Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mental Health Cuts Announced

The AJC is reporting that the state must cut mental health programing and furlough workers to remain fiscally solvent in the remainder of the fiscal year ending June 2010.
[Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities]" spokesman Thomas Wilson said the agency has determined it must cut about $15 million so as not to run out of money by the end of the state fiscal year in June."

"We ... have to find ways to cut expenses to match declining income," said agency Commissioner Dr. Frank Shelp. "What makes that especially difficult is that the obvious fat has been cut from the budget long ago. Now, wherever we scale back, people are going to be affected. "


"The agency will also continue what has been a 5 percent cut to the community service boards, which provide many community-based mental health services to people."

"Another program set for termination is a crisis stabilization program at a state mental hospital in Savannah. The participants move to a community-based operation for services. That move will allow the services to receive Medicaid money."

"Wilson said that despite the cuts, the state still expects to meet the benchmark of being in substantial compliance with the federal requirements for the hospitals by Jan. 15."

Not Keeping You Waiting Until the New Year

I feel tears wellin' up cold and deep inside.
Karen Handel has resigned her post as Secretary of State.
Below is the letter she sent out to County Election Officials yesterday.

Dear County Elections Colleagues:

After much thought, discussion, and prayer, I have decided to resign as Secretary of State by the end of the year, so that I can focus 100% of my effort and attention on my campaign for Governor. This was an extraordinarily difficult decision for me - both personally and professionally. However, I make this decision with great clarity and no regrets, knowing that it is the right decision for all concerned.

Serving as Secretary of State has been a truly extraordinary opportunity matched only by the opportunity to serve with you to ensure that Georgia's elections are conducted with the highest degree of efficiency, integrity and accuracy. Over the past three years, the administration of elections has improved significantly -- thanks to your commitment and willingness to embrace change, technology, and a higher level of accountability.

You accomplished what no one (even some of you yourselves!) thought was possible ... administering the 2008 Presidential Elections without significant issues. Yet you did it! Your confidence in yourselves and the competency with which you do your jobs have reached a new level.

I am so very proud of you and all that you have accomplished.

You are no doubt wondering what happens next. The Governor will appoint an interim Secretary of State. The next Secretary of State will take over knowing that there is a strong team of county elections officials ready for a continued partnership.

Finally, I want to personally thank each of you for your commitment to the people of Georgia -- and for your efforts on my behalf over these past three years. I know that the successes of this Agency have little to do with me and everything to do with you. I am grateful for the opportunity to have been part of your team!



I know this thought is completely anathema to political ambition, so I'll only say it once. I've never understood how we support people who abdicate their responsibilities to chase after the next best thing. How much will be wasted (momentum, time, taxpayer dollars), changing horses midstream?
Thanks to our tipsters for forwarding this e-mail.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Unemployment Crisis across the U.S.

Last week we reported in the print edition that Georgia Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond had requested interest-free advances from the federal government ( read the press release here, it's titled "Concerning Georgia's Unemployment Crisis.") to enable the state to continue making payment on the 268,995 valid unemployment claims in the state.
Today the Washington Post is reporting the Georgia is not alone.
"Currently, 25 states have run out of unemployment money and have borrowed $24 billion from the federal government to cover the gaps. By 2011, according to Department of Labor estimates, 40 state funds will have been emptied by the jobless tsunami.
"There's immense pressure, and it's got to be faced," said Indiana state Rep. David Niezgodski (D), a sponsor of a bill that addressed the gaps in Indiana's unemployment program. "Our system was absolutely broke."
In the short term, the only way to fix it will be to cut benefits or raise taxes. In this community, that would be one more shoot, with no conceivable ladder.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

"After Today, Let's Go Enjoy Christmas"

From our seat, One Capital Removed, that sounds like a good idea.
In what I'm reading on the three blogs listed below, David Ralston of Blue Ridge has won the Republican House Caucus' nomination for Speaker of the House.
The entire state House will have a vote on the matter when the General Assembly reconvenes January 11.
Ralston overcame the field of Bill Hembree and Larry O'Neal to win a majority on the second ballot. Hembree was knocked out on the first vote.
Other highlights from the caucus meeting included a teary-eyed speech from disgraced former Speaker Glenn Richardson who still has roughly $4,128.64 more Georgia taxpayer dollars in his future--and who knows how he'll land in the new year.
From AJC's Aaron Gould Shenin:
Richardson finished speaking, received a subdued, but full, standing ovation, and left the chamber. It was a moving speech, and Richardson several times stopped to gather his composure.
It was unclear from his remarks, however, whether he acknowledged responsibility for the position the caucus is now in.
Whatever “failures we may have made,” he said, “I take full responsibility for those failures. All of them. When you leave here today, you leave them behind, you leave them on my shoulders.”
And we'll conclude with Shenin's transcription of Ralston's brief acceptance speech:
“We’ve still got a long day here,” Ralston said from behind the speaker’s desk. “You made a country boy real happy and you honored me and I thank you very, very much for that. Secondly, I need your prayers. I wasn’t teasing when I said earlier we’ve got a big job ahead of us. I need Larry O’neal, I need Bill Hembree.

“After today, let’s go enjoy Christmas.”

For what it's worth

I just got off the phone with state Senator Johnny Grant and he said although he is familiar with all the candidates for Speaker, Larry O'Neal would be the best Speaker for Baldwin County as he is familiar with Milledgeville and, of course, is a Middle Georgia native.

GOP Caucus meeting Underway

All the usual suspects have live updates from the Capitol.
Lucid Idiocy
Peach Pundit
Gold Dome Live
If you have a PC, you can watch live from here.


Sorry to readers I left hanging last week, a humbling illness helped second my decision to come down off the heady stream of information emanating from the Capitol over the last two weeks.
For those who didn't move over to the bevy of blogs and other media outlets covering the Speaker race, I'll tell you that today is the day the GOP House Caucus votes on their Speaker candidate.
Larry O'Neal, R-Bonaire Warner Robins is, by all accounts, still the front runner.
He let fly with some info about a questionable piece of tax legislation he authored that benefited Governor Sonny Perdue retroactively. In case you're not going to follow the link, O'Neal said the feds came down with the full force of an clandestine audit that cleared them both of any wrong doing.
Bill Hembree, R- Winston, and David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, who ran for this job at the beginning of the 2009 session, are the other Republicans vying for the Speaker's gavel.
Georgia Legislative Watch has the list of candidates vying for the other leadership positions up for grabs this morning. See how much lobbyists have spent on these candidates here, also from Ga Legislative Watch.
The caucus is reported to meet at 11, and Peach Pundit is alleged to be keeping on top of things with texted updates from legislators, staffers and media, throughout.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Rusty Kidd-The Human Element

WMAZ posted this profile about Baldwin's next state Representative.
"What I'm doing now might be why I'm still here, because I might be able to help the people of Baldwin County, and at Central State Hospital, help people who are disabled, help people who can't help themselves that might be why I'm still here and why I've undertaken this new venture in life at this age, to go to the Georgia Legislature. And, I'll give it my best."

Poet and Milledgeville Native Sean Hill on the Interblogs

I found this link about Milledgeville-born poet Sean Hill.
The link includes a poem and interview about the poem and how he wrote it.
His book Blood Ties & Brown Liquor includes poems culled from a century of the City of Milledgeville.
From his Web site:
Each poem in Hill's debut collection, Blood Ties & Brown Liquor, builds on the poetic landscape created from his hometown, Milledgeville, Georgia, offering a portrait of the town's black community. A multitude of voices rises from the pages to celebrate familial love, memory, and yearning, and to confront racism.

The poems create a call and response across six generations of the family of the fictional character Silas Wright, a black man born in 1907. From a slave woman's scratchy hay-stuffed mattress to a black insurance agent's ominous patter, from sweet honey to the searing heat of brickyard kilns, these poems spread before us a sensuous world of quotidian lives punctuated by love and violence.

