Monday, March 31, 2008

OneAthens meeting

I'm planning on going to the OneAthens meeting tonight, and I hope y'all are too. I'm very curious to see what progress has been made, and I think we all want to know what the next step is.

Some random thoughts ...

- I'm still somewhat concerned over the fundraising element of this, and I hope that gets touched on tonight. Again, unless OneAthens is using its clout and status to pursue larger grants that can be distributed to area non-profits who would otherwise be unable to aggressively seek them, I still feel that you're going to see some unnecessary competition for funding. This has the potential, at best, to merely shift funding from the funder to OneAthens to the non-profit or, at worst, deprive some non-profits which have performed well of much-needed funds.

- Case in point, I'm troubled by the language that stresses OneAthens would seek 'to improve efficiency and communication' by reducing the number of available grants. While I do think a number of area non-profits aren't performing to their best level, I don't think it's my business to advocate that, say, the Athens Area Homeless Coalition should shut them down. Why not let the funder determine that and not folks not connected with the process. Competing over funding is already hard enough, and if you don't believe me then you should attend a United Way meeting some time and watch folks fight for those dollars.

- I think Tim Johnson's group taking this over would be a fantastic idea. There are few people in this community who are more dedicated to the fight against poverty than him, and he would do an excellent job.

- Furthermore, I think a staff of five is appropriate. While I sympathize with Pat Allen's sentiment - that one person would be dedicated and focused - I also think it would potentially overburden said person and limit effectiveness.

- I will say kudos to UGA for taking some positive steps toward alleviating this process. Don't get me wrong, I think they've got a long way to go, but it's encouraging to see them start to get the ball rolling. I'm really impressed by the committment to help low-wage employees pursue their GED.

Give it a read

Sam goes to my church. He's got a remarkable story, and I hope you all check it out.

Vote possible this week

This is an interesting read on Sunday Sales, and it's encouraging to see that the votes might exist to push this thing through. The margin will be key since Sonny Perdue has pledged to veto it, so I think the best case scenario is to see it pass by a comfortable margin and work to override the veto next year. Well, actually the best case scenario would be passing it with a confident veto-proof majority, but I don't know if that happens out of the gate.

Still, in a weird twisted way, can I applaud Rev. Tom Rush from First Baptist Church of Social Circle? I don't agree with his argument, but at least he's honest about it in that he wants to restrict sales. Most of the opposition to this bill is all doubletalk, so to hear some articulate a clear argument against it is, to some extent, refreshing.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Ah the sound of stupidity

Don Marchildon ...

I will not attach a name to it either, but whatever it is, it did not work in the Garden of Eden, it did not work in the Soviet Union, it is not working in Europe and Canada and it surely will not work here.

Let's work to bring the cost of medical service down. Cost is the problem. ...

This was presumably in response to my letter ...

... Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama's health care plan resembles nothing like a nationalized government-run health care plan, instead opting to provide subsidies and tax benefits for individuals seeking insurance while simultaneously working with existing private health care providers to expand coverage and lower costs.

Of course, it is working in Europe and Canada, but again, damn those pesky facts.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Worth considering

I didn't really give it much thought when I say his name mentioned as a possible candidate for mayor in 2010, but the more I think about it, the more I'm intrigued by the possibility of a run by Jack Lumpkin.

Lumpkin's put together an impressive career as police chief and is one of only a handful of individuals in the community who not only has earned the respect of the progressive factions of town as well as the conservative ones, but he also possesses a good mix of real world common sense and practical executive experience.

Personally, I tend to think he might run stronger in the African-American community than Charlie Maddox will in the upcoming election, and I think he could put together effective coalitions to put him in office. Plus, and more importantly, he would really bring some much needed perspective on our problems of crime in the community, and, more specifically, how that crime is crippling the youth in Athens-Clarke County.

Now, don't get me wrong, this isn't an endorsement two years out. Far from it. We still don't know if he would run, or who else might jump into the mix. But Lumpkins has been a dedicated servant, is a good man and would figure to be a prominent player in any talks of that campaign.

Not stunning

Further proof Paul Krugman has become little more than a shill for the Clinton campaign stems from his criticism of Barack Obama's speech on the economy.

Matthew Yglesias thinks it's off base and he references two columns to prove his point. One features Robert Kuttner calls Krugman's argument 'preposterous' and the other has Jared Bernstein expressing similar disbelief.

Listen, Krugman not liking Obama has almost become a comic novelty these days and one that is gradually eroding the confidence of even his most fervent supporters, but I would expect that, as an acclaimed economist, he would actually be able to process the arguments and positions made in the speech. I mean, Obama's speech is just the type of big-picture, pro-active progressive economic policies that most Democrats would like.

I think Kuttner had the money quote ...

But Krugman, ordinarily an ornament of fair-minded progressive economics commentary, writes almost as if he has become part of the Clinton campaign. His latest characterization of Obama's proposals in commenting on the New York speech -- "cautious and relatively orthodox" -- was preposterous. Even if Krugman's sympathies are with Clinton, he owes it to his readers and to his own credibility to play it straight and credit Obama with a breakthrough when credit is due.

Not yet

There's been a good bit of focus on Jim Martin's entry into the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, and, in turn, we've seen a lot of undecided and likely to support so-and-so Democrats move into his camp. It's not without good reason as Martin is a good guy, on the whole I agree with his platform and I think he's been a strong Democrat at a time when such a thing isn't terribly popular in Georgia.

That said, don't count me on the Martin bandwagon.

From what I can gather, Martin is the preferred choice by those within party circles because - as even folks at Daily Kos note - he's viewed as the most 'viable' candidate against Chambliss. However, I don't think this is the case at all.

First off, despite sporting some high unfavorables for an elected Republican in this state, Chambliss doesn't seem set to lose this seat. An unpopular Republican in Georgia is still a Republican in Georgia, and until Democrats can build up their bench by diversifying their locally elected officails, it's an uphill road to knock him off.

Secondly, Martin only tallied 42 percent in his bid for Lt. Governor in 2006. While I can concede that his numbers might have fared better had he faced off against Ralph Reed, I think the point is that his ceiling probably hovers around 42 to 45 percent.

Again, this isn't to diminish the record of Martin, but to just point out what I think is obvious and to note that's why I'm still sticking with Josh Lanier. And it's for largely the reasons that Flack noted a few months back (despite some of my disagreements at the time).

Friday, March 28, 2008

Words of wisdom

My buddy Paul had his first child just a few days back (well, actually, his wife did most of the work), so here's a belated kudos to him. And some wise advice from a father of all of eight months (approximately) ...

- Honestly, sleep does return to your household. People don't believe it - I know I didn't - but lo and behold, eventually your daughter will actually sleep through the night.

- Go with Avent pacifiers. Those things rock, and they actually stay in the kid's mouth.

- It's at this point in your marriage that you realize that, yes, your wife is always right. I resisted this for a long time, but when you add someone else to the mix it becomes clear that it's just so much easier that way.

- Bryan was the first to tell me this, but if you think spit-up is kind of gross now, wait until she begins eating food. There's nothing like getting hit in the face with regurgitated squash and milk. Of course, it would be more disgusting if the kid wasn't so cute and obviously happier after doing so.

- Shots suck. And they're harder on Daddy than anyone else.

- It may not have hit you fully just yet, but at some point in the next few months you're going to realize you're a dad. I mean, really realize you're a dad. And that's wonderful and horrifying all rolled into one.

- Enjoy these days while you can because, though everyone says it, they really do fly by faster than you realize.

- Buy stock in the company that makes nebulizers. If you don't know what one is, don't worry ... you will.

- There truly is no greater feeling in the world than when you come home from work or go pick her up from day care and, when she sees you, unleashes the biggest smile and gets so excited by your mere presence. It's awesome.

