Much Ado About Nothing

May 9, 2014 9:54 am

by Jon Richards · 14 comments

The story went live around 3 PM on Thursday, and it wasn’t long afterwards that the tweet lit up the #gapol feed.

Site Selection Magazine’s embrace of Georgia as the nation’s No. 1 place to do business is a key part of [Governor Nathan] Deal’s stump speech, an automatic applause line at GOP gatherings and bill-signing ceremonies. Even his TV ads invoke the governor’s vow to better Georgia’s business environment — and cite the endorsement as proof he fulfilled that promise.

Georgia’s Department of Economic Development has spent more than $60,000 in the past three years paying for subscriptions and marketing with the magazine. The Georgia Corporation for Economic Development, a nonprofit tied to the state, also gave a $74,000 grant to the Industrial Asset Management Council, which is linked to the magazine’s parent company.

ZOMG! Cue the outrage machine!

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter’s spokesman Bryan Thomas was first out of the box with this quote, along with a highlighted version of the AJC story so recipients would be sure to grok its importance:

It’s sad that the governor’s record on education and the middle class is so bad that he has to validate his reelection bid based on a rating from a magazine no one reads. It’s outrageous that he used taxpayer dollars to get that rating. Maybe the 215 subscribers of Site Selection Magazine will think the governor is doing a good job, but families who are feeling real pay cuts and sending their kids to failing schools know better.

Within minutes, the spox for the David Pennington for Governor campaign, Megan Matteucci, released this statement. It’s too bad, however, that the press release neglected to mention the cause of the Tea Party candidate’s concern.

Every taxpayer in Georgia should demand Nathan Deal return the $60,000 in state money that he spent for personal political gain. Once again, Nathan has lied to the citizens to hide the true desperate economic situation that he has put our state in. It is loathsome that he would use taxpayers’ money to benefit no one other than himself.

Falling right in line, the “non-partisan” website Better Georgia came out with its denunciation as well.

The whole thing appears to me to be a lot of smoke and not much fire.

First, let’s take the argument that no one has ever heard of Site Selection Magazine. Actually, unless you are one of the small number of people who make decisions on business relocation and expansion, there’s no need for you to have heard of it. But, if you are a decision maker in 800 of the Fortune 1000 companies, you probably have, according to Wikipedia. If you are trying to get the attention of the 40,000 or so people who make decisions on relocating and expanding their businesses to Georgia, Site Selection, rather than a broader circulation publication would be where to invest your money.

Now, let’s take a look at the $60 grand the state spent on subscriptions and marketing, or roughly $20,000 per year. We are a state that spent $75 million in FY 2012 and even more in later years on tax incentives for movie makers to come to Georgia. There is a huge list of incentives the Georgia Department of Economic Development provides to those who would bring jobs to the Peach State. All of them cost money.

There is certainly room for discussion over whether it’s smart to offer these sweeteners so businesses will relocate or expand here, but the point is, spending a tiny fraction of the money used to bring companies here on the one publication designed to inform its readers on good places to relocate or expand is no reason to get the vapors.

We’re in the heart of campaign season, and the long knives are being drawn. But it’s not like Governor Deal has profited from royalties on a vanity book he published. Those hoping to place a new occupant in the governor’s mansion come January will need to find a stronger argument than this.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Three Jack May 9, 2014 at 10:10 am

Stronger argument located – Total disregard for ethical behavior while supposedly serving the public. From his crony state contract that made him millions to the failed outdoors store, the forced dismissal of ethics investigators about to subpoena him, the campaign shenanigans putting huge profits in the bank accounts of friends and family, this governor has done nothing but try to better himself at the expense of Georgia taxpayers.

DrGonzo May 9, 2014 at 10:23 am
DrGonzo May 9, 2014 at 10:23 am

-1 to Jon Richards for using Wikipedia as a citation.

ricstewart May 9, 2014 at 1:56 pm

I don’t think Jon was planning on submitting this blog entry for peer review, so I think it’ll be alright.

DrGonzo May 9, 2014 at 3:46 pm

It’s poor journalism. Wikipedia is notoriously rife with mistakes and falsities.

Jon Richards May 9, 2014 at 4:23 pm

If it’s any consolation, the Wikipedia info was a bit out of date. Updated circulation figures are on the magazine’s website, although those don’t list the number of Fortune 1000 firms.

objective May 9, 2014 at 11:10 am

just another whiff of suspicious ethical odor amidst the port-a-potty that somehow manages to stay hidden and disguised.

Three Jack May 9, 2014 at 3:03 pm

Poll coming out tomorrow showing Carter right there with the ethically challenged Deal and Nunn leading all GOP contenders. Deal is gonna lose GOPers, nominate him at your own peril.

http://politics.blog.ajc.com/2014/05/09/ajc-poll-carter-in-tight-race-with-deal-nunn-leading-gop-senate-contenders/

Chris Huttman May 9, 2014 at 3:39 pm

If there were a niche educational magazine that only teachers read and Jason Carter got elected governor and started spending massive amounts advertising in this magazine and this magazine all of a sudden said Georgia was the best place to move to if you were in the education profession…I’m sure you guys would feel the same way!

xdog May 9, 2014 at 3:47 pm

I never heard Better Georgia called “non-partisan” with or without quotes.

Closer to the matter, Deal knows you have to spend money to make money. Always has.

Chris Huttman May 9, 2014 at 5:49 pm

Although Deal’s normal MO would be to start a magazine with the intention of having the magazine name Georgia the best place to do business, and then when Site Selection magazine has a huge unpaid tax liability to the state of Georgia, sell his magazine to Site Selection in exchange for updating the law on tax liability for magazines.

ARAR May 9, 2014 at 5:47 pm

It is only good.. to spend money to advertise Georgia, what we have and what we offer to any business that might want to come and provide jobs. good business, any good Governor would do it and Governor Deal is a good Governor…

Chris Huttman May 9, 2014 at 5:50 pm

Of course now that the readers of Site Selection magazine know he paid for the endorsement, don’t you think these titans of the Fortune 1000 are smart enough to factor that into their decision making?

Dave Bearse May 9, 2014 at 9:09 pm

Read the Site Selection piece for yourself—it’s largely a Deal puff piece.

http://www.siteselection.com/issues/2013/nov/cover.cfm