Around Town: Mixed feelings but senator satisfied with Syria stand
by Joe Kirby, Otis A. Brumby III and Lee B. Garrett, - Around Town Columnists
September 16, 2013 10:56 PM | 2534 views | 3 3 comments | 53 53 recommendations | email to a friend | print
U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) tells Around Town he has mixed feelings about the apparent solution to the chemical weapons quandary in Syria, but did the right thing when he changed his position on whether the U.S. should intervene.

Isakson and fellow Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) initially said they favored President Obama’s proposed use of U.S. force to punish Syrian dictator Bashar Assad for his regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons against those trying to overthrow him. But Isakson changed course after Georgians seemed overwhelmingly opposed to U.S. involvement. Isakson told AT he spent nine days touring Georgia and listening to constituents while Congress was on vacation, and that what he heard caused him to come out against intervention.

“You’ve got to pay attention to the rank and file, the people you represent,” he said. “I did what the people of Georgia think is right.”

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THE SENATOR said as a courtesy he phoned Vice President Joe Biden, an old friend, on the morning of Sept. 9 to give him a “heads up” that he was about to change positions.

“About two hours later the president’s resolution (authorizing the use of force) was pulled off the Senate floor,” he said.

He said he thinks it is unlikely that the resolution will come back up on the floor “in the loose form” that it was.

In the meantime, he thinks Russian leader Vladimir Putin has a hidden agenda beyond merely wanting to help his client Assad and undermine and embarrass Obama and the U.S. That is, Putin is fearful that if the rebels win, or if they otherwise gain access to some or all of Assad’s chemical weapons, that radical Islamists within their ranks will funnel some of those weapons to fellow Islamic radicals in Chechnya, who have been fighting Russia for years in a brutal civil war.

“He knows that if those weapons are in the hands of extremists they are likely to be used against him,” Isakson said. “He has a vested interest in keeping those weapons secured. So (the agreement) could end up working out.”

All the same, he added, the maneuvering has created an unhappy scenario for this country.

“We’re in the unique position in which Putin is the puppeteer and the president of the United States is the puppet,” he concluded.

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COURTHOUSE WATCHERS predict District Attorney Vic Reynolds will try and cut a deal to put an end to the long drawn-out case against former Cobb EMC CEO Dwight Brown if and when the state Supreme Court upholds the remaining indictment against Brown.

That court last week upheld a lower-court decision to toss the original 31-count indictment against Brown on fraud, racketeering and theft charges. Cobb Superior Court Judge Robert Flournoy ruled, and was upheld on appeal, that the initial indictment against Brown in January 2011 was flawed because the then-new Cobb Courthouse, where it was returned, was not easily open to the public at the time.

But Brown was indicted a second time by then-D.A. Pat Head on the same 31 charges accusing him of using the EMC as a piggybank to subsidize the operations of corporate spinoff Cobb Energy without the approval of the co-op’s members. Brown’s lawyers appealed the second indictment, which is now pending before the Supreme Court. And many think if the High Court upholds the indictment, which is likely, that Reynolds will step in.

“If we determine this case can be prosecuted, that is what we will do,” Reynolds told the MDJ last week. “If it cannot be prosecuted, then we will not.”

Observers suspect Reynolds, who took the reins from Head in January, is not as caught up in the case as Head was. It’s also thought the EMC board — which is stuck footing Brown’s legal bills — is eager to see the case finally end. Don’t forget that Brown is represented by one of Georgia’s best lawyers — former Gov. Roy Barnes of Marietta — whose billing rate is commensurate with his expertise.

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MEANWHILE, the EMC is proceeding with its plans announced in late June to lay off up to about 20 percent of its workforce, or as many as 110 people. And EMC watchers predict that one or two familiar — and well-compensated — names will be among those on their way out.

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IS 11TH DISTRICT Congressional candidate Barry Loudermilk (R-Cassville) another Todd Akin? That question was posed Sunday by Washington Post conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin. Her column, headlined “Republicans Need to Choose Wisely,” zeroed in on three congressional candidates around the country who have the potential to cause the party great embarrassment, like Akin did with his “legal rape” comments last year.

