Political notebook: A minute late, $159 million short

July 4, 2014 

Macon-Bibb County Mayor Robert Reichert thanked commissioners this week for their unanimity in passing the consolidated government’s first annual budget of $159 million. That vote took place Monday, the last day of the old fiscal year. Nobody got everything they wanted, and some commissioners had to “swallow hard,” but their final agreement sent a strong signal that the city-county merger is working out, Reichert said.

The vote was 8-0, with Commissioner Gary Bechtel voting via Skype. The only absence was Commissioner Mallory Jones, who explained on Tuesday.

“I came in at 5:05 and you had already passed the budget,” Jones said. After repeatedly revising funding for outside agencies in committee meetings, commissioners didn’t hold any last-minute debates before the budget’s final passage.

Jones, a real estate agent, said he had particularly wanted to be at the budget vote since he had previously urged sending it back to committee for revision. But he was stuck at a real-estate closing a little too long to make Monday’s meeting.

Deal makes appointments

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal announced appointments that included people with ties from Middle Georgia.

He appointed Mac Collins, a former U.S. congressman from Jackson, to the Board of Corrections. Collins has been a small business owner for 52 years.

He also appointed Neil S. Wyche, a registered professional engineer who’s been a consulting engineer for 35 years, to the state Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors. Wyche, a graduate of Georgia Tech, lives in Macon.

Cotton recognized

Braxton Cotton, a former Milledgeville police officer and Baldwin County Sheriff’s Officer of the Year, has been named one of “Atlanta’s Men of Influence for 2014” by the Atlanta Business League. Cotton now serves on the state Board of Pardons and Parole and was appointed to lead the Governor’s Office of Transition, Support and Reentry.

Cuba + Cuba

A study by the Prison Population Initiative suggests that Georgia’s incarceration rate is twice as high as Cuba’s, the country that ranks No. 2 on a list of countries’ incarceration rates.

Georgia incarcerates 1,074 people per 100,000 residents, less than Louisiana’s 1,341. Mississippi and Oklahoma also have higher incarceration rates than Georgia, which, if states were counted as nations, would have the fourth-highest rate. In comparison, among founding NATO members, the United Kingdom is second highest at 147 and Norway is lowest at 72.

An important caveat: Federal inmates are counted where they’re incarcerated, not where they’re from. So Coloradans imprisoned in Georgia count here, while Georgians imprisoned in Colorado count there.

Capital ideas

Two public events are coming up at Georgia’s Old Capital Museum in Milledgeville. On Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the eighth annual game day benefit will take place in the historic legislative chamber. People are asked to bring cards and board games to compete for prizes. Lunch is included in the $25 cost. Call 453-1803 or 453-2553 to reserve a table. Proceeds will fund public education programs at Georgia’s Old Capital Museum and the Brown-Stetson-Sanford House.

Then from noon to 4 p.m. July 12, local archaeologists will be on hand in the museum’s Native American Gallery for the eighth annual artifact identification day. They’ll examine found items, “from arrowheads to petrified snails to Civil War objects,” for free. The gallery is on the ground floor of the Old Statehouse on the Georgia Military College campus, 201 E. Greene St., in Milledgeville.

Interview of record

A Telegraph editorial board interview with U.S. Senate hopeful David Perdue is getting some attention in the contentious Republican runoff.

The campaign of Jack Kingston issued a news release with a former candidate, Karen Handel, calling for Perdue’s apology for part of his statement involving China’s concept of friendships across generations.

“The answer is, of course, we’ve been naive. We see the world through the ‘ugly American’s’ eyes -- and that is, the world revolves around New York City or Washington, D.C.”

The discussion is available on macon.com from a link posted May 2. Search for “Listen: Candidates on the issues.” The comment appears about 43 minutes into the Perdue interview.

Staff writers Jim Gaines and Mike Stucka contributed to this report.

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