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Georgia Politics

    Donald Trump declared a disaster in Georgia in the wake of Hurricane Irma
  • Each day, the owner of the East Point grocery store would call three of his African American employees the n-word or “monkey” or some other racial slur, the employees allege. The three worked in the meat department at GNT Foods and complained to their boss regularly about the epithets, according to a lawsuit filed Friday in federal court on behalf of the men by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. On the walls of their department, their boss had hung racially crude pictures that suggested black people were apes, the complaint says. It notes that they needed their jobs but did not want to endure harassment. All three employees, identified as Corey Bussey, Justin Jones and Christopher Evans, eventually filed complaints with the EEOC in 2015 alleging the owner had created a racially hostile work environment. At that point, the store owner asked the men to drop their EEOC cases. When they didn’t, the owner fired them, according to a statement from the EEOC. “Unfortunately, too many employees are discouraged from asserting their rights due to official misconduct such as this,” Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, district for the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office said in a statement. The owner of the store was not identified in the EEOC’s release. It could not be determined today whether the same person still owns the business. The lawsuit says their firing is a violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Bussey, Jones and Evans are seeking back pay and compensatory and punitive damages. “Employers have a duty to protect their workforce from racially offensive conduct and to take immediate corrective action when necessary,” said Antonette Sewell, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office. “When a company’s owner is the one disregarding federal anti-discrimination laws in such a manner, the EEOC’s involvement is indispensable to ensure that employee rights are upheld.”
  • When River Ridge High School math teacher Lyn Orletsky instructed two boys in her pre-calculus class to turn their “Make America Great Again” T-shirts inside out to conceal the slogan, her motivation was not political, she said. After teaching five years in conservative Cherokee County where nearly three out of four voters endorsed Donald Trump in November, Orletsky had seen many pro Trump shirts in her classroom. But this was Aug. 31, two weeks after white supremacists and Neo Nazis adopted “Make America Great Again” as their rallying cry in Charlottesville, Va. A counterdemonstrator was killed and others injured when one of the marchers drove his car intentionally into a crowd. Orletsky feared the slogan would intimidate the minority students who comprised a third of her math class that morning. “I told the boys, in light of everything that has happened, I don’t think this is an appropriate slogan to be wearing at school. Could they please go to the restroom and turn the shirt inside out?” said Orletsky in an interview Thursday morning in Marietta, her first since the story made national headlines last week. The boys asked what was wrong with the slogan. The math teacher explained it had been commandeered by white supremacist movement, as the swastika had been by Nazis. Recast by hate groups, the campaign slogan could affect some of their classmates in a negative way, she said, explaining, “There is nothing wrong with a shirt of President Trump. The problem is with the slogan.” Her request to the boys — captured on grainy student cellphone video and given to a conservative website — has led to death threats, her removal from her classroom and AP calculus students without a teacher. To read more about this controversial case that has dominated conservative political websites, go to the AJC Get Schooled site. There is also a video interview with Orletsky there.
  • As the worst of Irma neared the end of its path in Georgia Monday evening, many hospitals breathed a sigh of relief. It wasn’t an easy day: Several Georgia hospitals went to backup generators at some point, including Emory Healthcare’s orthopedics and spine hospital. More than 200 patients of nursing homes and hospitals were evacuated. Emory’s loss of normal power was brief, as were some others’. But some went for hours on their generators. However, the devastation some feared seemed, as evening drew close, to be largely avoided by the state’s main health care facilities. “Thankfully, Irma did not pack the punch that was forecast for our area,” said Ben Roberts, a spokesman for Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany, which stood smack in the storm’s path. That hospital