Um, wow

You know, here I was about to write a somewhat positive post about Rep. Paul Broun in that despite our vast ideological differences, I honestly respect how he approaches his job and the work he does to stay in contact with his constituents.

Then I went to his web site and watched the intro, which reminded me of a trailer for one of those Left Behind movies. Seriously, that's pure fearmongering at its best, and on a level that's so pathetic and comical I laughed out loud.


In the news of the amazing, Augusta State is playing for the Division II national championship on Saturday. Back in the day, the Jaguars really weren't that good at all, and the only year that I remember them being somewhat decent was one of their final seasons at the Division I level in which they reached the Big South tournament finals and got to play on ESPN.

Apparently, they're pretty good this year. So, well, awesome. I guess I'll have to watch them on CBS on Saturday.

Perdue's chicken

Here is the governor's full op-ed, in all its spectacularly misleading glory.

I'd really like to see some pushback from those in the Georgia General Assembly who favor Sunday Sales because, again, we let local communities decide pretty much everything else with regard to alcohol sales and distribution except this.

Music for the moment

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Well, that's not it at all really

Good grief.

Gov. Sonny Perdue has divorced himself from reality in his upcoming op-ed regarding his opposition to Sunday Sales ...

The sponsors of the New Mexico legislation hoped that allowing sales for off-premise consumption might encourage more people to buy alcohol and drink at home, thus reducing accidents and deaths. This argument was a tempting trap for the state’s legislators, and many of our own elected officials are chasing the same carrot without seeing the stick.

Now, I have always been a data-driven decision maker, so let me share the numbers with you. The study found that alcohol-related crashes increased by 29 percent on Sundays in counties that allowed sales.

Those additional crashes led to a 42 percent increase in alcohol-related fatalities on Sundays. If we apply these same percentages to Georgia’s highways, using 2006 data from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, we can expect approximate increases of 371 alcohol-related crashes and six alcohol-related fatalities per year.

While fear-mongering is always a good way to score some cheap political points, how can one make this argument with a straight face given that we live in a state where alcohol is sold six other days of the week. For Perdue's logic to work, he would have to advocate banning alcohol sales across the board. Furthermore, the governor is perfectly fine with letting a ballpark in Gwinnett County sell beer and wine on Sundays, and he apparently doesn't care that we currently have the 50 percent rule for restaurants which enables them to sell alcohol on Sundays.

Letting local communities, however, determine what's best for them and, in turn, potentially join the other 47 states which sell alcohol on Sundays is too much for him though.

Seriously, I know this is rather a small issue in the grand scheme of things, but the answer - allowing local communities determine how and when they wish to sell a legally approved beverage - is so brazingly obvious, it staggers me there isn't the political will to just get it done.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Couple of things

- Been busy with a variety of things, so it's been some light postings the past few days. Apologies to all.

- Aside from being fairly ridiculous, Bill Shipp's column also reeks of blatant prejudice seeing how he chides Democratic voters for letting a white woman and black man emerge as its top two presidential candidates. Apparently the white men from the 1950s would have been so much wiser and not let this happen and stuck another white men up for a presidential run.

- Related to the Corridor Management article, I'm a little torn. While I'm an advocate for the concept of 'Complete Streets' I also think things like bike lanes or sidewalks are not essential for inclusion for all of corridors. I want them where they are appropriate, but I don't want to see the discussion of this worthy study and resulting recommendations get bogged down by some of those details. That said, the proposal that is referenced for Jefferson Road sounds very, very good.

- Grady Thrasher's lying about NBAF? Shocking!

- Blake talks ethics and lobbyist gifts, and I've always wondered how hard is it, exactly, to, you know, not accept these gifts? Granted, I'm not one who thinks tickets to a Braves game or a nice dinner out is going to sway a bunch of votes - and, in actuality, that's how a lot of business is done - but since it seems to always draw such scrutiny, why not say 'no thanks, I've got my own covered.' Would save us all a lot of hand-wringing, right?

- In the same post, Blake talks about Red Petrovs's flirtation with running for District Six. Again, kudos to Petrovs for his work with OneAthens, but I have serious reservations about his candidacy for the Athens-Clarke County Commission. He's made some rather derisive comments about non-profit organizations, and that troubles me.

- Absolutely awesome. I've been to STATS, and it was pretty friggin' good. I had an open-faced Thanksgiving sandwich with turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce while I was attending The New Baptist Covenant Celebration, and it was high quality. Now this is even more reason to go back.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tone is off, but point is valid

Granted I think he's being a little too hostile and defensive with a college newspaper reporter, but I also believe Andrew Sullivan is giving Bill Clinton way too grief over his record of fighting for gay rights.

Arguably the political climate in the 1990s - shoot even in 2004 - is much different than it is today, so it's hard to accuse the Clinton Administration of not acting within the political context of the time, which was more hostile to gays. And, truth be told, the first thing his administration did was pursue 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' in the military which was quite controversial at the time.

Not that I don't completely sympathize with the point the student is attempting to make - that without bold, sometimes unpopular, actions, change can be hard to achieve - but Clinton's point, even if he made it poorly, that forcing states that ban gay marriage to recognize gay marriages from states where it is legal would lead to a severe backlash is valid (and, on a philosophical level, one I tend to agree with).

Monday, March 24, 2008

Water, water, but only some can drink

While I think most folks agree that we need to move toward a conservation pricing system here in Athens-Clarke County, the questions raised in this editorial and by Kelly Girtz, Carl Jordan and George Maxwell are good ones.

And they're ones I asked a while back ... namely how is this not a benefit for those who didn't conserve a few years back? Or, more to the point, somewhat of a punishment for those who did? Granted, I can concede the point made by Kathy Hoard, which is that individuals can appeal the process or the allotment, but how is that efficient government?

That's why I disagree with Hoard's assertion that this isn't perfect - far from it actually - but, and I'm paraphrasing here, 'the best we got.' Well, forgive me, but I hear this line all too often from a variety of levels of government, and I don't think it's accurate. Wouldn't the more logical course of action be to allocate a uniform amount of water usage to certain homes and industries, allow for an appeals process for variances on those and then start moving up the pricing scale after those limits are exceeded?

This mismash of 'personalized' usage, based on data from two to three years ago, doesn't spread the burden across the communit in a equitable way.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

And he hasn't won an Oscar yet?

Every once in a while there are these moments, ones that are so crystal clear and real, that you believe that the world is, as Martin Luther King Jr. once said, bending toward the long arc of justice.

Then, you see The Pacifier and you realize we're all probably screwed.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Music for the moment

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Paul joins us

An old friend from high school, Paul, has started his own blog called Blogsted which will document his journey into parenthood as he and his wife are a few days away from welcoming their first child into the world.

Just keep your head down and accept that you don't sleep more than two consecutive hours during the first four months or so, and you'll be fine.

Pottery Town Charette

I'm still a little unsure what a 'charette' is, but this was forwarded to me, so I figured I'd post it ...

Pottery Town Charrette

Athens, GA

March 20th – 24th, 2008

Sponsored by the Chicopee-Dudley Neighborhood Association

Facilitated by the Center for Community Design and Preservation at UGA’s College of Environment and Design

“The goal of this charrette is to create a proactive plan for future development in this historic area of downtown Athens. The neighborhood consists of a small group of 1910 era houses and is currently under development pressure. Also involved are historic preservation issues, environmental management concerns, and urban planning. We'll be working with residents and community leaders to create a vision for positive change.”

What is a charrette?

