Monday, July 31, 2006

Kathy Griffin Brings D-List Style to Atlanta

Call her mean, call her obnoxious, I just call her funny as hell. Comedienne Kathy Griffin will be doing a show in Atlanta on Oct. 13th at Georgia Tech's Ferst Center for the Arts. As a UGA fan, I try to keep my trips to "the Flats" to a minimum. But maybe they'll let me in to see Kathy. Besides, there's bound to be a gratuitous Bush joke or two!

I know at least one of my fellow bloggers is sure to be trekking down to see the infamous D-Lister. ;-)

2006 - 2007 Theatre - Comedy Performances
5-show subscription ticket packages and single tickets are on sale now at the Ferst Center Box Office at 404-894-9600. Sample the music of each artist by clicking the links below, and a portion of the sale of anything you purchase through will benefit the Ferst Center!

Kathy Griffin

Friday, October 13, 2006 at 8:00 pm and 10:30 pm
Price: $32, $42 Subscription: $25.60, $33.60

“Likeable and genuinely funny…like the office mate who keeps you in stitches alongside the water cooler.” - Vero Beach Press Journal

Celebrity dirt-dishing comedienne Kathy Griffin observes life from the “D-List,” at once skewering and paying homage to the famous. Known for her sidekick role on TV's Suddenly Susan and several reality TV shows, Kathy Griffin has found her niche as a candid and witty stand-up comic.

Due to the use of adult language and humor, this performance is recommended for adult audiences only.

This Week's Debate Schedule

Ready for another round of debates? Martin/Hecht and Buckner/Hicks highlight the schedule. But the significance/controversy/interest is so high in the McKinney/Johnson race that C-SPAN is getting in on tonight's act.

Today's debate schedule:

> 7 p.m. (Live on GPB) --- Jim Martin and Greg Hecht in Democratic race for lieutenant governor.

> 7:30 p.m. (Live on GPB) --- U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney and Hank Johnson in Democratic race for the 4th Congressional District seat.

> Tuesday, 7 p.m. --- Karen Handel and Bill Stephens in Republican race for secretary of state. (GPB)

> Wednesday, 7 p.m. --- Gary Black and Brian Kemp in Republican race for agriculture commissioner. (GPB)

> Thursday, 7 p.m. --- Gail Buckner and Darryl Hicks in Democratic race for secretary of state. (GPB)

> Friday, 12:30 p.m. --- McKinney and Johnson again in race for 4th Congressional District seat. (WSB)

Sunday, July 30, 2006

What happens in Vegas doesn't always stay in Vegas after all

Being a Gwinnett resident these past few years, the Gwinnett Co. Board of Commissioners has often provided me with some cheap entertainment. However, their races are always predictable as each one tries to sell themselves as the candidate of "slow growth." Funny enough, I've yet to see any evidence of "slow growth" around me no matter who wins.

Georgia elections have always been colorful. But this one might be a first. Thankfully, I don't live in district 4. But you've gotta admit incumbent Kevin Kennerly has thrown a new twist into this year's race. This "slow growth" proponent was caught on tape gambling with developers in Las Vegas. By now everyone has seen that video. But just in case they didn't, a dvd of the event was mailed out to voters. Maybe someone should alert the Las Vegas office of tourism? ;-)

Digs continue in District 4 race

By Camie Young, Staff Writer

LAWRENCEVILLE — For weeks, Kevin Kenerly has defended himself from negative attacks, most of them anonymous. But facing his first runoff in four election cycles, the county commissioner is turning the tide prior to the Aug. 8 runoff for his District 4 spot. He won’t call it negative campaigning, but he’s pointing out some possibly damaging details about his opponent for the Republican nomination, 27-year-old attorney Jodie Rosser. “To me, what we’re doing is focusing on the facts,” Kenerly said. “I’m going to point out to folks who she really is.”

Loretta Paraguassu, Rosser’s campaign spokeswoman, said the tactics only highlight that Kenerly is in a “shaky position.” She called his point about Rosser only moving into the district just prior to qualifying for the race a “weak challenge” since Rosser grew up just over the county line in Loganville, but Kenerly said her short residency shows she doesn’t know the issues of the district. “I’ve never represented her,” he said. “She doesn’t even know what we’ve been doing in the district much less how to change it.”

While Kenerly has had to defend himself for a DVD anonymously mailed to voters that showed him gambling in Las Vegas with local developers and in a television investigation into his business dealings with one of them, he points out that Rosser has an even stronger tie to builders since her father, J.C. White, owns Almont Homes. Rosser has said she would recuse herself on any zoning involving her father’s company, and she supports impact fees and other measures to slow growth.

Kenerly says he’s improved development in the area, making builders match higher standards while working to improve roads and buy parkland. He touts his lifelong residency in the area and how he coaches football and donates money every year to park programs, countering that Rosser has no community involvement.

Rosser did not return phone calls Friday, but Paraguassu says her local business as a real estate attorney should count as involvement. “She sees why people are coming to Gwinnett and why they are leaving,” Paraguassu said. “She’s very much involved in seeing the people of the district up close when they are at a very important point in their lives.” For round two of the primary cycle, Rosser went back out on her door-to-door campaign, riding a Segway through neighborhoods. “The response has been overwhelming,” she said. “I’m confident that if the people I talk to vote, then I will win.”

This time around, Rosser has the endorsement of Butch Poss, a homeowner activist from the Collins Hill community, who came in third place on the July 18 ballots. But Kenerly says the only endorsement he wants Aug. 8 is that of the voters. He may face an uphill battle, though.

In the past several years, runoffs have often helped second-place finishers rise to the top. Two years ago, Charles Bannister was able to unseat third-termer Wayne Hill from the chairman’s position, while Mike Beaudreau was able to hold onto his lead over Dwight Harrison for the District 3 spot. In 2000, political unknowns Marcia Neaton and John Dunn won commission seats in runoffs.

Kenerly says his race is different. He compares it to the 2004 presidential race. Then, he says, challenger John Kerry criticized President George W. Bush but didn’t offer his own ideas to fix the nation’s problems. “Talk is cheap,” he said. “I want to stand by my record. I walk the walk.”

Martin vs. Hecht shouldn't be overlooked

It seems like Cynthia McKinney's bitter battle with Hank Johnson for US Congressional District 4 is getting all of the publicity. Shoot, even C-SPAN is getting in on the act by nationally televising tomorrow night's debate between those two. That is, if Cynthia shows up as promised.

But the significance of the Aug. 8th runoff between Democrat Lt. Gov. candidates, Jim Martin and Greg Hecht, can't be underestimated. The Lt. Gov. position is a natural launching pad for Governor. Depending on which party is occupying the Governor's mansion in January 2007, Georgia's next Lt. Gov. could be on the ballot for Governor in 2010.

Casey Cagle hasn't even won the Lt. Governorship, yet he's already entertaining thoughts about running for the top spot next time around. If he should win this year, he'll be in a prime position no matter who wins between Perdue and Mark Taylor this year, since his fellow Republican Perdue can't run for a third term.

But getting a Democrat into the Lt. Gov. spot this year would be sweet. If Perdue wins re-election as expected, we'll have a high profile Dem. waiting in the wings with a chance to win. If Taylor should upset Perdue, Dems will be in a satisfying position of supporting an incumbent governor while giving either Martin or Hecht even more time to add to their respective records before 2014.

This morning's Gwinnett Daily Post has a recap of our two candidates for Lt. Gov, their qualifications, their key issues, and what's happened so far.................

Democratic runoff for lieutenant gov. between lawyers

By Dave Williams, Staff Writer dave.williams

ATLANTA — Georgia Democrats fielded a diverse group of candidates in this month’s primary for lieutenant governor. Three white and two black hopefuls were competing for the nomination. Broken down by profession, the contest included two lawyers, two businessmen and a former journalist. But when the votes were counted on July 18, it was the candidates with the most similarities who emerged as the top two vote getters, setting up an Aug. 8 runoff between two white lawyers who once served in the General Assembly.

Former Rep. Jim Martin of Atlanta captured 41.2 percent of the primary vote, to 36.4 percent for former Sen. Greg Hecht of Jonesboro. The winner of next weekÂ’s runoff will face state Sen. Casey Cagle, the Gainesville-area Republican who upended Ralph Reed to win the GOP nod.

Because of their shared backgrounds and political philosophies, the differences Martin, 60, and Hecht, 42, have cited between themselves on the campaign trail are more a matter of degree than substance. Both have criticized Gov. Sonny Perdue and the Republican-controlled Legislature for cutting the formula that governs per-pupil spending in GeorgiaÂ’s public schools.

