Jim Cole with a few thoughts, proposals to help change the course for the Georgia State House

State Representative Jim Cole from the 125th District, who is not running for any leadership positions in the Georgia House, has been circulating an e-mail among majority caucus members with his thoughts about how to chart a new course for the future which will avoid the problems of the past and present. His full correspondence, with a “seven point action plan for our next leadership team,” can be read below the fold.

From the Desk of Rep. Jim Cole

December 10, 2009

Friends,

Before you hit delete, let me be clear that I am NOT running for any leadership position.

I write today because I believe our path forward relies on the principles we put into action as the Republican majority, and I have a proposal I hope you will consider.

In my view, leadership is about more than a title or just winning. It is an opportunity to do something good for people and mentor the next generation of leaders. We need to get back to this kind of servant leadership, but that requires more than just words. It means real action.

Before we elect new leadership, I believe we need to come together as a caucus and rally around a true ACTION PLAN that we, as the Republican Caucus, will demand of our new leadership.

My vote will not be based on personalities or promises. My vote will go to the team that will sign a pledge and puts our principles into action.

To help get the conversation started, I have put together a statement of unifying principles and a 7 point ACTION PLAN for our next leadership team. By no means is this document exhaustive.

I hope this starts a conversation amongst all of us and, in the end, produces a consensus plan for change that our new leadership will adopt.

Let’s get back to the basics and lead based on our principles.

Thanks for considering it.

Jim

—————–

Unifying Principles for a Fresh Start

§ Leadership Means Upholding a Higher Standard

§ Accountability in How We Govern

§ Protecting the Integrity, Institutions, & Independence of the House

§ Respect for Our Colleagues & the Other Branches of Government

Putting Our Principles Into Action – A 7 Point Action Plan for Our Next Speaker and Leadership Team.

When a fierce wind is blowing, words mean little. Action is what matters. We must put our principles into action for the good of the Georgia House and the people we serve.

Toward that end, I propose for the Caucus’s consideration this 7 Point Action Plan. We should discuss and refine this Action Plan and demand of our next Speaker a commitment to make this plan a reality.

It is time to expect more. It starts with this election.

1. Upholding a Higher Standard: A Leadership Code of Ethics

We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. None of us are perfect and we rely on God’s grace. Truer words have never been spoken. While we are all human, it is right to expect that those of us who seek leadership will receive a greater degree of scrutiny and be held to a higher level of expectations. The cornerstone of this higher standard is fidelity to one’s family and vows of marriage, yet it is also broader than that.

The next Speaker, and the entire leadership team, should take a pledge on their first day in office to:

– Be Faithful to One’s Spouse and Family

– Avoid Embarrassing Public Behavior

– Proudly and Strongly Defend the Integrity, Independence and Institutions of the House of Representatives.

– Conduct Public Appearances, Correspondence, and Negotiations with Other Elected Leaders and Branches of Government With Respect and Decorum

– Pay Taxes On Time and In Full

– Avoid the Appearance of Impropriety in Personal Business

– Avoid the Appearance of Any Quid Pro Quo in the Handling of Legislation

2. Protect the Integrity, Independence, & Institutions of the House of Representatives

The critical constitutional precedent of separation of powers is meaningless without a strong House of Representatives and a respected Speaker and leadership team. We are the voice of our constituents and collectively we need a House leadership team that speaks with authority and is respected in the negotiations of the legislative process. The House’s independence, integrity, its Speaker and its members must be respected by any and all who interact with our body.

However, being respected is about more than an office or a title. True respect comes from respecting others. The new Speaker must uphold a high standard of respect amongst House colleagues and respect for the other branches of government. The new Speaker and leadership team must also fiercely protect the independence and traditions of the House and defend our legislative positions with honor and skill.

There is a time to fight and a time for working together. Our next Speaker and leaders must know the difference and, when it’s time to fight, do so with honor.

