Monday, November 30, 2009

I throw my full support behind Democrat Dr. Beth Farokhi for State School Superintendent in 2010

Beth is a native of Augusta, Georgia where she attended public schools. She double majored in Elementary Education and Health and Physical Education at LaGrange College, received a M.A.T. from Emory University, and a doctorate in Higher Education from the University of Georgia.

Drawn by the power education has to shape and inspire others to greatness, Beth spent over thirty years working tirelessly in education. Her expertise and passion is marked by an admirable record of professional achievement at the local, state, and national level.

Beth began her career in education as a public school teacher in Cobb County schools. For nearly six years, while completing her graduate degrees in education, Beth taught elementary school in an innovative curriculum setting. During this time, Beth served on county wide committees for curriculum, textbook selection, mathematics curriculum objectives, and was appointed by the superintendent to revamp the non-graded curriculum and reporting system for grades 1-12.

Following the completion of her master's degree from Emory University and her doctorate degree from the University of Georgia, Beth began a career as an administrator in the College of Education at Georgia State University where she was honored for exemplary long-time service and dedication to the college. In 2004, Beth created the Georgia State University Leadership Academy for Women, a year long program focused on professional and personal skill development. She was a Co-Principal Investigator for the Integrating Gender Equity and Reform grant, a National Science Foundation three year collaborative with five Georgia higher education campuses.

Beth's leadership in the field of education also took flight outside of her duties at Georgia State. In 1992, Beth created the international newsletter, Educational Equity Report which she edited for thirteen years. Further, Beth served on the national board of the American Association of University Women for two terms as Executive Vice President/Secretary. She served previously on the Board as Regional Director for the South Atlantic Region for four years where she traveled to six states and Puerto Rico providing leadership training. In addition, she served two years on the national board of the Legal Advocacy Fund. She has served on the National Advisory Board for Gender Inclusion for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. She was a part of the Curriculum Advisory Board and the Strategic Planning Committee for the newly formed Atlanta Girls School in Atlanta.

Beth lives in Cobb County with her husband of 34 years, Dr. N.R. Farokhi a professor of political science at Morris Brown College, and their daughter, Sanaz, a college student. Beth has two adult sons, Amir, an attorney in Atlanta, and Arman, an environmentalist in St. Louis, Missouri.
Honors include:
• Who's Who Women of the Year in Education, 2008
• Named Woman of Achievement in Georgia 2005, Georgia AAUW
• Recognized for making significant contributions to gender equity by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education
• Selected five times to Who's Who in American Education
• Selected five times to Who's Who of Professional and Business Women
• Recognized as Outstanding Alumni from LaGrange College
• Recognized three times as a named gift honoree for the Educational Foundation of the American Association of Women
• First recipient on the Individual Impact for Equity Award from AAUW of Georgia
• Elected to Kappa Delta Pi, International Education Honor Society

Memberships include:
• Association of Classroom Teachers
• Representative from Local School Association of Supervision and Curriculum
• Georgia Adult Education Association
• Georgia Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
• Georgia Association of Educators
• Cobb County Education Association
• Georgia Association of Teacher Educators

Ms. Farokhi is a well, accomplished woman who has acheived alot. Now some people have said the State School Superintendent Office should be abolish, but as bad as Georgia Public schools are, this office is needed & Dr. Farokhi has the qualifications to make that office a very productive one. I endorse her candidacy for State School Superintendent because she has the vision & experience to lead our deteriorating schools to prominence & that she will clean up the mess that has occurred under Incumbent Kathy Cox. No offense to Brian Westlake, but Dr. Farokhi is the right person to clean up our ailing schools.

Just who is Democrat Rob Teilhet?

Rob Teilhet (pronounced tuh-lay) has represented Smyrna and Marietta in the Georgia House of Representatives since his election in 2002 at the age of 28. In his four terms in the legislature, he has earned the respect of Democrats, Republicans and independents for his hard work, honesty, and integrity.

Rob has a well-deserved reputation as a tough-on-crime legislator and a reliable supporter of law enforcement and crime victims as a member of the House Judiciary Committee. Rob passed legislation to expand background checks on people who work with children, the elderly and people with disabilities and has consistently supported tougher penalties for criminals and stronger protection for victims.

Rob is widely known as the strongest voice in the General Assembly for protecting Georgians from rip-offs and con artists. He's passed several laws that protect Georgians from identity theft, led the fight to stop the legalization of payday lending, and sponsored legislation to eliminate fraud in refund anticipation loans, marketed as “instant tax refunds.” Rob was named "Democrat of the Year" in 2007 by the Cobb County Democratic Committee and a “Friend of the Consumer” by Georgia Watch in honor of his work to protect Georgians from identity theft, predatory lending, and consumer fraud.

He's been named one of Georgia's Most Influential People by James Magazine and a "Star to Watch" by the National Journal's Hotline.

A fighter for Georgia families, Rob has received awards for his legislative work from, among others, the Cobb County Association of Educators, Georgia Family Council, Georgia Psychological Association, Georgia Municipal Association, and the Georgia Water Coalition.

Rob has deep roots in his community. He serves on the board of the Georgia Network to End Sexual Assault and was named by the State Bar of Georgia to serve on its Lawyer Advertising Task Force. He serves on the advisory committee of the Cobb Literacy Council. In September of 2007 he joined the Executive Committee of the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education, a non-profit group of business and community leaders committed to increasing student achievement in Georgia schools. He's a member of the Leadership Georgia Class of 2009, and a block captain for his local neighborhood watch.

Rob's record of public service spans more than sixteen years. In 1993, while a student at the University of Georgia, he helped to establish and operate a pre-school program for disadvantaged youth. He was a member of Leadership UGA, a Richard B. Russell Fellowship program promoting life-long leadership and community service. He also was a member of the Arch Society, which awarded him the distinguished Fred Brown Award on the basis of his leadership skills, campus involvement, and commitment to the University.

Rob earned both his undergraduate and law degree from the University of Georgia. At the UGA School of Law, Rob was elected President of the Class of 2000 and worked with the Consumer Law Center of the South as an advocate fighting consumer fraud.

Rob got his first taste of the legislature in 1997, when he served as an administrative aide to the Georgia Senate. Taking that job proved to be one of the best decisions of his life because this was where he met his wife, Heather, who was an intern for the Senate at the same time.

Rob and Heather now have twin toddler daughters, and live in Smyrna. Rob is a partner in the law firm of Rogers, Strimban & Teilhet in Marietta.
Besides the governor's race, the race for State Attorney General will be one of the most interesting races in Georgia. Others include Ken Hodges of Albany (D) & Republicans Sam Olens of Cobb County, Max Wood of Macon.

Runoff is Tuesday in House race 129

Steve Earles, 56, or 27-year-old Kip Smith of Columbus, both Republicans, will serve the remaining year in the two-year term of Smith’s father, Republican Vance Smith Jr. of Pine Mountain, who resigned to become commissioner of the state Department of Transportation.

The district encompasses southern Troup County, including West Point, most of Harris County and the northwest corner of Muscogee County.

In the Nov. 3 special election, Smith got 49.4 percent of the vote, followed by 22 percent for Earles, 13.4 percent for Jerry Luquire of Columbus and 15.1 percent for Earl T. Davis of Hamilton. A runoff was scheduled because no candidate got the required majority.

Earles, who has a massage therapy business in LaGrange, carried Troup County with 333 votes, compared to 303 for Smith.

But Smith said he thinks his age “works as an advantage in many situations.”

“I’m not cynical about government,” he said. “Obviously we need fresh conservative leadership at this point. We’re at a critical point on the state and national level.”

Earles said he favors term limits, pledging to serve no more than two terms in the legislature.

“I think that’s why they hold elections,” Smith responded. “It should be left up to the people to decide.”

Earles criticized Smith for accepting campaign contributions from road construction companies outside the district.

“I have not accepted any money outside the district from corporate donations, “Earle said.

Smith said he’s received contributions from companies that “believe in our message.”

“Our family has been in the construction business for 60 years and I’ve known many of the them for many years,” Smith said. “I appreciate anyone who’s willing to help get our message out.”

Only eight of the county’s 16 polling places will be open for the election from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. - the Administration Building, Griggs Center, West Point, Rosemont, Long Cane, Gray Hill, Lee’s Crossing and Highland districts. Elections Superintendent Donald Boyd expects a turnout of less than 5 percent in Troup County.

I was shocked that democrats did not field a candidate to run for this open seat. You have Meriwhether County, which leans democratic, Harris, which tilts republican, northern Muscogee County, which lean republican & southern Troup County, which is a narrow republican lean. If democrats just let seats like these go unchallenged, it it become harder ofr democrats t make any serious dent in the republican majorities.

South Georgia Prison is safe despite recent attacks

Down in Valdosta, Prison officials maintain that conditions are safe for employees and inmates at Valdosta State Prison, despite recent reports of violent attacks.

The Times recently met with Valdosta State Prison Warden William Danforth and other officials from the Georgia Department of Corrections and Valdosta State Prison to discuss various violent incidents against correctional officers and inmates. Georgia Senator Tim Golden, D-Valdosta, and Representatives Jay Shaw, D-Lakeland, Ellis Black, D-Valdosta, and Amy Carter, D-Valdosta also attended.

