21 April 2014

For #MusicMonday, "The Late Anthem" by Orjan Nilsen

"The Late Anthem" by Orjan Nilsen

Commissioner Bill Edwards Sued Twice for Failing to Pay Homeowners Association Dues

(Image courtesy Google Earth)
Fulton County Commissioner Bill Edwards, a Democrat, lives on this serene little street (shown right) in unincorporated south Fulton County.

The street, Grey Hawk Way, is part of the Lakes at Cedar Grove community; which is governed by the Lakes at Cedar Grove Neighborhood Association, Inc.

Four times, in the past ten years, the Lakes at Cedar Grove Neighborhood Association has had to take legal action against Fulton County Commissioner Bill Edwards for failure to pay his neighborhood association dues.

Dues paid to the Lakes at Cedar Grove Neighborhood Association are used for maintaining the pool and community club house, landscaping, and other

Through open records requests, Georgia Unfiltered obtained copies of liens placed against Commissioner Edwards' home in the Cedar Grove community.

In 2004 and 2008, the Lakes at Cedar Grove Neighborhood Association placed two liens against Edwards totaling $1,175.

According to public records (shown below), in 2005 and again in 2009, the Lakes at Cedar Grove Neighborhood Association successfully obtained judgments in Fulton County State Court against Commissioner Edwards. The judgment amounts totaled $1,009.15 in 2005, and $2,907.95 in 2009. Attorneys for the Lakes at Cedar Grove Neighborhood Association filed two Writs of Fieri Facias (fi. fa.) on Edwards' home to collect on the judgments.

A fi. fa. is a court order directing the Sheriff, Marshall, or Constable to seize property (land, cars, money, etc.) and sell it to satisfy a debt. A fi. fa. on a person's home means that individual cannot sell their residence until the debt is paid off.

Edwards paid his debts to the Lakes at Cedar Grove Neighborhood Association, but it took him until 2011 to do so.

Liens against Fulton Commissioner Bill Edwards

18 April 2014

Private Prison Lobbyist Avoids Jail Time After Arrest for Cocaine Possession

A lobbyist for a private prison company recently avoided jail time for felony cocaine possession, after receiving a sweetheart deal from a Fulton County judge.

(John Clayton, after his arrest by Atlanta police on charges of cocaine possession. Image courtesy Fulton County Jail.)
John Clayton (shown right), who is a registered Georgia lobbyist for Corrections Corporation of America, was taken into custody by Atlanta police in February on charges of criminal trespass, obstruction of a law enforcement officer, and possession of cocaine.

The trespass and obstruction charges are misdemeanors. The cocaine possession charge is a felony, and carries a prison sentence of between one and fifteen years. A felony conviction for possession of cocaine won't appear on Clayton's record, however, due to the fact that Fulton County Magistrate Judge Karen Woodson placed Clayton's case on the dead docket after he completed a pre-trial intervention program.

A dead docket is a list of court cases that have been postponed indefinitely, but may be reinstated at any time at the pleasure of the court. A case that has been dead-docketed almost never comes back before a judge.

Georgia Unfiltered has learned that John Clayton's arrest for cocaine possession, earlier this year, was not his first encounter with the law.

In 2008, Clayton was arrested on seven charges of violation of restricted license, no driver's license, speeding, reckless driving, driving under the influence of alcohol, driving under the influence of drugs, and driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Once again, John Clayton received a sweetheart deal from Fulton County State Court Judge Myra H. Dixon. All three of Clayton's DUI charges were placed on the dead docket. Clayton entered into a negotiated plea on the reckless driving charge, and paid a $500 fine.

The firm Clayton lobbies for, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), operates three private prisons in Georgia. According to the Georgia Department of Corrections, CCA operates the Wheeler Correctional Facility, Coffee Correctional Facility, and Jenkins Correctional Facility.

17 April 2014

David Scott Participating in Community Meeting with South Fulton Residents Thursday Evening

Thursday evening, the Pointer Ridge subdivision, located off Flat Shoals Road in south Fulton County, hosts 13th district Georgia Congressman David Scott at its monthly community meeting.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6PM, at the Christians Living for Christ Church -- 6985 Connell Road, Fairburn, Georgia 30213

For #ThrowbackThursday, a 35-year-old Mail Piece from Herman Talmadge to a Black Voter in Macon

In 1979, former Georgia Governor and United States Senator Herman Eugene Talmadge sent the mail piece shown below to a black voter in Macon-Bibb County, Georgia.

The black voter is a member of my family, and lived in Macon's historically black Pleasant Hill community.

History remembers Senator Talmadge as a segregationist who voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. I think Talmadge was just a politician.

The simple truth of politics is all those who gain power are afraid to lose it. Politicians frequently pander to their constituencies in order to maintain the power they gained after their first election victory. Senator Talmadge, in this case, was very clever at following the passions and prejudices of his constituency to stay in power for twenty-three years.

16 April 2014

Atlanta Press Club Executive Director Hopes Gov. Deal Can Make Time for 14 May Debate

Governor Nathan Deal has decided to decline the opportunity to participate in the Atlanta Press Club Loudermilk‐Young Debate because of a “long‐standing commitment,” according to his campaign staff.

Governor Deal would have been one of three participants, along with the two other Republican candidates on the ballot -- John Barge and David
Pennington. Invited candidates who do not participate in the debate will be represented by an empty podium.