3. A New Standard of Ethical Excellence

In the business world, when someone is trying to make a big sale, it is considered normal and ethical to entertain a prospective client by taking them to dinner or a sporting event. For example, I attend sporting events all the time with friends, constituents, other elected officials and public affairs representatives. There is nothing wrong with this. However, I believe the line is crossed in business and government when physical gifts are given or received by those promoting legislation or doing business with the state. The same common sense standards that apply in the corporate arena should apply in the government arena too.

To accomplish this we should take two key steps – adopt a new physical gift ban rule and toughen up enforcement of the rules.

We should adopt a new ban on receiving physical gifts in excess of $25. There is nothing wrong with the Garden Club providing us cookies in our office. There is something very wrong with accepting a new set of golf clubs. We should work with our colleagues across the aisle to forge a bipartisan update to our ethics laws to ensure a consistent, fair standard.

Further, we must hold ourselves to a higher standard. If a member is arrested for a crime, their leadership duties or assignments should be suspended until the issue is resolved by the legal system. The House Ethics Committee should also be empowered and encouraged to aggressively punish, even expel, members who willfully refuse to pay their taxes or engage in quid pro quo deals with any entity.

4. Open the Process to New Ideas

Every organization eventually becomes stale without fresh blood and new ideas. The nature of the legislative process is that newly elected members are often shut out of leadership decisions, so the fresh air of new ideas is often excluded. To help facilitate leadership that is broader than any single individual, the Committee on Assignments should be reconfigured.

The new Committee on Assignments should chaired by the Speaker and include the Leadership Team (Speaker Pro-Tempore, Majority Leader, Majority Whip, Majority Caucus Chair, Majority Caucus Vice-Chair, and the Majority Caucus Secretary). Further the House as a whole should be allowed to elect a member of the Committee on Assignments and the combined Freshman & Sophomore Classes of the House should be allowed to elect a member. This new arrangement will insure that new members of the body are included in leadership decisions and the voice of the House is consistently heard.

5. Better Communication

A common complaint of late is that the caucus has not been kept informed of the leadership’s actions or “game plan” for moving forward both during these trying times and during the Session. To help resolve this lack of communication, the new Speaker should appoint a member to serve in a new role of Member Communications Chair. This member will serve as the Speaker’s constant communicator to the Republican Caucus and the entire House about the latest developments during Session and beyond to help keep everyone in the loop, especially during difficult times.

6. Respect the Legislative Process

The creation of so-called “hawks” was a mistake. It sends the wrong signal to the House membership and the public that the House leadership and the Republican majority is afraid to let the legislative process work as it is supposed to work. The new Speaker should abolish this practice.

7. Accountability in Campaign Operations

The campaign operations of both parties in the House are multi-million dollar operations. Just like in business, accountability is essential when it comes to money. No one person should have complete control. The new Speaker should create a new House Republican Caucus Campaign Committee that is governed by a board of 7 Republican House members with each member of the leadership team having the power to appoint one member. At the end of every election cycle there should be an audit conducted of all campaign funds raised and expended by the Committee, and this audit should be made available to all Republican Caucus members.

Sincerely,

Rep. Jim Cole

70 comments

  1. Ken in Eastman says:

    Well stated.

    We need to put the years of Tom Murphy and Glenn Richardson behind us.

    Let’s put the people of this state first.

    • Ken in Eastman says:

      I don’t know Jim Cole, but instead of either kneeling at his feet or lampooning him for his lack of perfection, perhaps we should seriously consider what he wrote. He shouldn’t be the issue, but his proposal should be.

      It’s GOOD that someone is thinking about this besides us. It’s even BETTER that the person thinking about it sits in the Georgia House of Representatives.

      This is a good of a place to start as any and there are many intelligent people on this site – some are even Democrats. Let’s pick this apart, praising what is good, damning what is bad and offering up something. It is obvious that what we have now does not work.

      If the problem is that you believe it won’t hold up, then say so and suggest how it can be made better.

  2. IndyInjun says:

    Sorry, but the “respecting others” doesn’t cut it.

    There has been ENTIRELY TOO MUCH respecting others and not enough speaking out when things are very obviously wrong.

    I recall that the Speaker was reelected via VOTE OF ACCLAMATION for which there is not a written record.

    Was Cole there?