Charrette is a French word that means “little cart.” At the leading architecture school of the 19th century, the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, students would be assigned a tough design problem to work out under the pressure of time. They would continue sketching as fast as they could, even as little carts (charrettes) carried their drawing boards away to be judged and graded. Today, charrette has come to describe the rapid, intensive, and creative work session in which a design team focuses on a particular design problem and arrives at a collaborative solution. Charrettes are product-oriented. The public charrette is fast becoming a preferred way to face the planning challenges confronting American cities. (Charrettes for New Urbanism, Victor Dover)

Who participates in a charrette facilitated by the Center for Community Design and Preservation?

The more the merrier! Students and faculty are the primary organizers and labor force. However, the success of a charrette is dependent on community participation and input at public meetings and presentations. Additionally, individual input is helpful and can be made though individual interview sessions, and/or by returning the attached questionnaire. Consult the charrette schedule for specific times and locations.

How is the study area delineated?

Although the focus of the charrette is on the future of Pottery Town (loosely defined as the small area bounded by the Oconee River, East Broad Street, and Oconee Street, and once the site of a thriving pottery factory and a supporting worker’s neighborhood), it is necessary to examine the history of, and potential impacts on, the surrounding neighborhoods and downtown commercial areas.

For more information on the Charrette process or the Center for Community Design and Preservation at the College of Environment and Design, link to

Pottery Town Charrette Schedule

March 20th – March 24th

Athens, GA

All events will be held at Jittery Joe’s Roaster’s

Thurs March 20th
7:30 pm Public Meeting

Fri March 21st
9:00 am Work Session
10 – 12 Interviews (if necessary)
12:30 pm Lunch
2:00 pm Work Session
7:00 pm End Work Session

Sat March 22nd
9:00 am Work Session
10 – 12 Interviews (if necessary)
12:30 pm Lunch
2:00 pm Work Session
8:00 pm End Work Session

Mon March 24th
6:30 pm Public Presentation

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Ah, the clarity

Meanwhile, in the real world, John McCain fundamentally misunderstands the situation in the Middle East, but no matter ... I'm sure Barack Obama has a third cousin who attended a church where a guest lecturer joked that 'white people can't dance.'

A little more

Expanding a little more on Barack Obama's speech today, what made it so brilliant was that it was so honest and so absolutely real. And it's that honesty that makes the ridiculous criticism by folks like Erick look so craveningly stupid and ignorant, that I hardly know where to begin.

But, of course, I do, and it's because the speech relied on a basic faith in the ability of those listening to Obama's words to accept them as a frank discussion on race relations in this country. In actuality, people like Erick show how small and petty they are by cherrypicking quotes, dreaming up 'unanswered questions' and thirsting for the same, old way of doing politics in this country that has delivered a nation divided along so many lines (economic, racial, gender, age, ideology, religion, etc.).

One can disagree with some of Obama's policy prescriptions in a perfect legitimate manner, but to deny the reality of what he was talking about is to plug your fingers in your ears, cover your eyes and pretend that America is something else. The truth is, it isn't.

And what drives home this point is Obama referencing his grandmother, a white woman who loved her biracial grandson yet would use disparaging and racial remarks toward other African-Americans. Why is this important? Because all of us experience this profound struggle when it comes to race.

I have a grandmother who, to this day, remains distrustful of the Japanese because of Pearl Harbor. I have a brother-in-law who harbors some personal prejudices against African-Americans. I have a mother who has freely admitted she's not sure if she could support a Mormon, let alone a Muslim, for president. My mother has a friend, one one full and well knows my mom is very progressive on ideas of race, yet freely uses insulting and demeaning language toward African-Americans in her presence.

Yet, I love all of this people. I cherish all of these people, despite what I perceive to be shortcomings on their part because I recognize the brokenness and imperfection of humanity, of which I am fully included. It's because for all of their biases or prejudices, there is also goodness within them that shines brighter than that hate.

And that is Obama's message. That this is an imperfect union, but our charge is to work to the best of our ability make it perfect, and sometimes that calls for denouncing the wrong but giving value to the good.

Folks, like Erick, will pick it apart because that's what they do, and that's a shame. It's a shame because they don't know how to process an argument that not only challenges them and their beliefs, but it also opens the door to move past the petty disputes of the past and finally - finally - consider how best to move forward.


Safe to say, Barack Obama's speech on race - entitled 'A More Perfect Union' - should go down as one of the most profound, open and honest discussions of race in our nation's history. It magnifies everything I believe in about our country, its contradictions and the ability of his campaign to transcend them.

It's not politics as usual, which is most refreshing, and those who treat it as such are, well, stupid.

The crystal ball of wonder

Over at Flagpole, John Huie did what all of us folks like to do, and that's speculate about the upcoming elections. He has the first confirmation of Charlie Maddox, who lost in a run-off to Heidi Davison in 2006, saying he would seek the mayor's seat in 2010. A lot of folks had been saying Maddox would give it another go, so it's not terribly surprising news.

Huie notes that Jack Lumpkin is interested, and I've heard that too. I've also heard Nancy Denson, the current tax commissioner, might be interested in running in 2010, though I've heard her name more frequently associating with Keith Heard's seat in the Georgia House of Representatives. A few years back, Alice Kinman was rumored as a candidate, but that talk has quieted somewhat, though I've heard from a few sources that Elton Dodson was interested in running for mayor. And, of course, the wild card would be if Doc Eldridge decided to jump in the race, though I figure that's a long-shot since I honestly believe he's settled on righting the ship of the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce.

Lumpkin and Denson would really make this an interesting race, particularly with Maddox in the mix. The African-American community rallied behind Maddox in 2006, but if Lumpkin opted to jump in the mix that would potentially split the vote. Also, Denson has the ability to bring the progressive wing that backed Davison twice and also reach out to some of the 'Old Athens' crowd that liked Eldridge and Maddox.

In District Six, which is my backyard, Carl Jordan has indicated that he plans on seeking a third term, which is somewhat surprising since I've heard from a lot of folks, including Jordan, that he'd be interested in passing the torch. However, as this article in Flagpole shows, the good commissioner seems somewhat invigorated by the infusion of young progressives on the commission, so it's not too stunning to see him want to stay on.

Red Petrovs, he of the co-chairing OneAthens fame, told Huie was considering a challenge to Jordan, which would make this an interesting race since Petrovs has good name recognition in the community. I'd be very torn about a Petrovs candidacy since he's arguably done good work with OneAthens, but I've had some disagreements with his characterizations of non-profits throughout the process as well as some of his personal prescriptions for remedying poverty. Outside of that, I don't know much else about his views.

Now, I've been mentioned as a candidate for this seat in the past, and a couple of folks have alluded to such a run in comments for the past year, but, as of now, I'm very much in the camp of not running for a variety of reasons including my new business venture and the very real possibility that we'll have to move since our house is already busting at the seams and, quite literally, the kid can't even move yet. Once she's mobile, we're going to need some space, and if I was to run and be fortunate enough to win, it wouldn't be fair to my family or the voters should we opt to move.

This isn't to say that I don't have an interest in serving the public in the appropriate capacity, and that perhaps seeking public office (even this seat) is a way to do just that, but, as of this very moment, I lean toward sitting out.

Couple of things

- J.T. was nice enough to humor me and publish my letter that responded to Andy Totten's 'Barack Obama is a socialist' letter from this past weekend.

- Awesome. It's like the mid-1990s all over again! And, in a words I never thought I'd write, I agree with Diddy on this one ... the story is kinda shoddy, and anything that is geared toward young readers on the web and labeled as 'perfect for that audience is more of a product than, you know, actual journalism.

- I'm torn on this, well on one element at least. As of now, I'm not in favor of three-laning North Avenue for the same rationale that I'm not in favor of three-laning Prince Avenue in that both serve as primary corridors to our downtown business district. However, I'm open for discussion for Cedar Shoals Drive. Clearly there isn't enough traffic there to justify the four lanes it currently has, though I'm more skeptical about adding a median to the center lane. If our projections indicate that within the next 10 years the road will exceed the capacity for three-lane roads, and the issue must be revisited again, the removal of said median would be messy and, I would assume, expensive. Plus medians, however attractive, do pose logistics problems for the existing traffic on those roads.

