Archive for the ‘Election’ Category

“Mind the Gap”

August 8, 2015

No not the gap between a London tube platform and a train’s car that signs warn riders to “mind,” but the very wide income gap between America’s wealthy and it’s shrinking middle class. That’s going to be the key issue in the  upcoming  presidential  election.  I didn’t hear it mentioned in the Republican debate Thursday night on Fox News.

One of the reporters did ask how Republican candidates are going to respond to Hillary Clinton’s claim, that, in essence, all Republicans care about are the wealthy. The main answer was that Republicans will grow the economy which will provide more jobs. Will  it? The economy has bounced back since the 2008 Great Recession. The trouble is that the improvement was soaked up by those at the top. The average worker’s income remained virtually flat. Money that could have been used to raise the incomes of employees and provide jobs went to the top. CEOs are doing very well. Just ask Donald Trump.

Wedge issues like Planned Parenthood and immigration got a lot of attention during the debate, but they didn’t derail President Obama and they won’t derail the Democratic candidate this time around, either.  Again, the main issue will be the economy. Growing it is not enough. Making sure that a fair share of that growth goes to America’s working class is the issue.  The Democratic candidate can win the  election, but will that solve the problem? Well, a Democrat has been sitting in the White House for almost 8 years now and the problem is still very much with us. 

And YES it is!

March 18, 2015

I told Muscogeee County School District Superintendent Dr. David Lewis after today’s Rotary Club of Columbus meeting, “You did it!” He smiled and said, “We did it.” 

He’s right, and I’m proud  of Columbus’ once again showing it supports its children and public education by approving the latest SPLOST.

And to those who voted “no,” I know that doesn’t mean you don’t support our children and their teachers. I hope you’ll accept that the majority has spoken. Now let’s pull together to make our school district as good as it can be.


The Impossible Political Dream?

November 7, 2012


Courtesy: U.S. Government

Senator Mitch McConnell, Minority Leader in the Senate, can now focus on something other than making sure that President Obama is a one-term president. That issue has been settled. He can start making reasonable compromises with the president and Democrats in the Senate to do what is best for all Americans.   He puts the burden on the president, telling the Louisville Courier- Journal, ” To the extent he wants to move to the political center, which is where the work gets done in a divided government, we’ll be there to meet him half way.” That offers some hope.

Speaking of hope, let’s hope that more senators, Republicans and Democrats, turn more toward statesmanship, and less toward vindictive partisan politics.

Let’s hope it is not futile to think that reasonable  compromise can also become  the new norm in the  House, too.  It’s time to put the nation first, not the  party.

This may be too much to hope for, but if it doesn’t happen,  this country faces even tougher times.  The fiscal crisis cannot be solved without both spending cuts and increased revenue. The trick is to make sure those spending cuts don’t put more of a burden on Americans who need help right now, and to increase revenues without putting more of a tax burden on the middle class.  Taking more money from the middle class means it has less to spend.  Our economy is consumer driven, so it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what will happen if middle-class consumers have fewer dollars to spend.

Democratic Air Force is Smaller but Faster

November 1, 2010

Democratic candidate for Governor Roy Barnes deplanes

When Republican candidates flew into Columbus this morning they had more planes.  However, the most impressive plane was the one Democratic gubernatorial candidate Roy Barnes arrived in this afternoon. Barnes came in a Cessna Citation Excel jet.  Carol Porter, who is running for Lt. Governor (disclosure: she’s my cousin),  came in a King Air,  like the ones Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, and Senators Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss came in earlier.  

Who cares? It’s the politics I should be discussing. Right?

Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor spots me, her cousin, taking her picture as she deplanes.

 Sorry, but I just love airplanes.

While Republicans pointed with pride at their past record and promised to keep up the good work,  Barnes and Porter viewed their record with alarm and feared for Georgia’s future if they stay in the saddle, citing the damage done by lack of proper support for education, for one thing. 