But Martin has put more emphasis on health insurance and economic development, while Hecht has talked more about long-term care for the elderly and developing alternative fuels.

Insurance pool

Martin has made a plan to create a health insurance pool that small businesses could buy into a keystone of his campaign. He said such a pool not only would reduce Georgia’s unacceptably high number of uninsured, but also would foster economic development by making it easier for small business owners to create jobs. Martin said small businesses should be at the heart of the state’s economic development strategy because major projects like the Kia auto plant due to break ground soon near LaGrange are few and far between. “We’re going to improve jobs in Georgia by building a plant next to Alabama,’’ he said. “Let Alabama help pay for it.’’

Hecht said the state should be doing everything it can to promote the fledgling biofuels industry as a way to replace some of the jobs lost in recent years. He’s also calling for state health care policymakers to do more to explore independent living options for Georgia seniors, including assisted living and home health care. “Long-term care facilities are important,’’ he said. “But people deserve choices and the ability to stay independent as long as they can.’’

Both men also have been talking up their legislative records. MartinÂ’s is longer. He spent 18 years in the House, rising up the ranks to become chairman of the powerful Judiciary Committee back when Democrats held the majority in the lower chamber. Martin left the General Assembly in 2001 when he was appointed by then-Gov. Roy Barnes to head the Georgia Department of Human Resources. He was in the job for two years before Perdue replaced him.

Hecht spent two years in the House and four in the Senate before running for Congress in 2002, finishing second in the Democratic primary. During those six years, he served as chairman of the Senate committee with jurisdiction over the state prison system and chairman of a budget subcommittee.

Negative campaign

With the two candidates in general agreement on the issues, their respective records have become fodder for what has deteriorated into a negative campaign. Martin has staked a claim to the high road, objecting to mailers sent out by the Hecht campaign slamming his record for protecting women and children as a lawmaker and DHR commissioner.

One stated that 72 abused or neglected Georgia children whose cases had been brought to the DHR’s attention died while Martin was heading the agency. The second accused Martin of having made callous comments about rape victims while he was unsuccessfully pushing a bill that would have made it harder to prosecute rape cases. “We ran our campaign in a way we’re proud of,’’ Martin said. “What Greg’s campaign chose was attacks not based on facts but on misrepresentations of what I’ve done.’’

Hecht conceded that the mailer dealing with the rape bill was “too graphic.’’ But he accused Martin of appearing before women’s groups and touting himself as the only pro-women’s rights candidate in the race. In fact, said Hecht, he was serving as an assistant district attorney prosecuting rape cases while Martin had his legislation before the General Assembly. “For this guy to go around saying he’s a champion for women when he is not is outrageous,’’ Hecht said.

Both Martin and Hecht played the endorsement game following the primary, courting support from the candidates who finished out of the running on July 18. Griffin Lotson, the Darien businessman who came in fourth, has endorsed Martin, citing the negative tone of HechtÂ’s campaign. Hecht has landed an endorsement from state Sen. Steen Miles of Decatur, who finished third and was the only candidate besides the two runoff participants to garner more than 10 percent of the vote.

Friday, July 28, 2006

WalMartWatch: A Stunning Defeat For Wal-Mart

Looks as if corporate giants like Wal-Mart will have to pay out more when raping and pillaging in the fair city of Chicago. The city passed an ordinance saying that "big box retailers" will have to pay their employees a "living wage." Hopefully this is a first step in a national rejection of these big companies only paying their employees the paltry minimum wage. Sure would be nice to get some federal help on this issue.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Big-box retailers would be required to pay their Chicago employees a “living wage” — at least $10 an hour and $3 in benefits by 2010 — under a groundbreaking ordinance approved today that sets the stage for a court fight.

The 35 to 14 vote by a bitterly divided City Council is a victory for organized labor, a stunning defeat for Wal-Mart and the latest in a string of legislative embarrassments for Mayor Daley…
The ordinance that will make Chicago the first big city in the nation to mandate wage and benefit standards for retailing giants is a watered-down version of the original.

Last month, proponents made a series of concessions aimed at softening the blow to business.
Instead of raising wages and benefits in one fell swoop, they agreed to a four-year phase-in that calls for giant retailers to pay: $9.25-an-hour and $1.50 in benefits on July 1, 2007; $9.50 and $2 a year later; $ 9.75 and $2.50 on July 1, 2009 and the full $10-an-hour and $3 in benefits on July 1, 2010. After that, the “living wage” would be raised annually to match the rate of inflation.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Did you know some high schools have marble floors?

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to visit a high school in north Dekalb County, and it was an eye opening experience. While I was impressed with what I saw, I couldn't help but think about the fact that not everyone in Georgia has it so nice. I don't begrudge those teachers and students for having such quality facilities and amentities at their disposal. The truth is, I wish that every student could be so lucky.

When I drove up, I immediately noticed the big columns on the front facade. And upon stepping inside the foyer's marbled floors, I could tell that this was no ordinary high school by Georgia's standards. From brand new computers for student use to a "senior's only" cafeteria to the largest scoreboard I've seen a high school football stadium have, this school's definitely operating on a different budget than most.

I know of public school campuses in south Georgia and north Georgia that will never have marble floors or special cafeterias for seniors. Some are slow to fix leaky roofs or replace dangerously cracked window panes because of budget issues. And the limited amount of computers those schools have aren't brand new. Heck, I'm sure there are schools in other parts of Dekalb Co. that probably face the same issues.

Now I know that property taxes in some areas are going to generate more revenue and resources for some school systems that others just won't ever enjoy. And I know that good teachers and bright students do exist in all of Georgia's schools regardless of appearances. But the inequities in education funding and budgets available to many schools out there just doesn't seem right.

A lack of marble floors and huge scoreboards does not prevent kids from being educated. But some kids in Georgia attend schools that don't even have enough text books to go around in all of its classes. The truth is, the mere act of attending a public school is a much better and more fruitful experience in some places than it is in others. And that can have a direct impact on how successful a school system is at turning out kids that are either college ready or prepared to enter the work force.

I know I keep harping on this. But we have 51 rural school districts suing the state of Georgia because they're being underfunded. Thanks to Gov. Perdue and his unfunded mandates and budget cuts, those school systems are suffering even worse. Perhaps one day Georgians will tie that with the fact that Gov. Perdue's adminstration has been filled with missed opportunities to lure high paying jobs in big industry to Georgia, due to concerns about the education levels of our work force.

Again, I'm happy for the folks that can enjoy such a wonder public school campus. I just want school children in places like Summerville, Elberton, Homerville, and Cusseta to have the same chances. And if more kids in places like those do get a fair chance, maybe one day we'll see a more progressive Georgia.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Julia Roberts and biofuels

The Marietta Daily Journal reports that Georgia native, Julia Roberts, has signed on to the biofuels movement. She's joined Earth Biofuels, Inc. as a spokesperson, and has made a concentrated effort on converting school buses from diesel to a cleaner fuel.

"The use of biodiesel is a positive step toward minimizing pollutive emissions and greenhouse gases," Ms. Roberts said in a statement. "By focusing on school buses, we can affect the health and wellbeing of the people most susceptible to that pollution - our children - today."

The article goes on to talk about biofuels as a serious discussion in the Republican Ag Commissioner race. That's a good sign as Georgia is the perfect place to promote the idea as a new industry. Several members of the legislature have taken up the cause already. Cathy Cox made it a major part of her platform for Georgia. Mark Taylor has expressed his support in exploring the uses of alternative fuels. So, hopefully it will become a campaign issue seriously talked about (and covered by the media) in the governor's race.

If we don't do this, someone else will. And Georgia will have missed a golden opportunity. interesting idea

Lately, I've been seeing some complaints around the blogosphere from disgruntled Dems about the Democratic Party, and suggestions that there's no place left in it for them. Particularly in a state like Georgia where the Democratic Party isn't on "progressive" par with the national party, there's bound to be some dissatisfaction.

Move too far to the left, and the mostly Christian center and right of the party base start looking for moderate Republicans to suit them. Move too far to the right, and white liberals (the hardest group to please in the history of mankind) scream bloody murder while tossing out adjectives like "Republican-lite.". All of this can spell big trouble for a coalition party like the Democrats who has lived and died under "the big tent."

Even more importantly, I've been hearing this from people of all persuasions about both major parties for quite some time. Republicans aren't immune from this. A lot of conservatives who liked the party better under the leadership of Ronald Reagan haven't been happy with either of the two President Bushes or the McCain types. At least since the 90's, I've heard a lot about the rise of a third party. Pundits have been predicting the ruination and decline of one or both of the two major political parties for years. The Libertarians and Greens never panned out as a viable option. And Ross Perot's Reform Party lost steam just as soon as he stopped airing his infomercials with bar graphs and one-line zingers in his Texas twang.

