Clarkston’s Ted Terry: His city is ‘ready to welcome more Syrians’

021013 CLARKSTON: Khadra Ahmed sells traditional Islamic wear in her store Khadra Islamic Wear at the Campus Plaza strip mall on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013, in Clarkston. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

In this 2013 file photo, Khadra Ahmed sells traditional Islamic wear in her store Khadra Islamic Wear at the Campus Plaza strip mall in Clarkston. Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com

As state leaders try to rein in the number of refugees resettling in Georgia, the mayor of one of the most popular destinations is laying out the welcome mat.

Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry wants Gov. Nathan Deal to know his city is willing to welcome more refugees fleeing from the Middle East and Africa.Your daily jolt on politics from the AJC's Political insider blog

“Clarkston is ready to step up and do our part to welcome more Syrians, more Iraqis, more Afghanis to our city,” said Terry. “Our Christian and Muslim brothers and sisters from the Levant need our help. And I respectfully call on our state and federal leaders to answer the call.”

Terry is responding to the Deal administration’s decision to seek to limit the number of refugees coming to Georgia as the humanitarian crisis in war-torn Syria grows. Deal, in an interview, raised particular concerns about the influx coming to the DeKalb city. From the AJC story:

“Many refugees end up settling in cities like Clarkston, which already boasts a large concentration of newcomers. Deal said he’s long fielded complaints from local officials about their areas being strained by refugee populations, and he called on the federal government to “tighten” its relocation policies.

“When they decide where they bring in individuals,” Deal said, “they need to do a better job of making sure they haven’t put an over-concentration of people from different countries, some of whom have been natural enemies of each other. Trying to put them side-by-side in a small community like Clarkston is not doing a service to those individuals.”

Terry called his city the “Ellis Island of the South” where residents can encounter Vietnamese churches, Buddhist and Hindu temples, multi-ethnic mosques and Eritrean Methodist congregations within a mile’s walk. And he said he wants to see the steady stream of refugees continue. Said Terry:

“I truly believe that we will look back decades from now, on this moment in our history and be proud that we welcomed in the so-called strangers from a foreign land, who dress strange and speak strange – who – once we got to know them, turn out to be just like you and I, native born Americans. People who love to laugh, work hard, provide for their families, eat good food, enjoy good music, build and contribute their small part to this great nation.”

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Both the House and Senate are set to vote on the Iran nuclear deal — amid plenty of theatrics — in the next couple days, and we now know what we suspected: The Georgia delegation will split entirely on partisan lines, Republicans against the deal and Democrats for it.

The final puzzle piece was Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, who had this to say in a lengthy statement Wednesday night:

“I have concluded that the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] is a strong, verifiable agreement which, if implemented, provides the best available option, short of military action, to prevent Iran from securing a nuclear weapon.”

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Iran drama is but one part of a tricky September for Congress, as it also preps for a possible government shutdown. Freshman Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, said how Speaker John Boehner handles it could determine whether he keeps his job.

Speaking at a news conference with conservative lawmakers, Loudermilk sounded some of the same concerns he spoke of back in July with deposing Boehner, but he did not rule out the possibility. Here are some of his comments, helpfully passed along by Cox Media Group colleague Jessica Wehrman, of the Dayton Daily News (and Columbus Dispatch):

“There’s a distinct difference between new leadership and better leadership and I think that’s what has to happen. …

“The next few weeks will determine it. The American people are frustrated. They are very frustrated with Congress. From my time in the district the general feeling across board it isn’t just –  tea party conservatives but business  leaders as well – is that the president is running the entire country including Congress because we’re always just reacting. Nothing is going to change until we start having a long-term plan of where we’re going, a vision of where we’re going in this nation.”

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It sounds like Gov. Nathan Deal’s staff is dealing with a worrisome computer virus. From our story overnight, Deal top aide Chris Riley suggested that state and federal security officials were getting “excitable” after a volunteer apparently accidentally infected the WiFi network at the governor’s mansion with what he called a “phishing virus.”

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Someone’s hankerin’ for another plate of barbecued tort reform in January, with a side of collards. From the press release:

Georgia’s lawsuit climate ranks number 31 out of 50, a seven-place drop in three years, according to a new national survey released today by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR).

According to the 2015 Lawsuit Climate Survey: Ranking the States, 75 percent of company general counsels and senior attorneys said a state’s lawsuit environment is likely to impact important business decisions at their company, including where to locate or expand. That is an 18 percent increase from eight years ago, and an all-time high….

Georgia’s lawsuit climate ranked below its neighboring states of North Carolina (7) and Tennessee (23) and above South Carolina (36), Florida (44) and Alabama (46).

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Republican strategist James Richardson has a compelling follow-up one year after his Washington Post piece disclosing that he was gay and wanted same-sex marriage rights.

Richardson, now a managing director at Denton’s, wrote of the struggle to address the typically “delicate and intensely private matter” of one’s sexuality all over the blogosphere. From his piece in Medium:

The column, “I’m a senior GOP spokesman, and I’m gay. Let me get married,” appeared on the website of the Post just before 8am Eastern. Within an hour, my voicemail and inbox were drowning in inquiries from reporters and bookers for radio and television.

Then came the articles, some generous and some decidedly less than. What had first percolated in gay-interest outlets had soon germinated the most significant of cable news outlets and papers. By noon I was a trending topic on CNN.

 


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