Ax the Inventory Tax?

The Savannah Morning News has this editorial about killing the tax on unsold items that remain on the showroom floor in Georgia retail businesses.
The brusquely-worded editorial makes me take pause in wondering how objective the writer is on the subject:
"Nearly all states have eliminated this obnoxious levy, which poisons business growth, destroys jobs and unfairly soaks the private sector. Georgia, unfortunately, has not.
Some Georgia lawmakers have tried to drive a stake through the tax's ugly heart, only to be beaten back by local governments and public school systems that, unfortunately, rely on this source of revenue to help pay the bills."

But some Baldwin County Commission watchers may remember Commission Chair James "Bubba" Williams asking County Attorney David Waddell what can be done locally to banish this intrastate development deal breaker.
As the editorial says, local governments receive the majority of proceeds--voters will have an opportunity to ax the state's cut of the invo tax in 2010. But I don't know of any local governments who are either socking away reserve funds or signing tax rebate checks this year, so expect it to be a subject of hot debate during this session of the General Assembly.
Gold Dome Legislators will try to exploit any opportunity to leave the Capitol having cut taxes without disturbing state coffers.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dick Pettys Picks the Frontrunners in the Contest for House Speaker

Insider Advantage Georgia his this take on the election within the House Republican Caucus to name a new speaker.
Pettys says the House Republican Caucus will meet December 21 to nominate a speaker, before bringing it to an official vote in the House at the beginning of the session.
Although the piece doesn't rule out other contenders, Pettys says Bonaire's Larry O'Neal and David Ralston of Blue Ridge are the ones to watch.
The piece also goes on to list the detractors of each of the representatives and gives a little insight to their parliamentary acumen.
Erick Erickson at Peach Pundit is pushing Tom Graves (the link has a link to his GA bio).
Political Insider is reporting the location of Friday's House Republican Caucus meeting. So I'm sure there'll be more to the story once that meeting adjourns.
There's so much going on with this saga, I'm not even sure why I bother.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Murdoch Gives a Pep Talk for the Media Moguls of Tomorrow--And We're Listening

Thanks to Jay Bookman for linking to this.
Rupert Murdoch has this editorial from his venerable Wall Street Journal about the possibilities of the future of journalism, with some thoughts on government subsidies to the industry's current heavyweights.
The gist is those who rest on their laurels will be able to sit around and blame technology for their diminished lot in life while the rest of the world gets comfy with the next model.
People will pay for compelling content, the same as they did before the Internet. It is our job as content creators to figure out what consumers want and sell it to them. The old model of selling eyeballs to advertisers no longer applies.
And finally, government bailouts of the media industry will start us down a road to tyranny. Contrary to its current meaning, the Free Press was free from the government's press secretary and the government's red pen. And that's what helped make this country great.
"The future of journalism is more promising than ever—limited only by editors and producers unwilling to fight for their readers and viewers, or government using its heavy hand either to overregulate or subsidize us.

"Some newspapers and news organizations will not adapt to the digital realities of our day—and they will fail. We should not blame technology for these failures. The future of journalism belongs to the bold, and the companies that prosper will be those that find new and better ways to meet the needs of their viewers, listeners, and readers."

28 Years of Service

Tonight will be Milledgeville's last opportunity to see Ken Vance hold court behind the aldermen's desk in City Hall.
Tonight is the Milledgeville City Council's last meeting of 2009, and the new Board of Alders, including Collinda Lee and Phillip Joiner, will be sworn in Monday December 21.
All that means Vance will be concluding about 28 years of service to Milledgeville with his final Tuesday-night meeting tonight.
Vance was initially elected to City Council in 1981 in a Milledgeville that is a far cry from what it is today.
Vance, who was a part-time English teacher at Baldwin High School and part-time Sheriff's Deputy working the night shift, was elected at-large to the Board of Alders at a time in his life when there was no water bill or City of Milledgeville property deed in his name.
In that time he has seen council elections be decided within districts, the installation of a Historic District in downtown Milledgeville, compulsory elected official training from the Georgia Municipal Association, the creation of the Oconee River Greenway and the implementation of a council-city manager form of municipal government.
If you have any time this evening, you'd do good to show up at City Hall and watch the End of an Era--one we wouldn't have missed for the world.
Thanks Mr. Vance!

The Race Is On

News broke yesterday evening that state House Speaker Pro Tempore Mark Burkhalter, R-Johns Creek, sent an e-mail to the Republican House Caucus saying that he will decline the Speaker's gavel and call a vote to elect a new Speaker first thing in the next session, if not sooner.
Read this Political Insider post to get the details. Peach Pundit also is dedicating all resources to the broad scope of this story.
The Republican House Caucus is reportedly meeting either in Atlanta or at Mercer University some time later this week. I, myself, have no idea whether that could be an appropriate venue for a vote on who will be the next Speaker.
On further consideration, I imagine all these decisions are going to be made on the caucus level before they reach the floor of the House.
But any way you look at it, this story continues to twist and turn and it will be some time before some semblance of normalcy returns to the Gold Dome. And by normalcy I guess I mean unattractive people being treated like supermodels for forty days at the beginning of each year--oh yeah and at some point they'll have to pass a budget or two.
One insider I spoke with characterized the happenings at the Capital as the Republicans eating their young.
This all, of course, elicits questions about how Susan Richardson got before the Fox Five cameras for the television blurb that brought Speaker Glenn Richardson's downfall. But being One Capital Removed, we have nothing but wild speculation on that so there's no point in validating negative critiques of the mainstream media.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Elected Officials ReThinking Ethics

The AP has this about Secretary of State Karen Handel and state Rep. Rob Teilhet, a Smyrna Democrat who's running for the Attorney General seat come November, offering proposals to make the state Ethics Commission "responsible for overseeing complaints against legislators. Currently, lawmakers police themselves in Georgia."
Not really much to that link, but in talking with E. Culver "Rusty" Kidd this morning about his plans and concerns for the next session, he said he'd like to see legislators become responsible for reporting all the gifts, meals and in-kind expenditures such as plane rides, etc. that they receive from lobbyists.
I'm sure there'll be several ethics changes proposed throughout the session. Be watchful.

Regina Thomas announces her bid for the 12th District seat

I just received an e-mail from Regina Thomas' camp saying that the Savannah Democrat will challenge Congressman John Barrow for the Democratic nomination in the 12th District again in 2010.
Thomas, who is a former state Senator and state Representative, ran against Barrow in the 2008 Democratic primary.
She will be holding a fundraiser in Savannah on December 10.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Digital Going-ons this week in Milledgeville

Milledgeville's Municipal Wireless Broadband Network will be the topic of discussion at several community events this week.

The Milledgeville City Council will be meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday to discuss the network's digital inclusion plan during a work session in the Executive Chambers of City Hall.
The Digital Inclusion Plan is the city's way of allowing discounted access to the city's wireless network to low-income community members. I want to remember that there are about 250 discounted Internet accounts available for Milledgeville residents who meet certain income requirements. Expect Digital Bridges to be in on finding ways of disseminating the accounts and the information that will help you apply.
Everyone is invited to attend City Council work sessions, but don't take my seat!

Correction: This may simply be a Chamber of Commerce initiative. Digital Bridges will be holding technology classes at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday and 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Mary Vinson Memorial Library.

Digital Bridges The Chamber of Commerce will also be holding one of their Technology workshops at noon Thursday at the Chamber of Commerce offices on South Jefferson Street in downtown. From the Chamber:
If you have not already signed up for our technology workshop please don't forget to rsvp. The workshop is December 10th from noon to 01:30pm at the chamber. Bring your lunch and join us each month to learn how technology can work for you and your business. Cost is $15 for Chamber members and $25 for future members. This is a great opportunity to expand your technical skills and knowledge. Space is limited please rsvp today.
Contact them at 478.453.9311.

