Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Couple of things

- Read this, and then wait for the overreaction.

- The consultants' report is out for the Naval School property, and it doesn't include any suggestions to let area non-profits use any portion of the land. On the whole, I don't disagree with their suggestions (a combination of a educational use and mixed-use, private business), but it's disappointing to me they ignored any aspect of granting non-profits some of the land. Particularly because, well, $1 million in additional property tax revenue isn't that much when compared with the rest of the revenues and annual budget. Plus, having a small portion dedicated to something like, say, child care would do wonders for allowing many poor families to pursue educational opportunities and employment opportunities. That and, well, I don't really want to see any more $350,000 town homes pop up again ... just so they can sit vacant within five years.

- If you were, indeed, encouraging inmates to rise up in rebellion, then you probably shouldn't get your job back.

- Blake breaks down the random fundraisers for both Heidi Davison and Charlie Maddox.

- There was a final debate last night, and I hope you folks went.

One final go

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend last night's debate as I had a meeting for IHN (though you'll all be pleased to know we're very close to implementing our new development plan ... no, not really ... well OK), but the Athens Banner-Herald has a nice article detailing last night.

Looks like both Heidi Davison and Charlie Maddox gave as good as they got with Maddox scoring style points in a question over the floating homestead tax exemption, and Davison looking strong on education.

From what I see in the article and from what I hear from folks I know, Kelly Girtz demolished Alvin Sheats ... prompting the latter to say 'I don't remember' or 'I don't know' on numerous occasions. Of course, considering Sheats is the man who offered us the comic gold that is the tree that thrives on blood, so there's that.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Couple of things

- The Athens Banner-Herald editorial is a good one, as it encourages public participation in the redevelopment of the Naval School property. Having worked on some of the proposals for its resuse in the form of services for the poor, I'd recommend everyone go check it out.

- The Athens-Clarke County Police Department is reviewing its polices regarding weapon use on school campuses. They're going to get some new training guidelines in place after that whole shooting the dog thing.

- Yesterday, I received a information update kit from some folks from my senior class from Westside High School in Augusta (class of 1996 baby), and I was floored at how many names were misspelled. Can't you just grab the senior yearbook and kinda use that for a guideline? Lots of folks, by the way, still living in Augusta with only five that I saw actually living outside the state.

- There's a debate tonight folks, so go check it out. Over at The Melting Point at 7 p.m. for the two local runoff elections. The format for this one includes the chance for the candidates to question each other, which could be entertaining.

This means what?

You know, I'm not a huge fan of Joe Biden anyway, but I'm even more hesitant to support his bid for president after this?:

Biden's appeal for bipartisanship captured Bruce Rippeteau, a former Rotary president who says he's in the Genghis Khan wing of the Republican Party.

Now, I'm not entirely sure what 'the Genghis Khan wing of the Republican Party' looks like, but I've got a hunch it's not something I'd line up with ideologically.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Couple of things

- Uh. Wow. Alvin Sheats's answers are very, very odd. The tree ordinance one had me laughing out loud, the lack of knowledge regarding the rural zoning was mind-blowing and the suggestion that we don't 'deny the right of fraternities to exist' was weird. Contrast those with Kelly Girtz and, well, it's obvious the latter is considerably more qualified to serve on the commission.

- Speaking of question-and-answer, the Athens Banner-Herald puts up interviews with Heidi Davison and Charlie Maddox. At first glance, it seems like they asked Heidi fewer questions ... but, then again, that's probably because she's clearly articulated what she actually wants to do while Maddox hasn't really done so. His comments here were the most in-depth I've seen yet, though this whole 'assisting the school board' thing drives me nuts. Why? Well, because it's an entirely different entity and the local goverment has no authority over it. I think, quite frankly, this is a clear misunderstanding on Maddox's part of what local government does. He also kinda ducks the poverty question, which was worded well. Davison dwelled a little too much on the smoking ban for my taste, but did a fine job on neighborhood notification.

- I trust everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. The Wife and I went to Augusta for the day, enjoyed some turkey, then ran errands on Friday and went to the game on Saturday.

- You're filing a police report over this? Really? Have you ever put up a political sign in your yard? I 'lost' my Kerry/Edwards one several times last year.

- Yesterday, I had to handle some of the duties done typically by our executive director at IHN regarding a situation, and - though I already possessed a great deal of respect for them - it makes you tip your hat to social workers. Long hours, few thanks and low pay ... but doing an absolutely necessary job. So, with that in mind, please be sure and support some of the many, wonderful non-profits in this community this holiday season.

- This is a nice story on some of the local towns in the area.

- Just in case you didn't know ... Georgia beat Georgia Tech on Saturday. And it was truly a wonderful event.

- The Boston Globe says $51.1 million to negotiate with Daisuke Matsuzaka really isn't that much ... and I sorta see what they're saying, but not completely.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Couple of things

- States McCarter explains (again) why he opposes the widely popular Neighborhood Notification Initiative, and at least he's more honest toward the end of it. Quite frankly, he dislikes it because he wants to be one telling you about these things ... and, with that type of control, he has the ability to spin the proposed rezonings in a direction consistent with his personal views (i.e. La Puerta del Sol). Again, I'm glad he's open about it, but his rationale should make constituents think twice about him.

- I'd agree it's silly to question who can support a team, but let's be honest here ... it ain't like John Barrow is exactly a tried-and-true Democrat based on some of his campaign stances the past two years. Don't get me wrong, I like the guy, but he's easily one of the most conservative Democratic congressmen out there.

- OK This is an odd editorial. It's criticizing the president of the Georgia Association of Educators for being factually correct and for offering the, well, rather true statement that attractive higher salaries for teachers can attract more and more candidates to teach in this state. Whether or not you think our teachers need a raise isn't important in this discussion to me. Instead, this editorial uses a false argument to offer (rightly or wrongly) criticism it could have done under other guises.

- This is a like a weird nothing happened story to me (though it's a tad offensive to suggest that gays apparently aren't consumers in the marketplace). The American Family Association won't protest, and Wal-Mart will continue with its negotiations to provide better benefits to its gay employees. All save face I guess?

- How do you follow a good man like Charles Worthy with this moron? The fact he's still at Cedar Shoals is incredible to me.

- There's a fundraiser for Heidi Davison on Monday at The 40 Watt, with former standout from the ole musee William Tonks on hand to play. Good deal.

- The intro music is back in this week's edition of The Cover Two podcast.

- This teacher pay thing is still bugging me.

This is, of course, a simplistic way of looking at the issue of teacher pay. There are any number of variables that can explain the difference in average SAT scores between Georgia and North Carolina, including such factors as the number of students taking the test and the demographics of those students.

But if Hubbard and the GAE are going to make simplistic arguments in favor of a pay hike, they shouldn't be surprised to find themselves fending off similarly simplistic arguments against an increase.

I don't think it's a terribly simplistic argument - higher salaries can attract more candidates for teaching - and relating it to an incredibly complex series of problems and issues which affect student performance is peculiar to me.

- Here's what I'm thankful for.

What I'm thankful for ...

As I'll be heading with The Wife to Augusta to see my folks tonight for Thanksgiving, here's a list of some things I'm thankful for ...

- My Bernzomatic point-and-click lighter ... really, that thing is amazing.

- The Samuel Adams Winter Classics pack, complete with Winter Lager and Old Fezziwig Ale.

- The good folks at my work place, including my boss, Hillary, Paul, Carissa and our collection of interns.

- The fact that Bobby comes out tomorrow.

- Good friends across the board, from old ones to new ones. Helps make my life that much more meaningful.

- That Matthew Stafford is only a freshman ... with Caleb King, Knowshon Moreno and A.J. Green all set to arrive within the next two years.

- My parents, who instilled in me faith, hope, optimism and an unwavering belief in a better tomorrow.

- My discoveries of the music of Waylon Jennings, his son Shooter and, well, of course Bruce Springsteen.

