Legislative Notebook: Ocmulgee DA best in state

February 18, 2014 

The district attorney for an eight-county circuit that runs from Morgan County to Wilkinson County is the best in the state, according to the District Attorneys’ Association of Georgia.

The state House of Representatives agreed, with a resolution honoring DA Fred Bright.

“In 2002 he started a juvenile division of the DA’s office ... and he has a victim’s advocate in each of the eight counties,” said state Rep. Susan Holmes, R-Monticello, explaining the resolution and introducing Bright on the House floor.

Bright brought some of his staff, which includes investigators, secretaries, assistant DAs and victims’ advocates.

“I’m truly nothing without them,” Bright said.

House Resolution 1133 lists other Bright career highlights. After graduating from law school, he took an assistant district attorney job in 1981. Over five elections since 1994, he has been the elected DA.

In that time, Bright has tried 13 death penalty trials, and all ended with a conviction. None has been overturned on appeal.

Senate panel pokes deeper into high school sports

The smallest public and private schools should keep to themselves when playing high school sports, according to the state Senate Education and Youth Committee.

Committee members unanimously approved a bill that says public schools cannot join any playoffs run by an organization that groups together public and private schools of fewer than 640 students.

It’s an indirect way of getting to the Georgia High School Association, the private organization that sets up regions and playoffs for high school sports. About half of its $4 million revenue in fiscal 2013 came from playoff ticket sales.

The bill also takes aim at GHSA’s board, saying any sport governing body must impose term limits on its board and allow only active educators or athletic staff. No retirees would be allowed on the board.

Those proposals make some legislators angry, especially those who represent smaller, poor public high schools grouped with better-heeled public schools.

That, in fact, describes state Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, the Rules Committee chairman and author of Senate Bill 343.

The committee grilled GHSA Executive Director Ralph Swearngin about how GHSA handles classifications and if a school’s appeal is ever successful.

He put appeal success at about 50 percent.

He also defended his executive committee’s makeup by pointing out that member schools elect their representatives.

The measure is sure to sail through the Rules Committee.

Honor for Tuskegee Airmen

U.S. 80 at U.S. 441 in Laurens County will get a new honorary name for three area airmen, under a new House Resolution.

The proposal would rename the intersection for Maj. Herndon Cummings, Col. John Whitehead and Col. Marion Rodgers. The resolution comes from Laurens County’s three representatives, led by Republican Matt Hatchett.

All three airmen were assigned to flight or bomber missions during World War II, as part of what the then-segregated Army Air Corps called the “Tuskegee Experiment”: testing and training African-American men for flight and flight maintenance programs.

After the war, all three men continued in public service. Cummings enrolled in the Air Force Reserve for 20 years. Rogers went on to work at NASA and for the North American Aerospace Defense Command. Whitehead, who was known as “Mr. Death” for his European missions, stayed in the Air Force as a test pilot.

Like all similar resolution, House Resolution 1331 is sure to get quick passage, but it’s up to the lawmakers or bill supporters to find private money to put up a sign.

-- Compiled by Maggie Lee

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