Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Wal-Mark! and Dent Unglued

Others are wondering about the Taylor-Young-Wal-Mart-PeachCare Connection. Check Tom Crawford's piece at Capitol Impact/The Georgia Report. (This is a paid service but well worth the investment.)

05/31
Political Notes -- Taylor and Wal-Mart - Stock holdings undercut his healthcare proposal . . .

"Undercutting Taylor’s PeachKids proposal, however, was the fact that the lieutenant governor also owned more than $10,000 worth of stock in Wal-Mart Stores Inc.," (Crawford)

"One of Taylor’s campaign chairmen, former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young, has become a high-profile spokesman for Wal-Mart, a stance that has also drawn criticism." (Crawford)

Dent responded that Taylor had sold the stock. Is that an admission that he should have never owned it? He also said that he hoped Crawford was looking at Cox's filing as well, especially how her energy holdings could benefit from her fuel plan. Problem with that argument? Cox's agri-fuel initiative could actually hurt those companies. Whoops.

There are many questions that are still unanswered here. How long did Taylor own that stock? The financial disclosure was filed early in May. When did he sell the stock?

Cox,Taylor, Perdue: Minding (Whose) Business?

Wouldn't it be great to have a governor who focuses her time and attention on taking care of the people's business, as opposed to taking care of the family business? A quick look at the financial disclosures filed by Taylor, Cox and Perdue reveals that for both Taylor and Perdue, most of their fiduciary positions relate to their family businesses, while all of Cathy Cox's positions are with non-profits and educational institutions. Based on this alone it is obvious that Cathy Cox would be a new kind of governor.

Here's the breakdown:

Cathy Cox

  1. Georgia Historical Society: Board of Curators, Ex-Officio
  2. State YMCA of Georgia: Board of Directors
  3. Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation: Board of Directors, Ex-Officio
  4. Mercer University: Board of Trustees
  5. Wesleyan College: Board of Trustees

Mark Taylor

  1. Fred Taylor Company, Inc.: Director/Vice President
  2. Taylor Property Management, LLC: Member
  3. MML Limited Partnership: Member
  4. Linda Taylor 2005 Irrevocable Trust: Trustee

Sonny Perdue

  1. Perdue Inc.: Director
  2. Houston Fertilizer & Grain Co., Inc.: Director/Sole Stockholder
  3. Perdue Family Limited Partnership: GP & LP
  4. Agrowstar LLC: Member
  5. Perdue Farms: Owner/Operator
Candidates are required to "name all fiduciary positions held by the candidate for public office or the public officer." "Fiduciary" refers to holding something in trust for another, and generally implies that the person is entrusted to act on behalf of others: a lot like what a governor does.

I think that this is but one example of how Cathy Cox would be a different kind of Governor than either Taylor or Perdue. Her ongoing commitment to community service, even while serving as Secretary of State, demonstrates to me that she would put the interest of the people of Georgia ahead of her own personal and financial gain. That's the kind of difference we need!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

"Soul Jam" Responds Warmly to Cathy Cox

On Sunday, thousands welcomed Cathy Cox at Macon's "Soul Jam" music festival. Cathy was accompanied by Rep. David Lucas, his wife, Councilwomen Elaine Lucas, and Rep. Nikki Randall. Cathy was defninately "in her element" as she visited with the people, and they were clearly in her corner as they responded with rousing applause to her message of changing the way government does business in Georgia.

Monday, May 29, 2006

A Young Soldier's Diary: First Publication

We are all grateful for the sacrifice of our soldiers, and in honor of Memorial Day, I tip my hat to the bravery of a young soldier, headed into a battle he could not have imagined. From March, 1945, here are some excerpts from my father's diary as he served aboard the USS Simms in the Sea of Japan. A.D. Hamrick was 21 years old. His his diary ends on March 16. After that, the battle was too heated to allow for more entries. Soon, his flotilla came under attack, an attack that included suicide bombers. One Japanese plane crashed into the sea just shy of his ship, and the force lifted the Simms out of the water. My father was lucky to survive the battle, and often spoke of the bravery of his shipmates as they paved the way for the Marines. His words will take you to that time, to that place:


Mar. 12
Sixth day of steaming- all conditions 4.0 Making for Siapan at 14 knots for further assignment- Had unidentified plane on radar to-day. Stood regular watcher and charged batteries. Praitic (sic) G.Q. at 1540.

Mar. 13

Steaming as before. Refueled from LSV. Passing Marshall Islands, with Enitiwok just off our port beam. Plainly visible. Talked with Skipper and he ways we will anchor 2000 yds. off the shore at destination and we will have enemy resistance 3000 yds back in the hills. First Light. Mr. Smith (N.C.) said yesterday that 85 per cent of casualties since November of '44 have been by Japanese suicide pilot's- each made a hero and sent out to crash a ship with his plane. Took throttle during refueling of ship. No extra curricular activities.

Mar. 14

On 4-8 watch. Had down battle stations. Precautions against early morning plane attacks. Sea a little rougher than common. Sunshine all day long. Captains inspection for deck force. Field day in #2 Eng. Room. Battle stations at dusk. Area designated as "forward area". Expect action any time.

Mar.15 '45

Pay day, but I didn't draw mine. Sea still rough. Nearing destination (Siapan). Usual G.Q. stations Put in about 16 hrs. today. Nothing else our of the ordinary. Very hot. Tough sleeping at night.

Mar. 16

Arrived at Siapan to-day. Had 4-8 throttle watch. Island 15 miles long and varied as to width. Has high (1000 ft) volcanic rise in center.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Why Does Mark Taylor Own Wal-Mart Stock?

Here's an interesting equation: Mark Taylor owns stock in Wal-Mart, and Andy Young, his campaign chair, has been hired as an advocate for the company, a company that tops the list in Georgia in terms of numbers of children of employees who are on the PeachCare rolls.

Why is Mark Taylor, who is supposed to be a friend to organized labor in Georgia, personally invested in Wal-Mart? I was looking for something entirely different today when I noticed that in Taylor's May, 2006 financial disclosure, he lists marketable securities in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. worth $10,530.00.

Earlier this year, we were all a little shocked to learn that Taylor's campaign chair, Andrew Young had been hired to advocate for Wal-Mart. See that entire article here in the 3/15/2006 edition of USA Today .

Add to this the "PeachCare" factor, a program that Taylor touts, and a program that has benefited thousands of Georgia children. Trouble is, a state survey found that more than 10,000 of those children have a parent that works for Wal-Mart- fourteen times more than the next highest employer. As a shareholder, has Taylor advocated for Wal-Mart to provide adequate health insurance for it's employees so that Georgia taxpayers won't have to do that for them?

In January, the Atlanta Journal reported that:

In Georgia, a state survey found that 10,261 of the 166,000 children covered by Georgia's PeachCare for Kids health insurance in September 2002 had a parent working for Wal-Mart. Georgia's PeachCare program was launched in 1998 to provide health insurance to children whose parents cannot afford or don't have access to those benefits.
The Wal-Mart figure was about 14 times the number for the next highest employer: Publix, with 734.
Wal-Mart is the state's largest private employer. But when the top four companies on the list were measured by number of PeachCare children per the number of employees in Georgia, Wal-Mart still dominated.

Front Page Promotion: Cox Leads on Bio-Disel

Here's a post from "Button." With millions of Georgians on the road this weekend, Cox unvieled a forward-thinking stragtegy to make Georgia a leader in the emerging bio-fuels sector. Not only does this strategy help consumers- it could potentially help our farmers. This is a win-win strategy, and all Taylor can do is complain about her traveling around Georgia to tell voters about it. Can't blame him. He surely doesn't want voters to meet Cathy and hear from her directly because when they do, they will vote for her!

From "Button":


Well, apparently the Taylor campaign has a problem with this too.


http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/stories/0528metgagov.html
Cox: Ga. should use 25 percent biofuel by 2025

By SHANNON McCAFFREY
Associated Press Writer

Published on: 05/28/06

Secretary of State Cathy Cox said Saturday she wants farm-grown fuel to make up 25 percent of all the fuel used in Georgia by 2025.

