SMYRNA resident Keith Blackwell will be the newest justice on the Georgia Supreme Court, following his appointment on Monday by Gov. Nathan Deal.
He will succeed Justice George H. Carley, whose resignation announced last year takes effect July 17. Blackwell has served on the Georgia Court of Appeals since 2010, when he was appointed by Gov. Sonny Perdue. Blackwell could run for election for a full term on the court in 2014. He’ll be sworn in to succeed Carley on July 19.
The new justice is a native of Cherokee County, having graduated from Cherokee High School. He went on to graduate first in his class from the University of Georgia’s College of Arts and Sciences with a political science degree in 1996, then capped that by graduating first in his class from the University of Georgia School of Law in 1999.
He spent two years in Cobb as an assistant county prosecutor early in his career. His most noteworthy case was probably that of Cortez Lornell Carter, who was accused of robbing and beating to death a pizza deliveryman, Paul Wojcik, during a fierce struggle in the Windmill Lake Apartment complex on Favor Road in Marietta in 2002. The robbery netted Carter $10 and a pizza. The victim was the father of three children. Carter was found guilty after a brief trial in 2004 and sentenced to life plus 20 years in prison.
Blackwell later worked as a partner with Parker, Hudson, Ranier & Dobbs in Atlanta until 2010, when he was appointed to the Appeals Court along with Macon attorney Stephen Dillard to fill a pair of vacancies on that 12-member court created by the retirement of Judge Alan Blackburn and the untimely cancer-related passing of Judge Debra Bernes, both of east Cobb.
“I have given my word to Governor Deal, and I give my word to the citizens of this state, that every day and in every case, I will adhere to the high standards of impartiality, independence and integrity that Georgians rightfully expect of their judges; that I will faithfully apply the law as it is, not as I might wish it to be; and that I will respect the separation of powers, bearing in mind that the judicial power, though indispensable to our system of government, is a limited one,” said Blackwell in a statement.
Blackwell and his wife, Angela, have three daughters.
FORMER KENNESAW STATE UNIVERSITY Provost Dr. Lendley Black has only been chancellor of the University of Minnesota-Duluth for a little more than year, but he already has a controversy on his hands due to his strong support for an ad campaign designed to promote “racial justice” by raising awareness of “white privilege.”
As reported last week on the CampusReform.org watchdog site, Black has directed the UMD to partner with local organizations and lead the well-funded UnFair Campaign, which has as its motto, “It’s hard to see racism when you’re white.”
The centerpieces of the campaign are online videos featuring close-ups of Caucasians confessing their guilt for the “privilege” they say comes with their color.
“We’re privileged because the system was set up for us and our silence keeps it in place,” says one man.
Those in the videos have “Unfair” slogans scrawled on their faces by ink pen or Magic Marker. Black sent a lengthy message to the campus in April endorsing the campaign as part of an effort to create an “inclusive campus.”
Black’s school also made news briefly last September after one of his diversity administrators called a student a “white supremacist” for handing out free pocket-sized copies of the U.S. Constitution.
Black served as provost of KSU for six years before taking the UMD job in early 2011. In fact, KSU President Dr. Dan Papp was in Duluth for Black’s investiture as chancellor when he was apprised via a phone call from an MDJ reporter that Phys-Ed professor Dr. Timothy Chandler of Kent State University, his choice to succeed Black as provost (the second-ranking job at the school) appeared to be a closet Marxist. That assessment was obvious after plowing through an opaque academic paper penned by Chandler, a critique of university governance that embodied Marxist philosophy and described the U.S. as “the most violent nation in history.”
Many KSU faculty members argued “academic freedom” entitled Chandler to whatever views he desired; but Papp was quick to understand Chandler would have been a disaster for KSU. His support for Chandler quickly turned tepid, and Chandler decided to stay put at Kent. KSU promoted Dr. Ken Harmon to the provost slot instead.
IS THEATRE IN THE SQUARE soon to rise from the ashes, phoenix-like, under another name but at its familiar Whitlock Avenue location? Possibly.
East Cobb’s Ed Howard, author and producer of the “Greater Tuna” series of plays, and Gene Bradley, longtime house manager and hostess at the theater, have announced plans for “The Marietta Theatre.” It has the blessings of Theatre in the Square co-founder Palmer Wells, in contrast with the “Trackside Theatre Company” proposal floated this spring by former Theatre in the Square board chair Mike Russell and education director Susan Reid.
Theatre in the Square closed in March for financial reasons and many saw the “Trackside” proposal as the latest act in a thinly veiled coup attempt by Russell and Reid to depose Wells. The two requested $50,000 in start-up money from the city, but later withdrew the request when it appeared likely to be rejected.
Those behind The Marietta Theatre group are not asking for donations, but are requesting “pledges to donate.” Once they have secured the appropriate level of pledges for Year-One operations, Howard could sign a lease on the theater space at 11 Whitlock Ave., and ask for donations, which would be tax-deductible.
Howard and Bradley have emailed nearly 3,000 people asking for pledges. Howard said rent for the building is about $7,000 monthly, and that he has collected about $10,000 in pledges thus far. The Springer Opera House in Columbus would provide administrative and tech support for the start-up and transition to an independent, non-profit, community-based professional theater, Howard said
“I believe so in the healing power of theater and I think everybody needs to have a chance to be a part of it,” said 63-year-old Howard.
Howard also promises “an eclectic mix of shows geared to the tastes and values of the community with an emphasis on the works of Southern writers.”
In addition, the theater’s budget emphasis would be on artistic talent, with other expenses kept to a minimum, he said.
POLITICS: Many, if not most, of those whose names will appear on the July 31 primary ballot will converge this evening at Parc at Piedmont for a non-partisan forum organized by Oliver Halle and Don Jenacova. The candidates make no remarks and then mingle with the crowd. For more call Halle at (770) 321- 2778. …
Another non-partisan event will be Wednesday, when state Rep. David Wilkerson (D-Austell) will conduct a meet-and-greet for all candidates for the District 4 seat representing southwest Cobb on the county commission and Post 3 on the Cobb school board.
The event will be from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Ron Anderson Recreation Center in Powder Springs.
MORE POLITICS: It will be a case of dueling fundraisers on Thursday in the race for county commission chairman. Butch Thompson and Paul Chastain will conduct a breakfast for Commission Chair candidate Bill Byrne from 7 to 9 a.m. at Butch Thompson Enterprises on Moon Station Drive in Kennesaw. And a fundraiser for Commission Chairman Tim Lee will be from 6:30 to 8 p.m. that evening at the Atlanta Marriott Northwest. …
Also Thursday, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens and Cobb Sheriff Neil Warren will be honorary hosts at a reception welcoming Kimberly Carroll as deputy clerk designee for Cobb Clerk of Superior Court candidate Rebecca Keaton from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the offices of Moore Ingram Johnson & Steele at 326 Roswell St. …
THE STRAND THEATRE in Marietta will be transformed into “Hitsville, USA” starting July Fourth for five performances of classic Motown tunes from the 1960s by a live band and vocalists. Shows are July 4 to 8, with the Sunday show a matinee. Last year’s Motown show was a sell-out, reminds director Earl Reece. Tickets are $20.
Go to www.earlsmithstrand.org or call (770) 293-0080.