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  • 23 Oct 2014 3:10 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: Restaurant INFORMER Online News

    On October 14, Restaurant INFORMER put on its 10-year anniversary celebration during the Atlanta Foodservice Expo happy hour. The GRA, chefs including Michael Deihl and ACF-ACA President Kully Crean, along with longtime industry supporters and advertisers, raised a toast to the 10th year of publication for the Georgia Restaurant Association’s magazine. To wrap up the celebration, John Sawyer, publisher of Restaurant INFORMER, presented a check to Naomi Green, Director of Partnerships at The Giving Kitchen, a non-profit dedicated to providing crisis grants to members of the restaurant community facing unanticipated hardship.

    For a decade, Restaurant INFORMER has delivered news and information to thousands of restaurant owners, operators and chefs in Georgia. Restaurant INFORMER essentially is a place for Georgia’s restaurateurs to exchange ideas and information with industry colleagues, helping everyone learn and grow their businesses.

    Because Restaurant INFORMER is specific to Georgia, featuring restaurateurs and chefs that many in the industry know personally, it is a compelling read for its 4,000 subscribers. The magazine’s first issue (under the name Restaurant Forum) featured chef and restaurant owner Kevin Rathbun shortly after he opened Rathbun’s restaurant. Since then, 76 issues have mailed to thousands of restaurant professionals in Georgia.

    With this 10-year anniversary, the magazine is enhancing its appeal with new graphic design elements and will publish a special retrospective in the January/February 2015 issue.
  • 07 Oct 2014 9:13 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: The August Chronicle

    State's farming sector strong under experienced incumbent
    By Augusta Chronicle Editorial Staff

    Georgia founded its Department of Agriculture in 1874 at the urging of Gov. James M. Smith. He rightly saw the need for a government department to oversee the growth of a vital sector of the state’s economy.

    Today, agriculture pumps about $77 billion annually into the state’s economy, in no small part because of aggressive marketing and economic development.

    That came about by concentrating new energy into the state’s Georgia Grown program, at the urging of Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black.
    For that reason, and many more, Black deserves your vote for his re-election in November.

    One aspect of Georgia Grown seizes on the rediscovered trendiness of good food. The program connects chefs and farmers through a partnership between the Department of Agriculture and the Georgia Restaurant Association. Distributors and retailers pitch in as well to develop the state’s agricultural economy. It’s been a winning combination so far.

    Foreign trade also has grown more robust under Black. China eats Georgia peanuts. Ghana uses Georgia fertilizer. Last fall he signed a trade deal with the oil-rich nation of Gabon, to help grow the country’s tiny agricultural footprint and open lucrative export opportunities for Georgia farmers, particularly in poultry.

    As an administrator, his improvements in budgeting, training and compliance has raised his department’s morale.

    Judging by the efficiency with which Black executes his duties as commissioner, you’d be forgiven if you think he views agriculture exclusively from behind a desk.

    But he’s no stranger to dirt under his fingernails. Black and his family operate Harmony Grove Farms near Commerce, producing custom-fed beef.

    For more than 20 years before becoming agriculture commissioner, Black was president of the Georgia Agribusiness Council. His degree from the University of Georgia is in agricultural education.

    We don’t know if Black still can fit into his old high-school Future Farmers of America jacket, but he’s still a great fit to lead Georgia agriculture. Please vote for him Nov. 4.
  • 01 Oct 2014 9:50 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Publication: Sunbelt Foodservice

    By Karen Bremer, Executive Director of the Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA)

    On Oct. 13 and 14, the Atlanta Foodservice Expo (AFSE) is returning to the Georgia World Congress Center to showcase the latest products, services and technologies from the top suppliers in the industry to members of the restaurant industry. At this year’s expo, which will run from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. each day, attendees can expect to take away valuable tools and resources for their business and have the chance to network with fellow peers, suppliers and industry professionals.

    In addition to over 200 exhibitors showcasing food, beverage, apparel and uniforms, furnishings and décor, equipment, tableware and more - including the GRA at booth No. 1833 - this year’s AFSE will feature daily happy hour receptions, head-to-head culinary competition and live culinary demonstrations on the show floor. An expo badge will also get you into two dynamic keynotes as well as 18 educational seminars.

