Monday, April 30, 2007

Want a Fifty State Strategy? Vote Edwards

Over at MyDD, Peter from WI blogs about Edwards' promise to the Democratic Party of South Carolina. It is the same promise he made when he was here with us in Macon.

"He said that he would, as the nominee, be back to South Carolina to campaign in that state to do two things. First, he would campaign there to win the state, and second, he would campaign there to continue to build the Democratic Party in South Carolina and in the South. That's a bold promise, breaking the mold of our past nominees and something that bodes well for the vitality of our party nationally."

Having a Democratic candidate for President who actually implements a 50 state strategy would be a tremendous advantage, especially for states like Georgia and South Carolina. And, Edwards' promise carries with it credibility. What did he do in the off season? He help state legislative caucuses, including Georgia, raise money. After Kerry won the nomination who came back to Georgia before the election in November? John Edwards. Who is coming to help the Democratic Party of Georgia raise money on May 17th? John Edwards.

Who am I supporting for President? John Edwards.

This is cross-posted at Georgia Votes Edwards.

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Potential Candidate Needs a Sign

A potential candidate called today wishing for a 'sign' about whether to run. You know who you are. Here's your sign. Consider this an Old Testament meets YouTube sort of modern day burning bush...

Now, file your paperwork, get on the phone and start raising money.

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Fiscal Opportunists

If Alan Essig is correct, Richardson, Cagle and Perdue are like a family with inadequate savings that just learned that they're getting a 5% raise. The family makes plans to spend all of it without replenishing their savings or taking into consideration the new baby that's on the way. What sense does that make? None, but it makes you feel good while you're spending it.

Essig just posted this article over at Georgia Political and Policy Digest. He makes a compelling argument that the $142 million the legislature wants to return to taxpayers really doesn't exist as a surplus, but instead is a product of fiscally irresponsible revenue projections of the part of the Governor. (Okay, Essig is far to polite to call the Governor irresponsible, but it's a reasonable interpretation.)

If you follow Essig's argument, it appears that the Governor sort of backed himself into a corner by over-estimating available revenue and failing to take into account the increased cost of public education due to population growth and the need to fully fund our surplus. Why would the Governor do such a thing? Perhaps to make room in the budget for his promised tax cut for high income seniors? Whatever his reason, Sonny's funny math has now bitten him in the political posterior.

Here's what happened. In January, the Governor raised the revenue estimates for 2007 from 1.8% over 2006 to 5.1%. In reality, revenues have only increased 4.7% in the first nine months of the fiscal year. Regardless, in the Supplemental Budget, the legislature proceeded to spend the projected revenues and did so without regard for the fact that those projections failed to take into account the needs in terms of the public schools and the State's savings account. Essig suggests that about $380 million ($180 mm for education and $200 mm for the surplus) should be hands off in terms of spending. But, as Essig points out, politics has once again trumped good policy.

I agree. I thought that fiscal conservatives were, well, fiscally conservative. Turns out they are just fiscal opportunists.

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

"They Owned Slaves"

"They owned slaves." When my mother died in 2002, I inherited her compilation of family history and the unwelcome knowledge that my ancestors owned slaves. The story below, and a copy of a Last Will and Testament that in the same paragraph directed the dividing of the slaves and horses among the heirs was ample evidence that, for me, the question of whether there should be an apology for slavery is not esoteric but instead, quite personal.

"I was ten years old when Granddaddy died. He told me a Civil War story which I remember quite well. His father, Watson P. Abrams, lived in the above house. They owned slaves. When the Civil War was being fought, Granddaddy's father sent the slaves to the canebrake with the horses. One slave was unfaithful and gave information to the Union troops. The one horse which his mother, Mary Miller Abrams, could ride (she was crippled) was taken by the Union soldiers." (Mary Olga Watson Hamrick)

As I read these words, I was shocked to learn that my Great Great Grandfather owned slaves and stunned that my mother's focus in her account was on the "unfaithfulness" of one of the slaves and the hardship created for her Great Grandmother when the Union soldiers took the one horse she could ride. Suddenly, the evil of slavery was not something that belonged to someone else's family. Here it was, squarely in my lap. Like it or not, and I did not, my family, and therefore I, benefited from the labor of slaves, and for that I feel profound regret.

My mother's family were farmers in rural North Carolina, and she told detailed stories about how hard she and her five brothers and sisters worked in the cotton fields. They survived the Great Depression better than people who lived in the city because they were able to grow their own food. Still, it was hard, and she told my sisters and I about going to school barefoot because there were no shoes and about getting corn husk dolls at Christmas because there was no money. She talked about playing with the children of the sharecroppers who lived on their land. She was quick to point out how "good" her father was to the sharecroppers-sharecroppers who were undoubtedly the descendants of the slaves the family once owned.

I have thought about telling this story for several years. I am telling it now because we continue to debate whether or not Georgia should apologize for slavery, and I want to suggest that for me, in fact for many of us, that need for apology and reconciliation may be more personal. Sen. Robert Brown has said that such an apology would be demeaning, but the NAACP has chastised him for not supporting the measure.

At the end of the day, talk is cheap. Reconciliation is about doing right, not taking right. It is ironic that in the same speech where the leader of the NAACP criticised Sen. Brown, he praised the efforts of Sen. Eric Johnson despite the fact that Sen. Johnson supported a number of pieces of legislation this year that would tend to hurt poor and minority families. For instance, he blocked the consideration of a bill that would have allowed a judge to revisit the sentence of Genarlow Wilson, and he helped sponsor legislation that will channel needed dollars away from our public schools. I think that Brown's point, that an apology for slavery can never be sufficient, is on point. Instead, Brown is busy, engaged in supporting legislation, like preserving PeachCare, that will make a substantive difference right now.

