Sunday, October 30, 2005

People, it's just one game

True, true it was a loss to Florida and losing to Florida is about as pleasant as a Treat Williams movie marathon. But let's keep the big picture here - still up by one game in the SEC East with two home games against an Auburn team which has been overmatched in its games with ranked opponents and a woeful Kentucky squad. There's a week off to rest and heal up, and the team's most pivotal player - D.J. Shockley - will be back for the final run of the season.

It is painful to lose to Florida - again - but let's think about this. Mark Richt is 49-11 in his five years at Georgia (48-7 versus teams not named 'Florida'). He's 4-1 in bowl games, led Georgia to two SEC Championship Games and the 2002 SEC Championship. The Bulldogs have been ranked in the Top Eight every year since 2002.

And his teams are not ill-prepared. Since the 'rocky' start in 2001 (8-4), I can only think of only two games where Georgia was clearly the better team and lost - Florida in 2003 and Florida in 2005. And, yes, I'm saying Florida was the better team in 2002 that particular week because of widespread injuries to the Bulldogs. Had Georgia had a healthy Damien Gary and Fred Gibson, it hammers Florida and plays for the national title. The Bulldogs didn't, and Florida matched up man-for-man much better than them that given Saturday.

But both LSU losses in 2003 revealed that LSU was leaps and bounds better (they did win the national title after all), while Tennessee and Auburn (especially Auburn) were better in my book in 2004. So ... four years, and only two games where Georgia didn't play up to its potential and it cost them? All in all, that's not bad and shows how well-coached the Bulldogs are.

There was some truly awful playcalling in the Florida game - QB sneaks on third-and-longs, opting to try a 52-yard field goal rather than punting and pinning the Gators deep in their own territory, play-action pass on the final offensive play of the game, etc. - but Georgia, with an inexperienced back-up quarterback at the helm, outplayed Florida for all but five minutes of the entire game.

And if we're going to throw blame around, let's place the blame squarely on the shoulders of the person it belongs - me.

I opted to not wear my traditional red (well, now, kinda faded red sort of pinkish) Polo shirt for the start of the game due to cooler weather outside. I remedied that situation at halftime and Georgia promptly shut down Florida's offense and scored a touchdown. Had I only worn the shirt the whole game, who knows ...

Truly, I did not respect the shirt.

Losing to Florida, I will say, does bring out some unusual behavior and coping mechanisms in people. We had some folks over to watch the game yesterday, and it would have been comical to observe them if I myself wasn't trying to cope in the best way I knew how.

- Trey cursing and shouting that he hated Mark Richt throughout the fourth quarter. About half an hour passes after the end of the game, and he goes to apologize to my wife. He comes outside to the patio where I'm grilling, and we have the following exchange:

Me: So, how do you like your steak?
Trey: It's beef, so however.
Trey: You know ... I don't hate Mark Richt.
Me: I know Trey.
Trey: You know ... he really is the best thing to happen to Georgia football since Herschel Walker.
Me: I know Trey ... it's OK.

- Caroline sadly whimpering 'but Florida sucks.'

- Matt talking up Ed and I outside - 'listen, we weren't going to play for the national title ... we would have either been left out and ticked off ... or Texas would have played us and rolled us ... this is actually for the best.'

- The wife deciding the moment the game was over she absolutely had to make twice-baked potatoes 'right now.'

- Jason refusing to watch the fourth down play, opting to finally use the restroom at that point.

- Me developing the 'shirt's still lucky' rationale based on Georgia's performance after I put the shirt on.

- Matt and Ed determining the best way to get over the loss was to bring over Matt's fire pit.

- Amy taking out her frustrations on a helpless piece of cheesecake.

- Ed changing the 'victory' cigars he had bought at halftime to 'let's just enjoy this nice, cool, crisp, starry night' cigars.

See folks ... it's a long season full of ups and downs, and Georgia just had a down moment. It's come ... and now it's gone. No biggie. Still had good food and good times with good friends. Life's perfectly fine.

And Shockley can play in two weeks.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Our Sox are cooler

At least America cared when my team won the World Series.

And, as Hillary noted ... let's take it easy fellas.

The coming storm

Prepare for the uber-conservative nominee as President Bush has just withdrawn Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court.

