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National Govt & Politics
Trump infrastructure plan remains on the drawing board
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Trump infrastructure plan remains on the drawing board

Trump infrastructure plan remains on the drawing board
Photo Credit: Jamie Dupree

Trump infrastructure plan remains on the drawing board

One of the ideas to spur new economic growth that President Donald Trump has talked about repeatedly is his idea of forging a $1 trillion infrastructure package to build new roads, bridges, sewer systems and more around the country - but the White House so far has not produced any details of such a plan, and Republicans in the Congress don't have anything on the table yet, either.

The President will meet with a group of CEO's at the White House on Tuesday on the issue - it's something he has highlighted repeatedly since taking the oath of office, even though it has a price tag that makes Republicans in the Congress somewhat queasy.

"We’re talking about a very major infrastructure bill of a trillion dollars -- perhaps even more," Mr. Trump said last week. The idea was front and center in 2016 on the campaign trail, and played a role in his first address to Congress in late February.

But at this point, White House spokesman Sean Spicer has only said the Trump Administration is in the "beginning phases" of putting together an infrastructure plan - which means there is no legislative text ready for action in the Congress.

The big question is, how much money do the feds fork over, and how big should the effort be - as a number of Republican lawmakers have been cool to the idea of spending billions on roads and bridges.

And even when you ask Republicans in the halls of Congress about the development of those plans, you get the feeling that a bill won't on the floor of the House or Senate any time soon.

"What about infrastructure?" Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the chairman of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee said to reporters, when asked about it last week.

"Any sense of when that might happen?" one reporter asked.

"Well, it's a little early for me to say," Hatch replied, giving no hint that any decision had been made by top Republicans on how to fund a Trump highway plan.

Yesterday, I wrote about how the Congress is not in session enough in D.C. to get its work done on time.

The problem with the Trump infrastructure plan is that nothing has been proposed, beyond the idea of a $1 trillion dollar, public-private partnership to build new roads and bridges.

And as several lawmakers told me last week, you can't vote on an idea.

