Tuesday, October 31, 2006

John Kerry Put His Foot in Our Mouth

That's right. With his remarks today, Kerry didn't just put his foot in his own mouth, he also shoved it down the throat of every Democrat- especially candidates in tough swing districts. It wasn't enough to make the stupid statement. Kerry had to keep talking about it. I can't believe that the guy who cost us the Presidency could now cost us Congress.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Great Event for Martin

If Middle Georgia is any indication of how Jim Martin is going to do next Tuesday, then he will win this election handily. Based on Cagle's latest television ad, he doesn't quite know what to do with Jim, even admitting that Jim's a nice guy. Cagle claims that Jim lied about him, but he never says what the lie was. That's pretty bold. And hollow.

On Thursday, we helped to host an event for Jim in Macon, and I was, again, impressed with the diversity of his support. Fifty-plus community leaders ranging from Camille Hope, wife of Congressman Jim Marshall to Sheriff and Mrs. Jerry Modena were on hand to wish him well. I also understand that Jim Martin is one of the few big squirrels who has reserved money to put into GOTV. I hope that will help him surprise the pundits one more time!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Friday, October 27, 2006

Rally in Warner Robins Sat., Nov. 4

Saturday, November 4, 2006 * 11 AM – 2 PM
AFGE Building 1764 Watson Blvd. (click for map) Warner Robins
Featuring our State House Candidates:
*Ron Bass
* Jennifer Harris
* Beth Perera
* Scott Taylor
Join Middle Georgia Democrats for fun, free food and enthusiasm for democracy!
Sponsored by Houston County Democrats
and Middle Georgia Democratic Women's Club

Brain Stem Voting: Love and Politics

Over and over, Democrats have asked, "Why do people vote against their own self interest?" and "Why does fear trump freedom in the voting booth?" I am convinced that the most primitive part of our brain, the brain stem, is responsible. This is also the part of the brain that studies have shown is most active when people "fall in love." And we all know that while that state of bliss is lots of fun, it also can cause us to act against our own self interest. In politics and in love, the limbic system, or emotional brain, is often involved as well , but rarely does the cerebrum, "the reasoning brain" get involved.

"Brain Stem Voting" explains why fear and attraction are such a powerful motivators. Survival is our most basic instinct. No wonder voters' choices often don't seem rational. Often, they're not. I can't tell you how many times people have told me that they vote for the candidate they "like the best." And George Bush is President because the electorate chose the perception of safety over freedom. In campaigns, Democrats often make the mistake of assuming that voters will be reasonable. Think again. For Democrats to win, we have to learn to frame our message to reach that most basic part of the the brain.

Oh, and it's no accident that this part of the brain is sometimes referred to as the "reptilian brain." Hummm...that explains a thing or two...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

What the Heck is Freeman Thinking?

Remember the awful mailers that Hecht sent out during the primary? I thought no one could trump him when it came to twisting words and taking things out of context to make false claims about a political opponent. Well, I was wrong, Allen Freeman has plumbed a new depth with his latest television ad. Freeman twists and distorts Lauren Benedict's words and implies that she does not support protecting our children from sexual predators. That's just not true, but apparently, Freeman doesn't care.

Freeman was there when Lauren Benedict made it clear that she believes that we should be tough on crime and prosecute those who dare harm our children to the fullest extent of the law. Benedict thinks that the new law should've been fully funded. Mr. Freeman apparently doesn't think that's important. He believes in passing unfunded mandates and when law enforcement officers object he calls them lazy.

Below is a link to a video clip that will give you the real facts and the truth about what she said.


We need to send Mr. Freeman a message. You can help do that by visiting Lauren's website and volunteering or making a contribution today.

Jim Martin in Macon Tonight! You're Invited!

Jim Martin, Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor, will be in Macon tonight for a fundraiser. Jim is one of the brightest spots on the ticket this year, and my husband and I are very pleased to help with this event. The event begins at 6 pm and will be at our office, 315 College Street in Macon. (For those of you who are longtime Middle Georgia residents, this used to me the old Beall's restaurant) The requested contribution is $75.

