Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

From the Blogroll: AJC Endorses Martin and Corporations vs. Hunstein

I haven't had time to look at a paper this morning. But I made sure to make a few stops on the blogroll concerning election news. A couple of things caught my eye:

Mel from Blog for Democracy proudly posted the AJC's endorsement of Jim Martin for Lt. Governor. Newspaper endorsements don't always translate into votes from its readers. But I always say it's better to have it than not have it. In this case, the AJC's endorsement of Jim was well deserved.

From the AJC:

"Martin's 18-year legislative record reflects an unflinching dedication to public service, particularly on behalf of children and families. For example, he has authored many bills strengthening laws on child abuse and domestic violence. He advocates a regional transit system, and favors forming insurance pools to encourage more private employers to provide health insurance for their workers. He also backs an expansion of PeachCare, the state's health insurance for children of working Georgians who make too little money to afford insurance on their own.

Martin's commitment to children led him to give up his legislative career as well as a lucrative law practice and accept one of the most thankless jobs in state government, commissioner of the troubled Department of Human Resources. Appointed to the post by then-Gov. Roy Barnes, Martin was asked to remain in the post for a year under Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue. To his credit, Martin insisted on transparency in DHR, even when it meant exposing the fact that tragic mistakes by county-level caseworkers led to the deaths of two toddlers in families that had been investigated for abuse."

On the Georgia Supreme Court front, both Mel and DecaturGuy from Atlanta Public Affairs had something to say about corporate involvement in the Hunstein vs. Wiggins race. Interestingly enough, a national group called American Justice Partnership donated $1.3 million to the much mentioned Safety and Prosperity Coalition to produce and air attack ads against Justice Hunstein. As Mel points out, this makes a "mockery" of Georgia's campaign finance laws. You have to wonder why $1.3 million in mostly out-of-state and anonymous donations are being pumped into a Georgia court race.

Add this bit of news to the fact that the Republican Party is also spending money on behalf of Mike Wiggins in this nonpartisan race. Since the RPG won't say, we'll have to wait until the end of the year disclosure reports to find out just how much they are giving. It will be interesting to see.

Monday, October 30, 2006

More on Hunstein vs. Wiggins from Daily Report

Daily Report, a magazine for those in legal and business professions, has been keeping tabs on the highly contentious Georgia Supreme Court race between Hunstein and Wiggins. They have two excellent articles dealing with the races' latest events, including Hunstein's attack ad and the Wiggins' subsequent cease and desist letter to Georgia television stations airing it.

In the first article, Hunstein says she is "fighting for the whole court" in trying to keep special interest groups and political parties from buying judicial races.

And in the second article, experts like UGA political scientist, Charles Bullock, disagree with me about the risks for Hunstein in running her ad alleging problems in different Wiggins' family matters. Bullock thinks the ad is likely to help her even though she's an incumbent. Interestingly enough, our own Erick Erickson of the Peach Pundit disagrees with me as well and gives some thoughts from the other side of the fence. It's a good read.

By the way, I forgot to mention this earlier. But since the Wiggins campaign is concerned that Hunstein may have violated FCC violations, I wonder how they feel about Georgia Tech's campus being plastered with his campaign signs this weekend? Not just in front of frat houses, but less than 20 feet from the very walls of Bobby Dodd Stadium itself. If anyone got a snapshot of it, I'd love to post it.

There must have been 25 or 30 signs alone on the east side of the stadium along Techwood Dr. on both sides of the street - all on public property. Just in time for 55,000 people to assemble around those signs for Tech's big game with Miami.

Since Tech is a public institution, I'm pretty sure the signage was illegal. Shouldn't a candidate for the Georgia Supreme Court and his supporters know that?

Lt. Governor Debate Comes Down to Issues

In contrast to so many of the debates that we saw during the primary and into the general election season, the 3 men vying for Lt. Gov. of Georgia, Jim Martin, Casey Cagle, and Alan Buckley, kept the debate focused on actual issues. That's almost a news item in itself............

The debate might be a little boring for those who are looking for one-liners and personal insults. But I appreciate the fact that all 3 men more or less laid their positions out, talked about their records, and put it to the voters in a way that they could decide how they want to vote.

I like it - man-up and lets see what ya got!

I guess it's no surprise that I found myself siding mostly with Martin in his positions. I like the fact that he referred to stem cell research as a matter of science vs. Cagle's opinion that it's an issue of morality. And as a Sierra Club member, I do believe that Cagle's record on the environment shows more of a respect for business than for our natural resources themselves.

Alan Buckley's line about the Lt. Gov. essentially being reduced to the role of backup QB for the Gov. was dead on. But the real story on that is the politics that have played a role in the re-shaping of the Lt. Governor's powers in recent years. There's just no place for such pettiness in doing the work of the people.

And both Buckley and Martin made mention of Cagle's and the Republicans' support for a voter ID law, potentially disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of the state's voters.

For a report on the debate, check out Doug Gross' AP article.

Interesting Ploy by the Wiggins Campaign

Georgia Political Digest has a letter from the Wiggins campaign on its front page. They are citing an FCC regulation on "false and misleading advertising" in an effort to get television stations to stop airing Justice Hunstein's attack ad.

Personally, I didn't think Hunstein needed to air such an ad, whether true, partially true, or false. I think she should promote Wiggins' invitation to put her record before the public and let the chips fall where they may. Despite Wiggins' cherrypicking on hot button issues, I think Georgia voters would see that Hunstein isn't the "activist judge" that they have tried to make her out to be. Rather she is quite an independent presence on the Georgia Supreme Court, as opposed to his flagrant partisanship in a nonpartisan race.

I don't believe that this ploy by the Wiggins campaign will work in stopping the ads. But maybe it isn't designed to do that?

Probably 90% of all political ads that we see and hear are either false or misleadingly extreme stretches in some way or another. But it will likely force television news programs to address the Wiggins letter on the air. And it will probably preface a likely lawsuit that will get some ink in the newspapers and more TV air time.

In other words, its free publicity.

"The Hunstein campaign advertisement is false, misleading and
deceptive. We demand that you refuse to continue to air this advertisement.
If this advertisement continues to air, we may pursue any and all legal
avenues available to us. "

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Another one, Sonny?

It's bad enough that Sonny Perdue is Georgia's first sitting governor to be found in violation of an ethics complaint. As troubling as it was to hear of his "Disneygate" land deal, it was even more so to find out that Sonny's reasoning for investing in land in Florida was a lie. He said that it was so that there wouldn't be a potential conflict of interest. Now we see that Sonny does dabble in Georgia real estate. And after campaigning on transparency in government in 2002, reportedly, Sonny didn't even disclose his purchase of land in Houston County.

Considering his "potential conflict of interest" excuse, we know that he is well aware of that possibility and about the looks of impropriety. Yet that didn't stop him from buying his land in Florida from a political appointee of his.

I'm not against Georgia governors making money. I'm not against them investing in property and securing their future. But Sonny Perdue shows us that there should be a law in Georgia requiring a governor to put his assets in a blind trust. Because he told us that ethics was important to him. And then he lied about his personal business dealings as governor.

We traded a decent man like Roy Barnes for this? Even Republicans should be disappointed.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Atlanta Press Club Debates Schedule

For those interested, we'll be seeing and hearing a fair amount of debate coverage for Georgia's general election races from here on out. The debates crank up in earnest beginning this Sunday. Click here for the schedule.

Previous debates involving general election races are archived at the Atlanta Press Club website and can be viewed. I found the debate for Attorney General between Thurbert Baker and Perry McGuire to be very interesting. Looks like being "Mr. Chik-fil-A" and "the hand of God" doesn't necessrily qualify one to be Georgia's AG.

Who knew?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

At Least Georgia Tech Tried

Georgia, with viable wind resources in the north as well as offshore, could help the country reach that goal, according to Walt Musial, leader of offshore wind energy activities at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. "Georgia has a role to play, should it choose to play," Musial said.

Georgia Tech, in partnership with Southern Co., was attempting to build the nation's first offshore wind farm. But the Savannah Morning News reports that the project is not likely to happen.

The article sites various reasons like a moratorium on such projects by the regulating committee, as well as the spike in manufacturing costs. The giant turbines can "stand taller than the length of a football field."

It's too bad because further use of wind energy should and will be in our future. In fact, the Georgia coastal winds will help our state be a part of that. For their part, Georgia Tech has done some outstanding research on wind energy and other forms of renewable energy.