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Local News

  • ABC News correspondent and UGA alumna Deborah Roberts will give the University of Georgia’s spring undergraduate Commencement address May 10 at 7 p.m. in Sanford Stadium. Loch Johnson, Regents Professor of Public and International Affairs at the University of Georgia, will deliver the spring graduate address on the same day at 9:30 a.m. at Stegeman Coliseum. Tickets are not required for either ceremony. Since graduating from UGA in 1982 with a degree in broadcast news from the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, Roberts has risen through the ranks of television news, received numerous awards and been a regular reporter and contributor for programs such as “Dateline NBC,” “20/20,” “Nightline,” and “Good Morning America” to name a few. Born in the small town of Perry, Georgia, Roberts was one of nine children. She began her post-college career at WTVM-TV in Columbus, Georgia, and subsequently worked at WBIR-TV in Knoxville, Tennessee, where she gained notice for her coverage of the state legislature. Roberts further honed her reporting skills as bureau chief of WFTV-TV, the ABC affiliate in Orlando, from February 1987 to May 1990, where she also served as the station’s field anchor at the Kennedy Space Center and co-anchor of the weekend news. In 1990, Roberts began her network career with NBC News as a general assignment correspondent. She covered stories in the Southeast from the Atlanta and Miami bureaus and was dispatched to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait reporting on the lead up to the Persian Gulf War. Roberts was later named a magazine correspondent for “Dateline NBC” and reported from Barcelona during the 1992 Summer Olympic games, earning an Emmy nomination for this coverage. In 1992, she received a University of Georgia Distinguished Alumnus Award, presented annually to recent graduates who have excelled rapidly in their professions. Roberts joined ABC 20/20 in 1995. Since then her curiosity has taken her around the world, from Bangladesh to report on women’s maternal health to Africa where she has traveled extensively, telling stories about the HIV/AIDS crisis and an Emmy-winning report on a woman who discovered her long lost mother in an African village. Roberts has won numerous awards for her work including a Clarion award for coverage of abuse within the Amish community. In 2006, Roberts delivered UGA’s Holmes-Hunter lecture, and in 2016 she presented an Alumni Seminar. Earlier this year, she participated in a panel discussion entitled “Grady Greats: A Conversation on the Enduring Values and Power of Journalism.” Johnson, who also holds the title of Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor, is an accomplished scholar in political science, with numerous awards for his teaching prowess and research. During his career at UGA, Johnson authored more than 30 books and over 200 articles on intelligence agencies, foreign policy and national security. He served as editor of the journal Intelligence and National Security and as a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Intelligence History, International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence,  Intelligence and National Security and The Oxford Handbook of National Security Intelligence, among many others. His latest book is entitled Spy Watching: Intelligence Accountability in the United States (Oxford, 2018). Johnson was a driving force in the creation of the School of Public and International Affairs in 2001. In 2012, the fourteen universities that comprise the Southeast Conference selected him as the inaugural recipient of its now annual prize: “The SEC Professor of the Year.” After receiving his doctorate in political science from the University of California at Riverside in 1969, he taught at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, California State University (San Francisco) and Ohio University, where he was tenured in 1974. From 1975 on, Johnson also served as a political consultant and congressional staff member, pushing for increased oversight of intelligence agencies. He was Special Assistant to the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which investigated the nation’s spy agencies and led to the establishment of oversight committees in the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives to monitor intelligence activities. Additionally, Johnson served on the staff of the Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations, as staff director of the House Subcommittee on Intelligence Oversight and on the staff of the House Subcommittee on Trade and International Economic Policy. He became a member of the UGA faculty in the Department of Political Science in 1979, becoming a full professor in 1985. He took a year’s leave from the university in 1995 to work on the Aspin-Brown Commission on Intelligence. He has also taught at Yale University and Oxford University as a Distinguished Visiting Professor, and he has presented addresses on national security and foreign policy topics at over 150 colleges and universities in North America, Europe, and New Zealand. During his time at UGA, Johnson has been involved in both local and national politics, including writing Friend of the Court petitions in intelligence-related court cases, serving as a member of the Georgia State Board of Elections and leading the SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) campaign to finance a new Cedar Shoals High School and renovate public schools throughout Athens-Clarke County. Johnson will retire at the end of the spring semester after more than 40 years at UGA.
