15 September 2014

Thoughts on the Proposed Hwy 278 CID. Hint - I'm against it!

A Community Improvement District (CID) is where if over 50% of property owners representing at least 75% of the real estate's valuation of a certain corridor agree to it, then a "self-tax" can be imposed. In the case of the proposed Hwy 278 CID, that new tax would be 5 mils which would translate to an increased tax burden of hundreds, or more likely, thousands of dollars for many property owners in the affected area.

We now see a "full-court press" of sorts going on with this thing. Obviously, the Chamber and the Office of Economic Development are all over it, while the city of Covington has already given $25,000 to help facilitate this thing. And now they keep changing the boundaries of the CID, presumably to help get it passed. The members on the board of directors for the CID's non-profit group? The usual suspects - old money and power elite. 

To me, there's just something quintessentially un-American about a CID. It's majority (mob) rules. Can't afford an extra $1,500 in property taxes? "Tough shit, hombre! 50% plus one of your neighbors ( a lot of them corporations from out of state) have said yes, so you better get ready to cough it up!"

Are we not already paying really high property taxes? This is just typical local level politics. "Let's help beautify the city and our main corridor," they say, "it's not that much more money!" Well, it IS that much more money, and it's the damn principle of the matter! It just isn't right, and it's particularly tough to stomach when one of the biggest property owners on 278 (who also happens to probably be the richest man in Newton Co.) is a huge supporter of this thing when he has easily the worst looking property on the entire road! Plus the man just refuses to cut the grass on said property. It's a major eyesore, and he's pushing for this thing.

Now the word is that after dropping $25K to help with this thing, the city is going to be providing people and resources to help go door-to-door to try sell this thing. That ain't right! No, that ain't right by a sight...

As someone said at one of the preliminary meetings for this thing, we're just basically spittin' in the wind until we do something about our schools. This is akin to putting a band-aid on a broken leg. It's a bad idea and won't do anything to help our city or county. But...someone's going to have to be the administrator or coordinator or whatever you want to call it for this thing. Apparently that's been as issue with other CIDs where most of the money is gobbled up by administrative and salary expenditures. Sounds like age-old C-town politics: somebody must need a job!

Click here for a Covington News article about it.

26 July 2014

Recapping GA House 112

Well...it's been a few days and I've been stewing things over in the mental back-burners and I think I'm ready to get my thoughts out there on this race that has been such an integral part of my life for quite some time.

As some of you may already know, I was very much involved with and had a vested interest in this race as my good friend was running for this seat. You can read my thoughts on why I thought my friend, Aaron Brooks, was the right man for this job here.

My friend lost. By 108 votes. That was the difference in this race. A difference of 1.9% . 2,885 votes vs. 2,777. A very slim margin, but a loss is a loss. It hurts. It sucks. But...it is what it is (and again, for the record, I hate that saying, but sometimes that's all you can say).

As I mentioned, I was very much involved with my friend's campaign. Not in any official capacity. As I told many folks over the last 8 months, I was just a friend trying to help get a good man elected to the Gold Dome. I was equal parts assistant campaign manager, sign putter-upper, canvasser, phone-banker, and fund-raiser. More importantly, I was an adviser, confidant, and friend to the man who had put it all on the line to try to create a better future for the 112th. It was truly an honor, and an experience I will never forget.

And let me just say this: I can't tell you how proud I am of Aaron. He ran a great race, kept it positive, and campaigned on the issues. Even after his opponent went negative with complete and total lies, Aaron had said from the get go that he was going to stay on the high road and stick to the issues and concentrate on hitting the grassroots to get his message directly to the good folks of Newton and Morgan counties. As I mentioned in my previous post about this race, I probably couldn't have done that, but as I also said then - Aaron is a much better man than I. In fact, he was told by folks who do this type of thing as a business, that if he went on the attack and went negative, he would probably most definitely win. Chances are, he would have. But he wouldn't do it. He was going to stick to his principles, and in this day and age, that is so damn admirable. 

So...where do we go from here?

For starters, Newton Co. is having to wrap its mind around the fact that for the first time in generations (maybe in its entire history), that it will not have any representation in the state government. That's a shame when we had someone like Aaron that would have been such a great advocate and representative for the people. But, as many of us know. there were several folks in Covington and Newton Co. that didn't want that to happen. First and foremost would be the man that currently holds this seat, Doug Holt, and the man who finished 3rd in the primary that campaigned on the fact that we had to keep a Newton County resident in this seat - Ester Fleming. There were others as well. You can look at the campaign disclosures and see the usual suspects. The old money. The power elite. When things go the way I expect them to, remember who was responsible for this.

But I will sure as hell say this: Dave Belton, the man that completely changed all of his core stances and co-opted Aaron's entire platform (while also going negative and spreading lies) does NOT have a mandate in Newton Co. Look at the numbers. Aaron won Newton Co. with 60% of the votes and in some precincts was pushing 70%. Even after all of the old guard threw their weight behind Belton and his campaign pulled all of those punches, he didn't come anywhere close to winning anywhere in Newton Co. That's because most folks weren't buying it. And I tip my hat to them.

But, again, you have to go back to the phrase - it is what it is. I tell you one thing that puts a smile on my face, though. They, the other side, gave everything they had and spent so much dang money and completely shot their wad and 50.95% overall and 40% in Newton was as good as they could do. That tells you something right there. That says a lot.

As always, I remain very optimistic about the future.

Til next time...

21 July 2014

Thoughts on GA House 112

Whenever I think about Ronald Reagan, I think about a line in his autobiography. A line, to paraphrase, that talks about him looking at a bunch of people going by in a very busy place and thinking to himself - who are these people; what are their stories?

When I think about the 112th district of the great state of Georgia, I think about the regular folks of that district. And I think about their stories. The working folks, the blue collar, if you will. I also think about most of the the small business owners - the engine of Georgia. Several folks who are very close to me, and several other folks that I know who fit the description of the line in the great Guy Clark song, "the heroes of this country."

When I think about GA HD 112, I think about the power-elite in Newton Co. And Covington. The folks that run the local GOP party. And other folks. The folks behind the 2050 plan. I think about how they have been so dead set on stopping my good friend Aaron Brooks, and, every time I think of this, I realize that my buddy is doing something so right.

And then I think about how a win for Aaron Brooks would be a win for the people in this district. A much needed and hard fought win. After dealing with a tax increase last year, based on millage, and then another tax increase this year, based on real estate valuation, and then I think about the persons I mentioned earlier in this column, and I think about the hardships that these folks will deal with. And the hardship that me and the Missus will deal with with our measly property tax burden and the taxes on our two modest vehicles, even though our income - like most folks - has fallen yet again because, as most of us know, the economy is not in recovery. All because the powers-that-be can't let go of certain things. And that certain things can't get done because...they're "off the table" ( Hell, people, it's a laundry list here: county attorney, hospital authority, landfill contract, ambulance service, etc. etc. etc.)

And then a negative mailer goes out in which every single, goddam sentence is one lie after another. I start to get hot...I can feel the blood pressure going up...but then, I realize a beautiful thing. They are losing. They're getting desperate. And with each move they make, just like the Newton Co. establishment pick a couple of months ago, they hurt themselves more and more. Well, I'll tell you what: It puts a smile on my face...

My friend Aaron Brooks has kept it on the high road. And I have no doubt that he will win Tuesday. I think he would have won even if he hadn't kept it that way. If it was me, I sure as hell wouldn't have stayed high. By God, I sure would have fought fire with fire!!! But...I wasn't running. Aaron was. And he's a much better man than I am. I think helluva lot of him, and I think a lot of folks around town do as well.

So...I guess to find the rub, that would be it. Aaron winning would be a huge win for a lot of folks who need a win right now.

So if this column finds you - I hope it finds you well - and if you were to live in the 112th House District of Georgia and are able to vote in the GOP run-off on July 22nd, I sure hope you cast your ballot for a man that I admire and am fortunate to consider a good friend, Mr. J. Aaron Brooks.

17 April 2014

My Take on GA CD 10

The 10th Congressional race has been slowly heating up here lately, although there really isn't a ton to report at this time except for fundraising. Speaking of which, Jon Richards over at Peach Pundit did a nice little write-up detailing everybody's 1st quarter's haul and a basic synopsis of where things stand. It's a pretty good read...

I'm pretty much in agreement with a lot of what he says in this article. To me, at this time, there are two defined front-runners, one right behind them, a possible dark horse, and then the rest of the field. Let's take a look:

  • Front-runners

    • Mike Collins - The son of Mac Collins, the well-known and well-liked former Congressman from Georgia, Mike is a very likeable guy. He comes across as very real and genuine. A successful businessman, he is making that the focal point of his campaign - a business approach to dealing with things. His plan, as evidenced by his web address, is to "overhaul D.C.." Out in east Newton Co., near my neck of the woods, he has a lot of support, and as I understand it, he has a lot of grassroots and financial support throughout the entire district as well. I'd be pretty surprised if he doesn't make it past May 20th. And he currently has the most cash on hand of any candidate in this race. As an aside and in the spirit of disclosure, this is the guy I'm supporting in this race. Haven't donated or anything, and hell, I can't even vote for him as I'm west of the Alcovy, but this is who I like in this one.
    • Jody Hice - The smart money is on Jody being the other one to wake up on May 21st with a run-off campaign to work. Hice raised the most money in this year's first quarter, He, too, has a very strong grassroots structure. Hice is the more fiery TEA party type who is also a Preacherman. And he can whip 'em into a frenzy - he gives a very good stump speech. Mr. Hice, by the way, is also a very nice man. The thought that some have had is that perhaps he peaked too early, but some have said that of Collins as well. It definitely doesn't hurt that he's from the most populated county in the district in terms of GOP votes, Walton Co. We'll see...

