Tuesday, July 31, 2012

2012 General Primary Results

It looks like the Secretary of State's Office has outsourced its election reporting to good results. There is a lot more detail, fancy maps and downloadables that could keep me up for hours, but...
See Baldwin results here and statewide results here. Looks like the 25th Georgia Senatorial District has slipped from Baldwin County's grasp. Drive lightly on those new stretches of asphalt coming in and out of town, that may be the last road construction we see for a long time. It is interesting to wonder if the balance of power is making Baldwin County a little redder like the rest of the state. Judging by the turnout for the most popular republican ballot initiative (casino gambling to support education / 3,616) vs. its counterpart on the democratic ticket (decreasing the state's sales tax on Georgia-made products / 2,513 votes cast), the single contested local democratic primary on the ballot--though one could argue BOE 2 to be a democratic contest of sorts--and the inability to even field a congressional challenger, Baldwin may be ceding its position as a holdout blue county amidst the sea of red.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Conrad Fink

I never had the opportunity to take a class with Conrad Fink, but sometimes mere moments with great people can have lasting effects on impressionable minds.
The open space I learned to allow for the unsolicited thoughts of teachers, businesspeople, politicians, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters and anyone else I came into contact with as a newspaper reporter came from an interview with Conrad Fink. Even as interviewee, he was instilling the craft of journalism and how it could be done. It is the most memorable interview I conducted as an aspiring Red & Black reporter, and probably ranks up there among the most memorable interviews I've ever been involved in as an aspiring storyteller.

Learn something yourself from these thoughts on the current state of media and how we consume it:

This is not my interview, but one found at Reporting For Hire, which from the sound of things, probably borrowed it from somewhere else.

Georgia, the land of second chances?

State Representative Rusty Kidd, I-Milledgeville, is introducing legislation that could wipe the slate clean for Georgians who've been convicted of Driving Under the Influence.
Your guess would be as good as anyone's to wonder whether this bill is in response to the recent DUI arrest of Columbus Rep. Kip Smith, but my guess is it doesn't have anything to do with that.
From the AJC's Christopher Quinn:
Rep. Rusty Kidd, I-Milledgeville, said some people who make the mistake of driving drunk once have to live with a lifetime of problems, such as being disqualified from jobs or scholarships.

"If you have a DUI, it never comes off your record," Kidd said.

Read about the other legislation Kidd has been writing and supporting here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

State of State 2012

Governor Nathan Deal used his second State of the State address to remind Georgians that explorers faced great danger and uncertainty in founding this country, and the least we can do is sit tight and ride this economy thing out.
Looking in our rear view mirror, Deal said we maintained a balanced budget, added six more day's walking around money to the rainy day fund and kept the state's Triple A bond rating, which will help keep the debt service low on the conservative spending Deal will do to pave Georgia's future.

On the vision side of things, Deal continued to stress education, criminal justice and transportation as he did in his major addresses last year.

The Governor applauded the Board of Regents for their decision to consolidate eight state colleges and said Georgia must abandon the ivory tower model of higher education and increase return on investment by building skill sets that meet the need of business. He proposed programs to increase curriculums that teach skilled trades (James Crawford told GPB audiences that the Governor is basing his program on the Go Build Alabama program) and increasing the medical sector of the state's economy.

On transportation, Deal applauded the legislature for making the regional transportation sales tax referendums, but wouldn't get behind any of the vague proposals that might we might be asked to vote on this year. But the Governor will continue to put the state's money behind the efforts to deepen the Port of Savannah.

Even if Georgia does decide not to build and fill more prisons in the future, it will never not be tough on the Seven Deadly Sins--although I'm not sure all of these things are illegal, or even un-encouraged, in the state of Georgia.

Deal did spend some time talking about the things the General Assembly will probably spend its time not accomplishing this session, including zero-based budgeting (I imagine behavioral health and developmental disabilities would be a very selectable program to try this out on) and achieving meaningful tax reform (read some of the proposals Deal made to the Chamber of Commerce here.

The Governor's budget documents can be found here.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

More Mental Health Notes

The Telegraph has this AJC story about the new money in the DBHDD budget to help fund the transition to care in the community setting.

Over in Rome, The News-Tribune has this story about a petition to delay the closing of Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital that is circulating around the community. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't remember any effort like this when they shuttered Central State Hospital.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Regional Planning Commissions Preparing for Budget Cuts

The Calhoun Times has an interesting story quoting the executive director of the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission on the budget cuts about to befall Georgia's extra-governmental regional economic development agencies.
There are 12 state regional commissions that assist local governments by providing knowledge and expertise on any number of local issues from planning, economic development, transportation, information technology and human services. Locally, the Middle Georgia Regional Commission has provided empirical data on Milledgeville's perceived parking problem, assisted in the creation of the community's Opportunity Zone Tax Credits and provides ongoing assistance to local officials working to bring new jobs to Baldwin County.
As Georgia continues to tighten its belt to make weather the continuing economic decline, it should take care not to cut off circulation to the legs that will be vital to getting the state back on its feet when recovery begins.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Ballot Reform? Already?

I heard about this on GPB this morning, but had to go to the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia to link to the AJC to get the full story.
It appears that some legislators, seemingly from smaller and more populous areas, agree that seven weeks of early voting might be a little excessive and may pose problems in smaller counties teetering over an abyss of red ink.
From the AJC:
“There was a concern with the seven weeks of early voting that the cost to hold the voting for that period was excessive for some counties, particularly the smaller counties," said Rep. Mark Hamilton, R-Cumming, chairman of the Governmental Affairs Committee, where the bill will be assigned. “And sometimes candidates listed at the beginning of the seven weeks dropped out of the race later on, so people felt like they had wasted their vote.”

But some elections officials and advocates, including the League of Women Voters of Georgia, are concerned that the shortened time period would decrease access to the polls for voters unable to cast ballots during the proposed three weeks.

“It is more important that Georgians have more access to the polls and more opportunities to participate in their government rather than less,” said Tracey-Ann Nelson, executive director for the state LWV branch.

In a statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Secretary of State Brian Kemp said he will review the legislation and work to protect the interests of voters in a cost-effective manner.
Read HB 92 for yourself here.