Monday, December 31, 2007
5. 10th District Election - New media overload hit Northeast Georgia in the spring and summer of 2007. The sudden passing of Congressman Charlie Norwood set up a perfect political storm in a district far away from the usual white, hot center of the Georga political universe. An open election with no primary brought out the usual and the odd with a Republican establishment candidate, a Democrat grass roots candidate, a firebrand anti-immigration candidate and a dentist from Athens who never raised much of a fuss. With no competing political stories on the landscape every virtual eye turned east. Many videos were created. Many a blog entry was written. The 1oth became a petri dish for evaluating the impact of new media on a political campaign. In the end none of it mattered as soft spoken Paul Broun not only snuck into the runoff against Jim Whitehead but pulled off the monumental upset win. Most agree Broun's shocker had nothing to do with new and had a lot to do with old - namely shoe leather meeting the street. Or as Rusty succintly stated - don't mess with Athens.
4. Grady In Crisis - A major public institution awash in debt and mismanagement and Republicans as potential saviors? Stranger things may have happened but it might take some cogitating to think of one. The "Grady problem" simmered for years mostly occupying the minds of the hapless Dekalb and Fulton home owners who footed the bill year after year. 2007 brought the issue to a head as the venerable old hospital reached a fiscal crisis so grave closing the doors became a serious option. Enter Republican Senator and blogger David Shafer. Shafer filed open records requests, pored through pages of boring audits and began asking pointed questions of the powers that be. In other words, he acted just like any good blogger. In the political arena, Shafer tempered the firebrand rhetoric of his own party's leadership, countered the myths of "privatization" by opponents and even found time for every politician's favorite sport - gigging the AJC. Through the twists and drama of the the unfolding story the goal remained the same - keep Grady open, find some state funding but demand accountability. 2008 will reveal if Shafer and others can continue to navigate the minefields.
3. Drought - Oh Lord, will it ever end. Prayers, finger pointing and pouting. Not daycare at the local church but the hue and wail of the drought to end all droughts. By late summer everyone was talking water. Some blamed shellfish, some blamed the gubmint, both local and federal, some advocated a second secession, some advocated scorched earth. In the end, all were thirsty. With Lake Lanier at a 50 year low and no rainfall in sight, the drought dominated late summer and fall. Every rain drop brought a new blog entry and a recycling of the same old recrimnations. Things became so weird that even free market zealot Phil Kent began talking about building moratoriums. The drought was such a new media rock star it even inspired the creation of its own blog. Now the year ends, the rains have come and all wonder if like many internet storms if this one was just a flash in the pan or will it sustan into 2008.
2. GREAT - Get Rid of Every Ad-Valorem Tax or something like that. Speaker Glenn Richardson had an interesting year. He was re-elected as Speaker of the House, survived an ethics charge, fought like a cat cornered by dogs and once all the dust settled decided to kick up a little more by proposing the most far-reaching tax reform in Georgia history. The Speaker's plan to eliminate all Ad-Valorem taxes and replace with consumption taxes on everything from hair-do to teeth pullings created more odd partnerships than gay pride taking place the same weekend as the Southern Baptists Convention. The Georgia Municipal Association hated it. The Chamber of Commerce hated it. The unions hated it. Republican dominated Peach Pundit scoffed. Democrat laced Tondees Tavern eviscerated it. Hell, even the other Republican leaders Sonny Perdue and Casey Cagle hated it! And the funny thing was even though everybody was talking nobody actually knew what the thing was. The Speaker in his usual "man on the mountain" manner slowly dribbled out details. The trial ballons would float up and blow up under a hail of bullets from every gun in the blogosphere. And although we now sit less than three weeks from the opening of the legislature, still nobody knows exactly what the damned thing truly is. Political scientists may ponder for decades if Richardson was sly like a fox or the biggest goof in Georgia history.
1. Genarlow Wilson - Okay. So I may be a little biased. But how can anyone deny a story which brought the attention of national blogs such as The Volokh Conspiracy and Reason was not the story of the year? From Republican Matt Towery to Democrat Emmanuel Jones, the tragic injustice of the Wilson case touched practically every part of the Georgia political spectrum. Penultimately, the Georgia blogosphere did exactly the opposite of the claims of chicken little Kazinski. It was bloggers who exposed the lies and myths in the politician's spin. It was bloggers who quashed the urban legends surrounding that fateful New Year's Eve. It was bloggers who researched state and federal statutes to question the actions of Douglas County D.A. David McDade. And although some would deny it, bloggers played no small part in the eventual release of the young man. And ultimately, the freeing of Genarlow Wilson is all that matters.
