Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Club "Sinsations" in Macon

This dropped in my email box, and, if accurate, I have to say, I question why "Club Sinsations" belongs in this location in Macon. This letter is from Vic Jones who is doing further research with P&Z.

Tuesday 2/27/07 3a.m

To: Macon/Bibb Planning & Zoning Vernon Ryle,MPD Chief Burns, Bibb Sheriff Department, City Council Public Safety,Bibb Commissioners and all Elected Officials (including Gov Perdue, Cong Marshall, Rep Peake, Sen Brown, Sen Staton)

From: Victor Jones,Rosa Taylor & Riverside Park Neighborhood Watch

Re: Club Sinsations Riverside Drive, Macon, Georgia

Dear Vernon, et al,

Who deemed it appropriate to approve zoning for Club Sinsations on Riverside Drive? After a report of a suspicious male on foot in our neighborhood, I drove through Club Sinsation’s parking lot at 2:45 a.m. There were about a dozen cars in the parking lot, several from other counties in Georgia. And the place was open for business. A young black male loitering in the parking lot said it was an almost nude strip club. A clerk at an all night convenience store said that Club Sinsations was a poker and video gaming establishment. The clerk said there had been a recent surge in suspicious behavior at their store on Riverside Dr & Pierce Avenue. There was also an intoxicated young white male walking through our neighborhood at 2:45a.m. and 911 was notified. A Tattoo parlor, Massage Parlor and now an alleged “All night strip joint/gambling house” all right here on Riverside Drive, Macon, Georgia, to set an example for the school kids at Rosa Taylor Elementary? What gives leaders?

Vic Jones
Rosa Taylor & Riverside Park Neighborhood Watch

Cc: Press

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Karen Handel is an E-Idiot/Actually, I Am

I posted the information below last night after repeatedly checking the SOS site; however, as my friend Mel points out, it's not Karen who is the e-idiot, it's me. Well, Mel didn't exactly say that. The deal is that as I pulled up pages, my browser was pulling stored pages, expect for the home page. So, this is incorrect. My apologies to all.

This is too funny. Secretary of State Karen Handel may be "advancing the e-government revolution," but she can't seem to get her own website right. While Handel managed to get her own name on the homepage, every other page of the site has a masthead with Cathy Cox's name and photo.

I mean, I, too, and nostalgic for the days when Cathy Cox ran the office, but we must move on.

Marshall v. Chambliss?

Sometimes, in politics, location is everything. Moultrie, Georgia is at the tip of Jim Marshall's congressional district. Today, Marshall, addressing PeachCare, is quoted heavily in the Moultrie Observer. Marshall makes the point that federal funds are on the way, but Georgia needs to step up and bridge the timing gap. Why is this interesting? Because of speculation that Marshall may run for Senate, against Saxby Chambliss, who is from Moultire. Then again, sometimes location means nothing. We'll see.

By the way, I find it fascinating that on Saxby's web page, the fact that he is a Republican is, uh, hardly mentioned. It is not in the banner. It is not mentioned directly in his bio. In fact, his bio makes a point that he is following in the footsteps of Nunn and Russell. He must've read the Gallup poll.

New Blog: Georgia Votes Edwards

Because I believe that Georgia should and will "Vote Edwards," I have launched a brand new blog, Georgia Votes Edwards. I have just put the site together, but you can go there tonight to read, "Invasion of the Party Snatchers."

The blog will focus on information and discussion about the campaign and activities to support Edwards in Georgia. I would LOVE to add others who support Edwards as front page posters, so let me know if you are interested.

Let me also say, again, that I am thrilled, yes, thrilled with the field of Democratic candidates for President. Our candidates make their guys (literally) look like the cast of grumpy old men. But, I supported Edwards in 2004 and like him even better this time around. He's talking about things like public funding of elections and universal healthcare. And he thinks that Americans can handle the truth. What a novel concept.

This is Bad. Really, Really Bad.

By the way, and for the record, before I tell this story, I want to remind everyone of a little known fact. Mayor Ellis is not a Democrat. That's right. Last year, as I listened to him on Fox 24, Mayor Ellis declared himself an independent. In light of today's headlines, it seems a good time to remind everyone. Now down to business.

I'd like to tell you that I was surprised when I opened the Telegraph today and learned that the City's audit is bad. I'm not surprised. I suspect that the with the history of financial problems that have plagued the City, few were surprised that the audit was bad. How bad? Try a fifteen million dollar error bad. Read all about it here. Below is a portion of the story:

After analyzing Macon's fiscal 2006 financial books, the city's new auditor pointed out 14 "material weaknesses" and found seven instances of the city not following state or federal regulations as it managed money.
Among the larger corrections City Hall has to make: Macon overstated by more than $15 million the value of its general fund balance at the beginning of fiscal 2006, according to the audit. Rather than starting the year with a more than $10 million surplus in the city's largest fund, Macon in fact had a deficit of more than $5 million.


Mayor Ellis said that he was not ready to discuss the audit. I bet not. I seem to recall that the Mayor didn't like the last accounting firm. Now the City is using a new firm. I imagine that he needs time to find someone new to blame.

Private school vouchers for special needs kids

There are bills in the Georgia house and senate which would provide private school vouchers for special needs kids. Someone correct me if I am wrong, but here's my view.
If the amount of the voucher consists of the per-child funding that the public school would have received from the state, only those parents who have the income to pay the REMAINING post-voucher cost of private school would actually be eligible. Low income people with special needs children would not have equal opportunity. So I see a civil rights issue here.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Lies, Manipulation and Common Ground


This is a story about one of the worst things and one of the best things that is happening in the battle over abortion. Asheville, NC is my old stomping ground-an hour from where I grew up and twenty minutes from where I went to college. Last year, I visited Asheville for the first time in many years and fell in love all over again. Now, Asheville finds itself in the spotlight. An abortion clinic that was once bombed, a 'crisis pregnancy center' that may sometimes slant the truth, and a church, all near Asheville, are focal points. So, here's the good...and the bad.
The Good
Despite bitter disagreements, representatives from the church, the clinic and the center in Asheville have begun to meet at the aptly named "Blue Moon Cafe." Somehow, as with many issues, when your enemy has a face, and you share a meal and conversation, the questions get harder and the answers more complex. That's what has happened in Asheville. Consider what Rev. Hutchinson, one of the participants in the discussion, had to say:
"Once you've come to know your adversaries personally, once the cartoon villains are brushed away, the conversation becomes more complicated--and more useful. "When we talk, we really have to examine our own beliefs and why we do what we do," Lorrie says. "Abortion is a reality. For me, I feel it can be a lifesaving choice for a woman. But decreasing abortion is a goal we all strive for." As for Hutchinson, "I still keep the 'choice' of abortion off the menu. But I hadn't thought through how difficult a choice it is. I'd been pretty simplistic. I just think a lot more about the pregnant woman herself now than I had before." On issues of such weight, making the questions harder for people is the first step toward finding some answers."
Amen. That formula works for a lot of tough issues.
The Bad
As you can see in the shocking photo on the cover, TIME is reporting on a new and growing front in the abortion war, a front that relies on lies, guilt and emotional manipulation to compel women seeking an abortion to instead continue their pregnancy. "Crisis Pregnancy Centers" have been around for a long time, but an infusion of federal funds through abstinence education grants and faith-based funding have turned the once typical counseling room into what looks a lot more like your ob's exam room, complete with ultrasound equipment courtesy of Focus on the Family Option Ultrasound Initiative. (Once again proving that Georgia Republicans rarely have an original idea.) The problem is that these are not really medical offices, and the information provided is often inaccurate, sometime intentionally. This is done with the goal of getting the women to change her mind about abortion and is a situation where an "ends justifies the means" mentality can be especially dangerous. I dare say that if a quasi-medical clinic were set up that offered similarly manipulative and inaccurate information about any other issue, federal money would not be invested and the doors would close, quickly.