During the meeting, prison officials asserted that the recent attack on Officer Zebedee Hankerson was not a common occurrence at the prison.

“The incidents that have happened to staff are unfortunate, but it is an inherit risk you take with this job,” said Department of Corrections Assistant Commissioner Derrick Schofield. “And sometimes we are

cautious to release everything to the public about inmate or officer attacks to ensure the safety of the inmate inside the prison, as well as outside family members.”

Danforth added that VSP has the hardest working staff and the majority of the officers are from the local community. He said that the officers seem to be happy with the working conditions and the turnover rate has actually dropped in the last year.

The prison currently has 315 correctional officers, 34 supervisors and four administrators.

Excluding those at the Valdosta Annex and Transition Center, there are 972 inmates at VSP. Of those inmates, 245 are serving life sentences and 50 are serving life sentences without the possibility of parole.

Although there is a full page of identified gangs at VSP, the facility has a stratification plan overseen by a security threat group (STG) coordinator. The STG coordinator looks for indicators that a person may be in gang, and after validating a gang member, strives to separate that inmate from potential rivals.

There are 10 major housing units, with three buildings for the mental health population.

“We actually have one of the largest mental health services in the state,” Danforth said. “There are approximately 280 Level 3 mental health inmates and they are placed in supportive living units.”

Officials admitted that these factors can contribute to more violence at the prison. Nonetheless, they affirmed that officer presence has been a successful method of deterring such incidents.

After a tour of the prison, attendees at the meeting discussed ways to improve the lines of communication between the Department of Corrections and the media.

Rep. Ellis Black also emphasized the toll that the state’s across-the-board budget cuts have taken on the prisons, as well as other state departments.

Outrage about violence at the prison stems from the Oct. 25 attack of 19-year-old officer Zebedee Hankerson, who was beaten by at least three inmates while on duty at the prison. Hankerson’s brutal attack left him in need of surgery on his face and one of his eyes.

Malynda Fulton of Valdosta Daily Times Reports.

Runoff races for Tomorrow.

Up in Baldwin County, you have Independent Rusty Kidd battling Democrat Darrell Black for the right to finish out the term of retired State Rep. Bobby Parham for House District 141 seat.
Up in Dekalb County, you have Asha Jackson & Simone Bell running to represent House District 58.
Over in Warner Robins, you have Chuck Chalk, who has been endorsed by the wife of the late Donald Walker & Chuck Shaheen, a small business owner battling for the right to become the next mayor of Warner Robins
Down in Arlington (Calhoun County) you have incumbent Jerome Brackins & Marvin King, both who had the same vote total of 256 votes going at it again for the right to become the next mayor of Arlington, Ga.

Rural hospitals facing physician shortage

Editorial from the Early County News by Rhett Partin, Executive Director Georgia Hospital Association
Congressional policy makers may be getting the cart before the horse in their efforts to reform our nation’s health system. The valiant push to provide health insurance coverage for nearly all U.S. residents is, or will be, woefully undermined by the shortage of physicians to actually treat those who are covered. This is particularly the case when it comes to primary care physicians in rural Georgia.

Georgia has approximately 22 percent fewer primary care physicians per capita than the U.S. average. Ninety percent of Georgia’s counties are federally designated as medically underserved and over half are designated as primary health professional shortage areas. In considering that nearly all stakeholders agree that our health system should be focused on disease prevention and chronic disease management (services associated with primary care providers), it is ironic that the same system actually rewards highly specialized, acute medical treatment (services associated with sub-specialist providers). It is even more ironic that the same policy leaders who acknowledge this paradox are attempting to reform the system with very little attempt to realign the current incentive structure which aims to emphasize primary care yet rewards for specialization.

Of the most recent graduating class of all five of Georgia’s medical schools, only 17 percent ended up in a primary care residency within the state; half of those are in metro Atlanta. Of the current primary care physicians practicing in Georgia, over half are practicing in urban areas, representing only 38 percent of the state’s population. Not only is there a shortage, but they are also unevenly distributed throughout the state, compounding the problem in rural areas.

Although there are many reasons and opinions as to why this problem exists, both suggest that reduced payments and increased administrative workload are significant contributing factors. As for solutions, there are many worth considering:

• Do not reduce state and federal insurance payments to primary care physicians

• Allot additional funding for primary care rural residencies in-state; expand tax incentives for rural practices

• Simplify the operation of a physician's practice by streamlining the insurance claims process

• Offer discounts on malpractice insurance in rural settings

• Expand medical school scholarships and loan forgiveness programs to rural applicants who commit to return to rural practices.

While most Americans agree that the country’s health care system needs reform — the argument is how much — it is imperative that national lawmakers consider the national physician shortage before voting for any dramatic overhaul. The failure to do so could have drastic unintended consequences for everyone.

General David Poythress to appear in Decatur County, Carl Camon to attend a fundraiser in Houston Co on Dec. 5

David Pothress will be in Bainbridge on Dec. 4 from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. at the Bainbridge Book Nook. And Former Ray City Mayor Carl Camon will appear at a fundraiser for his campaign in Warner Robins on Dec. 5 for a fundraiser. Time & place to be announced.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Appalachian & Black Belt Regions among the highest when it comes to diabetes, obesity

Obesity and diabetes are growing across the country, but in the first county-by-county national breakdown, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals the rates are highest in heavily white Appalachia and the Black Belt and other heavily African-American areas of the Southeast. Edward Gregg, chief of epidemiology and statistics in CDC's division of diabetes translation and the study's lead author, described obesity and diabetes as "basically the two conditions of greatest concern for U.S. adults right now."

The two conditions are related; diabetes is one complication of obesity. In Appalachia, 81 percent of counties have high rates of diabetes and obesity, and the study shows three-quarters of counties in the Southeast have similar rates, with the highest concentrated in counties with high percentages of African Americans. ("Black Belt" was originally a geologic term for a soil section of Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, but now also describes the crescent of majority African Amercian counties that reaches as far as Virginia.) Some counties with Indian reservations also have high rates.

"We think these increases in obesity and diabetes partially reflect the cultural shifts that are affecting all of us," Gregg told HealthDay News, "but we see them most in regions where there is more poverty and where educational levels are lower." (Read more) CDC produced county-by-county breakdowns of both diabetes and obesity levels in each state, and national maps of diabetes and obesity rates. Here's the national diabetes map:

District 141 State Rep. Candidates Ready for Runoff

Early voting got underway in Baldwin and Putnam counties Monday for the District 141 State Representative runoff.

Independent Rusty Kidd, who took the biggest percentage of the votes in November, faces Democrat Darrell Black.

Both say the economy remains number one on their list.

Kidd says, "we cant expect to lure new industry to this area if it seems depressed, so we've got to create some rehiring and positions in Baldwin County if we expect to bring in new industry."

Black says, "I try to talk about education, because I'm a former teacher and I want to help the education system, but jobs dominate the conversation."

With a low voter turnout in November, both candidates say this election will come down to who can get their people to the polls.

Kidd says, "in the first election if 100 more people had gone out to vote for me, we would have won without a runoff."

Black says, "the big key of course is getting out the vote, and were working heavily in that, we've got a lot of support, a lot of people are backing us on that and we're excited about getting people to the polls."

Both say they've spent the past few weeks contacting voters and encouraging people to head to the polls.

Bobby Parham held the District 141 seat for more than 30 years, but resigned this year to take a spot on the state transportation board.

Kidd says the position has been vacant for months, leaving Baldwin County without representation.

He says, "whoever gets elected, and I hope it's me because of my experience, has to go up there immediately, I'm talking about the very next day, because we have to try to get something out of the budget system because we haven't had someone up there on the house side when they've been doing the budget, for the last three months."

Darrell Black believes his position with the democratic party gives him an edge.

Black says, "being aligned with the democrats, they will help me get on committees, they will help me get legislation through and processed through."

Rusty Kidd says it's his lobbying work that puts him ahead.

He says, "look at the experience of myself versus my opponent and vote for whoever you think can do the best job in the quickest amount of time, and hopefully that will be me."

Black says he has felt a surge of energy for the last leg of the campaign.

He says, "I feel momentum is going our way, it's a matter of do we have enough time, do we have enough money. The last few days feel like they are breaking our way, so we are excited about that."

The runoff is Tuesday December 1. Source: WMAZ-TV MACON Reporter Stephanie Susskind.

Attorney General Candidate Ken Hodges Campaigns in Albany

Former Dougherty District Attorney Ken Hodges, who is running for the state's Attorney General post, stumped in Albany Tuesday, pitching his candidacy and asking for continued support from the people he considers his political base.

Touting his experience as a prosecutor, Hodges told the Rotary Club Tuesday that he is the only person currently running for the office with any experience prosecuting crimes.

"Quite candidly, you need someone who's done it before," Hodges told the crowd, speaking of his prosecutorial experience. "Through my service here in Albany, I have stood before juries hundreds of times, I have supervised thousands, I have been before the Georgia Court of Appeals and the Georgia Supreme Court. Not a single opponent of mine can say that to you.

"No one has the record I have litigating on behalf of victims and on behalf of consumers."

Hodges is facing stiff competition from Sam Olens, the former head of the Cobb County Commission in Marietta, state Rep. Rob Teilhet, a Democrat from Smyrna, and former U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia Maxwell Wood.