Of course, Miers was horribly ill-prepared to be a Supreme Court justice, knowing little constitutional law. But Bush has two options:

1. Further antagonize his conservative base with a moderate nominee (like Alberto Gonzalez);

2. Push through a staunch conservative to appease his base.

My guess is he chooses the latter.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Non-existent arguments

I'm all for criticism where criticism is due, but the three letters decrying Athens Banner-Herald executive editor Jason Editor's Sunday column are pretty silly. For one thing, they've completely concocted an position and attributed it to Winders - saying that he was accusing Cedar Creek residents of being racist.

Winders did no such thing in his piece about the fight over La Puerta del Sol. What he did do is point out how weak the arguments against LPDS trumped by States McCarter and Cedar Creek really are and then pose the question of race to the community. As he noted, it really is the 'wink-wink' equation in this whole thing.

Cedar Creek and the other opposing agents on the eastside didn't oppose other developments like Ansonborough and - though they may refuse to admit it - much of their concern over what LPDS would be have be adequately answered (and are quite to the contrary of their fears).

What Winders was saying was that people were ducking the issue of race in this entire debate, but noting that it's entirely possible that race is a driving factor - if not the driving factor - in this whole thing. I didn't take it to mean that he was saying anyone was racist, but just saying that the issue of race is one of those 'third rail' issues in politics ... and that it's probably better for a society to hone up to issues like this rather than ignore them and pretend like they don't exist.

Winders even goes as far as saying that Bruno Rubio, the brainchild behind LPDS, is partly responsible for this. Though my friends at Athens Politics may disagree with me, I don't believe that Rubio has adequately addressed the concerns posed by his opponents. Don't get me wrong, he and Matt Casey have done much in private to answer their critics and the decision to fine tune the site plan is a good step in the right direction.

My point is that it seems lots of people - opponents, supporters and fence-sitters - are literally pleading with him to simply answer the questions about noise and traffic and alcohol. And he has good answers for all of them ... he just needs to pen a forum and send it to the Athens Banner-Herald, Flagpole, Athens Politics and, heck, even here (insert shameless self-promotion).

So I think Winders hit the nail on the head and put together a very strong column, and my hat's off to the kid.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Chip Rogers: Champion of the poor


A man who is responsible for curtailing state services for the poor is accusing a journalist who has long advocated for the poor of threatening to cut services for the poor.

We must ask the question, "Which Georgia residents does Shipp believe should be turned away so that taxpayer services can go to illegal aliens?"

Facts tell us the poor and elderly are hurt first when services are cut. Surely Shipp isn't suggesting we cut off services to poor Georgians and senior citizens. I must admit, I am confused about whom Shipp stands for. As for me, I have sworn to protect the citizens of Georgia and defend the rule of law.

Damn. Chip Rogers should know, shouldn't he?

Pot meet kettle ... I believe you two know each other.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Touching base

Since I've been busy with work and with planning the annual Interfaith Hospitality Network of Athens's golf tournament, the posting has been quite limited. Sadly, that should continue throughout this week but let me go over a few headlines from today's paper:

• Yeah, if I'm the U.S. government, then I'm not giving up these guys either. This is one of the few issues I'm strangely conservative on, and that's the concept of putting American citizens up for trial under an international court or, in this case, heeding to international arrest warrants.

• Want to know what's wrong with today's Republican Party? Here is the proof. A federal judge wisely and properly says there is much stuff to be worked out on the Voter ID law, and Georgia Speaker Glenn Richardson throws a temper tantrum ... saying that we need to put term limits on federal judges ... and openly admitting it's because of the ruling against the Voter ID law. That's arrogance of the worst kind in my book.

"I think citizens in general are sick and tired of people they vote for and elect going and making decisions, and then a judge, who is not elected by anybody with a lifetime appointment, is able to put his or her will above those elected officials' opinions," he said.

Why is it his or her will and not the rule of law? Is it only their will when you lose?

On a similar note about Republicans, there's this.

• Amen brother.

• I really like this guy, but I don't think I agree with him on this. Though as long as we're talking about just Milledge Avenue to downtown, I can probably handle it.

My boy Tyson finally gets some love.

Friday, October 14, 2005

A delicate balance

My boy Texas is one of my best friends, and I lobbied strongly for him to get the prep sports editor position at the Athens Banner-Herald last year. He's done an excellent job at the paper, and I'm proud of him.