suffered some leaks, and an office tower was on generator power for a while. Major Atlanta hospitals canceled elective and outpatient care during all or part of Monday. They also had to deal with the shutdown of metro Atlanta transit service, including MARTA, stranding workers who depend on buses and trains to commute. However, with other employees stepping up to fill the gaps, staffing was largely uninterrupted, spokespeople for Grady, Emory and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta said. “Most people arrived early for their shift, and others said they were prepared to stay late,” said Chrissie Gallentine, a spokeswoman for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. In Albany, Phoebe Putney worked to prepare. The facility hosted 400 employees overnight on empty hospital beds, and cots in offices, random spaces and the gym. They played trivia games and awarded prizes, Roberts said, trying for a “slumber party” atmosphere. On Monday those workers were released early to go home. At least eight Georgia hospitals went to backup generators at some point, according to the Georgia Hospital Association and hospital officials. Emory’s diversion from normal power was brief, as were some others’. But Brooks County Hospital in Quitman went was on generators for eight hours, said Mark Lowe, a vice president at the hospital’s system. Operations were uninterrupted though, all who were interviewed said. As relieved employees left the hospital in Albany, one family unexpectedly had to come and stay. They’re not complaining though. David and Shekima Stephens evacuated from Jacksonville, Florida on Thursday, expecting to return next week for an appointment to induce labor for their coming son, Daxton. Daxton had other plans. As the storm bore down, so did he, and at 6:10 a.m. Shekima felt a contraction. “We were just laying there and she’s like, ‘Wait a minute, I think something’s going to happen.’” said David Stephens. “I was like, ‘No you’re not.’” She gave birth at Phoebe Putney at the height of the storm. “It was whistling,” said David Stephens, who heard the storm through the windows as Daxton was born. “The storm, and then him going on nine-eleven: I’m like, he came in at a disaster time!” Stephens laughed. “Everybody’s like, ‘He’s going to be a bad little boy. He came in out of a disaster.’ I’m hoping he came to change everything around.”
  • Gov. Nathan Deal issued a mandatory evacuation order Thursday for all areas east of I-95 and other parts of the state’s coast as Hurricane Irma barrels toward Florida and Georgia with potentially catastrophic force. The governor’s executive order also authorized up to 5,000 Georgia National Guard members to be on active duty to respond to the deadly storm. And he expanded a state of emergency to 30 southeast Georgia counties. Deal has set a 10 a.m. press conference on Friday with the head of Georgia’s emergency management agency and other public safety officials to outline the state’s storm response. “I encourage all Georgians in our coastal areas that could be impacted by this storm to evacuate the area as soon as possible,” said Deal. The mandatory evacuation order includes all of Chatham County and some areas west of I-95 that also could be impacted by Irma’s storm surge. The governor’s office said the evacuation order takes effect on Saturday. Hurricane Irma: Map of Georgia Evacuation Zones The storm, which has already killed at least 10 people in the Caribbean, has created traffic delays across the state as roads are flooded with evacuees fleeing its path. Many hotels are fully booked, and Deal signed an executive order banning price gouging and waiving transportation restrictions for drivers ferrying emergency supplies. The 30 counties under a state of emergency are: Appling, Atkinson, Bacon, Brantley, Bryan, Bulloch, Burke, Camden, Candler, Charlton, Chatham, Clinch, Coffee, Echols, Effingham, Emanuel, Evans, Glynn, Jenkins, Jeff Davis, Liberty, Long, McIntosh, Pierce, Screven, Tattnall, Toombs, Treutlen, Wayne and Ware counties. The storm tests Deal’s overhauled storm response strategy anew, and it is the most significant challenge yet for the new head of the state’s emergency management agency. Hurricane Irma: Traffic builds in Atlanta, more Georgia colleges close Deal tapped Homer Bryson, a former corrections commissioner, to lead the agency shortly after Hurricane Matthew killed four people and left tens of millions of damage in its wake after scraping the shoreline in October. He replaced Jim Butterworth, who publicly announced he was leaving state government shortly after the storm. Documents obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution showed internal friction between Butterworth and one of the agency’s top officials over the state’s handling of the response.