And that's all for 2007. What do we have to look forward to in 2008? More drought, more Grady, more GREAT and god knows what else the yahoos spew forth. And Georgia media, new and old, will be there to cover it. Stay tuned.
Here are what I considered the top ten stories in the Georgia political blogosphere. There might have been bigger stories but these are the ones which I believe either majorly impacted our community or demonstrated the community could have a major impact. So let's go...
10. Shelbinator Goes Carson Daly - It was a big year for Georgia video bloggers. SpaceyG and Shelby plied there trade from the front page of HuffPo to the South Carolina Presidential debate to the Florida debate's "Buckwheat got shot" moment. It all culminated in December with the Shelbinator being named MTV's sole citizen correspondent for the state of Georgia. All anxiously await to see if this gives him access to Hanna Montana tickets.
9. Bloggers Break The Fourth Wall - It all started with Peach Pundit's Erick Erickson running for Macon City Council. Suddenly bloggers everywhere were stepping away from the keyboards and entering the fray. Jasonpye.com contributor Josh Patterson narrowly lost election to the Hampton City Council. Savannah blogger Bull Moose ran for Savannah city council. Now of all things Tondee's Tavern owner Jon Flack is considering wading into strange politics of Forsyth County. And lest we forget, there is always the shadow councilman for the non-existent city of South Fulton.
8. U.S. Senate Race - It's still a little early for this one but everyone is watching the race for incumbent Sen. Saxby Chambliss seat. The PPers generally fall on the side of giggling over the not-so-subtle efforts of Dekalb CEO Vernon "Snuggles" Jones. Tondee's Tavern is an outpost for explorin' Josh Lanier. Meanwhile, Rand Knight, whose acolytes must constantly refresh Technorati, and former investigative reporter Dale Cardwell get little blog love at all. Stay tuned as this entry should be much higher next year.
7. Media Shuffle - It's hard being a word pimp. 2007 was harder than most for media in Georgia. The AJC reshuffled its deck simultaneously dumping about 300 years of combined institutional knowledge and crowing how they would rule the new media world. Podcamp Atlanta brought the first serious meeting between the old and new worlds. May brought a second meeting between old and new with some rather snarky results. June saw an insurgency into the Atlanta Press Club with the expected outcome. To the chagrin of all, the one person who seemed destined to bridge the old and new, Doug Monroe, left for happier trails. Then the axe fell at Creative Loafing. The circle was complete with a silly editorial by UGA journalism professor David Hazinski which led to quite a row between the bloggers and Athens Banner Herald reporter Blake Aued. Was progress made? An optimist would say yes if only incrementally. A pessimist would say, they still hate us and we still hate them.
6. Doraville Elections - New Year's Resolution - no more clever puns using lyrics from the ARS song. Late summer and late heat brought strange things to the small town of Doraville. The feuding city council suddenly and secretly fired police chief John King. The story may have ended in those wee hours of arcane local political voodoo if not for video recorded by contributors at Dora-Blog. Those meddling kids caught the outrageous affair on tape exposing the potential illegality of the act and the absolute political stupidity of certain council members. Every media station in Atlanta cribbed the tape, King was rehired and a couple of months later two of the three council members were thrown out of office. Not bad work for one little hyperlocal new media outlet.
Coming up, 5 through 1.
Today's winner is Dick Williams phone. I giggle every week in anticipation that a cell phone will buzz during the Gang's half-hour. Today, we had a full blown ringer. I don't know what was funnier - Dick Williams face as he pulled the traitorous device from his shirt pocket or the fact that in a moment of obliviousness he continued to let it ring as he peered to see who was calling.
I'm not even sure what happened after the rude interruptions as I passed out from paroxysms of laughter.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Athens World provides a rather reasoned response.
Hazinski could rewrite his piece in a way less damning of amateur journalists but making the same point, that mainstream media outlets should promote journalism training and prefer the contributions from trained people. This point is not very interesting because mainstream outlets can do whatever they please as long as the advertisers and stockholders are happy.Then there's the Athens Banner's professional journalist Blake Aued.
When y’all start doing your own reporting, rather than rely on rumors, press releases and the dreaded MSM, then you can call yourselves journalists.A couple of things here Blake.
If you actually read my blog you would know I have never called myself a journalist and its rare that I rely on rumors and press releases. Yes, I do rely on the MSM pretty frequently. Next time y'all have an edition which doesn't contain a contribution from the Associated Press let me know.
As far as doing our own reporting? Having attended the recent Senate debates in Forsyth County, even though I'm an unwashed blogger, I can confidently say the only "journalist" there was a staff writer from the Forsyth daily. Despite four candidates for our next statewide election and a Democratic challenger for the 10th district, you know, the one that includes Athens, nary a Banner Herald scribe in sight.
