Sunday, April 30, 2006

Candidates in Macon Tomorrow

Word has it that a number of candidates for statewide office will be on hand tomorrow as Georgia's WIN List hosts The First Annual Viola Ross Napier Celebration at 315 College Street from 6 PM to 8 PM.

Members of the Napier family will be guests of WIN as we honor the contribution of Viola Ross Napier who in 1923 became the first women to serve in the Georgia General Assembly. Now, dozens of Democratic women hold elected office in Middle Georgia, and we will also honor those women at this special event. Read more about this event in the Macon Telegraph .

Middle Georgia women are making history once again this election cycle. An unprecedented five Democratic women from Middle Georgia are seeking election to the Georgia House. Congratulations to candidates: Lauren Benedict, Dee Yearty, Beth Perera,and Jennifer Harris, and to incumbent, Rep. Nikki Randall.

The cost to attend is $35.00 and payment may be made on line at Georgia's WIN List .

Where's Senator Sam Ervin When You Need Him?

This morning as I was reading The Macon Telegraph's staff op-ed, "American's Shouldn't Wallow in the Cesspools of Torture" it occurred to me that we could really use Senator Sam Ervin about right now.

If you're not from North Carolina, or you are younger than thirty-five, you probably have no idea who I'm talking about, but trust me: from the misrepresentations about the reasons for going into war to the CIA leaks, Senator Sam, nemesis of the likes of Richard Nixon and Joe McCarthy, would have cleaned house.

Though I have been a Georgian now for twenty years, I spent the first twenty growing up in the mountains of North Carolina. In 1974, when Watergate broke, I recall both the dinner table discussions and my family gathering to watch the televised hearings that our own Senator Sam Ervin chaired. We were proud that it was our own senator who was leading the charge to confront corruption and abuse of power in Washington.

When the transcripts of the White House tapes were ordered to be released as a part of the investigation, I remember eventually having a book with excerpts. What an amazing system of government, I thought, that places in the hands of a teenager the power to read the conversations of the President. (Now, he just reads mine.)

While we are at Myrtle Beach that summer, we turned on the television to watch President Nixon resign. When he did, there was a profound sense that the people had somehow checked the rich and powerful, that the process worked and the government would endure.

That seems like an awfully long time ago, and I don't know that I have that faith right now. This Congress does not seem to have the will or the courage to confront corruption. They only seem to have the will to get re-elected. It's enough to make Senator Sam turn over in his grave.

This congress, instead of investigating corruption, seems to just move to change the laws to accommodate whatever the executive branch wants to do. Where is their backbone? They have allowed the legislative branch of government to become more and more irrelevant. Where are the representatives and the senators who are willing to seek and do what is right no matter the cost? It's clear that the military-industrial-energy company machine is represented. Where are OUR representatives? Where is our Senator Sam?

Yes, we could use a few more Democrats like Sam Ervin. He had his flaws, particularly his opposition to forced desegregation of schools, but he was a strong, hawkish, honorable, educated man who was committed to national security and to keeping government out of the private lives of people. He acted to oppose (this sounds familiar) "no knock" searches, creation of data banks and other invasions of privacy. He was not afraid to lead, and not afraid to speak truth to power. I hope that this year we will apply the Ervin test to those we choose to represent us.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

A Brilliant Move for Cathy Cox

Welcome, Chris Riggal, new but familiar Campaign Manager for Cathy Cox. Riggal, who has been Cathy's spokesperson in the SOS office, has taken the helm at the campaign. Cathy's choice of Riggal is wise on so many levels: he is a known quantity, and an experienced, respected professional. He brings additional communications strength to the campaign. Most important at this juncture: he knows Georgia. Excellent choice.

Stephen Colbert on 60 Minutes

For the other Colbert Report junkies out there, Stephen Colbert will be on 60 Minutes tomorrow night. It's at least worth a TiVo.

Republican Transgressions

This was so well said by "Button" that I've moved the bulk of this comment to the front page. Thanks, "Button."

"......Obviously, we have to talk about our differences during the primary. But we should be talking about things of significance rathern than who started HOPE (since the future of HOPE is a critical issue now) and Wikipedia bios. And we should be united in our disgust about the issues you just brought up. We're letting Sonny Perdue, Ralph Reed, Linda Schrenko, and George Bush off the hook. Add to that the continuing McKinney situation. This will only encourage Republicans to continue down their present course. Because we're doing everything we can to take the public's focus off of Republican transgressions.I'm sorry to say that Democrats are off to a bad start in a key election year. "

Friday, April 28, 2006

Cox Committed to Early Childhood Education

Cathy Cox is serious about early childhood education. This week, within the major policy initiative, she announced plans to fully fund, through Family Connections collaboratives in every county, early childhood programs. This has the potential to reverse our devastating dropout rate. Here's what she had to say:

A Quality Early Education
Research indicates that students who are not reading on grade level by the end of the third grade are much less likely to graduate from high school. Despite the fact that the greatest amount of brain growth occurs between birth and age five, the majority of Georgia's investments in education are made for students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. Cox knows t hat the best education will result from an active partnership among parents, teachers, and children.
§ As Governor, Cathy Cox will support and fully fund childcare and developmentally appropriate learning opportunities for children through the Family Connections Programs in every county.
§ Because every Georgia child is entitled to free preschool, Cox will ensure that every preschool provides real learning opportunities and puts children on track for success at an early age.

What Georgia Democrats Could've Talked About

This week, while we were all busy talking about campaign tactics, and slamming other Democrats, we missed the opportunity to talk about the $3.00+ that Georgians are paying for gas, the trial of Schrenko, the scandal at Hyundai/Kia, and a sex offender law that sheriffs say may actually make our children less safe.

Yes, while we were preoccupied with beating each other up, the Perdue Team, virtually got a pass on all of this. And that's the real problem.

If we want to win, then we may just need to re-think this strategy.

Sonny Perdue Channels Dick Cheney

From Sonny's own Website: res ipsa loquiter. All together now, Georgians: DUCK AND COVER!

2006: I Can Hear Heels Clicking on Marble!

This year, I count fifty-nine Democratic women who have qualified for the Georgia House, Georgia Senate or for constitutional office. I count only twenty-one Republican women who have done the same. That speaks volumes.

Why is it that there are dramatically fewer Republican women who seek state level office in Georgia? I have a theory.

The Republican party's agenda is hostile to women. We could talk about issues like drive-by mastectomies, failure to support insurance mandates for preventative care, failure to address the growing number of women with children who live in poverty, and the failure to support mental health programs that help stem domestic violence, but all you really have to do is look at the difference in the numbers of Republican and Democratic women who offer themselves for elected office in Georgia.

Despite having the majority of the seats in both the Georgia House and Senate, Georgia Republicans have obviously failed to support women leaders in their own party, and as such, remain a party that is, at the leadership level, overwhelmingly dominated by rich white men who are often out of touch with the agenda of average Georgians.

Yet another reason why we will see Democratic gains in November. As Viola Napier said, "there's just no way around it, the Assembly needs cleaning." From the Governor's office on down, these are just the women to do the job!

Johnny Floyd Will Have Opposition

I note that Johnny Floyd, who recently had a party identity crisis, will have competition from Democrat Jennifer Harris, a 33 year old student from Cordele. I will be very interested in learning more about Jennifer's candidacy. She is one of five Democratic women from Middle Georgia who are seeking House seats. The others are: Lauren Benedict, Beth Perera, Nikki Randall and Dee Yearty.

It looks as though Middle Georgia women are trying to single-handedly close the gender gap in the General Assembly!

Note: Johnny Floyd has drawn yet another challenger: Robert Phillips of Arabi.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Taylor Campaign Panders to Republican Blog

Mark Taylor's campaign and The Perdue Team have something in common: both want Taylor to win the Democratic primary in July.

Recently, when an amateurish parody of the Cox campaign made it's debut on a popular Very-Republican-Leaning blog, Peach Pundit, I initially hoped Taylor would condemn such campaign tactics. Today, we discover that not only was Taylor silent on the issue, but his own spokesperson, Rick Dent, proudly took credit for both creating the video and distributing it to the Republican blog.

This stunt came on the heels of Dent's extremely negative, mocking, inaccurate statement about Cox that first appeared on Taylor's campaign website and then very quickly on, you guessed it, the same Republican blog. I'm sure Sonny's pleased as punch. Keep this up, and he'll win without firing the first shot.

The reason the Perdue Team is in bed with the Taylor Campaign when it comes to attacking Cathy is clear: Mark Taylor wants to win the primary and that suits Sonny Perdue just fine. But, why do we, Democrats, want to feed this kind of garbage to Republicans when it is sure to be regurgitate in the general? Does that sound like a winning strategy?

