Friday, February 27, 2009

atlgas On Nightline

atlgas, the brainchild of our own Tessa and my #3 blog story of 2008, received a brief mention by the founders of Twitter on last night's Nightline.

My Morning Wooten

Tired today. In every way.
DeKalb. More drama
Is this hate on Dekalb month? A quick reminder from Jim's last anti-Dekalb screed that his home Cobb is not exactly shangra-la.

If I’m standing before the bar [of justice] with my life in the balance I want the most extensive defense I can get,” explains Georgia Senate Minority Leader Robert Brown (D-Macon). This is where liberalism has wandered: An expectation of entitlement to “the most extensive defense I can get” at the public’s expense. No need ever to work a day. From cradle to grave, the best of everything, at no cost.
A constitutionally guaranteed right is now just more liberal pandering. This is the level of conservative thought at the AJC these days. The modern conservative philosophy - don't trust the government unless it's trying to kill, then it's okay to play cheap because the government's probably right.

Let D.C. have voting representation in Congress. Give it back to Maryland. Otherwise, no.
Pure-ass politics. On both sides. Dems want it because it would add to their caucus. Reps want it in Maryland because that would dilute Dem power. Oh the things we leave out of our screeds, yet still expect readers to trust.

That's all I can take today.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Gonzo Lawmakers - Day 24

A daily recap of the Georgia Public Broadcasting show "Lawmakers". The show airs weekdays at 7:00pm with a replay at 5:30am the following weekday.

Day 24

* The long march to crossover day continues. I imagine we're going to hear about this. Oh and probably this. Let the fireworks begin.

* Whoa. The House passed the amended budget (that's the one that gets us to the end of the fiscal year, June 30). There was hardly a whimper on this one but everyone has been saying the big budget is where the fights gonna happen. So it's not really that surprising.

* Wow! It's 18.9 billion! That was the size of the entire budget only a few years ago. The reason for the large number is it includes all the stimulating. The department cuts helped a lot too. Apparently no more furloughs.

* Dubose of course praises the stimulating and also mentions the Perry ponds and that pesky Milledgeville Veteran's home.

* SB31 and our first live shot. Brittany's back and in one of the chambers again.

* Here's the floor debate. I watched some of this. It was over four hours long. Lawmakers is doing a machine gun approach with the highlights. It passed 107-66. That was a pretty short segment for the "most controversial" bill of the session.

* Now here's a weird one. Apparently there's a regulation regarding the alcohol sales near public housing. And the burr in the saddle is in...Winder. Now it makes a little more sense. They want to create a mixed use development (they're very trendy, dontcha know) and they want to include a restaurant that serves booze. Passed.

* Renee Unterman's bill to expand who reports child exploitation not surprisingly passed without dissent.

* There was a slew of bills that passed the Senate today. It was pretty much all the ones expected to pass. Very little opposition. They must have felt like resting a bit while their stinkbomb exploded over in the House.

* Valerie's back at the Capitol and back in the House chamber. The Senate voted to create a state trauma agency. Good first move. Now they have to find funding.

* Card check again. More later. Can you tell I'm procrastinating?

* SB200 (the big transportation hoo-hah) got some more committee time today. It got a do pass.

* Poll result time! Did you vote? People don't want sales tax on food. Although the percentage that said yes was shockingly high.

* End of the week. Time to talk to Tom Crawford! And Tom's segment was at the Capitol too! Was there some sort of traffic snarl or flash mob that prevented people from getting to the studio?

* Tom matches my surprise on the pharma-tort reform bill getting thrashed in committee. Sign of lame duckedness?

* Gena Evans firing. GPB Radio's John Sepulvado was at the meeting. This should be fun. Apparently the board voted then scurried for the exits. There's a billion dollars of stimulating sitting out there we could lose if this ruckus causes us to delay projects.

* A bill to waive liability if somone gets kilt while hunting or fishing on your property. The lobbying firm of griftdrift etal. gives this one a big hell yeah!

* Grandparents and grandkids gathered to support allowing the old 'uns 24 hours paid leave to see to the young 'uns and what not. They rolled out a fifth grader to talk about how her mom couldn't eat lunch with her or something. The lobbyist really have no shame when it comes to using children as props.

* Skin cancer awareness day. That probably means Alan Freedman. Yep. There's his dulcet tones. Let's hope we see his tie. Nope. No tie.

* Everyone wore roses today to honor the anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment - that's the one that allowed women to vote. Nope. Not going there.

* Another smooth broadcast. They are starting to make this look too easy. We're still on a three day week, so until next Tuesday, that's a wrap.

Fired Police Chief Blames The Blog

Recently fired Dekalb Police chief Terrell Bolton was interviewed by the Dallas, Tx CBS affiliate and blames the blog, Dekalb Officers Speak, for contributing to his termination.

Watch the video here.

Gonzo Lawmakers - Day 23

A daily recap of the Georgia Public Broadcasting show "Lawmakers". The show airs weekdays at 7:00pm with a replay at 5:30am the following weekday.

Day 23

* My heart is so filled with hate, hope, fear, loathing and weirdness, I debated putting this off until tomorrow, but despite being just a "blogger", I do believe in a commitment to the story. So, here we go.

* Top story - the school board thingie. This allows tighter state controls on school boards gone wild i.e. Clayton County. The only real question is does this give too much power to the Governor. Sen. Steve Thompson, " we're fixin', I think, to let him choose what roads we want to pave. I'm afraid before it's over, we're gonna let him choose the lottery numbers and who wins". It's going to be tough to top that line. It passed 35-14.

* Valerie won the studio lottery tonight! She's at the anchor desk to talk about the stimulus.

* Governor Perdue talked to department heads about what they need to do with the stimulating. He wants some due diligence. Good lord, now Perdue is appearing on camera without a tie. Bert Brantley is a good (or bad, depending on your taste) influence.

* I bet this is the most face time the folks from the Governor's accounting offices have ever received.

* Sen. Cecil Staton wants to make SPAM illegal. The first thing he does is explain that by SPAM he doesn't mean the wonderful canned meat. Next week - the Senate will discuss regulation of those new fangled horseless carriages. Sen. Stanton, I've got a gentleman from Nigeria who wants to talk to you.

* Oh lord. Here comes the pickup truck seat belt bill. This is going to be sausage making at its finest. The quick recap. First it was tacked onto a bill. Then it was removed from that bill. Then it was tacked back on. Now it's on the floor and the staid Senate gets a bit dyspeptic when things don't slide right through their legislative tummy. Final result - Sen. Seth Harp played Pepto Bismol and got the thing through. Now it goes to the House where the plumbing is more complicated and it will likely lodge like a polyp.

* There is a bill about PE (Physical Education) and how we measure the young 'uns. I hope somebody timed this. If this thing gets more floor time than SB31 then we should immediately remove all fluoridation from the water and require every citizen to wear a tin foil hat.

* And now Emily Banks is in the studio! God bless 'em, I think they finally got kicked out of the Capitol.

* Vouchers were in Senate committe today. It recieved a do pass. Shocking.

* The big old transportation bill also passed out of committee today. This thing is flying through the legislature which given its scope is a bit disturbing. Can we take some of the time dedicated to ethanol blending and PE and give it to things like SB31 and dismantling the DOT?

* Minoo! And she's at the Capitol! Not in studio! Is it some sort of rotation system or is one spot or the other considered Siberia? If Alan Freedman with his weird-ass ties shows up in studio, I'm going to fall out of my chair.

* Oh. And the super speeder legislation passed out of committee. Don't drive over 85 and you should be okay. And yes, I know that's going to be difficult for some of you.

* The live shots at the Capitol are back in the Senate chamber. Or is that the House chamber? At this point, I'm convinced the janitors are deciding where they set up.

* Brittany Evans doesn't get a live shot. Maybe that's Siberia. Or maybe their dixie cup and twine line finally broke.

* Card check stuff again. This time the House version. We'll talk more about this later. I promise.

* Leadership interview series time. Today is House Democratic Leader Calvin Smyre. He was in DC just yesterday to listen to President Obama's speech. I wonder who paid for that.

* It takes a bold man to wear a white tie with a white shirt. Rep. Smyre pulls it off.

* Rep. Smyre is so practiced at this stuff that I just glaze over. I don't really know what he said. Jobs, incentives, something, something.

* Disability day at the Capitol and they brought out a big gun - Frank Ski. There's a Supreme Court ruling talked about here but I didn't catch the name (hint to the disability lobbyist - slow down) but I remember it and it was an important one. I also remember CL did a most excellent feature on people being involuntarily housed in mental institutions. Maybe a link fairy will stop by to provide enlightenment.

* There's a bear in the Capitol! Oh. It's just the Gwinnett College mascot. Gwinnett College has a mascot? Dave had a little moment here talking about the bear. And then Nwandi mentioned it in the close. The whole segment took about 30 seconds and I think it was, shall we say, not scheduled? Maybe a little curveball for our stalwart anchors? Then again, it is 2:00 am and I am feeling a bit weird. By day 30, we'll all be seeing bears.

* Tomorrow - SB 31! That should be a hoot. Until then, that's a wrap.

Senate Bill 31

I probably should have written more about this dog. I guess I figured the big boys and girls carried the water.