Here's a funny coincidence. I was just remarking to a colleague the other day that with the entry of journalists such as Blake Aued and Macon's Travis Fain into our little world maybe the Georgia blogosphere is about to enter a new era.
I may have to rethink that position. At least about what comes out of enlightened Athens.
Nevermind my recent assertion that you’ll never be rich if the job requires your actual presence to make money. Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees, having walked out of a 10-year $252 million contract signed originally with the Texas Rangers, signs a new deal for $275 million over 10 years. It’ll pay him $32 million in 2009 and 2010. That’s rich.Criticism of the rich by Free Market Jim? Let's go to the numbers first. 3-time MVP. Holder of 12 Major League records. 8 seasons of 40+ home runs. 11 seasons of 100+ RBIs. Career batting avg. of .306. Some might say with those numbers he's simply earning what the market will bear.
And as far as being present to earn your pay, Rodriguez has rarely missed and game and he did not walk out on Texas. They traded him. Perhaps your fact checker walked out on you, Jim?
Shocking, yes, the news that almost one in four — 24 percent — of the out-of-state college students improperly classified as in-state for tuition purposes are also collecting HOPE. A state audit sampled students enrolled from out of state and found that 28 percent had been reclassified as residents between the spring of 2004 and spring of 2006. Each improperly classified student cost taxpayers about $7,300 per yearIs it hate on education day or hate on lottery day? We may have to look further to clarify...
A Princeton student who claimed to have been beaten by two men because he’s a conservative admits he made it up. His injuries were self-inflicted. So common are “hate” hoaxes, especially those involving graffiti, that the first question to ask is whether “victims” have agendas.Hate hoaxes are common? Maybe this one should be taken with a grain of salt considering Jim's current accuracy batting average.
Quote on ethanol from an executive with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association: “We think there will be a day when people ask ‘Why in the world did we do this?’” Congress has just passed an energy bill mandating production of 36 billion gallons of ethanol by 2022, up from 6 billion now. The technology doesn’t exist to get cellulosic ethanol from switch grass and wood chips, though Congress is counting on 21 billion gallons of it after 2015. Meanwhile, corn in the tank is pushing up food prices, by $47 per person in a year, according to one study. Why in the world did we do this?Actually the technology to produce cellulosic ethanol in substantial amounts has existed since 2004 and a Canadian company just announced the opening of a plant which will in its first year produce 10 million gallons. Well above what is considered "commercial". Jim's batting average may have just slipped below the Mendoza line.
Thinking Right connects the dots, so you don’t have to. Headline Sunday: “Cocaine terms may be reduced” for 700 Georgians in federal prison for crack cocaine offenses. The first wave hitting the streets starting March 3. Headline Monday: “Freed offenders repeat crimes.”No, Jim, I think I will connect the dots myself. As of 2003 55% of all Federal prisoners were incarcerated as a result of drug offenses. According to the U.S. Department of Justice the average sentence for a violent offender is 63 months. For a drug offender the average sentence is 75.6 months. This disparity is most likely due to mandatory sentencing laws resulting from the get tough on drugs movement. The ulitimate result of the difference is violent offenders are usually let loose early so we can keep the crackheads locked up. How about those dots?
Headline: “Vouchers popular, limited.” OK. Expand them. The next headline should be: “Vouchers popular, sufficient.”Ah Jim the copy editor returns. If we could only find Jim the fact checker.
Headline on ajc.com: “77 Fulton teachers overpaid.” Just 77? I’d say all being paid for advanced degrees unrelated to their teaching field are being overpaid.Yep. It's definitely hate education day. Yeah, as anyone who has ever completed an advanced degree will tell you, there is no learning in that exercise beyond the narrow scope of your field. For those of you without advanced degrees or who happen to be AJC editorial writers, the previous would be sarcasm.
New Jersey’s in the process of ending capital punishment. If you agree, see the movie “No Country for Old Men.” Or read the trial transcripts of those on death row.Yes. Let's read those trial transcripts. Let the first 150+ read be these.
Whew! That's enough to fill Santa's sleigh twice over!
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Any regular reader knows that I frequently comment on the media and usually my tactics resemble a poo-flinging monkey.
Well, I've found one of the best non-poo-flinging pieces about the media ever. It comes from Anthony Palmer, teacher and journalism student, in South Carolina.
Media Bias: Part I
Media Bias: Part II
It's long but worth it. Read both parts. NOW.