It seems that for Mark Taylor, Rick Dent, can't be bad enough to earn a rebuke. A Taylor supporter speculated on this blog that the Taylor camp wasn't pleased with Dent's behavior. I don't know about that, but if so, we deserve to hear about it from Taylor himself, just like Cathy did. Dent's behavior is apparently not that of some rogue staffer, but is instead endorsed and supported by the Taylor campaign. It must be part of their planned strategy, else why would Dent's diatribe be on the Taylor website, and why would Dent be so brazen as to publicly "take credit" for creating and distributing the video?

This week, Cox, true to her values, stepped up to the plate and, in the strongest possible terms, made it clear that such tactics would not be tolerated in her campaign. She acted with integrity and class. And her campaign chief resigned.

Yet, Rick Dent, still has a job. This begs the question: does Mark Taylor approve of these tactics? Apparently, he does. Will Taylor step up to the plate and demand this negative pandering stop? I'm looking for evidence of statesmanship here, and the only place I see it is in Cathy Cox.

Here's a section of the AJC article. The balance can be found here

"Taylor's campaign, meanwhile, has taken credit for a slam at Cox that also was widely e-mailed. Rick Dent, Taylor's campaign spokesman, said he and others in the campaign created a Cathy Cox vignette for "their own amusement."
The ad parodies a conference call last week put together by the Cox campaign to poke holes in Taylor's claim that he sponsored the HOPE scholarship.
"When I saw it, I thought it was so funny that I thought we should share it with everybody," Dent said. He said he placed it on a blog and then sent it to reporters.
Dent said that while the video was aimed mostly at political insiders, the Internet is an important campaign tool, from official campaign Web sites with advertising spots to blogs.
"It's a brand-new way of trying to inform and influence the public about what you're doing," Dent said.
Dent said the campaign has been in contact with popular Georgia political blogs such as"

Georgia Democrats are Gaining Strength

Here's how I know. In Middle Georgia, Young Democrats and College Democrats are stronger than ever. At Mercer University wonderful leaders like Matt Wethering and John Buckner, have for the first time in memory grown the College Democrats organization. There are more college dems than college republicans at Mercer. Yes, that's right. I said Mercer. Plus, the Young Dems at Mercer Law School are strong and active, along with groups from Wesleyan and Macon State. And, in Bibb County, we have a newly formed Young Democrats group that is up and running and off to a great start. They are seriously committed to the community and to the values that make them Democrats.

In fact, some months ago, they YD's asked for help and advice, and while my mind was on helping with social functions, what they really wanted was help planning a community forum on economic development. The forum was a grand success, and tonight, they will host the second in that series. The information is below. I hope that, if you are in the Middle Georgia area, you will attend.

Tonight (4/27/06) ibb County Young Democrats will host a forum on education and economic development. It will be held at City Hall and will run from 7 to 9 pm. This event is free and open to the public. There will be a panel discussion featuring:
Carl Martray, Dean of Mercer's College of Education
Sharon Patterson, Bibb County School Superintendent
Joe Larche, Assistant Commissioner of Labor for Georgia
Pat Topping, Vice-President of the Chamber of Commerce
Marquis Harris, History Teacher at Central High School
Members of the audience will be able to ask questions of the panelists.

In addition to the panel discussion, there will also be an education fair, with several local colleges and all four branches of the armed services present. Here, people can learn about opportunities to further their education. Refreshments will be provided.

I look forward to seeing all of you tomorrow at the forum.

Thank you very much,

Jeff Fallis
Bibb County Young Democrats

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

What This is Really All About

While we have been preoccupied with Internet biographies, here are some items that have passed under the radar. I'm not fine with any of this. You shouldn't be fine with any of this, and any one of these issues is reason enough to stop feeding the Republican media monster and do what we must to elect Democrats.

1) While we're dealing with sticker shock at the pump, Big Oil is doing just fine, thank you. See the chart to the left that indicates record profits. Not only this, but CNN reports that Georgia is among the states where gas prices are the highest. Good that we lead in something...

2) Linda Schrenko's trial is underway. She directly stole money from our children's schools. Perdue just want to starve them out of existence.

3) Karl Rove, our President's Brain, made his fifth Grand Jury appearance.

4) The Perdue Team snuck through legislation that allows the General Assembly, not a judge or jury, to decide whether you get paid if you prevail in a lawsuit against the state of Georgia. Check out HB 1164. Forget what the judge and jury think- who needs them anyway? The General Assembly is all-knowing.

5) Iraq. Do I really need to say any more?

So, what do you say we get back to the issues that really matter?

Yes, Morton Resigned

Yes, he did, and I will post more when I know more. One thing I will say now: in characteristic style, Cathy Cox demanded accountability and followed through with her promise to get to the bottom of the issue and deal with it swiftly and directly. I expected no less and this is exactly the kind of Governor I want for Georgia- someone with the highest ethical standards who will demand the same from others.

Surprise: Three Qualify for Georgia Governor

No one should be surprised that three people have qualified for Governor, unless I tell you that Cathy Cox and Mark Taylor are not among the three. That's right, Sonny Perdue (R), Mac McCarley (D), and Ray "State's Rights" McBerry (R).

Three candidates, just not the race we expected. I'm sure Mark and Cathy will qualify, but, who knows, maybe in November we'll be looking at Governor to Be "State's Rights." :)

Cox: Connecting Students to the 21st Century

Cathy Cox Calls for "A New Covenant" with Georgia

Secretary of State Cathy Cox called for “a new covenant” with Georgia today based on responsibility, opportunity and progress. She announced her comprehensive agenda to lead Georgia forward at the historic Hungry Club Forum, a weekly community affairs event sponsored by the Butler Street YMCA in Atlanta.
“Today I am proposing a new covenant with the people of Georgia. A covenant based on opportunity for all, and accountability and responsibility in government,” said Cox.
“If, like me, you’re tired of yesterday’s brand of politics, where special interests come before the interests of everyday Georgians, then we must demand change. And, that change demands a new commitment from our leaders. A commitment that says people will come first and government will live up to its promises.”
Cox’s covenant is a new vision for education and healthcare, focused on leading Georgia forward into the 21st century and staying competitive in the new global economy.
As Governor, Cox will invest in classrooms with public-private partnerships and links to colleges and technical colleges in order to provide a seamless transition from school to a high-paying job.
“The new economy is growing by leaps and bounds, and its demands are much different than one, two, let alone three generations ago. Our schools, however, have remained the same,” said Cox. “Students can’t be taught in a system that is disconnected from the outside world and the careers of the 21st century.”
Cox’s new covenant to lead Georgia forward also emphasizes the need in a changing economy for a commitment to affordable and accessible healthcare for every Georgian. She proposed the creation of a market-based health insurance purchasing pool for small businesses and the self-employed and an expansion and reform of the PeachCare program that will bring more Georgians onto the health insurance rolls.
“Investing in healthcare is investing in every Georgian,” said Cox. “A healthier workforce will make Georgia more competitive and ready for the economic challenges of the future.”
The speech fulfills the promise Cox made when announcing her candidacy on April 22, 2005. “Our covenant will remind those you elect just who runs the show—and that’s you, the people,” she said at the time.
Earlier this year, Cox released a detailed ethics reform proposal to promote government reform, accountability and responsibility. Her far-reaching proposal will close the revolving door of government, put ethics law enforcement in the hands of a truly independent body, wipe out partisan politics in local offices, create a tough code of ethics, and reform the way state contracting is done.
Click here to read more about Leading Georgia Forward.

Cox Promises Action

Here's the AJC story . We've all been specualting about this. Here's what Cox has to say. With Dent's own Internet diatribe last week, I am surprised that the Taylor Camp picked him as spokesperson for clean campaigns. Just doesn't seem like a good fit...
Cox vows to uncover who altered Taylor's online biography


Staff writerPublished on: 04/26/06

Secretary of State Cathy Cox on Wednesday vowed to find out whether a member of her gubernatorial campaign staff altered an online biography of her chief Democratic rival, Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor, to include a reference to drunk driving charges against Taylor's son.
Cox said at a noon news conference that she had told her campaign staff never to bring up Fletcher Taylor's South Carolina car wreck in which a passenger was killed.

