I Dissent.

The fallout continues over Gena Abraham’s report. Of note,

Indeed, Johnson said the revelations justified the vote for Abraham and should discourage legislators from removing those who voted for her.

But Ehrhart said they will have the opposite effect, showing that the current board should have had a better grip on things. He said if Perdue was going public with DOT problems in hopes of saving the board members who supported Abraham,

24 comments

  1. yellowhammer says:

    You’re right. It’s painfully obvious you don’t know Vance Smith. He is as fine a person as there is under the gold dome and he would’ve made, and hopefully one day will make, an outstanding DOT Commish.

  2. Clint Austin says:

    Erick – got to disagree with you here. I have known Vance Smith a long time, and there is no one I would trust my tax dollar with more than him. I am making no comment at all on anyone else or the DOT race – just making my opinion clear that Vance Smith is salt of the earth.

  3. Bill Simon says:

    Clint,

    It’s not a matter of “salt of the earth”, it’s a matter of ABILITY. What exactly in Vance Smith’s past would have qualified him to look at the way the DOT has been run for so long and think “Whoa! This is f*cked-up! This has to change!

    You confuse character with training and abilities. Abraham clearly has the ability and the fact that she hasn’t served in the Legislature demonstrates to most people that she is NOT corrupted by the legislative process of good ‘ole boy con-men and con-women lobbyists schmoozing and boozing legislators into making decisions on how money is spent.

    No offense. 🙂

  4. Icarus says:

    Erick,

    I’ve re-read your post several times before posting. I think I can comprehend it as well as anyone with a Georgia public school education and UGA diploma can.

    The problem with your post, as I see it, is that you are implying that Vance would champion the continuation of a corrupt system, with no evidence other than that he serves in Republican leadership to justify your case.

    There was a time in this state when the Republicans were in the minority. Many of the people who post here are too young to remember or at least appreciate what it was like to be a Republican in the 80’s and 90’s in Georgia.

    Vance was there, fighting as a member of the Conservative Policy Caucus, when there was no Republican majority in sight. He’s paid his dues to earn the right to be called a Conservative Republican.

    I have no argument that Gena Abraham is the better choice for the job. I think any attempt to remove her from the job is nothing more than petty politics. Same for any attempt to remove a board member that voted for her.

    That said, I see no reason to try and discredit a man like Vance Smith simply to butress a case in support of Gena Abraham.

  5. Clint Austin says:

    Bill and all,

    I am NOT giving an opinion on the DOT chairman’s race. I made that clear.

    I am speaking only of the implication that Vance Smith is corrupt in handling the taxpayer dollar. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    I see nothing but competence in Abraham, and again offer no opinion on what happened in the DOT chairman’s race. That was settled far over my head, as it should have been.

    Clint

  6. yellowhammer says:

    Agreed Clint. I take nothing away from Gena. I have always found her to be an intelligent and hard working person who will make a fine DOT Chief. However, like you, I take issue with negative characterization of Vance. He is of the highest character and a damn fine public servant.

  7. SFrazier says:

    The honorable Erick, do you think it is appropriate for an elected leader to call a taxpaying citizen of your community a profane word

  8. Bill Simon says:

    Yellowhammer and Clint,

    Soooo…you’re saying there is absolutely ZERO waste in the bi-annual appropriations bill? That there has never been taxpayer dollars directed at wasteful and pork projects by Vance Smith? Is that what you are claiming?

  9. Trackboy1 says:

    “House Minority Leader DuBose Porter (D-Dublin), said he was skeptical that DOT’s problems are as severe as portrayed.”

    DuBose, the one-trick pony: To always be the contrarian.

    For the first time in recent memory, there’s a push to stop the waste and clean-up the mess that is GDOT, and DuBose is “skeptical”??? Yep, DuB, there aren’t any problems. Every penny is spent without any waste. Senior GDOT officials don’t get hired away to immediately do business with GDOT’ers who used to work under them. GDOT staffers aren’t way, way too chummy with road builders. GDOT knows exactly how many lawsuits it has against it. Knows exactly who many projects it has in the pipeline. And they do a great job of sharing information and the budget online for all the public to see. They even broadcast their meetings online and post the minutes.

    Here’s another one from DuBose the Contrarian:
    http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/stories/2007/12/14/lottery_1215.html
    However, Georgia House Minority Leader DuBose Porter (D-Dublin), who helped sell the original lottery legislation to the House in the early 1990s, said the changes are not needed.
    “We need to leave it alone and let it operate as it has successfully for the last 14 years,” he said.

    Yep, DuB, keep the huge bonuses ‘a coming! What are Sen. Seabaugh and Rep. Hembree thinking trying to bring accountability to the GA Lottery Corp.? Nope, in Dub’s world, GA Dem’s don’t do accountability and oversight.

    Can’t wait for DuB to run for guvna in ’10. He’ll garner at least twenty percent of the vote.

