Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Stay tuned

Just a programming update as Emma Kate has some doctor appointments tomorrow in Augusta to take care of what is a relatively minor medical problem, but one that is giving her great discomfort nonetheless.

As a result, blogging, as you may have noted, will be light.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


If you're looking for a last-minute Halloween costume, over at Blake's blog, loyal reader Payton informs us he's dressing up as my buddy Martin.

Which would be awesome. Perhaps we could get an army of Martins going ... and political consultants could flood the streets.

Student engagement

It's always fun to look at simplistic characterizations of discussions, as Erick does here with regard to the voter challenges in Statesboro.

Of course, I don't necessarily disagree with his central point - that the civic engagement of these students is a good thing and if they've legally become voters they should have the right do so - nor do I disagree with his dislike of the legislation that prompted their engagement (the alcohol rules they passed appear to be rather silly).

The problem is that he takes these legitimate concerns and oversimplifies them to assume that the long-term residents of Statesboro hate the students at Georgia Southern. It's the same kind of shallow rationale that leads so many to say that Athens-Clarke County residents hate students at the University of Georgia.

In both cases, nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, I take it to be that the two sides suffer from a lack of understanding of the other which results in a profound distrust. If anything, I'd like to see more engagement and more communication between the two in an attempt to balance the desires and wishes of those permanent residents of a community and those who merely passing through (and, truth be told, many of those who pass through decide to stick around ... case in point, yours truly).

I've long advocated for a student advisory committee that would feature, say, the Student Government Association president and vice president, the leaders of a few organizations, some appointed students and some elected students. This committee could meet regularly and have its officers meet with a designated subcommittee from the Athens-Clarke County Commission or perhaps just a single commissioner and designated staff member on a monthly basis to share ideas.

Not only would it be an excellent learning experience for students, but it would also give them a direct channel to our elected officials and a way to formally express their concerns.

A good move

This is very, very good. As most folks know, I'm quite a fan of the OneAthens initiative, and I particularly enjoy the desire to raise private funds to assist in the implementation of many of the organization's goals.

I firmly believe the tide is turning in the fight against poverty in our community. These organization, with its connections and input from all across the spectrum, as well as the tremendous potential offered by the Navy School's movement and resulting payment to a coalition of area non-profits to begin new ventures to serve low-income citizens, can surely bring about much-needed change.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Music for moment (Go Sox edition)


Here's yet another reason I love Doug's blog ...

For 17 years, not coincidentally starting with Steve Spurrier's tenure as the Gators' coach, Florida had been the dicks in this rivalry. I'm not saying that to whine or ask for sympathy; deep down, there's actually a little admiration in that comment. Florida began imposing their will on Georgia early in Spurrier's regime, and it didn't take long before the Gators realized they could pretty much do whatever they wanted to Georgia and the Dawgs would be powerless to do anything about it. Referring to our coach as "Ray Goof"? Sorry, you'll just have to sit there and take it. Dropping "half-a-hundred" on the Dawgs in their own stadium just to prove it could be done? You'll just have to take that too, and good luck ever returning the favor, since the home-and-home was a one-time deal and the game is headed right back to Jacksonville next year. Reggie Nelson publicly trash-talking Mo Massaquoi last year on the field? Don't bother me, little boy, I got a national-title game to plan for. And on and on. They were the dicks in this rivalry because they could be the dicks; you win 15 out of 17 and you can pretty much do anything you want ...

... As long as the other team lets you, of course. And for 15 out of 17 years we'd let them, but Mark Richt, may there be peace upon him, decided we weren't going to do that anymore. Instead, we were going to be the dicks -- we were going to be so dickish we'd exchange 15 yards (OK, 22) for the privilege. We were going to be huge dicks and challenge Florida to do something about it. They got angry, oh yes they did, but apparently they got 12 points less angry than they needed to.

Read the whole thing as it's excellent.

Couple of things

- I must say, it's been a pretty good weekend. Georgia beats Florida in impressive fashion and then the Red Sox capture their second world championship in four years. I'm more than just a little emotionally spent, but it was worth it for, quite possibly, the greatest two days of sports in my life.

- In this post by Don Nelson on gray water, Blake offers an explanation on why the state has banned gray water, which I understand but don't necessarily go along with. For instance, aren't you 'screwing the guy downstream' no matter what? It isn't as if you're using any additional water, but rather re-using water you would normally use anyway.

- I agree ... in the short-term, but event tourism is a legitimate way to bring about economic development and is worthy of investment.

- Everyone knows how bad the drought is going to hurt our economy, but this article really puts it into perspective and does an excellent job of connecting all the dots. It shows how interconnected our economy really is and how one thing can disrupt a great many. It is good to see how local businesses are committed to conserving.

- This is awful. My family has a home at Ocean Isle, N.C., and I know where 'Changing Channels' is. Let's keep the families of these students in our thoughts and prayers.

- Also, kudos to the Athens Banner-Herald for putting out their new forum section. I finally got to see it when I picked up a copy of the paper yesterday. It looks good and had plenty of good reads.

- In other baseball news, A-Rod opted out of his contract with the Yankees, which will probably further trigger an exodus of players there. Peter Gammons called him out, which was impressive, by saying it showed a lack of respect for the game to announce this during the World Series and that buyers should beware of him.

- It wasn't disrespectful, just awesome.

- And finally, new lawyer Tim's wife Carrie now has a blog. She's got a poll on the best horror movie series. I voted for C.H.U.D.


It took 86 years to nab that elusive sixth title, but just four years to land the seventh in franchise history.

I always thought I could never appreciate another World Series title the same way I did for the one in 2004 ... but I was wrong. This one, with this team, is just as sweet. Bravo gentlemen, and thanks for not making us wait another 86 years.

And one last thing. Want to know why the Red Sox are not the new Yankees? Because our high-priced payroll actually wins championships.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A perfect world

Baby Girl, it is with much pride that I tell you that you live in a world where Georgia has never lost to Florida.

Go Dawgs.

This is nonsensical

For an exercise in stubbornness, see Jason Winders's recent blog post regarding Pollgate. Again, he's good people, but he and I are mightily disagreeing over some drought politics as of late.

The OnlineAthens poll specifically asks if gray water should be included in the local watering ban. The problem is that gray water is already banned by the state, meaning it's a pointless exercise to ask if it should be included in a local ban.

As Hillary noted, the point is that poll question implies that the local government either has the power to ban it or that it's unfairly restricting it to the detriment of the local community. Both implications are inherently wrong and reflect either a shallow pettiness toward the local government or a complete lack of understanding of the issue at hand.

Humility isn't a bad thing every now and then.

Game Three

Much like Game Seven of the American League Championship Series, the Red Sox's 10-5 win over the Rockies in Game Three of the World Series felt like an episode of Survivor.

As Colorado methodically chipped away at a 6-0 lead, I could feel the momentum of the entire series sliding away. Fortunately, Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia stroked back-to-back doubles in the eighth inning to put the game away and take a 3-0 series lead.

One more gentlemen. One more.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

This is interesting

Ah the magic of the internet.

Via Georgia Sports Blog I come across this column at calling Notre Dame's Charlie Weis 'the worst coach in the universe'. Naturally, this has prompted this response from The Blue-Gray Sky.

Arguably, I think calling Weis the worst coach alive is reaching a bit for namely the reasons that PWD states. It'll take another year or two to see how the recruits Weis brought in to the program perform and, considering the talent they have coming in, they figure to be able to bounce back rather well. I do think Weis is relatively overrated (as is, say, Jim Tressel at Ohio State), but not the worst coach out there (the writer never saw Mike Shula coach a game).

I do think, however, a pair of the counterarguments from The Blue-Gray Sky are kinda dumb ...

(Full Disclosure: The author of the piece is a Michigan alum. I'm obviously a Notre Dame grad. We may have to agree to disagree here.) But I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that Charlie Weis may not the worst football coach in the universe.

Here's the typical response from rapid, partisan fans who have little concept of what journalism actually is. It's quite possible that Jonathan Chait simply made a stupid argument, and in fact that's what he did. The fact that he is a Michigan graduate has nothing to do with it.

