Category Archives: Other Issues

More Community. Less Government.

I really don’t have time to write right now, but I wanted to post a teaser about something I’ve been pondering for nearly a week and will try to put some serious thought into now that this site is once again operational.

Right now, I know it as “More Community. Less Government.”. Originally, I thought of it as simply a possible new slogan for the LP. Then, I realized that it was actually more than that – much more. It goes beyond politics and into religion, and beyond both of those into every facet of our communities – I think. All I know is that it is what is currently on my heart, and so I’ll continue to explore it.

But something that was “random”/ “coincidental” today (which in matters of God are rarely either): I’ve barely mentioned Shaunti Feldhahn or her research into how men and women think in nearly 5 years – until today, at lunch at work when I started a very – interesting – conversation where I wound up pretty well getting beat in the debate, because it has been so long since I looked at this stuff.

Anyways, that seemingly “random” conversation led me to look at her site, Shaunti.com, tonight. As I looked at her biography page where it talks about her writing her first book – a balanced, Christian perspective on the then-headline grabbing Y2K scare, she has this quote from Experiencing God:

We so often limit God, by not responding when he calls us to do something, because we look at that thing – whatever it is – and we say ‘I can’t possibly accomplish that.’ But that is the whole point! If it is really something we can’t accomplish it, only He can accomplish it, and then it becomes obvious to everyone – including us – that it was a God-sized work and was not our own doing

While I hope I can share some information that proved extremely enlightening to me, my thinking right now is that the particular conversation at lunch today was meant for me just as much as them – it was meant to lead me to that quote, in much the same way as other decisions throughout my life have ultimately led to exactly where I sit now.

Intriguing…

Texting 911!

This is a post whose idea has been floating in my head for a couple of days, so bear with me here.

A couple of days ago, my mind wandered while waiting for a test document to load. (For those curious, it sometimes seems like a large part of being a programmer is making a minute change, then waiting several minutes while the computer decides whether your change actually worked. Rinse and repeat.) So I wrote the general idea on my palm, shoved it back to the back of my head, and continued debugging my program.

One of the things I’m currently somewhat excited about is buying my first gun at some point in the near future and learning how to use it effectively. The primary reason here is that my wife and I will be on our own, with no family around, for the first time in our lives. And I’m doing everything I can to protect her – which means both of us are getting guns and learning how to use them, while hoping we never have to fire a shot for defensive purposes.

So during that particular test, my mind wondered to what would happen if someone actually did break in. It is these mental exercises that I use to prepare myself for any and every emergency, so that even without actually practicing the maneuvers physically (which would be even better), my mind reacts “instinctually” as soon as one of the scenarios begins playing out.

During this particular scenario (someone breaking in during the night, with both me and my wife asleep in the bedroom), the response I decided on was pretty straightforward. Both of us grab our guns and my wife takes the dog and the cat and hides quietly, while I venture out carefully to find out what is happening and deal with it.

But it is what happens next in this scenario that made me start thinking even more:

She needs to alert 911 that something is happening, but I do NOT want a sound coming from where she is hiding, as that could expose her to even more danger. If she calls, no matter how quietly she talks, in a silent apartment it will be loud enough to be heard.

She needs to TEXT 911 and let them know what is going on…

but no 911 system I am aware of has such a capability!

911 systems are some of the best, most capable emergency response systems around. They could pinpoint a phone (using addresses and landlines, or even a rough triangulation using cell phone towers) long before GPS was a standard cell phone feature. They can direct any number of emergency responders to any location in their area within seconds.

Yet they cannot handle a simple text message, something virtually EVERY OTHER SYSTEM currently in use (most social networks, cell networks, even some VOICE networks can translate text to voice and vice versa!) can do.

I don’t know what it would take to upgrade a 911 system to handle text messages. I’m pretty sure they can already do at least some level of data exchange, due to the fact that they can communicate with the in-dash systems in police and other emergency vehicles.

But think of how much safer our families would be if they did not have to give away their location in a life or death, “someone is literally here and willing to kill me” situation!

Like I said, somewhat rambling post, the idea is still running around the back of my head. But what do y’all think?

Farewell Leesburg

Since December, I have known I would be leaving Leesburg soon. For a while, I thought I would be going to Macon, where my job was at the time. The job was great, but the city was not.

That changed about a month ago when I decided to look for another job. Within a month, I had found another job with a very cool sounding title – Nuclear Software Engineer – in Aiken, SC. Aiken is a much better town than Macon, and I’m very much looking forward to living in the Central Savannah River Area.

Looking back on my time in Leesburg, I have no regrets. I came to the town because my then fiancee, now wife, was a native of Lee County, having grown up barely a half a mile outside the Leesburg City Limits and was living her dream – teaching at Lee County High.

