Morning Reads Monday May 14, 2012

Good morning. On this day in 1787, delegates to the Constitutional Convention began assembling in Philadelphia. In 1804, Lewis & Clark left St. Louis to begin their expedition, and in 1864 the Battle of Resaca began in NW Georgia.

Georgia News Of Interest

Today you can drive on the shoulder on 400 if you want to.

GPB News: Rural Post Offices Face Reduced Hours

Fulton Science Academy was turned down by the State School Board and my try to go private. Ivy Prep meanwhile, received a two year charter from the State.

Science scores of Georgia’s students are improving.

Maureen Downey posts a column by a recent Cross Keys High School graduate who urges students to “be more responsible for their learning.”

Did Paine College use federal funds meant for students to pay other bills?

Gwinnett resident Paula Hastings offers another view of the Airport Privatization Review Committee’s vote to oppose commercial flights at Briscoe Field.

Atlanta Forward points us to two opinions on lobbyists. Don McAdam says the “mere perception of a conflict is doing great damage to the integrity of our legislative process” while Jet Toney says “The presence of professional advocates on several sides of each issue assures a thorough and healthy debate.”

Maria Saporta remembers a time when “Atlanta stood for something.”

National/International News Of Interest

Newsweek declares President Obama “the first gay President.” Since Clinton was our first “black President” I suppose Obama needs something to be remembered for.

Meanwhile the allegation that Romney bullied a gay classmate in high school has some factual problems.

Channeling Bill Clinton, John Edwards’ defense relies on the legal definition of “the.”

Gernman Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party suffered a large electoral defeat this weekend. Apparently austerity isn’t cool in Europe anymore. Jim Galloway notes that austerity as a political philosophy is a tough sell and quotes Congressman Rob Woodall on his advice at how to convince voters it’s the way to a brighter future.

Is the Ted Cruz v David Dewhurst Senate race in Texas the next place the TEA Party will flex it’s muscles?

Governor Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown was shocked to learn California’s budget deficit has grown from $9 billion in January to $16 billion today. If voters approve his plan to raise sales taxes and place a surcharge on the rich he won’t have to make massive budget cuts. I wonder what Jon Lovitz will say about that (language warning)?

180,000 non-citizens registered to vote in Florida?

Other News Of Interest

The Hawks lost in the first round of the playoffs. Is that really news?

The Braves swept the Cardinals in St. Louis.

Julio Tehran led the Gwinnett Braves to their fourth straight win Saturday. Sunday’s game at Coolray Field was rained out. The GBraves still lead the International League South by 4.5 games and own the second best record in the IL.

Tech Alum Matt Kuchar won the The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass yesterday.

Aimee Copeland, the Georgia woman battling a flesh eating bacteria, will likely lose her fingers. She remains in critical condition.

At an ALEC Conference I attended Friday in Charlotte (yes protesters were there), I heard a presentation on how cloud computing can benefit State and Local governments. Cue the reflexive opposition to this idea in 3,2,1…

UPDATE: Here’s the latest Incumbent/Challenger sheets for the House and Senate.

30 comments

  1. Max Power says:

    Today you can drive on the shoulder on 400 if you want to.

    According to my sister inlaw who drives in from Cumming, it was totally FUBAR this morning.

    180,000 non-citizens registered to vote in Florida?

    You see this is why many people don’t take this kind of this seriously. The Florida SoS was one the TV this weekend saying they really didn’t know if this number was accurate because they don’t have access to the Immigration and Homeland Security Databases. But this number will be repeated ad nauseum as fact.

      • Max Power says:

        Let’s say there’s 0% which is just as accurate a guess. Hyperbole has it’s place but not in policy discussions.

      • Calypso says:

        The reason some folks don’t have a concern about these non-citizens voting is because the vast majority will be voting their party line, and I think you know to which party I’m referring.

      • saltycracker says:

        Assuming they can identify citizens/non-citizens, are they going to start prosecuting those that lied under oath ? If not, just taking them off the voter rolls is toothless and we’ve educated a lot of non-citizens on how to tilt some states on the bubble. The acorn will grow into a coconut.

        On the USPS, scheduled home delivery two days a week is adequate, extra charge the others and the USPS needs to talk to Starbucks or Walmart about rural offices. Their business model is as outdated as a penny coin.

      • freeduck says:

        If you click all the way through to the actual Reuters article (the non-opinion piece) you’ll read:

        “”We’re going to vet a list of 180,000 people to try to come up with a real number,” said Chris Cate, a spokesman for Florida’s Division of Elections. “We don’t want to jump to conclusions without a thorough investigation.”

        Officials in Florida have so far identified more than 2,600 potential voters who may not be U.S. citizens and sent their information to local election authorities, Cate said.”

        So the list they are cross checking is 180k long. The so far identified potential non-citizen voters number 2600.

      • benevolus says:

        Yes it’s a cause for concern. They apparently have serious issues with the registration process:
        “Non-citizens are able to become registered voters in Florida because if a non-citizen checks the box on the voter registration form that says they are a citizen they are registered to vote”

        That is not a robust enough process. If these people are getting onto the voter roll before being vetted they need to fix that.