    The two keynotes will feature celebrity chef and entrepreneur Robert Irvine on Monday, Oct. 13, and a restaurant panel with local restaurant owners on Tuesday, Oct. 14, featuring Kevin Gillespie, owner of Gunshow; Todd Ginsberg, chef and co-owner of The General Muir; Robby Kukler, co-founder and partner at Fifth Group Restaurants; and Todd Rushing, partner at Concentrics Restaurants. 

    Additionally, the educational seminars at the expo will cover topics such as food costing, recruitment and retention of staff, social media marketing, and more, to help operators grow and improve their business. Additional opportunities will also be available including ServSafe™ Training Programs, gluten-free training by GREAT Kitchens, Street Food 101 and service strategy workshops.

    Following the first day of the expo, the Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA) will be hosting a chairman’s reception, featuring GRA Chairman Bob Campbell, CEO of T.MAC Restaurants, at the rooftop of Ventanas on Oct. 13 from 6 – 8 p.m. Attendees of the chairman’s reception will get to enjoy hors d'oeuvres, cocktails and networking with foodservice and hospitality professionals. Attendance is complimentary for all Georgia restaurants who register in advance and present their expo badge at the reception. For more information, and to register, visit the events section on our website at www.garestaurants.org.

    Owners, GMs, executive chefs, bar managers, caters, purchasing managers and F&B directors will not want to miss out on the only event in Georgia and the Southeast to bring together sectors of the restaurant, foodservice and hospitality industry under one roof. To make sure that our restaurant members take full advantage of all of the great events and opportunities presented by AFSE, GRA restaurant members will be able to attend the expo free of charge by registering in advance using our promo code. To learn how you can take advantage of a free expo badge, visit the AFSE section on our website at www.garestaurants.org or contact the GRA office at (404) 467-9000 or via email at info@garestaurants.org.

    For more information on AFSE, visit AtlantaFoodserviceExpo.com or follow them on social media at facebook.com/AtlantaFoodserviceExpo or twitter.com/FoodserviceExpo.

  • 25 Sep 2014 3:11 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
    By Nicholas Fouriezos 

    Labor Commissioner Mark Butler’s re-election elevator pitch seemed simple enough. First, point to the Republican “R” next to his ballot name. Then tout a pragmatic fiscal approach to a crowd of conservative sympathizers. Butler could have ridden a recovering economy back into office, with jobs being added, layoffs decreasing and tax revenue up.

    But unemployment numbers skyrocketed from June to July, increasing from 7.4 percent to 7.7 percent – the second-worst rate in the country. Butler’s office explained away the numbers as a seasonal blip caused by school workers who had been laid off temporarily. Then the August numbers came: 8.1 percent, the nation’s absolute worst.

    Butler questioned the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ data, noting that the sudden rise in unemployment just didn’t add up with other factors.

    “First quarter alone, amount of wages increased by $2.6 billion over last year,” Butler said. “From January to April, 100,000 more people showed up on businesses’ employment rolls.”

    If the state’s jobs chief is looking for a new job himself come spring, Butler’s failure to forecast that unruly employment rate could be to blame. Democrat Robbin Shipp certainly thinks so, ramping up her public criticism as she lobbies to supplant Butler as Georgia’s labor commissioner for the next four years.

    “Our labor commissioner and our governor have squandered their responsibility to the citizens of this state,” Shipp said. “We’ve got to implement a change.”

    Economists are divided on the unemployment rate’s relevance, with some noting that other economic indicators remain strong. Growth from more reliable measures such as jobs, sales tax and income tax suggest a sunnier outlook for Georgia’s economy. Regardless, the fickle rate has emerged as the central issue in the race for labor commissioner.

    The federal data are compiled through two surveys: a 60,000-person household survey and a 144,000-business payroll survey. “The only thing that shows we’re losing jobs is the household survey,” Butler said, noting that the payroll survey showed 80,000 jobs added in the past year, the sixth-best growth in the nation. Butler says that survey is more dependable because companies won’t lie about adding employees undefined they get taxed based on how many they have.