- It's borderline incredible he was employed for 12 years, with three warnings in between, and then sails off to the University of Texas, only to be fired again. I mean, can't one sense a pattern?

- Wow. Paul Broun has a huge lead over Barry Fleming and Nancy Schaefer in this poll. I figure that it'll be hard to break into his leads in Northeast Georgia, even with Schaefer's sabotage plan in play, but to see the two challengers garnering less than 20 percent combined is stunning.

- I think Amy Summers has a very valid point namely because I only clicked on this link because I thought 'pretty girls in bikinis!'

- Well, this answers one question a neighbor of mine had the other day, now I just need to do some more research on the safety records of existing facilities (though I tried to explain to her that such a comparison would, on some level, be an apples-and-oranges kind of thing since this is a newer facility).

- This is where we need some forward thinking, regionally, because even though we're still mired in a drought and are in need of some restrictions, we all have full reservoirs and our rivers are swollen due to much-needed rains. However, that water just funnels downstream to other parts and it would be nice if we actually had a plan in place to build another reservoir to take advantage of these higher flows, thus further preparing ourselves for the expected dry summer.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day

The kid knows her roots.

And some humor ...

A man wakes up one morning with the filthiest hangover after hitting his favorite pub in Dublin, and he has no recollection of the night before. Slowly opening his eyes, he sees a bottle of aspirin and a glass of water on the bedside table. He looks around the room to find his clothes are on the dresser, neatly folded, with a clean shirt on top. The bedroom is immaculate. On the bedside table is a note, which says, 'Darling, your breakfast is in the kitchen. I love you.'

Downstairs, he finds his favourite cereal, croissants, fresh OJ and freshly brewed coffee laid out waiting for him, along with the morning paper - and his 15-year-old son, who is finishing his own breakfast.

'Tell me, son,' he asks, 'what happened last night?'

'Well, says the boy, 'you came home so blind drunk you didn't even know your own name. You nearly broke the door down, then you were sick in the hallway, then you knocked the furniture over and when Mum tried to calm you down, you thought she was the police, so you gave her a black eye.'

'Christ!' says the man. 'Then how come my clothes are all folded, the house is tidy and my breakfast is ready?'

'When Mum dragged you into the bedroom and tried to get your trousers off to put you into bed, you shouted at her, 'Get your filthy hands off me, you whore, I'm married!''

UPDATE: How could I forget Paul in my Irish discussions! His link for the day is here, and I would add Shipping Up To Boston by The Dropkick Murphys, Leaving Of Liverpool by Gaelic Storm and, just for the sheer absurdity of it, Jump Around by House of Pain.


A few weeks ago at Sunday School, I said that Tiger Woods was going to run the table this year and win every tournament he entered. His performance yesterday in the Arnold Palmer Invitational - including a dramatic birdie on the final hole to capture his seventh consecutive victory - did nothing to change my mind.

Granted he'll play a limited schedule (the majors, a few Buick-sponsored events, the Wachovia Championship, etc.), but, giv.Oen the state of his game right now, I find it harder to believe that he could not win rather than win.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Go Dawgs.

Associated Press photo

Um, OK. I'm willing to admit when I'm wrong.

While I've still got some criticisms, it's hard to argue with an improbable four-game run culminating in only the second SEC Championship in the program's history and the first NCCA Tournament bid since 2002. Let's keep him around another year and watch me eat plenty of crow.

So Thursday, all I know is I'm watching a basketball game with a case of cold Budweiser and, perhaps, some buffalo wings. Who's with me?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Why it doesn't matter

I didn't weigh in on the Geraldine Ferarro comments earlier this week because they, like this nonsense involving Jeremiah Wright, is all a non-story. While I hardly condone the comments made by Ferarro or Wright, are we to really believe that the foolish views or misguided statements of two individuals reflect some underlying, nefarious system of beliefs by either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama?

And the same goes for John McCain's ties to Ted Hagee, Rod Parsley and the late Jerry Falwell.

I work with and am friends with a variety of people who hold varying views on race, politics, religion, etc. and etc., but their beliefs are not necessarily mine, and my association with them doesn't mean I either condone or reject them. Likewise, I've been a member of First Baptist Church of Athens for almost four years now, and I've heard a sermon now and then where I've thought 'I don't agree with that intrepretation' or 'I think that's a little too much on that' but those few differences don't give an indication to the mission of the church or the differing beliefs and views of the members of the congregation.

Which is why all of this talk of a pastor's ties or Ferarro's diatribe are profoundly stupid. But, sadly, it'll be a story for all three candidates because the national media loves gossip and scandal, and different campaigns jockeying for position will use these periphery figures as validation of the 'fringe' beliefs of their opponents.

It's what you say and do

Arugably, I think Erick is being pretty stupid on this issue, and that isn't to say that I don't think there are some legitimate concerns about a citizens ethics commission being abused. However, either he's playing dumb or he's just incredibly dense if he thinks folks are bothered by his admission that folks abuse the systems.

Um, no.

I think the fact that he wants to put forward exclusionary legislation that would forbid certain citizens from participation is probably why folks like Flack found it objectionable (plus calling stay-at-home parents 'busybodies' means that Erick's got absolutely no idea what stay-at-home parents do).

Listen, it's one thing to toss out outrageous statements if you're a pundit, as Erick's been for a good long while. However, it's another to be an elected official and do that ... though if your local political reporters likes to look the other way, preferring instead to espouse on raising $700 million from Georgia citizens, I suppose accountability is more fluid than anything else.

Ah yes ...

One has to wonder if Andy Totten knows how absurdly silly his letters are ...

That way, if (Barack Obama) is elected president, perhaps the government will have extra money to provide the Third World health care that will exist under his national health insurance plan.

Now, I could point out that Obamam's plan resembles nothing like a nationalized health insurance plan, so much in so that he's been attacked from the left for it being too moderate, but whatever. What I will point out is that the health care system of the United States currently ranks 37th globally according to the World Health Organization and ranked last among industrialized nations according to The Commonwealth Fund.

Still, this is the same Andy Totten who relished in the deaths of some teenagers, wants to shoot illegal immigrants coming across our border, believes having babies is the only cause of poverty and spying on citizens illegally is way too cool so perhaps we should take his latest diatribe with a grain of salt since he is, you know, a moron.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Sonny pushes back, stupidly

Well, it's clear now that Sonny Perdue will veto any legislation that grants local communities the right to hold votes on Sunday Sales because, again, local control is such a terrible concept ...

We live in a republic, and the people of Georgia send us here to make decisions. I’m very concerned about a lot of the efforts I hear this year, about ‘Well, we’ll just let people vote on it.’ I mean, do we want to let the people vote to choose to allow prostitution and those kinds of things? Where are we going to draw the line?

And there we have it ... letting local communities vote on whether or not they will let their grocery stores, gas stations, etc., sell beer and wine on Sunday is equal to letting voters vote on legalizing prostitution.

Even though we already do sell alcohol six other days of the week ... even though our existing protocol is to let local voters participate in referendums to determine whether or not they should permit alcohol sales during those six days ... even though the original bill this proposal was amended to deals specifically with letting a designated local community sell beer and wine from its stadium, the governor doesn't care.

So here's what the Georgia General Assembly should do ... man up, pass the bill and dare him to veto it. If he does, override it as soon as you can and declare that Perdue wasn't acting in accordance with the wishes of the voters.