The gubernatorial candidate used the start of the Memorial Day weekend — one of the year's busiest travel holidays — to unveil a biofuel initiative.

Cox said that using agricultural fuel products would reduce dependence on foreign sources of oil while at the same time creating new jobs.

"Our agricultural industry and our state are perfectly matched to make Georgia the farm-grown fuels capital of the world," Cox said.

But first, Cox said, investment is needed in infrastructure and research. Cox's proposal would funnel $10 million in state funds to researchers in Georgia pursuing alternative fuel development.

She said she would also use agricultural-processing enterprise zones to create tax incentives and economic development funding for private industry.

In order to meet the 25 percent target by 2025, Cox said she would appoint a commission within her first month after taking over as governor to create a statewide renewable energy strategy.

Recent high prices at the pump have renewed interest in alternative fuel sources. The Cox initiative has appeal for both environmentalists and farmers looking for profitable new crops.

Georgia is a leading producer of animal and vegetable oils, which are the building blocks for biodiesel. And the state could also begin converting biomass like pecan hulls, poultry litter and pine tree harvest cuttings into energy crops. Wood-based ethanol made from plentiful yellow pine trees also shows great promise as an energy source, she said.

Cox is battling Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor for the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue. Both Democrats had scheduled full weekends of campaigning throughout the state. The primary is July 18.

The Taylor campaign did not address the fuel initiative but said in a statement that Cox "announces her new energy policy and then takes her campaign on the road in a gas-guzzling SUV with volunteers in a large gas-guzzling RV registered in Florida. You can't trust anything she says or does."

Hmmmm, I thought this was an issue that both Cox and Taylor agreed on? If so, instead of encouraging a conversation about their mutual interest, the Taylor campaign says not to trust Cox because she's out wasting gas campaigning.........um, just what does Taylor use? I doubt he and his supporters are using a solar powered car. And um, I do seem to remember that back in 2002, Roy Barnes, Mark Taylor, and Cathy Cox took a bus tour of Georgia rallhying Dems across the state.

And it's even more interesting seeing as how Taylor's enjoyed the priviledges of the success of a trucking business in Albany. No, I don't think the Taylor fleet of trucks uses alternative fuel sources either...........

So for Taylorites wanting to talk about issues so bad, this is TWICE at least now that the Taylor campaign has diverted attention from the issue and went on the attack. Why do they have a habit of doing that? Begging to talk about the issues and then diverting attention from them leaves one with a tremendous credibility gap.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

What Cathy Cox Did Today

The Macon Telegraph reports that Cathy Cox is touring the state, going to Macon, Augusta and Milledgeville this weekend. In Macon today, about twenty volunteers spent the morning canvassing for Cox and then met other supporters at East Macon Park where Cox thanked them for their work. Following the picnic, Councilwomen Elaine Lucas and State Rep. Nikki Randall joined Cox as she set out to do some of her own canvassing. Eddie Bullington lent himself and his '69 Indy Pace car to the effort. After all, this is a "race", and Cox is definitely setting the pace! By the way, on Sunday evening, Cathy will be the guest of Rep. David Lucas as she joins him for "Soul Jam" at Henderson Stadium in Macon.

Perdue's NEW 65% Plan

Sonny Perdue has a brand new sixty-five percent solution for Georgia schools. It involves giving schools about 65% of what they actually need. For example, consider for a moment the new "completion counselors" that Sonny touts so proudly as his solution to the dropout rate. The Perdue Team is providing districts with $40,000 per counselor when each position will actually cost a school district about $60,000. Plus, I hear that it's possible that local school districts- not the state - will have to absorb the cost of distributing Sonny's "$100 a Vote" teacher gift cards. (I wonder if the cards will go out with a "Paid for by Committee to Re-Elect Sonny Perdue" sticker?) Add the cost of these two gimmicks together, and I'd say Sonny's applying a brand new 65% rule. By the way, some districts are saying "no thanks" to the completion counselors. Sonny's squeezing them so tight with unfunded mandates they simply cannot afford to absorb a portion of those salaries and benefits.

Friday, May 26, 2006

How Can Mark Taylor Relate to "The Little Guy"?

Mark Taylor has chosen "The Big Guy" theme for his campaign, and today we learn that reference may have more to do with status than size. I haven't noticed any of those babies in his commercials having silver spoons in their mouths, but Mark Taylor apparently has one, and now his campaign says it helped convince an Albany bank to give him a million dollar campaign loan. First we thought it was a loan from Taylor, then we thought it was secured by a zero-face value life insurance policy. That made no sense. Now, today, we hear that the Taylor trust fund eased any concerns the bank might have had about being paid back.

How can a "Big Guy" who has lived with the safety net of a trust fund, someone who can walk into a bank and walk out with a million dollar check, know what it's like to be a "Little Guy" in Georgia? (And by the way, notice that there are no "gals" at all in this discussion.)

Most Georgians can't relate to what it would be like to have a million or more sitting in a trust fund, so I wonder how they feel about a candidate whose trust fund apparently helped leverage funding for his campaign? Could the answer to that question be why today is the first time we have heard about the trust fund-loan connection?

And where's Mark Taylor's voice in this? In fact, where is Taylor's voice in this entire campaign? I don't hear from him in his commercials. I don't hear him respond to these important and legitimate questions. I hear Miller. I hear Dent. I hear others affiliated with his campaign leveling the harshest of criticism at Cox. Today, we hear from Taylor's lawyer. (A move that actually made me pay more attention to this story.) But where's Taylor? Can he speak for himself?

If there's no problem with this transaction, then why didn't Mark Taylor fully disclose what happened from the beginning? Didn't The Little Guys have a right to know? Or is this just another one of those backroom deals "The Big Guys" make?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Trouble for Georgia Dems: Ray Endorses Sellier

The Houston County Buyer's Connection contains an article announcing that Robert Ray, retiring Democratic Incumbent from HD 136 just endorsed Republican Candidate, and neighbor, and friend Tony Sellier. Beth Perera is the Democrat in that race and a great candidate. Too bad that Ray abandoned his party on this one. I understand that Sellier initially planned to run as a democrat and changed his mind. More on this later, but it does not bode well for democrats chances of reclaiming the House.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Cox Coming to Macon on Saturday

Volunteer Kickoff Rally

Cathy Cox to Speak

Saturday May 27th at 9:30 AM

The Cathy Cox for Governor Campaign has begun
"Cathy Cox Coalition on a Mission"
Grassroots Door-to-Door Campaign

Details:

Start Time: Saturday, May 27th at 10 AM
Place: 315 College Street
Macon, Georgia 31201

To Canvass: Macon Democratic Primary Voters

Teams will canvass and then gather at 1:30 PM at

East Macon Park
3326 Ocmulgee East Blvd
*(Directions Below)

For a Picnic With Cathy Cox!

Please Contact: Bowen Reichert at bowen@cathycox.com or (478) 731-6110

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Facts: Cox, School Funding and HOPE

Despite the rumbling from the Taylor campaign and the republican blogs, when Cathy Cox was a member of the Georgia House of Representatives, she voted to increase school funding and to expand the HOPE scholarship. Not only did she vote for the first and second round of funding for HOPE, but she also voted to remove the eligibility cap on family income and to enact safeguards to protect the scholarship. She also toured South Georgia in support of the program.

If you doubt any of that, here's the record:

Cathy Cox voted for budgets increasing education funding.
HB 202, 1995, HB 1375, 1994, HB 259, 1993

Cathy Cox's 1993 budget vote funded the first HOPE scholarships.
HB 202, 1993

Her 1995 budget vote removed the income cap on HOPE scholarships.
HB 202, 1995

In 1994, Cathy voted for SB 710, which mandated that no program started with funding from the lottery would be continued with general funds and for SB 711 which created a lottery reserve fund.