But now, there's an interesting idea of a centrist party using the internet to elect its candidate. The creators of say their plan will force more discussion of issues of substance like education, healthcare, and terrorism, while leaving behind the political wedge issues like gay marriage and flag burning. Apparently, Bill Frist need not apply.

Two Carterites, Hamilton Jordan and Gerald Rafshoon, have joined with Republican, Doug Bailey, to launch an effort to put a serious bipartisan ticket on the ballot for the 2008 presidential election year. The idea is to nominate a "centrist" presidential candidate, who will then pick a running mate from the other party.

It's an interesting thought that, depending on the nominees, could have serious rammifications on the presidential race. I'm all for anything that forces the two major parties to get serious about focusing on discussion of major issues, and not taking any group of voters for granted. If running a "bipartisan" ticket takes the focus off of particular parties, that's probably another good thing as well. But I don't know about this internet voting thingy. The anti E-voting crowd will have a new front in their war on anything not involving paper and pencil or technology from the 50's and 60's.

If nothing else, this should create a lot of interesting discussion leading up to 2008, and perhaps even beyond.

Perdue's "austerity cuts" in education

The Athens Banner-Herald isn't fooled by Gov. Perdue's election year proposal to infuse 173 million dollars into Georgia's public schools. Don't get me wrong. I'm happy to see the money being spent on our state's future in this way. The problem is Perdue will use this on the campaign trail this fall to say, "see what I did for education?" But as the ABH points out, this "must be balanced" against his "austerity cuts" in education each year since 2003.

It's true that the governor and legislators pumped roughly $1 billion more into the state's schools for the fiscal year that began July 1 than had been available in the previous fiscal year. But that infusion of cash must be balanced against the more than $1 billion in "austerity cuts" administered to the state's public schools during the past four years. Those cuts came in the form of the state's backing away from a funding formula that has been in place since 1985, which sets the amount of state funds going to local school systems. Beginning in 2003, in the face of a tough economy, the state opted against full funding of that formula.


So, the governor's decision to allocate some of the state's surplus to education will, in reality, do little more than put the state's allocation to its public schools somewhere in the neighborhood of where it should have been anyway.

So when the governor comes around to your town, shakes your hand, and kisses all your babies, and tells you what he's doing for their future, just remember this. And remember that when things got tough, Perdue looked to education to make his cuts. That speaks loud and clear as where his priorities are at, with Georgia's struggling education system not being at the top.

Friday, July 21, 2006

A victory in Alabama!

Here in Georgia, we've been celebrating the re-election of our first openly lesbian member of the state legislature, Karla Drenner. And we've been rooting for hopefully our first gay male, Allen Thornell, who is in a runoff.

But a friend of mine in Alabama told me that they have just elected their first openly lesbian member of the state legislature. And get this, she won by only 70 votes! So all votes do count! A lot of people came together to make this happen. It's a victory for the state of Alabama. But it's also a victory for equality.

Congratulations to Patricia Todd and to the LGBT community in the state of Alabama!! And thanks to Joe for pointing this out to me.


‘From big cities to small towns, from blue states to red states — equality is winning,’ said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.

WASHINGTON — The Human Rights Campaign applauded the combined efforts of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, Equality Alabama and hundreds of Alabama Human Rights Campaign members as voters elected Patricia Todd to serve as the state representative in District 54. Todd becomes the state’s first open lesbian to serve in the Alabama state Legislature. Todd won the race by razor-thin margin of 70 votes which underscores that every call, every e-mail and every conversation mattered and made a difference.

“From big cities to small towns, from blue states to red states — equality is winning,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “We were proud to join the efforts of Equality Alabama and the Victory Fund in helping fair-minded voters get out to the ballot box. Representative-Elect Todd was supported by an intense ground effort that involved a broad group of supporters.”

Solmonese continued, “We knew this election would be close and we reached out to our local network of supporters. More than 200 Human Rights Campaign members alone live in the 54th district and HRC staff called every one of them. We also contacted our members in Alabama and urged them to call their friends and families in Birmingham to remind them to vote.”

HRC Regional Field Director Sarah Scanlon traveled to Alabama and joined HRC members in canvassing the area with get-out-the-vote messages. Scanlon spent days leading up to the election in the state organizing and supporting the coalition efforts in Birmingham

P.S. Joe, I'm still rooting for your lady Lucy Baxley to become Alabama's first female governor since Lurleen Wallace in the 1960's.

Shame on you Sonny!

The AJC reports that Sonny Perdue, the anti-education governor, is going to give more to schools with his supposed $580 million dollar surplus. Lemme's an election year for Sonny.

Perdue is the first Georgia governor in my memory that looks to education, of all things, to make his cuts. Just remember back to last summer when his answer to the gas crisis was to close schools for 2 days so that school buses wouldn't have to use as much gasoline.

Personally, I think he's done some numbers finagling in his bragadocious speeches about deficits and surpluses during his term. But we've all heard from our local school superintendents, school boards, and teachers about the terrible affects of Perdue's budget cuts in education and his increasing of unfundated mandates. And we also know about the lawsuit that 51 rural school districts have filed against the state because they're underfunded. Education has hardly been a priority of this governor.

But this part of the article is what really bothers me. It shows his attitude towards education professionals who are just trying to do their job and about education in general:

But while the total budget has increased, the money for classroom instruction has been cut. During the past four years, those cuts have totaled more than $1 billion.
About 100 school districts have increased property taxes during Perdue's tenure, some saying it was because of state funding cuts.

School superintendents from 22 Georgia school districts signed a letter in April criticizing Perdue's and the Legislature's handling of education.

Perdue anticipated such criticism. "I don't have to warn you it's a political year," he told reporters.

When asked about local officials' complaints about school funding, he responded, "The state is funding education at a higher level than we ever have before. At $400 per student [more], I'm not sure what they expect us to do."

So Sonny, school superintendents have to deal with your mess on education funding and you simply dismiss their criticism of you as being part of a "political year." I find that very disturbing, and just slightly hypocritical.

And I'll tell you what education professionals, parents, and Georgia's students expect you to do. They expect you to not play politics with funding and to find ways to give them a chance to succeed.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Love and Light Karla!

Certainly one of the brightest spots Tuesday night was seeing Karla Drenner win re-election to her House seat, handily defeating Cynthia Tucker. Hopefully that sends the message that the voters of her district are just fine with Karla. No one else need apply. But, hey, it is America. The thing is, Karla's worked hard for us. And we're not going to forget her.

Juliana, from Blog for Democracy, had a nice little run down of Chuck Bowen's declaration of victory for Georgia Equality:

Georgia Equality endorsed 18 candidates and 14 either won or face a runoff. But it was the re-election of Karla Drenner by a wide margin that was considered the biggest win. “Our opponents threw everything they could at Karla and she not only survived, but she survived by a wide margin. Clearly, the voters in her district realized that she is the best person for the job regardless of her sexual identity.”

“With the overwhelming election of Karla Drenner, Kathy Ashe, Sheila Jones, Stacey Abrams, and others, we are returning a strong team to the House of Representatives. Another big win for us was the election of Nan Orrock who will bring a powerful and unwavering voice in the Georgia State Senate and who joins Gloria Butler and other Senators who have stood on the right side of history,” he said.

Georgia Equality will be directing all of its focus on endorsed candidates who face runoffs including Jim Martin in the Lt. Governor’s race and Douglas Dean in House District 59. But the number one priority is Allen Thornell who finished second in House District 58.

“We are three weeks away from electing the first openly gay man to the Georgia House of Representatives. Voter turnout will be the key to winning on August 8th and we are mobilizing our forces now,” he said.

Congrats to all of GE's endorsed candidates that won. And good luck to those in runoffs. I hope that we'll be sending Allen Thornell to the House as Georgia's first openly gay male elected official.

So you're happy Casey Cagle won?

Okay, I am too. It's always nice to see Ralphie boy get a kick square in the butt. And, I too hope that will be the end of Ralph Reed's temptations of running for elective office. The further away from Georgia politics that he stays, the better for Georgians.

But now Casey Cagle (a/k/a Ralph Reed without the Christian Coalition resume) is the man to beat. His win over Reed was impressive. After the first debate, many of the Peach Pundit folks were pronouncing Cagle DOA. Turns out, it was Reed that was road kill, losing by a whopping 12%. His was one of the earliest concessions I can ever remember.

