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Opinion
One Man’s Opinion: The REAL Deal Legacy
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One Man’s Opinion: The REAL Deal Legacy

One Man’s Opinion: The REAL Deal Legacy

One Man’s Opinion: The REAL Deal Legacy

“Georgia and our people have been very kind to Sandra and me. I'm glad that together we were able to accomplish some things that hopefully make life a bit better here for all Georgians," said Georgia's outgoing Governor Nathan Deal.

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One Man’s Opinion: The REAL Deal Legacy

Governor Nathan Deal modestly completes his second term with a high and enviable approval rating from voters in both political parties, with some even suggesting a re-visitation to the topic of term limits for Georgia’s chief executive in our state Constitution. I’m among those who’ve become an out-spoken fan of this quiet, servant leader who understands the importance of building consensus, listens well and often to inside and outside counsel, and who has led Georgia to many of our greatest and most lasting successes. 

But surveying and summarizing the Deal legacy is no easy task. Not since Governor Zell Miller has any Georgia governor, in either political party, left so many lasting marks and benefits to our state. Miller created the HOPE scholarship, and sold Georgia on the lottery to finance that as well as an ever expanding Pre-K early education program. Additionally helming the state through its Olympic years, and cap-stoning his public service with a term in the U.S. Senate, Miller set the gold standard for his successors in the Governor's Mansion. I’d say Deal has grabbed that brass ring. 

Deal’s economic development track record is unmatched. And thankfully this job growth was not only felt north of Macon and in metro Atlanta, but across the state. Strengthening an initiative started by his predecessor, Governor Sonny Perdue, Deal made Georgia not only the “Hollywood of the South,” but the most popular television and film production market on the planet, second only to the entire nation of Canada. 

Deal’s election brought an introduction during a deep recession to nearly empty fiscal cabinets (with less than two day’s state payroll on hand), and while assisted by a broad and strong recovery, Deal leaves office with more than $2.5 billion in reserves and Georgia with the highest possible bond ratings by all three major ratings agencies. 

And yet, it may be the education and criminal justice arenas where the Deal touch will leave the most lasting marks. 

Seeking to become Georgia’s ‘Education Governor,’ Deal added $167-million additional dollars during the most recent Fiscal Year budget for Georgia, fully funding the Quality Basic Education Act. Though his attempted amendment to the Georgia Constitution to create Opportunity School Districts did not pass, he has continued to make resources and state expertise available to challenged schools and school systems who are willing to accept the help, regardless of zip code, school demographics or local politics. Rapid expansion and creation of charter schools as well as a series of opportunities for vouchers into private education have also expanded options for students and parents across the state, especially intended to assist families with children in failing schools. 

Deal is the son of educators, as well as married to one. Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal has made literacy and visiting with and reading to elementary school children her passion. Despite facing down some not insignificant health challenges over the past few years, our First Lady made visits to 1000 schools across each Georgia county and all 181 public school systems. 

Though happy to see Georgia remain under GOP leadership and control, Deal is reluctant to offer much in the way of direct advice for his successor, Governor-elect Brian Kemp, other than to suggest we find more ways to embrace our commonalities and that his party focus a bit less on social issues or wedge concerns which may divide us. 

Deal began his public life as a prosecutor, and ends nearing four decades of public service more as a healer, delivering criminal justice reforms which also are resulting in the lowest incarceration rates in modern history for non-violent offenders, including a double-digit reduction in the incarceration rates of black men. Deal’s creation of Accountability, DUI and Drug Courts are also regularly producing amazing success stories of recovery and rehabilitation as well as returns to productive, working and tax-paying lives of citizenry, which on occasion move this Governor to near tears. This shared celebration and sense of accomplishment are also part of the Real Deal legacy. 

Nathan Deal is not a man of great stature, but these gains and his shadow are casting long marks for others to attempt to emulate and follow, and it may be decades before we see anything quite like him again here in the Peach State. God speed to you sir, as well as to Mrs. Deal. Mission accomplished, and well done.

