Around Town: Some ‘15 resolutions, and a look at what Santa left
by Joe Kirby, Otis A. Brumby III and Lee B. Garrett, - Around Town Columnists
December 27, 2014 04:00 AM | 114 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
NEW YEAR’S EVE is right around the corner. Like most years, 2014 was a mixture of the ridiculous and the sublime in Cobb County, with a lot in between. As the Old Year ebbs away, New Year’s resolutions are being formulated by plenty of Cobb’s newsmakers. Here’s a sampling: ♦ Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews has resolved to keep his fingers crossed in hopes no more zoning applications come along for storefront mosques. ♦ Atlanta Falcons Coach Mike Smith has resolved to win tomorrow’s do-or-die against the Charlotte Panthers and hopefully keep his job. ♦ Atlanta Braves brass have resolved to field a more competitive team for 2015 than they did in 2014. ♦ Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank has resolved that next time he starts “shopping” for a new stadium deal, he’ll look for one in the suburbs. ♦ Marietta Mayor Steve “Thunder” Tumlin has resolved to find something to fill the unsightly hole left on Marietta Square by Councilman Philip Goldstein’s demolition of the old Cuthbertson Building. ♦ Goldstein has resolved to open a couple of bars in the hole and try to market it as “Underground Marietta.” ♦ Former Congressman Bob Barr of Smyrna has resolved never to write another endorsement letter for anyone seeking a job in the Obama administration. The last one he wrote, for then-Attorney General wannabe Eric Holder, later blew up in Barr’s face during his race last summer for Congress. ♦ Unsuccessful U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn will resolve to never again say in public, “I defer to the president’s judgment” as long as Obama is in office and as long as she has any political aspirations in Georgia. ♦ U.S. Sen.-elect David Perdue will resolve to never again utter the word “outsource” in front of a microphone. --- TUESDAY MORNING, just 10 days after retired Cobb Superior Court Judge Watson White passed away, his son, Daniel White, and daughter-in-law, Katie White, both local attorneys, had reason to celebrate as they adopted the two children they had been fostering for over two years. Michelle Elsa White, 4, and Jose Walter White, 3, now proudly share their late grandfather’s last name. Superior Court Judge Reuben Green presided over the ceremony in the packed courtroom where Judge White’s portrait hangs and Marietta City Attorney, Doug Haynie, Daniel’s law partner at Haynie, Litchfield, Crane & White represented the family. It was a reminder during this holiday season that joy and peace can find us even in the midst of missing loved ones. --- AROUND TOWN also called around to find out what Santa left under the tree Thursday at the homes of some of Cobb’s movers and shakers. Turns out he was more than generous. Among the gifts were: ♦ A new coating for Cobb Commissioner “Teflon Tim” Lee, who successfully sidestepped several attempts to snare him for ethics violations in connection with his efforts to bring the Atlanta Braves to Cobb. ♦ Lee also was hoping his stocking would include a BRT proposal that Cobb taxpayers would finally cotton to. ♦ Cobb taxpayers were hoping Santa would leave them a note saying Lee had finally given up on the BRT. ♦ A new tennis racket for Cobb Commissioner Helen Goreham, who’s retiring from the commission as of Wednesday and will have plenty of time on her hands. ♦ A cool pair of Peter Fonda-style “Easy Rider” shades for incoming Commissioner Bob Weatherford and a set of “ape-hanger” handlebars for his Harley. ♦ Former Cobb School Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa got a lifetime supply of his mom’s tamales. ♦ Cobb Schools interim Superintendent Chris Ragsdale was asking Santa for a new, shorter title: “Superintendent.” Unfortunately, Santa left Ragsdale a note saying, “Don’t ask me, ask the school board!” ♦ U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R-east Cobb), the new chairman of the House Budget Committee, was hoping for either a scythe with which to cut spending or else a stocking full of new revenues to help balance the budget. But he hasn’t unwrapped his gifts yet, so we’ll have to wait until later in the New Year to see what develops. ♦ Cobb Superior Court Judge Jim Bodiford was hoping for another high-profile murder case to try as he begins his new career as a Cobb Senior Judge. ♦ Cobb residents were asking for a winter free of another “surprise” Snowmageddon. Santa said to take that up with Mother Nature. ♦ Gov. Nathan Deal was hoping Santa and Mother Nature would deliver better weather for his January inaugural ceremonies than he did the first time around in 2012. For Santa’s response, see “Cobb residents” above. ♦ U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss was hoping for a happy retirement away from Harry Reid and got it. ♦ U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey was hoping for a happy retirement away from Nancy Pelosi, and got it, along with a fresh pair medical scrubs in case he wants to go back to his former vocation, delivering babies. ♦ Democrats Michelle Nunn and unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter each got a new map of Georgia with Cobb County featured prominently to help them find it more easily should either ever run for state office again. The two pretty much ignored Cobb during their fall campaigns, even though Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-to-1 in most of south Cobb. ♦ Cobb fans of the Braves were asking Santa for solid assurances that there will be sufficient parking when the stadium opens in 2017. We’re told Santa left a note of his own that cryptically said, “Wait and see.” ♦ Thus-far unsuccessful Braves-move critics got a new whip from Santa, with which they can keep “flogging a dead horse.” t Marietta Blue Devils fans were hoping Santa would promise the iconic Northcutt Field, presently torn and blasted to shreds, will have a better fate than Humpty-Dumpty, who despite the efforts of “all the king’s horses and all the king’s men,” couldn’t be put back together again. Blue Devils fans are crossing their fingers on Northcutt, but Santa said they are on his “Good List,” and not to worry. Happy Holidays!