And not strictly related to the Municipal Wireless Broadband Network, but interesting all the same: Milledgeville's Campus Club will be holding an info meeting to introduce community members to this innovative youth-oriented arts program at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Georgia College's Peabody Auditorium.
From Campus Club's release:
Campus Club Milledgeville is a youth arts and enrichment program. Our main objective is to provide training to develop and improve artistic and creative gifts such as songwriting, dancing, singing, instrumentation, and photography to our community youth. We would like to introduce skills needed to successfully enter the job market such as light/sound engineers, graphic artists, videographers, play writers, and web designers. As a registered 501(c)3, we will provide our services at no cost.
You can learn more about Campus Club here.

Speakergate Getting National Attention

I was wondering when this story was going to start pulling down headlines outside of the Peach state.

Update: Having had a little time to digest the link above, I think this may be one of the most spot-on quotes about this scandal:
"Everybody around the Capitol knew this was happening. It finally got confirmed by his wife."
-Rep. Dubose Porter, D-Dublin
Now let's see about this different place legislators are talking about.

Jim Thompson at the Athens Banner-Herald has some thoughts and come-back-to-haunt-you quotes on the matter in this editorial.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The End of an Era

One we'd probably like to forget.
The AJC is reporting that Speaker Glenn Richardson will resign or be completely obliterated in a conference call at 4 p.m. today.

Update: Recheck the link if you weren't glued to it as I was. The final verdict is in and AJC has Richardson's public statement.
Come January 1, Paulding County will be looking for a new state Representative and the General Assembly's Lower Chamber will be electing a new Speaker.
The Interblogs are ablaze with speculation about how that process will go down. But the line of succession will start with Mark Burkhalter, the Speaker Pro Tempore.

Some corrections/clarifications to the update above.
Speaker Pro Tempore Mark Burkhalter is now the Speaker, or will be come January 1 (though I can't imagine that Rusty Kidd is not rescheduling his appointment with Richardson to meet with Burkhalter now). According to Capital Impact's Tom Crawford (hear his interview with GPB here), Georgia Code provides that Speaker Burkhalter has 120 days to call a vote of confidence, which would set the stage for the election of a new Speaker. Crawford said that should allow Burkhalter to retain the gavel throughout the 2010 session, should he so desire. But during that 120-day period, Burkhalter will be pressured to call that vote of confidence by the members of the Republican House Caucus who desire that seat as well, Crawford added.
GPB's Edgar Treiguts and Crawford mentioned these names as some of the House Republicans who will probably be applying the pressure throughout the 2010 session: David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, threw his hat in the ring for the Speaker's gavel at the beginning of the 2009-2010 session; House Majority Leader Jerry Keen; but don't count out Mark Burkhalter.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Signs of the Times

I just just got off the phone with UGA's Richard B. Russell Professor of Political Science Charles S. Bullock, and in the course of the conversation about trends in state politics he wondered aloud whether state House Speaker Glenn Richardson will continue to hold his gavel into the evening.
Looks like the pens at the AJC concur.
A Republican activist and consultant, one of several who spoke on condition of anonymity to preserve their relationships with the speaker, was blunter: “I don’t know how he survives this one.”

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Baldwin County Election Results

Send another Kidd to the State House.
E. Culver "Rusty" Kidd remained true to the margins he held in the general election, just the percentages have changed.
Kidd took the majority this time, garnering 64.4 percent of the electorate in the 141st District.
But the coincidences come in the actual numbers.
In the runoff, Kidd took 2,352, compared to the 2,433 he got in the general election. 1,298 electors turned out for his competitor Darrell Black today and last week, whereas he captured 1,286 in late October and November 3.
The same cannot be said of the Georgia Military College Board of Trustees race in which incumbent Randy New bested his November numbers by 36 votes, moving 113 voters to the polls and retaining his seat in the Old Capitol Building. Challenger Charles Jordan came in with one less than his general election tally with 76 votes.
Lightning did not strike twice.

Lucky 7?

When interviewing for the man on the street story about today's runoff election, Baldwin County Chief Deputy Registrar Elizabeth Rodgers told me that the turnout figures for the Georgia Military College Board of Trustees District 2 rematch between incumbent Randy New and challenger Charles Jordan sat at 77 votes for several hours toward the end of early voting last week. (The final total was 80, give or take a few.)
So what?
77 is the same number as the vote tallies both candidates carried after all votes had been counted during the November general election, putting those candidates into the runoff.
To make things even spookier, when I relayed the number of ballots cast thus far (by that time Tuesday afternoon) at the District 2 precinct, and she added them to the final figures for early voting in that race and the sum equaled 154--the total number of votes cast during the general election in that contest.
Can lightning strike twice?

Phyllis Jenkins Barrow, a Democratic Stalwart, Passed Away Monday

Barrow, the mother of 12th District Congressman John Barrow, passed Monday. She was 89.
Blake Aued of the Athens Banner Herald has this story about Phyllis Jenkins Barrow.
Our condolences go out to the Barrow Family.

The Future of Internet Access

NPR had this interesting piece this morning about how young African Americans and English-speaking Latinos are embracing mobile devices as the method for accessing the World Wide Web.

There's some good ancillary info on here.

More Bombshells in the Runup to the 2010 Session

Atlanta's Fox Five News has an interview with state House Speaker Glenn Richardson's ex-wife Susan Richardson.
Lucid Idiocy has the embed and a synopsis in case you're not interested in watching the 7 min+ piece.
"It is as damning, and as personal, an indictment as I can recall in my nearly 10 years covering politics in Georgia."
Update: AJC's Gold Dome Live has the long synopsis, with reactions from prominent state legislators, here.
Read all the way to the bottom, because it gives the OCGA section that may play into Richardson's removal, should that ball get rolling.
Taking a step back for a moment, does the State of Georgia really have time for this mess?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

In The Zonee

We're listening to the debate between Darrell Black and E. Culver "Rusty" Kidd on The Talking Straight Zonee on 103.7 Fm. Are you?
Tomorrow is the last day for hand-wringing in the special election runoff to replace Bobby Parham in the state House (I'm going to retire that phrase after Wednesday). So I'm looking for this to be the big statement moment between the two candidates. And expect Quentin T. Howell, and hopefully some audience members, to ask some tough questions.
We'll be updating throughout when there's anything interesting to say--I think they call it liveblogging.

Update 1: And we're having the usual live glitches. But my watch is saying 9:40 p.m. and they're about to get to the debate.
478.946.3445 is the number to call in live to the show.

Update 2: Kidd just said Governor Perdue quarterbacked at UGA. Now I'm not so sure that is true. Wikipedia highlights his high school career in Warner Robins and says he was a walk-on in college, but it doesn't say he ever quarter-backed in a game.

Update 3:This is one of the ads they are talking about.

Update 4:Lucid Idiocy has this good post about The Daufuskie 5 scandal.

Update 5: Mary Margaret Oliver is the only Democratic legislator to financially support Kidd (for at least $100 or more).

Update 6: I don't know where all the bathrooms are (you can find out more about the Capitol Building here), but there are none on the second and fourth floors.

Update 7: Here is a quickly-tracked down link on the the Olmstead Decision.

Update 8:I talked to the Goldsteins two weeks ago and they said they don't just support Kidd monetarily, but whole-heartedly. And they are Mr. and Mrs. Democrat.

Update 9: E. Culver Kidd Jr.

Update 10: Why don't candidates have to post a résumé on the Internet? Black and Kidd

Update 11: When you google bill ireland ydc, this construction company's site is the fourth link.

Update 12: "Vote for me and there’ll be one less lobbyist up there."

Update 13: Here is a link to Baldwin County census information.