I do, however, think his latest column on the racial makeups of area teams will be unfortunately misinterpreted by folks. This will happen because he deviated too much from his central point and failed to articulate his argument.

To be clear, what he means to say is the work done by former Clarke Central head coach Billy Henderson throughout his career (and, more specifically, the 1985 state championship season) in building a harmonious environment for his racially diverse team is laudable. It's an excellent primary argument - that the bonds built through athletics transcend racial and socio-economic boundaries and are should be what our society strives for.

The problem is he focused too much on the recent struggles of Oconee County (an almost all-white school) and Clarke Central (a predominantly African-American school), and then appears to blame their struggles on the lack of racial diversity.

See, to win football state championships in Georgia, teams must have a certain racial balance. It doesn't have to be half and half like Henderson's teams of the past; 70-30 will do just fine. But whites need blacks, and blacks need whites. "Remember the Titans" ring a bell?

Clarke Central had that winning recipe until the mid-1990s. Then, "white flight" and the lure of a better education cropped up in Oconee County.

Clarke Central football hasn't been the same since.

Oconee County football hasn't been immune, either. The mostly white Warriors won the Class AAA state title in 1999, but had the services of standout black players such as Tyson Browning, Jerry Willoughby, Willie Johnson and Tony Taylor. They also had star white players like J.T. Cape and Clayton Matthews. But even former Warriors coach Jeff Herron - who is now aiming for his second state title at Camden County - admitted this week that Oconee County's only state football title would not have materialized without the likes of Willoughby, Browning, Taylor and Johnson.

Shoot, without them, the Warriors never make it past the second round that season.

I think this is a wrongheaded argument to make, partly because it gives a false impression that he buys into the ignorant argument that 'whites are the leaders on the team, while the blacks are the athletes' (for the record, that is not how he feels ... which is why this is such a odd thing to read, and why ultimately I think he didn't express himself clearly). But it also is a fairly false statement.

Parkview was an overwhelmingly white team which captured three straight Class AAAAA titles, while Clinch County was a predominantly black team which has enjoyed considerable success in Class A.

And, finally, it implies the reason the Gladiators have struggled since the mid-1990s is because it has more black athletes and fewer white ones, which is false. The reasons why Clarke Central have struggled in the past decade are legion, but off the top of my head I would argue that poor coaching during the Steve Brooks era, the rise of stronger programs in Region 8-AAAA and, quite simply, football players who were not as talented as the Dunta Robinsons and Damien Garys of the world have considerably more to do with Clarke Central's struggles than any decrease in white athletes.

Likewise, Oconee County fell apart in 2002 and 2003 because of the graduation of the most talented senior class in that school's history and the Warriors move up to compete in the state's most difficult region (Region 8-AAAAA). Upon returning to Region 8-AAA in 2004, Oconee County promptly won the region title and this year are one game out of first place.

I think Texas meant well and, again, I see and agree with the point he was trying to make. But I think he got sidetracked along the way and didn't develop his argument enough, and sadly that's going to color the almost inevitable debate this piece will trigger.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Things that make you go ...

A little extra on Mr. Flanagan's shenanigans. I've got it on good authority from an anonymous source that after Bruno Rubio had his lease terminated for Azucca, Flanagan suddenly raised the rent for Rubio at Pollo Criollo. And by 'raised' I really mean' doubled.'

Interesting, to say the least.

Something ain't right ... and the dots are beginning to look like they may be connected.

Nice timing

Isn't it convenient that Jim Flanagan decided to wait until right after last week's zoning hearing for La Puerta del Sol to decide to evict Bruno Rubio from Pollo Criollo? Something doesn't seem to add up for me on this one. Rubio has already been evicted from one site, off Tallassee Road, for bogus reasons and now this crops up right in the middle of the LPDS struggle?

The Banner-Herald has the story and it has both sides. Rubio says he's being evicted over a dispute over parking and a plan to buy more space along Prince Avenue, while Flanagan claims Rubio told him he was planning on moving out.