  • Second Tier

    • Donna Sheldon - For a while, Sheldon was kind of an enigma. The word was that she had raised a lot of money but wasn't really spending much of it and wasn't really campaigning that much, either. Well, that has changed. She is now very much running a very active campaign. She's raised more money than anyone else, and she almost raised the most in the 1st quarter as well. She's a good speaker and seems to connect well with audiences. She's also a pretty good-looking lady, and that probably doesn't hurt with some voters. If someone is going to knock one of the top two off the perch, it will probably be this former state representative from Gwinnett

  • Dark Horse: 

    • Gary Gerrard - He hasn't raised a ton of money, but he hasn't done bad. He seems to have a pretty good campaign team and structure and has some decent grassroots support. Yes, he's a lawyer, but he seems like a good guy. He also seems to be smart as hell. For a time, I was thinking about publicly supporting Gary in this one. Chances are that he'll finish fourth behind the aforementioned three, but I wouldn't totally count him out. Some big donations and a few things go his way, and he could have a very outside shot at making the run-off. 

  • The Rest

    • Stephen Simpson - Super nice guy and well-qualified and has come a long way as a candidate since 2012, but he doesn't have much of a chance, I'm afraid. He might slip up and take 4th place, and that's about as well as he could wish for. 
    • Mitchell Swan - Late to the race. Not that it would have mattered.  He makes you think about some things. Very passionate and intelligent. No chance whatsoever.
    • Brian Slowinski - I can't lie. I kind of like ole Brian. Yeah, he's kind of an oddball, but he actually knows his stuff pretty darn good. Not sure exactly why he's running, though. The only drama with these last two is to see who doesn't finish last. Because he will be on the ballot before Swan, I'm picking the upset and going with Slowinski to finish 6th with about 3 to 4% of the vote.
So...that's my take on the 10th. 

***Update: My good friend, Jason Pye, has also weighed in on this race.

08 April 2014

The Law of Unintended Consequences: GOP Style

 *Cross-posted at United Liberty

Let's take a stroll down memory lane right quick. Back to the late Summer of 2012 to a little place called Tampa, FL and a little event known as the Republican National Convention.

As I reported back during this time, the GOP, for some unexplained and borderline-obsessive reason, was desperate to "maintain the narrative" that they were 100% united behind Mitt Romney. They thought it would be a good idea to completely re-write longstanding GOP rules and bylaws to keep Dr. Ron Paul from getting the guaranteed speaking slot that would come with his having captured the plurality of delegates in five states. So, led by Romney's lawyer, Ben Ginsberg, and the most awful Republican of all time, John Sununu, the GOP did just that - completely reworking and reshaping the entire power structure of the GOP.

As Rick Ungar mentioned in his column at Forbes.com yesterday, the main reason this was done was to put out that pesky Ron Paul fire and also to ensure a smooth process for Romney's reelection during the 2016 delegate process. Of course, there is one little problem there. Romney didn't win, so now the GOP is stuck with Rule 40 that now mandates that a candidate has to have a majority (rather that plurality) of delegates from eight (instead of five) states.

With the very crowed field that the GOP primary season will almost undoubtedly see, is there a real concern that we might get to the 2016 Convention without the ability to nominate a candidate? According to Ungar, that answer is a very possible yes. And also according to him, there is nothing that can be done about it until the RNC starts up the 2016 convention and who knows what the Rules Committee might look like. If it's made up of people all supporting different candidates, this thing has the ability to be a full blown mess.

So, the law of unintended consequences and the whole "be careful what you wish for - you just might get it" thing.

And one final recollection of mine from the day after the November election:

Looking back on it, it should have been obvious. The GOP had a death wish. It seemed as if they were, at every, single turn, making all of the WRONG decisions. On everything! Flipping the middle finger to all of the Ron Paul supporters wasn't one of their finer moments, for sure! With the polarized electorate we now have, you've got to be as inclusive as possible, not completely exclusive.

Has the GOP learned its lesson? I'm wanting to maintain some optimism at this point. It seems, from where I'm at, as if more and more long-serving and rank-and-file GOPers are getting on the Rand train. So maybe.  But what about the mid-terms this year? Can the GOP keep from snatching defeat from the jaws of victory?