It's going to have a floor debate in the House tomorrow and despite weird dreams of vampires and muscle cars which have kept me up until daybreak lately, I'm going to get up early tomorrow to cover the circus.

But here's a quick dirty summary.

Clark Howard's agin it.

The Peach Pundit boys are agin it.

The Blog for Democracy peeps are agin it.

The Libertarians (both North and South) are agin it.

If that combination of weird ain't enough for you, I'm agin it.

Despite people of every stripe coming out against this thing, it appears to be on a quicksilver path to passage. The only explanation for this cognitive dissonance is a display of raw power by one of the biggest players in the game.

Will brute force prevail?

The answer waits on the morn.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Gonzo Lawmakers - Day 22

A daily recap of the Georgia Public Broadcasting show "Lawmakers". The show airs weekdays at 7:00pm with a replay at 5:30am the following weekday.

Day 22

* We return to another three day week. I can only hope we get some coverage of Bobby Franklin's latest craziness. Seriously. Click the link. You've got to read it to believe it.

* We're going to get some Michael Thurmond today. For the record, I worked in the Georgia Department of Labor for nine years - the majority in Unemployment Insurance, so take your get-ready pill, Ethel.

* I think Dave got a haircut since last week.

* Commissioner Thurmond is the top story. Commissioner Thurmond is urging that we take the federal stimulus money for Unemployment Insurance. Instead of repeating myself, I urge you to follow this link to understand why the strings attached matter. Governor spokesman Bert Brantley (who I've yet to see in a tie. And Republicans were whining about Obama not wearing a jacket) says Perdue wants to focus on the Medicaid money we're about to receive because it doesn't have strings attached.

* Tort reform. Whoa! The first one failed to make it out of committee! Blow Joshua Blow! This was the one that granted immunity to the pharmas if their drug passed FDA review. They tried to narrow it down to just immunity for punitive damages but still couldn't get it passed. My goodness. It's hard to imagine this one going down so easily. Hand me a hanky. I feel faint.

* First live shot. Same old position. I miss our brief foray into the Senate chamber already.

* Valerie's going to talk about the transportation restructuring. Begin countdown to shot of the Connector. That was quick. It was the background of the first graphic. The bill is Senate Bill 200 and it combines GRTA (Greater Regional Transportation Authority) and SRTA (State Road and Tollway Authority).

* Ooooooo shot of the airport! But they got the tape reversed and DELTA is spelled ATLED. We should cut them some slack. GPB is new to product placement.

* Rep. Bobby Parham who was just elected to the DOT board invokes the ghost of Talmadge. Now that's some serious mojo.

* MARTA bills. The Let Them Eat Cake bill (allows food and beverages to be sold at MARTA stations). It passed. The second bill is some technical mess to clean up some tax arcana. But it gives Doug Stoner a little more face time. It also passed.

* Sen. Chip Pearson wants to prohibit "sanctuary cities". Since we don't have any and there is no chance we'll ever have any, he wants to prohibit something that doesn't exist. As Emmanuel Jones points out, it's a solution looking for a problem.

* Can someone check Rep. Brian Thomas (D-Lilburn) ID? What is the age requirement for the House? They are debating giving a tax credit to people who donate to private scholarships. Just what we need - more complexity in the tax code. Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Once Sent Me A Get Well Email) sponsored the bill and as usual is pulling no punches in defending it.

* Regulations on gasoline blending got an hour's debate in the Senate today. Oh, the things they discuss. Feeling a little libertarian yet? There's Earnest Dan Weber! He's being quite demonstrative and the camera shot can barely contain his prodigious frame. And it can't. One lanky hand just darted completely out of the shot.

* The fluid of cadavers?! Oh, this bill allows the use of bodily fluids and blood to train body searching dogs. I assume they have to obtain permission first?

* Vote in the poll!

* How will the stimulus affect the children. Won't anyone think of the children!

* Brittany is in studio again. We must be back to drawing straws for the live shot at the Capitol. Or is Brittany being groomed to move up to anchor? Things that make you go hmmm.

* I have to say the Children & Youth Committee looks like its meetings are relegated to the living room of a double-wide. Nice faux wood paneling!

* Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce supports school board reform. Will anyone who opposes this please step forward? Thought so. Oh wait! Stepping forward is the Georgia School Board Association. Instead of a removal, they want school board members to face a special election. That might make sense except I'm pretty sure special elections cost money. I'm also pretty sure given recent school board track records (cough Clayton County cough), the result would be the same.

* Ugh. Union card check. I don't want to get into this yet but someone should explain federal vs. state jurisdiction to Sen. Eric Johnson. And he's standing next to a building lobbyist as he makes his statement. Pardon me as I pause to shower.

* SB 31! Why is this so late in the broadcast? It's only the hottest thing right now and apparently the House Republicans are feeling some serious heat from it. It passed out of committee. I cannot wait for this floor fight. If there will be a floor fight. The Democrats are strangely silent on this matter.

* Minoo! And she's in studio too! What the hey? I guess tossing mics to each other for the single live shot at the Capitol finally got too aggravating.

* It's our annual English only bill. Driver's licenses test this time. Really. 40 days is far too many.

* School nurses were at the Capitol again. Trying to save their jobs again. They were on the Capitol steps this time - with signs and....drums. Pass the patchouli.

* A glitch free but entertaining Lawmakers. But we need more Bobby Franklin. For now, that's a wrap.

An Accessory

It is time to talk plainly.

There comes a time in many relationships when one side must accept the fact the other side simply does not care. It is painful. It is undesirable. But it is a crystalline threshold which must be passed.

I do not speak of the Atlanta Journal Constitution or Creative Loafing. They were casual friends at best. Even as they stumbled online and dwindled on paper, they were always upfront that they never really considered us potential partners.

I speak of the new guys arriving at the dance.

A little over a year ago, I was approached by a quasi-traditional media company who wanted to create a nationwide network of blogs to cover the Presidential campaign. It was an exciting idea but there was barely any time and the idea was nebulous at best.

However, the players seemed sincere about melding "old" and "new" media and there was the small hope a real hybrid would emerge.

Using my knowledge of the online world and small reputation, I began recruiting bloggers across the nation. It was the usual promise of exposure and more traffic - the Tree of Knowledge fruit which lures us so easily. I dutifully submitted my lists of contacts and then waited for the next step which never came.

Soon, I realized the entire project was nothing more than a vanity vehicle and the dreams of something new and better had been cast aside for a shiny new toy.

At least they paid.

A few months ago, I was approached again.

Instead of an old company playing with new toys, this venture was a new company starting fresh. Hope kindled in the fact that not only had this new entity acquired an astounding array of talent but those in charge previously showed an understanding of new media. Their proposal was nothing less than blowing up then replacing the traditional distribution model for journalistic content.

And from the beginning they spoke of integrating new media voices.

Simply sitting in a room with generations of journalism experience and hearing them discuss publishing in terms developed, tweaked and pushed in previous blog conversations, panel discussions and fiery arguments was intoxicating. There was enough hope for a realization of an idea that I rushed home and immediately typed up all my thoughts, philosophies and weird ideas on how new and old could be blended.

It was received by the powers that be with much praise.

Then nothing.

Weeks passed. A follow-up was ignored. When this new organization stepped out into the limelight by breaking one of the fundamental rules of online life, I politely contacted them to explain the error. Still nothing.

There was no break-up letter. Not even the polite corporate-like "we've decided to go in another direction" missive. Just nothing.

The threshold was passed and the painful reality realized.

Those in the traditional media see us like a new leather jacket or new boots they acquire to blend in while venturing to the new hip part of town. Once they return home, the pajamas and slippers slide back on and the new duds are tossed in the back of the closet - perhaps never seen again.

The reality is they have never accepted us and they never will.

Each of us will confront this fact in our usual individual ways but my confrontation has passed and my own conclusion reached.

I will never be an accessory again.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Getting Behind

I've been getting behind in my housekeeping.

UGA Liberal has popped up on my radar. Check it out. Definitely worth it.

There are other things rolling around my head. You'll just have to wait to see what pops up next.

Friday, February 20, 2009

My Morning Wooten

Jim's pretty weird today. Let's go.
Headline on a story about whether to sell beer, wine and liquor on Sunday: “Could booze boost state economy?” If that doesn’t, should we try prostitution? Or crack? “Boosting the economy” and “helping education” are the two bogus arguments most often employed to sell a vice.
Copywriter Jim is back. Legalize prostitution? Sure, why not. Legalize crack? Let's start with weed and see how that works. As far as "bogus arguments", my favorite is nanny state. It's a favorite of "conservatives" who use it to beat Democrats over the head about social programs, then casually cast aside when they desire to preach about their version of "vice".
Love Illinois politics?
Do I really need to copy and paste the remaining lame connect the dots attempt to paint President Obama as a modern Boss Tweed? No, because we can all be thankful the market of thought is finally marginalizing this type of garbage to talk radio and certain fading sections of the AJC.
The North Dakota House recognizes human rights. A fertilized human egg has the legal rights of a human, the House declares. The bill moves now to the Senate. The male and female whose actions caused the birth of octuplets pulls me to the North Dakota House’s position.The North Dakota House recognizes human rights.
Two words. Ectopic pregnancy. Do we have a trial to determine if the accused was acting in self-defense in preventing her fallopian tube from exploding?
I love living in a city (Smyrna) and county (Cobb) that’s governed without drama. Residents are said to be sick of it in DeKalb. Who can blame them? Public officials should be like body parts: They’re best when functioning painlessly.
Memories can be short. Anti-evolution stickers. Requirements to show residency before you use public transportation. A gate across a public street to keep "undesirables" out. A county commission resolution condemning the gay lifestyle. Apparently the pain threshold is very high in Cobb County. Sweep around your own stoop, Jim, before spitting chaw on mine.
The Associated Press declares President Obama a winner for using “his popularity and bully pulpit to get the notoriously sluggish Congress to work through the huge” alleged stimulus “package in relatively short order.” Some bully pulpit. Pelosi-Reid Democrats got to write the bill and the bully pulpit produced three Republicans in the entire Congress to support the $787 billion eruption of social spending. The AP also declares Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) a winner. That requires a certain point of view.
It would be nice to see the original article to determine the content, but since the AJC (unlike those nasty, unreliable blogs) doesn't link to sources, we'll just assume Jim took everything completely out of context.

