Thank You, I Must Be Going.

As much fun as I’ve had, the time has finally come for me to sign off here at Peach Pundit. I’ve enjoyed my time here as participant in Georgia’s best political conversation for at least a decade, and especially enjoyed serving as an editor for the last five years. 

Whether getting lessons in libel laws from Pedo Bear, trying to find Paul Broun a job, discussing Georgia Power’s menu, or interviewing the former governor who invented Common Core, I’ve tried to keep it entertaining and provocative. (And who could forget the jet packs?) Some of you have appreciated my point of view, others not so much, but thanks to all of you for reading and responding. 

I want to leave this space making sure to thank Clayton and Erick for putting Peach Pundit together and letting me be a part of the conversation. I also owe a great deal of thanks to Charlie, who “elevated” me to the role of “front pager” and then editor. But I especially want to thank you commenters -who laughed at my jokes, challenged my positions and made me defend my arguments. The comment threads here have been raucous and  sometimes rude, but they never failed to teach me something. There’s an internet rule to “Never read the comments.” Y’all have always been the exception to that rule, and proven that conversation, dialogue and debate are always valuable. 

As far as what’s next for this site, that’s not up to me, but I encourage anyone who wants to write about Georgia politics at the most public place on the internet to do so to contact Clayton (via clayton -at- peachpundit.com) and offer up your services. Peach Pundit is a highly visible platform under a white-hot spotlight, so bring a big soapbox and sing your best song. I recommend being able to write and having a thick skin. And I hope the next set of contributors will take good care of Peach Pundit -I’m kind of fond of it. 

My plans include more of the same, only elsewhere. The Peach Pundit Daily will continue, although obviously under a different name and probably with less frequency. Look for it in your inboxes later this week. As much as some of you might not like it, you’ll continue to hear from me. I hope you’ll keep reading and listening and arguing back and calling me out when I make you mad and laughing when I deserve it. 

Thanks again. I’ll see you on the other side.

A Pause In The Action

Howdy all –

No doubt you’re wondering, given what happened last week, what’s to become of Peach Pundit. That’s a great question, and one I’ll be trying to answer over the next little bit.

Friday’s walkout was unexpected but not surprising. I wish Charlie and the contributors all the best with their new venture, and I have no doubt they will continue to carry on the fine work they’ve put in at Peach Pundit over the years.

For the time being, things will be kind of slow around here. I’ve already had several folks reach out and offer suggestions. If you’ve got one for me, please let me know at clayton -at- peachpundit.com.

In the meantime, I beg your indulgence as we figure out just what the next chapter of Peach Pundit looks like.

Thanks for your patience, and we’ll let you know when the fire gets lit again.

Best,

Clayton Wagar

P.S. – In the spirit of days past.. Consider this an open thread!!

Why Georgia Beer Laws Need Reform

This is going to be a fight in the legislature and it should be. Lobbyists and beer wholesalers, having spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy off legislators, have stymied reforms that all but three states have.

The only kickstarter program I have ever funded was the Synek Beer system. Take a look at this:

The system allows you to go to a brewer or craft beer store, fill a type of bio-safe plastic bladder with beer on tap, and it keeps fresh for THIRTY DAYS! So if you are having a party, you can get it filled and serve your friends beer on tap of your choice.

But it is hard to do in Georgia. The bladder is 128 ounces, or two growlers worth.

In Georgia, if you took this to your local brewery, it would be illegal to fill up. It would also, under revenue rulings in Georgia, be illegal for the brewery to tell you the name of a store where you could fill up.

The entire system of beer laws in Georgia is designed to protect incumbent campaign contributions from wholesaler lobbyists. It breeds corruption and stifles innovation.

The Synek System is revolutionary. But there are few places around Georgia to be able to take advantage of it. Meanwhile, states bordering us are thriving.

This should be a very public policy fight in the legislature in 2016. Breweries should be able to sell 128 ounces on premises. It promotes their product without cutting into store purchases. The wholesalers entire argument is that they cannot let a single law change for fear that long term something will happen to them.

I had a law professor who frequently said, “It is only a slippery slope if you slide down it.” We do not have to slide down the slippery slope in letting breweries sell 128oz of beer on premise. The wholesalers, out of fear, are cutting off their noses to spite their faces.

It is time for a change and the overreaction of the Department of Revenue at the behest of the wholesale lobby should show the legislature they need to force that change now.

Free the beer in Georgia.

And just like that…

He was gone.

I came from parts unknown, and I depart for a similar destination.

