Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Porter says Barnes would make a excellent Statesman.

“I’ve talked with Roy a couple of a times,” Porter said in an interview with Tharpe. “We need Roy as a senior statesman.

“I’m not sure how committed Roy is. Either way we are putting things in place so that after the session we can move forward in the race

“Roy has a lot to contribute. When I saw Bill Clinton reinforcing the message for Obama, I thought, ‘Wouldn’t that be great to have in Georgia.”‘

“Senior statesman? I’m not all that much older than DuBose,” Barnes said.


Barnes is 61, Porter 55. Clinton, by the by, is 62.

Democratic Candidate David Poythress on Farmers, transportation.

I’ve been reaching out to our state’s lifeblood, our agriculture community. Several farmers have shared their concerns with me regarding the new Secretary of Labor’s proposed suspension of the H2A regulations. As you may know, our growers have many regulatory hoops to jump each season. They put together their budgets and plans for the year in anticipation of the rules which went into effect on January 17th. In mid-March, the Secretary of Labor created much uncertainty by moving to suspend the new rules. I have written a formal request urging the US Department of Labor to reconsider this action that will have a serious and adverse effect on our farming community and our state’s economy. It’s not fair to our growers or their workers to change the rules in the middle of the season. Click here to read my full statement.

After weeks of deliberation, debate and political skirmishes, I think the politicians at the Capitol owe us some leadership on transportation in the final week of the Legislative Session. But with the final days upon us, it’s tough not to feel like we are stuck between Governor Sonny Perdue’s power grab and the Legislature’s inability to act. This is unacceptable, and both sides shoulder the blame.

Governor Perdue’s Transportation Plan will gut the Department of Transportation and make every transportation project a political pawn of the Legislature. This is an open invitation to political favoritism and corruption. The Legislature has floated a compromise plan that does not sufficiently address our critical transportation needs and relies on a sales tax that will be available only after a statewide referendum in November of next year. Their best case scenario keeps us waiting until 2011 for results.

If I were Governor, this is what I would do on transportation:

1. Direct the Board of Transportation to dust off every transportation study on the shelf and call for a “Transportation Summit” to prioritize these projects using planning guidelines, not political influence.

2. Sign an Executive Order that authorizes and encourages tele-working and “flex time” commuting for all state workers that will alleviate the number of cars on the road during the busiest drive times.

3. Develop a long range plan to relocate state agencies that no longer need to be in downtown Atlanta.

4. Direct the Board of Transportation to create new routes for 18-wheeler trucks that will direct that traffic away from our metro areas to ease traffic congestion.

5. Direct the Board of Transportation to identify the top 100 traffic congested intersections and surface streets so we can begin re-engineering them to reduce congestion in those areas.

6. Do everything necessary to expand the Port of Savannah in a way that will attract more shipments and create jobs.

7. Sign an Executive Order protecting the 13 member Board of Transportation that represents different regions of the state.

I'm going to tell you right now, Mr. Poythress is starting to grow on me. I really like this guy.

What in the hell do all of these Tea Parties accomplish? Can someone please tell me.

Let me say this. All of these so called "Tea Parties" are good as far as public relations goes, but what do they accomplished? Throwing tea into a lake, river, etc is not going to turn this economy around. It;s not going to improve our educational system, it's not going to create jobs for millions of americans unemployed. Conservative Republicans are the ones who are to blame for the current economic collaspe in this country. They sat on their asses & let George Bush & his policies run this country into the ground. Plus the same republicans who are doing the complaining about President Obama's policies are the ones who went right along with bush & helped lead this great country of ours into a ditch.
There are going to be Tea Parties held in Warner Robins & Atlanta on April 15. In my opinion all of this is a complete waste of time. I mean what's supposed to come from all of this? Really. State Senator Cecil Staton, who is one of the worst state senators in Georgia is going to be at the warner robins rally on the 15th. All of these tea parties are nothing but grandstanding by conservatives. Now although I supported Pres. Obama, I think his budget is way too big in a time when we heed to practice fiscal discipline & responsibility. But all of this maybe necessary for the country to get out of this rut & back on the road to prosperity. Down here in rural Georgia, we have been hit the hardest by the economic downturn & we are the ones who's paying the price more that anyone.
It's time to stop all of these ridiculous tea parties & get behind this president & support him in his efforts to get this country turned around ASAP. As for Georgia Republicans, well I will address that after the session is over. But in 2010, it will be open season on republicans in this state.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Barnes eying another run for governor. Maybe Thurmond for Lt. Gov?

I think Barnes will run for governor in 2010. He's doing too much at this stage not to run next year. For example:

He’s making the rounds of speaking circuits, venting populist outrage over the perceived wrongs of the Republican-controlled Capitol. He’s been in touch with old political allies about the 2010 governor’s race, and he’s answered endless inquiries from the media wanting to know whether he, indeed, is going to run.

The fact that Barnes is considered a top contender in the 2010 general election shows how time heals many political wounds.

But he angered the powerful teachers union here in the state & flaggers as well:

Barnes alienated teachers, who thought he blamed them for the failings of Georgia’s schools. He infuriated supporters of the old Georgia flag, whose Confederate symbol was minimized by Barnes as part of a new, short-lived state banner.

At the same time, the overall political climate has, for the first time in years, given Democrats hope. While Republicans continued to win elections last year, Democrats set records registering new voters, and Barack Obama got 47 percent of the vote for president in what was considered a solidly GOP state.

“The state has changed demographically; it’s much more diverse,” said Georgia Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond, a Democrat who might run for the No. 2 post in Georgia (Lt. Gov.)

Not all Democrats want to see Barnes’ name on the ballot.

House Minority Leader DuBose Porter (D-Dublin), who wants to run for governor, said he would like to see Barnes involved in the political process but not as a candidate again. House Minority Caucus Chairman Calvin Smyre (D-Columbus) said Democrats must avoid a bitter primary fight if they are to have any hope of winning.

None of that has deterred Barnes as he’s toured the chicken-dinner circuit, complaining about “special interests” taking over the state. It seemed that the old Roy Barnes, the high-priced “country lawyer,” the natural campaigner with the back-slapping, joke-telling ways, was back on the trail.

He has railed against Republican attempts to do away with corporate taxes while passing legislation likely to raise property taxes on

“I just can’t believe what’s happening down there,” Barnes said. “The Senate repealed the corporate income tax, but we can’t find enough homeowners money to give everyone $200 to $300 breaks on their property taxes. But the rich folk, flying around on their airplanes, we can find the money to take care of them.”

His biggest obstacle is going to be: can he get the rural vote? He can do everything else, but can he win the rural vote?

Now I like Michael Thurmond for Lt. Gov. I have said if he were to run, he will be the automatic nominee going into the general election. A Barnes-Thurmond ticket would be very formidable, but I think a Porter-Thurmond ticket could be just as potent.

Bill Shipp likes Michael Thurmond for Governor.

Sam Olens might be hard to beat for governor next year, if he had a $10 million-plus campaign war chest and established statewide fame.

At the moment, Sam has neither. He is chairman of the Cobb County Commission and active in metro Atlanta government. When it comes to dealing with traffic, the environment and social problems, Sam is a local-government policy wonk of the first order. However, his association with metro Atlanta and his pointy-headed view of the problems surrounding us may be too hard to overcome, even with a gazillion-dollar advertising campaign. Brains are more of a liability than an asset in a big part of the Georgia electorate.

This article is continued... To read the rest of the article, please visit::



Thursday, March 26, 2009

Barrow Reintroduces Bill to Help Families Exposed to Formaldehyde in FEMA Trailers

Congressman John Barrow (GA-12) this week reintroduced legislation to help people who lived in trailers supplied by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) that contained toxic levels of formaldehyde, a known human carcinogen. Thousands of victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 lived in these trailers, and reports are show that these same contaminated trailers are now showing up in other parts of the country, including the Augusta area.

"It's bad enough that folks who survived the 2005 storms are getting sick because they stayed in the only housing that was available to them, but now these trailers are making their way to other areas, and putting other families at risk," said Barrow. "We need to take care of the ones who are already sick, but we also need to make sure that no one else gets sick from the same source."