- The Wife, who makes each day an adventure ... but in a good way.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Couple of things

- OK ... you know what's weird about column by UGA professor Conrad Fink? The fact that he wrote it. Fink is one of the most esteemed journalism professors at the university, and he prided himself on never voting for any elected office so he could remain unbiased. So the fact he's dissecting the current U.S. foreign policy is, as far as I can tell, pretty new for him.

- Tough call on this. I want the security officers to be able to adequately protect themselves and the student body, but I could definitely see how parents would have concerns about this. Ultimately, I'd lean toward permitting the weapons seeing how the officers are trained and certified.

- In the 'let's-wrongly-classify-Jmac-category' Norm Weatherby calls me a 'foaming liberal', which I'll assume he meant more as a condescending type of thing rather than a kind word or two. Weatherby, as some readers may know, is a local favorite of mine because he parrots the line of today's Republican pundits rather than attempt to constructively think about rational conclusions to today's issues. While I don't think anyone here would call me a 'foaming liberal' (though, to be fair, I'm a tad lost on what that means) or even a 'disturbed lib', seeing how I'm actually quite moderate on a good number of issues, I do think Weatherby is a tad off ... though the final picture of the dog is ridiculous in its whole lack of relating to the actual content of his post ... though their wasn't much relevence to the actual post either.

- Michael Richards apologized on The Late Show With David Letterman, though the apology itself was kinda angry and defensive. Pretty weird, this whole thing.

- The Red And Black did a nice job on this story regarding minority recruitment, picking up some good comments from different folks along the way. It's obvious the university thinks it's doing a good job, but the numbers, as well as the others who did the report, don't necessarily agree. Of course, there are a lot of variables to consider in this whole thing - the stigma of UGA being an 'Old South' school, the high number of historical African-American colleges in Georgia, etc. - and those variables show why this isn't the easiest thing to accomplish in the world.

- Don Nelson takes a look at some of the possible folks who could lead the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce. For what it's worth, either Tom Chasteen or Annette Nelson would do a good job.

- To be fair to Weatherby, the poor guy is kind enough to offer me a link ... so if you'd like to visit him, try this. He does have some pretty pictures of fall leaves in the Blue Ridge Mountains, so that's nice.

- It's always refreshing to watch your favorite team completely implode in the offseason. J.D. Drew? Really? Trade Manny? Seriously? No calls to Mark Loretta or Trot Nixon? Why?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Can we say 'nervous laughter' ...

Wow. Who knew Kramer was such a horrible bigot?

Easily the most uncomfortable thing I've seen in a long while.

I'd say unfortunate, but I don't really care for Michael Richards outside of the whole Kramer character so there's that ... and, truth be told, it'll be hard to look at that character the same after the, you know, incredibly offensive and ignorant racist outburst.

Though the guys he shouted out shouldn't have fired back with their own racial epithets either. It's not good to fight ignorance with more ignorance, particularly when it was so painfully clear how disturbingly wrong Richards was.

Couple of things

- Adrian has re-launched Athens World, and he's looking for folks who may be interested in writing over there.

- A few days ago, I expressed some concerns I had over the domestic partner benefits, and Elton Dodson was good enough to speak with me and say those concerns - such as avoiding fraud - had been addressed by his committee by setting up certain safeguards and qualifications in the proposal.

- These folks are doing good work, and it's always worthwhile to see if you can call and volunteer.

- It's about time they shut this place down.

- We've had a lot of numbers fly around here regarding the economic development debate, and I offered some further views on the discussion here.

- It's another mailbag from Bill Simmons, complete with a thorough breakdown of the Red Sox's pursuit of Daisuke Matsuzaka ... though he and I disagree on the whole 'the Red Sox becoming the Yankees' thing.

- Speaking of that, Marc has details on Alex Gonzalez going to the Reds. Congrats fellas ... enjoy a weak-hitting shortstop who is average on defense ... I know I did last year.

The numbers game

In a lot of these discussions about economic development, some folks keep throwing around the numbers '$100,000 vs. $2.5 million' with the former being the meager amount of money they claim the local government has put up for economic development compared to the latter which is the money set aside for greenspace. The problem with this comparison is that the numbers are a tad misleading.

The greenspace total stems from a 2004 SPLOST referendum (one which passed with more than 70 percent of the vote). This money is dedicated to those specific purposes only and is not part of the general operating fund of Athens-Clarke County. It's misleading to compare funds which have a predetermined purpose, are tied solely to that purpose and depend on an entirely different source of revenue than money which is set aside by the Athens-Clarke County Commission from general revenues.

Compared to the other communities, such as Cobb County (which I think we all would agree is a bit more conservative than Athens-Clarke County), we actually spend less on greenspace. More than 70 percent of the voters in Cobb County voted to approve $40 million in bonds for greenspace.

Furthermore, if folks are so upset over the sheer size of the greenspace number, than they should be pleased with our community's economic output, shouldn't they? Particularly seeing how this money is tied to the spending habits and economic health of our community.

The $100,000 is what Athens-Clarke County contributes to EDF, and it's actually $125,000 a year. The local government is a member of this group (one dedicated to encouraging diverse economic development) along with other partners (for instance, the UGA Research Foundation and the Industrial Development Authority) and contributes the most money to it.

Likewise, since this whole thing has rapidly devolved to a 'local government vs. Chamber' debate, I think it's important to note that the Chamber is no longer a member of this particular organization because it has failed to met its annual commitment the past four years, despite the fact their dues were sliced in half last year with the previous year written off just to accommodate them.

Regarding economic development funds, the general operating budget featured more than $1 million set aside for recruiting and enhancing local economic development. Granted that's less than the $2.5 million for greenspace, and some folks will surely criticize that fact as well, but I also think, as I expressed earlier, those comparisons are invalid. The only way one could say they're on the same level would be if the $2.5 million came from the general operating fund based on a decision of the local government.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Music for the moment

Some lighter fare

Hillary had never heard of this movie, but safe to say, after watching this clip, she's added Teen Witch to her must-see list.

This is one of those movies that really makes you question the whole process.

Please note use of line 'Look how funky he is.'

Friday, November 17, 2006

Couple of things

- Ah. Good times. The Athens-Clarke County Commission debates domestic partner insurance benefits, and Elton Dodson and States McCarter are, um, a bit testy in their exchange. McCarter says something is fishy in this whole thing, but doesn't offer any specifics ... so Dodson, in truly awesome fashion, tells him to put up or shut up. Tom Chasteen is more measured in his comments, questioning how much this thing will cost ... seeing how he actually runs an insurance agency, I think his concerns are a tad more valid than McCarter's.

- Hey, hey! I worked on this proposal. Only one minor thing ... we never actually offered day care, but instead relied on another provider which saw its funds dry up. But, yes, good story all the way around. Having done this for the past three years (as well as enduring a two-hour board meeting last night), I can tell you child care is one of the greatest hinderences to helping people get back on their feet.

- Regarding actually implementing this idea, it's a tough call for me. I'm OK with the hypothetical concept of providing insurance benefts for gay couples, but everything else is blurry. I don't know why this government should be in the business of providing insurance to folks who are just 'boyfriend-girlfriend.' Either we have a single-payer health care system or we don't ... and right now we don't, which means only married families are eligible for inclusion in these types of plans. And, considering civil unions and gay marriage are banned in Georgia, there will be no legal difference between a gay couple which has been together for 17 years and straight couple who has been dating for three months ... and it's quite obvious there probably should be. I also think Chasteen's concern over the potential of fraud is a real one, and Kathy Hoard seems to think it won't be a problem. I'm glad she and the committee which worked hard to craft this proposal think it will be OK, but I'm still not so sure.

