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.