The "Travel Trailer Health Registry Act" (H.R. 1661) will provide free health examinations, consultations, and mental health counseling to people who were exposed to formaldehyde in government-provided emergency shelters. That information will then be used to monitor health effects as part of an epidemiological study of the ongoing medical needs of people who have been exposed.

The bill will also require the Secretary of Homeland Security, along with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, to establish and maintain a health registry for people who may have been exposed to formaldehyde in an emergency trailer in order to monitor the health effects of exposure over time. The bill will also direct Homeland Security to develop a public information campaign to inform eligible individuals about the health registry, including how and where to register, and the benefits of registering.

Will the Citizens of Georgia finally wakeup in 2010?

I sure hope so. The last 7 years have been a total disaster for the citizens of Georgia. The GOP have managed to ignore the big issues of the day: Public Education, Transportation, Economic Growth, Job Creation, etc. They have only catered to the Special Interest groups that continue to fund their campaign coffers. Sonny Perdue has been the least effective governor ever for the state of Georgia. He has time to go to sporting events, Galas, fundraisers at country clubs but he hasn't had time to tend to the business of the state.
Education hasn't gotten better under Perdue, neither has quality of jobs, economic prosperity, transportation. Nothing! I hope when 2010 rolls around, the people will finally wakeup & realize that this kind of governing & legislating is driving the great state of Georgia down a road that it will be very difficult to come back from. Like the Corporate Tax bill that will take away around $700 million dollars from the state, which it will create a deficit of $10-12 million dollars around the year 2013 & drive the state debt uo significantly.
The democratic party has no leadership, in my opinion at the state capitol. I'm tired of seeing democrats roll over for the republicans & not put up a fight on things that is bad for Georgia. I like Dubose Porter because he is from rural Georgia & think he would make a damn good govenor, but he hasn't shown enough fight against the GOP to make me think that he can win statewide in 2010. I like Robert Brown, but you only hear from him every so often. He likes to pick & choose his fights.
The only person so far that is willing to take the GOP to task is David Poythress who is running for governor in 2010. He has called them out on issues such as merging black colleges to education. Dems need someone who has the fire in the belly to take these "radical reoublicans" to the woodshed in 2010. This is no time for patsies to be running for governor, Lt. Governor, etc. Now Roy Barnes was a good governor, but does he have the heart & the fire to run again? Maybe. if he does run a Barnes-Thurmond ticket will be powerful for the democrats. But will Roy go to areas that dems have struggled the last couple of years (rural georgia)? It's remains to be seen. We need a fighter in 2010. Not a pushover?

Crawford: We gave tax cuts; where are the jobs?

Georgia's lawmakers have always been willing to approve tax breaks for the state's business leaders and special interests, but they have really stepped on the gas since Republicans took control of the House and Senate four years ago.

In that first year of Republican control, legislators passed a huge break for corporations, a bill that would give them tax reductions totaling nearly $1 billion over a 10-year period.

Since 2005, the General Assembly has routinely approved tax breaks for Delta Air Lines worth $15 million a year or more along with tax gifts to such beneficiaries as the Georgia Aquarium, Gulfstream, Aflac, and insurance companies that market high-deductible health plans.

It is estimated that the tax breaks handed out by lawmakers over the years are worth more than $1 billion annually.

And that doesn't count the huge giveaways from this year's session. The two chambers have already passed, and Gov. Sonny Perdue has indicated he will sign, a bill that allows Georgia Power to charge ratepayers early for nuclear power plants that won't be operational until nearly a decade from now, a $1.6 billion financial gift for the giant utility.

Both chambers are also considering another package of tax breaks for businesses that could include elimination of the corporate income tax. Allowing businesses to avoid paying state income taxes will save them an estimated $700 million a year. That would be one of the biggest financial jackpots ever won by the corporate lobbyists who crowd the capitol's marble-floored halls.

Every time these tax gifts are debated, the bills' supporters make the same argument for their passage: Business tax cuts will create jobs.

When the billion-dollar tax break for corporations was being debated in the Senate in 2005, Casey Cagle, then a senator from Gainesville, averred, "It's pro-jobs legislation. It will ensure we have jobs for the future."

"It's about jobs, jobs and jobs," said Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah.

Funny thing. All the new jobs that were supposedly going to be created from this gusher of business tax breaks don't seem to have materialized.

We have continued to suffer higher than average unemployment since 2005, culminating last month when the jobless rate hit the highest level ever in Georgia at 9.3 percent. How could that be happening if all of those business tax cuts were creating so many jobs?

If you look at data available from the state Labor Department, you'll see that in the 50 months since January 2005, which was when Republicans assumed control of the legislature, Georgia's unemployment rate has been higher than the national rate for 28 of those months

Obviously, most of the current job losses can be attributed to the worst economic recession since the 1930s. Every state is losing jobs and Georgia is no exception. But our unemployment rate has been higher than the national rate, sometimes by a substantial margin, for the last 16 consecutive months. That dates back to before the current downturn began. If all those business tax cuts are going to create new jobs, shouldn't Georgia at least be undercutting the national average?

We heard similar arguments at the federal level several years ago when George W. Bush was persuading Congress to approve massive tax cuts. The Bush administration contended that these tax cuts would also create scads of new jobs. Except that they didn't

"When it comes to reviving the economy, tax cuts do not work as well as smart public spending," wrote Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute in Washington. "Even worse were the Bush tax cuts of 2003, which the administration claimed would generate 1.4 million jobs on top of the 4.1 million jobs that were expected to be generated over the 18 months following June 2003. ...Not only did the promised 1.4 million additional jobs not appear, but the 4.1 million jobs expected with no action also failed to materialize."

Don't get me wrong. For the entities who get them, tax cuts are a wonderful thing. I'd love to get a business tax break myself, but I can't afford to hire lobbyists to demand one from the legislature.

Let's be honest, however, about what these tax cuts are: a financial gift to whoever happens to receive them. Business tax breaks are not going to create jobs and it's time that legislators quit using that as an excuse for passing them.

Tom Crawford is the editor of Capitol Impact's Georgia Report, an Internet news service that covers government and politics in Georgia.

When you have Tom Crawford, one of the most respected political observers of Georgia Politics criticizing a piece of legislation, you know it is a big deal. I don't like this bill either, but the part that got me was the number of Dems who voted for the bill. It's a damn shame.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Officials defend plant inspectors

Georgia's top agriculture officials on Tuesday defended the state's inspection process at a legislative hearing called to address the salmonella outbreak traced to a Georgia peanut processing plant.

The process came under fire after a state inspector found only minor problems when she probed the Blakely plant in October for less than two hours. Less than three months later, federal agents found roaches, mold, a leaking roof and other problems.

Terry Coleman, Georgia's deputy agriculture commissioner, told House lawmakers that no amount of regulation will deter people who are intent on violating state laws.

"If a person intends to break the rules, unless you have somebody standing
over that person from the time they get to work from the time they leave, there
is no way to prevent that," Mr. Coleman said. "And in this particular case we
believe that somebody in the plant intended to break the rules or break the
laws. All the inspections we could muster couldn't prevent that."

Still, lawmakers responded to the outbreak by passing legislation that would make Georgia the first state to require that food makers swiftly alert state inspectors if their internal tests show their products are tainted. That proposal is awaiting Gov. Sonny Perdue's signature.

Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin said such legislation would have "been impossible to pass" before the outbreak.

The remarks came at a meeting of the House Consumer Protection Investigation and Oversight Subcommittee, whose members seemed to agree with Mr. Coleman's assessment.

"We had a bad apple there," said state Rep. Ellis Black, D-Valdosta. "And no amount of inspections is going to prevent a disaster."

David Poythress candidate for governor in 2010.