- I'll be honest, I don't really care to see Borat but it sure has ticked off some folks. First, some drunken fraternity guys have filed a lawsuit for being shown unfavorably (i.e. as blatant racists), while now an etiquette guru is saying she was misled. I'm not alone in noticing this as Russ is talking about the silliness of the former lawsuit, of which I can agree with. The latter, however, might be more difficult to dismiss if they had told them it was for a completely different video project. Then again, I'm no legal expert so it may be without merit.

- Kids ... this is kinda dumb. Though I suppose this means I won't see any more NCAA Football versions released for PlayStation 2. Bummer.

- Hillary discusses how she chooses candidates, and it's worth noting that she and I don't exactly see eye-to-eye on this one.

- By a margin of less than 1,000 votes, John Barrow defeated Max Burns ... again. Does this set up the third bout in their epic series ... Barrow-Burns III: Fightin' in Tybee?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Runoff showdown

We're just a few weeks away from the runoff-to-end-all-runoffs with Heidi Davison and Charlie Maddox squaring off for Athens-Clarke County mayor. Blake put together a nice piece this past weekend looking at the runoff scenarios, and I agree mostly with what's said.

I do think, however, that Davison and Maddox split Tom Chasteen's supporters. Maddox pulled a lot of Republican support, thus forcing Chasteen to look left. Considering that Chasteen backed Davison on more than 80 percent of the issues, logic would dictate that she could do a good job in peeling off some of those voters. Of course, logic and voter behavior doesn't exactly go hand-in-hand.

What's really odd to me is that Maddox said the reason Davison ran strong in predominantly African-American districts is because of an influx of white voters into those districts through gentrification. That very well be true, but that's not what struck me as odd about his comment.

What's odd about that is that it seems Maddox is implying that African-Americans shouldn't vote for Davison and should instead vote for him, presumably because he looks like them. It's that this implication merely discounts the fact that perhaps, just perhaps, Davison has worked hard to reach out to the African-American community and those folks who voted for her did so because, well, they liked what she stood for and what she had done for the community.

Granted, I'm probably reading too much into this. Maddox seems to be a good guy, but this is troubling to me, particularly coming from a candidate who claims everyone is with him ... everyone except, apparently, white voters who move into predominantly black districts.

Carville vs. Dean

I've got to admit, I don't really understand this whole thing, but it's kinda amusing.

I, for one, thought Howard Dean did a pretty good job, and I'm a fan of the 50-state strategy. However, I'm not ready to crown him the savior of the Democratic Party as so many in the liberal blogosphere want to do. Truth be told, I don't think he effectively managed money all that well in the crunch-time, and he was aided by strong voter dissatisfaction with the majority party.

Plus, Rahm Emmanuel and Chuck Schumer deserve a lot of credit for the ability to recruit candidates and organize the races. It was more of a victory for that trio rather than merely Dean, as many left-leaning blogs want to indicate (again, I've liked what Dean's done, but their infatuation with the man is fascinating, and a tad baffling, to me).

Still, what to make of James Carville's comments? I don't know. I like the guy, and I think the fact that he's the only guy to actually get a Democrat elected president in the past 25 years gives him some staying power. Plus, I'm more in tune with him politically than with Dean.

For what it's worth, I think this is an extension of some petty, personal feud between the two. Carville is, understandably, a Bill Clinton-type-of-Democrat and Dean railed against those folks during his primary run (one of the reasons, it must be noted, that I was turned off to Dean's candidacy a few years back). As a result, Dean and his followers have increasingly grown hostile to the Clinton Democrats.

So they've gone back and forth since then, and Carville is probably a bit envious of the recent success and probably thinks he could've done a little better than Dean did.

One last thing on this

Grow Green has become the new punching bag for a variety of folks in this town, particularly from those who are more open to unbridled development, and the newest club in the bag is the one that says Grow Green doesn't care about poverty.

This stems from a Grow Green Athens scorecard which ranked a candidate for Athens-Clarke County Commission lower than expected because it was believed he ranked poverty as a higher concern.

This, to me, is one of the great non-stories of this political season.

Just so we're all clear here ... Grow Green Athens is an environmental lobbying organization with a stated mission of promoting smart growth and other legislation (locally and at the state level) designed to best protect our natural resources. Poverty is not one of its stated concerns.

As a result, anything which is not directly tied to promoting the organization's view of how to best preserve the environment is going to be scored lower, whether that's poverty or clear-cutting or buying Winnie the Pooh stuffed animals. This is an environmental group, not a poverty group.

However, this is not to say the members of Grow Green don't care about poverty ... far from it actually. Several card-carrying members are active with IHN of Athens, the Athens Area Homeless Shelter, The Potter's House, Sparrow's Nest and etc. and etc.

It's fun and easy to make quips like 'Grow Green loves trees more than people' because it gets a cheap laugh and requires you to, you know, not actually think. However, it's worth pointing out that those quips are patently false.

Couple of things

- Everyone smile and make nice ... Athens-Clarke County commissioners meet with their state legislators and promise to not complain about each other too much. Noticeably absent is Ralph Hudgins, and I'm glad Alice Kinman called him out on it.

- Some folks think it's because we're a conservative country. Others think it's because we're moving toward the center and then to the left. I think the election results offer something different.

- Love him or hate him, but you can't say that E.H. Culpepper isn't a classy guy.

- Over at The Cover Two, The Realist and I engage in a pseudo-point/counterpoint kind of thing. I offer 'The Case For Rutgers', while he offers The Case Against Rutgers' ... it's like we're The McLaughlin Group.

- Jeff Emmanuel doesn't exactly say if he likes Donald Rumsfeld or not, but it's obvious his rationale - keeping the embattled Secretary of Defense around with President Bush to fight off criticism - shows he's more concerned with politics than, you know, actually properly executing the war.

- Well, the Red Sox won the Matsuzaka sweepstakes ... and I think that might be a good thing, but I really don't know.

- In something fairly interesting, Blake has a roundup of post-election concession/thank-you comments.

On the election

There's a lot of talk among conservative circles that says the results of last week's election was a sign of the voters' satisfaction with the conservative ideology as a whole, while Democratic blogs, such as Daily Kos have been scrambling to say the election is actually a repudiation of conservative politics. I think both views are flawed.

Last week's election was fueled by one thing and one thing only - voter dissatisfaction. The public was overwhelmingly unhappy with the management of the war in Iraq as well as the numerous ethics scandals that appeared to plague the leaders of the Republican Party. Factor in the opposition endorsing some voter-friendly initiatives like raising the minimum wage and reforming lobbying, and you've got a recipe for a electoral wave.

Coupled with this discontent, the Democrats ran an effective 50-state campaign in which they (finally) recruited candidates for office that reflected the values and views of their home state. It may be the Democratic Party went more conservative in some races, but not all.

For instance, Sheldon Brown captured the Senate seat from Ohio, and few would argue that Brown is conservative. He's an old-school labor guy who scores very high on most grading cards for 'liberal.' However, Ohio is a state with a large manufacturing industry that has been affected by free trade policies. These voters were sympathetic to what Brown was offering.

However, consider both Jim Webb and Jon Tester, who won in Virginia and Montana respectively. Webb is by no means a liberal as he served as Secretary of the Navy under Republican President Ronald Reagan, while Tester possesses strong libertarian traits that mesh well with the traditional conservative views that run through Montana.

The views and ideologies of people in Montana are vastly different than those in, say, Pennsylvania. The issues which matter to them are different and their demographics are different. And, contrary to previous elections, the Democrats sought out people who were a reflection of their communities who still shared progressive ideologies.

I, for one, think this is a good thing.

Now, I also believe the Democratic Party is evolving too, and I think you're going to see more candidates like Tester and Webb in the future rather than candidates like Brown, but that has more to do with the recent emergence of some libertarian views with regard to social and privacy issues in these circles. I hope this, however, does spill over toward economic views nor do I hope that Democrats move away from free trade policies.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

That's an overstatement ...