Personally and as a State, an apology for slavery just doesn't seem like enough. Words do matter but our actions are so much more important. How can we act in ways that will bring about reconciliation for the wrong that was done? We can support programs that help lift people out of poverty and afford everyone an opportunity for success. We can support candidates for office who will carry those principles forward. We can live as if reconciliation is our personal responsibility, not some far removed duty of the State.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Who's Running and Who's Not

Things did not go quite as planned today at Politics and Lunch. Alan Essig, executive director of Georgia Budget and Policy Institute was the scheduled speaker, but he became point-in-case for why rail to alleviate the congestion of I-75 is a good idea. Try as he did, with a wreck at the High Falls exit and all lanes southbound shut down, he just couldn't get here. (Alan, soon, I am expecting a policy paper on the virtues of investing in commuter rail.)

In his absence, we did hear from two local candidates. Keith Moffett announced that he will announce for City Council on May 15th. He will run for a seat currently held by Brenda Youmas. Note to Keith: I think you just announced. Keith's professional focus is economic development, and he says that he hopes to put his expertise in that area to work for the City.

Rabbi Larry Slesinger is also running for Macon City Council, for the seat now held by City Council President Anita Ponder. Anita has left that seat to run for Mayor. He says that though he has been in Macon for just three years, he has become very active and invested in the well being of the city. Slesinger says that he is not a politician and does not aspire to any other office, but he has heard the cry from the people for leadership on Council, he has responded, "Send me." Slesinger is not just blowing smoke here, folks. I have gotten to know him over the last three years, and he is bright, engaged and selfless in his dedication to the community. I admire his work with the Downtown Clergy Association, the only integrated (by faiths and race) clergy association in Macon.

There were at least two other potential candidates in the room today. No, I'm not going to say who they are.

In the rumor department, I have heard that a local operative has recruited three candidates to run against Mike Cranford, Ed DeFore and James Timley. Elaine Lucas is running but has opposition. Henry Ficklin has a website up for a mayoral run, but he has not announced. He does have opposition for his council seat. Lonnie Miley is running against Rick Hutto, who has not announced his intentions as yet. Filomena Mullis is a question mark.

Whatever happens, we will see significant changes on Council and in the Mayor's office. Let's hope, for the sake of the City, voters make good choices.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

New Poll: Who Won Tonight's Debate?

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Democratic Presidential Debate Open Thread

It has begun, appropriately, with Iraq. Feel free to post comments here.

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What John Edwards Did Today

What did John Edwards do to prepare for tonight's debate? Stump for votes? Participate in 'debate prep'? Sort of. Hotline reports that Edwards 'debate prep' was a visit to Allendale, SC a small town a couple of hours away from Columbia where more than a third of the people live below the poverty line. He is the candidate in this race who most often speaks for people, often in rural America, who are virtually voiceless in the political arena. When Edwards talks about "all of us", the people of all the Allendales in the country are included.

Hotline suggests that Edwards is drawing a contrast between his campaign and that of Clinton and Obama. They point out that while Edwards spent today in Allendale, tomorrow, Obama is headed for the decidedly wealthier Charleston. I personally don't make too much of that. All these candidate have to raise money, but what does matter to me is Edwards' substantive treatment of the issues and his commitment to address poverty and to restore our moral authority to lead in the world.

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She's Just 17

Yesterday, a young women was raped on her way home from school. She is poor, and she has struggled, but she is one of the rare children who have made all the right choices. Anyone would be proud to call her their daughter. She is near the top of her class. Prom is coming soon. Her attacker grabbed her, raped her and sent her, naked, down the street to find her way home. She reported the rape, but her attacker is still at large.

If some Georgia Republicans have their way, in addition to the shame, humiliation and sheer terror she is feeling now, she would also have been denied the emergency contraceptives she received at the emergency room after reporting her attack, and should she become pregnant, these radicals believe that she should be forced to carry her attacker's child to term, and they want to enshrine their radical beliefs in Georgia's Constitution. She would have not choice in the matter. Neither would other women. Neither would doctors.

In today's AJC, Maureen Downey writes about what the efforts by Republicans to put a constitutional amendment declaring that life begins at the moment of conception on the ballot in 2008. That bill, HR 536 and it's companion, HB 1, are both still in committee, but together, would make it a felony for doctors to provide certain kinds of contraceptives or abortion. No doubt, women, including victims of rape or incest, who make those choices could also find themselves facing a judge.

Why now? With the recent Supreme Court ruling, it is clear that in 2008, choice will once again be center stage when we elect a new president. Republicans are counting on using this as a wedge issue to lure 'values voters' back to the table. No wonder. Their field of candidates leave much to be desired in the 'values' column.

Republicans in Georgia, and nationally, have been chipping away at the edges of choice for years, and just this session made the insulting "Women's Right to Know Act" even more awful by adding the requirement that a women contemplating abortion be given the option of getting and viewing an ultrasound and listening to the fetal heart. Now, they are essentially trying what failed in South Dakota last cycle, only worse.

Will Georgians deliver the same message as voters did in South Dakota? For all our sakes, I hope so, but it will not happen easily. We will have to fight, but with doctors facing potential criminal prosecution, women will have some company in that battle.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Georgia Republicans Are Eating Their Young

Georgia Democrats may have perfected the art of the circular firing squad, but we have nothing on the Republicans. Over at Peach Pundit, they are bashing the Governor and one another with vigor.

Right now, on the heels of a legislative session that redefined the words "intra-party battle," they are working as hard to lose as they once did to win. There was a time when the Georgia GOP was masterful at having their fights behind closed doors and then presenting a united front. No more. And who gets to pay the price for their fight? The Governor and the taxpayers. The taxpayers get to pick to the quarter of a million dollar tab for the special session, and the Governor has officially assumed the position of the Georgia GOP whipping boy. Well, sometimes love affairs do end badly.