The article also mentions the Georgia Wind Working Group. They have a nifty website with info. on wind energy projects and what's happening here in Georgia.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

AJC's View of the Georgia Safety and Prosperity Coalition and Wiggins

The AJC's editors have decided to strongly endorse Justice Carol Hunstein's re-election bid to the Georgia Supreme Court. Just add them to the looooooooong and varied list of endorsees for Hunstein. For quick reference, Mel from Blog for Democracy posts a letter from Paula Gaber of Georgia for Democracy that highlights a list of statewide and bipartisan Hunstein endorsees.

Here's what the AJC had to say about Justice Hunstein:

Based strictly on qualifications — years practicing law, arguing cases in state courts, presiding over trials and listening to appeals — the contested race for the Georgia Supreme Court on the November ballot really shouldn't be close.

Justice Carol Hunstein, who has served on the high court since 1992 and been elected by Georgians twice, is clearly a better choice than her challenger, Mike Wiggins, a former Bush administration lawyer who has not argued a case before the State Court of Appeals or Supreme Court in his career.

Besides her experience as a trial court judge — she was a DeKalb Superior Court jurist before joining the high court — Hunstein's personal story is inspiring. She overcame cancer at a young age but lost a leg in the battle.

Politically, she is a no-nonsense judge who has the backing of conservative Democrats, such as former Gov. Zell Miller, who appointed her to the high court, and Republicans such as former state Attorney General Mike Bowers. She has a well earned reputation as a tough, but fair, justice who has walked the fine line between safeguarding defendant rights while at the same time seeing to it that those who break the law are appropriately punished.

But in the AJC editorial, they didn't stop at singing Justice Hunstein's praises. They took dead aim at Mike Wiggins and his benefactor, The Georgia Safety and Prosperity Coalition:

Hunstein's opposition is coming from a well-financed coalition of business and professional groups who are, simply put, out to buy a seat on the state's highest court. The coalition, which boasts a heavily Republican presence, is backing Wiggins by attacking Hunstein, although Wiggins is trying to keep an arm's length distance between himself and those raising huge sums of money to defeat the incumbent.

The group goes by the lofty name of the Georgia Safety and Prosperity Coalition. As an independent political group — not tied to a particular party or candidate — there is no limit on how much individuals or businesses can contribute to it or how much it can spend. Early on in the campaign the group got $100,000 from the political action committee of the Medical Association of Georgia, $50,000 each from DaimlerChrysler and the Georgia Hospital Association, $25,000 each from the American Insurance Association and the Coca-Cola Bottlers Association. The group has already booked $200,000 worth of commercials and is likely to spend much more. Hunstein expects she'll have to raise and spend $1 million in her own campaign to defend her record.

Even though the race is supposed to be nonpartisan, Wiggins and his supporters have touted his Republican connections and have declared Hunstein to be "the Democrat in the race." They like Wiggins because they believe he will uphold their interests on a range of issues from limiting what juries can award in liability cases to slamming the door shut on the public's access to government decisions on tax breaks and other inducements to promote economic development. In effect, they want him to be just the kind of "activist" judge they claim to abhor, as long as he is active for their causes.

Similar, well-financed campaigns are being mounted around the country by business and special-interest groups in hopes of influencing who is elected to state appeals courts.

While there were other Georgia Supreme Court justices up for re-election this year — all three of them men — the coalition decided Wiggins should run against Hunstein because, as a woman and a DeKalb County resident, they thought she could be portrayed as a liberal Democrat. (Interestingly the same tactic was used two years ago when some of the same groups now backing Wiggins went after Justice Leah Sears and lost.)

In what has to be the most embarrassing memo in the campaign, Liz Young, treasurer of the Safety and Prosperity Coalition, advised Wiggins in an e-mail how to answer why he was running against Hunstein, suggesting the "answer cannot be that she is a one-legged, Jewish female from DeKalb County." Besides the ugliness of that sentiment, the advice is factually incorrect — Hunstein is Christian.

The coalition's portrayal of Hunstein as soft on crime plays equally loose with facts. At least two independent studies of court rulings while Hunstein has been on the bench showed that she has consistently sided with government prosecutors more often than the court as a whole. So if it isn't about being soft on crime, why challenge her? Wiggins, in a fund-raising letter early in the campaign, got closer to what's really at stake.

He noted that conservatives — although what he probably meant was Republicans — have succeeded in Georgia at taking control of the legislative and executive branches, leaving only the state's judiciary as "the last frontier."

The Republicans definitely aren't hiding the fact that Wiggins is their man. In today's mail I received a mailer from the Republican Party of Georgia listing their preferred statewide candidates as well as candidates from my area. Right there in between Stan Wise and Renee S. Unterman was Mike Wiggins - Supreme Court, the ONLY nonpartisan candidate to make their list.

Sorry, but as the AJC went on to point out, Georgians have already decided that their state judiciary isn't going to be partisan. That means that Mr. Wiggins and his partisan ilk aren't welcome on the bench of the Georgia Supreme Court.

Voters need to make that point to Wiggins and The Georgia Safety and Prosperity Coalition crystal clear on November 7th.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Want to Help Jim Martin?

Jane at Martin headquarters has some tips on how you can do just that:

There are only 14 DAYS left until the election, and we've still got lots to do. You can make a difference by volunteering just a few hours of your time.

Below are four easy ways for you to help Jim. Please email or call me and tell me how you'd like to contribute to Jim's success on Election Day.

1. Call registered voters and encourage them to vote for Jim. Making calls just one night in the next 14 days will make a difference (I will give you a script, a list of voters to call, and Jim's bio). We call Sunday through Thursday nights from 6 to 9 p.m.

2. Knock on doors in your area on Saturday, October 28 from 9 a.m. until noon. I will give you a script, a targeted list of doors to knock, and information on Jim.

3. Knock on doors in your area on Saturday, November 4 from 9 a.m. until noon. Again, I will give you a script, a targeted list of doors to knock, and information on Jim.

4. Wave signs at high-visibility intersections in your area on Election Day, Tuesday, November 7th. Remind voters to go to the polls during morning and evening rush hours.

Please call or email me with questions and to sign up to volunteer.

Thank you!!!!
Jane :)
Jane Bradshaw
Outreach Director
Jim Martin for Lt. Governor
404-493-5496 (c)

Rosalynn Carter and Rep. John Lewis Headline Jim Martin Benefit

Tina @ Georgia Democratic Womens Grapevine has all the details for the Oct. 30th event at The Biltmore on West Peachtree St. Come out and join Mrs. Carter and Rep. Lewis as we gather together in support of Jim Martin's bid to become Georgia's next Lt. Governor!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Jim Martin fundraiser, Oct. 30, Atlanta...
[submitted by Arvilla Jennings]

Next Monday, October 30th, is Jim's final event of the campaign at The Biltmore, located at 817 West Peachtree Street in Atlanta, at 6:30 p.m.Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter and Congressman John Lewis are the honorary co-chairs of the event.

In the race for Lieutenant Governor, only Jim Martin has the experience we need to bring down healthcare costs, bring good-paying jobs to Georgia, and improve student achievement. Jim served for 18 years in the state House, where he was an active member of the Democratic leadership and passed more than 60 laws that improve the lives of Georgians every day. He also led the Department of Human Resources under two governors.Jim is respected statewide as an advocate for children, senior citizens, and families. No candidate in the race for Lieutenant Governor has a comparable record of accomplishment or shares our values more than Jim Martin.That is why Jim has been endorsed by Mayor Shirley Franklin, the Georgia Association of Educators, and leaders from across the state.

On the 30th, there is a smaller reception at 5:30 p.m. for those who are able to contribute $250 or more for the final stretch. For the main reception, the campaign is asking for a contribution of $75 per person.If you would like to attend, please let me know and I will make sure there is a ticket at the door for you. Even better, you can reserve your ticket by contributing online at www.jimforgeorgia.com.

If you cannot attend, please consider sending me a check for whatever you can, and I will forward it to Jim right away.When you contribute you will know this – there is no one in public service whom you will be prouder to support than Jim Martin. Thank you for your consideration.


Arvilla Jennings

Monday, October 23, 2006

A Spartan for Martin

For the next few days I won't have much time for blogging. What free time I'll have will mostly be taken up with canvassing and phone banking efforts on behalf of the Jim Martin campaign.

