The following is a guest post by Augusta activist and blogger Al Gray. Al has been a regular commenter on Peach Pundit for quite a long time, though I’ll let him tell you if he wants to reveal his pseudonym. We’ve never met. Often, we don’t agree. But I have found him to be someone who digs into the facts of an issue rather than accept the PR talking points that today pass all too often as the basis for what we read and see as news.
I asked Al to expand on some of his comments when he actually read the Terms Sheet that has been negotiated between the GWCC and the Atlanta Falcons organization. We even helped facilitate questions to be asked directly to the director of the GWCC. While some progress was made, we also unfortunately were denied some answers because the terms sheet is part of a fluid negotiation.
We’ll let the general public determine if it is acceptable that when questions are asked exactly what public revenues are being dedicated to a project – terms that don’t exactly match the standard Falcons PR line that the taxpayers only will be contributing $300 Million of hotel/motel tax money “and the Falcons will pick up the rest” – is an acceptable answer. I believe there are still too many unanswered questions, and the answers we do have do not match the general public interest. Your mileage may vary.
And with that, we introduce to you Al Gray and his new blog. After the intro, be sure to click through the link so he can tell you, as best we can tell, who is really paying for the new stadium:
The Power Of You
By Al Gray
“I tell it like it ought to be ’cause how it is, is killing me” – T. Graham Brown
Beginning one’s first Peach Pundit post with the words of a now-ancient country music tune might cause considerable eye-rolling from this much younger blog community, yet that line pretty much describes the state of punditry all over. A disproportionate amount of time is spent wailing and bemoaning what is instead of what we can transform reality into.
What I like about Peach Pundit is the inside political information and intelligence gathered through hard work by the front page posters and the commentariat. Since Erick Erickson founded this site, your work has had an impact on public policy in Georgia to the extent of nearly turning back initiatives of the most powerful forces in state politics. Since he escaped the comfortable confines of being an anonymous pseudonym Charlie Harper has broadened the perspective with an assemblage of diverse front page posters along with his own regular columns. This is even more powerful.
How can we collectively use PP and other blogs to stop, or mitigate, misguided policies pushed by the powerful instead of wistfully pondering how ‘it ought to be,’ after one after another get rammed through? Over in east central Georgia, focused on what seems to be a permanently dysfunctional Augusta, a diverse group of activists assembled with a determination to change things. Using social media, collaborating in chat groups, using talk-radio call-ins, and posting on one of the member’s City Stink blog ( in honor of respected Augusta Chronicle reporter Sylvia Cooper’s weekly City Ink column), the group achieved amazing results throughout 2012. Those results were rooted in defining issues, not by what the group wanted them to be, but by throwing a glaring spotlight on what the issues were as defined by the city’s own documents. That process continues with the support of an increasingly broad coalition of the citizenry and even the fractious Augusta City Commission.
The experience got me to thinking about the possibilities of doing the same sort of thing on another level. I decided to launch my own blog, agraynation.com with a report on the new Atlanta Falcons Stadium project. That one took time. Thank you for what you have done and continue to do. Whatever happens with the stadium, there are already four or five stories out of it that might enlighten and empower the Peach Pundit community.
Let’s start with How the Falcons can get their Stadium for (almost) Free