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Daniel Malloy
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Port of Savannah expansion nears as Congress strikes water bill deal

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Congressional leaders in both parties and chambers are set to move forward next week on a bill to authorize water projects across the nation — including the Port of Savannah deepening.

After nearly seven months of wrangling, the House-Senate negotiators announced Thursday night that they had agreed on a conference committee report which will be filed next week, and should clear both chambers easily. The House is gone next week, though, so the earliest it can head to President Barack Obama’s desk is the week of the 19th.

Your daily jolt on politics from the AJC's Political insider blogA Congressional authorization is the last step, according to the Obama administration, before the Army Corps of Engineers can sign off on a final project partnership agreement with the Georgia Ports Authority. It’s been a long road, especially for veterans like Georgia Republican U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, who had this to say:

“While the approval of SHEP is long overdue, this agreement will clear the last hurdle for the historic expansion of the Savannah Harbor. Since I first arrived in Congress 20 years ago, this has been my top economic priority for Georgia, and I will not rest until the White House delivers on their promises and allows construction to begin with full federal backing.”

Various dignitaries will soon truck down to Savannah for the groundbreaking on Georgia’s biggest economic development project. They still need to beseech the Obama administration for money, though. That process begins anew next year after this budget’s much-discussed snub.

After denying the funds earlier this year, the Obama administration said Congress had to act to rectify the situation. Now it finally is.

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 Want to show Mom what a wonderful, civic-minded child she raised? On Mother’s Day, take her to any of debates hosted by the Atlanta Press Club and aired by Georgia Public Broadcasting.

They’re free, which means you get points for fiscally responsible, too:

– 10th Congressional District, Republican: Tapes from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Airs on GPB from 5:00 – 6:00 p.m.

– 12th Congressional District, Republican: Tapes from 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. Airs on GPB from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.

– U.S. Senate, Republican: Airs live on GPB from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.

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On Thursday, U.S. Senate candidate Jack Kingston attacked David Perdue for supporting Common Core with a mailer that paired his Republican rival with President Barack Obama. “They’re planning to nationalize public schools!” the headline screams.

Perdue has said he would kill the program dead. The problem is that his cousin, former Gov. Sonny Perdue, helped start the voluntary, multi-state system of standards for k-12 public schools.

In fact, also on Thursday, Sonny Perdue published an article on the National Review website, accusing conservatives of going crazy on the topic – just as liberals, he says, have done on global warming.

Writes Perdue:

It reminds me of the national debate over climate change. Conservatives throw up their hands when some on the left or in the mainstream media explain every deviation in weather as a consequence of climate change. Climate change, we’re told, is responsible for heavy rains and drought alike.

Whether temperatures are unseasonably low or high, global warming is the culprit. Snowstorms, hurricanes, and tornadoes have been around since the beginning of time, but now they want us to accept that all of it is the result of climate change.

It’s become a running joke among the public, and liberals have lost all credibility when it comes to climate science because their arguments have become so ridiculous and so obviously disconnected from reality.

That same dynamic is in place regarding education standards, except this time it’s the conservatives who are losing credibility by making absurd charges about Common Core, which is really nothing more than a bipartisan effort by 45 governors to ensure that kids can do math and English at an appropriate level before they move on to the next grade.

Core State Standards have been falsely described as a curriculum directly pulled from communist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin’s playbook. One conservative “news” report blamed the Standards for “show[ing] fourth graders gory, painful ways to kill class pets” and making PETA propaganda required reading in the classroom.

In another example, first graders were reportedly sent home with a questionnaire that sought, among other inappropriate intrusions, to identify whether the student had sexual-identity issues. When the irate parent blamed the questionnaire on Common Core, conservative media outlets cheerfully went along.

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Kingston is doubling down on the Common Core attack, as well as hitting Perdue’s business career in a new ad that has been airing in Atlanta.

His campaign did not send a press release out about this one.