That's enough. There are limits.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Gonzo Lawmakers - Day 21

A daily recap of the Georgia Public Broadcasting show "Lawmakers". The show airs weekdays at 7:00pm with a replay at 5:30am the following weekday.

Day 21

* A little birdie told me one committee meeting today nearly erupted into fisticuffs. I hope it made Lawmakers!

* Indigent defense is up first. Sen. Preston Smith is getting a lot of play this session but that's probably because he chairs Judiciary and that's where the fun happens. This is the restructuring of the public defender advisory council. Sen. Seth Harp rose in support of the bill and lays the wood. He actually calls the board the most "irresponsible group of people" he's ever seen and a "bane on the existence of the people of Georgia". Tell us how you really feel, Seth. It passed 32-21 which is pretty close to a party line vote.

* The big three on the Republican side got together to roll out Gov. Perdue's plan to fundamentally change transportation in this state. Georgia Legislative Watch has a good summary and Travis Fain shares my lament of the new, tame Glenn Richardson.

* Live shot. Mics appear to be fine.

* We get a traffic shot but it's not the connector! Let's see, we've got a five lane surface street with a suicide lane - I'm going to guess Memorial Drive.

* The Guv says there are good people in Transportation but the process is broken.

* Shot of the Yellow Monster, otherwise known as the 17th St. Bridge.

* The Democrats are still using points of personal privilege to talk about the Milledgeville veterans home. I think I remember someone saying they were going to hammer this issue hard - oh yeah, that someone was me. But this time the Republicans respond and it's John Douglas! Get ready for the crazy! Well, he wasn't that crazy - maybe he's on the same medication as the Speaker? But he did say we shouldn't make this a partisan issue. Hmmm, I think I'll bookmark this to reference the next time some Republican starts caterwauling about Democrats not supporting the troops.

* The bill to allow the removal of school board members is slowly but surely making its way through the system. Too late for those poor young 'uns in Clayton County.

* The first of the Tort Reform bills got a public hearing today. I can detect Wilson's ears perking up. But this is a hearing which means....LOBBYISTS! I hope we see Buck Rogers.

* Andy Childers is there for the GTLA. BOO! We want Buck!

* A house bill to allow easier transfers within a school district. Wait! This is sponsored by a Democrat? I thought school choice was a Republican thing. Rep. Alisha Morgan seems awfully young. Did anyone check her I.D.? Rep. Morgan clears up the choice issue. She's agin the vouchers

* Rep. David Lucas wants to bring back sales tax on food. Seriously Democrats. Seriously. Sometimes y'all just can't seem to help walking smack into the cliche.

* More points of personal privilege. Politicians do love to hear themselves speak.

* Lord God, it's more about peanuts. Oh my good gracious, they actually sent somebody down to poor little Blakely. Requisite shot of pine tree to let us know we're in south Georgia. Good lord, the building was so ramshackle, birds regularly flew through the holes in the walls.

* Sunday Sales! YEEHAW! I heard the Christian Coalition bussed in young 'uns to tell us about the evil of the spirits. Not surprisingly, the hearing room is packed to the gills. And here's the Georgia Baptist Convention dude. And here's a manager from Kroger. Yep, it's just that damned odd.

* Online poll time! Most people want to cap property tax assessments. Shocking.

* End of the week and that means our favorite pundit, Tom Crawford! We've already used about $1 billion on funding Medicaid and the homeowner tax relief grant. Everything else is stuff we've already covered.

* Expansion of person's required to report sexual exploitation of children flew through committee. The Georgia Catholic Conference supports the bill. Nope. Not going there.

* Children's Policy Watch (probably a candied up name for lobbyists) day at the Capitol. Not much to say here but it is another opportunity to note yet another sporty tie on Alan Freedman.

* We just got two quick reports of "advocacy groups" (one wearing green hats screaming "no more coal") doing the usual dog and pony show outside the Capitol. Can anyone say filler? I knew you could.

* No video of near violence in committee meetings. I may have to follow that one up myself. Until next Tuesday, that's a wrap.

Left On Laffer

I'm not going to bring the thunder like JMac regarding state Republican's plan for more tax cuts, but I do have a question.

The majority of modern Republicans are disciples of Arthur Laffer, creator of the above seen Laffer Curve. The central idea is there exists a sweet spot where the level of taxation generates the most revenue. Go to the right of the sweet spot (increase taxes) and the revenue declines. Go to the left of the sweet spot (decrease taxes) and the revenue declines.

The question - is there a Republican out there who will even acknowledge there is a left side of the curve?

Gonzo Lawmakers - Day 20

A daily recap of the Georgia Public Broadcasting show "Lawmakers". The show airs weekdays at 7:00pm with a replay at 5:30am the following weekday.

Day 20

* Day 20. Exactly half way. In legislative time. I'm hoping for more hand puppets tonight.

* Minoo! She's back tonight! Maybe she was doing special investgations at PC Beach.

* Poison peanuts are not done. More regulation. From Republicans. The power of the salmonella is boundless. Senate bill to require when something comes back tainted, the company reports it to the Ag Dept within 24 hours. Imagine Craig Ferguson saying this next part. I know! I thought we'd already have that too!

* Another unanimous bill. Ho-hum. Oh wait! This one does away with an entire department. It must be something useless like the Department of Turnip Pullers. No? It does away with the Department of Transportation? Well, we definitely need a live shot for that one.

* Valerie has her mic tonight. We've already surpassed last night's chaos.

* Seriously. All of us political geeks knew the powers that be were mucking around with the DOT but blow it up completely? Balls.

* Gratuitous shot of the connector.

* This is the House version of the T-SPLOST. Statewide and all that. But why do I feel the back of my neck tingling? This whole thing feels like a major shift in government power trying to slip by under the cover of budget noise. It feels like we should all start paying a lot more attention to this one.

* God help us. The ARC's involved.

* This is the second proposal that would do away with the DOT?! I've got to start paying more attention to Georgia Legislative Watch. And here is where I have to chastise my friends at Lawmakers. There is a move to destroy, arguably, the most powerful agency in the state and it's barely been covered previously? It's time for less choirs and protestors and time for more digging.

* Eliminate the inventory tax, phase out of the corporate income tax. Republicans bringing their pet projects up.

* More technical stuff on property taxes. I know the devil's in the details and this is the kind of stuff that blows up later but lord knows, it just ain't that exciting. Buying. Selling. It's all about perspective says Steve Thompson. How many angels were dancing on pinheads in the Senate today? It passed 46-6. Democracy in action.

* Foreclosure bills. Must be Vincent Fort time. There he is. Other than that its a bunch of lobbyists. Yawn.

* The House approved a name change of something. Now that the stimulus package passed, we're back in the doldrums. God bless the GPB folks for finding a way to fill 30 whole minutes.

* Sunday sales! Thank god! Oh. It's just a committee meeting and don't get to see it until tomorrow night. Stretccccccch that content.

* God help us all, Charlice Byrd's insane rant about "queer theory" made CNN. The professors who teach these demonic courses actually testified to a committee about what they really do. I suppose that would be a good thing given they explain how scientific research is actually done, but the fact is they're probably talking to people who believe the earth is only 10,000 years old, pounding sand might have been more constructive.

* Minoo!

* Minoo talks to freshman legislators who are overwhelmed. Bless their hearts.

* Leadership interview - Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers. He's talking stimulus. Who wants to bet he doesn't say "we ain't gonna take that sinful money"? He actually went a step further. Chip says that through reserve funds and some shifting of money around, they were able to find the funds for the Homeowner Tax Relief Grant. I'm pretty sure Governor Perdue didn't sign that sucker until we knew we were getting our portion of the D.C. slop in the trough.

* I bet Chip Rogers has to shave twice a day.

* We're down to covering sub-committee meetings on teens using cellphones while driving. You know, gentle readers, once upon a time, I believed we needed a full time legislature. No more. It is apparent 40 days gives the devil far too much time with idle hands. Can you imagine how deep they would delve into our lives if they were there year-round?

* Decriminalize food service at transit (i.e. MARTA) stations. A good idea. But I can think of something else they could discuss decriminalizing that would be far more interesting.

* Dave just said coming up next is a "very powerful Georgia Traveller". I know he really wanted to say a "very special Georgia Traveller".

