Thursday, March 11, 2010

Gonzo Lawmakers - Day 23

A daily recap of the Georgia Public Broadcasting show "Lawmakers". The show airs weekdays at 7:00pm with a replay at 5:30am the following weekday.

Day 23

* We must talk of the budget dear. We can't. But we must. I see it in my nightmares. Then, we must wake from this deep darkness.

* That water thing I didn't understand yesterday passed both House and Senate.

* Oh we have clips of scientists in waders and the Hooch. We're getting fancy graphics now. There is no fear of the beast tape machine!

* Statewide watering ban from 10:00am to 4:00pm. That's pretty harsh. There are exemptions for farming, gardening and such. Someone needs to read this thing in detail and find out exactly what we can and can't do.

* The Senate had no debate. The House was a little livelier.

* Scowling House clerks! The streak continues!

* Interbasin transfers are not in this bill. Rep. Debbie Buckner says it ain't a great bill. Democrats are never satisfied.

* Mitch Seabaugh wants to eliminate 19 Superior Court Judges. He's an accountant so he says he's going by hard numbers. He looked at average cases per judge. The judges say the math is flawed because it doesn't take into account the different type of cases in different districts. It's the classic conflict of black and white numbers against context.

* DOT can raise the number of design build projects. These are essentially private run projects, soup to nuts. The real reason this thing passed is some we can get more stimulating!

* House Transportation. That means Valarie at Hogwarts. And probably shots of the the Downtown Connector. Yep. There's the Connector. This is the regional version of the bill. The House statewide funding plan is apparently dead.

* Fran Millar wants to repeal the MARTA tax in Fulton and Dekalb. His reason is because those two counties would double tax themselves. Millar once again shows most of the North Dekalb Republilcans are reasonable human beings.

* Since they're talking about MARTA, I'm surprised Jill Chambers didn't appear in a cloud of smoke and brimstone.

* Our first appearance of Sen. Dan Weber! North Dekalb Republicans in the House! No wait. Instead it's a clip of Vincent Fort. The beast tape machine strikes back! It did not appreciate being force fed all those rich graphics.

* After some foster care bill, we get back to Sen. Dan Weber. Dude, you need a haircut. He's gone full blown hippie! But we always knew the North Dekalb Republicans were secretly liberals. His bill moves the date to extend contracts to teachers to May instead of April. It gives the school system extra time to decide. Vincent Fort opposes it because it would be hardship on the teachers. It passed.

* The Applebee's Bill is back. It allows establishments that serve alcohol to set up shop near public housing. This is really all about an Applebee's out in Winder. Apparently there ain't too many places to put tacky, cookie cutter "bars" in Winder.

* Another nasty abortion bill is in committee. We get Lara Fawaz at Hogwarts for the update. This one requires doctor's to refuse to perform an abortion if they believe a woman is under coercion from a third party. So, now doctor's are being made agents of the state?

* A Georgia State law professor is pointing out this thing is fundamentally flawed. Even a Republican is pointing out she can't vote for this little nightmare. She got so mad about she left the meeting.

* Susan congratulates Lara on a good story. Well deserved.

* Synthetic pot! And they are showing one of those little foil packets with a zippy name like pep spice. I believe my shady convenience store may sell this stuff. Apparently it's ten time more powerful than the real stuff! And doesn't show up on a drug test! Hmmmmmmm. Of course, we must ban it.

* Tom Murphy was honored in the House. His portrait was unveiled and it will sit just outside the House. His portrait has the old flag. Interesting. Even the scowling House clerks look reverent.

* Lawmaker flashback! And of course it's Tom Murphy. He's speaking on the lottery bill. This should be a hoot. He's pointing at the camera and telling the "educational televsion" folk they need to show this! He's taking a shot of Zell! Oh, those were the days! Apparently Zell accused him of holding the bill up in committe. He called the commitee chair to testify to the falsehood. Now, have a clip of Governor Joe Frank. He says we shouldn't be in the gambling "bidness". Awesome clip.

* Nurse day at the big house. There hasn't been that many people dressed in white at the Capitol since Gene Talmadge was governor.

* The Senate honored the Savannah St. Patrick's Day Committee. And they are all red-faced. Not kidding. Bet some visine was passed out before that speech.

* Ricky Bevington and her BOOK OF DOOM! Students protested budget cuts at the Medical College of Georgia. McIntosh County doesn't have a 911 system. Residents aren't happy about the fees required to pay for it. They probably aren't happy about having pay for new horseless carriages either. Something about GPS systems on bicycles but the chyron says GPB. Intern had a freudian slip.

* Tomorrow we get Project Tom Crawford! But for now, that's a wrap!

5 comments:

Jen said...

"The judges say the math is flawed because it doesn't take into account the different type of cases in different districts. It's the classic conflict of black and white numbers against context."

Exactly.

A typical judge in Bartow has one murder pending, maybe an Armed Robbery, a couple Child Molestation cases, an ungodly amount of drug cases (trafficking and simple possession) and lots of misdemeanors.

The Fulton judges handle only "complex" cases which include: Murder, Rape, Armed Robbery, Child Molestation, Drug Trafficking and Agg Assault. These are not easy cases to resolve. Nearly all the murders go to trial and there's one judge who currently has nearly thirty Murders pending in this courtroom.

Hell, all the "non-complex" felonies are handled by designated magistrate judges because they simply cannot handle the volume.

You cannot simply say, "Oh, they have the same number of cases."

You can try five cases in one week in Bartow County (been there) because they're much simpler and the jury selection process goes much smoother.

In Fulton, most cases take 3-5 days to try. And with ten year mandatory minimums for Armed Robbery, most kids - and we're talking about 18-20 year olds who can't see past their 21st birthday - opt for trial. And you cannot try your way out of a backlog of cases.

Not to mention, Fulton has a ridiculous number of large codefendant cases. There's a double homicide pending in one courtroom that has seven defendants. Last summer, they tried five defendants *together* on a homicide. And all those 30 Deep gang cases? Yeah, they're all going be tried together. That case may count as 1, but it's so much more than 1 case.

Sara said...

Plus doesn't Fulton still have that crazy backlog they are allegedly working through? (And getting federal $$ to dedicate 2 judges to?) I sincerely doubt any other counties have a backlog of that magnitude.

All his bill will do is save a little bit of money and result in hundreds, maybe thousands, of defendants having a better shot at getting off because their constitutional right to a speedy trial was violated. The already insane backlog will become Mt. Everest.

Jen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jen said...

"Plus doesn't Fulton still have that crazy backlog they are allegedly working through? (And getting federal $$ to dedicate 2 judges to?)"

Yes. There is one senior judge who is dedicated to pre-trial matters and she's in court every day. Once the case is ready for trial, a different senior judge is called in to hear the case.

But, backlog is rather stringent about the types of cases they're taking (i.e., no homicides). I heard that the federal auditors were looking at whether Fulton is fudging the numbers to make the program look more successful than it is.

Dave Bearse said...

"This one requires doctor's to refuse to perform an abortion if they believe a woman is under coercion from a third party. So, now doctor's are being made agents of the state?"

Next up is legislation that will require law enforcement to prohibit medical procedures they believe are not in the patient's best interest.