I Was Wrong

I first met Mike Sabot in early April when I called together a meeting of area liberty lovers to try to begin coordinating the area pro-liberty efforts. In fact, that was the first time I actually met several people, including Donna Driskell and Tom Knighton.

I’ve been on Mike’s email list since about that time, but here’s a dirty little secret: I rarely actually read any of them. I scan the headline and I might skim the email itself, but rarely do I actually read it.

About a month ago, I made the decision – without talking to Tom, my partner on SWGAPolitics.com, about it – to bring Mike in as a contributing author to our site. I did this primarily because he was covering Lee County pretty heavily in his emails, and he was regularly sending me stuff to publish under ‘Publius’ – some of which I actually did. Because I don’t really have the time to get to Lee County Commission meetings myself and he was going out there, I thought it was a good idea to bring him on to write about those issues in particular.

I was wrong.

Over the past couple of weeks, it has become apparent that Mike really is, as others have described him, an ‘angry old man’, and he is letting that get in the way of his reporting of the facts. While I disagree with many of his opinions, honestly because I do so deeply value freedom of speech, I was willing to let that slide so long as he had his facts straight.

It has come to my attention via some discussions with others as well as an article in today’s Albany Herald that apparently, Mike isn’t getting his facts straight any more before reporting. I can understand a slight slip or two, such as my own brain fart yesterday when I claimed that there was no law requiring government meetings in Georgia to be open to the public, and my friend GriftDrift corrected me.

But Mike has recently made an issue of potential alcohol in the new Lee County Library without ever seeing a floor plan, and earlier this week he accused some of the Lee County Commission – Ed Duffy and Rick Muggridge in particular – of illegal and/or unethical acts that had not yet occurred and in fact, DID NOT occur. He has also recently circulated an email claiming that the Lee County Commission was going to raise millage rates ‘over and above’ the amount that homeowners are now having to pay due to the General Assembly making the correct call of disbanding the Homeowners’ Tax Relief Grant during these troubled economic times. In fact, the millage rate stayed the same, while the Lee County School Board millage rate went up slightly.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I do my best to be as honest and accurate as possible both in my reporting and in my editorializing, and I WILL NOT stand for one of my contributors to put forth such lies. My own sources say Mike was corrected on at least one occasion prior to him sending these emails and writing these posts, and yet he sent them out anyway. In fact, it is due to these very issues that I personally will not be joining the Lee County Taxpayers Association so long as Mike Sabot is affiliated with it in any way.

That said, Tom and I talked about it this morning and we’ve decided to give Mike one more chance with our organization, and that is IT. The next time he spreads a lie, even if via email, I personally will sever all ties with him, including dismissing him from SWGAPolitics.com

Mike, consider this your last warning:

Shape up, or ship out.

[CORRECTED] Daytime Meetings Subvert the Principles of Democratic Republics

“There should be a law…” is something that I tend to avoid. Quite frankly, we have too many laws as it is, and most of the time when you hear that phrase, what comes next is something that will curtail civil or economic liberties to some degree.

Of course, with that opening paragraph, there is bound to be a ‘but’, and here it is:

From looking at the Official Code of Georgia as available on LexisNexis online, it appears that there is no law requiring local government meetings to be open to the public. This, to me, is despicable. While there may be SOME reason for closed door sessions in certain extremely limited situations, by and large local government meetings should be open to the public.

But there is an equally important issue here, one that I’ve never seen addressed – and the one that resulted in me doing that search of OCGA. You see, I’ve lived in several cities in Georgia spread across each of the State’s lateral zones (north, central, south). In each of those, I’ve noticed the same things happening in every town: local commission meetings are advertised as ‘open to the public’ but are held at times during the workday when John Q. Public is at work and therefore cannot attend. Local media coverage is often spotty, at best, and therefore John Q. Public may or may not be truly informed of the decisions his local leaders are making – decisions that affect his day to day life far more drastically and severely than any decision made at the State or Federal level.
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What Do You Cut?

Much ado has been made over the past couple of days about Governor Purdue announcing his intentions to furlough teachers for three days this calendar year in a cost-saving measure designed to avoid a special session of the General Assembly.

I’ll be the first to point to several different things that could have been cut other than that, but there are a few things I want to point out:

First, until now, education hasn’t received any direct cuts, even though it is roughly 55% of the budget for this state.

Second, in keeping with the GOP way of doing things in this regard, Perdue didn’t actually mandate that teachers be furloughed – legally, he can’t. What he did was to cut the funding for local schools by three days per teacher. If a local school system wants to actually furlough the teachers that day, that is their call. They could try to save the money in other ways – such as by furloughing only central office staff for a longer period, expanding the ‘no bussing’ zone around schools, lengthening the distance between school bus stops, reducing the amount of supplies – including paper, pens, and toilet paper – bought, etc. Again, that decision is completely up to them.