Carol Porter and her four sons, all Eagle Scouts, at Columbus Airport rally

Roy Barnes being interviewed as Mayor Jim Wetherington and Columbus business leader Jim Blanchard and Mrs. Barnes look on

What was intesting about both rallies was how fit the candidates appeared.  Flying around the state in one day ,  from Atlanta to Savannah with lots of stops in between, to hold airport rallies had to be grueling, but, they really didn’t look tired to me.  They appeared to be enjoying it.  I guess people who love to be in high stakes politics get a big rush out of playing the game.

Almost 300 to Attend Muscogee County Democratic Party Jefferson-Jackson Gala

September 20, 2010

Congressman and Civil Rights Icon John Lewis is the Keynote Speaker 

 He marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior, was clubbed and seriously injured when he led the Selma March, played a key role in ending racial segregation in America, and has served as Georgia’s 5th District representative for 23 years. Rep. John Lewis will set the tone for this election year’s Muscogee County Democratic Party Jefferson Jackson Gala, a $50-a-plate fundraiser, at the Columbus Trade Center on September 20th. He will share the stage with this year’s Occasion Speaker Carol Porter, the Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor.

 The Jack T. Brinkley, Sr. Service Award will be presented by Jack Brinkley, former 3rd District Representative, to three prominent local Democrats for their lifetime of public service to the community, state and nation. Honored will be former Georgia state Representative Milton Jones, 2nd Congressional District Representative Sanford Bishop, and Mrs. Ella Lewis.

 Jones, a Columbus attorney from 1959 to 1998, served in the Georgia House from 1962 until 1970. He also participated in Jimmy Carter’s campaign for governor in 1970 and President in 1976. He was appointed by Carter to the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia in 1974 and served as Board Chairman during 1978-79.

Bishop has served as Georgia’s 2nd Congressional District representative for 17 years. He won the seat after serving only one term in the Georgia Senate.  He was President Barack Obama’s state campaign co-chairman in 2007. He is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, is a Blue Dog Democrat and is, arguably, the most conservative African-American in Congress. 

 Lewis is a lifelong Democrat and civic servant who cut her political teeth working for North Carolina’s Senator Sam Ervin.  She is not only a member of the Muscogee County Democratic Party but is a voting member of the Democratic Party of Georgia’s State Committee. She chairs the local party’s Affirmative Action Committee. Her list of community service projects is long and includes the Georgia Department of Transportation Citizen Advisory Committee, the South Columbus Task Force for Keeping Columbus Beautiful and the Superintendent’s Roundtable for the Muscogee County School District.

 Most of the Democratic candidates for state and local offices will participate in the Gala.

Can Roy Barnes Win Back Georgia Teachers?

August 17, 2010

For former Governor Roy Barnes to be elected governor again, he is going to have to have the  support of Georgia’s public school  teachers.  You’ll probably remember that he lost those teachers and lost his reelection bid.  The teachers were enraged by his education plan that put the onus of improving student performance on their backs, and I hear that a lot of them are still mad about it. 

Former Governor Roy Barnes, Mrs. Barnes, Columbus Mayor Jim Wetherington at Barne's Columbus Airport appearance during primary campaign

But, what is their alternative?  Public education’s budget in Georgia has been slashed about 3 billion dollars by the Republican controlled legislature and Governor Perdue.  What do you think?  Can Barnes get the teacher vote?


August 3, 2010

So you’re busy and don’t have a lot of time to decide on who to vote for in the runoff to decide which Republican  gets to run against Democrat Roy Barnes for governor of Georgia.  Well, here’s a short, concise, incisive, succinct, humorless comparison of the two. 

Karen Handel and Nathan Deal comparisons:

 Education: Handel doesn’t have a college degree.  Deal does. (Mercer University and Walter F. George School of Law)

 Military: Deal is an Army veteran. Handel was not in the military. 

 Worked in the White House: Deal hasn’t. Handel worked in the Bush-Quayle White House. She ended up as Deputy Chief of Staff to Marilyn Quayle.

 Improving public education in Georgia. Handel is for it. She emphasizes classroom technology and basing teacher pay on performance. Deal’s for it, too, pointing out that  his parents and his wife were public school educators. He’s for more public education choice.   

 Acceptance of federal Race to the Top education dollars:  Handel says yes. Deal says no.