The Board of Directors did not vote on his pay or the additional $1.6 million payment, which were decided by a compensation committee. The executive, Mark O’Connell, was paid $250,000 in 1999, compensation that rose to $446,729 this year...The revelation will most assuredly affect the willingness of individuals to contribute through United Way. It’s a bit difficult for workers making $30,000 per year to pay a middleman sums they’d consider outrageous for processing their financial gifts to the needy.
So, Jim, any who criticize the obscene compensation packages of failed CEOs are hippie-communist-Americahaters who do not want Americans to succeed but if one criticizes the compensation of the CEO of one of the nation's largest charities, compensation roughly equivalent to the salary of your average lawyer, you are looking out for the hard earned cash of the little guy?
Just one question. Do you enjoy being hypocritical or do you just hate charity?
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Insider Advantage recruiting bloggers
It wasn't going to be a secret very long as pretty soon I would get around to contacting Georgia bloggers. I've been assisting IA with this project by contacting bloggers across the country. Three things to say about this.
It will not affect the Drift. But now you now know and can judge anything I write that touches the same niche of IA with that disclosure in mind.
Most importantly, I wouldn't have done it if I didn't believe they were sincere in trying to create something that marries traditional media to new media.
Finally, I'll be in touch. But if you are curious right this minute, you know how to get in touch with me or as the press release says, email Grayson.
That's all for now.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Supporters of "citizen journalism" argue it provides independent, accurate, reliable information that the traditional media don't provide. While it has its place, the reality is it really isn't journalism at all, and it opens up information flow to the strong probability of fraud and abuse. The news industry should find some way to monitor and regulate this new trend.
I really wanted to attend the most recent hearings at the State Capitol on Global Warming. Unfortunately, I could not but if I had been present there is one question I would like to have posed.
Dr. Harold Brown, professor emeritus from the University of Georgia, urged caution, saying that the human impact on climate is difficult to ascertain. He also pointed out that climate experts were predicting a new Ice Age as late as the 1970s and demanding government action to “warm up” the planet.And my question.
Dr Brown, isn't it true, sir, that the prediction of global cooling actually was reported in a Newsweek article, not a scientific journal, which was based on a paper tracking a minor cooling trend in the 40s and 50s and isn't it also true that after seeing the rather alarmist nature of the mainstream article, the authors of the original paper were quick to clarify they were in no way predicting a new ice age? Also, sir, do you not do a disservice to your fellow scientists by continuing to promote the myth portraying them as chicken little alarmists who hysterically warn of catastrophe based on error riddled theories?Now wouldn't that have been fun?
Sunday, December 16, 2007
I will give them credit though for a pretty good discussion on the whole GOT mess.
Are Spacey and I the only people who watch this show?
Friday, December 14, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
He went on to state he believed organized labor intentionally recruits illegal immigrants to bolster membership rolls. When asked if he fears potential blowback from openly attacking what is considered a traditional Democratic stronghold, Cardwell responded, "not at all because the [rank and file] union members don't like it".
Travelling to Forsyth County for the first time in 20 years, I can only come to one conclusion. There's now a God-awful-lot of people in Forsyth County.
Now some random thoughts from the trip...
My trip north was to witness a debate between Democratic candidates for Senate in 2008. To my knowledge, this was the first gathering of four of the five candidates in one place. Present were Josh Lanier, Dale Cardwell, Rand Knight and Maggie Martinez. Vernon Jones could not appear due to a scheduling conflict.
The Forsyth Democrats should be complimented on running a smooth event. The questions were good. The candidates were engaged. I have nearly half a notebook full of notes and quotes. It was one of the most substantive local debates I've witnessed. Small room, small crowd but big ideas and big enthusiasm.
People sometimes ask me why I go to these things. I'm not a Democrat. I'm not a journalist. I really don't have much of a reason other than seeking a good story to write. The reason I go is on the off chance I will witness a "Jimmy Carter UGA Law Day" moment. So did I this night? I will say a qualified maybe. More on that later.
First, what follows is a series of what I considered each candidates most interesting moment. Notice I did not say best. I think you will see not everything was slick, planned and boilerplate.
What: Four of the five US Senate Hopefuls for the Democratic Party will be squaring-off in a town hall meeting in Cumming, GA.
When: Thursday, December 13, 2007
Where: The meeting will take place at the McDonald Dining Hall behind the McDonald Funeral Home 150 Sawnee Dr, Cumming GA 30028
This would be a good time to make a crack about a Democratic debate being held in such close proximity to a funeral home, but I'm going to save the good stuff for later.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Why Iowa, now, in the middle of caucus season? "Why not now?" McKinney responds. She starts chatting with the local Greens and I get asked, for reasons that seem unclear, to stop the audio recorder, though I'm the only press here. She recalls her first trip to Iowa, for Paul Simon in the `88 caucuses.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
One year ago, Fulton County attempted to prevent the opening of Cornetta's latest outlet of prurience but ultimately failed - leaving the matter in the lap of the newly formed city of Johns Creek. Since that time, the conflict has lain dormant as the case winds its way through the federal appeals process.