"My staff knows that this is my wish," Cox said. "I am very upset about it. I am very angry that it appears that someone on my staff violated my directive and we are going to deal with it strongly."
Taylor's campaign says the Cox campaign altered his biography at Wikipedia, a popular online encyclopedia, to include the reference to his son's arrest.
The founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, told the Associated Press on Tuesday that the editing of Taylor's biography led back to the Cox campaign. He said there were no plans to remove the information because it met the Web site's standard for newsworthiness.
Rick Dent, Taylor's spokesman, said Wednesday that Morton Brilliant, Cox's campaign manager, previously had doctored Wikipedia biographies of opponents in South Carolina and Washington state when he worked in those states.
"What is Cathy Cox going to do about it?" Dent asked.
The information added on the Web site said Taylor's son, Fletcher, was behind the wheel in an August 2005 accident that killed his 22-year-old best friend.
Merle Black, an Emory University political scientist, said, "If it is traced back [to Brilliant], it's potentially a big issue. That's how campaign managers lose jobs."
Michael Binford, a Georgia State University political scientist, said the latest incident is a sign of things to come in the Taylor-Cox battle for the Democratic nomination for governor. The winner will take on Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue.
"Usually there is retaliation after these kind of things," Binford said. "It certainly indicates this isn't going to be a genteel affair."
Last week, Cox's campaign accused Taylor of exaggerating his role in creating the HOPE scholarship. Taylor claims in campaign ads that he sponsored the bill that created the scholarship fund, which uses state lottery proceeds to finance tuition and some books for students who attend college in Georgia and maintain a 3.0 grade point average.
However, while Taylor helped push the measure through the Senate, the bill that passed was filed by then-Gov. Zell Miller's House floor leaders.
Wikipedia has been under fire of late for allowing online contributors to post inaccurate information on its site. The most prominent case involved an entry on John Seigenthaler Sr., a prominent journalist whom a Wikipedia entry linked to the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy. The man who posted the false information later said he was playing a joke.
Virtually any Wikipedia reader may edit any of the site's listings, which has made it an increasingly popular cyberspace attack tool.
The issue hit home in Georgia when U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall, a Macon Democrat, had his profile rewritten by a man who now works for his Republican opponent, former Rep. Mac Collins.
While it may be a sign of the new era of campaigning, Binford isn't sure how much such incidents alter the outcome of races.
"I don't know that there are a lot of voters going to Wikipedia to look this up," he said.
Fletcher Taylor, 21, is awaiting trial on charges stemming from the accident in Charleston, S.C. Since the arrest, he has been in an alcohol treatment center, according to Taylor's campaign.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Taylor/Cox Tempest

Even when the Fletcher Taylor incident initially happened, the Cox campaign was, out of respect for the family, silent. Clearly, in my opinion, what happened with Fletcher is a tragedy that should not in any way be exploited for political gain- by either candidate.

In terms of Taylor's allegations today, we don't know who edited the bio yet. The Cox folks say they are investigating, and I am confident they will and that they will take appropriate action.

What we do know for certain is who called the press about it: the Taylor campaign through Senator Robert Brown. I suspect before they made this the press story of the day, very few people were checking up on Mark on Wikipedia. Now they are, though, and Fletcher Taylor is news again simply because the Taylor folks called the press and made these allegations. If the Taylor campaign had not done that, we would not be discussing Fletcher now. The Taylor campaign made the press call, why? Because they thought it was politically expedient to do so. Period.

This situation does raise more questions than answers.

Also, I am NOT an IT expert. I can barely manage the HTML for this blog. But doesn't this situation raise a lot of questions? For example, while it is possible to trace an IP address to a computer, it is not possible to know who was using the computer, and if it is part of a network, does that not create additional challenges?

I went to the Wikipedia site and found the history of changes to the Taylor page interesting. It looks like it has been altered more than once, and on the subject of Fletcher, on April 12th and April 25th. Seems like the Taylor campaign very quickly became aware of these changes.

Here's the track of the changes:

This was the change on April 12th

Taylor is married to his third wife, the former Sacha Wilbanks of [[Lavonia, Georgia]]. Taylor has one adult son, Fletcher, by his first marriage to Robin Taylor. Fletcher Taylor was recently involved in a fatal automobile accident while under the influence of alcohol. He is a member of the Porterfield [[United Methodist Church]] in Albany.
Taylor is married to his third wife, the former Sacha Wilbanks of [[Lavonia, Georgia]]. Taylor has one adult son, Fletcher, by his first marriage to Robin Taylor. He is a member of the Porterfield [[United Methodist Church]] in Albany.

This was the change on April 25th (today)

On [[August 19]], 2005, Taylor's son Fletcher was involved in a car crash in [[Charleston, South Carolina]]. Fletcher's passenger died as a result of the accident, and Fletcher was later charged with felony DUI. It was speculated at the time that the incident would significantly impact Taylor's campaign, but it has not become a major issue thus far.
On [[August 19]], 2005, Taylor's son Fletcher was involved in a car crash in [[Charleston, South Carolina]]. Fletcher's passenger died as a result of the accident, and Fletcher was later charged with felony DUI.

Of course, those of you who are familiar with Wikipedia know that the service allows users to log in and edit information on the site with the hope that the information they provide will become more complete and more accurate. Sometimes vandals have posted inaccurate information, and that has been a problem. That is not the allegation in this case. This information added was accurate.

Yet Another Democrat Qualifies for Georgia Lt. Gov.

Actually, the previous post was wrong. Four Democrats, including one Rufus Terrill, have already qualified for Lt. Governor. Hecht has not yet qualified, so we will have at least five Democrats, and an almost certain runoff in that primary.

And, in the Secretary of State's race, Scott Holcomb has not yet qualified, but I expect he will. Walter Ray, left off the previous list, has qualified.

My point remains: why are we aiming all of our powder at the top?

Click here for a link to the Secretary of State's website listing of candidates who have qualified.

Georgia Lt. Gov: And Then There Were Four

By Friday, we will have at least four Democrats qualify for Lt. Governor:

Greg Hecht, Jim Martin, Griffin Lotson and Steen Miles.

We also have five candidates who have qualified for Secretary of State:

Darryl Hicks, Shyam Reddy, Gail Buckner, Angela Moore and Scott Holcomb.

Am I the only person who regrets that so much of our talent is focused on these constitutional offices while some legislative seats are left uncontested?

Just asking....

How Should Campaigns Be Funded?

A reader, Ms_AtlDem, asks a very good question:

"I agree that big business has a lot of involvement with funding campaigns. Here is the problem though. Without the contributions, where will the funding come from? Randi Rhodes herself said that we don't contribute enough to the party and campaigns. How will campaigns be funded?"

I personally believe that we need to eliminate lobbyist perks for those who govern. Do we also need to further restrict PAC contributions to campaigns? What about lobbyists contributions to campaigns? There was a time when campaigns did not cost the probable $30 million or more that will be spent on our Governor's race. I keep thinking about what that $30 million could do for schools or healthcare in our state. Should we cap campaign spending?

Consider this an open thread for comments on how we citizens can take our government back.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Taylor in July/Perdue in November

If Democrats want to win back the Governor's office, then they better get behind Cathy Cox now.

Why Cathy? Because Republicans who want Sonny re-elected also hope that Taylor wins the primary. For all of her attributes, this is the single best reason for Democrats to support Cathy Cox. Why, in this political environment would we want to vote for a candidate like Mark Taylor, who we like, but who we know cannot win in November?

Why now? Sonny Perdue will have ample financial resources for this race, so, if Cathy Cox is the only candidate who can actually beat Sonny Perdue, then we need to focus our resources on her race. Instead of dividing our efforts, we need to focus on the one candidate who can win- Cathy Cox.

Mark Taylor has served this state well and is respected by many people, but there is nothing to indicate that he can actually win this race. Mark spent an awful lot of time working in a majority democratic environment in Atlanta. He is famous for his "cry me a river" retort to the then-minority when they complained that they did not have a seat at the table. This history will doom him in November.

Republicans fear Cathy so much that they tried, unsuccessfully, to recruit her. Polling consistently indicates that she is the candidate who is able to reach across party, racial and gender lines to attract voters and that she, not Taylor, has the best shot against Perdue.

So, while I respect those who are waiting until after the primary to support a candidate for Governor, and those who like or feel that they owe Mark Taylor, I suggest that we need to get behind the one candidate who can beat Sonny, and that candidate is Cathy Cox. We need to take our very best shot and choose a winner!

Perdue Leaves Schools Cash-Strapped

Do you care if your property tax is increased- again? Does it matter if your child has an experienced teacher? What about art and music programs? Are you ready for those cuts? If you live in Georgia, get ready for all that and more. In this election year, The Perdue Team passed feel-good laws and, in large part, left it up to "somebody else" to figure out how to pay for it all. Now there's a great leader....