Considering the circumstances surrounding the mysterious eviction of Rubio from the old Caliente Cab/Azucca site, I'm inclined to believe him in the early stages on this one. In that situation, quite simply, the owner didn't like how the land was being used and kicked him out with little to no warning. And, as there are rumblings now concerning LPDS, there also were plenty of accusations of racism during that incident. The official line is that the landlord disapproved of the bring-your-own-alcohol policy at Azucca, but that was just the tip of the iceberg in that case. There was much more under the surface from what I've been told.

Regardless, the whole thing seems a bit shady to me ... like this was a well-orchestrated plan or something. Perhaps I'm buying too much into conspiracy theories here, but it does seem like disturbingly marvelous timing for anti-LPDS folks (though, in reality, it changes nothing concerning the validity and legality of rezoning the old Cofer's site).

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

War between (the) States

Now it's on my friend!

After his incredulous performance at last week's Athens-Clarke County Commission meeting and two solid days of press criticizing both him and his stance over La Puerta del Sol, States McCarter has fired back in the best way he knows how ... by misleading people!

The commissioner penned a letter to the editor to the Athens Banner-Herald in which he claimed the paper is all for the rezoning (which, they're not, for the record ... they haven't taken an official stand yet), says it's his duty to let eastside folks know the "consequences" of rezoning (though, apparently, not the benefits) and that rumors of his disputes with fellow commissioners are widely exaggerated.

The latter point is quite interesting, particularly because he admits to having a strong disagreement with Elton Dodson and then completely ignores any mention of the Carl Jordan flap. And then he continues his misleadin' ways by saying he was not directly involved with any effort to sway the opinions of eastside residents (though his newsletter begs to differ) and that the argument with Charles Carter stemmed from the perception that he was working with anti-LPDS folks.

Of course, the dispute against Carter is laughable. A quick read of the public record from last week's meeting shows that the argument was over Carter expressing some concern over validity of McCarter's "95 percent opposition" argument, and that McCarter responded by personally attacking Carter during the meeting (shown on live TV and replayed throughout the month on cable channel 7) and then twice afterward.

It's one of the weakest rebuttals I've seen in quite a while. The facts are that McCarter's methodology is very faulty, his newsletter did skew the facts to present LPDS in a negative light, the petition circulated through Cedar Creek was terribly misleading and that most of the concerns expressed over the rezoning have been answered by both Bruno Rubio and Matt Casey (as well as the fine folks at Athens Politics).

In the beginning of his letter, McCarter said he was "warned early on in my political career not to get in serious opposition with those who buy printing ink in bulk." He should probably amend that statement so that it reads he should avoid getting into serious opposition with those who demolish my arguments in a logical and reasonable manner.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Always next year

OK, you really can't expect to win the World Series every year, so I'm not really that disappointed. In fact the only thing I question is why Curt Schilling didn't start the must-win Game Three. I mean, that's the reason Boston got him, right? To pitch big games like that? And the ALDS ends with him sitting on the bench having not thrown an inning?


But, no matter. At least they didn't lose to the Yankees - who are busy looking awful against a talented Anaheim team - and at least I still have my copy of the Boston Globe's front page depicting Boston winning the 2004 World Series.

Quite frankly, this wasn't the year. The Red Sox struggled to find consistency in their starting pitching and the bullpen was absolutely terrible (with the exception of the rise of Jonathan Papelpon). You can't really them fault too much seeing how Schilling spent the whole year recovering from offseason surgery and never really found his groove, while Keith Foulke's injury problems wasted his season.

Plus Edgar Renteria never looked comfortable at shortstop this year (and he also now has an unceremonious asterik next to his name for ending two seasons for two different teams, but both of the relating to Boston).

All of that will change I think. Both Schilling and Foulke will be back at 100 percent next year, while Renteria will have adjusted to pressure-packed Boston for season two. But there are other concerns out there.

1. Re-sign Johnny Damon.

Listen, I don't care if he starts making outrageous requests for things like gold-plated pitching machines and the concession stands to start stocking blintzes - this is a must for Boston. Much like how re-signing Jason Varitek was absolutely necessary last year, this is absolutely necessary this year ... only more so. Damon is the best center fielder the team has had since Fred Lynn (so we're talking like a 25- to 30-year span here). If the Red Sox don't sign him, the Yankees will. That alone should be enough motivation to keep him on.