  • The board that governs state-owned Stone Mountain Park and preserves the nation’s largest monument to Confederate war dead has only white members, something Gov. Nathan Deal said he may consider changing. Deal said he hadn’t realized that each of the 10 members of the Stone Mountain Memorial Association board was white and he said “we’d certainly be open” to tapping an African-American to serve on the panel. Stone Mountain and its towering carving of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Gens. Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson is again at the center of debate over Rebel symbols after this month’s bloody violence in Charlottesville, Va. One of the loudest calls to remove the Confederate trio from the mountain is from state Rep. Stacey Abrams, a Democratic candidate for governor, who drew national attention last week for her vow to take a symbolic sandblaster to the mountain. Abrams, who is African-American, said Saturday on CNN that the carving was designed to “terrorize black families.” “Confederate monuments have nothing to do with any of our American history except for treason and domestic terrorism,” she said. Removing the carving would be a monumental challenge. A state law that was part of a 2001 compromise to overhaul Georgia’s segregation-era flag declares that the “heroes of the Confederate States of America” enshrined on the mountain shall be “preserved and protected for all time as a tribute to the bravery and heroism” of the South’s soldiers. Deal, whose second term expires in January 2019, said Abrams’ plan was a nonstarter. There’s little appetite among legislative leaders to revisit the legislation that protects Stone Mountain — the top two GOP leaders in the state Senate opposed Abrams proposal — and Deal signaled he would veto the legislation even if it passed. “That is a dedicated memorial by state law,” Deal said. “It would require the Legislature to take action to do that, and I would personally not be in favor of that.” All four leading Republican candidates condemned the idea — Secretary of State Brian Kemp said “we should learn from the past, not attempt to rewrite it” — and Abrams’ Democratic rival, Stacey Evans, also opposed it. In a lengthy statement, Evans said she would seek to repeal laws that restrict state or local governments from altering or removing local monuments that honor the Confederacy. But rather than remove the Confederate faces from the mountain, Evans said she would back a measure requiring the park’s operators to run it as an “inclusive and historically accurate memorial to the Civil War — not the Confederacy.” Other prominent politicians have called for less-sweeping changes that could still have a meaningful impact on the site. DeKalb County Chief Executive Michael Thurmond, whose county encompasses Stone Mountain, wouldn’t take a side on Abrams’ call, but he said the park needed to add historical exhibits to provide additional context for the throngs of visitors who tour the site each year. “The narrative has to become more inclusive. The idea of the mountain belonging to the KKK or the neo-Nazis — no, it belongs to the people of Georgia,” said Thurmond, also a Civil War historian. “It doesn’t belong to the Confederate veterans or the NAACP. We all have an investment here.” The Stone Mountain Memorial Association was formed in 1958 and has contracted with Herschend Family Entertainment Corp. to run the attraction since 1998. It was unclear Monday when the last African-American member left the authority governing board. Thurmond, who is black, said he hoped Deal would appoint an African-American member to the Stone Mountain board “very soon.” Asked on Saturday about that possibility, Deal made clear he was receptive to the idea. “When we have vacancies,” he said, “we’ll take that into consideration.”
  • University of Texas President Gregory L. Fenves abruptly announced late Sunday that four statues of people with Confederate ties would be removed immediately from the school’s South Mall. PHOTOS: Confederate statues removed from UT campus The bronze likenesses of Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston and Confederate Postmaster John H. Reagan will be relocated to the university’s Briscoe Center for American History, Fenves said. The statue of James Stephen Hogg, the first native-born governor of Texas and the son of a Confederate general, will be considered for re-installation at another campus site, he said. The removal of the statues under cover of darkness comes in the wake of protests a week earlier by white nationalists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Va., that turned violent, with one counterprotester killed and numerous others injured when a man with far-right leanings allegedly drove his car into a crowd. “The horrific displays of hatred at the University of Virginia and in Charlottesville shocked and saddened the nation,” Fenves said in a message to the university community. “These events make it clear, now more than ever, that Confederate monuments have become symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism.” UT spokesman Gary Susswein said the removal work was being done after dark and without advance warning for public safety reasons. The work was expected to begin late Sunday and take several hours. In Baltimore, where four Confederacy-related monuments were hauled away on trucks under cover of darkness late Tuesday night and early Wednesday, Mayor Catherine Pugh had said she was concerned about possible violence. Fenves had a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis removed from the Main Mall two years ago, and it now resides