Scott Johnson mug

Scott Johnson

David Shafer mug

David Shafer

GEORGIA’S GRAND OLD PARTY has descended on the Hostess City of the South this weekend to elect a new party chairman.

Former Cobb GOP Chairman Scott Johnson, former state Sen. David Shafer and real estate agent Bruce Azevedo are all vying to lead the party apparatus in its efforts to ensure both U.S. Sen. David Perdue and President Donald Trump are returned to office.

Cobb GOP Chairman Jason Shepherd believes the race has come down to Shafer and Johnson, and as he’s friends with both men, he’s opted not to endorse.

“I think both would be great leaders, and the best thing to do in a county that’s going to need the help and support of the state party and having great relationships with both of the candidates is to be able to be that person who says regardless of who won we need to reunite as a county party and focus on winning in Nov. of 2020,” he said.

From what he’s heard, Shafer is in the lead at the moment, Shepherd said.

“Right now most of the insiders are saying it’s Shaffer. I think if you look at both of the campaigns, Johnson’s team has gone really negative in the last week. Usually you want to end up on a high note. You don’t want to go into the convention attacking.”

At the same time, it depends on who shows up on Saturday.

“All total, the convention could have well over 2,000 delegates, but half of the population of Georgia has at least a three-hour drive to get to Savannah if not more. From Cobb County, it’s a four-hour drive. I’ve heard from a lot of folks in Cobb County who just can’t do it.”

Jason Shepherd MUG

Jason Shepherd

Another topic that may come to a head at the convention is a resolution calling on Georgia House Speaker David Ralston to resign. At the Cobb Republican Party’s convention in March, members passed a stinging resolution demanding Ralston step down. The resolution accused Ralston of abusing the power of his office by delaying the trials of his private clients for financial gain. Shepherd said he’s heard discussion that the state party convention may take up a similar resolution.

“We’re definitely not being helped with the controversy surrounding the Speaker of the House and now the insurance commissioner,” Shepherd said, referring to Republican Georgia Insurance Commissioner Jim Beck who was indicted this week on federal charges of wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering.

Expect Democrats to make use of the Ralston controversy in the 2020 campaign.

“I think even if he’s not still around they’re going to use it. They’d be crazy not to. And if they can’t get the actual plaintiffs in the various cases to go on camera all they have to do is find an actor or actress to tell the story. I think it’s very damaging. And then you throw on top — I don’t know how long Jim Beck’s trial is going to last, but that’s going to be dangling out there as well,” Shepherd said.

All of which is to say that the job of grass roots Republicans has been made much more difficult.

TRAFFIC RELIEF? Commissioner Bob Ott is encouraging the public to attend a meeting on the proposed I-285 top end express lane project hosted by the Georgia Department of Transportation next week.

The project would construct express lanes along I-285 from west of Paces Ferry Road in Cobb County to Henderson Road in DeKalb County, and a section along SR 400 from south of the Glenridge Connector to the vicinity of the North Springs MARTA Station.

“I think it’s going to be a good project,” Ott said. “Traffic has already decreased with the northwest extension project. Commute times have been reduced. So I think this will just add to reducing travel time, especially since it will be connected to the new managed lanes. This lane has a lane in each direction, so it will be even more benefit because it will be in both directions all day long.”

Ott said he didn’t think it would have as much of an impact on the west wall, the part from I-75 toward I-20.

“Because if you look at the road improvements, they’ve rebuilt the bridges, they’ve added the space with the lanes. I think the bigger impact is going to be between 75 and 400 and then 85,” he said.

GDOT is hosting a meeting on the topic from 6-8 p.m., Tuesday, May 21, at the Smyrna Community Center.

285 Top End map

The I-285 Top End Express Lanes would add two new elevated, barrier-separated express lanes in both directions of I-285, alongside the existing general purpose lanes.

TAX BREAKS: Noble Financial, an investment and development group, is requesting a $70 million bond issuance for the development of a "dual hotel facility" next to the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, according to Nelson Geter, executive director of the Development Authority of Cobb County.

The development authority of Cobb County will take up the request at its Tuesday meeting. Geter says Noble Financial is acquiring the acreage from the Cobb-Marietta Coliseum & Exhibit Hall Authority, which owns and operates CEPAC and the Cobb Galleria. He said the firm is also asking the development authority for a 10-year tax abatement for the project.

The development authority meets at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, 240 Interstate North Parkway, Atlanta. The meeting is open to the public.

ARC BOARD: The next meeting of the Atlanta-Region Transit Link Authority is 8 a.m. Thursday. Among the items on the agenda, the board is expected to approve its fiscal 2020 budget. The board meets at 245 Peachtree Center Avenue, NE, Suite 2200 Marquis Tower One, Atlanta. The meeting is open to the public.

MARIETTA CID: The next meeting of the Gateway Marietta Community Improvement District is from 7:30 to 9 a.m. on Tuesday, May 21. Among the items on the agenda is a caucus of electors, a discussion of the millage rate, and a report from the Bleakly Advisory Group. The CID board meets at Parkway Center, 1850 Parkway Place, Suite 110, Marietta, GA 30067. The meeting is open to the public.

ETHICS: County spokesman Ross Cavitt sends word of who is on the new Cobb County Ethics Board. Sheriff Neil Warren appointed Roswell Storey; Cobb Solicitor General Barry Morgan appointed Alice Summerour; Magistrate Court Chief Judge Joyette Holmes appointed Joe Atkins; Chief Probate Court Judge Kelli Wolk appointed Carlos Rodriguez; Cobb Tax Commissioner Carla Jackson appointed Janet Arnold Savage; Cobb State Court Clerk Angie Davis appointed Ron Younker; and the appointment by the Cobb Board of Commissioners is pending, Cavitt says.

RECOGNITION: State Rep. John Carson, R-northeast Cobb, received the 2018 Legislator of the Year Award from the Georgia Public Health Association for his Hands Free Bill. The award was presented this month at the Westin Buckhead Atlanta.

CUMBERLAND: Rumor has it that a major announcement is coming for future redevelopment around Cumberland Mall. When reached by AT, Commissioner Bob Ott, who represents the area, said he was not at liberty to discuss any details. He did say that if the application is filed with the county “it would be exciting news and another example of the positive things happening in the Cumberland area.”


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