In addition to his experience, Hodges also offered his take on a few statewide issues like the tri-state water war.

"I'll tell you one thing: As somebody from Albany, sticking a straw in the Flint River Basin ain't my way of solving Atlanta's drinking problem," he said. "It's a problem that needs to be solved, and solved now."

With the election now less than a year away, Hodges acknowledged that even in Dougherty County, the place he considers the hub of his political base, he needs help to get his message to the rest of the state.
"Albany has almost 35,000 registered voters, and I need you to help me get them all out next year," he said. "Like Mark Taylor when he ran for office years ago, he walked into that race with almost 12,000 votes during early voting, all from Dougherty County. And the race was decided by 24,000 votes, so half of that was made up here in Dougherty County."

Source: Albany Herald

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Democrats Denounce Glen Beck-Mary Landrieu Prostitute Analogy. Calls on Vitter to Denounce Comments.

The Louisiana Democratic Party, in a rather humorous and bold press release on Tuesday, called for Senator David Vitter (R-La.) to denounce conservatives who have called his fellow Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) a prostitute for her support of health care reform.

Vitter, of course, has his own sordid history with ladies of the night. So the chance to tie him to recent claims from the likes of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh that Landrieu was whoring out her health care vote was just too inviting to pass up.

Landrieu was able to secure $100 million in federal Medicaid subsidies for her state, ostensibly in exchange for agreeing to allow health care legislation to come to the floor of the Senate. Glenn Beck called the senator a "high-class prostitute ... She may be easy, but she ain't cheap."

Rush Limbaugh echoed Beck's comment, calling Landrieu "the most expensive prostitute in the history of prostitutes."

Posted by Huffington Post

Georgia has one of the largest areas of severe poverty in the United States. This extreme isolation of the poorest Georgians can only make matters wor

With a poverty rate of 13.7%, Georgia has the 15th highest poverty rate in the United States, which is slightly better than North Carolina and slightly behind Montana.

The most critical levels of poverty in Georgia primarily occurs in the southwestern corner, and it stretches across Georgia in a northeastern direction until it hits the Atlantic Ocean at Burke County (see map below article).

This is a very rural region of southern Georgia with averages of 10 to 30 people per square mile. The average population density for Georgia is 141.4 people per square mile.

There are 36 counties in Georgia where poverty has reached critical levels. Also, out of Georgia's 20 major cities, nine of them have critical poverty rates.

Baker (21.4%)
Brooks (21.7%)
Burke (21.7%)
Calhoun (26.3%)
Candler (21.6%)
Clay (26.3%)
Clinch (20.9%)
Crisp (24.1%)
Decatur (21.5%)
Dooly (21.6%)
Dougherty (22.3%)
Early (23.9%)
Emanuel (22.3%)
Evans (21.2%)
Hancock (24.6%)
Jenkins (22.8%)
Johnson (22.9%)
Macon (22.5%)
Marion (21.6%)
Mitchell (23.2%)
Quitman (21.2%)
Randolph (24.1%)
Seminole (20.8%)
Stewart (23.9%)
Sumter (22.3%)
Taliaferro (22.8%)
Tattnall (22.0%)
Taylor (20.8%)
Telfair (24.8%)
Terrell (23.5%)
Toombs (21.2%)
Treutlen (22.7%)
Turner (23.1%)
Warren (20.7%)
Wheeler (25.6%)
Wilcox (23.7%)
Major cities (25,000 or more people) with poverty rates at critical levels are the following
Albany (27.1%)
Athens-Clarke (28.6%)
Atlanta (24.4%)
East Point (20.7%)
Gainesville (21.8%)
La Grange (21.4%)
Macon (25.5%)
Savannah (21.8%)
Valdosta (24.7%)
When there are so many regions of Georgia deviating so far from the state average poverty rate of 13.7% it shows that the extremely poor in the state are being isolated. When this isolation occurs, the areas in which they live can become stigmatized.

This negative stigma of the areas discourages businesses from investing in the region, which causes a rise in unemployment. It will also make the areas unattractive choices for teachers and health care professionals, leading to poor quality education and health care.

In the rural areas of Georgia this very isolation leads to a lack of information. This lack of information is caused by both geographical distances from any major city, and a lack of interest from politicians.

In the urban areas of Georgia, this negative stigma of the poor neighborhoods leads to an increase in crime, decreased and/or negative levels of attention from police, and very low wage jobs.

All of these problems make extreme poverty in the areas continually worse and harder to escape from.

Now the majority of these counties & cities are overwhelmingly democratic & have a high African-American Population.
(1) Hancock Co. (2) Macon Co. (3) Randolph Co. are the top three poorest counties in the state of Georgia & things are not getting any better.

Here Comes DuBose!

Until last evening, I was unaware of some of the causes of our state’s troubles and how much could be rectified by competent, spirited leadership.

My wife and I were fortunate enough to be invited to a "Meet and Greet" with Georgia House Minority Leader Dubose Porter. He believes he’d make a good governor and I agree.

Here’s what I learned.

EdinGA's diary :: ::

Being able to spend an hour or two with someone can give you at least a general feel for a person. After a polite mingling amongst the local dignitaries and possible donors, the hostess then formally introduced Mr. Porter. He spoke for perhaps fifteen minutes, generally stating his positions as reflected on his websites. But sometimes it’s not so much what a man says, but how he says it.

His website doesn’t begin to describe the breadth of this man’s knowledge or his overwhelming passion, especially when discussing education. It has to be experienced in person. Dubose knows the minutiae, of how things work. I think any truly dedicated person that devotes over a quarter of a century of his life to the betterment of Georgians is going to have a very thorough grasp of discerning need from pork, fairness from greed. He knows all the players, what their positions are and how to move legislation. He just needs a bully pulpit to do it and the governorship will certainly give him the mandate to achieve much needed reforms and relief for our citizenry.

In speaking with his wife and trusted advisor, Carol, I found a person intimately acquainted with legislative history and cause and effect in the state. She understands the motivations of the opposing party extraordinarily well but succeeds in conveying her opinions without sounding partisan.

Mr. and Mrs. Porter are Democrats; however they more emphasize a spirit of commonality of purpose, dedicated to the betterment of all the state’s citizenry. My impression is that they are VERY genuine people motivated by a true sense of service- something that has been lacking in the top echelons of our state for some time now.

I don’t mean to come across as a shill, far from it. I will point out however that sincerity and integrity are in short supply, especially given the temptations of high office and the powerful demands associated with such service. I also feel that few are qualified for the offices they seek and often their dismal performance bears out this conviction. So pardon me if I get a bit lavish when I do discover the genuine article shaking my hand, listening intently to my questions and giving solid comprehendible answers that make sense.

Dubose Porter is electable. He’s not from Atlanta, and he’s well known and respected by his constituents, 76% of which returned him to office recently. He is popular with his colleagues in the House and having been Zell Miller’s floor leader, (back when Zell was still himself!) knows how to motivate them. I believe anyone meeting him would have a hard time turning down a vote for Dubose simply because he really does have some hard won answers to the tough and divisive issues plaguing our state.

I’m excited about finding someone with the experience this man brings to the table, the passion of his convictions and the steadfast altruism of his motivation. Sam Nunn obviously thought highly of Dubose Porter. I’ve always thought highly of Mr. Nunn, the protégé of Richard B. Russell, a friend of FDR, so it’s not real hard for me to ask my fellow Georgians to pay attention when Mr. Porter speaks, contribute what you can to keep him going and let’s get him through the primaries.

Here’s Dubose Porter’s website.

Porter has run a terrific campaign thus far & getting lots of traction from voters all over the state. He is a very engaging individual, very likable, has a strong grasp of the issues, especially education, which he is very passionate about. I received an email a couple of weeks ago asking why he (Porter) isn't runninf for State School Superintendent. I responded that if he becomes governor, he would be able to make a much bigger impact in regards to education. State Sch. Superintendent has it fair share of influence, but not like the governor has. Porter, being from middle georgia has a distinct advantage when it comes to rural voters. That's in my opinion lies his greatest strength. If he can tap that middle georgia base, he has a good chance of becoming the nominee. Stay Tuned.

Chuck Calk, Chuck Shaheen battle it out before the Dec. 1 Runoff.

WARNER ROBINS — The city’s remaining candidates for mayor sparred over the proper ways to enhance diversity and tackled panel and audience questions during a forum that mostly focused on minority issues.

For his part, mayoral candidate Chuck Chalk said he intended to look into whether there was a problem with the city’s hiring practices, and spoke of bringing in an outside agency to address the issue.

“We can make wrong to right real quick ... in a process by us that’s not easy to identify,” Chalk said. “If we can fix it, we’ll fix it.”

Mayoral candidate Chuck Shaheen said the city already is past that point.

Shaheen and Chalk, 43, are the remaining contenders to replace outgoing Mayor John Havrilla, who took over the city’s leadership after the death of Mayor Donald Walker in September. The runoff election will be held Dec. 1.

The latest meeting for the duo came Monday night inside Agape Outreach Ministries, the church led by the Rev. Daron D. Lee, who ran unopposed for the Post 5 City Council seat vacated by Clifford Holmes Jr. as he unsuccessfully ran for mayor. The event was put together by the Houston County Voters League. More than 100 people filled the small church’s pews.

