Category Archives: Georgia

Gwinnett County Novemeber Ballot.

I grabbed a sample ballot for Gwinnett county this morning and looked it over. I was disappointed in the fact that over half of the incumbents are running unopposed.11-08-2016_consolidated_ballot_revise_9_16_16-thumbnail What particularly disappointed me is that  out of the twelve county offices that are on the ballot only three have more than one candidate. The district attorney, the sheriff, the superior court clerk, the tax commissioner, district 1 county commissioner and all three school board positions are running unopposed.

This isn’t right. Gwinnett County has nearly 900,000 residents. Surely there are people out there who could run against those running unopposed. The day after the election I’m going to start looking for those people for two years out. I would love for you to help me on this.

For now, just don’t vote in the races where there is only one option.

And while we are talking about elections, there are four proposed amendments to the Georgia constitution on the ballot. While I won’t give recommendations for individual candidates this time around I would like to comment and make recommendations on these amendments.

On Amendment 1.
Provide greater flexibility and state accountability to fix failing schools through increasing community involvement.

This bill allows for the state to take over schools that are failing for three or more years from local school boards. It creates an “opportunity” school district that the schools will be pulled into. Once the schools are back on a sound academic footing they are released back to the local school board.

Who could oppose this idea. Right? There is heavy opposition to it and I can sort of understand this. No one wants control of education taken away from the local community however it can become necessary and this amendment is necessary to allow this to happen when it needs to.

I endorse a “Yes” vote to Amendment 1.

On Amendment 2.
Authorize Penalties for sexual exploitation and assessments on adult entertainment to fund child victims’ services.

The authorizing of penalties for sexual exploitation I’m all for but the assessments on adult entertainment I have trouble with. This sounds more like a porn tax to me. Let the legislature revisit it and tighten things up a bit so we are just penalizing crime and not legal vices.

My recommendation is to vote “No” on Amendment 2 for now.

On Amendment 3.
Reforms and reestablishes the Judicial Qualifications Commission and provides for its composition, governance, and powers.

This piece of shit amendment was pushed through the legislature by a former judge who had to resign because the current Judicial Qualifications Commission did its job and investigated his fondling of women, particularly lawyers who had to deal with him and clerks who worked under him. He resigned and promptly ran for the state legislature and now wants to put the JQC under the control of Georgia politicians.

Don’t just vote “no”, vote “HELL, NO!” on Amendment 3.

On Amendment 4.
Dedicates revenue from existing taxes on fireworks to trauma care, fire services, and public safety.

Seriously, I don’t know a thing more about this than what the ballot reads. I’ve heard one news report about it around six months ago. On the face of it, who can argue with it? The thing is, I don’t know how the money is being spent now. Is this excise tax being spent solely at the discretion of the county commission? I don’t think this is something that we need to put in our constitution regardless of how well-meaning it looks.

Vote “No” on Amendment 4.

Special Election.

And we are also having a vote on a special local option sales tax (SPLOST) for transportation, recreation and other infrastructure. This one isn’t focused enough. Gwinnett has a wonderful park system now and we have plenty of senior service facilities. What we need is more ways to get from one park facility to another, not just more roads. We need more public transit, walking paths, and bike paths. Give me a place to walk or ride my bike to my destinations. Give me a transit center close to my home that will take me into Atlanta. Give me a reason to get out of my car for a change. This SPLOST isn’t going to do that. It will be spent on asphalt.

Vote “No” on the special election.

In Good Faith

Apparently some Georgia state senators have come to the conclusion that personal liberties and rights preserved by the constitution don’t really matter is law enforcement is working “in good faith.” SB-94 reportedly will make way for law enforcement to obtain secret search warrants, secretly retain seized property remove presumption of innocence by allowing search warrants to be obtained with probable cause that a crime is about to be committed, allow for anyone, whether certified as a law enforcement officer or not, to apply for issue of search warrants even if they have no duty of enforcing the law, and allow law enforcement to engage in illegal surveillance as long as they are doing so in good faith.