In 1995, Cathy was one of five state legislators that toured South Georgia touting the Democrat’s record on HOPE. The Democratic presentations were focused on the technical details of Gov. Zell Miller's proposals to fund pre-kindergarten programs and the HOPE scholarship program.

Cathy Cox on GPTV Tonight

Want to learn more about Cathy's campaign and hear in her own words how she can bring the change Georgia needs?
Tune in tonight to your local Georgia Public Broadcasting station at 7PM to watch Cathy's appearance on the public affairs program "Georgia Weekly." Click here to find your local GPB television station.

Story About Iran Inaccurate?

Promoted to the front page, is Shelby, who has some info that indicates that the story about the Iranian dresscode is bogus. Thank goodness. And no, I was not voting for war, but I will say this, for me personally, the "fear factor" is greater with Iran than with Iraq, and I am particularly concerned that if something erupts there that we have to address, we do not have the resources to do that adequately. Here's the post:

Is it foreboding that Georgia Women are Voting for war? Careful - the minority dress code story is crumbling:"Yesterday, after it emerged that the report had been false, the affair of "the yellow patch that wasn't" left us with one lesson: The world is ready to believe anything when it comes to a country ruled by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad."http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/717935.htmlBut I DID hear they tried to buy uranium from Niger to pass on to al Qaeda....
10:45 AM

Taylor Campaign Loan

Many of you may have seen an article appeared in the AJC last evening that gave some detail about the $1 million dollar loan Taylor gave his campaign in December of 2005. Frankly, when I first read this, I thought that this story was a bit of a yawn, only important to those who pay day to day attention to politics. (After all, how many Georgians know or care about the fine points of campaign finance reporting or would be surprised about a hometown bank making a big time loan to a hometown boy (and shareholder) seeking the Governor's office?)

But Crawford does raise a couple of points that were not included in the AJC version of the story. For example, he points out that the bank made this large loan (only secured by a zero face value life insurance policy) at the end of a three quarter period when the bank showed a loss, that the bank's former chief credit officer and current interim president was himself a $1000 donor to the Taylor campaign, and that Georgia campaign finance ethics rules require that if money is listed as a loan to the campaign and not as a gift, that the loan must have been made in compliance with standard bank credit practices. In other words, it's not a loan if the person or entity does not reasonably expect to be repaid. The question is whether or not based on Taylor's reported networth and the way in which the loan was secured, it is reasonable for the bank to expect repayment. Taylor's folks have indicated that they expect to repay the loan. The bank indicates they expect repayment. Here's the Crawford piece. The detail makes it worth a read.


Political Notes -- Taylor knows where to go for funds by Tom Crawford on 5/22/2006

When Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor needed a cash infusion for his gubernatorial campaign, he knew exactly where to turn: his friendly hometown bank in Albany.
Late last December, at a time when Secretary of State Cathy Cox was having more success at raising campaign contributions and was threatening to pass Taylor in the money race, the lieutenant governor obtained a loan of more than $1 million from Albany Bank & Trust.
Taylor then put $1 million of that money into his campaign, but did not reveal in his disclosure report that the money had originated with Albany Bank & Trust. Instead, his report for the July-December period merely states that on Dec. 30 Taylor's campaign received a $1 million loan from the candidate.
The origin of the money wasn't revealed until the week of May 1, when Taylor filed the personal disclosure report with the State Ethics Commission that is required by Georgia's new ethics law. Taylor's report revealed that he had borrowed $1,005,982 from Albany Bank & Trust on a note that is due Dec. 30, 2006.
The only security for the bank loan, according to Taylor's disclosure report, is a life insurance policy with a face amount of $1.25 million but with a cash surrender value of zero.
Taylor's disclosure report also showed that he owns stock worth $15,065 in Community Capital Bancshares, Inc., the holding company that owns Albany Bank & Trust.
Some key officials of Community Capital Bancshares and Albany Bank & Trust are also major campaign contributors to Taylor.
Charles M. Jones III is the CEO of Community Capital Bancshares. During the 2002 race for lieutenant governor, Taylor reported $10,000 in contributions from Jones (two donations of $5,000 apiece on June 12, 2002). Taylor earlier reported a $5,000 contribution from Jones on May 7, 2001. Jones also contributed $5,000 to Taylor on June 30, 2004.
Taylor also reported a $1,000 contribution from Paul Joiner, who formerly was chief credit officer of Albany Bank & Trust and is now the interim president of Community Capital Bancshares.
Joiner declined to answer questions about why his bank would loan more than $1 million to a borrower when the only reported collateral was a life insurance policy with a zero cash surrender value.
I really can't discuss it that's a matter of privacy, Joiner said in a brief telephone interview. I really can't tell you a thing about it. He referred all questions to the Taylor campaign.
Taylor campaign spokesman Rick Dent confirmed that the bank loan was the source of the $1 million that Taylor gave to his campaign last December.
Dent described the financial transaction as a standard bank loan and added, "Like most banks, assets and an individual's credit history provide the basis for any loan qualification."
Albany Bank & Trust made the large loan to Taylor during a difficult period for the bank's holding company. On March 20, Community Capital Bancshares announced a loss of $172,000 in net income for the three-month period ending Dec. 31, 2005, the same quarter in which the loan was made to Taylor.
"Though we incurred a loss from a large charge-off on a loan relationship in the fourth quarter, our company has addressed its problems and repositioned itself on a solid foundation from which to grow our banking franchise, Jones said in a news release issued by the company.
On the same day that it disclosed its quarterly loss, Community Capital Bancshares also announced that Robert E. Bob Lee, president and director of the company, had resigned to pursue other interests. Lee's interim replacement was Paul Joiner, a Taylor contributor.
Bank loans to political candidates that are later paid back out of campaign contributions are not unusual in Georgia elections.
While campaign contributions from an individual to a candidate are limited to a maximum of $16,000 in an election cycle, that limitation does not apply to a bank loan made to a candidate if such loan is made in the normal course of business with the expectation on the part of all parties that such loan shall be repaid and the loan is based on the credit worthiness of the candidate and the candidate is personally liable for the repayment of the loan, according to the state ethics law.
On the personal disclosure report he filed earlier this month with the Ethics Commission, Taylor lists the bank loan as both an asset he will presumably be repaid by his campaign committee and a liability, since he must pay off the note to the bank by Dec. 30.
Taylor claims a net worth of $976,276 on his personal disclosure report. If, for some reason, his campaign were not able to pay him back the $1 million he lent to the campaign, Taylor theoretically would have a negative net worth.
People who invest in property or stock gain and lose income over time, Dent said in response to questions about Taylor's personal financial situation. Changes from year to year on the tax returns reflect the sale and/or purchase of assets. The loan is both an asset and a liability and therefore not something that really affects his overall net worth as calculated by the state ethics commission at all.
Taylor has earned most of his money from his position as vice president of his father's trucking business and from his real estate interests, according to media reviews of his personal tax returns. Taylor's taxable income has fluctuated from $495,261 in 2003 to $928,433 in 2004 and then to $199,406 in 2005.
Taylor transferred the bank loan funds into his campaign treasury at a time when Cox was raising significantly more money than Taylor from outside contributors.
In January 2005, Taylor had more than $1.7 million in his campaign bank account while Cox had just registered to begin raising money for the governor's race.
When the disclosure reports for the June-July 2005 period had been filed, Cox had raised $2.12 million compared to only $1.46 million for Taylor. That fundraising disparity continued during the July-December period of 2005 when Cox raised another $1.95 million from outside contributors to just $1.08 million from outside sources by Taylor.
By lending that extra $1 million to his campaign just before the end of the year, Taylor was able to report he had raised slightly more money overall than Cox during that July-December period.
A provision in the new ethics act that took effect on Jan. 9 will make it more difficult for future candidates to recoup loans that they make to their campaigns. From now on, a candidate who incurs loans for a campaign cannot be paid back out of campaign contributions to the extent that such loans exceed $250,000.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Cox Expands Media Buy


Cathy's second ad began airing in the Atlanta market today and will go up in other areas of the state next week. Click here to hear what Cathy has to say about education. In the first commercial, I liked the fact that Cathy actually spoke to the voters, (neither Taylor or Perdue speak in commercials to date), but this is by far the better spot. Take a look.
I

Iranian Policy Reminiscent of Holocaust

This is foreboding:


American Jewish Congress Council for World Jewry Labels Iran’s Holocaust-Mimicking Clothing Law “A Head Long Retreat Towards the Dark Ages”

Iran’s Parliament, the Majlis, departs from universally accepted norms not only with regard to other states, but towards its own citizens, proposing to color-code them by faith. It thus adds force to its head long retreat toward the dark ages.

