This and that … with a computer handy

by Otis Brumby, Bill Kinney and Joe Kirby
Around Town Columnists
January 26, 2010 01:00 AM

SPEAKERS: U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) will be the speaker at the Feb. 1 First Monday Breakfast of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce. …

Jason Shepherd, Republican candidate for State House District 37 in Cobb County, will be the guest speaker at the Madison Forum Breakfast on Saturday at the Rib Ranch Restaurant on Canton Road. His topic will be, “What Does it Mean to Be a Natural Born Citizen: From the Founders’ View to Modern Implications.” Shepherd is a former campaign aide to House Speaker Newt Gingrich. His talk will begin at 9, reports Forum President Michael Optiz. …

Dr. Wesley Wicker, Vice President of University Advancement and Executive Director of the Kennesaw State University Foundation, will be the guest speaker at the North Cobb Civitan Club meeting Wednesday. The meeting is at noon at the Pinetree Country Club, reports member Louise Crapps.

PEOPLE: Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin and the city council have reappointed Roger J. Rozen to serve as Marietta’s chief municipal judge and appointed Robert F. Schnatmier, Nathan Wade and Nancy Ingram Jordan to serve as associate municipal court judges.

THIS N’ THAT: District 2 Commissioner Bob Ott plans to open his office to residents one Saturday a month. The kick-off is Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon at the East Cobb Government Center, not at Building A 100 Cherokee St. in Marietta as reported in Saturday’s column. No appointments are necessary and residents are invited to stop in and share their thoughts on a first-come, first-serve basis. Call (770) 528-3316 or e-mail … … Cobb Master Gardeners will host a series of new programs covering plant-related subjects on the second Friday monthly at the Central Library, 266 Roswell St., Marietta. Participants should bring lunch and hear a talk from noon to 1 p.m. The first program featured Electra Keil who shared a system for growing seeds in your home using recycled containers.

Other lunch-and-learns will be Feb. 12, March 12, April 9, May 14 and June 1.

LT. GOV. CASEY CAGLE welcomed Jason Bolin, senior pastor of Trinity Chapel, to serve as the Chaplain of the Day on opening the State Senate session. Trinity Chapel has grown from a storefront church of five families to several thousand who gather weekly. The church took an active role in responding to the September flood that forced many residents out of their homes. Bolin is a Lee University grad and has his master’s degree from Regent University.

LIFE UNIVERSITY founder Dr. Sid Williams will be back on campus Thursday for the first time in an official capacity since his resignation in 2002. The school is marking its 35th anniversary this year and Williams will be addressing the student body. The event is not open to the public or press, according to school officials.

Williams was a larger-than-life figure at Life for most of the history of the school, which began as a chiropractic college. His official association with Life ended abruptly several weeks after it was stripped of its accreditation.

IS LIFE A CIRCUS? Find out Feb. 13 at the Earl Smith Strand Theatre in Marietta when The Humane Society of Cobb County presents its second annual winter variety show, “Hearts and Dreams 2010.” The theme of the event is “Life Is A Circus.”

The black-tie optional gala will feature organist Ron Carter, The Lyric Theatre, magician Joe Turner, the Pebblebrook School for the Performing Arts and more. The evening will kick off with an open-bar reception at 7 p.m. featuring heavy appetizers a raffle and a gift shop. The stage show starts at 8 p.m.

Serving as master of ceremonies will be Strand executive director Earl Reece. Tickets are $100 and are available via the HSCC Web site ( or at 1 (800) 595-4TIX, according the Humane Society’s Steve Imler.

All proceeds benefit the Humane Society of Cobb County, an independent, nonprofit, 501(c) (3) charity founded in 1957 that operates as a “no-kill” shelter and resource to the community, Imler added.

For more information, contact Joy Evilsizor, HSCC executive director, at (770)-428-5678.

GRADUATES of the latest Marietta Citizens Police Academy which took place last fall are Sam Brogdon, Ann Marie Burley, Charlene Cook, Douglas Crooks, Irene D. Dickman, Ron Dobos, Susan Hardage, Hugh Humphrey, Douglas Kanter, Jennifer LaBrecque, Matthew LaPlante, Brandon Larson, Janice Mannes, Stan Mannes, Jacquelina Michienzi, Sharon Muir, Lorenzo Pritchard, Lisa Rollo, Dianne Ryan, Terry Ryan, Cheryl Wagner and Leroy Wagner.

Participants in the 11-week course saw demonstrations and participated in hands-on training given by the department’s officers.

POLITICAL PLATTER: Republican David Ralston, new Georgia House speaker, is the third GOP speaker in modern times. Glenn Richardson of Paulding County, who resigned last month, served as speaker for five years, from the time the GOP majority was sworn in January 2005. When Richardson’s resignation took effect, then-Speaker Pro Tem Mark Burkhalter of north Fulton County became speaker, though serving just 10 days. Burkhalter then opted not to run for speaker for the 2010 session.

Ralston, who hails from Blue Ridge in the north Georgia Mountains, will be the first speaker to come from far north Georgia in years. Between 1959 and 2005, when Democrats controlled the Georgia House, there were just four speakers: the late George T. Smith of Swainsboro in southeast Georgia (1959-63 and 1967-73), George L. Smith, currently of Cobb but originally from Cairo in south Georgia (1963-67), the late Tom Murphy of Bremen in west Georgia (1974-2003) and Terry Coleman of Eastman (2003-05).

Though Republicans scored a major coup in 2002 when their party’s candidate for Murphy’s House seat, Bill Heath, defeated the veteran Democrat, political data suggests that Ralston’s district, which includes all of Fannin and Gilmer Counties and the northern portion of Dawson County, isn’t ripe for a Democratic takeover.

In his initial race for governor in 2002, Sonny Perdue won 66 percent in Ralston’s district and two years later, then-President George W. Bush won 75 percent there. In 2008, John McCain won 74 percent in Fannin, Ralston’s home county, and 75 percent in Gilmer. In Dawson County (which is split between Ralston’s district and Dahlonega Rep. Amos Amerson’s district), McCain won 83 percent of the vote.

The heavy GOP base in Ralston’s district probably was a factor favoring him over the third candidate for Speaker, Rep. Bill Hembree of Douglas County, whose once solidly Republican district in the western portion of that county has become increasingly Democratic in recent years because of rapid black voter registration growth.

Potential supporters of Hembree may have been concerned whether he could have won re-election this fall in his increasingly marginal district.

At the federal level, the last time a speaker of the House was defeated at the polls was in 1994, when Democrat Tom Foley of Washington state could not withstand the anti-Democratic tide created from then-President Bill Clinton’s gun control, tax increase and health-reform legislation.

Foley was replaced by Cobb’s Newt Gingrich, who served two terms as speaker before announcing his resignation shortly after the 1998 election cycle, in which Republicans performed badly.

Regardless of how this November’s congressional elections turn out nationally (whether Democrats retain control or the GOP regains a majority), few expect divisive Speaker Nancy Pelosi to be re-elected.

U.S. REP. TOM PRICE’S Sixth Congressional District includes all of Cherokee County, most of east Cobb, north DeKalb and most of north Fulton above I-285. It’s already home Majority Leader Rogers. Now it’s also home to newly elected state House majority whip Jan Jones of the 6th State House District, representing the northern tip of Fulton, near the new city of Milton.