Now, we’ve already got two Governor candidates, David Poythress and John Oxendine, coming out with statements here. Believe it or not, I actually agree with Ox’s statement that “Teachers need our absolute support and encouragement. I believe the root of the problem is not the amount of money coming into the state treasury, but how we are choosing to spend the money. It obviously hurts our teachers, but in the end it hurts every school child in this state.” My problem with Ox’s statement is that it is typical generic politician hogwash. I want details – and Poythress has already provided some.

Poythress’ statement can be found here, but here is where he gets specific on what he would do instead:

While I am a big supporter of rural economic development, and plan to make it a top priority in my Administration, it’s hard to justify spending this money when we can’t even pay our teachers. In short, some things like the “Go Fish” program should have to wait a year until we get our fiscal house in order. That’s not tough love – it’s the right thing to do.

Apparently Governor Perdue and the Atlanta politicians disagree.

A better decision would have been to delay or sunset special interest tax breaks. A 2008 Georgia State University study estimates that sales tax exemptions total $10 billion a year. If we were to furlough some of the special interest protections by just 1%, we could generate $100 million, help balance our budget and not cut teacher pay by a single penny.

A close examination of the tax breaks enacted in 2008 reveals two premium tax breaks for insurance companies, and tax exemption on fuel used by pig farmers and up to $50 million in tax credits for donors (corporate or individual) to private school scholarship funds. Thirty five special interest tax breaks enacted between 2005 and 2008 amount to $333 million in lost revenue in the FY2010 budget. The 17 special interest tax break bills enacted in 2009 will cost Georgia another $99 million in lost revenues.

Believe it or not, in talking about eliminating exceptions to the tax code, Poythress is actually talking about something talked about on this very site a few weeks ago. I doubt the General and I would agree on much else, but there is that!

Finally, I want to point out that I wish our leaders would do their job and cut/defund actual positions/programs, rather than passing the buck down the line. I understand their reluctance to micro-manage, and most of the time I applaud that. However, there IS a time for actually making a decision when those under you refuse to for whatever reason, and that time is now in regards to cutting/defunding specific positions and programs in this state.

I’ll post a follow-on post next week with some of my suggestions about what to cut, but what about you? If YOU were Governor or running for Governor, what would YOU cut? For your reference, here’s the Governor’s Budget Recommendations.

Walking With Austin Scott: The Day After

Yesterday, I walked 10 miles with State Rep Austin Scott for his ‘Walk of Georgia‘ campaign event. Apparently, I am the ONLY person so far to walk an entire day’s journey with him, and thus my challenge to all Georgia media and political bloggers.

The day started out with me running late – I didn’t leave my house in Leesburg until about 6:10a, and I was to meet Rep Scott in Bainbridge at 7:30a. Fortunately, I made it in time and changed shoes once I got there into my old, trusted hiking boots.
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Walking With Austin Scott

Today begins Week 4 of Austin Scott’s Walk of Georgia, and I am in Bainbridge meeting Rep Scott as this post goes live at 7:20 this morning. We are starting off in front of the Post-Searchlight offices in Bainbridge, and I’ve been told to expect roughly 15 miles today. I’ll be tweeting the experience from my Blackberry, and I’ll update this post after I get home later today with a review of the experience – and hopefully some pictures.

For now, you can follow my live tweets via my twitter page or the twitter search hashtag #walkofga, and I will aggregate them here when I update this post later.

Now let’s be honest here ladies and gentlemen, what other political blog out there gets out and gets involved in campaign events – and lets you tag along for the ride? It may prove so boring we never do it again, or it may prove interesting and something we want to try to do with any candidate that will let us. Such is the nature of experiments, and as always, PLEASE let us know what you think! 😀

The Importance of the Genesis

I’ve been thinking about some things recently, the subject of a blog post that I’ll be writing tonight. But those things got me thinking in another direction, namely how important an entity’s beginnings truly are.

I like reading biographies because you begin to get an idea of how these people came to do everything they did by looking at what came before. Similarly, when you look at the historical record of any event, you come to see how it came to be by looking at its predecessors. Indeed, you really cannot fully understand anything – be it person, event, or organization – without understanding its history and in particular, its Genesis.
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Taxes and Spending

The topic has come up several times in the past month or so about taxes and/or spending and what I would do about them, so let me lay out my path here:

This problem is two fold: the taxation system isn’t fair, and because of inordinate amounts of spending, the State needs a great deal of revenue somehow.
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