Last night, I saw Martin's ad about Cagle's support of the predatory lending industry. I thought that it was powerful for the ad to be in Martin's own voice and, with so many undecided voters, important to draw the comparison that Martin will work for Georgia families, not the lending industry.

Please drop by and meet Jim tonight!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Conspiracy Theorists Will Be Disappointed

A couple of months ago, I was at a public forum where a local activist opined that after the election Cathy Cox would be going to work for Diebold. Two weeks ago, a leader in the local Democratic party told me that after the election Cathy was going to (1) change parties; (2) go to work in the Perdue administration (what about Taylor?) and; (3) work on the voting machines. Hate to disappoint, according to a release yesterday, Cathy will be going to work for the University of Georgia School of Law as the Carl Sanders Political Leadership Scholar. Seems like a perfect fit for her. You can read more here .

Monday, October 23, 2006

Bush coming to Perry Oct. 31

I just heard that President Bush is coming to Perry to the Georgia National Fairground on Oct. 31 to promote Republican campaigns. The Republs are really pulling out the stoppers to try to take that congressional seat away from the Democrats. I think the rally will be in Reaves Arena. Don't know any more about it.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Benedict's Ad

Lauren Benedict is a friend of mine, so I acknowledge my bias here, but this ad is a winner. Check it out.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Hiding Clinton?

I didn't see a lot on the blogs today about Bill Clinton's visit to Georgia. In case you missed it, he was here for a fundraiser luncheon at John Lewis' home. I don't know what the polls say, but I think that bringing Clinton to Georgia and then putting him in a brown paper bag was a big mistake. When, according to the AJC, white women are trending toward Perdue, did it occur to anyone that the only politician Georgia women like more than Cathy Cox is Bill Clinton? Hell, he can even convince junk food companies to voluntarily stop putting the bad stuff in our schools. Don't you think that he could've brought a few women Taylor's way? Just asking.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Alphabet and All That

This has been a very busy week! The last three weeks of a campaign are a little bit like childbirth- lots of anticipation, lots of joy and a whole lot of pain. Of course, also like child birth, you really don't remember the pain. Otherwise, no one would ever work or volunteer on a political campaign more than once.

That said, I got a little Georgia Civics 101 education today when I got a copy of the sample ballot and saw that in all the races, the Republican is listed first, regardless of the alphabet, regardless of incumbency. I thought that it was a Bibb County screw up until I called the DPG. Nope. The party of the Governor determines who is listed first in each race. That's the way it was when Democrats were in power, too. In close races this year, this cannot be good for Dems. And, I had no idea this was the rule. See, and you all thought I was a political junkie...:)
That said, ballot placement is important. Some people estimate that it can draw four or five % of the vote for the person listed first. Don't you think that in an age of electronic voting when machines can randomize selection, that we should move to a system that does not advantage on candidate over another simply because of their party affiliation, or the alphabet, for that matter?
Maybe this one is ripe for litigation.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Telegraph on Benedict-Freeman

Today, the Macon Telegraph has a good profile article on the Benedict-Freeman race. The reporter points out that that the biggest difference in the two candidates may be their positions on healthcare. Benedict has spoken out about the reimbursement problems with the new managed care version of Medicaid and the problems this has created for patients and doctors. Clearly, healthcare is a critical issue for Georgians and was a focus today as the Kid's Count Data was discussed at Macon State College.

Today, Benedict was at the Georgia Kid's Count Tour at Macon State, and Freeman was absent. More than 300,000 Georgia children, a number equal to all the Georgia children in 4K, 5 K and first grade, are uninsured. The presenter suggested that voters ask those who are running for office one simple question: "What are you going to do to make sure all of Georgia's children have health insurance?" I think that's a great idea and would've ask them today if any of our current legislators had been at this important event.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Pam White-Colbert: Where Are Your Disclosures?

