Some Free Advice For The New Speaker.

Decisions have finally been made: Glenn Richardson is leaving and Mark Burkhalter will take over come January 1. Reading the paper this morning it seems most House members support Burkhalter which is good for him. When I first heard that Richardson would resign but not until January 1 I wasn’t too happy. Why wait until then? The first reason that comes to minds is O.C.G.A. § 28-1-6.1 which has been mentioned on this blog several times. By waiting until 1/01/10 to resign, there is no need to elect a new Speaker until after the Legislative session is over. There may be other reasons that Richardson will wait to resign and it appears to me this was some sort of negotiated resignation. Why the guy who is the principle cause of all this mess was allowed to negotiate his resignation is beyond me. Nevertheless it’s done and absent some sort of coup in the House we have what we have.

Let me say that making Mark Burkhalter Speaker of the House is probably the best decision that could be reached given the short time until the next legislative session. Power will transition smoothly from Richardson to Burkhalter and as I said above, it seems most members like Mark. I do think Burkhalter needs to do a several things immediately upon assuming the Speakership and I’d like to offer my free advice now.

I think Speaker Burkhalter should do these things immediately upon assuming power:

1) Change the way the House has is run. It would have been better to have the GOP Caucus vote on this decision rather than have it forced upon them. I’ve often heard that Burkhalter enjoys broad support from the Caucus, so much so that if he wanted to be Speaker he could make the move almost whenever he wanted to. If that’s the case, why not give the Caucus a chance to endorse his leadership and strengthen his hand going into the Session? Again, what’s done is done, but the “we’re going to cram this down your throat and you’re going to like it” behavior perfected by Tom Murphy and carried on by Glenn Richardson has to stop. That’s not leadership. Leadership is rallying people to the vision you create. Leadership involves empowering people not threatening them. The House GOP Caucus contains many bright, creative people. Get them involved and trust them to make good decisions.

2) Memo to House members: Knock it off. The press is sniffing around. More revelations are likely to come. Things are going to get worse before they get better. The Speaker should tell the GOP Caucus: “If you have a girlfriend in Atlanta and a wife back home you won’t be protected and we’ll do nothing to keep it out of the media. You are one you own to deal with the consequences of your actions.” There are no indispensable House members, don’t protect the guilty.

3) Reduce the influence of lobbyists…now. I’m not necessarily in favor of more restrictions on lobbying but I am in favor of restraint by Members. Glenn Richardson took $50,000 in lobbyist gifts over the last five years. Even if every penny of that was justifiable it’s created the appearance that something is fishy in the House, and in politics appearance is reality. That reality must change and the Speaker can do it by setting this tone: “The House is about getting good things accomplished, not partying.”

4) Get stuff done. There are important issues that have languished over the last few years. Some of that was Richardson’s fault, some was not. It’s vitally important to the State that key issues get dealt with, and dealt with this session. Once again, budget cutting will take center stage, but transportation, water and a host of other issues have reached crisis level. These things must be dealt with or frankly the GOP won’t deserve to be the majority party anymore.

I think Mark Burkhalter has the capability to be a good Speaker and get the job done. I hope he will take this advice in the spirit in which it is offered. I want to see conservative ideas talked about and implement not because I want to see the GOP cling to it’s political power, but because I believe the conservative principles of limited government and personal freedom provide the best chance for our citizens to thrive. Ultimately that’s what is at stake.

61 comments

  1. Fawkes says:

    The Speaker should tell the GOP Caucus: “If you have a girlfriend in Atlanta and a wife back home you won’t be protected and we’ll do nothing to keep it out of the media. You are one you own to deal with the consequences of your actions.”

    Can Burkhalter say that and be sincere? Or is Burkhalter a culprit in this as well?

    • Truthteller says:

      ADD #5: END THE ABUSE OF POWER PROGRAM CALLED THE “HAWKS”.

      End this and get back to real representative government. This is the single worst thing that has happened to the House. Hawks sit on all committees but generally show up to vote only on close votes to stack and railroad real, legitimate votes from happening.

  2. With the GOP literally and figuratively in bed with lobbyists and utilities, what makes you think they can “divorce themselves” from that? The Democratic bashlash is coming in 11th month. Brace for it.