    P.S.
    “Board member Billy Langdale of Valdosta, who’s been on the board since 1988, said it now appears that information had been kept from the board members and that staff even lied to them over the years about why projects weren’t getting done.”

    Hey Billy, 20 years on the board is long enough. Give one of the other eight million plus Georgians a chance to serve. Term limits for State Transportation Bd. members, please??!!

  10. Bill Simon says:

    With the exposures of what has been going on (and, not been going on) at GDOT, I wonder just how inefficient and wasteful GRTA is?

    Note to Clint Austin: Do not interpret this statement as an “attack” on the character of Steve Stancil.

    GRTA is nothing other than a colossal boondoggle, and every Republican said so back when it was formed under Barnes, and I will bet anyone any amount of money that one day the money wasted at GRTA will be exposed.

    Maybe Earl can write a bill that puts GRTA under GDOT? I’ll bet Abraham will kick some butt over at GRTA then.

  11. Trackboy1 says:

    Someone please tell me why we need both GRTA and the ARC? Bill’s got a valid point wondering about GRTA spending. Put their books online, let’s see those itemized budgets. Get ARC’s & GDOT’s itemized spending online too.

  12. Ms_midtown says:

    Right on Trackboy, there are too many “planning” comissions. Add in the Atlanta Beltline Inc., MARTA, ooops forgot one the Transit Planning Board. I’m not sure who is actually in charge.
    I doubt traffic and water will be much improved in two years. Two big issues just waiting for the right candidates and party to cash in big.

  13. AubieTurtle says:

    The high number of planning organizations appear to be the result of two things.

    The first is the desire of the person or group pushing for the new planning agency to get a specific result that they can’t get with one of the currently existing agencies. Even if they don’t get to appoint all of the board members, they usually have the creation set up to where they appoint the majority of them, either directly or through appointments by others who they control.

    The second reason is to appear to be doing something to solve a problem when the real desire is to protect the status quo, at least for the five or six years it takes for the public to catch on that the new agency isn’t accomplishing anything useful.

    If your supporters are making money hand over fist in the current system, even if it is inevitable that things eventually change, wouldn’t you create a few defective by design agencies to protect their bottom line for a few more years?

  14. Clint Austin says:

    Bill,

    Why would any right-minded person ever consider something you wrote as an attack? 🙂

    Give me a buzz – want to talk about something that will make you money – and it has nothing to do with lobbying anyone at DOT, GRTA, ARC, or anywhere else!

    Clint

  15. JRM2016 says:

    Erick,

    This post is truly stunning.

    I have known Vance Smith and his family for many years. As has been noted in earlier posts, Vance is no Johnny-come-lately to the conservative movement in Georgia. He has been a real leader, even when conservatives in Georgia were in the wilderness. He takes his responsibilities as a public official very seriously. Moreover, he is one of the most responsive elected officials I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. He truly has an “open door” policy and is always very interested to hear about new ideas. He is an expert in the area of Georgia transportation policy. This should not be much of a revelation as he has been involved deeply in the area for over a decade.

    It is extremely offensive to suggest that Vance would have continued a “culture of corruption” at DOT.

    This is the second time he has expressed interest in the job. The reason should be obvious: as someone who has been involved in Transporation policy for over a decade in this state he knows where the bodies are buried and was by far in the best position to be an “agent of reform” and bring change to the DOT.

    Gena Abraham, who I do not know, was the Governor’s pick for DOT. Her qualifications have been discussed on this site before and I think it is obvious that she did not have the depth and breadth of knowledge on DOT issues that Vance does (see her statements to the press) and of course she does not have the relationships with legislators that Vance would have brought to the job.

    It seems evident to me that she is putting out the “DOT is a mess” story to lower expectations for her job performance. But whatever the reason let’s be clear that the reason for her appointment was to put the Governor’s person in that Chair, plain and simple. It had nothing whatsoever to do with choosing an “agent of reform” over a “good ol’ boy”

    Truly Erick you should apologize for your remarks about Vance Smith.

    I wonder what your reaction would be if someone who did not know you and had no evidence to support his position posted to this site suggesting you would aid and abet corruption on the Macon City Council?

    I hope for everyone’s sake that the myriad problems of the DOT can be solved despite the seeds of conflict that were sown by DOT Board members who “voted their conscience” and elected Ms. Abraham over the clear choice of their constitutents.

  16. eehrhart says:

    Erick,

    You are now an appropriator yourself, Unless the city of Macon and council have no money at all?

    Are some animals(fed,state) more or less equal than others(city).

    I would submit that responsible elected officials can appropriate at any level well and honestly.

    As for Mike Evans; His claims to the contrary he is the Chairman for goodness sake and on the board for 5 years and takes no responsibility for the mess.

    Come on!!

    What has he been doing for 5 years without ONE word of caution.