OK, granted I'm a bit partisan in this whole thing, but I think Michael Rosenberg is off base in his criticism of the Red Sox's winning the right to negotiate with Daisuke Matsuzaka. Now, I don't disagree with his notion that $51 million-plus for just the opportunity to talk with Matsuzaka is crazy - because it really is - but saying Boston can't complain about the Yankees any more is ridiculous for a variety of reasons.

- First, the Yankees exceeded $200 million in annual payroll in 2006, while the Red Sox were second at $120 million. True, Boston does spend a lot of money, but to suggest they're on par with New York's bottomless pockets is absurd (even with the potential deal with Matsuzaka). The Yankees still spent more than $80 million more than the second-place team.

- This insane ability to spend puts added pressure on other big-market teams, like Boston and Anaheim and Chicago, to spend more and more, just so they can compete. Even teams with smaller payrolls, like Detroit, suddenly feel the need to pony up more coin once they obtain a level of success just so they can stay competitive with the Yankees. Do the Red Sox spend a lot? Yes, but they do so because they have to try to compete with the money machine just a few miles down the road which keeps winning A.L. East Division titles.

- Even though he hasn't pitched an inning, with the dramatic rise in player salaries in the past 15 years, if Matsuzaka turns out to be the pitcher everyone expects him to be, the money spent might just be well worth it. It's hard to justify that type of money now, but if he records a couple of 20-win, sub-2.50 ERA seasons for Boston and leads them to postseason success, why wouldn't it be a good deal?

I hate the Yankees.

Really quick

OK, I'm back from Disney World (folks, it really is the happiest place on earth), and I'm running late. I'll be out and about today ... factor in the cold I'm fighting off, and I won't be able to do much blogging until later.

So ... keep your chin up.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Couple of things (hold you over edition)

- Not that I'm terribly surprised by this, but Jeff Emmanuel continues to show his lack of political expertise by completing misreading the election results. It may not be a repudiation of the conservative ideology, but it's not exactly a reaffirmation in it when you elect old-school populists like Sheldon Whitehouse, Jon Tester and Sheldon Brown. He's joined by H.D. Lott, who spins the same, old tired line about Iraq ... you know, the one the voters overwhelmingly rejected just a few days ago.

- This is a shame. Ed Bradley was a great journalist, and he'll be sorely missed.

- I decided to share some of my thoughts about Ed Vaughan's newest crusade, which apparently consists of yelling at everyone.

- Matthew Yglesias wants to dispose of the myth of Karl Rove.

- Hillary is wise to, you know, point out the oddity of this particular editorial stance.

- This is a new feature from Blake Aued at 'In The Loop', and I think it's a darn fine idea. Lots of talk about roadkil last night.

- Additional hotel space is nice, but anyone else feel like Oconee County is legitimately 10 years away from morphing into Gwinnett County?

- I know we're only a few days removed from Election Day, but I try to gaze into the future.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

This just in ...

... Ed Vaughan's upset. And, it must be noted, more than a tad off his rocker.

In a posting over at Athens Politics dealing with weird debate involving Doug McKillip, Vaughan opened fire with ...

Hillary, you share the sentiments of most Athenians who voted for oblivious elitists, such as Girtz.

And, Anonymous Al, you are a nasty little rich boy who needs to get a more honorable role in life besides being a s***-spreader. You called me a moron, Al. My public life is over, but that ain't.

To this, I responded with ...

Ed, with all due respect, what the hell man?

Is this really what you want to do? Come on here and act like a child because you lost the election? Open a personal grudge with someone to the whole world ... and unnecessarily attack someone who shares his views?

Listen, I like some of your ideas, but I don't have a lot of respect for someone who is going to swing by after an Election Day performance so profoundly poor that you barely got more votes than an absurdly conservative dude with little name recognition who wasn't even on the ballot.

Bravo for touting your 800 votes ... what about the 2,700 that went to Alvin Sheats and 3,000 to Kelly Girtz ... someone who's so elitist that he managed to take the early lead in the race.

Now, it should be noted that I posted this at 2:43 p.m. at Athens Politics. However, prior to that, Ed decided to launch an unprovoked attack on me here at this blog because at 2:34 p.m. he offered us this fine piece of prose:

I am just glad that all the ponytailed university s**** voted for Girtz, a guy who will totally preserve the status quo. Thanks, JMAC, for blindly parroting the spin put out by Grow Green, a bunch of elitists who take Bertis Downs' money and do what they are told. As an (ex-) athlete, i can say, Jmac, that you are quite a proficient athletic supporter.

He's right ... I am a big fan of Georgia football and the Red Sox, but I digress.

What's interesting about this suspension of reality by Vaughan is that it flies in the face of what was posted just one comment earlier by James Garland, who is by no means a 'ponytailed university s***':


I'm pasting here the comment that I just posted over at AthPo, it applies to you too:

Personally, I am glad that it is all over. I do not envy the folks who have to stay in campaign mode for another month.

In District 1, I concentrated on running a campaign that focused exclusively on my positions and policy proposals. As it turns out, the voters chose someone else (though I did make a respectable showing). So be it.

I feel that this blog has always treated me fairly and for that I am grateful.

Now, I'm not here to toot my own horn, but I like think I run a pretty fair blog, and I thank James for his kind comments.

Am I partisan at times? Well, sure. I like Davison and I like Girtz and I like progressive, Democratic politics, and I've defended them during discussions at this blog. However, I welcome all sorts of views here, and I'm pretty good friends with folks who hold vastly different opinions than me.

I've never met Vaughan. In fact, I wouldn't know him from Adam, so I'm not sure why he's this angry, particularly with me and other folks in the Athenian blogosphere. Perhaps impotent showings at the polls do this to people, who knows ...

What I do know is that even though I endorsed Girtz, I had some kind words for some of Vaughan's ideas.

Here's what I also know. I know that he was upset with the criticism leveled at him by Grow Green, which is understandable. However, I think a lot of the criticism was valid based on what I saw of Vaughan and what I read at his web site. I think on a lot of issues of local governance and the authority of the Athens-Clarke County Commission, he didn't exactly understand all the nuances and details and, in some places, the basic workings of the Mayor and Commission.

Does that detract from his ideas? I don't think so. I've said it before, and I'll say it again ... the economic gardening idea is a good one. I hope this commission takes a look at it.

However, did it make me question his ability to serve as a commissioner? Yes, so I endorsed Girtz who I found to be thorough, knowledgeable and likeable ... as well as being, more or less, in step with my ideological views.

So what have we learned about Ed Vaughan? Well, for starters, he's a terrible, ungracious loser. He's pretty petty too. We also know he's rather childish as evidenced by the 'athletic supporter' joke (which was one of those ones that, if it had been made to someone while being surrounded by a crowd, the crowd would have been embarassed for him making such an idiotic, unfunny quip ... dude, seriously). He's also apparently pretty poor at typing, but now I'm just nit-picking.

Do I have any ill will toward the man? Of course not. I'm sure he's a nice enough guy who's been hurt by the accusations hurled his way and his defeat at the polls. He's accomplished a lot in his life and spent more than 10 years serving this country in the military, and I'd like to applaud him for that. If we sat down for a beer, we'd probably get along.

However, if he keeps behaving in such a bizarre and juvenille matter, Vaughan will just speed up his descent toward becoming not relevant.

Thinking about the future ...

I know we're only two days removed from Election Day, and we've still got a runoff for mayor and District Nine here in Athens-Clarke County, but it's always interesting to make predictions which will probably never actually hold up four years from now.

I'm referring to governor in 2010, as well as Athens-Clarke County mayor the same year (assuming Heidi Davison wins re-election in the December runoff).

For governor, what's really weird to me is that Casey Cagle, the newly elected Lt. Governor, is probably the frontrunner for the GOP ... weird in the sense that someone went from a rather obscure, low-key politician to the 'future of the party' in one year's time. Cagle's a likeable enough fella, which would make him to be Sonny Jr. in the grand scheme of things.

