The Jolt: The Atlanta campaign to save Meria Carstarphen’s job

The 24 school principals, named and pictured in a mailer intended to generate school board support for Atlanta Public School Superintendent Meria Carstarphen/AJC file
The 24 school principals, named and pictured in a mailer intended to generate school board support for Atlanta Public School Superintendent Meria Carstarphen/AJC file

You have enough people pointing you to the District of Columbia this morning, so we'll start with something else.

Earlier this month, Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen took the mic at the Atlanta Press Club. Her appearance was highly anticipated.

It was one of her first since the Atlanta Board of Education announced it would not renew her contract, which expires June 30. Wrote our AJC colleague Vanessa McCray:

Carstarphen said Thursday she intends to stay on the job "as long as I can" so long as she's able to work in an environment with "high expectations and rigor."

She said the community wants to see APS continue to do good work and they want her to be accessible and visible.

"They want to know that APS is not going off the rails at a critical time," Carstarphen said. "Hopefully, that gets us to the appropriate transition point, if it comes to that. But, as far as I'm concerned, I think, that it's imperative that we do the job that we were brought here to do."

The stand-out phrase in the above quote is “if it comes to that.” Usually, when the bosses say you’re not wanted, you leave. But a well-financed campaign is apparently underway to change the minds of Atlanta school board members.

We are in receipt of a series of four color mailers, sent out by the Georgia Federation of Public Service Employees, urging parents in District 8 to urge school board member Cynthia Briscoe Brown to change her mind about Carstarphen. Brown’s phone number and email address are included in each mailer.

We’re presuming that other school board members have been targeted as well.

The mailers are carefully themed. One emphasizes endorsements from current and former students. Another features parents. In another are photographs of and endorsements from former Gov. Roy Barnes; former Atlanta mayors Shirley Franklin, Sam Massell, and Andrew Young; and U.S. Rep. John Lewis.

In another are the names of 24 elementary, middle and high school principals in the Atlanta system, about a quarter of all in the system.

We’ve got a call into Demetric Bishop, executive director of the Georgia FPSE, to see who’s financing the operation.


Georgia election officials on Wednesday released the names of 313,243 people whose voter registrations are set to soon be canceled because they moved away or haven't participated in elections for several years. From our AJC colleague Mark Neisse:

The cancellations, expected to be completed in December, would reduce the number of registered voters in Georgia by 4%. There are currently about 7.4 million registered voters in the state….

It will be the first purge since Georgia canceled about 534,000 registrations in July 2017, the largest removal of voters in U.S. history.

When Ohio conducted a similar purge this year, its Republican secretary of state made public a list of those whose voter registrations were to be canceled. It turned out that about one in five on the list shouldn’t have been there.

So when Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced the existence of a Georgia purge list, several organizations, including the Georgia ACLU and this newspaper, had expressed interest in seeing the names slated for removal.

An hour after the secretary of state’s office made the Georgia list public on Wednesday, deputy secretary Jordan Fuchs called to make sure we understood that her boss wasn’t acting under pressure – that he intended to make the list public all along but had to jump through a few legal hoops first.

So good on Brad Raffensperger.

Meanwhile, the ACLU has sent out a very specific how-to notice on how voters can make sure they’re not on the purge list:

In Metro Atlanta it is easy to move into another county without being aware that you have done so. The Secretary of State uses this as a reason to cancel your registration. Addresses can be updated on line. Help a family member or neighbor check their registration.

The ACLU of Georgia encourages everyone to check their voter registration. The Secretary of State has a mobile app that allows you to use your smart phone to check that your voter status is "Active"

  1. Download the Georgia Secretary of State App on your smart phone
  2. On the Home page- click on -"Am I registered to Vote?"
  3. Click again- "Am I registered to Vote"
  4. Enter the initial of your first name; your last name; County and Date of Birth
  5. Click "Submit"
  6. Your voter information should appear, check that your address is accurate and your status is Active

Even you, dear reader, can download and plow through the purge list by clicking here.


The impeachment vote by the U.S. House, expected around 11 a.m. today, will dominate today's news cycle. In case you missed it, we're expecting all 14 Georgia lawmakers to vote with their parties on the resolution, which will finalize procedures for the ongoing probe.

U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath’s vote is being closely watched, given the Marietta Democrat’s position as the state’s most politically vulnerable lawmaker. Democrats, meanwhile, have begun shifting their attention to the Senate, where David Perdue has emerged as one of Trump’s most forceful defenders on impeachment.

Perdue’s comments to Fox News’ Bret Baier that there’s “not a chance in hell” the Senate will vote to remove Trump from office and that he’ll vote against any impeachment articles prompted rebukes from several of his Democratic challengers on Wednesday

Ex-congressional candidate Jon Ossoff proclaimed that Perdue "has no mind of his own" and Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry joked on Twitter that Trump must have authored the first-term Republican's comments that House Democrats' probe was a "sham."


Our WSB Radio colleague Jamie Dupree, a Nats fan who lives in the D.C. area, tells us that the seventh and deciding game of the World Series got another dose of presidential politics on Wednesday night.

Between innings, President Donald Trump's re-election campaign unveiled a new TV ad, rattling off accomplishments of the President, and blasting Democrats for focusing on investigations and impeachment in Congress.

The choice to run the ad during the World Series came three days after President Trump was loudly booed when he appeared on the stadium video board at Nationals Park in Washington, as he watched Game 5 with a group of friendly GOP lawmakers.

Dupree tells that during Game 7, thousands of fans had jammed the Nats' home stadium for the away game. And when the president's 30-second spot was shown on the big TV screen, more boos were sent Trump’s way.


The Hudson Group, LLC, a lobbying firm based in Atlanta, on Wednesday announced that "former Democratic state Rep. Margaret Kaiser" would become the newest member of its team.

We include the quoted material on purpose. Brian Hudson, the managing principal, has Republican roots. So does the firm’s other ranking member, former state Sen. Ronnie Chance.

There’s a cold-blooded business calculation behind any lobbying firm’s decision to go bipartisan. It speaks to the current status of state Capitol politics.


A left-leaning ethics litigation shop is suing the U.S. Department of Agriculture to shake loose several sets of records from Secretary Sonny Perdue. The group wants to see if his agribusiness ties in Georgia have had an impact on his work in the Trump administration.

American Oversight said it’s seeking “all emails Perdue sent and received using a non-governmental email, all emails with representatives from external entities and his family at Perdue Partners, all external emails sent by the heads of the Georgia offices of USDA’s Rural Development Agency and Farm Service Agency to Perdue, his businesses, and his family members, and records related to Perdue’s meetings with Fieldale Farms and Georgia Feed and Grain Association.”

The group says the USDA has failed to provide the information on its own.


We send our condolences to day to U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Monroe, who lost his father this week.

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