Don't you think that a candidate for Superior Court Judge ought to be sure that her financial disclosures are properly filed with the State Ethics Commission? I have heard that the Commission site is having some problems, so maybe the problem is on that end, but last week, when I looked, Pam White-Colbert, one of four candidates for Superior Court Judge in the Macon Judicial Circuit, had no financial reports available for viewing on line.

The race for Superior Court Judge in the Macon Judicial Circuit is an interesting one and provides several good choices for Middle Georgians. In addition to the absence of Pam's disclosures, I noticed that Tripp Self has raised a boatload of cash, more than $100,000.00 and has invested most of it wisely, in my humble opinion.

Also, Macon attorney, Ed Ennis has a repectable campaign stash of over $70,000.00.

Cedric Leslie has raised only about $11,000.00, and most of that looks like personal or family money.

Charles Jones, a Fort Valley attorney, is my personal favorite in the race, but I have some serious questions about how he has spent his money. He has raised just over $40,000.00, putting in some of his own cash, and just last period paid local "consultants" about ten grand. That seems like a very poor investment to me, as do the billboards he has purchased. He went up very early on television, and now seems to have gone dark, also a strategy I question. Charles would make a great judge. We'll see....

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Transparent Blame Game

For folks who claim to hold exclusive lease on "family values," Republicans have no problem suspending moral judgment to protect their own-even at the expense of victims, and even at the expense of everyday citizens who choose to be informed, choose to ask questions and who dare to ask that our leaders play by the rules. Protecting politicians involves a dance: deny, blame the messenger, and change the subject. Truth and accountability have no place in the equation.

On a national level, the Foley scandal is a tragic example of what can happen if powerful people refuse to hold other powerful people accountable for their actions. Foley initially denied, then tried to turn the focus on the people leveling the charges, desperately wanting the discussion to be about who and why the allegations were being made, desperately wanting the discussion to be about anything other than what Foley did and who, by knowing and not telling, allowed his behavior to continue.

On a local level, today in The Telegraph, referencing an ethics complaint filed by a citizen against Rep. Allen Freeman, Robert Hightower, a former member of the ethics commission said: "This complaint is akin to a parking ticket written by someone without a badge..." Funny, I thought the whole point of our form of government was that citizens do, in fact, hold the badge when it comes to our elected officials. Shouldn't we applaud the people who blow the whistle instead of rapping them on their knuckles and hoping they'll go back to their corner?

It's no wonder so few people bother to vote, and no wonder the average citizen is not engaged in the political process. What a shame.

Message from Ken Spitze in Carroll County

Hello everyone, Below is a link to a story in today's AJC which is of local interest. This story "broke" when Villa Rica resident Carolyn Gray contacted me about the letter her mother received from the State Board of Elections containing what was clearly some misinformation about voting. I conveyed the information to David Worley, a member of the Board, who then did some further investigation, uncovering the broader campaign of misinformation. He will probably file a complaint with the US Dept of Justice.It looks like we'll have to work doubly hard to make sure the voters have CORRECT information about voting next month! The Republican majority on the Board is doing their "job" to suppress the vote of likely Democrats!



Thursday, October 12, 2006

My (Sur)real World and President Bush

Turns out that people in an ICU waiting room are a tough audience for President Bush. In that waiting room time stops. They put mats in the elevators with the day of the week on them to help people stay oriented. Everyone there has someone they love fighting for life. Somehow dealing with life and death in real time is a clarifying experience.

That's where I watched Bush's press conference earlier this week. Most of the people in that room expressed spontaneous disgust and mistrust of the President. Watching him try to avoid talking about North Korean nukes by complimenting a reporter on his suit literally sent one women out of the room. She's had all she could take. Call this my informal poll. Call it whatever you like. One thing is certain: Republicans are in deep trouble.