  3. Progressive Dem says:

    How about moving away from the notion that government is bad, and towards the philosophy that government is necessary

  4. AthensRepublican says:

    The Republican caucus needs to deal with their internal issues before the media does it for them. Secrets are not well kept under in the Capitol and the leadership knows who the troublemakers are. They should be removed from positions of influence.

    The Georgia House of Representatives under the current leadership has a major image problem. I hope the next Speaker (whoever that may be) outlines the steps they will take to restore the leadership credibility in the Gold Dome. Those that don’t see this as a serious problem should be replaced. Buzz’s major points are dead on.

    We have heard all week from politicians with safe retroactive statements concerning what was reported. We need to hear from one with the courage to recognize the larger problem and the steps that the House should take to regain the lost trust from the people of Georgia.

    • NorthGeorgiaGirl says:

      I guess he’s already proving that it’s all about establishing his place in charge and not giving the caucus a say. Nothing ever changes down there, does it?!?

  5. politicalwidow says:

    Maybe he doesn’t have the emotional issues, but Burkhalter is hardly any better than Richardson in regards to chasing women.

    • rightofcenter says:

      This is a pretty brazen anonymous statement. Let’s stop with the accusatory innuendo unless we provide facts.

  6. MariettaLegal says:

    Questions for Speaker to Be Burkhalter, who states in the AJC article that “at the time” he did not know about Richardson and the lobbyist.

    Well, when did you know and what did you do about it?

    You knew there had been an ethics charge dismissed. Upon learning about it, what was your duty, sir?

  7. politicalwidow says:

    All you have to do is go to events during the session to see him out with various women. It is well known with the Capitol crowd.

    • Jeff says:

      If it is so well known, where is anyone coming forward with testimony or hard facts?

      Innuendo can NOT be acted on. Testimony and hard facts SHOULD be acted on – immediately.

      • ByteMe says:

        So you’re saying that if, say, Eric Johnson actually saw it for himself (he being of the Capital crowd) but still wanted documentated proof for the ethics committee (without actually requesting any documents or calling any witnesses), you’re ok with that?

        Just trying to figure out how far the line of blindness extends.

        • Jeff says:

          ByteMe:

          Why wasn’t any proof proferred with the allegation? Typically when you file a lawsuit, your complaint lists specifics and not just “everyone knows this happened”.

          Even if Johnson knew about it himself, if he wasn’t willing to go on record with his knowledge, there was nothing the Committee could do – even though he chaired it.

          • ByteMe says:

            As stated before: the affair was public knowledge, not just Capitol knowledge, since it had been running on the front page of the AJC for several days when the complaint was filed.

            The lobbyist wasn’t questioned.

            Richardson wasn’t questioned.

            In fact, no one was called to testify or even to provide information.

            No documents were requested either from the complainant nor from any other party mentioned in the complaint. Even courts let you do discovery on flimsy claims up to a point.

            And if Johnson knew about an obvious conflict of interest, why wouldn’t he say something??

            When exactly does “turning a blind eye” end?

  8. Ken in Eastman says:

    Regarding Burkhalter’s plans to assume the speakership:

    It concerns me that Burkhalter is going to wait the maximum amount of time before holding the election for speaker. For one thing, we will continue to hear about the Richardson scandal well into an election year and that’s not a good thing for the GOP.

    This is not good planning for anyone but Mark Burkhalter personally. This is the same kind of me-first selfish crap that gave us Glenn Richardson’s scandal to begin with.

    If Burkhalter believes it’s necessary to consolidate his base, then he’s probably the wrong person to be elected speaker. He’s been in the Georgia House and in a leadership position and should be well known. He’s not going to be better known after stretching out the election for as long as possible – except that it makes one question his motives.

    Unfortunately, this dovetails all too well with a call I got today asking if I was aware Burkhalter was “working with” the House Dems to assure his victory as Georgia House Speaker. I’m hoping that this is not true, but the more I look at this whole thing, the more I wonder.

    I seriously suggest that Burkhalter think things over and have the election for Speaker as soon as it is practical (well before the 120 day maximum). An announcement of that will help reassure a lot of Republicans, including me.

