Posts Tagged ‘Georgia’

The Trouble with Football

December 15, 2014

 

Retired legendary Georgia Tech basketball coach Bobby Cremins

Retired legendary Georgia Tech basketball coach Bobby Cremins

Bobby Cremins, the most successful Georgia Tech basketball coach ever – the school named its basketball court after him – talked as much about football as basketball when he spoke to  members of the Rotary Club of Columbus. That’s because the paying-players controversy affects basketball and all college sports. If you pay football players, you have to pay all team sport athletes. Not everyone agrees. Some say you pay the players that bring in the big bucks. That’s the way capitalism works.  People, they assert, who say you have to pay all of them are just using that as an excuse to keep from paying any.

Cremins agrees the players should get more of the “ridiculous” amount of money the TV networks are paying to broadcast the games.  When they see the schools and coaches getting millions of dollars, while they play the games and take the physical risks and get only a scholarship for and room and board, they feel cheated.  He says they have a case, but he is opposed to paying them.  Instead, he is for giving them a stipend.  So paying them a $5,000-a-month stipend, the figure being considered by the NCAA, is not paying them. Uh huh.

While college football is riding high now, the future is not so rosy.  A recent poll shows that 50 percent of American parents don’t want their sons to play football.  All the news about the brain injuries caused by concussions and about kids dying from injuries is taking its toll. Also, the news about brutal and criminal off-the-field behavior by some players has its effects.  College players are produced by high school football.

As for me, I enjoy a good game, especially if Georgia Tech, Georgia, Alabama, or Auburn are playing.  Still, as I have said before, if I had a young son, I would not want him  playing football. The physical risks are just too great.  It’s just not worth it.

 

 

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Republican Heavy-Hitters Hit Town

October 25, 2010

Sen. Isakson finishes his talk and welcomes Republican gubernatorial candidate Nathan Deal to the podium at Lakebottom Park in Columbus

Just about all of Georgia’s Republican heavy-hitter candidates rolled into Columbus on a campaign bus this afternoon for a rally in the band shell at Lakebottom Park.  From there they went to a fund-raising reception at the Convention and Trade Center.

Nathan DealU.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, 3rd District Congressman Lynn Westmoreland,  gubernatorial candidate Nathan Deal, and 2nd Congressional District candidate Mike Keown all took their turn at the microphone, but the message was pretty much the same: the big issue is jobs and they want the chance to help provide more. How? Same way that Republicans have been espousing all along,  low taxes and fewer regulations, though Sen. Isakson did allow that regulations were all right to “level the playing field,” but not to “determine the outcome of the game.”  

3rd U.S. District Rep. Lynn Westmorland

Will lower, or at least no new taxes, and fewer regulations provide more jobs?  They want to continue the Bush tax cuts, not just for the middle class but for the upper class, too.  Well, the Bush tax cuts were still in place when the jobless rate zoomed upward toward the end of the Bush administration. 

Last quarter saw big profits for America’s big corporations.  That did not translate into a lot of new jobs.   Fewer employees lead to higher profits.  So what makes Republicans think more jobs will be provided by lower taxes? Lower taxes on the middle class make some sense since the middle class drives consumerism, which is what our economy depends upon.  You don’t sell millions of hamburgers and cars to the wealthy. There just aren’t that many of them.   

Many Really Big Hitters come from Really Small Towns in Georgia

July 26, 2010
As we drove into Young Harris, Georgia recently,  I had to reflect on why it is so famous – and it is famous.  It’s not big.  The 2000 census counted 604 residents.  That’s almost a hundred less than the town’s very famous college, Young Harris College, which only has 700 students.

Zell Miller, former Georgia United States Senator and Governor

Like Plains,  Young Harris illustrates that a town doesn’t have to be big to produce big leaguers. Zell Miller might not be quite as famous as Jimmy Carter, but he’s plenty famous – and, to a lot of Democrats,  now infamous.  He served as  Georgia’s Democratic Lt. Governor,  Governor, and United States Senator.  But, even though never resigning from the Democratic Party,  he took up with the Republicans, even speaking at the Republican National Convention that nominated George W. Bush for president.   