But, are they being more calculating than we suspect? What do they have to lose by making Gov. Perdue their punching bag? The answer is other than looking like hypocritical idiots, not a whole lot. Perdue doesn't ever have to worry about getting elected again in Georgia, and whoever thinks that Sonny will get the VP nod from the Republicans is reading my personal wish list. I mean, does the GOP really want to bring Sonny and his Oakey Woods baggage to the Presidential race? I doubt it. Besides, the South is not the place the Republicans need help. At least not yet.

No, it makes a world of sense that party insiders are beating up the Governor, and in the process hope to save the reputations of their future gubernatorial candidates, Richardson and Cagle. Sounds like vintage Rove/Reed to me.

The question is, what will Democrats do in response? We have taken some positive steps. This session, with a few exceptions, we did a good job of holding our caucus together. We managed to look positively sane as Richardson, Cagle and Perdue engaged in their threesome. Now, Georgia Democrats need to seize the moment, plan the strategy and walk through the giant fissure the GOP has created. Nationally, in the November elections, the Republicans did a good job of beating themselves. The same thing can happen in Georgia if we are willing to work together, raise money and allow them to implode.

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Michelle Obama is Coming to Atlanta

Atlanta continues to be a hub for political fundraising. Michelle Obama, wife of Barak, will be having a fundraiser in Atlanta on June 6th. The VIP reception (for $1000.00 contribution) is at noon and the luncheon ($250/ticket, $2500.00/table) is at 12:30 pm. the location is TBD. RSVP details to follow as well.

Update: To RSVP for the event, please contact Caroline Adelman at

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Monday, April 23, 2007

What It's All About

Please welcome my brand new great nephew, Grant Lawrence Corde'. He entered the world today at a stunning 10 lbs., 6 ozs and 22 and 1/2 inches.

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The 140 Million Dollar Sham

Did you know that the $140 million that Richardson wants to return to taxpayers is roughly equivalent to the $140 million dollar austerity cut to public schools? Isn't it ironic that the cuts to public schools will be passed along to local districts who will have to fill the gap by either reducing services or, you guessed it, raising property taxes. This is the kind of political shell game that has become emblematic of the GOP reign in Georgia. Don't fall for this sham.

The Associated Press reports that neither Gov. Perdue nor Speaker Richardson show any signs of backing down on their respective 140 give-or-take-a-couple-of-million dollar tax cuts. While Richardson wants the 140 million to go back to property owners in the form of rebate checks, Perdue is miffed that the tax break for high income seniors, the one he campaigned on, was put on hold in the House budget. Here's what the AP had to say:
But Perdue was also displeased that the House put his own retirement tax cut on hold, then put forward its own at an identical $142 million price tag.
"It was a desperate solution for a compromise and it was not well thought out," Perdue said of the House tax cut, which he labeled "a late-night quick fix."
Expect fireworks when the session resumes. Richardson has staked his political future on the survival of the supplemental budget compromise that would return that sum to property owners in the form of rebate checks. Perdue doesn't want his tax break for seniors to be put on hold. Both of them are dead wrong on this issue. If they are really fiscal conservatives, then they should put the money in the reserves instead of spending it to purchase political capitol.
Oh, and by the way, just for some added drama, the $81 million dollar PeachCare 'fix' is, you guessed it, tied up in the supplemental budget- the same budget that will be the subject of this epic battle.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Elephant in the Statehouse

Before the Georgia legislature reconvenes in their quarter of a million dollar special session, they better send a cleaning crew over to the capitol. The elephant has pooped squarely in the middle of the floor, and without Democrats to blame, whatever the Georgia GOP does to try to clean up the mess, the stench is likely to follow them into the the 2008 elections and beyond. Engulfed by an air of incompetence, Georgia Republicans look quite vulnerable.

Speaker Richardson is claiming that the Governor bared his rear and made this mess, while Perdue suspects that a junior high prank is responsible for the odor. Casey Cagle is suspiciously quiet, allowing his likely opponent to act afool while aligning himself with a Governor who got about 60% of the vote. Cagle is a lot of things, but 'dumb' is not on the list.

As the legislative session devolved into pre-primary preening and posturing on the part of two likely gubernatorial candidates, Cagle and Richardson, the wheels came off, little was accomplished, and Governor Perdue vetoed the 2007 supplemental budget. He thought the compromise of sending money back to taxpayers was good politics, but not good public policy. Imagine that, Gov. Gift Card is now interested in good public policy. Richardson, who helped design House rules that kept members under the Governor's iron thumb, is incensed. Well, sometimes snake handlers do get bitten.

So, on the heels the most unproductive legislative session in recent memory, voters now must finance a special session so that the General Assembly can fulfill its singular constitutional duty. And this is the party that is supposed to support fiscal conservatism.

As public opinion of and identification with the GOP declines, and as they desperately scramble to field a Presidential candidate who causes the "values voters" to just hold their noses rather than walk away entirely, Georgia Democrats should make gains over the next four years provided we watch where we step. We should've learned by now, it's tough to get that stuff off your shoes.

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Will Special Session Impact Brown's Plans?

I will not be among those who are guessing about whether Sen. Robert Brown will run for Mayor, but I wonder whether the prospect of a special session will impact his decision, or, if he intends to run, further delay his announcement. If he does enter the race, it is his to lose.

The rumor around town has been that Brown, now Senate minority leader, intends to announce his candidacy for Mayor of Macon this week. The person who told me that seemed quite certain, just as certain, in fact, as the person who told me that he is definitely not running. Should Brown choose to run for Mayor of Macon, I think that he would ultimately find himself in a runoff with local attorney Robert Reichert for the Democratic nod. Without Brown in the race, I predict that either Lance Randall or Anita Ponder will be in that runoff with Reichert.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Can Someone Answer This Question, Please?

Is the $81 million for PeachCare stopgap funding stuck in the 2007 supplemental budget, and thus, not yet available? If so, until a supplemental is approved, how does this impact the continuation of the program?

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Oh. God, Please Let Midnight Come Quickly

We have public school vouchers, SB10, without a vote to spare. And we have the HB147, the ultrasound bill. There were, by the way too many votes to spare on the ultrasound bill. I have not seen the list yet, but there were only 47 opposing votes.

