Polifact Georgia tickled by Elmo, truthiness
By Willoughby Mariano
Published on Sunday, March 6th, 2011 at 6:00 a.m.
Move over, Elmo. After last week’s outbreak of truthiness, no one can be more tickled than PolitiFact Georgia.
Partisans were on target about subjects as disparate as county budget cuts and "Sesame Street," which launched the career of the Muppet that inspired the Tickle Me Elmo doll. They even fared well on the contentious issues of illegal immigration and abortion. The sole exception was President Barack Obama on Social Security checks.
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State Sen. Don Balfour: An illegal immigrant who gains admission at a public college takes class space away from students who are legal residents.
Balfour supports House Bill 59, which would block illegal immigrants from admission to Georgia’s public colleges.
During a Feb. 15 committee hearing, the Snellville Republican said freshmen had trouble registering for classes at Gainesville State College and Georgia Gwinnett College because they were full, he said.
"If there’s one student that’s at Georgia Gwinnett College that’s not here legally, that student [the legal resident] is losing his position to someone who’s not here legally," Balfour said.
We took a look.
Gainesville State and Georgia Gwinnett admit every student who meets basic admission requirements. That means no one, legal or illegal, can be shut out.
Getting into the classes you want can be tough because there isn’t enough money to hire teachers, not because of illegal immigrants. Their numbers are extremely small.
Balfour’s statement is correct, but most of the time, legal residents take slots away from one another. He earns a Mostly True.
U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.: "From 2003 to 2006, 'Sesame Street' made more than $211 million from toy and consumer product sales."
Is Big Bird a fat cat?
So says DeMint, who is leading the charge to eliminate funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. One Democrat accused Republicans of "silencing Cookie Monster" and "laying off Bert and Ernie."
DeMint responded with a blog post and an op-ed in the Washington Times that "Sesame Street" would do just fine without federal funding and made the above claim.
That's a lot of Elmo dolls. Really?
We got the 2009 990 tax form submitted by the Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit group that produces the show, and DeMint is correct.
"Sesame Street" makes a lot of its revenue from non-government sources, much of it through the sale of toys and other consumer products. Federal grants make up less than 10 percent of its budget.
DeMint's figures earn him a True.
Liberal blogger: Under a proposed Georgia law, "women who miscarry could become felons."
Once again, Republican state Rep. Bobby Franklin has triggered liberal ire.
The Marietta legislator’s House Bill 1 bans abortion and labels it "prenatal murder." But that’s not what irks left-leaning bloggers.
Jen Phillips, a staffer with liberal magazine Mother Jones, said the bill was too vague, and she made the above statement.
HB 1 does not tell prosecutors to press charges for miscarriages, but the language is so broad it’s possible. Women have been prosecuted for actions investigators think adversely affected their fetuses, even if the law did not mandate it.
Phillips earns a Mostly True.
President Barack Obama: If there’s a government shutdown, "people don’t get their Social Security checks."
With Obama and congressional Republicans on a potential collision course over the federal budget, the possibility of a government shutdown is closer than it’s been in years.
Obama made the above statement Feb. 15 in a news conference.
Since Social Security is supported by a trust fund, there would be money for payments despite a shutdown. But a shutdown could mean Social Security Administration workers would stay home.
During two shutdowns in the 1990s, they were ordered to work, and checks went out.
Experts told us it’s likely that checks will go out, but there’s no guarantee. Obama earns a Barely True.
DeKalb County Chief Executive Officer Burrell Ellis: DeKalb County has cut more money from its general fund budget "than any local government in the Atlanta metro region."
Ellis wanted to raise property taxes to balance DeKalb County’s budget. Instead, county commissioners ordered $33.6 million in cuts.
"We’ve cut $109 million. I think we’ve done more than any local government in the metro Atlanta region," he told reporters Feb. 22.
Ellis was talking about cuts from DeKalb’s general fund budget -- which pays for police, fire rescue and most county services -- since he became CEO in January 2009.
The drop is $107 million, not $109 million, a county spokesman said. That’s about 17 percent.
Since DeKalb’s population is 747,274, we compared it to Cobb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties and the city of Atlanta. All have populations larger than 500,000.
Fulton County’s budget declined about 11 percent. Gwinnett County by 2 percent; Atlanta, 13 percent; Cobb County, 3 percent.
Yes, DeKalb has cut more. True.
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