There's been a lot of talk amongst the naysayers this year about how Weis has been "exposed." The New England Patriots didn't seem to miss a beat following the absence of the offensive mastermind, although much of that is skewed due to their recent obscene success, which also can be attributed a bit towards their now current possession of perhaps the greatest wide receiver of this generation. In fact, the Patriots haven't won a Super Bowl without Weis, and if I were a shortsighted columnist with an agenda, I could skew that to suggest that the Patriots couldn't win the big game without him, and that the organization has been exposed since his departure.

Well, this is selective choosing if I've ever seen it. One can hardly pin the Patriots' inability to win a Super Bowl the past three years on the fact that Weis is no longer the offensive coordinator, particularly since New England has still enjoyed remarkable success in his absence (and is the favorite to pick up another title this year). But, still, while the Patriots may have won a big game or two with Weiss, the Irish have not.

Friday, October 26, 2007

A hearty 'well done'

New lawyer Tim ponders a tough legal question from John.

Everyone congratulate Tim (aka Stanicek) for passing The Bar. He's all grown up now.

Who would have thought

In a surprising, yet interesting development ... an Insider Advantage poll finds that Saxby Chambliss looks vulnerable in a rematch against Max Cleland.

Chambliss had 36 percent to Cleland's 24 percent with an incredible 40 percent undecided (incredible because one is an incumbent senator and the other is a former senator with great name recognition). The fact that close to half of those polled don't know who they'd vote for is very striking, particularly when compared with Chambliss's strong showings against the four currently declared Democratic challengers.

Flawed logic

If you want to get really peeved in light of the governor's declaration that we cut back, consider this chart of Atlanta-area counties and their water usage. Through the end of September, Fulton County had cut 0.7 percent of its usage.

Are you kidding me? We cut back 28 percent thanks to a proactive citizenry and a comprehensive plan, and we get lumped in with folks who haven't cut back hardly anything?

So we're here

Well, we can all blame Sonny Perdue.

Pat yourself on the back Athens-Clarke County because you have done the right thing. You've conserved water unlike any other community in this state, cutting back on your usage by an astonishing 28 percent. Your leaders - elected and staff - have had a drought management plan in place long before anyone else did.

And you know what ... the governor doesn't care. He looks at your reduction in usage and says 'so what ... cut back even more.' Rather than appreciate the proactive work you've done in conserving this common resource, he lumps us in with other communities - like, say, Dekalb County which has cut back only 10 percent - and mandates that we restrict our usage by a disproportionate share.

Blake has a good story in today's paper, and the folks at the Athens Banner-Herald were kind enough to post the drought management plan so you could look at it.

It calls for some tough choices, but it also leaves open the distinct possibility that, as Alan Reddish noted last night, that we can reach this new 35 percent level of reduction that Perdue has required without implementing Step F. It just means being even more proactive in our conservation efforts.

So cut back your showers by two-minutes and check into how much a low-flow shower head costs. Wash your dishes and clothes only when each unit is full. Turn off that water when you brush your teeth.

This is serious people. Anytime the local government tells you that we're two steps away from the importation of bottled water means we're facing a crisis that, quite frankly, we've never faced before.

I'm not trying to be an alarmist ... far from it actually. But we have to be diligent in our efforts to save water, and that starts at home. So, even without Step F being put into effect yet, let's make sure that doesn't happen by working to reduce our residential consumption by 15 gallons a day each.

We can do it.

Game Two

The Rockies proved they have plenty of fight left in them, but the Red Sox used three dominating pitching performances to eke out a 2-1 win.

I said this was a must-win game, and I think it was. Coors Field offers a different challenge for Boston as not only to the Rockies play ridiculously well at home, but the outfield is so vast it's going to present some defensive challenges for us. Plus, who sits? David Ortiz or Kevin Youkilis?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

That's one way to do it

In frank statement to begin her closing remarks, Mayor Heidi Davison called on OnlineAthens to remove a poll which stated ...

Should using 'gray' water be included in the local watering ban?

Yes, we don't want to help disguise the cheaters

No, re-using household water is just common sense

It was a bizarre way to kick off her remarks, but it's also fairly accurate since the poll is somewhat misleading, particularly since gray water (stupidly) is banned by the state, meaning the local government has little power to do anything unless the Georgia General Assembly does something to address this.

I mean re-using household water is common sense, but it ain't the local government's fault you can't use it.

Step F Meeting

5:40 p.m. - No Carl Jordan at the work session. Don't see David Lynn either.

5:42 p.m. - Wow. The Bear Creek Reservoir is incredibly low. It hits home when you see it.

5:54 p.m. - It's interesting to note that the existing drought management plan included a disaster response scenario, which included things such as bottled water distribution and possible importation of bulk water.

5:55 p.m. - Good to see that conservation is paying off. We've cut back on usage by 28 percent. Way to go Athens-Clarke County! Take that Atlanta ... you water-consuming fools.

5:57 p.m. - New target date of Step F implementation, minus any precipitation, is Dec. 14, 2007.

6 p.m. - Job TV?

6:02 p.m. - You ever think how difficult it is to prioritize water usage? While no one would argue that medical and emergency uses are imperative, you have to also think of economic consequences. Not saying they outweigh another usage, but it's important to consider.

6:08 p.m. - Working toward a goal of reducing usage by 1 million gallons per day, industrial usage needs would be cut by 16 percent 430,000 gallons per day.

6:14 p.m. - Health and safety usage has the smallest required reduction - 2.5 percent or 10,000 gallons - and the top preference ... but the strictest monitoring with bi-weekly inspections?

6:18 p.m. - I like the 'Pray For Rain!'

6:22 p.m. - Thanks Sonny. We have a plan and we get punished.

6:23 p.m. - Alan Reddish: "It's frustrating because we have been implementing our changes since April and our citizens have responded in a proactive way ... but we're caught in the same net that's been thrown over 14 other counties so we have to find a way to get an additional 10 percent reduction."

6:25 p.m. - Industrial will be first focused on in Step F, which will go into effect sooner because of governor's blanket declaration.

6:26 p.m. - Correction ... may not have to implement if reductions continue through citizen conservation.

6:27 p.m. - Alan Reddish: "It's disappointing to me that even though our citizens have been doing what they've been doing, our efforts have been ignored."

6:36 p.m. - I'm not necessarily following Elton Dodson's line of questioning.

6:39 p.m. - Amen Alan. Amen.

6:41 p.m. - George Maxwell: "Because of the people who have decided to sacrifice we enjoy the 28 percent reduction we have now."

6:48 p.m. - Kathy Hoard is asking good questions regarding being fair to companies who have already cut usage, but if we use an annual average many folks might have already cut. Hoard asks about using a multi-year average, but Reddish counters that it could affect other numbers.

6:53 p.m. - Kelly Girtz: "If we want to consider the long-term benefit of our community, we could use more level distribution."

6:54 p.m. - Heidi Davison: "This is not a conservation plan, but a drought management plan designed for an immediate impact."

7:03 p.m. - Perhaps I'm mistaken, but it seemed to me that this proposal took into account the fact that some would have already cut back since we're using yearly water use averages. Some folks might have already cut back their appropriate percentage, right?

7:05 p.m. - Ah! I am not mistaken.

7:20 p.m. - Elton Dodson: The loss of a job has more impact than a reduction in 20 gallons per day of residential usage.

7:40 p.m. - Good points from Davison. How do we know if we're hitting our goals? Can we track our usage in some capacity?

7:41 p.m. - Reddish responds that we'll provide information on how to read the meter.

Upcoming coverage

I'll be doing some coverage of the work session meeting today, which will be shown on the local public access channel (Channel Seven), broadcast on WGAU 1340-AM and streamed on

It kicks off at 5:30 p.m.

Good watch

Interesting vodcast from Josh Marshall on Barack Obama's struggles in the polls, and he thinks he can trace it to Obama's statement that he would go after Osama bin Ladin, or other high-ranking al-Qaida leadership, in Pakistan if that government wouldn't act.

Marshall agrees with Obama, as do I, but it did set him up for a barrage of attacks which underscore a larger point ... that Obama, until this week, lacked a rapid-response 'War Room' that all other campaigns have.


Democrats propose this ...

