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Is legislative redistricting "transparent?"

Is legislative redistricting "transparent?"

ATLANTA -- It may be to the state Capitol what Area 51 is to the Nevada desert -- a place shrouded in mystery, with red letters warning against entry, and black curtains blocking the glass.

It's next to the reapportionment committee office. It's the room where the maps are made.

"They've got computers in there, a lot of equipment and stuff," said Rep. Roger Lane, chairman of the House Reapportionment Committee. Lane couldn't explain why the windows were blacked out, though. "I didn't do it. I don't know."

The maps are the legislative boundaries, redrawn during a special session of the legislature based on 2010 census data. The process, behind the glass, is touted by Republicans as "transparent."

"It's been the most transparency I've seen in the system in twenty years," said Sen. Don Balfour, Republican chairman of the Rules Committee.

Delving into DeKalb County's Superintendent Choice

Delving into DeKalb County's Superintendent Choice

ATLANTA--- A team of three journalists at 11Alive News spent Wednesday checking into the background and work history of Dr. Cheryl Atkinson, the finalist for superintendent of DeKalb County Schools.

Duffie Dixon, Donna Lowry and Ross McLaughlin were prompted by emails and calls from teachers, parents and homeowners who question whether Atkinson is up to the task of leading DeKalb's system.

Lowry  found is that Dr. Cheryl Atkinson current district in Lorain, Ohio ranks second to the lowest designation in performance, but Atkinson has said that test scores and overall performance have gone up.

According to the Ohio State Board of Education actual figures to substantiate that don't come out until August 24.

Emory administrator named to national think tank

Emory administrator named to national think tank

ATLANTA -- An Emory University administrator has been named a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Holli A. Semetko, vice provost for international affairs at the private Atlanta university, joins 74 other life members announced this year.

The council, founded in 1921, is an independent, nonpartisan think tank and publisher on international affairs and foreign relations.

The more than 4,300 council members include American diplomats, politicians, journalists, scholars and business professionals.

Dr. Semetko was chosen because of her work on political communication in the U.S. and other countries, as well as a focus on information and public opinion in elections. She is also director of Emory's Halle Institute of Global Learning.

Gingrey opposes Boehner's debt reduction plan

Gingrey opposes Boehner's debt reduction plan

WASHINGTON -- A House vote on Speaker John Boehner's debt reduction plan is expected Thursday, but not all Republicans are on board.

RELATED: How the debt ceiling crisis could hit consumers

MORE: Tell your lawmakers how you feel 

Georgia Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-11th District) says Congress needs to get the job done, but it needs to be done the right way.  

Making the Tough Call

Making the Tough Call

Making the Tough Call

By Commissioner Jeff Rader

Cagle raises $18K in off-election year

Cagle raises $18K in off-election year

ATLANTA -- Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle has more than $208,000 in the bank for a possible re-election bid in 2014.

A report Cagle filed with state officials Friday showed the Gainesville Republican has raised a little more than $18,000 in the first six months of 2011, a non-election year when fundraising is typically sluggish.

He already had $344,262 left over from last year's successful bid for a second term as the state's No. 2.

Finance reports detailing campaign contributions and expenditures were due with the state ethics commission by Friday night.

Cagle trailed at least one other top Republican in the Senate, where he presides. House Rules Committee Chairman Don Balfour of Snellville raked in $137,000 for the first six months of the year. He has more than $174,000 in the bank.

(The Associated Press)

Georgia appeals ruling on immigration law

Georgia appeals ruling on immigration law

ATLANTA -- A spokeswoman for the state attorney general says the state has filed a notice of appeal of a federal judge's ruling that blocked parts of the state's law cracking down on illegal immigration from taking effect.

Spokeswoman Lauren Kane says the notice was filed Tuesday with the U.S. District Court in Atlanta, but has not yet been filed with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. The office will file court papers outlining the state's objections to last week's ruling.

The decision from federal Judge Thomas Thrash granted a request filed by civil liberties groups to block two sections of the law from taking effect until a lawsuit challenging the law's constitutionality has been resolved.

Other parts of the law, passed by the Georgia Legislature this year, took effect Friday.