Friday, November 30, 2007

AHPC up and running

We're set to move into the next step of the redevelopment of the Navy School as the LRA has appointed a group to oversee any development of the property for the Athens Resource Center for the Homeless. This new group, called the Athens Homeless Property Corporation, is charged with overseeing receiving and investing the funds, contracting to build the new property (possibly off North Avenue) and, once the property is finished, serving as the landlord to ARCH.

Courtney Davis, the executive director of the Athens Area Homeless Shelter, answered a few questions about the setup and operations and clarified the two organization's roles.

"ARCH will participate, of course, in designing the property and all that," she said. "ARCH retains all control over the programs provided at the site - and all the responsibility associated with that. ARCH bylaws lay out the way that we work together - what to do if one agency isn't able to provide the services any longer, how we make decisions about shared things (maybe common staff, etc.). In terms of our relationship to AHPC, we are (at the most basic level) their tenant."

The seven board members of AHPC include Karen Baynes, Associate Director of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government; Clay Bryant, Attorney; Bob Carson, Raymond James Financial Services, Inc.; Chris Evans, Architect with E + E Architecture Inc.; Evan Mills, Athens-Clarke County Human and Economic Development; Tom Scott, Certified Public Accountant and Partner with Trinity Accounting Group; and Davis.

On revitalization

Nicki's got an interesting post on revitalization at her place, that's definitely worth a read. I haven't had enough time to take a good look at the initial piece which prompted her thoughts, but take a gander for yourself. Hopefully I'll get the chance to process it soon.

Couple of things

- It appears that Solvay is going to Alabama, kind of ... I mean, no one is saying anything and folks are denying everything, which is about par for the course when it comes to the Orkin Tract. Interesting to note is Gerry Whitworth, the agent responsible for the marketing the tract, blaming state officials for not going to bat for the multi-county piece of property. I'm starting to like more and more the idea from the person who suggested we just make it a massive park.

- Kudos to PWD who reached three million page views at Georgia Sports Blog (and was kind enough to thank me as a regular reader). He's good people who I fully intend to tailgate with one day ... perhaps in Pasadena?

- It's not Max Burns, but it's the next best thing.

- Safe to say, this is right on the money.

- Flack is mulling over a possible run for the Forsyth County Commission. Good luck in the decision-making process my good man, and I'll go to bat for you if you opt to dive in.

Music for the moment

Thursday, November 29, 2007

You learn something new cont.

Well, holy crap ... Dave does kinda look like Jim.

You learn something new

Every once in a while, you find a factoid so fabulous, it's impossible to not share with the rest of the world. And I have found such a fun nugget of information here ...

#1. I have been to McDonald's exactly twice in the last 18 months or so. Both trips have come in the past week. Why? I absolutely love, adore, crave, and must have the McRib. I have loved the McRib since I was a child. It is the perfect match between my taste buds and food. Thanks to a billboard on Lexington Hwy, I saw that the McRib had returned for what amounts to its nineteenth "farewell tour," or something like that. The McDonald's up on Gaines School Road near Lexington Hwy has them, and I have eaten four total (so far).

Safe to say that after I finished laughing at this ... I found myself craving a McRib, so I had one for dinner last night. Not as good as I remember from my younger days (or from the versions that were served in my high school cafeteria which were cleverly dubbed 'MacRibs' to avoid any trademark disputes), but still a fine dining option.

Sounds like a good start

Let me echo the kind words being said about Fred Moorman's idea to build a mixed-use development near the Navy School land (I'm only disappointed I didn't know about the presentation as I would have really enjoyed being there to see it).

I think it's good in two primary ways ... namely that I like mixed-use developments (particularly ones right down the street from where I live) and I really like that Moorman is seeking community input on this development. I hope the latter is yet another step in the direction of engaged property owners seeking community involvement on prospective developments (as Chris Butts is doing with the Charmar's).

Both Commissioner David Lynn and Commissioner Carl Jordan are optimistic about the project, though a little less than me based on some of their cautious statements. Traffic, as Jordan notes, is a legitimate concern, but I think it's something that needs to be planned regardless, particularly since we plan on bringing a UGA expansion on the Navy School property and hope to see a new hospital developed on Sunset Drive as well.

One of the things that excites me most is the potential for positive growth along that portion of Prince Avenue and its ability to stimulate additional growth along Oglethorpe Avenue, Hawthorne Avenue and Sunset Drive. It's early, I know, but I like the feel of this thing off the bat.

Um ...

Is it just me or could we have had some fact-checking on some of Paul Broun's claims?

I mean, as Hillary notes, a monarchy and socialist state are two distinctly different types of government ... thus meaning it's logically impossible for us to be moving toward both forms of government concurrently. Likewise, there are a considerable amount of factors to consider when evaluating the success (or lack thereof) of The Surge (such as increases in security have actually come in places where an influx of U.S. troops didn't occur).

It just seems like he was permitted to say a lot of things and present them as fact simply because he invited some folks over to his house, when actually there are several possible rationales or inaccuracies in his statements.

Many thanks

I've got to give a tip of the hat to Tim Bryant over at WGAU 1340-AM. He took note of my blog and had my buddy Matt, the minister of students at First Baptist Church of Athens, on to discuss the mission trip they're doing. He did a good job explaining the work the church has done down there (though he didn't speak in a ringing, classic Southern Baptist preacher's tone which disappointed me).

Anyway, kudos to Tim for a little bit of coverage of the good work the church is doing and let's wish the group good luck on their journeys.

The Safe As Houses Water Challenge

From Monday, November 26 through Wednesday, November 28, my household used 35 cubic feet of water or 273 gallons.

Since November 11, we have consumed 287 cubic feet of water or 2,238.6 gallons. We are projected to use 478 cubic feet of water over a 30-day period.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

See ... I told you

Wacky Rand

Gosh, I know I've picked on the poor guy a few times now, but someone needs to help Rand Knight come back down to earth ...

"We are winning this U.S. Senate race, period," Knight said. "We've got it in the bag. Saxby's going home. ... You better pick somebody who you know is going to go up there and work for you."

On one hand, I admire the idealism. But, then again, on the other hand, it's more than a stretch to suggest that the current crop of Democratic candidates have a chance to knock off Saxby Chambliss ... particularly based on the latest polling data.

Chambliss leads Knight 54 percent to 30 percent, the worst showing among the hypothetical matchups involving declared candidates. Compounding that, Knight ranks last among Democratic challengers in the infamous 'viewed favorably' category as only 21 percent view him favorably, compared to 42 percent who already don't care for him despite his low name recognition.

Pathetic arguments

To borrow a frequently used pop culture phrase already employed in this retort at Tondee's Tavern, the latest Bill Shipp column regarding the Democratic Party of Georgia clearly jumped the shark.

Honestly, it's so ridiculous, I haven't the foggiest idea where to begin. Could it be the fact that he builds an entire column around a singular email from someone that no one seems to know? How about the fact that the email's criticisms, as well as Shipp's, aren't grounded in reality? Or maybe it's because he penned a column without doing any research on the subject he was criticizing or even calling anyone over at the DPG for a comment?

Yeah, it's all of that and more.

As for Dr. E. Ruth Green, after looking at her questions, it's obvious that despite being a former professor at the University of Georgia, she apparently has no idea how to do independent research ...

"1. Who constitutes Georgia's slate of Democratic leaders?

Well, I went here, here, here, here, here and here to find out everything I needed to know. Shockingly enough, it was all on the same web site.

"2. What are they doing except saying 'DONATE'?

Let's leave alone the fact that raising money is essential to the success and survival of any political endeavor, and instead focus on this, this, this, and this which seem to offer some insight to some other things they're doing.

"3. Why is there seemingly nobody with credibility opposing Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-GA?

One could make the obvious argument that this is a very red state that offer little opportunity in the immediate future for Democratic success at the state and national levels, thus making it difficult to attract top-tier candidates. Granted I'd love to see Sam Nunn swoop in to save the day, but, then again, it isn't like someone like Josh Lanier, who served on a staff for Sen. Herman Talmadge among other things, isn't credible.