At a time when our jails are busting at the seams, when the U.S. has imprisoned a greater percentage of its population than any other civilized country in the world, including China, when various law enforcement agencies and jurisdictions are under scrutiny for abuse of power the state of Georgia wants to make it more difficult to hold law enforcement accountable? I’m seriously not believing this.

Supposedly, there were “good intentions” when the Habersham County sheriff deputies busted in a house and threw a flash-bang that injured an 18-month old. There were “good intentions”, supposedly, of sheriff deputies descending upon a house in Laurens County on the basis of the word of a known thief that there was “meth” in that house…and killing a good man who had no drugs in the house, or anywhere else

The answer to “bad results” is not to enable more people to be able to engage in acts to cause more bad results to happen, and then to give immunity to the results of their actions, all on the basis of “well, we acted in good faith.”

Source: The Political Vine, » Blog Archive » The Road to Hell (in Georgia) – Part 1

Don’t take my lack of support for GA SB-94 as a lack of support of good law enforcement. I fully support the vast majority of law enforcement officers who are out there to protect and serve a community. I want to protect these fine men and women wearing blue by eliminating the little tin-star tyrants that tarnish the reputation of the good officers out there. SB-94 will make reigning in bad police just that much harder. It can’t be allowed to pass in the form it has taken.

And now a word about HB58 #gapol

This from the February 9th issue of the AJC.

Do you wonder why there aren’t more independent candidates, when so many people say they’re sick of the Republicans and Democrats? One reason is Georgia has some of the nation’s strictest ballot-access rules for third-party candidates. HB 58 by Rep. John Pezold, R-Fortson, would lower the threshold for these candidates to get on the ballot. Instead of needing petition signatures from 5 percent of all registered voters eligible to vote in the race, a candidate would need signatures equal to 2 percent of the total votes cast in the last election for the office. Example: In my state House district last year, an independent candidate needed 1,776 signatures to get on the ballot. Under this law, he would have needed less than 500. This could bring competition for seats at the General Assembly, 80 percent of which had only one candidate on last November’s ballot, as well as congressional seats.

How many times have you went to vote and practically everyone on the ballot is running unopposed? Have you ever wondered why that is when all of us fuss about the rascals in office? Surely you would think someone would run against them as much as we fuss about them. So why doesn’t anyone? It’s next to impossible to get on the ballot. That’s why. This bill would go a long ways to fix this.

So what I want you to do if you are registered to vote in the state of Georgia is first find you state representative and senator and then call them, write them or e-mail them and tell them that there is no reason for them not to support this bill. It has to pass. The only way this will get fixed is if you do something about it. This is what you need to do about it and then you need to get ten friends to do the same thing.

Bills that would legalize marijuana introduced in Georgia

Georgia State Senator Curt Thompson (D-Norcross) has introduced a couple of bills about cannabis for the next session of the Georgia state legislature to consider. One would allow for a wider use of cannabis for medical purposes than the single use legislation considered in the last session and  reintroduced for the next session but the other is a bit more interesting,

SB 6 would allow those at least 21-years-old to purchase a “limited” amount of marijuana and taxes and fees from the sale would be split equally between education and transportation infrastructure.

via Bills that would legalize marijuana introduced in Georgia – The Washington Post.

SB 6 would put the question before the voters and would change the Georgia State Constitution if passed, something in the way of how alcohol sales on Sunday were made legal for the state. I asked my state senator, Renee Unterman, on Twitter what she thought the chances of the bill passing would be. Her answer was skeptical and non-committal.

I agree that this bill is a long shot. I would love to see the voters deciding this issue though. I think if put on the ballot it would pass. If you are a Georgia resident what do you think?

“Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to authorize the General Assembly to provide by general law for the legalization and regulation of the production and sale of marijuana for personal use by individuals 21 years of age or older and may further provide that the taxes from such production and sale shall be appropriated equally between educational programs and purposes and capital outlay projects for transportation infrastructure purposes within this state?”

A MUP Along Collins Hill Rd.