Half of all women at some point face an unplanned pregnancy. Of course, for all their talk about abortion, these clinics do nothing to educate women about birth control. Married women who ask are referred to their doctors, and unmarried women are told not to have sex. That's effective. (Some people do not realize that only about 10% of women who contact Planned Parenthood seek information about abortion. The great majority seek information about birth control, and access to birth control is also under attack. A quick scan of some the legislation filed last session in Georgia shows that this is true.)
Surely we can all agree that when these women seek information, they deserve the truth. Surely we can agree that if tax dollars are involved, the least we should expect is accuracy. But that is often not the case. For example, according to TIME, one study found that 20 of 23 such centers tested provided inaccurate information. That's unacceptable. Public dollars should not be invested in dis-information campaigns. Inaccurate information is a threat to women's health.
The Common Ground
The "Blue Moon" group has found some common ground. It took more than a year of talking to agree on four basic principles. They agree to work to: decrease abortions, relieve the social and economic conditions that lead women to consider abortion, make adoption easier, condemn violence and keep talking. The last point, to keep talking, may be the most vital.

Why I Fell Off the Face of the Earth for Three Days

Sorry, folks. We've been out of the state this weekend and blogging was not possible. (Taking care of family is more than just political rhetoric!) Yet, somehow, you survived. I have been percolating on a couple of posts, so stay tuned this afternoon for a post on the new "grassroots" war on abortion.

Friday, February 23, 2007

"They Should Fall on Their Knees and Repent"

This week, that's what Rep. Nikki Randall took the well to say about whoever came up with the idea to fix PeachCare by rolling back the eligibility levels. What can I say? Nikki has always been shy about speaking her mind. She's right on this though, and it is a shame that her bill to give Georgia the flexibility to fill the funding gap has not even had a hearing. All indications are that Congress will continue funding and may even step in to help with the shortfall, but Georgia is going to have to step up to the plate to deal with the timing issue. Funds from Washington won't come quickly enough to fill the gap before the program is insolvent. Ultimately, there are our kids, and it is time for Georgians to take care of Georgians. But when the Speaker gets up from his knees, he might want to put partisanship aside and do what's right for kids. Give the bill a hearing!

Randall, Reichert and Brown

Both Lance Randall and Robert Reichert were on hand today for "Politics and Lunch." Randall said that he will be announcing soon for the Macon Mayorial and asked those who were uncommitted to support him. That brings the field, on the Democratic side, to Randall, Reichert, Ponder and Dillard. The hot speculation is that Senator Robert Brown will also run. Everyone I trust tells me that Brown is running, but I won't believe it until he qualifies. That speculation gained steam when he blocked the local legislation to reduce the number on City Council.

Here's why I have trouble believing Brown will run. Brown worked on Randall's campaign for County Commission Chair. That makes it sort of hard for him to tell people not to vote for Lance. I had also heard that Brown had agreed to co-chair Lance's campaign this time. Maybe that was a premature declaration. But, could it be that Sen. Brown is allowing the rumor that he is running to percolate because he wants to keep other possible candidates (Godsey) out of the race? Maybe. The City Council thing? Well, Robert Brown would be concerned if he thought the power of African-Americans on Council would diminish, and he would have that concern whether or not he was running for Mayor.

If Brown does enter the race, he would be the odds on favorite to win. That's not because everyone loves Robert Brown. As is common in politics, some do and some do not. It's because he runs GOTV like no one else in Middle Georgia. This race will almost certainly go two rounds. He is likely to be one of two candidates in a runoff, and in a runoff, the race is all about turnout. Sure, the winner of the runoff would face Republican opposition in the fall, but a Democrat will take this seat.

Watch Out for the Washington Taliban

Department of Justice is pursuing the enforcement of religious freedom. In other words, eliminating the separation of church and state.

GFDW Spring Meeting, April 21, in Macon

The Georgia Federation of Democratic Women will hold its spring meeting, a tea time reception with heavy hors d'oeuvres, on Saturday April 21, 4:00 pm, at the auditorium of the Children's Museum in Macon. The event will be co-hosted this year by Bibb County Democratic Women and Middle Georgia Democratic Women (based in Houston County). DPG chair Jane Kidd will present the greeting and a number of legislators will be present. A slate of new officers will be presented. Democratic women, GFDW members or simply interested in politics, are encouraged to attend. For reservation information or directions contact Kristina Simms (Tina) at ktina1@windstream.net or Mary Modena at 478-742-6970. This is great opportunity to network, socialize, and discuss the exciting political events that lie before us in 2007-2008.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Edwards Confirmed for JJ Dinner

John Edwards is confirmed for the JJ dinner, a key annual fundraiser for the DPG. This year, the dinner will be held in May. That's what Jane Kidd said this morning at the WIN List Legislative Breakfast. Others have also been invited but have not yet confirmed. Details to follow.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Georgia Trending Democratic?

I had to pinch myself. The Daily Kos reports that a new Gallup Poll report, Democratic Edge in Partisanship in 2006 Evident at National, State Levels, shows Georgia as competitive for Democrats for the first time since 1992. Georgia joins nine other states in this category. The poll indicates that more Americans now define themselves as Democrats (34.3%) as opposed to Republicans (30.4%). When those who 'lean' one way or the other are included, Democrats are at 50.4% while Republicans are at 40.2%, giving Democrats, nationally a 10 point advantage. It is the trend data that is most interesting to me here, and that shows that this movement toward the Democratic Party has persisted since the last quarter of 2005.

Anita Ponder, Joe Allen and Jane Kidd

Here are a few tidbits from Macon today:

1) City Council President, and candidate for Mayor, Anita Ponder and County Commissioner, Joe Allen, addressed the Macon League of Women Voters at lunchtime today. The topic was consolidation of city and county governments, and as usual, the discussion on the topic was lively. Ponder and Allen agreed that the governments should be consolidated. Ponder said that because of the various hurdles that must be cleared, it is probably not possible to get this issue before the voters before 2008. She pointed out that the City had passed a resolution supporting consolidation, but that the County had not. Joe Allen asked the group whether they wanted him to place such a resolution on the agenda for the County Commission to consider, and the group overwhelmingly supported the idea. (One member offered a bit of historical perspective. Apparently, the League has been on record supporting consolidation since the 1930's.) Getting voters to support this issue, particularly voters in the county who are likely to see at least an initial tax increase, will be tricky. So, Joe, we'll waiting to see that resolution on the County Commission agenda.

2) Joe Allen was a little late to the meeting, but his excuse was one that made me happy. Jane Kidd, newly elected chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia is in Macon today meeting Democrats. Joe had stopped by to meet Jane. She was also on the Kenny B and Jami G Show this morning on AM940. By all accounts, she did well. If the Chair of the Party is down here in Macon, going on the radio and meeting Democratic County Commissioners and others, that's a sign she's doing the things that need to be done to win elections. She really meant it when she said, at the election, that the Party would "come to you." Thanks, Jane!

Payday lenders seeking freedom from regulation

The payday lenders are running a "public service" ad on CNN. I just saw it a few minutes ago. They say that a payday loan is only for short term and people shouldn't borrow more than they feel comfortable repaying. In fine print, they say that people with credit problems should seek counseling. In short, they don't take any responsibility for their usurious rates of interest. Now they are "blaming the victim." In other words, the borrower is at fault for borrowing too much money. A responsible lender, like a bank, just won't let a person borrow more than their income warrants. Do these loan sharks have so much clout in GA that they can avoid being made to clean up their act? I understand that there is legislation before our lawmakers in Atlanta that would exempt payday lenders from regulation. Also heard that when consumer representatives show up at meetings they are treated as if their opinions do not matter. One more argument for NOT extending the terms of our legislators to four years. Some of them, if they knew they were safe in their offices for four years, would proceed to do whatever might line their pockets, regardless of public opinion.