"4. Why do we hear nothing from the Democratic Party of Georgia on the rubber-stamp Republican government we have?

Obviously Green, and apparently Shipp, have been paying little attention to the Glenn Tax or last year's attempt to allow employees to carry handguns in their car or water conservation and so forth. And, again, when you're distinctly in the minority in a state controlled by Republicans, why should Democrats take the brunt of the blame for the foolishness of the Republicans in Atlanta?

"5. Why was there no uproar among Democrats when SR 3033 (2005) was passed by the General Assembly to urge Georgia lawmakers to support blindly all Bush nominees?

First off, the current DPG leadership wasn't even in place in 2005, so it's hardly fair to criticize them. As for other elected Democrats, SR 303 - Green actually has it wrong and Shipp was apparently too lazy to look it up and verify - was a nonbinding resolution that was largely procedural and merely stated what some Republican senators were going to do anyway. You want to know an example of another nonbinding resolution from that session? How about SR 16 which celebrated the birth of Michael Reagan Schoenberg and Jonathan Schoenburg, two twins born to Scott and Stephanie Schoenburg? I didn't have a SR honoring the birth of my child, so Democrats should arguably oppose any measures like this since they're unfair and selective!

"6. Why is there seemingly no statewide Democratic organization even though Democrats have a good chance to elect the new president?

I don't follow this at all. Since it's the primary season, the DPG, like other state parties and the national party, doesn't endorse a specific candidate but rather provides resources on the candidates seeking office in an attempt for voters to make up their minds. During the primaries, it's the responsibility of individual candidates to set up their own statewide organizations, and Barack Obama has already done that here. Of course, the 2008 Jefferson-Jackson Dinner will tentatively feature all of the current Democratic candidates for president, which is something that hasn't happened here in a long, long time.

"7. Why was there no Democratic outcry regarding Sonny Perdue's land deals?

Obviously, Green didn't follow any of the 2006 gubernatorial campaign in which Mark Taylor built his entire campaign on this issue. Besides, this is the kind of politics I don't want to see from Democrats anymore, so if there is no talk of it then I say 'yay!'

"I could not find a dazzling e-mail address for the Georgia Democratic Party, so I am sending this to others who may know how to get through.

Um, they're all right here ... located on the magical thing they call a 'home page' in the top banner.

All this column shows me is that Shipp was so desperate for material he would have written on something that he saw in Weekly World News, and that he was lazy enough to not seek additional comments on it, avoid doing the necessary research to realize Green's criticisms were ridiculous and let someone else do all the writing for him just so he can close with the catch-all comeback that he thinks neatly refutes any logical rebuttal to his, er, her argument.

It's easy to be cynical, but it looks pretty dumb to be cynical when you're so blatantly wrong.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A request

Typically each year during the holiday season, I talk a little bit about some worthy non-profits that you should consider supporting, and I plan to do that this year. But I'm going to get an early jump on that with an initial request for you fine folks to ponder supporting an impending mission trip from First Baptist Church of Athens to the Gulf Coast.

This week, my church is taking seven or so folks down to the Gulf to continue with the clean-up that remains in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Last year, our college group went down to the Ninth Ward in New Orleans to do some work, and prior to that we sent groups to places in Mississippi and Alabama.

I had originally planned to be a part of this particular trip but, due to some upcoming family matters, I'm not able to attend (which I'm rather bummed out about). Instead, I'm going to make a donation to our church's missions program to help fund this particular trip. As of now, our team is going to need help not only with the supplies down there, but also with transportation, lodging and food.

One of the primary reasons The Wife and I found a home at First Baptist Church of Athens is because of its dedication to service. In just the few short years we've been members, our church has sent service teams to India and Africa to either review mission projects from the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship or work to assist with projects in those areas. We raised money to build wells for villages in Kenya. We participated in 'Operation In As Much' where we spent one day working on service projects around town (ranging from renovations to Parkview Playschool to simply going to a local laundramat and paying for everyone's laundry when they arrived). We're a leading congregation with IHN of Athens.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg of what we've done and what we can do.

In short, if you're looking to support this trip to the Gulf Coast as I am, let me humbly recommend you make a modest gift to First Baptist Church of Athens (making the check out to the church and putting 'FBC Missions' in the 'For' line).

Monday, November 26, 2007

Oh, the possibilities

Lots of scenarios out there, with the most likely being Georgia landing a berth in the Orange Bowl against the ACC Champion (honestly, my least favorite choice compared with both the Rose Bowl and Fiesta Bowl ... but then again this 'least favorite choice' is akin to picking between winning $5 million, $4 million and $3 million, so there's that).

OK, for the national title ...

- Oklahoma beats Missouri
- Pittsburgh beats West Virginia
- Tennessee beats LSU
- Boston College beats Virginia Tech
- UCLA beats Southern Cal

The final option isn't entirely necessary, but would ensure that a two-loss, Pac-10 champion wouldn't jump past the Bulldogs. Of course, this is the most unlikely of all since West Virginia will be favored by 20-plus points.

For the Rose Bowl ...

- Oklahoma beats Missouri
- Tennessee beats LSU

This might keep Illinois at No. 15 in the BCS Standings, meaning the Orange Bowl would look to avoid a Georgia-Virginia Tech rematch and opt for an at-large Arizona State or Kansas team. The Rose Bowl would choose next and, if the Illini are in the Top 14, they might wish to keep the Big 10/Pac-10 match-up preserved. This, then, might mean we slide down to the Fiesta Bowl.

Either way, I think we get to the Rose Bowl is we sell ourselves like LSU did last year (and Texas before them). Whether or not we do that is another story.

More BCS coverage ...

- National Championship scenarios from Sunday Morning QB
- BCS predictions from ESPN
- Polls and bowls from Georgia Sports Blog
- Pete Fiutak has us in the Rose Bowl from Fox Sports
- Tony Barnhart has us in the Rose Bowl too from the AJC
- I hate Tech from Hey Jenny Slater

The Safe As Houses Water Challenge

From Tuesday, November 20 through Sunday, November 25, my household used 123 cubic feet of water or 959.4 gallons.

This was largely due to the fact that we had a jam-packed house during the Thanksgiving holidays which has grossly overinflated our projected usage (particularly since we used a total of 14 cubic feet the past two days to bring our total down) ... a total of five children and eight adults will do this to you.

Since November 11, we have consumed 252 cubic feet of water or 1,956.6 gallons. We are projected to use 504 cubic feet of water over a 30-day period.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Smelling like Roses

Photo by Kelly Lambert of the Athens Banner-Herald

One of my dreams, long thought to be impossible, has been to see Georgia play in the Rose Bowl. Seeing how it's been 60-plus years since that has happened (a 9-0 win over UCLA to capture the 1942 national championship) and the Big Ten and Pac-10 have long had traditional tie-ins to that game, it's been close to impossible to secure a berth in the nation's most famous bowl game.

However, with the dawn of the BCS and the additional BCS Championship Game, it's more likely for teams from other conferences to land in that game. And now, on the heels of a seventh straight win over Georgia Tech, all the Bulldogs need is an Oklahoma win over Missouri to bump Ohio State into the title game and open the door for a possible berth in the 'Granddaddy Of Them All' ...

It's still a longshot, but I'm about to become the biggest Sooners fan in the country.

Of course, the Orange Bowl is a nice consolation prize. As is beating Florida, Auburn and Georgia Tech in the same season for the first time since 1982.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Yay for us

We've hit the conservation mark.

From the local government ...

Athens-Clarke County has met the state-mandated 10% reduction in water consumption as compared to last year’s winter average. Athens-Clarke County is one of the first communities in Georgia to accomplish this before the December 1 deadline.

According to figures from the Public Utilities Department, the current average daily consumption for the month of November is 13.43 million gallons per day (MGD). This rate is below the statewide requirement of 13.5 MGD. November ACC water consumption figures show significant conservation when compared to the mid-October rate of 14.47 MGD.