I sent an email to Mr. John Heard, my county commissioner, the other day suggesting that Gwinnett County should build a multi-use path (MUP) between Lawrenceville and Suwanee along Collins Hill Rd. This would effectively join three shopping areas, a college and three large parks together and allow a lot of people bike to work who are currently too afraid of the traffic to attempt it.

I think this is a good idea but I really didn’t expect to hear anything bur reasons why this couldn’t be done. But I got an email back from the executive assistant to the Gwinnett County Commissioners that told me Gwinnett County director of community services would get back in touch with me. He did. Here’s the email:

I am much encouraged by this email.

RE: Multi-Use Path between L’ville and Suwanee

From
Phil Hoskins

To
Larry Burton

CC
Deborah Hale
Grant Guess

Mr. Burton,

Good afternoon. Your email was forwarded to me and I appreciate your comments and recommendations. Please see the following response/comments from Grant Guess, Div Director for Parks & Recreation Project Admin. If you have any questions, please feel free to get back with Grant or myself.

Multiuse Paths along roadways are under the jurisdiction of Gwinnett DoT. We do, however, make numerous suggestions on making connections to parks and to future greenway trails. We have talked with DoT regarding making a link from the McGinnis Ferry Trail to Rock Springs Park (Old Peachtree Road at Collins Hill Road). A further connection along Collins Hill Road to the Georgia Gwinnett College has not been discussed before. It would be a connection that would serve a large population and would of course connect Collins Hill Park to Rock Springs Park. We could see if that is a possibility with them. The development is so dense through this area; there is almost no other way to make a connection except with multiuse trails or on-road bike lanes. We are preparing a list for DoT’s consideration and could include this in that package.

The City of Lawrenceville has also had discussions regarding connecting the College to downtown in a bike and pedestrian friendly way, but I have not seen any plans to make that happen.

Let me know if we need to provide additional information.

Grant Guess
Division Director
Parks and Recreation Project Administration
Gwinnett County Community Services
75 Langley Drive
Lawrenceville, Georgia 30046

I am much encouraged by this email.

 

The Election is Over, Now What?

The election is over and Barack Obama persuaded enough of America in the right states that he deserved another four years to finish his vision. It looks like congress is still divided so hopefully he can’t do too much damage and I’ll hope his vision improves the lives of a majority of Americans and polishes up our image for the rest of the world.

I’m actually fairly ambivalent over the Federal election results, though. What concerns me more are the result from Georgia, the state in which I live, and, more specifically, Gwinnett County. To be honest, here I’m fairly disturbed. You see, there were few actual races here. Most of the incumbents ran unopposed.

Let’s go over these races. First there is the Presidential race:

U.S. President 156 of 156 precincts Votes 
(I) Barack Obama, Dem. (Joe Biden, VP) 131,879 45
Mitt Romney, Rep. (Paul Ryan VP) 159,563 54
Gary Johnson, Lib. (James Gray VP) 4,118 1

I know I told you I was fairly ambivalent here but I wanted to include it for completion. The only real troubling thing here for me was that Gary Johnson only got 1% of the vote. I was hoping he would do much better in a state that everyone knew was going to Romney. There was no chance he was going to pull enough voters away from Romney to keep him from winning so why didn’t more people that said they liked him vote for him?

Next there is the US House, 4th district race:

U.S. House, 4th District 34 of 34 precincts Votes %
(I) Hank Johnson, Dem. 32,852 55
J. Chris Vaughn, Rep. 26,968 45

This district is mostly in DeKalb County so there is no surprise that Johnson won as handily as he did.

Now let’s look at my district, the U.S. House, 7th District:

U.S. House, 7th District 112 of 112 precincts Votes %
(I) Rob Woodall, Rep. 111,398 57
Steve Reilly, Dem. 84,165 43

I supported Steve Reilly in this race even though I’m a FairTax supporter. Why? Because Rob Woodall and I only agree on the the FairTax. In everything else he’s way too authoritarian for me and completely uncompromising in his fealty to the Republican Party.