Unfortunately, we still have to decide our candidate for Lt. Gov. in a runoff, thanks probably to the prop up candidacy of Steen Miles. I had a hard time choosing between Jim Martin and Greg Hecht, going back and forth over who I thought would make the better Lt. Gov. But I liked Martin in the debates, and I voted against the negative tone that Hecht needlessly introduced to the race.

I like what Hecht has to say about transportation and alternative fuels. If he sticks to the issues, there's no reason why he can't lure some of the supporters of the defeated candidates. I don't think I've ever changed my vote from one candidate to another during a runoff. And I genuinely like Jim Martin. But for now, I'll just say that I'm anxiously looking forward to the chance to helping the winner against a Casey Cagle who was barely a better alternative to the not-so-wonder boy, Reed.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Cathy Cox: The Lady Has Class

The votes have been counted; the verdict has been realized; and, with her husband Mark Dehler and her family at her side, Cathy Cox has graciously conceded to Mark Taylor. He will go on to represent us as Democrats in November against the Republican incumbent governor, Sonny Perdue. The voters preferred Taylor's message of HOPE, Pre K, Peachkids, and other initiatives that he's been a part of.

Cathy has asked her supporters to put aside our animosity and unite to defeat Perdue. If this is something that she can do, it's something that I can do. And it's just what you would expect from a leader of the standard of Cathy Cox. Now the task is to finish the job that we all started out trying to do as Democrats. And that's to return a Democrat to the governor's mansion.

But first things first. Cathy Cox has been our wonderful, able, and accomplished Secretary of State. Through years of working with her in different capacities, both official and unoffical, she's earned my friendship and loyalty. And that is something that she can count on. So whatever endeavors that you decide to undertake, Cathy, be it political or not, you'll have many friends upon which you can call on at any time.

Her concession speech was both emotional and inspiring. But it was also filled with her trademark humility. And because of her strength in defeat, we'll carry forward this campaign season.

All that I have left to say, is "Thank you, Cathy. And well done."

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Follow election results online via Sec. of State site

For those stuck at home or work and want to follow results as they come in, the Sec. of State's office website will be the best place in which to do that.

I'm going downtown to the Hyatt for the Cox victory party. So enjoy and good luck to everyone.

A report on the Jack Carter campaign in Nevada

Myrna the Minx (doesn't she sound sexy?!) gives a personal report after meeting U. S. Senate candidate, Jack Carter on the Nevada campaign trail on her blog, Reno and Its Discontents.

Apparently, Jack makes a good impression on those that meet him in person. But because of his relatively new status as a Nevadan, the son of Pres. Jimmy Carter and native of Georgia, is having to overcome the "carpetbagger" tag. I suppose that's understandable. But I'm hoping that Nevada progressives will be supportive of his efforts to try and oust their Republican junior senator, John Ensign.

Myrna's blog is a nice. So if this topic interests you, mosey on over and give it a peek.

Jack himself has a great looking website that's frequently updated by his daughter, Sarah. Jack is trailing in both the polls and contributions. But I do like Jack's innovative use of the social network, MySpace. And I like his stance on the issues. He basically holds Ensign accountable for being a Bush lapdog, just as Sonny Perdue is here in Georgia.

Civil Rights Museum: "even bigger than Atlanta's Olympics"

Billy Payne, the man who dreamed big and delivered in bringing the Olympics to Atlanta, says we can do something "even bigger." In a speech yesterday, he advocated building our own civil rights museum with an emphasis on the teachings of Dr. King. I'm surprised that we haven't done it before now.

Atlanta, the symbol of the "new south," is home to so many civil rights events and legendary figures. Many of those figures are still alive. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have such a museum created here in the south during their lifetime?

Here's what Payne had to say in the AJC about the prospect:

"The cost is but a detail," Payne said. "We will raise whatever amount is required as we once again take the world's stage — this time not for sport, but for life — a beacon of hope illuminating the entire world with the example of Dr. King, with the example of Atlanta."


"Atlanta must aspire to be a positive example — serving as a bright light of diversity, respect and tolerance in a world otherwise divided by seemingly insurmountable differences," Payne said. He then quoted from Dr. King, saying his words were particularly relevant today: "We have guided missiles and misguided men."

Mayor Shirly Franklin, who recently led a successful city effort to obtain a collection of Dr. King's papers, said the city has been looking at this idea for about a year. She went on to say, "I think he's (Payne) saying the papers are just the beginning of what we can do in bringing Dr. King's legacy to Atlanta," said Franklin, who was not at the talk. Describing Payne as a 50-ish Southern white male, Franklin said: "Billy Payne shatters the stereotype that the South is resistant to Dr. King's legacy."

Isn't that a worthy reason as well? Atlanta setting an example of an entire city brought together for the cause of promoting Dr. King's dream and honoring our civil rights heroes? You bet it is! It's another step in the right direction for all of us.

The rest of the AJC article by Maria Saporta can be found at:

Happy Birthday Cathy Cox!!

July 18th, 2006 is important for more than one reason! Not only is it the day of the Georgia primaries, it also happens to be the birthday of our Secretary of State and my favorite gubernatorial candidate, Cathy Cox.

At 48 years young, she's already done so much with her life. And the benefit has been to her fellow Georgians. And she still has a lot of life and energy in front of her to help the causes and needs that are important to her and to us. Hopefully, that will be as Georgia's next governor. But she needs no office nor any title to apply her skills, mind, and heart to making the world a better place.

So regardless of what the outcome of today's election is, I'd like to say a big "thank you" to Cathy Cox for all that she's done. And "happy birthday" to a great Georgian!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Cathy Cox: What her endorsers have to say

Here are some excerpts from Cathy's wide array of endorsers, including several key civil rights leaders that came in this weekend. I'm not one for telling people how to vote. I'd rather they do their own research and figure things out for themsleves. But Cathy's support is both wide and varied..........

Rep. John White, from Taylor's hometown of Albany via Amy from Georgia Women Vote:

Hello, I'm Rep. John White of Albany. I represented Albany and Dougherty County in the State Legislature for over 20 Years. Today I am asking all Georgian's to Vote - Cathy Cox for Governor. I served in the Legislature with Cathy and Mark; and we must not trust Mark Taylor to lead this state for us. I was there in the Senate Chamber when Mark Taylor Insulted Georgia's Black Population. He preached from the well of the Senate; that "He was tried of paying for the sins of his Fathers and Forefathers", then he placed a plan before the senate that reduced Black voting strength which denied Many Black Voters the opportunity to elect candidates of choice to The Georgia Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives; now he has The nerve to ask Black voters to Reward Him with the Governor's Office. That's an Insult. I urge All Black voters to go to the polls on July 18th. And Vote For Cathy Cox. Cathy will be a great Breath of Fresh Air and the Positive voice that Georgia now Needs. She will make you proud that you voted for her. Thank You.

Cathy Cox for Governor: John White: Served in the Ga. House from 1974 to 1997 Tuesday July 18, is Election Day in Georgia.

Again, from Amy, Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery makes an exception for Cox and gives a rare personal endorsement saying, "the exception was needed to set the record straight." And he goes on to say, "With all of the negative ads and rhetoric, the community needs to know the score."

From Rev. Lowery's fellow member of the Coalition for the People's Agenda, Rita Jackson Samuels says, "She is smarter and she is the only candidate with a vision for the future that will make our state better for all Georgians."

Helen Butler of Black Women's Think Tank and PAC says, "She (Cox) is, in my opinion, by far the best candidate."

From the Savannah Morning News:

Ms. Cox's foresight and innovation were rewarded by voters in 2002 when she was re-elected with 60 percent of the vote, garnering the second-highest ballot count in the state. That's a testament to her abilities as well as her character - voters across the political spectrum were comfortable with her bipartisan style as well as her record. That should appeal to Democrats who must pick a candidate who can beat Gov. Perdue in November................

Ms. Cox hasn't backed down; indeed, she shares responsibility for the escalating negativism. However, we believe her past accomplishments and proven appeal to a wide range of voters makes her the best Democrat to square off against Gov. Perdue in November.

From Cathy's hometown paper and former employer, the Post Searchlight:

The most important contest in Tuesday’s primary election is the race for governor on the Democratic ballot, and for voters in Decatur County, their Southwest Georgia neighbors and all Georgians, Cathy Cox is the best choice. She’s proved that she is a capable leader and administrator, not afraid to take personal risks for principle; she’s experienced and effective in the processes of practical politics; she understands the importance of a “Whole Georgia” concept that includes all parts of the state—metro and non-metro—in the allocation, access to and protection of resources; she’s owes no allegiance to the ingrained “old boy” network or kingmakers who transcend parties and administrations; she’s honest; she can and will hold her own in a tough fight; she loves and is dedicated to the people of this state; she puts principle above party, politics and pettiness; and she’s ours. Choose a Democratic ballot Tuesday and vote for Cathy Cox. It’s a vote for yourself and all Georgia—the best opportunity in 50 years.

