By Ken

I'm a long-time GOP activist who has held several positions in the Georgia Republican Party. Obviously, to anyone with a map, I reside in Middle Georgia. I would define myself as a libertarian-leaning conservative.

I enjoy talking about Austrian School Economics while taking long strolls on the beach.

You may follow me on Twitter @KenInEastman - or you may not.

Can Georgia Cities Learn Something About Public Transportation?

Is it possible for a public transportation system to improve service, increase customer satisfaction, decrease fares and decrease monetary losses? Yeah, but at the same time? The Atlantic Cities says it has been done – and more than once.

Mark Aesch doesn’t appear to use slight of hand to accomplish something that MARTA riders and taxpayers would love to see, but it sounds as if Penn and Teller should be involved. Aesch accomplished this in Rochester and then in Detroit. Yes, Detroit. That Detroit.

“I think the model works in almost any location,” says Aesch. “Improving the quality of the customer experience, creating that atmosphere where the individual employee is rewarded for organizational success — that’s critical. You can do that anywhere.”

Aesch stresses improving the riding experience and weighing route usage along with the impact of a bus route to its potential riders. Based on commentary, the focus seems to be on downtown-to-suburb routes and away from suburb-to-suburb routes.

If you actually read the story, take a look at the comments, too. Not everyone was thrilled with the results.

Your homework assignment is to make recommendations on whether Georgia cities would benefit from a similar approach. For extra credit you may complain about MARTA expense or MARTA service and safety. No extra credit will be given for anecdotes.

The Bibb Democratic Party Has Some Problems

Fifth Bibb County Democrat Chairman in 20 months; Near Fist Fights and Public Disagreements

From Phillip Ramati at, we get the story on the internal wranglings of the Bibb County Donkeys. The latest kerfuffle appears to be spurred on by the coming consolidation between Bibb County and the City of Macon and, of course, the elections which would then result.

The timing of the election has been under study by the US Department of Justice with Democrats and the Bibb County African-American community pushing for the elections to be held in November at the time of the general elections. Other members of the community wanted the election held sooner. One of the two Democrat appointees to the local elections board, Steve Allen, sided with those wishing to have the election on the earliest possible legal date, September 17th. This vote caused some hard feelings.

At this time there seems to be more concern regarding the proper apportionment of blame than a plan for the future. This has left some members less than overjoyed.

“What disappoints me is all of the petty crap,” said former party chairman Daryl Morton, who resigned from his position in November 2011. “It’s nothing but a circular firing squad.”

And what would a story about Bibb County politics be without the controversial Elaine Lucas. Lucas dismisses any disagreements within the party – after all it was only a near fistfight.
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Baby Let’s Play House

Feel free to listen to The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll as you read. You’re welcome.

Georgia US Representative Phil Gingrey has the audacity to suggest that traditional gender roles may matter. From The Huffington Post, Gingrey is quoted:

“You know, maybe part of the problem is we need to go back into the schools at a very early age, maybe at the grade school level, and have a class for the young girls and have a class for the young boys and say, you know, this is what’s important,” Gingrey said in a speech supporting the Defense of Marriage Act. “This is what a father does that is maybe a little different, maybe a little bit better than the talents that a mom has in a certain area. And the same thing for the young girls, that, you know, this is what a mom does, and this is what is important from the standpoint of that union which we call marriage.”

Gingrey, the leading Republican candidate for Senate in Georgia, said he realizes the “father knows best” adage he subscribed to “back in the old days of television” is antiquated, but he still believes that children need fathers and women need husbands in order for families to thrive.

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More on LEED and FSC Timber Certification

With another comment today on the GAGOP Resolution from the Executive Director of the Southeastern Wood Producers Association, I did some additional research on LEED certification regarding timber, and saw this newspiece from AthensOnline.

As the story states, one doesn’t have to use LEED-certified wood to receive LEED certification. What it doesn’t state is that there are different levels of LEED certification and, for that reason, every point counts. LEED uses the international FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification for wood. This certification actively and openly discourages pine plantations.