David Poythress, candidate for govenor was on What's Goin' On radio show with Wilson R. Smith of Vidalia back in January & I just got finished listening to his interview, which was a good one & he said something that is really important to me: he realizes that there are democrats all over the state of Georgia, not just in Metro Atlanta, ( he was referring to former gov. Roy Barnes possible comeback for governor in 2010). That is going to be the issue for whoever wins the nomination.
Now I have not endorsed anyone for governor yet, but Poythress seems to have it down that democrats need to get back to places like Vidalia, Ft. Oglethorpe, Hinesville, Americus to fight for those votes that have been taken for granted by the republicans.

In this interview, David Poythress explains why the people of Georgia should consider the conservative leadership of a Georgia Democrat. David is not a new comer to Georgia politics. He has held various state positions, including stints as Assistant Attorney General, Deputy Revenue Commissioner and Secretary of State. In 1992 he campaigned in his first statewide race and was elected State Labor Commissioner. Although he was re-elected to the position in 1994, he ultimately resigned to run for Governor in 1998. Roy Barnes was the successful candidate in that race.

As for the Democrats, they have failed to aggressively take the Republicans to task for their policies. David hopes to change that and give the people of Georgia a clear choice in leadership in 2010.

State Rep. Gerald Greene (D) Cuthbert.

Neo-Private School Vouchers

In what is being labeled a "neo-private school vouchers bill" the House passed HB 100 Monday, Feb. 24 by a vote of 98-69. Last session the General Assembly adopted HB 1133 which gives private citizens and corporations income tax credits for donating money to nonprofit scholarship organizations that provide scholarships to parents who want to pull their children out of public schools and send them to private ones. HB 100 seeks to expand on the provisions of HB 1133, which passed by one vote in 2008, by making it easier for small business to take advantage of the tax credit program. Furthermore, it streamlines the process to create scholarship organizations and for donors to get approved for the tax credits. Under HB 1133 there is a $50 million cap on the total amount of credits available.

The measure is also in conflict with Governor Perdue's legislation that would limit scholarships to students that qualify for school lunches and places a cap on the total value of the scholarships available.

HB 100 is bad for education in our state. It diverts funds going to Georgia's public schools which is wrong when the state is facing an almost $3 billion shortfall. In addition, the Governor's budget cuts $285 million from Georgia's schools this year, which is on top of $1.6 billion since 2003. The $50 million being allocated for the tax credits would be better spent on school nurses, which are slated to be cut by the state, or keeping more teachers from losing their jobs.

Vouchers are also untested and unproven. With vouchers, there is no tracking of educational outcomes and no accountability. Democrats have always made improving public education for Georgia's children and helping classroom teachers a priority, not passing private school vouchers. An economic recession is not the time to be taking away funding that could be dedicated for critical needs in education.

Rep. Greene is right on the mark. This legislation wil only hurt our already ailing school systems (public) here in Georgia. State Sen. Eric Johnson has no business trying to pass this bill just to give a issue to talk about when 2010 rolls around. Instead of trying to solve the school situation, republicans think the answer in vouchers. Boy I can't wait when 2010 rolls around.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Profile: State Senator Ed Tarver (D-Augusta) SD 22.. A potentital candidate for Lt. Governor in 2010?

State Senator Ed Tarver, a centrist democrat is a partner with the Augusta law firm of Hull, Towill, Norman, Barrett & Salley, P.C. He resides in Augusta with his wife Beverly (the former Beverly Myers). Sen. Tarver and his wife are the parents of two children – Edward Jr. (“Eddie”) and Beverly Elizabeth. He graduated from Glenn Hills High School in 1977, Augusta State University in 1981 and completed his law degree at the University of Georgia in 1991.

After graduating from Augusta State University, Sen. Tarver entered the United States Army and served for seven years as a Field Artillery officer before entering law school. After graduating from the University of Georgia in 1991, Sen. Tarver was a law clerk to the Honorable Dudley H. Bowen, Jr., former Chief Judge for the U.S. District Court for the southern district of Georgia. Sen. Tarver entered private practice in 1992, as an associate with Hull, Towill, Norman & Barrett (now Hull, Towill, Norman, Barrett & Salley). In 1999, he became a partner in his firm, practicing general civil litigation with an emphasis on employment discrimination and public finance law. Sen. Tarver currently serves on the Attorney Advisory Committee for the U.S. District Court for the southern district of Georgia, and is an active member of the State Bar of Georgia. He has presented instructional materials on professionalism to attorneys across the state at the State Bar-sponsored Continuing Legal Education seminars. Sen. Tarver is also an active member of the Augusta Bar Association, where he has served on the Executive Committee, the Law Day Committee and the Admissions Committee.

In years past, Sen. Tarver has served as Chairman of the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce, President and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Leadership Georgia Foundation, Chairman of the Leadership Augusta Board, President of the Academy of Richmond County Boosters Club, Chairman of the St. John’s Towers Advisory Board, President of the Augusta Technical College Board of Directors, President of the East Georgia Easter Seals Society and a member of the Board of the Episcopal Day School in Augusta.

Currently, Sen. Tarver also serves as a Director on the Boards of the Georgia Bank & Trust Company, Georgia Lawyers Insurance Company, Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy and Georgia Chamber of Commerce. He is also a member of the Exchange Club of Augusta. Sen. Tarver was the 1995 Alvin W. Vogtle Volunteer of the Year and the recipient of the 2002 Leadership Augusta Community Service Award.

Sen. Tarver serves as the secretary of the Banking and Financial Institutions committee. He also sits on Appropriations, Economic Development, Special Judiciary and Government Oversight committees.

Ed Tarver, in my opinion is one of the best & brightest minds in the democratic party. Only 50 years old, he is one of my darkhorse candidates for Lt. Governor. He is well respected by both sides of the aisle.

What I have been saying forever if the Dems want to win Statewide in 2010.

From Bill Kinney of the Marietta Journal: If Democrat Roy Barnes of Marietta seeks political redemption next year in the race for governor, he had better find a way to win back votes he lost in rural Georgia in 2002 after his education reform package and state flag change caused many traditionally Democratic voters in rural counties to vote for Republican Sonny Perdue.

In 2002, Barnes ran slightly ahead of Perdue in metro Atlanta, then consisting of 20 counties (compared with 28 counties today) and overall ran about even with Perdue in the state's other metro areas, but lost badly in the state's rural areas.

Interestingly, Barnes's 2002 performance closely resembled Obama's showing in the Peach State last fall, with both Barnes and Obama losing their respective contests in Georgia by five percentage points, and both running about even with their GOP opponents in the state's metro areas while running poorly in rural areas such as the north Georgia mountains and southeast Georgia.

Though rural counties account for only a small proportion of the state's total voters, they serve as the "tiebreakers" if in an election the state's metro areas split about 50/50 between Dems and GOP candidates.

That's the argument democrats are going to have to realize. It's not enough to just get the votes in the urban areas & the cities. You need to get the rural vote because if you get a good number of rural votes, it'll become easier to win statewide. Relying on liberal voters is not enough. You need the conservative democrat vote, independents & moderate republicans to win. Had Jim Martin performed better in the rural areas of the state during the general election, he would be senator right now. That will be the key to Barnes if he does run agaain. Can he win back those rural votews that had been voting democrat for over 130+ years?
DuBose Porter won't have that problem because he hails from rural Georgia & knows what it takes to get those voters back into the democratic party. That's something Roy is going to have to consider if he runs again.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Johnny Isakson's top contributors from 2003 to 2008. His total contributions from these Special Interest Groups.

Energy & Natural Resources$281,736$128,029$153,707
Finance, Insurance & Real Estate$2,243,472$371,599$1,871,873
Lawyers & Lobbyists$765,051$89,274$675,777
Misc Business$810,969$304,500$506,469

Two Democrats are to be said to be interested in State Senate seat 47

Democrats have harbored a grudge against Hudgens over his very conservative views and the changes he engineered to district lines that helped state Sen. Bill Cowsert, R-Athens, win in a landslide what should have been a very close race three years ago.

Recent Democratic candidates have been underfunded underdogs, but if the seat is open next year, the party might have a better chance, said Mac Rawson, a former chairman of the Clarke County Democratic Committee.