It’s been not a job, but not a vacation,

And I’ve enjoyed it more than a smidge,

from the Cheesecake Factory Bridge,

to explainers on campaign finance and Lifeline,

It’s been greatly rewarding getting up off the pine.

My time here, with the people of the front page and the comments, has changed my life. Thanks for all of that, and if you’re looking for me, you can find me @stefanturk

 

 

 

We’re Taking the Fork With Charlie

At the noon hour on WGST, Charlie will be making an announcement about a project that ultimately led him to leave Peach Pundit. You can listen online or via radio waves at 640 AM in the appropriate listening area.

Prior to his announcement, we would like to share that the undersigned have also chosen to leave Peach Pundit as contributors to begin work on Monday with Charlie’s new project.

This was not an easy decision for any of us, as Peach Pundit has been a part of our lives for a long time. For some of us, a decade or more. We cherish the opportunity that Peach Pundit has provided to us. We are thankful for each of y’all for reading what we have wrote, contributing to the discussion, and putting up with us, especially Ed.

We sincerely wish nothing but the best for Peach Pundit going forward.

We have a lot of marbles to stack between now and Monday.

#byefelicia

Anthony M Kreis
Ed
Edward Lindsey
George Chidi
Jessica S.
Jon Richards
Katelyn Ledford
Lawton Sack
Nathan Smith
Obi’s Sister
Stefan Turkheimer
Teri Anulewicz

SoLongThanksForFish

When You Come To A Fork In The Road, Take It

Late on the evening of February 13th 2007 I got a little wild hair to create a name – Icarus – and make a somewhat smart assed comment on a blog I had been reading for months. Almost 9 years later and after switching to my real name I find that I’ve been Editor In Chief for over five years. Until today.

When it’s time to move on, it’s time to move on. And it is that time.

Peach Pundit has been a great platform for me. A journey that began as an anonymous commenter on a somewhat raucous blog that was mostly a back room of Georgia politics turned into being the editor of a publication that is now a mainstream news source. I couldn’t have planned this journey if I had tried. Nor would I have wanted to. It’s been a good run.

Many times I’ve been asked what Peach Pundit is. I’ve always avoided being specific. Peach Pundit has always been what it is in the eye of the reader, the beholder. I can define why I’m here. Every other contributor or commenter has had to decide why they participate for themselves.

What it has become for me is a platform where motivated volunteers from across Georgia’s political spectrum – from an Occupy Atlanta organizer to a card carrying Freedom Caucus apologist – can discuss the issues that affect Georgians where we live in a civil and respectful tone.

I’ll admit I’m a bit proud of what we’ve become. I also remain keenly aware of why I chose the name Icarus.

I’m not leaving for greener pastures or a direct path to upward mobility. The days of what Peach Pundit was are gone, and nothing dynamic will ever stay the same. Blogging in 2016 is not the same as blogging in 2007. I do have future plans that I will not use this space or site to announce or promote. Instead I wish to thank Erick and Clayton for the opportunity, and to all of the members who have made Peach Pundit the community that it was and is for all of these years.

Peach Pundit began for me as a new beginning when I wasn’t expecting one. The next chapter is waiting to be written. I’m looking forward to it.

And I am grateful to most of you. Others, not so much.*

*Kidding**

**Mostly

Morning Reads for Friday, January 8, 2016

Here:
– Is the War of Northern Aggression still making us sick?
The list. Either it’s a boycott list, or a list of your new favorite places to shop.
– Oh look. More yellow signs around town.
– Gird your loins. 51 days ’til the primary.

There:
– NY miners rescued from stuck elevator. Miss Jessica, we need a detailed accounting of your whereabouts Wednesday night.
Where’s the tin foil?
– Putting the Bucks into Starbucks.
– What goes around, comes around.

Random Everywhere:
– The Force, coming soon to a Walmart near you.
– Guessing Sheldon will have to buy a new t-shirt.

Speaker Ralston Discusses the Upcoming Legislative Session

In a wide ranging discussion with members of the Capitol Hill press corps, House Speaker David Ralston covered several issues that are expected to come up during the 2016 legislative session, which begins on Monday. Among the topics the Speaker addressed were medical marijuana legislation, MARTA legislation, and funding for the Hope scholarship.