    • AthensRepublican says:

      That is troubling to news to hear. I liked some of the statements Mark Burkhalter made on a change of style and substance although I hope to hear more specifics in the days ahead. Part of Richardson’s main problem was his own arrogance and bullish behavior and if the new Speaker promises a change from this “Murphy-Richardson model” Georgia will be better served.

      That said, the earlier post on the Beacon newspaper site saying that a Democrat could replace him as Speaker Pro Tem; that your sources indicate he may be working to strike a deal with Democrats; that he won’t call an election until 120 days (end of session) could be indicative that he does not have the support of the House Republican Caucus.

  9. YossarianLives says:

    David Ralston is the only person who has the courage, respect, and resolve to lead the House during this rebuilding phase, but also these troubling times.

  10. OldBlueFlame says:

    Burkhalter clams in today’s AJC that he didn’t know about Glenn and his girlfriend. Then why did he hire Susan Meyers in the Speaker Pro Tem office after she left AGL with a fat check after spilling the beans to AGL about Glenn and his girlfriend.

    Glenn and Burkhalter both knew about her confidential buyout.

  11. fishtail says:

    Where was Lindsay Thomas, the AGL chief of governmental relations, when all this happened? Either he was a pimp or stupid….one or the other.

    • Ken in Eastman says:

      fishtail,

      A published source (Another Georgia-based political site, established in July of 2000) is saying that according to rumors, the AGL employee was offered a $100,000 severance package in exchange for signing a non-disclosure agreement. IF that statement is true, then AGL’s chief of governmental operations may indeed be cruising in a low-rider purple Escalade with gold-plated spinners while wearing a couple of pounds of gold chains, working over a bottle of Hennessy and answering to “Daddy Mack Longlegs”.

  12. John Konop says:

    Bill Simon gave his advice on the new Speaker. Will this be an issue?

    The $100,000 Question

    There’s a whole lot of finger pointing going on with regard to the demise of Glenn Richardson.

    But, just like every episode of Columbo I used to watch growing-up…there’s some other place and/or some other people we (the audience) should be focusing our attention on that we are not. We are not because we are distracted by too much of the “obvious” stuff; that is, the stuff right in front of our noses that we view on TV or read in a newspaper or read on a blog.

    I recall the $300 million AGL bill fight in the 2006 Georgia General Assembly. I recall getting quite heated about it to the point of a series of angry e-mail exchanges with a few of the (male) lobbyists who pushed the bill.

    Every current news article on the Web about Richardson’s resignation has the similar lead paragraph when it describes the events:

    “Dec 3, 2009 … Georgia House speaker to resign amid scandal … a co-sponsor of a bill that would have financed a $300-million pipeline for the company…”

    “Dec 4, 2009 … Georgia’s powerful House speaker resigned Thursday after a suicide … lobbyist pushing a $300 million pipeline bill he was co-sponsoring…”

    Everyone chatters about Richardson, the lobbyist, and the pipeline bill. But…there are SO many more subjects that should be explored (including the blockbuster of one on which I received several calls this afternoon about…I’ll get to that soon enough).

    The 2006 $300 million gas pipeline bill was the predecessor to 2009’s Georgia Power’s SB 31 bill, which was rammed through both houses earlier this year. No doubt when that happened, AGL Resources big-wigs got together and asked “WTF? How did GaPower get theirs passed and we didn’t???”

    ……In one of the e-mails described in Dale Russell’s interview with Susan Richardson earlier this week is this little blurb concerning the lobbyist involved with Glenn Richardson: “the woman wrote that she was afraid her Atlanta Gas Light boss would fire her…”[Susan] Richardson said her ex-husband responded, “He will not fire you!! I can and will bring all hell down on them if they do.”…..

    Read more

    http://www.emailcontact.com/nl/nl-output.php?nl_id=95960&bus_id=2125&plain=0

    • John Konop says:

      This is more from Bill Simon. A very interesting read, I wonder if any legs are behind this story?

      Lead Sponsor: Jeff Lewis (R-No longer in House)
      #2 Sponsor: Mark Burkhalter (R-Speaker Pro Tem)
      #3 Sponsor: Glenn Richardson (R-Speaker, Resigned)
      #4 Sponsor: Jerry Keen (R-Majority Leader)
      #5 Sponsor: Don Wix (D-Token Democrat Sponsor)

      ……While it may not have been the utility who directed the affair to occur, at some point when one discovers knowledge of the affair, and acts to cover it up (i.e., if the $100,000 severance was actually offered and paid), at some point it becomes incumbent on someone to “do the right thing.” And, based on the successful vote that occured in the House in 2006 for the AGL bill, it looks a lot like no one did the “right thing” except cover their own ass, kiss the ass of someone else, and, of course, enjoy someone else’s piece of ass. (Sorry, kiddies, the PV is X-Rated. If you are offended by this, you are too short to go on this roller-coaster ride to start with. Please step away, we’ve already left the station.)

      Everyone, including Mark Burkhalter (who gave the departing AGL employee immediate employment), sought to cover-up the whole mess, all because the Speaker had a girlfriend…to the detriment of the ENTIRE state of Georgia. Even though the bill did not pass the state senate, it passed the House under the auspice that it was “good for Georgia,” when it was REALLY only good for the true beneficiaries: AGL and their lobbyists, who were promised beaucoup bonus money if it passed……

      Read more

      http://www.emailcontact.com/nl/nl-output.php?nl_id=95960&bus_id=2125&plain=0

  13. foray says:

    Mark is not working with the Dems on a powersharing deal

    The Beacon is trash and should not be trusted

    The fact is people like Rep. Hardin and David Ralston do not want someone from North Fulton as speaker . . . thats the bottom line

    • South Fulton Guy says:

      That’s because Mark is going to waste time on Milton County instead of fixing Fulton County: http://theboiledpeanut.com/wordpress/?p=1380

      Even North Fulton Commissioner Tome Lowe is on the record saying resurrecting Milton is folly.

      Does anyone really think this will go anywhere with the Obama Justice Department rulings on citizenship verification that they will sanction a de facto splitting of Fulton into a majority white and affluent north county and a majority black and less affluent south county under its section 5 oversight?

    • AthensRepublican says:

      But, why is Mark Burkhalter waiting 120 days to call an election? Does he have the support of the caucus? If he does, then why not call the election sooner?

    • Ken in Eastman says:

      foray,

      “The fact is people like Rep. Hardin and David Ralston do not want someone from North Fulton as speaker . . . thats the bottom line”

      Not only is this an amazingly asinine statement, it makes no sense. Care to futilely grasp at some type of logic for your statement? Why would it matter to anyone other than, apparently, you and Mark Burkhalter?

  14. foray says:

    What I am saying is there are many folks in the GOP caucus that would prefer their leadership to come from outside of Metro Atlanta.

    The voters north of the river want Milton County and they should have the ability to choose- in fact there have been many folks in the south that have pondered reforming Campbell County.

    • AthensRepublican says:

      Fine. Let them vote on it. We just want things cleaned up under the Gold Dome and a Speaker with the authority to do something- a Speaker that is properly elected. Why wait 120 days?

    • Ken in Eastman says:

      foray,

      I am from South Georgia.

      1 – I make no bones about the fact that I believe David Ralston would make a superb Georgia House Speaker – despite the fact that he lives probably six hours or so from me.

      2 – I believe Mark Burkhalter should hold the election as quickly as is practical. To hold the election later than that hurts the Republican Party by bringing Richardson’s scandal into an election year. Party regulars need to be focused on state and Congressional elections NOT Mark Burkhalter’s selfish desire to acquire the speakership.

      3 – I believe Mark Burkhalter is a slow-moving scandal in progress. This is due to several things, not the least of which is the hiring of a certain former AGL employee. I’m sure you are aware that is not the only problem.

      4 – While there may be people who prefer that the Speaker not come from metro Atlanta. I’m not one of them. I just want the best Speaker we can get.

      5 – We are about to be hit in the face with budget problems that are not even on most people’s radar yet. We need experienced leadership.

      6 – If after his time in the state legislature and especially in leadership positions, Mark Burkhalter needs to extend the time for elections for an additional 120 days in order to secure the necessary votes, then he is not the leader we need.

