By Charlie

Clean Old Fashioned Hate

Today isn’t about politics.

It’s about visceral, to the bone, hatred.

Those of you that have been around Peach Pundit for more than a few years will understand the following:


Go Dawgs.

Open Thread For any and all of your college football comments.

Happy Birthday Jon Richards

Today’s Black Friday special is a happy birthday wish to Jon Richards.

Jon is our Front Page Editor, with loosely defined duties including keeping content on the site fresh, managing the interns when we have them, and somewhere in there we may have made him the unofficial photographer.  He’s the contributor you’ve most likely met, as he attends damn near every political function within a reasonable traveling distance from his home in Gwinnett.  Somewhere in there between events he finds time to not only write them up but to wonk out with an extended analysis.

Jon is one of the folks I’ve had the privilege to meet through Peach Pundit, and he’s become a trusted and reliable friend.  Y’all take a break from shopping or consuming mass quantities of leftovers and wish him a Happy Birthday.

Chatham County Sheriff Al St Lawrence Has Died

Chatham County Sheriff Al St Lawrence lost his battle with cancer Tuesday night, as reported by the Savannah Morning News:

St Lawrence was elected sheriff in 1992. He had said this would be his last term.

The sheriff’s office released a statement around 8:30 a.m. today expressing its “profound sadness that the family and this Office announce the passing of our beloved Sheriff, Al St Lawrence to cancer on November 24, 2015.”

St Lawrence, a five-year veteran of the United States Air Force, was stationed at Hunter Army Airfield and decided to make Savannah his home. He began a career in law enforcement in 1959 with the Chatham County Police Department. In 1971, he was appoint chief, a position he held for 21 years unit his retirement in April 1992 to pursue the office of sheriff, according to the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office.

During his career in law enforcement, St Lawrence was appointed twice to the Georgia Peace Officers Standards and Training Council (1985 and 1989). St Lawrence is the only law enforcement officer in the State of Georgia to be named both Georgia Chiefs of Police Association Outstanding Chief of the Year (1990) and twice named Georgia Sheriffs Association Sheriff of the Year (1995 and 2015).

Congressman Buddy Carter said the following this morning regarding St Lawrence:

“Al was a model public servant, having served the people of Chatham County with distinction for 56 years and serving his country in the Air Force before that. His 23 years as Sheriff transformed the Department into a modern crime fighting force. Through it all he maintained a servant’s heart, giving back to our community and to those across our state through the Georgia Sheriff’s Youth Homes which he supported vigorously. Amy and I send our thoughts and prayers to Pat and the entire St Lawrence family as well as the Chatham County Sheriff’s Department as we all mourn this loss.”

We extend condolences and prayers to the family and friends of Sheriff St Lawrence, as well as the law enforcement community of Chatham County.

More School Money Recommended

This week’s Courier Herald column:

Two weeks ago this column outlined the various steps to reforming Georgia’s education system that have occurred over the past decade. This includes the adoption of a tougher K-12 curriculum and statewide performance standards for students. We have expanded school choice via local charter schools, state charter schools, and limited vouchers from of Student Scholarship Organizations. Unprecedented flexibility has also been given to boards of education to maximize local control.

Along the way, virtually all money from the state’s tax coffers not used to cover population growth and inflation in existing programs has been allocated to K-12 education to replace the cuts made during the recent economic collapse. With the Governor’s appointed Education Reform Commission finishing its work and making recommendations, the state is preparing to add additional money into the public school system.

The recommendations on funding will replace the state’s “Quality Basic Education” formula with a system that is based on student needs, not on programs offered by each local system. QBE was implemented in 1986 but was never fully funded. It certainly doesn’t take into account changes in Georgia’s population nor technology that has changed over the last three decades. An update is overdue. Read more

On Tonight’s Kudzu Vine…

I’ll be chatting with some of my left of center friends this evening on the Kudzu vine and perhaps convincing some of them of their evil ways.  Or at least, I’ll try to translate the perfectly normal actions of conservatives to folks that aren’t usually wired to think the way we do.  And then they’ll likely bring up Trump and I’ll have no perfectly normal explanation.  For bonus points, I “may” be medicated.  Surely you can find some reason in all of that to tune in.

The program runs from 7-8pm and it available later as a podcast for those of you that aren’t free for the next hour.

Mayor Reed’s Statement On Threat To Philips Arena

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has issued the following statement regarding a potential threat to Philips Arena:

Out of an abundance of caution, I directed Chief Operating Officer Dan Gordon and Atlanta Police Chief George Turner to open the Joint Operations Center (JOC) today in response to the reported threats against Philips Arena and to support enhanced security for tonight’s public events in the City of Atlanta.  Although the FBI has not found any credible threats relating to any events in the city, the Atlanta Police Department (APD) is actively monitoring the situation and is coordinating closely with our federal and state partners.

Over the past week, the City of Atlanta has increased security for all operations, including at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the Atlanta Streetcar and for major public events. As always, APD stands ready to act in the case of an emergency.

There are several events in our city tonight, including the WWE Survivor Series, the Atlanta Falcons game, and the Macy’s Great Tree Lighting. If you see or hear something suspicious, please call 911 immediately.

In this holiday season and at all times, I encourage our residents and visitors to enjoy our city and not let fear guide you. Public safety remains my number one priority, and I am confident in our law enforcement agencies’ ability to keep us safe.

One of the things about how terrorists work is that they can get a great residual value from each successful mission.  They win when we change our behavior. Let’s not let them win.  Be alert, but carry on. That’s how we win.

WGST Peach Pundit Radio – 11-20-15

It’s been a long and news filled week.  We’ve got a lot to cover today that we’re going to fit into one hour of Peach Pundit Radio on 640 AM WGST at noon.

A few hours after last week’s show terrorists hit Paris in multiple attacks, with the worst death toll in the country since WWII.  This has raised numerous questions about the War on Terror (and whether our country is still fighting it or if we’re just content to let the JV team that is ISIS continue to strengthen until they bring the war to our home field), about or immigration programs specifically with respect to Syrian refugees, and if our foreign policy is coherent enough to even know who our allies are.

For answers we’re going to look outside our usual stable of armchair observers and talk to Georgia’s 9th District Congressman Doug Collins.  Congressman Collins has put his own boots on the ground in Iraq, and I look forward to hearing his perspective.

We’ve also had quite the week with the Secretary of State and the data breech…mishandling…displays of questionable competence.  Mike Hassinger and Stefan Turkheimer will try to bring us up to speed, as well as assess  if this operational cluster has become one with implications for 2018.  Or sooner.

Join us at noon today on your AM dial at 640 WGST, or at this link right here.

Democratic Congressmen Bishop, Scott Vote With GOP To Scrutinize Refugee Placement

Despite the threat of a veto from President Obama, The US House has passed a measure to restrict refugee settlement in the US.  The measure passed 289-137, with almost 50 Democrats joining Republicans in bipartisan support of the bill, including 2 of Georgia’s four Democratic Congressmen – Sanford Bishop and David Scott.  Yes, that’s enough votes to override the threatened veto.

A sample of statements from our Congressional delegation follows: Read more

Happy Birthday Stefan

Today, November 18th, is the birthday of Stefan Turkheimer.

Many of y’all know him as our resident socialist, communist, leftist, or some other ist that you believe is incompatible with a polite and civil society.  And you feel like screaming this occasionally because you’re angry.  And screaming rudeness will return us to that politeness that you miss so much.  But I digress…

Despite working with a party that is mired in perpetual minority status in the state (BUT DEMOGRAPHICS!), Stefan is a happy warrior for the Democratic cause.  This is probably because he married well about his range.  Or it could be that he realizes that politics is nice, but what makes each of us people is a lot more important than the stuff we argue about around here.

He’s a great guy, and I’m both proud to have him as one of our editors as well as one of my friends.  Hopefully he still is after reading this.

Y’all wish Stefan a happy birthday in the comments.

Miss The Cold War? Want To Live In Tifton? (Or, Under Tifton?)

WSB TV brings word that an underground bunker near Tifton built in 1969 (and upgraded to “government standards” in 2012!) has hit the market for a cool $17.5 Million:

The Facility is located 45 feet underground in Tifton, Georgia. It’s on a parcel of more than 20 acres and has eight bedrooms and 10 bathrooms, according to Harry Norman.

The two-story bunker is certified to withstand a 20,000-ton nuclear blast.

The first level has a large home theater with seating for 15, a kitchen, recreation area, conference rooms, a Decon shower and more.

The second level has four luxury apartments. Each apartment has two bedrooms, one bathroom, a kitchen, dining area, living room, Internet with its own security, modern HVAC system and environmental monitoring sensors.

Let’s just say that this home isn’t for everyone.  But if you have $17 Million lying around, you’ve found the ultimate gift for the prepper on your holiday list.

Serious Times Require Serious Debate

This week’s Courier Herald column:

Two months ago conservative columnist Jon Gabriel wrote a piece lamenting “the debate we were supposed to have”. In the wake of the second GOP debate it had become clear that instead of accomplished candidates comparing and contrasting themselves on major issues, we instead were witnessing the unholy alliance of an untethered reality TV star with cable news networks desperate for ratings. Real debate was being drowned out in favor of a circus.

His last line was somewhat ominous as a state of modern politics: “These are serious times. We are not a serious people.”

Friday evening terrorists struck Paris. We are once again reminded just how serious these times are. We must have a serious debate. Read more

WGST Peach Pundit Radio – Friday 13th Edition

If it weren’t for bad luck we’d have no luck at all. So why not revel in some Friday the 13th lore and stare it down by having another edition of Peach Pundit Radio on 640 AM WGST.

Today we’re going to talk about Republican efforts to reform education in Georgia. When you look at the new options for Georgia educators and students that have been added over the past decade, the pieces are coming together to show a brighter picture.

And then, of course, there’s that whole funding issue. Jon Richards will tell us a little about the efforts to change Georgia’s QBE funding model into one that is more closely aligned to the needs of individual students.

Jon also spent a bit of time this week at a few events highlighting transportation policy, including a Transportation Summit held by the Georgia Transportation Alliance. He’ll give us an update on where we are with new federal funding, plans for expanded transit, and will probably throw in a few words about HOT lanes just for fun.

Mike Hassinger will be deconstructing the City-by-Consultancy effort that was LaVista Hills, as well as a few words about new cooperation between some of these new cities in an anti-balkanization effort.

Come for policy, stay for shooting the wounded (Shoutout there to Dick Williams who has returned to a chair on the Georgia Gang, which is strangely Alexis Scott’s chair). As a bonus, you’ll likely get an update on where our “experts” see the current Presidential race as voters begin to lock in their candidate perceptions before they tune out voting and tune in the holiday season. So pour yourself a tall red cup with the beverage of your choice and join us at noon on 640AM WGST, or listen live at this link here.

Learn More About SRTA

Based on the comments here on our transportation posts, one of the most misunderstood state agencies (Authority, actually), is the State Road and Tollway Authority. SRTA director Chris Tomlinson is about to deliver a webinar in conjunction with the Georgia Transportation Alliance. You can register with just a name and email address here. It begins at 10am. For those who come late to the party, I’ll try to link back to a podcast of the event when available.

“All Of The Above” To Fix Education

This week’s Courier Herald column:

When Georgians debate solutions to improve our education system, talk often devolves into ideology that closely aligns to a partisan divide.  Some believe the solution is primarily one of money.  There is no set of facts and figures that can’t justify a conclusion of “just spend more money and the problems will be taken care of”.  Others believe that the problem is government itself, and believe that only the private market will turn around a large and entrenched bureaucratic ship.

Lost on those that are locked into talking points are the many varied solutions that Georgia has implemented in the last decade that address problems from many different angles.  A closer inspection shows that Georgia is actually quite innovative in the education arena, with a commitment to improving the public education system in the state.  Georgia has taken an “all of the above” approach. Read more

Dale Russell Calls The State’s “How’s My Driving” Number

Here’s a piece that aired on Fox5 Wednesday evening. I found it interesting because instead of “gotcha” kind of stuff that our government entities are quite used to, Dale Russell of the Fox5 I-Team decided to see what happens when people call the number on state vehicles to report bad driving. Instead of offering the clickbait of “…you won’t believe what they found”, I’ll summarize. They found a department that takes their job seriously, and enforces internal policies for discipline from reprimands to termination.

We often report when government screws up. That’s fine, because doing your job shouldn’t necessarily be news. In this instance, they took the time to investigate, and went with the findings anyway. I’m glad they did. Because government employees are used to taking hits in the press. It’s nice to see a “well done” story once in a while.