eyewitness news at 11, 10-1-13

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<People in tears trying to figure out how they're going to make ends meet with their family, because some are single parents with only one income coming in.>

<if they shut down WIC, I'm gonna cry.>

     From Robins Air Force Base...to Federal Court houses.... To your house... We look at the impact of the government shutdown... Tonight... On Eyewitness News at 11.      

     Hello, everyone.

     I'm Frank Malloy.

     The local impact of the partial shutdown, nearly a full day later.

     That's much of our focus tonight.

     Plus... Macon City Council passes a sweeping spay-neuter ordinance.

     We'll get to all that ahead.

     First though... The budget crisis at hand started in Washington.... where something of a blame game continued today.

     We begin tonight...with a look at the political ping-pong inside the halls of power..and its impact on our nation's capitol.

<  "I know it's strange that one party would make keeping people uninsured the centerpiece of their agenda."

    "since when is it against the power of the United States Congress to change existing law by amending or repealing it? Or defunding it?"

     "many would say that this is a predictable part of this shutdown that these barriers would be here."

     "you might wanna tell Harry Reid to end the shutdown."

     "you can't govern this country. You guys are worthless."

     "i'll speak to it.  Last night at 11:30, you saw it.  The Democratic leadership in the House had a press conference. They asked to go to conference."

     "those people know that if they act reasonably here, that they will get an ultra right-wing nut case Tea Party primary challenge funded by the likes of the Coke brothers and others."

     "the best I can say is, I feel like I am serving in the nation's largest kindergarten."

     "the Affordable Care Act is a law that passed the House and the Senate.  The Supreme Court ruled it Constitutional. It was a central issue in last year's election. It is settled, and it is here to stay." >

     A lot of protests... Unusual scenes..and opinions you just heard from both Republicans and Democrats tonight.

     Turning now to the impact here at home... Particularly at Robins Air Force Base... Where around 4-thousand civilians now face furloughs...

     The president...of a union that represents them...is urging members to light up the phones to Washington.

     Tom Scott says...calling their congressional representatives is the best thing many of them can do at a time when they might otherwise feel helpless.

<there's frustration. Some people are pounding the table made and angry. Some are crying upset. It goes from two different extremes. They like they're second class citizens, basically they're being hit again with furloughs. They just got off one with the sequester. Now, there's a shutdown for no real good reason.>

     Scott says the furlough at Robins is primarily affecting office workers.

     They were sent home.  And that means..no paycheck... Unless the government decides to retroactively pay them... After they reach a budget agreement.

     Many  flight line employees... maintenance workers... Are still on the job.

     They're paid out a different stream of money... Called the working capital fund.

     Scott said they've been told there's enough money for them to keep being paid... For awhile. 

     Yesterday... A base spokesman said about 4-thousand employees could be furloughed.

     We tried to get an answer on how many actually received furlough letters today.

     However... We couldn't reach anyone in the public affairs office.. Because they're on furlough too.

     While we didn't reach a current base spokesman... We did talk to the retired major General who once commanded its air logistics center...and is now CEO of the 21st Century partnership.

     He described why people..with no immediate connection to the base should be concerned.

< 28 percent of the wages earned in middle georgia generate from Robins Air Force Base. 52 percent of those wages earned generate that are in Houston County are generated by the base. So everyone is impacted. If you provide a service, if you work at a car dealership, in a restaurant, whatever the case may be, there are less dollars in the community,  which means less dollars being spent, which means your business is going to be impacted.>

     You can watch much more reaction to the partial shutdown... Both local...and national...on our website tonight...13WMAZ-dot-com.

     All Macon pet owners will now be required to spay or neuter their animals... Or pay a fee.

     City council passed the law ... Proposed by council member Nancy White.

     Katelyn Heck was there for the 8 to 5 vote.

     People... And other visitors... packed Macon city hall... to weigh in on a proposed law that would require all pet owners to spay or neuter their animals.

<why must we be punished financially and with onerous licensing and record-keeping requirements? You should target the problem.>

<sterilized animals roam less, are less aggressive, and very obviously do not contribute to the problem of overpopulation>

     Some community members also held crosses to symbolize the nearly 40 animals euthanized at the animal shelter over the past week.

     But some council members say the most persuading testimony... Came from animal shelter director Sarah Tenon.