The House's top Democratic tax writer on Thursday unveiled a $1 trillion plan to repeal the alternative minimum tax and lower the tax burden of most lower- and middle-income people.

The proposal would be paid for by requiring the wealthy and some corporations and investors to pay more.

In laying out the plan that would effectively rewrite many of the tax policies put in place under Republican control of Congress, Rep. Charles Rangel of New York said the changes would bring a net tax reduction to almost all families with incomes under $500,000 and that some 91 million families would receive tax relief.

And they reply ...

"This is the largest individual income tax increase in history," Rep. Jim McCrery of Louisiana, Rangel's low-key GOP counterpart on the committee, wrote fellow Republicans. Rangel, he said, "is selling pure snake oil."

A tax reduction for 91 million families is the 'largest income tax increase in history' ... beg pardon, but that seems like some fuzzy math on your part Rep. McCrery.

Meeting moved

The work session meeting today where the Athens-Clarke County Commission will discuss Step F has been moved from the Government Building to City Hall, and it will be televised at 5:30 p.m. on the local access channel.

Couple of things

- My old company's parent company is selling some smaller papers, which is to be expected. With the rise of not only blogs, but free, web-based content from the mainstream media, it's becoming more challenging for newspapers to raise revenue. This appears to be a sound strategic movie on the part of Morris Communications, who is already doing good things on the digital media front.

- Kudos to DePalma's and the other area businesses working to cut back on water usage. DePalma's has long opted to not serve water unless a customer asks for it, but this step is a welcome move and one that is much appreciated. Same goes for Noramco which cut back on usage last year when no one was talking about the drought.

- Speaking of water usage, today's the day we find out some specifics for Step F. There's a work session for the Athens-Clarke County Commission at 5:30 p.m. at the Government Building.

- This is a shame. I didn't really shop there that much - most of the seafood I typically opt to cook is tame like Halibut or Catfish - but it provided a rarity (fresh seafood) for this community. Plus you could order Crawfish there.

- Gov Sonny Perdue is lashing out at everyone over the drought ... but it's worth noting that 74 percent of Alabama is under drought conditions, compared to just 34 percent of Georgia. I discovered that yesterday.

- Anyone else think the Bobby Petrino Experiment with the Atlanta Falcons will result in a spectacular, flaming disaster?

- Deep breath. One game down, three more to a world title. Deep breath.

Game One

Well, that was easy enough.

Though I don't think it will that easy the rest of the way. You can't be as talented of a team as the Rockies and not start to turn it on. As always, I argue Game Two is more crucial than Game One. If Colorado can split in Boston, then they have the advantage heading to Denver.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

This again?

Ignoring the ridiculously offensive and racist comment by a gentleman with the name 'Bagman' (which no one, as of 4:52 p.m. has responded to), I do think Rep. Hank Johnson is reaching on this one. Charles Walker was widely known to be a rather corrupt politician and businessman, and it's documented that he deliberately lied about the circulation numbers of his publication in order to bilk his advertisers.

Rick Thompson may have been unfairly targeting political adversaries of the Bush Administration, and that's terribly wrong, but so was Walker ... and I don't think he was being targeted because of his politics.

The joys of fatherhood

Last night I commented to The Wife that I used to never really understand those folks who said they just wanted to stay at home with the family. Not that I was ever averse to that kind of thing, but I kept thinking 'what do you do with a baby or a child for that much time?' Well, now I know because I told her there was no other place on the planet I'd rather be.

Being a father for just a few short months has, understandably, transformed me ... but in weird ways that I never thought possible. I cried during the end credits of Knocked Up. I speak baby talk non-stop, even at work. I refer to myself as 'Daddy' and The Wife as 'Mama.' I really got into Tori and Dean: Inn Love because I wanted to see how they handled certain parenting situations.

It's all too weird. Incredibly, unbelievably awesome, but somewhat weird nonetheless.

A welcome addition

We're nearing the conclusion of the Navy School drama, or at least we're getting close into moving into the next stage of drama which is where we see how much clout the Augusta legislators have in controlling the purse strings.

Namely, the University of Georgia has submitted its plans for what to do with the site, which is develop a new medical campus. This is good, and I think a welcome first step in the development of a potential bioscience and bioresearch industry here.

But, of more importance to me, is the generosity involved in the proposed $7.9 million payment to five area non-profits - Advantage Behavioral Systems, Athens Area Homeless Shelter, AIDS Athens, Interfaith Hospitality Network of Athens and Athens-Oconee CASA - to purchase land and build and maintain new homes for their proposed ventures (everything ranging from a child care center managed by IHN of Athens to a medical clinic run by AIDS Athens). These non-profits will operate under the umbrella of a new organization called Athens Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH).

This is most certainly good and, speaking as someone who will serve as president of IHN of Athens next year, also challenging. Each of these non-profits will have to staff these new, much-needed ventures, and those funds will have to come through the private sector through the generosity of others. While this is challenging, it's also important for folks to know this because many I've talked to assume the non-profits are getting this lump sum to just do whatever they want with.

The money is tied to the land and the buildings. The administrative costs, however, must be generated by the non-profits.

Couple of things

- Speaking as someone who highly values community service and civic pride, this new campaign ad by Barack Obama, which is currently airing in New Hampshire, is one of the primary reasons I support him so strongly. While he is an inspiring figure, he also had a dedication to the non-profit groups which provide services to those most in need.

- I don't often commend him for a good many things, but I think Gov. Sonny Perdue is doing a pretty good job, all things considered, when it comes to providing leadership for the drought. He's really gone to bat for North Georgia the past few days, and that's to be applauded. I'm curious to know where water would be 'brought in' from? I mean, do we have the technology to transport millions of gallons from overflowing reservoirs in soaked places like, say, New Orleans?

- Speaking of that, I took a brief look at what water rationing means for three different communities.

- Speaking of that, a hearty 'Amen!' to this.

- Fred Thompson will win at least one state it seems, and that state appears to be Georgia. He was so excited, he took a nap upon hearing the news.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

What would rationing look like?

I promise it isn't 'All-Drought, All-The-Time' here at Safe As Houses, but I was curious to find out what exactly Step F would be. Or, more to the point, if it's rationing, what that would entail. The best way to examine that would be to consider the rationing policies of other communities.

High Point, N.C. has water rationing as its fourth and final phase of water conservation policy. It grants the director of public services the authority to limit water service to different portions of the city on a rotating basis, which I would assume means service would be discontinued to certain areas during certain time periods.

Cary, N.C. has a similar policy, though theirs also includes a measure for higher prices for increased usage.

Across the ocean in Australia, water rationing involves allocating a certain amount of water per household or business rather than relying on the rolling dryouts.

Arguably, there would be some drawbacks to rationing. Its economic impact would be very severe for a variety of industries (there was a news story last night that detailed the struggle facing Dalton where the carpet industry uses 40 percent of the city's water supply), while there would also be the distinct possibility that hoarding would emerge and offset any real conservation measures.

Everyone hates Atlanta

Some more coverage on the drought as the Political Insider has an angry editorial from The Valdosta Times. In it, it blasts Atlanta, and by default, North Georgia for poorly managing their water.

To some extent, actually to a great extent, they're right. Water is a common resource and Atlanta, in particular, has mismanaged its water through sprawl, poor growth policies and a lack of a sound conservation policy. Still, there's a certain ridiculousness to the editorial that seems to suggest the mismanagement of water is the primary cause for our woes, and not the drought which has crippled the entire region.

Friggin' Facebook

It's getting ugly

Alabama Gov. Bob Riley, apparently oblivious to the perils facing North Georgia, has asked President Bush to deny federal assistance to our state and continue to let water from Lake Lanier be channeled down to the much wetter coastal areas.

He argues it would put Alabama jobs at risk ... which, in his eyes, is arguably more important than us having water to drink.


See ... friends can disagree

Proof that our disagreements are typically few and far between, I neglected to mention that I liked J.T.'s column on Glenn Richardson from this past Sunday.

I also noted that OnlineAthens is one of the few mainstream media outlets in Georgia that 'get it' when it comes to digital media.

Music for the moment

Monday, October 22, 2007

Apparently a plan isn't a plan

Following up my post from this morning, my old boss Jason Winders disagrees with me and criticizes Alan Reddish's column from Sunday.