  • There is a Saturday session for the citizens committee that is looking at the SPLOST project list: the panel meets at 9 tomorrow morning at the Sandy Creek Nature Center. Athens-Clarke County voters decide the fate of the penny-on-the-dollar sales tax referendum in November.  Saturday is a trail work day at the Sandy Creek Nature Center: Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services says volunteers will gather at 9 o’clock tomorrow morning at the Nature Center on Old Commerce Road. Leisure Services says it’s a clean-up day.  The Green Life Expo and Awards ceremony is set for Saturday at the Library on Baxter Street, underway at 10 o’clock tomorrow morning. The Green Life Awards recognize sustainability leaders in schools, businesses, community organizations, and government in Athens. |
  • The University of Georgia was ranked No. 2 by OpenStax on a list of top 10 schools that have saved their students the most money through adoption of OpenStax free college textbooks in the 2017-18 school year. These textbooks helped 42,245 UGA students, according to data from Rice University-based publisher OpenStax. Savings from these textbooks saved students around $3.9 million, according to UGA data. UGA, as well as the University System of Georgia, has made a concerted effort to move toward free online textbooks, especially for large-enrollment courses, to save students money and improve teaching. “At UGA, we are growing a culture of Open Educational Resources thanks to dedicated advocacy for affordable textbook alternatives by our students, faculty, staff and administrators,” said Megan L. Mittelstadt, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning. “The majority of these savings are a result of the adoption of OpenStax texts—the high-quality, peer-reviewed OpenStax books are popular among our faculty seeking to implement open education resources in service of equity and student academic success. These not only lower the cost for students, but data from a small sample of UGA courses using OpenStax books also shows improved end-of-course grades, especially for Pell recipients, part-time students and student populations historically underserved by higher education.” UGA was an early adopter of these free textbooks and pioneered ways large institutions can focus their implementation on a bigger scale and improve learning outcomes. Peggy Brickman, a professor of plant biology, and her colleagues teach general education biology courses taken by nearly 2,000 students a year. When she adopted an OpenStax textbook in 2013, CTL used a grant to fund a graduate assistant who worked with Brickman to redesign her course. It was an opportunity for Brickman to rethink how to best teach the course, and students have been thanking her ever since. “It has saved hundreds of thousands of dollars for students,” Brickman said, “and the course is much better after we redesigned it.”
  • The Hart County Sheriff’s Office is heading up the investigation into the shooting that wounded an Elberton man: the shooting apparently happened at the dam on Lake Hartwell. The victim, who was shot in the leg, tells investigators it happened during a robbery. A White County man begins his life sentence: Frederick Sauder is 30 years old, from Cleveland. He was sentenced after his conviction for his role in the armed robbery and murder of 66 year-old Wayne Alexander, who was killed in August of 2016. A Hall County man is behind bars, charged with a long list of drug and driving charges: the Hall County Sheriff’s Office says 39 year-old was arrested after a traffic stop.    From the Hall Co Sheriff’s Office... On February 20, 2019, Deputies with the Hall County Sheriff’s Office arrested Donald Jason Passmore, 39, of Gainesville (pictured above), at a location in the 3300 block of Baker Road, during the course of an investigation.   Four Superior Court Probation warrants had been previously issued for Mr. Passmore’s arrest in July 2018.    His original charges included: manufacturing methamphetamine near a child, possession of methamphetamine 3cts. DUI, possession of drug related objects, theft by taking and obstruction.   On February 20, 2019, Passmore attempted to break into a storage building located at a residence in the 3700 block of Baker Road by prying the lock with a crow bar.   He also attempted to enter the primary residence but fled the scene in his car when confronted by the homeowner/victim in this case.   Deputies responded.    When deputies attempted to arrest Mr. Passmore, he accelerated his vehicle, driving towards the Deputy, causing the deputy to jump out of the vehicle’s path to avoid being struck.   Passmore was ultimately arrested without further incident and charged with:    1) Aggravated Assault on a Peace Officer 2) Felony Obstruction 3) Failure to Maintain Lane of Travel 4) Suspended License 5) Reckless Driving 6) Fleeing/Eluding 7) Criminal Trespass of Property 8) Possession of Tools of a Crime (of Burglary) 9) Superior Court Probation Warrant (issued 7/13/18) 10) Superior Court Probation Warrant (issued 7/13/18) 11) Superior Court Probation Warrant (issued 7/24/18) 12) Superior Court Probation Warrant (issued 7/24/18)   Passmore was booked in at the Hall County Jail.  
  • The University of Georgia’s Black History Month Awards and Dinner is set for this evening in Athens: it gets underway at 5:30 at the Georgia Museum of Art. From the University of Georgia master calendar… This dinner and awards ceremony features the presentation of the Larry D. and Brenda A Thompson Award. Visit bit.ly/gmoa-bhma19 to sponsor and receive guaranteed tickets. Individual tickets will be available Jan. 4 for members and Feb. 1 for nonmembers. Call 706-542-4199 with additional ticket inquiries. Friday, February 22 at 5:30pm to 9:00pm Georgia Museum of Art 90 Carlton Street, Athens, GA 30602

