Sunday Reads — April 17, 2022

We’ll call this the Post-Tax Deadline Accountability edition. We’ve got elected officials going against voters, candidates spreading distortions, local legislators using work from others, and some clarity on how billionaires keep their money. Best of all, you’ve got a chance to send us questions to ask candidates for elected office so we can see what they are thinking about it all. Let’s do this!


Camden County: Commission vs. citizens, Part 3

Catching up: On March 8, Camden County voters used an allowance in the Georgia Constitution to tell the Camden County Commission, voting by a 3 to 1 margin, to stop the plan to purchase polluted land for the Spaceport Camden site. That vote came after the commission challenged the citizens over petitions for the vote and then it sued the elections board to have the referendum thrown out. Those efforts failed, although an appeal is pending. At a special meeting last week, the commissioners voted unanimously to buy the land anyway in spite of a legal injunction against the purchase, saying they wanted to protect the $11 million investment and permits already secured for the project. Then, it all came to a full stop, at least temporarily: The landowner, Union Carbide, has decided to review the proposed sale in light of “ongoing litigation and current injunction” regarding the purchase. Reporter Mary Landers interviewed experts in political strategy and public policy to parse the situation. …Stay tuned.


This graphic represents an accurate look at the polling results unlike others shared across social media. For the misleading graphic, click here.

Is seeing believing?

Sharp eyes at GPB News spotted a fact-check report this week about a tweet from Gov. Brian Kemp to follow up on an independent poll in his re-election race against former Sen. David Perdue. The poll places both men ahead in a race against Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams with Kemp with a slight lead. Kemp seized the opportunity to push the news to Twitter with a graphic. Here’s where it gets tricky: The graphic’s proportions don’t match the margins of the poll and mislead viewers about the gap between the two men. In fact, when you account for 3% margin of error, Kemp and Perdue would have an equal chance against Abrams, according to the data. (The graphic above accurately represents the data.) Check out the misleading chart and the breakdown in this FactCheck.org story and remember to bring all your critical thinking to your elections watching and reading. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.


Does what happens in the statehouse actually come from the statehouse? Sometimes.

When is ‘local legislation’ actually local?

Remember the bill proposed in the Georgia Senate to outlaw homeless camps and penalize cities and nonprofits for using federal funds to help find actual housing? It was tabled, but only after some sharp conversations about longer term solutions. While some of the sponsors said the homeless encampments near the Georgia Capitol sparked the legislation, the bill was a straight-up submission from a Texas-based group called the Cicero Institute that’s managed to get similar wording into bills in Arizona, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin.

If you are surprised that your elected reps aren’t writing their own work, don’t be. It’s fairly common for national groups to attempt to drive local policy. The group Heritage Action for America claims credit for the wording and provisions in the controversial voting law changes passed last year. Some lawmakers say the group, an arm of the conservative Heritage Foundation, is taking too much credit even though the provisions mirror the moves the group has touted, including restriction on ballot drop boxes, increased partisan poll monitoring, and bans on third-party donations and water or food distribution to waiting voters.


Candidates in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Congress, District 1, seat: Joyce Marie Griggs, Wade Herring, Michelle Munro.

Question for candidates? Send it to us.

Do you have a question for candidates for the Democratic primary for Coastal Georgia’s seat in the U.S. Congress? The Current and Savannah State University’s student Tiger’s Roar TV will host a candidate forum at 6 p.m. April 26 broadcast live on YouTube. The three candidates for the Democratic primary race for U.S. Congress from Coastal Georgia — Joyce Marie Griggs, Michelle Munroe and Wade Herring — will face questions at the campus studio, thanks to the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications. The winner will face incumbent Republican Rep. Earl L. “Buddy” Carter in the November General Election. We need your questions. You can submit them using this link. We’ll compile them, look for common topics and choose as many as we can. Deadline for submissions is April 20.

You can read profiles of the three candidates here.

Reminder: April 25 is the last day to register to vote in the May 24 General Primary. The last day to apply for an absentee ballot is May 13.


Considerable

  • Can an out-of-state hospital system block a new project in Georgia? Maybe. A badly needed replacement for a hospital built in 1953 in rural north Georgia is facing a new hurdle in its effort to work through the state’s Certificate of Need regulatory process. While no Georgia companies are challenging the request, a Tennessee-based hospital system is. HCA Healthcare, which also owns Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah, is objecting to the new hospital because it says its facilities near Chattanooga serve the area. To be noted: The Georgia Legislature left a major overhaul of the CON system sitting in the hopper when it adjourned April 4.
  • Peanuts aren’t from Georgia: The nonprofit, food policy news site Civil Eats features an interview with author Jori Lewis about her book “Slaves for Peanuts” on the peanut trade from West Africa in the 18th century and how it fueled enslavement, European colonial expansion and changed the world.
  • Coastal Georgia and the new defense budget: The Biden Administration’s defense budget proposal to close the Air National Guard’s Air Dominance Center, also known as the Combat Readiness Training Center, in Savannah has sparked something that’s rare and fleeting: The area’s full Congressional delegation has united to fight the move. The center is just one of the area’s many strong ties to American defense and strategies. This link is a look at how the new federal budget agreement will affect Georgia and a clearer picture of how much defense spending means to the state and Coastal Georgia compiled by the Fiscal Federalism Initiative of the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Help future journalists (and The Current)

We are midway through our Summer Internship Fundraising Campaign, and the response from readers has been gratifying. We are well on our way to raising $10,000 to hire four interns this summer — but we are not quite there. We believe in paying a fair salary to our interns while they learn the valuable work to ensure the future of credible information. You can help us reach our goal by April 30 so that we can earn matching funds. If you value the critical work of educating future journalists, please click here to donate now.


Your second cup: Taxing

The years’ first and most common tax deadline passed on Friday. Income taxes have been a popular topic since the Georgia Legislature voted to send tax rate cuts to the governor along with a tax refund for the year. President Joe Biden has revived a movement to create a flat tax for billionaires. This week, just in time for this conversation, ProPublica published an easy-to-read breakdown of billionaires, who pays what and how rates most of us pay differ from the rates actual billionaires pay. The difference often involves how investments are taxed compared to wages. And, it reminds us how our average earnings compare to theirs: The typical American would have to work for 25,000 years to make $1 billion. This data work shows how the money is made, how it’s taxed and why. It’s a good mix of stories to help you sort through the tax environment and think about how they system could evolve. We’ve organized the tax stories at one link here.

Enjoy.



Camden rejects voters’ will on spaceport but Union Carbide hesitates on deal

‘Ongoing litigation and current injunction’ give spaceport property seller pause

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Georgia governor’s race and distorted graphics

Readers need to use eyes and skills to decipher true advantages.

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How one group sparked bills to ban homeless camps across several states

Texas group provided language for Georgia bill to ban encampments, penalize cities for providing permanent help.

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Can an out-of-state hospital system block a new project in Georgia? Maybe.

Tennessee-based system challenges north Georgia project across the border from its holdings in Chattanooga.

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The Tide: Taxes and the .001%

Based on leaked IRS documents, these stories, charts help explain evolution of today’s tax codes.

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