For the free marketeers, the problems are legion. The FSC agreement addresses labor relations, the community interests in private property, and even how much timberland can be clearcut at a time. The limit, unless there are extenuating market demands, is 40 acres. The exception allows for 80 acres. For people with hundreds or thousands of acres of pines, this is simply not acceptable. It also negates the advantage most of Georgia has in the speed with which pine trees reach maturity by forcing harvesting over an extended period of time.

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Carpe Per Diem

Interested in the actual practice of legislators’ reimbursements and per diem? I recommend this piece on state legislators’ per diem from Walter C. Jones of Morris News Service through our friends over at Online Athens. It covers the multiple philosophies and reimbursement practices of several legislators around the state.

While it’s a common practice for taxpayers to rail against the per diem and expenses reimbursement for state lawmakers, the truth is less troublesome. The common state representative shares a secretary with four other legislators. There are exceptions for committee chairmen and floor leaders, but for most it affects productivity and constituent services. For that reason some per diem is spent for support rather than cover the personal costs of the legislator and up to $7,000 per year can be reimbursed to rank-and-file lawmakers.

Lawmakers like Rep. Craig Gordon, D-Savannah, who spend their entire allotment on aides, say volunteers aren’t reliable and the shared secretary isn’t always available.
“It’s just hard to keep track of all the constituent calls and organize things on a daily basis,” Gordon said, noting that he usually can only hire a college student or retiree for the available sum.

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Price to Endorse in US Senate Race?

Is Congressman Tom Price a potential kingmaker? Maybe.

The Daily Caller is reporting that Price (R-GA) may be willing to endorse in the 2014 GOP US Senate Primary.

Alexis Levinson of The Daily Caller writes that at a Christian Science Monitor Breakfast, Price wouldn’t make any predictions on the upcoming contest, noting that it’s too early and that the announced field may still be incomplete. Last month, Price took himself out of consideration for the seat.

In the same article, Levinson reports that in a later phone call Price was asked if he would make an endorsement. “Maybe” was the reply. Before you decide this is not newsworthy, ask Georgia’s remaining US Congressmen if they will endorse during the primary season and wait for an answer. You won’t hear “yes” and I doubt you will hear “maybe”. That Price is considering an endorsement this far out is, indeed, newsworthy.

The current announced field includes Republican US Representatives Paul Broun, Phil Gingrey, and Jack Kingston along with former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel. Price mentioned that US House members might have a hard time because of poor Congressional popularity ratings. Of course that is Congress as a whole and not individual US Representatives.

The announced retirement of current US Senator Saxby Chambliss (GA-R) has left a rare, open seat in the US Senate and Democrats have targeted the opportunity along with seven others across the country. Forget about the current Democratic Party of Georgia’s nearly infinite woes because resources will likely be available from the national party.

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Kingston to VA Leadership: Deliver or Face Salary Cuts

US Representative Jack Kingston to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs: “When a soldier puts his life on the line for this country, he shouldn’t be left waiting a year for help when he gets home. We have invested more than $500 million in this benefit management system over the last four years and the problem has only gotten worse. If the leadership at the VA cannot reduce the backlog, they should see their pay cut.”

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) currently has a goal of reducing the backlog to 40%. Kingston’s amendment states that if that goal is not met by next July then the VA’s top leadership (not its caseworkers) will see pay cuts of 25%. The current backlog of cases is 66.5%.

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The Problem with a Georgia GOP Platform

A personal note: I’ve been away from Peach Pundit for a while as a front page poster. I simply had more on my plate than I could handle. It’s a privilege to be back and whether you agree with me or not, I hope you find that what I write makes you think. – Ken

“God is in the details.” – Gustave Flaubert

There is a movement – and an upcoming resolution – within the Georgia Republican Party to establish a state party platform. The argument generally emphasizes the need for all of us to have the same understanding of where the Georgia Republican Party stands on issues. Once a platform is established, the argument continues, the easier it will be to recruit party members and candidates.

Unless writing a platform is done carefully, then I would argue the opposite.

At a time when the emphasis inside the GOP should be about unity, debating a platform from the ground up may lead to an emphasis on differences. Can you imagine a GOP platform without planks on right to life, a state fair tax to replace the state income tax, Georgia’s level of participation in common core, immigration reform and another dozen contentious issues? Can you imagine positions on these topics sailing through without lengthy and passionate discussion? Frankly, I cannot.

On right to life, will there be exceptions in the case of a risk to the life of the mother? What about rape? Incest? Underage rape victims?

Should an increased state sales tax decrease or replace a state corporate tax and then personal state income tax? Would it be a gradual phasing in or a total replacement? Would unprepared food staples be exempt from the tax?

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Georgia Southern, Georgia Eagle Media Near Legal Settlement

– Company co-owned by Georgia State Senator Cecil Staton threatened a counter-suit –

Macon’s WMAZ Channel 13 reports that the attorneys representing Georgia Southern University and Georgia Eagle Media are near a settlement in their dispute. Georgia Southern attorney Maura Copeland states that it is the university’s position that the media company, co-owned by Georgia State Senator Cecil Staton, still owes approximately $53,000 for broadcast rights.

In the story by Lorra Lynch Jones, it is reported that the two parties did reach two conclusions:

One, Georgia Eagle Media will pay Georgia Southern University $15,000 in cash. That’s less than a third of the money the school still contends the company owes for breach of contract.

Two, Georgia Southern will offer Georgia Eagle Media the opportunity to be a network affiliate for the 2013-2014 athletic season. Georgia Eagle owns all the radio stations in Statesboro, and that agreement will allow the university to broadcast its games locally.

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Over 380 kilos of cocaine seized in Lumber City

UPDATE: Additional information and video is now available at and at The Macon Telegraph.

About 840 pounds of cocaine were seized in Lumber City this weekend. The cocaine initially found was in a rental truck hidden by crates of tomatoes. Additional quantities were found buried in the woods. The story from The Macon Telegraph continues:

The cocaine — about 840 pounds, with an estimated street value of $38 million — was found after deputies pulled over a produce truck Saturday afternoon that turned out to contain more than tomatoes. Half the drugs were on the truck and the rest was found buried in large, plastic containers in the woods near Lumber City, Smith said.

“We were up all night going through cases and cases of tomatoes,” Smith said. The investigation led deputies to comb the woods around a property where several of the alleged perpetrators were living. There they found eight containers “about knee high and 3 feet across” full of cocaine.

Lumber City is a sleepy town in southern Telfair County at the head of the Altamaha River. The 2010 census shows Lumber City with a total population of 1,328 people and over a quarter of its residences sit empty.
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Byron Concert Site Gets Historic Marker

– 1970 Atlanta International Pop Festival Site Receives Marker from Georgia Historical Society –

Only a part of the name is a misnomer. Byron is nowhere near Atlanta, but it was definitely a pop festival. Famous and soon-to-be famous acts included: The Allman Brothers Band, Jimi Hendrix, Ten Years After, Procol Harum, B. B. King, Mountain, Captain Beefheart, Rare Earth, The Chambers Brothers, Chicago Transit Authority, Poco, Ravi Shankar, Grand Funk Railroad, Spirit, The Bob Seger System, and others. Atlanta concert promoter Alex Cooley sold tickets at a mere $14 each.

Christina M. Wright’s story in The Macon Telegraph has the scoop on honoring the epic “three days of love peace and music” in Byron, Georgia, over a long Independence Day weekend in 1970.

In retrospect it was a time of relative innocence despite the nudity and omnipresent acid and other hallucinogenics. No arrests were made and the only person shot was a photographer who accidentally shot himself in the hand while climbing a telephone pole. Governor Lester Maddox circled the event vainly in a helicopter.

At midnight on the morning of July 4th, Jimi Hendrix would deliver his explosive performance of The Star Spangled Banner with fireworks on and off the stage before the largest crowd of his career. In ten short weeks he would be dead.

Should an event be honored simply because between 250,000 and 600,000 people gathered in a soybean field for a music concert? If not, should it be remembered for the cultural change it signaled or for the amazing talent presented?

For additional information and a lot of pictures, please see:

A Riddle, Wrapped in a Mystery, Inside Glenn Richardson

“I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.” – Sir Winston Churchill

Former Georgia House Speaker Glenn Richardson has a secret once valued at nearly $220,000. Inquiring minds would like to know what happened to the money from his PAC. As Jim Walls over at Atlanta Unfiltered wrote:

Richardson closed out his campaign account when he resigned in December 2009, transferring $219,915 to the MMV Alliance Fund, a political action committee that he controls. He had to pay a $500 fine because MMV had not been granted a federal tax exemption (and therefore was not yet considered a charity) when he moved the money.

According to the Atlanta Unfiltered story, Richardson states that between $100,000 and $110,000 is left. As to the remainder, Richardson cites his own attorney, stating nothing has yet been done that requires filing with either state or federal authorities.

As discussed here on Peach Pundit, Richardson is seeking a Georgia Senate position in an upcoming special election caused when Georgia Senator Bill Hamrick was appointed to a judgeship.

With one hundred thousand dollars seed money and a bevy of old, moneyed interests on speed dial, Richardson cannot be ignored. That kind of money and access can buy a lot of political ads begging forgiveness.

Now that Richardson has made the questionable decision to re-enter the political arena, he has again found the spotlight. His actions beg questions; however, and answers will be sought.

As for where the money has gone and where the remainder will go, let’s consult Sir Winston and update his quote: I cannot forecast to you the action of Speaker Richardson. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Glenn Richardson’s personal interest.

Additional sources:

No rules apply to spending by ex-speaker’s political fund
Ethics agency probing ex-speaker’s $220K fund transfer

Fair Warning to GA GOP ’13 Candidates

Next February, the process to elect precinct, county, district, and state delegates and GOP officials will begin. Mass precinct meetings in large counties begin in February. In March smaller counties have their mass precinct meetings and all counties have their county conventions. April brings district conventions and the GAGOP state convention will be in May.

Every two years, Republican party officials are elected from the bottom up beginning with the precincts and ending with state party officials. This is as “grassroots” as any political process anywhere. Traditionally, this has been a mostly amicable process. It won’t be that way in 2013.

Rule 12 and the desire to hand control of national delegates to candidates and the national party changed all of that. There are other factions fighting within the GOP, but grassroot Republicans of all leanings will oppose the nationalization of local and state decisions.

The infamous Rule 12, allowing rule changes between conventions, is the spear point; but the real thrust is coming from the drive to turn actual delegate selection over to the presidential candidates. This is a perversion of the process. Read more

Liberty Media CEO Donates to Conservatives

The President and CEO of Liberty Media, Gregory Maffei, is the largest sports owner/principal donor to politicians and political causes. Liberty Media is, of course, the owner of our beloved Atlanta Braves. This story from The Atlanta-Journal Constitution states, in part, of Maffei:

He’s giving it to political candidates. One report states that the Braves boss is actually the top political donor among sports franchise owners.

According to a story from WNYC, “The most generous single owner was Gregory Maffei of the Atlanta Braves, who dished $157,500 to Mitt Romney, American Crossroads, Restore Our Future, and the National Republican Congressional Committee.”

While the story leaves the impression that Maffei gives only to conservatives, such as Jim DeMint, this is not true. A quick glance at the FEC website individual donations page (01/01/2009 through 08/01/2012) shows that he has also given money to Democrats Ken Salazar and Michael Bennett as well as moderate Republicans.

While there are those who are upset with Maffei for making investments in the political field rather than in center field (RE-SIGN MICHAEL BOURN!), remember that it’s Maffei’s money. Despite the fervent wishes of many on the left, we still have property rights in this country. Besides, what’s really America’s pastime, baseball or politics?