During opening statements, Chalk held up a bag of cotton candy, which he said looked good and had nice colors, but held no nutritional value. It was what residents should be considering the standard to surpass when seeking answers of their next leader, he said. He tried putting the cotton candy theory to use early when he apparently didn’t like an answer Shaheen gave on measuring whether city departments were meeting the mayor’s objectives. He yielded his remaining time to Shaheen to answer the question. Shaheen reiterated his original answer.
For more go to

Monday, November 23, 2009

Young People key to Democrats Future

A new Project Vote study shows both why Democrats are worried about next year's midterm elections and optimistic about the long term trends for their party.

This revolves around two key findings about turnout of young voters:

For the past seven election cycles, the national turnout rate in mid-term elections averaged 15 percentage points lower than the preceding presidential election with the steepest decline represented by younger voters.

Since the 2000 presidential election, young voter turnout has increased at a rate of about 30% per election.

Planning class offered for new ag producers

Southwest Georgia Farm Credit is offering young, beginning and small agricultural producers the opportunity to take the course, “Ag Biz Planner,” offered through Farm Credit University. More go to The Early County News.

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour proposes Merging Historically Black Colleges into one. Hmmmm....... Sounds Familiar?

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is proposing merging the state's historically black collges, saying it would save the state $35 million dollars.
Barbour said he knows many of his proposals are politically sensitive, including his plan to merge Mississippi University for Women into the larger Mississippi State University and to consolidate the three historically black universities into one. Barbour proposes merging Mississippi Valley State University and Alcorn State University into the larger Jackson State University. There were protest by folks who are against the proposed merger idea by the Magnolia State Governor.
Remember last then State Senator Seth Harp (R-Midland), who is now running for State Insurance Commissioner in 2010 proposed the same idea here in georgia.
Harp has proposed that Albany State be merged with Darton College, a two-year school and that Savannah State, be merged with Armstrong Atlantic University, a four-year school. Georgia has ten historically black schools, but only three are publicly supported, the two that are the subject of Harp's proposal and Fort Valley State, which is not.It was also interesting to note that Albany State and Savannah State, according to the Regents of the University System of Georgia,have had enrollments on the upswing over the past ten years. Enrollment at Savannah State has increased 60 percent, while enrollment at Armstrong Atlantic has risen by 25 percent. So, while these schools might have financial issues they still attract students.,Harp's proposal for Albany State takes a different tack by proposing a merger with a two-year school. But not all two-year schools are run like four-year schools. And two-year school could either be a community college or the freshman-sophomore division of a university system. Their missions are not the same. And their missions, in a consolidated regional university would change too, though no one can predict how change will happen, or how much it might cost.
This proposal is political suicide for any politcian whether they are democrat or republican. The state's electorate is more than 30% Black.
It is safe to assume that opposition to this proposal would be quite vocal,vocal enough to make or break a few political careers in the process. The smartest action that the Georgia legislature could take is to take Harp's proposal off the table. With Georgia's budget crisis & state revenues falling each month, I'm willing to bet that Harp to bring the issue back up again with massive cuts expected across the board. It will not sit well with black voters if this legislation is somehow passed in the State Legislature. The only candidate that I have heard that has talked about this issue is Gen. David Poythress.

An Issue that many are not paying attention to: WATER!. This is serious Folks.

Our water situation here in Georgia is very dicey as the state battles Alabama & Florida for water rights.
Efforts to launch water supply strategies first for the Atlanta area and later for the rest of Georgia were marked by emotional rhetoric that the fast growing metro area was out to grab as much water as it could get from less populous communities downstream here in rural georgia. “Downstreamers had better be fearful: They have reason to be,” said Jim Butler, a Columbus lawyer, Democratic Activist and former member of the Georgia Board of Natural Resources. The need for a statewide water plan has long been apparent, going back to the Roy Barnes Administration, or even the Zell Miller Administration. Georgia’s population passed 9 million population 2 yrs ago and is expected to double in the years to come, with more than half of the curent state population living in the metro area alone.
Some have said that water should be piped in from the Chattahoochee River in West Georgia, which borders Alabama or maybe the Savannah River, or downstate rivers such as the Flint River.
Jim Butler, who spoke up at the Gwinnett Rotary Club back in July said it the best. Here's what he said:
If the Congress doesn't solve the problem, the other recourse, Butler said, "Is economic. And we are already way behind in this, if it is either building more reservoirs, or conserving water. For both of these, its takes years and years for this to happen, and we haven't even started."
"But Georgia has made the three adjacent states mad. And do the math: in the House of Representatives, the vote is 47-13 against Georgia, and in the Senate, it's 6-2." And you know what he's right. We are outnumbered. It's gong to take veterans like John Lewis, who represents the economic enging of our state, Sanford Bishop, who district includes the Chattahoochee River & Jack Kingston to hammer out a deal to ensure the state receives it's fair share of water or keep its water from going to our neighboring states. The upshot is that on all three topics listed by Butler, the courts, the Congress, and the economic possibility, and Georgia are already way, way behind the eight ball. U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson ruled back in July that Atlanta must revert back to the 1970s levels of withdrawals from the lake if congress doesn't come to a new agreement on water usage, but with Chief litigator Paul Clement withdrawing from the case, the whole issue is now up in the air.
When you have a governor who seems he doesn't know what to do & with the congressional delegations of Georgia, Florida & Alabama not anywhere close to coming up with a deal, the state that will suffer the most is...... yes Georgia!
candidates running for governor in 2010 has made this issue a huge part of their platform:
Dubose Porter of Laurens County says: Building more reservoirs is attractive but expensive; fixing leaks, maximizing gray water, smart landscaping, installing efficient fixtures, improving existing dams, metering all use, and piping existing reservoirs are all options Georgians should consider in this economy. Weighing the costs versus the benefits, of all the ideas, for now and the future, is the only common sense approach.
David Poythress made a video on this. Here it is:
This is something that needs to be given special attention to. The water issue will affect our agriculture interest, metro atlanta, & the ability for our state to grow.

Ag luncheon thanks farmers

Down in Bainbridge, several hundred people filled the Cloud Livestock Building at the County Fairgrounds on Friday for the annual Agriculture Appreciation Luncheon. The luncheon, sponsored by the Bainbridge-Decatur County Chamber of Commerce and many of its member businesses, recognized all of Decatur County’s farmers and what they contribute, not only to the local community, but to others around the world, said Bo Jones of Decatur County Farm Bureau. Not only have farmers produced a $194 million 2008 Farmgate—strengthening the local economy—they also support a way of life Decatur County citizens love, Jones said. Jeffrey H. Dorfman, a professor of Agricultural and Applied Economics at the University of Georgia, was the luncheon’s guest speaker and talked about the state of the U.S. economy and the impact of the recession on agriculture. Farmer Jerry Long and his wife, Janice, were honored as the Chamber’s 2009 Ag Man and Ag Woman of the Year. The Longs have 400 head of cattle, run a 100-acre “U-Pick” produce farm and grow numerous crops, Decatur County Extension Agent Mitchell May said. Mr. Long is also involved with many farmer and rancher groups, while Mrs. Long is also a second-grade school teacher in Miller County. The Longs’ son, Justin, also helps run the farm.

Analysis: Next legislative session will be painful

By Walter C. Jones | Morris News Service
The coming legislative session will be known for pain.
Past sessions became known for the dominant legislation debated, such as school reform in 2000, the statewide water plan in 2008 and redistricting in countless years. The 2010 session, which convenes Jan. 11, will be characterized not by a single issue but by the prevailing atmosphere. Consider the factors: budget deficits demanding either historic cuts or gigantic tax increases, a lame-duck governor, a lieutenant governor who bowed out of the governor's race, a speaker who is clinically depressed and fielding calls for his resignation, multiple legislators out of work and more facing personal financial crisis, and unemployment topping 10 percent when the trust fund that pays benefits is broke. If that isn't enough, remember the massive issues that remain unsolved from past sessions. There has been no solution to pay for transportation or a statewide trauma-care network, and a federal judge has imposed a nearly impossible deadline for finding alternative water supplies for about a fourth of the state population. Add to that mix the fact that it's an election year with seemingly half the state's officials running for higher office and the other half determined to foil any legislative successes they might otherwise campaign on. Plus, 2010 is the year of the census, meaning reapportionment the next year will redraw the map of legislative districts, destroying some lawmakers' safe seats and completely eliminating others, especially in south Georgia. With that prospect hanging over everyone's heads, there is likely to be plenty of jockeying for leverage in reapportionment while others fight their fleeting chance to pass their own signature legislation or accept approaching retirement. "I've been there a while, and to be honest with you, it's not fun anymore," said Rep. Roger Williams, R-Dalton. Some of the fun had already worn off last session when then-Sen. Eric Johnson, R-Savannah, pushed to punish lawmakers who were chronically behind in their taxes. Although the tax-exposure measure passed, few legislators reveled in it. Many said privately that the recession would undoubtedly add to the list of nonpayers. Last session, legislators spent weeks looking at every spending item but still essentially passed Gov. Sonny Perdue's blueprint with little change. In it, he mostly imposed across-the-board cuts for every department, letting each agency decide how to implement them. This time, lawmakers say they want to eliminate whole programs rather than spreading the cuts across the agencies. The market-oriented Georgia Public Policy Foundation is already thinking up a list of programs for the ax.