I love the guy, but I think he's grasping at straws.

Just a few weeks ago Winders rightfully defended the local government from some off-base criticism from those in the green industry, but here, when Reddish - someone who was directly being criticized - attempts to explain, he switches sides and calls his defense 'silly.'

What's silly? Why was the criticism unwarranted just a few weeks ago but now, when Reddish is the one calling it out, it's not?

And we're going to criticize Reddish for being defensive? We're going to criticize a man who, as he notes, has helped to develop a drought plan that is lauded by others in the region yet faces misguided attacks day-in and day-out? You want him to provide some guidance and insight and, when he does just that, you get upset because you feel he's lecturing you?

Furthermore ... what exactly is so secretive about this process? What's this grand mystery we're talking about?

Local officials have said many things are on the table, ranging from rationing to tighter restrictions on water consumption to easing of conservation methods. They've said that the staff will present some scenarios for our elected officials to consider, and from there we'll have them hash out a plan that includes time for public input.

Again, if they just rolled out a plan yesterday, they'd be crucified for it because they would have done it 'without involving the necessary players.' Here, they wait to do the most cautious and prudent thing, and they're bashed for it.

And Winders attempts to transform this into some weird, pseudo-populist argument ...

“To suggest, however, that your elected officials and staff have not provided effective leadership to meet this challenge is just plain wrong.”

See, it’s not the county. It’s you. What a joke.

Well, um, not really. He's talking about you.


This is a rather silly editorial, isn't it?

On the heels of a very detailed and thorough explanation of what the local government has been doing to address the drought - including pointing out that the state government is using our community's drought management plan as a model to address the larger impact of our lack of rain - we get the same old, same old ... 'we need a plan ... they gotta hurry ... the sky is(n't) falling.'

And to attempt to discredit their work by pointing out the, yes, ridiculous focus on the consent agenda is terribly misguided. Believe it or not, it's possible for the commission to focus on those trivial things and develop the Step F proposal for drought management. Are we to believe that an additional two hours of debate over sidewalk widening, as mind-numbing as it can be, is going to cause them to say 'gee, I'm tired ... let's just forget about this whole drought thing' ...

What's the end game with this?


Ending what was truly a weird American League Championship Series, the Red Sox pounded the Indians 11-2 last night to reach their 11th World Series. Of course, the score was so much closer than the final tally indicated, and I was on the verge of blacking out from nerves throughout the middle innings.

I will say this about Cleveland ... those boys are good, and I mean good. From top to bottom, they made me more uneasy than those tough Yankees teams from 2003 and 2004. If just one of their big bats was hitting to compliment what Victor Martinez was doing, they would've wrapped this thing up much sooner.

But, I'm glad they weren't ... 'cause now Boston gets to go be the sacrificial lamb to the baseball Goliath that is the Colorado Rockies.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Almost game time

We're half an hour away from Game Seven of the American League Championship Series so let me wish best of luck to loyal reader and die-hard Cleveland fan paveplanet ... I must concede, I think the Indians are going to pull it out tonight. I just don't feel comfortable about our pitching matchup, and it's going to be hard for the Red Sox's bats to be clicking as they have been the past two games.

Hopefully, I'll be proven wrong, but I don't have a good vibe right now.

Art ... they say

I think it's worth mentioning since I remember seeing this brought up in a couple of discussions over the past few weeks, but those artistic bus shelters didn't cost the local government any additional money outside of the normal costs. The Athens Area Art Council raised $4,000 per shelter to cover the additional costs, making this an effective public-private partnership.

Of course, I think that school bus thing is hideous. I thought it was a broken-down car the first few times I drove by it, but that's just me.

Yesterday's wrapup

Many thanks to the good folks at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication for asking me to participate in a panel discussion on social media. It was a lot of fun, and the students and educators there are so leaps and bounds ahead of the curve when it comes to emerging technologies, it's not even funny (they had to explain what Twitter was to me).

Lots of coverage of it ...

- Podcast of the panel discussion

- Summary of our panel discussion

- Introductory open thread

- Who I am

- Students awareness of social media

- Manage the message, don't control it

- Blogs locally

- Mainstream media in Georgia that get social media

- One participant's view of bloggers vs. journalists

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Manny being Manny

You know what I find incredibly comical and also downright pathetic?

People telling Red Sox fans they should hate Manny Ramirez.

The fact of the matter is that for all of the odd antics and showboating the guy does, he still emerges as a better baseball player than 95 percent of the rest of Major League Baseball by operating at half-speed.

He says it's not the end of the world if Boston doesn't win the World Series? Well, you know what, he's right. It's also worth noting that he also said he was confident in his team and that he'd trade all of his records and accolades for another ring (funny how that didn't get played up, isn't it?).

And his long single was a home run.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Drought update

From the local government ...

As of the last reading taken on Oct. 17, the Bear Creek Reservoir remains approximately 14.9 ft below full pool. For 2007, the precipitation deficit is approximately 16.5 inches.

It's like she's Cate Blanchett

In a truly weird 'it-must-be-Friday-afternoon' kinda moment, one of The Wife's co-workers sent me this movie starring her as the heroine of a new zombie movie.

Random campaign news

Some interesting campaign news on a few fronts ...

- Grift had it first, but Josh Lanier has formed an exploratory committee to challenge Saxby Chambliss. Already, I'm in Lanier's camp. He's got good experience, good networks and good sense. It's still an uphill fight and Chambliss's seat to lose, but I like Lanier (and his chances) considerably more than any of the other three declared candidates.

- It's been reported in a few places in the blogosphere, but Bobby Saxon cleaned house at his campaign, which is rather odd. Lots of rumors going around, and I mean lots. Still, I don't understand why you fire a Mike Cantone. He's one of the few remaining Democratic operatives in this state who possess considerable field experience and political savvy needed to run a major campaign like this one.

Shameless self-promotion

In the 'what am I going to talk about' department ... I'm a panelist tomorrow at Connect: A Public Relations and Social Media Conference at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

My slot is from 2:15 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Student Learning Center in Room 250, though it appears the registration deadline may have passed ...

It's more than just that

I feel bad that Charmar's has to close, but, then again, I never really shopped there. It was way too expensive - more so than Thyme After Thyme though lacking that store's quality selection - and one has to wonder whether or not the drought was merely the nail in the coffin.

Particularly with the new Lowe's on the eastside and the huge selection and substantially lower prices at Carole's Nursery.

Regardless though, Jack Lumpkin is right ... the police need to do a better job of knowing who does and doesn't have special-use permits.

Who loves tax discussions?

Well then ...

Grand Jury Seeks Citizens for Board of Tax Equalization

The October 2007 Term of the Grand Jury of Athens-Clarke County has been charged with the responsibility of appointing one (1) regular member, one (1) alternate member, and two (2) additional alternate members to the Board of Tax Equalization for Athens-Clarke County. The term of such members would be for three (3) years beginning January 1, 2008.

The Board of Tax Equalization is responsible for hearing appeals on property values and exemptions. This independent board sets the date and time for hearings, hears evidence from both the taxpayer and the Tax Assessors Office, and makes their independent decision based on the facts presented in much the same manner as a court room jury. After hearing evidence from both the taxpayer and the appraisal staff, the Board of Equalization renders a decision on the value of the property/exemption.

Any citizen of Athens-Clarke County who owns real property and is a high school graduate is eligible for appointment to the Board. Interested citizens should contact the office of Ken Mauldin, District Attorney, at 706-613-3240 or no later than noon on November 2 and provide their name and telephone number to be forwarded to the Grand Jury.

On the brink

If you had told me that through five games of the American League Championship Series, the Red Sox would have beaten C.C. Sabathia twice, roughed up Fausto Carmona in his only start and have Manny Ramirez hitting over .500 and they'd be down three games to two, I wouldn't believe it.

Still, Josh Beckett is one bad mutha.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Credit where credit is due

Since this was mentioned in the comments of an earlier post, you have to tip your hat to District One Commissioner Doug Lowry. Back when he was running for office last year, he was beating the drum on building an additional water reservoir for our community.

Arguably, whenever this drought ends, building an adequate back-up system, as well as a comprehensive conservation plan, is essential.

