 p.m.

Democratic Party shifts meeting date

The executive committee of the Georgia Democratic Party has postponed a meeting that had originally been scheduled for Thursday, at which time the status of chairman Mike Berlon was to be discussed.

Berlon has since said he will resign as state chairman on June 9 and the person who would temporarily replace him – First Vice Chair Nikema Williams – is on vacation, so the meeting has been moved to an undetermined date next week.

“They have rescheduled for next week so that Nikema can get back in town,” said Liz Flowers, who’s been serving as a spokesperson for the party. “However, I don’t think they are choosing a day or time until this weekend when she is here.”

Williams is expected to set a date for the election of a new state chairman.

© 2013 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: 11th Congressional District race , Atlanta school system , Blake Ashbee , Charlotte-Atlanta link , Ed Lindsey , federal indictment , Georgia Democratic Party , hormone levels , Jeep recalls , Jim Butler , Military , passenger rail , Saxby Chambliss , sexual assaults , workforce development