Of course, he'll face plenty of challenges. I've heard from more than one person that Brian Kemp will eventually seek the governorship, but coming off a loss in the Agriculture Commissioner primary, I think he'll either take a political appointment or run for something in Congress down the road (or, perhaps take another shot at Agriculture Commissioner in four years).

There are also the usual players such as Jack Kingston and Lynn Westmoreland, but it would be interesting to see if someone like, say, former Augusta-Richmond County mayor Bob Smith sought the governorship ... he took a job working for the Department of Homeland Security in Atlanta midway through his second term. Or perhaps Herman Cain tosses his hat into the ring.

On the Democratic side, two names which will probably generate some buzz will be Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin and current Attorney General Thurbert Baker. I'd like to see the latter seek that office, though I'm quite high on the former. But I think Baker's experience as attorney general, coupled with his more moderate stances on many issues, make him probably the toughest candidate Republicans would have to face.

Franklin, for what it's worth, might seek one of the seats for the U.S. Senate.

Common sense would indicate that some of the usual players like DuBose Porter or Jim Marshall might ponder a run. Both are moderates with good name recognition.

Locally, I'm wondering who would consider running for mayor. Taking a look at the current commission, I don't know who I see seeking the office. There's been talk of Harry Sims possibly, but I'm not sold on that. I think a run by Elton Dodson after two terms as the District 10 commissioner isn't out of the question, but that's purely speculation on my part.

I'm not really up-to-speed on moderates in town who would give it a go, or possibly some Chamber-friendly folks. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A whole new world

Donald Rumsfeld has resigned, and NBC News has called Montana for Jon Tester ... meaning Democrats will control both houses of Congress.

Montana update

I've got to get a cavity filled in mere moments, which is most disconcerting to me, but they've apparently finished the Yellowstone County recount in Montana and Jon Tester is up by 1,586 votes out of more than 379,000 cast statewide.

There will surely be a recount, but if this hold, as well as Virginia, then Democrats control Congress.

Local races

On the local side, we're heading to a runoff on the mayoral side as both Heidi Davison and Charlie Maddox are set to this all over again.

Davison almost pulled this thing out, picking up more than 10,000 votes for 45 percent of those cast. Maddox performed a little weaker than I had expected, finishing under 30 percent and only holding off Tom Chasteen by 1,000 or so votes.

Kelly Girtz is also heading to a runoff, one that's a little surprising to be honest. He picked up more than 3,000 votes for 42 percent of those cast, and he figures to do well in the runoff as the majority of those who voted for Ed Vaughan, I would assume, would probably back his candidacy. Hats off to Alvin Sheats though. He did a heckuva job, and, as Girtz and I discussed last night, he probably was aided some by name recognition.

And, proof anyone with a 'D' next to their name in this town can get elected, Doug McKillip is heading to the Georgia General Assembly. You know what surprises me? How much E.H. Culpepper struggled. Regina Quick almost beat him.

Bill Cowsert, not shockingly, is going to the state senate.

Cowsert said he didn't know what turned the election in his favor, though voters seemed to like his ideas about making health insurance more affordable, especially for small businesses.

You know what Bill, you seem like a nice enough guy but I'm going to go on a limb and say the fact that you had that district redrawn to feature a 57 percent Republican voting population might have helped you more.

Mac Rawson, by the by, cops out in his loss to Ralph Hudgens by telling the Athens Banner-Herald his defeat was because not enough folks gave him money. You know how you get that money? You ask them for it.

The national scene


Democrats are projected to pick up more than 30 seats in the House and are ahead in two races in the Senate that would give them control of that body too. I saw the House swinging their way, but I didn't expect them to do as well as they did in the Senate.

As of now, Jon Tester is ahead by 1,700 votes in Montana as they recount Yellowstone County due to a glitch in the electronic voting machines. In Virginia, Jim Webb is up by almost 8,000 votes with 99 percent reporting, which means we're headed for a recount. However, recounts only shift 500 to 800 ballots on the average, so Webb looks like he might be the 50th senator for the Democrat/Independent caucus.

I thought Tester would won, and he's in a tough fight now. I didn't see Webb picking up the Virginia seat, however, and this could open up a whole new world for Democrats.

But Rick Santorum lost ... and that makes me happy.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Mid-day election thoughts

- Turnout was pretty good at my polling place, which is the fire station on Oglethorpe Avenue. Had to wait for about five minutes in line - in which the gentleman behind me in line and I discussed how absurdly wordy the SPLOST language was on the sample ballot - and my voting experience was smooth. In fact, the poll workers there all said they hadn't experienced any problems yet and that there was a steady flow of folks streaming in.

- One glitch, however, was that one man in the polling place tried to complain that he never got the option to review his ballot, and he was pretty much dismissed with a condescending tone from one of poll officials. They probably could have handled that better.

- Lots of folks waving Bill Cowsert signs ... and when I say 'sign' I really mean 'gigantic, oversized billboard that one human will struggle to hold.' Still, gotta admire the dedication in the steady rain. Monica Knight, wife of School Board candidate John Knight, was holding a sign down by the Oglethorpe Elementary School polling place, and just a few feet up from her was a supporter of Mildred Lyle.

- Of course, it wouldn't be Election Day without voting machine problems. Or, apparently, FBI investigations into possible Republican intimidation of voters in Virginia. You stay classy Richmond.

- Blake Aued put up a pretty entertaining predictions piece at the Athens Banner-Herald's 'In The Loop' blog.

Couple of things

- Seeing that I helped work on a child day care proposal for this, I'd like to see the Naval Supply School have some of its land allocated to assist homeless families. Don't get me wrong, I think we need some private business development there, as well as an expansion of the Medical College of Georgia, but it's a big plot of land ... let's use some of it to help provide day care and transistional housing.

- I don't think I'll be able to make it, but I encourage everyone to go meet with the folks from the Athens Banner-Herald on Wednesday at the Athens-Clarke County Library. This is a great idea, and I think it will help the public get a better idea of what actually goes on at the newspaper. Plus, Winders and Thompson are good folks, so you oughta go say hi.

- I've got some early morning thoughts on Election Day, and I feel the need to point out something troubling me. According to an Associated Press story, more than $225 million was spent by both parties in campaign activities independent of the candidates themselves. It's a shame we make raising all of this money, and then spending it to assail and demonize the opposition, so important in our political process. It scares off a lot of good people from seeking office and tends to drown out any serious dialogue on issues of the day.

- Todd at Athens Politics offered his thoughts as well on the election.

- Patrick Armstrong offers a different kind of Election Day endorsements.

- You know, I didn't even know this was still going on.

- Ladies and gentlemen ... John H. Morrow Jr. comes to play. More power to you good sir.

Election Day morning thoughts

- Well, first of all, be sure to get out and vote.

- I don't think Sonny Perdue will need a runoff to dispatch of Mark Taylor. He'll close strong in this solidly red state to capture 50-55 percent.

- Some of Heidi Davison's supporters think she can win without a runoff if they get their turnout, while Charlie Maddox is more confident he can win without a runoff. I, for one, think we're headed to a runoff. It looks like Davison will probably finish the day with 40 to 45 percent and Maddox somewhere in the mid- to high-30s, setting us all up for another month of this.

- I'm not sure about District Nine, however. If Kelly Girtz gets his supporters out, he could avoid a runoff and win it outright.

- Looking at the most recent polling, I think Democrats take back the House but fall short in the Senate. It looks like they have a very real possibility of snagging 25 seats (only 15 needed for control) there, but the Senate's an uphill climb.

- For example, Bob Corker is closing strong in Tennessee and it looks like Harold Ford Jr. is going to fall short, which is a shame. He'd be an excellent senator for that state.