"It opens up an opportunity for someone," Rawson said "We'll just have to see what's going on and what kind of candidate we can find to fill that slot. When an open seat comes up, I'm sure we'll put a lot of resources into it."

Rawson ran against Hudgens in 2006, but said he's not interested in running again.

At least two Democrats, though, said they are interested.

Bobby Saxon, an Army reservist who ran for Congress last year, is serving a one-year tour of duty at the Department of Defense, but said he will think about running when the tour ends in January.

"I'm happily serving my country at the Pentagon," Saxon said. "I'm staying out of politics. When this assignment is up, I'll make a decision on whether to re-enter the political arena."

Tim Riley, Hudgens' opponent last year, said he is leaning toward taking another crack at it and will decide in a week or two.

"I haven't made a final decision yet," Riley said. "We're thinking about it strongly. I would say don't count me out."

Friday, March 20, 2009

A must read: As numbers decline, rural lawmakers band together

March 20, 2009Last Tuesday, 41 members of the Congressional Rural Caucus sent President Obama a letter saying that if he’s going to have a White House Office of Urban Affairs, he should also have a White House Office of Rural Affairs.

Rural consciousness is rising at the state level as well. At the beginning of the year, Tennessee’s legislative rural caucus actually consisted only of a group of Democrats from West Tennessee. Since then, the Democrats have expanded to include members from the other two-thirds of the state in their rural caucus, and rural Republicans – some of whom differed with their urban counterparts over the ouster from the party of House Speaker Kent Williams, have formed their own caucus.

Like most political developments these days, much of what’s driving this is the worsening economy. State Rep. Charles Curtiss (D-Sparta), the chair of the Democratic Rural Caucus, said the unemployment rate in some rural Tennessee counties is now over 20 percent. In this climate, many rural lawmakers worry their concerns will be overlooked.

“There are so many issues that cut differently in rural American than urban America,” said Chuck Hassebrook, executive director of the Center for Rural Affairs.

The traditional conception of the country is that of a healthier alternative to cities, but with fewer hospitals, doctors and recreational facilities, Hassebrook said, “the reality is we’re less fit.”

Al Cross, director of the Institute http://www.ruraljournalism.org/ for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky, suggested rural politicians could also be looking at some other numbers.

“I think next year’s census will show a significant decline in the percentage of population that is rural, and the pols can sense it already,” he said.

Cross said a decline from 21 percent to 18 percent in the 2010 would be consistent with the percentage decline from 1990 to 2000. That could be enough to affect redistricting in the next decade and make it even harder for rural legislators to hold their own with urban and suburban lawmakers.

More on the Roy Barnes against the GOP IN 2010.New InsiderAdvantage Poll: The 2010 Race For Governor:

A surface glance at the poll’s findings reveals nothing too surprising. The race is still far away enough that roughly one out of every three voters has no opinion. And no candidate is either enjoying a big lead or is out of the running. But a deeper look into the poll’s top-line findings and its demographic crosstabs reveal some interesting trends.

InsiderAdvantage CEO Matt Towery makes the following points:

• Barnes fares well, considering that he has been out of office for over six years, was beaten as an incumbent in 2002, and is a Democrat in a supposedly “red” state.

• The three leading GOP candidates all stand to run a strong general election race if they can emerge their party’s nominee. Consider that all are not that well known now, before they begin their TV ad blitzes. Cagle and Oxendine, although vaguely known by most Georgians, if at all, are in approximate statistical ties with the better-known Barnes when the poll’s margin of error (4%) is factored in; and Karen Handel isn’t too far behind. Obviously, all three Republicans earn support for being generic GOP placeholders against Democrat Barnes.

• The roughly one-third of black voters who are undecided in the poll will eventually collapse mostly for Barnes, the Democrat. That means that undecided whites and independents would have to break fairly heavily for the eventual Republican nominee, were he or she to face Barnes, for the GOP ticket-leader to win next year.

• Keep an eye on developments in Washington. Our poll shows that President Barack Obama’s approval rating in Georgia is 47%. That’s almost exactly the percentage of the general election vote he got in the state. But his disapproval rating is “only” 41%, which is about 8% less than John McCain got here. So Obama is doing relatively well in Georgia. For Roy Barnes or another Democrat to win the governor’s race, the president and the Democratic Congress probably have to maintain over the next year-and-a-half something like the support they enjoy now in Georgia.

• Most significantly, similar early polls in recent election cycles in Georgia have shown Republican candidates with something like 10% leads over Democrats in major statewide races. That the GOP has no such advantage right now says loudly that if Roy Barnes decides to run, he might need to pull in no more than about one-third of the now undecided white voters in order to make the 2010 race very tight.

IA poll: Barnes could threaten the GOP streak

Insider Advantage is out this morning with a statewide poll showing former Gov. Roy Barnes could seriously threaten Republican intentions to continue their rule over the state Capitol.

The survey posits three match-ups against Republicans. In only one, against Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, does the former democratic governor trail 39% to 35%.

Against John Oxendine, he leads 38% to 33%.

Against Karen Handel he leads 34% to 29%.

The March 17 poll queried 550 Georgia registered voters, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

For Casey Cagle, that not a big lead for a republican in a state that is so called solid reoublican. Cagle will have problems against Barnes. He will have to defend the last 8 years of Sonny Perdue & his own work as Lt. Governor & the work of the GOP led Legislature.

House kills bill to honor Obama

The Georgia House defeated a resolution Thursday that praises President Barack Obama and makes him an honorary member of the Legislative Black Caucus.

The 70-68 vote on House Resolution 673 came after negotiations between Democrats who saw it as similar to many approved over the years honoring Republicans, and Republicans who don’t want to celebrate Obama’s “vision.” The House will reconsider the vote today.

“It speaks to the disrespect members of this chamber have toward members of color,” said Sen. Emanuel Jones (D-Decatur), who introduced a similar resolution that sailed through the Senate. “It’s a sad day.”

But Majority Leader Jerry Keen (R-St. Simons Island) said Democrats’ unwillingness to budge on the wording sealed the resolution’s fate. Keen and Rep. Austin Scott (R-Tifton), who first objected to it, wanted to change wording that makes it seem the entire House supported Obama’s political positions.

“He’s the president. We respect that,” Keen said. “But a lot of people in this room didn’t vote for him.”

All I got to say about this is that the GOP is looking more & more like a party that is just like it's counterpart in Washington D.C. The Party of NO! I hope that they past this resolution today & stop all of the political games. Austin Scott knows he is facing an uphill climb to win the nomination & that by standing up & killing this resolution he thinks that it will be beneficial for him in 2010. Scott is already a loser & this only solidify that.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Georgia Democrats need to decide who should run for what office in 2010. No bitter primary fights.

I hope the Georgia Democrats take a lesson from Alabama Democrats Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks & Lt. Governor Jim Folsom decided that the both of them running for governor is not in the best interest for the democratic party & stead they talked about it & decided to run for different post, Folsom for governor & sparks for Lt. Governor. We already have Gen. David Poythress as a candidate & most likely will have DuBose Porter, Roy Barnes & possibly others like Thurbert Baker. These men need to sit down & talk it out like Folsom & Sparks did over in Alabama. There only need to be two candidates running for governor, one for Lt. Governor & the U.S. Senate.
I look at DuBose Porter & he has been waiting for this time to come, having built up a impressive resume, holding key committee positions & championing a key issue: Education that is a concern to Georgia voters. He may well be best postioned to win the governorship for the dems that Poythress even Barnes. Being from Rural Georgia, he has the advantage of getting those votes needed by the democrats to win statewide in 2010. He has deep rural roots, rural heritage & he knows best what is going on in Rural Georgia. If had to make the decision, I would have Porter running for Governor, Baker running for Lt. Governor & Roy Barnes running for the U.S. Senate.
Democrats don't need a contentious primary. Let the republicans have that, let them spend all of their money in the primary. We need to gather our forces together & take back this state that has been neglected by the radical republicans.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

State Senator Seth Harp (R-Midland) for State Insurance Commissioner?