If today's Telegraph article, Bibb Schools Facing Money Crunch to Meet State Mandates , is any indication, then local property taxes are on the way up, and certain programs and services are on their way to the chopping block.

After three years of austerity cuts, totally more than $1.2 billion, this year school districts do expect an increase in revenue from the state; however, it will not be nearly enough to cover costs of new unfunded mandates. For example, the new requirements will cost Bibb County an estimated $10 million, and the State will only provide an additional $6 million. The other four million will either come from the taxpayers , through layoffs, or through cuts to programs like art and music.

Here's a glimpse of the problems Perdue passed along. (I am using Bibb numbers as an example.)

1. The 4% teacher salary increase adds $4.2 million, and the system's cost for insurance will increase from 14% to 16%.

2. New state requirements for fiscal accountability will require about five new bookkeepers, increasing administrative (not in the classroom) expenses by $178,000.

3. Classroom size reduction will require Bibb to hire 40 teachers in addition to the 250 they planned to hire.Teachers are hard to find, and funding shortages make it harder for local districts to offer incentives, making it likely that less experienced educators will find their way into classrooms.

4. $1.5 million will be needed to replace every social studies textbook, for every grade.

No one objects to smaller classes or raising teacher pay, but you don't get a pat on the back just for passing the law: you have to figure out how to fund it. The Governor is pleased to leave that problem, and the blame for increased taxes, at the doorstep of local school districts. I think that we can safely say that Sonny is not the "Education Governor."

Someone, somewhere needs to do the math: If, for the last three years, we take the overall decrease in $$ flowing to education and then add the increased cost of new unfunded mandates, how much has the Perdue Team taken from local school systems? I bet it's an impressive number!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

What Has Cathy Cox Ever Done?

Let's just get this out of the way. Cox and Taylor both support the HOPE scholarship, and while that's a good thing, simply supporting HOPE does not alone qualify someone to become Governor. If that were the case, hundreds of thousands of people would be standing in line. The real question we have to answer is, whose experience would make them the best Governor?

Taylor-ites are fond of reciting their candidate's resume that, frankly, reflects more about what Mark has done at the behest of others like his father, Governor Miller and Governor Barnes than what he has initiated on his own. For the last three years, during the Perdue years, without someone else's agenda to carry, Taylor's role has been largely ceremonial.

Yet, Taylor-ites are fond of asking, "What has Cathy Cox Ever Done?", as if there could not possibly be an answer to that question.

It's one thing for Taylor supporters to spout this Dent-generated rhetoric. They may not know better. It is quite another thing for the Taylor campaign to intentionally generate this inaccurate perception one of the the best and most accomplished leaders in our state, Cathy Cox.

Not only does she, like Taylor, have legislative experience, but she also has administrative experience that includes setting the agenda for her department, hiring and supervising a staff of 300 and managing a budget- all things that sound a lot like what a Governor would do!

Here are some facts about what Cathy Cox has already done for Georgia:

1) A Record of Service: Both in her faith and in her early community service, Cathy Cox embraced the concept of servant leadership, volunteering in her church and in her community, choosing service that included becoming a volunteer firefighter.

2) Commitment to the People: As a legislator, Cathy Cox continued her common sense approach to public service and, then as now, kept the needs of her constituents at the heart of her agenda, advocating for tax cuts and investment in education and infrastructure.

3) Ability to Lead: Those who served with her in the legislature, like Judge Billy Randall, speak of her ability to organize and lead others during her term of service.

4) Commitment to Open, Ethical Government: As Secretary of State, Cox demonstrated her commitment to public access to government by creating an award winning, state of the art website that provided the average Georgia with unprecedented access to information about businesses, elections and campaign finance.

5) Fiscal Soundness: Also, as Secretary of State, Cox has demonstrated her ability to be an administrator. She manages one of the larger state agencies, supervising over 300 employees. And in that administrative role, she managed her budget so effectively that she has been able to return hundreds of thousands of dollars to Georgia taxpayers, every single year.

6) Commitment to All of Georgia: Cox knows that Georgia does not stop at the boundaries of the metro counties. In her tenure as Secretary of State, Cox ordered the biggest decentralization in Georgia government history, moving her largest operating division, the licensing division from Atlanta to Macon, creating many midstate jobs in the process.

7) Commitment to Seniors: Through her Securities division, Cox engaged in an aggressive campaign to protect out most vulnerable citizens from investment fraud.

8) Commitment to Voting Access and Accuracy: Cox implemented the nation's first electronic voting system and moved Georgia from 47th to 2nd in voter access and accuracy.

9) Commitment to Business: Cox, through her Corporations Division, made Georgia a leader in e-commerce and began providing many services via e-mail and the Internet.

These are just a few of the things that Cathy Cox has done. Never one to sit on her hands or wait for someone else to lead, Cathy's record of service and her vision for the future of Georgia make her the best choice for Governor.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Republicans Revel in Taylor Tactics

Predictably, tonight, a Georgia Republican blog (the same one that carried Dent's diatribe) gives top billing to a homemade commercial in the spirit of Dent/Rove. You'll just have to excuse me for not posting a link.

Congratulations. You guys are giving Perdue exactly what he wants.

"The Worst President in History"

So, who do you think are the three best and the three worst presidents in history? I'll give you a hint, according to an article in the new Rolling Stone, the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries each hosted one of the three best, and the worst president in history may be serving right now: George H. W. Bush. Why? Because, if he continues on his current course, he stands to do the most damage.

The author draws on the expertise of historians to discuss the characteristics that tend to mark successful and unsuccessful presidents. One of the key indicators of a bad president was the tendency to cling to policy despite negative outcomes, something that has become characteristic of the Bush presidency. This article, available on line, is well worth the read.

You can find it here:

Dent Channels Rove

Responding to the Cox Campaign's statement about Mark Taylor overstating his personal role in the HOPE Scholarship, yesterday, Rick Dent, the Taylor campaign chief, posted one of the most negative personal attacks on a candidate that I have ever seen come directly from a campaign. In Rove-esq fashion, Dent points the finger at Cox and criticizes her for a campaign tactic he has adopted. If this insulting, childish approach is what Taylor adopts in his campaign, then what would a Taylor administration be like? Is this the tone we want in this race? Can Taylor get control of this guy? Does he want to? Let's see if Mark Taylor can lead. If this type of campaigning continues, voters will tune out and vote for Perdue.

Of course, I believe that it was Dent who discounted Cox's ability to raise money...

Friday, April 21, 2006

Angela Moore's Financial Disclosure

On April 7th, I looked for Angela Moore's financial disclosure online at the State Ethics Commission and did not find it. Today, I did find it, and noted that it while it was dated 4/7/2006, it was e-filed on 4/17/2006, well after the deadline. This could have been an Ethics Commission issue, since a number of the disclosures were not immediately available for review on line. It's not the filing deadline that got my attention, anyway. She lists over $155,000.00 in contributions this period and over $400,000.00 total.

The amount is easy to see, but it is harder to figure out where the money is coming from. I have not actually done the math, but it appears to me that a significant portion- maybe most- of her money for this period comes from interests and individuals outside of Georgia. I also find it interesting that for a number of her individual donors, she lists "N/A" where the employment and occupation information should go.

I am not an expert of these filings, but since she wants to become Secretary of State, shouldn't she know how this is done? How can the employment info be "Not Applicable*" to an individual?

Check this out yourself.
* Mel points out that in this context N/A means "Not Available" but, even so, isn't this a concern?

You'd Better Know Where You're Going...

Parrish, Channell, Royal: Do you know where you're going? My two cents? Don't let the door smack you on the rear.

For a number of years, I worked at a group home for children and teens. Sometimes, children would threaten to run away, and we would tell them that they'd better give that some thought because it's easier to decide to leave than to figure out where you're going next. I have to wonder whether the recent rash of spineless cowards who have defected from the Democratic party have given much thought to what/who they are getting in bed with?

They're joining the party of Ralph "Casino" Reed, Jack "The Money Man" Abramoff, George "The Decider" Bush, Tom"I'm Indicted" DeLay and Sonny "Do Nothing" Perdue. They're joining up with the party that supports big business and big developers at the expense of the average taxpayer- the party that this session wanted to give private developers taxing authority and condemnation rights.

They're joining the party that decided, in the midst of an education crisis, to embrace an "election strategy" instead of an "education strategy." They're joining that party that has endorsed 2.3 billion in cuts to education resulting in increased property taxes in 100 Georgia counties. The other 59 won't be far behind.

