Posts Tagged ‘Georgia politics’

We Need Legislators Who Support Public Education

June 4, 2013

HERE’S MORE EVIDENCE THAT TOO MANY DON’T

It is very disheartening to see what those who control the Georgia Legislature are doing to our state’s public school system.  The evidence became even more abundant when I learned about the tentative Muscogee County School District’s 2014 budget.

The state is cutting MCSD $21 million in funding for the year. That brings to #141 million cut by the state over the past 12 years. How can we believe lawmakers who say they support public education when they do this?

In order to live with the reduced budget, the MCSD proposes, among other things, closing schools  laying off perhaps up to 40 teachers,  increasing class size, ending adult education,  delaying buying new textbooks, reduced funding for computers, supplies, and building maintenance.

The legislator’s claim that the state doesn’t have the money is nonsense. It’s just spending it on other things.  We need to be sending to Atlanta lawmakers who truly support public education.

For another take on the problem, go to this link.

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We Need Lawmakers who Support Public Education

April 25, 2013

In defending budget cuts to public education, some always posit that more money will not fix the problem. Well, that may be true if more money is tried as a solution by itself. For more money to work, strings have to attached. One of those strings is that with higher pay comes higher expectations.

However, there is another factor to consider. Less pay, and less money for today’s electronic teaching aids, can certainly exacerbate the problem.

Parental involvement is an important element in motivating children to achieve educationally, but it is not, in my view, more important than a good teacher.  How many parents spend six hours a day with school-age children?

Good, dedicated teachers can have enormous influence in changing lives for the better.  It happens over and over, and it happened with me.   Going to school did not thrill me at all until the legendary Bob Barr took over the Jordan High band.  He really knew how to motivate kids. Not only did he motivate me, but he helped me get started in my broadcasting career.  When he found out that was what I wanted to  do, he connected me with the late Ed Snyder, then an announcer at WDAK, who mentored me and helped me get my first job in broadcasting.

George Corradino,  who headed up the Muscogee County School District’s music program for years, did the same thing when he was the band director at Columbus High for my late nephew Jack Gibson.  My sister Betty told  me that Jack was about ready to drop  out of  school  until George came along.  Not only did Jack excel at percussion in the CHS band, his grades improved in all his subjects, and, inspired by George, he went on to become a school band director himself.  He ended up getting his PhD and becoming Vice President of Development at Kennesaw State University, which was what he was doing when cancer took him away from us. I run into people all the time who have similar stories.

When I see state legislators and governors slashing public education budgets year after year after year, it tells me we need a big change at the Georgia State Capitol.  Education is essential to the future of Georgia’s citizens. Something has to be done.  We need lawmakers who don’t just say they support education, but show it with their actions.

“THEY ARE ALL CROOKS”

August 7, 2012

“THE RABBITS ARE IN CHARGE OF THE LETTUCE”

Columbus State Rep. Richard Smith and I got into a conversation about the Republican and Democratic primaries straw vote on capping the dollar amount of gifts that lobbyists shower on Georgia lawmakers. The state ethics law puts no limits on the amount on those gifts, but it does require  that they be reported.  Neither one of us was surprised that voters overwhelming supported limiting lobbyists contributions.  He didn’t support the $100 cap.  For one reason, he said, it was basically meaningless to cap the amount at $100.  “For instance,” he said, “instead of asking one lobbyist to donate $700, you ask seven lobbyists to give  $100 each.”

Besides, he said, the best way to stop the corruption is to elect honest people who won’t take money from lobbyists. He said he flat doesn’t do it, except for meals at restaurants. I must admit that I had been served a few free meals when I was reporting for TV stations, and I told myself that it would take a lot more than a free lunch to buy me. I would eat their lunch and still tell the truth about what  they were doing.  That reminds me of what the late Georgia Governor Marvin Griffin said when he lost his last race for governor. Back then it was common for candidates to serve barbecue at campaign rallies. He said, “A lot of people who ate my barbecue didn’t vote for me.” 

To make the point to Richard about the public’s attitude toward lawmakers in general, I used the example of when I was speaking  to students at Central High School about the importance of staying informed about what legislators do in Montgomery. One student said he didn’t pay attention because “they are all crooks.”   I was still working as a news anchor at WTVM  at the time.  Since I had spent a lot of time covering the legislatures in Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina, I understood where he got that idea.

Richard said that he knew a lot of people felt that way, but disagreed that all were crooks. I agree with him on that. Enough are, though, to stain all of them.