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The House is Debating SB10

The motion to call the previous question passed, and the minority report is now being presented. I think they will vote on SB10, and that it is going to pass the Georgia House. Yuck.

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Theme Song for the Session

This was not my idea, but a GREAT suggestion from someone who has been watching the session closely. Thanks, and here's the perfect theme song for the 2007 Session of the Georgia General Assembly. Burnin' Down the House- "Watch out, you might get what you're after..."

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Duck, Anyone?

What a difference a term makes. Not too long ago, Georgia Republicans looked invulnerable. They controlled the House, Senate and the majority of the constitutional offices. If they disagreed with one another, the fights were behind closed doors, and the Governor had the legislature marching to his drum. Today, barely four months into his second term, Sonny Perdue is the lamest of ducks, and the fights between the House and Senate are daily fodder for the press. Republican bloggers are calling the Governor a "freaking loser" and wishing to have Mark Taylor back for just one day. Suddenly, the GOP looks more like a bunch of snotty-nosed brats than professional lawmakers concerned about their constituents. They still control both chambers and most of the constitutional offices, but let's just say that they have not worn power well.

Yesterday, Gov. Perdue, who has been strangely quiet for most of the session, vetoed the supplemental budget, and this morning, the Georgia House, with very few 'no' votes, overrode that veto. How embarrassing for the Governor. Can he not count votes? Will a special session be required? Probably, and you and I get to PAY FOR IT.

Now, it is approaching 6 pm. It takes four hours to print the budget, then it has to be in the hands of legislators for at least an hour before a final vote. So, will they be able to vote on the budget before midnight? Does the senate even want to vote? So much has been accomplished during regular session, I think that it is only fitting that taxpayer finance more time in Atlanta for this bunch of Keystone Cops.

This legislative session began with a scandal in the Speaker's office and progressed to daily verbal arm wrestling between Richardson and Cagle- two likely candidates for the GOP nomination for Governor in 2010. (Frankly, I think that we would've all been better off if we'd just let them duke it out.) In the meantime, as of just a few minutes ago, 264 bills had made it through both chambers and wait for the signature of the Governor. (There is actually a Senate resolution encouraging the effective teaching of social studies. I kid you not. Apparently, before, we were in favor of the ineffective teaching of social studies.)

Take a look at this list of bills and tell me, do you think that taxpayers got their money's worth this session?

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Feds to investigate Georgia's state mental hospitals

You can find all the details in the AJC of 4-19-2007.
They have done a great job reporting on this crisis.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Jettison Jacobs

Creative Loafing's "18th Annual Golden Sleaze Awards" are a must read. It comes as no surprise that Rep. Mike Jacobs received the coveted DINO Award. Come on Democrats-we seriously need a candidate to run against this guy.

The Jacobs portion of the article is below, but, please, to find out who got the "Gone Fishin' Award", the "Taking Away Tiny Tim's Crutch Award", the "God's Fool Award and many, many more, just click here, and get ready to laugh. Or cry. Your choice.

The DINO Award

To Rep. Mike Jacobs, D-Atlanta

It's one thing when a rural Democrat swings right or switches parties to keep pace with changing political winds in his district. But Jacobs hails from mid-DeKalb, the most liberal county in Georgia. Did the folks who returned the onetime Democratic up-and-comer to the House by a 2-1 margin over his GOP opponent really intend for young Mike to cross the aisle to support kicking kids off PeachCare, reviving payday lending and relaxing legal standards for imposing the death penalty?

Lest you think Jacobs' votes simply reflected ideological differences with party mates, he also voted to return the tarnished Richardson to the speaker's seat and to reinstate the despotic House rules – clear tips he's kowtowing to GOP leaders.

Jacobs confirmed to CL that he is thinking about adding an "R" behind his name. With the way he's voted this session, however, that would be an unnecessary waste of letterhead.

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Correct Me If I'm Wrong

There's a nice story in the AJC today about key Georgia endorsements for Sen. Edwards. The short piece goes on to say, "And you’re still wondering why Edwards was picked to speak at the Democrat’s Jefferson-Jackson Day fund-raiser on May 17." I believe that the invitation was actually extended to all of the Democratic candidates.

One of the things that earned Edwards my support is that he has always paid attention to Georgia. In 2004, he was the only Democratic candidate who came to Middle Georgia before the primary, and he was the one who came back to Georgia before the general. This time around, he is the first of the top tier candidates to make his way to the middle of the state, and when he did he promised that come general election time, he would be working hard to win in Georgia. This is one of the reasons he has my support. Edwards at the top of the ticket helps all of our candidates down the ballot.

By the way, have you gotten your tickets for JJ yet? If not, here's the link. This event on May 17th is an important fundraiser for the DPG, and as the AJC reports, Edwards is in fact the keynote speaker. How about that? He's already helping other Georgia Democrats by participating in a fundraiser for the Party.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Brown, Porter Other Georgia Democratic Leaders Endorse Edwards

This, just in, is great news for the Edwards Campaign:


Chapel Hill, North Carolina - The John Edwards for President campaign announced today that prominent Georgia leaders endorsed Senator John Edwards for President. State Senate Democratic Leader Robert Brown and State House Democratic Leader Dubose Porter, along with former Governor Roy Barnes and Shi Shailendra will lead the campaign's efforts in Georgia.

"I am honored to have the support of so many outstanding Georgia leaders,"said Edwards. "Together, we can change our country and lift up all Americans."

Porter endorsed Edwards saying, "John Edwards shares the same values that I do - family and opportunity for a better life for everyone. He would be a president we could relate to in Georgia, bringing a record of priorities of economic development, the environment, education and health care in ways that would truly make a difference in regular people's day to day lives."

Former Congressman Ed Jenkins endorsed Edwards saying, "John will win in the South and lead our nation in the right direction. We need a strong leaderand John is the right man for the job."