"We have accomplished the mandated reduction in Athens-Clarke County without having to resort to additional water use restrictions," said Mayor Heidi Davison. "This is a major milestone, but it is not the end of conservation in Athens-Clarke County. Conservation is still critical and we ask our citizens, businesses, and industrial users to continue to reduce water consumption with the same intensity they have so far this fall."

The reduction rate confirms Athens-Clarke County Manager Alan Reddish’s comments to the Mayor and Commission at the November 15 Agenda Setting meeting that conservation efforts by our water customers are making the implementation of Step F of the Drought Management Plan less likely.

"With the response we have seen to reducing water use, our goal now is to refill our reservoir and begin 2008 with a safe level of water supply for next summer and fall,”" Manager Reddish said. "Since April, Athens-Clarke County has seen a total reduction in water use of 35% from the 20 MGD base demand."

Citizens and visitors are encouraged to continue their water conservation efforts as Athens-Clarke County remains under a severe drought. The National Weather Service reports that Athens-Clarke has received 60% less rainfall than it did last year at this same time. For more information and drought updates in Athens-Clarke County, please visit or call 706-613-3795.

Wasting our time

Is it just me or is BfD's criticism of the new Democratic Party of Georgia web site something that reeks of sour grapes? Considering they've repeatedly (and foolishly) criticized the DPG for using an out-of-state firm to design the site, and have been rather open about disclosing some of their commenters run web design companies, this seems more to be being petty for the sake of being petty.

As for the criticism itself? Kinda silly. It's a good looking site and is definitely a huge improvement over the previous version.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

O-bama! O-bama!

Reality vs. paranoia

I hate that I'm offering criticism of Augusta because, well, I love so many things about my hometown. But the ability of some elected officials and other leaders in that community to harbor such paranoia and willfully spread misinformation about the issue at hand is beyond bewildering.

Case in point, this excuse of journalism by WRDW's Richard Rogers from earlier this month. Rogers, an anchor with the CBS affiliate in Augusta, did an 'investigative report' where he asked, oh, maybe two doctors that work with MCG what they thought of the move. In a most shocking development, they think it's silly for MCG to even look to Athens-Clarke County.

It's off-base, of course, but off-base arguments from Augusta leaders so eager to refuse an expansion here have become commonplace, particularly when they get echoed by opinion leaders (with few exceptions).

Consider this April editorial from the Augusta Chronicle which makes the almost unbelievable argument that two medical training facilities in the state would be a bad thing for Georgia or this one that argues against expansion because of the size of doctor's offices.

Blake hit the nail on the head here ...

Usually I like (Slyvia) Cooper’s column, but no wonder Barbara Sims and the Garden City Gang hate the idea of a medical campus in Athens so much, with this kind of drivel getting around. No one is trying to steal your precious medical school, Augusta. You can have it, and the Masters, too, as long as you keep your grubby fingers off Weaver D’s, the 40 Watt and Sanford Stadium. Deal?

Seriously, though, even if anyone did want to up and move the whole thing, where would the billions of dollars come from? And where the heck would they put it? The Navy school is barely big enough for the 160-student expansion UGA and MCG are proposing, let alone the 800 students in Augusta.

I will move to Evans and sweep floors at Jim Whitehead’s tire dealership if Cooper’s scenario comes to pass. That’s how ridiculous it is.

Well-said my good man (except I don't like Cooper's column).

Couple of things

- This is a rather interesting article, and I'm glad that Cedar Shoals head football coach Scott Wilkins decided to clarify the story. Having known Wilkins for almost a decade now, and having covered Cedar Shoals athletics for roughly five years at the Athens Banner-Herald, I knew there was more to this story. Wilkins runs a tight ship, and he's got good coaches and good kids. In particular, when I saw the name Taylor Pass, I knew something was really off because, though I don't know him personally, I know a lot of folks who do and his reported actions seemed to be quite out of character. The Athens-area schools have long had problems going to face Atlanta city schools, and a litany of coaches and players, former and current, would back that up, so Wilkins's story makes sense to me.

- I talked about this a few days back, but this seems like it would be a good component of a comprehensive water conservation plan (again, not a drought management plan) if it's done right. It's early in this discussion, but I'll be interested to see where the commission goes with this.

- I'd agree that the data is interpreted kinda oddly, but it's good nonetheless to see that Athens-Clarke County is one of the safest cities in the country again.

- We roll on with The Safe As Houses Water Challenge ... and we're on pace come in more than 40 percent lower than what an average two-person household should use in a 30-day period, which is good. I'd like to see us go lower, but it's hard when you've still got to wash clothes and dishes (even if you do it just once a week or so).

- Continuing odd college football rants, I don't get this Les Miles-to-Michigan thing. I mean, I get that Miles, who has Michigan connections, would want to go back to Michigan. That's one thing. However, if you watch ESPN or listen to Collin Cowherd (and, really, why should you), you'd think that coaching Michigan is vastly better than coaching LSU, which I think is ridiculous. There's more pressure and more scrutiny at the former, which isn't even as prestigious of a position as it used to be. Much is being made of Michigan being a 'national program' but to that I counter that LSU won the national title in 2003, is currently ranked No. 1 in the nation, has garnered Top Five recruiting classes rather consistently over the past five years, plays in the most intimidating stadium in the country and returns a young quarterback who could emerge as one of the best players in the Division I-A next season. Why would you want to leave that to go to Michigan?

- Then again, I don't think Miles is really that good of a coach.

- One more college football thing, Chip Towers lays out a hypothetical situation that would lead Georgia to play for the national title. I don't think it's incredibly likely for a variety of reasons, but my point in highlighting this is ... read the comments and meet a lot of terribly stupid people.

- I concur.

- Democratic Senate candidate Rand Knight responds to some good-natured ribbing at Tondee's Tavern, and also reveals that he thinks he can beat Saxby Chambliss. I think folks should randomly give me cash, but that doesn't mean it will happen.

The Safe As Houses Water Challenge

For Monday, November 19, my household used 12 cubic feet of water or 93.6 gallons.

Since November 11, we have consumed 129 cubic feet of water or 1,006.2 gallons. We are projected to use 429 cubic feet of water over a 30-day period.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Misguided defenses

I like James Garland, and I respect that he likes Rep. Bob Smith. And, truth be told, I've got nothing personal against Smith. I'm sure that he's a nice guy man who means well, it's just that I think I think his style of governance and his political ideology are out-of-tune with the majority of this community's (which I've noted several times, most recently here).

Which is why James's defense of Smith is kinda silly in my opinion. Not silly in the sense that he's sticking up for a man he respects on a personal and political level, but silly in its rationale.

And it features two primary points which are worth drawing attention to. The first being that James openly endorses Smith adhering to blind partisanship rather than accept local control ...

The real problem with Smith is that he has the temerity to say “NO” to our local politicians and their never-ending quests for more government and higher taxes. ...

Smith’s supposed interference with local control irks the folks down at City Hall and their activist/progressive backers to no end. To them, though, "local control" seems to be nothing more than a euphemism for the continuing expansion of ordinances, restrictions, and fees concerning the homes, businesses, families, and now even the pets, of the county’s residents.

But, again, whose business is it of Smith's to tell us how to live? Listen, there are a good number of ordinances which I think are a result of us overregulating, but shouldn't that be something for this community to work out? If we in Athens-Clarke County really want 'more government and higher taxes' - which is a fairly laughable assertion in its own right - then why should the state government, let alone a Watkinsville legislator, tell us 'no?'

Again, isn't that the essence of local control? Isn't this what so many conservatives like to beat the drum about (and, to a large extent, quite rightly I might add)? A sort of 'this is my community, and we'll figure out what's best for us? ... and then you guys can figure out what's best for you?'

That's the crux of my challenge for supporters of The Glenn Tax ... let each individual county determine whether or not to replace property taxes with sales taxes rather than a blanket motion made from the state level.

My other point of contention would be this ...