Hanging on

The Political Insider passes on word from the Savannah Morning News that local boy done good John Barrow can't find a challenger. It appears that Rep. Buddy Carter has opted to not challenge Barrow, who is a fairly popular conservative Democrat in Savannah.

Former Augusta mayor Bob Young is still a possibility and, as of now, is the only one who could really give Barrow a good run.

Not that credible

The Athens Banner-Herald alludes to this in its editorial on the drought, but I think it's a bit misleading to say it's a 'credible argument' that landscapers are being unfairly targeted by the water restrictions or are facing hardships because of said restrictions.

What's hurting landscapers is the drought, not the restrictions. Even if we had more lax restrictions on outdoor watering by those businesses, folks would still avoid buying large numbers of plants because of the abnormally dry conditions we have. Even when I was able to water outside, it was almost pointless because the water would dry up so quickly.

Board the windows!

Funniest thing I've read in a while comes from, who else, Orson Swindle ...

South Florida, 2nd in the BCS. The science fiction scenario of falling asleep for decades, awakening, and finding the world inhabited only by eyeless nuclear mutants has arrived: you are, whether you like it or not, staggering around the streets yelling “IS ANYONE OUT THERE?” at the fact that South Florida is the second-ranked team in the BCS.

Ohio State claims spot one, followed by South Florida at two, Boston College at three, LSU at four, and Oklahoma at five. Army’s 1947 squad is number six, the nation of Bolivia is at seven; acclaimed chef Eric Ripert and his kitchen staff are at eight, and finally, the nine spot is occupied by a sweet 2005 Dodge Ram dualie and chrome pipes with the Idaho plates 323 AAJE. The truck’s owner, Steve Redding of Boise, Idaho: “What the fuck is my truck doing in the BCS standings?”


Can I stress again how pathetic this Augusta-Athens rivalry is? The only reason Barry Flemming is running is because he, along with others, think it's unfair that Augusta doesn't have a representative in Congress. Forget whether or not Paul Broun is the best guy for the job, he ain't one of us so he's done.

In other 10th Congressional District news, Bobby Saxon raises more in one quarter than four of the last six Democratic candidates raised during the entire campaign. It pales compared to Flemming's haul, but it ain't bad at all.

And we're in a hole now ...

While watching Game Two of the American League Championship Series earlier this weekend, I told my daughter that it was a must win game for the Red Sox, despite their 10-3 victory in Game One. Primarily because throwing Dice-K, who has struggled as of late, and Tim Wakefield in Games Three and Four - on the road - didn't set up well for Boston to recover.

And though her response was drooling and giggling, I've been proven right as the Indians have won two straight to take a 2-1 series lead. In the grand scheme of things, however, I'm not sure either Cleveland or Boston would want to win the pennant this year seeing how the Rockies haven't lost since the Ford Administration.

Then again, I would gladly trade a Red Sox world championship for a Georgia victory over Florida in two weeks.

From some neighbors

The Madison County Democrats, working with other local groups, will host a nonpartisan event that features Georgia Speaker of the House Glenn Richardson to discuss his proposal to eliminate property taxes and replace them with sales taxes ...

We just today confirmed that Georgia House Speaker Glenn Richardson will join us at the Madison County High School the evening of 12/3 to discuss his proposed tax overhaul for Georgia. This is a NONPARTISAN event being organized by the Democrats of Madison County. We are in talks with the local press about co-sponsoring this event, and I will begin next week pursuing an academic from UGA's Carl Vinson Institute of Government to also join us that evening to provide some unbiased/nonpartisan insight into the Speaker's plan.

Our goal for this is to promote a community-wide discussion on the issue. While there have been several forums on this topic within the Athens area, and much press, no forum (in our area) has yet to include the Speaker. We by no means endorse his plan (our local party has no official position on this plan), but we are very interested in seeing that all voters in our area get as much information about it as possible. There is a very good chance this will go before the legislature in January, and the buzz is that the plan could likely pass the legislature and end up on the ballot next fall. PLEASE PLAN ON JOINING US FOR THIS IMPORTANT EVENT!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Water rumors

There's a rumor floating around that the University of Georgia would shut down for a few weeks until the drought improves, but it's completely unfounded and, from what I can gather, not practical for a variety of reasons.

First off, there's no way to tell when the drought would end. A couple of days of rain, though much needed, won't magically erase our water woes.

Second, shutting down the school wouldn't do much in the grand scheme of things. It would just shift the students either back to their hometowns to consume water or have them remain in Athens-Clarke County, consuming the same quantity of water only from a different location.

Plus, the University should be applauded for its efforts to curb water usage. It has cut back on water consumption by more than 20 percent and is doing any outdoor water by pulling water from Lake Herrick, which is a small, recreational lake at the Intramural Fields.

To the links

Erick's critical of the state park golf courses, but I'm not so much. For starters, they're absolutely beautiful and challenging courses that are affordable and open to all folks (and I might go play the one at Victoria Bryant State Park on Thursday).

If anything, we haven't really had a concrete marketing effort to promote them across the state. Once you get out there and play them, you keep coming back.

It would be nice to see some sort of agency be set up to to draw financial and consulting support to ease the burden. Perhaps a 'Friends of the State Parks' association or something (and that might already exist).

Friday, October 12, 2007

The tipline says ...

According to a source, Hillary Clinton just got endorsed by Rep. John Lewis, which is a big coup for her in this state. I had hoped he'd back Barack Obama, but he opted to go with Clinton.

Drought update

From the local government ...

The Bear Creek Reservoir remains approximately 13.8 ft below full pool. This is roughly the same as last week due to the pumping from the Middle Oconee River and the small precipitation event during the week. For 2007, the precipitation deficit is approximately 15.75 inches.

Facts? Who needs 'em!

Displaying a weird quality for illogically standing alone in the face of mounting public criticism, damning analysis and contrary statistical studies, Glenn Richardson defends his tax plan by questioning the intelligence of the economists at Georgia State ...

Although not specifically a study of Richardson's plan, the GSU analysis backs up many of the claims of the proposal's critics, who worry it would wreck state and local budgets that fund education, health care, police and roads.

Richardson questioned whether the researchers got the math right.

"This is the same Georgia State economics department that only a few weeks ago said sales tax exemptions alone cost the state $9 billion to $10 billion a year," he said. "Perhaps they should sharpen their pencils."

The Georgia State analysis, of course, says what we all expected it to say ... that if you eliminate property taxes and replace them with a sales tax, it's gotta be a steep sales tax to even meet the requirements the Speaker has laid out, let alone accommodate future growth.

Seems weird

Again, not that I dislike Al Gore, but why the Nobel Peace Prize?

Isn't there an entire category for things of this nature?

Music for the moment

Thursday, October 11, 2007

This feels wrong

The world hasn't stopped turning, but I do agree with some of James Garland's points here.

While I don't oppose the speed cameras, I do have concerns about equal distribution of them and the fact that we want them to penalize drivers for going five miles over the speed limit. Related to that, I think the community-wide 35 miles per hour speed limit is a bad idea too.

And while I still don't know where I come down on limiting the size of medical offices on Prince Avenue, I do tend to more sympathetic to Garland's rationale on the matter.

James! Talk about reckless spending in the school district or something so we can disagree again!

What to do?

It ain't just us having water issues, as Flack picks up The Atlanta Journal-Constitution article concerning Lake Lanier ... which is namely that Lake Lanier will go dry in three months if we don't get some rain.

Seriously, what are we going to do if we don't get some consistent rain?

That's how we did it

Here we go again

Some sports news, Georgia basketball style ...

University of Georgia basketball players Mike Mercer, Takais Brown and Albert Jackson will face suspensions during the 2007-08 season for violating Athletic Association policy, according to an announcement Thursday from head coach Dennis Felton. Mercer will miss 15 games of the coming season, while Brown will miss nine games and Jackson will sit out six contests.

Mercer¹s 15-game suspension will begin once he has been medically cleared to participate. The junior from Snellville missed the last 10 games of the 2007 season after he suffered injuries to his right knee in the Bulldogs¹ win at South Carolina on Feb. 10.

The suspensions for Brown and Jackson will begin with Georgia¹s exhibition game against Clayton State on Friday, Nov. 2.

