Political Notes — Deal lauds the Panama Canal widening

[private]The expansion of the Panama Canal to accommodate larger cargo ships became official Sunday as the first vessels began traversing the canal, and Gov. Nathan Deal was quick to applaud the new facility.

“The completion of the Panama Canal expansion is one of the largest and most important civil works projects in recent memory,” Deal said. “The port of Savannah is the leading east coast trading partner with the Panama Canal, and today is a historic moment for both partners.”

Georgia and the federal government are spending a combined total of more than $700 million to dredge the Savannah River and expand the port facilities to handle the expected influx of these larger cargo vessels.

“Completion of the Savannah Harbor expansion is vital to our economic development and job creation not only in Georgia and the Southeast, but nationally as well,” Deal said.

All of that money being spent on all of those port and canal projects is coming at an awkward time, however.  The global shipping industry is in the doldrums right now because of such factors as China’s economic slowdown, the volatile price of oil, and an oversupply of shipping capacity.

In other words, too many ships are being built with too little cargo to carry, which could mean fewer goods being shipped into U.S. ports — such as the one at Savannah.

Moody’s Investors Service, one of the major Wall Street rating agencies, recently changed its outlook on the global shipping sector to negative because it expects “supply growth to outpace demand growth in 2016 by more than 2 percent, suppressing freight rates, particularly in the dry bulk and containership segments.”

Power grab over schools?

Allene Magill, who heads one of the state’s largest education groups at the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE), didn’t mince words in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution guest editorial slamming the “Opportunity School District” proposed by Gov. Nathan Deal.

Magill wrote:

Why would a governor want to wrest control from local boards of education and communities? It’s a motivation as old as mankind: power, control and money.

The Governor’s Office through the OSD superintendent will have the power to take over schools, facilities and resources and will have the ability to redirect those resources to for-profit corporations to operate the schools as charters without all of the overhead and capital costs that the local board must fund. A superintendent appointed by the governor and managing up to 100 schools from an office in Atlanta cannot be expected to do any better in turning these schools around than the experienced educators who are on site and working with teams from the district and school to analyze the issues and determine strategic interventions.

That’s especially true if nothing is done to address community issues that leave children and families without the resources or ability to make education a priority . . .

The idea of an Opportunity School District only makes sense when viewed from the “opportunities” it provides those who will benefit from wresting power and resources from local communities. It certainly makes no sense for children, communities, educators or local boards of education.

Executive appointments

Gov. Deal has appointed Statesboro attorney Laura Marsh to the Board of Regents, representing the 12th Congressional District.  Marsh replaces Lori Durden, who recently was named president of Ogeechee Technical College.

Deal has reappointed his former business partner, Kenneth Cronan, and his longtime political supporter, James Walters, to the Georgia Ports Authority.  Sandersville businessman Charles Tarbutton was also reappointed to the Ports Authority.

Other appointments —

Board of Directors of the Georgia Technology Authority: Douglas Lewis, an Atlanta consultant; Randal Robison, the chief information officer for Georgia Pacific; and Cory Ruth of Mergence Global, a project management firm.

Board of Trustees of the Georgia Firefighters Pension Fund: Tim Milligan of Powder Springs, the assistant chief and fire marshal for the Marietta Fire Department.

Council on Aging: Kenneth Brooks, the associate pastor of First Baptist Church in Cochran; Ruth Lee of Tifton, a retired director of oncology services; Patti Lyons of Savannah, the executive director of Senior Citizens, Inc.; and Joanne Mathis of Atlanta, a retired real estate agent.

© 2016 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Allene Magill , Board of Regents , Georgia Ports Authority , Nathan Deal , Opportunity School District , Panama Canal