This tip from my main man Travis Fain of the Macon Telegraph & the Blog Lucid Idiocy: A while back, in a campaign email blast, David Poythress intimated that state Sen. Seth Harp, R-Ain't scared, would be running for governor.

I ran into Sen. Harp this morning, and he said that he most definitely is not. But he said is considering a run for state insurance commissioner.

UPDATE: I don't get into too much so-and-so is running for such-and-such here beyond the governor's race, but Blake Aued has reported that state Sen. Ralph Hudgens is running for insurance commissioner.

If it;s true that Harp is considering a run for the post, will Vance Smith (R-Pine Mountain) run for the seat or will Carl von Epps (D-LaGrange). With open seat in 2010, there will be more republicans & democrats leaving seat just to reach the mountain top.

Lawmakers talking of teacher furloughs.

The chairman of the House budget committee on education said officials should consider furloughing the state’s more than 100,000 teachers six days a year to help financially struggling school systems.
Rep. Edward Lindsey (R-Atlanta), said making teachers take six planning days a year off without pay would save the state more than $190 million. That money would then be plowed back into school system budgets to help keep local officials from having to lay off teachers and other staffers.
“If we could give these (school) systems more flexibility, we could avoid some of these layoffs,” Lindsey said. “We would be remiss if we did not consider it.”
Jeff Hubbard, president of the Georgia Association of Educators, said school districts all over the state are considering laying off employees because of funding problems. Hubbard said he has warned teachers that furloughs may be coming because many state agencies are forcing staffers to take days off without pay.
“That (furloughs) is something we are going to have to take a long and hard look at,” Hubbard said. “The question is, what type of assurances will we have that jobs will be saved?”
More than 25,000 state employees have already been forced to take furloughs or will be taking them in coming months because of massive budget cuts brought on by the recession.

You better believe that this will be a major issue next year for legislators. We are already ranked 46 out of 50 states when it comes to education & now the state republican leaders want to reduce teacher's pay & work days!

Library money based on politics

When Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue recommended which communities would get money for new libraries, there was little political distinction in his choices.
He reviewed a list recommended by state library officials. Money went to communities represented by Republicans at the statehouse, and money went to cities represented by Democrats.
General Assembly politics changed all that.
In the budget that will be passed by the House Wednesday, $1.895 million to renovate the Rockmart Library, represented by Rep. Rick Crawford (D-Cedartown), got the ax. So did $2 million for design and construction at the central library in heavily Democratic DeKalb County. Another $2 million to design and construct a library in Athens, represented by Reps. Keith Heard (D-Athens) and Doug McKillip (D-Athens), was culled from the budget. $2 million for a library in Democrat Forest Park was gone.
Money was cut for a library in Republican Walton County as well, but that was because legislators said it wasn’t ready for construction yet.
What was added? Two libraries in Haralson County, represented by two Republican members of the House Appropriations Committee, Howard Maxwell (R-Dallas) and Mark Butler (R-Carrollton). About $1.8 million was added for a library in Greensboro, represented by House Appropriations vice chairman Mickey Channell (R-Greensboro). Another $2 million was added for a library in Lee County, a county represented by one Democrat and one Republican, both on the House Appropriations Committee.
Powerful House members didn’t just get libraries in the budget.
Georgia State University got $17.6 million in the budget for two projects, including money for intramural fields. Downtown GSU is represented in the House by a Democrat. But it also is Republican House Speaker Glenn Richardson’s alma mater and his son works there.
House Appropriations Chairman Ben Harbin (R-Evans), wasn’t left out. Harbin is from a suburb of Augusta, and he is a big booster of Augusta’s Medical College of Georgia. The House budget adds $27 million for a new school of dentistry at MCG.
How did Perdue fare? Two minor projects that he recommended in his home Houston County got cut.

Poythress on Barnes: ‘He’s not as connected to the grassroots as he used to be’

David Poythress, the only Democratic candidate for governor out in the hustings at this moment, put out a note this morning evincing some frustration with Roy Barnes.

Last week, in this space, the former governor again expressed a certain coyness about the 2010 race.

“I keep hoping that there will be some knight in shining armor. 
I don’t want to shirk a duty,” Barnes said.

No doubt the lack of clarity is hurting other candidates trying to line up support and financing. Here’s what Poythress, the former state adjutant general of the Georgia National Guard, wrote to his supporters:

“Roy Barnes dedicated almost three decades of service to our great state, performed his duties well and left an amazing legacy. But let’s be honest, he isn’t nearly as connected to the grassroots or core constituencies of our party in the way he used to be.

“This was confirmed to me as I campaigned across the state this week. Countless Democrats pulled me aside to say that they were put off by Barnes’ remarks about his potential comeback candidacy and encouraged me to respond with a stinging response. Instead of taking that course, let me give you my thoughts on Barnes’ comments.

“If Roy Barnes gets in this race, I’m running. If other Democrats get in this race, I’m running. Simply put, I’m running for governor.”

I'm telling you right now, Poythress is not going to bow out because of Roy Barnes. These two fought for the nomination back in 1998. I wonder what is DuBose Porter is thinking about right now. I would like to see him run for governor, but Porter has to be realistic. Does he think that he can defeat Roy Barnes in the primary? Does he think he can out fundraise Barnes? Porter might need to look at the possibility of maybe running for Agriculture Commissioner if my guy Terry Coleman, who I already endorsed decides not to run for the post.

State Rep. Ellis Black opposes county commission bill, but State Reps. Amy Carter & Jay Shaw supports it.

A bill introduced in the Georgia House of Representatives Tuesday whose purpose is to enable the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners to expand its representation by adding two new super-districts is being opposed by State Representative Ellis Black, district 174, but has the support of State Representatives Amy Carter, district 175, and Jay Shaw, district 176.

Carter said “My understanding with the Board of Commissioners was that if they succeeded in getting the maps drawn and unanimously approved, I would support it, which I did.”

The population of Lowndes County has increased significantly without any corresponding increase in representation. With only three elected commissioners, each has around 32,000 citizens to answer to. The city of Valdosta has seven elected councilmen for a population of less than 50,000.

The expansion process is rather complex. The maps must pass muster with the Justice Department, be approved in the Georgia House and Senate, then go before the voters in the form of a referendum. If the bill succeeds and has voter approval, two more commissioners will be elected to the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners to represent the super-districts, which split the county east/west.

Commission Chairman Ashley Paulk said the issue was one of the most talked about during his election campaign, and citizens are pushing for it. With so much interest and so many missed attempts in previous years, Paulk and the commissioners believe it’s time for the legislative delegation and the public to combine to help the county commission keep up with the growing needs of Lowndes County by supporting the expansion.

Hudgens to run for state insurance commissioner

State Sen. Ralph Hudgens, R-Hull, will run for state insurance commissioner in 2010, he said today.

Hudgens is chairman of the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee, a group of legislators that recommends changes to state insurance law.

Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine has said he will run for governor. As long as Oxendine stays in the governor’s race, Hudgens said he will run for Oxendine's office.

Hudgens is in his fourth term in the state Senate. He previously served three terms in the state House of Representatives. He has sought higher office before, running unsuccessfully for Congress in 1994 and briefly flirting with running again in 2007.

Hudgens will not have to resign his seat until he officially qualifies to run in April 2010, so he will be able to serve out the rest of his term. His Senate seat will be up for grabs in November 2010.

Can you say Bobby Saxon (D-Nicholson) for State Senate in 2010? But he may still be interested in running for congress in 2010, especially if Paul Broun decides to challenge Johnny Isakson, which I think may well happen.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Profile: State Senator Ed Harbison (D-Columbus) SD 15

State Senator Ed Harbison represents the counties of Chattahoochee & portion of Muscogee County. He was first elected back in 1992.

Graduate, Career Academy of Broadcasting
Attended, Troy State University, Fort Benning.

Professional Experience:
Businessman, present
Broadcast Journalist, present
Public Relations/ Advertising Consultant, present
United States Marines.

Board of Directors, A.J. McClung Young Men's Christian Association, present
Graduate, Leadership Columbus, 1990
Past Officer, Georgia Association of Newscasters.

Harbison is married with two children. Harbison also served in the U.S. Army for 4 years & a possible mayoral candidate in 2010.

LaGrange/Troupe County: The Kia Effect

Just a few years ago Troup County, the westernmost county in Georgia along Interstate 85, could claim the title of former textile capital of Georgia, and not much else when it came to major-league economic development.

Now, although there are a couple of textile manufacturers still operating in the county, the story out of Troup is international automotive manufacturing in the form of South Korea-based Kia. While Kia isn’t the only thing happening in Troup County, not by a long shot, the advent of the Kia plant is one of those defining moments for the entire region. Things are discussed in “before Kia” and “after Kia” terms. This after Kia time is very exciting.

For the few people in Georgia who aren’t familiar with the Kia story, here’s a brief recap. A Kia plant is currently under construction in West Point, along Interstate 85 at the new Exit 6 interchange. When complete, Kia will directly employ 2,500 people. Its suppliers, also getting up and running, will employ an additional 3,000 plus. Kia is an enormous project, not just for West Point, which has a population of only 3,300, but, as everyone in Troup County says, for the entire region.

Kia, with the support of Georgia’s Quick Start program, took applications for hourly positions in the spring. They received 43,000 applications for 2,500 jobs in 30 days through the online process. Those hired will be provided with training, around the country and in Korea, and the first cars will roll off the line for sale in November 2009. Once two full shifts are up and running, by late 2010, some 300,000 units will be manufactured each year.

The Kia announcement brought an onslaught of activity from suppliers and others eager to be part of the growth that’s coming to the region. Several Tier 1 suppliers (those companies that supply products directly to Kia) have announced plans or have moved into the area, says Diethard Lindner, chairman of the Development Authority of La-Grange. “We had a new industrial park put together right before Kia announced,” Lindner says. “It was perfect timing.”

The new park is Callaway South Industrial Park, where Sewon Amer-ica Inc., Kia’s largest supplier, announced it would locate with a $170 million investment. When up and running, Sewon will employ 700 people to manufacture the major metal framework for the Kia automobiles, Lindner says.

Residential Boom
On a countywide scale, people are preparing for growth, not just from Kia and its suppliers, but also from the Department of Defense’s Base Realignment and Closure Commis-sion (BRAC), which made decisions that will result in a population increase at Fort Benning in nearby Columbus of 35,000 people. Also adding to the mix: sprawl creeping south from Atlanta. County leaders have taken several steps to ensure quality growth in the area, including a moratorium on residential development that was due to be lifted in July.

“We know the number of jobs,” says Ricky Wolfe, Troup County Commission chairman, speaking of Kia and its suppliers, “but where the people will live remains to be seen.” The feeling is that due to the increasing cost of fuel, those who can choose will live in Troup County. But, Wolfe admits, “Kia will draw from Newnan to Montgomery.”

New communities such as Bryant Lake LaGrange are catering to the cry for natural amenities, offering a mix of lakeside trails and greenspace parks, with homes ranging from the $170s to $300s.

LaGrange/Troup County

(2008 Estimate)
Troup County, 63,245; LaGrange, 27,652; West Point, 3,354; Hogansville, 2,909

(May 2008)
Troup County, 7.9 percent; Georgia, 5.6 percent

Largest Employers
Troup County Schools, 1,807; Milliken Floor Covering, 1,660;Wal-Mart (distribution center), 1,600; West Georgia Health System, 1,336; InterfaceFLOR, 1,080

LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce, Georgia Dept. of Labor .

The Kia plant is one of the very few bright sopts here in the state as the state is taking a beating in job losses because of the recession. I was one of those people who applied to work at the Kia Plant, hoping my welding experience will come in handy.

New chairman wants to organize Douglas County Democrats

Organization has become a major goal for Georgia Democrats. The state in recent years has become increasingly Republican despite Democratic gains in other parts of the country.
Martin W. Raxton, the new Douglas County Democratic Party chairman, hopes to use his organizing skills to bring the county back into the “blue” column in upcoming elections.

“I think we can do positive things here in Douglas County,” Raxton said. “I’m optimistic that 2008’s going to be a good year for Democrats, both national and local. Americans are positioned for change.”

Raxton said Douglas Democrats will be working hard during the next year to increase the number of registered voters and to field full slates of candidates in local, state and congressional elections.
“We want to give voters a ballot where they have a choice,” he said.

He congratulated District 1 Commissioner Freddie Ashmon who last year became the first Democrat elected to the Board of Commissioners in recent times and the first African-American candidate elected to county office.

Raxton, who assumed his county chairmanship in January, was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his B.S. degree in industrial psychology from Michigan State and his master’s in public administration from Cleveland State.
“I got involved in Cleveland politics while working on my master’s program,” he said. “I worked in campaigns for state representatives and senators and for the Cleveland mayor. It was a strong political arena and I learned a lot about getting people elected.”

Raxton continued his political interests after moving to West Palm Beach, Florida, where he worked in city and county government.

“This gave me an opportunity to learn the administrative side of politics,” he said.
He moved to Douglasville in 1994 and has lived here since. He works with an Internet company in Midtown Atlanta. He and his wife, Machale, have two sons, Christopher, 10, and Cory, 7.

“I don’t want to run for political office,” he said. “I want to organize the local political party and help get Democrats elected.”

Raxton said he wants to “galvanize the community” and bring the “unserved and underserved” voters into the political process.
“I see the county demographics shifting,” he said. “We want to be sure that people moving into the area get on the voter rolls.”

Raxton identified eight major initiative areas for Douglas County Democrats: economic development, diversity, infrastructure, education, healthcare, justice system, peace movement and the environment.

“We’re formulating action plans in each of these areas to educate voters and talk about improvements,” he said.
He’s also planning organizational and fundraising activities to raise money and bring elected lawmakers to the area to meet their constituents. One planned fundraising activity is a golf tournament to be held sometime during the fourth quarter of this year. The location and date are yet to be determined.

Raxton wants to get Democrats more involved with youth in the community.

“They’re our future and we have them at the forefront of all our initiatives,” he said.
“I feel we have a lot of momentum going and I look forward to working with voters in the county,” Raxton said.

The Douglas County Democratic Party meets at 10 a.m. on the second Saturday of each month at the Alice Hawthorne Center at Jessie Davis Park in Douglasville. The meetings are not held during the summer, but will start back in September.

The party’s mailing address is P.O. Box 55, Douglasville, GA 30133 and the Web site is www.douglascountydemocraticassociation.com.

Just who is Jim Butler (D-Columbus)?

He has lived in Columbus, Ga since he graduated from law school 26 years ago. He shoots quail & hooks bass, keeps pointers, settlers, & brittany spaniels: grows cotton, peanuts, & corn & drives a pickup truck in all ways demosrating humility. He has pictures of Abraham Lincoln & Robert E. Lee in his office. Butler, 58 is one of the top plaintiff lawyers in the country. He's won big verdicts against GM, Toyota, Suzuki, National Healthcare Inc & Time Warner. Addd all those damage awards up through the years & the total probably approaches $ 1 billion or more. Butler didn't go to law school to become a trial lawyer. He was laying the groundwork for a political career. Butler's roots go back two centuries deep in Newton County. Butler grew up listening to Civil War stories that his grandmother had heard from her grandfather who also fought in the war. After law school, he excelled in moot court competitions, he had job offers in Atlanta, Augusta, & Cumming, Ga, where he grew up. He has given money to democrats Bill Clinton, Bill Bradley, John Edwards & the DNC. He has tried over 150 cases to verdict winning several verdicts over $100 million dollars. He has been mentioned as a possible candidate to Saxby Chambliss last year, but didn't run, he has been mentioned as a candidate against Johnny Isakson in 2010, but uncertain, as well as the governor of Georgia as well. He's been called a John Edwards clone, except he's more of a centrist that edwards. Butler in my opinion is the democrats darkhorse candidate in 2010. Folks are saying that Isakson is unbeatable. No one is unbeatable, not even Isakson, who's voting record is the same as Saxby Chambliss. The only way I see him running for governor is that Roy Barnes doesn't run himself. There are alot of ambitious dems who want to be governor: Baker, Thurmond, Porter, Marshall. But only one can win.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Pres. Obama unveils plan to help Small Businesses.