Update 14: And we're out at about 11:30 p.m. That was a roughly two-hour debate.
Here are the phone numbers for rides to the polls on Tuesday: 452 3479 and 454 7191.

Update 15: Although this is definitely breaking my rule about not making more work for myself, we are going to have to followup this week with the State Ethics Commission about the complaint filed against Black's campaign for this campaign contribution disclosure, which lacks the between $65,000 (Black agreed with the Union-Recorder figures that were provided to the paper by Georgia State House Democratic Caucus Director Don Weigel) and $100,000 (Rusty's figure; Darrell still didn't disclose the actual amount) in campaign contributions from the Democratic House Caucus.
At least we're all in agreement that the Democratic Party of Georgia has been the single largest campaign contributor in this special election.
But hey, maybe they're going to report it in the disclosure that was due six days before the special election run off
(4) If the candidate is candidate in a special election or special election runoff, 15 days prior to the special election and six days prior to the special election runoff. All persons or entities required to file reports shall have a five-day grace period in filing the required reports, except that the grace period shall be two days for required reports prior to run-off primaries or run-off elections, and no grace period shall apply to contributions required to be reported within two business days.
-O.C.G.A. 21-5-34 [here's where these numbers get hard for me] (c) (4)

But neither candidate has that disclosure posted on line yet.

(Here is a great link to the Official Code of Georgia online.)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

2010: Already Shaping Up To Be a Wild Session

I'll be talking with state Senator Johnny Grant this afternoon in order to get his take on the pre-session horse trading that's been going on in Atlanta for several weeks now.
If you can't wait until tomorrow's Union-Recorder--and who would really choose the U-R over turkey?--I'll point you back to this Lucid Idiocy post looking forward to the 2010 session. Or if you're possibly more interested in the controversy surrounding Georgia's Speaker of the House of Representatives Glenn Richardson, you can go here to read in-depth coverage from the AJC.
Local insiders are betting the Speaker's gavel will be safe this session, but wonder whether or not his name will even appear on a ballot next November.
In case you don't link to here again this week, have a Happy Thanksgiving and be safe out there on those roads!

Update: I wasn't able to get in touch with Sen. Grant in time to have a story in your Turkey Day paper so expect that sometime next week.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Another Thing About Sunday's Zonee

One other thing said on the Talking Straight Zonee has me wondering about Derrell Black's campaign activities.
Black said he has raised another $10,000 for his campaign, that's $10,000 more than the $4,074 he raised within the reporting period before the general election. He also said the Democratic Party had donated $75,000 to his campaign. By Democratic Party, he means the Georgia House Democratic Caucus, who verbally confirmed that they have spent $65,000 on Black's campaign, despite not making the filing deadline for disclosing campaign contributions 15 days before the November 3 election.
Here is the link to Black's campaign disclosure. Here is the link to E. Culver "Rusty" Kidd's campaign disclosure.
On Black's link you'll see a pull down menu for the campaign contribution reports efiled. That’s where you’ll find the $4,074 report contributions and expenditures.On Kidd's you'll see the same pull down menu for campaign contribution reports efiled and a pull down menu for two business day reports.
We're going to have to take Darrell Black's word on the extra $10,000 he claimed to have raised because there's nothing compelling him to disclose any contributions between the 15 days before the November 3 election report and the next filing deadline, six days before the December 1 runoff election—i.e.tomorrow--EXCEPT (see below). Oh and don’t worry, there’s a five day grace period, which means they really don’t have to file until the day before the election.
We're also going to have to take his word on the $75,000 from the Georgia House Democratic Caucus because they haven't disclosed any spending on the 141st District House race.
O.C.G.A. 21-5-34 states that"within the two-week period prior to the date of such election the independent committee shall report within two business days any contributions or expenditure of more than $1,000.00."
I see that Kidd is making those disclosures as O.C.G.A. 21-5-34 mandates--though I'm having trouble opening the file to see the details--but Black seems to be disregarding the rule, so there's really no way of knowing what's going on in his campaign.
Now the $10,000 Black mentioned above is a lot of money, at least in my book, and from what I'm hearing, Black is saying he's raised $20,000--$10,000 on his own since the 15-day filing period and roughly $5k to $10,000 from the Dems, should we believe anything they say.
These are not big deals in the realm of election ethics law. The fine for fudging your campaign contributions and expenditures is between $25 to $75, and that's not a lot when you're claiming to have raised about 1,000 times that amount.
But it makes for great copy, and really helps to get my blood flowing.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Challenge is Out There

Update: I talked with E. Culver "Rusty" Kidd on Monday and he said that he will be there this coming Sunday night.
I also talked with Talking Straight host Quentin T. Howell and he said he's looking forward to bringing this opportunity to the people. Phone lines will be open for this interactive forum event. So you can have your questions ready, the number will be 478.946.3445.

On his Sunday evening talk show, Quentin T. Howell challenged the candidates in the 141st District House runoff race to appear on The Zonee next Sunday for a broadcast debate before the December 1 special election.
Darrell Black, who was guesting this Sunday, said he was up to the challenge.
The Zonee, sometimes referred to as the Talking Straight Zonee, airs Sunday nights at about 9:30 p.m. on LOVE 103.7 FM out of Irwinton.

Public Service Announcement

Early voting for the state House and Georgia Military College Board of Trustees District 2 runoffs begin this Monday and will continue through Wednesday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Baldwin County Courthouse. Election Day will take place Tuesday, December 1.

Public Service Announcement end

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Knight Center Study Says Less than Half of Milledgeville Households Connected to Internet

The Knight Center for Digital Excellence just released a study about the broadband Internet penetration of all Knight Communities.
You can see how the all the communities measured up here. You can also read some depressing news about how Americans' broadband penetration measures against a lot of countries whose a** we totally saved in wars past.
But as far as Knight Communities stack up, Milledgeville has a 41.2 percent penetration rate, which puts us in the bottom five for in-home Internet access. Only Macon, Detroit, Cleveland and Gary, Indiana ranked below us.

Troubling News Out of Central State

We in Milledgeville all have to be concerned when we read headlines like this*.
But what I gathered from reading the three available stories on the subject--I'm not counting the AP blurb the UR site has--scares me a little more.
Vaishali Patel, our new reporter, says that the 2,500 jobs at CSH are safe for now. Read into that whatever you'd like.
The AJC reports this:
The state's move will thin a patient population that stands at about 450 and free up staff to undergo training, implement new policies and procedures, and change potentially dangerous conditions at the hospital, Wilson said. Overcrowding is not an issue driving this action, he added.

And then we have the Telegraph reporting this:
Central State has had staffing problems for years and that remains a challenge, Wilson said. Current figures were not immediately available Thursday, but in 2007 state figures showed a 23 percent vacancy rate in the hospital’s staff and nearly a 42 percent vacancy rate in licensed practical and registered nursing jobs.

Excuse me, but what on earth is going on with the staffing at the state's largest mental health facility?
2,500 employees seeing to the treatment of about 450 mental health consumers, and the hospital is running an overall 23 percent staff vacancy rate, with licensed practical and registered nurse positions exhibiting a 42 percent vacancy rate.
I'm just not smart enough to tell you what that means, but if you can, please leave a comment to clue me in.

*Is anyone else bothered by the fact that I have to link to competing news sites to provide compelling content about events happening in our own community?

More Angels

Last month we let you know about the passing of journalist Jack Nelson.
Well, we're coming back at you to let you know Tom Crawford has a little more to say about Nelson.
If you're still interested in what newsgathering can be, check out these anecdotes about the people who did the job because it was worth doing.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Happy Birthday Uncle Carl!

Today marks the 126th Birthday of Milledgeville's most famous son: Congressman Carl Vinson.
We're working on something for the Saturday paper about the man, but I thought I would put up a post on the day so we can all be thinking about him.