“We are disappointed Governor Deal is not available to attend our debate,” said Lauri Strauss, Executive Director of the Atlanta Press Club. “We hope his schedule will change and that he can make time to participate in this very important discussion.”

The Atlanta Press Club Republican gubernatorial primary debate is scheduled to air live on Wednesday, 14 May 2014 at 7PM on Georgia Public Broadcasting.

The debate will be broadcast before a live studio audience at Georgia Public Broadcasting studios, located at 260 14th Street, Atlanta, GA 30318.

Georgia Republicans Outpacing Democrats in Absentee Ballot Requests for 20 May Primary

A Georgia Unfiltered review of absentee ballot requests shows that Republican primary voters are outpacing the Democrats.

9,664 absentee ballot applications have been filed as of Tuesday, 15 April.

3,665 Democrat ballots were requested, and 5,999 Republican ballots were requested.

15 April 2014

164-room Hotel to be Part of Extensive Renovation of Phipps Plaza in Buckhead

Simon Property Group announced today that it will undertake a series of improvements to Phipps Plaza.

The first project in a series of improvements will be an extensive interior makeover, providing a fresh new look and feel to the interior space of the mall. Plans include: upgraded LED lighting, repainting the interior, new warm wood accents, an updated railing system, luxury soft seating and lounging areas with Wi-Fi connectivity and chargers, upgraded restrooms, and the installation of a hotel-like concierge service center.

(Buckhead's Phipps Plaza will undergo an extensive renovation in the coming months.)
"Our patrons will really enjoy these improvements," said Dewayne Herbert, Phipps Plaza's mall manager. "These initial enhancements will provide a visible transformation of the interior environment that will be more consistent with the one-of-a-kind Phipps shopping experience that our customers deserve."

Major improvements to the parking decks will also be undertaken. All entrances from the parking decks to the mall will be improved with new flooring, lighting and automatic doors to welcome customers. Lighting in the parking decks will be converted to energy efficient LED which will also improve lighting throughout the parking decks.

Construction on these exciting interior renovations will commence this summer and be complete before the holiday season. The property will remain open throughout with phasing of the work to minimize customer disruption. The improvements on the inside of Phipps Plaza will also deliver energy-saving benefits.

Several other projects are also being planned to commence in the near future. Improvements are being contemplated to the property's prominent entrance along Peachtree Road which will include a new dramatic entrance, a dynamic streetscape filled with luxury storefronts, and new lush landscaping. New additions to Phipps Plaza will include 320 luxury residential units and a 164-room hotel with upscale dining.

Georgia Credit Unions Saved Its Members $124 Million in 2013

Georgia credit unions continue to help members afford life, saving them more than $124 million through better loan rates, higher saving rates and lower fees than banks in 2013, according to the latest Member Benefits Index (MBI) released by Georgia Credit Union Affiliates.

"Credit unions are literally structured to serve members…there are no stockholders," said Mike Mercer, president and CEO of GCUA. "Buying a car to get back and forth to work, taking the kids on vacation once in awhile, putting a down payment on a house, saving for retirement - these are the things people look to their credit unions to help them with. Credit unions' only purpose is to deliver value to their members, and they do it in all kinds of ways."

The MBI illustrates that the average interest rate for 60-month new car loans in 2013 at Georgia credit unions was 2.81 percent, compared to 3.61 percent at the state's banking institutions. For pre-owned cars, the MBI revealed the average interest rate at Georgia credit unions for a used 48-month used car loan was 3.05 percent in 2013 – 1.28 points lower than banks (4.33 percent).

Taking advantage of these savings, and appreciating the service they enjoy as member-owners of their financial cooperatives, Georgia consumers continued to join credit unions in 2013. Up 2.2 percent, membership at Georgia credit unions now stands just shy of 2 million members.

Additional examples of how credit unions saved members more than banks include:

Commissioner Bill Edwards Collects Most Campaign Cash from Non-Fulton Residents & Corporations

Fulton County Commissioners Emma Darnell and Bill Edwards are battling to win the 20 May Democrat primary.

Both have different campaign tactics.

Darnell spent most of the $12,850 she raised between 31 January and 31 March on phone banking and polling. Edwards spent his campaign cash on signs and cell phones.

Darnell and Edwards also have two distinct fundraising strategies.

Emma Darnell reported collecting most of her campaign contributions from Fulton County residents. Only six of Darnell's contributors were non-Fulton County residents or corporations. Edwards, by comparison, raised $28,850 mostly from corporate entities and non-Fulton residents.

The next campaign finance report for Edwards and Darnell is due 30 June.

Meet JMR Waterworld: The Company Behind the Stage Effects at Tomorrowworld and Sensation

Georgia Unfiltered recently caught up with JMR Waterworld, the company behind many of the stage effects seen by music fans at Tomorrowland, Tomorrowworld, and Sensation.

Founded by Job Rijsdijk, JMR Waterworld has been in business for fifteen years, and just finished working on the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit; a meeting of world leaders aimed at preventing nuclear terrorism around the globe. At the Nuclear Security Summit, held in the Netherlands, JMR Waterworld designed and built a screen made out of water, which was used to show videos such as the one seen below.

Welcome Nuclear Industry Summit 2014 by Students of University College Roosevelt

JMR Waterworld specializes in creating water, fog, fire, and light effects for events, shows and permanent installations.