* It's starting to get loopy. That's a wrap.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My Morning Wooten

Jim does News Of The Weird.
In Massachusetts, Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick is expected to unveil a proposal this week to use GPS chips to charge motorists a quarter-cent per mile traveled. “It’s outrageous; it’s kind of Orwellian, Big Brotherish,” said a Republican state senator, Scott Brown, who’s drafted legislation to prohibit the practice.
Uh, no. I predict once again we will reach consensus that this is a really bad idea.

Jim and I are on quite an agreement streak lately. A by-product of Democrats in power?

Gonzo Lawmakers - Day 19

A daily recap of the Georgia Public Broadcasting show "Lawmakers". The show airs weekdays at 7:00pm with a replay at 5:30am the following weekday.

* Back again to the three day week. I bet it will be stimulating - ho ho.

* Susannah Capelouto is going to be on! She called me an entertainer once.

* Top story - can you guess? The stimulus. First the bad news - the revenue projections are worse than we thought. Governor Perdue adjusted downwards almost another half-billion dollars. But don't worry! D.C. is going to save us all!

* We're back to the usual live shot. But I must say Valerie is looking quite snazzy today. Not the usual conservative suit.

* WHOA! Mystery hand in the shot! She didn't have her mic on and somebody reached up and quickly attached it to her snazzy lapel. I mean this is the first live shot of the program. What were they doing prior to the broadcast? It's like a football team calling a timeout before the first play because they only have 10 men on the field.

* Her audio's still not right and I now notice some doodad hanging off the right side of her face. I thought it was an earring but I bet it's a recently deceased mic.

* The stimulating allows the Governor to sign the Homeowners Tax Relief Grant which allows us to keep us homeowners to keep our pocketbooks closed for the moment.

* Perdue is also asking for an additional 1% cut from all agencies. I can't wait to see the audits to see what all is being cut. Democrat Robert Brown can't wait either. He wants a study to explore what services are already affected.

* The recently departed mic is now gone. A moment of silence seems appropriate. Kudos to Valerie Edwards for keeping cool in the chaos.

* House reconsiders HR1 which sends the constitutional cap on property tax to the Rules Committee

* Shout out to the young 'uns! The Young Democrats and Young Republicans have joined forces in support of passing alcohol sales on sunday. Imagine that.

* Sen. Dan Weber (R - Land of Earnest People) sponsored Senate Bill 58 that has something to do with the dispensantion of property by new cities (hint hint Dunwoody). I don't really understand it but I always like to mention my good Senator Dan.

* Another senate bill - this one by Democrat Gloria Butler. It requires marshals to notify victims when protective orders are served. Makes sense. Passed unanimously.

* Flu shot bill again. We won't have to get prescription to get a flu shot. This cleans up some constitutional conundrums. And hopefully this is the last we will ever hear of this again.

* They are dealing with a lot of "clean up" bills - closing loopholes and what not. Not much to see hear. Moving on.

* I heard about this Robert Brown speech on the Milledgeville Veterans Hospital earlier at Peach Pundit. Let's see if it's really as bad as the prone-to-fainting-boys over there said. It was certainly passionate but I didn't see any screaming and pounding and ranting. Makes you wonder if when their own Eric Johnson was actually caught flat out fabricating in that august body two years ago if the PP boys were already dead unconscious on their fainting couches.

* Sen. Renee Untermann promises her committee is tracking the status of veterans carefully.

* Susanna Capelouta is on to talk about science teachers. I feel compelled to consult my editor before I report what she says. My editor has decided that we should reciprocate Susanna's feelings about crediting certain types of sources.

* Oooooooo! A new cop car. I like cars. It looks pretty cool. Kinda like a Dodge Charger mated with something from Robocop. This one is custom built by a Georgia manufacturer.

* GPB is moving to digital transmitters today. Hope you got your converter boxes!

* Peanut Power Hour! That means lobbyists telling us not all goobers are laced with the salmonella. It probably doesn't help there's a shot of the person handling a pack of crackers with gloves. Ooooooo! Apples and peanut butter! That's one of my favorite snacks. Bottom line - peanut products are "safe and delicious". Alan Freedman went a little Martha Stewart there.

* Sen. Vincent Fort wants a moratorium on the death penalty. Gotta give it to Sen. Fort - he ain't afraid of tackling bears.

* U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson swung by to let us all know he's running again.

* Oh lord. Senate hazing. This always happens when a freshman Senator offers his or her first bill. They have to stand there and answer inane questions like why did you change the word "the" to "this". They think this is high humor.

* Oh my dear lord. Nwandi couldn't figure out to which camera she should deliver the wrap (to be fair it didn't switch to the center one as usual) and when they finally got that straight, some flunky is caught waving his hands in front of the live camera. Between this and the dead mic earlier it was like a throwback to the early days when GPB was completely done with hand puppets.

* Dave and Nwandi were doing all they could to not burst with laughter.

* Thank god that's a wrap.

Monday, February 16, 2009

My Morning Wooten

There you go again.
It’s a lie born of one of those old, Reagan-era wars between the left and the right over whether to reform welfare. The “welfare queen” label persisted, prompting the left to recast the debate from “welfare queen” to “children.” A nation fed up with the entitlement mentality of adults could be coerced into expanding social programs so long as the beneficiaries were “children.”
My first impulse is to write AJC Public Editor Matt Kempner, but frankly I'm tired of the "technically it's not inaccurate" spin. Also, he's now on twitter, so he'll see this soon enough.

Welfare as we know it wasn't switched to focus on children for political convenience - it has always been about children.

The first modern incarnation of welfare in the U.S. was Aid to Dependent Children. It was later renamed Aid To Families with Dependent Children. But children have always been there and no doubt will always be there.

Do not be fooled by Jim's insidious obfuscation, no one qualifies for what we know as welfare if they do not have children. Period.

An argument can be made against our social programs, but it should be made without resorting to falsehood.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Songs In My Head

Friday, February 13, 2009

Some Lawyerly Thoughts On SB 13

Senate Bill 13 allows prosecutors to offer life without parole pleas prior to a death penalty case. Despite the screeches of the blood thirsty, this bill is not an effort to kill the death penalty, but merely gives the state more flexability in dealing with the most difficult cases. It passed the Senate unanimously.

I mentioned in Gonzo Lawmakers: Day 17 that the Griftdrift Lawyer Caucus was reserving judgment on the bill, but prominent member Jen. B has stepped forward with her analysis. Bottom line, she think's it's okay.

Read her full thoughts here.

Gonzo Lawmakers - Day 18

A daily recap of the Georgia Public Broadcasting show "Lawmakers". The show airs weekdays at 7:00pm with a replay at 5:30am the following weekday.

Day 18

* I feel everything is losing steam. We're all vampires waiting for the sun to rise.

* Everybody's present. Good start.

* HR 1 failed but HB 233 passed. We're probably about to get into some weird parliamentary madness. Thank goodness Lawmakers is here to guide us.

* HR 1 is very technical but essentially it puts a cap on property assessments in the Constitution. This requires a 2/3 vote in the House and would be on the November ballot.

* Rep. Dubose Porter (D-Running for Governor): "If you want to be a part of laying off firefighters and policeman, vote for this bill." SNAP!

* HR 1 didn't reach the magic 2/3 number.

* HB 233 does the same thing but on a temporary basis therefore it only needs a simple majority and it got it. The debate was 2 hours and we're going to see more of it a little later.

* Dubose again. He claims HB 233 is unconstitutional. What a mess. Calvin Smyre, he's the D caucus leader don't ya know, claims this is an effort to cover up that the Rs don't want to pass the Homeowner Relief Grant (which already passed). That doesn't seem quite right since I remember talking to Wilson about this bill before the session even started.

* Republican response is from Majority Leader Jerry Keen. He thinks the Ds are going to have a hard time selling this at home. He's probably right.

* Live shot! We're back in the Rotunda. That makes me a little sad.

* Valerie's going to talk about the Senate Democrat bills to prevent sub-prime loans from being sold to third parties. Otherwise known as the not-a-chance-in-hell bills.

* Valerie went out and about with Sen. Vincent Fort. Field trip!

* They found a street where half the homes are under foreclosure. We're #5 in the country in foreclosures which is rougly inverse to our ranking in SAT scores.

* I love the field trips! Let's take Sen. Davis out and have him play in traffic!

* Whoops! Valerie either just had a hiccup, a burp or a run of tachycardia. She just smacked the hell out of her chest. In the process she hit her mic. I wish we had a shot of the sound guy writhing in pain.

* Pickup truck seatbelt law. This passed the Senate but word on the street is the House ain't gonna let it out of committee. The Senate Republicans are taking the opportunity to slam their House brethren.

* Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond (D-Prophet of Doom and Gloom) is updating everybody on the employment sichiation. It ain't good. The press gaggle look glazed over.

* Another consititutional amendment, this time in the Senate. Chip Rogers (R-Great Hair Land) explains this would help put extra money in the reserve to help prevent sichiations like the current one. It passed.

* More reaction to SB31 (Pay Now Nuke Later). I'm not sure why the Senate is still discussing this since it already passed. But everyone seems to want to get one last shot at this beast.