Rubin writes that Loudermilk has been endorsed by Texan David Barton, who she says Loudermilk has described as “a constitutional guru.”

“In fact, Barton is a crank,” Rubin continues, quoting from a story in the liberal Huffington Post. “Barton’s views on LGBT people have been especially controversial. Right Wing Watch has documented several of Barton’s incendiary ideas, including his theory that the lack of a cure for AIDS is a sign that God condemns homosexuality. …”

Concludes Rubin, “Loudermilk’s judgment seems to be of the Todd Akin variety. Maybe Republicans should look elsewhere. … In short, the tea party and right-wing bloggers and groups nowhere near the scene of 2016 races will tout all sorts of flawed and unprepared candidates. It is up to voters to figure out that the people who sold them on characters like Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell have a rotten track record — that is, if Republican voters actually want to hold and pick up some seats.”

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A PAIR of veteran Marietta law partners and lifelong friends will celebrate their 70th birthdays this month with a lunch party today at their firm, Edwards, Friedewald and Grayson on Washington Avenue.

Jim Friedewald and Bob Grayson first met in second grade at St. Anthony’s in West End Atlanta. Friedewald started practicing law in 1971 with attorney Raymond Reed of Smyrna (who turns 97 and shares the same birthday as Friedewald, Sept. 22). Grayson started out practicing law in 1972 with future Georgia Supreme Court Justice Harris Hines (who also turned 70 this month) at Edwards, Awtrey and Parker. Their current firm was established in 1978.

Among the invitees to today’s lunch are Justice Hines, retired Justice Conley Ingram of Marietta, Roy Barnes, Mayor Steve Tumlin and Cobb Superior Court Judge Jim Bodiford, who clerked for Friedewald and Grayson at the firm.

SPEAKING: Around Town’s Joe Kirby will speak about his book “The Lockheed Plant” at today’s Enrichment of Life Movement classes at lunchtime at Marietta First United Methodist Church. … MDJ immigration columnist D.A. King will speak at today’s noon meeting of the Smyrna Rotary Club at The Brawner House. ... State Rep. David Wilkerson (D-Austell) will be speaker at Wednesday’s lunch meeting of the Smyrna Kiwanis Club at the Olive Garden on Cobb Parkway.

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CONGRATULATIONS to retired City of Marietta Parks & Rec Director Ron Ransom and wife Evelyn, who’ll celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary Thursday.

“I would like for people to know what a brave soldier Evelyn has been to put up with me that long,” said Ransom, who these days is better known for making an art out of carving wooden Santa Clauses.
Comments
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Cobb EMC member
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September 17, 2013
It would be criminal if DA Vic Reynolds does not prosecute Dwight Brown for stealing Cobb EMC blind by having used Cobb EMC as his personal piggy bank. The first indictment was dismissed by the GA Supreme Court on a technicality that has nothing to do with the crimes of which Brown is accused.

To not prosecute Dwight Brown for the charges standing against him would be a dereliction of duty that would say loud and clear that Cobb EMC members can be robbed at will and the system will do nothing about it.
Mark A. Hackett
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September 17, 2013
Two Grand Juries have indicted Dwight Brown for fraud and racketeering in his position as CEO of Cobb EMC. It would be grossly unfair to the member/customers of Cobb EMC and the people of Georgia if the case is dropped. Cobb EMC's insurance is footing Dwight Brown's legal bills, not EMC customers, therefore, there is no reason to "cut a deal" to save legal defense money. If a deal is cut it ought to include jail time and restitution to repay the EMC for the millions of dollars Dwight Brown has cost EMC customers.

BLACK HOLE POCKETS
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September 17, 2013
As a 26 year member and payee of Cobb EMC, I feel as though my money has gone done Dwight Brown and his boards' black hole pockets for far too long.

I, and many others, would not be happy if Vic Reynolds decided to "cut a deal" rather than prosecute Brown. He has out and out stolen many millions from us that we will be paying for, for many years to come. He should be prosecuted--period!
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