Though he mostly represents Oconee County, Smith’s District 113 includes all or portions of Athens-Clarke County precincts 1A, 1C, 1D, 6A, and 6C.

Fair enough, but can we really expect that to offer justification for Smith's continual habit of putting personal ideology over local wishes?

Furthermore, that's not even terribly accurate. Out of those five districts, Smith won one in 2006 ... by two votes. He 'lost' Athens-Clarke County 2,501 to 1,838. If Smith lived in this community, there's no way he'd hold an elected office (and that's not intended to be an insult to him, but rather a statement of the political realities).


Again I say ... woo-hoo!

Couple of things

- Hey, hey! J.T. and the boys were crazy enough to publish my letter regarding the proposed mixed-use parking deck.

- Speaking of that, let me point out another misplaced argument in the Athens Banner-Herald's Sunday editorial, one which had similar points echoed by Stu Mitts. Simply because we are in a drought, doesn't mean we have to cancel all of our development. What it means is that we have to be smart about how we go about doing so, and, if there's one thing this community has been calling for it, it's responsible, mixed-use development (and a grocery store downtown). Shoot, even the editorial says it would be a minimal usage of water in the grand scheme of things, which sort of undercuts its entire argument, doesn't it?

- Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the local poverty rate went up.

- Due to some loads of laundry, our water usage was markedly up this past weekend.

- Tim strongly disagreed with Jason Winders's column, and I think the latter went a little too far ... but I'm not in complete disagreement. I think the primary difference is that Dennis Felton, despite my criticisms of him, actually addresses the discipline issues on the team whereas Jim Harrick was content throwing the Dirty Dozen out on the court if it could have beaten Kentucky.

- Kudos to Noramco for cutting back water usage more than 35 percent in a year as well as all of the area businesses stepping up to the challenge ... though I'm not exactly ready to lavish praise on CertainTeed quite yet until I actually see them reducing their consumption.

- Can I go off on a tangent and request that Michigan or Clemson take a few years off from football? I mean, it's seriously getting embarrassing. The Wolverines return three quality offensive starters, promptly open the season with a loss to a Division I-AA team, and then put up 91 yards of total offense against Ohio State ... thus sending out this talented senior trio with a stellar 0-4 record against their hated rival. Down South, Clemson has a rare opportunity to actually close the season strong and play for their first conference title in 16-plus years ... and the Tigers have a receiver drop a game-winning touchdown pass in the end zone with 30 second left, take a sack with six seconds left to turn a sure-thing game-tying field goal into a more difficult one ... which they promptly miss.

Sad, but not unexpected

This is definitely unsettling news, but not terribly surprising for those who are already working in areas dealing with these issues. The now-famous poverty rate number of 28.6 percent that helped prompt the formation of Partners for a Prosperous Athens was, in fact, rather old data (stemming from the 2000 U.S. Census). The new number of 31.1 percent is what I felt was more accurate, particularly in the wake of rather stagnant wages and some job losses in the manufacturing sector.

Increasing the wages, truthfully, is something that only be addressed by working to diversify our local economy and also by the University of Georgia working to raise wages, thus making the area's largest employer more competitive with other businesses in the community.

Seeing this problem as a regional one, thus working toward the development of a truly regional economy (that I'd like to see build around alternative energy, distribution centers and the biosciences) - in addition to increasing educational opportunities - is what will ultimately enable us to whittle away at this high rate.

The Safe As Houses Water Challenge

For Friday, November 16 through Sunday, November 18, my household used a total of 67 cubic feet of water or 522.6 gallons. On November 16 we used 16 cubic feet (124.8 gallons), on November 17 we used 25 cubic feet (195 gallons) and on November 18 we used 26 cubic feet (202.8) gallons.

This is largely due to the fact that we washed a few loads of clothes, as well as all the sheets in our house in anticipation of hosting Thanksgiving.

Since November 11, we have consumed 117 cubic feet of water or 912.6 gallons. We are projected to use 438.75 cubic feet of water over a 30-day period.

Friday, November 16, 2007

End of an era

Well, since I guess since she officially changed her name, the dream has officially died.

That's a plan to discuss

An interesting little nugget in this article isn't that we're close to reach 35 percent reduction in our water usage via voluntary means and an outdoor restriction (yay us!), but that both Commissioners Carl Jordan and David Lynn endorsed a pricing system to conserve water.

We've talked about that here some, and I think the discussion in question is more that Step F is a plan designed to deal with a specific crisis (i.e. the drought) and not meant to be a long-term conservation plan (something which was noted by Mayor Heidi Davison).

If we're discussing a long-term conservation plan which deals with sound management of our water, then I would definitely be open to using a pricing system as one component of said plan. I don't want to build the entire system around it, but would rather see a particular lower fee for a certain level of consumption (whatever the average household usage would be for instance), and then markedly higher rates per cubic foot (or so) if one exceeds the predetermined level.

This would be in addition to, of course, proper use of restrictions on outdoor watering.

Some debate recap

The Democratic presidential candidates debated last night, and the 'pundits' said Hillary Clinton 'won' ... which is kinda funny to me, since they had already set up the narrative for her to 'win' ... but, whatever.

I thought this exchange regarding health care was my favorite ...

Hillary Clinton - "But when it came time to step up and decide whether or not he would support universal health care coverage, he chose not to do that. His plan would leave 15 million Americans out. That's about the population of Nevada, Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire."

Barack Obama's response - "The only difference between Senator Clinton's health care plan and mine is that she thinks the problem for people without health care is that nobody has mandated, forced them to get health care. That's not what I'm seeing around Nevada. What I see are people who would love to have health care. They desperately want it. But the problem is they can't afford it."

Music for the moment

On a good idea


Kingdom of Wrongdonia, meet your new leader.

'A misguided and profligate abuse of the public trust?'

Rarely have I seen an editorial from a group of gentlemen who I respect so very much that I not only so vehemently disagree with, but I take absolute exception to. Not only does this read to be nothing more than disagreement for disagreement's sake, but it also takes wholly unnecessary cheap shots at Commissioner David Lynn who called this a 'legacy' project?

Is that so terrible? Is that so wrong? Would it not be true? If the commission could develop a ground-breaking vision of how to bring commercial development and responsible growth to our community, is that not something which would define one's legacy?

And the disagreement itself? Well, that itself is quite puzzling. Despite in the past having urged the commission to pursue smart growth policies and to find ways to think creatively about redevelopment in downtown, this editorial takes a 180 ... sort of.

It acknowledges that the incorporation of retail and commercial space in the parking deck is a good idea. However, the fact that the commissioners possessed a vision to say 'can't we do something more with this space' apparently has rankled the editorial staff.

One concern deals with parking spaces being taken up by potential residents of the residential units or by customers of the retail spaces. The latter would happen under the plan the editorial says it's OK with so I suppose that's moot, while the former would feature a minimal impact. Most recommendations still figure for 400 parking spaces out of the 375 requested by the recent study. If 100 are taken by residents of these proposed units, then 300 spaces are still available to alleviate the parking situation downtown.

What's more puzzling and frustrating about this whole episode the fact that the editorial staff has lamented about the lack of a proactive and engaged commission with regard to, say, our drought policy (an accusation that I respectfully feel is off-base). Here we have the commission working to outline a plan that encourages a unique and wholly positive vision for a downtown development that will focus on utilizing the strengths of the private sector ... and they balk for little reason other than they didn't like Lynn's attitude.

This is puzzling to me. This is disappointing to me. It comes across as petty, nit-picking and somewhat insincere. And that's a shame.

The Safe As Houses Water Challenge

For Thursday, November 15, my household used eight cubic feet of water or 62.4 gallons.

Since November 11, we have consumed 50 cubic feet of water or 390 gallons. We are projected to use 300 cubic feet of water over at 30-day period.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Couple of things

- Ah yes, here is the Rep. Bob Smith we know and love ... all too eager to tell other folks how to manage their affairs. I wonder if he's bothered to express the same concern with his own local government.