At the time of his knee injury last season, Mercer was the Bulldogs¹ second-leading scorer at 13.7 points per game. He started all 23 games in which he played as a sophomore.

Brown, a 6-8 forward from Flint, Mich., led Georgia in scoring last season at 14.2 points per game and also in field-goal shooting at 56.6 percent. He also averaged 5.6 rebounds per game, second-best on the team.

Jackson, a 6-10 center from Earlington, Ky., played in 25 games as a freshman last year, averaging 2.2 points and 2.2 rebounds.

I told Tim that knowing Felton, they probably got suspended for combing their hair the wrong way.

Couple of things

- Good news on our economic front as McLane's will get some bonds to expand their facilities and create new jobs. I've actually always wondered why we're not a better place for some distribution centers. One would think that going out on Highway 441 there is ample space that could be devoted toward that, giving it prime access to reach I-85.

- Listen, I like Al Gore too, but can we drop the 'Draft Gore' option? This is the strongest Democratic field in years, and we don't need someone else to swoop in. Those who say 'there aren't any good choices' clearly aren't looking hard enough.

- Please, someone help Chester Middlebrooks find his lost dog. This was one of the more depressing articles I've read in a while.

- I don't think this is what the Notre Dame fan base means when it says 'Wake Up The Echoes' ...

- The Wife makes a good point on the Glenn Tax.

- The challengers for Saxby Chambliss keep lining up as Erick says Larry Cooper might get in the mix. And this comes just a few days after Grift says Josh Lanier is considering getting in the mix.

- I agree with Matthew Yglesias, though Mitt Romney enjoys changing his positions to suit the crowd, he did make a funny at Fred Thompson's expense.

- Well done Edward.

The deduction question

Something The Wife - who being a CPA is vastly more up-to-date on things of this nature than I - mentioned to me in a recent discussion about the Glenn Tax was that with the abolition of property taxes, you'd also face the abolition of the property tax deduction for your federal income tax. This is something which gets glossed over a fair bit in this conversation, but is very key.

She noted that even though it isn't something like a dollar-for-dollar tax deduction, the benefits you receive from deducting your property tax greatly eases your overall tax burden. Removing that deduction, in addition to raising sales taxes and taxing things you regularly use but aren't currently taxed (such as the $500 to $600 we'd pay a year in taxes on child care alone), amounts to at best, a tax shift, and for some, an increase in your overall tax burden.

Atta boy Ed

Apparently our hard work paid off as Blue Moon Electric, headed by my buddy Ed, finished in second place for Best Electrician in the 2007 Athens Banner-Herald Reader's Choice Awards. He wound up runner-up behind his former employer, Mr. Sparky.

He was pretty excited about it yesterday when I spoke with him.

I've been an apprentice for him before. Seriously.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Born to Run!

'He should fight back officer'

From the always entertaining Oconee County Police Blotter ...

Arrest: On Sept. 29, a man and his pregnant girlfriend, were driving on Epps Bridge Parkway about 4:45 p.m., when they pulled into a left hand turn lane to turn onto Dowdy Road to visit a shopping center. The couple, both employees of the Clarke County School System, were waiting to make a turn due to heavy traffic when a Ford Explorer behind them began honking its horn. The woman told deputy Laura Teet that when they finally were able to make the turn, the Explorer began passing them and someone inside threw an object at the car. The man and woman inside the SUV also were screaming obscenities. At this point, they called 911 and followed the Explorer to Quizno's to get it's license plate number. The man said the man in the Explorer, later identified as Richard Stonewall Wehunt, 27, got out of his vehicle and became hostile. The man said he asked Wehunt to calm down, but they had words and Wehunt ran toward him and began hitting him in the head. A 40-year-old Athens man, who had gone to Quizno's to get dinner, said he heard an exchange of words and he saw Wehunt hitting the victim. The witness said he stepped between the men to stop the assault. Teet spoke with Wehunt, who explained that he and his girlfriend were behind the other car and they honked the horn because the traffic had cleared at the intersection. Wehunt admitted confronting the victim, but lost control when the other man described Wehunt's girlfriend using a profane sexual connotation. Wehunt's girlfriend told Teet that after they honked their horn, the car intentionally drove slow into the shopping center apparently as way to make them upset. She said they also gave them an obscene finger gesture. After parking their car, she said the couple began swearing at them and when the man called her a name, Wehunt rushed him. Wehunt also said the man challenged him to a fight and that when he began hitting the man, he attempted to fight back in a very feeble manner before they were separated by the witness. After interviewing the people, Teet arrested Wehunt of Woodlake Drive, Athens on a charge of simple battery.

Is this Richard Wehunt of Georgia basketball fame? And of averaging 40-plus points per game in Jefferson fame?

What's the point?

Here is everything wrong with the state of Georgia politics ...

"Very few (legislators) tell me they think it's a good idea," (Georgia Budget and Policy Institute Director Alan) Essig said. "At the same time, very few tell me they'll vote against it."

So it's routinely agreed upon that the Glenn Tax stamps out local control and that most folks from both sides of the aisle think it's not the most appropriate way to go about tax reform. Yet they're going to vote for it?

Take the money and run

I'm so glad the wheels of fate kept turning and the Red Sox never landed Alex Rodriguez, who is on the verge of opting out of his contract in the Bronx to command an annual salary of $30 million per year.

Can I also mention Scott Boras is everything wrong with baseball?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

From the College Republicans

Lest you say we're one-sided here, David Ballard from the UGA College Republicans sent me this notice regarding an upcoming appearance by Rick Goddard. David and I disagree on a good number of ideological things, but he's a loyal reader and been a fair-minded guy in our exchanges.

Battle for Hotly-Contested Georgia Congressional Seat Moves To Athens

Retired Air Force Major General Rick Goddard Makes Trip to UGA to Seek Support in Bid to Oust Democrat Jim Marshall (GA-8)

ATHENS, GA- The man who the Washington Post named the "crown jewel" of the GOP's Congressional candidates in 2008 is coming to the University of Georgia on Wednesday.

Retired Air Force Major General Rick Goddard, the Republican candidate for Georgia's 8 th U.S. Congressional district, will be speaking to the University of Georgia College Republicans on Oct. 10th at 7 PM in Room 214 of the UGA Student Learning Center.

The battle for the 8 th District, which includes the cities of Macon, Perry, and Warner Robbins, represents one of the Republican's best opportunities to capture a House seat in the 2008 election cycle.

Rick Goddard is currently Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at Mercer University in Macon. Rick proudly served his country as an officer in the U.S. Air Force, retiring in 2000 as a Major General after nearly 34 years of active duty.

From 1997-2000, Rick was Commander of the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, the state's largest industrial complex. He entered the Air Force in 1966 and is a command pilot with more than 3,500 flying hours. He flew 227 combat missions in Vietnam flying the F-100 Super Sabre, and was awarded the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross and twelve Air Medals.

Rick commanded two F-111 Fighter/Bomber wings - the 380th Bomb Wing at Plattsburgh, New York, and the 27th Fighter Wing at Clovis, New Mexico. As a member of the Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff, he served as Deputy Director of the National Strategic Target List, responsible for targeting in the nations strategic war plan. He also served as Director of Logistics for all U.S. Air Forces in Europe and as Director of Logistics at Air Combat Command was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, and Legion of Merit.

The College Republican chapter at the University of Georgia has the distinction of being one of the largest student-political organizations in the United States. The purpose of the College Republicans is to educate UGA students about conservative values, provide Republican candidates with volunteer workers, and prepare its members for success after graduation.

Last semester the club brought a number of leading politicians and bestselling authors to campus, including Congressman Paul Broun, Jr. (R-Athens), Former State Senator Jim Whitehead (R-Evans), Wynton Hall, Angela McGlowan, and U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson. This semester, the College Republicans have hosted State Senator Bill Cowsert, author Phil Kent, and GA GOP Chair Sue Everhart. Congressman Paul Broun, Congressman Tom Price, Congressman Jack Kingston, and GOP Presidential Candidate Mike Huckabee are expected to address UGA CR later this fall.