Couple of things

- While I agree with the statistical approach taken by Gene Weeks, I think that misses the point. The implication from Scott Berry's comments was that Athens-Clarke County was some sort of crime-ridden hole in the earth, when in actually our crime rates - particularly our murder rate, which is almost nonexistent - are actually quite low in comparison to other cities. While it's true they are higher than our surrounding rual counties, we're not living on Eight Mile Road here.

- I'm all for this if we can somehow relive all of the odd, yet fantastic tragedies that Kelly experienced on the show. Bonus points for the reader who can list, without looking up, some of those instances.

- Yeah, um, how again? Georgia blew a 13-point lead in the closing minutes of the game, scrapped through overtime and relied on a bank shot from an off-balance post player in order to slip past Ole Miss. If you examine the 'totality' of the program, it all points toward the dismissal of Dennis Felton. Of course, he'll be kept around because folks will buy into the false meme that there aren't qualified coaches out there and that it's only five years since Harrick (which is something I look forward to hearing about five years from now ... 'guys, listen, just a decade ago we had those self-imposed sanctions, and you know it's hard to build a program .... what, you mean Tennessee won in three years ... look away young man, look away!').

- There's an interesting element to the survey of homeless in our community that often gets overlooked, and that's the notion that we have 'too many' non-profits or some might duplicate services. While it's important to note that shrinking grant funds and increased competition for a small pool of private donors makes the growing non-profit industry more difficult to manage, the clients that need to be serviced are growing, which is why the duplication of services angle seems rather irrelevant in the course of things. Or perhaps a better way to approach it is funnelling support toward successful and viable non-profits so they can expand their programs and serve their clients more efficiently.

- The other interesting thing to note is that while I agree with Courtney Davis that the homeless count is actually higher than the number indicates, it's still relatively low for our community, yet our poverty rate is astoundingly high. Seeing how close to 70 percent of those living in poverty work either full- or part-time, this underlines the fact that there are so many who are just barely getting by and are literally a paycheck away from joining those on the streets.

Music for the moment

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Public meetings to be held

From the local government ...

Tell Us What You Think!

ACC Leisure Services will host two public meetings for the department's comprehensive master plan. The first meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 18 at Clarke Middle School with the second meeting taking place Wednesday, March 19 at Hilsman Middle School. Both meetings take place 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. For more information, please call (706) 613-3625 or visit

Speak out on Sunday Sales

Though I really can't figure out why Sonny Perdue would veto a bill that enabled local communitities to merely vote on the ability to have Sunday Sales, it's important to note that this is likely headed for a floor vote on the House.

And, again, I'm a big backer of this bill for two main reasons - local control and Budweiser on Sundays. Since much of the sentiment has been the same here, why don't you email your local rep and encourage them to back the bill ...

State House
Rep. Doug McKillip -
Rep. Keith Heard -
Rep. Bob Smith -

State Senate
Sen. Ralph Hudgens -
Sen. Bill Cowsert -

Water everywhere!

At least for now, you can water your yard (kind of), but with more dry weather forecast for the summer months, it's fairly obvious that we'll be back on full restrictions soon enough.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

It lives!

Atta boy Roger Williams.

Listen, all I want is the chance for local communities to vote on this Sunday Sales thing because, well, I'd just like to be able to buy a six-pack of Budweiser on Sunday when I'm doing my usual grocery shopping.

LPDS redux

As a lot of folks know, I began to focus this blog's efforts on our local political scene back in 2006. This was primarily because I got caught up in the La Puerta del Sol debate, and I was firmly for the approval of the rezoning.

It's been two years since that heated debate, and nothing has happened. What has happened, however, is that Bruno Rubio has opted to become one of the most easily distracted business owners in our community. He fights a zoning battle over on the eastside, and then runs a restaurant close to campus to help 'raise funds' to build that development.

So then, obviously his next move was to ... consider building a development out on Jefferson Road. His inability to even actively convey his wishes or communicate the reasons for his delays at the Cofer's site with the community have been most disappointing to me (and I'm quite sure there perfectly reasonable ones too).

Make no mistake, I'm all for the type of development that Rubio is proposing and that's one of the primary reasons I so adamently supported him two years ago. However, it must be noted, that back during the original discussion more than one person - for and against the proposal - would say to me something along the lines of 'it's a great idea, but I just wish there was a different businessman who was more focused pushing forward this idea.'

The point being that Rubio was widely known as somebody who was good at starting up a project, but not following through with it. Whether or not this is true about him or merely unnecessary gossip in the community is not clear to me, though.

Now, let me be clear on this as I'm not advocating that the extension not be granted, as I think Rubio should be granted it. However, the lack of progress at the site, coupled with his ability to be so easily distracted by other ventures, is more than disappointing to so many who strongly supported him and his goal of bringing this mixed-use development to the Eastside.

P.S. - This, by the way, offers no judgement on Rubio's empanadas or chicken sandwiches ... both of which are spectacular.

Yep, he still needs to be fired

I have to say that I disagree with Texas on this big-time. How anyone in their right mind can sit there and seriously say that Dennis Felton is the man who will lead Georgia to better days is beyond me.

He's struggled to adjust to the level of play in the SEC. He's struggled to recruit competively. He's struggled to bring in players who are able to meet his admirably but rigid standards. He's struggled to field a consistent winner. He's struggled to manage the flow of the games (as painfully evident by his inability to call a timeout during an Ole Miss run that doomed the Bulldogs this past weekend).

And citing the challenge of finding a qualified coach as a reason to keep your average one is a pathetic argument, and one that schools across the country have somehow embraced in that silly goal of assembling a competitive program.

Felton may or may not remain next season, but keeping him on board and then expecting the team to be able to crank out 20 wins down the road is more than wishful thinking.

Greenhouse gases as a positive

Because, as my former boss Jason Winders knows and agrees with me, space is pretty darn cool. If there's one thing I tip my hat to the current administration for, it's manned exploration of Mars.

And last night I got absolutely sucked into a program on The History Channel talking about colonization of Mars, which included the concept of terraforming. Of course, The Wife thought it was boring and fell asleep, but I got roped in.

Then again, I also bought the accompanying book for Voyage To The Planets, which was a rather odd docu-drama made about a manned exploration of the Solar System.

Work in Five Points

Some updates from the local government ...

The Five Points business area will undergo a series of infrastructure improvements projects during the spring and summer of 2008 and 2009. The improvements will involve a water main upgrade and stormwater improvements.
Water main improvements will take place on South Lumpkin Street from Milledge Avenue to Carlton Terrace during April 2008 through July 2008. Stormwater improvements are currently underway in the Cherokee Avenue/Catawba Avenue/Milledge Circle area through July 2008, but will not take place on South Lumpkin Street until April 2009 through July 2009.

The decision to divide the projects into two components over two years came about after Unified Government staff met with representatives of the Five Points Business Association in July 2007 to obtain input about the process and schedule.

As a result, the schedule was adjusted to the following to address time frame, work days, work hours, and other concerns:

• Stormwater Improvements from the Outfall to the Milledge Circle/South Lumpkin Street/Milledge Avenue Intersection (October 2007-July 2008; Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.)

• Water Main Improvements along South Lumpkin Street from Milledge Avenue to Carlton Terrace (April-July 2008; Monday-Thursday, 2:00-11:00 p.m.)

• Stormwater Improvements along South Lumpkin Street from Milledge Avenue to Carlton Terrace (April-July 2009; Sunday/Monday-Thursday, 2:00-11:00 p.m.)

The revised schedule raises the probability that construction will be completed on time, even with possible weather delays. Additionally, projects will not be active after the beginning of the University’s fall semester in either 2008 or 2009. The new schedule also minimizes possible conflict between water main and stormwater improvements as well as potential conflicts with other underground utilities. The ACC Public Utilities Department will perform the water main improvements, while a
private company contracted by the ACC Transportation & Public Works Department is undertaking stormwater improvements.