- Related to that, just a few additional water notes and the latest installment of The Safe As Houses Water Challenge.

- This is a rather interesting story and one that I'll probably need to go into more depth on later, but I like the idea of developing a mixed-used development that could serve as a functional parking deck. Though I differ with the mayor and some of the commissioners on their views on the Gameday Condos or how pedestrian-friendly the Hilton Garden Inn is, those are minor disagreements that aren't totally relevant to the actual issue. I don't know where I come down on sticking residentials on top of the deck, but then again I don't exactly know where else you'd put them ... particularly if you want to develop significant retail space on the ground floor to attract something like a grocery store (woo-hoo!). All in all, a good discussion and a good idea.

- Again, in something else I hope to get into more later on, a well-said editorial from the Athens Banner-Herald that shows just how ridiculous the claims are from House Medical Education Committee ... which is conveniently overflowing with Augusta-area representatives.

- I'll be the first to admit that I've waned as of late on Gov. Sonny Perdue's handling of the drought, but it's just kinda dumb to criticize him for praying for rain.

More water notes

Some additional observations from our water usage discussion, some via email and some I noticed in the comments.

Regarding District Three Commissioner George Maxwell's usage, one reader observed ...

George Maxwell spent 16 days in the hospital in October 2006 and his wife stayed at his side almost around the clock. The use of the Oct. 2006/07 data for comparison was greatly skewed for George and Betty because of this.

Unfortunately, they were out of town when the ABH story was being created and published so they could not be reached for comment or clarification. Betty was rather upset when she got back and began to catch up on reading the newspapers that came while they were gone.

Also, my clarification requires a clarification, and to further avoid any unintentional confusion, I'll just post the email comment ...

"As a result, his usage appeared to be up though, in actuality, it had
probably gone down."

I must not have been clear, but actually, my use was down, even with 8 extra
days. I just ended up being down even more than I thought (by avg. daily
water use).

The Safe As Houses Water Challenge

For Wednesday, November 14, my household used nine cubic feet of water or 70.2 gallons

Since November 11, we have consumed 42 cubic feet of water or 327.6 gallons. We are projected to use 315 cubic feet of water over at 30-day period.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

'In the ring'

Herschel Walker. More man than Steve Spurrier.

Couple of things

- All but saying he'd wish Sanford Stadium would be blown up, Rep. Barry Fleming, also a candidate for the 10th Congressional District seat currently held by Athens Republican Paul Broun, says he doesn't see the Medical College of Georgia expanding in Athens-Clarke County before it does in Augusta. He's not alone as a host of Republican legislators in the Georgia General Assembly are now criticizing the expansion in our neck of the woods, opting to instead spread out in my hometown (despite the fact that, you know, there isn't any room to grow down there). As a result, the University of Georgia would probably lose part of its space at the Navy Supply School.

- Can I just point out that, even though it's early, the more resistance I see from legislators like Fleming or Ben Harbin, the more I think it's unlikely the expansion will be approved for Athens-Clarke County. Which, of course, is ridiculous.

- Woo-hoo! Kudos former place of employment. And all done through private funds thank you very much.

- Some clarification on water usage.

- An update on The Safe As Houses Water Challenge.

- Granted I think it's kind of an extreme rule, but breaking a rule is breaking a rule nonetheless. The sheer inability of Georgia's men's basketball players to not get in trouble for the dumbest, most obvious things is completely staggering to me.

- Huh. I had no idea illegal attendance was so rampant in Oconee County's schools.

- They vote on this just a week or so later, and Josh Beckett wins in a landslide. They had similar statistics during the regular season, but Beckett's performance in the postseason almost makes this award comical.

Water usage clarifications

I've been having some communication with some local officials regarding getting some clarification over reading water meters, billing cycles, etc., following this post, and I've got some good and logical explanations from them.

Regarding using usage trends, Athens-Clarke County officials work to read meters by hand in almost all cases. In those rare instances when they are unable to (say because of a locked gate), the usage could be estimated based on previous trends, but this would be clearly noted on the individual's bill.

The other thing which we discussed, which is quite interesting, is that the number of days in a billing cycle can vary. Typically they range from 28 to 32 days, meaning it's never a set number of days used to determine usage. One individual I exchanged emails with told me that last year he was billed based on a 25-day reading, however the same time period this year was based on a 33-day reading. As a result, his usage appeared to be up though, in actuality, it had probably gone down.

This also could explain why my bill was up and why the bills of Mayor Heidi Davison and District Three Commissioner George Maxwell were marginally higher than the previous year.

The Safe As Houses Water Challenge

For Tuesday, November 13, my household used 12 cubic feet of water or 93.6 gallons.

Since November 11, we have consumed 33 cubic feet of water or 257.4 gallons. We are projected to use 330 cubic feet of water over a 30-day period.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Couple of things

- Hear me out, but I like this. Of course, it's all based on context. I wasn't particularly a fan of this organization's efforts to stick the Ten Commandments in every courthouse in Georgia, and my response was typically that I'd rather have the freedom to have them in my home than in a public courthouse. In complete fairness to Ten Commandments-Georgia, they've taken me up on my advice and are mailing copies out to every person in some Northeast Georgia counties. Then again, I have the Ten Commandments sitting on my bedside table, in this great part of this high-quality book where someone leads his people out of the bondage.

- Also, more credit where credit is due, I've been hard on Chris Butts's views on our drought policy, but kudos to him for wishing to avoid another divisive zoning battle like the one that confronted the closing of Cofer's last year.

- There's a fine line involving Sen. Charles Grassley's investigation into financial misconduct at megachurches. I am no fan of folks like Benny Hinn, and I think it's ridiculous that we have the Trinity Broadcasting Network which has gold on everything, but ... at the same time, it's one to be intentionally misleading a congregation and funneling money into private accounts so pastors can lead a lavish lifestyle. That is, without pulling any punches, a moral abdication of one's pastoral responsibility and blatantly sinful. However, it's another thing if the congregations is OK with that. I'll fully concede that from what I can gather, the latter is few and far between in this investigation, but we need to be careful about merely assuming that because a pastor rolls up in an H3 bedazzled in gold chrome he's doing some illegal. Unethical and quite probably out-of-line with his Christian calling? Well, yeah, but again, that's not always illegal.

- Day Two of The Safe As Houses Water Challenge.

- In a political mystery I surely can't unravel, I don't get the Clark Howard for Mayor of Atlanta thing. Offering tips that help me save time at the airport doesn't necessarily translate into being equipped to manage the Southeast's largest city, does it?

The Safe As Houses Water Challenge

For Monday, November 12, my household used seven cubic feet of water or 54.6 gallons.

This was largely because we ate out for dinner and were away at work most of the day.

Since November 11, we have consumed 21 cubic feet of water or 163.2 gallons. We are projected to use 315 cubic feet over a 30-day period.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Couple of things

- Here is what is right with kids these days. Kudos to Young PPA for showing commitment to fighting poverty and for getting youth involved in that fight.

- I've started The Safe As Houses Water Challenge to monitor my daily consumption.

- Related to that, Jason Winders talks about possibly changing how we monitor usage, though I think a large problem might be from how his residence determines usage. If you live in a building where your own usage isn't directly monitored, but instead determined from an average of all of the tenants, wouldn't be that more of a problem with how that building breaks up its bills and not an indictment of the system?

- This would seem to be a good idea, as long as there is a component in there to ensure flexibility (it's often hard to see what your needs might be two years out). I only have two minor points to quibble over ... first, I agree the non-profits should be asked to contribute to OneAthens, but asking for financial commitments might be like trying to squeeze blood out of a turnip. Second, I'm hopeful the study we have on reveals that we need a new jail because, quite frankly, I feel it's fairly obvious that we do need a new one (where we get the funds to build said jail is a whole different discussion).

- Is it just me, or are these kids making a silly argument? In essence, they just want local governments to pay the difference of the money that a business doesn't make, one they concede is not essential and a poor use of the resource?