The Macon Telegraph says:

Describing herself as an agent of change from "good ol' boy" politics, Cox has promoted ethics reform, use of farm-grown alternative fuels, more passengertrain service, training incentives for teachers, improved early childhoodeducation and using state tax credits to help Georgians put more money intoretirement accounts.

On balance, we endorse Cathy Cox on the basis ofher past efforts on behalf of consumers and voters and her potential to moveGeorgia government into new directions.

The Sierra Club of Georgia:

We're very excited to announce our endorsement of Cathy Cox for Governor in the Democratic primary on Tuesday, July 18th. There is no question that Governor Perdue needs to be defeated, and Cathy Cox is the candidate to do it. She is a dynamic leader with the best ideas to take Georgia forward, especially on environmental issues. We encourage every Sierra member to vote on July 18th for Cathy Cox and to volunteer to help her get elected.

From the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys:

Cathy Cox is exactly the right candidate to lead Georgia forward,” said Deborah Poole, chairman of GABWA’s Political Action Committee. “She is a strong leader with great ideas for how to make the future brighter for all of Georgia’s citizens, and especially for women and children.”

Creative Loafing says:

We still believe that, once the campaign is over and the smoke clears, Cox will be the best person to lead the state of Georgia. She ran the secretary of state's office effectively and efficiently. She has demonstrated a commitment to reforming the state government and pushing for ethics reform. And she has a genuineness that is rare in politics, and that is even more noticeable when she's standing in a room next to the polished and borderline smarmy Taylor.

Being governor is about more than just getting elected. It's about representing the people. And we think Cathy Cox is the best person for the job.

Amongst Cox's other endorsers, she can count a majority of the Georgia House of Representatives as well as the majority of the Black Legislative Caucus, including their chairman, Rep. Stan Watson.

Whether you're a Cox supporter, Taylor supporter, or impartial obvserver, most everyone agrees that this year's elections are critical to the future of the Democratic party of Georgia and the state of Georgia as a whole. Only one candidate has clearly distinguished themselves as someone willing to work with everyone from all walks of life and of all political persuasions. That person is Cathy Cox.

As the minority party of the state of Georgia, that's what it's going to take to get things done today. Last night, Cathy reminded us of Taylor's inability to bring his biggest proposal of the season, PeachKids, to even a discussion (much less a vote) in the Republican controlled legislature. Healthcare for everyone is a great goal. But Taylor's plan doesn't seem to have much chance of succeeding. It's the only policiy proposal that his campaign has released. On the other hand, Cathy has a more sensible approach that will accomplish the same goals in healthcare. Plus she has several other proposals involving: education reform, transportation, public safety, ethics reform, government reform, as well as a popular plan on the table to make Georgia the farm-grown fuels capital of the world.

Cathy also reminded us that while Taylor says he agrees that there's been too many attack ads, he's the guy who slung the mud first, slug it the longest, and did so in a most dishonest way. Several of his attack ads have been called "grasping at straws" at best, and "lies and distortions" at worst. Pulitzer Prize winner, Randall Savage of WMAZ of Macon, Peter Toole of the Miller County Liberal and author of an article that Taylor used as a source, the Augusta Chronicle, the AJC "Reality Check" (3 times), and have all pointed out Taylor's inaccuracies.

While Cox isn't a perfect candidate, and I do disagree with her on a few things which I've stated, I still find myself where I was in Dec. of 2004 when she announced her candidacy. I can't speak for everyone else. But in my eyes, the choice is clear: 4 more years of Sonny Perdue, or a chance to take down another "big guy" down in November.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Taylor just can't look Cox in the eye

There's all kinds of studies about body language and what it all actually means. Don't worry. I'm not going to bore anyone with all of that. But in the 3rd and last debate in the Dem. Gubernatorial debate, once again, Cox took it to "the big guy." Repeatedly, Cox eyeballed Taylor while posing her questions to him, and her answers to his questions. Meanwhile, Taylor looks staight ahead, seemingly unable to face the woman whose record he has spent millions of dollars trying to distort with negative attack ads.

Despite his promise not to run any more negative ads just yesterday, Cox called him out for the negative, deceiving flyers being passed out by Taylor supporters this very morning. Taylor has also been accused of running false ads about Cox by 4 respected journalists (3 state and 1 national). Yet, he continued to use them weeks afterward and defended them again tonight. And do note that no one has accused Cox of running false ads. Her's passes the truth test. It seems with Mark Taylor, there's THE truth and then there's HIS truth. And now he wants to join the chorus of dissatisfied voters about negative advertising? As Cathy pointed out to him tonight, "that's just being a hypocrite." Maybe he had his fingers crossed behind his back?

As I've long suspected, Cox is the better debater. I think it's safe to say that she proven that in all 3 meetings. Even her critics on Georgia Gang have had to admit that she's very good. Part of it is style. But more importantly, there's a difference in substance. She is the one candidate that has focused on reforming state government, state ethics, education, healthcare, public safety, transportation. And she's the one candidate with an idea to make Georgia the farm-grown fuels capital of the world.

In November, I want someone who will look Sonny Perdue in the eye and ask him the tough questions. And I want someone who won't have to sweat like a whore in church because she's facing a man she's lied about. The truth will do, thank you very much. Yes, I'm sure Perdue will have some tricks up his sleave. But Cox is showing us against Taylor that she's more than ready to fight.

Georgia Gang: Cox debate winner; plus my own ramblings about Democrats' future

This morning, the Georgia Gang had some interesting opinions on the Dem. gubernatorial race. The show is taped on Friday mornings, so they could not express opinions on Saturday's debate where Cox was an even more apparent winner. But the host, Dick Williams, declared Cathy Cox the winner of Thursday night's debate and the panel agreed. Jeff Dickerson of the Atlanta Business Chronicle also said, "It ain't over," when discussing the outcome of Tuesday's primary. That's the good news for Democrats anxious to defeat Perdue in the fall, in my humble opinion.

Okay. Now the bad news. Williams pointed out that in 1990, 1 million voters cast their ballot in the Democratic primary. The projections for Democratic ballots being selected this Tuesday is anywhere between 200,000 and 400,000. In just 16 years, we've lost that much ground in Georgia.

The AJC provided some more bad news in terms of money:

Big companies have kept giving to the majority party. But it's now the Republicans. For example, so far this year Coca-Cola has given $100,000 to the Republican Party. The Democrats got $5,000. In 2002, Coke gave $45,000 to the Democratic Party and about $19,000 to the Republicans.

A CAU political science professor is also mentioned in the article. And he points out something that Democrats need to pay attention to:

"What the Democrats have yet to come to grips with in this state is that they are the minority party, and you have to fashion your strategy to win around that fact," said William Boone, a political science professor at Clark Atlanta University. "It's a very difficult time for them."

Everyone knows that the Democratic party is now the minority party in Georgia. That's not my point for highlighting that quote. We just need to hear it more often to remind ourselves of what we need to do and what the consequences might be if we don't. I think there are some Democrats who are either ignoring or welcoming those consequences of being the minority for a long time to come by either not voting at all or voting in the Republican primary.

I've seen and heard some questions like, "What has the Democratic party done for me?" Well, we all know and have known that Democrats in Georgia aren't like national Democrats. For those of us of a liberal or progressive line, we have to work within the perameters of a party that doesn't always reflect our values as we'd like. But the question that shoud be FEARED doesn't have anything to do with the Democrats. It's "what will the Republicans do for you,?" that should be on your mind.

This is not the time to run the white flag of surrender up the pole. If you're a Democrat or most identify with the Democratic party and you're not happy with your choices for governor, vote Democrat and skip that race. Now is the time to dig our heels in and make sure that we don't allow a Republican sweep of the constitutional offices. It took the Republicans over 100 years to get back in the game. Let's not allow that to happen to us.

10th Anniversary of the Centennial Olympic Games

Do you remember where you were in 1990 when you found out that Atlanta had won the right to host the 1996 Olympic Games? I do. It was a great day for any Atlantan or native Georgian. I still get lumps in my throat any time I see that magical moment replayed. It was a chance to host the world in the greatest example of peace and cooperation among nations going today. Former University of Georgia football player, Billy Payne, took on the biggest of civic undertakings. He told the people of Georgia that he needed their help to win the games and put them on if given a chance. The people of Georgia responded.