A few peeks at the debate via computer

It was good that WMAZ, The Telegraph, and AARP teamed up to present the gubernatorial and 8th congressional forums via computer. No TV station that I know about carried it. I have been with a sick relative today and arrived home too late to go to the Georgia National Fairground, so I decided to watch the streaming version online. What I saw on my computer---perhaps due to the limitations of inexpensive equipment--was somewhat jerky & with voices often not in sync, but I got the impression that the crowd was really spirited. At AJC.com there was a short and rather flat-toned article about the forum which in no way captured the emotion of the event. Too bad that all Georgia's voters could not have heard and seen the forum...even though a lot of what was said was fairly predictable.
What did surprise me was the Governor's repeated and quite audible chuckling (like "heh-heh-heh-heh") during MT's replies to questions.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Non-Story Story

Must've been a slow news day. The guys over at the AJC Political Insider blog made this non-story, Secretary of State Cox unveiling a long-anticipated exhibit and per protocol inviting the Governor (and the Lt. Governor) to attend, a story. And we are all apparently so bored that we jumped right on the band wagon. Andre is over on Peach Pundit opining away that "Cathy's gonna switch." (Cathy's not going to switch, Andre'. Hate to break it to you.) Ann Rose is distributing an e-mail describing feeling "shocked" and "betrayed." Spare me. It's a routine event, and far from the first public appearance Cathy has made since the primary.

Cathy Cox is doing nothing other than her job. Now there's a novel concept. And it's protocol to invite the Governor and the Lt. Governor. Since the election, the Cathy rumor mill has seldom been quiet. Just in the last week, I've heard that she's leaving the party, going to work for Diebold, and going to work for Perdue. I suspect all the rumors are rubbish, and the product of the same people and mentality intent on blaming Cathy if Mark does not beat Sonny. Now that's a productive way to spend the last thirty days before an election-figuring out who to blame if you get beat.

The only news here is that an elected official is actually doing the job she was elected to do. Now, that is news!


Fighter Jets Scramble Over U.S. Cities

CNN is reporting that after a small plane crashed into a NYC building, fighter jets have been scrambled by NORAD over several U.S. cities as a precaution. You can find this story here. NORAD has said that they were not monitoring this particular flight, (I thought they monitored all flights), and they have not determined whether or not this is an act of terrorism. Let's hope not.

Elizabeth Edwards in Georgia

Elizabeth Edwards will be in Georgia tomorrow, and you are invited! If you plan to come, please respond with your full name and e-mail.

Update and Thanks

Today, I thought that I would be on a plane coming back from Montego Bay, and instead, I am in an ICU waiting room in Charlotte. As some of you read here, my sister had a brain aneurysm on Saturday. We appreciate all of positive thoughts and prayers over the last few days. She had surgery yesterday, and that went well. Clearly, this is a serious situation, but to this point, there have been good signs. She is only in her 50's, and this just goes to show you- focus on what's really important because there are no guarantees in life. Keep her in your prayers!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Message from the Georgia Democratic Party

Please join Democrats from across Georgia this Thursday, October 12th, at 7 pm for the first gubernatorial debate of the fall campaign. The debate will be at the National Fairgrounds in Perry. The exact location is the Reaves Arena which is located near the Clock Tower and large flagpole. As you know, this debate is in Perdue’s home county. However, we know our support statewide is stronger than his, and we need a huge crowd to be there to support Mark. Whether you are from South, Middle or North Georgia, Mark Taylor needs your support.We have arranged for a few buses to help our supporters in north Georgia travel down to Perry. If you want to ride on the bus, please meet at the IBEW Local 613 parking lot (501 Pulliam St., Atlanta, 30312) at 3:30 pm. However, we need you to RSVP so we know how many buses to get. Please call Brittany Underwood at 404-685-0000 to RSVP.
Anne BartolettiDPG Director of County Affairs

Monday, October 9, 2006

A special message...

Please keep Amy and her family in your thoughts and prayers. Her sister, who lives in South Carolina, has had a stroke and is in ICU.

Playing the Blame Game

The shameless blame game continues in the wake of the Foley crisis. It's worth remembering that this is a new revelation only to the American people and the rank and file of both parties. There is every indication that Republican leadership knew, or should've know what was going on. And while they are happy for Mark Foley to take his beating, they are taking their own personal portion of blame only as it become politically expedient to do so. Is this a surprise? Not really. But you don't get to be the party of family values and duck and weave when your character is called into question. It is the worst kind of hypocrisy.