Georgia Superintendent of the Year

Sharon Patterson, Bibb School Superintendent and Georgia Superintendent of the Year will be the featured speaker for this month's "Politics and Lunch." Politics and Lunch is a monthly 'lunch and learn' series that seeks to connect the dots between politics, public policy and quality of life in our community. Patterson will talk about the challenges that face public schools and the progress that has been made in Bibb County. The luncheon is this Friday, February 23rd at noon at The Power Station, formerly Nashville Station, on Riverside Drive in Macon Georgia. The luncheon is open to the public and the cost, which includes lunch, is $10.00. Reservations can be made by contacting Amy Morton at 478-741-1138 or AmyMorton@aol.com.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

BREAKING: While U.S. Plans Surge, UK Plans to Bringing Troops Home

So, are we about the be a coalition of one? Thanks to Tina for this information, breaking from CNN:

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair will announce on Wednesday a new timetable for withdrawing British troops from Iraq, with 1,500 to return home in several weeks, the British Broadcasting Corp. reports.

Conservative Christian Horrified at Perversion of Justice

In the ongoing saga of Genarlow Wilson, check this post by Will Hinton on Peach Pundit. Here's a nugget to entice you:

"Does Genarlow Wilson deserve to be punished? Absolutely. Is sentencing him for 10 years in jail for oral sex just? Absolutely not. As a conservative Christian, I am horrified at this perversion of justice. There is nothing “conservative” about sentencing this young man for 10 years in jail. And there is nothing just about the sentencing either."

I am not sure what Johnson expected when he posted yesterday, but it was probably not this. The issues in Wilson's case obviously transcend political parties and labels of "conservative" and "liberal." This is about whether or not the General Assembly has the strength of character to admit a mistake and do the right thing to correct it.

Breakfast With Your Legislators

Georgia's WIN List invites you to attend our annual Legislative Breakfast. Georgia's WIN List is a political action committee that supports qualified Democratic women seeking state-level office. I hope to see you there Thursday morning!


Join us at the
GEORGIA’S WIN LIST 2007 Annual Legislative Breakfast

Featuring Jane V. Kidd, Chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia
Hear our Legislators speak about the 2007 Session and
the actions that WIN List supporters can take to protect reproductive freedom.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Coffee and conversation at 8:00 AM
Program begins at 8:30 AM
Central Presbyterian Church (across from the Capitol)
201 Washington St., SW Atlanta, 30303
To reserve your place at this and future events, contact Leslie by phone at 770.489.6689 or by e-mail at info@georgiawinlist.com. For driving directions to Central Presbyterian, click here.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Johnson Responds and Hypocrisy Knows No Bounds

If I were Senator Johnson, I might not've chosen a blog as the vehicle to respond the the whoopin' he received on CNN this weekend, but I guess he didn't want to take the chance of once again looking ridiculous on national television. So, Sen. Johnson has posted "his take" on the Wilson case on Peach Pundit. Please go read his ridiculous diatribe and please comment. The only reason I can imagine him using this forum to respond is that he must be catching it, even from his base. His problem is that the response makes him seems even less reasonable. He would like us to believe that when the legislature changed the law they did not anticipate that it a "six on one" situation as occurred here. Is he saying that the legislature did not anticipate that teenagers have sex at parties? Well, perhaps, we all wish that wasn't true, but, please...

I would say that Senator Johnson was the self-ordained morality police, but if that were true, he would be policing his own members. What hypocrisy.

McCain Chooses Religious Right Over Women's Lives

This is exactly why Republicans are going to get shellacked in 2008. John McCain, who was once the Republican presidential candidate most feared by Democrats, has committed the ultimate flip-flop on abortion-women's lives be damned.

Today, McCain says that he hopes Roe v. Wade is overturned and the surest way to make that happen is to appoint judges who are "constitutionalists," signaling to the Radical Religious Right that he is caving to their narrowly focused agenda, and doing so despite the fact that earlier McCain said that he would not "in the short term or the long term" work to overturn Roe because doing so would endanger women's lives. I guess those lives are less important than winning his party's nomination.

Exactly what is McCain's position on abortion? You've got me. Consider these two statements as reported in the Washington Post:

1. "I'd love to see a point where it is irrelevant, and could be repealed because abortion is no longer necessary," McCain told the Chronicle in an article published Friday. "But certainly in the short term, or even the long term, I would not support repeal of Roe v. Wade, which would then force X number of women in America to [undergo] illegal and dangerous operations."

2. On Sunday, on CNN's "Late Edition," McCain reiterated that he would not have an abortion "litmus" test for a running mate or Supreme Court nominees. He added that while he ultimately favors repeal of Roe, "we all know, and it's obvious, that if we repeal Roe v. Wade tomorrow, thousands of young American women would be performing illegal and dangerous operations."

And compare them to this statement McCain made yesterday in Spartanburg, SC:

3. "I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned," the Arizona senator told about 800 people in South Carolina, one of the early voting states. McCain also vowed that if elected, he would appoint judges who "strictly interpret the Constitution of the United States and do not legislate from the bench."

How do you, at the same time, acknowledge that if Roe is overturned, thousands of young American women would be "performing illegal and dangerous operations" and then say that if should, in fact be overturned? McCain cares more about the support of the Radical Religious Right that doing what is right.

Among the many problems McCain has now is that he has lost credibility both among moderates who were at one time drawn to him and now among the same religious right-wingers he so desperately hopes to court in order to win his party's nomination. It's hard to imagine the man once perceived to be one of few in Washington who really knew and spoke his own mind, playing these semantical games to appease his base.

McCain's continuing self-destruction is symptomatic of the Republican's core problem. The political clout of the Radical Religious Right is fading quickly, but this constituency, so far out of step with mainstream Americans, still controls the GOP. To get the nomination of the GOP, candidates must take extreme positions. The long and the short of it? Go ahead and decide which Democrat you want for President in 2008.

Democrats Work! a Huge Success

This Saturday marked the kick-off event for Democrats Work! in Georgia.

Democrats Work is a new national organization that mobilizes Democrats to perform community service- as Democrats. Democrats Work partners with Democratic organizations to help connect Democrats with visible, tangible service projects in their communities such as cleaning up parks and neighborhoods, working at food banks, building houses, sponsoring basketball tournaments, and helping at church bake sales. Through this service-based approach, Democrats Work aims to promote and energize the Democratic brand at the local level, showing our neighbors that Democrats work hard to improve their communities every day, not just at election time.

More on Saturday's clean-up efforts in Sunday's AJC.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

"Ashamed to Be a Republican"

That's how one CNN viewer said Sen. Eric Johnson's remarks made them feel. Yes, Georgia, and Sen. Johnson in particular, were once again in the spotlight on CNN tonight. For those who missed it, last night, CNN reported that, standing on the floor of the Georgia Senate, Sen. Johnson made grossly inaccurate remarks about the case of Georgia's Genarlow Wilson who is serving a ten year prison sentence for having consensual oral sex with fifteen year old girl when he was seventeen. When the Senate was considering taking steps to correct this injustice, Johnson rose and claimed that the girl was unconscious (not true) and that the act was rape (also not true). (A Typical Joe has the transcript of the CNN story here.)

Lucky for Wilson, Johnson's remarks have created quite a stir. Maybe it will make a difference. Viewers from all over the country have responded and most are simply astonished that Georgia lawmakers have failed to correct this injustice. CNN vows to keep watching as Wilson's attorney asks lawmakers and Governor Perdue to help right this wrong. Come on folks, this is wrong. This young man's life is on the line. The whole country is watching. DO SOMETHING.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Lies on the Senate Floor

CNN tore into Eric Johnson tonight. What was Sen. Johnson thinking when he took the Senate floor and made a number of, uh, misstatements about the case of Georgia's Genarlow Wilson? (For those of you who have been living under the rock with Sen. Johnson, Wilson was sentenced to ten years in prison for having consensual oral sex. He was seventeen at the time, and the girl was fifteen.)

On the Senate floor, as Johnson opposed efforts to help Wilson, he falsely claimed that the incident in question was a rape. He did this despite the fact that the jury found Wilson not guilty of rape. All this placed Senator Johnson in an unwelcome spotlight tonight on CNN. The CNN reporter took the tape of Johnson's remarks on the Senate floor, and sentence by sentence, pointed out the errors. Then, the reporter interviewed Johnson. It wasn't pretty.

At one point, Johnson unapologetically said, "it was a rape in my mind." That pretty much sums up the problem. You're a legislator, Sen. Johnson. No one made you judge and jury.