Speaker David Ralston takes questions from the media in advance of the legislative session.
Speaker David Ralston takes questions from the media in advance of the legislative session.
The Speaker expressed his disappointment with President Obama’s recent executive actions to expand the scope of background checks in an effort to reduce gun violence. He said that the president had tried to make a terror attack into a gun issue. “I am firmly committed to our Constitution, including the Second Amendment,” the Speaker said. “We blame a lot of things on guns in our society. I think we’re wrong to do that, and as long as I’m in this position, we’re going to continue to protect the rights of Georgians under the Second Amendment, and anything that will infringe on that will have a tough time getting past my office.”

On other issues, Speaker Ralston expressed his support for Rep. Allen Peake’s new bill that would expand the number of diseases that could be treated, and said that at some point, the decision over whether to treat a patient using medical marijuana should be made by medical professionals. On whether the state should permit casinos and / or horse racing as a method of raising funds for the Hope Scholarship, the Speaker said that ultimately, whether to allow gambling would be up to the people. But, figuring out the details of implementation could be more difficult. It’s also important, the Speaker said, to examine ways to reduce tuition and fee increases within the university system so as not to put such a burden on the scholarship program. Read more

Rest in Peace Mike Egan

Growing up in the leafy Brookwood Hills neighborhood in Atlanta, all of us knew Mike Egan. He was our state representative and one of the few Republicans in the Georgia State House in the 1960’s. Everyone respected his integrity. He was one of the few legislators of either party to vote against the move to oust Julian Bond from the General Assembly over his anti-Vietnam War views and consistently called for more open and transparent government.

Although a strong pioneering Republican leader, Mike was appointed in 1977 by President Carter to be associate attorney general under Griffin Bell. He returned to the General Assembly in 1989 as a state senator serving until his retirement in 2000. He was rightly regarded during his tenure as the “Conscious of the Senate.”

Given his distinguished career, I was understandably nervous when I called upon him in 2004 to ask for his endorsement when I first ran for the State House. It was a tough political grilling and his subsequent endorsement is easily the one I am most proud of having ever received. In the end, Mike simply asked that I take care of his community, his political party, and his state. He also told me that the key to political success was to keep my opponents temporary and friends permanent.   A lot of folks would do well to follow that advice today.

Mike took great pride in his family. He and his wife Donna raised six children – Moira, Michael III, Donna, Donald, William, and John, as well a lot of grandchildren.

Today, Mike’s family lost a beloved patriarch. My party lost a trail blazer. Our state lost a great leader. May the Peace of the Lord be with his family and all who mourn on this sad day.

Rep. Westmoreland Won’t Seek Another Term. Who Will Replace Him?

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland at the Georgia GOP 2015 convention. Photo: Jon Richards
Rep. Lynn Westmoreland at the Georgia GOP 2015 convention. Photo: Jon Richards
In a move that some in Georgia’s third congressional district had been suspecting, Rep. Lynn Westmoreland announced today that he will be retiring from Congress at the end of the current term.

His statement:

After a busy fall in Congress, I finally had the opportunity for quiet reflection over the Christmas break. I spent time in prayer and with my family, and with their blessing, have decided I will no longer seek reelection for Georgia’s Third Congressional District.

It has been an honor to serve Georgia’s Third District for the last twelve years, and I believe it is time to pass the torch to our next conservative voice. Washington, D.C. is a much different environment in 2016 than when I was elected in 2004. I know all too well the challenges the new representative will face, and pledge to offer my support and guidance to the next candidate.

Joan and I want to thank the people of Georgia’s Third District. We are forever blessed to have received your support and friendship during my time in office. I look forward to this next chapter in my life; returning to my community and spending more time with family and friends.

So who will replace the six term congressman? Early bets for those likely to run for the seat include State Sen. Josh McKoon of Columbus, Senator Mike Crane of Newnan, Senator Marty Harbin of Tyrone, Rep. Matt Ramsey of Peachtree City, and Westmoreland’s current Chief of Staff Matt Brass.

All are Republicans. Do you have any other ideas for possible contenders? Let us know in the comments.

Navy Honors John Lewis, Congress’ Most Outspoken Pacifist, by Naming New Fleet Class After Him

Atlanta Congressman John Lewis said as recently as July 2012 “war is not the answer. War is obsolete. It cannot be used as a tool of our foreign policy. It’s barbaric.” 

So then it makes perfect sense to put his name on the newest class of ships in the United States Naval fleet…right?

Because that’s exactly what the Navy did. 

On Wednesday, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Cong. Lewis announced that a new class of fleet oilers will be named after Lewis. Each oiler will bear the name of a civil rights icon. The first of which is expected to begin construction in 2018 and will be named the USNS John Lewis.