The following Georgia Democrats endorsed Edwards for President:- State Senator Vincent D. Fort (D-39)- State Representative Rob Teilhet, Chief Deputy Whip (D -Smyrna) - State Representative Stephanie Stuckey Benfield (D-Atlanta)- State Representative Michelle Henson (D - Stone Mountain)- State Representative Gerald Greene (D - Cuthbert)- State Representative Jeannette Jamieson (D - Toccoa)- State Representative Charles Jenkins (D - Blairsville)- State Representative Hugh Floyd (D - Norcross)- Chuck Byrd, Middle Georgia attorney- Amol Naik, Atlanta attorney and former Chief of Staff to Senate Democratic Caucus- Jeff DiSantis, Former Executive Director of the Georgia Democratic Party- Emil Runge, Former Communications Director of the Georgia Democratic Party.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Executive Branch to Oversee Public Defenders

Oversight of the Georgia Public Defenders Standards Council will almost certainly move from the judicial branch to the executive branch of government. Without a much fanfare, today, SB 139 passed the Georgia House and awaits the Governor's signature.

Isn't it grand that a Governor who must be concerned about re-election is now charged with making sure indigent criminal defendants get adequate representation? Perhaps we should just streamline the process and let the Governor hear all the appeals based on ineffective assistance of council. Why bother with the courts at all? Gov's got it handled.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Colonial Pipeline Bill Bites the Dust

Yes!!! SB 173, the bill that would've allowed companies like Colonial Pipeline to take your property without having to make the case that it was really necessary, just failed in committee. The vote was 7 - 4, and the motion to reconsider failed as well. I have it on good authority that Colonial was shocked. Chalk one up for Georgia property owners.

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Edwards Vows to Work to Win Georgia

Last night in Macon, John Edwards told the crowd that if he were the nominee, he would work to win Georgia in the general election. "You have my word on it," he said.

Let that sink in a bit. How many of you remember that in 2004, after he won the nomination, John Kerry hardly (the accurate word may be never) set foot in the state? For those of us tired of being an export state when it comes to presidential politics, having the candidate actually show up would be a refreshing change. Edwards will come to Georgia and campaign, and, with his appeal to southern voters, there is no doubt that he will help our down-ballot races.

Looks like Edwards just gave Georgians another reason to support him. Below are some photographs from last night's event. More details will follow. (It was a great night, and a large crowd, despite the rain.) View all photos here.

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You Know It's a Bad Bill When....

An employee who brings a gun to work in his car is going to use that weapon to kill someone at his workplace. Then, the family of the victim is going to sue the employer, who, if the "guns in parking lots" bill passes, will have reason to suspect that an employee might bring a gun to work. Remarkably, the Georgia legislature is seeking not to prevent the deaths and injuries they reasonably anticipate, but instead, that have amended the legislation to prevent that lawsuit and all others against a business for the acts of its employees. The common example that has been used is that if company vehicle runs over a toddler, the parents could seek damages from the driver but not from the company.

Is the Georgia legislature really more interested in protecting businesses from litigation, than saving lives? It appears so. This is bad legislation,; legislation Republicans know will make Georgians less safe. But instead of worrying about public safety, the GOP is worried about the NRA.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Act Now to Stop Cuts to PeachCare

We can help protect Georgia's children by stopping cuts to PeachCare, but we have to act NOW. Monday morning at 9 am, the Senate Rules committee will take up HB340, the proposed PeachCare cuts. If this bill passes, we will have more uninsured children, and dental and vision benefits will be in jeopardy. You can help by calling your Senator and telling them to oppose this bill. Thanks to AARP, the call will be free.
For the kids, just dial 1-800-511-6259. Call, and tell others to call, and tell you Senator to vote NO on HB 340.

Thanks very much to AARP for setting up this tollfree line and to my friend Kathy Floyd for sending this information.

We hoped that Cagle might do the right thing on this bill, but one has to wonder whether he traded House consideration of SB10 (voucher bill) for Senate consideration of HB340. I hope not, because, if so, this is a lose/lose for Georgia's children.

Now, get dialing, and tell others to do the same.

Here's more information from AARP:

Health Care Coverage for Children in Jeopardy

House Bill 340 would leave more children uninsured, limit benefits

Perhaps you’ve seen the new AARP commercials with the tag line, “What we do we do for all.” Standing against House Bill 340, which would deny health coverage to many children who would otherwise be covered and make dental and vision coverage harder to get, is a perfect example of this motto in action.
PeachCare provides essential health coverage to children from low-income working families. Statewide, PeachCare provides health coverage to every tenth child. PeachCare provides coverage to hard-working, tax-paying families in urban and rural parts of the state.
HB 340 would lower the income eligibility level for PeachCare to 200% of the federal poverty level. If that level were in effect now, at least 22,000 more children would be uninsured. Going forward with that new level, an additional 3,000 to 5,000 children each year would be denied coverage. In addition, HB 340 would make necessary dental and vision services optional at an additional premium.
AARP Georgia strongly believes that children should not be without health coverage. Georgia needs coverage for more children, not fewer. Your help is needed. Call toll-free 1-800-511-6259 and ask your Senator to vote NO on HB 340 and protect Georgia’s children.

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Let Me Give You Five Million Reasons...

Up to five million emails, including those sought by the CIA leak case prosecutor, are missing from the White House server. CNN actually said that MAYBE the White House was hiding something. You think?

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It's Not Too Late!

It's not too late to plan to meet presidential candidate, Sen. John Edwards, in Macon tomorrow. The event will begin at 6:45 at 127 Heritage Court (31210) at 6 pm. Here's more information. Hope to see you in Macon!

Map of 127 Heritage Ct Macon, GA 31210-1202, US

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Emma Rose

The child's name is Emma Rose. She is seven and is living in foster care, not because she lacks a loving family but because her loving, prospective adoptive parents, who were granted custody of her last summer, are gay. Despite the fact that Dr. Alicia Gregory, a doctor hired by DFCS to conduct an independent evaluation, concluded that "Emma's current foster care placement was the worst possible scenario for Emma," the child remains in foster care and her prospective adoptive mother and her lawyer have been sentenced to jail. Keep reading.

The Southern Voice is reporting that when Wilkinson County Superior Court Judge John Lee Parrott discovered that the petitioner in an adoption that he was about to grant was a lesbian, Elizabeth Hadaway, living in a "homosexual relationship," he halted the proceedings to do research to "determine if Georgia law allowed adoptions by gay parents." He learned about the petitioner's sexual orientation when reviewing the DFCS home evaluation. Hadaway had made no attempt to hide her sexual orientation or that she was living with a partner. DFCS had no problem with this, but Parrott did and ordered the child returned to the birth mother (who was also gay). The birth mother refused, insisting that she wanted the petitioner, Elizabeth Hadaway, to adopt seven year old Emma Rose.

Then, Elizabeth Hadaway moved to Bibb County and applied for adoption there, but learning of this, Judge Parrott issued two more rulings, one placing the child in the custody of DFCS, and the other accusing the child's legal custodian and prospective adoptive mother, Elizabeth Hadway and her attorney, Dana Johnson, of "attempting to 'subterfuge and sham' the court.

Parrott found Johnson and her client in criminal contempt and ordered them to jail, giving them the option of serving ten days or serving five days and paying a $500.00 fine. He ordered that they were to begin serving their sentence on Good Friday. Nice touch, don't you think? Hadaway and Johnson have appealed Judge Parrott's ruling.

Was she sentenced to jailed for being gay, and her attorney for representing a gay women seeking to adopt a child? Well, no, not exactly, but it doesn't matter much. Technically, what they were accused of was going around Judge Parrott's order, but there is no question that the issue of gay adoption and the judge's own opinions on that are at the heart of this matter. Had Hadaway been straight, there is every indication that the adoption would have been routine. In fact, in Bibb County, our new Superior Court Judge Tripp Self heard the new petition and upon reviewing Dr. Gregory's evaluation ordered that custody be restored to Hadaway, but the child remains in foster care in Wilkinson County.

I suspect that this story will grow legs and walk, and I fear that right wing activists will use it as an excuse to push forward a ban on gay adoption in Georgia. There is no doubt that it will shine a bright light on institutionalized discrimination toward gays, and the person who is suffering the most? Emma Rose.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Shocking isn't it? There are a few Georgia Democrats who will have no one to vote for after they read this post. It seems that the top three contenders for the Democratic nomination for president-Clinton, Obama and Edwards-are all drawing support from Republicans. Control the urge to reminisce about Regan Democrats and Republicans for (Bill) Clinton. Some are convinced that we must eschew the support of all who fail to meet our liberal litmus tests. Here are the details of the heresy among us:

For Obama, who is making his way to Georgia this Saturday, there's Republicans for Obama. Go there now to form a Georgia chapter. Perhaps there will be special seating for the group at the event this weekend.

For Edwards, who is also coming to Georgia this Saturday, there's GOP4JRE. It's scandalous, I know, but the host list for his Macon event includes both Republicans and some Democratic heavy hitters like Gov. Roy Barnes and Rep. DuBose Porter. There are even a few Democrats in the mix who describe themselves as conservative. Careful, there might be some sort of weird chemical reaction.

And, Rupert Murdoch (yes, that's the same Murdoch who owns Fox News) hosted a fundraiser for Sen. Hillary Clinton in July of 2006. Of course, how could he say no when Sen. Clinton had just attended a bash celebrating the 10th Anniversary of Fox News? And that's not the only prominent Republican who is supporting Sen. Clinton.

So, what's a Democrat to do? Be glad, that's what.

We gain strength as a Party when we attract those who have not always supported Democrats. Our nominee for President will need the support of Democrats, Republicans and, especially, that increasingly large category of "swing voters" in order to win. We'd all do well to remember that most Americans are not "party-loyal" people who support the Democrat or Republican in the race just because they happened to qualify under the Party banner. Most people vote for the candidate, and if we want to win elections, it's time we got handle on that fact.

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This is Why I Like Jim Marshall

According to the AJC's Political Insider, Congressman Jim Marshall addressed the Georgia legislature today and voiced his strong support for not only maintaining PeachCare at current levels, but challenged the legislators to be visionary and look at how they might include more children. He offered reassurance that the Congress would be looking at ways to do just that and encouraged the legislators to keep pace. This is why I like Jim Marshall. Can you imagine, say, Mac Collins, giving that speech? When you feel like throwing stones Marshall's way, you might want to remember that but for 1000 votes, it would've been Mac giving that speech.

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Tight Three-Way Race in Georgia

If the vote were today, the outcome of the Georgia Democratic Primary would be too close to call. A new Strategic Vision poll shows a tight, three-way race between Clinton (25), Obama (22) and Edwards (20). Here's a clip:

“Both Senators Clinton and Obama saw their leads decline slightly at the expense of John Edwards making this a close three-way race,” said Johnson. “The question to be determined with the Edwards surge becomes is this a temporary sympathy vote due to his wife’s tragic illness or does this indicate something more significant? For Senator Clinton the bigger concern must be that she continues to lose support every month.”

Looks like a barn-burner in the Peach State!

Tomorrow, let's talk about the significance of Southern "values" voters supporting Rudy.