* HB 233 basement tapes. Mike Jacobs (R-Bane of Young Democrats) voice is cracking - make your own puberty joke. Rep Doug McKillip (D-Another Young'un) is wearing one bad ass gangster suit. I apologize for the fashion quips but how they look is a helluva lot more interesting than this technical crap.

* Tom Crawford time! Hey Tom! See you at Manuel's where I can introduce myself again.

* Tom's going to talk about the Pay Now Nuke Later bill. The Nuke plants won;t generate power until 2017. I would have given everything I own if Tom had started screaming, "IT AIN'T GONNA MATTER CAUSE THE MAYANS SAY WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE IN 2012!"

* Understatement of the Year: "Georgia Power is a very politically influential company".

* Tom says Sonny's gonna veto the Homeowner Relief Grant.

* I'm getting pretty tired of the poison peanut thing.

* Bye Tom

* Poll time! Shockingly 77% of people support doubling the Homestead Exemption. No vote totals. I think they realized it's not wise to publicize the totals.

* The HBCU consolidation thing is being tabled. Good. Everyone should step back and think about this thing a while.

* More "Five for Fighting". In case you forgot, these are five bills from the Democrats aimed at helping veterans. It's the same stuff covered yesterday. They just want to build a little momentum, I suppose. (I'm a little surprised we aren't seeing the Dan Weber earnest b-roll here)

* It's Georgia Day! Oglethorpe landed down near Savannah on this day in 1733.

* The first three day week ends today so we won't see Dave, Nwandi and the gang until next tuesday. Bye y'all! That's a wrap.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Half Ass City

We are a half ass city.

Like a teenager with self-esteem issues, Atlanta tends to half ass its way through everything.

We built and built and built while half-assing infrastructure until the sewers told us to pony up $4 billion or they would spew sludge into the streets.

We half-assed on transportation and ended up with the most incomplete, dysfunctional transit system of any major city in the country.

But most glaringly, in 1996, exposed to the world, we half-assed the Olympics and when something went wrong, the press handed our half-ass back to us on an ink-stained platter.

And we're about to do it again.

For years people of many stripes, myself included, have promoted the idea of a casino at Underground. Despite the whines of the moralists, it would solve many problems. It would give the ubiquitous conventioneers a place to wander. It would bring god knows how much revenue to a city strapped for cash. Most importantly, it would finally lance the boil of a city subsidized entertainment district that only entertains as a frightening freak show.

But instead of changing the state law which prevents casino gambling, Atlanta is exploring using a loophole in the lottery law which allows video gambling machines -and not even those poor pitiful video poker machines, but some half-ass lottery spewing chimera.

Left on Lanier correctly notes, "If Atlanta is going to pursue gambling as a correction to budget issues, then it’s best to make it hardcore. Attract big money gamblers by providing live poker with live dealers, pit bosses, additional security, the whole works. Over time, we could add the fountains and lighting and attractions, and become a mini-Las Vegas- complete with police presence and a general sense of well-being in the city center".

But I doubt we will. We won't because we don't understand the concept of all-in. We'd rather cautiously play a little here and a little there - never making that breath gasping push. And every poker player of any skill knows the inevitable result of this strategy - no money left and out of the game.

Gonzo Lawmakers - Day 17

A daily recap of the Georgia Public Broadcasting show "Lawmakers". The show airs weekdays at 7:00pm with a replay at 5:30am the following weekday.

*(Imagine Morgan Freeman speaking) Oh long will it last?

* Gold dome. Good. Dave and Nwandi. Good.

* Top story. The Senate passes the pay for it now, get nuked later bill. This is the one that let's Georgia Power front load the cost of new power plants we may never see. Clark Howard hates it. That should tell you something.

* This baby is so big, we're already going to the live shots. We're leaving the doldrums, folks.

* Live shot is back in the Senate chamber. No one stealing office supplies tonight.

* 90 minutes of debate. 3 amendments. Now that's Octagon-style legislatin'! Now we're talkin'!

* Sen. Balfour (R-Loves Georgia Power) is the defending his pet and he's a little hoarse. Make your own joke here. Apparently the bill is good for everyone. If only we'd known that earlier. More jobs. Less unemployment. Reduces interest rates. Can it also tune my car?

* David Adelman (D-Probably Too Smart For Politics) argues this is the realm of the PSC.

* Democrats really came out against this one.

* Balfour is pretty hot. Tends to happen when your puppy is being kicked. He says there were no deals cut.

* Back to the live shot and there's a new skulker in the background!

* Wait. They didn't tell us the final tally. It was 38-16 to pass. No idea if the amendments survived.

* I've got a scroll on the bottom telling me that GPB is saying to hell with the DTV extension! We're cutting over on Feb. 17th! You want your Big Bird? Get with the times, luddites!

* And we move right to resevoirs and the drought. Huh? Wait a minute. That was the weirdest segue ever. Seriously. We went from not really closing out an issue so hot it riled the calmest man on talk radio to one of the most technical discussions possible. They are literally talking about federal vs. state control based on the size in feet of a resevoir. Very strange.

* Okay. This isn't even a bill. It's an "urging resolution" which means "beg congress to act". And we have to stretch the session out, why?

* On the House side, they banned using the word "Novelty" on a license. Even Nwandi looks disgusted.

* They cut that segment off quick. Thank god.

* The House also exempted sales tax on getting your plane fixed in our wonderful state. God help me, I wish owned a Cessna instead of a house.

* I swear to God, they are now talking about regulating interior designers. Let me introduce you to the Libertarian Party of Georgia...

* Now we're talking. Someone is claiming we're about to undue "centuries of jurist prudence". Oh, it's the "loser pays" bill. If you get your case dimissed after discovery, you pay your opponents legal bills.

* Here's Georgia Trial Lawyer's Buck Rogers again. He's agin it. Twiki has no comment.

* School Board ethics bill. The school board people agree with every thing in it except the provision that could result in having their butts removed from office. Imagine that.

* The Life Without Parole Bill from the Senate got a do pass from a House committe. This feels like a good bill but the response from the griftdrift lawyer caucus is mixed.

* Here's the second part of "Five for Fighting" legislation. Part of it is amending the definition of "combat veteran" to include those who served after 1975. That's a relic of the Vietnam Era. The second is to deal with veteran's facilities which includes the famous veteran's hospital in Milledgeville which is facing closure due to budget cuts.

* Karla Drenner is calling out Charlice Byrd in a morning order. (And we got a quick cut of Nwandi as someone apparently forgot the difference between preview and live)

* We may have discovered what that dude was doing in the Senate chamber last night during the live shots. All our senators woke this morning to a sheet of paper on their desks explaining how illegal immigrants are destroying the state of Georgia. The screed is courtesy of Sen. John Douglas. Sen. Douglas has never fared well in these parts but due to apparent temporary sanity, he's received a pass for the past few days. I think recess may be over.

* He waved around a report about the recent busts in Gwinnett County and babbled a bit about sanctuary cities. Disappointing. Moving on...

* They are down to quoting country singers to argue for trauma care funding. It's far too early for such nonsense. Adjourn now and save us all.

* More technical loophole crap. JUST GET TO THE BUDGET ALREADY!

* Nurses Day! Yeesh.

* A frustrating day leads to a frustrating episode. The slow down of the schedule has led to an extension of the pain. We are in the grind - the slow burn. The slavering beast budget still waits in the bushes. It ain't gonna get any better, bubba. But for this night, try to sleep tight, cause it's a wrap.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Question of The Day

We're going to talk about carburetors.

The carburetor is an ancient device used before the days of fuel injection to mix gasoline and air in order to make a car engine run.

Now, when a foolish country boy would run his car completely out of gas, even after he put additional gas in the tank, the car still would not start. First, he was required to splash a little gas in the carburetor and that would provide enough mixture to fire the engine which would then begin drawing fuel from the tank and keep the engine running.

You had to put the gas in the carburetor to make the engine turn over. Putting it anywhere else, say up the tailpipe, was useless.

Keynesian economics states that to get a sluggish economy started again, you have to "prime the pump" or use government spending to stimulate private sector spending. But personally I prefer the carburetor analogy.

Now here's your question. I'm not interested whether you believe in Keynesian theory or not, but, do you think the current "stimulus" package is putting gas in the carburetor or the tail pipe?

Gonzo Lawmakers - Day 16

A daily recap of the Georgia Public Broadcasting show "Lawmakers". The show airs weekdays at 7:00pm with a replay at 5:30am the following weekday.

Day 16

* Lawmakers returns and so do I!

* Top story is the Homeowners Relief Grant. Essentially the current version would tie the grant to revenue estimates. Sen. Steve Thompson is explaining how a Governor can game the system. Now Sen. Tommie Williams (he's from Wilson's neck of the woods) says this will fund it for 09 and will only fund it if we're able to in the future. I think what Sen. Thompson was getting at is "able to" is a very fluid term in the hands of the gubmint. But despite the plea, the bill has now passed both houses and goes to the Governor where things get really interesting...

* Governor Perdue told a meeting of county commissioners he still opposes the grant. He's lucky whole tomatoes weren't served at the lunch.

* Hey! Someone at the meeting is mugging for the camera! Stop that!

* Stimulus time. It's a wonder every one hasn't turned blue from holding their breath.