American Jewish Congress Council for World Jewry

Labels Iran’s Holocaust-Mimicking Clothing Law

“A Head Long Retreat Towards the Dark Ages”

May 19, 2006/NYC - A state like Iran which threatens neighbors with extinction and routinely uses violence and terrorism as deliberate instruments of state policy must be a pariah state and recognized as such by all civilized nations. Now Iran ’s Parliament, the Majlis, again departs from universally accepted norms not only with regard to other states, but towards its own citizens, proposing to color-code them by faith. It thus adds force to its head long retreat towards the dark ages.

The newly passed Iranian dress code would oblige Moslems to wear "standard Islamic garments," while forcing non-Moslem Iranians to display color coded cloth on their clothes. The code is yellow for Jews, red for Christians and blue for Zoroastrians.

“This law recalls the Holocaust immediately to mind when Jews were forced to wear distinctive yellow Stars of David on their clothes,” said Executive Director Neil Goldstein.

“Iranian President Ahmadnejad denies the Holocaust ever occurred, but closely follows the Nazi playbook as he forces Jews to wear yellow cloth and threatens to destroy Israel, just as the Nazis forced Jews to wear yellow stars as a prelude to implementing their program of genocide.”

Goldstein concluded, “What possible purpose could a civilized state have in ordering its citizens to publicly display their religious and ethnic differences in such a fashion? If one needed any further evidence, this grotesque legislation adds to the widespread view that the current Iranian regime is, indeed, not civilized.”

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Can Democrats Win in Georgia?

Bill Shipp noticed that Rudy Giuliani was in Georgia cozying up to Ralph Reed. While Ralph and Rudy joined hands despite disagreeing on gun control, gay rights and abortion, Georgia Democrats publicly flogged each other, and Republican blogs like Peach Pundit reveled in our discord, happily fanning the flames. And we wonder why the Republicans win.

And so, I ask, can Democrats win, statewide, in Georgia, or should we just phone it in? I certainly hope we can because another Perdue administration would likely result in things like continued undermining of our public schools, increased leverage for developers, and reduced access to the courts for our citizens. How bad would another Perdue term be? Look at what he tried, but failed, to pass and then imagine what he, unchecked by the desire for re-election, would be tempted to do. Do we want that reality? I am not in favor of win at all cost politics, but I do favor winning political strategy.

What's it worth-and what will it take-to defeat him??

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Sonny's Education Ad

In his education ad, Sonny stretches the truth so far, his nose starts to grow. Or at least that's what I think I saw. This governor who has gone to great lengths to de-fund public schools now wants people to vote for him based on his support for education. Huh? We really have to work on confronting this and telling the truth about his lack of support for our children's schools. He's adopted the Rove approach that dictates that if you say it enough, they'll believe it.

Don't believe it!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Cathy Cox Takes it to the Street!

Yes, the Cox campaign has always said that grassroots work would be a key to Cathy getting elected, and this Saturday, May 20th, that effort begins in full force in Athens and in Atlanta with an encore in Macon on May 27th. Here's the info:
Join us this Saturday at 9:30 AM to go door-to-door in Atlanta to spread the word about why Cathy Cox is the clear choice for Georgians. Cathy Cox will join volunteers in the morning for breakfast before we begin our canvass at 10:30 AM. Our grassroots effort is up and running and we need your help to make it a success. We have identified neighborhoods across the state that will turn out to vote in the Democratic primary on July 18th, and we need to have one-on-one conversations with voters about Cathy Cox. Please join us for this important activity.

Signup at:

http://www.cathycox.com/page/s/kickoffcanvass

To participate in our Athens canvass on May 20th, please email Jourdan Haynes at Jourdan@cathycox.com

To participate in our Macon kick-off and rally on May 27th at 9:30 AM, please email Shirin Bidel-Niyat at Shirin@cathycox.com

Just Give Me the Gun

Once again, it appears that Democrats are poised to shoot ourselves in the foot, so just hand me the gun, and let's get it over with. Everyone has the right to their opinion and the right to express it. Discussion can be good, even great, but expression is not without consequence.

I count myself among the guilty when I say that Democrats are better than Republicans at a lot of things, but public flogging of our own leaders, our own candidates, nears the top of that list. Republicans, on the other hand, are much better at keeping the gun trained on us. We could learn a thing or two.

Either Mark or Cathy will be the Democratic candidate for Governor. I was once fearful that they would so bloody one another that the survivor would be too wounded to beat Sonny. I was only partially right. We're doing the bloodying. Perhaps I need to think- we need to think- about how our own words are going to be used to help Sonny get re-elected.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Perdue's Prom Stunt Makes The Colbert Report

Yes, tonight, Steven Colbert "reported" on Perdue's post-prom party, waffles and all, suggesting that this might inspire Americans, especially American men, to monitor prom and post-prom behavior. "Eagle watch." Very funny, indeed.

Kia Go or No-Go? Who Knows?

Georgia Digest, a great resource by the way, is reporting that that the Kia plant scheduled to be built in West Georgia, may be an indefinite no-go. Yet, there are conflicting stories. Here's what The Digest had to say:


The Atlanta Journal Constitution is currently reporting: Report: Kia delays construction on Georgia plant --- South Korea's Kia Motors Corp. says it is indefinitely postponing the start of construction of its $1.2 billion plant in west Georgia amid an ongoing probe into the firm and its parent Hyundai Motor Co, Reuters News service is reporting from Seoul.
However, the Atlanta Business Chronicle is reporting that: State and Kia: Georgia plant still a go --- Reports of the demise of Kia Motor Co.'s $1.2 billion car plant project in Georgia are premature, according to officials with the automaker and the state. Byung Mo Ahn, the Kia official overseeing the West Point, Ga., project's development, told the Georgia Department of Economic Development Thursday that the plant is still a go, said department spokesman Bert Brantley.


To read the entire AJC article, click here .

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Perdue's Political Theater

Ignore the feigned outrage. The truth is that The Perdue Team is celebrating. Heck, they've probably already sent Judge Russell a thank you note. Perdue is doing his best Snoopy dance as he prepares once again to use his power to convene, at taxpayer's expense, a special session of the Georgia legislature.

Oh, yes, we know all about the Perdue propensity for political theater. After all, he just spent 30 thousand in state funds on an after prom party (read: earned media opportunity). Plus, we have election year teacher raises, gift cards, the 65 % Deception and (largely unfunded) mandates to reduce class size. Hey, he was willing to spend tens of thousands last year to bring the legislature back to address the gas tax- something he could've accomplished without a vote of the General Assembly.

How could we expect him to resist the rosy prospect of putting a divisive, controversial and completely unnecessary question on the November ballot? After all, it passed the Governor's litmus test of political expediency. Sonny, with his coffers full, will get to shut down his opponent's fundraising and pose daily for the camera while he pretends to care about family values. As an extra bonus, he gets to repeat some of those prized Republican catch-phrases like "protecting marriage" and "activist judges." I know he just hates that. It's a virtual neo-conservative utopia!

From our Governor, we should expect leadership, fiscal responsibility and statesmanship. But not from Sonny. What he's consistently given us, and all we can apparently hope for, is political gamesmanship funded from the public coffers while ignoring the public interest.