2. Don't trade Manny.

I don't really know if I buy this 'Manny Ramirez wants out' stuff. I mean, doesn't this rumor come up every three or four months? Something as routine as Old Faithful? The guy's a bit like your crazy uncle. He comes over, has a bit too much to drink and starts telling everyone how much he hates them. Then he passes out for 20 minutes or so, before he wakes up, starts doling out hugs and breaks into a rendition of 'I Get Knocked Down' or some other obnoxious crowd anthem song.

That's what Manny does. That's what makes him so great. This is a guy who, upon signing with the Red Sox, wanted to bring with him the guy who fed balls into the pitching machine for the Indians. You just nod a bit and say 'sure, we'll see what we can do' ... knowing all the time, if you just pay him some attention, it'll all turn out fine.

So you can't break up the David Ortiz/Manny Ramirez 1-2 punch. It's the most dangerous hitting combination in Major League Baseball. You can't pitch around Big Papi because Manny is waiting on-deck. So give it some time ... Manny will want to stay.

3. Get a reliable No. 2 starter.

Anyone who witnessed the implosion that was the Matt Clement experiment understands that the Red Sox need a solid No. 2 guy. David Wells is pushing, like, 70, and Tim Wakefield is Tim Wakefield (I've never been a fan of the guy ... stemming primarily from my disdain for the knuckleball). Last year, I was pleading with Boston to re-sign Pedro because, well, he's Pedro.

That didn't happen, and now we've got this scenario on our hands ... Schilling and the cast of The Lost Boys. There are lots of options out there. Kevin Millwood is a free agent, as is A.J. Burnett. Perhaps work a trade and land someone (that's how Boston got Schilling), but just land a solid No. 2.

4. Free agents.

Bullpen help. Bullpen help. Bullpen help. Bullpen help. So re-sign Mike Timlin (like Papelpon, one of the few steady forces out there) and look for some left-handed relief.

I'd like an upgrade at first base, but it'll be tough to find a good fit on the market. Kevin Millar will probably be let go (rumor also has it he was the one who was the anonymous source criticizing Schilling), forcing the Red Sox to re-sign John Olerud. That would have been good in 1993, but I'm skeptical in 2006. Paul Konerko will be too pricey, while the rest of the market isn't too proven ... unless they can land Mike Piazza for a good buy, but he's had injury problems and his power production has gone down.

All in all ... it should be OK. At least Boston didn't have its season ended by the Yankees and some key pieces will be back and healthy next year. No need for panic.

Just re-sign Damon. Please.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Why Pedro ranks among the greatest

Stemming from an interesting discussion that involved a sarcastic claim that Roger Clemens was 'the greatest pitcher ever' (c'mon ... had to be sarcasm), some folks at Hillary's blog are disputing my claim that Pedro Martinez deserves to be ranked as one of the greatest pitchers who ever lived. I've heard two primary arguments against this:

• The Karl Malone theory;

• My allegiance to the Red Sox.

OK, I've got to concede the second one somewhat. Though if I was a Bulls fan, I wouldn't not push Michael Jordan as the greatest basketball player of all time and defer to Kurt Rambis simply because I love the Bulls. That would be silly, wouldn't it?

As for Josh Love's Karl Malone theory (the belief that Malone was good, but not that good because he played on an average team for the most part and never won a title), Pedro doesn't fit the mold.

First off, and most importantly, Pedro actually won a title ... pitching a gem in Game Three of the 2004 World Series as the Red Sox swept the Cardinals to win the championship. And it isn't like Boston didn't have a lot of success, and that much of that success wasn't directly related to Pedro. He singlehandedly beat the Indians in the 1998 ALDS, helping Boston rally from a 2-0 deficit. He pitched in relief in Game Five and threw a no-hitter over the final six innings to clinch the title. And then, in the same year, he hurled Boston's only win in the ALCS over the Yankees (against Clemens no less). Had the Red Sox had something more than a retirement home as his supporting cast, they might have actually beaten them that year.

Second, the man - in his prime - was the best 'stopper' in the business. The Red Sox could lose four in a row in Shakespearean fashion, but you always knew on the fifth day there was Pedro ... ready to throw a three-hit shutout and get them back on the winning track (or at least until Frank Castillo took the mound the next day).

He had achieved the fear - and I don't mean 'fear' in the sense of Chandler urging Rachel on Friendsto quit her job so she'll be encouraged to actively seek a new one. Teams were - and, in a sense, still are - absolutely terrified to face him. They damn near went and conceded the game to him each time out.