Since Webster defines being a crook as “a person who engages in fraudulent or criminal practices,” we suspect that many  may not be crooked because their unethical acts are legal. They are legal because they make the rules.

I read in the AJC where a lobbyist could (and did) give Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston $17,000 to take his family to Europe and broke no laws doing it. The lobbyist had to report it, but that’s the extent of the law. Now you may think a legislative leader taking a gift of $17,000 is ethical. After all, as many of the receivers of such gifts will tell you, taking the money does not influence the way they vote on laws affecting the  organization the lobbyist represents.  Give me a break.    

I have to agree with Richard about the hundred-dollar cap. It would not stop the corruption. I don’t agree that the solution is to elect honest office seekers who won’t accept legal bribes. How does a voter really know if a candidate is honest?  Still, I think Sen. Josh McKoon did the right thing by getting the issue put on the primary ballots.  It enabled the legislators to know that voters are not happy with their cozy relationships with lobbyists. Maybe they’ll get serious about coming up with an ethics law that will work. I wouldn’t bet on it, though. Yes, the rabbits are in charge of the lettuce at the Capitol, and it’ll probably stay that way. 

Carol Porter Says Georgia Legislature Needs New Leadeship

July 17, 2010
Carol Porter says leadership is the key to Georgia’s problem and moving the state forward, and that the state needs new leadership because the Republicans who have been in control of state government have failed. Carol, who is wife to House Minority Leader DuBose Porter, who is running for governor in Tuesday’s Democratic Primary, is running in the primary for Lieutenant Governor.Polls show that she should win the nomination and will be facing Republican incumbent Lt. Governor Casey Cagle in the November General Election. After leaving Columbus she flew to Albany, and from there will fly to Savannah and Augusta.

Carol Porter and her son Guyton arriving at Columbus Metropolitan Airport

 

She is flying around the state today for airport rallies and news conferences. Columbus was the first stop. She told enthusiastic supporters that education is the key to Georgia’s future and that Republicans in the Georgia legislature have opted to slash funds for schools and teachers so they can campaign on making government smaller. She said Democrats in the House offered a bill to find funds to prevent teacher furloughs and increase class sizes, but Republicans shot it down. She said the state’s future is at stake. Businesses go to states where education of the workforce is effective.

Karen Handel and Carol Porter Campaign in Columbus Today and Tomorrow

July 15, 2010

THEY WILL MAKE POLITICAL HISTORY IF THEY WIN NOMINATIONS FOR GOVERNOR AND LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR

We are talking about a potential groundbreaking and historical election for governor and lieutenant governor in Georgia this year. The state could end up with two females in the top two offices in the state. 

It’s not too far-fetched to consider. Former Secretary of State Karen Handel has a very good chance of becoming the Republican candidate for governor, and Dublin newspaper executive Carol Porter is running so far ahead in the polls that hardly anyone doubts she will be the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor.   

Based on the latest Mason-Dixon Poll, sponsored by the Georgia Newspaper Partnership, which includes the Ledger-Enquirer, Handel is within 6 points of pulling even with Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine. Her chance of becoming governor is less than his, according to the poll, which shows Democratic front-runner Roy Barnes beating her, but tied with Oxendine. However, a lot can happen between now and November.  

According to supporter, attorney, and Republican State Senate candidate Josh McKoon,  her campaign bus pulls into Columbus today. She’s scheduled for a rally at the Government Center at 12:45 and then will meet folks and shake hands on Broadway.  We’ll look forward to a report on what she has to say. 

Carol Porter will also bring her message in person to Columbus. Tomorrow, she is flying around the state for airport rallies.  Columbus is her first stop.  That rally begins at 9 a.m.   Her energetic campaigning, no doubt, has improved her name recognition factor which is something she needs to run against Republican Lt. Governor Casey Cagle in November. 

We’ll have more on both rallies. Stay tuned.

A Grateful War Widow Endorses DuBose Porter for Governor

July 14, 2010
 Mrs.  Nancy Rodman’s husband died after he had been called up as a reservist. She said he died of cancer and diabetes caused by being exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. His death left a void for their daughter Amanda when she got married, a void that DuBose Porter filled.

DuBose Porter, Mary Jane Galer, and Nancy Rodman

Mrs. Rodman,  says she endorses Rep. DuBose Porter, who is running in the Democratic Primary for  governor of Georgia, because, “He is more than just a politician. He is a man who cares about people. He is a man who keeps his word. He kept his word to us.”