Area residents and businesses will be provided with biweekly updates through regular Street Scenes newsletters, e-mail updates,, and ACTV Cable Channel 7 during :10-:20 of each hour.

A public drop-in meeting will also take place on Wednesday, March 19 at Fire Station #3 (1744 South Lumpkin Street) from 4:00-7:00 p.m. with maps, information, and staff on hand.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

OK, I'm almost done

I mean, I really don't want to keep writing about this Kappa Alpha thing, but Blake's got a good post about it at his blog (and he even mentions little old me).

I think his take on this is pretty reasonable, and one I don't disagree with. And I hope that in my defense of KA's private property rights that I haven't come out as too critical of the positive actions that were taken by the Athens Heritage Foundation or the residents of the neighborhood. I do agree that the appropriate and polite thing to do would have been for KA to continue to work with the neighborhood, but I also accept the realities that KA had to make an immediate economic decision (which checks out based on folks I've talked to). It's unfortunate, but something they were well within their rights to do.

We could rehash this over and over again, but two things caught my eye in Blake's post that are worth pondering. Carl Jordan proposed adding demolition projects to the Neighborhood Notification Initiative, which I think is an absolutely excellent idea.

Kelly Girtz suggested tightening regulations on demolitions, and I can be persuaded to be on board with that notion too (depending on how strict the regulations will be). For instance, requiring a public notification and waiting period of a predetermined, reasonable amount of time makes perfect sense to me. Restricting demolition in a capacity that would undermine private property rights through unnecesary fees or restrictions on types of demolition, however, would not sit right with me.

Couple of things

- Arguably, I think Dennis Felton should be fired, and the sooner the better. Yet, I'm not surprised that his players are defending him because, well, by in large that's what players do. Still, obstacles or no obstacles this season, it's more than apparent that Felton is overmatched in the SEC (the debacle against Ole Miss in the regular season finale was proof of that), and the sooner he's removed from the program, the sooner it can move on to finding a coach who can bring some much-needed success to UGA.

- Well, this is pretty disappointing (and, quite frankly, appalling). I was high on Elliot Spitzer when he took office in New York, but his first-term has been a train-wreck as he's emerged as a poster boy for abuse of power. Capping such an unimpressive term off with involvement in a prostitution ring is, well, par for the course I suppose. He ought to resign.

- Of course, David Vitter should have resigned too, so there's that.

- How does this happen? I'm not saying that facilities like Serenity River's don't need special-use permits, but how is it that no one notified them of this until roughly nine months later? And that we can't grant an emergency waiver to enable them to continue operating in the same capacity they've been doing for the past few months?

- Hillary has a point regarding Florida and Michigan, particularly since I've been more in tune with giving them a re-vote.

- Ikea? Apparently a libertarian haven.

- While I've always favored more of an engaged and strong mayoral position in local government, I have heard many complaints about Melvin Davis's governing style, so it's not shocking to see some folks move to restructure the way that position operates. I would disagree, on a technicality, with Chuck Horton who argues that Davis never catches any flack for putting issues before the commission and then not voting. That's how most divided governments work, and you'll see governors and the president take heat when appropriate. Making the commissioner chair vote on each bill makes that position equal to the rest of the body (which is something they may want to do), but as of now it's set up to give some inkling of divided responsibilities.

- Special place in hell for folks like this.

- The Veep visited Georgia and enjoyed lying to a bunch of rich people, few of whom would be considered 'working families' probably.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Relying on logic

Um, yeah.

This would appear to be a devestating counterargument.

Um, perspective anyone?

See, I think this is insanely overdramatic. To equate the demolition of two run-down houses on property owned by Kappa Alpha to a 'betrayal of trust' is hyperbole at its finest.

Listen, I don't personally know Amy Kissane, but I've always respected her and the work her organization has done. Still, I fail to see how the actions taken by an organization dealing with its own property ultimately mean they don't wish to work with the surrounding neighborhood (or how it overwhelms charitable efforts by the students in the fraternity, including Hands On Athens).

Sunday, March 09, 2008

'... you want your daughter to grow up to be'

You know, it's really an old cliche in the grand scheme of things. Through my time working at the Athens Banner-Herald and at the Georgia Museum of Art, I encountered lots of high school students and college students who really, really impressed me. Sharp kids who were funny, smart and more than ready to offer what they had to a world that so desperately needed it.

And I would often tell The Wife, both before and after the birth of my daughter, that we could consider ourselves successful parents if our child could turn out like them.

I suspect that Eve Marie Carson was one of those kind of kids.

I never met her and wouldn't have known her from the next 20ish college student on the street, but just because one doesn't know her doesn't mean you can't look at her and her diverse experiences in her life to recognize she was special (a glimpse at this slideshow, narrated by Carson, is just one element of proof of that).

I've got a daughter now, and to say that she's the center of my whole world would be as grand of an understatement as there is. I can't even begin to imagine the grief, anger, confusion, despair and doubts that would swamp me if something ever happened to her. But knowing the love I have for her, and the dreams and hopes that both The Wife and I have for her, I can begin to comprehend the profound sense of loss her family is dealing with right now.

And there isn't any easy thing to say. It isn't as if there are these magical, comforting words which will wipe away the pain and grief that comes with this unfortunate and unnecessary loss. To be frank, I can't even begin to think of what to write in this particular post, as I've mulled it over for close to three days now.

So here's what I do know, and I'm paraphrasing a line from a popular song out now, but God is great, but that doesn't mean life is always good. During her brief time on this Earth, Carson showed what education combined with passion, experience coupled with consideration, can do to this world.

I wouldn't have known Carson from the next 20ish college student on the street, but I do know that this awful and unjust tragedy has introduced her to countless people who hadn't yet been touched by her.

And be thankful for what you have in this world, and never stop examining how you can make an impact in it. Because when we do that, we live life the same way Carson did.

Nicely done

Kudos to Glenn Hills in Augusta for winning the Class AAA boys championship, the first in school history. My mom taught at Glenn Hills Elementary for some time, so it's good to see them having some success.

There were terrible when I was in high school.

Of course, as the article notes, my alma mater - Westside-Augusta - was the last Augusta-area boys team to win a state crown, doing so back in 1995. And, for the record, we would have rolled this Glenn Hills team.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

The bigger picture

Ultimately, I think we're all wasting too much energy into this whole Clinton-Obama thing ... I know I have. It doesn't mean that I still don't firmly stand behind my criticisms of her and her campaign, and it doesn't mean that I'm greatly disappointed with her conduct (nor does it mean I won't be disappointed in the coming weeks).

But, still, it sucks to be disagreeing so vehemently with folks who are regular readers over here, so a truce might be in order I suppose. The sooner that happens, the sooner we can back on agreeing on things we all believe in ... like how silly Chuck is.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Darn internets


Internet problems keeping me unable to access email all morning, hindering work and blogging. If there's a good person left in the world, it's Irene at Charter's technical support division who received my third call to their headquarters seeking help, and she was the only one who could deliver.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The cold, hard truth

Am I mad?

Hell, yes.

Listen, I'm going to be as blunt as I can be about this ... but if you're a Democrat and somehow you can rationalize supporting Hillary Clinton either throughout the remainder of the primary season or in the general election, then you need to take a good, hard look in the mirror and begin to assess exactly what it is you believe in.

The record of the Clintons is built upon them tearing down people - good people - for their own personal success. They care little about party or principle, but rather what can enable them to hold power for as long as possible, and in that case they are no better than the Rovian Republicans I so strongly desire removing from our government.

At this point, if she's the nominee, I'm damn near considering voting for John McCain. At least he's honest about staying in Iraq for a long period of time or waging reckless foreign policy. I know that I'm supposed to be a good foot soldier and march in line with the rest of the party come this fall, but I don't have it in me anymore. She is singlehandedly killing the party, and that's something I can't tolerate ... and if that means destroying the village in order to save it, so be it.