The jury found Wilson not guilty of rape, but under Georgia law at the time, the jury had no choice but to find him guilty of aggravated child molestation. Since that time, the Georgia legislature, including Sen. Johnson, changed that law. It was Wilson's case that prompted the change in the law, but the legislature did not make the change retroactive to cover his case. This is an egregious situation. This young man is spending ten years in prison and faces a future labeled as a sex offender and subjected to the same restrictions as those that would be imposed on a fifty year old man who had oral sex with a young child. It's not the same. Everyone knows it's not the same. Apparently, everyone except Georgia lawmakers.

If justice means nothing, at least think about this reality: every dollar we spend "protecting" children from people like Wilson is a dollar we do not have to protect children from real sexual predators. What sense does that make?

Can Republicans Reign in Their Fringe?

At least 40% of Georgians define themselves as moderates who vote for the person rather than for the party. That block of voters includes some "issue"voters, but for the most part, they are folks who profess weariness with the "radical fringe" of either political party. Today, in Georgia and nationally, the party that is having the most difficulty with "radical fringe" is not Democrats. It's Republicans. They know it, and they are in the middle of their own intra-party war to control the bleeding. As of now, they have been largely unsuccessful, as candidate after candidate on the national scene kisses the hem of the radical religious/political right.

More and more, Georgia Democrats are successfully looking smart, caring and reasonable, while Georgia Republicans are looking extreme, reactionary and welded to the radical, far-right, religious elements to whom they have sold their souls to gain political power. The question for Georgia Republicans is whether they can reign in their fringe and thus appeal to the majority of voters. Those prospects are looking pretty dim.

For instance, when the legislative session begins with a hearing on a bill to make abortion illegal in this state, and that hearing turns in to a virtual circus of the religious-so-far-right-we're-off-the-island, and then that gets blogged in real time, even Republican bloggers begin to cringe.

Likewise, when Republicans cave to the "Sadie Fields Foot Soldiers" and pass out of committee a bill that would require ultrasounds before abortions, even for victims of rape and incest, moderate Republicans must cringe along with the rest of us.

The capstone this week was Rep. Bridges' anti-Semitic rant. With one statement, he condemned both Jews and science. He made both himself and his party look like bigots and neanderthals.

Add to this the Republican's struggles on the national scene, where their most viable candidate for President, Rudolph Giuliani will probably not make it through their primary because of the political clout they allow their radical fringe to wield.

Republicans built a political juggernaut by forging a coalition between "values voters" and traditional fiscally conservative Republicans. The problem is that the two groups actually had little in common, and now that ship is breaking apart, run aground on the War in Iraq and the moral bankruptcy of those who pledged to carry the 'values" standard. The truth is that they would've gotten in anyone's boat as long as it took them to power.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Snakes and a Plane

The AJC reports that today SB 66, the bill that requires a women seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound, cleared the senate committee chaired by Sen. Don Thomas, who curtailed debate on the language and details of the legislation, complaining that he had a plane to catch. Women's health is less important to him than his travel plans. At least we know where we stand.

This is an awful bill that serves no medical purpose whatsoever. The purpose of this legislation is to inflict emotional pain on women who choose to have an abortion. Consider (this is where the snakes come in) that three of the Senators: Sen. David Shafer (R-Duluth), Sen. Don Balfour (R-Snellville), and Sen. Judson Hill (R-Marietta) actually opposed an amendment that would have exempted victims of rape and incest from the requirement. They're a fine lot, aren't they? For their sake, I hope that no girl or women they care about (the assumption that they care about any female is a reach) is ever a victim of sexual violence.

For the Record

Congressman Marshall's plan to vote no on the war resolution falls in the category of the 50% of his decisions I disagree with. I would like to tell you that I am surprised by his choice, but I am not. I don't agree with this, but in the past, I have heard him make the case that you don't criticize and analyze a war while you are in it because it is demoralizing to the troops. I don't know how you get the cart out of the ditch unless you acknowledge that it is, indeed, no longer on the road. I think that his resolve on this issue is related to his military service and background, not his political ambition. I think that he really believes that he is doing the right thing by not opposing the Commander in Cheif while we are at war. I could not disagree more.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Edwards Tonight on "Larry King Live"

Tonight at 9 pm, John Edwards will be Larry King's guest tonight and will discuss his plan for drawing down troops in Iraq. One of the things I like about Edwards is that he not only has a vision for where the country needs to go, he has concrete plans to get us there. That appeals to me. If you agree that it is time for a genuine exit strategy, then Sen. Edwards suggests that you call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and say so.


Here are the four planks of his plan to get us out of Iraq:

1. Stop the escalation and force an immediate withdrawal by using funding caps to restrict the total number of troops in Iraq to 100,000, which would require an immediate draw-down of 40,000-50,000 combat troops without stranding or underfunding a single soldier still in Iraq. Any troops beyond the 100,000 level should be redeployed immediately.

2. Block the deployment of troops that do not meet readiness standards and that have not been properly trained and equipped. American Tax dollars must be used to prepare and supply our troops, not escalate the war. It is simply wrong to send our troops into harm's way without all the training and equipment they need.

3. Make it clear that President Bush is conducting this war without authorization. The 2002 authorization did not give Bush the power to use U.S. troops to police a civil war. President Bush exceeded his authority long ago. He now needs to end the war and ask Congress for new authority to manage the withdrawal of the U.S. military presence and to help Iraq achieve stability.

4. Require a complete withdrawal of combat troops in Iraq within the next 12-18 months without leaving behind any permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq.

Incredible Bigotry

The routine Telegraph column on the actions of Planning and Zoning is seldom interesting reading, but today the headline, "Church Permit Plan in North Bibb Draws Fire" caught my attention. Seems that some property owners oppose the proposed church because this is an area with significant commercial potential. The church being there would limit retail options, especially for establishments selling alcohol. The irony of folks in North Bibb (Cecil Staton country) opposing a church so that they can make more money by selling to establishments that can sell alcohol is fodder for another post, but today it is the statement of the current property owner that demands attention:

Here's what the property owner, Frank Perez, had to say:
Frank Perez, owner of the Gateway Drive property, said if the church isn't allowed, "I have a back-up contract for a Hispanic gay club."(The Telegraph, 2/14/2007)

The bigotry captured in that statement is sickening. Here's a guy advocating for a church to be built, yet he exhibits this kind of hate. If the church has an ounce of compassion, if they profess to follow Jesus in any fashion, they ought to publicly condemn this statement and withdraw from negotiations to purchase the property from this man.


Dames Aflame

Harvard University named historian Drew Gilpin Faust as its first female president Sunday. The announcement ended the search for a successor to Lawrence Summers, whose remarks on genetic differences between the sexes sparked controversy. Faust discusses her new role with Jim Lehrer.

In media interviews over the weekend, Faust shared the advice her mother gave her long ago: "'this is a man's world, sweetie, and the sooner you learn that, the better off you'll be." Faust explained that her mom's advice was perhaps "a bitter comment from a woman of a generation who didn't have the kind of choices my generation of women had."

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Marshall: Best Bet for Senate

Of the names that are currently being tossed about, Rep. Jim Marshall is our best bet to win the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Saxby Chambliss. Marshall is a conservative Democrat who won in a district where Bush polled at 61% in 2004. (In Georgia, Bush polled at 58%, so Georgia is actually "less" Republican than Marshall's district.) Sure, in the district, he had the advantage of incumbency, but his district had been re-drawn, and he was an unknown quantity in portions of the new district. Sure, it would be a risk for Marshall to run, and I can understand why House Democrats might he hesitant, but I think that it's worth the risk. Despite what my friend Jami Gaudet told Politico, there is no possibility that Jack Ellis could win a Democratic primary for that congressional seat. We can field a viable Democratic candidate, and frankly, if it came down to it, I'd trade a seat in the House for a Senate seat any day of the week.

The bottom line? If Marshall is inclined to run, I think he can win. He has a very smart, effective campaign staff. He can raise the money quickly. He has legislative experience, and most important, the experience of surviving three very hard-hitting campaigns. He is battle tested, both literally and politically. I hope he runs.