 Just as Young Harris is famous because of people like Zell Miller, Young Harris College  is also famous, because people like Zell were students there.  And, I’ll bet you didn’t know that, according to Wikipedia,  these famous folks also went to Young Harris College:  “entertainers Oliver Hardy

Stan Laurel, of Laurel and Hardy, is on the floor, and Oliver Hardy is standing next to him in this lobby poster for their first movie, Lucky Dog, as Laurel and Hardy in 1921.

, Wayland Flowers and Amanda Bearse, country music singers Ronnie Milsap and Trisha Yearwood, Major League Baseball player Nick Markakis, and Waffle House founder Tom Forkner. Poet and novelist Byron Herbert Reece was a student and teacher at YHC.”

Wonder if Zell is going to endorse a Democrat or Republican for governor this year?  You just never know what he will do. But, we do know that he did one very important thing for Georgia. He was instrumental in establishing the state lottery, which funds the HOPE Scholarship program. Furnishing college tuition and textbooks is a big deal.

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.

The Tennessee River Solution

June 13, 2010
ATLANTA ATTORNEY SAYS THE U.S. SUPREME COURT WILL INEVITABLY END UP SETTLING THE   BORDER DISPUTE BETWEEN GEORGIA AND TENNESSEE

John Ross Bridge spanning the Tennessee River, Chattanooga, TN

 Atlanta attorney Brad Carver, who works with Governor Sonny Perdue and others on water matters, says tapping into the Tennessee River is the most practical solution to the Atlanta area’s water shortage problem.  Georgia maintains the state border at Nickajack was incorrectly surveyed in 1818, and the correct survey would put a section of the Tennessee in Georgia. 

Atlanta attorney Brad Carver, speaking to the Rotary Club of Columbus, Columbus, GA (Photo by Jim Cawthorne, Camera1)

Carver told Columbus Rotarians that Tennessee is already benefiting economically from Georgia’s water problem.  Prospective industries are becoming wary of North Georgia because of the problem, and some have already decided to locate in Tennessee instead. That’s one of the reasons, maybe the biggest one, that prompts Tennessee to tell Georgia to forget about it. 

 While Georgia is trying to work out something with Tennessee, Carver told me after his Rotary talk that inevitably the U.S. Supreme Court will decide who is right.  He wants Governor Perdue to go ahead and file suit against Tennessee so the court can start deliberating the case.  He said the court is charged with settling disputes between states.  When I reminded him that Perdue won’t be governor much longer, he agreed and said he hoped the suit would be filed soon. Once that legal ball gets rolling, Alabama is sure to get into the game because the Tennessee flows into Alabama. 

River Walk on the Chattahoochee River, Columbus, GA

As far as Georgia taking billions of gallons out of the Tennessee, he said the Tennessee River is so large that it can easily supply water to Atlanta without hurting Tennessee economically or environmentally.  While we may think the Chattahoochee is a big river, it is small compared to the Tennessee. He says the Tennessee is seventeen times as large as the Chattahoochee. 

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.

Albany’s “Springer”

April 5, 2010

No, you don’t have to go to New York to see a great play.  You can see one in hundreds of regional theaters around the country.  I have seen many, and even performed in a few, at the Springer Opera House in Columbus, Georgia  and now I have seen an incredibly good one in Albany, Georgia.

My first cousin, once removed, Ray Johnson – actually, Dr. Ray Johnson because he is a retired psychiatrist and every family needs at least one –  invited me to come to Albany to see his wife Joy, a retired RN,  in the Theatre Albany production of “Grace and Glorie.”  

Francie Michas and Joy Johnson, "Gloria" and "Grace," "Grace and Glorie"

In my view, the production was Broadway quality.  It was a two-woman show. Joy played Grace, a dying 90-year-old illiterate West Virginia farm woman, and Francie Michas played Gloria, a young, educated, urbane  hospice worker.  Their generational, cultural, philosophical, and psychological clashes made for not only serious thought, but laugh-out-loud humor. 

"Grace and Glorie" set was designed by Theatre Albany Set Designer Stephen Felmet

Not only was the acting absorbing and, well, brilliant, but the set, the inside of a West Virgina farm cottage,  was as professional as any I have seen.   Stephen Felmet, a self-educated set designer and the only other paid staff member of Theatre Albany – the other one is Director Mark Costello – reminded me of movie and TV drama sets, because it had an incredible amount of detail. Since so many sets are symbolic, it was refreshing to see a good realistic one again.

