Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Deadly Tornado Batters District of GOP Congressman Who Opposed Sandy Aid

Deadly Tornado Batters District of GOP Congressman Who Opposed Sandy Aid

Update: Due to redistricting, the 7th district has been changed. Adairsville may now be Republican Phil Gingrey’s district, who also voted no on aid to Sandy victims on Jan 15.1
Tornadoes ripped through Adairsville, Georgia (northwest of Atlanta) today, killing at least one person according to authorities and leaving major damage behind. The violent storm forced officials to shut down a 10-mile stretch of I-75.
Watch here via NBC News:
Sadly, the Republican Congressman who currently represents that district, Phil Gingrey, voted against Sandy aid as did the Republican who represented that district until recent redistricting, Robert Woodall (GA-7, Adairsville). Woodall is on record as voting against aid for Hurricane Sandy victims. He explained this in a newsletter, writing, “(W)e almost always serve one another better locally than we do with a check from Washington, D.C.”
Woodall’s position when it was another region that was hit was that all aid must be offset by spending cuts:
This week, the House had the tough job of appropriating disaster relief funds to the states affected to the point of devastation by Hurricane Sandy. I absolutely believe we should help our neighbors in their time of need. That said, we almost always serve one another better locally than we do with a check from Washington, D.C. America’s generosity during natural disasters by giving to the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and more, is unmatched. In those rare instances of such widespread devastation that federal aid is required, we must provide that aid by reducing spending on other lower priorities, not by running up the debt burden on future generations. This is why I supported measures to ensure that any emergency funding was fully offset by other spending cuts. These offset measures did not pass the House, unfortunately, and instead, the total package of Sandy relief legislation grew nearly three-fold–from $17 billion to over $60 billion in new deficit spending– and was passed over my objection. You can read the bill, H.R. 152, by clicking here .
I offered to support an across-the-board cut of all federal spending that Georgia receives–a sacrifice for our community–so that we could use the money to help our neighbors in New York and New Jersey. We do make those sacrifices for one another in America, and it makes us better as a nation. Unfortunately, the New York and New Jersey delegations turned that offer down. They wanted all of the $60 billion, and they didn’t want to find a penny of it through spending cuts. That is wrong for America. I am glad that families affected by Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey will get the help that they need, but I am very disappointed with the way it happened. If we can’t come together as a nation to reduce spending in low-priority areas so that we can prioritize families who lost everything after the storm, I have low expectations for those same members of Congress coming together to make the much bigger cuts that we need to make in order to stop the deficits and restore the economy.
Woodall even generously offered to make cuts to Georgia to help Sandy victims. The only problem with that gesture is how could he have know whether or not Georgia would need that money? It never seems to occur to Republicans that those who went before them may have had a reason for decisions they made. It turns out Georgia might need that money now, and more to boot. This is not the first year that tornadoes have damaged Georgia.
Let us hope that both Gingrey and Woodall have a rethink now that it’s their district that might need federal aid. It is obviously too much to ask of certain Republicans that they exercise compassion for others; the most we can hope for is that when disaster hits them, they are bright enough to put two and two together.
This doesn’t seem likely, though, since Woodall is on the record in March of 2011 urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to designate any eligible counties as “Secretarial Disaster Areas.”
Woodall is correct that Americans pull together at times like this, and red or blue, our thoughts are with those suffering. I’m sure the victims of Sandy don’t begrudge Woodall’s district getting the help they might need from the federal government in a timely manner. If only Sandy victims had been treated in the same way by the many House Republicans who opposed Sandy aid.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Judge to decide if 7 DPS at-large members should be removed

Board members Herman Davis, left, and Juvette Hawkins-Williams at a hearing of Judge John Gillis Jr. on Thursday in Wayne Circuit Court. (David Coates / The Detroit News)
Detroit — A judge said Thursday he will issue a decision by mail on whether seven members of the Detroit school board are holding office illegally and should be removed.
Wayne County Circuit Judge John Gillis Jr. heard arguments Wednesday by Assistant Attorney General Michael Murphy that seven of the 11 board members were elected by district, not at-large, as state law requires when a Michigan school district has fewer than 100,000 full-time students.
Murphy said the Attorney General Office's issued an opinion in 2009 that Detroit Public Schools was no longer a first-class school district after its population slipped below that threshold.
"We knew a new election would be held in 2011 and the board had the opportunity to make changes," Murphy said.
The state sued the board members in August, eight months after the election. It was the same day Public Act 4, the state's controversial emergency manager law, was suspended pending a November vote to repeal it.
If the judge removes the seven board members, Murphy said Wayne RESA — a regional agency that provides services to Wayne County school districts — could appoint new members so the board can still operate.
Board attorney George Washington said it was no secret that the panel was electing some of its members by district in 2011.
The city and county clerks accepted the petitions and state election officials certified the election after it occurred, Washington said.
"The whole state knew the election was going on," he said. "They took no action until the emergency manager issue got on the ballot. They woke up."
The board has vehemently opposed the state's emergency manager laws and district's emergency financial manager, Roy Roberts.
Attorney General Bill Schuette wants Gillis to remove Tawanna Simpson, Elena Herrada, Annie Carter, Judy Summers, Herman Davis, Wanda Redmond and Juvette Hawkins-Williams.
He also is asking Gillis for a preliminary injunction against the other four members — elected at large — to prevent them from taking action as a board.
After voters repealed Public Act 4, Gov. Rick Snyder signed a replacement bill Dec. 27; it takes effect March 27.

From The Detroit News: