Thursday, May 28, 2009

Will take a leave of absence from my Blog due to health issues.

I will be on a 1 month hiatus due to health issues. I'll be back blogging in early July.
Updated: Turns out my health is not that bad after all. After consulting my doctor, it was a false alarm, nothing too serious. What a relief.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Jim Marshall vs. Austin Scott? Mac Collins?

There are some folks out there who are trying to start a draft movement to get Austin Scott , a republican from Tifton to challenge Jim Marshall for the 8th District in 2010. Now let me say this, Scott barely won re-election to his own district twice against John Tibbetts a democrat from Tifton who most likely will run for HD 153 seat in 2010. Why do folks think Scott can beat Marshall? Yes he is young, but being young desn't mean you'll win. What has Scott accomplished during his years in the Statehouse? What qualities he brings to a race aginst Marshall? I don't see it.
Word is the NRCC is having a hard time finding someone to take on Marshall in 2010. They tried Calder Clay twice, both times going down in defeat, they tried Mac Collins, a veteran of congress in a year that was perfect for the republicans to take out Marshall, despite two visits by George W. Bush. The result? Failed. Then they tried a military vet in Rick Goddard, hoping his military background would be enough to get by Marshall. The result: He got his tail handed to him.
Now there are folks wanting Austin Scott to run against Jim Marshall next year. There are rumors that Mac Coillins might run again as well. Hey, it won't matter who runs against Marshall because either against Collins or Scott, Marshall will still come out victorious at the end. Jim is a good comgressman who responds to his constituents. He is a indepdnent-minded legislator that votes what is best for his distirct & the country. Jim is a patriot who loves his country & state dearly. Take Jim out of the 8th district & you will see BRAC coming down hard on Robins AirForce Base when BRAC comes up again.

Ag secretary Vilsack Discuss Stimulus Funds in Long County on Monday.

LUDOWICI - The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture spent about an hour and a half here Monday, taking questions at a town hall-style meeting in the Long County Courthouse and touting the impact of federal stimulus money on agricultural projects in Georgia.

Tom Vilsack, who has been touring the nation, spoke in the small town about 50 miles northwest of Brunswick to announce that the agriculture department is giving $60 million to rural communities across the nation for emergency responder projects. That includes three new police cars for the Ludowici Police Department.

Vilsack said his department would also look at giving Ludowici money for wastewater treatment improvements, part of the department's goal to help rural communities thrive in more ways than just their farms.

"It goes toward quality of life," Vilsack said. He said the department has distributed $193 million in stimulus money to Georgia.

Vilsack, after making his announcements, took questions from a group of about 150 persons, mostly farmers or others who work in agriculture.

He heard pleas from farmers on numerous topics, including a request for help to re-open a poultry plant in nearby Coffee County that closed Friday, another to rethink lowering the cap on federal support of middle-sized farms and one to fund more research.

Vilsack said he would be willing to put pressure on federal bankruptcy courts to encourage Pilgrim's Pride, which owns the Coffee County poultry plant, to sell it quickly, so the hundreds of workers from multiple counties can get back to work.

In the meantime, he said the agriculture department was giving farmers who have taken direct loans from the department, such as for home mortgages, more time to repay them while they wait for the plant possibly to open.

Vilsack, a Democrat, was governor of Iowa from 1998 to January of this year, when he was appointed by President Barack Obama to his cabinet post.

He spoke about the need for farmers to be more visible in their own communities and to help residents better understand where their food originates.

To peanut farmers like Armond Morris of Ocilla, who asked him to include more peanuts in school lunches and in military meals, Vilsack said it's the responsibility of the farmers to speak to local school boards to encourage them to add, for example, peanut butter sandwiches to lunch menus. He said he was happy to see an increase in the use of peanut products after February's salmonella scare that had been traced to a plant in Georgia and said the department is concentrating on making sure America's food is safe.

Allen Whitehead, a member of the Georgia Peanut Commission and a farmer from Ashburn, said a move by the agriculture department to lower the cap on the gross income of farmers to be eligible for federal assistance hurts farmers in the Southeast who raise crops such as peanuts and cotton.

Those crops bring in more money but also require more expense at the outset than others, such as corn.

Whitehead said his farm had recently expanded but that he's not making huge profits, and needs a federal "safety net" to stay in business.

Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin, who has held that job for 40 years, said Vilsack's visit is the first time he's heard of a U.S. Agriculture Secretary holding a meeting like this in Georgia.

News from Alabama: Artur Davis leads Democratic rivals in new statewide poll

U.S. Rep. Artur Davis released new polling numbers today that showed him with a strong lead on his potential rivals for the Democratic Party's nomination for governor in 2010.

Davis, of Birmingham, is bidding to become the first black candidate elected governor of Alabama. His polling showed him leading the only other announced Democrat for the position - Alabama Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks - by 56 percent to 26 percent.

Davis said the polls also showed him leading Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb, who has expressed an interest in the race but made no formal announcement, by 54 to 25 percent.

The statewide poll, commissioned by Davis and conducted by Montgomery-based Anzalone-Liszt Research, included 600 Democratic primary voters who were contacted from May 5-9.

In a separate poll of 600 general election voters, Davis said he held a five point lead over Republican Bradley Byrne, the head of the state's two-year college system. Byrne, who is expected to announce his candidacy for governor next week, trailed Davis 38 to 43 percent.

The results did not indicate how Davis would perform against either Greenville businessman Tim James or state Rep. Robert Bentley of Tuscaloosa, the two Republicans who have formally announced their intent to run for the office.

Other potential candidates not included in the poll results were state Treasurer Kay Ivey, former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore and Bill Johnson, head of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, all Republicans.

Ken Hodges candidate for Attorney General

Ken Hodges (D) Albany who has filed to run for State Attorney General has his website up & running. Hodges is vying to replace Thurbert Baker, who is running for governor in 2010. Go to to check out his new website.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Graham Enters Race for District 143 Seat

The Democratic field to replace outgoing State Rep. DuBose Porter for the Dist. 143 seat continued to grow Friday, when longtime Laurens County resident Claudia Graham announced her bid for the post.

Graham, who has spent the last six years working as a political consultant and legislative aide for more than two dozen Democrats, including Senate Dean George Hooks, J.B. Powell, Gail Buckner, Curt Thompson, Freddie Powell-Simms and Billy Mitchell, said she felt like she could take her energies and put them toward helping her neighbors in Laurens and Johnson counties.

“I want to make the whole cycle work,” Graham said. “It all has to work together. We have to maintain the businesses we have, which will create a larger tax base. That will provide more money for education, and the better education you have the better draw you become for more business.

Graham joins fellow Democrat Mitch Warnock and Republican contender Matt Hatchett in a field that is expected to grow in the coming weeks and months, as each tries to replace Porter; a 27-year veteran of the House of Representatives who announced a gubernatorial bid in April.

Graham’s lineage in Laurens County stretches across three centuries, going back as far as the 1860s.

Educated in Laurens County public schools, Claudia grew up with her five brothers – Jim, Tim, Jeff, Ted and Dan. Jim, Tim and Jeff work for the family-owned Graham Brothers Construction Company of East Dublin, and Dan works for the Graham Restaurant Division. Ted is self-employed and lives in west Georgia. Claudia’s father, Claude, still goes to work every day at the youthful age of 79.

Graham is vowing to prioritize education, healthcare, agriculture, economic development and public safety. Graham said she plans to give people of the 143rd “more sugar for their nickel,” pledging to be a full-time representative. “It’s going to take a full-time representative to tackle some of the state’s toughest issues.”

According to Graham, “my experience at the Capitol has taught me that our most pressing issues are intertwined. Solving them requires innovative solutions and a proactive approach, so stay tuned.”

Hazardous Waste going to Taylor County will affect surrounding cities & counties as well. This is a serious issue.

Reported by the Macon Telegraph last week:

A Middle Georgia landfill is accepting test loads of coal ash waste this week from a historic Tennessee spill.

The Veolia landfill in the Taylor County town of Mauk is vying to receive the roughly 5.4 million cubic yards of waste from the spill.

Earlier this week, the federal Environmental Protection Agency pronounced the December spill in Harriman, Tenn., “one of the largest and most serious environmental releases in American history.”

Test loads of that dredged and dried material started traveling by train Monday to two landfills, one in Alabama and one in Georgia, TVA spokesman Gil Francis said. He said he did not know which landfills were the destination.

But Jeff Cown, solid waste program manager for the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, said the ash is headed for the Veolia Environmental Services landfill in the Taylor County town of Mauk.

With one of the largest capacities of any landfill in Georgia — almost 48 million cubic yards — the Veolia landfill at Mauk has plenty of space for the ash. According to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, the landfill isn’t expected to fill until 2076.

Veolia ES is a division of Veolia Environnement, which says it is the world’s largest waste services company. Veolia is the latest in a string of private companies to own the Mauk landfill.

Residents of Taylor and Talbot counties contacted this week knew little or nothing about the coal ash coming to Mauk. Most of them expressed concern, noting that the landfill is perched on sandy soils and the water table is only 20 to 30 feet down.

State Rep. Debbie Buckner, who lives in nearby Junction City, was dismayed to learn of the coal ash shipments to the Mauk landfill, which towers above the trees enough to have earned the nickname “Mount Trashmore” from Buckner and Woodall.

The decision to dump this waste in Taylor County will have a enormous effect on water, natural resources & the environment not only in Taylor Co., but in other areas as well.

Poythress in Marshallville (Macon County) on Saturday.

I just got this information this morning from a Poythress Campaign Staffer: General David Poythress will be in Marshallville on Saturday to meet with the Macon County Democratic Women's Organization. The event will be held at Rosati's Depot on E. 100 Main Street.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The NRA's Image Improves as Support for Gun Control Slips

WASHINGTON (By Shawn Neidorf, Pew Center) April 4, 2007 — Each year since its occurrence in 1999, the April 20 anniversary of the Columbine High School tragedy renews debate about the desirability of stricter controls on firearms. Recent surveys, however, find Americans less disposed to gun control than they were in the years surrounding the shootings.

For example, Americans have a better opinion of the National Rifle Association these days than they did in the mid 1990's. Over this same period, public calls for stricter gun-control laws have also quieted somewhat. A recent Pew nationwide survey found a 52%-to-32% majority of respondents holding a favorable opinion of the NRA, which will hold its massive annual convention on April 13-15 this year in St. Louis. While this is the first time since 1994 that the favorability rating of the group has crossed the 50% mark, positive views of the NRA have been inching upward in Pew polls in recent years.

Opinions of the NRA have improved among most demographic and political groups, but the anti-gun control advocacy organization has made its greatest gains among its traditional constituencies - men, whites and Republicans. Favorable views of the NRA among men, for example, jumped 11 percentage points, from 51% in 1995 to 62% in 2007. By contrast, favorable views among women stand at 42%, little changed from the 1995 level. And, while favorability rose 8 points among whites between 1995 and 2007, favorable views among blacks were essentially unchanged.

Republicans, who held the most favorable view of the NRA in 1995, not only continue to hold the most favorable view in 2007 (72% favorable), but also registered the largest gain in the number holding favorable views of the group -- a 20-percentage point increase. Among Democrats, the increase in positive opinions was very modest. As a result, the gap between the attitudes of Republicans and Democrats toward the NRA grew much wider. In 1995, the gap measured 16% points by 2007.

The NRA remains most popular in the South and the Midwest. The Midwest also experienced the largest increase in favorable views of the group, but attitudes in the West also became substantially more pro-NRA.

Most recently, in October 2006, 56% of people told Gallup they favored stricter gun-sales laws. However, when given the choice in that poll between enforcing current gun laws more strictly or doing that plus passing new gun laws, most people (53%) preferred only that current laws be enforced more strictly.

Our Congressmen Jim Marshall, John Barrow, Sanford Bishop are staunch supporters of the 2nd Admendment. 2008 candidates Bobby Saxon, Doug Heckman, Bill Gillespie, Bill Jones were also staunch supporters as well.
This year we have democratis candidates for governor who are also supportive of gun rights, Thurbert Baker, who has been endorsed by the NRA numeruous times, DuBose Porter who is from Rural Georgia & David Poythress.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Georgia in 2012?

Someone over at Dailykos has predicted this is how Georgia is going to look in 2012. My thoughts on this is that Taylor, Marion, & Webster Counties will remain in the Democratic Column. Those counties are staunchly democratic. But besdies that, this map is close to being accurate. What do you think?

Southern GOP moving to roll back voting rights UPDATED

That didn't take long. Just months after a big election year that saw big turnout across the South, many state legislatures in the region are moving to pass an array of laws that create new barriers to voting, mostly in the name of combating "voter fraud."

At the top of the list is Georgia -- a site of election controversy last November -- where on May 5, Gov. Sonny Perdue (R) signed a law requiring prospective voters to prove their citizenship. Since Georgia is covered by the Voting Rights Act, the bill will need to be pre-cleared by the Obama Justice Department; if it does, the law will go into effect in 2010.

The debate echoed a similar controversy that Facing South reported on last fall, where Republican Secretary of State Karen Handel "flagged" thousands of voters suspected of being non-citizens, even encouraging Georgia citizens to challenge the citizenship of fellow voters.

This time, the debate is just heated, as the AP reports:

"It's tantamount to a poll tax," said Elise Shore, regional counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. She said the group was considering a legal challenge if the law clears the Justice Department.

Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, a top backer, said proof of citizenship is needed to prevent voter fraud. She expressed confidence the law could withstand a challenge, noting it was modeled after Arizona's precedent-setting law.

The difference this year is that, since Georgia is covered by the Voting Rights Act, the bill will need to be pre-cleared by the Obama Justice Department; if it does, the law will go into effect in 2010.

Bills requiring voters to show special kinds of ID at the polls -- a movement which gained steam in Georgia -- are also spreading throughout the South. A measure died in Tennessee, but just cleared a House committee in Texas. The arguments in the Lone Star state are the same they've been everywhere.

I have said this along. President Obama's performance here in Georgia scared the living Hell out of the Georgia GOP & they know their days in power are numbered. The Citizenship Bill requiring voters proof that they are citizens of the U.S. is a way to suppress voters who tend to vote democratic. I hope the Justice Department rule against this law. This law is not needed at all. Older voters who do not have a birth certificate will be discouraged from voting & Black Voters will be discouraged also by this law. I didn't like the Photo I.D. Law & I don't like this one either.

After Years of Countless Intelligence Briefings, Silvestre Reyes' Lack of Current World Affairs is Appalling

Speaker designate Nancy Pelosi chose Reyes as the new head of the intelligence panel primarily because Pelosi wanted somebody who would be more aggressive in standing up to the Bush policy on the war in Iraq. It certainly did not hurt Reyes is Hispanic and Hispanics played a significant role in changing the Congress from Republican to Democrat.

Mr. Reyes has served on the House Intelligence Committee since 2001 and has been briefed countless times on Iraq, Israel, Jordon, Lebanon, Syria, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Kurds, Sunni and Shiites along with travel to Iraq five times, Afghanistan three times and recent trips to Lebanon and Israel.

As the Democratic chairman of the House intelligence committee, Reyes was asked last back in 2007 by national security editor Jeff Stein, a reporter with Congressional Quarterly, whether al-Qaeda was Sunni or Shiite. "Predominantly -- probably Shiite," Reyes replied.

Reyes could not describe Hezbollah and incorrectly described al-Qaeda's Islamic roots in a recent interview.

From Osama bin Laden down, al-Qaeda's leadership is comprehensively Sunni and subscribes to a form of Sunni Islam known for not tolerating theological deviation.

In fact, U.S. officials blame al-Qaeda's late leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, for the surge in sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites.

Asked to describe the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, according to a story published online, Reyes responded "Hezbollah. Uh, Hezbollah" and then said, "Why do you ask me these questions at 5 o'clock?"

The Texas congressman later added: "Speaking only for myself, it's hard to keep things in perspective and in the categories."

He doesn't know who or what is Hezbollah (the Shi'a Islamist terrorist and political organization based in Lebanon and backed by Iran and Syria), it is utterly incomprehensible after years on the Intelligence Committee; Mr. Reyes would not know the name of one of the most noted terrorist groups in the world. Mr. Reyes is simply out of touch with world affairs and does not have the qualifications required to be the highest ranked Congressmen in the House Intelligence Committee.

As alarming as not knowing about Hezbollah, Mr. Reyes lacks understanding of the al-Qaida terrorist network and other Islamist extremists.

Reyes didn't know that al-Qaida was a Sunni organization, and couldn't pin down Hezbollah's Shiite affiliations, during the interview

The differences between the Sunni and Shiites are more than semantics. Islam's 1,400-year-old rift is playing out in deadly fashion across Iraq, where ordinary citizens are caught in a crossfire between insurgents, terrorists and militias motivated by politics and religion.

The 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, known in Lebanon as the July War and in Israel as the Second Lebanon War, was a military conflict in Lebanon and northern Israel, primarily between Hezbollah paramilitary forces and the Israeli military.

We commend the Speaker for acknowledging the importance of American Hispanic participation at the chairperson level but Mr. Reyes is an embarrassment to the Hispanic community. It is important to appoint Hispanics but pales to the welfare of the United States. Astute intelligence gathering, analysis and oversight has a significant role in national security.

The House Intelligence Committee chairman becomes one of the most important persons safeguarding our nation. We need someone capable of discernment of intelligence information and the ability to provide oversight to protect Americans.

It is time to rescind Mr. Reyes from chairman of the Intelligence committee America & Democrats now needs to change direction. Mr. Reyes does not understand the intricacies and complexities of intelligence gathering required at the macro intelligence level. When you have the ranking republican Pete Hoekstra (R-Michigan) as the spokesman of the intelligence committee controlled by democrats, you have a problem.

Mr. Reyes is no leader. Remember Sanford Bishop was passed over for the chairmanship by Pelosi because he is a BlueDog & does not see eye to eye with Pelosi on key issues. She wanted a patsy who would cater to liberal interest. Mr. Reyes has to go & put someone who has knowledge on World Affairs.

Blue Dog Coalition Releases Principles for Health Care Reform

Washington, DC - Today, members of the fiscally conservative Democratic Blue Dog Coalition released the official Blue Dog Health Care Reform Principles for the 111th Congress. The principles, developed by the task force and adopted by the full coalition, promote bipartisanship and fiscal responsibility as Congress and the Administration begin to address the urgent need for reform of the nation’s failing health care system.

“We cannot get our nation’s fiscal house back in order or have long-term economic prosperity until we contain the skyrocketing costs of health care,” said Representative Mike Ross (D-AR), Chairman of the Blue Dog Health Care Task Force. “Forty percent of every tax dollar paid today goes to fund Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security; by 2040, that number will reach 100 percent if we do nothing. Working families are struggling because health insurance premiums are rising six to eight times faster than wages. We must make health care affordable, accessible and adequate for every working American, especially those in rural areas. After countless meetings, numerous listening sessions and thoughtful research, these principles represent the Blue Dog Coalition’s commitment to fiscal responsibility and mainstream, common-sense values. As we move forward, moderate voices should have a key role in this debate and we must never lose sight of how these reforms will impact small businesses and working families across this country.”

Specifically, the principles address the Blue Dogs’ belief that fundamental reform of the nation’s health care system is needed to control rising health care costs, increase quality and value, and improve access to coverage and care. Members also emphasized the importance of preserving patient choice and maintaining competition within the marketplace.

“Health care reform provides a tremendous opportunity not only to expand access to coverage but to address the skyrocketing costs of a system badly in need of retooling,” said Representative Zack Space (D-OH), Blue Dog Health Care Task Force Vice-Chair. “We must take steps to bring rising premiums under control and ensure that rural America has equal access to health care.”

“Saving money is on all our minds – both in Washington and back home in our districts. In order to reduce the deficit, ensure our tax dollars are spent efficiently and put more money in the pockets of people at home, we must get the cost of health care under control. At the same time, we must improve the quality of care our patients receive,” said Representative Parker Griffith (D-AL), Blue Dog Health Care Task Force Vice-Chair and retired radiation oncologist who has been a pioneer in the early diagnosis and treatment of cancer. “The Blue Dog Coalition has brought a clear-headed, accountable and transparent approach to improving health care. The system the Blue Dogs advocate will be uniquely American. As a nation, we have set the standard in so many arenas, and a health care system that helps working Americans afford to visit the doctor and assists small business owners in keeping costs down will again set this high standard and help to get the economy back on the right track.”

“For far too long our nation’s health care policies have been driven by profit rather than providing the best care available at an affordable cost,” said Representative Marion Berry (D-AR), Blue Dog Health Care Task Force Vice-Chair and former pharmacist. “Each day many uninsured and underinsured Americans hope they do not become ill. Too many Americans have been forced to make the tough choice between purchasing their prescription drugs and providing their family with basic necessities – this is wrong. As we reform our health care system, we must ensure that all Americans who want health care are able to receive it at an affordable cost and be able to see their preferred doctors. In addition, individuals who are satisfied with their current health care plans should be allowed to maintain that option. As we move forward in shaping one of the most important policies of our time, we must make sure that all options are considered. These policies will impact every American and everyone must have a voice and be heard.”

The Healthcare Task Force include John Barrow (D-Savannah) who is Vice-Chairman of the group.

Tennessee Governor Breseden addresses Georgia Democrats.

From Americue Times Recorder:

Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen said Democrats must still prove themselves to American voters, some of whom crossed party lines for the first time to lift the party to victory in last November’s election.

“This a tryout with the American people, not a long-term engagement,” Bredesen said at the Georgia Democratic Party’s annual Jefferson Jackson dinner Tuesday night.

“There were a lot of people who gave us a try last November and they are waiting to see how it turns out,” he said.

Bredesen urged Democrats to continue to broaden their party by reaching out to small-town churchgoers, Wal-Mart shoppers and other traditionally conservative groups.

And he appealed to the party not to launch ideological purges, as he said Republicans had done in pushing U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, of Pennsylvania, to abandon the GOP and become a Democrat.

“We have got to avoid the Republican disease of being the church that roots out heretics,” Bredesen said.

Bredesen cited his own experience as a target of The liberal group launched a campaign to oppose Bredesen when he was mentioned as a possible U.S. Health and Human Services secretary. The post went instead to Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

Georgia Democrats are looking forward to next year’s elections, where they hope to make inroads taking back the state they ruled for generations.

The three announced candidates for governor were all on hand: Attorney General Thurbert Baker, House Minority Leader DuBose Porter and former Georgia National Guard Commander David Poythress. Former Gov. Roy Barnes also attended and said he hasn’t decided yet whether to jump into the race to replace Sonny Perdue, who is prevented by term limits from seeking a third term.

Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, who is entering her final months at City Hall, and former Georgia Gov. Carl Sanders were each awarded “Georgia Giant” honors by the party Tuesday night.

Fwd: FW: RELEASE: Actions Taken by the State Election Board at its May 12 Meeting

Actions Taken by the State Election Board at its May 12 Meeting
Travis Fain of the Macon Telegraph sent me this:

Macon, Ga.—The Georgia State Election Board met on Tuesday, May 12, 2009.

The Board voted to refer the following cases to the Attorney General's Office:

  • SEB No. 2004-000021: Macon County
  • SEB No. 2007-000036: City of Douglas
  • SEB No. 2008-000029: Newton County
  • SEB No. 2008-000056: Seminole County – Elijah

The Board voted to accept the administrative law judge's decision and increase the fine to $500:
  • SEB No. 2005-000066: City of College Park

The Board voted to grant a continuance in the following case:
  • SEB No. 2007-000028: City of Greenville

The Board voted to close the following cases:
  • SEB No. 2004-000073: Long County
  • SEB No. 2004-000082: Pierce County
  • SEB No. 2005-000075: City of Forest Park
  • SEB No. 2007-000003: City of Buena Vista
  • SEB No. 2008-000028: City of Richland
  • SEB No. 2008-000046: Wilkinson County
  • SEB No. 2008-000057: DeKalb County
  • SEB No. 2008-000067: Lanier County
  • SEB No. 2008-000068: Seminole County – Dugan
  • SEB No. 2008-000069: Elbert County
  • SEB No. 2008-000073: Jasper County
  • SEB No. 2008-000119: Midway Baptist Church
  • Memo Case 080007: Gwinnett County, Howard Sorsdahl

The Board voted to close the portion of SEB No. 2008-000137: Karen Horne relating to the Henry County Elections and Registration Board and refer the portion relating to Karen Horne to the Attorney General's Office. The Board requested that the Attorney General's Office send the case to the Henry County District Attorney.

The Board voted to refer these cases to the Attorney General's Office and ask Fulton County to provide a written response to the allegations within 30 days:
  • SEB No. 2008-000084: Fulton County, General Election
  • SEB No. 2008-000104: Fulton County, Absentee Ballots
  • SEB No. 2008-000134: Fulton County, Run-off

The Board voted to accept consent orders in the following cases:
  • SEB No. 2005-000087: City of Zebulon
  • SEB No. 2006-000008: City of Greenville
  • SEB No. 2006-000020: Coffee County
  • SEB No. 2008:000007: Anthony Scott Hobbs

The Secretary of State's Elections Division Director Wes Tailor briefed the Board with an elections update.

Deputy Secretary of State Rob Simms gave the Board an overview of pending elections legislation.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Very short Q & A with David Poythress

Q: "Mr. Poythress you are being compared to ex-governor Joe Frank Harris,
who was a dark horse candidate who came out of nowhere to beat a

better known candidate Bo Ginn in 1982. Is that a fair comparison? "

A; I believe it's a valid comparison. Like Joe Frank Harris I'm a
moderate Democrat who appeals across the entire political spectrum,
and like Governor Harris, I'm going to win.

Q: "And with recent polling showing you beating Handel by 4% & trailing
Oxendine by 4%, do you think more people will now start taking you
seriously as a candidate?"

A: Recent polling shows that Georgia's Governors race is wide open and
that I'm a strong contender.

Q: "There are some saying you don't have the grassroots support to be a
viable candidate if Barnes enter the race. People say if he enters, he
will be the automatic favorite to win. I disagree with that. What do
you have to say about that?"

A: If he enters the race, Governor Barnes will be a credible candidate,
yet I agree with your premise that he is NOT unbeatable.

Q: "Last question will you seek the endorsements of Governor Joe Frank

Harris & Former Senator Sam Nunn?"

A: I have often been compared to both Governor Harris and Senator Nunn,
and I would be honored to receive their support.

Dems annual Bash last night in Atlanta.

The Democratic Party had their annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner last night in Atlanta. David Poythress, Thurbert Baker, DuBose Porter & Roy Barnes were there. All made statements to the Press after the dinner.

Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports:

Out-of-power Georgia Democrats gathering for their annual Jefferson Jackson fundraising dinner Tuesday night are eyeing a comeback in the 2010 elections. And the star of the show is the man who's keeping the party guessing with Hamlet-like wavering about whether he'll run: former Gov. Roy Barnes.

Ousted by Republican Sonny Perdue in 2002, Barnes, 61, has been flirting very publicly with whether to jump into the 2010 race to reclaim his old job. Most political experts agree that if Barnes enters the crowded field, he'd become the immediate front runner for his party's nomination.

But Barnes - who has been biding his time at the helm at of his lucrative law practice since being booted from the governor's mansion - said he still hasn't made up his mind.

In recent months, he has been turning up at prayer breakfasts and chicken dinners around the state, road testing a populist message that often sounds a lot like a stump speech.

"I have become very concerned with the agenda of the state being set in the lobbyists' office and not by the public," Barnes said in an interview with The Associated Press.

And in a state that has grown increasingly Republican in recent years, Barnes didn't limit his scorn to the ruling GOP. Barnes said some fellow Democrats are guilty of voting along with "the red wine and thick steak crowd" of lobbyists and special interests that hold sway at the state Capitol.

"There's Democrats to blame too," Barnes said. "There's plenty of blame to go around on both sides."

He declined to name names on either side of the aisle but said he was disturbed by votes in the recent legislative session to award tax breaks to special interests and to give Georgia Power the ability to charge customers early for the construction of two new nuclear reactors.

But whether Barnes would be a savior for Georgia's struggling Democrats is still an open question.

He had a reputation for arrogance that spawned an infamous 2002 campaign ad that depicted him as a rat named "King Roy." His feuded with the state's teachers over education reform.

While some are urging him to run, some in the Democratic Party remember him as the polarizing figure who lost to Perdue, a little-known state senator on a shoestring budget. Barnes' loss opened the door to the first Republican governor in Georgia since Reconstruction and ushered in GOP rule in the state.

And for all his talk of the corrupting influence of lobbyists, Barnes was once criticized for being beholden to the state's business and development interests.

"Yes, some people know him and remember him," Emory University political science professor Alan Abramowitz said. "But that doesn't mean they like him."

Still, he has earned some recognition that could help him rehabilitate his image since his loss.

He received a John F. Kennedy "Profile in Courage" award in 2003 for his work to remove the Confederate Battle symbol from the Georgia flag.

And he strikes a humbler tone these days.

"I don't tell you that I am a perfect candidate. I've made mistakes," he said.

There are already three Democrats in the gubernatorial race: Attorney General Thurbert Baker, House Minority Leader DuBose Porter and former Georgia National Guard Commander David Poythress.

All three have said they will run no matter what Barnes does.

On Tuesday night Barnes said the current field lacked vision.

"It's not that they're not good people. It's just that, listen, we can do better," he said outside the Democratic dinner.

Baker, Porter and Poythress disputed that, laying out agendas they say would move the state forward.

Barnes is a formidable fundraiser - he scooped up $20 million in his 2002 race against Perdue - and could make it difficult for other Democrats to compete.

Barnes said he will make a decision by early June at the latest.

"I'm ambivalent," he said. "Really, I'm happy being a good ol' country lawyer."

Bredesen warns Georgia Democrats of the 'Republican disease'

May 13, 2009 On the face of it, Georgia’s Democrats didn’t have all that much to celebrate at this year’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner Tuesday night. The state stayed solid red in last year’s presidential election, and about all the Democrats did was to force US Sen. Saxby Chambliss into a runoff with Jim Martin and pick up four new state House seats, still well short of a majority.

But it was a generally upbeat crowd which gathered in downtown Atlanta to eyeball next year’s crop of candidates, announced and otherwise, and honor former Gov. Carl Sanders and Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin as this year’s “Georgia Giants.” The party reportedly is hearing from a lot more potential candidates for next year’s races than was the case before the 2008 election, and the party faithful has been energized by the new administration in Washington.

This year’s speaker was Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat whose successes through two terms in the Volunteer State have been shaded by the Republicans’ successful takeover of both the state Senate and House last year. His message was that Democrats have been given “a try-out with the American people, not a long-term engagement.”

“We as a party can learn from our past mistakes. Where we are today is a place where our party has been before,” the former Nashville mayor said. The “great failure of my generation,” he said, was the dissipation of the positive energy that surrounded John F. Kennedy’s youthful administration.

To avoid repeating history, Democrats must think through and focus their message, build bridges with those voters who “almost” voted with them in the last election, and think in new ways about the challenges ahead, notably healthcare.

To stay in power, he said, Democrats have to be respectful of different opinions within the party.

“We have got to avoid this Republican disease of becoming the church that roots out the heretics,” Bredesen said.

As you’d expect, all the Democratic candidates for governor – Adjutant Gen. David Poythress, Attorney General Thurbert Baker, and House Minority Leader DuBose Porter (D-Dublin) – were on hand, as was the race’s 800-pound gorilla, former Gov. Roy Barnes.

Barnes was coy as ever when he was asked the inevitable question about his intentions in the race. He again said he will make up his mind around June 1. That’s a date which a lot of Democrats think is mighty late to be getting in. On the other hand, it’s just three weeks away.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ford's Middle Class Flat Tax is an idea Dems should run on.

This is a old article, but it's worth the read:

Former Congressman and Democratic Leadership Council Chairman Harold Ford has an excellent tax reform proposal to benefit middle and working class Americans. I have my differences with the DLC especially on economic issues but Ford's idea appears to be sound public policy and good politics. Ford is handing Democrats the kind of idea that wins elections.

Making his case for a middle class flat tax in a Washington Times column published on November 29, Ford states: "This is simple and fair: no middle-class family with an income of under $150,000 should ever pay an effective tax rate of more than 10 percent. If what they owe after calculating their taxes is more than 10 percent of their income, they won't have to pay a dime above 10 percent. If they owe less than 10 percent, they pay the lesser amount."

Ford writes:

We ended the last century with America's economic might at its zenith, with Americans at their most optimistic, and with nearly all who endeavored to make the most of their opportunities and talents getting ahead in life. John F. Kennedy's declaration that a rising tide will lift all boats was alive and well.

Middle-class Americans generate little or no national savings. We've had four straight years of rising productivity and falling incomes. Many Americans are earning less, while the costs of a middle-class life have soared: In the last five years, college costs are up 50 percent, health care up 73 percent, and gasoline more than 100 percent. Rising housing costs have driven people farther and farther from their work.

These trends undermine our way of life because middle-class strength and growth represent the backbone of American life.

Our national political discussion about how to grow the middle class often becomes just that, a political discussion punctuated by harsh talk of "class warfare." In fact, class warfare is under way — as billionaire Warren Buffet is fond of saying — and the middle is not winning.

To address the challenges of the middle class, Democrats should advance an agenda that aims to do something loftier than just repeal the Bush tax cuts on millionaires. It should boost incentives for average Americans to increase savings and investments, and help them participate more fully in the upside of economic growth.

As Ford argues for a middle class flat tax, many Republicans are promoting tax changes that would transfer more wealth to the super rich.

GOP's outcry over deficits disingenuous

By Jay Bookman of the AJC:

Republicans in Congress and on the TV and radio talk shows claim to oppose the economic stimulus out of concern about the national debt and a moral conviction that we should not saddle future generations of Americans with such a burden.

But who do they think they're fooling? Apparently they believe the world began anew at noon on Jan. 20, and that everything that occurred prior to that date had somehow been wiped clean from the national memory banks.

Well, it hasn't.

We do face a long-term problem. Our gross federal debt is at $10.6 trillion, with a good portion owed to lenders in China, Japan and the Middle East. But how did that number get so huge?

Well, of that $10.6 trillion debt —- a figure that accumulated over more than 225 years —- a shocking $8.35 trillion was racked up during the presidencies of Ronald Reagan, George Bush and George W. Bush. And much as their apologists pretend otherwise, those numbers can't be blamed mostly on Congress. During the Reagan era, for example, final budgets approved year after year totaled almost exactly what Reagan had requested.

Now, raw numbers can admittedly be misleading. A more accurate way to gauge how much a president has contributed to the problem is to measure debt against the size of the national economy. If the economy grew a lot, debt could grow as well without creating a problem.

Under Jimmy Carter, debt declined as a percentage of gross domestic product, falling to 32.6 percent, its lowest in 50 years. Then came Reagan. By the time "the Gipper" left office, the debt had almost tripled in raw numbers; as a percentage of GDP, it soared to 53.1 percent, and it rose still further, to 66.2 percent, under the first President Bush.

And of course, the same congressional Republicans now preaching the dangers of deficit spending were right at Bush's side, writing and passing the budgets that drove us deeply into the red.

That's why tax cuts are not the solution. In this economy, tax refunds would be treated in the same manner as a lottery win or small inheritance; most people wouldn't spend it, they'd use it to bolster their financial defenses. And that's as true for businesses as for individuals. Most companies wouldn't use new cash to invest in a factory or hire workers; they'd sit on it.

When consumers won't consume and investors won't invest, only government can step in to buy trucks and military equipment, and build roads and transit, and by doing so create demand for labor and material. That's just a hard economic reality.

Here's another one: For most of the past 30 years, huge deficits were not a necessity, yet under GOP leadership we incurred them anyway. With deficits now a necessary evil, this is not the time for them to try to reclaim their inner cheapskate.

Columbia County Democrats Gubernatorial forum

Jabez Sanford Hardin Performing Art Center
7022 Evans Town Center Blvd. Evans, GA, 30809
May 29 2009 - 6:30pm - May 29 2009 - 12:00am

Come and participate in the gubernatorial forum with David Poythress and Thurbert E. Baker. After a discussion and question-answer forum, dinner will be served, catered by Sconyer's Bar-b-que. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased by calling (706) 513-3400 or e-mailing

Perdue Vetoes cuts in Capital Gains Tax.

Georgia investors dreaming of a slashed capital gains tax cut appear to be out of luck.

Gov. Sonny Perdue said Monday he will veto House Bill 481, which would have cut the tax on profits of certain investments by 50 percent. His decision led one business association to call on lawmakers to override Perdue’s veto when they are next in session and prompted one of Perdue’s political acolytes to declare herself “disappointed.”

Perdue told reporters he would veto H.B. 481 because “while I agree with stimulative activity, unlike the federal government who can run a deficit, Georgia is a balanced-budget state and we cannot run a deficit.”

Estimates had suggested the bill, which would also offer businesses tax credits for hiring unemployed workers, would cost the state more than $1 billion. Given the state’s revenue situation — Perdue announced Monday that April’s tax collections were off by 20 percent from April 2008 — that was too high a tab.

I applaud this decision by Perdue. This bill would have blown a huge in the deficit that the state would have paid dearly for in 2012. Finally, a little common sense from our governor.

Democrats to meet with spotlight on Barnes

Georgia Democrats — looking ahead to next year’s statewide elections — are set to gather for their annual Jefferson Jackson Dinner.

Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen is scheduled to offer the keynote address Tuesday night.

The dinner will honor Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, who is entering her final months at City Hall, and former Georgia Gov. Carl Sanders.

But many eyes will likely be on another former Georgia governor. Roy Barnes is expected to decide in the coming weeks whether he will run in 2010 to get his old job back. He would enter a crowded Democratic field. Attorney General Thurbert Baker, House Minority Leader DuBose Porter and former Georgia National Guard Commander David Poythress have all said they are running.

Hodges files in Democratic race for AG, with a Republican name behind him

By Jim Galloway of the AJC: Ken Hodges, the former Dougherty County district attorney, has filed his paperwork in the Democratic race for attorney general. State Rep. Rob Teilhet of Smyrna is already in the race.

Worth noting is one of the names behind Hodges’ candidacy. The treasurer is listed as Edward C. Callaway of , son of Howard “Bo” Callaway, who almost became Georgia’s first Republican governor in 1966 — and remains a venerated figure within the Georgia GOP.

Edward Callaway currently serves as CEO and president of Callaway Gardens.

Chairman of the Hodges campaign will be Connell Stafford, who once served chief of staff to Sam Nunn, before moving on to Coke and beyond.

Ken Hodges will be very difficult for Rob Teilhet to defeat in the primary. Hodges will have the advantage of having a base in Southwest Georgia as well as the rest of South Georgia & rural Georgia.

Ken Hodges, a former Albany district attorney who resigned from office in September after serving for almost a dozen years. He is now in private practice in Atlanta.

Hodges plans to emphasize his efforts in south Georgia to crack down on predatory lenders and illegal video poker rings. And he said he'll be quick to emphasize his experience running a prosecutor's office.

"We need somebody who has done it before and knows the job," he said. "And so far I'm the only one I know of who fits that category.

Democrat Jeff Scott announces run for State School Superintendent

Today I’m announcing my candidacy to become the next state school superintendent of Georgia. This journey, that we will take together, will proceed with the desire to take our educational opportunities to the level of excellence in all areas. This journey will see the end of fear that has slowly crept into all levels of our educational system over the past few years, the end of not focusing on real skills for the real world, the end of students not having the opportunity for needed activity, and the end of bubble tests being the basis of our educational thinking.

We must once again put the words skill, fun, joy, relevance, and risk back into the classrooms. Our teachers want to teach, our school leaders want to lead, our students want dynamic learning experiences, and our parents want to be assured that their children will be prepared for work, trade school, or university when they leave our schools.

My passion and dedication to the field of education run deep. My experiences in the classroom, school leadership roles, as an adjunct professor, and others have prepared me in a unique way to lead our schools. Our schools will be a shining example of enhancing the special skills that each of our students possess and where understanding government and economics will be as much as an emphasis as math and reading.

No other candidate will bring more energy and passion to this race than I. It is now time to turn the page for a more enhanced, skill driven educational system. Our students are not all the same, nor our teachers, school leaders, or schools. Hence, they can’t be made to look the same. A one-size-fits-all approach does not work in true education. I look forward to future debates and discussions, but most importantly I look forward to the students, educators, and parents of this wonderful state getting to know me and what kind of leader I will be for them as we prepare our students and their children to better compete nationally and globally.

Our team is strong. I want to thank my wonderful wife Holly for standing by me as we begin this journey as well as my campaign team that will stretch throughout the state. This will be a team effort with the focus of providing real education with real skills for real opportunities.

Please go to my website to learn more and to join the journey to excellence.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Thurmond won’t rule out bid for governor

5/6/09 Georgia Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond was at the Loudermilk Center to talk about the state’s job market today, but people couldn’t resist asking whether he’s going to run for governor.

Thurmond, a Democrat, said he hasn’t decided and likely won’t until former Gov. Roy Barnes announces whether he will run. That will be in early June, Thurmond said. Three other Democrats have already announced a bid for governor: House Minority Leader DuBose Porter (D-Dublin), Adjutant Gen. David Poythress and Attorney General Thurbert Baker.

Thurmond offered two caveats Wednesday:

“I love what I’m doing,” he said.

But, “my mother always told me you should look to the hills.”

Thurmond has said previously he’ll play utility infielder and “go wherever he’s needed” — whether lieutenant governor (where no Democrat has announced) or remaining in his current post. Or running against Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson in 2010.

Let me say this, if Barnes decline the race, Thurmond would probably run for governor. But with Baker already in the race. he'll probably stay at Labor.

Democrats who have announced for the following races & possible candiates.

For Attorney General:
State Rep. Rob Teilhet (D) Smyrna
Former Dougherty County D.A. Ken Hodges (D) Albany.
For Secretary of State:
Gary Horlacher (D) Peachtree City
Other possibilities: Darryl Hicks, Vernon Jones, Gail Buckner, Scott Holcombe.
State Agriculture Commissioner: Possibilities are:
Deputy Agriculture Commissioner Terry Coleman (D) Eastman
Businessman & Ecologist Rand Knight (D) Atlanta
Former State Senator & 2006 candidate for Secretary of State Walter Ray (D) Douglas.
State Insurance Commissioner: Former State Rep. & 2004 U.S. Senate Candidate Mary Squires (D) Norcross
Another Possibility: State Rep. Keith Heard (D) Athens
State School Superintendent: Teacher & U.S. Marine Corp. Veteran Brian Westlake (D) Decatur
Democratic Activist, Teacher, 2008 Congressional Candidate Jeff Scott (D) Chickamauga
Lt. Governor possibilities: State Senator Tim Golden (D) Valdosta
State Senator David Adelman (D) Decatur
Attorney General Thurbert Baker (D) Stone Mountain,
Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond (D) Athens
U.S. Senate possibilities: It's anyone's guess.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Isakson gets a "F" from the MiddleClass.Org

Isakson's Middle-Class Grades
2009 Final grade to be released 03.2010
2008 Grade F
2007 Grade F
2005 Grade F
For more on Johnny Isakson's grades by the MiddleClass.Org, go to'legislator/john-isakson-174

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Who should dems target in 2010?

What State Senate & State Representative seats should democrats be targeting in 2010. Any suggestions?

Recovery Act Funds Will Help Strengthen Rural Economies and Create Jobs

WASHINGTON, April 28, 2009 — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the selection of more than $615.8 million in water and environmental projects that are being funded immediately with federal funds provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The projects will help provide safe drinking water and improved wastewater treatment systems for rural towns and communities in 34 states.

"Aging water and waste infrastructure systems threaten the ability of rural communities to provide clean, reliable drinking water to residents and protect precious environmental resources." said Vilsack. "These investments will help bring increased economic benefits to rural America by providing needed water, water systems and creating jobs."

The funding announced today will be allocated to 193 projects and create or save an estimated 12,385 jobs. They are the first of many projects that will receive Recovery Act funds to improve rural water and waste disposal systems. For example, the Yuma County Improvement District in Arizona has been selected to receive $14.6 million to connect approximately 1,000 homes to a municipal treatment system. The project will reduce groundwater contamination from failing septic systems and improve the water quality of the Colorado River.

USDA Rural Development's Water and Environmental Program provides loans and grants to ensure that the necessary investments are made in water and wastewater infrastructure to deliver safe drinking water and protect the environment in rural areas. More information about USDA rural Development can be found at Funding of individual recipients is contingent upon their meeting the terms of the loan or grant agreement.

President Obama signed The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 into law on Feb. 17, 2009. It is designed to jumpstart the nation's economy, create or save millions of jobs and put a down payment on addressing long-neglected challenges so our country can thrive in the 21st century. The Act includes measures to modernize our nation's infrastructure, enhance energy independence, expand educational opportunities, preserve and improve affordable health care, provide tax relief, and protect those in greatest need.

More information about USDA's Recovery Act efforts is available at More information about the Federal government's efforts on the Recovery Act is available at

Time for Dems to use National Republican Party against Republicans?.

During the years, the reoublicans have tried to tie democratic candidates & incumbents from Red States or Districts in with the National Democratic Party, which is to the left on a host of key issues. For example in 2006, Mac Collins & the National Republicans tried to tie Jim Marshall, a conservative democrat with the National Democrats saying he voted for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker & voted for issues that seem out of lockstep with his district, which Mac Collins aides had a hand in along with the Georgia GOP in redrawing back in 2005.
They tried that with John Barrow over in the 12th District as well in addition using where he got his education from. Barrow attended Harvard School after graduating from the University of Georgia. They called him a carpetbagger after the GOP redrew his district, saying he can't relate to rural voters & is out of touch with his district, yet his roots run deep over in eastern Georgia, going back more than 7 generations.
I say the democrats use the same tactic against incumbent republicans & republican challengers. The National Republicans have gotten more conservative, catering to the fringes of the party. They have no new ideas except for going back 30 years, recycling the same old, worn out ideas. Moderates have left them, independents have left them, young folks have left them. Here in Georgia & the south, they are somewhat still popular, but for how long? The have become regional based & the south is their only stronghold left in the U.S.
If the Democratic Party in the South, especially here in Georgia can use the same strategy against republicans & tie them to the National Republicans it will result in more pickups for dems & a long majority in Congress.

"Rep. Dubose Porter accepts the 2009 Smack-Down Award at the Young Democrats of Georgia Murphys"

Young Democrats of Georgia is proud to give the 2009 Smack-Down Award to State Representative, and House Minority Leader, Dubose Porter of Dublin, Georgia.

State cuts hit Camden schools

In the fallout of losing $8.8 million in state funding, the Camden County Board of Education has sliced a total of four teaching positions at the elementary and middle school grade levels so far in this budget season.

More cuts are likely to follow as a team at the board's administrative office continues to meticulously comb through the budget with critical eyes examining every program, said Superintendent Dr. Will Hardin. Nothing is immune from consideration for the chopping block in the wake of deepening state funding cuts totaling $8.8 million.

Although four full-time teachers and six part-time retired teachers were notified that their positions are on the list of likely cuts, Hardin said nothing on the budget cut list is final until the board votes on May 12 during its regular meeting.

"Athletics, after school programs, academic programs, everything is being reviewed," Hardin said. "This is a dynamic process because the numbers we are hearing from the state seem to change weekly."

Hardin said the school system notified 10 individuals on April 10 that their positions were on the budget cut list even though the list isn't final until the 2009-2010 budget is approved next month.

"We thought it was only fair to go ahead and let them know so they would have the opportunity to look for other employment, and I also explained that we hope to invite them back as employees if at all possible," Hardin said. "We didn't have to tell them until May 15, but we went ahead because we want to be fair to them."

The state determines the number of teaching positions to fund for all school systems based on number and types of students. This year, as the recession continues to tighten its grip on state coffers, Gov. Sonny Perdue increased the number of students allowed in classrooms at the middle and elementary school grade levels. Increasing class sizes resulted in a reduction in the number of teachers the state has agreed to fund for these grade levels for the upcoming fiscal year.

Hardin said this was a factor that played into determining which positions would be cut.

"I will not be happy until we are able to ask these four teachers back as full-time employees by the way of attrition or by the way of finding other alternative funding sources," Hardin said.

When the BOE was faced with state cuts of funding for a total of 43 teaching positions in Camden County, Hardin said the budget team began scrambling at the administrative office to save as many positions as possible by making cuts at the top first.

Positions such as director of policy and public information held by Michael Wooden and the public relations director position held by John La Boone were the first cuts to be announced earlier this year. Wooden will be moving to the principal position at Woodbine Elementary School starting in the fall, and La Boone is retiring.

After the first round of administrative cuts and slicing expenses at the administrative office, the budget team then cut six part-time positions held by retired teachers. Also. seven full-time teachers were offered full-time substitute teaching positions and will be paid based on experience.

"We decided that cutting six part-time positions held by retired teachers who are supplementing their incomes was more fair than cutting more of the first-year teachers," Hardin said. "Full-time substitute teachers don't have the same advantages as full-time teachers such as a permanent classroom, or a homeroom, but offering them positions based on experience like this was a better option than sending them home."

Then the budget team resorted to cutting four full-time teachers based on hire date, Hardin said. If by chance the attrition that typically opens a handful of positions each year happens as usual this year, the board will offer any freshly vacated positions to the four individuals who have been cut first based on qualification.

"Every year spouses get transferred or people leave for other reasons. It is very uncommon for us to not have at least four positions that become available over the summer due to attrition," Hardin said.

After calculating all of these cuts, Hardin said the budget team is within $200,000 of its goal. At this point the team is now examining 74 programs, each of which could be considered for cuts.

"Considering what we've been faced with I think we have done a good job. We started out with the loss of funding for 43 and we've made enough cuts elsewhere to save all but four of those full-time positions," Hardin said.

As the budget season unfolds, more cuts will be announced, Hardin said. The board will discuss the proposed budget at the work session scheduled for 6 p.m. May 7 and will vote on it May 12.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Coleman eyeing AG Commissioner's post, but not ready to declare.

Terry Coleman has his eyes on the Agriculture Commissioner's race, say the guys over at The Insider Advantage Georgia. Unless you are subscribed with them, you cannot see the article. I sure can't.
Coleman is our best hope of retaining the AG Commissioner's post after Tommy Irvin retires next year. Gary Black (R) who lost to Irvin in 2006 will run again for the post. Black is a former lobbyist for Big Ahriculture & that will be a problem for him in 2010 as folks seem to dislike lobbyist, especially family farms, small farmers, & independent farmers who always gets screwed by the big boys.

Jim Marshall speaks to Dodge County Students.

On Friday, April 17, 2009 we were very pleased to have Congressman Jim Marshall come to Dodge County High School to speak with a select group of students about helping the community. He also spoke about his position in Congress and the moments in his life leading to that point. Congressman Marshall was concerned about students not being aware of the many opportunities that are available. As a co-chairman of the Air Force Caucus and a service to the Board of Visitors of the United States Military Academy, he felt obligated to inform students in his district about getting involved with community service. Congressman Marshall also spoke to several different schools in addition to Dodge County High School.

Poverty a problem in Liberty County.

Coastal Courier, serving Liberty County: As facilitators tried to close the countywide planning workshop Friday on St. Simons Island, Liberty County officials let it be known they weren’t quite finished hashing out issues.
Human services issues, like local poverty, homelessness and health care for the elderly, brought several officials to their feet, hands in the air, waiting for a turn to chime in.
And it’s no wonder such topics drew countless comments and questions from workshop attendees as 17 percent of their constituents are living under the poverty line and more than half of the county’s school-aged children qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.
Elected and non-elected leaders wrapped up their stay at the Sea Palms resort by creating course of actions to improve human services, economic development, transportation and water for residents.
In order to come up with a solution, however, everyone needs to completely understand the problem, according to Kathy Love, president of Savannah Technical College’s Liberty campus.
Love pushed for a local poverty simulation exercise, similar to Savannah’s Step Up program.
“Most of us have never lived in that situation,” Love said. “The poverty simulation will show where the cracks are in your system.”
Leaders agreed assitance often isn’t utilized because eligible recipients aren’t aware it’s available.
Rather than taking advantage of services, commissioner Connie Thrift said the needy, particularly the homeless, often “go from church to church to church.”
“And they really knock on the church door and that really needs to be under control,” Thrift said.
Using Meals on Wheels as an example, Elise Stafford with Liberty Regional Medical Center said there are new state-funded programs to help keep the elderly from having to stay in the hospital or a care facility.
“If a person has to go through several different phases of care, Medicaid dollars will follow them,” Stafford said.
“[That’s an] Example of taking service to the individual, which is the ideal way to provide it,” said Gail Evans, who sits on Flemington city council.
She agreed with Stafford there often are not enough beds and caregivers to go around and the baby boomer population will make it a bigger issue in a few years.
“Thank goodness they wised up and realized it’s a lot less expensive providing it this way,” Evans said of the state.
Many community leaders say they face obstacles in spreading the word and making sure people who need help know it’s out there.
“One of the biggest challenges is that turnover every year by the soldiers,” said Paul Andreshak, director of the Friends of Liberty.
But that’s no excuse, according to former mayor Tom Ratcliffe, foundations should in place “and then start tweaking it where it needs to be tweaked.”
“If you want to know where the gaps are, then go out there and test the agencies and see what kind of response you get,” Ratcliffe said, mentioning a secret shopper concept.
In addition, popular information mediums such as the Internet aren’t always the best way to reach underprivileged groups.
Former Hinesville mayor Tom Ratcliffe suggested partnering with the Board of Education and Comcast to put students on TV to talk about local services.
“Everybody will watch their own child on TV,” Ratcliffe said.
“What I’m afraid of is, it’s going to be separate endeavors and it doesn’t need to be,” said Rene Harwell, marketing director for Liberty Regional Medical Center.
“We all have pieces of the project, we just have to put together,” agreed Thrift.
But Sonny Timmerman, director of the Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission, was optimistic.
“Maybe you won’t recognize our community in six months,” Timmerman said. “We want to bring a central point of information together so we are all reading in the same hymn book, preferably on the same song.”