Monday, November 16, 2009

FY2010 is just the beginning

Insider Advantage has a doosie of story out this morning culled from recent interviews with state economic thinkers.
Despite the national news that General Motors may be bundling up for that snowball in hell and returning to the land of profitability, state and local governments can keep their shorts on.
"If you think things are bad now for cash-strapped state and local governments, just hang on. It’s going to get worse."
But don't worry, there's something for everyone.
Communities already angered by the fact that their recent property tax revaluations weren't invalidated by '09 legislation to cap rising tax assessments will have more to protest about as it is predicted that the state's next sales ratio study, which determines whether counties are charging too much or too little in property taxes as determined by recent property sales figures, will finally reflect the reality homeowners--and more appropriately homes sellers--are seeing on the ground.
“As property sells (and a true, market-place value is determined) and the state auditor picks that up, we anticipate a rather significant drop in the digest, which means you either have to increase taxes or you have to cut additional programs,” said Jerry Griffin, veteran executive director of the Association County Commissioners of Georgia.

The story also mentions the growing movement to have sales tax revenues accounted for locally and not by the State Revenue Department.
Oh, and dig this mid-session missive:
But what about all of those tax exemptions the state has offered various entities over the years? Georgia State University once estimated that there are about $10 billion a year worth of exemptions on the books.
[Jerry] Keen,[R-St. Simons], the House Republican leader, said lawmakers have been looking at some of those over the past few years, particularly those with sunsets upon them. The problem is, he said, only a handful are due to expire in 2010 and, therefore, require legislative renewal, and they are worth only a few million dollars collectively.

With all this going on, why would anyone be vying for a seat under the Gold Dome this year--and next year for that matter.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

And Now We Are Back To Zero

The Special Election Recount for the 141st state House District is in and that is the only new thing to report there.
Baldwin County Election Superintendent Todd Blackwell and Putnam County Assistant Supervisor of Elections Johnnie Penn re-confirmed their election night numbers following today's requested recount.
You can see the Secretary of State's numbers here.
I haven't called Atlanta to confirm that the numbers on the site reflect the recount, but the numbers they have are the same as those read to me by both elections officials earlier this afternoon.
"We anticipated the recount would come back with the same numbers," Blackwell said. "We felt good about the numbers we had from election night."
So the runoff stands between independent candidate E. Culver "Rusty" Kidd and Democrat Darrell Black.
Blackwell said his office is ready to get right back into the action for the beginning of early voting on Monday, November 23. The polls will close Thursday and Friday for the Thanksgiving Holiday. And polls will reopen for Election Day on Tuesday, December 1.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Other Thoughts on Runoffs

To keep y'all thinking about the political battles that have yet to be waged, I'll connect you to this missive from the AJC's Jim Tharpe about the history of runoff elections here in the Empire State (of the South) and other regional neighbors.

"Democrats altered runoff requirements in the early 1990s after Democrat Wyche Fowler lost a U.S. Senate race to Paul Coverdell. Fowler got more votes than Coverdell in the 1992 general election, but neither candidate broke 50 percent. In the runoff, Coverdell beat Fowler, which infuriated Democrats, who controlled the state Legislature.

They changed the law so that a candidate only had to win 45 percent of the vote in a general election to avoid a runoff.

Republicans, however, changed the rule back to a majority vote in 2005 after they gained control of the Legislature. The GOP was still smarting over a 1996 U.S. Senate race in which Democrat Max Cleland narrowly defeated Republican Guy Millner.

That change, in turn, came back to haunt Republicans last year when Chambliss got more votes than Democrat Jim Martin and Libertarian Allen Buckley in the general election, but was forced into a grueling runoff because Chambliss did not get a majority."

Personally, I think there will be some thinking about the runoff system in halls that are more grandiose than this as the economic situation continues to play itself out.
As the above paragraph confides, the runoff system is mos def subject to the capricious whims of the electorate and those who represent it.

Recount in the Works

I got a call sometime during my brief absence saying that a recount has been requested for the state House special election.
Secretary of State's Office Spokesman Matt Carruthers confirmed that Angie Gheesling-McCommon has requested a recount of November 3 vote in which she trailed Democratic candidate and second-place finisher Darrell Black by a 16-vote margin.
Carruthers told The Union-Recorder that the recount will be carried out in Baldwin and Putnam counties at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 12.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Obligatory National News Update

Not that you should be looking here for any future stories on this subject, but House Democrats passed their "Affordable Health Care for America Act" last night.
One Republican voted for the bill, and 39 Democrats didn't.
Any guesses on the two Middle Georgia Dems who broke with their party and voted against the bill?
The Washington Post has an interesting info graphic on how each member of the House voted, how much money they get from health-care interests and the percentage of their constituents who are without health insurance.
21 percent of residents in both the eighth and twelfth districts are without health insurance.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Elections Certified

Sorry to be absent.
Caught a wicked flu-like ailment following citywide flesh pressing on election day. They always said politics is dirty business.
But despite my being out of action, I've been thinking about the political action that happened one capital removed, Tuesday.
I just got off the phone with Elections Superintendent Todd Blackwell, who told me that all Tuesday night numbers remain more or less accurate.
Only two provisional ballots cut the mustard, and neither of them were in the second municipal district where Georgia Military College Board of Trustees candidates Randy New and Charles Jordan will compete in an unheard of repeat, two-man runoff election.
"I've been involved in some close elections where the race is decided by one or two votes , but I've never seen one that resulted in a tie," Blackwell said.
There was only one overseas absentee ballot out there and that elector either did not participate or did not return their ballot in time.
Your state House special election runoff will stand between E. Culver "Rusty" Kidd and Darrell Black.
Expect that race to really pick up the pace now that it's down to Rusty and the Dems.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Caught on Film

The candidate forums featuring candidates in the state House of Representatives and Milledgeville City Council District 1 races are up on the tube-type thing that shoots electronic letters everywhere.
You can check out the playlist of the state House forum here, and the playlist of the City Council District 1 forum here.

But in case you can't wait to link to those, I'll leave you with this:

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Trouble Brewing in Hancock County

Sorry, but had to kill this clip. The obligatory advertisements were really harshing my noncommercial mellow.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Some poll from some group says someone is ahead of someone else

A Rasmussen Reports poll conducted last week says that the 2010 goobernatorial match up could look a lot like this cartoon predicts it will.
Who'd a thunk that the two largest names in the race would lead polls one year before an election?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

May The Angels Be Watching Over You

Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Jack Nelson passed away at age 80 Wednesday.
Although my familiarity with Nelson is culled from little more than the discussion of his work in "The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation," the man was instrumental in righting some of the wrongs that have occurred at Central State Hospital in the past.
From the Associated Press:

As a reporter with The Atlanta Constitution in 1960, he won the Pulitzer Prize for local reporting for exposing malpractice and other problems at the 12,000-patient state mental hospital in Milledgeville, Ga.

"Jack was a reporter's reporter," said Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times. "He maintained that the main thing people want from newspapers is facts - facts they didn't know before, and preferably facts that somebody didn't want them to know. Jack was tolerant of opinion writers; he respected analysis writers, and he even admired one or two feature writers. But he believed the only good reason to be a reporter was to reveal hidden facts and bring them to light."

Monday, October 19, 2009

If you thought Governor Sonny Perdue was forward thinking...

Well he is--but that's just by American standards.
To continue the host of links I want to feature from this Sunday's NPR Weekend Edition, here is a story about how one European country is making universal broadband access the law, not just a public-private initiative.