Kudos to President Obama: President Barack Obama on Monday offered a fresh package of aid to small businesses — "the heart of the American economy" — in an aggressive push to get big banks that got federal bailout money to do more lending to these struggling entrepreneurs. With Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner by his side, Obama said the nation has small businesses to thank for many of the new jobs, roughly 70 percent.

The White House announced a series of moves to get credit flowing to small businesses. The measures include boosting bank liquidity with up to $15 billion aimed at unfreezing the secondary credit market, reducing lending fees and increasing loan guarantees, and easing the tax burden. The administration also announced that the 21 largest banks receiving government money must report monthly on how much lending they do to small businesses.

The goal is to help those businesses make payroll, buy equipment and maintain
or even expand employment as the nation's economy is bleeding jobs.

"As president I will continue to do everything in my power to ensure that you have the opportunity to contribute to your community, to our economy and to the future of the United States of America," Obama said.

Geithner made a direct appeal to community banks to start lending again.

"When banks individually pull back out of a sense of prudence and caution, the collective impact of those actions will make the economy weaker and make each individual bank worse off," Geithner said. "By pulling back on credit, you push businesses to pull back, and this dynamic can feed on itself."

Geithner also ordered the Internal Revenue Service to issue a series of new rules for temporary but significant tax breaks, meaning that small businesses:

_That earn up to $15 million will be allowed to claim losses for the past five years in the current tax year;

_May write off up to $250,000 in investments this year.

_Can reduce estimated tax payments to 90 percent of the previous year's filings.

_Are allowed to take larger depreciation deductions within the first year of property purchases.

_And will see 75 percent of capital gains excluded for those who invest in small businesses.

The administration plan includes $730 million from the stimulus package to immediately reduce small-business lending fees and to increase the government guarantee on some Small Business Administration loans to 90 percent.

The plan comes amid Republican efforts to cast doubt about Obama's ambitious budget, in particular the proposal to raise taxes, starting in 2011, on individuals earning more than $200,000 and on households earning more than $250,000. Those provisions also hit small businesses. Now the question is what are the republicans going to say now that small businesses are getting much needed help from the Obama administration?

Poythress: 2010 year of Democrats in Georgia

Democratic gubernatorial candidate David Poythress spoke of a return to "sensible, middle of the road, grown-up government" at the third annual Atkinson-Arnall Tribute sponsored by the Coweta County Democratic Party.

Poythress, a former adjutant general of the Georgia National Guard, is the only declared Democratic candidate for Georgia governor in 2010. He was the guest of honor at the Atkinson-Arnall Tribute, a fundraiser for the local party.

Poythress spoke briefly about Gov. Ellis Arnall, who was still an active lawyer when Poythress served as secretary of state. "He really did bring Georgia into the 20th century," Poythress said. Poythress has also served as commissioner of labor, assistant attorney general and deputy revenue commissioner. He ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1998.

Poythress said he is looking forward to a spirited race for governor and "I
believe that 2010 is the year of Democrats in Georgia."

As he travels around the state in his campaign, Poythress has run into quite a lot of people who have voted Republican for years. But when he talks to them about the current state of things, they're saying "you know, I think I am an independent now."

"They're really saying -- 'I'm giving myself permission to vote Democrat," Poythress said. "I do think Georgia is ready to swing back to a moderate, pragmatic Democratic leadership."

In the past eight years, Georgia's Republican administration "has done absolutely nothing," Poythress said. When it comes to economic development, this administration in fixating on fishing, he said.

"I'm going hunting," Poythress said. "Hunting the governor's office, hunting economic recovery."

With all of the talk about Roy Barnes running for governor in 2010, if he does, it will not be a cakewalk for him, nor any other democrat who wants to run for governor. Poythress has the fire in the belly to take on the GOP & it's failing leadership. For more go to www.poythressforgovernor.com

David Poythress, John Oxendine up in NW Georgia

Two candidates who were the first to announce their plans to seek their party’s nominations and try to succeed Gov. Sonny Perdue say they also have plans that directly impact Northwest Georgia.

David Poythress, 65, a former state commissioner of labor and former state adjutant general, is seeking the Democratic nomination.

Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John Oxendine, 46, a four-term commissioner, is seeking the Republican nomination for governor in 2010.

He said as governor he would push for more regional cooperation and construction of reservoirs to solve the state’s water supply shortage. He also wants an “interstate equivalent” alternative to Interstate 75 that could begin in Northwest Georgia or Chattanooga and extend to Savannah.

Mr. Poythress, a retired Air Force brigadier general and former labor commissioner and secretary of state who ran for governor in 1998, is seeking the governorship's post for the first time in 12 years.

He said Friday the immediate goal is economic recovery and development, especially in Northwest Georgia.

“This may happen before my term as governor, but I want to direct as much
federal stimulus money as possible into Dalton and North Georgia where people
are hardest hit and people are most in need of jobs,” Mr. Poythress said in a telephone interview.

The Democratic candidate said he is urging the state’s congressional delegation to help extend unemployment benefits and he is encouraging people to use the state Department of Labor as an asset in learning new job skills and finding jobs.

Article was in the North Georgia Times Free Press.

Macon City Councilman & Blogger Erick Erickson hit the nail on the head:

Substantive reforms have been pushed aside in favor of rewarding preferred groups and pushing individual legislators’ pet projects. There is no compelling narrative to justify a hold on power. There are, however, awkward deals on budgets, fly by night tax proposals, and a failure to take tough stands on tough issues lest voters get upset. Likewise, there is an appreciation that the GOP will not actually lose control of the legislature due to redistricting, so the Republicans see no need for boldness or risk.

In short, there is no leadership. Surprisingly for those of us who follow the goings on in Atlanta, the best leader this year has been Glenn Richardson, a man I have been a frequent critic of. Casey Cagle, the lieutenant governor, is angling to be governor, which requires he make no new enemies. Gov. Perdue is absent from leadership, as is his habit when the legislature meets. The result is chaos without message and terrible PR.

Sonny Perdue has had few in his eight years that remain at the forefront of people’s minds. Meanwhile, we all know about Zell Miller’s accomplishments and even some of Roy Barnes’ initiatives. The Republican candidate will not just be running on his or her own resume, but on what the present Republicans have done. And lately, they haven’t done much worth bragging about.

For more read at www.macon.com or go to Peach Pundit.

Rep. Bishop pushes bill to expand Jimmy Carter National Historic Site

A bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, in the House would expand the Jimmy Carter National Historic site in Plains, Ga.

The proposed improvements include the creation of a park campground, development of a multi-use trail and enhanced facilities for the maintenance and curatorial functions, according to a news release from Bishop’s office.

“Jimmy Carter possesses a level of commitment to his country and the cause of humanity that has only rarely been matched,” he said. “The Jimmy Carter National Historic site does a remarkable job of helping people to understand the values that shaped this great Georgian. This bill will ensure that the site will continue to inspire generations of visitors, as well as grow and positively impact the economies of Plains and Sumter County through increased opportunities for tourism.”

I say kudos to congressman Bishop for wanting to expand the Carter National Historic Site, given the state wanted to cut money from the center.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Republicans voted for a Tax increase.

(3/13/09) From The Insider Advantage Georgia: For the second year in a row, the House voted Thursday to do away with the “birthday tax” - the annual ad valorem tax that car owners pay on their cars. And for good measure, the sales tax on cars would be gone, as well, under HB 480, which cleared the chamber 133-39.

He's what the bill does:

Beginning Jan. 1, 2010, you’ll pay no sales tax on that new car and no property taxes, either. But you will pay the lesser of 7% of the purchase price or $2,000, as a title fee. If you choose not to buy a new car for the foreseeable future, you’ll continue to pay the annual “birthday tax” until you replace it.

Backers of the legislation seemed absolutely giddy over the new taxing plan.