Shamelessly, the Republican leadership is allowing to ferment the idea that being gay has "something" to do with what happened to these children. That is just plain irresponsible. They simply want to turn the conversation back to an agenda that benefits them. We, the people, (heard that phrase before?), need to push back hard, demand more of our leaders and insist that our children be protected. If Democrats stand by while Republicans turn the conversation to whether Democrats revealed what they knew or whether this is a "product of the gay lifestyle" the we deserve what we get in November. What caused Foley to do this? I can only speculate and won't. But what caused the coverup? That's easy. An insatiable need for power.

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Democratic Party booth at the Georgia National Fair is buzzing with visitors....!

The Democratic Party booth in the McGill building at the Georgia National Fair (Perry) is just buzzing with visitors. It has turned out to be a big success. Candidates who have not visited the booth yet & would like to visit, please contact Kathy Bird at kathykb510@aol.com Use of the booth is already paid for by the GADCC and is being maintained by Houston County Democrats and Middle Georgia Democratic Women's Club. Candidates can use it free as a meet & greet point. We welcome you!
People appear very interested in talking to our candidates!! We ran out of Houston County Democratic flyers & I have to get some more printed tomorrow.
You can also place material about your campaign at the booth for people to pick up.
Today (Sunday afternoon) house candidates Dee Yearty, Scott Taylor, and Beth Perera were all three present, and many people stopped to talk with them. All three will be making return visits.
As you know, throngs of people are visiting the fair from all over the state.
Scott was passing out ice cream bars, which made him extra popular! House candidate Ron Bass was at the booth on Saturday and there was a lot of enthusiasm then too.

Personal, Not Political

I am on an island out of the country, with my husband and without my cell phone or computer, and most happy to be here. Over the next few days, you will hear from Tina and others, and somehow survive without me. You just might be hearing from some great candidates as guest bloggers, so stay tuned.

Friday, October 6, 2006

Come out and support Mark Taylor in Perry !!!

Mark Taylor requests your presence at the following Georgia National Fair Events in Perry:

1 - TOMORROW, Saturday
10:00 a.m., Perry Parade participants march from downtown Perry through the North Gate of the Fairgrounds.

Join Mark's wife Sasha Taylor in the line up for the GA National Fair parade!
Line-up is at 9:05 AM, at 112 Washington St., Perry. (map: http://maps.yahoo.com/maps_result?addr=112+Washington+St&csz=Perry%2C+GA&country=us&new=1&name=&qty= ).
For further details, call Curtis Johnson at (630) 936-9376.

7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.,
Reaves Arena
Candidates for Governor: Libertarian Garrett Michael Hayes, Republican Sonny Perdue, and Democrat Mark Taylor. 8:30p.m. - 9:00p.m.,
Candidates for 8th District Congressional Debate: Republican Mac Collins and Democrat Jim Marshall.

Mark has requested that at least 200 Middle Georgia Democrats attend the debate. We need to show up and support our candidate!

Benedict: The Fiscal Conservative in the Race

From the looks of the campaign disclosures filed yesterday by Allen Freeman and today by Lauren Benedict, she must be the fiscal conservative in that race. Of the $54,383.24 she has spent since beginning this race nearly a year ago, just over $40,000 has been invested in an early media buy. She's run a tight ship, spending just over $14,000 for everything else. That's very smart spending! And she's left with about $25,000 cash on hand.

While Freeman reports raising over $100,000 overall, he only has just over $60,000 cash on hand. Where's the forty-or-so grand gone? There is no indication in his filings that he has made any large media buys, but it does appear that he has paid some consultants, for his cell phone bills, paid for a little mail and a few other things. He raised about ten grand more than Benedict this period, with most of that coming in on the last day or two of the period, and most of the coming from other elected officials or pacs. But you'd expect an incumbent to be able to raise money. The question is, has he spent it wisely?