in the university’s Briscoe center. A year ago, he had an inscription honoring the Confederacy and Southern pride removed from the South Mall after earlier saying it would remain in place. When Jefferson’s statue was taken down, Fenves said he was leaving the Lee, Johnston, Reagan and Hogg statues at the South Mall because those individuals had deeper ties in Texas. But Charlottesville changed everything, and the UT president has now decided that they all must go from their place of honor. Commencement takes place on the Main and South Malls, in the shadow of the Tower. READ: Statement from UT President Gregory L. Fenves “The historical and cultural significance of the Confederate statues on our campus — and the connections that individuals have with them — are severely compromised by what they symbolize,” Fenves said. “Erected during the period of Jim Crow laws and segregation, the statues represent the subjugation of African Americans. That remains true today for white supremacists who use them to symbolize hatred and bigotry.” He added, “The University of Texas at Austin has a duty to preserve and study history. But our duty also compels us to acknowledge that those parts of our history that run counter to the university’s core values, the values of our state and the enduring values of our nation do not belong on pedestals in the heart of the Forty Acres.” INTERACTIVE MAP: Confederate monuments in Austin The events in Charlottesville no doubt touched a personal nerve for Fenves, who is Jewish. His father is a Holocaust survivor, having been imprisoned in Auschwitz. Some of the far-right marchers in Charlottesville raised their arms in the Nazi salute and shouted anti-Jewish phrases. UT was influenced in its early days by sympathizers with the Confederacy, including George Littlefield, a Confederate officer, UT regent and benefactor who nearly 100 years ago commissioned the various statues. The sculptor, Pompeo Coppini, expressed prescient misgivings, writing, “As time goes by, they will look to the Civil War as a blot on the pages of American history, and the Littlefield Memorial will be resented as keeping up the hatred between the Northern and Southern states.” An advisory panel and a Student Government resolution had urged the UT president two years ago to remove the Davis statue at a time of reduced tolerance for Confederate symbols after the fatal shooting of nine black churchgoers in South Carolina. The issue has special resonance for UT, which didn’t admit blacks until it was forced to do so in 1950 by the U.S. Supreme Court. Fenves said he has spoken with student leaders, students, faculty members, staff members and alumni in recent days to get their views after what he described as “the revelatory events in Charlottesville.” He said he also revisited the advisory panel’s 2015 report. At the time he had Davis’ statue taken down, Fenves also removed a statue of President Woodrow Wilson, which stood opposite that of the Confederate leader, to maintain symmetry on the Main Mall. The Wilson statue is currently in storage. The Texas Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans tried unsuccessfully to get the courts to block the removal of Davis’ statue. IN-DEPTH: After Charlottesville, Austin’s Confederate monuments get a second look Kirk Lyons, the lawyer who represented the Sons of Confederate Veterans, condemned the university's decision to remove the remaining statues. 'They are spitting on Littlefield's grave. They should be ashamed of themselves,' Lyons said, pledging to round up support for demanding that state lawmakers cut off funding to UT until the statues are put back. Gov. Greg Abbott said last week that he opposed removing Confederate monuments, saying it 'won't erase our nation's past, and it doesn't advance our nation's future.' His spokesman declined to elaborate late Sunday, saying he would need to confer with the governor. Aside from media, there are very few students on campus to witness the removal of the statues, despite the university having sent a notice by email to the entire student body.  Education Junior Ixchel Perez said she saw the message and came down to witness the move.   'This is definitely history,' she said. 'I want to see this because it's meaningful.'  Perez stood opposite the UT Tower with friend Jesus Castellano, an economics senior, who called the move a 'good decision.'  'It puts UT in a position that says what is going on in Charlottesville is not okay and we're going to do something about it,' he said. 'Our student body isn't going to sit around and let things like Charlottesville happen.' - Staff writer Mary Huber contributed to this report
  • A political consulting company that Albany Congressman Sanford Bishop hired to lead his re-election campaign in 2014 was charged by the Justice Department last week with conspiring to launder money. The Democrat, who has represented Georgia’s 2nd U.S. House District for 24 years, spent more than $95,000 on the services of the Macon-based Positiventures Initiative LLC in 2014, according to federal campaign finance filings. Positiventures is an advocacy group formed to fight poverty in struggling west and middle Georgia communities. Bishop said the group provided him with his campaign manager Kimberlyn Carter for the 2014 election cycle and also constructed and installed large wooden campaign signs throughout the district, which encompasses a 29-county swath of Southwest Georgia and includes portions of Macon. “I only dealt with them because that was the way that they requested the services be billed,” Bishop said of Positiventures in an interview Thursday. “Apparently (Carter) had a