The Jolt: How many Buckhead voters want to leave Atlanta?

September 13, 2013 Atlanta: Charlie Saye took in the great view of midtown from at Piedmont Park's Lake Clara Meer Friday. A cold front moving through Georgia early Friday will bring noticeably cooler weather to metro Atlanta for the weekend. Channel 2 meteorologist Karen Minton said the weekend will also be dry and less humid, with highs in the low 80s and lows dipping into the low 60s. Atlantans will have plenty of venues to spend their weekend as the Braves have a weekend series against the Padres. The Falcons take on the Rams at 1 p.m. Sunday in the first regular season game at the Georgia Dome. Next door to the Dome, Sesame Street Live: Can't Stop the Singing moves into Philips Arena for two shows Friday, three Saturday and two Sunday. Other weekend events include the Clark-Atlanta University vs. Stillman College football game at 6 p.m. Saturday at Panther Stadium, the For Sisters Only festival Saturday at the Georgia World Congress Center, the Atlanta Arts Festival Saturday and Sunday at Piedmont Park, the One Music Fest, taking place Saturday at Masquerade Music Park and Historic Fourth Ward Park, and the Atlanta Bar-B-Q Festival Friday and Saturday at Atlantic Station. JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM
Caption
September 13, 2013 Atlanta: Charlie Saye took in the great view of midtown from at Piedmont Park's Lake Clara Meer Friday. A cold front moving through Georgia early Friday will bring noticeably cooler weather to metro Atlanta for the weekend. Channel 2 meteorologist Karen Minton said the weekend will also be dry and less humid, with highs in the low 80s and lows dipping into the low 60s. Atlantans will have plenty of venues to spend their weekend as the Braves have a weekend series against the Padres. The Falcons take on the Rams at 1 p.m. Sunday in the first regular season game at the Georgia Dome. Next door to the Dome, Sesame Street Live: Can't Stop the Singing moves into Philips Arena for two shows Friday, three Saturday and two Sunday. Other weekend events include the Clark-Atlanta University vs. Stillman College football game at 6 p.m. Saturday at Panther Stadium, the For Sisters Only festival Saturday at the Georgia World Congress Center, the Atlanta Arts Festival Saturday and Sunday at Piedmont Park, the One Music Fest, taking place Saturday at Masquerade Music Park and Historic Fourth Ward Park, and the Atlanta Bar-B-Q Festival Friday and Saturday at Atlantic Station. JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Buckhead City Committee is ramping up its efforts to break off from the City of Atlanta by rolling out the results of a new poll it commissioned from Rosetta Stone Communications.

It’s an internal poll, so gets our usual caution of taking anything paid for by one side of an issue with a grain of salt. But it’s also worth reviewing since the results are sure to be circulated among state legislators later as debate over the issue continues into the 2022 legislative session.

Overall, the poll showed 62% support among registered voters in Buckhead for the General Assembly to put the idea of creating a new Buckhead City up for a vote on a referendum on the November 2022 ballot.

That same poll had 63% of registered voters in Buckhead saying they would be more likely to support a legislator who favors “giving the community the right to vote on cityhood.”

Another top line worth looking at-- 67% of Buckhead respondents identified crime and public safety as their top concern, higher than taxes, jobs or social justice issues.

Pollsters conducted live interviews with more than 1,300 Buckhead voters from July 13-16, with a margin of error of 2.7%. (A previous edition of the Jolt described the survey as “automated.”)

It’s also important to look at what the poll did not ask.

The poll did not ask if Buckhead voters favor actually creating a new city out of Buckhead-- only whether the General Assembly should greenlight a referendum on the November 2022 ballot. Only registered voters in Buckhead would participate in the referendum.

The poll also did not include any of the details that make breaking off from one city to create another so complicated, including questions about the future of schools, parks, and the effect on tax rates for Buckhead residents and businesses.

Edward Lindsey, a former state representative for Buckhead who is now with the group opposing a Buckhead secession, said the poll shows that the anger over crime in Buckhead is real, but, “This is a nationwide problem, and setting up a checkpoint at Peachtree Battle is not going to do anything to curb the problem.”

Lindsey said the place to focus Buckhead residents’ efforts is the upcoming Atlanta mayor’s race. “The poll shows us that we need to work very hard between now and December to elect a new mayor, a new city council president and city council members who take the issue of crime, as well as the other issues facing the city, like zoning and ethics in government, seriously.”

Every candidate for mayor so far has said they oppose the idea of a new Buckhead City, including former Mayor Kasim Reed. At a campaign event in West Midtown, he spoke of a unique approach to tackling the secession movement: Let the results speak for themselves.

“To try to be aggressive toward the Buckhead movement will be exactly the wrong move.”

Instead, he said, he’d rebuild the police force, beef up training, open new recreation centers and give teens “real alternatives.”

“That’s the most important thing you can do to persuade folks this is a moment of time and not a permanent condition. You won’t hear any tough talk from me about the city of Buckhead movement. It’s a low point in the life of Atlanta’s history that we got to the point where 20% of our population wants to leave.”

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At that same campaign event, Kasim Reed shared a story about one of his last conversations with his late father on what would have been his 80th birthday.

As his father was dying from cancer, he asked Reed if he would ever run for office again. The former mayor told his dad he didn’t think so.