        There are many groups that register voters and they are obligated to turn in the registration forms they collect. Those groups are not in a position to verify a person’s eligibility. The state needs to do that. I don’t think that is an issue here in Georgia.

  2. CobbGOPer says:

    “I heard a presentation on how cloud computing can benefit State and Local governments. Cue the reflexive opposition to this idea in 3,2,1… ”

    Of course we don’t have a problem with things proposed by TRADE associations asking us to fork over taxpayer dollars for their technology…

    • So since technologies that might make government more efficient and less costly are developed by CORPORATIONS!!! who might make a PROFIT!!!! we can’t do it?

      I suppose a better idea would be for the government to build their own computers to eliminate the opportunity for CORPORATIONS!!! to make a PROFIT!!! Of course the parts to build these computers would have to be purchased somewhere and we can’t have that so the government needs to build their own parts for these computers so they need to get into the manufacturing business but then they’d buy the raw materials from a CORPORATION!!! who might make a PROFIT!!! so the government needs to get into the business of making the raw materials for the computers they’re going to build. Wow, the corporate influence over government is pervasive.

    • freeduck says:

      I don’t have a problem with this sort of advocacy because 1) it’s transparent (everything is published, as far as I can tell) and 2) they don’t appear to be advocating for actual legislation, just presenting ways to make smarter operational decisions. I’m not really sure why legislators need to be a part of that unless it’s just educational. I would hope they are not the ones making technology decisions for the government. If they are, I think the state should look into hiring professionals for that purpose, no offense Buzz.

      What I do have a problem with is corporations writing legislation that protects them from competition or legislates the transfer of tax dollars to their coffers regardless of the benefit to the tax payer. Examples are plentiful, but one of the best is in this article: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/pssst-wanna-buy-a-law-12012011.html

        • freeduck says:

          Uh, yeah, wow… that looks exactly like the one mentioned in the article. No, that’s not sarcasm. I’m truly stunned.

      • Freeduck,

        Corporations don’t write legislation, legislators do. Model legislation that comes from ALEC, the Progressive States Network, or anywhere else must go through the legislative process with committee hearings open to the public.

        The ALEC taskforce I’m a member of, the Communications and Technology Taskforce, has legislative and private sector members. It’s important to understand that among those private sector members, many are direct competitors, thus they would oppose proposals that would benefit one company over another. Also there are competitors such as DirectTV and Comcast who disagree over things like who should be charged local franchise fees. The point is, the idea that all these corporations come to ALEC with a unified agenda that benefits them and screws Joe Sixpack out there hasn’t been my experience.

        • freeduck says:

          “Corporations don’t write legislation, legislators do.”

          I’d like to believe that but when we have legislators introducing bills that still have ALEC’s name on it (that was in FL, not GA), it seems likely that the modifications made by lawmakers are minimal, or that they all happen during the task force meetings which are not public. What would make a lot of people feel better, I think, is if upon introducing model legislation you identified the fact that it was model legislation and disclose the non-legislative contributors, as well as the providers of any data you relied upon when deciding to introduce it. If all of your data is coming from the people who want the bill passed then you’re not doing your due diligence and you can’t make an informed decision. (See the erroneous data from Florida cited to support the drug testing bill.)

          I wouldn’t assert that there is a unified agenda behind ALEC, but neither does the fact that they compete with each other preclude the possibility that they would unite against Joe Sixpack were said Mr. Sixpack in the way of maximum profit. (See linked article above) I suspect it’s more as it is described in the Business Week article — a bill laundering service, where corporations can push their agenda without leaving their finger prints on it. There may be places where that agenda overlaps with public interest but public interest is not the driving force. And since task force meetings are closed to the public, as well as the identity of the non-legislative members of the task force, it leaves us ordinary citizens, who don’t have lobbyists, at an extreme disadvantage. So my take is that if it’s all good what comes out of ALEC, identify the bills and let your people be the judge. But something tells me the secrecy has a purpose.

          • You’re falling for the silly notion that people who run businesses don’t mind harming their customers (either financially or through pollution etc…) which overwhelmingly isn’t the case. The free market takes care of bad actors and businesses who harm their customers. What we’ve got to guard against is businesses who try to use the force of government to gain a competitive advantage or are looking for a handout.

            Scan over the list of lobbyists here in Georgia and you’ll see that many represent a trade organization or business. The vast majority of them just want to be left alone. They don’t want special favors they just want to run their businesses and serve their customers. That’s not sinister, nor is the fact that they want to make a profit a bad thing.

            I know it sounds good to say the “citizens don’t have lobbyists” and are disadvantaged because of it but look, a) I’m elected to represent the people of my district, even those who didn’t vote for me and b) there are a myriad of organizations that represent various viewpoints: gun groups (pro and con), pro-life groups, environmental groups etc… they represent their members and all those who support those causes.

            Additionally, it means a whole lot more to me to get a few real emails from constituents than what a lobbyist says. Don’t send me some form email from Change.org, tell me what you think. It has a tremendous impact on me and I know it does for many other legislators.