They decided to join the party that while promising ethics reform, instead enjoyed a 30% increase in lobbyist dollars, and the "Pork and Beans" Governor who so quickly developed a taste for fillet that he couldn't even come home for his kickoff, instead planning it for Cobb County.

And for what? The Governor and the Speaker have pretty well already doled out the prime committee assignments. What crumbs will they sweep up for themselves?

I want leaders in the Democratic Party- not folks who stick their finger in the wind to see where public opinion is, and then decide who they are and what they believe. I hope you fellows enjoy all the following you are about to do. You appear to be good at it

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Why Cathy Cox Will Win

Today, someone told me why Mark Taylor is going to win the primary. They said that he has the money and political savvy to win, and that Cathy has spent too much early money in a campaign that has been way too quiet. (That sounds like Taylor-spin to me, akin to "she can't raise the money to run" and "Georgia is just not ready for a women governor." I guess they're forgetting that Cathy is not a stranger to ther voters. )

I agree that Mark Taylor has plenty of money and that he is politically savvy. After all, being Governor of Georgia has been his life's dream, and his family's dream for him. The Taylors have already dumped significant money into this race- more than a million. I agree with all that, but that's where the agreement ends. In July and November, Georgia voters will make it clear that the Governor's office belongs to the people and is no one's birthright.

This is going to be a tough race, but Cathy Cox will win the democratic primary and will go on to defeat Sonny Perdue. Here's why. Cathy is her own best asset. In addition to a compelling biography that voters can relate to, people like her, trust her and they will vote for her.

Mark Taylor, Al Gore and the HOPE Scholarship

This is a first for Georgia Women VOTE! This comment is so well thought out, that I decided it deserved a move to the front page. This, today from "Button." Thank you!

You said it best when you said that we should be more concerned about our future than our past. HOPE and education in general are not issues invented by Mark Taylor. He'd better turn his attention to keeping HOPE safe from Republican hands and turning our education system (both public schools and higher education) around. Cox's approach to solving long standing problems with public schools is smart. She wants an inclusive conversation involving experts from more successful states as well as our schools' greatest resource, it's teachers. Also, Cox is correct when she talks about the need for more options for working adults continuing their education. This is not only affecting individuals and families currently working. But it's a big part of the reason why Georgia isn't attracting more industries.Taylor's not speaking to these issues and he needs to wake up - and fast. He can Al Gore the HOPE issue all he wants. But his lack of vision on real educational issues isn't good for Georgia.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Cox: HOPE for the Future

Georgia Democrats, not Mark Taylor alone, gave Georgians the HOPE scholarship and Pre-K, both popular and important past initiatives. After seeing Taylor's commercial today, one could mistakenly conclude that Taylor was single-handedly responsible for this legislation. Of course, that's not accurate, and the Cox campaign has already said as much. For Perdue's part, despite his lack of initial support for HOPE, he wanted to co-opt it this cycle by putting a bogus amendment on the ballot. Either way, this election is not about the history of public education in Georgia: it's about the future.

Nationally, and in Georgia, we face an education crisis. When four in ten of our 9th graders disappear before their senior year, we have to stop patting ourselves on the back for what we once did, and start talking about the next big idea, the bold reform that will change the face of education in our state.

Cathy Cox has said that improving our public schools is a top priority. Instead of relying on cute phrases birthed by political think-tanks, Cox has said that we should turn to the experts, including our classroom teachers, and rely on scientific research to direct education reform in our state. It would be refreshing to adopt a "best practice" approach to education reform. That sounds like HOPE for Georgia's future.

Ironically, the experts agree that to address our startling dropout rate, we have to start with that baby crawling around in Taylor's commercial. Cathy, Mark, Sonny: If you're listening, the next big thing is making a bold commitment that government will do all it can to be sure that our children reach the schoolhouse door ready to learn. If a child is retained once in elementary school, their chance of dropping out increases by 50%. If they are retained twice, they are unlikely to ever graduate. By third grade, if a child is not academically successful, they tend to identify with a negative peer group, and behavior problems often follow.

A commitment to school readiness is not an "Easy Button." Real reform is seldom easy or non-controversial. This is tough, real, meaningful reform that will require creative partnerships with nonprofit, faith-based and neighborhood-based organizations. It means doing things like making sure that our children's basic needs for healthcare and nutrition are met so that they can meet developmental milestones. This means making sure that special needs are screened and addressed early so that the child reaches 4K with the language skills that open the door to reading and social skills that help them behave so that they, and the others in the class, can learn.

This kind of reform is the HOPE for the future, and this is what I want to hear candidates talking about.

Majette Stays Put

Insider Advantage is reporting that Denise Majette has announced that she will stay in the race for State School Superintendent sparing us all from McKinney vs. Majette Round II. She must've read my note. :) This is very good news for Democrats.

Republicans Retreat

Do you remember that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach when you just woke from a drunken haze to the reality that the midterm exam was in an hour, and you had yet to crack a book? (Never happened to me, of course.) That must be something like what Republicans are feeling right now as they face midterm elections. On a national level, things have pretty much gone to hell while they were napping. With Republicans set to pay at the polls for the Katrina response (or lack there of), the failure in Iraq, the escalating deficit and the general lack of confidence in the integrity of the President, no one should be surprised that the White House has announced that Karl Rove will be turning his attention away from policy to focus on politics and the upcoming election. For him, the line between policy and politics is faint, so the transition will be easy.

So, how will Rove respond? In classic style, he will retreat to the issues that have become the bedrock of Republican politics: 1) Pushing for a constitutional amendment to define marriage; 2) further restricting abortion; and 3) Asking for a constitutional amendment to ban burning the American flag. While NONE of these issues impact the day to day quality of life of the average family, they are all reducible to easy seven-second sound bites (yes, we no longer even have a fifteen second attention span).

We saw a similar pattern in Georgia, with "sound-bite driven" legislation winning the day. No longer is public policy based on best practice; it is simply based on best language and, in reality, best polling. So, we have a new sex offender law that law enforcement views as an unfunded mandate likely to drive the most dangerous offenders underground and certainly, because of restrictions on where convicted offenders can live and work, out of Atlanta and into rural Georgia where the fewest resources are available to track them. But, who can vote against, "Let's protect our children"? If only this bill accomplished that goal. See the article in today's Macon Telegraph

We also have "The 65% Solution", I mean, "The 65% Deception" that restricts further how local school districts spend their scare dollars. After all, who can object to "spending more money in the classroom where teachers teach and children learn"? Well, no one, and this bill is great provided you believe librarians, counselors, principals, teacher training and transportation are less relevant to learning than coaches, band directors and field trips.

In reality, Sonny Perdue's greatest political move has been to actually do very little. (Roy Barnes put forward and ambitious agenda, and you see what that got him!) Perdue has made virtually no substantive policy moves that address the critical issues of jobs, healthcare and education. Ironically, that, on election day, could actually serve him well.

For "do nothing and say great things" politics to fail in Georgia, Democrats will have to put forward an agenda that resonates with the values and the day to day experience of voters. In Georgia, that means putting addressing our educational crisis, looking for realistic solutions for our growing number of uninsured, and improving public safety ahead of sound-bite politics.

Bill Shipp's piece today Red Herrings Have Worked for Too Many Years in State Politics looks at the issue of whether the public will pay attention. It's a worthy read.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

What Will Drive the Vote in '06?

Today, everyone is talking about The Ads: Taylor's and the one by Georgians for Truth, yet, just like the flaggers and the teachers of 2002, there are some obvious and some just-under-the -radar issues that will drive the vote this year.

I predict that a Democrat will become Governor in Georgia if:

1) November gas is over $3.00 a gallon.

2).....Bush's approval ratings continue to slide.

3)..... Ralph Reed is the Republican nominee for Lt. Governor.

4)......Medicaid cost recovery proceeds, and the state begins to seize estate assets to recoup nursing home costs.

5)....... Delta or another major employer tanks.

6).......Cathy Cox wins the Democratic Primary.

What do you think will drive the vote?

Who's Running?

In Middle Georgia...

Lauren Benedict, a Macon attorney who is deeply involved and deeply invested in the community will qualify to run in HD 140. Lauren has been campaigning since December and has raised almost $40,000.00. She will be a very strong candidate. Her opponent, Allen Freeman, a republican, won in 2004 by only 80 votes. This is definitely a district democrats can win. Check out her website for ways to support and volunteer for the campaign. Rumor has it that there may be a third candidate in that race, so if anyone knows for sure, feel free to post.

Beth Perera, a Houston County business owner will qualify for Robert Ray's seat. In the wake of Ray's announcement, Beth is just getting her campaign off the ground. She will be a strong candidate as well.