    Do you think he possibly just sits there at meetings and stares into space thinking about how he could get the commissioners job for himself? That is truly what he tried to do.

    Gena will do a great job! Mike has to go he has been a HUGE failure and is responsible for the mess as Chairman.

  17. Harry says:

    Earl,

    I understand and appreciate your solid defense of your fellow House GOP member. That is commendable, and I’m sure Vance Smith is an ethical and responsible person. The problem is not Vance Smith, the problem is state government. The amount of contempt and disgust that I have for state employees in my dealings with most (not all) of them, can hardly be expressed. The incompetence, laziness, unprofessional,customer no-service, seat-filling mentality is surreal. In addition, every year the appropriation process happens and like rats in a maze taxpayers are called on once more to pour more money down the same old ratholes. We are funding a social experiment that has failed. Let’s do something else for a change. Let’s cut taxes across the boards and get rid of the bad ones. In 1978 Georgia, with twice the population of Oregon had half as many state employees; ie Oregon had 4 times as many per capita. Today, Georgia has as many state employees per capita as Oregon. We’ve put a huge amount of people on the state payroll, and I fear it’s been mainly to try to achieve minority employment to the detriment of the overall taxpaying public.

  18. Loui says:

    Jim Thompson hit the nail on the head with the following article.

    Thompson: Elected officials are root of DOT’s problems

    | | Story updated at 7:10 PM on Saturday, December 15, 2007

    Jim
    Thompson

    Don’t you believe them for a minute. Don’t you dare believe them.

    The state’s high-level elected officials were merely feigning shock – shock, they said – last week upon learning of the massive disarray in the state’s Department of Transportation.

    To briefly recap the news made by new DOT Commissioner Gena Abraham last week, the agency has been so wildly mismanaged for so long the staff couldn’t even tell her how many projects were on the books. The initial number given to her was 1,100 projects, but that number later mushroomed to more than 9,000, with about 2,500 projects listed as active.

    Beyond that, Abraham’s poking around in the agency’s books – insofar as such poking around is possible, given that the agency has five separate computerized accounting systems, only a couple of which are integrated – revealed that just one of the agency’s groups of projects is more than $4 billion above initial cost estimates.

    In a shameless bit of stagecraft last week, Perdue called journalists from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution into his office – after meeting behind closed doors with Abraham and the DOT board – so that he and board members could tell the newspaper the new commissioner’s revelations marked the first time, the very first time, that they’d heard anything about the transportation agency’s obviously longstanding mismanagement.

    “But the first step toward doing better is acknowledgment of that,” the governor told the Atlanta newspaper, offering up a bathos-soaked bromide of contrition.

    It wasn’t long before the state’s legislative heavy-hitters were chiming in with their own pusillanimous tut-tutting.

    Here, for instance, is Glenn Richardson, speaker of the House, talking with InsiderAdvantageGeorgia.com: “The problems within DOT that have been uncovered after years of buildup are the fault of no particular person but rather of a flawed system.”

    House Majority Leader Jerry Keen, R-St. Simons, also talking with InsiderAdvantage.com, said “(i)t’s obviously time for more openness from the Department of Transportation … .”

    Another legislative denizen to go on record with InsiderAdvantage.com, Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, commended Abraham for her “due diligence to make DOT work better. And I do believe what they’re finding is part of the historic culture that proves that change is in order. … I will be working to see how we can work with Commissioner Abraham to get DOT back on the right track.”

    Truth is, Mullis, Keen, Richardson, Perdue and a host of other state legislative leaders know exactly why DOT has – to turn Mullis’ phrasing around a bit – been on the wrong track, and been on it for so long.

    Put plainly, it’s their fault.

    Taking even a cursory look at the campaign contribution reports filed by Perdue, Richardson and this state’s other top legislative leader, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who presides over the state Senate, reveals that they’ve taken money as late as last year – an election year, as you’ll recall – from a virtual parade of road contractors, construction companies, developers, oil companies, real-estate agents, the trucking industry and others with direct or indirect interests in maintaining the status quo at what has for years been a road-centric Georgia Department of Transportation.

    Clearly, one way to keep those donors’ checkbooks open was to ensure that road projects that kept contractors in business, that made it easier for commuters to get to their suburban homes, that kept people pulling up to gas pumps, continued to get put on the DOT’s agenda.

    So maybe it’s no real surprise that no one at DOT could say how many projects were in the works.

    It’s certainly no surprise the governor and many of this state’s most powerful legislators haven’t been particularly interested in looking at the agency’s books.

    And they certainly weren’t ready for Abraham to rub their noses in the DOT ledger.

    So, when that happened, what was left for any of them to do but feign surprise, blame the problems on nebulosities like a “historic culture” or a “flawed system,” and cross their fingers that the public would buy their act?

    Don’t you do it. Don’t you dare do it.

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