 Families:  Both have spouses. Handel has no children. Deal has children and grandchildren.

 Abortion: Handel is against, except for rape, incest, or if the mother’s life is in danger. Deal is against, except if the mother’s life is in danger. They’ve been talking about this a lot. Some say it’s because this is the only issue on which they disagree very much. Some are also saying they need to be talking less about it and more about water, transportation, education, and jobs.

 Water and Transportation: Who knows?  Just kidding. Both are for water and transportation.

 Jobs: Deal says tax and regulatory relief will create more jobs. Handel says long-term solutions in education, tax and regulatory policy, transportation, water and health care are the way to create more jobs.

 National endorsements: Handel has Sara’s. Deal has Newt’s. (Sara’s coming back on the day before the runoff to again give her blessing to Handel, which means she’ll probably win the runoff. Haven’t heard about Newt’s plans yet.)  

 Gender: Handel is a woman, Deal is not.  (More women are registered to vote than men, which is why Handel will probably win the runoff.)

 Ethics: Handel is not being investigated for ethics violations. Former Congressman Deal faced an ethics violation investigation when he left Congress to run for governor.

 Taxes: Handel hates them. Deal hates them. Surprise, surprise!

  Legislative experience: Deal has some.

 Georgia Secretary of State experience: Handel has some.

 Does experience matter? Those for the status quo care. Those who think the status quo stinks also care.  I guess it matters one way or the other.

 I may have left out a few things, but you can get much more information about both by going to their websites. Just click Nathan Deal and Karen Handel.


Sen. Seth Harp on 7 Crucial Days for Georgia

April 9, 2010

After publishing remarks from Columbus Democratic Rep. Calvin Smyre’s online report about the upcoming crucial seven last days in this year’s Georgia legislative session in which two state budgets must be adopted, I asked Columbus Republican State Sen. Seth Harp, who is giving up his seat to run for Insurance Commissioner, for his perspective on this year’s enormous  challenge to state lawmakers. 

Sen. Seth Harp, Republican, Dist. 29. Georgia Senate


Since the Legislature adopted the budget for the State in 2008 for the 2009 fiscal year, we have seen a huge loss of tax revenue for the state.  Our projected revenue for 2009 was $21.4 Billion.  The actual revenue that the State collected for 2009 is about $16 Billion.  The revenue amount in 2010 fiscal year has continued to shrink to the level of $15 Billion.  Simply put, our funds have shrunk by almost one-third (1/3).  Being the state’s first priority, education is 67% of the total state budget with salaries being 80% of those expenditures.  K-12 and Higher Education have received the smallest cuts.  

For the first time in over 16 months, we saw a slight 1% increase in revenue funds in March 2010.  We are a very long way from recovery. 

We are trying to craft legislation that will generate some relief and prevent making the cuts that will have to occur if we don’t have additional revenue funds. 

The first is the hospital bed fee, that will generate funds to help compensate the doctors and hospitals that treat the indigent.  The fee will generate $128 million, which will go to the Indigent Care Fund.  That amount, which will be matched by Federal Funds at a ratio of 3 to 1, will go directly to indigent care providers and maintain rural healthcare. 

The second is fee increases for State services, such as filing fees for filing court cases.  

These state services fee and the hospital bed fee revenue funds will allow a balanced budget to pass. If these bills don’t pass, then the deep across the board cuts that have received so much attention will have to occur.  

Our Constitution requires a balanced budget.  The “pie in the sky” idea that we will collect $1 billion from sales taxes is just that.  Most of the offenders are no longer in business and have no assets.  The idea that we will solve the shortfall by collecting unpaid sales taxes in 3 months is just dreaming.  The effort to collect these taxes is going on as we speak. 

Instead of playing politics, we MUST work to come up with ideas that allow our State to educate our children, protect our citizens from criminals and grow jobs for Georgians. 

This requires bipartisan support, not pitting one side against the other for political gain for the upcoming elections.