Today, the Olympic Museum opened in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of those games. The museum is well worth seeing. Walking through the exhibits, you're bound to remember memories both good and bad. Some of them you have forgotten, but they still put a smile on your face. Of course, Billy Payne was there to celebrate. And people like NBC's Olympic host, Bob Costas, Olympic swimming champion Janet Evans, and perhaps the greatest summer Olympian of all time, Carl Lewis, were all there to help Atlanta open the museum and celebrate in Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park.

After an early dinner at Mary Mac's Tea Room (one of my favorites), we headed down to the park. So had a few thousand others. Atlanta's superstar mayor, Shirley Franklin, spoke to us as did a host of Olympic officials. No, Juan Antonio Sammaranch wasn't there. Has he ever been brave enough to "darken the streets of Atlanta" again, as the AJC once mocked him?

Because of Sammaranch, IOC member Dick Pound, Pound's exceptionally rude, jaywalking wife, and criticism from some members of the press who seemed upset that they couldn't blow their expense accounts in a more exotic place, the aftermath of the Olympics left a bad taste in my mouth. I was so cynical about it that I didn't even watch the Salt Lake, Nagano, nor the Sydney games that followed, a first in my lifetime. But I have since been reminded of the importance of the spirit of the Olympic Games and truly enjoy watching them again. I can only speak for myself. But tonight's emotional celebration showed me that people do remember the Atlanta games as a positive experience, if not a perfect one.

In her speech, Janet Evans summed the Atlanta games up perfectly. Because Atlanta was the biggest Olympics ever held, because for the first time in history every nation in the world participated, and because Atlanta still holds the record for most volunteers, most tickets sold, and most events played, Atlanta 1996 is known for "participation." She went on to say that even though it's the only Olympics that she didn't win a gold medal, the Atlanta games were her favorite.

Carl Lewis went on to add that he'll always have a special feeling for Atlanta. Because when he went out for his final run as an Olympian, he didn't feel the pressure to win. The crowd had given him an ovation as if he had already won. And all of the sudden it didn't matter to him if he won or lost. Atlanta had made him feel like a champion already.

Overall, Atlanta and the state of Georgia did such a good job. And when I speak to people from other places that came here for those games, by and large, they all talk about the wonderful performances and the great southern hospitality they received. So while some of us might have felt slighted by the Sammaranches of the world, others just didn't care. They took home with them great memories. So why shouldn't we remember the good stuff too?

**NOTE: Guess who I saw between the Dippin Dots and Papa John's stands? None other than Mark Taylor. I had been helping to locate a brick and not paying attention when I almost literally walked into him with my "Cathy Cox" button on. I ignored him just as he ignored me. And no, I didn't see him getting any pizza or ice cream. But I did. Those dippin dots sure do hit the spot!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

I'm starting to see why Taylor wanted to put off debating

In a style reminiscent of former WWF personality and preacher, "Brother Love," Mark Taylor continues to smile on cue, tilting his head just so, and dancing around questions, it's starting to become apparent as to why he's limited the amount of public debates with his fellow Democrats, most especially Sec. of State, Cathy Cox. It's even in his tone of voice which is sort of patronizing and certainly not conversational. I noticed this about Mark when I first personally met him at the 1999 County Officer's Association of Georgia meeting in Savannah. Don't worry Mark, if things don't pan out for you this year, you'd make a great televangelist.

When you only have 45 seconds to answer questions, why would you spend 20 seconds thanking people more than once and starting the answer to each question with "HOPE, pre K, and removing the sales tax on groceries?" It might be okay if the question is about one of those subjects. But it's not a good idea to answer a question about transportation that way. What this reveals is that he's short on answers. He's spent too much of his campaign attacking people with good records and not focusing on issues - even though he'd like for you to believe that his campaign has been issue-driven. Well, if you've paid attention you know that's just not the case starting in Dec. of 2004. I invite you to look at the website of each candidate and see what I mean. Cox has plans in many areas of Georgians' lives. Taylor's sole plan is healthcare and it's a "big government" program that's not being well received. Compare that to Cox's plan for purchasing pools, sharing the risk, and tax incentives.

It's nice to know that Taylor "agrees" that there's been too many attack ads. Considering that he's led this campaign down that road, doubled Cox in that area, and refused to take down attack ads that have been dismissed as "grasping at straws," "distortions," and "lies" by FOUR different news agencies. How convenient it is now that he should take this stance against attack ads and call for a moratorium on them!! The damage has already been done. His lead is built on the silty foundation of lies and distortions.

Once again, Cox's performance was smooth and sensible. She was accomodating to the questions asked of her, answering them in full. And she was tough when warranted. But most of all, the difference between she and Taylor is that she actually has an understanding of problems and has common sense solutions. Taylor rambles around and then falls back to his safety net of "HOPE, pre K, removing sales tax, etc." regardless of subject.

His record of achievement is valid conversation. However,Taylor has a tendency to exaggerate his role in passing other peoples' initiatives, claiming them as his own. And more importantly, he offers few solutions to problems facing Georgia NOW. As Mack McCarley said of Taylor's "two strikes" law, "there's not much thought put into it." It does not address crime prevention nor rehabilitation. He then reminded the voters that "two strikes" is something that both Taylor AND Gov. Perdue are proud of. It's not the stuff that good progressives are made of.

And yes MarkTaylor, it IS about your actions more than your words. So that leaves you with some explaining as to why if Georgia's population is made up of more than 30% African-Americans, then why do your senior appointments (that you are solely responsible for) not reflect that? Meanwhile, 50% of Cox's appointments have gone to good African-American men and women, including the Assistant Sec. of State, Terrell Slayton.

And Mark, if you're truly looking out for the "little guys," then why have more than $300,000 of your political contributions come from your appointees?

The contrast between Cox's candidacy and Taylor's candidacy is clear. Taylor focuses on the past, which is risky considering that his own past is rather dubious in some ways. While Cox does as most visionary leaders do, she concentrates on now and looks to the future. As Cox said, "this isn't a lifetime achievement award." We're looking for a leader who will take us into the future and improve the lives of Georgians.

Remember to watch the debates today

WSB will be airing debates today for the Dem. gubernatorial candidates at 1pm., Dem. Lt. Gov. candidates at 4pm., and Rep. Lt. Gov. candidates at 5pm. The previous debates that I've seen have been informative, if not conculsive in my picks. PBS will be televising debates on Sunday afternoon as well. These opportunities to see the candidates discuss issues are winding down before Tuesday's primary election. Take advantage if you can.

I'll be spending the day at the opening of the Atlanta Olympic Museum. But I'm feeling the effects of a hammie pull while running earlier this week. :-( And yes, I did my pre-run stretches!

AJC spotlights Georgia's record 4 openly gay candidates

Georgia's never had this many before, and this is a good sign for equality. While the state as a whole is a different story altogether, the metro Atlanta area is fairly tolerant of gay candidates. And members of the LGBT community are happy and eager to support these men and women.

From the AJC:

4 openly gay people in primaryMarriage issue fuels candidacies


The Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionPublished on: 07/15/06

Four openly gay candidates are on the ballot in Tuesday's legislative primaries, a record for Georgia, according to activists.

Voters seated the first and only openly gay legislator, Karla Drenner, in 2000. A handful of gay and lesbian politicians now hold office in local governments.

"It's just a natural progression," said Allen Thornell, a gay activist running for state House District 58 in intown Atlanta. "There are more and more people who are out, and society is becoming increasingly tolerant."

In addition to Thornell, the gay House candidates include:

• Drenner, a three-term Democratic lawmaker from Avondale Estates and an environmental engineer;

Melanie Eyre, an attorney and Democrat running in House District 46, the Alpharetta/Roswell area;

Luther Maloney, an information technology specialist in an Atlanta House District that stretches from Ansley Park to Atlanta University Center.

Drenner made headlines in 2000 as the first openly gay legislator not just in Georgia but the entire South. She was unopposed for re-election in House District 86 until this year, when Morehouse School of Medicine professor and consultant Cynthia Tucker of Stone Mountain decided to challenge her in the Democratic primary. With no Republicans in the race, the winner takes the seat.

Drenner and Thornell are being backed by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, a national organization that funds and trains gay and lesbian candidates, and Georgia Equality, an advocacy group for the gay, lesbian and transgender communities.

Officials with both groups said their endorsements were based on the candidates' records and electability. Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, said, "There's no question that the spread of anti-gay marriage referenda have produced more gay candidacies."

Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund, said he sees a couple of factors at play, including polls that show many voters don't care about a candidate's sexual orientation.
Thornell is competing against three other Democrats for the chance to succeed longtime Democrat Rep. Nan Orrock, who's making a bid for the Senate. Also running in the winner-take-all primary are nonprofit manager Paul Bolster and two attorneys, Elena Kaplan and Robbin Shipp.