It's Time to End This

Today, in committee, the Macon City Council will once again take up the hotel issue. They are set to vote on whether to extend, for 90 days, the MOU that has lapsed. Recently, the Bibb County Commission failed to get a second on the motion to sign off on the funding (and the lengthy tax abatement). I am not sure what can happen in 90 days that would change the minds of the County Commission and School Board. I know that the School Board never voted on the issue, but I'm betting that they would've had concerns similar to the County Commission.

Rule of Thumb: If Charlie Bishop and Joe Allen agree, the deal has got to be bad.

Too much water is under the bridge on this one. We need to go back to the drawing board and try to get more of what we really want rather than settling for what we think we have to accept. This deal is going no where. Time to call it a day and move on.

Call committee members DeFore, Ficklin and Hill-Chambliss. Now. Tell them to kill this in committee. Today.

Policy Meat or Prime Cut Leadership

Ariana penned this post on Barack and the media that caught my eye this morning. Her premise is that mainstream media attempts to minimalize popular candidates by asking for more details on the plans. Her response (and Barack's) is that real leadership is what is needed not more white papers that can't get implemented in a void of leadership.

What do you think? Which is more important for the next Presidential candidate--better policy papers or leadership?

Monday, February 12, 2007

It's Not Over

The "historic" day for Bibb County will just have to wait a bit. The hearing in Federal Court lasted all day, and on Friday and today, more than six hundred letters regarding the deseg order were delivered to the court. Judge Fitzpatrick gave counsel three weeks to review the letters to determine whether they wish to file any other motions as a result.

One thing does need some clarity, however. It is a commonly held but incorrect idea that the Bibb County Public Schools have asked the court to declare them a unitary system. I even heard a reporter make that statement on the news tonight. That's just wrong. This lawsuit was brought by parents, not by the BOE. The school board has not, to my knowledge, taken an official, public position on the issue.

Ponder to Announce for Macon Mayor

On Valentine's Day, Macon City Council President Anita Ponder will be announcing her candidacy for Mayor of Macon. The email I received tonight was headlined with the logo, "Ponder the Possibilities." I understand that there will some significant star-power at the event, including Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin.

First, a disclaimer. I have not yet, and do not intend to take sides in the Mayor's race. I do not live in the City, and do not get to vote in the race. I have several friends who are running simply wish all of them well. That said, I think that Ponder has a good shot at becoming Macon's next mayor. I know all the issues. None of the candidates are perfect. I think that there will be a runoff in the democratic primary, and if she makes it to the runoff, given the demographics of the City, I think that she just might take the whole thing. It will be interesting to watch this one as just an observer.

Standing Room Only Today in Federal Court

Today is an historic day in Bibb County. If everything goes as expected, Judge Fitzpatrick will lift the federal desegregation order and declare the Bibb County Public Schools "unitary." The hearing began at 10 o'clock this morning, and at noon it had not concluded. There was standing room only in the courtroom.

People who have lived in Bibb County very long know that in so many of our efforts-political, religious, and civic-the issue of race and discrimination rears its head. Well-intentioned people have wrestled with the issues and tried to build bridges, but we still see the impact, in not so subtle ways. We see it big issues, like when we try to address the issue of consolidation of city and county government. For instance, people who I consider to be friends have referred to the Mayor's position as a "black" post and the County Commission Chair's position as a "white" post. Such attributions lie close to the root of the problem. We see it in small issues, like the reflexive "Macon and Bibb County" phrase that is commonly used to describe the area. One thing is certain, whatever happens today in Federal Court, the issues of race and discrimination will remain a powerful undertone in this community-one that commands our attention and best efforts toward understanding.

Runge Not Working for Edwards

I got a call from Emil Runge a few minutes ago. He is not and was not as we posted last week, in fact, working for the Edwards for President Campaign and does not know where Creative Loafing got that story. Runge said that no one had contacted him about it. See, you just can't trust what you find in the mainstream press...

Emil is still one of my favorite people, and I am sure that he will be successful in whatever new venture he undertakes. Sorry for repeating the rumor here!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Childbirth Creates Education Experts

Hallelujah! The Georgia General Assembly has stumbled on the solution to the education crisis in our state. Staggering dropout rates, scarce resources, bottom-of-the-barrel SAT scores and all other ills that plague Georgia schools will be resolved if only we put parents in charge. Professional training and schooling are not necessary to become an expert on education. Either election to the General Assembly or childbirth, both equally painful, will do the trick.

Just ask Georgia Republicans. This year, the common thread through several controversial bills is that when Republicans say "local control", they're not talking about locally elected boards of education, or even the teacher in the classroom. They're talking about parents. Speaker Richardson made that perfectly clear last session when he chastised members of GPTA as they packed the gallery in opposition to the 65% Deception. Maybe if they'd just been "GPA" he would've been a bit more hospitable. The nasty little secret Republicans don't want to tell you is that all of this has nothing at all to do with making our schools more successful. If they cared about that they would fully fund public schools. The real agenda is shifting public funds to the private sector thus splintering and dis-empowering a powerful voting block-educators and public school advocates-with whom they are often at odds. This is all about the Political Prime Directive: Re-Election.

The bills that limit the power and authority of locally elected boards of education, superintendents and other professional educators abound. For starters, HR 1 and HB 14, sponsored by Clay Cox (you will see his name again) calls for a constitutional amendment (HR1) or new law (HB 14) to allow local school superintendents to be elected rather than appointed. Why stop there, Rep. Cox? Let's also elect Medical Directors for local hospitals.

And how about Rep. Chuck Martin's brilliant idea to reduce the required number of school days from 180 to 170. That's what HB 262 would do. Apparently, families need more time to be together and "a shorter school calendar would give students who struggle with their studies more time for tutoring and summer school. It would also allow those who have a hard time focusing in the classroom to spend more time on homework and studying at home." Magic. Students will learn more by spending less time at school. Don't worry, you are not alone. Editorial boards around the state have failed to see the logic, too.

In a particularly petty and transparent attempt to teach his own unruly school superintendent in his home county of Gwinnett a lesson, Rep. Clay Cox (I told you that you would see his name again) has also sponsored HB13, a bill that takes the power to set a local superintendent's salary out of the hands of local boards of education. You see, Gwinnett Superintendent Wilbanks was a vocal opponent of last year's 65% Deception and also made the mistake of supporting Cox's opposition during the last election cycle. Tell you what, Rep. Cox, how about giving voters the authority to decide what your salary and compensation should be for your part time job as a legislator?

Of course, the two bills that have gotten the most attention are SB10, the voucher bill for children with disabilities and SB 39, the Charter Systems bill. As both of these bills head for the Georgia House, remember that both re-distribute your tax dollars to the private sector with little oversight or control by anyone you elected. Apparently, for this Republican-led legislature, increased accountability is a necessity for professional educators, but, for parents and the private sector, it is but a nuisance. As is often the case with "education reform" these bills are sound-bite friendly but severely lacking in data to support the effectiveness of the proposed strategies. They have an air of "truthiness", if you will.

The real truth is that education is more science than art. No doubt, parents are critical partners in the fight to more effectively educate children. They are the experts on their children, but professional educators are the experts on education. And politicians? Generally, they're just experts on getting re-elected.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Not One Dime Until the Children are Covered

According to the AJC, Speaker Richardson's plan to solve the PeachCare crisis is to eliminate 30,000 or more children from the PeachCare rolls by tightening the household income ceiling to 200% of poverty. I have a better idea. How about before we start kicking kids off PeachCare, we require all state legislators and constitutional officers to pay the full cost of their health insurance? I jest. Only a little. The reality is that we have to decide, on a local, state and national level what our funding priorities are. Do we want to fund "Go Fish" or children's healthcare? Do we want to fund cyber-security or children's healthcare? What are our priorities? If I told you that my household budget would not allow me to pay for medical care for my children, yet I chose to spend money to take them fishing or buy a computer, what would you think? This is the same issue on a different scale.

