Around Town: Olens has prime seat Monday as court weighs whether to overturn Obamacare
by Otis Brumby, Bill Kinney and Joe Kirby
Around Town Columnists
March 24, 2012 12:00 AM | 4502 views | 7 7 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
GEORGIA Attorney General Sam Olens of east Cobb will jet Sunday to Washington, D.C., where he has snagged a seat in the courtroom during Monday’s momentous oral arguments as the U.S. Supreme Court weighs whether to overturn Obamacare.

Georgia is one of 26 states arguing that Obamacare’s “individual mandate” — its requirement that every American must buy health insurance — is unconstitutional.

The Court has given the plaintiffs only six seats in the courtroom.

“It would have been nice to be in the hearings all three days, but when they’re only giving us six seats … I’m just honored to have one of them,” he told Around Town late this week. “It’s the hottest ticket in D.C. in a long time.”

Indeed. Interest in the case is nearly as high as when the court heard arguments in the 2000 presidential election case and during the Watergate scandal. No cameras or video equipment are allowed in the courtroom.

Only 50 seats in the courtroom are allotted to the public, and people start standing in line days ahead of time to try to procure seats in such cases. Another small bloc of seats is saved for the media and a few are held for senators and congressmen. Olens said he expects he and the other five occupants of the plaintiffs’ seats will be seated directly behind the plaintiffs’ attorneys. He said he did not know how many seats the defendants in the case had been given.

“I’m guardedly optimistic (about the outcome),” he said. “They’ve done a great job preparing the briefs. We’ll all listen for any little hints the justices give (as to how they might rule), then await their order in late June.”

GEORGIA was a latecomer to the Obamacare suit, as then-Attorney General Thurbert Baker, a Democrat, had no interest in joining it. The decision to do so was ultimately made by then-Gov. Sonny Perdue. Georgia thus is not on the plaintiffs’ executive committee, which consists of Florida (where the original suit was filed), Colorado, Texas, South Carolina, Washington and Nebraska. Olens told AT he is doubly surprised to have been offered one of the six seats for one of the three days of arguments scheduled, in that the state was late to come aboard and because he has only been attorney general for just more than a year.

OLENS is being assisted on the case by a team of attorneys who are working pro-bono for the state. And several members of the team have ties to Cobb.

Nels Peterson of east Cobb was lead counsel for Perdue, now is policy director for Olens and is the one who put together the team.

Josh Belifante, former attorney for then-Gov. Perdue, is running as a Republican for the Georgia District 6 seat in the state Senate representing Smyrna/Sandy Springs now held by Doug Stoner (D-Smyrna) and also being sought by Republicans Hunter Hill of Cobb and Beth Beskin and Drew Ellenburg of Buckhead.

W. Pitts Carr’s name should be a familiar one by now to those who have followed the Cobb EMC legal saga. He represents the plaintiffs in the long-running suit against the management of the utility, which is now nearing its end.

And Ben Mathis Jr., is managing partner of Freeman, Mathis & Gary at the Galleria and lives in Marietta.

OLENS will sit through the arguments on Monday, take part in post-hearing press conferences and meetings, then fly back to Atlanta that night.

It’s heady stuff for someone who just two years ago was voting on rezonings as Cobb Commission Chairman.

“Yes, but that rezoning is just as important to the person who lives next to it as what the Supreme Court does,” he chided.

THE HONEYMOON IS OVER with new School Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa for Cobb County School Board member Kathleen Angelucci, who made it clear at Thursday night’s board that she’s ready to begin cleaning house at the Central Office, voting against five of the 15 executive contracts that were up for renewal.

“It was a trust issue related to their jobs,” she told Around Town on Friday, explaining her votes against renewing the contracts of Deputy Superintendent Alice Stouder, Chief Academic Officer Dr. Judi Jones, area assistant superintendents Ed Thayer and Angela Huff and Communications Director Jay Dillon. Angelucci was joined by member Alison Bartlett in the votes against Jones, Thayer and Dillon.

Angelucci said she had gone along with the super’s modest cabinet reshuffling last fall, “giving him the benefit of the doubt,” but still having doubts of her own.

The reorganization amounted to “rearranging the deck chairs with the same folks and new titles and a little more pay,” but nothing substantive, according to a source close to Angelucci. Her votes against the five did not come as a surprise to the super, she said, “but I could tell by his demeanor that he was not pleased.”

The board discussed the personnel decisions in executive session, then voted in public. Angelucci told AT that Stouder had a few things to say to her in private, adding, “She was not very nice about it.”

“I told her it was not personal, but was about her job performance,” said Angelucci, declining to comment further.

On the other hand, deputy Superintendent Chris Ragsdale, whose contract was unanimously renewed, reportedly told Angelucci in the hallway afterward, “You really sent a message throughout this building tonight.”