“He squeezed my hand and said, ‘Son, you’re a racehorse. I raised a racehorse. Don’t ever tell me that. If you want to make me proud, if you want to make me happy, then get out there and you run for something.’”

The crowd applauded, but Reed hardly paused.

“As God would have it, Mayor Bottoms made the decision to move her life in a different direction. And I called Maynard Jackson III and I asked him what his father was thinking when he decided to run for a third term. I thought the conversation would be this long, deep intellectual analysis.

“He leaned into the phone and he said, ‘Are you listening to me? I said, ‘I’m listening.’ He said, ‘My father ran because he felt the city needed him.’ I’m not going to be a Maynard Jackson or an Andrew Young. But I am the right person for this moment right now.”

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The ad is called “Scream.” And there’s plenty of hollering in it.

Republican State Sen. Burt Jones debuted the 30-second spot for his lieutenant governor’s campaign on Monday with a question:

“If there wasn’t any cheating or fraud in the 2020 election, why every time we call for a full investigation, do Stacey Abrams and the Democrats respond like this?”

Cue the screaming.

“I’m going to make sure we investigate and expose all voter fraud,” said Jones, a candidate for lieutenant governor. “Because that’s what real leadership does.”

Here’s where we remind you that there’s no evidence of widespread voter fraud or rampant irregularities in the 2020 election, and that state and federal elections officials -- and a series of court rulings -- have all verified the outcome.

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More than one eagle-eyed Jolt reader recently send along a front page item in the Towns County Herald announcing that not-quite Senate candidate Herschel Walker had been invited to be the grand marshal in the Mountain Fair Parade this weekend.

The parade took place this weekend without Walker on hand.

Otis Nixon, the Atlanta Braves’ former outfielder, did the honors instead.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she will tie a procedural vote in the House advancing Democrats’ $3.5 billion social services package with one setting up a final vote on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.

That could make it harder for moderates, including Georgia’s U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, to make good on their promise to block progress on the social services package unless the House approves the infrastructure bill first.

You will recall that Bourdeaux and eight other colleagues wrote a letter to Pelosi on Friday saying they would withhold support for the larger package unless an immediate vote on the infrastructure bill was taken.

Pelosi followed up with her own letter to the entire caucus on Sunday, when she said the two measures will be tied together in a procedural vote scheduled for next week.

But Pelosi is not abandoning her timeline, which calls for waiting until after the Senate passes the larger package before bringing the infrastructure bill to the floor for a vote.

Bourdeaux’s group of nine lawmakers said late Sunday they appreciated Pelosi’s attempt to compromise but remain opposed to that plan. They reiterated their support for an immediate vote on infrastructure.

***

The U.S. House Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing this morning that could include unveiling the latest version of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, a bill to reinstate federal review of changes to election law in certain states or jurisdictions.

The text has not been released and the description of today’s hearing only says it deals with “potential legislative reforms.” But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to colleagues over the weekend that the hearing is on the bill-- and that a vote on the measure could come next week.

Assistant U.S. Attorney General Kristen Clarke is among those scheduled to testify. Her written testimony includes a reference to the redistricting process that is now beginning in every state and references the 2013 Supreme Court ruling that struck down Voting Rights Act protections:

“It is now time for Congress to respond, by developing legislation that responds to our current situation, with respect to redistricting and otherwise—a situation in which voting rights are under pressure to an extent that has not been seen since the Civil Rights era,” she plans to say. “The (Justice) Department looks forward to working with Congress to craft new voting rights legislation that addresses the problems we face today.”

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Georgia’s U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has a message for any of her House Republican colleagues who may support the infrastructure deal: prepare to be primaried.

There were 19 GOP senators who voted with Democrats on the measure in that chamber, but it is unclear if any House Republicans will support it. Greene says she will consider it a sign of weakness if any of her colleagues do, and that she will work to defeat them at the ballot box in 2022.

“I’m going to come right out and say it: Any Republican who votes for this $1,200,000,000,000 bill is a traitor. Not only to the GOP, but to our entire nation,” she said in an email Friday, bolding both sentences for emphasis.

We asked Greene’s office to explain what part of the roads, bridges and transit bill she opposes. Her spokesman responded that the Rome Republican doesn’t like the price tag and worries about it adding to the national debt. She also opposes provisions that address climate change, such as a boost of electric vehicle production.

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The Savannah Morning News absolutely rips U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter for his recent statement that “masks are suffocating our children.”

Opinion editor Adam Van Brimmer writes that Carter is “unfit for public office.”

“The only vote Carter deserves now is one of no confidence. Those who write checks to his campaign and pay to attend his fundraisers need to recognize who and what they are associating themselves with: an elected official who sold his soul for power rather than purpose.”

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State Rep. Edward “Mickey” Stephens died Saturday at 77 after an extended illness. Our partners at the Savannah Morning News said the Democratic lawmaker was a leader in Savannah-Chatham politics despite a diminished physical presence in the General Assembly in recent years.

In a statement late Saturday night, House Speaker David Ralston called Stephens “one of Georgia’s most solid leaders. A man of quiet strength, Mickey was a pillar in the Georgia House and he was my dear friend.”

Ralston also said Stephens’ “utmost priority was the well-being of his constituents and no one fought harder for their community.”

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As always, Jolt readers are some of our favorite tipsters. Send your best scoop, gossip and insider info to patricia.murphy@ajc.com, tia.mitchell@ajc.com and greg.bluestein@ajc.com.