We have to remember that eliminating coverage will not eliminate need and will not keep children from getting sick. What we will be doing is eliminating critical preventative medicine that, if provided, could save taxpayers money in the long run. Eliminating kids from the PeachCare rolls is bad policy, and as the budget is debated, I urge legislators, Democrats and Republicans to have the courage to stand up and say, "Not one dime until the children are covered."

Friday, February 9, 2007

Moffett "Strongly Considering" Race for Macon City Council President

Keith Moffett, a Democrat recently named as one of Georgia Trend's 40 Under 40 and who ran for the school board in 2004, says that he is "strongly considering" entering the race for Macon City Council President.

The recent proposal to reduce the size of Macon City Council includes the provision that only one citywide seat will be elected and that person will become Council President. Previously, council elected the President. With this choice now in the voters' hands, there is likely to be considerable interest in this post, and with the precedent sent by the recent race for Superior Court Judge, the cost of this race will be substantial. Potential candidates are beginning to put out feelers. Other than Moffett, what names are you hearing?

SEIU and Wal-Mart Agree

This is progress. A decade ago, it would've been hard to imagine Big Business jumping on the universal health coverage bandwagon, but here it is. According to the Progressive Policy Institutes's Health Policy Wire, Wal-Mart, SEIU and several other companies have joined together to push for universal health coverage. They agreed on this definition of the problem:

America's health care system is broken. The traditional employer-based model of coverage in its current form is endangered without substantial reform to our health care system. It is being crushed by out of control costs, the pressures of the global economy, and the large and growing number of uninsured. Soaring health costs threaten workers' livelihoods and companies' competitiveness, and undermine the security that individuals of a prosperous nation should enjoy. We can only solve these problems -- and deliver health care that is high quality, affordable, accessible and secure -- if business, government, labor, the health care delivery system, and the nonprofit sector work together.

And these four principles for fixing the problem:
  1. We believe every person in America must have quality, affordable health insurance coverage;
  2. We believe individuals have a responsibility to maintain and protect their health;
  3. We believe that America must dramatically improve the value it receives for every health care dollar;
  4. We believe that businesses, governments, and individuals all should contribute to managing and financing a new American health care system.

Finally ... proof of what we knew all along

The administration manipulated pre-war intelligence. Will it matter?

Money quote:

"The bottom line is that intelligence relating to the Iraq-al-Qaeda relationship was manipulated by high-ranking officials in the Department of Defense to support the administration's decision to invade Iraq," Levin said yesterday. "The inspector general's report is a devastating condemnation of inappropriate activities in the DOD policy office that helped take this nation to war."

Full story here.

Obama-Mania hits Georgia

Newly formed Georgia for Obama is meeting this Saturday night. Details on the group and the event here.

Nice Landing

Creative Loafing's Political Party reports that former GDP Director of Communications has signed on with John Edwards campaign.

Southern son Edwards has good organization here. He enjoys the backing of former Gov. Roy Barnes and counts on the well-connected Emil Runge -- on leave from his job as communications director of the Democratic Party of Georgia -- to run his Atlanta headquarters.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Bloggers Rule or Rules for Bloggers???

Over the last couple of days, the Edward's campaign found itself in a bit of a sticky wicket. It seems that two women hired by the campaign, Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan, to reach out to liberal blog-world were called on the carpet by some ultra-right wingers who feigned offense at some posts on these women's own blogs. To read more about what happened and the Edward's campaign's response, check here.

The real story here is that bloggers will play a more significant role in this Presidential election than some anticipated, and it is interesting to watch how bloggers are informally and formally working to create "rules" for what began, and still very much is, an anything goes, bottom-up movement. I suspect as with most "charismatic" movements (I'm not talking about speaking in tongues here), as bloggers seek more mainstream recognition (like press credentials), formal codes of ethics will emerge. Melanie, over at Blog for Democracy posted about that last week, in fact. I also suspect that litigation will act, as it often does, to create "rules." For example, the more bloggers who are sued for libel, the more careful we will all be.

I'm interested in your thoughts about this, so, here's are a few questions to get us started:

Should people who work for a candidate or for a party blog, other than in their official capacity for the party or candidate? If they do blog, should they do so under their own name? Do you think that astroturfing is a fact of life in politics today? If you had hired someone to work on your campaign and found an offensive post on their personal blog, would you fire them?

I'm Just Saying...

You can't claim a budget surplus when you have no way to pay critical bills, like bills for children's healthcare and state employee retirement. That's like me saying I have five grand in the bank and and failing to mention that I didn't pay the mortgage.

Facing the prospect of no more federal funds, or at least not soon enough, the State of Georgia has now frozen PeachCare enrollment. Their appears to be no knight in shining armour to save this critical program. This is not a problem that popped up overnight. The storm clouds have been gathering, and while the contributing factors are many, the main reason Georgia and some other states have a problem while some other states do not can be summed up in two words: child poverty. Since 2000, Georgia has experienced a 17% increase in the number of children who live in poverty. Now, one in every five children in Georgia live at or below the poverty line.

We make choices, like having a tax code that, when all taxes are considered has the bottom 20% of earners paying the largest share of taxes, and like giving a tax break to seniors who make $150,000 a year while a young working family making $35,000 would still have to pay state taxes. We make choices, and now, in this crisis over PeachCare, we must deal with one of the consequences of those choices.

Tax Geeks Among Us

Read more about how the President’s 2008 Budget Reveals Massive Holes in Tax Code

Womanism Hear Me Roar

Over the next 9 months, The Atlanta Women’s Foundation will host a series to provide opportunities for dialogue and new learnings in conjunction with its Faith, Feminism and Philanthropy Initiative. The first group of dialogues will focus on the ‘isms’. The ‘isms’ are often described as those attitudes and actions which hold into place the oppressions that separate and deny equal access and opportunities—racisms, ageism, sexism, classism are just a few.

An undercurrent of both the Suffragist and Feminist movements is that neither was inclusive of women across race and class (Sojourner Truth’s Ain’t I a Woman, eloquently brought attention to this). We will begin this series by exploring Womanism which moves toward uniting and reconciling people across differences.

Womanism is a term which grew out of the frustration of disenfranchisement and provides a wider, more inclusive theory to include all persons committed to justice and equality. First coined by Alice Walker, she describes womanism as: womanism is to purple, as feminism is to lavender. Womanism is a social change perspective which invites all persons, men and women, to work toward ending oppression for all people and uniting who we are across a spiritual dimension. Even with this short definition, one can begin to glimpse why womanism is aligned with the deep, rich color of purple.

Dr. Layli Phillips, Associate Professor in the Women’s Studies Institute, at Georgia State University, has just released her book The Womanist Reader. Please join us, and bring someone who is different from yourself, for this thought provoking exchange of ideas. Knowledge is indeed power.

Dialogue with Dr. Layli Phillips on Womanism
Tuesday, March 6
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Light Supper
The Selig Center
1440 Spring Street, NW

Contact rsvp@atlantawomen.org or 404-577-5000, ext. 146 by February 28th to save a place on March 6th.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

New Front Page Poster, Jenna Moore

To add a little metro flavor to the front page, Jenna Moore, an Atlanta attorney who many of you know from both her community service and Democratic political activities, will be joining us as a front page poster. Welcome, Jenna! While I'm getting her set up with access to the site, below is her first powerful post:

Help victims of domestic violence, human trafficking and other crimes achieve legal status

Georgia has witnessed a tremendous increase in the number of foreign-born individuals living in its communities. Many of these individuals arrived in this country on work visas, tourist visas or fiancé visas and are married to and have children with U.S. citizens or permanent residents. But if a citizen or permanent resident spouse becomes physically, sexually or emotionally abusive toward his foreign-born wife, refusal to initiate or cooperate with her immigration petition becomes a powerful way to exert control over her and keep her and her children in a dangerous relationship and precarious legal status. Other foreign-born persons, the majority of whom are women and children, are tricked, coerced, sold or forced into situations of slavery-like exploitation from which they are unable to escape.