So sort through the blogroll, and I promise that I will catch up on my blog reading later in the week.

For now, check out Doug Monroe's fine interview with Jim over on Peachtree Screed. It will provide you with yet another example of how Jim is positive and upbeat about Georgia's future, despite our problems. That's because Jim leads with a plan of action, not just rhetoric and empty promises.

Jim Martin doesn't have to rely on personal attacks, attempts to fool the people of our state about himself or his opponents, or other tactics related to the dark side of today's politics. That's because Jim's in complete control of his campaign. And he has a healthy amount of confidence and competence to get things done.

Liberal, progressive, conservative.............those words are all just labels. Perhaps the best phrase that I can use to describe Jim Martin is "common sense." Take a moment to read over Jim's plan and you'll see what I mean.

Please join me in helping to elect Jim Martin as Georgia's next Lt. Governor.

P.S. Josh Latta's cartoon illustration of Jim Martin as "Decentman" is a must see! Great job guys!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Republicans vs. Gay Republicans

The Foley scandal has created a big problem for the Republicans. Polls around the country are showing big time troubles for their congressional candidates. I think how their leadership handles this will tell a lot about how far gays have truly made it in the Republican party.

Last night, Larry King asked the question about whether or not a "pink purge" of gay Republicans is happening or will happen in Washington. His panel included two gay Republicans, the noted blogger Andrew Sullivan, and Patrick Sammon, executive veep of the Log Cabin Republicans.

Joining them were two evangelicals, John MacArthur, an academian and pastor. And then there was the more malevolent Louis P. Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition and author of, "The Agenda: the Homosexual Plan to Change America." Right away, Sheldon reminded me of some "Christians" I was raised around. The guy's a real winner. (eyes rolling)

Sullivan and Sammon both denied that there is a gay purge going on. Both made the sensible argument that gays can be Republicans because of their conservative fiscal and national security values. I believe this to be true, because I have known quite a few gay Republicans, some closeted and some not. Most stats that I see estimate that about 25% of gay people vote Republican.

For me, I never had a conflict about who I most identified with politically. It was with the Democrats. For gay Republicans I suppose its not so easy. They have to overlook accepted GOP positions on gay issues to work for the other conservative ideals that they possess. As hard as it can be sometimes to be a southern Democrat, I don't envy the LCR's.

Last night's show reinforced the notion that gay Republicans are still very much a minority within their own party. Here are a few comments:

JOHN MACARTHUR, PASTOR, GRACE COMMUNITY CHURCH: Well, I think Jesus put it simply when he said, "My kingdom is not of this world." And I think what happens in the Republican party or the Democratic party or the United States Congress, the United States government is really irrelevant to the advancement of the Kingdom of God. The message of Jesus is to go unto under all the world to make disciples, not make Republicans. and I think our message is a message that Jesus died and rose again to save us from our sins and death Hell. And that is the message. And evangelicals have convoluted message, sublimated that message to a political agenda, they have missed the point. And in many ways we have turned the mission field into the enemy. Homosexuals are not our enemy. They are our mission field, like any other or all other sinners are.

KING: Reverend Sheldon, I gather you differ?

SHELDON: Now, that -- so when Washington gave his Farewell Address in 1796, he clearly stated, of all the dispositions and habits that lead to political prosperity, there's two indispensable supports for political prosperity. He said religion and morality. And it's clearly what even John Adams said.

KING: That's their opinion as individuals, right?

SHELDON: No. It was more than their opinion. That was the consensus in the founding of America.

KING: Are you saying that gay is immoral?

MACARTHUR: Well, there's no question that you can't enter the Kingdom of God, as my dear friend here just said, you can't enter the Kingdom of God if you have -- if you're practicing homosexuality. Now, remember, homosexuality is not genetic. God didn't give it to you. It was caused by something else.

KING: But you don't know what caused it, do you?

SHELDON: Well we do know this?

KING: You do?

SHELDON: That molestation is a major contribution.

If you're interested, you can use the link that I provided to read for yourself (scroll down towards the end of the show). I think that Sullivan did a good job of answering, particularly Rev. Sheldon's, comments.

I do know there are those that believe the LCR's and people like Andrew Sullivan bring a moderating presence and a growing feeling of inclusiveness in a segment of society that sometimes publicly and hatefully rejects us or uses our issues as wedge issues with fundamentalist Christian voters.

I hope those people are right. But right now seems like a very good time for more moderate Republicans (and not just the gay ones) to step forward and show that there are more tolerant and educated opinions in the GOP than the ones that Rev. Sheldon, and even Rev. MacArthur, espouse.

Wyche Fowler: "America isn't acting like America"

This Marietta Daily Journal article by Amanda Crissup brought back a lot of memories for me. 1992 was my first forray into Georgia politics. I let some friends talk to me in joining two campaigns that spring, the Bill Clinton campaign for president and the Wyche Fowler compaign for re-election to the U.S. Senate.

It was easy for me. I had already decided in late 1991 that Bill Clinton would be who I would vote for in the 1992 Presidential Preference primary. He had the advantage of being a southerner in Georgia. But his election wasn't assured. Thanks to Zell and the state of Georgia, that all changed after our primary.

And I had always like Wyche Fowler. Even my dad, who mostly voted Republican, liked Wyche. As a public servant, he was a knowledgeable man of integrity. He was someone easy to campaign for. But he faced tough opposition for re-election that fall.

That year's elections ended in mixed emotions for me. I worked, went to school, and spent the majority of my free time helping these two candidates. Clinton ended up winning the Democratic nomination, and ultimately, the White House. But we failed to get Wyche an outright victory in the November general election. Because the race was so close, a third party candidate did just enough to help get Paul Coverdell into a general election runoff.

In what seemed like a cruel irony at the time, Barbara Bush, wife of the man that Bill Clinton had just beaten, came down to Georgia and used her influence and popularity to raise a lot of money and votes for Coverdell. Coverdell won the runoff. It was a bitter defeat for those of us that knocked on doors, made phone calls, stood out in the cold rain trying to draw crowds and pass out literature, and put up and take down booths over and over again.

The day that I heard Paul Coverdell had died in 2000, I was far removed from those days. I sent Mrs. Coverdell a sincere condolence card and thanked her for the good things Sen. Coverdell had acheived, even though my list for him was probably a little shorter than her's.

Anyway, back to the article...........

Wyche now works in Washington, D.C. for the Middle East Institute. As his words show, he's more than a little concerned about Bush's Middle East policies. He's also concerned about our military. Take a moment to read the article that has many quotes from Wyche. He makes a lot of sense. But, then again, I thought he made a lot of sense a long time ago.

Nation s image tarnished, says former senator

Thursday, October 19, 2006 3:13 AM EDT

By Amanda Crissup
Marietta Daily Journal Staff Writer

MARIETTA - America's image as a Lone Ranger cowboy figure troubles former Democratic U.S. Sen. Wyche Fowler Jr."If we're the superpower, if we have all the cards - why can't we be like John Wayne and walk into town and talk first before we shoot?" Fowler said.Fowler, an Atlanta native and former Marietta resident who served as U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1987 to 1992, addressed the Marietta Rotary Club on Wednesday about America's international image.

"America isn't acting like America," Fowler said.

As chairman of the board of the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C., Fowler works to bolster American understanding of the Middle East. He said the United States has lost credibility in the international arena largely because it no longer has any regard for the opinions of other nations.

"In my opinion, this must be resolved or the problems of the world and this democracy will not be resolved," Fowler said. "We can't continue to make policy in isolation. We need allies in the world," Fowler said.

President George W. Bush has helped accelerate change in Iraq, but Fowler said he disagrees with the president's line of freedom being a God-given gift.

"I beg to differ with our president because freedom as represented by Western-style democracy is not given, it's an achievement," Fowler said.

That achievement was made 225 years ago Wednesday on the anniversary of Lord Charles Cornwallis's surrender at Yorktown, Va., ending the Revolutionary War.But Fowler said the problem of importing a political system like democracy to Iraq is that the political climate isn't the same.

"I think we'd make a mistake to try and enforce democracy on the cultures and other countries that have had no experience with active citizenship and institution building that true democracy requires," Fowler said.

He has spoken with active military leaders who say the military has done everything it can in Iraq.

"Our military is seriously asking for help, and I'm not talking about more troops on the ground," Fowler said.

Now it's time for democracy, but democracy is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Fowler said Islamic organizations should be directly involved in the process.