    “Look, if you’ve got skills, you can work. There are employers here screaming, saying that they need more and more people,” Butler said. “I’m not sure what (Shipp) is talking about, unless she just wants to talk about the household survey.”

    Much of Butler’s tenure has been spent rebalancing the state’s unemployment trust fund. The fund pays for recently laid-off workers through taxes on businesses.

    Through the high times of the early 2000s, Georgia legislators had given unemployment tax holidays to companies, failing to bolster the trust fund. Then the recession came and the state’s benefits recipients doubled, forcing the state to take out a $761 million federal loan as the fund quickly ran dry.

    The borrowing was expected to take six to eight years to pay back.

    Butler and fellow Republican Gov. Nathan Deal whittled the amount away with severe cuts on unemployment aid. Through legislation, the state reduced checks from 26 weeks to between 14 and 20 weeks. More than 190,000 Georgians lost anywhere between $260 and $1,820 in benefits as a result, the left-leaning Georgia Budget and Policy Institute estimated when the policies took effect in 2012.

    On the other hand, the state was able to pay off the deficit in four years thanks to the cuts and increased taxes on businesses. That saved Georgia businesses from paying an interest rate that would have reached $220 million next year alone.

    “That’s money those businesses can now spend on capital improvements and hiring employees,” Butler said.

    Shipp has pivoted her economic plan around two goals: increasing the minimum wage and decreasing the gender pay gap. In August, Shipp targeted a $9.50 minimum wage while speaking at the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta. She upped that ante to as much as $12 or $13 while speaking at a press conference following last week’s release of the disappointing unemployment numbers.

    The state’s minimum pay is $5.15, but almost all businesses in Georgia are required to pay at least the federal rate of $7.25.

    “We simply must increase the minimum wage in the state,” Shipp said.

    It’s unclear what an increase would do to unemployment. States that have upped wages have also seen more companies looking to hire, Shipp said, because consumers have more purchasing power. A 2013 survey by the University of Chicago School of Business showed that 60 percent of economists who responded believed the benefits of raising the minimum wage to $9 an hour outweighed the costs undefined 16 percent disagreed, while the rest were uncertain.

    “It is a fundamental economic premise that the more money individuals have in their pocketbooks, the more they are then willing to spend,” Shipp said. “More jobs are created.”

    Some market watchers are skeptical, though. The American Action Forum, a right-wing policy institute, found in March that a $1 increase in the minimum wage came with a 1.48 percent increase in the unemployment rate while also decreasing job growth by 0.18 percent.

    That matches the experience of Karen Bremer, executive director of the Georgia Restaurant Association, who said an increased minimum wage would restrict entry-level positions at restaurants. She pointed to a study commissioned by the GRA, which showed an increase to a $10.10 minimum wage would result in 21,000 jobs lost.

    “We don’t employ a majority of minimum-wage people in our industry,” Bremer said. “Our concern is that it’s going to destroy those first jobs for young people.”

    Incumbent Mark Butler, Republican
    Campaign contributions (as of June 30): $239,082

    Before taking office in 2011, Butler represented House District 18 in the Georgia General Assembly, serving as the chairman of an appropriations committee overseeing multiple state agencies. He is the first Republican to hold the state position and previously ran a family business appraising real estate.

    Robbin Shipp, Democrat
    Campaign contributions (as of June 30): $46,455

    Shipp served as a one-term House District 58 representative of Reynoldstown, Cabbagetown and parts of west DeKalb County, beginning in 2007. She resigned from her General Assembly post in 2009, citing concerns that her second job undefined as a Fulton County assistant district attorney undefined could be a conflict of interest. Since then, she has held a number of educational and legal advising positions.

    What does the labor commissioner do?

    The Department of Labor serves two groups: unemployed Georgians and the state’s business community. The labor commissioner heads the department, making decisions on how to connect employers with job applicants, conduct workforce research and maintain the unemployment benefits fund. There are no term limits for this elected position.

    Ongoing coverage

    It’s a big year for politics in Georgia, with a governor up for re-election and an open U.S. Senate seat. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is following it every step of the way.

