By Scarlet Hawk

#WeKnowNathan, Now On YouTube

The Whitfield County Democratic Party has uploaded a video continuing the mockery of the Georgia GOP’s hashtag of #WeKnowNathan.  I wrote about it last night and it would seem that the fun has continued into this morning.  I typically love the cattiness of antics like this (I’m a sick, sick individual), but I have to say that the music for this gives me the creeps.

The music is “Every Little Piece” from Pete’s Dragon, a Disney movie, but the song lyrics state, “We could make a million just slicing him, dicing him”. I’m all about callling for more ethics reform and bringing all necessary elements to be considered in the light of day, yet I will stop far short of cannabilism.

I would suggest Democrats do the same, and the GOP think long and hard before they attempt a social media campaign again.  This has probably done more harm than good for the Governor.

Do You Know Nathan?

Because a lot of people are asserting they do, for better or worse. Today, the Georgia GOP in their infinite wisdom launched a social media push in support of Governor Deal with the hashtag of #WeKnowNathan. It would be cute if it didn’t go so tragically wrong.

First, think of hashtags like campaign signs: you don’t win elections or even change public opinion with them. They are used for name/subject recognition only. Second, twitter is a younger sourced social media option. Believe it or not, Facebook is being inundated with my parents’ generation (and even my grandparents’ generation), while twitter is being used by younger and younger folks. ICYMI, the younger generation also typically (but not always) leans left. Which leads me to my last rule: don’t use hashtags when you are trying to defend someone in the court of public opinion because EVERYONE has equal access to the conversation and it can change direction and go south….quickly.

Ask Robin Thicke.

The DPG Better Georgia has answered this push with a url wth the same name. Seriously, Republicans, did that thought not occur to you?

Whoops.

It’s a long way to November, y’all.  Thankfully, football season begins in 40 days and we can direct this aggression in more productive ways. Cluck femson.

Who Needs Wimbledon When You Can Watch The Governor’s Race?

Watch out, y’all, it’s getting deep in here.  For the past few weeks we politicos have been watching the tennis match between Deal and Carter play out over the court of public opinion.  One serves, one returns.  The ball girl this time comes in the form of the past head of the Ethics Commission.  And, if you’d like to continue the metaphor, the state is playing doubles with Dekalb County’s Commission and their own ethics woes or……maybe with the pissing match between Barr and Loudermilk….or Hice and Collins…. or Perdue and Kingston- all trying to prove to Georgia who is more conservative. You take your pick.  We’ll call match next week.

 I ain’t impressed with any of the above.

What is left over for Georgia is a disenchantment with the process, disengagement of the voter, and distrust of the elected officials- whomever they may end up being.  Interestingly enough, my last interaction with the AG was at a dinner in which he said that political consultants were essentially overpaid and lazy.  Protip: Give the average voter something to believe in and they will be so engaged that you won’t need consultants.

No matter who wins any of these races the state of Georgia remains sitting on the cusp of a myriad of possibilities.  The leaders who implement these will be the stuff of legends.  Georgia misses these lions of our past: Miller, Murphy, Talmadge, Carter, Coverdell, and King.  These men were not without faults, but those faults have faded as the historic legacies carry on.  So whatever may come of these elections and ethics complaints, I sincerely hope that the newly electeds remember in January that to whom much is given, much is expected.

My suggestions would include:

  • Strengthening the Ethics Commission: give them more staff and their enforcement teeth and legislate ethics reform that curtails bad legislators, not just questionable lobbyists.  Do this, Deal and/or Carter, and you won’t have to mudsling.  But then again, maybe this is the biggest challenge: proving to Georgians either of you have ideas worth casting their vote.

  • Create a third party system for redistricting rather than allowing the party in power to determine district boundaries.  Do this, and you’ll see our general elections matter more and our primary fights be less bloody.

  • Term limits: Institutional knowledge is great, but innovative ideas and idealistic young gun legislators are even better.  Watch the Liberty Caucus in the House.  I have high hopes for them.

  • Easier ballot access for Independent candidates.  You want better policy and less partisanship, let Independents run and win on their own ideas- not party platforms.