    He was SILENT, wasn’t he?

    This letter was a pile of self serving CRAP.

    • LoyaltyIsMyHonor says:

      I agree. It’s almost Judson Hillesque in the way it’s presented.

      I’m about to make an obscure movie reference to the German movie, Stalingrad. There’s a scene in which, after the German Army is surrounded in Stalingrad, a German Major explains to his men what the next steps are for breaking out. One of his NCOs, and friend, tells him it’s no use and it’s partly his fault. The Major responds that he’s not a Nazi. The Sergeant agrees, but points out that he’s worse than a Nazi — Explaing that officers like him stood by and did nothing all the while knowing who was leading them.

      Sounds familiar….now everyone is pretending to be a reformer.

  3. Georgia Judge says:

    Rep.Cole,
    Well done sir,I missed the part on why you are not running.I would ask you give some thought to a leadership position.

  4. BillonCapitolHill says:

    Way to go Cole, where were you for the last couple of years? Funny how when its convenient to speak up about the truth you do so. Real leadership doesn’t wait for the ship to be sinking to try and save it, They avoid the iceberg all together.

  5. IndyInjun says:

    Run for SPEAKER…when he voted for Richardson through acclamation.? Did he have laryngitis that day?

    Let’s see……someone who silently votes for SPEAKER?

    Y’all are in the same La-la land as the folks who voted Obama the peace prize.

    Orwell, you were right about the double-speak.

    Right is wrong, up is down, and now a SPEAKER is silent.

  6. Rick Day says:

    Personally, I prefer my leaders to be ‘proactive’ rather than ‘reactive’.

    This will hold just as much water as Contract with America™ did

    • Ken in Eastman says:

      Rick Day,

      The Contract with America promised an up or down vote on 10 issues. Those votes were held. The US House passed 9 of the 10.

      The TRUTH – It’s available if you look for it.

        • Ken in Eastman says:

          Indy,

          My point is that the ten items were voted on and the Contract with America was kept. I won’t let someone falsely state or imply it was not.

          AS you probably know, Term Limits was the one of the ten that did not pass the US House.

          As for those who promised to abide by term limits and are still in the US House, I have no idea. I’m not even sure how it could be quickly researched.

          • IndyInjun says:

            Tom Coburn honored it and when he came back to run for Senate, the party establishment and the Bushites tried to move heaven and earth to defeat him, for he was a man of integrity unabashedly in opposition to their corrupt agenda.

        • Ken in Eastman says:

          And FYI, I believe that if someone signed a term limits pledge (or a no tax increase pledge or any other pledge) and failed to keep it, then they are a liar and should resign or be forced out by people who have consciences.

  7. Cavalier says:

    You have got to be kidding me with this! Please drop the holier than thou act. I’m sure that Rep. Cole was feeling very left out that his name had not yet been in the paper or on the internet yet with regard to his opinion on the subject of this ridiculous debacle, but let’s have everyone sign a pledge!? What are we back in the first grade? Better hope no one crosses their fingers when they put pen to paper on this one. While I’m all for leadership acting like grown-ups and doing their jobs, I do not think that posting a list of “School Rules” on the door is the way to go. Perhaps we should use a chart instead and give everyone a gold star on the days they behave themselves.

    As for whether Jim Cole should put his name in the hat for a leadership role… I vote nay at the top of my voice.

  8. bartsimpsonisdaman says:

    Hahahahahaha. Like I said, they’ve got some serious water issues. Hmmm, maybe a little vodka running through the pipes.

    You all kill me.

    Go Barnes!

  9. Three Jack says:

    how about just keep it simple and abide by the oath of office with common sense as your guide afterwards.

  10. GOPGeorgia says:

    To all of the rock throwers hiding behind made up names, it seems as if you don’t have the guts to run for office and try to make a difference. I say that because you aren’t brave enough to say who you are, so it makes it very easy for to you armchair quarterback.

    I freely admit that there are problem under the gold dome, but the citizens of Georgia have elected their Representatives to go down there and solve the problems. Sometimes, people down there can become part of the problem. In those cases, we remove them and send in new people with new ideas.