I acknowledge my bias here. Lauren is not only a friend but one of the bright stars in Georgia politics today. This is a women who's going places, and spending "smart money" is a great place to start. If she approaches the state budget like she approaches her campaign budget, we'll all be glad she's in Atlanta come January!

Thursday, October 5, 2006

See the Sonny Nasty-gram

Is this what Mary Perdue had in mind when she "hoped we wouldn't have any of those negative ads?" Makes you wonder...

Cool it, Jim

Let me start this post with a disclaimer. I do not generally repeat what I don't hear with my own ears, but this time, I am making an exception. I did not attend the realtors and homebuilders forum in Macon on Tuesday night, but several people who did commented, to me, about Rep. Jim Cole's remarks in response to a question about his position on abortion.

It appears that when talking about the (insulting and unnecessary) "Women's Right to Know Act" that provided for 24 hour waiting periods before a women can have an abortion, Jim may have referred to the 24 hours as a "cooling off period" for the women. If that's what he said, then we need to support Jim Cole's opposition so that he can have his very own "cooling off period."

This utterly sexist comment demonstrates how little Rep. Cole actually knows about women. The idea that women have abortions "on a whim" or in the "heat of the moment", as Cole's comment implies, is bogus. Over the years, in my professional practice, I have worked with many women of all ages who have struggled with the painful decision of whether to have an abortion. It's not a whim, Jim.

Cole's remarks are insulting and demeaning to women. He ought to apologize.

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

The mud begins to fly....

Today our household received a flyer from "Perdue for a New Georgia." It contained a picture of a Boy Scout by a pile of crumpled flags, a very haggard-looking picture of Mark Taylor, a photo of Sonny holding a cute baby, and the following message: "Our traditions and values are under attack from politicians like...Mark Taylor. He put the interests of the radical homosexual lobby ahead of our Boy Scouts." The text also tenuously connects Taylor with Cynthia McKinney AND late-term partial-birth abortions. It was a real 4-bell alarm. Coming right on the heels of all the Mark Foley revelations, this seems like a real over-reaction to me. The large cardboard flyer contained not one but two tear-off postcard applications for absentee ballots already addressed to the board of elections in our county. If this mailout went all over Georgia, it must have been very expensive.

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

When Spin is Just Wrong

There are times when "spin" is not a tactic. There are times when it's just plain wrong. Now, according to CNN, Mark Foley wants us all to know that he is (1) gay and (2) he was molested by a clergy person as a teen. He wants us to believe that he is making this announcement to the press because it serves some purpose in his treatment. Excuse me if I am skeptical. Speaking as a therapist for a minute, it would make sense in treatment to take steps to make amends to victims and to admit fault. But announcing your sexual orientation to the national media and then alleging a history of abuse seems a lot like a plea for sympathy, and I have very little for this guy. Plus, isn't it a bit ironic- his claim of abuse by clergy and the similarities in how the leadership of his party covered for him just as some leaders in the church covered for priests who abused children?

I have a hard time with Foley and with those who protected him. These are not naive people. He asked for a picture of a teen. Did no red flags run up the poll? Those who protected him by keeping this quiet may well have held the door open for more kids to be harmed. These are people of privilege, people of means and intellect with access to mental health care and other resources. There is no excuse for their behavior.

"Damage control," when it comes to a story like the scandal caused by Mark Foley, too often focuses on protecting the position and reputation of the one in power, or worse the party of the one in power, rather than protecting those they have hurt. And those they will hurt. And that's just plain wrong.

Monday, October 2, 2006


"(AP) U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Monday that the Afghan war against Taliban guerrillas can never be won militarily and urged support for efforts to bring "people who call themselves Taliban" and their allies into the government.The Tennessee Republican said he learned from briefings that Taliban fighters were too numerous and had too much popular support to be defeated on the battlefield."
[I found this on CSB news online Monday night]

Georgia Bloggers in AJC

Andre', Erick, Bill and me: you can learn more about us here! Nice pieces today by Jill Miller and Tom Baxter of the AJC on Georgia Political bloggers and, in general, the impact of the internet on campaigns. Who ever knew that I would be quoted on the front page of the AJC about blogging? There's good information here, through, and if you're you're reading this page, you'll love the piece.