- However, it looks more and more like Jim Webb might pull off a victory over George Allen in Virginia. In fact, it looks like Democrats should be able to pick up four seats in the Senate, though Bob Menendez is having a tough time with Tom Kean in New Jersey and Michael Steele is giving Ben Cardin all he can handle in Maryland. Both are traditionally Democratic states and this is shaping up to a favorable year for Democrats, so one of those two should hold on.

- In the House, Democrats hold leads, some pretty slim it must be noted, in 30 races against an incumbent Republican. In nine additional races against incumbents, they are either in a virtual tie or surging late against a narrow margin. Logic states they pick up the 12 seats they hold leads of more than five points in, and then at least snag 10 or so of the remaining 27 up for play ... which would give them control of Congress.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Couple of things

Athens-Clarke County Mayoral Race

Who's Running
Heidi Davison
Charlie Maddox
Tom Chasteen
Richard DeRose

Who I Like
Well, there's no surprise here as this is one of the worst-kept secrets around (or, well, at least at this little ole blog). I've said it before, and I'll say it again - I'm a supporter of Heidi Davison for mayor of Athens-Clarke County. Not because of any false perceptions of what any other candidate would do if they became mayor. Not because I think everything is hunky-dorey in this community.

But rather because I feel Davison is the best suited for the job out of the current field of candidates and has quite an impressive record of success and progress to run on.

Before I continue, however, I do want to say a few things about some of the other candidates because, in today's age of cynicism and hyperpartisanship, I think it's important to give full respect to those brave enough to withstand the scrutiny of being called to public service.

At the onset of this campaign season, I was very hard on Tom Chasteen. I said he was too wishy-washy to be mayor, and at the time I felt he was. Chasteen, more than any other candidate in this race, worked to alleviate my concerns with a smart campaign and by providing, along with Davison, some of the most thoughtful and in-depth answers to the numerous questionnaires that came his way from organizations as varied as Grow Green Athens and the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce. Chasteen has spent the better part of the past 16 years serving on the Athens-Clarke County Commission, and his dedication to public service is something to be commended.

Likewise, I have been pretty tough on Charlie Maddox as of late, for primarily the same reasons I was so hard on Chasteen in the beginning. I felt much of his campaign lacked substance, and to his credit and the credit of his campaign, he too has worked hard to answer any questions I may have. Unlike Andy Rusk, I don't think this community would be handing over the keys to the kingdom to the Chamber if Maddox won. I think Maddox legitimately believes some of the same things the Chamber believes and that has garnered the endorsement of that particular organization, but I also believe he wouldn't do anything that would swing too far away from the current accepted standards our community has strived for over the past few years.

Maddox is a good man who wants the best for this community, and though we may differ over some of the means used to get there, I think we share the same end ... which is a healthy, vibrant Athens-Clarke County. He's taken some shots the past week, and he's dished some out as well, but I think the process is better because of his involvement.

Still, despite even sharing some of the same views that both Maddox and Chasteen have, I find it impossible for me to not reward Davison with another term in office. Now, this isn't to say that I have agreed with all she has done in office. Far from it. I didn't like the fact the compromise for the smoking ban was so easily dismissed just one year into its trial. I don't agree with all of the elements of the rental registration program. I don't like the fact the local government has such a hostile relationship with the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce, regardless of whose fault it really is.

But, as I've also argued before, one will never be able to find that ideal candidate who shares every aspect of your political vision. So while I do have some disagreements with Davison, I also am quite proud of many of the things she has done in office.

The Neighborhood Notification Initiative is a brilliant idea, allowing residents to be knowledgable on pending zoning actions in their areas. The Community Protection Division is able to focus its time on enforcing the county's quality of life ordinances rather than tax existing strained resources.

Davison got the funding to establish a pre-trial intervention probation program in our local court system, added 14 new police officers to the Athens-Clarke County Police force, increased the service for the Athens Transit and increased citizen participation by appointing folks to committees for water conservation, the use of Transferable Development Rights and East Athens Park.

She's pushed through strong stream buffers, a workable ordinance to manage our tree canopy and has worked to halt needless clear-cutting and mass grading.

And, most important in my mind, she was vital in the establishment of Partners for a Prosperous Athens, something that was two years in the making. In doing so, she sought out a number of individuals from across the community and brought them together to find a way to address the inexcusable poverty rate in Athens-Clarke County.

Davison has faced much criticism, some at this blog, about her lack of ability to develop a comprehensive economic development plan. When I speak out to defend her, people question my ability in developing an economic development plan ... and all of those criticisms don't come with anything more than opinionated claims and little suggestions of what to do next.

For those who say Atlanta has turned a deaf ear to her, I suggest they call Craig Lesser, the state's commissioner for economic development, who is one of her biggest defenders.

For those who say she can't get along with neighboring counties, they should ask Pat Bell of Jackson County and Wesley Nash of Madison County if they agree with those assessments, particularly since the latter has offered to help her campaign.

For those who say she can't broker deals with those who share different views, they should consider the story of her swaying a more conservative member of the Houston County Commission to her side during a meeting of the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia.

For those who say she's 'anti-business' then I suggest they speak with Keith Rabideau or Jim White or Rod Pharr or Hugh Acheson or any of the other small business merchants in this community who have lent their support to her re-election.

Listen, some people will stubbornly say that Heidi is 'anti-business' for no other reason other than the fact that the Chamber's current political leadership tells them that. That's fine because the pendulum swings both ways as some people think that the construction of one strip mall will mean untold sprawl when we all know that isn't the case.

However, what I am saying is that I think Davison 'gets it' more than any other candidate in this race. I think, contrary to popular belief among the old guard, she knows how to find balance and she knows what's important and she knows how to broker deals. Make no mistake, this woman can be frustratingly stubborn in her passion for some issues, but such stubbornness comes from sincere (and, more often than not, correct) belief that her way is the best way for this community.

I like Davison professionally, but I also like her personally. She has returned every email or phone call I've ever put into her office. She went out of her way one day to introduce herself to The Wife. She shows up at events and concerts downtown.

But, what stands out most to me, is what she said in a recent story the Athens Banner-Herald did on the impact of poverty on the election. She was asked about Partners for a Prosperous Athens and was going on and on about how beneficial it was for the community to have this important conversation. The reporter asked her what she would do if she didn't win re-election and, without batting an eye, she responded 'I'll go as a private citizen.'

For Davison, that's where it all began for her. She worked her tail off before her public service, she's working her tail off now and then, come next January whether she's mayor or a regular citizen, she's going to work her tail off.

It's that kind of dedication we need, and it's that reason I'd like to see her get four more years as our mayor.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

A little light humor

With Election Day just two days away, I figured it's time for a little light humor here. And it just so happens that this was recently forwarded to me ... after it was forwarded to someone else who received it from someone else ... and so forth and so forth.

It's, of course, kinda juvenille, but it takes a good-natured shot at a fair number of the Athens-Clarke County politicians. It's a 'Separated At Birth' montage.

Friday, November 03, 2006

OK ... a really bad week

Unfortunate accidents may have led to some of the negative press Charlie Maddox is facing, but downright deception is killing Doug McKillip's campaign in the stretch.

As we all know, Regina Quick called out McKillip in their most recent debate ... saying the 'D' next to his name stood for 'developer.' McKillip, promptly denied the allegation ... which would be fine if that was true. However, McKillip is a developer and, according to the court records, is a part owner of the Oak Grove development off Jefferson Road.

McKillip then proceeded to distribute mailers which had a picture of a barren field and then some text describing his fairly solid ideas on economic development. However, the picture itself said that the 'Quick/Culpepper team' was responsible the reason Novartis didn't locate to this area because of Republican cuts to education.

That would be fine and dandy if either Quick or E.H. Culpepper actually served in the Georgia General Assembly. It's clear that McKillip was trying to play the guilt-by-association card, which is one of my last favorite political stategies. However, Culpepper is a true moderate, indepedent who has a large contingent of Democratic supporters (rumor has it that Louise McBee has been brandishing an E.H. sign in her yard and I don't know many Athens liberals who would question her street cred), while Quick is, for all practical purposes, a Democrat in Republican clothing.