relationship with Positiventures, and of course she’s a very skilled and trained campaign operative.” The company was named in a federal corruption probe that drew big headlines in middle Georgia when it was announced last week. Cliff Whitby, the head of the company, is also the chairman of the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority and an influential local recruiter. He faces corruption and bribery charges. Former school superintendent Romain Dallemand also pleaded guilty to tax-related charges related to the investigation. Whitby and a Florida attorney are accused of paying about $434,000 to bribe Dallemand to support the Macon Promise Neighborhood plan, a program backed by federal grant money to help struggling local schools. Prosecutors also accuse Whitby of transferring cash to Positiventures, which was also charged with conspiracy to launder money. Federal Election Commission records show that Bishop’s campaign paid Positiventures nearly $61,000 on Election Day and $34,349 a month later. The Congressman said the latter expense was to resolve a “dispute” he had with Whitby over campaign expenditures for which the group had sought reimbursement. It was an “amicable settlement,” Bishop said. He won re-election that year by more than 18 percentage points, and ended up directly paying Carter an $8,500 bonus after he won the race and shelling out thousands more to reimburse her for campaign expenses. In an interview, Carter said she was working at Positiventures on poverty initiatives when Bishop asked her to run his 2014 re-election campaign. She had worked for him in the 2012 race, she said, “and he got a chance to see my passion and my work.” Rather than come off Positiventure’s rolls, Carter said, she asked Bishop to pay her through the group. “We did a lot of great work. At the time, we were trying to work to reduce poverty,” she said. “I was not involved in any wrongdoing. Not in the least bit.” Bishop said he did not work with Positiventures after the 2014 but that he would work with Carter again “as an individual.” “She’s very capable,” Bishop said. As for Whitby, Bishop said he crossed paths with him frequently at local political and economic events in Macon. He said he also sought Whitby’s “advice and counsel” on local matters given his role as a business leader and a constituent. Bishop said he heard of the indictments of Whitby and Positiventures only as the news broke. Whitby “enjoys a very high reputation, so I was very, very shocked and disappointed to hear of the indictment,” Bishop said. Whitby has since stepped down from the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority’s board, saying he was “shocked by the terrible and unexpected allegations” in his resignation letter. He has deferred further comment to his attorney, who didn’t immediately return calls.
  • U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson had a tough reception at his Monday town hall meeting at Kennesaw State University, as crowdmembers peppered him with questions about his support for failed measures to repeal the Affordable Care Act and his support for President Donald Trump. The Georgia Republican was booed as he explained his vote for a proposal that would have replaced Obamacare and slashed the nation’s Medicaid program. That measure, which failed to pass in July, was designed to set the stage for negotiations in the House. “You’ve got to get it to a conference committee or it’s not going to happen,” he said, as some in the crowd roared their displeasure. “I didn’t like it but I voted for it. I couldn’t get to where I wanted to go unless I followed the road that led me there.” A crowd of more than 600 people was packed with activists eager to vent their displeasure at Trump’s agenda and the GOP-controlled Congress. Isakson is one of three Georgia members of Congress who have held in-person town halls this August recess; Reps. Buddy Carter and Doug Collins are the others. “I don’t have to do this. I’m not up for election,” said Isakson, who easily won a third term in November. “But I do it because it’s your government, not mine.” Isakson sought to ease some of the tensions at the start of the town hall, unequivocally condemning the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacist groups behind the deadly violence last weekend in Charlottesville, Va. And at one point, facing a biting question about cuts to disability services in the failed GOP healthcare plan, he showed his cane to the audience and said he recently became disabled. He was invoking the Parkinson’s diagnosis he revealed a few years ago. “I know how lucky I am to live here,” he said, saying that Congress hasn’t cut funding for disability services yet “and as far as I’m concerned, we’re not going to.” And targeted with a question about whether humans contribute to climate change, Isakson said he was a “full believer” that carbon contributes to the rise in temperatures. But he was roundly booed – one person in the crowd cried “go back to school” – when he suggested it was impossible to pin rising temperatures solely on human activity. Later, when prodded by some in the crowd to say “black lives matter,” Isakson quickly responded: “All lives matter.” A question from a local psychiatrist asking if Isakson would push Trump to remove his political strategist Stephen Bannon and other controversial aides from the White House drew a standing ovation. His answer – which started with “no, but” - drew swift catcalls from the crowd. “All you have to do is check the record and see how many times I’ve risked my career for standing up the right thing,” he said. Came a cry from the crowd: “Now is the time.”