Dee Yearty, who initially planned to run for Ross Tolleson's senate seat, will now run for Terry Coleman's house seat. Dee, also a business owner, and an educator by profession, will be an excellent choice for voters in that district.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Rules of Engagement

Well, it seems as though the race is about to begin. Both Sonny Perdue and Mark Taylor are set to go on air tomorrow. (I am not sure that the electorate is excited about seven months of political commercials...) Today, both Cox and Taylor went on record opposing what is apparently a very negative TV commercial attacking Perdue. Neither campaign, nor the DPG paid for the ad, approved the ad or wanted it to air. Props to both campaigns and the DPG for going on record opposing this type of ad. I hope that it's a sign of things to come, but lots of democrats are afraid that the primary will turn nasty, making it harder for the winner to compete in November. Is a negative campaign really inevitable? It occurs to me that supporters/donors may have some responsibility and influence- after all, if the money dries up, so do the ads.

If it were up to me, Cathy Cox and Mark Taylor would spend their primary ad dollars telling voters why they are, respectively, the right choice for Georgia, and why Sonny Perdue is not. They and their surrogates would be civil, honest and would resist slinging mud at one another that will certainly be tossed back at the winner in the general election. They would trust the voters to pick the candidate best equipped defeat Perdue and best equipped to govern. So, flex your political muscle. If they get ugly, just put up your checkbook and let them know that you've "checked out."

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Sonny Set to Shun Central Georgia

That's right. Sonny Perdue is planning his May 1st campaign kickoff, not for his Houston County home, but for Marietta Square in Cobb County. Then he plans to travel to Bonaire for an event. Has Governor Perdue forgotten to dance with the one who brung him?

In 2002, Perdue beat up then Governor Roy Barnes for being a metro Governor, out of touch with rural Georgia. At least Barnes was actually from Cobb County....

It's okay, Governor, we don't mind being second in May, just as long as you don't mind being second in November.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

An Open Letter to Denise Majette

Dear Denise:

I know that you must be getting lots of pressure to jump into the congressional race, but please resist. If there is a battle to be fought there, let someone else fight it. In congress, you will be one voice among many, but as State School Superintendent, you can be the voice for Georgia's children.

We have an education crisis in this state, and right now, the person who ought to be sounding the siren-our current State School Superintendent-is deaf to the problem. Kathy Cox has sat silent while Sonny Perdue and this republican-led legislature cut more than 2.3 billion from education. She was mute when Gov. Perdue put forward the 65% Deception. She's spent more time dealing with "intelligent design" than intelligently designing a path to student achievement. We need a change.

On the democratic side, if this election is about education, democrats will win up and down the ticket, provided we have people, like you, on the ticket who can articulately express the issues and offer solutions. And, by the way, if you run against Cynthia McKinney, the incident at the capitol will grow legs and walk all the way through the November election, potentially hurting every democrat on the ballot.

So, even though you might like to go back to D.C., please stick in the race you've announced for. Whether or not we "fix" our schools will have a greater impact on the future of this state than anything you can do in D.C. And we have Cherry Blossoms in Macon, too.

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Politics of PMS

The Politics of Power, Money and Sexuality

This election cycle, gender will impact Georgia politics like never before, and the dynamic of "Power, Money and Sexuality" will be evident. It is likely that when the dust settles, more women than ever before will be elected. It’s about time, but not everyone is happy about it.

The politics of gender is the elephant in the living room that no one is discussing- except maybe for the folks over on Peach Pundit where someone tossed an anonymous and inappropriate barb at Karen Handel. The remark reflected a bias held by some (men and women) that characteristics like “strong” , “tough”, “aggressive” or even “leader” are positive masculine traits, but when found in a women, call her sexuality, and in their warped world view, her character, into question.

Is it possible that the cover of anonymity on a blog gives voice to attitudes that really do exist, but are seldom voiced? Is it also possible that in the privacy of the voting booth, the same bias and prejudice will influence choices of some voters? While thinking people recoil at this bias, some give it voice and for more it is a “just below the surface” tug that influences their choice.

I predict that for candidates, campaigns and prognosticators, failure to consider the female factor will result in some surprises in July and in November. Some predict that 60% of those who vote in July and in November will be female, and if candidates qualify as expected, women will be seeking every constitutional office with the exception of Insurance Commissioner. And Democrats will likely have a woman, Cathy Cox, at the top of the ticket. Many impressive, well-qualified women will run for House and Senate seats.

People who have power seldom relinquish it without a fight. Those in power control the money, and those with money have access to power. In Georgia, even though the majority of those who vote are women, at the state level, currently, most elected officials are white, republican men. It may not be a conscious course, but the agenda put forward by this majority, makes it less likely that women will find their way into the halls of power.

While outright bigotry is easy to see and easy to condemn, it is harder to see the more dangerous subtle bias. For example, a number of people- men and women- who are Taylor supporters have told me, “Georgia’s just not ready for a “women” governor.” This kind of whisper campaign gives credibility to gender bias that our leaders should stand against, not use as a wedge. Some people will support or not support candidates just because of their gender. Most simply look for the best qualified candidate. Let’s hope lots of those voters go to the polls.

One Hundred Democratic Women

On May 1st from 6-8 PM, Georgia's WIN List will host the First Annual Viola Ross Napier Celebration honoring Ms. Napier and the more than one hundred elected democratic women in the midstate. Ms. Napier was from Macon and was the first women sworn in to serve in the Georgia General Assembly. She was also the first women to argue before the Georgia Court of Appeals and the Georgia Supreme Court.

We are pleased that democratic women are so well represented in local government. We want them to know that we appreciate their service and are here to support them if they seek state level office.

Please come, join us for this historic occasion.


Honoring Our Elected Democratic Women in Middle Georgia

Monday, May 1, 2006
6:00 - 8:00 PM

The Columns on College

315 College Street

Macon, GA 31202

$35.00 Minimum Donation

Melita Easters
Mary Long
Amy & Daryl Morton
Boston Passante, LLP

Tommy Barnes
Lauren Benedict
Rachel Caputo
Lynn Cass
Coliseum Health Systems
Hattie B. Dorsey
Ilene Engel
Pam Flournoy
Laura & Frank Hogue
Caroline Moise
Betty Pearsall
Betty Phillips
Pat Pullar
Nancy Terrill
Ruth West
Joni Woolf

(List in Formation)
Please RSVP by April 27th by signing up via our web site at or by contacting Leslie Hinchman at 770.489.6689 or

All proceeds benefit Georgia's WIN List. WIN List must report contributions greater than $100 per year as required by law. Contributions to Georgia's WIN List are not deductible for federal income tax purposes.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Cox or Taylor?

We recently did an online poll on the Democratic race for Lt. Governor of Georgia. While the results are not scientific, they are interesting. (See results below).

So, who are you supporting in the Democratic Primary for Governor? Cathy Cox or Mark Taylor? This race is likely to be "the" hot topic between now and July.

Now is you chance to go on record for your candidate. I posted a new poll today on the main Georgia Women VOTE! homepage. The poll is on the left side, near the bottom of the page. Click here.

Greg Hecht: 2

Griffin Lotson: 8

Jim Martin: 321

Steen Miles: 22

Other/Undecided: 4

Estate Tax of The Worst Sort

My friend's mother, who is in her seventies, was recently diagnosed with bone cancer. To this point, she has lived on her own, though with considerable health problems. Both of her children assist her faithfully in the upkeep of her small home and with her expenses. Like many seniors, she is living on a small, fixed income, and she just does not have enough money to meet monthly expenses, especially for her expensive medications. A couple of weeks ago, just after she began her chemotherapy, she called her daughter in tears because she had gotten a very scary and confusing letter from the State telling her that should she have to enter a nursing home, they would recoup the cost from her estate, in this case the small home where she now lives. In tears, she called her daughter and read the letter to her. She said that as much as her children had invested in the home and in helping her stay afloat financially, the one comfort she had was that they would one day be able to recoup some of what they had spent from her estate. Now, she learns, that won't be the case. Her story is not unique.

In Georgia, seniors who have Medicaid as their insurance and enter nursing homes face having their estates, most commonly their homes, seized by the state to recoup the cost paid for their nursing home care. Georgia is required by the federal government to undertake this cost recovery and is one of the last states to do so.

The legislature passed a law that would exempt those currently in nursing homes and raise the ceiling on the estate subject to this law from $25,000 to $100,000. Governor Perdue has not indicated whether he will sign this into law, veto the bill or allow it to become law without his signature. The federal government has not indicated whether they will approve the changes.