Couple of things

- I'm not opposed to the use of speed cameras, but I have two concerns. First, will these cameras be equally distributed throughtout the community. I'll be darned if we spend something $180,000 per camera and then these things get centralized in Five Points. The other one, and perhaps our resident law enforcement expert can assist us in this, but isn't going just five miles above the speed limit kinda low? Speedometers on cars tend to vary so what appears to be just two miles over to one person could actually be 7 miles over to a camera.

- Related to that story, I like the suggestions put forth by the Mayor and Commission to our local delegation, particularly the regional transportation sales tax, the income tax break for low-income workers and a loosening of money to assist communities develop sustainable affordable housing.

- Some necessary clarity on the economic development discussion.

- If you're looking for what will be an honest discussion of the Glenn Tax - one with both pros and cons - then head over to The Georgia Center today at 4 p.m. for a town hall meeting hosted by the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute.

- I'm really torn over this issue because I envision a large portion of Prince Avenue becoming one of the top medical corridors in Northeast Georgia, but one can also understand the desire to heed the wishes of local residents who want to preserve the mixed-use qualities of that area. I'm still mulling this thing over.

- Blake's got an interesting take on Carl Jordan's dual citizenship (of sorts) between here and Idaho. It is a source of frustration for a variety of folks ranging from residents of the Sixth District to, as Blake noted, some members of the local government. One would think that a more regular attendence pattern for the work sessions, and some voting meetings, would greatly streamline the process and shorten some meetings.

- I disagree Flack. Though I disagree with Jim Marshall's recent votes, he's arguably the most qualified candidate who has the best chance of winning in the general election. A victory by Robert Nowak, a longshot to say the least, would just hand the seat over to the GOP. Steve Allen's quote sums it up pretty nicely methinks.

- Flack does, however, have interesting and disturbing photos of a drought-stricken Lake Altoona.

- In news of the awesome music variety, Shooter Jennings is performing at The Georgia Theater on Oct. 17. In more news of the awesome music variety, if I'm up for driving to Macon on Nov. 8, I can catch Eric Church. And the final news of the awesome music variety, Bruce Springsteen's new album Magic is out.

Some clarity

This discussion went all over the map yesterday, but since we got talking about economic development efforts, I did want to clarify one thing.

Much was made about 'The Mayor's Fund' as a tool to attract business, specifically larger businesses which have the potential to offer comprehensive benefits for their employees. Criticism was leveled at the use of said fund because it had benefitted small local businesses such as Jittery Joe's Roasters and Big City Bread's bakery expansion.

Such a fund, however, doesn't exist. What does exist is a small business development fund, which gives start-up funds to local entrepreneurs to either expand existing small business or create a new one, as long as those efforts are focused on helping low-income citizens. This fund supplies gap financing for businesses that are to create one job for someone currently considered a low-income wage earner for every $10,000 loaned.

Businesses which have benefitted include Rainbow Seafood, Pharaoh's Trucking, Dawg Pedaler and several others.

While one can make a rational argument that the Economic Development Foundation deserves more financial support from all of its partner entities, it's misleading to use this fund as a reason larger businesses, particularly manufacturing ones, are not coming here when it can't be used for those purposes at all.

The Curse of A-Rod

The Curse of A-Rod continues to live on as the Indians eliminated the Yankees from postseason play last night. Since joining New York in 2004, the Yankees have failed to reach the World Series, let alone win one, and Alex Rodriguez has hit .244 in his past four postseasons, including going just 7-for-44 in the past three years.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Happier times

We've spent a good portion of the day chatting about what is and what isn't an anti-poverty strategy, so let's enjoy the remainder of the day with happier times in the Bulldog Nation.

Though I contend that even though last weekend's loss was awful, Georgia has brighter days ahead of it. There's too much talent - too much young talent - for there not to be a bright future.

Couple of things

- Merciful Mary, three days of irrational heat and then, it appears, fall arrives. Not much rain though, which is depressing (and more nerve-wracking with each passing day).

- Just 'a function of your location?' OK, that's sweet, but the reality is Pendergrass and Arcade clean up on traffic tickets because they have this massive, four-lane bypass and then tell you to go only 35 or 45 miles per hour on it.

- Using the SCHIP discussion as my example, I've become a fan of the good reporting found in many McClatchy publications.

- While Jeff apparently has already announced some supposed candidacy for me, he also hijacks my disagreement with Kelly Girtz by working, as he routinely does, to connect two non-related issues and push forward some agenda he's been mulling around in his mind. It's sweet, really, so I responded to some of his criticisms.

- Not much to say about this article except that it reaffirms something I've felt since my days in college ... and that's Conrad Fink is full of it. I know, I know, he's an institution at the University of Georgia, but I've always felt he was a self-righteous hack, but maybe I'm alone on that. Here he argues that newspapers shouldn't have opinion pages.

- When folks say things like 'to making hunting fair, they need to give the animals weapons' ... they probably never met this deer.

- One series down gentlemen.

Good journalism

Good journalism always strives to rationally and fairly present both sides of the argument, while working to find the truth and present an informed collection of facts to the reader. Of course, good journalism is hard to find these days, but I mention this because you should contrast these two articles covering the SCHIP debate, one by Steve Thomma and Tony Pugh from McClatchy Newspapers and then this one by Brandon Larrabee from Morris News Service.

The former one is full of exactly the type of research and analysis one needs for a discussion like this, dispelling preconceived notions and dismantling spin from both sides. The latter, of course, does neither by just repeating stale talking points.

Thanks for playing

Somehow, the 'Kelly Girtz loves roundabout' discussion got hijacked by Jeff.

So I say ... easy sweetheart.

And as far as reading into one vote too much, I’m looking at patterns which include things like sewer lines, a land use policy which depends on the arbitrary use of variances and traffic congesting measures. Sure, take it apart and you can come up with a rational for anything.

OK, but let's do take it apart and realize that each decision was made independent of some overarching (and apparent nefarious) plan. That this 'arbitrary use of variances and traffic congesting measures' isn't arbitrary at all, but rather reactions to very specific issues which are brought forth. Some reactions were misguided, to be sure, and we've had too many reactions and not enough proactivity, I can concur.

But, it's possible that these were individual responses tailored to specific circumstances, is it not? That's appropriate, is it not? I mean, ultimately, that's what this argument is about, right? This particular decision was made because the majority of the commission said this idea doesn't work here. These people don't want it here.

You can work to connect dots all you want. I'm sure if you try, you could connect Kevin Bacon to this scenario too.

And if the idea of including all citizens of this town in opportunity and prosperity is, for you, just a witty cliché not grounded in reality, then you and I really see this town in different ways. But a few years from now, when seniors are still waiting for their tax relief while your mayor is distracted by partner benefits and buffer zones, this small voice about giving all people the benefits of Athens will grow into a roar.

Wow. Absolutely wow. We're back to senior property tax relief? Maybe you want to go help out Glenn Richardson. No matter ...

First off, inclusion is a great thing. More of it ... but, then again, how is it applicable to this scenario? The community came, they spoke, they engaged and, ultimately their views prevailed.

Under this Mayor and Commission, public comment has been longer, more open and survived misguided attempts to stifle it. There have been more citizen committees and more inter-agency cooperation then ever before. We have seen, thanks to its leadership along with several other agencies in this community, a massive public movement to combat poverty.

You can disagree with the political leanings of the commission, that's fine, but to suggest they're inclusive makes no sense.

The point about the cliche was to underline its ineffectiveness as a political tool in this community (which it was, spare me the highbrow approach about how you want to see everyone singing Kumbayah). It was its own attempt at excluding folks, and your comments later reveal that. It was an attempt to mobilize folks against the existing leadership, which is hardly an inclusive.

This is a smart and savvy community that, though being overwhelming Democratic, is full of engaged and knowledgeable citizens of all political stripes. Hiding behind some cheap one-liner may get you elected to, say, The White House these days, but it won't get you in City Hall in Athens-Clarke County.

Before you make that long anticipated run for a seat, why don’t you sit down and talk with the local representative of our labor department and tell him about your breadth of understanding of economic development. Why don’t you call up the head of the housing authority board and tell him your great plans for affordable housing. Why don’t you get together with someone who grew up poor and black and in Broad Acres and tell how you know exactly how it is and how you know how to solve it.