<i am sick and tired of the vicious cycle of the animals coming in and out of this shelter, of the irresponsible owners that call and say, 'my dog is pregnant. Can you take this dog? Will you promise me that you will not euthanize her puppies?' I'm tired of lying. We need this ordinance.>

     The law allows for some exceptions... Such as show dogs... And Hunting dogs.

     Owners who don't fit the exceptions... But still don't want to spay or neuter... Can pay an annual fee and get their pet microchipped.

     Tuesday night... Nancy White amended her proposal... So first time offenders will receive a warning... But after that... They could face a fine of up to 5-hundred dollars.

     But some council members... Like Virgil Watkins say... The law is still too overbearing.

<there are several pet owners that i've talked to that desire not to. They feel as though they are doing a responsible job with their animals and they wish to keep them intact and I think as a property owner you should have that right.>

     Watkins and four others voted against the law.

     Some questioned how Tenon would enforce it with only four animal control officers and a packed shelter.

<we're going to be able to do it. Because it's easier to prevent it. You know, it's an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure>

     Tenon says she will form committees of her officers and community members to develop more ways to educate pet owners and enforce the law.

     She says her officers will also start looking for unaltered pets when they go out on other calls.

     Katelyn Heck 13WMAZ Eyewitness News >

     White also added an amendment that will allow Tenon to stop enforcing the law... If she feels there are not enough low or no cost spay neuter options available for pet owners.

     Mayor Robert Reichert still has to sign off on the law before it takes effect.

     13WMAZ could not reach him for comment on if or when that will happen.

     A new convenience store got hit by would-be burglars... Before it ever opened its doors.

     That's the new Sunoco G Food Mart on Bloomfield Drive, which the owner tells 13WMAZ, will still open later this week, in spite of some broken glass and a damaged alarm system.

     Macon Police say the two men didn't get anything when they came smashing into the store early this morning...and ended up running away.

     More coverage tonight...of how the partial government shutdown is affecting Central Georgians...and though nothing's happened yet...

One federally funded program that helps low-income families is in jeopardy.

     WIC...or Women..Infants...and Children program...may run out of funds.

     It provides families with vouchers for food...milk...formula and other healthy items.

     20-year-old Delmetria Matthews has a newborn...and without WIC...the single mother would be in trouble.

<and without those vouchers how much money do you think you'd be spending? Whoah, over about 200 dollars on formula. If they shutdown WIC oh i'ma cry, i'ma cry. >

     This afternoon...the Georgia Department of Public Health issued this statement:

     At this time, Georgia WIC is operating business as usual.  The Georgia Department of Public Health and Georgia WIC are working on steps to keep WIC operating for as long as possible. 

     The program serves more than 280 thousand families statewide.

     The United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia...says because of the partial government shutdown..he had to furlough half of his staff.

     That's 27 people...out of 60.

     But so far - Austin Lewis tell us - the shutdown hasn't not affected the federal courts..

It's business as usual here at U-S Courthouse on Mulberry street. That's according to it's court clerk Gregory Leonard.

They've got the funds on reserve...to keep running for two weeks.

Thats the same for U-S Bankruptcy court...Clerk Bill Tanner says they've got non-appropriated funds...to keep every person working here for a couple of weeks.

But at the U-S attorney's office...furloughs....started Tuesday morning.

<Michael Moore: Almost half of them are at home.  Those people have no guaranteed of being paid and you've got the remaining folks who are here who are working currently knowing that their pay was going to be delayed for some period of time and it's discouraging. >

He's prioritized the cases scheduled for trial at the federal courthouse.

 

<Michael Moore: I mean I really look at which of our functions could withstand some period of delay and the criminal cases by and large cannot >

U-S Attorney Michael Moore says...the Department of Justice has put out a five day contingency plan...but beyond that...

<Michael Moore: Do you guys know what will happen after five days?  I don't know, I don't know we are in pretty regular contact with Washington we get updates from the Attorney General.>

But his office's duties...that he says include...defending what makes America...like the constitution. Something...he says that no  shutdown...should affect.

<Michael Moore: I think that it is terribly unfortunate that any aspect of representing the United States of America whether it be in a criminal court, a civil court, whether it be a Social Security, any aspect of representing the United States has to be put on hold because of a budget crisis.>

Austin Lewis 13WMAZ Eyewitness News.

Greg Leonard says he would have to furlough staff except essential personnel after their funding source runs dry...

    The city of Perry is making lemonade... Out of lemons... And welcoming a town nuisance... With a new years eve celebration.

 

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