    Follow items as they break on the Political Insider at http://politics.blog.ajc.com/.
    For the latest election news, log on to MyAJC.com/georgiapolitics.
    See how the comments of politicians and pundits hold up under PolitiFact’s Truth-O-Meter at www.myajc.com/s/news/politifact/.
  • 16 Sep 2014 2:47 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Greenville Online

    Lillia Callum-Penso, lpenso@greenvillenews.com

    Ford Fry is the type of chef you wish were in your own town. Innovative, community oriented and friendly to boot, the Atlanta-based Fry has made a mark on his adopted city. You can pretty much bet on Fry opening a new concept every few years or so. And we're not talking similar concepts, but vastly different, opposite spectrum-type stuff.

    Fry's JCT Kitchen, which he opened in 2007, straddles the southern-inspired road, while his The Optimist focuses on seafood. His no. 246 restaurant is locally sourced Italian and St. Cecilia, which opened earlier this year is seafood forward European. Then there's King & Duke, which opened in 2013, and is centered on hearth-style cooking, meaning no cooking with gas.

    Read the full article.

    Each of his restaurants speaks to a different side of who Fry is. That may be why Fry has an endless supply of ideas.

    Generally, he starts with a concept, a book, a theme, a dish, and then builds from there. JCT is inspired by Fry's interest in southern cuisine, but with a twist. He wanted it to be an expression of "what is southern to everybody." That meant fried chicken and cornmeal tamales.

    Read the full article.

    The Optimist was named restaurant of the year by Esquire Magazine in 2012, and the King & Duke earned a spot on the list in 2013. Ford has been nominated for a James Beard Award, and won Restaurateur of the Year from the Georgia Restaurant Association.

    He is humbled by the recognition, but not dictated by it.

    "Some may have a different opinion, but my personal opinion is if you turn olive oil into a powder I don't like the texture. I like the taste of just good olive oil itself, so why would you waste time to turn it into a less appealing texture just for the sake of being interesting," said Fry.

    Chef Ford Fry will be cooking with Table 301 executive chef of culinary operations Michael Kramer at a special dinner at The Lazy Goat on Sept. 20. Tickets are $150 and may be purchased by going to http://euphoriagreenville.com.
  • 06 Sep 2014 3:45 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: Savannah Morning News
    By JULIA RITCHEY

    Savannah takes few things more seriously than its history, architecture and fairly liberal drinking culture.

    So when a 31-page overhaul of its alcohol ordinance was unleashed onto the public the Friday before Labor Day, it came as a surprise to bar and restaurant owners whose establishments would be most affected.

    These owners and managers took to Facebook and the city’s public forums this week to voice concerns about several of the draft’s provisions, though most acknowledged revisiting the city’s 15-year-old ordinance was overdue.

    Representatives from a cross-section of establishments appeared at the meeting to listen to city staff go over the ordinance - from Savannah institutions such as Pinkie Master’s and Crystal Beer Parlor to the not-yet-opened 39 Rue de Jean.

    Most of the industry’s concerns boil down to about four key areas, including the repeal of a “hybrid” license to be replaced by a more expensive late-night one, beefed up security requirements, the elimination of bar cards and the rights afforded to adults ages 18-20.

    Sean Brandon, Savannah’s management services chief, said the city was trying to strike the right balance between public and private interests. He said much of the new ordinance was an attempt to be more consistent with state law.

    “We want something that makes the community better,” said Brandon.

    Although the ordinance states it would be enacted for “purposes of establishing reasonable and ascertainable standards for the regulation and control of alcoholic beverages,” the debate over what constitutes reasonable has been acute.

    Michael Owens, president of the Tourism Leadership Council, said he fielded calls and emails from about 60 owners and managers over Labor Day Weekend pertaining to the ordinance.

    “The real question is: What is the exact problem that we’re trying to solve?” said Owens. “I think our issues are really more outside the establishment than inside the establishment, and I’d be happy to hear the thoughts and considerations of the city on how they intend to address that problem.”

    By Tuesday, the date of the first public meeting on the ordinance, at least one proposal was nullified after the city received near unanimous criticism for trying to restrict 18- to 20-year-olds from restaurants serving alcohol after 10 p.m.