A former school board member told AT she thinks Hinojosa has been a “do nothing super” rather than a “change agent” since taking over from Fred Sanderson nine months ago. She’s said to be upset that he tried to “backdoor” the Teach For America program into Cobb and was secretly working with board member David Morgan to set up a board-operated charter school in south Cobb in violation of state law.

POLITICS: Former East Cobb Commissioner Thea Powell is hosting a meet and greet from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday for county chairman candidate Tea Partier Mike Boyce; Marietta attorney John Skelton, who is vying for Superior Court clerk; and Marietta attorney Nathan Wade, who is running for a Cobb Superior Court judgeship. The event is at Powell’s house, located at 3354 Weathertop Way in east Cobb. …

Scott Johnson, Jason Shepherd, Dawn Levine, Justin O’Dell, Tom Cauthorn and Tom Browning are hosting a reception for Superior Court clerk candidate Rebecca Keaton. The event will be from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the offices of Browning & Smith, 31 Atlanta St., Marietta. … Also on Tuesday, Charlie and Marsha Crowder will host a fundraiser for Superior Court Judge candidate Van Pearlberg at 5:30 p.m. at their home, 325 McDaniel Road in Marietta.

M&G: Cobb Commission Chair candidate Bill Byrne will be doing plenty of “meeting and greeting” in the next few days, from the sounds of things. Nancy and Anthony McElroy will hold a “meet and greet” for the former chair at their home in Vinings from 4-6 p.m. Sunday. On Monday, Jim Carroll and Bob Terrell are sponsoring a noon “meet and greet” for Byrne at The Rib Ranch. And a third “meet and greet” will be from 7-9 p.m. Tuesday at the Walkers Ridge Subdivision Clubhouse, sponsored by Martha Dearmon and Geri Staden.

THE NEW DIRECTORS of Cobb EMC will hold a town hall meeting — a first for that organization — from 6:30-8:30 p.m. April 24 in the community room at the utility’s headquarters. It’s a step toward openness and transparency, they write in a letter to the editor of the MDJ that will run in Sunday’s edition.

“We are aware of some allegations that ‘nothing is changing’ and nothing could be more wrong,” write new Chair Ed Crowell and members David Tennant, Cheryl Meadows and Malcolm Swanson.

CONGRATULATIONS to Elizabeth and Alexandria Elizabeth Brown, whose children’s book, “Who I’d Like to Be,” has now gone into a second printing and is being used by Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal, a former teacher, in her tour of Georgia reading to preschoolers.

The book was written two years ago by Elizabeth Brown, then 90, who is the mother of longtime Kennestone Hospital administrator Bernie Brown of Marietta, founder of what is now the WellStar Health System. The book was illustrated by one of Mrs. Brown’s 19 great-grandchildren, Alexandria, 10, who has suffered from cancer during much of her young life, but whose disease is now in remission.

Proceeds from the sale of their upbeat, brightly illustrated book benefit Blue Skies Ministries, a Georgia-based nonprofit that provides retreats and support for children with cancer and their families.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
@angelucci is
March 26, 2012
WOOOOOO!! Ms. Angelucci is a scary and dangerous person and going back to the traditional calendar is going to make the whole system fall apart? What seriously? I am going to dig a bunker right now. YOU, are the scary and dangerous one! The sky is falling......the sky is falling.....calendar calendar calendar calendar calendar.......
Insider on 1st floor
March 25, 2012
Dr H delegates EVERYTHING to others..... Look at his desk sometime and you'll see that every paper that comes in goes out.......
Angelucci is
March 24, 2012
a scary dangerous person who has little need to be in public office.

Nothing personal, just about your job performance.

Nice job to the traditional calendar nuts. You put the system at risk due to one issue.
March 24, 2012
Mr. Walrus Hinojosa has been a “do nothing super”

March 24, 2012
I guess Tim Lee's Town Halls could be described as "Meet and Lie" gatherings.
March 24, 2012
"A former school board member told AT she thinks Hinojosa has been a 'do nothing super' rather than a 'change agent' since taking over from Fred Sanderson nine months ago. She’s said to be upset that he tried to 'backdoor' the Teach For America program into Cobb and was secretly working with board member David Morgan to set up a board-operated charter school in south Cobb in violation of state law."

What do the opinions of a former school board member have to do with anything? Oh, right, she's aligned with your efforts to run yet another Cobb Superintendent out of town. Interesting that what she "told" the MDJ is the same talking points the paper has been hammering on for weeks.

Why won't you include her name? Won't she stand behind her statements? Did she ask to remain anonymous or did YOU make the choice not to name her? Does she really exist at all? Can you please articulate the newspaper's policy on the use of anonymous sources? Do you have one?

Boot Tim Lee
March 24, 2012
Mike Boyce and Bill Byrne both are having a meet and greet this weekend. Hopefully one of these fine gentlemen will be the next Chairman of the Cobb County Board of Commissioners. Tim Lee voted to bring Marta to Cobb County and voted to raise taxes. BOOT TIM LEE out of office on election day!

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