NPR honors SSGT Alex French IV on national program

Listeners to Sunday morning's National Public Radio Weekend Edition might have heard this tribute Staff Sergeant Alex French IV. If you didn't, please take a listen. It is a touching tribute that can only be made by using the voices of those who know him best.
Thank you Josephine Bennett.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Pickle Barrel Closed by Fire

Image courtesy of Milledgeville Fire Department Lieutenant Greg Hood

I'm sorry to report that the Pickle Barrel Café and Sports Pub suffered a structure fire early Saturday morning. From the U-R Web site:
Milledgeville Fire Department Lieutenant Greg Hood told the Union-Recorder that city fire crews responded to a call about the fire at approximately 7:49 a.m. Hood said the 1800 block of North Columbia Street was engulfed in a thick blanket of heavy smoke when the fire department arrived on the scene. His agency then requested the assistance of volunteer crews from the North Baldwin and Hardwick stations of the Baldwin County Fire Department.
“We were on the scene until 11:16 a.m.,” he said. “It took about two hours to get the fire under control.”
Hood said the fire originated on the south side of a hallway in the rear of the building. “The fire spread from the hallway into the dining area, and the building sustained heavy smoke damage throughout,” he said.
At this time, Hood added, it remains unclear whether the structure will be salvageable or not.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, though Hood said there is no suspicion of foul play.

My wife and I have spent a lot of our Friday nights imbibing in adult beverages and enjoying the great food at the Pickle Barrel since she moved down to Milledgeville. In fact, we were there this Friday night, just hours before the blaze that will now have us searching for a new place to unwind after long work weeks.
Adding to the spooky feeling that always results from having recently been at a place that--for all intents and purposes--doesn't exist anymore, I paused for a good while last night to take a long look at all the picture collages in that same hallway where the fire broke out this morning.
As you can imagine, there's going to be some time before we know the future of this popular local hangout. And my thoughts go out to restaurateur Bob Jaworski who was out of town Saturday when the fire occurred.
Jaworski's other venture, the South of Philly Market Street Deli, was shuttered unexpectedly earlier this year and remains for sale just up North Columbia Street from the Pickle Barrel location.
Both restaurants always received top billing in Kate and I's list of recommended local grub spots.
Here's to you Mr. Jaworski--please don't leave Milledgeville hungry for your delicious entrepreneurial ventures.

Team Oxendine Aspires to Ironic Internet Fame

You can't make this stuff up!

General Assembly 2010: Right Around the Corner

While Baldwin County is in the process of electing its representative to the General Assembly's lower chamber, state legislators are already starting to set the agenda for the 2010 session.
The Telegraph's Travis Fain has the skinny on what they're thinking about in this week's Political Notebook. Or you can read the remix at his blog Lucid Idiocy.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Candidate Forums scheduled for the 22nd and 26th

We just confirmed two candidate forums to take place over the next two weeks.
An old-school Georgia Political Rally will be held Thursday, October 22 in conjunction with the Deep Roots Festival BBQ Cook Off Sneak Peek under a large tent behind City Hall in downtown Milledgeville. This forum will feature candidates in the first district municipal race and candidates for the special election to replace Bobby Parham.
Don't forget to come out early for Sneak Peek so you can mark your ballot with the greasy goodness of three national BBQ teams.
And that following Monday, October 26, Georgia College's American Democracy Project will host a municipal election Candidate forum at the Arts & Sciences Auditorium on the GCSU campus, featuring candidates in the third, fourth and fifth district races.
Come out to learn about the issues and support your candidates of choice in these great community political events!

The Future

Oak Hill Middle's Aqueous Green Action Team hosted an environmental forum this week with Mayor Richard Bentley, Keep Milledgeville-Baldwin County Beautiful Executive Director Angie Gheesling and Milledgevile Master Gardener David Barnes.
The people you see behind us are they who will make this world a better place.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Worst Decision the County Ever Made-For the City

First Presbyterian Church Green Initiative members Audie Wilson and Debbie Harshbarger giving a recycling presentation to City Council Tuesday Night.

Maybe it's just because County Commissioners are known to turn quickly on those who are still questioning their decision to add a $13.50 fee to all county water bills in order to facilitate curbside solid waste pickup, or maybe it's because the city really is perceived as the more progressive local governing body; but has anybody else wondered why the Milledgeville City Council is seemingly the new venue for all questions about the future of recycling in the Milledgeville-Baldwin County area?
Representatives of three different local environmental advocacy groups--the Aqueous Green Action Team, Georgia College's Environmental Science Club and the First Presbyterian Church Green Initiative--were on hand last night to engage Council in a conversation about what city officials can do to create more recycling options for community members.
Suggestions ranged from working as quickly as possible to open some kind of universally accessible recycling drop-off point to creating a community advisory board on recycling to creating a municipal recyclable materials processing center.
Read Wednesday's Union-Recorder to find out what options are currently on the table.

Keep the Grant family in your thoughts

Johnny Grant III and his family are with his mother Zell Grant at the hospital in Macon, and I'm sure they could use your thoughts and prayers to help support them at this time.

Tonight to be a big one at City Hall

Those interested in recycling, taxes and who'll be holding the reins at City Hall should make it out to tonight's Milledgeville City Council meeting.
And don't think you can just watch this one from home.
In a 7 p.m. work session Debbie Harshbarger and representatives from Georgia College & State University's Environmental Science Club will address Council about the county's solid waste management woes. Safe bet is they'll be talking more about the new lack of efficient avenues for recycling than the $13.50 monthly charge currently being levied by the county.
Council will set the tax levy, which should remain at 9.12 mils as ordained in their September 23 meeting.
And Council will also try to come together to appoint an interim City Manager.
Disagreements over the last item have stretched over the last two or three council meetings. All evidence points to a divide on council over who should be interim chief admin.
As the U-R reported last week, there are three viable candidates in City Hall who could take the position: Water and Sewer Director Barry Jarrett, City Planner Russell Thompson and Finance Director Don Toms.
Barry Jarrett has been the go-to-guy before. But as evidenced by the delay in falling back into old habits, there is something fueling disagreement among Council members concerning that appointment.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Unemployed Georgia: Land of Opportunity

Georgia Public Broadcasting aired this story about a private corrections company going to Georgia's most employable county (read: the community most desperate for economic development) "to educate job seekers and generate support for the project within the community."
Something tells me the educational aspect of this meeting will be something along the lines of 'we need a whole bunch of tax credits and other incentives to write your town into our bid.'
Although vague on the details, I couldn't help but wonder if this Georgia Department of Corrections' Request For Proposals to construct a 1000-bed public-private institution is the same Corrections RFP that inspired the Milledgeville City Council to extend the city's opportunity zone all the way across South Milledgeville to Baldwin State Prison in order to attract a similar bid from a private corrections company.
In South Milledgeville, an expanded opportunity zone--a Georgia Department of Community Affairs program that offers tax credits to employers for job creation--creates opportunities for business development of any size, and largely shields the municipal and county governments from bearing the burden of incentivizing a private company's locating their new facility in your community.
But what happens when another community is desperate enough to give away the farm just to get the milk?

Friday, October 9, 2009

For those about to...


The Milledgeville City Council is holding a work session before Tuesday's regularly scheduled meeting to discuss recycling.
No info about what aspect of recycling they'll be discussing, but one could guess that there maybe some movement on the county's offer to consolidate solid waste management.
The work session will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Executive Chambers.

Attention City Council Candidates:

More students registered to vote during a campus voter registration drive than the number of people who voted in each of the first, second, third or fourth district races in the last municipal election.
According to this article in the Colonnade, over 650 students registered to vote in Baldwin County in the last several months. The November 9, 2005 post-election edition of the U-R reported voter turnout in each of the fore-mentioned districts as follows: District One: 435; District Two: 216*; District Three: 393; and District Four: 298.
*Jeanette Walden ran unopposed in the 2005 election.

The image above is just a lil bit of election lore. District Four Challenger Zach Johnson, who was enrolled as a Georgia College student at the time of the election, wore this costume out for Halloween in the last days before 2005's contest. Although it didn't seem like a kind joke at the time, outgoing District Four Councilman Ken Vance told me that he carried this picture in his wallet for several years afterwards.