    The draft, which had been in the works for more than a year, had stipulated midnight originally, but some restaurant and bar owners questioned the logic of having a curfew at all in a town with such a heavy military and college presence.

    Jamie Durrence and Alan Williams, managing partner and director of operations for Daniel Reed Hospitality, which operates Soho South Café, Local 11ten and The Public Kitchen & Bar, said the regulation of legal adults with a curfew was unacceptable.

    “Members of the military and SCAD students are a huge client base for our restaurants,” Durrence said in a statement. “It just does not seem very hospitable and makes little sense considering you can legally bartend in the state of Georgia at 18 years and pilot an aircraft at 17. But not eat where alcohol is served after 10 p.m. or midnight? Unimaginable.”

    On Wednesday, the Georgia Restaurants Association spent most of its two-hour meeting at the Pirate’s House going page-by-page through the ordinance to explain the new regulations to its members.

    Mike Vaquer, the association’s lobbyist, said he’d been working with the city on the ordinance since June of last year. While the city is being diligent in trying to get its ordinance caught up with the times, he said, there were still areas for concern.

    “There are more questions than there are answers here, but we’ve come a long way,” Vaquer told members.

    Late-night licenses and security

    The elimination of a $250 “hybrid” license for establishments that transition into bars (or furniture stores serving spirits) was touted as an improvement. However, in its place, the city is proposing a $450 late-night entertainment establishment license for any bar or restaurant open past midnight.

    The city said the provision was not meant as a revenue generator but as a regulatory tool to better police establishments having problems in the late-night hours, i.e. nightclubs such as the now-shuttered Dosha and Frozen Paradise.

    Currently, about 30 bars hold hybrid licenses. City staff could not provide an exact number for how many establishments would be required to have the proposed late-night license, though it would likely be much higher.

    The owners of Lulu’s Chocolate Bar said they were originally classified as a hybrid bar until they appealed the decision based on the fact they operate the same business all day. Co-owner Rebecca Radovich said the idea of having to pay an extra fee and get bouncers for her casual dessert bar is just silly.

    “We’re not part of that late-night exodus problem,” said Radovich at Tuesday’s forum. “To be lumped back into that after we just got out … that’s one of our biggest concerns.”

    TLC’s Owens said he too is concerned.

    “Making anybody that’s serving alcohol after midnight to have security under penalty of law seems to be a little bit of an overstretch,” said Owens. “Think of the Pink House. At midnight, are they supposed to bring in uniformed security? That may not be the impression that they want nor we as a city want at all of these establishments.”

    Vaquer said he is encouraging staff to take a look at the operational footprint of a business in order to not cast such a wide net.

    “If I go into an establishment at noon … and I go back in at 1 a.m. and it looks exactly the same, then we’re not changing our business model. We’re continuing to operate as we have been,” said Vaquer.

    In concert with the proposed license fee is additional security requirements for bars of certain occupancy loads.

    For example, a bar with an occupancy load of 101-200, like The Jinx, would be required to have one door person and two additional security people on Friday and Saturday nights after midnight and on six major holidays.

    Language pertaining to security requirements for these late-night establishments is lifted verbatim, in parts, from Charleston, S.C.’s municipal code. City staff met with Charleston officials and looked at other codes such as Scottsdale, Ariz., when formulating the new ordinance, said city spokesman Bret Bell.

    Read the full article.
  • 05 Sep 2014 12:47 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
    By Dan Chapman and Michael Kanell 

    Only the strong needed to apply Thursday for the warehouse jobs posted at the Norcross unemployment office.

    “Will perform repetitive work, stand, walk and bend for long periods of time,” the notice read. “Will carry up to 25-100 pounds frequently. Will lift up to 25-50 pounds, shoulder high, frequently.”

    The temporary job pays $8 an hour.

    Earlier that day, in Midtown Atlanta, fast-food employees and home-health workers rallied to more than double their wages. Most make $7.25 an hour, the minimum wage.

    The rally and job fair, though separated by 20 miles, spoke in unison about the nature of work in Georgia’s post-recession economy. Both spotlighted low-wage work, and as the economy limps back, those jobs make up a larger percentage of Georgia’s workforce than before the recession.