Federal law, provides avenues for these immigrant victims of crime and their children to achieve legal status in the United States without the help or knowledge of the abuser or trafficker. AVLF’s Project Liberty seeks to make these legal avenues accessible to this unusually vulnerable population by training volunteer attorneys and paralegals to work in teams to assist immigrant victims of domestic violence, human trafficking and other crime with drafting and filing these difficult petitions. In many cases, the volunteers can also assist the petitioner obtain work authorization so she can support herself and her children. In appropriate cases, AVLF further helps secure the petitioner’s family by referring her to an AVLF volunteer attorney who will assist in obtaining a divorce from an abusive spouse.

Pioneered by lawyers from Powell Goldstein, LLP, and BellSouth in 2005, this project is now open to the entire legal community. The next training for Project Liberty is on March 14, 2007, at the State Bar of Georgia. Please see the AVLF homepage more information about how to register. If you are interested in volunteering for Project Liberty, please contact Tamara Serwer Caldas at tcaldas@avlf.org.

Georgia Democrats Seek Lifeboat for PeachCare

Below is the full text of a press release from House Democratic Leader, DuBose Porter, regarding the President's decision to refuse to include funding for PeachCare in the Iraq War Appropriation request.


For Immediate Release

Democrats Encourage Congress to Continue Working Towards PeachCare for Kids Solution
Disappointed in President Bush’s Refusal to Allow Funding in Iraq War Appropriations/Additional State Option Proposed

Atlanta – Senate and House Democratic Leaders today reaffirmed their support for the PeachCare for Kids Program and encouraged Congress to continue his efforts to get the necessary $131 million in federal funding required to cover the current shortfall. They also expressed disappointment that President Bush has refused to allow a $745 million bailout for the s-chips program that was requested by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid. This money could be used to bridge the gap that is currently affecting children’s healthcare in 14 states.

Senate Democratic Leader Robert Brown (D-Macon) said, “We are disappointed in the actions of President Bush but we are committed to working at both the state and federal levels to find a solution to this problem. PeachCare is a vitally important program and we need to ensure that coverage for these kids will continue uninterrupted.”

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Calvin Smyre (D-Columbus), who participated in bi-partisan meetings on PeachCare for Kids in Washington with Georgia’s congressional delegation, noted, “We met with our entire congressional delegation, both Republican and Democrat, along with top staffers for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and I came away with the sense that everyone understands the urgency of the problem and that a solution must be met. I am thankful and encouraged from the response of our leaders in Washington.”

If Congress can not provide the necessary funding in the time frame needed, House Democratic Caucus Vice-Chair Nikki Randall (D-Macon) has introduced HB 236, which would allow the state to fully fund the entire shortfall instead of relying on the federal government. She stated, “My measure is only intended as an additional option for the state to use. This is a non-partisan issue that is critically important to our children who depend on PeachCare for Kids to go see their doctor and get treated. We should do whatever it takes to maintain this program.”

“The PeachCare for Kids Program provides critical healthcare for 270,000 of Georgia’s children. If we don’t do anything else this session we should at least do what ever it takes to keep these kids covered,” said House Democratic Leader DuBose Porter (D-Dublin). “I’m disappointed by the president’s decision to not include this funding, which would have met the time frame needed, and will continue to look to the new Democratic Congress to maintain healthcare for our children.”

Macon: Home of John Rocker and Jack Ellis

I suggest that Macon NOT put Mayor Ellis in charge of public relations for the City. In today's Telegraph article detailing his interview with Al-Jezeera, the Mayor made the following comparison:

"He compared the attention his conversion has drawn to the national media focus that turned to Macon when former Atlanta Braves pitcher and Macon native John Rocker made disparaging comments to a reporter about minorities and homosexuals."

Okay. That's not exactly the image we've been working for, Mayor. There is a silver lining. If we keep marketing ourselves this well, there will be no need for the hotel.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

BREAKING: Bibb BOE Votes to Oppose Voucher Bill

Tomorrow, with their morning coffee, Georgia legislators will get a copy of a resolution opposing SB 10 (The Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Act). That resolution, passed tonight by the Bibb County Board of Education is lengthy, accurate and biting. Board members have clearly been eating their Wheaties.

I will scan and post a link to the entire resolution tomorrow, but here's a taste:

"Legislators should not use the frailest and neediest group of students, those with disabilities, to advance their cause for the public funding of private schools. Voucher proponents should not step on the back of students with disabilities to get closer to their cause, school choice for all - private or public. This is a class system deception to support agendas of those who want vouchers/reimbursements for their children who already attend private schools."

Good job!

Al Jazeera in Macon

Yes, they were here to interview Mayor Ellis. I guess we can credit him with increasing tourism.

Oh, God, Please Let This Be True

Over at Peach Pundit, Erick is reporting that Max Burns may throw his hat in the ring for GOP chair. I love the contrast in Burns and Kidd. Now, if only Sonny could get the VP nod.

Poll & New Front Page Posters Wanted

Paging women from Atlanta, Savannah, Columbus and all points between. Georgia Women VOTE! has had a good year. Blog traffic is increasing, and we are attracting visitors from all over the Georgia, other states and, yes, other countries. With the Presidential and Senate races upon us, I think that it is time to add more front page posters. I am particularly interested in including folks from parts of the state other than Middle Georgia. If you are interested, send your contact information and a sample post to amymorton@aol.com.

I am also interested in readers thoughts about what would make the content here more interesting. What would you like to see us do differently at GWV? Please take a moment to complete the poll, or put your response in comments. Thanks!

No Child Left Insured?

Check Blog for Democracy for the link to Bush's decision to stand up for war and but not for children's health. PeachCare and similar programs in other states are facing shortfalls, and the President has refused to make an emergency request for the needed funds. As Tim said, "so much for no child left behind." First, the Republican controlled Congress failed to pass a 2007 budget before adjourning. Now, the Democratic controlled Congress must pass a stop-gap spending resolution to allow the government to continue functioning. Confronted with the escalating cost of an unwinnable war, the money for the child health care bail out is simply not there.

The ugly reality of this situation is that those states facing shortfalls are also states with greater need. That increased need is caused, at the root, by higher levels of poverty. So far, John Edwards is the only presidential candidate who has much to say on this issue, and that is one of the reasons I am supporting him. "The poor we shall always have among us" is no longer an acceptable response to the ravages of poverty in our country.

Remember these three numbers: $500 billion, 25, and 44. Why? In this country, the cost to the economy of children growing up in poverty is about $500 billion a year, primarily indexed by lost productivity, increased health care costs and increased cost for incarceration. And currently, Georgia ranks 25th nationally in terms of economic development and 44th in overall child and family well-being. What does that say about out priorities? Shouldn't we do at least as well for families as we do for business and industry?

The information age and Georgia politics...

The new DPG website is nifty, but their list of Democratic reps needs updating. Also the blog entries at the DPG site need proofreading. Typos are easy to make...I surely make my share...but the distinction between "there" and "their" needs to be observed. That sort of error, unfortunately, is not picked up by spellcheckers. There is also no way to comment on the DPG blog items, at least not that I could find.
The Georgia General Assembly website has been very slow in producing usable information.
As late as about Jan. 20, it was mostly still "under construction." As of today, the senate list looks pretty good, except that the "list by district" shows only a map. The list of representatives is still incomplete, with about one in ten names (when you click on FACT SHEET) displaying a "404-Object not Found" message. The main page of the senate list helpfully shows the senator's party affiliation right next to the name. To find the party affiliation of the representatives, you have to click on FACT SHEET and read the pop-up. In several cases, the party affiliation is not listed there either. I am bringing these matters up because I have been trying most of the morning to locate reliable contact information for all our Democratic representatives and senators. Although 23 years in schoolhouses taught me patience, I must say that mine wore a little thin this morning.

Monday, February 5, 2007

And the Winners Are

Tonight the Bibb County Democratic Party chose State Committee members, and the winners are:

1) Daryl Morton

2) Rep. Nikki Randall

3) Lauren Benedict

4) Steve Allen

These are all excellent individuals who will represent us well on the State Committee. (I particularly like the first one to whom I am related by marriage. :)

I did not run for a post this year. I had a conflict and could not attend the meeting tonight, and, besides, one Morton is enough. I am, however, excited about the potential for the new committee and will be more than happy to assist in anyway that will help Democrats win elections. I am very optimistic about the future for Georgia Democrats.