Considering the indelible nature of Perdue’s image, and other campaigns’ retorts, can we go ahead and call this the Baby Primary?

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Karen Handel’s Senate campaign is getting some timely reinforcements.

Politico reports that American Future Fund made a six-figure ad buy that boosts her GOP Senate bid and dismisses her four leading opponents as “Washington talkers.” We’re told it will run in metro Atlanta and other key markets across the state.

“Want somebody who backed Obama down and has actually balanced a budget?” the ad intones. “Karen Handel’s been there, done that. Handel’s not going to Washington to chit-chat. She’s going to put points on the board.”

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Word that state agencies had spent tens of thousands of dollars marketing with the niche magazine that has boosted Gov. Nathan Deal’s fortunes by ranking Georgia at the top of business competitions sparked an outcry from some of his opponents.

Former Dalton Mayor David Pennington demanded that Deal return funds that “he spent for personal political gain.” Said Pennington:

“Once again, Nathan has lied to the citizens to hide the true desperate economic situation that he has put our state in. It is loathsome that he would use taxpayers’ money to benefit no one other than himself.”

Democrat Jason Carter’s camp said Deal’s record was “so bad that he has to validate his reelection bid based on a rating from a magazine no one reads.” Said spokesman Bryan Thomas:

“It’s outrageous that he used taxpayer dollars to get that rating. Maybe the 215 subscribers of Site Selection Magazine will think the governor is doing a good job, but families who are feeling real pay cuts and sending their kids to failing schools know better.”

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April fundraising numbers for the Senate race and Georgia’s key U.S. House races are in updated form here, and the biggest headline is this: Businessman David Perdue has put another $1 million into the race so he can keep pace with Jack Kingston on the airwaves (and build an app).

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Former state lawmaker Donna Sheldon of Dacula, a Republican in the 10th District race to replace Paul Broun, has been endorsed by two gun groups – the National Rifle Association and Georgia Carry.

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Over at Politico, Rebecca Burns uses Cobb County as a poster child in a look at suburban poverty – quoting the wife of congressional candidate Bob Barr:

Here’s the most complicated problem with poverty in the suburbs: It’s almost invisible. There are 86,000 people in Cobb County who live below the poverty level. But you could live in Cobb your whole life and never see them, or at least not knowingly. Cobb County covers 339 square miles and is home to 717,000 people. Its poor residents can be lost in the crowd—and lost in all that space.

The sprawling geography means that many commuters obliviously whiz by the entrance to a place like Castle Lake trailer park, or the entrance to a subdivision where families crowd into small 1960s brick ranches. In dense city blocks, outward signs of poverty are more visible—packed apartment buildings or large government-funded complexes.

Many of the people most at risk are “underemployed,” says Jeri Barr, CEO of the Center for Family Resources, a Cobb-based nonprofit that provides assistance to working poor families, giving rental and utility aid and other services. “They work—sometimes a couple of jobs. Suburban neighbors will see them “maybe working at McDonald’s, maybe cleaning your house,” Barr says. “People don’t think of them as poor because they’re working. But they can’t afford to even eat at McDonald’s.”

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Rep. John Lewis has an idea of how to spend that $2.5 million fine levied against Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling: Give it to a program that teaches high school students about the civil rights movement.

According to the  Jackson, Miss.,  Clarion-Ledger, Lewis has written a letter to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver urging that Sterling’s money help fund Sojourn to the Past, a 10-day swing through the South that teaches students about the principles of nonviolence. Lewis and other civil rights legends address the students on their journey. From the story:

“One of my goals is to keep Sojourn to the Past economically viable so they can continue to do the amazing work they do,” Lewis wrote. “I believe this program is most deserving of your consideration of dollars being distributed from the Sterling fine.”

Lewis urged the commissioner, NBA players and other members of the NBA family to “join these students on this amazing journey. It will change your life as it has changed the lives of thousands of students.”

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