Let's do that

Safe to say, I think this is sound advice for Barack Obama from Andrew Sullivan, particularly the final suggestion. Obama's got a revolutionary chance to not only dismiss these false rumors, but also destroy the short-sighted logic which suggests these tactics are OK in our society.

Send prayers

This is awful ... absolutely awful.

Eve Carson was a shining example of everything right the Clarke County School District, and for her life to be taken in such a random, senseless act is beyond tragic.

May peace be with her family and friends.

Rhetoric and record

I have to say that I respectfully disagree with Andre's assertion here.

To be clear, I agree with him, and other bloggers, that the notion that the DPG is not letting primary challengers to incumbent Democratic officials purchase voter files any more is poor policy, and one I hope they change sooner rather than later. However, to suggest that this is something which ultimately kills the concept of Jane Kidd and the DPG supporting grassroots organization is off-base.

Poor policy aside, the reality is that many state parties - Democratic and Republican - don't sell voter files to anyone. The reality is that several private list brokers offer voter files for sale that are comparable to and sometimes better than existing party ones (particularly in a state where one party enjoys a significant advantage).

Furthermore, the DPG, under Kidd's leadership, has reached out and empowered county parties across the state. There are new county party structures being built up in places where there has been little to no Democratic organization for years. If that isn't grassroots, then I'm not sure what is.

Again, the DPG should let those files be available to all prospective candidates, but this one action doesn't mean they don't desire to see a competitive and growing party.

Aside from that, kudos to Kidd for endorsing Barack Obama.


Well, I was going to write about the death of the Glenn Tax today, but Flack nailed it. Eliminating the car tag tax might be a nice venture to pursue in the future, but this version wasn't appropriate because it was a last, desperate grasp at power by a failing speaker whose original plan was so unpopular it was ridiculed by conservatives and liberals alike. Furthermore, it offered no way to offset the loss of $672 million in spending for education and would have, yet again, stripped away another layer of local control.

What I would like to point out is that Flack is right - this is a victory for Democrats. The House Caucus came together, stood tough and voted as a bloc for the first time since Republicans took control of the Georgia General Assembly, and they deserve a pat on the back. But also spread some much needed love to the State Democratic Party of Georgia, who worked feverishly behind the scenes to coordinate, organize and partner with their allies in the House.

Contrary to some false and unwarrented accusations by some, the DPG came to play on this issue and the results speak for themselves.

Beating a dead Hawthorne

I think folks are largely missing the point about Hawthorne Avenue, and unfortunately it's become the poster child for how not to three-lane a road. While I'll gladly admit there can be considerable congestion along that corridor during peak hours of traffic, I think the amount of scrutiny and controversy there is unwarrented.

For starters, the road remains too narrow to function properly as a four-lane road. I remember driving along that stretch prior to it being re-configured, and it was terrifying to come around some of those curves with folks trying speed around you. For every letter someone like Bob Bowen pens saying we need to return to four lanes at Hawthorne, I have to wonder if they remember just how unpleasant of a driving experience that was.

If the road was widened, I would be more than happy to see it revert to four lanes, but I don't see that happening any time soon.

And, quite frankly, the traffic situation along Hawthorne Avenue is tremendously overhyped. It can be tough, make no mistake, but no more congested than Atlanta Highway out by the Georgia Square Mall or Barnett Shoals Road, both of which feature four lanes. An easy remedy would be to work to sync the traffic lights along that particular stretch, as often the traffic backs up because one light down the road is red while an earlier one is green. Getting those lights on a more closely in tune pattern can dramatically and rapidly improve the situation.

I'm not one to turn a blind eye toward our traffic concerns - I've argued before that I feel our current infrastructure is woefully ill-equipped to handle the amount of vehicles we see on our roads - but the existing makeup of Hawthorne Avenue isn't suited to handle those types of cars. Until the appropriate expansion can come, it should remain three lanes.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


Folks keep giving me a lot of flack for openly coming out and saying that I won't back Hillary Clinton in the general election based largely on the conduct of her campaign (though it's worth noting that it's also because, quite frankly, I see little difference between her and John McCain in some key elements of foreign policy), and I want to be clear on this ... my lack of support stems overwhelmingly from disappointment and disenchantment. It's as if watching a good friend continue to indulge in a self-destructive behavior despite encouragement not to, and then ultimately accepting the reality that you can't go there with that person anymore.

And what's most troubling to me is that it's going to get worse and, on top of that, Barack Obama is going to have to get down and sling the same type of nonsensical mud that Clinton routinely tosses around just to be viable (despite the fact that he still leads decisively in pledged delegates). It's going to get ugly (actually, as noted by the Clinton campaign lying about darkening Obama's complexion in an ad, it's already there) and though a lot of folks are saying this is good for the party, I think it's quite the opposite. Anything Clinton says about Obama can be used by Republicans in the fall, while the same holds true for whatever he says.

One of the main reasons I'm attracted to Obama is because of his ability to transcend the petty politics of the past, and her attacks belittling that have offended me, if he resorts to having to do the same it'll be disappointing as well.

This is shaping up to be perhaps the greatest wasted opportunity for progressive politics in almost 100 years.

Shameless Self-Promotion

Tonight, I'll be speaking at First Baptist Church of Athens about 'The Realities of Poverty.' It's part of a series my church is doing called 'Let's Talk About It At Church' that has focused on sexuality, ethics, war, poverty and violence, and I'll be joined by Courtney Davis from Athens Area Homeless Shelter and Tephra Fields from the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Athens.

Dinner's at 5 p.m. with the program at 6 p.m.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

It's simple

Here, in perhaps the clearest terms, are why I won't back Hillary Clinton in the general election.

Where Barack Obama's supporters embrace the campaign's slogan of 'Yes We Can,' Clinton's backers shout 'Yes She Can.'

There, in its most banal form, is everything wrong with her campaign and the political system today.

Call up the militia!

I find this absolutely awesome. Seeing how this pathetic water grab is one of the dumbest things the Georgia General Assembly has done in long, long time - and for these particular Republican leaders, that's saying a lot - I'm more than happy to see experts in the field point out exactly how stupid it is.

Or, the shorter version from historian Farris Cradle - 'Sen. David Shafer is a moron.'

Mother of ...

Meet Robert Hogan, or, as like to call him, the 'Village Idiot.'

To think that our waste management issues aren't crucial or pressing is to reveal such a naivity about our community that I can barely begin to process it. No one is suggesting it's more or less important than any other challenge - though many people have this irrational need to say 'this problem is so much worse than that one' - but to claim that what is actually a rather modest increase in our budget that will actually have the great potential to generate additional revenue and benefit our quality of living isn't worth pursuing is ridiculously pathetic.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Consumption Junction

You know, at first I thought Gene Baldwin was kind of off on this, but I think, upon talking this through a little further, he raises some good questions.

While I obviously think his suggestion that this is a revenue-grabbing scheme is beyond ludicrious, the notion that charging individual customers different rates based on water usage from two to three years ago seems a bit faulty to me. Am I mistaken in thinking that if a household used a ton of water during that period of time in the past, they're going to start with an advantage over those who tried to conserve during the same period?

Why not have a base rate for consumption that is universal to all households (adjusted for family size), and then charge progressively higher rates for consumption levels that go beyond that.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Couple of things

- Though I'm sure we have a disagreement over the Kappa Alpha demolition issue, Kelly Girtz and I are back in our usual agreeing mood over the future of recycling in our community. Girtz has shown solid leadership in recent months on this front (not to take anything away from other leaders). In particular, and he and I have discussed this more than once, but we need to really begin exploring composting for food waste since it has the potential to actually have some benefit - environmentally and economically - for the community.