What I’d like to see here is for Steve to reconsider his opposition to the FairTax and come up with an alternative Federal Retail Sales Tax legislation he could support and run against Rob Woodall again in the next elections with that as his platform. I would work with him to come up with that legislation.

U.S. House, 10th District?

U.S. House, 10th District 11 of 11 precincts Votes %
(I) Paul Broun, Rep. (unopposed) 21,869 100

Now why is this? This is a seat in Congress in the House of Representatives! Couldn’t the Democrats find one person to run against Broun? The Libertarians? And it gets worse! Look at this!

State Senate, 5th District 27 of 27 precincts Votes %
(I) Curt Thompson, Dem. (unopposed) 31,164 100
State Senate, 40th District 8 of 8 precincts Votes %
(I) Fran Millar, Rep. (unopposed) 8,093 100
State Senate, 41st District 10 of 10 precincts Votes %
(I) Steve Henson, Dem. (unopposed) 9,241 100
Ga. Senate, 45th District 34 of 34 precincts Votes %
(I) Renee Unterman, Rep. (unopposed) 56,211 100
State Senate, 48th District  20 of 20 precincts Votes %
(I) David Shafer, Rep. (unopposed) 27,900 100
State Senate, 55th District 20 of 20 precincts Votes %
(I) Gloria Butler, Dem. (unopposed) 30,259 100
State House, 94th District 8 of 8 precincts Votes %
Karen Bennett, Dem. (unopposed) 7,563 100
State House, 97th District 13 of 13 precincts Votes %
(I) Brooks Coleman, Rep. (unopposed) 17,992 100
State House, 98th District 10 of 10 precincts Votes %
(I) Josh Clark, Rep. (unopposed) 16,426 100
State House, 99th District 8 of 8 precincts Votes %
(I) Hugh Floyd, Dem. (unopposed) 6,886 100
State House, 100th District 9 of 9 precincts Votes %
(I) Brian Thomas, Dem. (unopposed) 10,099 100
State House, 102nd District 11 of 11 precincts Votes %
(I) Buzz Brockway, Rep. (unopposed) 14,984 100
State House, 103rd District 7 of 7 precincts Votes %
Timothy Barr, Rep. (unopposed) 11,117 100
State House, 104st District 12 of 12 precincts Votes  %
(I) Donna Sheldon, Rep. (unopposed) 18,245 100
State House, 106th District 13 of 13 precincts Votes %
(I) Brett Harrell, Rep. (unopposed) 16,740 100
State House, 107th District 11 of 11 precincts Votes %
(I) David Casas, Rep. (unopposed) 14,860 100
State House, 108th District 15 of 15 precincts Votes %
(I) B.J. Pak, Rep. (unopposed) 16,067 100
State House, 114th District 2 of 2 precincts Votes %
(I) Tom Kirby, Rep. (unopposed) 2,353 100
Gwinnett District Attorney 156 of 156 precincts Votes %
(I) Danny Porter, Rep. (unopposed) 213,147 100
Gwinnett Judge Probate Court 156 of 156 precincts Votes %
Chris Ballar, Rep. (unopposed) 206,556 100
Gwinnett Sheriff 156 of 156 precincts Votes %
(I) Butch Conway, Rep. 208,154 100
Gwinnett Tax Commissioner 156 of 156 precincts Votes %
(I) Richard Steele, Rep. (unopposed) 207,419 100
Gwinnett Chief Magistrate 156 of 156 precincts Votes %
(I) George Hutchinson III, Rep. (unopposed) 205,236 100
Gwinnett Commission Chairman 156 of 156 precincts Votes   %   
(I) Charlotte Nash, Rep. (unopposed) 206,584 100
Gwinnett Commission, District 1 37 of 37 precincts Votes %
(I) Jace Brooks, Rep. (unopposed) 46,986 100
Gwinnett Commission, District 3 39 of 39 precincts Votes %
(I) Tommy Hunter, Rep. (unopposed) 62,125 100

That’s twenty-seven unopposed races! And that includes three Gwinnett County Commission Seats, the Sheriff and the District Attorney! With the corruption that has been uncovered around here it is an absolute shame there were any unopposed races in this county much less twenty-seven!