Thurbert Baker in Decatur County ( Bainbridge ) Monday Night

Georgia's Attorney General Thurbert Baker applauded local educators at a banquet for retiring teachers Monday night, but said he believes education can still be improved within the state.

As the guest speaker at the Decatur County Retiring Educators banquet held at Bainbridge High School Monday, Baker outlined which areas of focus still need work and called on teachers to show strong commitment to their mission of serving children. He said he hoped teachers' service acts as an encouragement to others.

Baker has announced plans to run for governor in 2010, after serving nine years in the General Assembly and so far, three terms as the state's leading law enforcer.

Baker, who said his wife and one of his daughters are teachers, said he believes "full funding" should be allocated for education in Georgia and called financial support for schools an "investment" in the state's future.

"If we're going to make sure education is fully funded, we also need to give teachers an opportunity to teach," Baker said.

Baker said the state government should provide incentives to attract the best teachers to Georgia schools and keep them there.

Other education topics Baker touched on included safe transportation of students and safe schools.

"If we're going to tackle these issues, it will take leadership and without doubt, a commitment to do the right thing," Baker said.

In the state assembly, Baker was one of the lawmakers key to passing the legislation that created the HOPE college scholarship—funded by a state lottery system. He said he likes to tell young people they don't need a backup plan, or "plan B," but rather a "plan E," for an education, which he said allows people to handle a variety of tasks.

"Education provides a window of opportunity," Baker said. "This world is all about opening up opportunities so we can thrive. Education made my life possible."

Baker has finally come to rural Georgia.

Great article by Hastings Wyman of Southern Political Report.

The Peach State 2010 governor’s race was moving at a fairly slow pace until mid-April, when Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle (R) suddenly withdrew from the contest, announcing that pending surgery for a spinal condition made a race for Georgia CEO inadvisable (he will, however, seek re-election as lieutenant governor).

Then out of the blue came US Rep. Nathan Deal (R), announcing that he will seek the GOP nomination for governor, competing with five other contenders, Secretary of State Karen Handel, state Sen. President Eric Johnson, Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, state Rep. Austin Scott and former candidate Roy McBerry. The next shoe to drop -- a big one -- will be on the Democratic side: Will former Gov. Roy Barnes get in the race?

With Gov. Sonny Perdue ineligible to seek a third term, the Republicans “have a highly competitive primary with at least four very strong candidates,” says Ralph Reed, Atlanta consultant and 2006 candidate for lieutenant governor. “No one in this race can rest on their laurels or take anything for granted.”

The GOP race “is wide open,” agrees University of Georgia political scientist Charles Bullock, who says, however, that Handel “has the inside track.” Bullock says she will benefit from being the only woman in the race. “All else being equal, Republican women would vote for a woman,” says Bullock, noting his impression from speaking to GOP women’s clubs around the state. Handel has voter recognition, especially in the vote-rich North Fulton area from her previous service as chairman of the Fulton County Commission. She may also may draw support from some of the business community and from more moderate Republicans, though her support for a picture ID requirement for voting has helped her with conservatives. Most of all, it is possible that she will have the support of the still popular Perdue, either up-front or behind the scenes.

Deal’s entry into the race was very much a surprise. The Peach State rumor mill had it that he was going to retire in 2010. That he’s running for governor “tells us something about the race,” says Southern Political Report editor Tom Baxter, formerly chief political correspondent for the Atlanta Journal and Constitution; “he would have had to have some pretty powerful folks backing him.” Deal may get the support of some of the business community, since he serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee. In addition, he is expected to have the endorsement of most of the seven Republican US House members from Georgia. He also benefits by being from the heavily Republican 9th District (75% for McCain in 2008) in GOP-heavy North Georgia. Some 60% of the Republican Primary vote comes from North of I-20. Indeed, the withdrawal from the race of fellow North Georgian Cagle was a major factor in Deal’s decision to run.

Oxendine has significant name ID from having won three statewide elections. He has good fundraising potential from having served as Insurance Commissioner since 1995. And he is making a pitch to social conservatives, most recently by opposing (unsuccessfully) the sale of alcohol beverages in the state on Sunday.

Johnson has served in the legislature for 17 years and has many influential friends across the state. In the Senate, he backed a school voucher proposal, popular with conservatives, opposed by liberals and many educators. He will draw votes especially in Savannah, his hometown, and in South Georgia generally. He already has the backing of US Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) of the 1st District (Savannah, etc.)

Scott got press coverage recently by opposing a state House resolution honoring Obama on his election as president. However, in the big “stars and bars” battle of eight years ago, Scott supported the Barnes-backed flag to replace the “Confederate” version. He is from Tifton, which is not a large population center.

McBerry ran against Perdue in the 2006 GOP primary, charging the governor with reneging on his promise to let the people vote on the state flag change. He garnered some 12% of the vote. He stresses that he is the states’ rights candidate.

On the Democratic side, whether it’s a go or a no-go for Barnes, his decision won’t be a big surprise, as there is considerable speculation that he will run and that he won’t.

Evidence for the “yes, he will run” position is plentiful. Barnes is behaving like a candidate, speaking around the state and staying in the public eye. Moreover, as one observer put it, “I have rarely seen a guy more devastated by [his 2002] defeat -- maybe Jimmy Carter -- and rarely seen a guy more driven for redemption.”

But there is equally compelling evidence that he won’t take the leap. Close associates to the former governor are saying there is less than a 50% chance that he will get in the race. “He has not closed the door, but it’s looking less likely,” says one source. Several factors discourage him. One, says Bullock, is that “he would like for the last chapter in his political career not to be a defeat. So he would have to have a strong feeling that he could win for him to run.” Barnes is expected to make a decision by next month.

The presence of Attorney General Thurbert Baker in the Democratic race would have to enter into Barnes’ calculations. Baker has won election statewide as attorney general three times, although he has kept a relatively low profile in that office. While Barnes lost re-election as governor in 2002 in large part because he worked with the legislature’s black caucus to remove the Confederate battle flag from the official state flag, black voters might move strongly in Baker’s direction if his candidacy looks viable, much as they moved from long-time ally Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama last year. With African-Americans accounting for nearly half of the Democratic Primary turnout and the prospect that Baker would get some white support (he’s tough on crime), he starts out as a likely favorite for the Democratic nomination.

There has been some speculation, however, that Baker’s anti-crime stance, including support for capital punishment, would hurt him with some black voters. Writing in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, columnist Jim Galloway noted that the Rev. Joseph Lowery and state Sen. Emanuel Jones, both key black leaders, have expressed their policy concerns to Baker, and that Baker will be meeting with African-American legislators later this month in hopes of allaying those concerns. Two white candidates are also meeting with the group, and on equal footing with Baker. Other observers, however, believe the likelihood is that African Americans would not let policy differences keep them from helping Baker make history by becoming the state’s first black governor.

Two other Democrats are also in the race.

House Minority Leader DuBose Porter has served in the lower chamber for 26 years and should have significant support from many fellow House members. He's from Dublin, another low-population area.

David Poythress is a former Secretary of State, former Labor Commissioner -- both positions filled by statewide elections -- and state adjutant general, an appointive post. He has endorsed President Obama’s stimulus package as a way to help Georgia avoid a property tax increase. Poythress ran for governor in 1998, finishing third with 14% of the Democratic Primary vote.

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

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