  Amanda was going to Georgia Tech when she decided she wanted to intern for a state representative or senator. Her mother, Mrs. Rodman, asked her neighbor, Senator Seth Harp, if Amanda could intern for him. He said she was so smart and talented that she should work for someone with better contacts at the time, and took her to meet then House Speaker Pro Tem DuBose Porter. He was greatly impressed and made her his intern. Amanda was impressed with his integrity, competency, intelligence, and compassionate personality, and they became good friends. 

Later, when she was on the verge of getting married, she broke down in tears when she told him about it, because she had no father to give her away. DuBose told her not to worry, that he would do all the things that a father would do for her at the wedding. Mrs. Rodman said, “He told her he could not replace her father, but he could do for her what a father would do. He kept his word. And at the wedding reception, he danced the first dance with her and the second dance with me.” He was going to give Amanda away at the wedding, she said, but her son Chris, Amanda‘s younger brother, wanted to do it, but DuBose and his family were there.” 

Amanda is a lawyer now, having gotten her law degree at Mercer University. She married a lawyer and both of them are big Porter supporters, sponsoring a fund-raiser  for him in Macon, where they live. 

“He will make a wonderful governor. He is more than just a politician. He is humane. He is compassionate. He keeps his word. He has integrity. He is accessible. He cares about people.,” Nancy Rodman tells us. She was one of a number of people who announced they were for DuBose, including Rep. Debbie Buckner, former Rep. Mary Jane Galer, former Rep. Jed Harris, attorney and environmentalist Ken Henson, and Muscogee Democratic Party Chair Jeanne Dugas. 
 

Former Rep. Jed Harris, Former Rep. Mary Jane Galer, Rep. Debbie Buckner, Gubernatorial candidate DuBose Porter at a news conference held on the Riverwalk by the Chattahoochee River at Columbus, Georgia

Inman and Asa Porter, DuBose and Carol Porter's twin sons. They accompany their father as he campaigns around Georgia. Both are students at the University of Georgia, and both are Eagle Scouts. Their two older brothers, Stephen and Guyton, accompany their mother as she campaigns for Lt. Gov. They are also Georgia Bulldogs and Eagle Scouts.

“Creative Loafing” Comes Out for Oxendine

July 12, 2010

With the Georgia primary elections only 8 days away,  I’ll be doing some more blogs to help you make up your mind on who to vote for.  Let’s start with why you should vote for John Oxendine in the Republican Primary for governor.  Just click on this link to get all of the reasons that Scott Henry wants Oxendine to win.

WILL THIS BE THE YEAR OF THE WOMAN IN GEORGIA POLITICS?

July 9, 2010

FOR REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR, HANDEL IS GAINING ON OXENDINE AND, FOR DEMOCRATIC LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR,  PORTER HAS A 2 TO 1 LEAD OVER McCRACKEN, ACCORDING TO THE LATEST STATEWIDE POLL 

Karen Handel, Republican Primary Candidate for Governor

If the latest poll I just read is right, we could have women running for Georgia governor and lieutenant governor in the November General Election. The poll, which was taken Wednesday and Thursday of this week by SurveyUSA for 13WMAZ in Macon, and WXIA and V-103 in Atlanta, shows former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel gaining on front- runner Georgia Insurance Commissioner  John Oxendine.  If Handel gets into a runoff with Oxendine, and that appears likely, because, with the election only 11 days away, Oxendine is way short of winning without a runoff, and if she wins the runoff, she will be the Republican candidate for governor. 

Carol and DuBose Porter with their 4 sons

  And if Carol Porter wins the Democratic nomination – she is the front-runner and is running far ahead of Tricia Carpenter McCracken – she will be the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor.  (Full disclosure: Carol is my first cousin once removed.)  Carol is the wife of DuBose Porter, minority leader of the Georgia House and candidate for governor.  If the poll results are accurate and they stay that way for the next 11 days, Carol could be the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor and DuBose will not be the Democratic nominee for governor. The Poll shows former governor Roy Barnes winning the Democratic primary without a runoff. DuBose comes in third, after Attorney General Thurbert Baker, who is shown gaining on Barnes. Asked about the possibility that his wife could win and he could lose, he said he has been asked about that a lot, and he always answers that she will get his full support no matter how it turns out.  I don’t think we’ve ever had women running for governor and lieutenant governor in the same election in Georgia  before.  If both of them just get the female vote, they’ll win.  That’s right, according to the latest figures from the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office, slightly more women than men are registered to vote in Georgia.