    Consequently, calls to raise the minimum wage resound loudly among workers and some politicians, who say it will help lift Americans out of poverty.

    And it is sparking pushback by those who believe raising wages will hurt the economy.

    Raising the minimum wage, they argue, is a job killer and raises costs for employers.

    “A dramatic minimum wage increase to $15 is not the solution to relieve poverty,” said Karen Bremer, executive director of the Georgia Restaurant Association.

    In restaurants, for example, a large hike would mostly serve to eliminate jobs for young people and “entry-level” workers, Bremer said.

    The argument over low wages is nothing new, but the voices have grown louder of late.

    Globalization, the demise of factory work and union clout and the shift to temporary or contract workers have worked to depress wages in the last three decades. The 2007-2009 recession obliterated 8.5 million jobs nationwide and flipped many families into bankruptcy or foreclosure, and they are finding it tough to fight their way back.

    Manufacturing and construction jobs were the big losers during the recession. And they paid an average of $61,637 a year, according to a recent study by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

    New restaurant, hotel and nursing jobs have predominated since the recession ended. Yet they pay, on average, 23 percent less than the jobs lost during the downturn.

    “The picture of a breadwinner working on an assembly line has now been replaced by a breadwinner working on a cash register,” said Jack Temple, a policy analyst with the liberal National Employment Law Project (NELP). “There has been an economic restructuring. And the shift has been unequivocally bad for working families.”

    The rise in temporary jobs further depresses wages. Roughly 2.5 percent of all U.S. jobs are classified as temporary - most with little security and without benefits - up from 1.4 percent in 1990, the BLS reports. And in metro Atlanta, over the last five years, only hospitals have created more jobs (11,000) than temp agencies (8,210).

    Traditionally limited to administrative work, the temp industry has shifted headlong into once solidly blue-collar fields like manufacturing, transportation and warehousing. And “temp” is something of a misnomer, as Fortune 500 corporations keep temp workers employed for months and years at a time as a hedge against an economic downturn.

    Overall, workers employed by staffing agencies earn 22 percent less than the average wage for all private sector workers, according to NELP. And low-wage workers - temp or otherwise - avail themselves disproportionately of food stamps, Medicaid and other taxpayer-financed services.

    Few states have created as many low-wage jobs as Georgia.

    A decade ago, about one in 33 Georgia workers made minimum wage. Today, that has risen to about one in 20.

    Restaurants, for example, employed 7.2 percent of all Georgia workers a decade ago, BLS data shows. Today, 8.5 percent of all state workers are in that business. Many, like Joshua Collins, toil for $7.25 an hour.

    Collins, 25, sat in the middle of Ponce de Leon Ave. on Thursday, blocking traffic outside a McDonald’s. He demanded a wage of $15 an hour, more than double his current cook’s salary at a nearby Burger King. Collins was the first demonstrator cuffed, arrested and marshalled into a Fulton County prisoner transport van.

    “The fast-food corporations are making billions and billions of dollars and they can’t give us a raise?” he said in an interview before being hauled away. “We’re going to get our $15 an hour and a union. Something will come of this.”

    For the first time, low-paid health care workers joined the protest, such as Latonya Allen, 45.

    “Home care workers deserve $15 an hour just like fast-food workers. We do the dirty work, the hard work that no one else wants to do,” said Allen who is paid $9 an hour caring for a McDonough woman with cerebral palsy. “I have no retirement, no time off, no benefits, no paid vacation or sick days. But I am willing to fight for my rights. I’ll do whatever it takes.”

    Ten demonstrators were arrested for refusing police entreaties to quit sitting in the middle of the busy street.

    The higher wage push is gaining steam with California (minimum $10 an hour), Massachusetts ($11), the District of Columbia and its Maryland suburbs ($11.50) and Seattle ($15) already requiring employers to pay workers more. San Francisco, Chicago and New York City are likely to follow suit.

    President Obama, who supports a national minimum wage of $10.10 an hour, said last Monday that fast-food workers deserve a raise “so they can provide for their families with pride and dignity.”