In the Alpharetta/Roswell area of north Fulton, the race between Democrat Eyre and one-term Republican incumbent Jan Jones doesn't move into high gear until after the primary, since it won't be settled until the November general election.

In House District 56, Maloney is one of two Democrats challenging incumbent Kathy Ashe, an Atlanta Democrat generally viewed as gay-friendly.

I've already highlighted Allen and Karla on this blog and hope they pull through. As the article notes, Kathy Ashe has been a good friend to the gay community. And since Melanie's only opposition will be from a Republican in the fall, I look forward to keeping tabs on her race and sharing my thoughts on her closer to election time.

Friday, July 14, 2006

"That Republican" Dan Ponder

Let's get something clear about "that Republican" working as Cathy Cox's campaign chair. For months, I've heard Taylor supporters refer to Dan Ponder, Jr. as if he were something to discard and despise. Well lets take a little walk down history lane with one Mr. Dan Ponder, Jr., former State Rep. from Donalsonville, GA.

As Sophia Petrillo would say, "picture it," Atlanta 2000. Georgians were trying to pass a hate crimes bill that would stiffen penalties for those who commit "hate crimes." Things were not looking good. Republicans and more than a few conservative Democrats were standing in the way of passing this bill. That's when Rep. Dan Ponder, Jr. stepped into the well of the Georgia House and told his personal story that left the House completely stunned.

"That Republican" made an emotional and heartfelt argument to pass the hate crimes bill. It was one of those rare moments where people on both sides of the aisle sat up and took notice knowing that they were not witnessing a stump speech, but taking a look into a man's soul. Ponder forgot about the "R" next to his name and he spoke his feelings on why Georgia needed a hate crimes bill. Without that speech, in 2000, Georgia would not have a hate crimes bill today.

Ponder's story reached well accross the borders of Georgia. He became an invited speaker, not just in this country, but all over the world to share his story and why he believed in the need to punish those in this world who commit crimes out of sheer hate for people for the sole sin of being different from themselves.

For standing in the face of opposition from not only his own party, but also from even some Democrats, "that Republican" Dan Ponder, Jr. was awarded the John F. Kennedy Profiles in Courage Award. To add to the distinction, on the same day, Gov. Roy Barnes was also given the award for leading the fight to remove the Confederate Battle emblem from the Georgia state flag.

Here is what President Kennedy's daughter, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, had to say about "that Republican:"

“Georgia State Representative Dan Ponder proves that one voice can truly make a difference,” Ms. Kennedy continued. “By articulating his personal experience, and finding the courage to do so, he empowered others to act courageously and do the right thing. Today, his words against hate continue to inspire people around the globe. It is an honor to recognize and applaud these three outstanding individuals whose unselfish contributions to public service and courageous acts of leadership have advanced their states and enriched our nation.”

And from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy on Dan Ponder, Jr.:

His speech made all the difference. The hate crimes bill had been about to be defeated, but it passed by an overwhelming vote. It's one of the all-time great political speeches, and I hope everyone who hears about it will read it. I intend to put it on my website this afternoon.

The fact that Dan Ponder, a Republican, works for Cathy Cox, Democrat, is significant. But not for the reason that some Taylor supporters would have you to believe. It's significant because there are also Republicans who are tired of "big guys" like Sonny Perdue and Mark Taylor. They're tired of partisan bickering, backbiting, and rancorous one-upmanship that both of those men seem to revel in, but gridlocks the state.

Lets not forget that Mark Taylor is one of the reasons why Sonny Perdue is a Republican governor today. Taylor's "cry me a river" speech to Perdue and others who Taylor didn't get along with was part of the inspiration that fueled Republicans to take the state away from us. And once Perdue found his way into office, Republicans, who now controlled the senate, made sweeping changes to take away significant powers from Taylor as the senate president. Then, Sonny tried to evict Cathy Cox from the state capitol to remove her further from the seat of power, for the single crime of refusing to become a Republican.

Maybe these are reasons why people like Dan Ponder have had enough. And they're ready to look past the "D's" and "R's" and find someone committed to fresh ideas and real change. So if Ponder wants to urge Republicans and Independents to join him in voting for Cathy in the Democratic primary, then I see nothing wrong with that. The difference from this and any other "cross-over vote" is that those same Republicans and Indpendents, tired of politics from "big guys" like Taylor and Perdue, will also vote for Cathy in November. Without people who think independently and come over to our side, we will not win in Nov. regardless of who is our nominee.

So for those that don't believe that Cathy would be any more successful in working with what we already know will be a Republican dominated legislature, just remember "that Republican" is Cathy's campaign chair. Dan inspired the Georgia House to change its mind on hate crimes; and Cathy inspired Dan to shun Perdue and work for her. Democrats, now a minority, can no longer get things done on their own. It will take a spirit of bipartisanship.

Who do you think will make that work?

AJC: Voting Rights Act Ok'd

No one likes to be singled out. And no one likes to be treated differently. But sometimes we put ourselves in situations where that happens justifiably.

For over 40 years now, Georgia has been one of a handfull of states to be held under the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Yesterday, the House voted to renew our status. Because of our past history of not protecting the voting rights of minorities, we find ourselves right where we are. Those that are angry about this need to be angry, not with the ones who were invovled in this debate yesterday, but with the ones who are responsible for us being there in the first place.

I trust John Lewis. He's earned his say in such matters. He's one of the ones that endured discrimination and absorbed the beatings given to him for demanding equality. Rep. Lewis loves this state. And he loves Georgians. He has a long record of service that attests to that. I don't put one man's or one woman's voice over any other. But on issues of race, John Lewis is the one that I turn to for guidance. It's his opinion that the Voting Rights Act should be renewed. And that's good enough for me.

I'll agree with the Republicans on a couple of things here. We HAVE come a long way. But we are clearly not where we need to be. And yes other states not subjected to the Voting Rights Act are having the same problems we are. But that doesn't mean that we should get a "get out of jail free" card.

I once suggested that we needed to expand the Voting Rights Act to other states. And my reasoning is because of things like the Voter ID bills that are being passed in mutliple states all around the country. These bills are going to disenfranchise people whose voices aren't always heard. Of whatever persuasion they may be - black or white, young or old, - it's disenfranchisement just the same. Passing such bills doesn't exactly inspire confidence in protecting the voting rights of minorities.

Georgia Equality endorses Jim Martin for Lt. Gov.

This is old news by now, having appeared on Georgia Equality's website earlier this week. However, I've seen no discussion and heard little about this myself. I respectfully disagree with GE's call to skip the governor's race. But I agree with them on this call. For the longest time I've been torn between Martin and his main rival, Greg Hecht. At this point, I've decided to vote for Martin.

He's personable, likeable, and despite the Hecht campaign's poisen pen in the last few days, Martin has a very fine record of public service.

Here's what GE had to say:

Georgia Equality is proud to endorse Jim Martin for Lieutenant Governor of Georgia in the July 18, 2006 Democratic primary. During his 35 years of public service, Jim has been one of the leading voices in support of fairness and equality for all Georgians.

Jim was the first Democratic candidate for statewide office to stand up against a special session to re-open the gay marriage debate.

In the 1980's, when few politicians had the courage to address the HIV/AIDS crisis, Jim was a leader in the state response to HIV and AIDS and in getting state and federal funds for the Ryan White program and other initiatives. Jim was also the first Chairman of the Metropolitan Atlanta HIV Planning Council and worked closely with Sandy Thurman and others to develop Georgia’s response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Jim was the author of the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Act, which created the right for people to designate loved ones to make end-of-life decisions for them. As Chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the state House, Jim built consensus on and passed out of committee hate crimes legislation to protect LGBT Georgians.

Jim needs your vote in the Democratic primary. Recent polling shows that Jim is the leading candidate in a field of five Democrats and is in the strongest position to defeat Ralph Reed in November. Although Jim is ahead of the other Democrats, a run-off is likely. Georgia law provides that only those who vote in the Democratic primary may vote in the run-off. Those who vote in the Republican primary will not be able to support Jim in the critical run-off. As a community, we have the potential to ensure that our next Lieutenant Governor is a fair-minded one, but only if we vote in the Democratic primary.

The best way to defeat Ralph Reed is to ensure that Jim Martin wins the Democratic primary on Tuesday, July 18, 2006.

Road tripping on E85

Via Think Progress, A group of guys from Kick the Oil Habit are going coast-to-coast in a flex-fuel car donated by Ford. Senator Barack Obama spoke at the send off and is a visible supporter of the campaign. Here's the first entry of the trip blog:

Life Is A Highway...