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The Right Thing for the Wrong Reason

Over at Peach Pundit, Erick is reporting that both school voucher bills, SB10 and the Charter Systems bill will fail to make it out of the Rules Committee in the House. Why? Republican infighting. I'm wondering who Cagle thought he was playing chess with? Did he not know that there would be a price for holding his ground (sort of) with the Speaker? Regardless, if Erick is right, Republican payback may accomplish what Democrats could not.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Edwards in Macon: Hosts, New Time, New RSVP Info

Brian Adams – Jim Butler – Melanie and Chuck Byrd – Marie and Roy Barnes
Manley Brown – Marsha and John Christy – Lizzie and Chris Clark
Teresa and Mike Cranford – Laurie Anne White and Charles Engelke
Kathy and Waldo Floyd – Mitzi and Jarome Gautreaux – Nick Giles – Carolyn and Hardy Gregory – Duke Groover – Lisa and Wendell Horne – Steve Leeds – Preyesh Maniklal – Debbie and Michael Moore - Amy and Daryl Morton – Bright and William Nolan
Carol and DuBose Porter – Kim and Carl Reynolds – G. Scott Thompson – Joel Wooten*

*List in Formation
Please join us for a reception honoring

John Edwards

Home of Dr. and Mrs. Waldo Floyd III
127 Heritage Court
Macon, Georgia 31210

Saturday, April 14, 2007
6:45 p.m.

Host contribution level: $2300
Guest contribution levels: $1000, $500, $250

For more information or to RSVP,
Please contact Zeke Stokes at 803.479.0439 or email him at

Paid for by John Edwards for President.
Contributions to John Edwards for President are not deductible for federal income tax purposes.

This is cross-posted at Georgia Votes Edwards

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Abandoned buildings at Central State Hospital should be torn down

Today another mental health advocate and I took a drive around the campus of Central State Hospital. I had a vision of what the facility might look like if all the shabby old abandoned buildings, some dating to the 1870s, were knocked down and the bricks and other items sold for salvage. You can see the photos I took at

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Another Hat in the Macon Mayorial?

He hasn't officially announced that he is running, but I came across this "Ficklin for Mayor" website. I'd say Councilman Henry Ficklin is running for Mayor of Macon.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Salon on Edwards

Playing it safe is not the plan for the Edwards campaign. Instead, big, bold, transformational change is at the heart of his agenda. He is taking risks, like telling voters that universal healthcare is worth the money it will cost them and again being the first Democrat to tell Fox News that he will not participate in a Presidential debate they sponsor or co-sponsor.

"Unraveling Edwards' subtext does not require a Derrida-spouting graduate student. Hillary Clinton is the obvious apostle of these "cautious, incremental steps," while Barack Obama is the undeniable master of feel-good rhetoric. What is most intriguing about the Edwards 2.0 campaign is how a once carefully calibrated, pro-war, mainstream Democrat has fashioned himself into the candidate of "big, bold transformational change."

Shapiro goes on to point out that Edwards has staked out the left-flank on domestic issues, especially on universal healthcare and poverty. Despite that, he is holding the support of conservative Democrats and swing voters who were on his team last time, and simultaneously attracting the support of progressive voters. Amazing what telling truth can do.

In short, Edwards has decided not to play it safe and instead to say what he thinks and then carefully, honestly and openly defend his positions, trusting that the truth is something that voters not only can handle, but will find refreshing. How many times in the last year have you heard someone say that Democrats have complaints but no plans? Edwards is the antidote for that poison. He set the bar for the Democrats by putting forward the most detailed platform statements of any of the candidates, and he did it early.

My opinion? The first time Edwards ran, he fell victim to consultants who convinced him to play it safe, play it down the middle and get elected. That approach may be safe but it does not embrace the change we need. And it did not get him elected. This time, he will dare to lead.
This is cross-posted at Georgia Votes Edwards.

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Seven Days to Go

With seven days to go before sine die, the Georgia Legislature has accomplished very little so far this session. In fact, in the face of the Republican leadership's preoccupation with guns, booze, and corporate entitlements, success for Georgia families is best measured by the bills we have managed to kill or, at least, to stall. The GOP makes much of their commitment to 'family values,' but with friends like these, Georgia families need no enemies.

Saying no, however narrowly, to the payday lending industry is the biggest victory so far for Georgia consumers. For the moment, our trees are safe from billboards, and employers will be able to insist that their employees not bring guns on their property. Of course, if the NRA has their way, that will change.

Thanks in part to the alliance of the religious right and package stores, Georgians will not get to vote on Sunday sales of alcohol. Depending on what the happens in the House, we may, however, have the opportunity to vote on the Governor's completely unnecessary Hope Chest amendment. For the most part, the rest of the Governor's agenda has gone fishin'.

Glenn Richardson's House fashioned an unnecessary-or at least very premature-fix for PeachCare, but it is possible that on the Senate side, Lt. Gov. Cagle is set to embarrass his potential rival for the GOP nod for Governor in 2010 by cutting the pork in the budget and helping the kids. Whatever the motive, if he fixes Glenn's mess, Georgia children will benefit, and that's a good thing. On the House side, Glenn has the opportunity side with property owners and kill the controversial sweetheart of a bill for Colonial Pipeline, but don't hold your breath.

Gridlock is a condition that normally infects bipartisan bodies, but in Georgia, Republicans put on the rack by opposing forces of their base, have become quite adept at doing nothing. Given some of the bills that are pending, we may all be better off if the trend continues.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Richardson Campaign Mail??

According the the AJC, voters near Speaker Richardson's home turf got this special mail. Presents him with a bit of a dilemma don't you think?

So, will Speaker Richardson side with property owners or big oil? Only the Speaker knows for sure.

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Obama in Atlanta

I hear that Obama is organizing a student rally in Atlanta on Saturday, April 14th. Anyone have details?

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

This Seems Like a Bad Idea

Because of new construction, the Bibb County School Board has the unenviable task of redistricting. One portion of a plan being discussed includes busing kids past a brand new middle school near their neighborhood, down the interstate to a different middle school. That doesn't make much sense to me, especially if the school they are being bussed passed has empty seats, and the school they will be attending is pushing capacity. Yet, this would be the reality of one plan the Bibb County School Board is considering. Without boring you to tears, what I am talking about is a possible plan to send children from Bruce Elementary to Rutland Middle School instead of to Bloomfield or Ballard Hudson. Based on the numbers I have seen, it is projected that, under this plan, Rutland would be full, but Bloomfield and Ballard Hudson would have more than 400 empty seats.