People, the Federal races actually mean very little to your day to day lives. It is local offices that affect you daily. The money that corruption steals from us could go a long way toward improving and expanding services that we don’t have now. We have to get involved and find people to run for office in our county. We can’t let this apathy destroy our quality of life in Gwinnett.

This is where the Libertarian Party needs to step up. Georgia Ballot Access laws make it next to impossible to run an independent in this state but the Libertarians have the same ballot access as the Democrats and Republicans and they aren’t going to get national recognition unless they have a strong local recognition. They can’t get that without running candidates and what better place to run candidates than a county that has so many unopposed races?

Clark Howard keeps harping on how there is no competition without three competitors in the market. How can we expect to have the best government we can have without a competition of ideas? We have got to stop having so many unopposed races in this county if we expect to straighten up the image we have as the most corrupt county in the most corruption prone state in the union.

Get involved, people! It is these local races that are going to affect us the most and we can’t have change without your involvement.

Georgia Constitutional Amendments

Here in Georgia we are voting on two constitutional amendments. One will allow the state communities to sponsor and fund charter schools while the other will allow the legislature to authorize some government agencies to sign leases on property with more than a year’s duration.

I endorse both of these amendments.

I don’t think charter schools are any better than public schools but I don’t think they are any worse either. I think one reason for a community to want to start a charter school is their lack of trust of their local school board. I’ve seen enough corruption and ineptitude in local school boards in the surrounding counties that I can understand their lack of trust.

I also don’t understand why our state constitution is written to forbid the state to engage in a lease of over a year’s duration. I can see where policy should be against longer leases but there are times when they are beneficial to the taxpayer.

The Gwinnett County Ballot is a Disgrace

I just grabbed a copy of the Gwinnett County Consolidated Ballot and I’m sick. It seems that over half the races are uncontested. That’s Democracy like the old Soviet Union had democracy! That’s democracy like is practiced in Iran!

You know why this is, don’t you? It’s because Georgia has some of the most onerous ballot access laws in the country. High filing fees and an unreasonable requirement for signatures on the candidates petition means fewer people are going to involve themselves. If the district is heavily Democratic or Heavily Republican no one wants to waste the effort. The office holder is chosen in the dominant party’s primary.

URL: http://www.gwinnettcounty.com/static/departments/elections/pdf/112012ConsolidatedSample.pdf

Atlanta region sees spike in public corruption cases.

Back in March of this year a study came out calling Georgia the most corruption prone state in the nation. Those of us living in Georgia have no problem believing that study. In the Metro Atlanta area not a day goes by of some scandal by some government agency in one of the counties or cities.

When we first moved to the area incoming DeKalb county sheriff, Derwin Brown, was murdered in his front yard. The outgoing sheriff, Sidney Dorsey, was later found guilty of orchestrating Brown’s assassination.

In Gwinnett County, where we have lived since 2002, has been especially corrupt in the way land deals have been orchestrated by our school system. And that has proved to be a problem with three county commissioners being indicted on corruption charges. I spoke about one earlier last week.

So it’s no surprise that the AJC is talking about a spike in public corruption cases for the area. There may be some debate over whether corruption is up or enforcement is up but the reality of it is that there is a ton of corruption going on that allows it to become visible when enforcement is actually applied.

Hopefully this spike in corruption being caught and prosecuted will provide the impetus needed to pass the anti-corruption laws that this state sorely needs.

Need a new brand

It looks like Atlanta is going out to find itself and spend $15 million in the process of doing so. Atlanta is a very diverse town so it’s not going to be easy to find a way to succinctly convey that diversity in a single brand and I’m not sure that it’s as necessary of a thing to do as the story would lead us to believe.

Oh well, it’s only money.

