Atlanta Fed might ditch Stone Mountain for conference, amid Confederate concerns

Stone Mountain Park may lose a big meeting in the wake of its decision to continue displaying Rebel flags.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta is reconsidering whether it will hold its annual conference at the park amid threats of boycotts to the park for its prominent display of the Confederate war emblems.

Said spokeswoman Jean Tate:

The Atlanta Fed is committed to diversity and is sensitive to the concerns raised surrounding the display of confederate flags at Stone Mountain State Park. Each year, the Bank evaluates potential venues for the Financial Markets Conference, taking into consideration costs and other criteria. With that in mind, the concerns raised by the display of the flags will be a part of the evaluation process moving forward.
Speakers at Stone Mountain have included Fed Chair Janet Yellen, via video link, former Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer. The conference was last held March 30 to April 1.

The Atlanta Fed moved its financial markets conference from its prior most regular homes, at coastal Georgia’s Jekyll Island and Sea Island, partly to reduce expenses in the wake of the 2007-2009 recession.

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The fed's alternatives probably will not include Haralson County, after the New York Times declared it a place "where the rebel flag is still revered." From Richard Fausset's story:

Support for the Confederate flag may be waning among Southern lawmakers in the aftermath of the church shootings in Charleston, S.C. But here in this county of 29,000 people, as in many other stretches of the white, working-class South, the flag remains a revered symbol, not only of the Confederate dead, but of a unique regional identity. ...

And while support for the flag is widespread here, its supporters, and their justifications, vary drastically: There are overt racists and avowed antiracists; students of history and those who seem oblivious to it; ardent defenders of the Lost Cause and others who do not understand why the blue spangled X on a red field — as ubiquitous here as deer stands, church steeples and biscuits with gravy — can be so controversial. ...

Just across the county line, the Georgia Peach Oyster Bar has operated as a scandalous open secret. Its website features two Confederate battle flags, the description, “The Original Klan, Klam & Oyster Bar,” and a stunningly virulent collection of racist signs. Patrons are confronted with a selection of crude cartoons and graffiti, and a menu that declares, on the appetizer page, “We cater to hangins’.”

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Those of you who were treated to amateur fireworks shows well past midnight over the weekend can rest assured there will be attempts to revisit the new law.

From our AJC colleagues Jeremy Redmon and Shannon McCaffrey:

State Rep. Keisha Waites, D-Atlanta, on Monday called for the law’s repeal, saying it “goes too far and encroaches upon the rights of others.”

State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver — who calls Georgia’s new fireworks statute the “blow-the-child’s-hand-off” law — said she got numerous complaints from her constituents and supports amending the law to give local communities more control over where fireworks may be used.

“There seems to be an interest in giving cities and counties more authority to make rational decisions for their communities on when and where they may be shot off,” the Democrat from Decatur said.

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The Georgia Chamber will endorse former Brookhaven Mayor J. Max Davis in the four-way race for an open House seat.

The Republican has faced questions surrounding a sexual harassment complaint filed against him shortly before he announced his campaign.

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Former Democratic state Sen. Doug Stoner is making another bid for public office.

Stoner, who ran unsuccessfully to lead the Democratic Party of Georgia in 2013, will run for an open seat on the Smyrna City Council.

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State Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, has scheduled an 11 a.m. Wednesday news conference in the Capitol to discuss his "legislative intentions" for next year. He was best known for pushing the "religious liberty" measure this past session. (Updated to reflect the day.)

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It's a three-way, all-Republican race in Houston County to replace state House Majority Leader Larry O'Neal. Small business owner Shaw Blackmon, attorney Kelly Burke and small business owner Larry Walker III -- son of another former house majority leader -- are seeking the seat.

In the Macon Telegraph, Maggie Lee breaks it down ahead of next week's vote:

The three candidates, all Republicans, mention taxes, education and red tape among their top concerns.

House District 146 covers much of east Houston County, from Perry through Bonaire. And though Robins Air Force Base is not in the district, the base spills into all three candidates’ priority lists.

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This morning in Vienna, Iran nuclear deal negotiators said they would keep going past today's deadline.

Tonight in the White House, President Barack Obama will socialize with the Senate Democratic caucus, which he'll likely try to woo in support of the deal. (Republicans are likely to vote down the deal, but in the system set up by Congress earlier this year, Obama only needs to sustain his veto of that measure.)

Obama will have to pitch House Democrats, too. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta, lays out his thinking in a CNN op-ed:

"What would be a bad deal?

"One that would (1) leave Iran as a nuclear threshold state, which would enable it to keep moving quickly toward a nuclear weapon; (2) spur a nuclear proliferation race among the Middle Eastern countries; (3) embolden Iran to expand influence aggressively in the region; (4) permit a fully nuclear Iran to have even greater impact on the futures of Syria, Iraq and other failing states; and (5) leave the United States, NATO and Israel seriously to consider two bad choices: taking military action against Iran or allowing Iran to get a nuclear weapon.

"Any nuclear agreement with Iran cannot be based on trust alone. Remember, Iran lied and hid its nuclear program from the international community for decades and still refuses to answer questions about its weaponization activity. Rather, an acceptable agreement must be based on provable, concrete actions that can be strictly verified by the United States and international community."

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Basing a new State Department facility at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco is emerging as a rare issue that can get Georgia's congressional delegation together across party lines.

It was not unanimous like Port of Savannah advocacy -- Reps. John Lewis, D-Atlanta; Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia; and Doug Collins, R-Gainesville; abstained -- but 13 of Georgia's 16 U.S. Reps. and senators tangled with the Obama administration Monday by requesting a new study from the Government Accountability Office on the merits of Glynco vs. a planned site in Virginia. Wrote the group:

“As stewards of taxpayer dollars, we want to improve diplomatic security training efforts in a cost-effective, timely manner. We believe a thorough and impartial review of proposals is necessary to determine the option that best addresses State’s needs in a fiscally responsible manner.”

Some more background from a Malloy story last month:

Along the Georgia coast, federal law enforcement officers from across the country gather to train in marksmanship, interrogations and high-speed driving, among other areas. The State Department for years has searched for a new place to train its employees in skills including firearms, explosives and high-speed driving.

Last week, the Obama administration announced it was buying land and moving forward on the new State Department facility — in Virginia.

Not so fast, said key Republicans in Congress, who say the Obama administration could save hundreds of millions of dollars by simply expanding the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, near Brunswick. The administration says the site it selected in southern Virginia is more convenient to Washington and best met the State Department’s needs.

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Late this month, national Republican presidential polls will start to be incorporated into Fox News' calculations of which 10 hopefuls make the big first debate Aug. 6.

From Politico:

Every candidate — with the exceptions of Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Marco Rubio — is in danger of losing his or her place. That leaves the rest of the field hoping their numbers will tick up at just the right time, knowing that the tiniest fluctuation of numbers could be the difference between acceptance and rejection. The difference between being on the main debate stage and being relegated to the B-team is likely be at most one or two points. ...

While Fox hasn’t outlined the exact criteria, they say they will pick the top 10 from an “average of the five most recent national polls, as recognized by Fox News leading up to August 4th at 5 PM/ET,” Fox News Executive Vice President Michael Clemente announced in May. “Such polling must be conducted by major, nationally recognized organizations that use standard methodological techniques.”

Because Fox has been vague about the criteria, it’s unclear which polls will be included. Does “standard methodological techniques” mean the polls must be conducted by live telephone interviewers? Automated phone polls wouldn’t help cull the field, since they can only ask about 10 candidates in the first place. But most think Fox is precluding polls conducted via the web from being a part of the average.

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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