The deadline is tomorrow, though, for seniors to decided whether to (1) leave the nursing home; (2) give up their insurance; or (3) face the fact that the state, not their children, will be the beneficiary of their estate.

With the Governor and the feds undecided, seniors and their families are left guessing. This reflects a growing tend in public policy from the IRS to the DMA: recovering the most money possible from the poorest citizens.

Opposed to the Estate Tax? This is the worst sort of Estate Tax! I hope that Governor Perdue has the wisdom and the courage to sign this legislation as an indication of his opposition to this harsh law. If we can't take care of our youngest, our oldest, our sickest and our most vulnerable, then what are we for?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Dems Have a Candidate for Ray's Seat

Today, Beth Perera, anounced that she will seek to serve HD 136 in the Georgia legislature. This seat will be vacated by a retiring Robert Ray. I know Beth from her work on the State Committee of the Democratic Party of Georgia. She is a business owner and a motivated community leader. I am sure that we will be hearing more from her in coming days. Best of luck, Beth!

If These 300,000 Could Vote...

Tonight, in Atlanta, a vigil was held at Grady to focus attention on the estimated 300,000 uninsured children in Georgia. It is amazing that this year our legislature came very close to asking taxpayers to finance a gas pipeline for AGL, but failed to give serious attention to this burgeoning crisis. Offering affordable health insurance to all Georgia children is the morally and fiscally responsible thing to do. Yet, this proposal failed to get much attention this session. Since our children cannot vote, we need to vote for them in November!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

It's the Polls, Stupid!

When elected officials put their own re-election ahead of doing what's right for Georgia, it amounts to a cowardly abdication of the public trust. Politicians put a lot of weight in opinion polls, but taking a poll to determine appropriate education policy is like taking a poll to decide how heart surgery should be done. That would be nuts, right? Yes, but that's exactly what the Perdue Team is up to.

Referring to the 65% deception, a Middle Georgia legislator said, "I hope ya'll do run on that. Have you seen the polls?" So, there's the problem. Not only do politicians seem to think that upon election they instantly become experts on education, but it's not research or the experience of veteran classroom teachers that drives education policy: it the polls.

I should've known.

The research does not support the conclusion that 65% is a magic number, and every education group in Georgia opposed this law. Of course, we all think that more money spent in the classroom is a good idea, but it is the definition of "in the classroom" where we part ways. When coaches count, but principals do not, the priorities are all wrong!

We need real leadership on improving education in Georgia, not politicians who stick their finger in the wind and then decide how to vote. We need policy that works for our children, not sound bites that are election year ready. Sorry for ranting on this again today. It's just so very important that those who opposed this horrible bill extend the conversation through the election. They are banking on us shutting up or giving up, but our schools are too important. Let's don't allow them to speak on this unanswered.

Perdue's 65% Deception

A Republican legislator told me this morning that he hopes Democrats do run on education.

I predict he'll get his wish, and that the public will give a vote of no confidence to a Governor who pledged support of public schools and then imposed funding cuts of 2.3 billion. Yes, with Georgia schools on life support, scraping the bottom of the educational barrel on key indicators like SAT scores, Perdue's idea of fulfilling his promise on education was to cut funding. Only now, in a election year, does Perdue move to restore some of that funding.

Georgia Democrats have a long record of innovative and meaningful support for public education. From the HOPE Scholarship, which Perdue opposed, to reduction in class sizes, support of neighborhood schools is not an election year strategy for Democrats; it is a value that is at the heart of our party. We believe that excellent public schools are the bedrock for economic development and our best weapon in the war on poverty.

Georgia Republicans, on the other hand, must hope that the public has a very short memory.

They hope that by November the electorate will have forgotten that The Perdue Team, that once touted educators and local school districts as the best decision makers, stripped local school districts of control of the little money they have.

They hope we forget that the reform adopted was developed not by educators, but by a DC-based think tank with a greater interest in an election policy than education policy.

They hope we forget the editorial headline in the Macon Telegraph calling this an "asinine" idea and the Atlanta Journal's comparison of this law to "non-dairy whipped topping."

They hope that we forget that this plan excludes principals and teacher training while including athletics and field trips.

Most of all they hope that we forget that this is the Governor that cut 2.3 billion from education, with 1.25 billion of that cut impacting local schools.

Perdue opted to give a billion dollar tax cut to business and industry at a time when our schools were at a tipping point. Now, for many districts, like Twiggs County, it is too late, and a frustrated school board faces angry parents who want answers about why a needed school is closing. I suggest they just ask Governor Perdue.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Money at the Grassroots: Cox Leads

When candidates file financial disclosures, they can combine all contributions below $101.00 and report those as a lump sum. These smaller contributions can be a good indicator of critical grassroots support. Cox has always been strong in this category, having more money than Taylor, and, when based on a percentage of the whole amount raised, eclipsing Perdue as well.

This disclosure period is no different. This time, in this critical category, Cox raised substantially more than either Taylor or Perdue. Here are the numbers:

Cox: $14,020.00
Taylor: $ 712.97
Perdue: $2,982.02

Why is this important? Because many smaller donations are from voters who have never given to candidates before, and the amount represents more individual donors.

Money is not the only factor in a race, but it is an important indicator of support. As before, people from all over the state of Georgia, many who have never before been involved in a political campaign, are stepping forward and investing in Georgia's future by supporting Cathy Cox. This bodes well for her chances in July and in November.

Sunday, April 9, 2006

Edwards Visit Nets a Hundred Grand for Georgia Democrats

Representative Randall thanks Senator Edwards for his support of the Georgia Legislative Democratic Caucus.

On Friday April 7th, Senator John Edwards came to Georgia to help the House and Senate Democratic Caucus in their fundraising efforts. The event raised $100,000.00 and was very well attended by many contributors, caucus members and,of course, the media was well represented.

The Money: Cox, Perdue and Taylor

If you are loading and re-loading the State Ethics Commission webpage at 1AM on Saturday in the faint and dying hope that the disclosure numbers for the three "Big Squirrels" will be posted- you just might be a political junkie. Just step away, slowly, from the computer...

Today, thanks to the AJC and Georgia Political Digest, here are the March 31 numbers for the Big Three:

"During the first three months of the year, Secretary of State Cathy Cox, a Democrat, raised $185,892, compared with Democratic rival Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor's $98,531 and Republican incumbent Perdue's $142,500.

The disparities grow when it comes to money in the bank: Cox has $2.9 million, Taylor has $4.1 million, and Perdue has $8.3 million."

Of course, Taylor's money includes the million dollar loan he gave himself in December, and he began raising a year before Cox. Aside from the loan, she has virtually wiped out his financial advantage raising almost twice as much as Taylor did and over forty thousand more than Sonny. This from the person Taylor said could not raise the money to run.

That said, loan or no loan, the million still spends. So, if you, like me, believe that Cox would not only be a great Governor, but that she is also the candidate who can beat Perdue, then we need to do all we can to make sure she emerges from the July primary. Cox supporters can finds multiple ways to help on her website .

To read the whole ATC Political Insider piece, go to:

Halliburton on Georgia Women VOTE! ???

Someone suggested an open thread, so here you go. Have at it. Keep it clean, keep it honest. Discuss what you want. Here's some food for thought:

Today, I noticed that someone with an ISP at Halliburton in Houston accessed the blog. It's just one of those things that makes you go hmmmm.....

And while the right-wing media tries to distract the nation with the McKinney story, President Bush once again uses the "I know what's best for you" excuse to justify his authorization of the intelligence leak. His actions may not be criminal but certainly unethical....

What would Ralph Reed's Georgia look like?

Dive in.

Saturday, April 8, 2006

I Divorce Thee, I Divorce Thee, I Divorce January

When it came to marriage, divorce and family responsibility, Jesus advocated for the rights of women and children in a male-oriented culture that assigned them little more value than cattle. In the first century, to divorce his wife, and leave her without support or the ability to re-marry, a first century man just had to say, “I divorce thee; I divorce thee; I divorce thee.” Jesus’ teachings about marriage, and about poverty, reveal his opposition to this practice.

This year, the Georgia legislature did not show the same concern for moms, children or poverty. This session, the General Assembly passed sweeping child support legislation that met with significant opposition from custodial parents (mostly moms) who are likely to see substantial reductions in child support payments.

That legislation awaits the Governor’s signature, but, in a rather transparent and cowardly move, even if he signs it, the provisions will not be effective until January. This is, after all, an election year, and by some estimates, women will represent 60% of voters and could tip the election. Wouldn’t want to tip off that voting block, now would we?

(Here’s a bulletin, Sonny: we are already clear that the agenda of The Perdue Team does not favor women.)