Theatre Albany is in the 1853 antebellum Captain John A. Davis home

As I was talking with Director Costello, who has been Theatre Albany’s Artistic/Managing Director for 25 years,  during intermission, I pointed out to him that Theatre Albany is Albany’s “Springer” – he was gracious enough not to counter with the Springer is Columbus’  Theatre Albany – because both occupy historic buildings.  There are also a number of other parallels.

While the Springer Opera House dates back to 1871, the Captain John C. Davis House, home of Theatre Albany, is even older, dating back to  1853.  George Washington didn’t sleep there, but Confederate President Jefferson Davis did sit in a chair there, which is on display.  A theater auditorium was  added to the back of the house when Theatre Albany made the home its permanent residence in 1964. 

CSA President Jefferson Davis sat in this chair

I’ve been through Albany a number of times heading for Florida in recent years, but only stopped maybe for lunch, so this was the first time I really visited the city since the early 1960’s.  As program manager for the late Jim Woodruff’s three radio stations in Columbus, Albany, and Bainbridge, I would visit Albany and Bainbridge a couple of times a month. The Albany station, WGPC,  a CBS affiliate, was located in a small building in back of the New Albany Hotel, where I spent the night a few times.  

Back when I was a child, my family would drive down to visit my Aunt Jewell and her family in Albany a few times a year.  They lived just a few blocks away from the New Albany Hotel.  After spending the night at the Johnson’s following the play, as I headed back to Columbus, I decided to check out the downtown area to see how much it has changed.  As far as the buildings are concerned, not much. The New Albany looks as good as it did 50 years ago, but, like the Ralston in downtown Columbus, it is now a retirement hotel.  What has changed is that, unlike the old days when on Saturdays cars and throngs of shoppers occupied  downtown,  there are almost no cars or people.  It’s the same old story of retailers moving out to malls.  Columbus is more active downtown now,  with Columbus State University locating its music, art and drama schools downtown, and with the Springer Opera House and River Center’s three theaters attracting crowds.  For instance, Jerry Seinfeld played at the River Center Thursday night to an almost sold-out crowd. 

All in all, it was a great Albany visit.  We had a fine time conversing about our families, the old times, the new times, theater, music (Ray said all McMichaels are musical, and he’s pretty close to being right), and, yes, even politics.  What did we say about that?  Well, all I can say is we were all on the same page.

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.

Why Did President Obama Pick Savannah?

February 27, 2010

PRESIDENT  OBAMA VISITS SAVANNAH TUESDAY AS PART OF HIS ‘WHITE HOUSE TO MAIN STREET” LISTENING TOUR

I don’t know why President Obama picked Savannah for his “Main Street” visit to Georgia Tuesday, but he will certainly be in probably Georgia’s most charming city.  I was there recently and really enjoyed the visit.  It’s a beautiful place, and, as you know, the most historic city in Georgia.  It’s where Georgia started in 1733. 

River Street in downtown Savannah, Georgia

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution story by Bill  Torpy and    Jeremy Redmon,  the White House will only say that ” its residents ‘have been hit hard and know well the challenges that Americans are facing right now’ — a criteria that could fit Anytown, USA.”  

The president will be conducting a town hall type meeting at Savannah Technical College.  The Savannah Morning News reports that only invited guest will be in attendance because the school’s auditorium will only seat 200 people.  After he finishes there, he is scheduled to make some more stops during his four hour visit,  but the White House won’t say where they will be. 

Port of Savannah on the Savannah River. It exports more than it imports.

According to the AJC  story, Robert Eisinger, dean of liberal arts at the Savannah College of Arts and Design,  says, ” Savannah provides racial, ideological and geographical diversity,” he said, and “It’s a president’s job to go out and listen. There’s an export story he can tell here, a manufacturing story and an education story.”  He pointed out the photographic settings, which include “historic architecture, an expansive river view,  and a busy port that all can help bring home whatever message Obama wants to make.”

There are some high profile Republicans in the Savannah area, such as Congressman Jack Kingston who is opposed to the $787 billion stimulus program – though Georgia Republican Governor Perdue’s administration had no problem in accepting Georgia’s share of the money- but,  the president will not be in hostile territory.  He pulled 57 percent of the vote in Chatham County.