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Daniel Malloy
Greg BluesteinJim Galloway

Rethinking alcohol sales in Georgia: ‘It may be appropriate,’ says David Ralston

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Bottles of Wild Heaven Brewery's Ode to Mercy brown ale are bottled and capped at the Decatur brewery. AJC file/David Tulis

Bottles of Wild Heaven Brewery’s Ode to Mercy brown ale are bottled and capped at the Decatur brewery. AJC file/David Tulis

We’ve already heard House Speaker David Ralston say that he wants the state Department of Revenue to back off regulations it slapped on craft beer brewers in September, which essentially negated legislation passed last year to loosen ties on on-site sales of alcohol.

The bureaucratic move was a victory for wholesalers, the most powerful portion of a three-tiered system when it comes to alcohol sales in Georgia. Since Prohibition ended, state law has required a middle-man to stand between manufacturers and final retail outlets.Your daily jolt on politics from the AJC's Political insider blog

But on Thursday, at his pre-session press conference with reporters, one of your Insiders asked the speaker whether it was time to rethink the three-tiered system. Said Ralston:

“That’s a bigger discussion. There are pros and cons with the three-tier system. At some point, once we get past this little hiccup, it may be appropriate to have that discussion.”

Doug Richards with 11Alive followed up. “Wholesalers seem to have very impressive power in this building,” he noted. Ralston replied:

“Let me tell you who has more power over me. Two guys in Blue Ridge that have two businesses. I have to look at them when I’m in town. And I know other members that come eye-to-eye and face-to-face with these small business people that run these craft breweries. That’s a pretty powerful influence.”

Those beer-makers in Blue Ridge, by the way, are Fannin Brewing Company and Grumpy Old Men Brewing. And no, the latter isn’t named for the House Republican caucus.

***

Another signal that DeKalb County State Court Judge Dax Lopez’s nomination to the federal bench is showing signs of life: U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson issued sounded a somewhat optimistic note.

“The nomination process and confirmation process is not like a football game where there are rules. But it’s progressing,” he said. “And I think it will progress by the first quarter. Sometime in that time period.”

We told you yesterday that WSB radio talk show host Erick Erickson urged Isakson and Georgia’s junior senator, David Perdue, to ignore the anti-immigration reform activists who have sought to freeze the Lopez nomination.

***

By now you’ve heard that U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland has decided not to run for re-election. Immediately, hundreds of eyes ran down the list of Republican state senators and House members in the Third Congressional District who might be considering their futures.

After an email inquiry on Thursday, we received one reply this morning, from state Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus: “Too early to say.”

***

A Bloomberg Businessweek profile of Bernie Sanders includes this gem of a scene in Atlanta with rapper Killer Mike:

In November, Sanders met Killer Mike at a barbershop the rapper owns in Atlanta. They faced each other on giant red leather barber chairs for an hour, as the hip-hop star interviewed the senator. At one point, Killer Mike complimented Sanders on his civil rights work in the 1960s. “That’s some bomb s—. That is absolute dope,” Mike said. Sanders, oddly comfortable as always despite clearly not knowing what any of that meant, responded, “If I can use some bomb s—, we saw our friends getting the s— kicked out of them and getting beaten to hell. They were the brave ones.” At the end of the hour, Mike shook his head in admiration. “I wish to stay as angry as you,” he said. The rapper said he fears getting soft, but vowed to yell out his barbershop window about injustice after his music career ends.

Sanders pumped his fist and smiled broadly. “That’s being human,” he said. “If you see stuff that’s bad and you don’t respond with—what did King call it?—‘the urgency of the moment,’ then you’re not alive.”

***

Earlier this week, Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore issued an edict negating this summer’s U.S. Supreme Court decision. He ordered probate court judges in his state to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

One woman has now written that Moore has become far more dangerous than Gov. George Wallace, who once stood in front of a school house door to stop integration. That woman is the daughter of the late George Wallace and the late Gov. Lurleen Wallace. A taste of Peggy Wallace Kennedy’s op-ed piece on al.com:

George Wallace was able, by virtue of his office, to take political advantage by publicly promoting a theology of discrimination, but Roy Moore cannot. George Wallace was not confined by a code of ethics that restricted his right to rabble rouse, but Roy Moore is. And most importantly, George Wallace was not required to promote the notion of impartiality and fairness but Roy Moore must. Justice Moore ran for Alabama’s highest executive office twice and missed the mark. The black robes he wears daily for the job he was elected to do should remind him that his opinions cannot trump the law.

***

You’ve got a last chance for a souvenir from Manuel’s Tavern, which is going on hiatus for a massive renovation. Brian Maloof has posted the news on Facebook. In part:

If you have any desire to own anything that was once in the tavern Friday at 10 am is your chance.. I am selling an entire room of items that will not be returning… The proceeds from the sale will be sent to Mercy Ships…

Items for sale include:

— 5 tables and 75 wooden chairs
— neon signs

— canned goods
— beer signs

— computer stuff

— coolers

— wire shelves

— paper goods

— and tons of other things

— I found a case of 1956 vintage wine…

To be clear we are not selling anything of a personal nature.. These are things from storage that in review I wonder why I stored them in the first place.

***

The debate on this would be worth the plane ticket. From the Kansas City Star:

Lobbyists who have sex with a Missouri lawmaker or a member of a lawmaker’s staff would have to disclose it to the Missouri Ethics Commission under a bill introduced Wednesday in the Missouri House.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Bart Korman, a Montgomery County Republican, defines sex between lobbyists and legislators as a gift. As such, sexual relations would have to be included on monthly lobbyist gift disclosure forms.

Think about this. In Georgia, the problem with ethics reform in the state Capitol has been the lack of an enforcement mechanism. Under the Missouri approach, disclosure would introduce a new branch of government with immediate and powerful oversight: Spouses.

***

A poll of DeKalb County Democrats conducted this week by HEG/Apache found plenty of disaffected voters.

The poll showed that former DeKalb Schools superintendent Michael Thurmond had more than 37 percent support in a race for chief executive, more than current CEO Lee May and former Sheriff Thomas Brown combined. (Neither Thurmond or Brown have announced a bid for the seat.)

Some 83 percent of the respondents said they felt either “frustrated” or “angry” by the way DeKalb operates, and fewer than one in five voters said they were content with the county.

“Voters are unhappy, period,” said HEG President Fred Hicks.

 

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