* Ahhhh here's Virgil Floods new tax ideer. I promised someone earlier that I would give this more play tonight so here goes. Rep. Flood wants to take sales tax collection from the Georgia Dept. of Revenue and give it to the local boys and girls. But wait! There's more! He also wants to allow the locals to contract with private companies to perform collections. Now, are you sitting down, Myrtle? Virgil's a Democrat. Yes, I typed that right. He's a Democrat. Privatize. Localize. Democrat. Let that roll around your brain awhile.

* CVS just got a free 15 second plug when the b-roll tape froze. Maybe that's the solution to the budget crunch - product placement. Let's just go full bore NASCAR.

* Least shocking news of the day - the Association of County Commissioners supports Flood's bill.

* One more thought on this thing. It's a preview of what's to come in 2010. Two words, my friends - local control. The Democrats are going to hammer that at every rubber chicken chow, pig jig and rattlesnake round up from Rossville to St. Marys.

* New live shot! Valerie is actually in an empty Senate chamber. Well, empty except for one guy who may or may not be pilfering office supplies.

* She's talking the tort reform bill dealing with big pharma. This sounds awfully, ahem, tortured. I think I know an attorney or two who might chime in on this. We'll wait and see what they have to say.

* The Legislative Chair of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association is named Buck Rogers. I kid you not.

* Buck is of course using the poison peanut situation to explain why we can't trust the feds to tell us everything is safe. I say we all consult Dr. Theopolis!

* Three unanimous bills. Yawn. Oh wait. Sen. John Douglas (R-Crazyland) sponsored one of these. His would prevent pedophiles from running for school board. His argument has twisted logic for something that seems to make sense, but this is John Douglas we're talking about. Then again, it passed unanimously, so I'll cut him some slack. This time.

* Democrats are pushing bills to help veterans and they are calling them "Five for Fighting". Wasn't that an 80s band? Bill 1 - would give the spouse of a wounded vet 90 days of paid leave (that's a lot of paid leave) to deal with hospitalization issues. Bill 2 - deals with providing marriage counseling for those with PTSD. (Brief interjection - there's Dan Weber looking earnest again. I suspect it's the same b-roll). Bill 3 - tax relief for disabled vets and spouses of deceased vets. Guess we'll have to wait for the last two for they were not mentioned.

* The house voted to continue a sales tax break on jet fuel for mean...the airlines. Funny how there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth on the property tax grant and this one practically flew through.

* Emily Banks and the new live shot is back! But it's still in the Senate. Maybe they just got kicked out of the Rotunda. Anyway, it's a much nicer background.

* Finger printing day care workers. Seems reasonable. Too bad there's no money for it.

* The live shot's definitely in the Senate. There's that dude rummaging around the desks again.

* Poison peanut time! And what is the first step the legislature takes any time horror descends on the citizenry? Form a sub-committee with an absurdly long name. Rep. Kevin Levitas (D-griftdrift's district) is making the announcement and there are candy bars on the podium. Seriously. (For the record - from left to right - Butterfinger, Reeses Cup and Mr. Goodbar)

* They want to ban teenagers from using cell phones while driving. And if it involves driving, we must have a shot of cars speeding along the downtown connector.

* Ummmm. Criticism of this bill is coming from HAM radio operators. Okay, they just want to make sure they are excluded from the bill. Did somebody dose the water supply down there today?

* Leadership Series time (I miss the radio series already). Tonight is Senate Democratic Leader Robert Brown

* And of course they are talking about the budget. Ask him what he thinks about HAM radio operators impact on revenue, Dave.

* About the only thing concrete Sen. Davis said is a regional transportation plan wouldn't help Twiggs and Wilkinson counties. In case you couldn't guess - that's his district.

* Man, Sen. Davis just got very weird on the voucher issue. He went from the classic "baby with the bathwater" cliche to pointing out people could use it to support a madrassa. I'm telling you. Something was in the water today.

* Alan Freedman gets the human interest story today. He interviewed the head of CASA - Court Appointed Special Advocates. They protect abused children, don't ya know.

* It was student lobby day also! Oh my god! They are turning children into lobbyists! Rep. Charlice Byrd is being distracted by GSU teachers talking about sex while this abomination is taking place only a few feet away from her chamber? Get thy crusades prioritized!

* What a weird day, but Lawmakers made it through without a hitch. Maybe the weirdness finally migrated. Either way, that's a wrap.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Morning Wooten

I could pick nits.

But I'm not in the nit-picking business.

Big picture-wise, Jim's right.

Privatize? Localize? From Democrats?

Via JMac.
Democrats in the Georgia House of Representatives today introduced HB 356, a revenue bill designed to put additional funds into the state's shrinking coffers by streamlining government and improving the sales tax collection process. The bill transfers control over collecting sales taxes from the state Department of Revenue to local governments, allowing them to contract with
private firms.
Similar plans have been tried in other states, notably Alabama, which saw a revenue increase of over $1 billion.
I'm just don't know what to say.

Monday, February 09, 2009

View From Another Journalist

This one is gold.
The new media advocates are right that if newspapers go away, people won’t miss it for its format. As they correctly point out, it’s not about the format. Now here’s a shocker: Believe it or not, a lot of newspaper journalists DO realize this. So first let’s stop painting them with a broad brush based on the occasional diatribes from a few columnists with outdated understandings of media.
John Zhu is right. On both counts. Now part of it is we've been preachin' for years and ears are finally hearing. But by God, it is nice to see someone on the "other side" actually put something I've said dozens of times in print.

Via Wendy (Who I'm finding more and more invaluable in keeping me informed on media issues)

My Morning Wooten

This morning, Jim mostly talks the technical point of how a few moderate Republicans essentially guarantee a filibuster proof Senate. Nothing particularly untrue or fraught with crazy here, but it's fun to see how this fact scares the bejeebus out of the "so-called conservatives".

But fear not. In the midst of his teeth gnashing, Jim can't resist hooting out a particurlarly ridiculous laugher.
This will be the pattern too for keeping the liberal majority on the U.S. Supreme Court and on filling vacancies elsewhere.
Liberal majority? Let's suss this one out.

I'm pretty sure Jim and most people with two brained cells rubbing together consider Breyer, Bader Ginsburg, Stevens and Souter the liberals.

And I know from Jim's own writing that Roberts, Alito, Scalia and the glorious Thomas are not only the best thing since sliced bread but the conservatives.

So that leaves Anthony Kennedy. It's all up to him to complete this "liberal majority".

Too bad a recent study by a former circuit justice and a University of Chicago law professor ranks Kennedy the 10th most conservative justice in the past 70 years.

Too bad in Kennedy's first term he voted with Chief Justice Rehnquist 92% of the time.

This is fantasyland. Unfortunately, for some of the prominent voices on the right, fantasyland has been reality for years.

It's a reality which purports it can't be torture unless fingernails are being pulled from quicks. It's a reality where an ideological tie occasionally broken one way or the other by a moderate conservative is seen as a "liberal majority".

It is a reality so awash in red that if its residents see pink, they think it's blue.

Gonzo Lawmakers - Day 15

A daily recap of the Georgia Public Broadcasting show "Lawmakers". The show airs weekdays at 7:00pm with a replay at 5:30am the following weekday.

Day 15

* I fear today will be filled with hate and sorrow. News of the disastrous January revenue numbers seeped out. I doubt even Nwandi, Dave and the gang can honey up this mess.

* Property tax bills passed the Senate. Motion to engross. That's not as bad as it sounds. It just means no amendments can be attached. Engrossment passed. By the way, that'd be a pretty cool band name.

* Sen. Preston Smith is a big dude.

* There's a bunch of constitutional stuff here. HB143 is going to be reconsidered because it may not be constitutional.

* Here's a house bill on when a patient cannot be resusciated. Having had to make that most painful decision in the past, I'm very interested in this one. Looks like its just closing some legal vagueries. No big deal.

* Oh good grief. Here comes the criticism of the Georgia State sociology departments studies on human sexuality. I bet you never thought you'd hear "Queer Theory" spoken from the well. The representative suggests that students should self-pay for these "controversial" courses. Ummmm, isn't that called tuition?

* Revenue in January down over 14%. Chip Rogers says this is "historic". We're going to see significant reductions. Even the reserve won't cover it. Remember last year's GREAT plan? Imagine if that sucker was in place.

* Casey time!

* Senate Dems are not happy with the whole engrossment thing.

* We're about to slow things down. Rep. Keen 'splains. They are going to a three day work week in order to stick around long enough to see what happens in D.C. Which means Lawmakers and Gonzo will also slow down.

* Governor Perdue's education bill's are winding their way through the Capitol. This gives Nwandi a chance to visit Maynard Jackson High School. They are talking serious genetics in this biology class. No wonder this school is considered a model. It also more than doubled its graduation rate. This is a very good segment. Good job, Lawmaker people!

* We haven't had any live shots today. Second Friday in a row this is true. It must be hard to corral the kids right before the weekend.

* Poll results! They didn't tell us how many people voted. It's probably for the best.

* Time to talk to Tom Crawford, editor of Capitol Impact. I've introduced myself to Tom three different times. He never remembers me. Or maybe he does and the thought of a "blogger" knowing him freaks him out.

* Tom says the transportation fight is just a replay of what happened last year. That's not good news. He believes this could have repurcussions in the upcoming political battles.

* Tom says they're going to hold on to the extra 5 days until June. That way they can make adjustments to the budget just before the fiscal year ends. He doesn't remember them ever using this method. I bet he remembers Denmark Groover and the clock.