This, I will wager: when Sonny lies down at night, his thoughts have nothing to do with preventing gay nuptials and everything to do with how he can get you to pay for his effort to get re-elected.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Justice Department Approves Bibb Precincts

Talk about inside baseball, here's a post that maybe three people will care about, but it is important, and I would like to know whether this is happening in other places in Georgia.

I went to the Bibb Board of Elections today to get some information and learned that we no longer have 50 precincts in Bibb County, but instead, now have 41. This is the result of combining and eliminating some precincts. Nine polling places have been eliminated, and it appears to me that, with the exception of one, these are all precincts with high democratic turnout and high African-American turnout. The reason given was that this reflects low voter turnout in some precincts, but I don't know about that. A couple of the precincts (East Macon 7,8) typically have a fairly high turnout.

Is this kind of stuff happening other places?

Cox Embraces Drug Court Model

As a family therapist, I regularly witness the devastating impact of drug and alcohol abuse. There is no question that drugs destroy individuals and families. There is no "easy button" for solving the drug problem, but in a policy statement released today, Cathy Cox makes it clear that she intends to support an aggressive effort to stem the tide of lives lost to drug addiction. Here's what she had to say:

Cox will renew the fight against methamphetamine and other drugs by creating a Cabinet-level Drug Czar to coordinate the currently disjointed efforts of dozens of state agencies. She also proposed expanding the role of drug courts, which have a proven record of reducing the rate of recidivism for non-violent offenders.

Having served on the committee overseeing the Drug Court Program in Bibb County, I can personally attest to the effectiveness of these programs. Generally, these programs are available to only first time offenders and mandate treatment, frequent testing and education over the course of a year or more, and the charges are held until the person either completes or fails to complete the program. If the person is successful, then the charges are dismissed. If the person is not successful, then he or she is prosecuted. The carrot and stick approach produces phenomenal results, including a very low recidivism rate.

In her characteristic, innovative style, Cathy is looking at a tough problem through a "can-do" lens and embracing proven strategies instead of sound bite ready phrases. Excellent work.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Classy Cathy Goes Up on Air


Click here for a live link.

Gov's Gone Wild! Sonny Parties After Prom

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, center, dances with students including Christie Siciliano, 17, left, and Emily Melo, 16, right, during an after prom party for students of Brookwood High School, at the Governor's mansion in Atlanta, from 12:30 AM to 4:00 AM Sunday, May, 14, 2006. The party featured a host of activities and promoted safe driving and responsible behavior for teenagers. (AP Photo/John Amis)

If Perdue has a plan for funding our schools, it now probably involves selling the soon-to-be hot copies of a new DVD : Gov's Gone Wild: Sonny Parties After Prom. Anyone out there taking bets that this will make it on The Daily Show tonight?

Seriously, I don't have a problem with rewarding kids for doing the right thing, but the Governor's bash for one Atlanta area high school set taxpayers back a cool thirty grand, again underscoring that when it comes to our schools, Perdue is interested in election strategy, not education strategy. The same year the legislature removed funding for some drug and alcohol prevention programs in schools, the Governor throws this expensive party. Strange priorities.

Sonny's party is getting mixed reviews, but let me assure you: had any school district in the state pulled a similar stunt, taxpayers would be aiming for the members in the fall elections.

For Perdue, the criteria for whether to proceed with any plan seems to be whether it will earn media and fit into a sound bite. This stunt accomplished both, but the Governor ended up looking like a losing contestant on American Idol. And I'll bet that there are a few Houston County kids wondering why the Gov's not throwing a bash for his hometown high schools.

This was more of a PR stunt than anything else, and for that purpose, effective. After all Sonny found himself in the national spotlight again- something he has not managed since canceling school for a possible gas shortage. Do you think that our Governor could possibly get on television for something positive? He's ruining our progressive image. Okay, maybe not so much.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Perdue Ad "Beyond Stretching the Truth"

Today, the Macon Telegraph's editorial, Perdue Ad is Plain Wrong issues a blistering rebuff to Governor Perdue for inaccurately representing the status of the state's finances when he took office. Here's a portion:


The voting public should never be surprised at the length politicians will go to in stretching the truth when campaigning for re-election. A prime example that goes well beyond stretching the truth is Gov. Sonny Perdue's assertion in a television ad, paid for by the Georgia Republican Party, that he inherited the "worst state budget crisis since the Great Depression" when he came into office.
Reality is vastly different. When Perdue defeated Gov. Roy Barnes in 2002, there was no state budget deficit. In fact, instead of having to wrestle a $640 million deficit, as the ad says, the state had $200 million in its reserve fund on June 30, 2003 - six months after the man from Bonaire took office.

Perdue's I.O.U. to Georgia Schools

When it come to his highly touted High School Completion Counselors, "thanks, but no thanks" is what some school districts plan to tell Governor Perdue.

Perdue claims these counselors are his answer to Georgia's high dropout rate, but with research to support that claim lacking, he's really just presenting local school districts with yet another politically motivated "I.O.U."

The fifteen and a half million allotted for these counselors won't be available to school districts until January, 2007. Local districts are putting together their budgets now and must decide whether to front the money for these counselors during the fall semester, hoping to be reimbursed in January. Plus, the money provided falls short of what will actually be needed to pay these counselors, only providing the equivalent of a first year teacher's salary as opposed to the $55,000.00 it will likely cost to hire and train each counselor.

When it is possible to calculate the future need for prison bed space by looking at third grade reading scores, it is clear why many educators believe that the investing in early childhood education is a much more effective approach to stemming the dropout rate. Yet, it is unclear whether funds will be available for EIP counselors, an effective and relatively inexpensive program that gives extra support to young children who are not meeting benchmarks.

Georgia's dropout rate is alarming, and Perdue's response is to continue to make Georgia's schools a political football by investing millions in an untested approach that is likely "too little, too late" and then failing to immediately provide the funds.

"High School Completion Counselors" : this is, once again, a great sound-bite, but that's about all.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

White House of Cards: Rove Indicted?

Truthout.org is reporting here that Karl Rove has been indicted on charges of perjury and lying to investigators. This is not being reported by networks or other traditional news services, and this is not the first time this rumor has been floated, so I guess I will believe it when and if there is an official announcement.

If this rumor proves true, it is very bad news for a White House that is already struggling for credibility and generally bad news for the country. Why? From immigration reform to Iraq and Iran, we need a President who is a strong, credible leader. Bush is anything but. How are Americans or other world leaders supposed to trust this man as the focus of this investigation comes closer and closer to the door of the Oval Office?

Think about this for a moment. Libby, DeLay, Cunningham and now, possibly, Rove. What does it say about this administration, and those Republicans who are welded to the Fox News/neo-conservative movement, when the principal architect of their takeover may be facing indictment?

These are the same people who are the directors of the war in Iraq, the same people who have used the politics of fear to convince the American people that it is patriotic to surrender liberty and the same people who themselves operate above the law. Again, I ask, which of our elected will dare to represent US?

Friday, May 12, 2006

Didn't Bear Repeating

You're right, SM, it didn't bear repeating, and so the post on Miles and Taylor is history. It was rude to repeat her comments and has no direct bearing on the debate. Obviously, I should not blog at 1 AM! Is it a fair assumption that Taylor and Miles are campaigning together?

It's Our Liberty Not Just Our Privacy

When I think about the numerous intrusions into our lives and conversations by the Bush administration, I am struck by the language that is used. Framing this debate in terms of privacy is not an entirely apt description. It makes it sound like someone just accidentally overheard something. When a government agency gathers the phone records of tens of thousands of Americans, it is a threat to our liberty.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

National C.R.A.P.

For those of you who think that the N.S.A.'s tracking of American's private phone calls is crap, well, you're right, in fact it is. Homeland Security houses The National Council on Readiness and Preparedness. I kid you not.

What Has Sonny Done Now???