    I went door to door for Jim Cole and I am very glad I did so. I was OK with him before, but I like this type of effort by him. The posters on here asking “why did you do this, or not do that?” about Cole and candidates for leadership need to look in the mirror. You haven’t made sacrifices that the Representatives had. You haven’t put your personal life and history under a magnifying glass, or spent time away from your family to try to make Georgia a better state.

    Fell free to vote my comment down if you feel it applies to yourself, but I challenge you to have the guts to state your real name and why you disagree that you have courage and these Representatives don’t.

      • GOPGeorgia says:

        Romeguy,
        I have been posting on here for over a year now and it’s fairly common knowledge that I am Doug Grammer, Chairman of the Ninth District GOP. That is my pic. Nice to meet you.

    • ByteMe says:

      By your logic, GOPGA, by being a chairman within the GOP, that makes you a pimp for the whores in the party. You never say “boo” about their bad behavior until after they get out of the way and you sell their bodies any chance you get.

      And you think we don’t know which is worse, right?

      • GOPGeorgia says:

        Byte,

        You have so much class calling people pimps and whores. I don’t comment on rumors, because as far as I know, you started them. If it’s proven that someone did something wrong, I don’t apologize for them and I disagree with what they did.

        My job as a GOP Chairman is not to kick Republicans out of office. My job is to elect Republicans. I understand that this concept may make your skin crawl. If there are two Republicans running for the same office, my job doesn’t let me public ally endorse one over the other. That doesn’t mean I don’t have personal favorites and there is nothing I can do. If I decide to involve myself in a race, you will never know about it. I want new people running in the GOP primary to feel like they are welcome and the good old boy system didn’t kick them out or favor someone we have known for years. I realize this may make your skin crawl as well.

        It seems as if all you do is slither about, hissing, rumor mongering, and speaking ill of others. I guess if your skin is crawling, would that make you a snake?

        • ByteMe says:

          Your job as a “human” is to do what’s right. You think your job is to protect Republicans instead of doing what’s right and ending up with a better Republican Party filled with people who do the right thing.

          As it stands, you are a pimp for a bunch of whores and you can’t even see how much harm you are doing to your neighbors by your inability to respond in the best interest of your fellow man.

          • GOPGeorgia says:

            Byte,

            Name a legislator who resides in the Ninth Congressional District that you don’t think does a good job. Bear in mind they were all elected before I became Chairman, but I want to see exactly who you are complaining about that I might have any semblance of influence over. If you think I am not doing something right, please specify who in the Ninth that I am covering up for.

            After you name names, explain why they have made your list, and what exactly you would like me to do about it. Do you really think that if I called them up and asked them to resign because some Dem doesn’t like them, that they would or should?

            If you have proof that you are willing to provide that they have done something illegal, please post it, or send it to me privately. If it’s something I should address, I will. As it is, I only know of one rumor that I don’t have any proof about of one current legislator in the Ninth. I don’t expect that person to qualify for office next year, but as I said, I have no proof that he has done anything wrong.

            As it is, you are complainer with no proof of anything. It’s your job as a “human” to either pony up proof that someone has done something wrong or respect the sacrifices that these office holders have made. Your baseless, anonymous, amorphous, non-specific accusations fall right in line with a non-celebration of Christmas. Grinch.

          • GOPGeorgia says:

            You are probably well aware of how much damage your random non-specific accusations do. If you want us to consider you a good person, how about you start naming names? Otherwise, you are covering up for these people just as much as you claim I do.

          • ByteMe says:

            So now you need to add all those qualifications to when you’re going to speak out? Gotta be in the ninth, gotta be illegal, blah blah blah.

            My statements about your role in this are accurate.

          • GOPGeorgia says:

            byte = blah blah blah

            With your gutless anonymous amorphous accusations, you are a much bigger part of the problem than I am.

            When I saw Mark Taylor or Cathy Cox do something I didn’t agree with, I put my name on it and filed an ethics complaint. Eventually I was told that because they were no longer in office, my complaint was dropped. I wasn’t told that the accusations I made were properly investigated or that they were innocent, just that they were now irrelevant.