  • It is one of the most common experiences among car owners across the nation: Once a year, for a required fee, receive a decal to stick on your license plate or window showing your vehicle registration is up-to-date. But now Georgia is flirting with the idea of eliminating the stickers altogether, a potential massive decision given that the decals got stuck on more than 10.7 million vehicles in the last fiscal year alone. Only a handful of other states have taken such a step, which has been estimated to save millions of dollars. In Georgia, however, the move wouldn’t necessarily eliminate the state’s standard $20 annual registration fee (not including extra fees for specialty plates or additional tax based on a vehicle’s assessed value) and concerns remain. “I’m not really sure of the intent here,” said Kevin Payne, Floyd County tax commissioner and president of the Georgia Association of Tax Officials, who was among two dozen people who met with the state Department of Revenue earlier this month about the idea. “The fact that I would still have to pay the tax on my birthday, I’m not really saving anything except I don’t have to put the decal on my license plate,” Payne said. A majority of states across the nation still use license plate or window decals to visually signal a vehicle’s registration status. The small group that don’t include Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania, which had required the stickers on-and-off for the past 74 years, stopped issuing them just this year, estimating the move will save the state more than $3 million annually in printing and mailing costs. Car owners there are still required to register their vehicles and hold a current registration card, and state officials point to a Pennsylvania State University study that said eliminating the sticker would have no impact on vehicle registration compliance. That state also went to a two-year registration cycle, something that could be a potential compromise here. In Georgia, the idea has been floating around for a while but there is no definitive plan. Instead, for the first time, the Revenue Department has been tasked with a fact-finding mission. Its report is due to the state Legislature by Jan. 1. The findings are expected to kick-start a more serious consideration of the idea, although notable hurdles remain. Law enforcement agencies have told state officials that doing away with the decals would take away the only visual clue officers have of quickly seeing if a vehicle is currently registered. A missing or expired decal can be cause for a traffic stop, and officers have said it can help them determine whether there might be other criminal activity. A potential alternative would be to buy electronic license plate readers, which some police agencies in Georgia already use and are connected to databases that show registration status, among other information. The readers themselves, however, can cost $15,000 or more per unit, with bigger agencies likely having to consider a cost upwards of $1 million to equip their fleets. Smaller agencies might not have the financial power to cover the cost, something that could be helped by federal grants. The state, too, could create its own grant program, a decision that would require buy-in from the governor’s office and state Legislature. The potential benefits, meanwhile, also come with dollar signs. Georgia could save almost $2 million annually by not having to print the decals, according to a Revenue Department memo last year. Local counties in coordination with the state also pay more than $3.9 million annually to print and mail roughly 800,000 registration notices a month to vehicle owners reminding them their registration is coming due. Any reduction in that volume would be an additional savings, the memo said. According to some large fleet owners, doing away with the annual requirement would also be a huge convenience. The Enterprise rental car agency alone buys 50,000 decals a year in Georgia, according to a representative who attended the agency meeting this month. With that volume came the need to track down those cars and the drivers using them when the time came to update the stickers. “It is a more efficient way to do things,” Revenue Department attorney Stephen DeBaun said of possibly eliminating — or at least reducing — the stickers’ use. But, he added, considering the money needed to invest in upgrades such as the license plate readers, “there is a significant up-front cost.”

News

  • As more information becomes available about the Equifax breach scandal, U.S. consumers are still searching for answers on whether they are vulnerable to identity fraud.  So that is why WSB Radio, Channel 2 Action News, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Consumer Adviser Clark Howard teamed up Monday morning to answer your questions.   Clark Howard was joined by Channel 2 Action News anchor Craig Lucie LIVE in Team Clark Howard's Consumer Action Center. They fielded questions and talked about the breach for over an hour.   The Facebook Live of the event reached more than 400,000 people worldwide:
  • A sweet -- and very large -- feline could be classified as a Hurricane Irma victim, but instead she’ll probably become famous as she goes viral.  Faye, weighing in at a whopping 24 pounds, was dropped off at the Jacksonville Humane Society in Jacksonville, Florida, and is up for adoption Wednesday. >> Read more trending news A Facebook post about the cat went up Tuesday night and had already been shared more than 600 times by Wednesday.  According to the shelter, the 12-year-old cat is an attention hound and needs a loving home where someone will help her cut back on food and treats.  “Faye loves attention and likes when you scratch right above her nubby tail,” the post said. “She will need a loving home to help her lose weight at a slow and steady pace outlined by our veterinarian.” Faye was brought in after Hurricane Irma, but her owner contacted them before the storm for help, so shelter officials aren’t totally blaming the storm. Those interested in adopting Faye or other pets at the North Florida shelter can visit the Jacksonville Humane Society website. 