[Listening to: Continental Trailways Blues – Earle, Steve – Essential Steve Earle (03:09)]

KathyCoxEvolve.com

Heh, last Thursday I mentioned how Georgia’s state superintendant of education wanst to strike the word "evolve" from the state schools curiculum. Someone in the comments pointed to a website called KathyCoxEvolve.com but the link was broken. I clicked on it again today and it works. Check it out if you have the time.

As the site points out there has been a huge uproar about the proposal and I don’t think it will fly. After several days of holding a moistened finger in the air our govenor, Sonny Perdue, has come out against the idea.

Title 40, Chapter 6, Section 315 of the Georgia Code, Unannotated

It’s small, but it’s a change I’d really like to see made to the Georgia Code:

(a) No person under the age of eighteen (18) shall operate or ride upon a motorcycle
unless he or she is wearing protective headgear which complies with standards
established by the commissioner of motor vehicle safety.
(b) No person shall operate or ride upon a motorcycle if
the motorcycle is not equipped with a windshield unless he or she is wearing an
eye-protective device of a type approved by the commissioner of motor vehicle
safety.
(c) This Code section shall not apply to persons riding
within an enclosed cab or motorized cart. This Code section shall not apply to a
person operating a three-wheeled motorcycle used only for agricultural purposes.
(d) The commissioner of motor vehicle safety is authorized
to approve or disapprove protective headgear and eye-protective devices required
in this Code section and to issue and enforce regulations establishing standards
and specifications for the approval thereof. The commissioner shall publish
lists of all protective headgear and eye-protective devices by name and type
which have been approved by it.

I’m not anti-helmet. I’d advise everyone to wear one while riding. I just think that whether or not a person chooses to wear a helmet is a decision that should belong to the individual.

No, It Ain’t Coming Back Again

Georgia State Flag from 1956 to 2001

Well, the state legislature did it last night:

Democrats and Republicans united Friday to strip away the Confederate battle emblem from Gov. Sonny Perdue’s flag referendum.

State lawmakers instead created a single, two-flag contest next March in which voters could indicate their preference between the current state flag raised by then-Gov. Roy Barnes two years ago and the new flag contained in the Perdue referendum. That vote would not be binding.

The only portion of the governor’s proposal that survived was the immediate raising of a new state flag based on the Stars and Bars, the first national flag of the Confederacy.

This means that the flag you see to the left above doesn’t stand a chance in hell of flying over Georgia again as the official state flag. If the folks that want to cry about heritage want to make anything of it then that means that they are going to have to come out against the use of a more historically correct link to the Confederate past of our state. I think things may work out okay afterall.

Single Referendum May Decide Flag

Proposed Georgia Flag

It looks like it might boil down to a single referendum and the choice of the old "state’s rights" flag won’t be among the choices. The flag to the left is most likely going to be voted on, up or down. If the new flag is approved by the legislature it will be raised immediately with an up or down referendum following it. If the flag wins it remains our state flag, if it loses then we were suppose to have another referendum between the "state’s rights" flag and the pre-1956 flag. If this goes through the way the Democrats want it to then that second referendum will not be had.

The First Flag of the Confederacy

One thing I’d like to bring to attention. You might know it if you are from the South or have spent any time in the South or maybe not, but the new flag design draws heavily on the First Flag of the Confederacy (seen at the right), sometimes referred to as the "Stars and Bars". The "Rebel" flag that made up a part of the old "states rights" flag is often erroneously referred to as the "Stars and Bars" but it’s actual nickname is the "Southern Cross" and was never actually flown by the Confederacy in the exact form that we see it today. It’s an adaptation of the regimental battle flag of the Army of North Virginia. This flag was incorporated into the canton of the Second and Third flags of the Confederacy.

From a historic perspective the new flag will be a more fitting tribute to Georgia’s Confederate heritage than the "states rights" flag. I don’t believe any of Georgia’s armies adopted any form of the Southern Cross as their regimental flag so I never understood the cry of “heritage” as a reason to keep the old "states rights" flag. I hope this new proposal passes tomorrow and we can get this whole thing behind us.