- While continuing her obsession with The Georgia Gang, SpaceyG makes a ridiculous argument in the comments at Peach Pundit that I've heard before ... namely, that unless you either are of one particular demographic or have personally experienced something, you have no right to hold an opinion on it. Here, she focuses on women's rights, namely abortion, but this is, of course, patently stupid. Using this logic, whites can hold no position in the fight for civil rights, heterosexuals can't be concerned about gay rights and unless you have personally experienced a horrific disease such as AIDS or cancer, don't bother expressing any opinion on how to best fight these illnesses. Straw(wo)man, I call thee out.

- Can I still point out how awesome it was Georgia beat Auburn ... and that the whole friggin' stadium was clad in black? I didn't make it to the game, opting to watch it on a large projector on Milledge Avenue with Ed and Matt, but it was easily the most fun I've had watching a game not called 'Georgia over Florida in 1997' (something Doug points out as well).Let's just say that when Knowshon Moreno and the whole sideline began dancing, so did Ed and I ... and that with any remotely positive Bulldog play after that, we began humming In Da Club by 50 Cent (and I mean any remotely positive Bulldog play). I suggest that you all go buy the T-shirt today.

The Safe As Houses water challenge

In what was an interesting idea, the Athens Banner-Herald took a look at water usage by some Athens-Clarke County officials. Not surprising, but they do a pretty good job of conserving water, even though some of their bills were marginally higher than the previous year (which, as I noted on Friday, makes you scratch your head).

Our leaders are to be applauded for keeping their consumption low, particularly as they ask that we do the same.

Anyway, this has led me to think it would be interesting if I checked on my daily water usage, so starting yesterday morning, I have done so and will keep you folks updated on my usage. Any additional tips you have involving conservation, please feel free to send to me.

Yesterday, my household used 14 cubic feet of water or 109.2 gallons. If I average that out over a 30-day period, I will use 420 cubic feet of water or 3,276 gallons.

The average for a two-person household is 198 gallons or roughly 25 cubic feet a day. Considering we technically have a three-person household, I would assume it would be closer to 35 gallons a day.

My goal is to keep my monthly usage under 500 cubic feet of water, which would be lower than my previous 28-day total of 520 cubic feet. It doesn't promise to be easy, particularly with a baby in the house and company coming for both Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Not a bad three weeks

I guess it happened at halftime of the Vanderbilt game, but at some point in the past month Georgia has become the biggest bunch of badasses on the planet. My father sent me a text message toward the end of the game that said 'It looks like we're going to beat Auburn.'

My response?

'It looked like we were going to beat them the second Knowshon Moreno stepped on the field.'

Photo by Athens Banner-Herald photographer John Curry.

Photo by Athens Banner-Herald photographer John Curry.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Ted Hafer

This is awful news about Ted Hafer, the owner of The Grit. Sadly, I never had the chance to meet him, and from what I have heard from several of his good friends, my life is poorer for that.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.

Those pesky facts

Can we quit with all the stupid 'cancel football' letters now?

Kudos for this article which shows what little impact Georgia football has on water usage. The article even notes that last week's home game used less water than Georgia's bye week.

Music discoveries

In one of those things you discover when you watch TV with your three-month daughter, Emma Kate is apparently a huge fan of She's A Bad Mamma Jamma by Carl Carlton.

Seriously. She laughed non-stop when it was on a commercial, and then after playing it for her on YouTube she had the same reaction. Who knew my child my would be such a fan of early 1980s funk?

The gloves are off!

He gets bonus points for naming this post after a Destiny's Child song, but buried beneath his initial entry is Blake's conversation with District One Commissioner Doug Lowry about the latter's disagreement with District Tne Commissioner Elton Dodson.

It spins into a weirdly uncomfortable, yet probably originally intended to be funny discussion of Lowry throwing down with Dodson ... that painfully keeps going on. It's entertaining and, yes, uncomfortable.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Tour of Homes

Seeing how it benefits IHN of Athens, everyone should go to The Georgia Club's Christmas Tour of Homes. They hope to raise $23,000 this year and divide it among seven area non-profits, including IHN of Athens. Let's help them exceed that by heading out there and helping all of the organizations they're hoping to support.

Florida's out

Only a week after posing for the cameras in Washington, D.C., Florida has backed out of the three-state water deal.

You know, they love their mussels down there.

Music for the moment

Couple of things

- I get more and more confused by gray water with each passing day. Usage outside is prohibited by the state, however state officials are not telling folks it's OK to use a little bit of gray water outside despite no change in the state code and you can't use it if you're under a total watering ban. Also, while gray water usage inside is permitted, having a plumbing system which automatically recyles said water in your house is illegal under state law ... but, then again, state officials said local officials could pass ordinances that don't reflect that.

- Speaking of that, my reading of my water meter says I'm down, while the public utilities folks think otherwise ... and I'm not alone in this situation from what I'm hearing.

- It looks like we're going to need some outside-the-box thinking to fund the proposed career academy, and I'm getting kinda curious about the grant being turned down. It'll be interesting to see the rationale offered, though I concede there was considerable competition.

- Further proving that he's a fairly swarmy individual, NBA Commissioner David Stern lambasts the Seattle city government, the Washington state legislature and the citizenry of Seattle for overwhelmingly passing a bill that "requires any funds to help build an arena earn money at the same rate as a treasury bill." I'm not a big fan of publically financed stadiums either, or at least stadiums solely build with public funds, but whatever. It seems a tad ridiculous that Stern would openly disparage the people of Seattle and their wishes, and then threaten to support taking their basketball team away. I thought he had his hands full with cheating refs ...

- Flack points out some flaws with the Glenn Tax's funding formula. He's not alone with lingering questions as Brian Brodrick doesn't like it either.

- Mitch McConnell reveals that he's completely detached from reality.

- This 'Blackout' talk is getting kinda crazy. Walking up North Campus today, I passed two students talking about it, one of whom said 'No dude, I heard that Richt ordered them back in February because they were planning on doing this all along.'

- Related to that, this is the best Georgia-Auburn preview I've read all week. Anything with copious Mr. T. references is gold. Also awesome is this.

Water usage

It's a common, and understandable, practice for some utility companies to not check every meter, every month and instead rely on previous usage trends for gas or water or electricity to determine a billable rate. Again, this is an understandable system based on staffing, the number of customers, etc.

However, when it comes to water usage in the midst of a drought, this could be a problem.

Case in point, the fact that I've heard from several folks that their most recent water bills were higher than those for the same time period from the previous year. Ours was higher, saying we used 690 cubic feet of water from Sept. 14 through Oct. 12 compared to 670 last year.

Now, this makes no sense. Even with a new child in the house, both The Wife and I know we've made considerable adjustments to our lifestyle and are positive we reduced our consumption. So, using this handy online guide, I checked our meter this morning.

Since Oct. 13 (over a 28-day period), we've used 520 cubic feet. According to the public utilities folks, over a similar 28-day period from Sept. 14 through Oct. 12 we used 690 cubic feet of water, so something doesn't seem right.

Furthermore, my bill is actually lower if you subtract my current reading from their stated previous reading. According to the bill, I should have been billed for 790 cubic feet of water.

So something doesn't seem to be adding up here. If we know as a community that we've reduced our consumption by 30 percent, it seems rather odd that residents are getting bills for higher rates ... particularly when a check of the meter would confirm that consumption has gone down.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

A moment worth seizing

Readers of this blog know I'm a supporter of Barack Obama, but they also know that I'm pragmatic enough to admit that Obama has a tough road ahead of him for the nomination. He faces possibly the most talented political machine in the nation, a formidable candidate with name recognition and a nation of folks who still aren't entirely sure what to think of him. A part of me is legitimately saddened by the fact that he may not have the opportunity to serve as president, and this analysis by Andrew Sullivan is a perfect reason why.

HT: Darren

UPDATE: Maybe folks in Iowa read the piece as Obama has rapidly closed the gap on Hillary Clinton and is within the margin of error.