  • Want to request a credit from Comcast for missed Xfinity cable, internet and phone service due to Hurricane Irma? The company has set up two ways to ask for it. Customers can either call its customer service line at 1-800-391-3000 or fill out a short online form at xfinity.com/florida-form. The online way is likely faster, since it doesn’t require customers to log in. >> Read more trending news Those without internet at home may be able to use their smartphone or find a place with available Wi-Fi.  A Comcast employee will respond, and credits may take one to two billing cycles to be posted to your account, according to the company. As of Monday, there were nearly 900,000 cable customers without service in Florida. That number includes a number of internet provider, not just Comcast. A Comcast spokeswoman said Tuesday that 97 percent of its customers have had their service restored. AT&T’s U-verse cable service has also been hit hard by outages, but the company has been mum about whether they will offer credits. It’s not mentioned on AT&T’s Irma support page. When reached for comment about the issue last week, a spokeswoman never responded to Palm Beach Post. “Unfortunately our equipment that services internet and TV took a hit,” a post on the AT&T support forum said. Due to the nature of the equipment, it can take time to replace or repair depending on the damaged caused by the water. Also power may not have been restored to our equipment as residential areas take priority. Just because you have power at your home, does not mean power has been restored in other areas that push the signal to your home. “We do have many crews out there trying to restore service to get everyone back up. I know this is a stressful time for everyone out there. Please know that AT&T is doing what we can to help. “ U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, D-Fla., asked the CEOs of America’s largest cell service and cable providers last week to waive late fees and issue rebates for victims of Irma. Hardly any of the companies responded. Comcast is also waiving a variety of fees, including late payment fees, early termination fees and fees for requipment that has not been returned.
  • President Donald Trump has made airlines' longtime goal of privatizing air traffic control a key part of his agenda to boost America's infrastructure. But his prospects for closing the deal with Congress appear slim. A House bill that would put the aviation industry in charge of air traffic control has repeatedly stalled and prospects appear even worse in the Senate, where there has been no effort to take up the issue. While the White House and airline lobbyists have pushed for privatization, there has been fierce opposition from private pilots, corporate aircraft owners and others who fear they will have to pay more to use the system and would lose access to busy airports. Airlines have pushed for getting the government out of air traffic operations for decades and seemed to have the brightest prospects after meeting with Trump early this year. Trump embraced the idea as part of his overall plan to boost infrastructure — a big part of his campaign promise to create jobs. While Trump has offered few other specifics about his overall infrastructure plans, he put the spotlight on air-traffic privatization at a White House infrastructure event in June. Three weeks later, the House transportation committee approved a bill by its chairman, Pennsylvania Republican Bill Shuster, to spin off air traffic control from the Federal Aviation Administration and place it under the authority of a private, non-profit corporation run by aviation interests, including airlines. But the bill still hasn't come to the House floor. Trump's special assistant for infrastructure policy, D.J. Gribbin, told an airline industry conference last week that House leaders are planning a vote in early October. But the bill's supporters acknowledge the vote would have already happened if there was enough support to pass it. 'We're working on it,' Rep. Paul Mitchell, R-Michigan, told reporters. 'We don't have all the votes yet.' Lawmakers in both parties have expressed concern about Congress losing oversight of such an important, traditionally government-run function. The handover of about 300 airport towers and other flight tracking centers would be one of the largest transfers of U.S. government assets ever. About 35,000 workers would be affected. Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, the senior Democrat on the Commerce Committee, which oversees the FAA, called the House plan 'a classic case of a costly solution looking for a problem.' 