Then there's the whole Athens Banner-Herald endorsement issue. McKillip has been cutting ads which imply the newspaper endorsed him, when, in fact, it, you know, endorsed Culpepper.

The folks at Athens Politics are all over this one as well.

So I'm at the point now where I'm fed up with the guy. I think he's a sharp fella with some good ideas, but I agree with the criticism going around now ... and that is that he appears to be more concerned with winning at all costs than actually thinking of what's best for the district. As a result, he has resorted to, at best distorting the truth, and at worst, lying, to get into office. He appears to be more concerned with the victory rather than the service, and that troubles me.

So, as a result, I'm ending my undecided days and endorsing E.H. Culpepper.

More damage control

Wow ... Winders is right on ... this is a big mess-up on Charlie Maddox's campaign's part. Just when he was starting to put together a decent week of damage control as well as a coherent message, something like this pops up.

Couple of things

- My endorsements for some local races, sans mayor, are up ... though it's only actually three of four as I'm still undecided in District One.

- The Athens Banner-Herald's series on the mayoral candidates ends with a look at Heidi Davison.

- He's not a sore loser, but a publicity hound ... and a good one at that.

- Andre at Georgia Politics Unfiltered has the endorsement of Jim Nelson by Wesley Clark. He's got a pretty solid blog over there too.

- I think this is a good idea because, quite obviously, retaining students isn't a good thing. However, while this is a good idea, I still ask ... shouldn't we be doing a better job in actually preparing the students for the tests? Don't get me wrong, I'm not a huge fan of standardized testing, but if that's what we're going to use let's try and the kids ready for them.

Local Races

My endorsements in state races are here, and I plan to do a separate post for my mayoral endorsement.

Athens-Clarke County Commission District One

Who's Running
Doug Lowry
James Garland

Who I Like
This is a non-partisan race, but we all know where both of these folks come down - Lowry is a moderate-to-conservative Democrat, while Garland is a member of the libertarian wing of the Republican Party. This is also the best race in town. Why? Not because of any mudslinging or accusations, but because both of these candidates are good men who are equally qualified to fill this district's seat.

Lowry has attended every Athens-Clarke County Commission meeting for the past few years, and he's managed to keep his sanity enough to put together a nice campaign for commission. He's got good ideas for the management of our water resources and has a knack for working with a variety of people with diverse interests.

Garland, like Lowry, has a sparkling attendence record for commission meetings. He's sharp, thoughtful and opinionated. He wants to push for the extension of full services to the citizens of rural, North Athens-Clarke County and not attempt to answer every problem with a new ordinance.

I'll be honest, it's a tough call. Ideologically, I line up more with Lowry. But I greatly admire Garland's passion and his willingness to engage with the Athenian blogosphere, though I don't share all the elements of his vision for this community.

On one hand, Lowry would put a good moderate on the commission at a time when balance is needed across the political spectrum. On the other hand, Garland would force contrary views to be heard from behind the rail, possibly forcing some workable compromises on a variety of issues.

The citizens of District One, despite the candidate's wide ideological differences, would be well-represented by either candidate. As a result, I'm undecided.

Athens-Clarke County Commission District Nine

Who's Running
Kelly Girtz
Ed Vaughan
Alvin Sheats

Who I Like
It's no secret that I'm quite a fan of Girtz. He's run a heck of a campaign, and I share his vision of doing a better job to educate our existing workforce population, as well as trying to reach out and recruit emerging technology businesses to locate here.

He and I also see eye-to-eye on a variety of environmental issues, such as the preservation of our existing stream buffers.

Vaughan's run a good campaign, and if there's one thing I hope the commission takes note of, it's his fondness for the concept of economic gardening, which would be most beneficial to our small businesses in the area.

But I like Kelly Girtz.

Who I Like In Other Races

Judge, Superior Court of the Western Judicial Circuit - David Sweat

Clarke County Board of Education, District Five - Mildred Lyle

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Couple of things

- My endorsements for some state races are up, and I hope to get the local ones completed for tomorrow morning.

- Pete's got his endorsements up as well, though I think we all know who he's going to be backing. Flagpole also had a pretty nifty quiz the candidates took that's well worth a read.

- The Athens Banner-Herald continues its series on the mayor candidates, and today it's Charlie Maddox. The story isn't bad, and it closes with a weird head-scratcher ...

Maddox even campaigned once at a Sons of Confederate Veterans event, he said.

"There were some people there who'd never spent time around a black person except at work," he said. "They were looking around like 'Oh, my gosh!' But we started talking, and that all changed."

Yeah, I'm going to go on a limb and say those guys really aren't with Charlie.

- It may go to a runoff, but Sonny Perdue will win this thing eventually. Though I'm surprised at how many people are not voting for him. I expected him to have support in the high 50s by now.

- So, unless we support Amendment Two, hunting and fishing will just vanish? Really?

State Races

State House District 113

Who's Running
Rep. Bob Smith (R)
Becky Vaughn (D)

Who I Like
Well, I'm no friend of Bob Smith considering he's someone who marches lockstep with the Republican leadership in Atlanta. He's consistently voted against permitting this community - one he doesn't even live in - have the ability to hold local referendums on issues of importance to it, which is most disappointing.

Vaughn is no stranger to these races, having waged a tough one just a few years ago against Brian Kemp. She's got an uphill battle in this one as being a Democrat in Oconee County is a fairly lonely thing. However her passion and her energy - as well as her common sense belief that government is neither the answer to all of our problems nor the cause of them - is what makes me endorse Becky Vaughn.

State House District District 115

Who's Running
Doug McKillip (D)
Regina Quick (R)
E.H. Culpepper (I)

Who I Like
I'll be honest ... this is a tough one. McKillip has some interesting ideas on how to help families in poverty (such as developing an Earned Income Tax Credit program for the state of Georgia) as well as sharing my belief that expanding and educating our existing workforce is one of the most effective ways to draw businesses to Athens-Clarke County.

Quick isn't your typical Republican, and if you listened to any of these debates you realized that pretty quick. She's committed to environmental issues and is very socially progressive.

Culpepper is a moderate who is tough to put a finger on. He's rather progressive with regard to some environmental issues, but is also a good advocate for local business. Plus he's got plenty of connections across the state, which is always a positive thing for any community.

I know it's cliche to say 'well, you can't go wrong' but all three would be good servants for this community, particularly McKillip and Culpepper. I was leaning Culpepper last night, but as of now I can't make a decision. The latter appears to be the most likely to get things done in Atlanta, but I greatly admire McKillip's passion and ideas.

State Senate District 46

Who's Running
Rep. Jane Kidd (D)
Bill Cowsert (R)

Who I Like
This is a rematch of the 2004 race in which Kidd knocked off Cowsert to gain her seat in the Georgia General Assembly House of Representatives, replacing long-time representative Louise McBee. Since then, they've both decided to seek a seat in the State Senate and, oh yeah, the districts were redrawn to make this a more Republican-leaning seat.

Kidd has had some growing pains in her first year as state representative, and to her credit she has recognized that. In a recent speech she acknowledged this learning curve with a frank honesty that was refreshing coming from such a rabidly partisan environment.

Cowsert, I think it must be noted, isn't your everday Republican in 2006. He's considerably more moderate - enough to so to be able to pick up the endorsement of the Athens Banner-Herald the past two times - and he's got some concrete ideas about small business development.

However, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. I voted for Brian Kemp when he first ran because I felt he was a good moderate who could bridge the gap in Atlanta, and I was let down as he gave in to the Republican leadership and proceeded to govern more from the right than I would have liked. I'm not saying Cowsert will turn out to be the exact same, but I'm reluctant to throw my support around someone like that again.