Time usage

Blake updates us on some late-night commission action, including the silencing of District Six Commissioner Carl Jordan during the first half of the meeting. It was over the what the official name/acronym should be for the local government. When they were allowed to discuss during the commissioner input portion of the meeting, District Five Commissioner David Lynn offered a suggestion ...

"I realize we have bigger fish to fry," he said, but the commission should have a work session to decide what acronym to use to describe the government. UG? ACC? UGACC? ACCUG? And why do different departments use different logos?

Do we really need a work session for this? Couldn't this be achieved via an email exchange?

Couple of things

- It got kinda lost in our discussion of the new tethering ordinance, but the Athens-Clarke County is to be commended for passing distance waivers that set up a special process for businesses to apply to serve alcohol near schools and churches. It's a good amendment to the alcohol ordinance that is not only fair to busineses, but also sets up a mechanism to regulate establishments which misuse the special use permit.

- The Athens Banner-Herald has an editorial on the tethering ordinance that reaches roughly the same point I do.

- It took an additional day, but a podcast has been recorded. Some fine work if I do say so myself, and it includes a Food Tasting Challenge in the opening minutes.

- As someone who rolled through five-plus bags of candy, including my stash to take to work the following day, I feel Jack and Mary Munnell's pain. However, many of those who get shuttled in to different neighborhoods come from lower-income ones where some folks don't offer candy or it may not be terribly safe to trick-or-treat. In the end, it's one night and it makes kids happy, so I can dole out Snickers and Nestle Crunch for a few hours.

- Rep. Earl Erhart talks Glenn Tax at Peach Pundit, and despite our vast ideological differences, he oughta be commended for engaging folks in discussion on it. Over there I raise what I think is a relatively valid point ... that is, if local control is the top concern for most folks (it is for me) and advocates of the bill support a system of taxation based on consumption and not assets, then why not let individual counties hold referendums to determine if they wish to go the property tax route or sales tax route (or perhaps an entirely different route altogether)? Doing so would arguably strip away the legitimate concern about the state government consolidating power, would it not?

- This is terribly alarming, though I think it's too simple to say some veterans were 'forgotten.' The stress of war, as we've already seen in some extreme instances, is very powerful and can have a profound impact on one's life. For what it's worth, I'm familiar with New Directions and it's a top-notch organization. I'd recommend you checking it out and supporting if you can.

- I'm going to have to go see the Hawks play this year.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Tax the renter!

Travis Fain has a list of things you'll be taxed for under the Glenn Tax. The following are things which will lose their exempt status and be opened to taxation ...

Exemptions for property/services to households:
sale of lottery tickets
rooms and lodging over 90 days (Whammy. That means you pay sales taxes on apartment rent.)
sales of water through water lines
personal property brought into Georgia
credit allowances for trade-ins on property
charges for public transportation
charges for long distance telephone service
sales of food for home consumption (remember, though, the Speaker has talked about an offsetting income tax credit for people under a certain income threshold.)
sales of sod grass

Exemptions related to health care:
purchase of medical equipment - Medicare and Medicaid
sales of prescription drugs and medical devices (again, with a potential income tax credit to offset)
sales of certain equipment used by diabetics

Exemptions related to farming and fishing:
sales of equipment uised in harvesting lumber
sales of agricultural machinery
sales of LPG used for horticultural purposes (LPG = liquified petroleum gas)
sales of certain dyed diesel fuels
certain sales of LPG and other fuels
certain sales of electricity

Professional and business services:
fees for service rendered by repair professionals

Exemptions related to non-farm business:
sale of electricity used in manufacturing
sale of machinery used in manufacturing
sale material handling equipment used in warehouses
sale of machinery used to reduce pollution (The environmentalists will love this one.)
use of cargo containers for international shipping
gross revenue from coin operated amusement machines
rental of films when admissions is charged
exemptions for clean rooms
sales of machinery used in aircraft engines and parts
sales of replacement parts for machinery
certain sales or leases of computer equipment
film production and digital broadcasting

Focus people

As expected, there's been a lot of feedback regarding my post on tethering including, as of late, a slew of comments of folks who have seen terrible cases of animal cruelty resulting from negligent owners and long-term tethering.

Listen, people, I don't disagree with you. The folks who do these things are doing dumb, horrible things, and they should face the appropriate punishment for it. I'm not saying there isn't a problem to be addressed ... I'm saying this particular prescription for the problem has me asking lots of questions and thinking there could be some unintended consequences.

Me thinking there could have been some additional work on this ordinance to narrow it down somewhat doesn't equate to me thinking we don't need one or that negligent owners should get off free.

Do like Nicki is working to do and tell me why this ordinance will work. Don't let emotion cloud your thought process, leaving you to fall back on 'we must protect these dogs!'

On tethering

You can't tether your dogs in Athens-Clarke County anymore thanks to a new ordinance, and I think that's a bad thing.

Hear me out. By no means is that because I think tethering is OK (quite the contrary actually), but rather because I think an ordinance of this type, as District One Commissioner Doug Lowry put it last night, applies a blunt object to something which needs surgical precision.

And this isn't the belittle or decry the work of District Ten Commissioner Elton Dodson and the Legislative Review Committee (again, quite the contrary). He and the committee are to be commended for the time, research and effort they put into crafting this ordinance. While I supported Lowry's opposition, I didn't necessarily agree with his line of argument to reach said opposition.

Truth be told, I supported this ordinance going into last night's discussion. But as I watched the debate unfold, more and more questions crept into my mind and it was actually comments from Dodson that sealed the deal for me.

Among my concerns ...

- Dodson openly said, just prior to voting for the ordinance, that in its current form it made him 'uncomfortable' and that it was 'sloppy.' In my mind, I couldn't in good faith support an ordinance that I felt was either of those things.

- District Seven Commissioner Kathy Hoard argued in favor of the ordinance by saying there was ample room to permit tethering if it was done temporarily and in the presence of an owner (though one could argue that rarely happens and might actually be more cruel than unattended tethering). This, however, creates a litany of questions regarding adequate enforcement. What if someone is a serial offender when it comes to tethering, but during each animal control visit is either outside with the dog or can offer up an adequate excuse that covers his or her transgressions?

- Furthermore, don't we have existing ordinances that can address this issue in a considerably more clear fashion? Wouldn't a starved dog that was chained to a tree for its existence be something where animal control could step in? And, if not, why can't the commission craft an ordinance which gives them the latitude to investigate these situations that doesn't include a blanket ban which sweeps up non-criminal activity?

- District Three Commissioner George Maxwell rightly noted that this ban will unfairly impact lower-income citizens who now must build a fence and, for some, this might be out of their economic reach. It just seems fairly backwards to me to craft an ordinance that will bring about economic hardships retroactively for some citizens, particularly one where one of the speakers at public input openly said something to the effect of 'forget about the people, keep the dogs in mind' (to be fair, I'm paraphrasing).

- As an aside, I have no idea where Hoard got her numbers regarding the costs of building a fence (unless I misheard her, she said one could be done for less than $100). My fence, which is just two sides as I was permitted to connect with two neighbors' fences, cost $1,300 in parts and labor. Talking to some folks last night, parts alone would cost more than $750.

- Dodson and Hoard both noted that it was foolish to wait any longer to implement the ordinance as Lowry suggested based on the considerable amount of time that was focused on this particular issue. And what I'm about to say isn't meant to belittle the work of the LRC, but ... why are we spending more than six months on a tethering ordinance? Aren't their bigger fish to fry? To be fair, I think Dodson shared this frustration as he explained their work.