    A growing number of economists, though, say that raising the minimum wage benefits more than just low-paid workers. Standard & Poor’s, the financial research agency, reported last month that low-wage jobs fuel income inequality which is “a drag on long-run economic growth.” The ratings agency reduced its U.S. growth forecast from 2.8 percent to 2.5 percent over the next decade.

    “The current level of income inequality in the U.S. is dampening GDP growth, at a time when the world’s biggest economy is struggling to recover from the Great Recession and the government is in need of funds to support an aging population,” S&P wrote.

    Howard Mavity, a senior partner at Fisher and Phillips, an Atlanta firm that represents fast-food companies in labor disputes, agrees that the minimum wage should be raised a bit. A jump to $15 an hour, though, would put too much of a financial burden on franchise owners and not solve the impoverishment of low-wage workers.

    “The purpose of the minimum wage is to try and help people get by,” Mavity said. “So if we only jack up the minimum wage, we won’t get at key structural issues facing the economy (like) better education and a trained workforce.”

    There is a heated debate about how to improve the lot of American workers, but in general, there is agreement that more money is good for working people, for boosting the middle class and for the economy as a whole.

    “When there are working people who can’t support their families, who can’t pay their rent, your whole community is going to suffer,”said NELP’s Rebecca Smith.

    Characteristics of Minimum Wage Workers, 2013
    The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. Nationally, 3.3 million workers are paid minimum wage or less. Here are some of their characteristics…

    Percent who work full-time: 35.5%
    Percent with college experience: 42.2%
    Percent who live in the South: 46.4%
    Percent food prep workers: 46.7%
    Percent aged 25 or older: 49.6%

    Sources: Cheryl Russell, Bureau of Labor Statistics

  • 05 Sep 2014 12:26 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution Politcal Insider Blog

    By Greg Bluestein and Daniel Malloy

    If you listened closely to Democratic Senate hopeful Michelle Nunn’s comments Thursday, you might have heard an attempt to distance herself undefined ever so slightly undefined from President Barack Obama’s foreign policy.

    Nunn called Obama’s much-criticized recent remarks that he had no strategy to encounter the growing threat of ISIS an “unfortunate choice of words” and urged the administration to “quickly develop the right military strategy” against the militant group that’s carving out a caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria.

    Nunn almost precisely a year ago backed a military strike in Syria to deter President Bashar Al-Assad from using chemical weapons against his own people, which at the time matched the positions of Obama and Georgia GOP Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson.

    But Obama a few days later backed off in the face of overwhelming opposition in Congress, and Nunn drew flak in her Democratic primary for the position. She has since focused much of her campaign rhetoric on domestic policy, such as the jobs plan she rolled out Thursday.

    She said in an interview that ISIS is a “dangerous terrorist organization that has to be defeated and that we must take a lead in that” through air strikes and cooperation with regional partners.

    “I also believe we need to recognize that we cannot fight a civil war on the ground in Iraq or Syria,” she said. “We have to look to the leadership of that region to resolve the long-term historic undefined but I think resolvable undefined schisms and conflicts with the right leadership there.”

    And then she came close to siding with some legislative leaders pushing for more Congressional oversight of the nation’s growing role in the conflict.

    “The president has to work closely with Congress. Especially at this moment in time, it’s incumbent for the president and Congress to come up with a unified strategy.”

    ...

    Republicans took quick aim at Nunn’s jobs plan on Thursday, in part for not vowing to repeal Obamacare and for seeking to raise the minimum wage. Republican David Perdue’s spokeswoman, Megan Whittemore, had this to say:

    “After reading Michelle Nunn’s so-called ‘jobs plan’ it’s clear her campaign will stop at nothing to deceive Georgians about who she really is and what she stands for. This confusing attempt to describe her vision for job creation is full of contradictions. Michelle Nunn mimics many of David’s ideas and then immediately undercuts them by advocating some of the same failed liberal approaches that caused the economic problems in the first place.

    “Missing from the ‘jobs plan’ are obvious solutions to address the economic crisis President Obama and Democrats in Washington have created. For example, Michelle Nunn claims she is for reducing the regulatory burdens on small businesses, but completely ignores the negative impacts of Obamacare, which is cutting back workers hours and increasing costs for families. Similarly, she claims she supports energy independence, but refuses to address how burdensome regulations on the coal industry will raise energy prices and destroy jobs.”