Is State Health on life support? Does there need to be an outside audit of the State Employee's Health Benefit Program? Has one ever been done? I am beginning to think we need to do some serious checking because the signs are that all is not well. It's just a observation, and one not first raised by me, but instead over on Peach Pundit. Why?

This session, with overwhelming bipartisan support, the legislature passed a bill that would allow a surviving spouse of a state employee killed in the line of duty (think: State Trooper) to continue to buy health insurance through the state employee's health insurance system. This bill was vetoed by Governor Perdue with the comment that the state would have to absorb the cost of such coverage without the benefit of the person providing services to the state.

In addition to this being cruel and ungrateful ("You're wife was just shot in the line of duty, and, by the way, your health insurance is terminated.") is it also a signal that all is not well with State Health? This is not the first sign of trouble. We all remember the problems caused by Sonny's knee-jerk change of insurance providers that threatened to leave thousands of Georgia employees without access to their doctor.

I'm suggesting that these two events, especially the Governor's choice to veto a very popular bill, in an election year, could very well be a signal that all is not well. Somebody needs to do some checking. When and how is this program audited?

SOS in Macon

Last night the Bibb Democratic Women pulled together a good crowd for the Secretary of State's debate. All of the candidates, with the exception of Angela Moore, were present. Everyone actually did a pretty good job with some fairly tough questions. Again, I am disappointed that we have so much talent in this race and empty senate and house districts. We could've event stood another democrat in the Insurance Commissioners race.

I would like to see four of these six candidates serving in elected office at some level. There are two that I can't imagine handling the office, and, no, I'm not saying who just yet, but I'll bet you can figure out who they are.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Perdue's Pitiful Pandering

Bill Shipp has a novel idea today: perhaps we should hold governor's elections every twelve months. Maybe then, our children's schools would get the attention needed on a consistent basis. As it is, Governor Perdue spent three years starving public education with cuts of 2.3 billion, including 1.25 billion that directly impacted local school districts, and now, in an election year, he wants to brag about restoring some of he cut, providing long over due teacher raises and finally moving to reduce class size. Of course, he did not arrange to pay for all of that, leaving local districts looking (to you) for millions.

Today, Bill Shipp addresses Perdue's election-it is in a column called "Perdue's 'Commitment' to Georgia Schools is Mere Pandering." To read Shipp's advice to a Georgia newcomer, click here. The whole piece is worth reading, but here's my favorite bit:


So, dear newcomer, don't be nervous about Georgia schools. They are going to get better and better. If Georgia could hold a governor's election every 12 months instead of once every four years, the Peach State would have an excellent education system in no time. Pandering is not always immoral, is it?

Perdue's in a Pickle

Swicharoo Perdue, out campaigning with his buddy Zigzag, now proclaims that he's done great things for public schools. "Just ask any teacher," he says. Ooh...I don't think he wants to go there. With funding cuts of 1.25 billion to local school districts, the 65% Deception that undercut critical support for the classroom and ongoing efforts to sneak school vouchers through the legislative door, Perdue enters this election season in trouble with teachers. So, now, in Rove-esque fashion, Perdue is repeating, over and over again, in hope that he will ultimately be believed, that his administration is a friend to educators. And then there are those gift cards....

The pickle for Perdue is that teachers do not trust the Governor's newly found election-year affection for public education. They're also saying that Perdue better be very clear about one thing: educators put Barnes out of office and they are ready to do the same for Perdue. They are unimpressed with Perdue's timely change of heart and will not be bought with gift cards.

But what's a governor to do? Perdue has to run on rhetoric, because he certainly can't run on his record. Like mom and apple pie, political candidates nearly universally claim to support our teachers. In fact, most are careful to lay any blame for failings in our public schools at the feet of administrators, parents and, of course, the children. Everybody knows that taking a position against teachers is political suicide. Just ask Roy Barnes.

Perdue's claims don't pass the smell test, so if the DPG, Cox or Taylor are listening: please take Sonny up on his offer, and give teachers air time to tell the Governor exactly what they think about his education policy.

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

A First: Bloggers Choose Questions for SOS Candidates

I need your help. If you had the opportunity to ask the SOS candidates anything, what would you ask? Here's your chance to do just that.

Tomorrow night, the Bibb County Democratic Women will host a forum for the Secretary of State Candidates tomorrow at Macon City Hall at 6:30 PM. Most of the Democratic candidates will be on hand.

The forum is open to the public, and I, along with journalists, Jamie Gaudet and Charles Richardson will be posing the questions to the candidates. I thought that it would be a unique idea to bring in questions from the readers of this blog. So, with that in mind, please take a moment and reply, submitting any questions you would like to have posed to the Democrats running for Secretary of State.

I will pose the (serious) questions and report back the answers after the debate tomorrow night.

Sunday, May 7, 2006

Cox Gaining /Taylor Declining

So much for the television babies. Cathy Cox is THE Democrat to take on Perdue. She has consistently polled better than Taylor against Perdue, and now, she is gaining significant ground while Taylor's numbers are declining. The latest Rasmussen Poll shows Perdue leading Cox by just six points, while he leads Taylor by 15 points. (Thanks for the heads up about the poll from the folks over at Perdue Watch.) A poll of 500 likely voters on April 18th shows:

Perdue: 48%
Cox: 42%

Perdue: 51%
Taylor: 36%

As the legislative session began, Perdue led both Cox and Taylor by 20 points. Apparently, Georgians have been paying attention! Also, I note that this poll was conducted about the same time Taylor and Perdue went up on the air, but, of course, Cox has not fired her first salvo in that battle as yet.

These numbers are consistent with other polling data, and the trend over time shows Cox consistently stronger against Perdue. And that's really the ballgame isn't it? I mean, we can all like Taylor; we can all appreciate his contributions, but don't we want to actually elect a Governor? Don't we want to send our strongest candidate into November?

I'm going to say this again: there are lots of good reasons to vote for Cathy Cox. We can talk about education, healthcare, economic development, etc. But one very pragmatic thing is clear: if Democrats want to actually elect a Governor in November, then our nominee must be Cathy Cox. It is time to support the candidate who can WIN.

Saturday, May 6, 2006

What Did Perdue Do??

Yesterday, Sonny was touting his achievements in public education, and (after I finished laughing) I clicked my ruby shoes together and repeated "please, please , please let this election be about education."

What has Sonny done to make our schools better? There's been no measurable progress in test scores, and we continue to lose four of ten children between ninth grade and the graduation stage. (Some people refer to these children "disappearing." Don't fret: they did not disappear. Many of them are in jail.)

So, this problem did not crop up yesterday. It's not as if Sonny became Governor and then, to his surprise, discovered that we were tending the nation's educational basement. No, he knew what he was getting, and yet, he has put forward no bold policy initiatives to improve the situation.

And NO the 65% Deception does not count because it is election strategy not education strategy. He also does not get to count election year class-size reductions and long postponed teacher raises. Those initiatives were in place when he took over- he just postponed progress for three years. $100 gift cards???Don't get me started. How insulting to our hard working teaching professionals!

The Perdue education legacy will be shifting more and more cost to local districts while Atlanta exerts more and more control over local decisions
.

The relative cost share for local school districts is rising, and when asked about how districts would managed the increased costs of his unfunded mandates, Perdue responded that they would "find the money." (Bibb will need 8-9 million, so whoever knows how to "find" that is my new best friend.) "They'll figure it out." That's Perdue's bold strategy. Oh, my, we need a new Governor!

Cox: Leading on Healthcare

Somewhat muted by other events, Cathy Cox recently released a major policy statement, Leading Georgia Forward, that lays out bold, well thought out initiatives in healthcare, education and economic development. There are many appealing ideas in this New Covenant, but one in particular caught my eye.

You see, both my husband and I are both self employed, small business owners. As such, our cost for "off the rack" health insurance is substantial, and we often discuss the fact that many people simply could not afford what we have to pay each month for a high-deductible product. And that's with both of us being healthy. We are by no means the exception. We have friends who own businesses and cannot obtain health insurance because of pre-existing medical conditions. We worry about what will happen as we get older, and premiums rise. Will be able to afford what will likely be our largest single monthly expense?