Fowler didn't just dwell on problems, but also suggested some solutions.

The key to patch up the past 15 years of a deteriorating public image, Fowler said, is to talk. Continued negotiation with Israel and Palestine is necessary, as well as with North Korea.

Fowler's speech gave Rotarians some food for thought.

Patrick McCord, chief business officer at Southern Polytechnic State University said Fowler's comments gave him something to consider before next month's elections.

"That's not something you want to hear, but it got me to thinking, is that true?" McCord said.

Mayor Bill Dunaway said Fowler's speech struck him.

"We all say we want democracy but what he was saying is be careful what you ask for, you may not like what you get," Dunaway said.

Fowler has a history of civic involvement that predates elected office.

As a boy in 1947, he presented a 5-minute speech to 35 different Rotary clubs across the state on the community chest.

Wednesday's visit with Rotarians was at least his second keynote address to the Marietta club.

In 2003, he shared with the club his perspective on U.S.-Saudi relations and his personal connection to Sept. 11. 2001. His only daughter worked at the World Trade Center and was one of the few who walked away after the attacks.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

As the World Turns: Carter, Nunn, and North Korea

Look on your desk and find your globe. Go ahead, give it a spin or two. Thanks to either lousy diplomacy or no diplomacy by the Bush administration, chances are no matter where your globe stops, it will land on a trouble spot for the United States.

The Middle East is self-explanatory. Iraq, Iran.......we're already in the middle of a hornets nest there. In Venezuela, we have a Castro-styled dictator in Hugo Chavez that revels in poking his thumb in the eye of Uncle Sam. And don't look now, but the Taliban is making a comeback in Afghanistan.

Then, there's North Korea.

All of my life, I've heard differing opinions on what part of the world represented the biggest threat to world peace. And I think 80% of them pointed towards, not the Middle East, but to the Korean peninsula. Opinions don't matter very much right now. Because not only has North Korea improved its missile technology, it's also now detonating nuclear devices.

Given the Bush team's failures in other parts of the world, perhaps they would do well to listen to two men proven to be successful diplomats and globally respected for their knowledge and devotion to world peace. Yesterday, two sons of Georgia, former President Jimmy Carter and former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn called for "direct dialogue" with the North Koreans.

In the past, the Bush administration has steadfastly refused to have direct talks with Pyongyang. They preferred multilateral discussions (notice any inconsistencies here?) with China more or less leading the way. Meanwhile, North Korea continues to follow through on more missile testing and more nuclear testing.

Well, how's that working for you?

At the Carter Center last night, President Carter said that he believed that we are not close to war because we're less likely to attack a nuclear North Korea (maybe Secretary Albright was right about who we choose to threaten and who we choose to invade, and how we come to that decision). During Bush's time in office, we've brandished threats and sanctions from across the ocean at the PRK. If they knew what they were doing, they would have known that the North Koreans don't respond to those kinds of tactics. Now that they are testing nuclear weapons, Carter believes we have no choice but to enter bilateral discussions with them, which worked 12 years ago when Jimmy and Rosalynn held hands and walked across the DMZ.

Senator Nunn, speaking at a University of Georgia symposium on nuclear energy and safety said that we've been "too rigid" on North Korea. He agrees with Carter that we now must have direct talks with Pyongyang.

Nunn went on to point out that even during the Cold War, we talked to our enemy. Who knows what kinds of events that kind of diplomacy headed off? Perhaps if we hadn't been willing to negotiate with the Soviets, we wouldn't be here today.

Will the Bush administration heed Carter and Nunn? I really don't know. It seems that when given a choice, they make the wrong decision every time.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Al Gore in '08?

Sierra's online magazine has a neat little interview with Al Gore. Gore's been at the forefront of environmental issues for a long time now. And he's possibly the most famous supporter of the Sierra Club itself. His critically acclaimed movie, An Inconvenient Truth, will be in stores on November 21st. It's a must see.

Of course, Gore will be included in the next year when potential Democratic presidential candidates are discussed. He remains non-committal when asked about it. But I happen to think that he's learned a lot from his defeat in 2000.

First of all, I don't think we'll ever know whether or not Gore truly lost that election. But he didn't run the best campaign that he could've run that year. I doubt that he'll make some of the same mistakes twice.

One of which was the percieved (and I suspect real) split with President Clinton. Interestingly enough, a Mother Jones' Mojo Blog poster pointed out Clinton/Gore '06 fighting big oil in California. Should Hillary not win the nomination, support from the Clintons would be necessary for Gore or any other Democrat.

I'm not sold on Hillary. And I'm going to catch some flack from some friends on that. But I'm wide open on who I would be willing to support in 2008. And that includes Al Gore.

Monday, October 16, 2006

And I thought Randy Evans was the biggest jerk on the State Election Board

But I do believe that his fellow Republican, Tex McIver, could give him a run for his money. Evans' constant grandstanding and flagrant partisanship seemingly has created less than ideal working relations with the state and local election officials. With confusion over what is required to cast a ballot in Georgia likely, Evans' co-hort, McIver, has shown even less usefulness by creating even more confusion.

This week we found out that Tex doesn't have a problem sending out 200,000 letters to Georgia voters erroneously telling them they need an ID to cast their vote this November. This, despite the fact that the state's Voter ID law was struck down by a federal judge. Apparently, ole Tex feels that he doesn't need a law or a judge to tell him how to "educate" the voters of the Peach State. But I don't think this act has anything to do with voter "education" at all.

The AJC , Macon Telegraph, and the Athens Banner Herald all weighed in on this in their editorial pages.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

It's energy independence, stupid

I noticed in today's AJC, the guest editorialist, New York Times' Thomas Friedman, had an interesting conversation with James Carville, architect of Bill Clinton's 1992 triumph. One of Carville's recent pet projects is the creation of Democracy Corps, a think tank of strategists that uses public opinion polling to find out what issues are most important to the voting public.

The subject of Friedman's talk with Carville was energy independence. And the man whose catch-phrase, "It's the economy, stupid," helped sink Pres. George H. W. Bush, now says its energy dependence that people most care about - at least as far as national security is concern.

Yes, our energy dependence on foreign nations (many of which like our money much more than they like us and what we represent) is a national security concern. Slowly but surely we are moving towards finding and using alternative forms of energy, such as wind, hydro, waste products, etc. Baby steps to be sure, but other countries, like Brazil, are showing us that we can do more to make ourselves self sufficient when it comes to energy.

Carville's job, of course, is to find a way to elect Democrats. According to him, we can do the right thing for our country AND make some political hay out of alternative energy.

We've had some Georgia Democrats to make alternative fuels a part of their plan for Georgia, but not enough. Right now, outside of the Ag Commissioner race, it's not even part of the political conversation this fall. This is the kind of progressive idea that would've really beefed up our Democratic platform, which quite frankly is hardly progressive and largely uninspiring.

Here is Friedman's op ed including some great thoughts from Carville and the info. Democracy Corps has found.

The Energy Mandate

Published: October 13, 2006

James Carville, the legendary Clinton campaign adviser who coined the slogan, “It’s the economy, stupid,” knows a gut issue when he sees one. So when Mr. Carville contacted me the other day to tell me about the newest gut issue his polling was turning up for candidates in the 2006 elections, I was all ears.

“Energy independence,” he said. “It’s now the No. 1 national security issue. ... It’s become kind of a joke with us, because no matter how we ask the question, that’s what comes up.”
So, for instance, the Democracy Corps, a Democratic strategy group spearheaded by Mr. Carville and the former Clinton pollster Stan Greenberg, asked the following question in an Aug. 27 survey of likely voters: “Which of the following would you say should be the two most important national security priorities for the administration and Congress over the next few years?”

Coming in No. 1, with 42 percent, was “reducing dependence on foreign oil.” Coming in a distant second at 26 percent was “combating terrorism.” Coming in third at 25 percent was “the war in Iraq,” and tied at 21 percent were “securing our ports, nuclear plants and chemical factories” and “addressing dangerous countries like Iran and North Korea.” “Strengthening America’s military” drew 12 percent. Mr. Carville also noted that because their polls are of “likely voters,” they have a slight Republican bias — i.e., they aren’t just polling a bunch of liberal greens.

“When we lay out different plans for how to deal with Iraq, any plan that also includes energy independence tops any other plan that doesn’t,” said Mr. Greenberg, who added that people are not expressing this view because they are worried about price, but because they are starting to understand that our oil dependence is fueling a host of really bad national security problems.

“There is frustration that leaders have not taken it up,” he added. “There is a sense that the public is ahead of the leaders, and there is actually a sense of relief when anyone talks about [energy independence] with any seriousness.”

Mr. Greenberg said he started noticing this during this year’s re-election campaign by Ed Rendell, the governor of Pennsylvania. When his Republican challenger, Lynn Swann, first jumped into the race, public polls showed the two candidates in a dead heat. Governor Rendell eventually pulled far ahead in the polls, though, and among the key issues that helped to separate him, said Mr. Greenberg, was the governor’s stressing of alternative energy, and his “PennSecurity Fuels Initiative” to lessen dependence on foreign oil and grow the state’s clean energy market.

What this means for Democratic Party candidates, argues Mr. Carville, is that it’s no longer enough to have “energy security” as part of a 12-step plan for American renewal. No, it needs to become a defining issue of what Democrats are all about.

It should “not be part of an expanding litany, but rather a contracting narrative,” explained Mr. Carville. “It can’t just be that we are for a woman’s right to choose, and education and energy independence. This is the thing we need to get done above and beyond everything else.” People should associate “energy security” with Democrats the way they associate “tax cuts” with Republicans, he argued. “This is not something to add to the stew — this is the stock.”

The best way for a party that is often viewed as weak on national security to overcome that deficit is to be for energy independence, he noted. Indeed, nothing would be more potent for Democrats now than to capture energy security and all the issues that surround it — from improving our trade deficit by not importing more oil to improving the climate to improving U.S. competitiveness by making us leaders in alternative fuels.

So does this mean the public would accept a gasoline or B.T.U. tax? No, said Mr. Greenberg. The public wants government to impose much higher auto mileage standards on Detroit and much more stringent energy codes on buildings and appliances. People want a tough regulatory response, à la California.

Remember, Mr. Carville and Mr. Greenberg are professional campaign advisers. They get paid to get people elected — not to offer feel-good nostrums. So when they tell you that their polling and focus groups around the country show that “reducing dependence on foreign oil” is voters’ top national security priority, you know that this issue has finally arrived. The party that captures it most credibly will be rewarded.

Hello? Anybody listening?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Marietta Daily Journal Slams Wiggins, Strongly Endorses Justice Hunstein

Georgia Supreme Court Justice Carol Hunstein, running for re-election, received a great endorsement from the Marietta Daily Journal. Hunstein's opponent, Mike Wiggins, has introduced partisanship in this nonpartisan race. He also packs a financial wallop thanks to business entitities who have ,all of the sudden, decided to take an interest in Georgia judicial races.

But Democrats and Republicans alike have realized what we have in Justice Hunstein. Which explains why she enjoys a wide array of support from former Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes to one of his archrivals, former Republican Attorney General Mike Bowers.

The MDJ's endorsement was strong as indicated by these passages of their editorial:

Justice Hunstein believes in deciding a case based on its merits, not based on a predetermined philosophy. And that is what she has done in the course of the hundreds of cases she has authored as a Supreme Court justice.

Moreover, Ms. Hunstein has been a true friend of the First Amendment and, as evidenced by her votes in a series of cases, one of the strongest defenders of open and transparent government who has ever sat on the state's Supreme Court. And there's little indication that would be true of her opponent, Wiggins, if he were to be elected.


We suspect that Justice Hunstein will soon be the target of a wave of attack ads on local TV and radio, courtesy of the Wiggins campaign and his wealthy out-of-state backers. Not only is such a campaign apt to leave Wiggins beholden to his backers and their interests, it also is guaranteed to reduce the respect with which the public now views the court.

Undermining the intent and integrity of our court system by making it possible for special interest groups to buy judgeships, or try to buy them, is an affront to our state and to the integrity of our judicial system. Modern-era Georgia has been known for its judicial independence and impartiality, and we don't think Georgians are ready to start turning back the clock.

The best way to prevent that in the long run is by changing the law or enacting stronger ethics standards regarding judicial elections. And the best way in the short run for the public to reinforce the integrity of the Georgia Supreme Court is by re-electing Justice Carol W. Hunstein.

UPDATE: The Savannah Morning News is now endorsing Justice Hunstein. Mostly for the same reasons that the Marietta Daily Journal did.

The justices who do this reviewing must know the law and apply it impartially, so that the powerful and the powerless enjoy an even playing field. They must be vigorous defenders of openness in the halls of government and in courtrooms, which keeps democracy healthy. They must possess a strong work ethic and have the courage of their convictions.

Justice Carol Hunstein passes this test.

She has earned high marks for her grading ability during her 14 years on the high court. We encourage Georgians to keep her on the bench when they go to the polls Nov. 7.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Georgia Equality's List of Endorsees

GE's list is short, but sweet. Check it out to see who GE is supporting, and who is supporting the LGBT community in Georgia:

Georgia Equality has announced its endorsed candidates for the 2006 General Election.
To be considered for endorsement, candidates had to complete a detailed questionnaire with their stand on issues of LGBT equality and many were interviewed. Each candidate was also required to sign a pledge to oppose any attempt to restrict equality for LGBT Georgians.

Endorsed Candidates

Lt. Governor:

Jim Martin

State Senate:

SD 32; Ruth E. Levy
SD 41; Steve Henson
SD 46; Jane Kidd

State House:

HD 46; Melanie Eyre
HD 48, Jan Hackney
HD 72; Kevin Madden
HD 80; Mike Jacobs
HD 81; Jill Chambers
HD 95; George Wilson

Fulton County Commission:

Chair; John Eaves
Commission District 2: Bill Loughrey

** On a personal note, I'd just like to say that I'm sorry to hear that Chuck Bowen is leaving GE as executive director. Word come down about 10 days ago that his 2 year tenure was coming to an end. Hopefully he'll hang around Atlanta. I enjoy his friendship and counsel.

Jay Martin says we're "neck and neck"

Reiterating his father's words over the weekend, Jay Martin, Jim's campaign manager, sends an email out to supporters to remind us that we're in a close race for Lt. Gov. with Casey Cagle.

From Jay's note:

We have big news. We have known for some time that we are neck and neck with our opponent in the polls. Of the four major polls conducted in the past few weeks, three (including two conducted by Republican firms) have shown that the race is a statistical tie.

We now know that we are neck and neck with our opponent in fundraising, as well. With your generous help, we have raised more than a million dollars since June 30, keeping pace with our opponent during that period, even though he has close ties to deep-pocketed special interests.

Make no mistake about it: this is a competitive race - the most competitive race on the ballot - and we are in a great position to win on Tuesday, November 7.

All told, we have already raised more than $2.3 million, a staggering sum for this race. But while we have kept pace with our opponent since June 30, we invested nearly $350,000 of that amount in the run-off. We won the run-off in resounding fashion, winning 62 percent of the vote and winning 118 counties across the state. Our opponent faced only one opponent in the Republican primary, so a run-off in his primary was unnecessary.

Please consider
contributing $250, $100, or $50 today, so that we may continue to build the resources we need to spread our message to the voters.

Jim is the only candidate for Lieutenant Governor who has a record of leadership and accomplishment extending 35 years. And as a Vietnam veteran, a church elder, and a proud father and grandfather, no one shares Georgians' values more than Jim does.

Jim believes that we need to stand up for what is right, even when it is not easy. With your help, our support will only grow stronger as the voters learn more about Jim in the coming weeks.

Thanks so much,

Jay Martin, Campaign Manager

Jim for Georgia
PO Box 9019
Atlanta, GA

As has been well publicized, Cagle brought in Sen. John McCain a few days ago to help him raise money. With Cagle bringing in such a big gun, maybe he's worried about the election?

If your values are "progressive" values, then please help elect Jim Martin as Georgia's next Lt. Gov.

Cox: "We're simply doing my job today."

Doug Gross of the Macon Telegraph has a report on today's capitol ceremony where Sec. of State Cathy Cox unveiled a new exhibit at the capitol history museum. The story has been buzzing around the Georgia blogosphere in the last 24 hours, primarily because Gov. Perdue accepted his invitation to attend the ceremony.

Unfortunately, some less than ethical folks took this opportunity to take digs at Cox via blogs and emails by feigning shock and outrage and predicting that Cox's future in the Democratic party is nonexistant, and therefore, she's going to become a Republican. Said ethically-challenged folks conveniently left out the fact that Perdue's rival, Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor, and members of the state legislature were invited as well. But I guess mentioning that fact would've spoiled their poison pens.

The title of Gross' article, "Cox makes first post-primary appearance - with Republican Perdue," sounds as sensationalized as the tone of yesterday's AJC Political Insider blog about this event. But Gross does mention in the article that this was, in fact, not Cox's first post-primary appearance, as she's already made several appearances with Democratic candidates for the Georgia legislature. So much for the "Republican" theory.

The whole thing is very disappointing because we're less than 4 weeks away from an election that is vitally important to Georgia's future. We also have the first scheduled debate between Taylor and Perdue tonight. Polls show that we're trailing anywhere from 18 to 24 points. Despite this, Democrats have become more upbeat this week by Taylor's new ads hitting the air with a hope of knocking Perdue down under the magic 50% number so as to force a runoff that might even the odds for a Democratic victory.

Instead of being united in our efforts to defeat Perdue, we have people who are still seeking to further divide the party and possibly push more votes from women into Republican hands. At this point, I've said all that I can say. People are just going to do whatever it is they want to do. The problem is, we'll all suffer because, not only are they hurting themselves and their reputations more than they are hurting Cathy Cox, they are also hurting the DPG.

Monday, October 09, 2006

A little of this, a little of that.........

Just a few notes..............

**Tina, from the Georgia Democratic Women's Grapevine, reminds us of the WMAZ Political Forum on Thursday night:

Mark Taylor requests your presence at the following Georgia National Fair Event:

THURSDAYOCTOBER 1213 WMAZ POLITICAL FORUM7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m., Reaves Arena

Candidates for Governor: Libertarian Garrett Michael Hayes, Republican Sonny Perdue, and Democrat Mark Taylor.8:30p.m. - 9:00p.m., Candidates for 8th District Congressional Debate: Republican Mac Collins and Democrat Jim Marshall.Mark has requested that at least 200 Middle Georgia Democrats attend the debate. We need to show up and support our candidate!

**While Tina's on my mind, I wanted to point out her blog on mental health issues, Dorothea's List. I know this subject bores a lot of people. But not me. I have an educational and professional background in this area. It means a lot to me. And it means a lot to me that there are people out there like Tina who pay close attention to what's going on. Unfortunately, mental health and substance abuse crisis programs are one of the Perdue administration's biggest shortcomings.

Lets see Tina, you're a Democratic activist, feminist, former educator, supporter of mental health programs, poet, and photographer!!! Is there anything you can't do? Of all the people around the Georgia blogosphere, you are at the very top of my list of bloggers to meet in person.


**I've made other changes to my blogroll and weekly reads. I'm rounding out my journey through the local blogosphere with new Democrat or left leaning voices, as well as some from the center and the right. Of the right leaning blogs that I added, even though I might disagree with many of their opinions, I do find a bit of middle ground with them on some issues. I also have several new Libertarian and independent links added.

Other changes include blogs and web pages for some of my pet interests. I spent this primary season being so candidate oriented and that's not really something that I enjoy. I'm much more comfortable focusing on issues that are important to me. That's a good way to keep your feet on the ground, in my opinion.

**For those of us that mourned the loss of Harry's in Duluth, don't despair. Gwinnett County has two great new whole foods stores. There's the Fresh Market on Peachtree Industrial Blvd. And then there's the larger Whole Foods Market just across the river in Fulton County on States Bridge Rd. I love both stores and supplement my grocery shopping using them. But I've been down to the Whole Foods Market 3 times in the last 2 weeks already.

**Also, if you love beer and German food, make sure and visit one of my favorite restaurants in metro Atlanta, Vreny's Biergarten just off of Peachtree Industrial in Duluth. They are celebrating Oktoberfest this month.

Vreny's is a more casual restaurant, adjoining Kurt's where you can enjoy fine dining. Some friends of mine and I usually eat at Vreny's once a month. And we go to Kurt's for bigger occasions like Easter or Christmas. The same family from "the old country" run both places.

You can't go wrong with their saurbraten mit whipped potatoes, Swiss salad, und asparagus. But since we're starting to enjoy some fall-like weather, I also recommend their goulash.

**Well, the Dawgs fell hard on Saturday night. We simply lost to a better team. But it's just one game. And considering our problems with youth and depth at key positions, we're probably more of a 13-18 type team than a top 10 team. Lots of things can still be accomplished in this "transition year" though.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Meet Georgia's "Dirty Baker's Dozen"

This week, Georgia's chapter of the Sierra Club released its list of endorsees for the Georgia general election of 2006. But, as has been the tradition of the last few years, the club also made a list of the state's elected officials who are most environmentally-unfriendly.

Here is the Georgia list for 2006:

Dirty "Baker’s Dozen" State Officials for 2006
Filed under:
Conservation, Legislative

Oct 3, 2006 -- The Georgia Chapter released its election year "Dirty Dozen" list of state elected officials on October 3. This year the list was expanded to 13 so PSC Commissioner Stan Wise could be included. The list is led by a candidate for Lt. Governor, State Senator Casey Cagle (R-Gainesville).

Casey Cagle emerged as an anti-environmental leader in 2003, when he served as the Senate leader promoting the selling of water withdrawal permits, which would have ended effective regulation of Georgia's water supplies (HB 237). He went on to push bills for the biggest developers, the Council for Quality Growth, including legislation to wreck stream buffers (SB 460 in 2004); measures to make meat rendering plants "not a nuisance" (SB 26); and a bill to ease cleanup standards for abandoned gas stations to the detriment of adjoining landowners (SB 277). He has tried to promote landfills (failed amendment to SB 122), and limit environmental controls that protect private residential property from developers and industrial polluters. One example of Cagle's attack on private property rights is his co-sponsorship of Senator Chip Pearson’s attempt to rollback all safety and health regulation (SB 30).

John Bulloch killed a bill in 2006 that would have prohibited the storage and sale of the groundwater pollutant MTBE in Georgia's gasoline supplies (HB 983). His own district has shown a high level of interest in the promotion of ethanol fuels, yet he supported its competitor, MTBE. He consistently supports pro-development and anti-environmental protection bills as a member of the Senate Natural Resources Committee. He supports the construction of a massive new coal power plant in Early County, a blow to any attempts to reduce global warming pollution or conserve energy in Georgia. As Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Senator Bulloch has shoved through (SB 87, SB 88) at the behest of Giant Agribusiness to prevent local regulation of everything from genetically altered seed to fertilizer used for bombs in such places as Oklahoma City.

Ralph Hudgens is a consistent anti-environmental voice on the Senate Natural Resources Committee, and has opposed any environmental protections, and supported bills that harm the environment and the property values of landowners whose property is near commercial and industrial developments. A former owner of a billboard company, he has consistently supported the outdoor advertising industry.

Chip Pearson is only a freshman Senator but has already distinguished himself as the most aggresive member of the legislature in his lack of respect for natural systems and their value to Georgia and its communities. He has promoted legislation to effectively outlaw such protections and zoning and stream buffer protections (SB 30, SR 1040, SB 510, etc.) and has even tried to abolish municipal tree ordinances (SB 294). While he pretends to be an advocate for property rights, he appears to want only developers such as himself to have such rights, while taking such protections as trespass and nuisance law away from all other landowners.

Nancy Schaefer has a consistent anti-environmental voting record for her single term in the Senate. Prior to her election to the Senate she organized an anti-regulatory, pro-growth at any cost campaign in Habersham County which resulted in the repeal of virtually every local ordinance dealing with the regulation of growth, but fortunately, also the electoral loss of the Commissioners who advanced that program. Schaefer's rapidly growing district covers the headwaters of the Chattahoochee River, and some headwaters for the Savannah River as well. This area needs strong, pro-environmental leadership.

Tommie Williams is the Senate Majority Leader and a one-man wrecking crew on some environmental issues. In 2006 he cut all of the money from the budget to fund monitoring of Georgia's waters. These cuts were restored, but had Sen. Williams prevailed, even official records of floods would not exist. Such cuts go beyond ordinary political by-play into the realm of the dangerous. In 2005 Sen. Williams, and his colleague John Bulloch, a fellow Dirty Dozen member, got a bill passed that would allow the "mining" of old sunken logs from the Flint and Altamaha Rivers, forcing the state to subsidize businesses that prosper from destroying habitat (SB 283).

Members of the State House of Representatives

Steve Davis is a freshman House member from Stockbridge, in Henry County, who has distinguished himself by his rabid opposition to passenger rail service in Georgia. The current proposal for the Atlanta to Lovejoy commuter rail line would be of great benefit to Davis' constituents stuck in traffic on I-75 but that has not stopped Davis from taking every opportunity to oppose rail service.

Ron Forster of Ringgold has been noted in the past for his support for running All Terrain Vehicles on roads, an unsafe practice that is currently illegal. Rep. Forster is also an enthusiastic member of the American Legislative Exchange Council, (ALEC), a polluter-funded "service" that writes anti-environmental, anti-regulation bills for introduction in various states. In 2006 Rep. Forster introduced HB 1353, a bill that would dramatically reduce cleanup standards for toxic sites (Brownfields), and specifically exempted such property from "common law" property rights lawsuits by neighboring landowners.

Harry Geisinger is a returnee to the legislature, who was last a member in the 1970’s. A member of the House Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Geisinger supported every single anti-environmental action taken by that committee. He introduced several resolutions in support of offshore drilling for oil and gas off the GA coast, directly threatening Georgia ’s tourism industry (HR 1635, HR 1636, HR 2216).

John Lunsford of Henry County is the “Chief Hawk” of the Georgia House who is thereby automatically a member of all committees, so that he can attend and vote on any bill that might not pass without his intervention. In 2005 he introduced a series of bills that would create a state development bank (HB 436, etc.), using public money to promote more development in GA “in a way that makes things too easy, eliminating public input and oversight’ according to an editorial in the Savannah Morning News. He is also an opponent of passenger rail service who introduced HB 1033 which would have required local referenda on commuter rail service. Lunsford is one of the authors of a dangerous plan to use emergency lanes on highways to speed up traffic at the cost of safety.

Carl Rogers is a long-time House member who switched to the Republican Party recently. He is from Gainesville , where he has never lifted a finger to protect Lake Lanier . Rep. Rogers was so enthusiastic about destroying stream buffers in 2006 that he voted as a member of subcommittee on which he did not even sit in an outrageous attempt to speed passage of SB 460.

Richard Royal is a veteran House member from Camilla, who has just switched parties. Royal is a longtime crony of former House Natural Resources Committee Chair Bob Hanner, and was a stalwart in supporting the selling of water withdrawal permits. In 2006 Rep. Royal used his subcommittee chair status to kill a Senate bill and Constitutional Amendment that would have given tax breaks to landowners who maintain stream buffers on their land (SR 1104, SB 604).

Public Service Commissioner

Stan Wise is a long-time member of the Public Service Commission who has become ever more openly a proponent for whatever the utility companies that come before that body desire from it. He is a vocal proponent of nuclear power, refusing to even listen to any idea that power from such a source might not be nearly as cost-effective as other, safer forms of power.

Soon after Wise took office he voted to restrict energy efficiency efforts by imposing an overly restrictive screening test. Recently, he voted against improvements in the utility Green Power program (rejection of national certification).

Not only an enemy of the environment, Wise has worked against the consumers time after time. Notably, Wise led a recent attack on the PSC adversary staff. These are the people responsible for representing the consumers when utilities ask for rate increases (AJC 2-15-2006).

Wise has also opposed much needed ethics reform. Georgia and Louisiana are the only two states that allow secret conversations between regulators such as PSC members and the regulated utilities including Georgia Power and AGL. "Behavior that’s legal here would get regulators thrown out of office in some states" (AJC 2-15-2006). Wise sees no problem with closed-door meetings with utilities asking for hundreds of millions of dollars from Georgia consumers.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

State Senate Candidate Marjean Boyd's "Sonny Did" List

There's a hotly contested race for State Senate District 11 in southwest Georgia. One of the highlights of that race is that it looks like Marjean Boyd has switched parties. But surprise! She's not a Democrat-turned-Republican. She's a Republican-turned-Democrat. And this is good news for southwest Georgia Democrats and the people of the 11th district. Marjean's knowledgeable, community active, and tough as nails. And she's running against the Republican incumbent, John Bulloch, who was recently named to the Sierra Club of Georgia's "Dirty 13."

As I was browsing Marjean's website, I found her very interesting "Sonny Did" list. For your reading pleasure:

What Sonny [and our Republican-led legislature] did...”

No, not one person born in Georgia would restrict access to the polls for rural, elderly, and minority voters, but Sonny did.

Not one person born in Georgia would try to close the door on open government (HB 437: Shielding Elected Officials from Scrutiny), but Sonny did.

Not one person born in Georgia would become the first Governor in the history of this state to be fined by the ethics commission, but Sonny did.

Note: His "own team" of commissioners convicted him of an astonishing 7 violations of Georgia ethics laws.

No one person born in Georgia would claim a state deficit when taking over as Governor, when in fact the state had $200 million in its reserve fund, but Sonny did. State law forbids an end-of-the year deficit. Newspapers across the State took him to task over this one.

Note: That’s why the conservative Cato Institute gave him a "D" in their Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors in 2004 and 2005.

Not one person born in Georgia would spend and spend down the state’s reserves, raise our taxes, and brag about having a $500M surplus, but Sonny did.

No one would ask teachers to take salary cuts due to rising benefits costs over a three year period, but Sonny did.

No one would believe that giving teachers $100 would buy their votes, but Sonny did.

No one would cut the reimbursement rate to local pharmacists and send the money to out of state pharmaceutical companies, but Sonny did.

No one would move Medicaid recipients onto a managed care plan that Georgia doctors won’t accept, but Sonny did.

No one would cut $1.2 billion dollars out of education and give $1 billion for big business tax breaks, but Sonny did. See below to know what’s happened in Senate District 11.

County FY03- Now Cuts by Purdue and Republican-led Legislature

Early $2,375,542
Miller $3,637.073
Seminole $1,478,681
Decatur $4,897,097
Grady $3,923,912
Mitchell $2,306,975
Colquitt $7,220,084
Thomas $4,569,571

TOTAL $23,196,655

No one pass would legislation to seize the family home when a spouse needs around-the-clock nursing home care, but Sonny did.

No one would tell the elderly he was cutting their taxes, yet only really benefit rich retirees, but Sonny did.

Note: Georgia’s lowest earners had a 12.2% tax burden, while Georgia’s highest earners experienced a tax burden ranging from 6.0% to 8.5%.

No one would condemn private homes for business and economic development, and after the state newspapers triggered a public outcry (even Sam Griffin of the Post Searchlight took him to task over this one), claim just the opposite, but Sonny did.

No one would think of raising the gasoline tax at least three times since taking office, but Sonny did.

Note: Before Perdue took office, Georgia had the 2nd lowest gas tax in the nation. Today, Georgia has the 20th highest gas tax in the nation. And, to make matters worse, while our families are suffering from the burden of higher fuel costs, the state government is reaping a tax windfall from it.

No one would have their business associate sneak a bill through the legislature at the 11th hour to give himself a $100,000 retroactive tax break, but Sonny did.
No one would structure the state education budget so that 100 counties in Georgia were forced to implement tax hikes, but Sonny did.

Note: The new state law mandating 65% of educational funds from state and federal sources be spent on classroom instruction sounds great, but it isn’t! The 65% excludes librarians, guidance counselors, school bus operations, and on and on, but includes sports.

No one would cut a $1 billion dollars from higher education and raise college tuition by 39% over the course of four years to make up the difference, but Sonny did.

No one would delay lowering class sizes for three years and then in an election-year ploy implement reductions, but Sonny did.

No one would think of jeopardizing the safety of Georgians by cutting over 350 positions from GBI, state patrol, and other law enforcement, but Sonny did.
Note: Look at just two of the many blogs by law enforcement officials at

--We all must get out to the citizens of Georgia that we are at risk in the State of Georgia as far as our safety is concerned. The Law Enforcement Community in Georgia is ready to crumble . . .

--Georgia is the 5th fastest growing states in the union, and is the largest east of the Mississippi. Gov. Perdue has destroyed state law enforcement in this state!

We have less than 400 troopers patrolling on our roadways.

No one would think Purdue led changes in state government would jumpstart the highest turnover rate ever among state employees, now around 20,000, but Sonny did.

Note: The negative consequences of deteriorating state infrastructure does not bode well for the future economic health of the state.

No one would manage the state in such a way that the State faces the sharpest drop in real household income in the United States, but Sonny did. Income has dropped every single year Perdue has been in the Governor's mansion.

No one ever thought One Georgia funds that were meant to assist poorer, rural counties of the state would be used to assist wealthier counties with higher per capita incomes, but Sonny did.

Note: The original mission of the One Georgia Funds was to assist 71 poor counties with infrastructure to promote economic development. Today over 145 counties vie for those funds.

No, ladies and gentlemen, not another person born in Georgia would do all of that, but we’re lucky…because Sonny did.

We cannot let the people of Georgia forget what Sonny did because Sonny has done nothing but take this state backwards and we Georgia Democrats want to move our state forward into the future.

No one would think that Purdue could denying cuts to public health departments, labor departments, education child protective services, aging services, mental health, mental retardation, developmentally disabled, substance abuse services, law enforcement, etc. so blatantly.

Note: The cuts are well documented. The state is falling further and further behind in meeting the minimum needs of Georgians. Forced reductions in state services retard the growth economic and employment growth.

No matter what Gov. Perdue spends airing fiction, his record is different. Reality is vastly different.

You tell 'em Marjean!!

Candidates Busy Attracting Voters/Groups Raising Public Awareness

Sorry to condense everything into one giant entry. But I'm pushed for time. So maybe a blurb or two and a link will do for several topics that I think are important.


First of all, the Jim Martin for Lt. Gov. campaign has relaunched its website. Take a gander and if you're inclined to do so, please make a donation of your time and /or money. Jim's running better in the polls than most Republicans expected. Which is why they're bringing in Sen. John McCain to help them raise money. We don't need a John McCain to win this race. We need for Jim to be on tv and radio, and out pounding the streets. And to do those things, we need your help.


In the Georgia Ag Commissioner race, incumbent Tommy Irvin re-affirms his support for research and development of alternative fuels by recognizing "Innovators in Agrifuels."

Wayne Crenshaw of the Macon Telegraph reports that "Dennis Burnett, alternative fuels manager for Davis Oil of Perry, Linda Smyth, president and board chair of the Middle Georgia Clean Cities Coalition, and Mike Mead, chief of the advanced power technology office at Robins Air Force Base" received awards from Irvin.

"Others receiving the award were Andrea Hicks, Fort Benning's pollution-prevention program manager, and Greg Hopkins, president of U.S. Biofuels of Rome."

Congratulations and thank you to all those that are working hard to find solutions to our energy challenges.

While we're on the topic of energy, Margaret Newkirk of the AJC reports on Georgia Power's role in a federal conservation program. They are offering tips on how to save energy.


Alan Riquelmy of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer has a nice article on the background of incumbent Georgia Supreme Court Justice Carol Hunstein. Justice Hunstein is running for re-election this year. And even though judicial posts are nonpartisan, she's being opposed by a candidate that openly touts himself as a Republican. He's also raising massive amounts of money to defeat one of our better Justices in the state of Georgia.

For more information on Justice Hunstein, please visit her website.

Amy Morton of Georgia Women Vote blogged about the challenges faced by Justice Hunstein and the potential threat posed in this race. Please give this your full attention.

While we're on the topic of expensive judicial races, Common Cause Georgia is asking for people to sign their petition to reform judicial elections.

From their website:

Help us Reform Judicial Elections in GeorgiaDuring Georgia's last judicial election cycle the amount of money raised by candidates for the State Supreme Court, Appellate Court and Superior Courts saw a sharp increase over previous years. Often the money contributed comes from Attorneys and Law Firms who may appear before these Judges in court.

This trend, while new to Georgia, has been building in other states for years. Common Cause believes we need to distinguish between the campaigns of governors, legislators and mayors, who are charged to "carry out the wishes of the electorate," and judges, who are sworn to fairly interpret the law. The increasing price tag of judicial elections is alarming, and we believe that Georgians need to find a better way.

In an effort to maintain the integrity of the state courts we are supporting a bill in the 2007 General Assembly that would provide a public financing mechanism for statewide judicial elections.

To help us reform this process sign our petition and let Georgia's elected officals know you support Judicial Election Reform.


And finally, the League of Conservation Voters is asking for help in defeating anti-environmentalists in Congress.

From an email sent to LCV members:

How will your donation make an impact? Your gift of...

$35 (doubled = $70) will pay for 140 door hangers on the houses of swing voters
$50 (= $100) enables an LCV canvasser to talk to 150 swing voters
$75 (= $150) will send mailings to 240 voters
$100 (= $200) will pay for automated phone calls to 2,000 voters
$150 (= $300) will cover 6 hours of person-to-person calls from LCV staff and volunteers
$500 (= $1000) pays for 8 rental vans to drive volunteers to knock on doors
$1000 (= $2000) will sponsor two volunteer trainings for 60-80 LCV volunteers
We need to reach just a few thousand swing voters to turn the tide. Every voter we reach could be THE voter who determines the winner. That's why your donation today is so critical.

What we do over the next 33 days could tip the balance on critical issues like global warming and our dependence on oil. It's a lot of pressure. But it’s completely worth every hour that our staff and volunteers sacrifice.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Peachtree Screed Weighs in on Harry Potter in Gwinnett Co.

I haven't blogged about the "to ban or not to ban" debate going on in my home county of Gwinnett. Frankly, every time I see Laura Mallory trying to impose her religion and beliefs on everyone else and ultimately discourage literacy amongst pre teens and teens, I just shake my head.

Being raised as a southern Baptist, I probably could match Ms. Mallory, prayer meeting for prayer meeting and revival for revival. But if she's really concerned that Harry Potter books promote Wicca and encourage impressionable children to dabble in it, then I think she's in serious need of a life.

Sometimes people need to find their own way. Her kids are probably going to question things as they get older. That's a perfectly healthy thing to do in my opinion. If she's done as good of a job as she thinks she should do as a parent, then I'm not sure why she would be concerned about one of her own being corrupted.

Religious arguments aside, I do believe this: Harry Potter has gotten a lot of kids back to reading again instead of spending all of their free time watching television or playing some stupid video game.

Anyway, Doug Monroe of Peachtree Screed does a much better job of looking at the big picture than I can. Click the link and give it a read.

Hat tip to Cracker Squire, whose blog is where I learned about Peachtree Screed.

State Energy Plan Tour Ends in Rome

Diane Wagner of the Rome News-Tribune reports on the last of the public meetings on the state energy plan:

Council hears clean, cheap energy ideas

10/04/06By Diane Wagner, Rome News-Tribune Staff Writer
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Click here to see the the State Energy Strategy Web site.
The Georgia Energy Policy Committee’s public hearing at Coosa Valley Technical College on Tuesday drew nearly 60 people interested in helping to shape the state’s energy strategy.

Speakers, ranging from environmentalists to economic development officials, agreed on the basic goal — affordable, clean and reliable energy for now and the future. The differences came in how to achieve that goal.

“This issue transcends politics. ... We are on the brink of leaving our children and grandchildren a devastating environmental legacy,” said Dr. Thomas Farmer, president of the Coosa Basin River Initiative.

Farmer presented the committee with a resolution adopted by the Medical Association of Georgia representing more than 7,000 physicians. The resolution expresses concern with the health effects from coal-fired power plants and calls for an increased focus on conservation and energy efficiency.

Several speakers, including an architect and a manufacturer of hybrid buses, said incentive programs and tax breaks are needed to boost the use of alternative fuels and renewable resources.

Supporters of nuclear power also were out in force. Kevin Evans, a Rome developer who described himself as “pro-environment” and “pro-progress,” said nuclear plants can provide cheap energy to keep Georgia competitive in attracting new business and industry.

Sam Freeman, speaking for the Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce, said nuclear energy must be a significant part of the diverse energy mix in the state. And Steve Kemp of United Community Bank reiterated the need for a balanced program aimed at energy independence.

“We want to encourage renewables, but we also need coal-fired and nuclear plants for a safe, efficient supply of energy,” Kemp said. “We can’t wait until we max out these resources. Power plants take years to build, so we should do what we can on the regulatory side to ease the burdens.”

The energy committee hearing Tuesday was the last of five held around the state to take comments on the proposed comprehensive energy strategy.

Paul Burks, director of the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority, said the 18-member committee will review all comments and come up with “a third and final draft” to present to Gov. Sonny Perdue in mid-December.

How interesting..........Mr. Evans might be a future politician. He sounds like "Mr. Everything" to everyone. I hope he's at least sincere.