Bending the Truth...

Over on Peach Pundit, Erick Erickson posted a review of the Benedict/Freeman interview with Randall Savage, and I have to say, it is really a positive review for Lauren, especially coming from the Republican side of the aisle. In the piece, Erickson questions whether Freeman called all lawyers "master manipulators" or just called Lauren that. Here's the quote, so you be the judge:

"She's a master manipulator. I mean she personifies what the stereotype of a lawyer really is. She takes that truth and bends it just a little bit or actually a whole lot to try to make her point."

If that's not calling lawyers names, I don't know what is.

And, I wonder, when Freeman talked about "bending the truth" was he referring to things like his statement when he said "in North Bibb where her residence is?" She once lived in the Ingleside area, never in North Bibb, and has sold her house. Is that twist what he meant by manipulation?

And who cares? Lauren has lived in Macon, by choice, her entire adult life. This is where she works, goes to church and volunteers in the the community.

Remember this number: 8.5. That's how many miles Lauren moved. She sold her house, and is a proud resident of South Bibb, and as a result, the people of 140 have the opportunity to have a representative who will actually work for them...for a change.

Sunday, October 1, 2006

He Said What?

"You know, they are opposed to it because they have to work harder, but their job is to protect and serve..." That's what Rep. Allen Freeman had to say about the opposition some law enforcement officials have expressed to the sex offender bill that was passed last year. Freeman made this statement when he and his opponent, Lauren Benedict, were being interviewed by Randall Savage. The show, 13 WMAZ Close Up, aired on Saturday.

Freeman said that he made no apologies for the bill and that he was in fact the second signer and a sponsor. All I can say is that he either hasn't been paying attention or is simply ignoring the serious public safety problems posed by this law. Here's what DeKalb Sheriff Thomas Brown (who I met on Friday, and who does not strike me as soft on any crime) had to say in a recent Creative Loafing article:

As DeKalb County Sheriff, Thomas Brown relentlessly attacks the new law at
public gatherings and in the press, he doesn't seem a bit worried about
beinglabeled soft on sex offenders.

"I have a responsibility to tell people in DeKalb when I can't protect them, and this law would have that effect," Brown says.
"This law is
nothing but election-year politicking by the Republicans."

Brown says his office has carefully mapped thousands of DeKalb school bus stops
and determined that there's nowhere within the county for its 490 registered sex
offenders to live. But he notes that it's unrealistic to imagine that all
offenders will simply pack up and leave -- or that the county could keep tabs on the ones who don't.

"This bill will force people to go underground, and not because they're dangerous sexual predators," but because they have no place else to go, Brown says. "I have one man who's 88 years old, living in an apartment building near a bus stop."

The county already has warrants out for 90 sex offenders who neglected to show
up for registration, and is home to an estimated 44 "absconders," those who
have violated parole and gone into hiding.

"We're not whining about our responsibility," Brown says. "We're saying, don't
pass laws that are unenforceable."

Brown may be more outspoken than most law enforcement officials, but he isn't
alone in his frustration. Many of the state's 159 county sheriffs have been scrambling to figure out how toenforce the new law, says Terry Norris of the
Georgia Sheriffs' Association.

Although the association has taken no official position on the law, the sheriffs forcefully lobbied Keen and other legislators to remove the bus stop provision, arguing that it represented an arbitrary standard. In many rural school systems,
a bus stop is, well, wherever the bus stops. And because even officially
sanctioned bus stops often change from onesemester to the next, offenders could be constantly on the move.

"It wasn't as if they didn't listen to us," Norris says of the lawmakers. "It didn't
matter what we said, they just didn't agree."

Aspects of this law were very poorly conceived, and legislators were given fair warning of the problems by experts in the field. But common sense and reason had no place at the table in an election year, and the public, and in particular our children, are less safe as a result. It's not that they don't want to work hard, Rep. Freeman. It's that what makes a great soundbite is often poor public policy.