And the first person to return their questionnaire for this year's special election is...

Casey Tucker!
Youth certainly is sticking it to experience this year.
As we did for the municipal elections, here is a sneak peek at Tucker's answers to our questionnaire for those who seek to replace the irreplaceable Bobby Parham.

Age: 22

Occupation: Food Service


My father, Steve Tucker, is a pipe fitter from Cochran, GA, and is currently living in Cumming, GA, with his wife Cathie Lopez Tucker.
Stevie-Lynn Tucker, my sister, recently graduated from Oglethorpe University with a Bachelor of Arts in Classics, and lives in Doraville, GA, where we were both raised.

Previous elected offices held, governmental appointments or positions (local and other):

County Coordinator for the Campaign for Liberty, GOP Precinct Chairman, Baldwin County Delegate for the District 12 and State GOP conventions

Please list and describe the attributes that make you an effective public servant.

I’m young. My father always says the exuberance of youth is wasted on the youth. Well, I’m not wasting that energy and passion. I come into this race and into politics without favors to pay back, or big business to look out for. I am a fresh look and a fresh face in politics. It is time we had a political outsider get into the fold and truly represent the people.
I’m principled. I will never give my vote on a whim, or in a back-room deal to further my agenda. I will work for the people, not for the government.
I am hard working and working for the people. I have been knocking on doors, doing politics the old fashioned way. I am meeting the people, hearing their concerns, and working to further my understanding of the issues and how to solve the problems based on the peoples needs.

Why do you feel compelled to represent your fellow residents in the state House of Representatives?

For too long it seems that legislation in our government has been proposed and passed, not with the people in mind, but special interests. Our state constitution states, “All government, of right, originates with the people, is founded upon their will only, and is instituted solely for the good of the whole. Public officers are the trustees and servants of the people and are at all times amenable to them.” The laws have not reflected such sentiment. I want to be a voice for the people of this district, a voice for limited government, and a voice for personal freedom.

What are the three biggest issues facing the State of Georgia?

The economy, education, and an overreaching Federal Government.

As a member of the General Assembly, what will you do to address these three issues during the next legislative session?

Much of our economic problems have come as a result of too much government intervention, control, and regulation of the markets. The market has not been allowed to correct itself due to government meddling. The first step in reviving our economy is work towards a smaller, more limited government. Cutting income taxes would put more money in this district’s residents and in turn be more money in our local economy. Cutting corporate taxes would give businesses more capital to invest in plant, equipment, and most importantly, labor. Moreover, it would give more incentive not only to open in our area, but also stay in the area, instead of shipping jobs out of the country.

Our education system needs vast improvement. The state has poured money into the system, but the results do not correlate. We must have more responsibility and accountability from our education professionals. I believe school choice and a merit based pay system for teachers would improve our education and create more accountability and responsibility, as well as increase parent involvement in the education process. Education is the foundation of a free society, and we have to ensure a great education system if we want our district, state, and country to continue to excel in the future.

The Federal Government has grown too large and taken too much control of our great state. They have consistently overstepped their constitutional authority granted in Article One, Section Eight, and limited by the Tenth Amendment. The most recent unconstitutional action has been the attempt to pass massive government healthcare reform. It is our right and duty to fight for our state and fight against unconstitutional overreach by the Federal Government. I will work to pass the 10th Amendment Resolution currently in the Georgia House, as well as fight against Federal mandates and the many unconstitutional actions and laws passed by the United States congress.

In the past, the City of Milledgeville has asked members of its legislative delegation to bring legislation to the General Assembly to change its municipal charter, and now the Baldwin County Commission is considering changes to the way the county elects its commissioners, how will you work with your constituents and their elected officials when they seek changes to local government, and how will you work to ensure that elected officials’ desire for change is shared by their electors?

Assuming the elected officials are working with and for the community I will certainly work with them to improve our local government. I will be their representative and must act accordingly. However, these changes should only be proposed within the community and at the state level if the people are behind it. Further, any changes in the government should be directed at promoting freedom and responsibility, not more government intervention. The key to improving government is activism on the part of the people. If they do not speak with their representatives, they give up their voice. I want to promote an environment of community involvement, and will always be available to the leaders of the community, but more importantly, the people of the community.

As a member of the state House of Representatives what will you do to work with the state’s leadership and state agencies to protect Baldwin County’s state employment base?

We have lost two prisons and the YDC over the past year. Baldwin’s unemployment is over 12%, and losing the state jobs is one of the reasons that number is so high. We must fight to keep the jobs that we still do have here. I will work diligently with state leaders to ensure Milledgeville does not receive the brunt of future cuts, and look for alternatives to closures and relocations. There are lots of items in the state budget that are wasteful and unnecessary other than Milledgeville’s jobs.
While working to protect our base, we must also work to diversify our economy. Nearly 40% of Baldwin’s current employment is state jobs. That is a dangerously high number, and unhealthy for the economy, as we have seen with the recent cuts made by the state. We must look to the future and work towards a much broader private sector economy if we are to truly rebuild and redevelop Milledgeville and Baldwin County. We have the minds, the ideas and the spirit here to recover and continue to grow and make this area an even better place to live, raise a family, and retire.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Inclimate weather changing plans for Staff Sgt. French's Homecoming processional

Below is from the U-R Web site.

Stormy weather has changed plans for the arrival of the remains of Army Staff Sergeant Alex French.
A liaison between the Department of Defense and the family of Staff Sgt. French communicated to the Milledgeville-Baldwin County Chamber of Commerce that the plane transporting Staff Sgt. French’s remains is expected to touch down at Lowe Field in Macon at approximately 11:30 a.m.
Staff Sgt. French’s family will meet the plane in Macon and a brief ceremony will be held at Lowe Field before a procession embarks for Milledgeville.
The Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office estimates that the procession will leave for Milledgeville around 1 p.m.
Once in Milledgeville, Deputy Police Chief Richard Malone told the Union-Recorder that the procession should follow the same route down Hancock Street to Jefferson Street at which point it will travel north to Slater’s Funeral Home at the intersection of Jefferson and Montgomery streets.
Continue to follow updates on the morning’s events at

Apology: I have learned my lesson about how to spell inclement.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

New Name, Same Dilemma

The AJC has the latest on Georgia's struggle to heal its ailing mental health system.

Amen Bruddah!

To continue with the technology-related posts of the last couple of days, here is a story that says things that need to be said about the industry that puts food on my plate.
Since when were human beings so afraid of transformative change?

Of no relation to the launch of Milledgeville's Wireless Broadband Network

The Union-Recorder's Web operations will undergo a face lift in the coming weeks or months.
To get a sneak peek of what you can expect, visit our sister publication, located somewhere in a place called Alabama.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Milledgeville Municipal Wireless Broadband Network

View Milledgeville Municipal Wireless Broadband Network Coverage Map in a larger map

City Planner Russell Thompson and I spent this morning driving around Milledgeville testing out the new Municipal Wireless Broadband Network from different areas of the city.
Click on the points above to see a small description of local points of interest and see the download and upload speeds available at each location.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Banned Books Across this Great Land

Continuing with the excellent literary links provided to us one way or another from Nancy Davis Bray at the Georgia College & State University Library, today we have a
map of banned books
and where they've been banned across the country.
I'm happy to say that there are no dots on the map for Milledgeville.
Read more about Banned Book Week here.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Cutting the Cord

Here's the text from an e-mail I received this afternoon:


The day has finally arrived!!! Clear (formerly Clearwire) will be in Milledgeville on Thursday, October 1 , at 3:00 pm for the official launch of the wireless network which was made possible by the Wireless Communities Grant, the Knight Foundation and YOU!!!

Please join us on the front steps of City Hall to celebrate this auspicious occasion and the incredible teamwork that made this day possible.