Comments
(0)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet
Holding court with retiring Judge Jim Bodiford
by Dick Yarbrough
December 27, 2014 04:00 AM | 65 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dick Yarbrough
Dick Yarbrough
slideshow
When I retired, I offered to share my extensive management experience with the Woman Who Shares My Name in the running of our household. It was then that she explained the organization chart to me. She was in charge of the household. I was not. I thought I should share that experience with Judge Jim Bodiford, who is retiring after three decades on the bench, including 20 years as Cobb County Superior Court judge, in order to avoid having the same thing happen to him the first time he rapped the gavel in front of his wife, Nancy, and called for order in the house. He laughed. “I don’t think that is going to be a problem,” he said. “Nancy let me know who was in charge 25 years ago and it is not me.” An aside: Nancy Bodiford is the executive assistant to Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren and handles, among other things, media inquiries. She is one of the more readily-available media contacts I have dealt with in Cobb County and one of the most helpful. The Marietta Daily Journal calls Judge Jim Bodiford “arguably Georgia’s best-known judge.” I would agree and would add that he is also one of the most effective. Over the past 15 years, he has presided over the murder case of ex-Cobb lawyer Fred Tokars; the Lynn Turner poisoning case and the trial of Ray Brent Marsh, accused of disposing of bodies in the backyard of the crematorium he owned rather than disposing of them properly. Tokars and Turner were found guilty. Marsh pleaded guilty. In 2008, Bodiford was recruited to preside over the high-profile trial of Brian Nichols, who had killed a Fulton County judge as well as a court reporter, a sheriff’s deputy and later a federal agent. The trial had been pending for three years but under Judge Bodiford’s direction, the trial was completed within a year. Nichols received a life sentence without parole and the verdict was not appealed. While he is retiring after these prominent cases and another “50,000 or so” in which he participated —going back to his days as the Powder Springs Municipal Court judge and a trial attorney in the Cobb County District Attorney’s office — Bodiford is not hanging up his robe for good. Gov. Nathan Deal has appointed him to Senior Status, which means he can fill in during emergency situations or sit in as presiding judge in other judicial circuits in the state. He is also looking at getting involved in arbitration work and trying to get differences settled between parties before they end up in court. “A lot of times, issues can be worked out if people will communicate with each other,” he said. “Arbitration is a good way to accomplish that.” In addition, he will be teaching in an upcoming judicial seminar on the death penalty and resultant media coverage. He is eminently qualified for that. Judge Bodiford estimates his new schedule will have him working a week or so a month, as opposed to the current 60 hours a week. He says he is looking forward to this arrangement. “I’m not ready to totally retire,” he said, “but I am excited to have some time to do some other things besides work.” What things, I asked? “I’m not sure,” he said. “Nancy and I want to travel some. There are a lot of places in this world that we have not seen. We also have a place on the Gulf Coast and plan to spend some more time there.” He confessed he had allowed his exercise regime to slide a bit and after having experienced open-heart surgery a few years ago and it was time to get back in shape. The judge says he is even considering taking up golf, along with his wife, but that after he taught her to play gin rummy, his success rate in beating her is about 20 percent. “I’m afraid the same thing will happen with golf,” he laughs. I asked him what he will miss most about his years on the bench. “The people in the courthouse I have worked with,” he said firmly. “I will also miss the excitement of the courtroom and the people I have been able to help as well as the attorneys with whom I have dealt over the years. We like to make jokes about lawyers but the public needs to understand that the great preponderance of attorneys are good family people working hard for their clients.” Any second thoughts about retiring? “Just one,” the judge admitted, “Will people still laugh at my jokes when I am no longer an active Superior Court judge?” I bet they will. Judge James Bodiford has earned that privilege and more. He’s a good man who has done great things for Cobb County in his illustrious career. And that’s no joke. You can reach Dick Yarbrough at yarb2400@bellsouth.net; at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139; online at dickyarbrough.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dickyarb.
Comments
(0)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet
The Week of Dec. 25
by Damon_Poirier
 MDJ Time Capsule
December 27, 2014 04:00 AM | 46 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