'It's an idea that went nowhere in the Senate last year and is destined to meet the same fate this year,' he said. Airlines say the FAA has shown itself incapable of executing its plan to use technology to transform America's air traffic system, saving time, fuel and money and increasing the system's capacity to handle more planes as air travel grows. Part of the FAA's problem is that the vagaries of the government's budget process have limited the agency's ability to commit to long-term contracts and raise money for major expenditures. Placing the system under a corporation that can borrow money against future revenue would lead to greater efficiency and more reliable funding, airlines say. Many countries have separated air-traffic operations from their safety regulator in recent years, with most creating government-owned corporations, independent government agencies or quasi-governmental entities. The House bill is modeled after Canada's air traffic corporation, Nav Canada, the only clearly private nonprofit air-traffic corporation. Privatization supporters say Nav Canada has made smart decisions that have enabled it to adopt more advanced technology while reducing fees to airlines and other users. But opponents fear privatization will give airlines too much power over the aviation system. 'This is a monopolization bill,' said Rep. Ralph Abraham, R-Louisiana. The corporation's 13-member board, as outlined in the bill, 'is definitely stacked to favor the big airlines,' he said. The airline industry has faced the lobbying muscle of private pilots and other 'general aviation' users in the past, and lost. People who can afford their own plane tend to be well-heeled and know how to get lawmakers' attention. They are an especially important constituency in rural districts and states, where people depend more on small aircraft. Opponents also have enlisted the support of several aviation heroes, including astronaut Jim Lovell, the commander of Apollo 13. Retired Capt. Chesley 'Sully' Sullenberger, the pilot who landed an airliner in the Hudson River without the loss of a single life made a commercial for opponents, saying not to trust 'the keys to the kingdom' to 'the people who make your airline seats smaller.' White House and airline officials have pushed hard, but say offers to adjust the bill to address opponents' concerns have been rebuffed. General aviation groups have told bill proponents they fear that any protections in the legislation would be inadequate. 'We could literally never get past that concept,' said the White House's Gribbin.
  •   It’s one of a woman’s worst fears, to attend a party or event and run into someone else wearing the same thing. >> Read more trending news That not only happened at a wedding on Saturday, it happened to six women, who all showed up at the reception wearing the same dress.  One of the women, Debbie Speranza, posted a photo of the women on Facebook saying, “Imagine the odds.”  'My cousin and I walked into the reception and saw each other [in the same dress] and started laughing, but then another walked in … then another one … and another one,” Speranza told the Telegraph. The group was photographed with the bride at one point and actually looked like they could be her bridesmaids. The dress was sold by Forever New for $160, and Speranza had some advice for the company. “You really should start a bridal registry so that your customers can inquire whether anyone else has purchased one of your dresses for the same event,” she said on Facebook.  
  • When it comes to scary things in the Upside Down, it turns out that a Demogorgun is no match for intellectual property lawyers. >> Read more trending news “The Upside Down,” A “Stranger Things”-themed pop-up bar in Chicago, has been hit with a cease-and-desist letter from Netflix after it was found in violation of intellectual property laws because it never received Netflix’s blessing. But Netflix didn’t sent just any cease-and-desist letter. No, they got in on the spirit of the show with a nerdy, yet firm, directive for the bar’s owners: The bar, designed by the same folks that created the Windy City’s Emporium Arcade Bar, debuted on Aug. 18 in Logan Square. According to Eater Chicago, patrons of “The Upside Down” can order show-themed drinks, such as “Eleven’s Eggo’s,” served with a waffle wedge; and a drink named for the Demogorgun, the show’s big monster. Fans of the show’s theme music from Austin band S U R V I V E can indulge in a few kegs of Goose Island’s GI5-5538, a red ale that was brewed specifically for the band.  The bar is also decorated with a ton of “Stranger Things” memorabillia, including a huge mural of Eleven, the Byers family couch, Christmas lights (complete with the alphabet), an A/V rig and some props designed to look like the Hawkins Energy Department. Check out photos of the bar here. As one might guess, having all of this out in the open without permission would be cause for some concern from Netflix. The bar was originally scheduled to close after a six-week run, with plans for an extension if it was profitable. As it stands now, the bar will close on Oct. 1. Nevertheless, this looks like a win-win for the bar and the streaming service. The second season of “Stranger Things” debuts next month, and the letter does leave future pop-ups open to consideration, so both groups get publicity. So, Chicago, start pedaling your bikes over to the bar before the portal to the Upside Down closes. And Austinites, you’ve got 10 days to get yourself a flight to Chicago.