Senatorial Candidate Josh McKoon’s Solutions to the State Budget Crisis

March 26, 2010
With attorney Ron Mullins out of the Georgia Senate District 29 race, Josh McKoon, former chair of the Muscogee County Republican Party, could be the replacement for Sen. Seth Harp, who is running for Georgia Insurance Commissioner, but who is still a state senator and has to deal with the budget crisis at the state capitol. Feeling that the crisis will continue if Josh takes Seth’s seat in the Senate, I decided to find out where he stands on the issue. The online interview follows:

1. How do you feel about cutting $300 million for Georgia’s universities and colleges?

Candidate Josh McKoon and the man he could replace in the Georgia Senate, Sen. Seth Harp (Photo was supplied by the McKoon campaign)

No one feels good about reducing funding for our institutions of higher education or K-12 education for that matter. It does appear that the additional reductions that were being discussed will be less than originally anticipated. It is going to be important as we go forward to continue to make education a top priority in building future budgets.

2. Are there other cuts that could be made instead of draconian cuts in the education budget?

Education needs to be at the top of our budget priority list. I’m not sitting around the table at the budget meetings, so it is difficult to second guess what additional cuts might be made at this time. I do believe that if we start with the proposition that we are going to focus funding on core functions of government instead of personal pork projects that we can identify more money for education.

3. How about the water and transportation problems? They are still very much with us.

We must improve our bargaining position in the water discussions. I plan on working with Republicans statewide to make sure our region has a seat at that table. We also can improve our bargaining position by moving aggressively on conservation measures, increasing our capacity through permitting of new state reservoirs and research of additional ways to bring new capacity online, such as desalination.

Transportation as an issue involves two primary problems, governance and funding. We are in a much better position on the governance side after the adoption of legislation last year to streamline operations at GDOT as well as the welcome move of bringing one of the most experienced legislators on transportation issues, Vance Smith, into the Department as the Commissioner. I have proposed increasing funding for GDOT by adopting legislation that would require revenue generated by the unit tax on motor fuel to be spent on DOT Project List items instead of being put into general appropriation where the revenues may be used for personal pork projects.

4. Would you support a tax hike of some sort?

I am a fiscal conservative. I believe trying to tax your way out of problems causes more problems. We need to focus our spending only on core functions of government and if we prioritize in that fashion we will identify more tax dollars for education, transportation and infrastructure.

5.Is the legislature to blame for not being better prepared to handle this budget crisis? Surely they had to see this coming.

In hindsight, one can always identify other things that could have been done to prepare for a crisis. Unfortunately our legislators did not have the benefit of that hindsight prior to the budget crisis. This is the worst economic slide since the Great Depression. No one could have predicted the extent and nature of these economic conditions. I think it is far more valuable for one seeking to set public policy to focus on the future and how we get out of this mess. Focusing on the core functions of government reduces the need to impose tax liabilities to our citizens. This allows the introduction of tax incentives to stimulate economic activity and get things moving again in the right direction.

6. Are there any statesmen left in the Georgia legislature?

Senator Seth Harp for one. Seth has done a great job of serving our district and I am proud to have his support. Yes I believe there are many good men and women working hard to improve public policy in Georgia.

Columbus’ Obama Supporters Lunch, Watch and Cheer as Barack Obama Becomes President Barack Obama

January 20, 2009

  About 150 Barack Obama supporters, including four tables of members of the Muscogee County Democratic Party,  gathered to view and celebrate the inauguration at the 2009 Presidential Inaugural Luncheon at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center today. The luncheon was sponsored by Working Excellence Ministries Inc.

Democrats at Columbus Inaugral Celebraiton Luncheon, Columbus Convention and Trade Center

Democrats at Columbus Inaugural Celebration Luncheon, Columbus Convention and Trade Center

  There were speeches, live music, lunch, but most of all sharing the joy of seeing Joe Biden sworn in as vice resident and Barack Obama as president.

MSDP Vice-Chair Dr. John Van Dorn joins in the flag waving as Barack Obama becomes President Barack Obama,  Columbus Convention and Trade Center

Muscogee Democratic Party Vice-Chair Dr. John Van Doorn joins in the flag waving as Barack Obama becomes President Barack Obama, Columbus Convention and Trade Center