Not only is this legislation unbelievably complicated, it also threatens to throw even more Georgia children into poverty. One of the more controversial provisions of this bill gives non-custodial parents monetary credit for time spent with their children.

Currently, more than one third of female-headed households in Georgia fall below the poverty line. The cost of maintaining a household is not reduced when a child visits with another parent, so this legislation, if signed into law, will make an already bad situation, much worse.

I found myself asking, what would Jesus have done? I think, certainly not this.

Friday, April 7, 2006

On This, We Can All Agree...

Tonight on Real Time With Bill Maher, Cynthia McKinney was a guest. When Maher asked her about "the" incident, she replied that she was just acting like a normal member of Congress, but that she is not a normal member of Congress." You've got to give the Congresswomen credit for candor.

Benedict Tops Republican Incumbent in Georgia House Race

In what will be one of the most competitive and closely watched legislative races in Georgia, Lauren Benedict, Democratic candidate for HD 140 today reports $35,321.06 cash on hand while the Republican incumbent, Allen Freeman, reports only $26,538.88 cash on hand. More importantly, of the $20,839.38 Benedict raised since January 1st, $4,285.00 or about 20% came from under $101.00 donors- an indication of strong grassroots support.

Freeman was not able to raise during the legislative session, but during the period prior to the session and the day after, he only raised $1,500.00. Of this, two-thirds came from pacs or corporations. Of interest, of the 47,918.57 that Freeman reports total from this and the previous disclosure, he spent nearly $21,379.69, leaving him about nine thousand dollars short of Benedict in total cash on hand.

Party Bus Bites Into Candidate's Campaign Cash

HD 137, a seat now held by David Graves (R), is open and up for grabs. Graves announced last week that he will not seek re-election. Some of you may recall Graves issues with DUI's just prior to session.

Even prior to that announcement, four Republicans had tossed their respective hats into the ring: Becky Burgess, Stebin Horne, Dale Washburn and Allen Peake. Today, three of these four have already filed their disclosure reports, and while it is clear that there will be no shortage of cash in that race, how the current candidates have (or have not) spent their money reveals something about the personality of the campaigns and the management style of the candidates.

Horne, an attorney and current city councilman, with total contribution of $ 32,251.00 (plus $250.00 in-kind) wins the fundraising derby for the period. He already had more than $50,000 for a total of $83,261.00 raised. Horne, however, has spent more than the others, largely on consulting fees and his Party Bus to Taste of Macon . Horne spent nearly five grand to transport supporters, buy tickets to Taste of Macon and provide "beverages" for the trip. This rather extravagant campaign stunt and other expenses leave him with $69,946.52 on hand. Horne wins the "Party Hearty" award.

Burgess raised $30,150.00 (with another $2,250 in-kind) for the period and previously reported $39, 450.00. She spent very little, leaving her with a balance of $64,468.81. At this point, she wins the "Fiscal Conservative" award.

Peake, a businessman who has engaged in an early, aggressive sign campaign, raised $21,021.00 for the period (with another $165.00 in-kind). He has spent almost $15,000.00 to date, it appears mostly on signs, and has $52,265.18 on hand. So, Peake wins the "Grassroots Award."

We'll have to see what Dale Washburn will do, and whether there a a Democrat out there who wants to win the "People's Candidate" award!

Thursday, April 6, 2006

Disco Judge in Georgia?

The picture to the right appears in this month's Macon Magazine. (Click on the "Faces" link on the left.) The second person from the right is Tripp Self, a candidate for Superior Court Judge in the Macon Judicial Circuit. The magazine notes that "Gigi Slagle (left), Carlen Self, Kiisha Moffett (front), Keith Moffett, Tripp Self and Dan Slagle disco the night away at a Leadership Georgia party." I have but one burning question: "Will the photo make the campaign brochure?"

Interesting Numbers

A few days ago, on the Georgia Women VOTE! homepage ( I posted a poll on the Lt. Governor's race. While these numbers are certainly not a scientifically reliable sample, the result to this point is interesting. Where are the Greg Hecht supporters? I know that there are a lot of them out there. I am going to leave the poll up through the weekend, click here and look for the poll in the lower left corner.

Here are the current results:

GWV Poll
In the Democratic Primary, who do you support for Lt. Governor?

Greg Hecht (1 Vote)
[ 0.3%]

Griffin Lotson (6 Votes)
[ 1.8%]

Jim Martin (310 Votes)
[ 92.0%]

Steen Miles (17 Votes)
[ 5.0%]

Other/Undecided (3 Votes)
[ 0.9%]

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Dear Mr. Howard, Rep. DeLay, Mr. Reed and Rep. McKinney

You have all been making the news, and frankly have not made your parent-parties too proud of late. Though all the facts are not yet known, the court of public opinion is not leaning your way. With that in mind, here's a thought for the day, advice that, if taken, might just keep district attorneys, members of congress, candidates and others out of trouble.

"All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten"

Robert Fulgham
Most of what I really need to know about how to live, and what to do, and how to be, I learned in Kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandbox at nursery school.

These are the things I learned..

Share everything. Play fair. Don't hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don't take things that aren't yours. Say sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Live a balanced life. (emphasis mine)

Learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.

Take a nap every afternoon. When you go out into the world, watch for traffic, hold hands, and stick together. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the plastic cup? The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the plastic cup - they all die. So do we.

And then remember the book about Dick and Jane and the first word you learned, the biggest word of all: LOOK.

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and sane living.

Think of what a better world it would be if we all - the whole world had cookies and milk about 3 o'clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankets for a nap. Or if we had a basic policy in our nation and other nations to always put things back where we found them and cleaned up our own messes. And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

-Thank you Miss DeNote, My kindergarten teacher at Adaire School in Feltonville

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Strange Coincidences

The release of the film "United 93"; the release of the 9/11 911 calls; the firing of Andy Card; Condi's sudden trip to Iraq and Bush's tanking poll numbers. Am I the only person wondering whether these things are mere coincidences? I know, I know. I'm putting away the Oliver Stone films.

Georgia Lt. Governor's Race: Web Poll

As many as four democrats have announced their candidacy to become Georgia's Lt. Governor: Greg Hecht, Jim Martin, Steen Miles and Griffin Lotson. If you were voting today, who would you support? Go to the Georgia Women VOTE! homepage and vote in the poll located at the bottom left.

Monday, April 3, 2006

DeLay is Toast

What's he got to grin about? CNN is reporting that Tom DeLay is pulling out of his congressional race. Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy! I trust that this is either (a) a comment on how much trouble he is in; or (b) an indication that his polling shows that the electorate is fed up with the politicians who operate on the edge of, or outside of the law. There are some others folks, even in Georgia, who need to sit up and take notice. When Humpty Dumpty falls, he falls hard.

Cox Offers Online HQ

Whether as Secretary of State or candidate, Cathy Cox has always had a strong web presence. In government and in politics , harnessing the power of technology is a winning strategy. Today, I noticed that she has a virtual campaign headquarters on her site, a place where supporters can download graphics and information. This is a great resource with lots of potential. Check it out.

Sunday, April 2, 2006

Perdue Policy Starves Neighborhood Schools

As soon as the session ended, The Perdue Team was in front of cameras, promoting the fantasy that they have done great things for education in Georgia. I'll bet there are some folks in Twiggs County saying, "Not so fast, Sonny!"

As The Perdue Team congratulated one another, in the real world of school finance, the school board in Twiggs county faced angry and disappointed parents and voted to close the just renovated Dry Branch Elementary, a move necessary to address their million dollar deficit and projections that if the school were not closed, then the system would literally run out of money by mid-year. Twiggs is but one example of many high poverty and rural school systems that have fallen victim to a lethal combination of an eroding taxbase and increased unfunded state and federal mandates.

After cutting more than 1.25 billion from the state's education budget, Perdue, during this election year, hopes that teachers will be silenced by a long-passed-due 4% raise and a $100 gift card. He hopes parents and teachers alike will be fooled by the sound-bite-ready DC think tank election strategy to gut local control of schools, dubbed by some "The 65% Deception" and his move-finally-to reduce class size.

Perdue thinks that he has found the "Easy Button" for education-or maybe just the "Easy Button" for re-election. The truth of the matter is that The Perdue Team has abandoned our neighborhood schools, already starving some, like Dry Branch, out of existence.

Georgians deserve better than election year gimmicks. We deserve a Governor who will make a fulltime commitment to excellence in our schools, a Governor who answers to the people of Georgia, not to special interests or some DC think-tank. We need to elect Cathy Cox.