Thanks, Jack

My cell rang at about seven o'clock tonight, and it was my South Carolina sister calling to say, "what's the matter with your mayor?" Apparently, the "Jack Ellis Converts to Islam" story has made its way to national news. I should point out that my sister, who was raised in the same house as I was, is a pretty open-minded Democrat, but when a politically ambitious mayor of a mid-size city in the South (1) converts to Islam and (2) announces his possible interest in running for Congress, that's the kind of news that makes folks say, "what's the matter with your mayor?" About his congressional aspirations, my sister said, "I don't think he'll get very many votes." Neither do I.

A Day for Which Families?

As we approach this Saturday's Family Day at the Capitol, let's hope that those who are encouraged to participate look like real families in Georgia, not an inaccurate 1950's stereotype. If the families at the capitol represent what families today really look like then:

  • Most of the families will have experienced a divorce.
  • Most adult females will be single.
  • One in five of the children and nearly ten percent of the families will be in poverty.
  • Nearly a quarter of the babies will be born to mothers who have less than 12 years education.
  • A quarter of the children will live in a household with only one parent.
  • More than ten percent of the children will live in homes where neither parent is in the labor force.
  • Of the teens there who have had a baby, nearly a quarter will have another.
  • They will be diverse.
  • Many will be uninsured.
  • More than 30% will not have graduated from high school.

My point? It's easy to have "Family Day" but much harder to actually make a commitment to improving quality of life for families. I'm tired of the fluff and ready for some substance.

PeachCare's Future Now in President's Lap

It looks like PeachCare funding may well become entangled in the President's request for more money for the War in Iraq.

Democrats were, shall we say, less than pleased that their Republican predecessors in congressional leadership opted out of their responsibility to address the shortfall in Federal funds for PeachCare and similar programs in other states that provide access to health insurance to needy children. Recently, a bi-partisan legislative delegation led by Rep. Calvin Smyre went to D.C. to meet with Speaker Pelosi's staff, and last week, in what was dubbed a vice presidential audition, Gov. Perdue went to the Hill to plead with the new Democratic Majority to do something to fix this mess.

According to Political Insider, he was effective. Sort of. He got the attention of congressional leaders, but Perdue may not be pleased that Democrats are now using his words to challenge the President, who is set to request another 100 billion for the war in Iraq to also consider a separate spending request to address this domestic health care crisis. You can read the entire letter here, but this is the money quote:

“The governor of Georgia has written to us stating that ‘It is vitally important
to our most needy citizens that Congress act expeditiously.’
“At the end of the last Congress, we were successful in including a provision to avert a similar crisis, but unfortunately, we are again in need of another short-term
solution. While we plan to work in Congress later this year to reauthorize [the
insurance program] and address longer-term issues, it is essential that you work
with us to again provide a short-term fix. The cost of filling the funding
shortfall is minor in comparison to your other emergency requests."
http://speaker.house.gov/newsroom/pressreleases?id=0064

Ouch. Do you think this will net Perdue that V.P. spot?

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Colbert Can Relax

The Bears have been defeated!

McCain's Shameless Sell-Out

Presidential hopeful, Sen. John McCain, the Republican my yellow dog Democrat momma once opined she might vote for, has sold his soul for another shot at the oval. McCain, who months ago hired as national campaign manager the creator of those ultra-negative "call me Harold" ads from the Tennessee senate race, has now reached further into the sewer and pulled out the substance you would expect to find there-the Swift Boat Boys. Yes, in an effort to win the nomination of a party that finds itself so far outside the mainstream that their eventual choice will have to scramble up a greased poll in high heels to win, McCain is climbing in bed with fellows he onced claimed to abhor.

There was a time when I worried about McCain and considered him the biggest threat to democrats in 2008. The strength of his military record and his seeming independence I thought would appeal to swing voters. I am no longer concerned. We now know who he really is. He has bought into the "anything goes to win" mentality, and the problem he may find is that the American people have finally wised up.

The Grapevine is back !

For those of you who enjoyed visiting the Georgia Democratic Women's Grapevine, I invite you to visit the new revised version at http://gfdw.blogspot.com/Get in touch with me at ktina1@windstream.net if you are interested in forming a chapter of the Federation of Democratic Women in your community and I will steer you to the right person. We are in a transitional period right now, with some new officers in April.

Friday, February 2, 2007

The Deal is Dead

The hotel deal is dead. Deader than dead. For those who are not from Macon, we have been in the midst of an epic (yawn) battle to get a hotel built near the convention center. Trust me when I say that the proposal accepted by City Council was, shall we say, unpopular. Because of the THIRTY YEARS of tax abatement involved in the plan, both the School Board and County Commission had to act to approve the financing. Today, a motion was made to place the issue on the agenda for the County Commission, and that motion failed to get a second. Okay, they didn't have the guts to just vote it down, but this is just as good. No approval, no deal. Dead, dead, deader than dead.

Now, let's start over and get the right deal done.

Accountibility Be Damned

Somebody get a choir director for the General Assembly. After seizing control from local school systems in 2006 with the 65% "Solution" and a one-size-fits-all class-size reduction law, both of which leave teachers and local school officials zero wiggle room, this year, the legislature is singing off a completely different sheet of music. With SB10, Georgia Republicans want to hand tax dollars (state and federal) to private schools and require zero accountability for the education of our most vulnerable students. And today, when the Georgia Senate passed the Charter Schools bill, Sen. Dan Weber (R) said:

"The belief is the people closest to the school ... they know the needs of that school. If they need an intensive writing class for 10 students, they ought to be allowed to do that."

At least the Charter Schools would have to comply with NCLB. Not so with SB 10.

Here's the thing, I agree with Weber on this, but here's my question. Why is it a good idea to increasingly regulate public schools to the point that teachers have virtually no authority to control their classrooms or to make decisions about curriculum and at the same time propose creating a parallel system where virtually anything goes? If local control is a good thing, then why is it not a good thing for all schools? What's more local than the teacher who is in the classroom with the students? The proposed new laws create a dual system, extra layers of administrative expenses and an uncertain future for Georgia students.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Poll: Who's Your Choice for JJ Speaker?

The Democratic Party of Georgia just elected new leadership, and now our task is to begin to raise the money to fund efforts to win elections. One of the first opportunities to do that will be in March at the annual JJ dinner. This is typically an important fundraising event for the DPG. I hope that we will open our checkbooks and make it clear that Georgia Democrats are hear to stay and ready to win! With that in mind, who would you like to hear speak at the JJ? Who would be the biggest draw? Who would motivate us and get folks to that dinner who have never attended before? Cast your vote below.

Molly Ivins (1944-2007)

I was going to suggest a moment of silence, but that's not what Molly Ivins would have wanted.
So instead let's all honor Molly by continuing to make noise about the things that mattered to her and matter to us !

Mayor Ellis Becomes Muslim, May Run for Congress

Randall Savage with WMAZ is reporting that Macon Mayor C. Jack Ellis, a lifelong Christian, is converting to the Islamic faith and is contemplating running for Jim Marshall's congressional seat. From this point forward, the Mayor should be called Hakim Mansour Ellis.

I don't even know what to say about this. Steve Allen, chair of the Bibb County Democratic Party, commented that a person's faith is personal, but that he thought that Mayor Ellis might have a more difficult time winning in the 8th. You think?

Georgia's WIN List

Last night, WIN elected new officers. Chair is Stacey Evans, Secretary is Kathy Floyd, Treasurer is Patrise Perkins-Hooker and I will serve as vice-chair. I never reget a moment I spend working on behalf of WIN. In addition to serving with amazing women, we have the opportunity to help so many wonderful democratic women who are seeking office in Georgia. Last cycle we endorsed 42 women and distributed about sixty thousand dollars. In addition to many returning members, three WIN endorsed women are "new faces" in the Georgia General Assembly. To learn more about WIN, go to www. Georgiawinlist.org .