- Finally, let's be completely honest about this ... because this is an ordinance that affects dogs, it becomes irrationally emotional for some in the community (one woman likened tethering to seeing children chained to trees). Dogs are cute and dogs are fun, so it's easy to rally support for them (and, again, unattended and long-term tethering is cruel and animal control should address those issues). However, we don't see the community getting all riled up to, say, protest the conditions of chickens that are stored in confined spaces so we can either harvest their eggs or eat them. Why? Well ... dogs are cute and dogs are fun.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Couple of things

- Gov. Sonny Perdue unleashes his harshest criticism yet of the Glenn Tax, and I think he's pretty much spot on. Of course, Erick and guys think Perdue is silly to say there's not problem with the tax system. My take is that it's not that broken, but rather is just in need of some necessary tweaks here and there ... not a complete scrapping of the system replaced with one that is subject to the whims of the market and consolidates power in Atlanta.

- Related to that, I agree with Flack on this ... the state party has shown quality leadership on this matter, but where have the elected officials at the state level been? They've been all but quiet on this front and let the local officials and state party (and Sonny!) take the lead.

- Among other things, tonight the Athens-Clarke County Commission ponders creating distance waivers for businesses to serve alcohol within the restricted areas near churches and schools.

- You've got a good, old-fashioned ideological disagreement between Han Park and Dr. Tom McCormack, but I do want to briefly address this notion that health care is a 'right' ... why shouldn't it be? Then again, why should it be? We act as if the Constitution is end-all, be-all on rights granted to humans, but in reality it's merely an attempt by the Founding Fathers to define what they wished to grant to our citizens. Now there's also a disagreement on whether or not health care is actually addressed in that document (folks split in interpretations of 'general welfare'), but that isn't to say that a community can't come together and determine what rights they wish for their residents to possess. Granted, I'm wading into philosophical waters that I'm not trained to swim in, but it's an interesting question to ponder, isn't it?

- Congrats Giada ... easily the favorite star of The Food Network of Russ and I.

- Programming update ... plans to record our first podcast in weeks are set for tonight, and it promises to be excellent. Hopefully we'll get it up tonight or first thing tomorrow morning.

- Looks like Curt Schilling's coming back ... now let's move on Mike Lowell fellas.

To drink or not to drink

One of the items up for a vote at tonight's Athens-Clarke County Commission Meeting is that of creating a special-use permit that would enable businesses to waive the distance requirements that currently exist under our alcohol ordinance. In short, restaurants would be able to serve beer or wine next to schools or churches.

As of now, there are currently three or four commissioners who appear to be poised to oppose this (Kathy Hoard, George Maxwell, Harry Sims and Doug Lowry). Both Sims and Hoard are rather definite in their opposition, while Lowry offered some valid questions during the agenda-setting meeting on Oct. 18 that indicated he had some concerns over the proposal.

I don't bemoan any opposition of any of these folks, and I believe Hoard summed it up nicely by saying that good folks just disagree over this particular piece of legislation. Currently, one cannot serve alcohol within 100 yards of a private dwelling in a single-family residential area or within 200 yards of a church or school building. This proposed waiver would set up a refundable waiver fee that could be paid for businesses to then appear before the commission to seek the right to be exempt to those restrictions, and their ability to continue to be exempt would be reviewed by staff on a yearly basis.

Again, I can sympathize with the concerns over this, but I just disagree with the opposition. For starters, most of the establishments would operate at different times than most churches and schools. Furthermore, the way the ordinance is currently set up, a business is free to serve alcohol if it's 201 yards away, but not 200 yards away ... which is fairly ridiculous.

And finally, this also leads to this false notion that alcohol is evil, and that if we are allowed to even sell it at a restaurant that is within 200 yards of a church or a school our society will crumble.

There are legitimate questions to be raised over the process, as well as some concerns I have regarding granting special-use permits to businesses that will sell that close to a single-family residence (ones that pertain more to traffic and noise than alcohol sales), but on the whole, this appears to be a rational compromise with the appropriate mechanisms in place to restrict where needed.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Speak into my good ear

Ah yes, he's some misleading spin if I've ever seen it ... even if it is subtle.

Glenn Richardson is touting a poll which says that 58 percent of Georgians favor the Glenn Tax. Sounds simple enough, right?

Well ... take a look at that question ...

As you may know, the Georgia legislature is considering putting a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would eliminate all property taxes — including taxes on homes, commercial property and personal property items such as cars and trucks.

This revenue would be replaced by eliminating nearly all sales tax exemptions, and make the 4 percent state sales tax include services. Knowing what you do, do you favor or oppose this constitutional amendment?

Now 'knowing what you do' ... would you support it? Well, hell yeah man! Property taxes are awful and sales taxes rule!

Did you notice what was left out ... rather conveniently left out I might add?

The fact that all revenue will flow through Atlanta and then be doled out by the Georgia General Assembly.

Why doesn't the Speaker insert the appropriate language about this thing stripping away local control and then reintroduce the question? Until he does, this poll is a sham.

Hey guys! Wait up!

Blake picked up on this a few days back, but apparently Terry Holley has decided to step into the arena of pain one more time.

And this one is the most baffling and, forgive me, but insulting one yet. Here we have a guy who is supposed to be the chairman of the 10th Congressional District, but whose ego is so falsely inflated he's decided to run for office ... again. Forget the fact that, though he's still a longshot, Democrats already actually have a candidate who's raised some money and has a strong resume to run on.

Shouldn't the party chair of the 10th Congressional District, I don't know, actually work to support the candidates seeking office? I mean, it's one thing to jump into the fray when no one wants to run, but when you actually have a viable contender for once? Give me a break.

How in the world does Holley keep getting elected to be the party chair of the 10th Congressional District?

Dan's got a pretty good post on it too.

It's a funny

Barack Obama on Saturday Night Live. Awesome.

Couple of things

- Well, where will my mother and The Wife go now when the latter is visiting on the weekend?

- I do think that, in time, we'll see fewer arrests because the fear of arrest has the ability to curb underage drinking, but I also think that UGA student Sarah Caruana is dead-on. The issue is proper education regarding alcohol consumption, and, truth be told, a lot of that begins at home. I wasn't going on 24-hour binges when I was 17-years-old because I grew up in a household where both my parents drank in a responsible way, passing there attitudes and practices down to me. I do think UGA is to be applauded for its alcohol education courses, but you have to wonder, particularly in the short-term, do 18-year-olds who have finally tasted freedom really want to be lectured on drinking? This is a tough complex problem, and there isn't really an easy answer to it.

- In the most overhyped regular season game in history, New England beat Indianapolis. Yes, it was a good game, and, yes, I wanted the Patriots to win. But still, if New England loses three of its next seven games compared to the Colts losing just one, Indianapolis has homefield advantage for the postseason and this whole thing is for naught, right?

- Speaking of pro sports ... I watched two NBA games this weekend. Incredible, I know. But I watched the debut of the new Celtics on Friday, and those guys are pretty darn good. And then I caught up with the Hawks last night, who dropped a heartbreaker to the Pistons.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Lending influence

One of the more interesting things I've come across as of late is The Telegraph's rankings of the most influential conservatives and liberals. Some of the ones are kinda head-scratching such as ...

Both Michael Moore and Oprah Winfrey in the top 10 for 'Most Influential Liberals'?

Elizabeth Edwards ahead of husband John?

Gen. David Petreaus at No. 2 on the 'Most Influential Conservatives' list?

Newt Gingrich at No. 4?

The presence of Evan Bayh anywhere on the 'Most Influential Liberals' list, let alone No. 10?

Still, kudos to Erick for clocking at No. 69.

Welcome aboard

Brian Brodrick, a loyal reader and current councilman for the city of Watkinsville, has started his own blog called Voice of Moderation. He'll keep us up-to-date on some happenings in Oconee County, as well as some of his thoughts on different issues of the day.

Brian's good people. It'll be worth the read.

They've got it rough

This has already made its way around the blogosphere in some fashion, and it hit the Athens Banner-Herald today via the news wire, but Orme, Tenn. is completely out of water. They're having to truck water in from Alabama and only have service available from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at night.


Thanks for the well-wishes from all, but Emma Kate is doing just fine. Again, a relatively minor medical issue, but one that definitely was giving her much discomfort and her parents some unnecessary worrying. Good doctors checked it out and have us on the road to some quality mending (and no surgery needed! Woo-hoo!)