Within a more expansive proposal to make health insurance accessible to all Georgians, Cathy has a proposal that would address this issue for small business. Doing so would not only be good public health policy, but it would also be good economic policy, encouraging entrepreneurship. This sounds like a really, really good idea to me. Here's what Cathy has to say:

Provide Affordable Insurance for Small Business Workers and the Self -Employed


Rising healthcare premiums have forced small business owners into a corner where they must weigh providing basic coverage at the expense of their bottom line. The self -employed are often denied access to affordable high-quality coverage. Cathy Cox knows that small business owners and employees, and the self -employed, are a critical component of Georgia's economic infrastructure and she is committed to providing affordable access to healthcare with tax incentives and a market -based solution that isn't crippled by bureaucracy.
As Governor, Cathy Cox will create a Small Business Purchasing Pool to al low small businesses and the self -employed to band together to negotiate and purchase affordable health insurance. Cox will ensure quality coverage by requiring a minimum level of benefits, emphasizing coverage for preventive care and the same premium levels regardless of age or condition. Everyone will have the choice of at least two plans, and no one will be excluded from coverage because of pre -existing conditions.
For small businesses that invest in their workforce and pay for health insurance for all their employees through the Purchasing Pool, Cox will provide a 50 percent tax credit to make it more affordable.
If I were a-political and still self-employed, Cathy would probably get my vote for this initiative alone.

DPG and DNC in Macon Today

The DPG and the DNC joined hands today for training in Macon. I understand that both message and strategic planning were on the agenda. I, for one, am glad to see the Party doing training outside the metro area. I would've been there, but I am out of town. I hope that it was a great, productive meeting. Did anyone out there attend?

Friday, May 5, 2006

Governor ALEC

Have you ever wondered why some of the legislation put forward by the Perdue Crew has seemed so neatly packaged, yet foreign to the needs of Georgians? Look no further than ALEC: the American Legislative Exchange Council. This neoconservative think-tank is largely responsible for creating and driving the National Republican Agenda. Ever wondered why Republicans seems to be saying the same thing at the same time? Wonder how the gay marriage amendment ended up on the ballot in all the key states for the 2004 presidential election? Thank ALEC.

Post-democratic majority Georgia is their favorite testing ground. The "testing" part of that equation is, perhaps, why we Georgians have paid so many legal fees defending "groundbreaking" legislation, much of which has been or (I think) will be held unconstitutional.

ALEC is the engine that drives the "wedge issues" like gay marriage and abortion that have very little impact on day to day life, but have the potential to drive voters to the polls. From the developer-friendly secrecy bills of 2005 to waiting periods, to school vouchers, thank ALEC. Don't believe me. Take a tour of their website, and you will see that Perdue doesn't even have to be creative: the boilerplate legislation is there for the taking. Personally, I think Georgians have taken quite enough and deserve solutions tailored to our needs- not the needs of the National Republican Party. So, when you see Perdue's name on the ballot this fall, just be aware- he's really just a straw-man for Governor ALEC.

Perdue Thinks Georgians Are Stupid

Here's a must-read in today's Macon Telegraph:

Perdue, legislators assume voters can be easily fooled

Much of what the Georgia General Assembly and Gov. Sonny Perdue hold up as examples of responsible legislation this session are actually measures pushed through based on the assumption that voters aren't smart enough to realize that what sounds good may not be. Four examples of new laws that almost certainly will adversely affect the public were based on soundbite concepts intended to woo a naive public. They mandate more money for Georgia's classrooms, a reduction in classroom size and a teacher pay raise. The fourth is a beefed-up, get-tough law requiring stiffer prison sentences and residential requirements for registered sexual offenders.

Read the rest:
http://www.macon.com/mld/macon/news/opinion/14501723.htm

Thursday, May 4, 2006

Read "Perdue Watch" Today

Go to www.perduewatch.com

Educators, Superintendents Rip Perdue, GOP for Failure to Act

22 superintendents chime in on new state laws ajc.com

How 's Zell Going to Sell This?

So, I'm wondering how Zigzag and Switcharoo will explain this one away. Personal income in Georgia has declined 2% over the last five years. This income decline occurred in the face of skyrocketing healthcare and fuel costs leaving families with fewer and fewer dollars for other expenses.

Today, USA Today ran a story about increases and declines in personal income that described which states were doing well, and which states were doing not so well. Georgia ranks 49th, right behind hurricane ravaged Louisiana. Yes, Sonny's done a great job. Just ask him. Oh, I know what Sonny and Zell will probably try to blame Roy Barnes or those pesky Democrats who refused to give developers carte blanche. The problem with that argument is twofold: Roy's not running, and Sonny, who has been in a position to make a positive impact, has not.

Actually, the article points to Georgia's job loss rate as the key contributor to the income drop, and it was not Mark Taylor and not Sonny Perdue, but Cathy Cox who proposed that all three candidates for Governor go together to approach Ford about staying in Georgia. Of course, that did not happen because Sonny did not agree to go. It was ultimately Shirley Franklin who got on a plane.

Here's an excerpt from the article:


Among the most troubled

Louisiana. Hurricane quatrain knocked $4,032, or 14%, off income, pushing the state to the bottom. It was the first time Mississippi was not ranked the nation's poorest state.

Georgia and North Carolina. These 1990s boom states declined. Georgia's income fell 2% over five years, worse than any state except for Louisiana, because of trouble in the transportation and telecommunication industries. North Carolina had the sixth-worst drop in income after losing manufacturing jobs.

Industrial states. The decline of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois accelerated from 2000 to 2005. The four states reached their lowest rank ever in per-capita income.


Click here to read the full text.

Why Do We Do This to Families?

Today, I am headed to St. Simons for the Georgia Association of Marriage and Family Therapist's annual conference. You will not be shocked to learn that the main presentation is on divorce. With that in mind, I leave you with this open thread today and this thought:

In Georgia, the law allows 14 year olds to elect which parent they wish to live with, and they often have say so about visitation as well. The judge is to take into consideration the opinions of 12 and 13 year olds. Why do we think that children this age are not mature enough to drive a car, but they are mature enough to choose a custody arrangement? This creates awful dynamics in a divorced family. I have seen parents start "working on" children as young as six with "one day you can decide." We need to change this law to allow some parental and judicial input. Your thoughts?

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Perdue: One of America's Three Worst Governors

Alternet makes the case today that Switcharoo Perdue is one of America's three worst Governors. He shares the 'Worst Governor' title with Colorado Gov. Owen and Maryland Gov. Ehrlich.

They'll get no argument from me. Below is the portion of their article that relates to Perdue:


Georgia: Sonny Perdue


Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue is by no means the best known Southern Governor (that claim to fame probably goes to Jeb Bush or to Haley Barbour, featured in our sidebar). His story is an amazing one, from how he got elected to his presiding over a period of resurgence in Georgia that is less conservative and more wingnut fringe.

The race bait and switch: During his campaign for Governor, Sonny Perdue criticized the incumbent Roy Barnes for changing Georgia's state flag to remove the Confederate Battle Flag. Some observers credit this move with his victory. Following his election, he held a referendum on replacing the Barnes flag, but didn't include Confederate Battle Flag imagery as an option.

Education malpractice: Perdue
backed, passed, and signed a version of the 65% Distraction requiring that Georgia schools spend 65% of their budgets "in the classroom." The proposal is nothing more than political fluff that ignores such necessary school expenses as nurses and schoolbuses. Perdue made it a centerpiece of his education agenda.

Economic boondoggles: Flustered by economic flight out of Georgia (spurred, perhaps, by bad education policy and questionable racial politics?), Perdue felt pressure to deliver. So after Ford and GM pulled up their stakes, Georgia's Governor
landed $400 million in incentives for Korean automaker Kia to build a plant in Georgia. The plant is expected to create 2,500 jobs at a cost of $160,000 a piece to the state.