            The difference between us, is when I see something going on that I am convinced is wrong, (I had proof) I will stand up state my name and charge them with a complaint.

            You are too scared to even name a name or your own name, let alone to provide any proof. Coward.

  11. IndyInjun says:

    GOPGeorgia,

    You are full of it.

    I do participate. I do put my name on the line, in fact I called a couple of reps today and raised hell over exactly what I wrote here.

    I was on the front lines with Buchanan, Perot, and Ron Paul. My contributions are quite in evidence for those reformers and for a ton of local candidates.

    UNTIL NOW. After the last election I said I would not give a dime to any “Republican” going forward. This time I have gotten the biannual solicitations and thrown every one of them in the garbage.

    I have been in their face wearing a name tag and I have even been on talk radio.

    You are as full of crap as these lying scoundrels you are defending.

    • GOPGeorgia says:

      Indy,

      You seem to be a sad, angry person. I congratulate you on being active. As I said before, it you are hiding on PP behind a fake name and we don’t know who you are.

      If you read my post again, I did not mention the party of any Representatives. I am saying the same thing about members of both parties, but you are so quick to condemn and lash out without thinking that you didn’t catch that. Or am I to assume that you mean that EVERY member of the Georgia House of Representatives is a lying scoundrel?

  12. IndyInjun says:

    I think that every member of the Georgia House of Representatives has failed miserably to serve the people and they all should go.

    The MATH IS. That won’t be denied. The math of what they have done is going to sweep them all out without any ‘angry’ effort on my part.

    I am nothing. All of the teachers and state employees have been lead to feel entitled and their wrath will eclipse anything written here.

    • GOPGeorgia says:

      If your attitude is “all of them must go,” you will never be satisfied with anyone in office. Your logic skills are clearly dysfunctional is you think that every house member will be challenged and defeated either from within their own party or by a member of another party. It’s not going to happen.

      • GOPGeorgia says:

        I had a typo in there…sorry. Your logic skills are clearly dysfunctional “if” you think that every house member will be challenged and defeated either from within their own party or by a member of another party.

  13. IndyInjun says:

    In the conflagration to come, throwing them all out is entirely possible, if not probable.

    The math of the unfunded liabilies is accelerating just as revenues skidded into reverse. In the 3rd quarter, revenues from corporate income taxes were NEGATIVE.

    This leaves state and local GOP pols left with the prospect of BEGGING Obama for a bail-out and that strips your lamentable party of whatever remains of its reason for existing.

    BTW. I AM A REPUBLICAN You guys who support Isakson can’t be, by your own standards.

    • GOPGeorgia says:

      “In the conflagration to come, throwing them all out is entirely possible, if not probable.”

      No, it’s not. Not every seat will be challenged, therefore throwing them all out can’t happen.

      I’m not saying you don’t have a basis to complain, but I am saying your rhetoric is louder than the message that you are trying to send.

  14. IndyInjun says:

    My guess is that when the cuts are announced for 2010, key groups will be motivated to clean house in 2010. The real pain will come after that, in 2012.

    Pay and benefit cuts won’t end in 2010. Revenues won’t come back…look at all the NOL’s that can be carried forward.

    Add to this the fact that zero interest rate policies of the Feds send state pension funding requirements into the stratosphere. (To pay a measly $30,000 pension at 3% earnings rate means that you have to have $1,000,000 in pension assets.)

    Add to this the fact that every year a bigger slice of the $20 billion health benefit liability comes due and you have fiscal calamity on a rolling forward basis.

    The MATH doesn’t lie and when the people start hurting, they are gonna put a whompin on your miserable party.

    BTW, exactly what do you guys profess to believe in anyhow?

    Everything I read about the GOP says you are doing the opposite.

    • GOPGeorgia says:

      Indy,

      You have stated that you are a Republican and now you ask what Republicans believe in. I don’t think this can be a productive discussion. Never get into an argument with a fool. He will drag you down to his level and then beat you with experience.

      Good day sir.

      • IndyInjun says:

        No, that is a legitimate question.