Labor commissioner calls for bipartisan summit

Some call him the "smartest politician in the State of Georgia & I can see why.
Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond says people figure he has the toughest job in Georgia, but he disagrees. "I'm not depressed," he said. "I know every recession ends." To come up with a way to spark new jobs, Mr. Thurmond is calling for a bipartisan summit. Such a gathering could draw from the best minds in Georgia for ideas on how the state can climb out of its job slump. The disappearance of construction and manufacturing jobs has hit white males harder than other demographic groups. Many of them have never been out of work or unable to support their families, leading to a sense of hopelessness that prevents them from gaining new skills for the jobs that are available. That makes them structurally unemployed and in need of creative solutions, Mr. Thurmond said Wednesday at a luncheon held by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. The foundation began planning to hold the summit in early January, in time to impact the General Assembly and next year's budget, said foundation President Kelly McCutchen. He said the goal is to develop workable ideas, possibly with the advice of national figures. Republican lawmakers who saw Mr. Thurmond on Thursday at a job fair in Dalton say they were impressed with his organization skills and energy. "Everybody I saw speak to him seemed very appreciative of what he's done," Rep. Tom Dickson, R-Cohutta, said. That enthusiasm and organization could make a summit come together, according to Rep. Roger Williams, R-Dalton. "There's a lot of expertise out there as far as industry and business goes," he said. "If anybody could put it together, Commissioner Thurmond could do it." Mr. Thurmond said Friday that he doesn't have an agenda he wants to push. Success will probably take a combination of ideas: tax cuts and expenditures in education and publicity about available resources for those needing retraining, he said.
Walter Jones of Morris News Service is the source of this story.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Lou Dobbs for Higher Office?

Yahoo News & Reuters reports:
A week after abruptly quitting his longtime job as a CNN television news host and commentator, Lou Dobbs said on Thursday he is considering career options including possible runs for the White House or U.S. Senate.
"Right now I feel exhilaration at the wide range of choices before me as to what I do next," Dobbs, whose outspoken views on immigration and other topics often angered liberals, told Reuters in a telephone interview from New York on Thursday.
Dobbs, 64, a veteran CNN anchor who had become one of the most divisive figures in U.S. broadcast journalism, announced last Wednesday he was leaving CNN after spending the better part of 30 years at the 24-hour cable news network.
A Texas native, Dobbs has drawn fire from Latino leaders and civil rights groups for frequent on-air remarks about U.S. border control and immigration that critics saw as demonizing illegal immigrants.
He was also seen as lending credence to the "birther" conspiracy theory, whose adherents believe President Barack Obama's Hawaiian birth certificate was faked to hide a Kenyan birthplace that would make the first black U.S. president ineligible for his office.
Dobbs acknowledged his commentary also stirred friction with CNN executives.
Discussions with CNN/U.S. President Jonathan Klein made it clear Dobbs' style of combining news and opinion was untenable at the network, Dobbs said.
"They wanted to reverse direction on my show from what had been a news debate and my opinion to a middle-of-the road, as Jon Klein styled it, non-opinion show," he said.
"It was just not gratifying to me to sit there and read a news show -- and I much prefer to be more engaged."
Dobbs vowed to carry on expressing his views "fully and straightforwardly in the public arena no matter what I decide to do next."
Since his departure, some have speculated he might run as a candidate for the U.S. Senate in New Jersey, where he has a home, or even run as a third-party candidate in the 2012 U.S. presidential elections -- options he says remain on the table.
"I am ruling nothing out. ... I have come to no conclusions and no decisions," he said. "Do I seek to have some influence on public policy? Absolutely. Do I seek to represent and champion the middle class in this country and those who aspire to it? Absolutely. And I will."

Turnout is key for Democrats next year

DCCC chair Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) tells The Hotline that the key to Democratic fortunes in the midterm elections will be mobilizing the voters who showed up for last year's presidential election. Said Van Hollen: "If you were to see the kind of turnout in the Congressional elections of 2010 that you saw in these off-year elections in Virginia and New Jersey, that would spell trouble. But there's no reason to believe that we're going to have that kind of turnout, because voters who came out to support Obama will understand that ... he has a huge stake."

Barrow announces $13.6 million for Rural Water Projects in Swainsboro

Congressman John Barrow (D-Savannah) announced that Swainsboro, Georgia, was one of 31 cities selected to received water and environmental project loans and grants that are being funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Swainsboro was selected to receive a $6.4 million loan and $7.2 million grant to repair and renovate a wastewater treatment plant. The city is under an existing Environmental Protection Division consent order that will be removed upon completion of these improvements. "This money is good for the folks who live in Swainsboro because it'll improve their city and it'll get folks back to work," said Barrow. "Recovery Act projects are helping rural communities of all sizes build a foundation for economic strength, future prosperity, and a healthy environment," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "The 31 water and wastewater projects we're announcing today are helping to achieve the Obama Administration's economic recovery goals to rebuild and revitalize the nation's infrastructure while creating or retaining jobs." The funding announced today is being administered by USDA Rural Development's Water and Environmental Program which 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's Recovery Act efforts is available at

Bill Clinton to attend fundraiser for Thurbert Baker

Last Night, I got a email from Baker's Campaign Manager stating that former President Bill Clinton will be speaking at at fundraiser for Baker up in NYC on Dec. 7. Baker is trying to become Georgia's next governor. Everyone reported this last night, so I won't saying too much about this, but its important to remember that Baker endorsed Hillary Clinton & even after she lost the chance to win the nomination, he still stuck with her while most got behind the candidacy of Barack Obama. It's also important to remember that Baker & the clintons hae a long history between them, so if baker goes on to become the democratic nominee, expect to see alot of Bill Clinton here in the Peach State.

State Senator Adelman to Singapore?

State Sen. David Adelman (D-Atlanta) has been nominated by President Barack Obama to be U.S. ambassador to Singapore, the White House announced late Thursday. Adelman, a member of Georgia’s state Senate since 2002 served as a member of Obama’s national finance campaign during the 2008 campaign. His wife, Caroline, served on the advance team for Obama’s Georgia primary campaign and spokeswoman for the general election here. There were earlier rumors about Adelman getting a spot in the Obama Administration, one being the U.S. Attorney of North GA.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Grovetown Democrat to take on Paul Broun for the 10th Congressional District?

A Grovetown Democrat by the name of Sandy Untermyer (D-Grovetown) will challenge Paul Broun (R-Athens) for the 10th Congressional District in 2010. McCloskey is a retired teacher. By looking at his website & looking at his comments, he is a party switcher going from republican to democrat.
He is a second admendment supporter, fiscally responsible, etc. His website is

Kudzu Vine BlogTalk Radio 11/15/09

Brooke Nebel picks up the endorsement of former U.S. Senator Max Cleland in her bid to unseat Incumbent Tom Rice of HD 51.

Brooke Nebel picked up the endorsement of former U.S. Senator Max Cleland in her bid to unseat incumbent Tom Rice (R) for House District 51. The district comprises Peachtree Corners, Berkely Lake & portons of unincorporated North Fulton County.
Nebel was born & raised in Chattanooga Tennessee & moved to Atlanta after she got married. Says Nebel:
As your state representative I want to continue and strengthen the good qualities that are prevalent throughout our district. I will do this by attracting many large and small businesses to come here by offering a range of tax incentives, safer neighborhoods and competitive schools.
While our national economy has been dealing with its challenges, District 51 has had its share of economic hurdles. If I become your representative, I will fight to keep our successful businesses here, while helping to create new jobs by working with my fellow representatives on both sides of the aisle in the Georgia Legislature.
So for those who want to see a change in HD 51, go out & support Brooke Nebel in her bid to become the next State Representative for HD 51. She is a loving wife & mother & wants to give back to her community & to ensure a bright future for the people of HD 51. SUPPORT BROOKE NEBEL FOR HD 51 IN 2010! HER WEBSITE IS WWW.VOTEFORBROOKE.COM

Court of appeals upholds Hodges immunity from suit

In a decision rendered Tuesday, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has partially upheld a U.S. District Court ruling granting former Dougherty District Attorney Ken Hodges immunity from lawsuits stemming from the case of a former Dougherty County assistant police chief, Woodrow "Woody" Hart, who claimed Hodges violated his rights in 2003 after Hart was convicted of criminal activity.

In its decision, the Appeals Court affirmed the District Court's ruling that Hodges was serving in his capacity as chief prosecutor for Dougherty County when he tried to get Hart jailed in a Georgia prison following a 24-month federal prison sentence that Hart agreed to serve after pleading guilty to wire fraud and bribery charges.

The court, however, vacated part of the District Court's ruling and remanded it, saying that Hodges' statements to The Albany Herald following Hart's release from federal prison did not entitle him to absolute immunity just because of his role as a district attorney. It also stated that the District Court erred in not adequately opining on Hodges' possible qualified immunity.

Wednesday, Hodges said that he was pleased with the court's ruling.
"I did what I believed was the right thing to ensure that not even police officers were above the law and that Woody Hart spent every day incarcerated that he was supposed to," he said.