  • Open up the markets: Crowdfunding is gaining in Georgia, and we need to foster it and all the great new ideas it can fund.  Open it up and businesses will move here, and grow here.  Years ago, the timber industry adopted the phrase, “Georgia, we grow trees”- I want to see it be, “Georgia, we grow business”.

  • Get local: Every Georgia town has history and every Georgia street has potential.  Make setting up a business in local jurisdictions a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs and make our Secretary of State the one-stop shop for businesses to set up statewide.

 

I know it’s challenging, but Georgia is worth it.  It takes courage, sweat, and devotion.  And a lot of times it takes letting others get the credit for your actions.  But those actions speak your principles and your truth louder than any scandal or famous last name.

 Don’t let mudslinging be your legacy.  You’re all better men than that, and now, it’s your serve.

So there was a fire inside me. And that fire inside you, it can be turned into a negative form or a positive form. And I gradually realised that I had this fire and that it had to be used in a positive way. ~John Newcombe

 

The Shot That Was Heard ‘Round The Charter School World

Somewhere off the coast, an audible gasp was heard yesterday following Phil Hartley’s declaration that all charter schools in Georgia will be converted to non-profits going forward.  If you thought they all already were, you are not alone.  It seems some charter school superintendents thought they were as well, and many more thought they had more time.  Some of them might be in Dekalb County, per the Daily.  It seems though that some legislation passed in 2013 clarified the language regarding charters, and tweaked the law a little bit so that during the renewal process of charters this year all will be converted to locally controlled, board driven charter schools. I’ll explain a bit more below the fold.   What this statement holds for charter schools is more local autonomy, more responsiveness to parents, children, and their local community.  For charter school proponents, this is great news; for the management companies that start charter schools, not so much.  Read more

Education: Why Buzz Words and Money Just Won’t Cut It This Time

Education is such a lovely buzz word. It sounds so shiny, progressive and new. It elicits images of school children a la Norman Rockwell, school books, tassels and diplomas. The reality is it’s a much murkier and logistically demanding word than that. Over the weekend, Carter penned an op-ed in the AJC that discussed his education platform. He wants to create a separate budget for education, one that cannot be cut despite whatever other cuts may befall the state. He cites many budget cuts to education under the Deal administration. IMHO, these cuts were frankly unquestionably necessary in 2010 as Georgia’s budget was in free fall and literally every other state department and agency’s budget had already gone through 10% cuts at least once. At that time, the budget for education had sustained the least amount of cuts, with legislators leaving education as the last pillar to fall. Bravo for that, General Assembly- some of us haven’t forgotten.

However, Carter AND Deal are missing some larger points that I fear our state as a whole has not yet comprehensively addressed. To be forthright, I don’t know how to address them either, but rather than not talk about them and let the gubernatorial discussion continue to be about money, I will do what little I can to bring them to light. I would assert that while certain aspects of education demand more funding (I can’t wait to see how the Gov’nuh’s going to pay for internet in every school district), Georgia’s biggest challenges in education are cultural and structural and throwing money at school districts will not necessarily create a solution. The following points are items I would ask each candidate to consider in their platform, and would hope we have General Assembly members who are already pondering them. Read more

Forget Fireworks: The Perfect Storm That Is Headed Dekalb’s Way

Dekalb County really is never dull.  Just take a look at these latest stories. But this week it was particularly interesting as tax appeal reform and cityhood movements were both discussed.  Oh, and there was a little taskforce meeting that George attended.  There is a storm brewing in Dekalb, and there may be enough to rain down on it this time to wash the county clean of its process problems and create cities that better facilitate the needs in certain communities.    Or not, depending upon how you view the city movements.  Either way, the forces have unified and shall be descending upon the Capitol in the 2015 legislative session, ready for Dekalb County. Read more

The Religious Right Plays Checkers, Dems May Win Again At Chess

Well the primaries are almost over here in the red state, and so my time of pointing and laughing will sadly come to a close and I shall actually have to make a decision for the general.  As a swing voter, my vote really doesn’t matter unless I’m voting in a Republican primary.  However, I still vote my conscience regardless and consider occasionally moving.  After my urge to kill abated today, I began to seriously consider a few things on the national scale, namely what this may mean to the largest voting bloc in our country- single women.

While I am a person of faith, the recent rulings for elimination of the buffer zones and that certain companies may choose which forms of birth control they wish to cover holds more of an economic challenge that I am now trying to conceptualize.  If you want to know about my faith, you feel welcome to sit with me any Sunday at Northside Drive Baptist Church, come serve in VBS in Taliaferro County, or volunteer with me through Habitat, the Junior League of Atlanta, Inc., etc, etc.  My actions speak my faith so that my words do not have to.  Here, I will stick to a discussion of economic impact and political ramifications. Read more

Taxes, Appeals, and Patriotic Duty: Rep. Jacobs Hosting Tax Appeal How-To

I love when legislators do something unexpected…like interact with their constituency! This one is also helping his constituents to file property tax appeals.  That’s MY kind of legislator.  So clearly, receiving the following email from Representative Jacobs put a smile on my face.  What could be more celebratory of Independence Day than telling your county government to take those taxes and shove it?

If you want to memorialize why our nation separated from Britain in a truly patriotic way, or you just need to learn how to navigate the murky waters of tax appeals in Dekalb, please join Rep. Jaobs at 7PM Tuesday, July 1st at Chamblee United Methodist Church, 4147 Chamblee Dunwoody Road.  The deadline for DeKalb County property assessment appeals is July 14.  Fulton County appeals are due July 21.  And before you get bitter about taxes in Dekalb, please remember you could live in Fulton, like me.  Do your duty to your country: fight the taxman.  Full info below the fold. Read more

Franklin Road: Growing Pains of Gentrification

Tuesday night of this week I attended a town hall meeting in Marietta almost entirely by accident.  I drove through the blinding rain to Franklin Road to fulfill contractual obligations in regards to a focus group.  What I stumbled upon though, was a vibrant meeting of community members, religious leaders, council members, and the Marietta Police discussing the revitalization and crime of Franklin Road.  If you are unaware (as I was) Marietta passed a $68 million dollar bond issue to revitalize the dilapidated Franklin Road area.  The bond will essentially raze buildings (including apartment complexes) in order for new buildings to be built as well as areas for business.  In addition to the downside of some apartments being lost in the process, the bond will essentially raise taxes for Marietta residents.  However, it should be said that there is no anticipated owner occupied property lost in the redevelopment process.

However, the issue at hand at this particular meeting was less about taxes or even lack of homes and more about children, crime and safety.  Read more

The Taxman Cometh

Fulton County has decided to increase their taxes by seventeen percent, or 1.57 mils.  As a resident, I have a problem with that, and would encourage all who are able to place a call into Chairman John Eaves office 404-612-8206 and your commissioner’s office to oppose it.  The vote is set to occur today.

While I am rarely in favor of new taxes, I can usually be obliging of SPLOSTs.  I can also understand how taxes must also be raised occasionally and moderately to maintain the necessary process of government.  However, seventeen percent!?!  This seems excessive at best.  My income nor property value has not risen at the same rate and therefore I find it hard to believe that the Fulton County Commission could be so naïve to assume this is a well timed increase. Read more

Education: Through the Lens of Taliaferro County

Each year, my church, Northside Drive Baptist Church, partners with various others, (Parkway Baptist, First Baptist of Augusta, and Milledge Avenue Baptist) to provide a vacation Bible school to children in Taliaferro County.  It is less preaching and proselytizing, and more grace and giving.  We’re not much on the fire and brim stone, more of a Jimmy Carter version of Baptist-namely because he was a deacon of our church while he was Governor.  And in this vein, I decided to sit in last night on Taliaferro County’s School Board Meeting.  I have grown to love the children we serve, and I was curious about their education funding and school board decisions.  Besides, I’m a political geek.  We like watching “good government at work”.

To answer your most pressing questions: it is pronounced “Toliver”, not “Tally-ah-fare-o”.  Say it in the latter way and the locals will know without a doubt you’re “not from around here”.  Second, it is located between Green and McDuffie counties, headed east down I-20.  Exit 148, to be exact, within the Crawfordville city limits.  It is a few exits down from Reynolds Plantation and all the wealth and beauty of the Lake Oconee area.

As a kid from Social Circle (just two hours west of Crawfordville), I grew up having my parents drill into my head that education was my ticket to a better future than they’d known.  More jobs, more options in life were supposed to be available to a farmer’s daughter with an education.  So for me, coming back every year to serve these children is not just a joy of service, but a reminder of from whence I have come.  I don’t know about where y’all grew up, but in Walton County people will readily call you out for getting “too big for your britches”.  So I leave my heels and make-up in Atlanta for a week every year to serve a bunch of kids who don’t know what I do, who I know, nor would they probably even care.  I tend to think we politicos need to be humbled more often than not.

The challenges of the school board here are a reminder of my local government at home.  There was discussion of bus routes (one which will be driven by the Superintendent herself), their vying for a technology grant, and regular lamentations from the community of changing rules regarding graduation expectations and lack of innovative leadership for the school faculty members.  However, the most challenging question of the evening came from a candid discussion between the Superintendent and a past board member, present in the crowd:

How are we going to fund the state imposed requirement of online based testing in a rural area that is struggling to meet End of Course testing requirements and does not have the tax base to fund such unfunded mandates? Read more

Energy, E.P.A., and Excessive Regulations- A Guest Op-Ed from Representative Chuck Martin

Many Congressional members from the South have spoken out against the Obama Administration’s energy regulations.  Representative Chuck Martin, (R-49) offers his opinion on these regulations as they would impact our state.   He is the co-chairman of the Council of State Governments Energy and Environment Committee, member of the General Assembly’s House Regulated Industries Committee and member of the House Energy, Utilities & Telecommunications Committee.  He sponsored resolution H.R. 1158, which passed during this past legislative session. The resolution calls on the Obama Administration to establish a national energy policy that strengthens access to and removes impediments from all available domestic sources of energy.  This post is entirely the opinion of the Chairman, who was courteous enough to choose to share it with us.  Read more

Sandy Springs Parks go Smoke-free

Smell that?  If the air smells a little fresher this morning in Sandy Springs, it’s because in their council meeting on June 3rd, the City of Sandy Springs decided to establish their parks as a smoke-free zone, effective immediately.  What a novel idea!?!  People who enjoy fresh air to run, walk, picnic, and play with their children also enjoy it being smoke-free.  Alpharetta, Roswell, Atlanta…all the cool kids are doing it.

Major props to Mayor Rusty Paul and the Sandy Springs City Council.

Georgia passed the Senate version of the Clean Indoor Air Act in 2005.  I had the wonderful pleasure of working for Representative Stacey Reece who offered the House version, the year after the act passed.  This act prohibits smoking in establishments that serve individuals 18 and under.  Essentially, the case could be made to the General Assembly that children should not be forced to endure secondhand smoke (and they shouldn’t), but that adults lives were fair game to wager.   Reece explained to me that many bar owners thought their bottom lines would decrease if the state prohibited smoking, as many people who do not consider themselves smokers do, actually smoke, when they drink.  (I still haven’t quite wrapped my head around that one.)

However, parks don’t have a bottom line to negotiate and are used by the general public, often to promote healthy living choices.  So this choice of the city council seems pretty logical and with little controversy.  As a matter of fact, smokers are actually in the minority in Georgia.  They make up about 20% of the population and are predominantly minority men, aged 35- 45.  For the full press release, look for it beneath the fold. Read more

Perdue: Reduced Greenhouse Gases=Reduced Run-Off Potential?

Ah run-offs.  It’s where the claws come out and the parties eat their own.  Sometimes the media helps.  We like to do our part here at Peach Pundit and get into internal debates while we’re at it.  In the AJC, Bluestein highlighted Perdue’s ties to Alliant Energy Corporation and his time on Alliant’s environmental and safety committee while “becoming one of the first utilities to support a national program to reduce greenhouse gases by taking steps such as shuttering less efficient coal-fired plants”.

Going green doesn’t typically bode well for candidates trying to win in a red state, even though conservatives are supposed to favor, you know, conservation.  Is this a stumbling block for Perdue?  Discuss. The full article is below the fold.  Read more