And you can't overlook the man's stats. A career ERA of a little more than 2.70 with 212 wins. The fact that he's had a sub-2.00 ERA twice in his career (and in both leagues). Or the fact that he strung together six seasons in seven years with an ERA below 2.40 ... including the 23-4, 313 K, 37 BB, 2.07 ERA year in 1999 (how he lost four games that year is a testament to how awful the Red Sox offense was in the latter part of the 1990s ... Jose Offerman batted lead-off people).

How is he not one of the greatest of all time?

Setting the record straight

To the Associated Press reporter who wrote that Tony Graffanino's error in Game Two of the ALDS was strikingly similar to Bill Buckner's infamous gaffe in Game Six of the 1986 World Series ... you don't get to make those jokes or analogies anymore!!!!

Winning the title last year erased the specter of Buckner from the vernacular of all sportswriting concerning the Red Sox. If you're going to keep using it, then I fully expect to see every time the Yankees lose a crucial game someone insert the line "In a fashion eerily remniscent of their historic collapse to Boston in the 2004 ALCS ..."


Thursday, October 06, 2005

Share the roads ... er, paths

Lost in all of the La Puerta del Sol shuffle was the defeat - by a close 5-4 vote - of Commissioner Alice Kinman's proposal for a multi-use pathway to be constructed along Old Hull Road. I had corresponded with Kinman prior to the vote to express my support for such a project, figuring it was just the type of innovative idea we needed to not only find a compromise between the bike folks and non-bike folks, but also as a way of offering alternative transportation options for low-income residents of a fairly isolated section (geographically) of our community.

It's a shame this was shot down. It's even more of a shame that the district's two representatives on the commission were opposed to the idea as both Tom Chasteen and Harry Sims felt it was a bad idea, but for wholly different reasons. Chasteen felt it was too expensive, while Sims offered some bizarre explanation that amounted to 'those folks don't want that.'

Now Sims has been accused by many of being indifferent to the needs of his constituents and, as a result, doing a poor job of representing them. I've never been one to wholly subscribe to that theory, primarily because he appears to be a very personable and generous man. But, after watching him during this latest episode, I can now understand why so many people - including his own constituents - have that perception of him.

It wasn't as if Sims was saying 'my constituents are telling me they see no use for this type of project.' In fact, it was quite the contrary. Sims offered no community support or opposition, instead saying that he didn't feel that parents would want their children playing that close to a road which has large trucks roll across quite frequently. That's quite an assumption to make without any consultation with his district. And, of course, it's a gross misrepresentation of what the project would actually be.

This pathway would have been located off of the road and resembled something along the lines of a wider sidewalk that could accommodate both cyclists and pedestrians. This is a safe, smart and responsible idea for alternative transportation, and one I have advocated for quite a while. Sims' dismissal of it was very shortsighted and a tad arrogant. It gave the impression that he knew what was best for those people without talking with them, and he hid behind a mythical safety argument to justify his decision.

And of course States McCarter deferred to Sims, saying that the latter knew his district the best ... a bold political move designed to give him both cover and leverage on LPDS. As a result, despite strong, convincing arguments from Carl Jordan, Elton Dodson and Kinman, the whole thing got shot down. Instead, we'll get a regular old sidewalk and expose the cyclists to the truck traffic (that's OK for Sims for some reason).

At the same time, we sadly failed on one of our first opportunities to push a creative plan for alternative transportation through in this town. So kudos to David Lynn, Dodson and Jordan for their support. And many kudos to Kinman for her leadership on this project. I hope the commissioner keeps such innovative ideas coming our way.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The madness of logic

The good folks at Athens Politics were all over the La Puerta del Sol discussion tonight at City Hall. Kudos to them, and kudos to the folks who spoke out in favor of LPDS tonight. I agree with them in believing those for the development made a much more compelling case than the incredibly vocal few who were against it.

The vote was tabled until the first meeting of November, but Tuesday's meeting provided many highlights (and I probably ranted too much about 'em).

There were so many things just infuriating about the opposition during Tuesday's debate, that it's hard to count. But the primary one is the incredibly hardline and insanely irrational stance that States McCarter has taken against LPDS. Poor Commissioner McCarter ... no one wanted him to be mayor and now, as a lame duck commissioner whom the door can't hit fast enough as he crankily plods to the finish line, he has embraced the anti-LPDS crowd with a fervent passion.