And besides, I happen to think Kidd has done a pretty good job as a representative for this community. She wants to keep class sizes lower, adjust teacher pay to meet rising health care costs and offer low-cost funding options to underserved rural hospitals that are struggling to get by, yet provide a most essential service.

With those considerations in mind, I like Jane Kidd in District 46.

State Senate District 47

Who's Running
Sen. Ralph Hudgens (R)
Mac Rawson (D)

Who I Like
No need to drag this one out folks as I, quite frankly, agree with the Banner-Herald in ...

Ralph Hudgens, the incumbent Republican in the state Senate District 47 seat, is the poster child for everything wrong with having a single party dominant in the state legislature.

This is a man who felt that the citizens of Athens-Clarke County simply shouldn't have a say in whether or not their district is split in two (and, for that matter, whether or not the citizens of Madison County should have a say either). He thinks he knows best, and he sadly doesn't.

Rawson has some innovative ideas when it comes to water quality and water control, as well as a desire to continue pushing this state toward efficient management of its natural resources and exploring alternative fuels. So, Mac Rawson will get my vote.


Who's Running
Gov. Sonny Perdue (R)
Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor (D)

Who I Like
Well, not really either one quite frankly. Taylor has run a textbook example of 'how to lose the governorship' while Perdue has run, in my opinion, one of the best campaigns in recent Georgia political history. Still, I've got too many disagreements with Perdue's policies to even consider voting for the man.

Taylor, on the other hand, has done almost nothing but run attack ads (which is understandable seeing he started the general election off down by more than 10 points), but as a result ... I've got little idea what he wants to do as governor.

So, while in State House District 115 I just haven't made up my mind, I'm deciding to sit this one out and write in someone.

My Picks In Other Races

Lieutenant Governor - Jim Martin (D)

Secretary of State- Gail Buckner (D)

Attorney General - Thurbert Baker (D)

Commissioner of Agriculture - Tommy Irvin (D)

Commissioner of Insurance - John Oxendine (R)

State School Superintendent - Undecided (I don't know if Denise Majette (D) has the necessary experience, but the record of Kathy Cox (R) has been fairly mixed, though I'd probably tentatively lean her way as of now).

Commissioner of Labor - Michael Thurmond (D)

Is this worth it?

OK, I understood about Ana-Lucie, but Mr. Eko? Why not just go ahead and stick a knife in the back of Sayid's head or push Kate off a cliff? Apparently, Lost finds out who my favorite characters are and enjoys killing them off.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Balance, please

In this recent discussion, I think we've got some anonymous posters who are sort of missing the point.

First ...

Heidi ain't got a clue about economic development. It ain't flower shops and coffee shops as she so proudly proclaims. Further, forget what you read in the paper about Novartis. The word in Atlanta is it's a pure lack of elected leadership and we won't see anything else with Heidi at the helm.

... and then this ...

What does Grow Green do for poor people? Do they have a mentor program? All G.G. does is make it more expensive to live in ACC by increasing our taxes.

OK for the first posting, to be fair, 'the word in Atlanta' is going to purely partisan pretty much regardless ... and seeing how the 'D' next to Heidi's name means she's not like the Republicans in power, they're not going to like whatever she puts forward. That's the reality of the hyper-partisan political environment we live in.

For the second posting, why should Grow Green be concerned with poverty? It's a special interest group whose mission is to promote responsible environmental practices, not champion the poor.

I don't think that's a bad thing and it's why, as Xon noted in an earlier discussion, it's always good to look at a variety of organizations and their endorsements before choosing your candidate because these types of organizations are typically looking on for one specific interest. I may sympathize with some of the environmental policies stated by Grow Green, but I'm not going to determine my vote entirely on what they tell me to do.

Basing your vote solely on what the Chamber tells you to do isn't any better, is it? It's one organization with an expressed commitment to promoting more traditionally conservative business policies, and if you favor more traditionally conservative business policies than be all means take what they say into consideration. However, it's just as shortsighted to go by what they say - or base your entire vote on something like economic development or the smoking ban or environmental policies - without carefully weighing all of the issues and constituencies in a race.

And, for the record, I don't necessarily think any of the candidates have been focusing on one or two special interests. If Charlie Maddox says he's going to be for all Athenians, I think he will be. I believe Heidi Davison has done a very good job of doing the same thing. Where they differ is in actual ideology and policy implementation, which is one of the reasons we have these little things called elections.

Couple of things

- I don't know when it happened, but somehow Bill Shipp became an ill-informed, cranky fella ... particularly when it comes to college football. In between writing columns which one week say 'I hate Sonny Perdue' and the next week say 'Hey ... that Sonny Perdue might not be so bad' he's taken to acting as if he actually has a clue when it comes to college football.

- The Athens Area Chamber of Commerce announced its endorsements. Earth-shattering? Um, not really. BTW, Athens Politics has the actual press release ... and a weird discussion of whether a small law firm is a small business or not. I, like, never agree with Chuck Jones, but I will here.

- You know what I don't care about? This. John Kerry said something fairly stupid and over-the-top? And we're supposed to be shocked about this? The Bush administration responded with the 'liberals hate America' card? Really? Man ... that's a new one.

- Here's the Athens Banner-Herald profile of Tom Chasteen. I was hard on him in the beginning of his campaign, but he's answered just about every question I had for him. He's run a good campaign and has given his life to serving this community. He should be applauded for that.

- Congrats! Both Oconee County and North Oconee won state titles in fast-pitch softball yesterday.

- Speaking of congrats, the boys from R.E.M. just got put on the ballot for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Nice job.

- John Knight is a sharp fella, and I did some work with his wife Monica back when I was able to be more active with the Clarke County Multicultural Task Force, so I think he'd be a good fit on the Clarke County Board of Education. However, I kinda share some of those ethical concerns stated at the bottom of this article ... again, not because he's a bad guy with poor judgement (quite the opposite actually), but because being a public official who directly makes decisions on policies proposed by your wife is touchy ground. If he recused himself from all of the things she worked on, he'd be unable to have a say on many issues he passionately cares about and would also miss a substantial portion of the board's votes.

- In his ramblings, Tim has started a debate over what's better - campy slasher films from the 1980s or the more realistic ones of today. I'm with Tim ... can't go wrong with Jason.

- Don't forget but yesterday was Halloween, and we all celebrated at work. As an aside, I went through six or seven bags of Snickers last night, while the two most popular costumes appeared to be Superman for the boys and a princess for the girls.

There you go ...

None of it is particularly shocking, but the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce announced its endorsements and the worst-kept secret in Athens-Clarke County was made public ... and that's Charlie Maddox picked up their support (and $1,000).

Again, this makes sense. Maddox's vision for the community lines up pretty well with the Chamber's vision for the community, so it's a logical pairing. All in all, the Chamber went with ...

Athens-Clarke County Mayor - Charlie Maddox
Athens-Clarke County Commission District One - James Garland
Athens-Clarke County Commission District Nine - Alvin Sheats
Georgia General Assembly (House) - E.H. Culpepper
Georgia General Assembly (House) - Bob Smith
Georgia General Assembly (Senate) - Bill Cowsert

All pretty much what you would expect, though it seems the endorsement of Sheats is more the case of the 'he's not the worst one' for the Chamber. It was obvious Kelly Girtz was not going to get their support, nor was Ed Vaughan.

What is interesting is Blake Aued's commentary at the 'In The Loop' blog:

The Athens Area Chamber of Commerce held a "press conference" today to announce their endorsements (see tomorrow's paper; I'm sure you can guess). At this "press conference," chairman Michael Rainer was nowhere to be found, and PAC secretary Trey Thompson read a prepared statement that had already been e-mailed to the media, said "we're done here," then immediately power-walked out the door. The board members and staff he left behind refused to answer any questions. The chamber likes to complain about the newspaper not treating them fairly, and honestly, sometimes they have a point. But it's pretty hard to write a fair story when you lack all but the most basic information.