What could possibly justify such a plan?

In Bibb County, our public schools are 70+% African-American. Because of "white flight" to private schools, our public schools do not reflect the demographics of our community. If proximity were the determining factor, then despite the overall demographics of the system, Rutland Middle School would be majority white. I, personally, do not believe that it is a good idea to "re-segregate" our schools; however, I also think that, given the choice, most parents would choose to send their children to a quality neighborhood school rather than having them bussed across town. I also think that as a result of "white flight," we essentially already have two separate, largely segregated school systems in our community.

This is a potentially nasty, divisive issue, but perhaps in it there is an opportunity to think creatively. In Bibb, about 20% of our children attend private school. We lose many of those families at the transition to middle school. What if we did something truly bold? What if we created attendance zones for our middle schools but also gave parents choice about which school they wanted their child to attend, provided space was available and they were willing to provide the transportation if the school was outside their zone? Parents would feel more control, more invested and schools would be competing for students. And maybe, just maybe, more families who can afford to send their children to private school would instead choose to stay in public system. This may not be "the" solution, but I do believe that this is the time for "out of the box" thinking. I hope that as discussion on this continues, our school board will do just that.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

What Will Become of the Gun Bills?

Is SB43 really dead? This is Chip Roger's brilliant bill that would prohibit certain employers from prohibiting employees from lawfully carrying guns in locked motor vehicles. This is the bill that polarized the NRA and the Georgia Chamber-two groups that the Georgia GOP has recently been able to reliably count as part of their base.

I hear that some are threatening to add it as an amendment to HB89, Tim Beardon's equally brilliant piece of legislation that passed the House, and, if becomes law, will make every traffic stop even more dicey for law enforcement. This bill makes it legal to stow a gun under your seat or otherwise conceal it in your car. How ironic that the NRA is twisting arms of Republicans and Democrats alike in the Senate to hide SB43 in this bill.

It will be interesting to watch as the GOP tries to balance the interests of the business community and the NRA.

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Strange Bedfellows

Macon's Rev. Ronald Terry, pastor of New Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, could be described as one of a handful of people in Middle Georgia with whom a political candidate would want to have an "early conversation." That's why his choice of guest speaker at the groundbreaking of his new $1.5 million expansion was interesting. It was none other than Sen. Saxby Chambliss, and you can read the story and view the video, courtesy of 13WMAZ, by clicking here.

Look, folks. This is one of the largest traditionally African-American churches in Macon. The message? Among other things, Vernon Jones cannot beat Saxby, and if Democrats want to take that seat, now is the time to recruit a viable candidate. Perhaps no one can stop Jones from running, but read the handwriting on the wall. He is not electable. Moving on.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

More in Macon

What do Alan Essig, Jason Carter, and Cathy Cox have in common?

They're all coming to Macon! If you are interested in politics, and live near Middle Georgia, you are in luck. Some of the best and the brightest will be visiting, and you are invited. Here's a what's on tap:

April 12th: Georgia's WIN List Hosts the Viola Ross Napier Celebration
Guest of Honor: The Honorable Cathy Cox
6:30-8:00 pm, 315 College Street, Macon, Georgia
Host, $250.00, Guest, $35.00
For More Information Click Here

April 21st: Georgia Federation of Democratic Women Tea
Georgia Children's Museum, 4 pm
See The Grapevine for Details

April 27th: "Politics and Lunch"
Special Guest: Alan Essig, Executive Director of The Georgia Budget
and Policy Institute (GBPI)
Noon at The Power Station, 1015 Riverside Drive, Macon
Cost: $10.00, includes lunch
Reservations: Contact Amy Morton at (478) 741-1138 or

May 25th: "Politics and Lunch"
Special Guest: Jason Carter, 'Democrats Work'
"Putting Values Into Action"
Noon at The Power Station, 1015 Riverside Drive, Macon
Cost: $10.00, includes lunch
Reservations: Contact Amy Morton at (478) 741-1138 or

And you thought I couldn't top last week's post!

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Pipe Hype

Please, nobody say, "boo!" No telling what Georgia Republicans might give away. As reported yesterday in the Telegraph, Colonial Pipeline wants the legislature to pass SB 173 so that, in the future, when they want to build new pipeline, they will be able to condemn private property without actually proving the pipeline is needed. We should just trust that they will use these rights only as a last resort.

The bill would expose up to 150,000 acres in Middle Georgia and a million acres statewide to the potential of condemnation. To hear Colonial tell it, they need to build pipeline quickly and if we do not get rid of our irritating protections for landowners, well, maybe Georgia just won't have the fuel we need. Talk about bold. Sen. Staton said that we 'have to have fuel.' Does he really think that we won't have fuel? Isn't it his job to stand up to these corporate bullies on behalf of Georgia property owners?

Evoking memories of Katrina in an effort to scare us into giving up protections for private property owners, Colonial has teamed up with the GOP to sell this bill. Haven't we learned to be cautious when big government and big business team up with an agenda to scare us into giving up our civil liberties?

The thing is, as Fain reports, Colonial wants to build this pipeline in Georgia by 2010, but even in the article, they fail to make the case for why the line is needed and why time is of the essence. Colonial has been heavily fined for spills in nine states including Georgia. One of the spills near Athens, Georgia created a cloud of gasoline fumes that caused Colonial employees to flee. Apparently, the Governor's floor leader in the House, Rep. Rich Golick is not concerned about the history of spills. He said:

"if somebody's on a tight time frame, it just might not be convenient (to go around populated areas)," said state Rep. Rich Golick, a Smyrna Republican and Gov. Sonny Perdue's senior floor leader in the House.

Well, we wouldn't want Colonial to be inconvenienced, would we? It is amazing how Republicans talk about protecting private property rights during election season and then turn tail and run during session.

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