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News

  • A New Jersey man died early Saturday in a fireworks explosion in Jersey City, authorities said. According to witnesses, the victim, who has not been identified, was struck in the neck with fireworks shortly before 1 a.m., NJ.com reported. The explosion took place outside the Booker T. Washington housing complex, the website reported. Attempts to revive the man were unsuccessful, and he was pronounced dead at an area hospital. In 2017, New Jersey lawmakers legalized the use of certain fireworks, including poppers, sparklers and other non-aerial items, The Associated Press reported. According to NJ.com, a city task force was created after social media videos showed men conducting shootouts involving Roman candles, which are illegal in New Jersey.
  • A motorcyclist was thrown from their bike and killed Saturday morning after rear-ending an SUV on I-20 in Atlanta, police said. The crash occurred about 1:30 a.m. in the eastbound lanes near Hamilton E. Holmes Drive. Speed appears to have played a role in the deadly wreck, investigators said. “The preliminary investigation indicates an SUV was entering onto I-20 and observed a motorcycle approaching from behind at a high rate of speed,” Atlanta police said in a statement. “The motorist stated they attempted to avoid the motorcycle. However, the motorcycle struck the rear of the SUV, causing the motorcyclist to be ejected.” Read more on this story on ajc.com.
  • An Arizona woman fell to her death Friday at Grand Canyon National Park as she attempted to take photographs, park officials said. Maria A. Salgado Lopez, 59, of Scottsdale, was hiking off-trail when she fell off the edge of Mather Point, park officials said in a news release. Rangers received a call about 12:35 p.m. When they arrived, rangers found Lopez about 100 feet below the rim, KNXV reported. An investigation is being conducted by the National Park Service and the Coconino County Medical Examiner’s Office, KTVK reported. No additional information was available. In its release, park officials reminded visitors to follow safety guidelines. “Grand Canyon National Park staff encourage all visitors to have a safe visit this holiday weekend by staying on designated trails and walkways, always keeping a safe distance from the edge of the rim, and staying behind railings and fences at overlooks,” the park said in its release.
  • People aren’t the only ones feeling cooped up during the coronavirus pandemic. A wayward pet chicken hitched a ride with a Texas woman and her son to a Jiffy Lube on Wednesday, surprising everyone -- including the technicians performing an oil change. Tiffany Travis, of Pearland, was returning a dog and its crate to her neighbor, Laurie Fowler, KSAT reported. As Travis left, Fowler’s pet chicken, Maggie, jumped into the back of Travis’ truck, the television station reported. “Jury is still out if she flew into (the) bed or wheel well. Forensic Ring evidence is hazy,” Travis told KSAT. Travis and her son left and drove three miles to a Jiffy Lube for an oil change. When she started to pay for the service, she noticed a commotion. “My kids and I were in my husband’s truck, masked up COVID-style,” Travis told the television station. “When we were leaving the bay, because I was still in driver seat the entire time, we handed the staff my credit card through a cracked window and heard a commotion.” That’s when Travis saw a Jiffy Lube employee chasing after Maggie, finally catching the bird as it ran around one of the service bays. “Ma’am, is this your chicken? It just fell out of your truck,” the employee asked. “At first I was very confused,” Travis told KSAT. “Then it dawned on me. ‘Yes, yes that is my chicken.‘” “The JiffyLube staff [was] already cracking up. They all got out their phones and took pictures.” Oil’s well that ends well, even for the chicken. Maggie was unhurt, except perhaps for some ruffled feathers. “The entire experience was like a scripted sitcom and brought much-needed humor to what has been a rough few months for our family and well, humanity,” Travis told KSAT. “We all could use some laughter right about now. Thank God for funny chickens.”
  • Two boys magnet fishing reeled in an explosive find, a rusted old hand grenade. Lari Tammiviuori and Viljami Juutilainen made the discovery while fishing Thursday in Lake Vesijarvi in Lahti, Finland, YLE reported. 'We carried it to the shore with our hands, but then didn't touch it again when we found out what it was,' Tammivuori said.  The boys have gone magnet fishing frequently this summer, pulling in scrap metal, bottle caps and nails. They called police who arrived and disposed of the grenade.  The age and condition of the explosive have not been released.  Mother Maarit Juutilainen thought her son's magnet fishing hobby was harmless. “Now you kind of get scared of what they might find,” she said. “But we won’t allow the boys to continue fishing scrap from there.”
  • A 13-foot tall metal giraffe sculpture was stolen from out front of a St. Louis brewery and its owner is offering a $1,000 reward to get it back. “With all the bad going on in the world, you try to find things that make you smile,” Civil Life Brewing Company owner Jake Hafner told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “And the giraffe was one of those things.” Hafner bought the sculpture for $1,800 last year to lift employees' spirits after a plan to expand the brewery fizzled. The giraffe was added to a display that already included two large dinosaurs. Hafner took down a fence around the animal art in March.  “I thought, ‘nobody is going to take a 13-foot giraffe,’” Hafner said. “Famous last words.” Surveillance video from the brewery shows a white box truck pull up June 25 and minutes later the truck and giraffe are gone. The theft has been reported to police.  It would have likely taken at least two people to move the cumbersome, 160-pound sculpture.  Hafner is offering $1,000 reward for the giraffe’s return. He will also donate $1,000 to Northside Community Housing, an affordable housing group.