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS — Georgia football has scheduling twists that seem to have some fans twisting in the wind. Here’s the thing: Coach Kirby Smart is on board with the changes, and they would’t be happening if he wasn’t. “I’d just make the statement that if there are any issues that our staff has, we’d voice that,” UGA athletic director Greg McGarity told DawgNation. “But I think Kirby will be very comfortable with the schedule that you’ll see in 2020.” So Georgia is switching the order of games with rivals Auburn and Tennessee, the matchup with the Tigers moving to October, and the Vols’ series moving to November. It would certainly be easier if Smart were to speak for himself on the issue. But Smart has chosen to strategically stay silent since the 28-21 Sugar Bowl loss to Texas on Jan. 1. Smart did, however, choose to issue a statement making it clear he’s very supportive of McGarity — a narrative that somehow some have gotten confused in the past: “Greg’s been a great resource for me since coming to Georgia and has always been supportive and energetic about all the things that are necessary to develop and maintain a successful football program,’’ Smart said in a UGA release. “I’m especially appreciative of his commitment to facilities. Greg is loyal to the University and has what is best for Georgia as his top priority.’’ It’s hard to imagine how the Bulldogs head coach could be any clearer. Smart also made his feelings known on the Auburn scheduling at the SEC Spring Meetings last May in Destin, Fla. Smart said he would be all for it if Auburn were to play two consecutive games in Athens. “Absolutely, if we can get a chance to fix it, and (they) return the favor that we paid to them,” Smart said, asked if he would be on board with the Tigers playing consecutive years in Athens. “I hear about that a lot, obviously I wasn’t there, but if you can make it more consistent and balance it out, it would help in the long run.” UGA played two straight   games in Auburn, in 2012-2013, as the SEC adjusted its schedule to include Missouri and Texas A&M. The unintended consequence of Georgia changing up its odd/even years and home/away with Auburn is that the Bulldogs fell into playing both Georgia Tech and the Tigers on the road in November every other year. Smart didn’t like that, either, and he said so. “I feel like if we could fix it, it would help to not have two road games back to back for us, like the situation we had last year (2017) with Auburn and Georgia Tech back to back,” Smart said. “I understand there are problems and difficulties trying to appease everyone.” So while the opportunity for Auburn to play at Georgia two years in a row wasn’t on the table, the chance to move up the Auburn game to October was, and Smart and UGA took advantage of that. Some have pointed out that Tennessee is also a rivalry game. Now, it’s a matter of having to travel to Knoxville and Atlanta (to play Tech) in the same month. But what won’t happen is the possibility of facing Auburn in a rematch just a few short weeks after facing that program in the regular season — something Smart alluded to in Destin last May. Smart had many other things to say that offered a great deal of insight into his feelings of what was to come with transfers and quarterback situations that are worth looking back on: Kirby Smart, SEC Spring Meetings The post WATCH: What Kirby Smart said about Auburn scheduling twist, Greg McGarity appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Georgia is moving quickly to make improvements in every phase of its football program, and apparently that extends to the Bulldogs’ relatively new “Light Up Sanford” tradition. While the plans to transition from the old metal halide lighting system to a modern LED “Lumadapt” system installed by Ephesus Lighting. In addition to being more energy efficient and brighter, the lights also can be digitally adjusted, synchronized to music and produce special effects. Which is where Georgia’s Light Up Sanford tradition comes in. “Think about the creativity to we can bring to the games,” deputy athletic director Josh Brook said during his presentation to the board. “We can celebrate a touchdown, there are all kinds of things we can do. We’re planning on a few things. There’s a certain fourth-quarter tradition we have that might come into play. We’re working on some things I don’t want to reveal right now. But this should add to the game-day experience and the things we can do for fans.” Back in 2015, members of Georgia’s Redcoat Marching Band started a fourth-quarter tradition that has gained considerable momentum the last two seasons. After the third quarter ends, the band plays a song called Krypton. That’s alerts Georgia fans to pull out their cell