Hart was indicted in federal and state courts on charges related to a bribery conspiracy stemming from a payment he received in exchange for declining to investigate a blackmail scheme.

A deal was reached between Hart, the U.S. Attorney's Office and Hodges. Under that deal, Hart would serve a 27-month sentence in a federal prison. Upon his release, Hart would be subject to a 93-month probated sentence on the state charges, giving him a total incarceration time of of 27 months in a federal facility.

But after Hart was released three months early in 2003, he said that Hodges called local authorities in Arkansas where he was imprisoned and had them pick him up in shackles from the federal facility and hold him for transport back to a Georgia prison to serve the remainder of his term after a "detainer" was placed on him by the Georgia Department of Corrections. After about 28 hours of being locked up after his release by federal authorities, the court ordered his immediate release from confinement and later granted a sentence of time-served on the state charges.

The statement in question that Hodges gave to The Herald on March 14, 2003, says in part, "If he does (report) he will serve out the balance of his prison term. If he does not, he will have new legal issues to deal with."

"My comments made were factually correct and were the truth," Hodges said. "So even if there is no immunity, I did not defame anyone. I simply told the truth."

Hart is suing based on his assertion that Hodges and co-defendants William Amideo, the general counsel for the Georgia Department of
Corrections, and Frederick Head, the warden of Jackson State Prison, overstepped their professional bounds during the course of the incident.

Hodges, who is running for Georgia attorney general, also is being sued in a separate case currently under consideration by the 11th Circuit of Appeals. The case focuses on whether Hodges overstepped his bounds as district attorney when he got involved in a dispute between Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital and local medical office accountant Charles Rehberg over the dissemination of the Phoebe Factoids — a series of faxes critical of Phoebe's financial dealings.

Oral arguments in that case have been scheduled for January.

Reporter: J.D. Sumner, government writer of The Albany Herald

Michael Mills Officially Kickoff his campaign to become Georgia's Next Secretary of State

November 19, 2009 (Atlanta, GA) - Michael Mills officially launches his campaign for Georgia Secretary of State with a series of events demonstrating his commitment to "a new way forward" on jobs. Mills has deep experience in politics, elections and public policy, which he is leveraging to bring a new attitude of action over administration to the office.

"I'm excited to officially launch our campaign today after spending several months listening to Georgians in every corner of the state," said Mills. "They helped to solidify our mission for 'a new way forward,' which isn't just a campaign slogan, it's a vision for inspiring and empowering people to participate in our government and creating a government that works for people," he said.

Mills decided to enter the race because Georgia has been a place of tremendous prosperity and opportunity - the engine of the "new south." But the bills of this growth and success have now come due. And new leadership is needed to tackle these tough issues, delivered in a manner based on inspiration and vision to usher in a brighter future for all Georgians.

Georgians need a state government that helps them dream about a brighter future, while providing the basic resources to make those aspirations possible. That's why as secretary of state Mills will focus on:
Building a Georgia that allows citizens to have a voice, become prosperous and is a place we can all be proud to call home
Ensuring the security of Georgia's election system while limiting unnecessary barriers to voting for all eligible citizens
Creating a "small business administration" within the Corporations Division to grow jobs and revenue by supporting small businesses, non-profits and entrepreneurs
Protecting citizens against financial ruin and fraud through the professional Licensing and Securities Divisions
Mills' professional and civic experience fall into three areas of service that uniquely position him to lead the office in a new, people-focused direction:
Political: legislative aide to Secretary of State Lewis Massey and press secretary for Mark Taylor
Elections: launched a non-profit to improve educated civic participation, especially voting. The community organizing work activated citizens but also identified the problems with our election systems - he wrote a book about it called "Battling Democracy's Decline"
Business and public policy: worked for small businesses and one of the world's largest companies, tackling tough public policy issues - the environment, health care and job creation: Today's schedule includes:
8:00 to 9:00 am, Atlanta Business Roundtable: growing jobs in Georgia
10:00 to 11:00 am, Atlanta Non-Profit Roundtable: ensuring non-profit longevity
2:00 p.m., Ringgold Corporate sustainability announcement: press conference by OSA, Inc. to announce its Collaborative Integrated Resource Planning Study, examining the regions energy needs and solutions, and the likely jobs created in the process
And later tonight he wil hold a fundraiser in Atlanta.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs -- Finally

With the Senate befuddled by the antics of Joe Lieberman and Max Baucus on health care and the White House Clintonistas lobbying President Obama to devote his January State of the Union address to deficit reduction, Pelosi ladled up a portion of common sense. Unemployment is over 10 percent and rising. It is time to focus on jobs. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid added his support. The President announced a job summit for December. Democrats finally got the subject right.

The need is clear. One in six workers is unemployed, has given up looking or is forced to work part-time. For young workers aged 16 to 24, unemployment is 19 percent. For young African Americans, unemployment is at 30 percent. And as Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke testified yesterday, we're likely to see—at best—a slow recovery with no new job growth. That exacts a devastating toll in hopes crushed, families stressed, young people stalled, and poverty and hunger spreading.

And even if we avoid another downturn, the job picture will get worse. Crippling state deficits—over $260 billion over two years—will force layoffs that cost an estimated 900,000 jobs next year if nothing is done.

How do we produce jobs?

Republicans, of course, voted unanimously against Obama's first recovery plan, and have gleefully trumpeted its failure ever since (although many don't hesitate to take credit for local projects that are putting people to work).

What's their plan? It can't be found on the national party's web page. But the perpetually tanned House Minority Leader John Boehner trumpets an October letter that House Republicans dispatched to the president as the essence of their plan.

Turns out it's the same ideas they offered at the beginning of the year—reality has made no impression on these folks. Three of the five suggestions are ways to help small businesses afford health care for their workers—"legal reform and incentivizing wellness" (tort reform), allowing small business to purchase health care collectively (already in the president's plan), and more health savings accounts (a bow to a leading Republican contributor). At a time when small businesses are closing, when customers are drying up, foreclosures rising, and states and localities are laying off teachers, these seem, as the lawyers say, de minimus.

And then of course, the Republicans recycle their panacea for anything that ails you—more tax cuts. One of these, letting businesses write off losses against profits over an extended period of time, has just been signed into law. The other is Bush lite: small tax cuts for everyone but low-wage workers.

Now, despite all the posturing about Obama's red ink, these Republican ideas will create larger deficits and more debt. Is this the best way to spend money we borrow?

Well, we tried the same thing under Bush at the beginning of the Great Recession and it didn't work very well. The reason is pretty simple. Americans have lost some $13 trillion in assets from the housing crash and the stock market decline. They no longer can spend more than they earn, and use their homes as an ATM machine. So they are tightening their belts, paying down debts and rebuilding their savings. Provide them with small tax cuts and they will sensibly save most of the money—and not provide the demand need to get reluctant companies to rehire workers.

What are the Democratic ideas? The current debate is still pretty fluid. Democrats, intimidated by deficits, initially hoped to do a stealth plan piecemeal—$250 for seniors here, extend unemployment there, pump up infrastructure spending in the transport and clean water bill over there.

1. Extend the lifeline to jobless workers, continuing unemployment benefits, food assistance and health care subsidies.

2. Rebuild schools, roads and energy systems. This is the very area that got slashed in the first recovery plan by so called Republican moderates and Blue Dog Democrats. Repairs— to schools, sewers and bridges—can begin rapidly. More ambitious projects—fast trains and a modernized electric grid—take longer, but as Bernanke says, unemployment will be with us a long time.

3. Aid to state and local governments to maintain vital services. This is the least popular but most effective program. It forestalls deep layoffs in basic services, from teachers to police.

4. Direct public service jobs in communities. Congress could dramatically expand the Youth Corps, AmericaCorps and Vista to put young people to work. New initiatives—a Green Corps to rebuild parks, an Urban Corps to build low-cost housing—could be targeted for areas with the greatest job loss.

5. Use Wall Street bailout funds for Main Street. Use the billions still in the TARP to enable community banks to lend money to small and medium sized businesses. Even Republicans might sign onto increasing low-interest-rate loans to small businesses with expansion plans. This surely is a better idea than job tax credits to businesses, almost of all which will reward companies for jobs they would have created anyway.

Obama would be well advised to go even bigger. His most compelling argument has been the simple truth that we can't go back to the old boom-and-bust economy and should not want to. We've got to build a new economy on a strong foundation of basic investment in education and training, in 21st-century infrastructure, in research and development—all of which have got the short end of the stick in the era of tax cut, squander and plunder conservatism. And we've got to insure that the US is a leader in the new green industrial revolution that will be the growth industry of the future.

So devote the State of the Union to lay out the bold agenda on jobs. Make the commitment now to make the investments needed for the new economy, and to drive the green industrial revolution. These will involve large-scale public investments, deficit-financed in the next couple of years while the economy recovers and paid for over time, in part by growth and rising employment and in part by progressive taxes. The latter begins with a securities transactions tax that will curb the Wall Street casino while insuring that Wall Street helps pay for the cleaning up the mess that it made. And the president should be clear: These investments will be linked to procurement policies designed to insure that the plants, supply chains and jobs are built here, not shipped abroad.