As with any new environment, I started out quietly, trying to observe more than talk. To this day, I still remember the first time I had a political encounter in Leesburg. It was the summer of 2008, and some guy named Jim Quinn showed up at my door asking for my vote in his run for mayor. I didn’t know anything about the politics of the city at the time, but when it came time to vote, his was the only name I knew and thus he got my vote.

A few months later, I started a blog that came to be known as SWGAPolitics.com, which we just shut down less than a month ago. At first, it was primarily focused on looking at the legislative record of the various SWGA legislators.

In March and April of 2009, I began to use SWGAPolitics.com in a more local role, using it to coordinate news of the brand new (at the time) Tax Day Tea Party events in both Albany and Leesburg. Indeed, I was listed as a co-organizer of the Leesburg event.

In the summer of 2009, I made one of the biggest mistakes I made in SWGAPolitics.com’s history – I added a man as an author on the site who turned out to be a liar and a lunatic. When his lies were brought to my attention, I gave him a chance to come clean. He did not, and I removed him from SWGAPolitics.com, vowing never to affiliate myself with any group which he was a part of – a vow I have kept.

It was due to this situation that I first began talking to Ed Duffy and Rick Muggridge – the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Lee County Board of Commissioners. In August of 2009, I began attending every meeting of the Board and writing about them, as well as live tweeting them on my twitter account. In September of 2009, I began doing the same with the Leesburg City Council meetings.

Also that September, I learned that the Leesburg City Council was having elections that November, and that there was expected to be no opposition to any of the Councilmen. This was and is completely unacceptable to me, and so I decided within about 24 hrs that I would run. I challenged Richard Bush and ran a campaign centered on being a newer, younger voice that was at the same time more politically knowledgeable than my opponent. That was a great learning experience for me, one I will never forget even though I lost handily 70-20 – out of nearly 1500 registered voters.

As that campaign began, I did something I had never done before – I videotaped the meeting of Lee County leaders and the brand newly-appointed State Transportation Planning Director Todd Long. Not only did I videotape this meeting, but I also put that tape on YouTube so all could see for themselves exactly what was said, absent even my own commentary.

The next meeting I taped was the December 2009 meeting of the Lee County Board of Commissioners. For Christmas that year, I got a tripod for my camera, and with it I began videotaping every meeting I went to.

After the November loss to Mr. Bush, I had intended from the very moment I learned the results to try again. In April 2010, Steve Kitchens – the man I was considering challenging in my next run, though this is the first time I’ve publicly said that – resigned from the Council, setting up a Special Election that turned out to be in September. I hadn’t intended on running again so soon, but neither could I pass up the opportunity. So I ran, and from what I have been told some people began recruiting opposition for me – Rhonda Futch was apparently at least their second choice.

I ran a much better campaign the second time. I learned from my mistakes from the first time in relying on newspaper ads, and I made it a point to actively knock on doors and call people. I solicited and received campaign donations, and was able to thus get several dozen yard signs, which I worked to get out at strategic points for visibility. I also made a few mistakes on this campaign, going off message late in the game and not responding in the press as I should have.

As a final note on that campaign, I want to point out a couple of things:

1) I still believe I was by FAR the better choice. (And seriously, why would anyone run any campaign if they didn’t believe that to their very core?) That said, Ms. Futch has managed to surprise me on a couple of occassions, and she may yet turn out to be a force for – if not good, at least not as bad as I had feared.

2) I want to thank all roughly 120 or so voters from that 2010 campaign, as well as the 90 voters from the 2009 campaign. Those that voted for me made the right choice for Leesburg – and those that voted for my opponents unknowingly (even I didn’t realize it at the time) made the right choice for me personally. It was because of those nearly 200 votes against me that I was in the position I was in last month in being able to leave SWGA, and for that you have my sincere gratitude.

While I’m on that particular topic, I want to address one criticism I’ve heard through the grapevine in the past few weeks. It has been said that I somehow do not love Leesburg because I have chosen to leave it. Nothing could be further from the truth. Leesburg will always hold a very dear place in my heart. It is my wife’s hometown, the town we lived in for most of the first four years of our marriage, and the place where I came into my own as a man. Moving changes none of that.

Back to the videotaping: There are those who like it, and those who don’t. By and large the ones who don’t like it feel this way because either a) they can’t control it (as some have said rather directly in meetings I taped) or b) because they didn’t want the public to know what was said – something that fortunately none were brave enough to outright admit to. However, it did have those who at least appreciated it, saying that it made them at least be more careful in how they presented things. In all honesty, that was exactly one of the secondary goals of that project. The primary goal being simply to give those who – for whatever reason – could not make the meetings a chance to at least have a complete and accurate record of exactly what happened gavel to gavel, absent any news media limitations or comments. In that goal, the videotaping was a success the moment I put the first tape on youtube.