phones and activate their flashlight apps and wave them up and down to the music toward the team on the field. The Bulldogs respond as well, holding up four fingers and acknowledging the crowd’s belief that the fourth quarter belongs to them. The synchronicity creates quite the scene and even has inspired video documentaries. The tradition has really taken off the last two seasons as the Bulldogs made runs to the SEC Championship and National Championship game. With the capability of the new LED lights, Sanford Stadium might be able to play along as well. Brooks said Georgia is one of the first NCAA stadiums to utilize the systems installed by Ephesus. The arena lighting specialists have done installations for the last three Super Bowl venues and will for next year’s game in Miami as well. “We can take lighting effects to the next level,” Brooks said. UGA DEPUTY AD JOSH BROOKS The post WATCH: Georgia aims to take its 4th-quarter, ‘Light Up Sanford’ tradition to a new level appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — It was just a statement buried within a UGA press release on Wednesday’s athletic board meeting, but it happened to be Kirby Smart, from whom we’ve heard very little over the last 51 days and nothing directly. Georgia’s football coach was commenting on Wednesday’s news that Greg McGarity had received a contract extension to continue as the Bulldogs’ athletic director. “Greg’s been a great resource for me since coming to Georgia and has always been supportive and energetic about all the things that are necessary to develop and maintain a successful football program,’’ Smart said in the release prepared by UGA sports communications staff. “I’m especially appreciative of his commitment to facilities. Greg is loyal to the University and has what is best for Georgia as his top priority.’’ McGarity certainly has been a strong supporter of Smart and the football program. Since taking over as the Bulldogs’ head coach, McGarity has seen that Smart’s requests for facility improvements got approved and completed fast. Upon Smart’s appointment in December of 2015, the Bulldogs were in the process of breaking ground on a $31 million indoor practice facility. That building was dedicated as the William & Porter Payne Indoor Athletic Center in January of 2017. After that, McGarity filled Smart’s request for a new locker room and recruiting lounge to be constructed in the West End of Sanford Stadium. That $63 million dollar project was completed and dedicated before the 2018 season. Meanwhile, Smart’s latest request seems to be coming on line quickly. UGA already is raising funds and drawing up plans for a new football-dedicated building to be added to the Butts-Mehre Complex on South Campus. Architectural design concepts are due to be submitted to the athletic board by the time it meets again in May. At that time, the size, layout and cost of the new addition will be revealed. The multi-million dollar project could commence as early as 2020. Georgia teams have won eight national championships since McGarity’s arrival in August of 2010. The latest came last week when the women’s team won the NCAA Indoor Championship. “Greg’s leadership and continued support instill confidence in our coaches, student-athletes, and sports programs in general,’’ said Lu Harris-Champer who just began her 19th season as head coach of the UGA softball team.  ‘’He is totally committed to providing the best opportunities for our student-athletes to be successful in competition and in the classroom.  Greg is a great facilitator of success.’’ McGarity’s extension was the only personnel news to come out of the board’s winter meeting. The group also voted unanimously to allocate $8.5 million toward the new grandstand at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. The post Georgia coach Kirby Smart thanks Greg McGarity for unwavering support of football appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — A   stuffed miniature bulldog made for a controversial ending at Georgia on Wednesday night in Mississippi State’s 68-67 victory. UGA rallied from 17 points down to tie the game at 67-67 before State’s Quinndary Weatherspoon was fouled with 0.5 seconds remaining and went to the free-throw line for two shots. As Weatherspoon’s first free-throw attempt rattled out, a small stuffed bulldog landed on the court behind him inside the 3-point arc. WATCH: Stuffed bulldog tossed on Georgia court, officials call technical UGA coach Tom Crean went to the scorer’s table and got on the microphone, urging fans not to throw anything else on the court. But seconds later, without any more fan interaction, official Steven Anderson assessed Georgia a technical. Weatherspoon, knowing he had an extra shot coming, sank the technical free-throw