- My only caveat is that there are probably considerable enforcement issues regarding mandatory recycling for residents. On one hand, I have obvious philosophical issues with such a proposal and on the other, that would appear to be a wasted effort. I would much rather see addition to personnel and step up our sorting efforts before trash is taken to the landfill. Perhaps an incentive-based system for reaching certain volumes of products that can be recycled.

- Granted, I'm no expert on Cuban foreign policy, but this strikes me as incredibly off-base, and it represents the second screwy thing penned by Jerry Haas (the first being his assertion that abstinance-only policies worked, despite almost every single study suggesting otherwise). While Cuba is an incredibly poorly run country, it's hard to argue that the trade embargo has done anything to weaken the ruling class. In fact, Fidel Castro outlasted 10 U.S. presidents and saw the end of the Cold War. If that's Haas's argument, then it's a poor one. I think there could be a credible argument made that normalizing relations with an oppressive dictatorship isn't wise policy-wise, but then again, we trade eagerly with Saudi Arabia.

- A solid column by J.T., and he's right on this. While I think we need to continue to move toward a diversified economy that is more regional in nature, it's hard to argue that the bio-science industry isn't one that is ripe for us to develop.

- Love him or hate him, Carl Jordan is a very, very smart man, and his forum on water pricing is a testament to that. Granted, I don't necessarily agree with everything he proposes, but then again I'm having a difficult time understanding what exactly is so different about his overall proposal (progressivity in pricing to deter consumption in times of drought) and the much-discussed conversation pricing system which would charge higher prices for increased consumption.

- Keeping my fingers crossed and assuming that Barack Obama wraps up the Democratic nomination, Marc Ambinder proposes some vice presidential selections and at the top of list is former Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn. I've been a fan of his for some time, so this would make me incredibly happy. Outside of Nunn, I'm partial to either Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia or Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer.

- Michael Turner is good, but why not snatch up Darren McFadden in the NFL Draft?

A little more

As I expected she would, Nicki offered a solid defense of the Athens-Clarke County Heritage Foundation on the heels of my post backing Kappa Alpha's demolition of two houses on property it owned. The differences I see are this ...

- While there was and continues to be some justly deserved distrust of Kappa Alpha in the neighborhood based on the fact that 'KA is gonna do what KA wants anyway' it's also important to note that such logic is a two-way street. Personally, I don't believe those residents would ever change their mind on the fraternity, no matter how much effort they put into any neighborhood project. I'm not saying that's right or wrong, but I think that's the reality. Ultimately, I wish that Kappa Alpha had never moved there, but the fact of the matter is that they did.

- Was the move and demolition motivated by self-interest on Kappa Alpha's part? Well, absolutely. They found a piece of property that was affordable and met their needs, so they acted on it. They realized that waiting for a possible historic designation was many months away (and could be longer since it's taken quite some we're still waiting on downtown to earn its special designation), and they were losing money on the property with each passing day. With no existing laws in place to prohibit them from demolition, they were free to act and demolish the buildings.

- Should they have moved the properties? Well, yes, that would have been a nice gesture but if they were unable to secure the appropriate funding, then why exactly are we faulting them for, again, operating on a basic economic assumption?

- I'm not here to defend Kappa Alpha's history or heritage, and readers of this blog know full and well that I've had numerous issues with it. However, I don't believe this discussion is about that. Granted, it was a poor PR move on there part, but ulimately one that stemmed from economic necessity and urgency. And, as Nicki notes as well, they acted within the law and it was their property to do with as they please. I'm very much an advocate for private property rights, as my disagreements in the past regarding the quality of life ordinances that were enacted here can attest.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

To move or not to move

OK, I'm going to probably be in considerable disagreement with several folks who I count as friends and colleagues, but ... I tend to side with Kappa Alpha on this.

And it's not because I'm against historic preservation. Nor is it because I think Confederate-themed fraternities are cool. It ain't because I don't think folks should work with their surrounding neighbors on particular projects. It's not of those things which folks will probably say.

Instead it's simply this - it was Kappa Alpha's property that they had legally and justly acquired, and it was their decision to make, and their decision alone. Yes, it would have been nice to preserve the houses and yes, it would have been nice to have reached a workable agreement with the Athens-Clarke County Heritage Foundation, but it didn't happen.

To be clear, Kappa Alpha was put in a difficult spot to begin with. Existing regulations for parking and for density necessitated the purchase of the additional property, and the property didn't come cheap. As the article notes, both parcels were assessed for only $190,000, but a local landlord sold them for $300,000. So, seeing how it was necessary for Kappa Alpha to buy the property and how they were charged more than $100,000 higher than the cost of the land, the fact they had even shown the patience to explore these alternative options is somewhat amazing to me.

However, this was ultimately their call, and if the maintaining the building would cost more than the income it could generate, it's a perfectly logical decision to make to demolish the buildings (particularly since they weren't to code). Even if the foundation had paid for the restoration of the buildings, the cost of upkeep would still have been too high.

And though I applaud the work done to move the buildings, I have to say that was a puzzling solution ... particularly since that makes little sense seeing how the buildings were historic in the context of the neighborhood. I don't understand how moving them to Winterville accomplishes anything outside of preserve the exisiting structures, but, again, I thought part of their importance was their relationship to the neighborhood.

I think Kelly Girtz did a ton of great work on this particular project, and that type of leadership and initiative is one of the primary reasons I am grateful that he is on the Athens-Clarke County Commission. He and I, as well as most folks who were upset with the demolition, agree on a good number of things, but, respectfully, we just don't see eye-to-eye on this.

Hey, hey

In the 'that's just kinda cool' department, I'm quoted in an article of Roll Call, which is the political newspaper for Capitol Hill (it's subscription only guys, though there is a free two-week trial you can do).

I talk a little about the upcoming 10th Congressional District Race between Paul Broun, Barry Fleming and Bobby Saxon (and maybe Nancy Schaefer).


Though BfD thinks they just play backgammon all day long, the State Democratic Party of Georgia is actually putting together a rather impressive counterpunch to the Glenn Tax (and all of its random little versons).

Case in point - The Republican Tax of the Day, which is one of the clever things I've seen in a while.

What desperation looks like

Well, this little tid-bit has just reaffirmed my rather new decision to write-in someone for president if Hillary Clinton lands the Democratic nomination since now she's decided to play the 'it's harder to be a white woman than a black man' card, and Andrew Sullivan's take is pretty much what mine is.

Of course her entire last week has been one of the most disappointing spectacles in Democratic politics in quite some time. It got kicked off with a hissy fit over criticism of her health care plan via a mailer. We had the 'did-she or didn't-she' deal with her maybe, but we're not sure, passing a photo of Barack Obama in traditional Somali garb onto Matt Drudge, a Republican blogger. Her campaign strategist, Mark Penn, has now boldly claimed that Obama has to win both Texas and Ohio in order for him to claim victory in the race (not that it matters, since Penn already has said Texas doesn't matter, just like all of Obama's other victories).

Finally, we have the 'Red Phone' ad which conjures up some connected memories of Lyndon Johnson's 'Daisy' ad.

Of course, Obama hit back in a response ad that absolutely humiliated her original attack and provided a nice touch of parody to boot, and he did it within hours of her ad hitting the air waves, which is that much more impressive.

Rarely have I ever - ever - had my impressions of someone change so dramatically over the course of a few months. I have long been a supporter and defender of the Clintons, but this campaign has been such a hideous train wreck that has shown so much contempt for not just Obama, but his supporters, the states that support him and the entire system itself (when, of course, it wasn't working to their benefit), that I can't reconcile myself with supporting her should she be the nominee.

Fortunately, it doesn't appear she will be.