* Week in Review time. Feel free to use the facilities during this time.

* Lawmakers doesn't return until Tuesday. Gonzo Lawmakers. But feel free to stop by anyway. Lord only knows what madness I might turn out in the morn.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Caption Of The Day

Goofus creeps his Rascal across a confusing intersection between DeKalb Avenue and Moreland where the sidewalks are not handicap accessible and people drive like rage-filled maniacs. ~pecannelog

That's gold. Good job, gals.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Some Media Stuff

Some media bones for you to gnaw on over the weekend.

Wendy, we'll put her in the converted pile, gives some very good advice on etiquette for journalists just now stumbling into our world.
Whether you like a particular post or not and feel moved to comment, don’t hesitate to chime in, ideally on topics related to your blog niche. Journalists are sometimes very reluctant to wade in. We’ve been trained NOT to become part of the story, NOT to offer opinions, NOT to express anything that might be considered “biased” or unprofessional.
Some of us came into this business so long ago, we may have forgot that first feeling of wading in the deep waters. A lot of harsh words have been said on both sides of the media issue and Wendy is providing us perspective from the "other side" and an opportunity for empathy. We should take advantage.

Jay Bookman, we'll put him in the slowly converting pile, talks about the larger issues of the newspaper crisis and addresses the rapidly emerging idea of an i-Tunes model.
Remember that when iTunes began, the music industry was being decimated by file sharing. By coming up with an easy user interface and obtaining the cooperation of a broad swath of music companies, Mr. Jobs helped pull the business off the brink. He has been accused of running roughshod over the music labels, which are a fraction of their former size. But they are still in business.
I'm glad the newspaper industry is finally waking up to the perilous parallels to the record industry. Some of us have only been waving it in their faces for years.

Me? We're going to put me in the I Don't Know pile. I don't know if papers will survive. I know the news will survive and I know writing will survive. And although it's going to be tough and it's going to hurt at times, someone's going to find a way to make this work.

Someone always does.

My Morning Wooten

Today's Jim is so full of half-truth's, things I half agree with and things far more complicated than presented, that it just isn't worth it. You know why scientists don't debate creationists? Because they know the creationists will spew forth a list of the above said quality and expect their opponent to do the hard work of parsing the litany and in a fashion that doesn't put the audience into a coma. Ain't gonna do it.

But there's one that's black and white.
If New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch and the Obama administration agreed to a deal to appoint a Republican to succeed U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg, the president’s nominee for Commerce Secretary, what principally is different from the deal former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich tried to cut to fill a Senate vacancy? Blago allegedly sought something of value, namely campaign cash. Before stepping down, Gregg extracted something of value —- a pledge not to appoint a Democrat who would diminish Republican influence in the U.S. Senate. Giving money or giving services. Don’t see the big difference.
I'll give you one big difference, Jim. One's illegal.

People It's Bad

Sen. Tommie Williams has reported revenue for January was down over 14%.

We are to the point where the Republican leadership has decided to stretch the session to see what happens in Washingston.

On a personal note, I picked a helluva time to start a new feature.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Gonzo Lawmakers - Day 14

A daily recap of the Georgia Public Broadcasting show "Lawmakers". The show airs weekdays at 7:00pm with a replay at 5:30am the following weekday.

Day 14

* Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends. But we'll have our good friends Dave, Nwandi, Valarie, Brittany, Tiana, etal. along for the ride.

* HOPE book stipend is preserved. Heard this earlier. The previous triggers on the stipend were a little draconian. This gives HOPE a little flexability. I know HOPE is a biggie, but if this is the top story...

* And on the Senate side we've got a bill to allow students with certain allergies to carry self-administered doses of epi...epi...the stuff you take when you have an allergic reaction. Passed unanimously. Yes, children. We are in the doldrums.

* Ratification of Executive Orders which have already been executed. WHOO BOY!

* More ethics reform stuff. This is actually a little exciting (well, relatively speaking) because it wants to close loopholes which allow the transfer of funds from one campaign to another. No more footsey wootsey with the money woney!

* Yay! Gun bills! This might quicken the blood! Three bills to loosen gun laws but Casey has already said that ain't making it to the Senate floor. I learned last year during the veto crisis just how easy it is to shuffle things off into oblivion. So, these things ain't going nowhere. Oh well. Wait there's a nugget here. The Georgia Carry people are claiming Georgia's strict gun laws violate the 2nd amendment. I believe 99% of gun laws are silly but strict? That's a laugher. Based on my experience, Georgia's got some of the loosest laws in the country. Seriously. With a straight face, they just said we are the strictest state in the country. I support gun rights but these people are loons. Lord, I needed that just for the laugh. Now comes the onslaught of crazies claiming I'm a gun grabbing liberal goon.

* It's the tobacco tax that will never die. But Jerry Keen is having none of it. House leadership is sticking to the no new taxes pledge.

* Hey! A new face! Hello to Emily Banks.

* Governor Perdue's incentive based educator bills have been filed. The question? Where in God's name will the money come from?

* Did you know that if a person isn't wearing a seatbelt in an accident it's inadmissable in court? Me neither. Hell, even the Libertarians are quiet on this one. I'm getting ready to sing kumbaya.

* Flu shots without prescriptions. Haven't we seen this before? Groundhog Day was the other day right? I'm not going to hear Sonny and Cher on my clock radio in the morning am I?

* Curious we haven't heard anything about the January revenue figures yet. Maybe it broke too late? Let me give you a hint. Sources say it's gonna be U-G-L-Y.

* Good lord. Something about tax assessors and assessments and foreclosures. I won't need valium tonight.

* The bill now known as Georgia Power vs Clark Howard! This should have been the top story (except they may not be anything new to add). Balfour vs. Stoner in a death match of substitute bills! Have I mentioned that Stoner is on camera a lot this session?

* More rallies against particular budget cuts. Domestic Violence programs this time. Just like with the senior citizens - I ain't going there.

* Some anti-teen exploitation group is heaping praise on Renee Unterrmen's three bills mentioned the other day. And there's a Lt. Governor candidate who made sure he was in the shot. I won't say which one but I will say the man knows how to hit his mark.

* If you cut, we'll bleed - the chant of the hemophilliac's protesting budget cuts. Not making that up.

* Cool tie, Allen Freedman.

* Tomorrow the Homestead Exemption and Property Tax Relief bills hit the Senate floor! Whoopee! We're finally gonna have some real debate! Until then. That's a wrap.

Austin Scott's Strange Crusade

The Republicans have their own Josh Lanier.

Rep. Austin Scott has thrown his hat in the ring for Governor and he ain't planning on the normal route.
Scott intends to fund his campaign with contributions of “$100 from 100 people in the state’s 159 counties.
Why does this seem familiar? I wonder if he has a Jeep.

Gonzo Lawmakers - Day 13

A daily recap of the Georgia Public Broadcasting show "Lawmakers". The show airs weekdays at 7:00pm with a replay at 5:30am the following weekday.

Day 13

* I predict a lot of State of the Judiciary

* Chief Justice Leah Sears is leaving the court this June, so this might get interesting. I'll admit the idea of the judiciary appearing in the chamber of politics makes me itchy. But that's the game we play in Georgia so let's motor on.

* No call for raises. The judges are doing there part to help with the budget crisis. Good lord, state judges haven't had a raise in a decade? Is that possible?

* We're seeing tape of previous speeches where Chief Justice touted her philosophy of family and marriage being the bedrock of society. It is these moments which make me cackle when some "so-called" conservative reflexively calls her a "libruhl".

* First live shot. There's Valarie and there's the familiar three lights in the background.

* A personal opinion, Chief Justice Sears will be remembered as one of the lions of the court.

* A bill about selling insurance. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. STOLI - huh what? Suddenly this got more interesting. Oh wait. It's a government acronym. Nevermind.

* Bill to remove statute of limitations on crimes against chilluns. This has potential to be more interesting than an insurance bill. Currently you only have 7 years after a child turns 16. The bill faces no opposition.

* This is the doldrums of the session. Just about all we are going to see are technical bills which while important are boring as hell or bills nobody wants to oppose like the statute of limitations bill.

* Sen. Gail Buckner wants to save some youth outdoor program from the budget cuts. Wake me when the pandering is over.

* Sen. Fort once again talking on predatory lending. The streak continues.

* Extended coverage of the State of the Judiciary. Even Republicans pointed out this is one of the best speeches recently seen in the chamber. Take the time to head to the Lawmakers website and watch the whole thing.

* A couple of tort reforms were filed today. One is Governor Perdue's "shield" for the pharma companies. This is a big one and an important one so we'll discuss it in detail when the debate starts.

* A Senate committee recommended do pass on SB31. Go here to see what the cheapest man in America thinks of this clunker.

* Something about education grants. It involves charter schools which interests me but once again, we're in the doldrums. What we need is for Sunday Alcohol Sales to come up for debate.

* Ask and ye shall receive. The home schoolers were at the Capitol. They want access to sports and other recreational activities. And who is held up as their standard? Tim Tebow of course. Ugh. I'm not necessarily against home schooling per se, but there's something that bothers me about people who refuse to participate in a school because they think it's crap then use the legislature to force said crap factory to let them access the few parts they think will benefit their children. It smacks of selfishness.