This IS just the beginning of our future and reinventing ourselves.

Hope you can be there! If you are not able to join us, please know that this community is grateful for the role that you have played and continue to play in moving us forward.

Hope to see y'all there!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Other Georgia Cities Got Our Back

The Rome News-Tribune featured this editorial about the plight of Milledgeville in this dire economy.
"In November 1864 Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman arrived in Milledgeville, then Georgia’s capital, with 30,000 soldiers. He left a couple of days later after sacking the statehouse, destroying the state arsenal and powder magazine, burning the state penitentiary, railroad depot and Oconee bridge, and taking everything edible or of value from the surrounding countryside.
Now the national economy, aided by the forces of Georgia government, appears intent on seeing if they can finish the job."

It's reassuring to see that despite the troubles facing their own communities, civic leaders around the state are aware of what is going on in less-fortunate cities like Milledgeville and are willing to speak out against it.
Thanks to Travis Fain at Lucid Idiocy for linking to this editorial.

Vote O'Connor

Georgia College & State University Interim University Librarian Nancy Davis Bray passed this interesting tidbit along:

The National Book Foundation is asking the public to vote for the Best of the National Book Awards. The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor is one of the six books nominated.
If you would like to vote, you can do so here.

Seems O'Connor will be going up against other literary heavyweights who need only be referred to by their last names like Faulkner, Ellison, Cheever, Pynchon and Welty. So go and put one on the board for the home team!

Offer on the Table

Update: Since writing this post and its accompanying newspaper article, I've been told that the assertion that city residents would benefit from a higher level of service if the city were to take the county up on their offer is incorrect.
Sinclair Disposal Service, the city's solid waste management contractor, provides curbside pickup of recyclables as well as occasional pickup of white goods and leaf and limb service.
One commenter went on to say that they have had difficulty obtaining an exact list of what recyclable materials Advanced Waste collects and how they recycle it.
As I've promised in the past, there will be more to come.

We'll cover this ASAP in the U-R print edition, but I thought I'd use the immediacy of the Web to get this out there first.
I got this official letter from County Clerk Cindy Cunningham. It appears the Baldwin County Commission is interested in sending some more customers to Advanced Waste.
Via Chair James "Bubba" Williams, the Commission is offering to consolidate solid waste services with the City of Milledgeville, if the City becomes a part of their solid waste plan.
Please comment with any questions you may have.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The First Candidate to return their candidate questions is...

Phillip Joiner
And to show my appreciation for getting back to me on this, here's a sneak peek at Joiner's responses.

Name as I would like it to appear on the ballot:

Phillip Joiner

Age: 32

Occupation: Promotions/Talent Director, Sales Exec and On-air personality for Z97 FM / Marketing/Promotions Director for Amici Italian Cafe

Office qualifying for: Milledgeville City Council - District 4

Positions/titles in the community: Executive Producer/emcee for Milledgeville Idol/Milledgeville's Got Talent, Deep Roots Festival committee member and mainstage emcee, Chamber of Commerce Ambassador, and have helped with Milledgeville's Junior Miss program, The Oconee River Greenway Foundation and Young Professionals Organization. Recently named Milledgeville's "Radio Personality of the Year" by the readers of the Union Recorder

List and Describe the attributes that make you an effective public servant:

I have dedicated myself to serving this city by becoming immersed in many of its great organizations over the years and using my marketing and sales background to promote the city. Recruitment of business and visitors is key to maintaining our financial and cultural vitality and I hope to make further use of my skill set to benefit Milledgeville in a larger capacity. I'm also very energetic and available to the constituents to try and immediately address their needs or concerns.

Why do you feel compelled to represent your fellow residents on Council?

We all must contribute to our city's growth and I believe being a public servant is an important way to make a contribution. Serving the needs of the people directly is a challenge that I'm excited to take on.

What are the 3 biggest issues facing the city of milledgeville/what would you do to address these 3:

Obviously, creating opportunities for new jobs is number one. Vigorously recruiting new businesses both large and small is going to be crucial in the coming year. Our leaders in government must become ambassadors to the city and do whatever it takes to compel companies to consider Milledgeville as a destination. Higher unemployment leads to a higher crime rate. Crime would then be the second issue. I support the outlining of a plan consisting of education, awareness and prevention to tackle this very serious problem. Once the next city budget is put forth, council should continue to support our local law enforcement in any way necessary and provide them the resources they require. The third issue affects my district specifically. Our "Town and Gown" divide in the downtown area has been a contentious battle for too long. The District needs a councilman who can work with long time residents, new residents, college students and downtown businesses. I have built strong relationships with all parties with whom these issues concern. From Parking to housing, renters rights to vandalism of homes and yards, there are a myriad of complex issues that I have been immersed in for years and feel qualified to address as the representative in council for the district.

The tax collection and budget balancing:

Each year, the city deals with issues both new and old, and the budget should reflect the ever changing landscape of these issues. I believe in careful spending, and making sure that city infrastructure is maintained and improved.

What are Milledgeville's most marketable resources:

Milledgeville is a unique position, in that we are 90 minutes from Atlanta, 80 minutes from Athens, 30 minutes from Macon and 2 hours from Savannah. Being in the center of these major Georgia cities is a marketable resource for recruitment of industry and cultural vitality. We have a great River Greenway, 2 lakes just minutes away, beautiful antebellum homes downtown, Andalusia, Lockerly Arboretum, the old Governors Mansion, The Liberal Arts College of Georgia in GCSU, Georgia Military College and more. I've been involved in marketing all these things and consider them valuable resources to attract businesses, visitors and future residents.

Vision of Milledgeville for the 21st century:

I see Milledgeville as being in the early stages of a Renaissance period, our current job situation not withstanding. If you look back at the early history of this town and follow the timeline all the way to the present, you'll notice that Milledgeville has always "repacked" itself. Things are evolving and times are once again changing, and Milledgeville must find its identity and work with all of our efforts to positively brand that identity on the local, state and regional levels.

Alright Dan the man, hope all that can be of use and I appreciate all of your help. Good luck covering all this - it could get interesting!

Warmest Regards,


see the original questionnaire here.

"When I walk through the front door of the Governor's Mansion, the people walk with me"*

Gubernatorial candidate Carl Camon stopped by the State's Antebellum Capital Saturday for the Twin Lakes Library System's annual book sale.
Pushing an education-heavy platform, he made an appearance as Carl Camon the author and presented Milledgeville's library system with several copies of his book "Poetic Infinity".
Camon said he wrote the 100 poems that make up the collection in 100 days as he was traveling and acting as Ray City's Mayor.
"I think it was divine intervention," he said. "I would wake up at two in the morning while traveling on a plane or train and just get out a napkin or piece of paper and jot down what I was thinking. And after 100 days it just stopped.
"I think [the book] can give the people of Georgia an opportunity to learn more about me."
I was happy to have the opportunity to learn more about Camon at this event as I'll be learning more about several of the Democratic Candidates at tonight's Democratic Meet, Greet and Eat, which will be hosted at Rock Eagle by a new consortium of Democrats from the eight-county area surrounding Baldwin County in Middle Georgia.
As I said above, Camon said education will make up a majority of his platform for governor. And to push the point, he said that once elected this "active educator"said he would like to teach one day in each of the state's 159 counties.
"I want to make sure I see first hand what's going on in our school systems," he said.

* At the top is one of the better soundbite quotes Camon gave me during Saturday's interview.

Central State Images

IF you're anything like me, then you'll love seeing these excellent images of Central State Hospital.
"Guerrilla preservationist and urban archeologist" Richard Nickel, Jr., who runs the Kingston Lounge photoblog out of Brooklyn, New York, was able to make his way into the old Walker Building on the CSH campus and... well the images are breathtakingly haunting.
After looking at the CSH pics, I recommend spending some time taking in the rest of his blog.