Submitted by Mark Pike on Wed, 2006-07-12 00:09.

Welcome to the Kick the Oil Habit Road Trip blog! I am here in Washington, DC getting ready to head off on a cross country road trip in a sweet 2006 Ford Crown Victoria Flex-Fuel vehicle on loan from Ford (Thanks Ford!).

I've been planning this trip for a while and originally was gonna drive a regular gas-only powered car with two of my best buddies from college. We were going to hit up some baseball games, pick up hitchhikers, lose some money in Vegas (Red 27, baby!), burn a whole bunch of oil, and pollute the environment without thinking twice.

But then I heard about the KickTheOilHabit campaign and learned that there are literally millions of cars on the road today that are Flex-Fuel vehicles which means they can run either on regular dirty gasoline or clean burning, American made E85 fuel. I didn’t really know too much about it, but figured why not do the same exact trip, but use fuel that’s better for the environment?!

The only catch is that while there are millions of Flex-Fuel cars on the road in America today, there are only about 750 gas stations in the entire country that sell E85. With some careful plotting we figured that we could just barely make it across the country only stopping at E85 stations and after some convincing, the Center for American Progress Action Fund (my former employer) has decided to help me document our adventure on this blog and a video camera.

For the next 10 days we will be hopscotching from ethanol station to ethanol station learning about alternative energy sources and why there are so few E85 stations all the while burning a whole lot less oil than we would have and still having a whole lotta fun. Hopefully we’ll make it to the Pacific without running out of fuel.

So come along with us, track our progress on our nifty Google map, watch our daily videos on YouTube, post some questions to our blog and take a few minutes to help America Kick the Oil Habit!

Honk and say hello if you see us on the road!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

From the Georgia Democratic Women's Grapevine

Tina files a nice report on attending the Democratic debate last night in Albany. And she includes some great pics. Thanks for sharing with us Tina!

Ken Lay compared to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.?!!!

Infamous former head of Enron who presided over the Enron scandal was memorialized with such luminaries as former president George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara attending. We all know that Lay was convicted of fraud and misuse of bank loans and was awaiting sentencing when he suddenly died. I'm not going to pile on here. The man is dead and there's really nothing further to be said about that.

But this is what disturbed me:

The Reverend Dr. Bill Lawson compared Lay with civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesus Christ, and said his name would eventually be cleared.

"He was taken out of the world right at the right time," he said. "History has a way of vindicating people who have been wronged."

It's one thing to predict that he'll be vindicated. But why would anyone mention Ken Lay in the same breath as Dr. King and Jesus Christ? Just because you're a former corporate tycoon and a friend of the Bush family does not entitle one to be placed in such high company.
Cathy Cox: Change is Good! Campaign Commercial

Lisa Borders steps up for her friend, Cathy Cox, in a big way. Being the only gubernatorial candidate tuned into the problems of Georgia AND with a plan for action, it's easy to see why the President of the Atlanta City Council is backing Cox.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Cox from the heart, Taylor from a notecard

Tonight's debate in Albany proved every word of Creative Loafing's description of the two in last week's article where they endorsed Cox for governor.

We still believe that, once the campaign is over and the smoke clears, Cox will be the best person to lead the state of Georgia. She ran the secretary of state's office effectively and efficiently. She has demonstrated a commitment to reforming the state government and pushing for ethics reform. And she has a genuineness that is rare in politics, and that is even more noticeable when she's standing in a room next to the polished and borderline smarmy Taylor.

Being governor is about more than just getting elected. It's about representing the people. And we think Cathy Cox is the best person for the job.

Cox spoke directly to the people on the issues. She delivered crisply, accurately, and from the heart. And when Mark Taylor tried to play "the victim" of a negative campaign that he started, Cathy looked directly at him and responded. Meanwhile, perhaps Taylor hasn't been talking about issues enough during the campaign. Because he needed to read from notecards several times.

Something else that stuck out is that Cathy talked about fresh ideas and approaches to fixing Georgia's problems, particularly in education. This was no surprise to anyone that's heard her speak on the campaign trail or read her plans for numerous areas of Georgia's future on her website. She talked about using proven models and research - a theme that Mark tried to pick up himself tonight. But these are things that Cathy has been suggesting for quite some time now. Unlike Mark's, her education plan has been out for public inspection for several months now. Her education plan is included in her new covenant.

Amazingly, Mark tried to play the victim. Even though he initiated negative attacks against Cathy in December 2004, started his attack ads (most of which called false by 4 different respected journalists) earlier, and ran more of them. It was rather Nellie Olson-ish of him in an attempt to have his cake and eat it too.

And lastly, in the post debate interview with WAGA, Cathy made an exellent point about Mark's inability in the last 10 years to do anything about Georgia's high drop out rate and other education issues. Like Gov. Perdue, Mark has been in a position in the senate to improve Georgia's educational standings. Yet, Georgia remains 49th in most statistical categories. Mark himself talked about his effort to reduce class sizes, but he also had to admit that his efforts had failed.

Meanwhile, Cox has worked in the Secretary of State's office since 1996. She's improved her office, made it much more customer friendly, produced a website that was named the Center for Digital Government's "Best Constitutional Website" of any elected official in the nation in 2003, and was named as one of Governing Magazine's 11 Public Officials of the Year, being the nation's first Secretary of State to be so honored.

Given Cox's high degree of accomplishment, her knowledge and understanding of problems, her creative, common sense solutions, and her proven ability to work in a bipartisan manner, maybe it's time to see what she can do for education in Georgia.

By any standard, tonight would have to be considered a big success for Cathy Cox.

Cox/Taylor debate televised tonight at 7pm

The first of 3 televised debates between Cathy Cox and Mark Taylor will be held tonight in Taylor's hometown of Albany. The event is sponsored by local station, WALB-TV. Their website lists the stations that will be airing the event live in just 2 hours from now.

As always, these debates will carry a lot of weight with voters who are tuned into this race. With Cox trailing in the polls, I have a feeling that this first one might be the most important. It's time for both candidates to do what they say they do best - and that's to communicate directly to voters.

Everyone knows who I'm for, but this is a chance for any undecideds to see what these are all about and the ideas they have to offer.

Here are the stations that will carry the live broadcast of the political debate.

WALB - Albany WTVM - Columbus WMAZ - Macon WAGA - Atlanta WAGT - Augusta
GPB Network stations: WGTV - Atlanta WABW - Albany WCES - Augusta WCLP - Chatsworth WJSP - Columbus WACS - Dawson WDCO - Macon WVAN - Savannah WXGA - Waycross

The debate will also be seen on, in Live streaming video.

Tina, from Georgia Democratic Womens Grapevine, has a blog entry (check under my "links" section on the lower right) on her site saying that she will be attending the event tonight. I can't wait to hear her personal impressions of the debate.

*WAGA in Atlanta says they will air the debate after their nightly news coverage at 11pm.

Cathy Cox Georgia Weekly Reprise

The link provides a Windows Media clip of a 26 minute interview originally aired in May by GPB's Georgia Weekly with Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Cathy Cox. For those that haven't seen it and want to do so, this is an opportunity to see Cathy in a one-on-one interview delivering the knowledge and ideas on the issues in the style that people have come to love about our Secretary of State.

For those that wish to see Georgia Weekly's interview with Mark Taylor, held a few weeks later, here is the link.

Sunbelt Expo is a showcase for alternative fuel sources

As funny as it sounds, growing up in south Georgia, the Sunbelt Expo was a treat to look forward to. It used to be held during school and was something that you could be excused for to particpate in. Moultrie's been the host for a long time now. And despite the stereotypes that might creep into your head about an agricultural show, the Sunbelt Expo has always been a place for farmers (and those of us interested in eating what farmers produce) a peek into the future.

As Lori Glenn of the Moultrie Observer reports, this year, by products of crops and alternative fuel sources was a hot topic:

When a peanut is crushed, 50 percent of that is oil. The remaining meal could be used for feed for calves, hogs and fish. The challenge will be to find more of a use for that byproduct, Faircloth admitted, but posed that the hulls could go to the production of ethanol or, as is the case more commonly now, to line the floor of chicken houses.

Faircloth, optimistic that the next federal farm bill would promote alternative fuel sources, sees a grassroots effort under way. One peanut sheller wants to build a streamlined roaster and crusher to make biodiesel from oil stock to fuel his truck fleet, he said.

“I think it could be as far off as five years. It can be here in two years if some key people get involved and push it. The technology is nothing new,” he said. “... It’s going to take a whole new mindset to growing peanuts. Why not grow peanuts like soybeans?”