This week’s Time Capsule looks at robberies, wrecks, an assault, McCollum Airport and handbills.

100 years ago …

In the Friday, Dec. 25, 1914 edition of The Marietta Journal and Courier there was a story about the night operator at the Kennesaw Depot and another railroad employee who were held up and robbed at gunpoint around 2 a.m. the Wednesday before. The robber was said to have escaped with a total of $25 from the two men and the railroad along with the operator’s watch.

A second story in that edition reported that two railroad car firemen, one from Kennesaw, were killed when the fast southbound W & A Railroad passenger train went down a 75-foot embankment near Emerson in Bartow County the weekend before. Several train cars crashed down the bank and “it was a miracle that a number of passengers were not killed,” however several passengers were badly injured.

50 years ago …

In the Monday, Dec. 21, 1964 Marietta Daily Journal reported that a Marietta girl narrowly escaped injury when her car became impaled by a steel beam sticking out of the back of a truck. The teenager was driving to work in Atlanta when a truck stopped suddenly in front of her and three feet of a steel beam punched through her windshield.

Also that day, an east Marietta robbery was reported. The homeowner told police that he answered his doorbell at 9:45 p.m. to find a man with a stocking over his face holding a gun. He was told to lie down on the floor and three more men entered the home. After a pillow case was thrown over his head, the victim’s wife was brought down from the upstairs and also tied up. The robbers then carried the man to the basement where he opened a safe for them which contained three sacks of coins full of collector’s items and four to five hundred silver dollars.

Consolidation of municipal and county police departments were reported in the Tuesday, Dec. 22, 1964 paper as being considered for the future in the face of possible loss of vitally-needed drunk driving fines by the county’s municipalities. Under state law, municipalities lose jurisdiction of state traffic offenses such as drunk driving when county misdemeanor courts are established like the new Cobb County Criminal and Civil Court – which was expected to open in January 1965. Some officials also talked about the possibility of passing local drunk driving ordinances in order to bypass the state law.

In the Wednesday, Dec. 23, 1964 paper it was reported that evidence from a Lansing, Ill., crime the week before was found locally by Cobb County policemen. A bloody shirt, a pair of pants, several suitcases and a file box were identified as the belongings of a man whose throat was cut “from ear to ear” in Lansing. Since the assault, two teenagers – one from Cartersville and one from Atlanta – who had been with the victim were picked up in Atlanta. The victim was found lying on the side of a street in Lansing at around 4 a.m., beaten with his throat cut, robbed of $25 and his personal papers. The man, who had been thrown out of his car and was still alive after the incident, was being treated for a severed windpipe at a hospital.

A controversial 30-year lease for a second fixed-base operator at the county’s McCollum Airport in Kennesaw was reported in the Thursday, Dec. 24, 1964 paper as being canceled by mutual agreement. County and airport officials also agreed to the appointment of a committee to operate the public-owned field and decided to “seriously investigate” the establishment of an airport authority. A furor was touched off when the Cobb County advisory board followed the recommendation of outgoing airport manager Joe Sandman and leased a section of the field to Mableton businessman W.E. Richardson.