Could there be another avenue for resolution to the conflict? Perhaps, involving jello?
Cornetta, angry at the city of Johns Creek for refusing a charitable donation in the wake of a tragic family fire, challenged Mayor Mike Bodker to a classic dunking booth contest with the "loser" personally donating $1000 to charity. Bodker apparently refused but Cornetta will proceed with a Bodker "look-a-like" and due to the drought situation will use jello instead of water.
The event will take place on Saturday, Dec. 15 from noon – 4 pm in the parking lot of the Love Shack in Johns Creek at 10950 State Bridge Road...“We’ve had a couple of changes, but the end goal still remains the same, to raise money for the City of Johns Creek to protect all citizens, even the ones the Mayor doesn’t like,” said Cornetta, owner of the 10,000 square foot Love Shack in Johns Creek...“When this challenge was issued months ago to Mayor Mike Bodker we planned on doing this contest in a dunk tank in the cold of December. With the recent ongoing drought we’ve decided to change it from a water dunk contest to a Jell-O dunk contest.”...Fans and non-fans of Cornetta and Mayor Bodker will have the opportunity to purchase three softballs for $20 to throw at either of the two. All money generated will be donated to the Cornetta Charitable Foundation http://www.tccfusa.com/ and earmarked to be donated to the City of Johns Creek to assist in the development of civil services...The chairman of the Board of Advisers for the CCF, Pastor Michael Cole of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit at Chapel Hill, http://www.mycathedral.org/ will have final say so over where the money goes if the city of Johns Creek should once again reject the money...Mike South will be coming out dressed in his finest suit to play the part of Bodker. Additionally, he will be bringing out a bevy of his beautiful starlets to entertain the crowd...Whoever has the most softballs thrown at them will also make a personal donation of $1,000 to the City of Johns Creek. Since Mayor Bodker has declined the offer to participate, Cornetta will be making the $1,000 donation whether he is dunked the most or his stand-in competitor.The Drift will of course be there to cover the event.
Monday, December 10, 2007
On the heels of these layoffs as well as more layoffs at another recent Loaf acquisition, Washington's City Paper, unconfirmed reports have the flagship publication Atlanta Creative Loafing laying off seven staff members last friday.
Editors at Creative Loafing Atlanta, Charlotte and Tampa Bay as well as CL corporate human resources were contacted for this report but at this time have not responded.
UPDATE: Editors David Warner and Carlton Hargro at CL Tampa Bay and CL Charlotte respectively have confirmed there were no layoffs at their publications.
CL Atlanta's Ken Edelstein in a post on the paper's blog Fresh Loaf confirms earlier reports that seven staffers, non editorial, were cut:
In Atlanta, we laid off four sales people, a marketing assistant, a sales assistant and our wonderful assistant distribution manager — seven employees total. No Edit staff member was among those cuts, but that’s partly because we have a couple of open positions right now.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Friday, December 07, 2007
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
A shockingly reasonable Georgia Gang this week. What happened? Was it because I was out of town? The solution is obvious. More gambling for griftdrift means more sanity on local television.
The gang opened with a discussion of Grady and it was actually laced with realistic positions. I do want to comment on this briefly even though it's not a howler.
Jeff Dickerson, who is working behind the scenes to attempt to solve the mess, had it absolutely right. Despite some of the rhetoric of the recent Grady board resolution, all sides remain engaged and we are slowly working towards a solution. You are going to hear a lot of rhetoric over the next few months, so here are a few things to keep in mind: everyone is still posturing, eventually the board will go non-profit and eventually the state will pony up money as part of a new state-wide trauma center. Everything else is just theater.
Now on to he howler.
Phil Kent speaking on Andrew Young's nomination of Matt Towery and Sen. Emmanuel Jones for the JFK Profile in Courage award:
I'm not sure what part Jones really played, Towery at least did speak out very vehemently on the intent of the legislation.
The part Jones played was drafting the legislation which would have retroactively applied the "Romeo and Juliet" provision of the new law to Genarlow Wilson. A reasonable bill which with the exception of Sen. Dan Weber was driven to doom by the Republicans in the Senate.
You would think a "political expert" would have this knowledge.
Monday, December 03, 2007
Now it's back to the real world. A quick stop in Moultrie to take care of some farm business and then back to Atlanta. See you tomorrow.