      7 – I hesitate to even list this because it is a distraction to the issue. To the people in 158 Georgia counties, the reformation of Milton County is a non-issue. We simply do not care.

      8 – We need to move forward, hold the election for Georgia House Speaker as soon as it is practical and move forward. There are things that need to be done. I want that newly elected speaker to succeed, without regard to who they are.

      • B Balz says:

        Hesitate, but do not fail to mention, the end game to those few moneyed interests in the deep end of the fish pond….

        • Ken in Eastman says:

          B Balz,

          Just the phrase “moneyed interests” makes me nervous and jittery.

          In an earlier post (different topic) I mentioned how Tom Murphy used to run the state house like a whore house and how Speaker Richardson was headed down the same path. I’m confident that you understand what I meant.

          It would be nice to believe that our state legislature was governed by people who are self-regulating and solely concerned with the welfare of our state. It would be nice . . . but foolish. They bear watching simply because they are people, too.

          Economically and fiscally, we are about to enter into uncharted territory. We have a mess in the making: increasing numbers of unemployed and underemployed; decreasing state tax revenues for the next few years consecutively; energy costs that are about to increase even more (devalued dollar, increased stress in the Middle East with the real potential for a shooting war between Israel and Iran and if we have cap and trade then it becomes a steep increase in energy costs) and taking a greater toll on poor, rural areas because of transportation and commuter costs; decreased housing and other construction permits; the siphoning off of productive capital from the private sector to cover the increase in federal stupidity; etc.

          Like I said, it’s a mess and that’s before we begin to consider the implication of costs to the state of a health care bill that is a self-destructive nightmare of epic proportions. Somehow this state must find a way to balance its budget and still perform necessary services while the federal government looks to hamstring us in an increasing number of ways.

          We are going to need real leadership at the state level and just like the state house must carefully choose a speaker, we must carefully choose our state constitutional officers and our state and federal legislators. We don’t have the luxury of making mistakes because the margin for error is almost non-existent.

          Adults need to be in charge.

          I know it sounds gloomy, but that’s the way I see it. The scary thing is that I am an optimist.

          • B Balz says:

            @Ken in Eastman

            I knew what you meant RE: Speaker Murphy, well written.

            Our Country is an ‘ownership society’ and I have no issue with ‘moneyed interests’ doing what they normally do – Make more money. Ayn Rand, all that, A-OK in my book.

            That said, a large portion of the middle class is shackled to debt that will never be paid, not of their own making. I oppose subsidizing the wealth creation of others with my tax dollars. I also opposed Maplethorpe.

            I don’t oppose the pro-Milton County camp, contrarily, it is probably good for me. But is it right, right now?

            My issue coincides with the gist of your post, that is, the ‘well moneyed’ interests will waste no time putting Milton County on the agenda this year. As you point out, I suspect most Georgians find other issues far more pressing.

            This is a generational opportunity for the pro-Milton camp and I have little doubt it will be exploited.

          • Ken in Eastman says:

            B Balz,

            Thanks very much.

            I’m all for capitalism, as unfettered as possible. My concern is when people try to use the legislative process to cut corners and obtain an unfair advantage against competition. I also don’t like it when some folks want to use the state budget as an extension of their personal piggy banks. Based on your well-written reply, I’m sure we’re on the same page there, too.

            Unfunded federal mandates, unfunded state mandates and, as you pointed out a large portion of the middle class is debt-ridden (think about that literally) because of decisions made by others. The middle income folks will wind up paying for almost all of it.

            As for Milton County, I believe I see what you mean. With all of the problems we have, this should not be a front-burner issue.

  15. AthensRepublican says:

    Ken in Eastman- your comments are very interesting since the previous Speaker-Terry Coleman was from Eastman.

    • Ken in Eastman says:

      AthensRepublican,

      Sadly, I must admit that Terry Coleman and I are from the same town. This goes to show that a hometown speaker is not always the best speaker.

      Just to clarify, I am not, nor have ever been a supporter of Mr. Coleman’s. In fact, I was once the campaign manager for one of his opponents. It was . . . educational.

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