20 years ago …

In its latest clean-city measure, the Smyrna City Council was reported in the Wednesday, Dec. 21, 1994 paper as having voted to prohibit advertising fliers from being left on windshields, utility poles and the doors of people who did not want them. Handbills hawking pizza delivery, carpet cleaning and other commercial products and services were no longer allowed to be placed under windshield wipers. However, fliers promoting free church events, political candidates, charitable cases or other non-commercial enterprises were still allowed.

Five pistol-wielding bandits were reported in the Friday, Dec. 23, 1994 paper as having held up the Barnes Hardware store – a well-known Mableton landmark where locals gathered for generations to talk politics. The bandits made off with 44 firearms and an undisclosed amount of cash after locking four employees in a small storage room. The youths lured store employees to different parts of the store, before producing handguns and forcing them to the rear of the building. None of the employees, who spent less than 20 minutes lying face down on the floor, were injured.

Also in that paper, it was reported that a longstanding road project designed to turn one of Smyrna’s busiest and most dangerous streets into a “grand boulevard” with smoother traffic flow was moving closer to reality. The widening of Spring-Concord Road called for a fifth, center turning lane to be added to Spring Road from Cobb Parkway west to Campbell Road. Construction work was expected to start in late summer 1995.

Damon Poirier is the Newsroom Administrator for the Marietta Daily Journal.

If you are interested in learning more about the stories that were presented in this week’s column, you can search the newspaper’s digitized microfilm archives online. NewsBank, which hosts the archives for the Marietta Daily Journal, charges a fee for retrieved articles and has various price packages available. If you have any trouble with your username, password or payment options, please contact NewsBank at mariettadaily@newsbank.com.

 