Don't be fooled - no matter how many times McCarter said 'I've got nothing against Mr. Rubio ... this is about location,' he was just selling you short. This is about Mr. Rubio, in some form or fashion. McCarter didn't like the way the process went for some reason or another and has now dedicated the remainder of his term to derailing this project. The hostility and venom in McCarter's voice suggests a deep resentment to this project. The anger evident in his frail little red face as District 1 Commissioner Charles Carter dared to question his methodology proves that this project, for some unexplainable reason, has become illogically personal for him.

McCarter's defense of his opposition was so ignorant, it's hard to know where to begin to discredit it. He repeatedly touted a survey he claimed proved that 95 percent of the residents of the eastside - the entire eastside - were strongly opposed to LPDS. Statistically his numbers don't add up. Considering that LPDS supporters outnumbered LPDS opposers more than four-to-one Tuesday night, if you stretch out that statistic to the entire eastside you're going to find a percentage of pro-LPDS people larger than five percent.

Furthermore, and most damning to McCarter's claim, is that the survey itself was terribly misleading. It was distributed by anti-LPDS individuals who presented the development in a negative light with negative wording of the questions. In fact, several individuals who spoke on behalf of LPDS Tuesday night said they had actually signed the petition against it because they had been mislead about it. The petition is merely propaganda, and I would venture to say many of the folks who had signed it would feel differently if they had the chance to examine both sides of the issue rather than what McCarter wants you to hear.

The other concerns expressed by McCarter and the handful of folks he dragged out to the meeting to get his back were shallow as well. The concern over having alcohol sales near a public high school (Cedar Shoals is right across the street) are silly to say the least. This is not merely a bar, but an upscale restaurant along the lines of a Bischero or a Five & Ten. Those who frequent it will, most likely, be significantly more responsible than college students who venture downtown. The restaurant plans to close by midnight and have security on hand as well.

Plus if we're going to express concern over drunken driving, McCarter and his Cedar Creek buddies need to start examining the other establishments which serve alcohol on the eastside. He also needs to realize that high school gets out at 3:45 p.m., and not 11 p.m.

Along those same lines, the concern over noise is foolish. Rubio already has said he would ban outside music after a certain time, and the speakers he plans to use outside are small compared to other speakers designed for outside use. And, why all of a sudden are folks along this corridor concerned about noise from one restaurant? As one pro-LPDS speaker pointed out, the Cedar Shoals High School band makes a considerable amount of noise throughout the year, while parties by college students in the apartments along Cedar Shoals Drive produce noise as well. Plus, there are existing noise ordinances in place that are designed to handle situations like this one.

There is little concern, in my book, over traffic as well. A stoplight has been installed where the primary entrance for LPDS would be, and the A-C Planning Commission unanimously approved this particular project, expressing no concern over increased traffic.

All of this was bluntly stated by the numerous pro-LPDS individuals who spoke at the meeting, including my boy Josh Kendall (another former ABHer) who said 'We've got a Lowe's coming in down the street which will bring like a million people, but no one's concerned about that traffic ... We hear all this about alcohol, but there are 492 other places on the eastside where I can get a beer, but we don't want to shut them down.' Mayoral candidate Andy Rusk defended the successes Rubio has had with his other businesses.

Still, McCarter stubbornly clings to his idiotic belief that LPDS would be a detriment to the eastside. He is damn near threatening those who may vote against his wishes on this matter - including playing a pure political game with the proposed Old Hull Road multi-use pathway by heeding to District 2 Commissioner Harry Sims' desire to, once again, sell out his constituents and then, in a not-so-subtle fashion, telling the rest of the commission that it's only appropriate to defer to the district's commissioner for these types of issues.

McCarter's leadership on this issue is naive and wrong-headed. For lack of a better cliche, it fails to see the forest through the trees. His position runs completely opposite of everything this commission claims it is for - renovation, reducing sprawl, encouraging local business and empowering the community. His position is a self-serving one he is attempting to package as the wishes of his constituents. Hopefully his fellow commissioners will see through the haze and vote in the best interest of Athens-Clarke County and not because they feel an obligation to McCarter.