            • benevolus says:

              Buzz, with all due respect, that is just wrong.
              When Trans fats were found to be harmful, food companies found a way to alter their label reporting to hide them, but they still include them in the food.
              McDonalds was adding ammonia to bad meat so they could sell it to us?
              BP had a similar well blowout in the Caspian Sea a few years ago and hid the cause, and continued using that process because it was cheaper.
              What about that peanut company here in Georgia a few years ago; they knew that stuff had salmonella and shipped it anyway!
              There are endless examples.

              Smaller corporations I think are more likely to be responsive to their customers, but as corporations grow, there is a disconnect, with so many middle level managers more concerned with their career and their bonuses, and not feeling responsibility or understanding the repercussions of their actions. I worked in a company very much like that.
              Government is the representative of the people, and the corporations are who the people need representation against. Government can work with corporations to create a healthy environment for doing business, but it’s a thin line when government is collaborating with corporations at the expense of the people .

            • freeduck says:

              “You’re falling for the silly notion that people who run businesses don’t mind harming their customers (either financially or through pollution etc…) which overwhelmingly isn’t the case.”

              Er, I wouldn’t call it a silly notion. Silly implies it’s baseless but we have several instances of large businesses repeatedly doing just that. Large corporations have no morality unless they are led by someone who forces profit to share a place with social responsibility. That’s not a judgment it’s just a fact. They are driven to make a profit — nothing illegal about that, but we all need to recognize that’s their purpose and make sure it doesn’t override the public interest. Small businesses have more of a vested interest in their community and are less likely to make decisions that favor short term profit over the long term well being of their customers. National and multinational corporations have less incentive because they can always find new customers elsewhere.

              “The free market takes care of bad actors and businesses who harm their customers. What we’ve got to guard against is businesses who try to use the force of government to gain a competitive advantage or are looking for a handout.”

              When it’s free. But a free market requires consumer freedom as well as business freedom. When we have corporations who would rather invest their money to get favorable legislation passed to protect them from competition than to invest in their product, that tells me it’s not truly a free market. At any rate, I completely agree with this statement from you, I just hope you can recognize it when you see it.

              “I know it sounds good to say the “citizens don’t have lobbyists” and are disadvantaged because of it…”

              I don’t say things because I like how they sound.

              “but look, a) I’m elected to represent the people of my district, even those who didn’t vote for me…”

              As long as you don’t forget that, I have no quarrel. But your defense of special interests and the role of money in politics gives the impression that you have a very narrow view of things to the exclusion of the interests of your constituents. I am happy to be wrong about that.

        • Scott65 says:

          Buzz, you are either grossly misinformed or very naive about the role of ISPs. They are about as far from free market as you get. Duopoly at best. SB 313 was an attempt to preserve that designation by adding additional regulation (which fyi didn’t apply to them) to communities who wanted to wire themselves because the private sector didn’t want to. Hopefully the hypocrisy of Republicans being for local control and less regulation is not lost on anyone here. Free markets are fine…when you have them…this is not a free market bill, and it was written by ALEC not Chip Rogers who introduced it

          • Show me where I commented on SB313. I haven’t. I’m defending the concept of free markets here from the idea that they no longer work.

            SB313 never went anywhere. Criticize Rogers if you want for introducing it but don’t claim that because one Senator introduces a bill it represents the views of the entire Republican party.

  3. SallyForth says:

    Buzz, thanks for keeping us posted on the State House and Senate races. Is there a similar list for our 14 US Congress seats this year?

  4. Scott65 says:

    in response to the SaportaReport piece:
    I dont think Atlanta is lacking for vision or great leaders. What we are lacking are partners at the the State house who feel the need to micromanage every detail they can. When you have people like Jan Jones pushing to split Fulton so the wealth in the north is siphoned off from the rest of Fulton/Atlanta, when you have Chip Rogers trying to define broadband as basically dial up and removing local control because ALEC handed him a piece of legislation with a 5,000 check, when you have a Lt. Governor is is more interested in petty intra-party score settling than removing the 50/50 barrier to MARTA funding use…what can you do??? These people are not elected by Atlanta, yet they control most of what we can achieve. They even screw us when we try to go it alone by meddling. Something needs to change or all the vision in the world wont matter if its killed by the state over ideology and faux facts

    • Chip Rogers got a $5000 check from ALEC? When did this happen? ALEC is a 501c3 organization and thus prohibited from making political donations.

      • Scott65 says:

        Let me make that clear. The legislation was written by ALEC for AT&T/Comcast/Centurylink. AT&T wrote the check, ALEC wrote the bill…the same bill that passed in NC.
        Also…businesses will act against the will of their customers when they have an unregulated monopoly/duopoly. 94% of all households in this country only have 2 choices or less for broadband, and wireless data through your phone doesn’t count because its heavily throttled and capped at low levels so its not a viable option (if you have Comcast go their website and look at just how much you use in a month its under users/settings…its probably over 5 gigs). Whats more important is LEGISLATORS like Chip Rogers who act against the interests of their constituents by pushing sleazy bills like this thinking they will go undetected. (I am by no means accusing anyone you included of this…just the above named…to be clear)

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