attempt for the game-winning margin. “I’ve never seen that, not without a warning, and certainly not without an explanation,” Georgia coach Tom Crean said, clearly baffled by the technical foul. “The rule says you’ve got to be able to know who did it.” There were some Mississippi State fans in attendance, but the referees did not identify the fan who threw the stuffed bulldog at the time of the infraction. UGA athletic director Greg McGarity conceded it’s a judgement call, but not one he had seen applied in that situation. There hadn’t been any prior fan issues out of the crowd of 7,153, some of whom had left after UGA appeared hopelessly behind. Mississippi State coach Ben Howland said he was just happy to get out of Athens with a win and protect his Bulldogs’ NCAA Tournament resume. “Well I feel very fortunate to sneak out of here with a win tonight,” said Howland, whose team has won three straight to improve to 19-7 and 7-6 in the SEC. “That’s a huge play, someone throwing a little bulldog. “I don’t know who did that, but man I would be so frustrated if I were his team, the University of Georgia, to have that happen. That was crazy.” The timing of the technical foul seemed all the more odd, as the officials did not call a technical immediately after the object was thrown. It wasn’t until after Crean grabbed the microphone and asked the crowd not to throw any more items on the court that the technical foul was called, and the extra free-throw awarded. Did the stuffed baby bulldog decide the game? “It’s the whole woulda coulda shoulda, but you miss the first, maybe you miss the second and go into overtime, but we’re never going to know,” said Crean, whose team dropped its seventh straight game to fall to 10-16 and 1-12 in SEC play. “I’m just perplexed that no one out there would tell me what’s going on. It makes zero sense to me. “We’ll deal with it behind the scenes.” Georgia basketball coach Tom Crean Mississippi State coach Ben Howland   The post WATCH: Stuffed baby bulldog triggers decisive technical in Georgia’s 68-67 loss appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS —Mississippi State scratched out a win over Georgia on Wednesday night, winning the battle of Bulldogs by a 68-67 count at Stegeman Coliseum. Mississippi State won the game at the free-throw line in the final second. Quinndary Weatherspoon hit one of three free-throw attempts with 0.5 seconds left after being fouled by Jordan Harris on a shot attempt. Weatherspoon was granted an extra free-throw attempt via a technical called on UGA because a fan threw an item on the court. State had used a 19-0 run to pull away in the final stages of the first half and opening minutes of the second half before the crowd of 7,153. Coach Ben Howland’s team came from 25-23 down to take a commanding 42-25 lead on Weatherspoon’s drive at the 18:31 mark. Georgia (10-16, 1-12) roared back, tying the game 67-67 on Tyree Crump’s 3-pointer with 9.3 seconds left. UGA, however, couldn’t finish the job, dropping its seventh straight dating back to the 98-88 win over Texas on Jan. 26. Weatherspoon(10-16, 1-12) scored a career-high 31 points on 11-of-19 shooting for Mississippi State (19-7, 7-6 SEC), including a pair of free throws with 15.6 seconds left to give his team a 67-64 cushion. UGA star Nicolas Claxton, who entered the night one of five Division I players leading his team in all five major statistical categories, finished with 9 points and 9 rebounds. Claxton didn’t score his first points until the 3:54 mark, giving Georgia a 24-20 lead. Moments later, Claxton committed his second foul, and Coach Tom Crean made what proved to be a critical decision to take him out of the game, likely contributing to the key MSU run. Mississippi State held a 36-25 lead at halftime, breaking away with the   16-1 (and 13-0) run the final 3:16. Weatherspoon led the charge, scoring 12 of those 16 points as State hit on its final seven shots of the first half. Georgia, meanwhile, committed four of its seven opening half turnovers in the final 3 1/2   minutes. Mississippi State firmed up its NCAA Tournament resume with the victory, its third in a row. Georgia returns to action at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday at Ole Miss (TV: SEC Network). The Rebels beat the Bulldogs by an 80-64 count in Athens earlier this month, on Feb. 9. It’s the first of five regular season games remaining for Georgia, which returns to the Classic City for a home game against Auburn at 9 p.m. next Wednesday. UGA finishes with games at Florida (March 2), at home against Missouri (March 6) and at South Carolina (March 9) before traveling to Nashville for the SEC Tournament (March 13-17). The post Mississippi State claws out 68-67, last-second win over Georgia appeared first on DawgNation.