        I stand with “I am a Republican because…….”

        You stand with candidates who break every single tenet.

        Ergo, I am the Republican and YOU are left floundering about speechless…….

        You can pull a gutless retreat, just as you have every time I have made this challenge, but I intend to keep it up until one of you party-types can tell me definitively what you stand for.

        • GOPGeorgia says:

          Indy,

          The word “gutless” from someone who won’t identify himself. ……hmmmm….. I know you can’t name a candidate that I have publicly supported that breaks every single tenet of the GOP for two reason. One reason is that I rarely declare public support for a candidate. I may commend their actions or legislation, but I don’t know most of them well enough to say if I like them personally. Another reason is that you can’t name one that has broken EVERY tenet. As I stated before, your rhetoric is too loud.

          Speaking of rhetoric, as far as I know, this is the first and only time you have asked why I am a Republican. I will change my mind and answer your question and remind you that this is at least the third time I have called upon you to reveal your true identity. Either you are man enough to put your name beside your beliefs or you are the gutless one.

          When I first started voting at the age of 18, I voted for the person and not the party. I considered myself an independent, but the first person I voted for president was Ronald Wilson Reagan. After a few years, I looked at which candidates I had been voting for and over 80% were GOP. I evolved into my membership in the GOP. In 1988, I became a college Republican. No leadership, just a member. I won’t bore everyone with a resume, but then I started looking at what the parties stood for and what they were trying to accomplish. Parties and rules should not be focused on the individuals involved, but they should follow the axiom of form following function. Many individuals will not agree with the platform 100%, but I am OK with about an 80% mark and on election day that drops to 50% +1.

          In my opinion and in a nutshell, the GOP platform boils down to the fact that government should exist to do what the people cannot do for themselves or cannot do very well. The dem platform things that government should do what it can for everyone, and uses all of our resources to do so. It’s too close for communism in my book, and there is no other real game in town. I agree with the GOP’s aims and purposes, for the most part, and that’s why I am a Republican.

          Now do we get your name or do you accept the label of being a coward to put your name to your beliefs? It’s seems as if you are no John Hancock. He only had his life to forfeit by publicly admitting who he was and how he felt. What are you scared of?

          • ByteMe says:

            One of the tenets of war is to truly understand your enemy. Every time you claim something about the democrats’ positions on things, you’re just showing you really have a losing mentality. Or you’re trying to spin spin spin (read: lie lie lie) to keep from arguing honestly.

          • GOPGeorgia says:

            I know their rules better than some of their members. I don’t go by what is stated by the party leaders. I go by their collective actions. (pun intended)

            Which party is showing that they want the working people to pay for the non-working people’s health care? “Doing what it can for everyone using all of our resources.” I stand by my statement.

          • ByteMe says:

            And you demonstrate why your party doesn’t “get” the whole health care debate. Working people are ALREADY paying for non-working people’s health care AND the profit the insurance companies make by taking money from their clients and then denying claims to the insured. Somehow your f*ckin’ party (pun intended) thinks that continuing this situation is just fine so that they can try to win the next election.

            By their actions, not their words 🙂

          • GOPGeorgia says:

            My party has ideas about portability, buying insurance across state lines, and tort reform that your party won’t allow debate on. I also ask you to show me where in the constitution that government should provide insurance, or in the declaration (technically a document that enacts no laws) that citizens are endowed by their creator with rights to health care coverage? Is it the role of government to provide, mandate, or oversee health care or insurance?

            It doesn’t mean we have no ideas, it’s just that we have different ones.

            We disagree. The world looks more normal.

  15. Atticus Grinch says:

    He makes a good point about lobbyists and gifts. However, I am still at a loss to explain how a new set of golf clubs differs from good seats to a Van Halen concert or to a game at the Georgia Dome.

  16. McDawg81 says:

    As long as the system remains intact, the opportunity for shenanigans remains. No matter the pledge, or the ethical character of the man (woman), the pressures of a lobbyist for some good people have proven to be insurmountable. Only when we remove the ability for pay to play to succeed can we truly have reform!

Comments are closed.