Conservative robots: In addition to passing poorly thought-out rightwing ideas like the 65% Solution (see above), Perdue's election to the Governor's office was
quickly followed by Georgia's establishment as ALEC's prime state, moving multiple model bills, including asbestos tort deform and legislation to shut down Atlanta's living wage ordinance.

Scapegoating immigrants: In a time of immigrant scapegoating, Perdue and his rightwing allies in Georgia have taken the cake -- passing a bill that
threatens immigrants while basically letting employers, especially unscrupulous ones, off the hook. While happily claiming that they've passed the harshest measure in the country, Perdue smiles and says that "Georgia's government is not, and this bill is not, anti-immigrant." Right. It's just in favor of immigrant exploitation. That's a big difference.

"Fall Line Democrat": New Front Page Poster

Look for a first post today from a new front pager, Fall Line Democrat. Welcome. Known for candor, you'll be wondering what he will say next. (yes, it's a 'he' on Georgia Women Vote!)

Charlie Bishop Memorial Highway

As someone who grew up in a neighborhood off Forest Hill Road here in Macon, I am particularly concerned about plans to widen that road. Other citizens are equally concerned and signs that read "Save Our Forest Hill Road" have popped up in several locations. However, when citizens have voiced concern about this project to our County Commission, they have received less than a warm reception. In fact, the perception of Charlie Bishop, our County Commission Chairman, is that he has been dismissive of citizen complaints or concerns on this issue. Since the Forest Hill area is one that provided strong support to Chairman Bishop in the last election, one must question why Chairman Bishop appears so supportive of DOT plans when his own constituents are so opposed to it.

I know that it is premature to name a highway after someone who is still "alive" either literally or politically. But if Chairman Bishop continues down this "road" perhaps signs will appear on Forest Hill Road that read "Charlie Bishop Memorial Highway" marking the end of his political career.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Did This Not Occur to Mark Taylor?

Did it not occur to Mark Taylor that hitching his wagon to his relationship with Zell Miller could backfire? I mean, backfire in the sense that Miller has not endorsed a Democrat is years? In the sense that Miller loves to bash dems and endorse republicans, particularly on camera? So now, Mark is joined at the hip to Sonny's spokesman. Probably not the best choice he could've made.

Look What "Sonny Did"

One hundred Georgia counties have already increased property taxes to cover Switcharoo Perdue's 2.3 billion in overall cuts to education and the the 1.25 billion in cuts impacting local school districts.

Now, with the Governor's timely "change of heart" more increases are certain to follow. As is common with election year feel-good legislation, Perdue is happy to take credit for teacher raises and reducing class sizes, but he is unwilling to fully fund those initiatives, leaving the tab squarely on the shoulders of local property owners. The Perdue Team has, by default, raised the taxes of most Georgians and should have to answer for that on the campaign trail.

Bibb County alone will need to raise another 8-9 million to cover the costs of the increased mandates, and that's before the 65% rule is fully implemented. Unless someone finds some money trees, expect taxes to go up.

Here's the kicker. Some Georgia counties can max-out their millege rate, and they still will not have enough money to comply with unfunded state mandates.

Using the bank accounts of property owners to pay for his election strategy is not the answer to the education crisis in our state. I say we "un-elect" Perdue!

"Zigzag Zell" and "Switcharoo Perdue"

Come on. So, Miller is supporting Perdue. Big deal.

It should come as no surprise that Zigzag Zell is supporting Switcharoo Perdue.
They have so much in common, after all.

Both, rather than deciding what they believe is right and then doing that, stick their political finger in the wind to test public opinion, and then decide what to say next. When someone does not lead and instead follows the whim of public opinion, they appear to change their mind- a lot.

For instance:

* Perdue, when he initially ran for Governor, indicated that Barnes was out of touch with rural Georgia, saying that Gov. Barnes eats steak while the rest of Georgians eat pork 'n' beans. Yet, yesterday, Switcharoo launched his campaign, not in his Middle Georgia home, but in the Big City of Marietta. Our feelings are hurt, Gov'ner.

* In 2004, Perdue appealed to teachers, promising to support public education and return control to local districts and to classroom teachers. If by support he means cuts of more than 2.3 billion, and by local control he means telling districts how they must spend their scarce dollars, then I guess he kept this promise. And this (election) year, he switched again, sending gift cards and long overdue raises to teachers. Now there's a clever strategy.

* In the 2005 legislative cycle, the Perdue Team put forward legislation that would have kept secret government negotiations to turn your home over to private developers; this year, Switcharoo Perdue brags about a constitutional amendment to protect the rights of property owners. He hopes the voters won't notice.

Perdue's big campaign punch is to parade Zell Miller in front of voters. I don't think this is going to work, but who can blame Sonny? He can hardly run on his bait-and-switch record that makes it possible to predict but one thing: in a second term, Sonny will do what benefits Sonny.

Monday, May 1, 2006

Sonny Perdue is "Fired"

Yes, that's exactly what he said, and we'll do our best to oblige him. Here's the AP story as it appears in the Macon Telegraph online edition:

Perdue kicks off re-election campaign
By Shannon McCaffrey
Associated Press
MARIETTA - Gov. Sonny Perdue today launched a 20 stop re-election tour and took the wraps off the first television advertisement of his campaign.

"I am fired about doing this again," Perdue said at a kickoff rally in Marietta Square in Cobb County.
The event drew more than dozen protesters waving Confederate flags and signs proclaiming Perdue a "liar." The demonstrators are angry at Perdue for failing to follow through on his pledge to allow a vote on restoring the Confederate battle symbol to Georgia's flag.


Based on this press piece, Sonny just might be right. Mr. "Rural Georgia" shuns his Middle Georgia home to launch in the Big City- running away from what got him elected last time. He's confronted by angry flaggers, again placing him at odds with what got him elected last time. And he says he's fired. Well, that exactly what Democrats have planned for him, and he's off to a great start!

Seventy Years Too Long

Tonight, the house was full when Georgia's WIN List honored the achievements of Viola Ross Napier. Ms. Napier was, in 1922, the first women elected to serve in the Georgia General Assembly. Rep. Nikki Randall, who was the second Democratic women from Macon elected to the Georgia House, a mere seventy years after Ms. Napier first served, was on hand and brought greetings from Secretary of State Cathy Cox. The crowd agreed that seventy years between Democratic women was far too long, and as if to answer, three of the five middle Georgia Democratic women who are seeking House seeks were on hand for this special event. In addition to the honorees, a number of candidates were present including:

(1) Dawn Randolph (PSC); 2) Steen Miles (Lt. Governor); 3) Shyam Reddy (SOS); Scott Holcomb (SOS); 4) Gail Buckner (SOS); 5)Pam White-Colbert (Superior Court Judge); 6) Charles Jones (Superior Court Judge); 7) Dee Haigler (Senate); 8) Lauren Benedict (House); and 9) Beth Perera (House).

Democrats Should Heed This Republican Tip

Over on Peach Pundit this weekend there was a nasty little internal war brewing regarding some College Republican strife that I know nothing about and could care even less about. But, Democrats, who have apparently forgotten that they have a majority to regain would do well to take note of what the Republican pundit, Erick Erickson did: he deleted all the "inside bickering" with this note:

"Come on kids, I was a State Chairman. Keep it in the house. None of you do yourselves a favor by letting this blow open to outside mockery. Water under the bridge. Move on along. There's nothing to see here. "

Republicans are not better than Democrats at governing, but the last two cycles, they have spanked us on disciplined campaigning and grassroots politics. When we have conflict, we don't just tear one another apart privately, no, we make a public spectacle of it and invite the Republicans to watch.

Based on the events of the last two week, dems would do well to heed this advice and keep the conflict in the family. Of course, that only applies if we want to win. If the goal is to vent, never mind this post.