The Jolt: A sing-off for solar energy at the PSC

Next Tuesday, the state Public Service Commission will vote on Georgia Power's "Integrated Resource Plan," a three-year blueprint outlining how much power the regulated company will generate – and from what sources.

Georgia Power has indicated that it will edge away from coal and move more deeply into solar, but many are advocating that the utility go deeper still.

Hearings on the matter began this spring. On Thursday, alternative energy advocates exercised their last chance to have their public say before five PSC members -- among them Lauren “Bubba” McDonald.

Testimony isn't necessarily staid. Once before, a singer/songwriter who goes by the name of Aviva – her group is Aviva and the Flying Penguins – had made her statement with a song and ukulele.

She was back before the PSC on Thursday, one of 20 or so who showed up.

When her turn came, McDonald noticed that her musical instrument was missing. She said she hadn’t been allowed to bring it into the chamber. McDonald, one of the chief advocates for upping solar requirements on Georgia Power, told her to go get it.

She did. You can listen to the result here. (Thanks to Georgia Conservation Voters for the video.)

Once Aviva finished, McDonald said, “You can approach the bench.”

The witness was clearly puzzled. “Come here,” he repeated.

She did. McDonald took the ukulele, began strumming it, and sang:

I was borned about two thousand years ago

And there's nothin' in this world that I don't know.

I saw Peter, Paul and Moses

Playing ring around the roses

And I can lick the guy that says it isn't so.

That McDonald can sing is no secret. He's a favorite at local GOP conventions. But this morning, I asked him how long he'd played the ukulele.

“Shoot, I’ve been wearing one out for 50, 60 years. I learned to play when I used to go up to church camp up at Rabun Gap,” McDonald said.

The song, in fact, is an old church camp tune.

McDonald is learning to play the banjo now, presumably in preparation for another round of PSC testimony.


Former state attorney general Sam Olens, the first of his faith elected statewide in Georgia, has an op-ed in the coming Sunday edition of the AJC, endorsing hate crime legislation that passed the state House this spring. Olens, first elected in 2010, begins thusly:

As a candidate for state office several years ago, I attended my fair share of political and civic gatherings. One morning I walked into a senior center in northeast Georgia where I was greeted by a gentleman who inquired where I was from. When I told him I had been born in Miami, and he replied he hoped I was not Jewish as "they were the worst kind." I mustered enough strength to keep my composure and declined to acknowledge his anti-Semitic remark.

A few months later I spoke at a town hall in south Georgia. In the middle of the forum, a woman stood up and announced that they could not support me because I was not Christian. The audience applauded loudly. Once again, I bit my tongue, stomached the visceral pain and I told them I was proud of my Jewish faith and continued — but it was a long ride home.


Lester Maddox revisited: A new episode of Malcolm Gladwell's Revisionist History explores how segregationist Georgia Gov. Lester Maddox' rocky appearance on Dick Cavett's popular talk show with NFL legend Jim Brown in 1970 led singer-songwriter Randy Newman to put together one of his most complex and significant albums.

Don't take our word for it: Listen here.


Word has spread quickly in Democratic circles of a recent spate of departures in Carolyn Bourdeaux's Seventh District congressional campaign. Her campaign manager, deputy campaign manager and communications director each left in the last few weeks.

That’s a serious shakeup for Bourdeaux, a policy professor who is running again after a narrow defeat in 2018 - but first must emerge from a crowded field of fellow Democrats.

We reached out to her campaign, which provided an unattributed statement about the “routine” staff changes.

It said the campaign had “some planned staff changes at the end of the quarter” and said it expects to introduce new hires soon.


Former Sixth District congressional candidate and newscaster Bobby Kaple helped roll out a new group last month that aims to flip control of the Georgia House. But it's not quite clear how much money it has raised.

That's because the Georgia House Majority Project won't have to file financial paperwork disclosing its fundraising until January, Kaple said.


Audrey Maloof, a young cousin to the late DeKalb County CEO Manuel Maloof, tells us she'll kick off a campaign next week for House District 83, a seat currently occupied by Democrat Becky Evans of Atlanta.


Max Bacon, who has been mayor of Smyrna since 1985, announced Thursday that he won't run for re-election, according to our AJC colleague Kristal Dixon. Bacon, 70, says he had two heart attacks in 2016 and "that took a toll on me."

Smyrna City Clerk Terri Graham said three people — City Councilman Derek Norton, Steve Rasin and Alex Backry — have already filed formal declarations of candidacy to replace him.