Let Republicans ante up their arguments on more tax cuts and tort reform. People can choose. Do we go back to the policies that drove us over the cliff, and didn't work for most Americans even when the economy was growing? Or do we go forward boldly to build a new economy that puts people to work through investments vital to our future? That's an argument that would serve the nation well—and could also give Republican leader Boehner even more time to work on his tan.

Robert Borosage of Campaigh for America'a Future wrote this piece.

Ray City Voters elects new mayor of Ray City to replace Carl Camon, who's running for governor.

Down in Ray City (Berrien County) voters elected Dolly Dupree to succeed former Mayor Carl Camon who is running for governor in 2010. Dupree won with 54% of the vote. Other candidates Wesley Bennefield 30% & Nina Harrell 15%. She will be sworn in in early January 2010.

Nathan Deal still at it

When it comes to the issue of President Obama birth certificate. Deal was still calling on the president to show his birth certificate stating he is a legal U.S. Citizen. Now I know my history pretty well. Hawaii became part of the U.S. IN 1959. President Obama was born in 1961. You figure it out. This is an attempt by Dea to cater, or pander to the radical right-wing base of the republican party for the 2010 elections. He along with the "Birthers" are making complete fools of themselves when they keep pushing this idiotic issue of the president's citizenship. More & More, Day-after-Day I feel much better about our chances of regaining the goveror's mansion in 2010. If this the best the GOP has to offer. I like our chances big time.

State Rep. DuBose Porter continues his gubernatorial discussion with Man-up! Host Tollie Strode, Jr. From Oct. 2009

Democratic Candidate for Secretary of State Gary Horlacher's groundbreaking presentation on ethics and accountability in Georgia politics. (No Sound)

What Economic Development means in Rural Georgia.

It means building small businesses to serve a growing, diverse community.

It means strengthening our education system from the bottom up.

It means investing in new technologies and community infrastructure.

And it means working together to support our rural economic base – family farms, main street businesses and rural institutions.

Bottom line, public policy should be aimed at creating good jobs, at good wages, in our local communities.

In 8 Years under Gov. Sonny Perdue, I haven't seen any of that in rural Georgia. Yes you can tout the development of the Kia Plant over in Troup County, but what else has he done to spur our rural economy? What has these rural republican legislators done to improve the districts they represent? I can't tell. The bottom line is we need a moderate or conservative democrat back in the governor's mansion in 2010 as well as moderate or conservative legislators up in the General Assembly as well. No offense to my more liberal friends up in the Metro Area, but your way has gotten us no where & it's time for a change, espcially here in rural ga. With our high poverty rate, high unemployment (its like that everywhere I know), but it is ten times as bad here than say in a bigger city. That's the truth. I see it everyday.

Rural Georgia is Wide-Open for Democrats. But how bad do they want to play Here?

Rural Georgians tend to be more Conservative than those that live in Urban, Surburban, or the Exurbs. The wooing of rural voters is essential for democrats hopes of winning Statewide in 2010. But developments over the years under a republican-control house & senate, along with a republican governor such as Property Tax Increases, Increases in Classroom sizes, Graduation Rates falling, Dropout rates rising, Public Schools deteriorating more & more, transportation choking not only the growth of Atlanta, but rural georgia as well, job leaving the state, cuts to agriculture, education, law enforcement, & a rising prison population that is at or near the top nationally & a rise in our crime rate has created a pessimism among rural georgians. Democrats complain that rural voters ignore their own economic interests in voting for Republicans. While rural voters give an slight edge to Democrats as far as the economy , the party has not persuaded voters that it will do a better job of dealing with the economic issues closest to home — rural issues.

If Democrats would go to bat on rural economic issues, they could persuade rural voters that they understand the challenges they face. And if the Democrats would go to bat for ordinary rural people on those issues, they might finally give rural georgians a reason to vote economic issues.

Republicans may take heart in learning that most rural voters believe democrats does not share their values.
The rural vote is critical in not only presidential and congressional elections, but also for the all important statewide elections because large Republican majorities among rural voters have helped overcome Democratic advantages in urban areas. With the rural advantage beginning to erode for the GOP, the democrats need to make a play for the rural vote if they want to have any chance of getting back in the game in on a statewide level in 2010.

"The rural vote determines statewide elections, in my opinion. Democrats don’t won't unless they make rural georgia competitive. So you’d think that would mean the candidates whether it's Ken Hodges, Carl Camon, Brian Westlake, Dubose Porter, whoever it is would have a spirited debate on the things that matter to rural Georgians. I have seened Gen. Poythress, State Rep. DuBose Porter, Mayor Carl Camon play hard here in the "Other" Georgia. Tha's what its going to tske for democrats to win if they want to have a say on amtters such as education, redistricing, etc.

"Democrats have a great opportunity here if they show the committment to courting rural georgians & fielding candidates for State Rep. of State Senator. Rural Georgia is as politically competitive as any region in the State right now. It is a battleground in my opinion, but it's part of Georgia that Democrats must win at if they are to compete a statewide level.

Keith Heard for State Insurance Commissioner?

Rumors have been swirling for the past Five Months about the possibility that State Representative Keith Heard (D-Athens) may run for State Insurance Commisisoner in 2010. If so he along with Mary Squires (D-Norcross) will be the only democrats vying for the democratic nomination to go up against one of the Eight Announced Republican Challengers in November.
Blake Aued of the Athens Banner Herald reported on Nov. 3 that Heard would be making a announcement in regards whether or not he will seek the office of State Insurance Commissioner in the next two or three weeks. I predict he will seek the seat.
Squires who is the only announced democrat in the race hasn't made any noise since she announced, besides holding her kickoff event a couple months ago. She has racked the endorsements of numerous State Legislators, but will that mean anything come July 2010?
Heard is a graduate of the University of Georgia, & is a member of the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce. He is a Senior Accounting Agent for Allstate Insurance Co In Athens & President of The Heard Group LLC, 1979-2000. If Heard does get in the race, I see him & Squires both battling it out in a August 2010 Runoff. I have said that the Democratic Party needs to field more women to run for Statewide Office & I'm happy to see Mary Squires jump into the race to replace John Oxendine, but in my opinion Heard is the stronger candidate of the two. Both have years of experience in the field of insurance, but so far she is a lackluster candidate & democrats need someone who has the fire in the belly & who will take it to the GOP in 2010.

S. Ga. likely to lose state seats

The Brunswick News

The voice of Atlanta and North Georgia in the state legislature is strong today, but it will be even stronger after 2010.

It will pick up several seats in the state House of Representatives at the expense of South Georgia due to population growth in northern counties, said Rep. Roger Lane, R-Darien, chairman of the Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Committee.

"With the population shift, we know there are going to be more representatives north of the gnat line and fewer south of the gnat line," Lane said.

The gnat line runs the width of the state at Macon.

Early population figures from the U.S. Census show the southern region of the state losing at least six seats in the House to North Georgia.

"That's our estimate," Lane said.

The loses will be felt mostly in inland counties.

Number-wise, the 28 counties that make up Atlanta and surrounding area will control 100 of the 180 seats in the House. That leaves 131 counties claiming a part or all of the remaining 80 seats.

House districts today mirror a head count of 45,000. That number will jump to 55,000 with the state's higher population.

While districts on the coast may look different once Lane and his committee redraw them, there will be no loss of seats, he predicted.

Lane said House District 167, which he represents, will be among those that might have a new shape.

"Ours will expand a little bit," Lane said.

House District 179, on the other hand, represented by House Majority Leader Jerry Keen, will probably remain the same. It will continue to be unlike Lane's district, which takes in chunks of Glynn, Wayne, McIntosh and Long counties.

"District 179 will probably be one district - wholly Glynn County, if possible," Lane said.

Nothing will happen until the state gets the official census figures, which will be presented to President Barack Obama in December 2010 and then to the states by April 2011.

The coast is growing at 12 percent, compared to 18 percent in Atlanta and surrounding counties.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What role will these two Men Play in 2010?

Former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn (D-Perry) & Former Governor Zell Miller (D-Young Harris) are two giants in Georgia Political circles. Both are revered political figures that are expected to play a role in the 2010 elections.
Nunn has already endorsed Ken Hodges (D-Albany) who is running for State Attorney General, replacing Thurbert Baker who is running for governor. Last year Nunn endorsed Doug Heckman for his run against John Linder for the 7th Congressional Seat. But that endorsement went largely unnoticed & it came too late during the election to make any impact.
One wonder if Nunn will endorse a candidate for governor on the democratic side? He knows all of the announced candidates, especially DuBose Porter who was a former staffer to Nunn when Nunn was still Georgia's Senior Senator & David Poythress, who I'm sure had a very close relationship dating back when Poythress was Georgia's Secretary of State & Labor Commissioner. If Nunn were to endorse one of the candidates, you would expect it would be either Porter or Poythress.
As for Zell Miller, everyone knows he has gone on to support republican candidates for office since his 2004 appearance at the Republican Convention when supported Bush & ripped the National Party of Straying away from its Values & becoming too Liberal. He supported Sonny Perdue in his re-election bid in 2006 & he supported Saxby Chambliss in his bid in 2008 against Jim Martin. But he supported Jim Marshall (D-Macon) in all of his re-election bids for congress as well as Thurbert Baker. But will he get behind a democratic candidate. The logic is he will endorse Nathan Deal. Both men are from the same region up in North Georgia & both are long time friends. But with issues with Ethics & controversial "Ghetto Grandmothers" remark he made to a Cherokee Co. GOP audience weeks ago, you wonder if Miller would even back Deal.
Remember Miller was very popular with African-Americans during his time as governor of Georgia & still is. That's why I wonder will be back Thurbert Baker, who he appointed to State Attorney General back in 1998. Both men are good friends & Baker was a floor leader for Miller during that time. He helped passed thw "Two Strikes" Law along with Miller among other things. Or what about DuBose Porter who also was a floor leader to Miller. Porter helped Miller pass the Hope Scholarship back in the early 1990s. Or maybe David Poythress, who knows Miler very well.
No One knows, but it sure would be nice to see both of these men help bring the democratic party back to prominence in 2010. Stay tuned.