“This is a great bill,” said Rep. Tom Rice, R-Norcross, the motor vehicles committee chairman.

Democrats weren’t all that enthusiastic about the measure, although they were unsuccessful in stopping it.

“Sure, it does away with the sales tax; it does away with the ad valorem tax,” said House Democratic Leader DuBose Porter. “It creates a brand new tax. Y’all, this is a tax increase.”

House Republican Leader Jerry Keen acknowledged that taxing casual sales would amount to a tax increase - but it would apply, he said, to “those people who’ve been doing their transactions under the table.”

We'll see how this turns out when the 2010 election begin.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Plains Welcome Center saved, for now.

PLAINS, Ga. (AP) - On the outskirts of Jimmy Carter's ancestral home in Plains, miles from the nearest interstate, sits a state shrine to Georgia's native president.

The Plains Visitor Information Center pays tribute to the peanut farmer-turned-president but also is a reminder that even on of the most sacred names in Georgia politics can fall victim to a budget crisis.

Only a ferocious battle led by leaders of Carter's hometown -- and the Democrats who represent his district -- has apparently spared the center from the budget ax. Still, politicians from Plains aren't certain the humble center that resembles a log cabin has been saved for good.

State Rep. Mike Cheokas (D-Americus) of Americus counts Carter as 1 of his constituents and says it's "shortsighted to even contemplate closing the welcome center."

Adds Cheokas: "We are definitely on the map and it would be a mistake in any way, shape and fashion to close it down."

For more go read Americus-Times Recorder.

Profile: Gerald Greene (D-Cuthbert) HD:149

Gerald Greene, 61 was first elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1982. He is currently continuing his 21 years of service as the spokesman for House District 149, which covers parts of Calhoun, Early, Miller, Randolph and Seminole Counties. He is as a member of Appropriations, Banks & Banking and State Institutions & Properties.

Green attended Andrew College for 2 years before graduating from Georgia Southern University in 1970. He later earned his Master’s in Education from the University of Georgia and his Master’s in History from Georgia Southwestern. He has taught in the Randolph-Clay School System for 32 years as a Teacher of Social Studies. Representative Greene has also been an instructor of Political Science and Western Civilization for over 10 years at Andrew College. His teaching has proved to be meritorious for he has been named STAR Teacher of Randolph-Clay System in both 1977 and 1993. He was also bestowed with the honor of being named Teacher of the Year for the school system in 1991.

His work under the Gold Dome has also made him the recipient of many Legislative Service Awards from several organizations: Commercial Flower Growers Association, Georgia Municipal Association and the Association County Commissioners of Georgia. The Chattahoochee Historical Commission named him Legislator of the Year in 1996. His achievements also led Andrew College to present him with the Distinguished Alumni Award. For 2 years in a row Representative Greene was Rural Health’s Distinguished Legislator of the Year.

Greene is currently sharing his many years of legislative experience with his fellow members of the Appropriations, Banks & Banking, and State Institutions & Properties Committees. He serves on the Oversight Committee for the Georgia State Fair in Perry, Georgia and is a member of the Georgia Association of Educators. Representative Greene is a faithful member of the Springvale Baptist Church as well.

Political Experience:
Representative, Georgia State House of Representatives, 1982-present
Secretary, Randolph Democratic Party.

State Senator Tim Golden: Bill aids politicians, not taxpayers.

VALDOSTA — A House bill claiming to provide tax relief to property owners in Georgia does more to help politicians than it does for taxpayers, said State Senator Tim Golden (D-Valdosta) another possible candidate fof governor in 2010.

HB 233 is nothing but political cover for those legislators who voted Feb. 18 for HB 143, Golden said.

Golden was opposed to HB 143 because it virtually eliminates the Homeowner Tax Relief Grants started under former Gov. Roy Barnes by tying future grants to 3 percent economic growth, plus inflation, a standard that, he said, will be tough, if not impossible, to meet in the foreseeable future. Legislators who voted for the bill introduced and passed HB 233 so they could tell voters at election time that they took action to provide tax relief, Golden said.

“Freezing assessments may be good politics, but, in the current economy, it is not likely that property values would be rising that much anyway,” Golden said.

tion to provide tax relief, Golden said.

Asked why the legislature chose January of 2011 as the specific expiration date for the bill freezing the reassessment value of property in Georgia, Golden said the only reason he could think of is that Gov. Sonny Perdue will be leaving office and a new governor elected.

Jobless rates continue to grow

The Georgia Department of Labor reported last week that the unemployment rate in Southwest Georgia rose to 8.6 percent in January, up 2.9 percentage points over January 2008. The Southwest Georgia jobless rate rose 1.0% from 7.6% in December.

The state's unemployment rate also rose to a record-high 8.6 percent in January — the highest rate recorded in Georgia since 1976, when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics began standardizing unemployment rates among all states.

The previous record high was 8.3 percent, recorded in January of 1983. At present, 412,770 unemployed Georgians are looking for work, an increase of 62.9 percent over the year. Of that number, 183,829, or 44.5 percent, are receiving unemployment insurance benefits.

"We are officially sailing in uncharted economic waters," said State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond, a possible 2010 candidate for Lt. Governor or governor in a news release posted on the Georgia Department of Labor's website. "Georgia is in the midst of a severe economic downturn. Times are difficult, but not hopeless. All Georgians must work together to meet and overcome these unprecedented chal- lenges."

The jobless rate is up 3.4 percentage points from 5.2 percent at this same time last year. The January unemployment rate was up 1.1 percentage points from 7.5 percent in December. Georgia's unemployment rate remained above the national rate of 7.6 percent for the 15th consecutive month.

Democrat announces run for State School Superintendent.

Ex-9th Congressional District candidate Jeff Scott (D-Chickamauga) will run for State School Superintendent according to Politics1.com. I won't confirm that until I hear from Scott himself.

Jeff comes from a working class family and believes that for the United States to be the best example of democracy in the world, we must be our best at here at home first. To Jeff, that means making sure that we have world-class schools to prepare our children for the 21st Century, making sure that every working American has access to affordable, quality health care, and creating an economy that works for working people, not special interests and Washington insiders. Jeff knows that by going to the heart of issues, and our shared American values , we will be able to make a real difference and connect people to their government .

Jeff has been in the field of education for nearly ten years and has seen how our families and children are struggling to succeed in today's economy. Recently, Jeff went through Georgia's Academy for Economic Development and understands the need for communities to have solid jobs and opportunities.

Jeff has a Bachelor's and Master's degree from the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga in multidisciplinary education and supervision. He also has an Educational Specialist and Ph.D. from the University of Alabama in Leadership, Technology, and Policy. Jeff is passionate about community involvement, helping people become healthier, and helping people become more connected with their government. He is the former Chair of the Walker County Democrats.

Richard Woods of Tifton, a cirriculum director of Irwin County K-5 program has announced his intentions to run for the post as well. Still waiting on word whether it's as a democrat or a republican.

Obama: ‘I love the South’

“I love the South,” Obama said in an interview Wednesday with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and a small group of reporters from other newspapers at the White House.

Asked why his cabinet and senior staff at last count includes seven Midwesterners, five Northerners, six Westerners and only two Southerners so far — namely spokesman and Alabama native Robert Gibbs and EPA administrator and New Orleans native Lisa Jackson — Obama acknowledged he didn’t exactly keep geography in mind when he was looking for his top advisers.

“If you’ve got some great Southerners who want to work for us, please let me know,” he said. “Because we’re always open.”

In an hour-long session, Obama also touched on everything from food safety and the salmonella outbreak that originated in at a Georgia peanut plant to the economy and immigration issues. Go to www.ajc.com for more.

I voted for Pres. Obama because I thought he could take this country to a new age of prosperity. Although it has been a rockey start for the president, he's going to get things turned around. As for the south, this is the last regional stronghold for the GOP. If dems can crack this region starting in 2010, the GOP are going to be in the wilderness for a long time.

This is a Rural Blog that provides views & insights from a Conservative Georgia Democrat

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