Some final thoughts:

First, there are going to be three seats on the Council open for election this November. There needs to be a minimum of 6 candidates. As of the last time I filed, the filing fee itself is only $54 to run. Beyond that, it is possible to win with little money spent – simply knock on every door and call every single person in Leesburg. Money makes things a bit easier, but I’m pretty sure I outspent my opponents in both of my races – and we see where that got me.

Second, Leesburg has 1500 or so registered voters. While I am somewhat pleased that I managed to drive turnout higher for a special election than for a general election, the turnout figures in both of my races was absolutely pathetic. Take pride in your town, Leesburg. Even if you’re not going to go to Council meetings, at least get out there and vote. Letting not even 10% of the voters make your decision for you is not democracy – it is oligarchy, and one you can change!

Third, people need to step up and fill the void I am leaving. I am no one special – anyone can do what I was doing, and probably even more effectively than I was. Videotaping the meetings and putting them on youtube requires only about 4 hrs of your time in any month (for just Leesburg City Council meetings) and is not a difficult process. The software is dirt cheap – the programs I use were $60 and you get a wide range of audio/ video tools combined. All it requires is a dedication to serving your town and working to make it better.

Fourth, my wish for Leesburg and Lee County: Learn to have your own identity. Don’t be content with being the bedroom community for Albany – make Albany the bedroom community for you! Having lived in both Dougherty and Lee, I can say without equivocation that Lee is by FAR superior, so start acting like it! Don’t let businesses such as Kohl’s, Best Buy, and others locate within a mile of the border in Dougherty County – get them to move within a mile of the border in LEE County! The corollary to this to get active in ALL aspects of your community – religion seems to be very active, but community service such as Rivers Alive and the Butterfly Kisses build need your help. Politics needs your involvement – even as simply a concerned citizen. Spread the message of Lee County as an attractive destination for both people and businesses to move far and wide. Take both ownership and pride in your town! Don’t just sit back in anonymous forums such as commenting online, the Soapbox, and the Sqawkbox and bitch – put your name to your work, take a stand, and DO SOMETHING to fix the problems you see!

Finally, I want to thank the friends I’ve made along the way – Jim Quinn (Leesburg Mayor/ publisher of Lee County Ledger), Carlton Fletcher (Lee County reporter/ metro editor for Albany Herald), Jana Barnello (formerly of WFXL), Romney Smith (WFXL), Casey Moore (Leesburg City Manager), and Veronica Johnson (Lee County Elections Supervisor) in particular. These are some of the best reporters/ officials in not just Lee County, but in my experience living all over Georgia, some of the best in the State.

Fare thee well, Leesburg.

What Do Men Want?

One of my political activist FB friends, Allison Zayne, has had an interesting year, to say the least. I’m not going to blog about her private life, even though what little I know about it is from her FB page.

But it has brought her to the point where today, she asked a simple yet profound question, the title of this post. Since I have at least one other friend from a slightly different area of my life who is much more local that may also be interested in knowing, here is my answer:

In general, I *HIGHLY* recommend Shaunti Feldhahn’s “For Women Only”. Ms. Feldhahn did quite a bit of research on the topic, and many of my male friends who have read the book agree that it is almost 100% spot on for each of us. It is relatively short at 150 or so pages, and can make an easy – though mind blowing – weekend read. Ms. Feldhahn is a Christian and doesn’t hide that, but she intentionally wrote the book to help ALL women and typically gives a brief warning before she goes into Christian-specific stuff.

More specifically, I can’t answer for all men, but for me personally my most important thing is that my home be my place of absolute security and serenity. I’m very active politically, and office politics aren’t always easy either, and I need a place where I can simply be me, with absolutely no fear. I need a place where I can relax and recharge on a daily basis, knowing that when I venture out from there I will be driving into the heart of any number of battles and potential calamities.

I also need to feel needed – but know that if necessary, my lady can handle herself without me. Yes, this is a complicated one, one that even I don’t fully understand, but it is there. Because of the battles I face daily, as well as the random emergencies of life that happen, such as severe weather, I need to know that in an emergency, my lady can handle herself at least enough to keep herself safe if I cannot be there. As I’ve said elsewhere, her safety is my ABSOLUTE number one priority. As long as she is safe, everything else can be handled. But at the same time, I need to know that she DOES need me – and I don’t just mean for a roll in the hay or because I’m tall enough to reach the top shelf in the cabinet.

In all honesty, I need her to need me just as much as I need her.

I searched high and low for my lady for damn near a decade, and there was quite a bit of heartache along the way. I still remember that, as now we face a similar trial together. Eventually, I gave up looking for her – and that was when I found her (after a couple more years).

I’m not the perfect husband – there’s quite a few days where I’m not even a very good one, at ALL. But I will be forever thankful that I finally found the love of my life, who gives me what I need.

For Allison and my other friends asking the question of what do guys want, hopefully this has shed at least SOME light for you.

For my beautiful bride, thank you for giving me everything I’ve ever dreamed of and then some.