Democratic Senatorial Candidate RJ Hadley at the Georgia Federation of Democratic Women Fall Meeting on Nov. 7

Thurbert Baker faces a Tough Road in trying to become the next Governor of Georgia

Unfortunately, Thurbert Baker, Georgia’s attorney general, can’t merely ride President Barack Obama’s tail wind into this state’s highest elected position. What Obama’s election proved is that everything’s possible for the right Black candidate these days.
But in the eyes of many African Americans here in the Peach State, Baker is not the “right” Black candidate. Under normal circumstances, he might have the advantage over his Democratic rival for governorship in 2010, especially after putting in 12 years as Georgia’s top lawyer.
But many folks are still angry at Baker for his position in two very high-profile cases that put the state’s racial condition under the microscope. For example, he challenged many Black leaders over the Republican-fueled proposal requiring voters to show a photo ID before being allowed to cast a ballot.
Many African Americans saw the measure as a throwback to the Jim Crow Era, when republicans sought to undermine Black voting rights. But even more incendiary was the case of Genarlow Wilson, the 17-year-old Black youth who was sentenced to a mandatory 10 years for having consensual sex with a 15-year-old White girl.
Blacks had pressed for Wilson’s release, saying the sentence was tantamount to a modern-day lynching. Eventually, Wilson was freed under the pressure of protest, but Baker appealed the judge’s order to release Wilson. “My job is to enforce the laws of the state of Georgia, as passed by the General Assembly,” said Baker, noting that most Georgians understand that his job is to enforce the laws of Georgia, regardless of race.
I have no idea how Baker will fare in the up coming Primary in July 2010.
Back in March, I said Baker maybe the strongest candidate democrats could field against the GOP, given his tough stances against crime & his views which are that of a conservative democrat & his appeal across racial & party lines. But Baker has been somewhat invisible to most Georgians this early going as you see others like David Poythress, DuBose Porter, Carl Camon & Roy Barnes out there on the campaign trail going to party meetings & rallies, etc. There is nothing wrong with being low-key, but when you are running for the state's highest office, you have got to get out there & talk to people & especially the media. Baker has been notoriously Media Shy & if he wants to be the Big Dog in November 2010, he has got to raise his visibility, or folks won't even notice that he was even in the race for governor. One of my biggest questions about Baker is do he have the fire in the belly to want to be governor in 2010, or is he just in it just to be in it? I don't see or hear the passion coming from Baker like I see coming from the other candidates.

Charter school may open next year in Camden County

Susan Respress of the Tribune-Georgian.
High-school dropouts in Camden County may be going to a totally different kind of school next year if a recruiting drive is successful for the proposed Coastal Education Center.

The school would be the county's first charter school with evening classes geared to students who don't fit in with a traditional school population and setting.

The impetus is a Georgia Department of Education requirement that high schools have 100-percent graduation rates by 2014. Camden County's rate is 80 percent.

"We will use an existing building for the school," said Will Hardin, superintendent of schools, who expects the first year's enrollment to be 90 to 120 students. "Graduation coaches will begin recruiting students now that have dropped out," he said.
Students who quit high school are often bright and talented but don't like the school environment of football games and proms, he said.

"They just don't want to sit in the classroom," Hardin said. "A lot of them are parents and can't afford childcare. A lot of them are very independent, and when they reach the age of independence, they drop out, regardless of the fact that they are penalizing themselves."

The charter school would hold classes year-round, meeting three to four hours in the evening for four days a week. Students would graduate with a Georgia High School diploma.

The curriculum and method of teaching will be flexible, and some of it will be computer-based instruction.

The Camden County school board agreed Tuesday night to make its charter school part of a regional consortium of nontraditional high schools directed by the Glynn County school system.

Camden is among several county school systems, including McIntosh, Brantley and Wayne counties, that are considering the plan to establish and maintain charter schools for dropout students.

School officials hope the recruitment of dropouts and students who are likely to leave high school prematurely will improve the graduation rate and raise school attendance. The students also would raise the system's full-time equivalent rate on which some state funds are based.

"There is no [initial] cost to Camden County," Hardin told board members. "Glynn County will pay for the first year of administration, and after that the cost will be split between the participants."

Hardin said Brunswick will be the hub of the state-chartered school, and each school district will have its own site. Each district superintendent who joins the consortium now will be on the board of the regional charter school.

"Once you get it up and running, it will support itself," said Gary Blount, deputy superintendent of schools.

In an earlier meeting with board members, Hardin said the board should not be afraid of the nontraditional schools.

"There is an appetite for change," he said. "You know that train is coming down the track. You can get on it or you can get run over by it."

In other action, the school board awarded a bid of $189,450 from Quality Companies Inc. of Valdosta to landscape and irrigate the St. Marys Elementary School campus. Quality Companies was among 10 bidders, including two local companies.

The board also agreed to donate two portable classrooms at St. Marys Elementary School to the city of St. Marys.

St. Marys Mayor Rowland Eskridge, who was at the meeting, said he hopes the city will use the buildings for a teen center at the city's aquatic park.

Eskridge said he is proposing that the city put bathrooms in the buildings and paint them.

Tattnall County schools honored by State

Tattnall Journal
State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox officially named Georgia’s four Title I Distinguished Districts, two National Title I Distinguished Schools and 896 Georgia Title I Distinguished Schools at the State Board of Education meeting recently. The following Tattnall County Schools were recognized: Collins Elementary School, Collins Middle School, Reidsville Elementary School, Reidsville Middle School, Glennville Middle School.

“These districts and schools are a prime example of the impact high expectations, hard work and collaboration can have on student achievement,” Superintendent Cox said. “I’m thrilled to recognize the educators, students and parents in these schools and school districts.”

Title I schools have a significant population of students who are economically disadvantaged and receive federal money to assist with the education of these students. The two National Title I Distinguished Schools are among the total 896 Georgia Title I Distinguished Schools.

“These 896 schools don’t accept excuses,” Superintendent Cox said. “There are high standards for students and high expectations for teachers. These schools are focused and determined — and they are getting results.”

Title I Distinguished Schools that have made AYP for three consecutive years are awarded a certificate, while those who have made AYP four or more years receive a monetary award, paid for out of federal funds.

Over in West Point, First car rolls off Kia assembly line

The LaGrange Daily News
The first U.S.-built Kia vehicle, a white 2011 Sorento CUV, rolled off the production line Monday in West Point, officially opening the company’s first U.S. plant.

The plant is expected to produce 300,000 vehicles at full capacity and employ 2,500 people, with on-site and nearby suppliers creating 7,500 additional jobs in the region.

“The start of production for our first manufacturing facility in the United States further demonstrates our commitment to growth in North America, and we are proud to be adding 2,500 jobs to the local economy,” said B.M. Ahn, group president and CEO of Kia Motors America and Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia.

Representing an investment of $1 billion, officials said the plant will establish new benchmarks for vehicle quality and productivity by utilizing some of the world’s most advanced manufacturing techniques. The general assembly area is outfitted with more than a half mile of height-adjustable conveyors to achieve the most favorable installation position for each team member and reduce physical fatigue, they said. Also in general assembly, the West Point facility is the only plant in North America outfitted with wood flooring, which provides a more comfortable and forgiving work environment for team members, the company said.

Built on 2,200 acres, the complex includes a body stamping facility, a transmission shop where the all-new 2011 Sorento’s six-speed automatic transmission is produced, and a two-mile test track in addition to the main assembly plant.

The plant’s 186-foot-long stamping press delivers 5,400 tons of pressure to stamp steel into 17 types of vehicle panels for the all-new Sorento, operating at a speed of seven to 15 strokes per minute. The massive stamping equipment spans from almost 20 feet below the floor to 39.4 feet high.

Opening of the West Point plant continues Kia Motors’ aggressive investment in the U.S. market. Since 2002, more than $1.3 billion has been invested in various facilities throughout the country, including a dedicated corporate campus and design center in Irvine, Calif., a state-of-the-art research and development center in Ann Arbor, Mich., and custom-built vehicle proving grounds in Mojave, Calif.

Since coming to market in the United States, Kia Motors, through its U.S.-based marketing and distribution arm, Kia Motors America, has expanded to a full product line of vehicles and posted 14 years of consecutive market share increases, including a 50 percent increase through October. Most recently, Kia Motors America posted its best sales quarter in company history and is one of only three automakers whose sales are up over their 2008 sales pace.
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