I didn't realize I had a long-anticipated run for a seat. I didn't even realize I had apparently declared for office. I'm flattered you think so highly of my chances, but I'll sit on the sidelines for now. I'll be sure to call you to help plan this apparent victory party you've got mapped out in your mind (Bruce Springsteen has a new album coming out, and I'll surely want that playing in the background).

But, yes, we're back to the same old argument. On one hand, you argue that because one hasn't experienced it firsthand, one can't offer solutions to the problem. And then, on the other hand, we're making the inclusive argument again by assuming that because some focus has been on other issues - some quite trivial, make no mistake - that we're ignorning others.

These are nothing more than false assumptions that. Pure and simple.

Why would I need to talk to simply the Department of Labor? Why wouldn't I also confer with the Chamber of Commerce? Or the Economic Development Foundation? Or the Downtown Business Authority? Or the owners of businesses both large and small in our community?

Why would I need to talk to only the head of the housing authority concerning affordable housing? Why can't I also chat with Habitat for Humanity? Or the East Athens Development Corporation? Or work with the variety of non-profits in our community? Or with builders and developers in this town? Or how about work with folks to develop a non-profit foundation to work to bring affordable housing to our community?

Why not find people of all racial, ethnic, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds and see what they think we should do to pull folks out of poverty? Why not support The Wife when she gets involved with a mentoring program for at-risk teen girls? Why not work with the Clarke County School District to find ways? Why not think of ways to promote financial literacy for poor citizens in this community?

Well, gosh. I've already done that.

An inclusive approach? Hardly.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Context is key

Continuing our respectful disagreement, I think Kelly Girtz is off in his defense of his support of roundabouts.

Girtz sought to explain why he backed the roundabout at Barnett Shoals Road rather than heed to the wishes of the majority of his eastside constituents ...

If elected leaders simply bowed to the wishes of the public in making decisions, as the Banner-Herald editorial recommends, we would neglect the vast pool of knowledge that is available outside of most folks' realm of experience. A challenge of public office is when good decisions must be made over objections of unfamiliarity.

I don't necessarily disagree, however I also think it is important to keep the decision-making process in context with the circumstances you face. This isn't a discussion about, say, civil rights, but rather a rather specific traffic issue that will impact the lives of the residents on the eastside and those who travel into the county to do business.

If anything, this is exactly the kind of thing you should defer to public sentiment on. This is something which they will have to live with every single day, and it's something where their opinion and their input is essential.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Manny being Manny

EYTA needs help

Education Youth Travel of Athens is a group of Coile Middle School students working to raise money for a trip to tour Greece and Italy next summer. They just got profiled in the Athens Banner-Herald, and have already held a car wash and work-a-thon to help raise funds.

Now I know it's a hobby for some readers to come here and insult Clarke County schools, but this is something that is mighty laudable and the hard work done by these 50 students is worth supporting. For a community that is gripped by poverty, the dedication these students are showing to find ways to expand their educational horizons, as well as their committment to their academic studies, is something that deserves praise.

Why don't you check them out and support them if you can. I plan to.

Conservation all-stars

Be sure to visit either of the Five Star Day Cafes in town. Why? Because, as The Wife and I learned last night, they have decided to offer bottled water at cost (18 cents) due to the drought. The gentleman behind the counter told me they wanted to conserve water, but the staff didn't think it was fair that folks would have to pay a dollar or so for a bottle.

Very cool idea, and kudos to them.

(This might become a recurring item here. If you see a business that conserves in a smart way, shoot me an email and let me know.)

Friday, October 05, 2007

Less than optimistic

Rusty says he'd take Georgia by 10 for tomorrow's game. I suppose it's reverse psychology on both of our parts, but I'm not so sure.

While I'd love to see that happen, it ain't like the Bulldogs have done much against Erik Ainge. Isn't there a Clausen lying around over there you can start?

Drought update

Via the local government ...

The reservoir is 13.8 ft below full pool. The precipitation deficit for Jan. 1 - Oct. 3 is approximately 15.8 inches.

Ah politics

Man oh man, 2008 promises to be pretty darn interesting as James Dobson says he'll get Christian conservatives to back a third-party, pro-life candidate if Rudy Guiliani gets the GOP nomination.

This, of course, would pretty much lock up the White House for a Democrat in 2008 since it would siphon off 10 to 20 percent of the Republican votes. Now all we need is for Ralph Nader, Ross Perot and, oh shoot, Michael Bloomberg to hop in and do this thing right.

You say your name is 'Kettle?'

Is it just me, or is this the pot meeting the kettle for the first time?

And now we're tired

Last night's attempt at live blogging turned out fairly well, despite the fact that South Carolina won. Still, as you will notice, there was much rambling and lots of off-topic discussion.

Music for the moment

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Programming update

As mentioned yesterday, some live-blogging to begin around 7:30 p.m. tonight for the Kentucky-South Carolina game at The Cover Two.

Couple of things

- The Athens-Clarke County Commission takes a gander at impact fees on developers, which isn't an alien concept at all and is a useful tool employed by many communities. I'd lean toward its implementation with regard to sewer or water lines rather than other municipal uses, but I am intrigued by the use of impact fees to spur affordable housing development in Colorado. I don't know if that particular model would translate here, but it is something worthy examining a little more.

- These scores are ridiculous, and Mark Richt's quote at the bottom proves that. Why are we criticizing the existing programs for the actions taken by the coaches before they arrived?

- Rationing our water is a distinct possibility, particularly if we don't get any rain in the next few months.

- In an interesting note, after removing Sen. Johnny Isakson from the race since he would clear the field out, this poll suggests Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine is the strongest challenger to Lt. Governor Casey Cagle's bid for governor. Interesting since Oxendine, apparently, is making some rounds with the press to tout his ideas. He's eyeing something in the future and, to be honest, he'd be a formidable candidate for whatever he seeks.

- I've got no problem with zoning overlays or the creation of a historic district for Milledge Avenue (I'd favor the most appropriate one that offers flexibility to the owners and developers and allows the community to preserve the look) ... but, I'll be honest, this feels as if we were looking for a reason to deny Gamma Phi Beta. I agree that the parking concerns are absolutely legitimate, but without the two mechanisms alluded to above in place, the denial based on facade redesigns doesn't seem quite right to me.

- I do think Erick at Peach Pundit was just trying to make a joke, but I concur that it was a rather poor one.

- In words I can't believe I'm typing ... if the Georgia GOP gets past its Fred Thompson love affair, Rep. Ron Paul might make this thing interesting. I say that because he raised $5 million last quarter, sliding past Sen. John McCain and Gov. Mike Huckabee in the process. He's got some cash on hand now, and folks in Iowa seem to like him.

- J.T. and the boys echo my points from yesterday regarding roundabouts, though I disagree that Elton Dodson was being 'condescending.' I think he was being honest in the sense that, quite frequently, the leaders of our community have to work to educate the public on what they believe is the best course of action.

- Game One? Josh Beckett's pitching like it's 2003 and not 2006, which is a good thing.


Over at Tondee's Tavern, poster SilenceDogwood takes offense with Erick at Peach Pundit when the latter named Rep. Glenn Richardson 'Tax Jesus'.

While I do think Erick was just trying to make a funny, it was in rather poor taste and, well, it wasn't terribly funny. So I second the post's closing ...

To paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen, I know Jesus, I love Jesus, and Glenn Richardson is no Jesus.

To paraphrase me, stop cheapening my faith and my scripture, you sanctimonious crapweasels.

Straight outta 1942

Well, if we don't get any substantial rain in the next two months, we're looking at water rationing according to Athens-Clarke County Manager Alan Reddish.

The Bear Creek Reservoir will be dry by Christmas with rationing measures kicking in around Thanksgiving. So, this is it people. We're hitting that critical point that we didn't think we'd hit back in July.

Conserve water any which way you can ... turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth, wash larger loads of clothes less frequently, pack in as many dishes you can into your dishwasher, etc.

We've got a 60 percent chance of rain today, and two or three chances for isolated showers over the next 10 days. Let's hope, and pray, that we get rain on all of those days and return to a somewhat normal rainfull pattern to get out of this thing.