Comments
(0)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet
Rep. Teasley trying to pass religious liberty bill again
by Ricky Leroux
December 27, 2014 04:00 AM | 152 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
State Representative Sam Teasley (R-Marietta), left and right, discusses his controversial religious liberties bill at the Marietta Daily Journal’s office Wednesday.  <BR> Staff-C.B. Schmelter
State Representative Sam Teasley (R-Marietta), left and right, discusses his controversial religious liberties bill at the Marietta Daily Journal’s office Wednesday.
Staff-C.B. Schmelter
slideshow
MARIETTA — A controversial “religious liberty” bill in the Georgia General Assembly this year drew state lawmakers into a national conversation about discrimination. Although the measure failed to pass, the Marietta lawmaker who proposed it said he plans to bring it back in the 2015 legislative session. State Rep. Sam Teasley (R-Marietta) said his bill is a “modest, common sense measure” to ensure state and local governments cannot infringe upon a person’s right to religious expression. “The primary function of the bill is to place a restriction on government’s ability to unnecessarily burden a person’s free exercise of religion,” Teasley explained. Despite the First Amendment in the Constitution guaranteeing a citizen’s freedom of religion, Teasley said several U.S. Supreme Court decisions have resulted in a complex web of statutes and precedents on the issue. Before 1990, if an individual thought the government was infringing upon their right to freedom of religion, they could sue, and in court, the burden was on the government to prove it had a good reason for the infringement. A 1990 Supreme Court decision shifted that burden onto the individual, however, meaning the citizen had to prove in court that their rights were being denied. Then, a 1993 federal law called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act shifted the burden back to the government, requiring the government provide a compelling state interest if it infringes upon a person’s religious freedom, but a 1997 Supreme Court decision resulted in the law not being applicable at the state level. “The reason why I’m proposing this is that the citizens of Georgia don’t have that protection where government must demonstrate that it has a compelling government interest (to infringe upon religious freedom),” Teasley said. “There are 30 states in the country that do, and we’re one of the 20 that don’t.” Teasley said every state bordering Georgia has a similar law to the one he’s proposing, as well as several states in the northern part of the country, including Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Illinois. “For what it’s worth, State Sen. Barack Obama voted for this matter back in 1998 when he was a member of the (Illinois) State Senate,” Teasley added. State Rep. Stacey Evans (D-Smyrna) opposed Teasley’s bill in the last legislative session and said while she would need to read his new bill before saying how she would vote on it, if the bill substantially similar to his previous bill, she would be against it as well. “There’s just all sorts of problems with this (bill) that I think — we just don’t need to go down this road,” she said. “I still haven’t heard the overwhelming reason why we need this bill in the first place.” Evans said the bill could result in situations such as a florist citing religious grounds to refuse to serve someone if the flowers would be used at a gay couple’s wedding or a pharmacist refusing to sell birth control for religious reasons. “These are just examples we’re able to come up with off the top of our head, and I think there are lots of things we aren’t even thinking about — unintended consequences,” she said. Teasley counters the florist example isn’t related to his bill. He said sexual orientation is not a protected class a under federal law — race, national origin, gender and religious affiliation are — so it’s a moot point. “Currently, a business owner can reject business for anything other than the protected classes that are listed out in federal code. Now, I personally think it is inappropriate for a business owner to reject business — and frankly don’t think many business owners would reject business — based on somebody’s sexual orientation,” he said. Working with the opposition Teasley’s bill faced stiff opposition in the previous legislative session: Delta and The Home Depot spoke out against the bill, as did members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community who feared it could result in discrimination against them. Teasley said when the bill began to stir up controversy, he made the decision to “pull back” and leave the bill lying for the rest of the session and spend time after the session meeting with those who had a problem with the bill. “So I’ve done that over these last eight or nine months: meet with the different concerned parties on this issue and work to do a better job on my end of educating,” Teasley said. One of the biggest voices against the bill came from Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, which released a statement saying the bill would allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT individuals. Teasley said he has met with representatives from Delta and attempted to assure them the bill would have no effect on the business community. “I feel like we’ve had an encouraging, ongoing dialogue,” Teasley said, adding the Delta representative told him in their last meeting the airline had not taken a position on the 2015 version of the bill. Teasley refutes the notion his bill would result in discrimination against the LGBT community. “I think I’ve demonstrated through the language of the bill it doesn’t do that,” he said. Teasley said he got the impression from this meetings with the LGBT community that their opposition to the bill is that it would create a “slippery slope” and could lead to discriminatory laws. He said no one has been able to identify specific language in his bill which could lead to discrimination of any kind. “That’s most certainly not my intent,” Teasley said. “As a man of faith myself, I believe that everyone, regardless of their belief system, deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.” Evans expressed a similar sentiment, but added while it might not be his intent, it will be the result. “I don’t think (Teasley) means to discriminate or legalize discrimination with this bill, but that’s what the bill will do, and that’s why I oppose it,” she said. The Georgia Municipal Association also expressed concerns about the bill in the last session, which Teasley said surprised him because his bill was a “pretty modest” protection. “This is, in my view, a very natural complement to the First Amendment,” Teasley said. “We’re not plowing new ground here. So yeah, it does surprise me a little bit that they would react that way because, again, the idea of protecting religious expression is something our country was founded on.” A history of religious freedom laws “Up until 1990, the understanding of how government would interact with a person is that it had to pass what we call this ‘balancing test’ between what is a compelling government interest and it being the least restrictive means necessary of accomplishing that interest,” Teasley said. Teasley cited two U.S. Supreme Court cases that affirmed this balancing test: 1963’s Sherbert v. Verner and 1972’s Wisconsin v. Yoder. The Sherbert case is credited with creating the balancing test: Sherbert could not find a job because her religious beliefs prohibited work on a Saturday and her unemployment compensation claim was denied as a result. The court ruled the denial infringed on Sherbert’s right to religious freedom because the government did not have a “compelling state interest” to deny the unemployment compensation claim. The Yoder case found that Amish children could not be forced to attend public school after eighth grade because doing so would violate their religious beliefs. The court ruled the Amish’s right to freedom of religion trumps the state’s interest in educating the children. Teasley said these cases set the standard for the relationship between the government and the exercise of freedom of religion until another Supreme Court case — 1990’s Employment Division of Oregon v. Smith — essentially “had the practical effect of removing that balancing test.” In response to that decision, a new law was passed. “So in 1993, the U.S. Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act almost unanimously — unanimously out of the House, 97-3 out of the Senate — (and was) signed into law by President Bill Clinton, which restored into code that balancing test,” Teasley said. The law was intended to apply to all levels of government, Teasley said, but a 1997 Supreme Court Decision ruled Congress could not enforce the law on the state and local level. Teasley said he has changed his bill for the upcoming legislative session and modeled it on the federal RFRA statute. “The original language of the bill has been changed to be almost directly word for word the federal statute,” Teasley said. “So it reduces the amount of new language out there for people to go ‘What does this mean?’ You have a bill that is made up of almost entirely of language that has been out there for 20 years. People know what it means.”
Comments
(0)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet
*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, and spam will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides