By Nathan

Apparently Stacey Evans Isn’t Alone In Sending PSAs

Friend and GOP stalwart Justin Tomczak forwarded me an email from State Representative Pat Gardner (D-Atlanta) also encouraging her constituents to take preventative measures against identity theft.  Interestingly enough, the email is almost, an exact copy of Stacey Evans’ email that she sent out earlier this week.  The only exception is that Rep. Gardner’s email ends with “Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!” instead of another paragraph like Rep. Evans.

Either the honorable ladies have the same consultant who used a cookie cutter approach in order to seize the opportunity created by the Secretary of State’s mistake, or perhaps there is another person looking forward to the 2018 election.

Stacey Evans Wants You To Protect Your Personal Information (And Maybe Keep Her In Mind)

State Representative Stacey Evans (D-Symrna) sent out a newsletter to her constituents encouraging them to contact the three credit bureaus to set up an initial fraud alert.  This PSA comes in the wake of the Secretary of State’s office accidental release of personal information on voter database extracts.  Also in her PSA, she makes the note that now isn’t the time to play politics with the matter:

While I believe Secretary Kemp should be held responsible, now is not the time for politics. Right now, we need to make sure that the personal information of voters his office failed to keep safe has not been used in a nefarious manner.

Today isn’t the time to play politics with this accidental release, but it will be a target on the 2018 campaign trail.  It might be reading too much in to the email, but it makes you wonder if Rep. Evans is looking at a run for Secretary of State on the Democratic ticket in 2018.

Afternoon Reads for Monday, November 23rd

I promised to fill in for Tim for the next couple of weeks, and I remembered that this morning while I was at the store gathering items for Thanksgiving.  Here are today’s morning afternoon reads.


National & World:


Congressman Doug Collins Highlights Anti-Competitive Behavior Of Pharmacy Benefit Managers

Congressman Doug Collins (R-GA-09) questioned witnesses during a House Judiciary Committee hearing about practices and behaviors of Pharmacy Benefits Managers and the impact to rural pharmacies that serve their respective communities. From the presser:

Today, in a House Judiciary Committee hearing examining “The State of Competition in the Pharmacy Benefits Manager and Pharmacy Marketplaces”, Congressman Doug Collins questioned witnesses about anticompetitive behavior by Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) and the resulting devastating impact on independent and community pharmacies, and the families they serve.

Community Pharmacies are on the healthcare frontlines in rural communities such as Northeast Georgia. Consolidation in the PBM Marketplace and the lack of transparency in the dealings between PBMs and community pharmacies has resulted in local pharmacies closing their doors for good. Congressman Collins and 30 of his colleagues have advocated transparency requirements for PBMs contained in H.R. 244, the “MAC Transparency Act”. This hearing was an important first step to level the playing field in the pharmacy marketplace, and brought to light the need for immediate Congressional action.

Here’s the video from yesterday’s hearing:

Things Aren’t Always As They Seem

I posted the other day about the perception that some student activities at Dalton State having more preference than others.  I got a call from a friend of mine at the Dalton State Foundation setting the record straight.  He told me that he has documentation that the College tried to accommodate a recent meeting of the College Republicans but declined these accommodations. I’m willing to believe my friend, and I hope that they will continue to treat all clubs and activities equitably in the future dealing with their limited meeting space.

Sometimes, politics can get the best of us and distort our view.  I hope that my friends in the Dalton State CRs will be understanding of space constraints and even build relationships with those in the Student Life office.

Whitfield GOP Chairman Chuck Payne Steps Down To Join Carson Camp

My friend and Chairman of the Whitfield County Republican Party is stepping down from the GOP chairman’s position to become the North Georgia director for Ben Carson’s presidential campaign.

Chuck is one of the hardest working people in the Georgia Republican Party.  He stands behind candidate that he believes in.  He will tell you himself that he doesn’t do it for the candidate’s benefit, but rather he does it because he wants to help build a better future for his kids and their kids.

I’m grateful for the work that Chuck has done over the years, for his leadership, and his friendship.  My selfishness doesn’t want him to leave, but I know he is doing what he is being led to do.  I wish him much success and luck in his new role.

Hutcheson Medical Center Ordered To Close

Hutcheson Medical Center in Fort Oglethorpe (Source: Hutcheson Medical Center)

The debt-laden Hutcheson Medical Center in Fort Oglethorpe, GA has finally been ordered to be shut down by Judge Paul Bonapfel.  His ruling came yesterday after the continued troubles of the hospital to make ends meet.  Chattanooga NBC affiliate WRCB talks about a report filed by court-appointed ombudsman Susan Goodman who looked into the skeleton crew operations at Hutcheson:

The report cites two abrupt layoffs since the end of August, resulting in the loss of 75 jobs and closures of the hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU), operating and outpatient services, lung clinic and Chickamauga Family Practice.

Goodman’s report points out the hospital’s “inability to immediately pay” the workers it laid off, and notes the fact that no jobs at the senior leadership level were impacted.

According to The Chattanoogan, the closure of Hutcheson Medical Center will not affect the sale of its adjacent nursing home.  The assets of the hospital will be sold on December 3rd with a hearing following the sale on December 14th.

Are Some Activities More Equal Than Others?

According to Wesley Ross, member of the College Republicans at my alma mater, Dalton State, the Office of Residential Life is more than willing to make sure space is available for events like the ones in the screenshot below, but there is a bit of an unwillingness from the Student Life office to be willing to be flexible to allow the College Republicans to have space on campus to host Senator Charlie Bethel at one of their meetings.

Screenshot 2015-10-27 at 00.33.39










Wesley told me that he applied for space two weeks in advance and needed access to parking for both guests from the community and students, but was denied due to lack of meeting space (understandable, since Dalton State has been strapped for meeting space).  The perception is that things like this and some minority clubs get special preference in making sure they have space for events (he mentioned the Dalton State Mosaic Club was ensured that they had space for their “Coming Out Day”).  I’m not being prudish, but it’s an interesting note that some clubs are seemingly treated more equally than others.

Walker County Republicans To Place County Governance Structure Question On 2016 Ballot

Last night, the Walker County Republican Party adopted a resolution to place on the 2016 Republican primary ballot a non-binding referendum question on what form of county government Walker County should have: a sole commission as it is currently, or a multi-member commission board.  I was not in attendance due to personal reasons, but I saw the news on Facebook and a blurb from WDEF (the local CBS affiliate).  It seems the anti-incumbent crowd is hailing it as a major victory.

The sole commission vs. multi-member board came to a head in 2011 when a challenger to incumbent Commissioner Bebe Heiskell drew an opponent in the 2012 Republican primary.  She won by a 200-vote margin, but drew a write-in candidate challenger in the general election.

The anti-incumbent crowd actually had a prime opportunity during the 2013-2015 term of the Republican Party as one of their own won the county chairmanship in 2013, resigned early in 2014, and the Walker County TEA Party leader was elected GOP chairman in early 2014.  No questions were put on the ballot in 2014, so I’m not sure if there was a lack of awareness or focus during the changing of chairmen.  For the record, we received no proposals for ballot questions in 2012 after soliciting the membership while I was chairman of our county GOP.

Those in opposition have made the issue into a personal vendetta against the incumbent and have preached over the past 4 years on how changing our form of government will cure all of our county’s ills.  Call me skeptical, but I will be listening to the arguments for and against and will keep an open mind before I cast my ballot.

As a former co-worker and good friend of mine said to me: “Be careful for what you wish for, you may just get it.”

Chattanooga’s EPB To Offer 10 Gigabit Internet Service

Right across the state line, City of Chattanooga-owned utility EPB will now be offering 10 gigabit per second service, branded as NextNet.  That makes EPB one of the first public utilities in the world to offer 10 gigabit service to customers for only $299 per month.

A video was released as a part of their announcement.


Posted by EPB of Chattanooga on Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Chattanoogan has greater detail about the announcement, but it’s a major feather in the cap of Chattanooga which has been trying to expand beyond its industrial roots by wooing tech start-ups.

The announcement comes only a few months after Comcast announcing their own 2+ gigabit service to the Chattanooga-area and other major metropolitan areas.  EPB has certainly caught the attention of Comcast (the local cable provider) and AT&T.  This affects Georgia as well as some of us are within EPB’s service area.

Full disclosure: I am an EPB Fi customer, but I’m not currently planning on getting the 10 Gbps service.

Bankruptcy Trustee Files Motion For Hutcheson Auction

Hutcheson Medical Center in northwest Georgia is currently in the midst of bankruptcy, and news has come that the bankruptcy trustee has filed a motion to sell Hutcheson Medical Center at auction.  From The Chattanoogan:

Trustee Ronald Glass said there would be more value if the hospital is sold as a going concern (still operating) rather than it having closed due to mounting debt.

He is proposing that bidders for the hospital and its assets, including a nursing home and a surgery center, be pre-qualified to determine that they have the financial ability to make the acquisition and the ability to operate the facility.

The 27-page motion says, “The trustee believes that the sale of the sale assets as requested herein will provide a significantly greater realization for the sale assets than the liquidation value that would be obtained if the sale assets were not sold expeditiously in the manner requested herein and the debtors’ business was forced to cease operations.”

Hutcheson Medical Center entered a leasing agreement with Chattanooga-based Erlanger in 2013 along with a $20 million loan from Erlanger only to break the agreement a couple of months later.  Erlanger sued for breach of the agreement, and threatened foreclosure on the debt-laden hospital in 2014, but that was put to a halt in December after Hutcheson filed for bankruptcy.  I’ll also note that the facility itself is still owned by the Hospital Authority of Walker, Catoosa, and Dade Counties, but there is a 40-year lease agreement in the mid-’90s given to the operators of Hutcheson Medical Center.

Hutcheson is a shadow of its former self.  Once a trusted, thriving medical center in the ’80s and ’90s has seen a decrease in the number of doctors in residence as well as the number of patients.  Luckily, citizens in northwest Georgia are close enough to Chattanooga, so quality care is still available.

Congressman Tom Graves Co-Sponsors Legislation To Award Purple Heart To Victims of Chattanooga Terror Attack

Congressman Tom Graves (R-GA-14) issued this statement regarding his co-sponsorship of House Resolution 383 to award the 5 servicemen who were killed in the Chattanooga attack in July the Purple Heart:

“Any member of the Armed Forces who is killed or wounded serving our country deserves to be honored for their selfless service and sacrifice. The victims of the domestic terrorist attack in Chattanooga are no different. In that attack, five service members paid the ultimate price in defense of our country, and several others were wounded. These soldiers have earned the Purple Heart, and should be recognized accordingly.”

HR 383, initially sponsored by Congressman Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN-03) of Chattanooga, has picked up a number of bi-partisan co-sponsors.

Place Your Bets On If Walker County Gets A Casino

Coming To A State or County Near You? Credit: Lisa Brewster (CC BY-SA)
Coming To A County Near You?
Photo: Lisa Brewster (CC BY-SA)

There’s rumor of attracting a casino to Walker County. In responding to a caller to a local cable-access show on September 23rd, Commissioner Bebe Heiskell responded to a caller who posed the question. From the Chattanooga Times-Free Press:

“I’d rather it go in Walker County, and I hope that doesn’t make me a hypocrite Christian,” she said. “But they’re going to go somewhere and do it. And we have to have some way — besides property tax — to raise money around here.”

Sunday sales failed when it was on the ballot last year, so getting this on the ballot and passing in a very socially conservative area would be an amazing feat. 53% of people pulling a Republican primary ballot in Walker County opposed the question posed by the state GOP of casino gambling with revenues going to education. In spite of the outcome of the question, I believe the merits of casino gambling should be debated. I personally wouldn’t object to a casino resort if it would help mitigate additional increases in property tax (which rose from 4.705 to 8.725 in the past couple of years in part to securing some of the debt that our local hospital, Hutcheson Medical Center, has accrued). However, depending on how the proposal is stated, I don’t believe we would be getting a lot of cash from the revenues of the casino.

Our local commissioner elections will, I suspect, be highly contested. Commissioner Heiskell sounds to be mounting a re-election campaign, but I know of a couple of people who have said they would consider a challenge against her in the 2016 Republican Primary. Whether or not those people actually qualify is a different story. She won the 2012 primary by around 200 votes. I suspect it will be a bit tougher this go around if the casino idea is still being floated along with the recent increase in property tax.

Our county is trying to draw in tourist dollars, and with being so close to Chattanooga it’s hard to blame them. It seems to me though that our county is more industrial-minded, but those factories are shutting down and moving…although, we are seeing a large plastics manufacturer building a plant in Rock Spring.

I have no doubt that talks of a casino stems from the fact that there is talk across the state about expanding the gambling industry in our state. Whether or not proponents of gambling can convince a statewide electorate and garner support of locals remains to be seen.

250+ Students Attend Youth Leadership Summit Held By Congressman Tom Graves

graves-ylsLast week, over 250 juniors and seniors from 27 different high schools in the 14th District gathered in Calhoun at Georgia Northwestern Technical College.  The purpose: to learn leadership skills, hear from business and community leaders, and to expand their network as they graduate and go to college or enter the workforce.

Those leaders included Floyd County Sherriff’s Deputy Carrie Edge,Co-founder of ADDO worldwide Kevin Paul Scott, Commissioner of Georgia Department of Community Affairs Camila Knowles, and Instructor of Management at Kennesaw State University Dr. Alvin Miles:

“You are here today because someone, somewhere saw something special and different in you,” said Rep. Graves. “And knowing that each of you was created for a unique purpose to impact lives in a positive way, our goal is to equip and inspire you to maximize that purpose now and not wait – because you are not just the leaders of tomorrow, you are leaders today.”
Similarly, Kevin Paul Scott declared during his presentation, “When we’re looking for leaders, we’re looking at you.”

Floyd County Sherriff’s Deputy Carrie Edge spoke on how to become the “Best You Yet.” She stated, “ In order to lead, you must choose to live by choice and not by chance, realize your full potential and seek to fully apply yourself in every decision you make, while maintaining laser focus on your, ‘Why?.’”

Dr. Alvin Miles gave countless examples of how everyone should leverage their unique background to guide their future. He shared that when he was growing up he had to be reminded to speak softer because his voice carried. But then he realized that his voice carrying was an advantage he had over others and encouraged students to remember that “as leaders in your community, your voice carries and you have unfair advantages over others.”

“Just by being here today, you are one step ahead of others and you should use your advantages to make a positive difference in the world,” Dr. Miles added.

Students engaged online via Twitter and other social media using the hashtag #GA14YLS, and there was plenty of positive feedback from the summit.  Also, Congressman Graves did take a selfie with some of the students:
Read more

Wrestler Will Know Today If He’s Legally Qualified To Run For Mayor Of Ringgold

Local wrestler Paul Lee is running for Ringgold mayor after long-time mayor Joe Barger decided against running for re-election.  However, four people, including the current mayor, have raised concern over the residency of Mr. Lee.  Vice Mayor Nick Millwood apparently discovered that Lee resides in Catoosa County, but outside of the city limits of Ringgold.  From Northwest Georgia News:

After a little digging, current vice mayor Nick Millwood, Barger, and other mayoral candidates Tony Hullender and Jerry Payne, are claiming Lee doesn’t meet the qualifications to run for the office because he resides in Catoosa County, but not inside the Ringgold city limits.

Formal challenges have been submitted to the Ringgold elections superintendent and a hearing will be held today to determine Lee’s eligibility.  He does explain his residency situation in the same article:

“I have two residences — one in the city and one in the county,” Lee said. “My city residence I have owned for several years, but have been letting my mother-in-law live in it. But for the last year and a half, my family and I have made it our primary residence while my county home is being updated. …. We’re getting it ready to sell in the spring.”

Literal cage match? Probably not, but certainly a political cage match in a small town here in northwest Georgia.