    And the Georgia GOP’s Leslie Shedd:
    “In Nunn’s latest so-called jobs plan – in which ‘there’s no pricetag for her pledges’ – she claims she will support No Budget, No Pay legislation. The problem? Nunn’s loyalties lie with Harry Reid, who, in addition to endorsing Nunn, also said it would be ‘foolish’ for Senate Democrats to even propose their own federal budget. So long as Harry Reid is leader, he will block any chances of passing a budget.

    “But it gets worse, a recent study by the Georgia Restaurant Association shows that [the minimum wage hike in] Michelle Nunn’s so-called jobs plan could cost more than 21,000 jobs statewide. It could cost state and local governments an additional $164 million annually because of the 60,000 public workers that could be affected.”
    ***

    Read the full article.

  • 04 Sep 2014 10:05 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: Peach Pundit

    By: CHET MARTIN 

    A friend of mine recently fell in love with Savannah. He thought the city beautiful and the people lovely, but the fireworks moment was a conversation with a bartender you aren’t likely to find out of Chatham County. The bartender came of age up north, raised by anarchist, hippy parents. To rebel, he joined the military and discovered a fondness for drink. He decided to live in a place where he could always have an adult beverage in hand. Enter Savannah.

    Now city fathers have come to regret that easygoing approach to alcohol. A proposed ordinance would make every bar or restaurant that serves alcohol a 21-and-up establishment after 10 PM on Fridays and Saturdays. They argue the measure is necessary to reduce the high levels of crime the city experiences on weekends. Restaurateurs argue the measure will kill business and the charm that draws tourists to Savannah. The money quote comes from Georgia Restaurant Association representative Mike Vaquer:

    “This is a military town. Are we going to tell a 20 year old G.I., who is out on the Southside and wants to go into Applebee’s to eat at 11 o’clock at night that he can’t do so without his parents?”

    Government has a habit of denying adult citizenship to 18-20 year-olds who are just that. We will see if Savannah will join that ignoble tradition.
  • 02 Sep 2014 7:33 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: WJCL News

    By Nick Natario

    SAVANNAH, Ga. (WJCL) – Savannah stands apart from many places across the country. Not just with its beauty, but alcohol policies.

    It’s one of a handful of places where you can drink booze, in public, in a “to-go cup” downtown. But city leaders are worried their outdated ordinance might be creating a problem.

    For more than a year they’ve worked on changes, and on Tuesday the public got a first look.

    “This is really the beginning of a process,” Savannah Management Services Bureau Chief Sean Brandon.

    For two hours leaders laid out the proposal. One change, anyone under 21 couldn’t be in a bar or restaurant after ten on Fridays and Saturdays.

    An idea met with resistance from some owners.

    “Then I propose that the city provide me with a fee annually to compensate for that lost revenue,” said Crystal Beer Parlor owner John Nichols.

    “This is a military town,” said Georgia Restaurant Association representative Mike Vaquer.

    “Are we going to tell a 20 year old G.I., who is out on the Southside and wants to go into Applebee’s to eat at 11 o’clock at night that he can’t do so without his parents?”

    But officials say something needs to be done because safety is a concern. Officers showed statistics on how alcohol creates a problem on the weekends.

    “These are arrests on just Friday and Saturday nights and you can see those two nights of the week account for the majority of arrests of the week,” said Lt. David Gay. Officials also want to do away with employee bar cards.

    They say it’s a hassle and would prefer owners make their employees take a third party online course instead. Another possible change, where “to-go cups” are allowed.

    Leaders want to now include Forsyth Park. But some neighbors questioned this decision.

    “If savannah is pushing to get a higher end tourist, that’s not the way to do it,” said Savannah resident Bob Rosenwald.

    City leaders stressed the alcohol ordinance is months, if not another year, away from being changed.

    The next round of meetings will take place Thursday, Sept. 18, in the Bryan room at the Savannah Civic Center at 1 p.m and 6 p.m.

    Watch the video.

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