In a statement, Secretary Mabus said:

“As the first of its class, the future USNS John Lewis will play a vital role in the mission of our Navy and Marine Corps while also forging a new path in fleet replenishment. Naming this ship after John Lewis is a fitting tribute to a man who has, from his youth, been at the forefront of progressive social and human rights movements in the U.S., directly shaping both the past and future of our nation. T-AO 205 will, for decades to come, serve as a visible symbol of the freedoms Representative Lewis holds dear, and his example will live on in the steel of that ship and in all those who will serve aboard her.”

Lewis added:

“When the Secretary came by my office and shared the idea with me that he would like to name a ship for me, we both teared up a bit, and I almost lost it.  This is such a magnificent vessel.  It is a great honor.  It is my hope that the USNS John Lewis and the entire class of ships commemorating civil rights heroes will inspire future generations to do all they can to serve humanity and this country.”

The future USNS John Lewis will be operated by Military Sealift Command and provide underway replenishment of fuel and stores to U.S. Navy ships at sea and jet fuel for aircraft assigned to aircraft carriers

I suppose this is more appropriate than, say, a new class of destroyers.

Congress Passes Measure Repealing Much of Obamacare

On a virtual party line vote of 240-181, the U.S. House voted to approve H.R. 3762, the Restoring Americans Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act. The bill contains several measures popular with Republicans and conservatives, including a repeal of portions of the Affordable Care Act and the defunding of Planned Parenthood. Because the bill was passed under reconciliation rules authorized by the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the bill was not subject to a Senate filibuster, unlike the more than 60 previous attempts to repeal Obamacare.

The measure now goes to President Obama, who is all but certain to veto it. According to the Associated Press, the next act in this political Kabuki Theatre will be an attempted override vote on January 22nd, which coincides with the annual March for Life and the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. Republicans likely will not have enough votes to override the President’s veto.

Legislative passage of a measure repealing the health care law does mean that a major goal has been met by the Republican congress, something demanded by the party’s base. And, Georgia’s representatives didn’t hesitate to crow about their achievement. You can read their statements below the fold. Read more

Morning Reads – Thursday, January 7, 2016

On this date in 1959, the US government recognized Fidel Castro’s new government in Cuba

Peaches

Jimmy Carter

Sweet Tea

Liberty Drum

State Rep. plans to file bill halting executive appointments of legislators

Representative David Stover has announced his plans to file legislation that would prohibit members of the Georgia General Assembly from being appointed by the Governor to any position as a state employee while they are serving in the legislature – and for the one year following their departure from the General Assembly.

The bill seeks to curtail the continued appointments by the Governor of members of the Georgia General Assembly. The process has long been scrutinized as suspicion grows that some elected officials serve for the purpose of appointments -be it to the Court of Appeals or as a well-compensated head of a state governmental agency – instead of to be a voice of The People. Legislators who oppose the appointments have long claimed political favors and votes are exchanged for the coveted positions, but little can be done when the Governor exercises his executive authority.

Additionally, when an appointment is made in the middle of a term, tax payers are saddled with the bill of a special election to fill the vacant seat.

The forthcoming legislation would halt all appointments of legislators effective immediately.

The legislation is expected to be filed some time Wednesday. Whether or not it will make it out of committee chaired by legislators who would lose the benefit of appointments remains to be seen.

Morning Reads in the New Year

I want a refund on 2016 already.

“The Provider” by Angels of Light.

  1. Reviewing 2015: the Year of the Panther. 
  2. Truly that is how the history books will record that epoch.
  3. Al Jazeera report: Atlanta’s AIDS epidemic reminiscent of 1980s New York City.
  4. Really? Sam Olens is Georgia Trend‘s man of the year? 
  5. Sidenote: guess how many opinions Olens issued in 2015. If you guessed anything over one you would be wrong.
  6. Science: no one in this country is angrier than whites and Republicans. Shocking? No.
  7. On Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills’ attempt to solve what might be his most baffling case.
  8. It seems every few years there’s a story about Piney Grove Cemetery in Buckhead, a slave cemetery that has festered in ruination. This time, however, it seems to be a slightly different story. 
  9. Is Appling Georgia’s most conservative town?
  10. London’s The Daily Mail: Naked prostitutes chase gunmen through Buckhead hotel after they posed as clients and robbed them. 
  11. Former Atlanta paramedic goes on “Fresh Air” to discuss making it big in the world, his book on being an Atlanta paramedic. 
  12. Former Atlantan Walton Goggins goes on “All Things Considered” to discuss making it big in the world, being an actor. 
  13. His best role was as “the belle who doesn’t tell.”