Gubernatorial Candidate DuBose Porter says, “Public Education is at Stake in this Election”

May 4, 2010

HE ALSO ADDRESSES THE CHRISTIAN ISSUE 

DuBose Porter, Georgia House Minority Leader and Democratic Party Primary candidate for Governor

“What businesses want when they are thinking about relocating to Georgia are better schools, better transportation, and a better quality of life for their families, and they also want security.  All of those things have come down under these Republicans.”  That’s what Gubernatorial candidate DuBose Porter told Muscogee County Democrats Saturday. 

He said Georgia is “number one in percentage of prison population, and about number 50 in education.  You pay early or you pay later.”  He believes education is the answer to keeping prison populations low.  “Republicans see prisons as a growth industry as more privatized prisons are being built.”  Commenting on the money the private prison companies give to legislator’s campaigns, he said it is a form of subtle corruption. 

Columbus area Democrats Rep. Debbie Buckner, and Georgia House Minority Whip Rep. Carolyn Hughley, who work in the legislature with Rep. Porter, were on hand giving their support

He said Republicans cut spending on public education by $3 billion over the last eight years.  “Georgia is the only state furloughing teachers,” he said, adding,  ” Public education is at stake in this election.” 

He also said they cut the State Patrol budget by a third, and cut funds for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation,  

He is not happy with their transportation bill that does not do anything for rail, which is essential to solving the highway gridlock problem, nor with the water plan that favors Atlanta developers who are heavy contributors to campaign war chests.  He said Republicans want to let private developers build reservoirs instead of impounding more water in existing lakes. 

On the question of religion, he said he usually didn’t talk about that in a campaign, but after he heard a Republican stand up and say, “If you are a Democrat you cannot be a Christian, I decided that’s it. The gloves are coming off. I am a Christian.”  He went on to say that it’s not being a Christian not to care about all Georgians,  just the people that can pour big bucks into campaign funds.   He also said that it’s not being a Christian not to want everyone to have health care. “Just look at the tax hike on hospitals. Instead of improving health care for all, they want to tax the sick.” 

During the Q and A following his talk,  he was asked if the Democratic candidates are going to make the big mistake of the last gubernatorial election by savaging one another in the primary, giving ammunition to the Republican candidate. He said he did not think that would happen this time, though differences in the candidates will be pointed out. He did take the opportunity to call primary front runner former governor Roy Barnes the “apology” candidate.  

What about the charge that his wife Carol’s running for Lt. Governor is a gimmick?  He denied that, saying that after people heard her making speeches for him, and participating in forums, they decided she was quite intelligent, could certainly handle herself in a debate, and encouraged her to run for something.  “We don’t have a candidate for Lt. Governor, so she decided to run for that.” 

“What happens if she gets elected and you don’t?” 

“I’ve been asked that before.  If that happens she will have my full support.  We’ve been married for 26 years.” 

Porter is a Dublin, Georgia newspaper publisher, attorney, and Georgia House Minority Leader.  The Porters have four sons, all Univeristy of Georgia students.  (Disclosure: Carol is my 2nd cousin. Yes, in my view, she is quite bright, a savvy businesswoman, has a warm personality, and I am going to vote for her.)

7 Crucial Days for Georgia

April 7, 2010

 When the Georgia legislature goes back into session on April 12th,  it will have only 7 legislative days to pass two extraordinarily important state budgets, the one of the rest of 2010 and the one for 2011.  Rep. Calvin Smyre is not happy with Governor Sonny Perdue’s plans.  He puts it this way in his report: 

Rep. Calvin Smyre, Georgia House District 132

The governor’s proposal to cut health care funding is a continuation of the misguided strategies by the current administration and legislative majority in dealing with a state budget deficit that is now estimated at $2.4 billion for FY 2011. Previously, they cut another $281 million in Quality Basic Education funding from the 2010 supplemental budget and just last week ordered the Board of Regents to cut an additional $300 million from the University System budget for next year. Earlier in the session, it was revealed they will eliminate the back-to-school sales tax holiday, an initiative that helps working families and Georgia businesses and, according to studies, has a positive effect on state revenues.

It is most unfortunate that those in control of the budget process are shirking the state’s responsibility to educate our children and damaging our health care system without even considering proposals that would bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in additional revenue – without raising taxes. Several Georgia cities participated in a pilot program for the local collection of sales taxes and showed the state was failing to collect sales tax revenue that consumers were paying but was going unreported.

The state is losing up to $1 billion per year because the Department of Revenue in this administration has been unsuccessful in cracking down on sales tax cheating. Legislation that would authorize local governments to collect sales taxes and help make up for these losses has been stuck in committee since last year because of partisanship by the legislative majority. Meanwhile, the people of Georgia continue to suffer.