* Very little snark today. I blame the Chief Justice. She just brings too much class to the joint. That's a wrap.

Clark Howard On SB31

Previously I mentioned Clark Howard's distaste for SB 31 (allows Georgia Power to charge for plants not yet built). Now you can hear for yourself.

h/t: Jason

My Morning Wooten

Mistakes. Consequences. Maybe a little grammar thrown in.
"I screwed up." ~Barack Obama, 2009

"Mistakes were made." ~Ronald Reagan, 1987

"As has become customary in public life, taking responsibility is without consequence, as was the case with Reno. It’s a phrase that means nothing more than: “Get this story off the front pages and move on to something that’s either more favorable, or less harmful, to my image.”" ~Jim Wooten, 2009

I suppose we could argue one party or the other's predilection for taking or not taking responsibility. I suppose.

But I doubt we can debate the difference between the active and passive voice.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Gonzo Lawmakers - Day 12

A daily recap of the Georgia Public Broadcasting show "Lawmakers". The show airs weekdays at 7:00pm with a replay at 5:30am the following weekday.

Day 12

* Everyone present and accounted for.

* First half of the daily double: Transportation. T-SPLOST passes the Senate. This is the regional version.

* Whoa! Something weird just happened. The whole picture dimmed. Don't know if it's my DVR or a new gremlin. American Idol certainly looked fine.

* More weirdness! Tape skip! And the picture cleared back up. I think we had some bad tape there.

* SB13 allows prosecutors to seek Life Without Parole from the get go. Passed unanimously and that's a good thing.

* First live shot. Same spot.

* Bill to allow students to leave school as early as 11th grade to attend college. They would get credit at both simultaneously. I thought we had this already. I'm pretty sure my sister did it a long time ago. Maybe this expands it somehow. Still. Sounds good.

* Sen. Fort is back with the "Fair Lending Act". This time they are using the mortgage meltdown as leverage. The Republicans counter with penalties for late deed filing and allowing leasees to stay in a foreclosed home for 60 days. We're going to see some chimera come out of all this.

* Now we're on to tweaking bankruptcy law. This is all quite depressing. Democrats want to increase the homestead exemption in the bankruptcy law.

* Brittany Evans is in studio! They must be down to drawing straws to see who gets the one live shot at the Capitol. Doubling the homestead passed the Finance Committe and now heads to Rules. However, the county commissioners aren't happy because they know this means less money in their till which will force all the difficult decisions on to their laps.

* Wait! We're back to the Capitol! But the same shot. And I'm just guessing here but based on the difference in the angle of the camera, Tiana Fernandez is quite a bit shorter than the other reporters. Maybe that's why Brittany got shuffled off to the studio.

* It's the Annual Let's Make Seatbelt Use In Pickup Trucks Mandatory bill. Each year, we pass on some federal money because we don't have this requirement. If you want to know why I could care less email me or make the request in a comment.

* Leadership Series: Tonight it's House Majority Leader Jerry Keen and he's going to talk about, what else - transportation.

* He advocates the House version of a statewide plan - shocking. Now on to the budget. The budget originates in the House don't ya know. The challenge is really going to be the Amended Budget instead of the "Big" budget. Maybe it's time for a refresher on the difference in those two boogers. You let me know if you want it.

* Sen. Brown (D-As Seen On TV) defends Sen. Seth Harp's resolution to merge HBCU's with majority white colleges. He wants to make sure people understand Harp's motives are not insidious. He also points out Emmanuel Jones is helping craft a revised version to clear up some things.

I'm going to take a moment to editorialize on this one. When I first heard of this thing, I thought it was easily one of the stupidest moves ever. Seriously, we're building God forsaken boat ramps and the Republicans want to close HBCU's before cutting anything else? This is the priority? So, I have been shocked by the tepid response of some African American leaders and I've slowly come to realize that maybe this isn't that big of a deal. I still think it plays into the hands of the goblins of myth and small thought, but if the people who actually have some skin in the game seem to think it might be okay, so be it. We'll just have to see how the revisions play.

* Sen. Gail Buckner wants to introduce a Code of Ethics for school boards. Given what happened in Clayton County? The question is really why the hell didn't we have this already?

* The only House bill today was about allowing private sources to donate to some medical board. I honestly don't know who this is for because Rep. Channel mumbled it. Not much to say here but he clearly said "gin up" a couple of times and "gin up" is a great saying.

* Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, a really sweet lady about whom I'll someday share a story, wants to put limits on coal mining. Coal mining? We mine coal in Georgia? Even if we do, Rep. Oliver represents Decatur. Are they strip mining somewhere near Ponce? Wait a minute. It also puts a moratorium on new Coal plants for the next 5 years. There's the poison pill.

* Stricter regulation on day care. Every adult worker has to get finger-printed. That should stir up some tin hats.

* It was Firefighter's Recognition Day. Which can only mean an appearance by State Fire Commissioner John Oxendine. He's also a candidate for Governor don't ya know. Clever.

* Don't forget the State of Judiciary tomorrow at 10:30.

* There was another curious absence tonight. But we don't want to get into guessing games, so for now, that's a wrap!

Gonzo Lawmakers - Day 11

A daily recap of the Georgia Public Broadcasting show "Lawmakers". The show airs weekdays at 7:00pm with a replay at 5:30am the following weekday

Day 11 - We're officially past the 25% mark

* Everybody's in the right place. They are getting so good at this it's hard to be snarky.

* Budget. Yes, it's always about the budget. Sen. Tommie Williams and Chip Rogers want to talk about furloughs. I was a lowly clerk in 1992 and I was furloughed. I had no money which sucked but I knew many friendly bartenders which made it suck less.

* Rogers preaches unity. But economic development is the number one task. The house building lobby goes wild!

* Sen. George Hooks (D-Americus) wants to hang around for the stimulating money. Democrats are hammering the illogic of across the board cuts. Little known fact - several state agencies already receive a large portion of their funding from the feds so across the board cuts don't seem quite fair. At least it didn't 17 years ago when my agency (received around 90% from the feds) forced young clerks to rely on the largesse of bartenders.

* Big topic #2 - Transportation. And our first live shot. Same spot. Mullis again. He's the Senate point man, don't ya know. Now the House has revealed its plan. We also have new traffic b-roll. Back to the House plan, Rep. Vance Smith has a map with "freight routes" highlighted in blue and I recognize one. Rep. Smith doesn't use it as an example but the long blue streak in southwest Georgia is Ga Hwy 133. For years, the locals have been trying to get that sucker 4-laned from Albany to Valdosta. How much "freight" actually goes from Albany to Valdosta? Just something to think about. A truism of politics - old can always be new again - especially if you can find the money.

* And Valerie Edwards delivers the bottom line - the difference in the House and Senate plans is whether to make the sales tax statewide or regional. That's where the fight really lies.

* It's Chip Rogers day. Reminds us all that other than the budget they aren't really required to anything else. But it would be nice. Snark aside, what he says about taking time to educate the voters on big constitutional issues makes sense.

* Democratic response is from Doug Stoner. Stoner again? What's the deal here Cobb people? Is he about to throw his hat in the ring for something?

* Weird parlimentary moment. Immediately after voting on HR-1 and before the technicallity of sending it back to the rules committee, someone made the motion to adjourn. This provided Speaker Richardoson (R-Parts Unknown) to remind new legislators that if they try to pull a fast one, he will simply smack them down. However, Richardson allowed the adjournment which normally would have been ruled out of order. But yesterday he simply brought HR-1 back up again and it was returned to Rules without objection. There's probably some subtext here but all I can say for now is weirdness abounds. And they still have 29 days to go. Imagine how loopy they will be in the last week.

* Casey time! Lt. Guv Cagle wants to double the homestead exemption. Nothing new here.

* Vouchers finally pop up. We're about to see the other Lite Guv candidate - Sen. Eric Johnson. If you are a regular reader, you probably remember some of Sen. Johnson's previous "shining moments".

* Same live shot.

* Johnson shaved the goatee. BOO! How does a politician prep for election? Gets clean cut. Prevents any comparisons to being the devil.

* Sen. Robert Brown (D-Not Doug Stoner) references Brown vs. Board. If race is seeping in this early, its a good indicator of how nasty this could get.

* A follow up question from Nwandi! That's a first! Smoothly handled. Well done.

* Poll results! Who cares what they asked - what was the vote total? 26. Well that's more than double last time. Get your lazy asses over there and vote.

* A banking regulation bill. These are usually the kinds of bills which turn into stink bombs later but frankly they're just boring as hell. Bathroom break.

* Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Usually Fired Up) is preaching about predatory lending reform. It ain't gonna pass. But a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. HAH! He cracked up Sen. George Hooks (D-I'm The Oldest Dude Here). Sen. Fort always knows how to play the audience.

* First appearence of Rep. Mike Jacobs (DR-Land of Torches and Pitchforks)! Some licensing thing. This is the type of "meaty" treat you get from your new friends when you jump parties.

* Sen. John Douglas (R-Crazyland) got something passed unanimously out of committee. You know why? Because it wasn't crazy.

* No Minoo! Three day weekend?

*Obligatory Groundhog Day reference. They are asking what animal legislators use to determine when the session will end. Dubose said possum. Heh. That's a wrap.