Saturday, May 31, 2008

Why Would You?

It used to be that if you were planning a run for public office, membership in a large, respected local church was considered not just good for your soul, but a plus for your campaign. These days, not so much-just ask John McCain and Barack Obama. If politicians are going to held accountable for the things their pastors, and even the visiting ministers, say, then joining a church could be high risk activity, politically speaking. Heck, joining the Rotary Club could be a high risk activity.

Today, Barack Obama resigned his twenty year membership in Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. He said that he was not a decision that he came by lightly. Obviously, not. The easy thing for Obama to do would have been to disassociate himself from the church the moment he first thought he might run for President. But he didn't. For some people, that might be hard to understand, but if you, like me, grew up in a Southern Baptist Church-or in any tradition that placed the laity on a par with clergy-then maybe you understand.

I grew up in the church my great great grandfather helped build. Many of my family members attended that church, and it's fair to say that the members of that small, country church helped raise me. Whether it was Miss Myrle Biggerstaff who led the singing in the preschool class, or Suzanne Gibson who led the G.A. group, or many, many others-they were family, too. Over the years, we had our share of questionable pastors. I remember a particularly bad episode when I was about ten years old. The church had called a pastor from out of state, and on the Friday before he was to be installed, my father, who was chair of the search committee and chair of the deacon board, got a letter from his former church. They were declining the request for a church letter based on allegations of criminal misconduct on the part of the pastor. I remember my father agonizing over how to deal with the situation. I remember many harsh words in church, and the church ultimately splitting over the pastor's dismissal. But, we didn't leave. We didn't leave, because, in our tradition, we had made a commitment-we were the church. So, I understand why Obama struggled, and I understand why it took him so long to leave. Obama is a shrewd politician. He had to know the risk he was taking by remaining a member of Trinity. But as controversy swirled, he didn't leave. Until now, he didn't leave. His hesitancy to leave, perhaps more than anything else, convinces me that perhaps he is not just another politician.

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Talk about gavel to gavel coverage. At least three networks: CNN, MSNBC and CSPAN carried full coverage of the DNC Rules Committee meeting today. So, as the nation watched us make some pretty fine sausage, the committee voted to seat the full delegations from both Florida and Michigan; however, delegates from both states, including "superdelegates" will have half a vote. Michigan's pledged delegates, where most candidates, including Obama, withdrew their names from the ballot out of respect for the rules, were allocated 69/59, or 29.5 delegate votes for Obama and 34.5 for Clinton. There is also some indication that there was a separate understanding that the two delegates appointed by the Michigan chair would be Obama delegates. The Obama campaign made major concessions to allow this compromise to occur. With the support of the Obama campaign and the Rules Committee, the State Parties from Florida and Michigan got essentially what they wanted. But, were they all snookered by the Clinton campaign?

Just when I thought that Democrats might be headed to a campfire, some s'mores and a few verses of Kum Ba Yah, Harold Ickes turned on his mic and made two things clear: while Hillary Clinton accepts the ruling on Florida, she does not accept the decision on Michigan. Ickes delivered a passionate speech that I suspect contains some of her talking points for the next days, and unfortunately, perhaps weeks. How could the committee of 30 substitute their judgement for the will of 600,000 Michigan voters? How could the committee essentially steal four delegates from Clinton and hand Obama delegates that he did not earn? Ickes ended with a message from Clinton herself: he held open the possibility that she would take the fight over Michigan to the Credentials Committee.

Short of seating the entire delegations with full votes, and giving Obama nothing out of Michigan-a fairytale that was never going to happen-I think that Clinton may have gotten exactly what she wanted out of today. She got some additional delegates, and she gets to continue this fight, if she chooses, arguing that the committee's action was not fair to her-or the the voters of Michigan. Now, I think that argument is poppycock. As Obama campaign manager David Plouffe told The Associated Press, "I don't think is a position that people find terribly reasonable."

Here's the math according the MSNBC:

The resolution increased the number of delegates needed to clinch the nomination to 2,118, leaving Obama 66 delegates short but still within striking distance after the three final primaries are held in the next three days. Obama picked up a total of 32 delegates in Michigan, including superdelegates who have already committed, and 36 in Florida. Clinton picked up 38 in Michigan, including superdelegates, and 56.5 in Florida. Obama's total increased to 2,052, and Clinton had 1,877.5, according to The Associated Press calculations.

Clinton's disagreement with the decision about Michigan leaves little chance that Obama will be able to claim victory next week with her blessing. The only questions that remains are(1) will he do it anyway (I think so), (2) how far will Clinton take her fight, and what will the consequence be for her own political future? and (3) will there be blood on the floor at the end of this, and if so, whose will it be?

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Dr. Tim Floyd to Address Politics and Lunch


Dr. Tim Floyd from Mercer Law School will be the guest speaker for Politics and Lunch THIS Friday. Dr. Floyd will discuss the death penalty in Georgia. He has worked extensively with The Innocence Project, which works to free the wrongfully prosecuted through the use of DNA evidence. Make plans now to be part of this special luncheon.

We will meet at the City Club of Macon, 355 First Street, Fourth Floor, in Macon. As always, Politics and Lunch is a monthly “lunch and learn” event for all who are interested in how politics connects with public policy and quality of life in our community. There is no membership requirement and everyone is welcome to attend. We do need to know that you are coming, so RSVP to OR The cost for the luncheon, including tax and tip, is $15.00 per person. Reservation must be made by Thursday, May 29th.

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Shipp: Perdue's to Blame for School Failure

Who better than Bill Shipp to tell it like it is when it comes to Georgia's public schools. The current testing debacle says little about Georgia's students, yet, it speaks volumes about Predue, Cox and the republican-led General Assembly. Half of Georgia's eighth graders failed the math exam, and even more failed the now-discarded social studies exam. Don't you love it? Set children up for failure, then when they fail, and it makes you look bad, toss the results. Oh, don't get me wrong, there was no choice but to toss the results, and they ought to do that with the math, too, but that would get a little complicated. Because of NCLB, the feds would have to agree. But tossing results is not the answer-actually funding and supporting public schools is the answer. Everyone knows that the republican agenda is to privatize public education, so answer me this: in the private sector heads would role in the wake of a failure of this magnitude. Stock holders would insist upon it. So, can someone please explain to me why Kathy Cox should keep her job? For that matter, why would we ever again trust republicans to take care of our schools?

As Shipp so eloquently points out-it's not children and teachers who have failed. It's Perdue, Cox and all who supported their agenda. Until now, those most aware of the ceremonial gutting of our schools were educators. Not so any longer. Parents who must deal with their 8th graders failing test scores are now fully aware of the real price of the republican agenda.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

FEMA in Macon


The City of Macon and Bibb County citizens who were affected by the devastating effects from the recent tornadoes on May 11, 2008, can now register for assistance. We have been Federally declared by the President. We encourage all citizens to register with FEMA online:
Or by calling
FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362)

If for any reason you are unable to register either way please feel free to call us with your questions at 478-751-7200, 478-751-7203, or 478-751-7204.

We will also have assistance available for those needing transportation to physical locations for FEMA in our immediate area.

Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) Locations
DRC # 1
Charles H. Bruce Elementary School
3660 Houston Ave.
Macon, GA 31206
DRC # 2
Bloomfield Middle School
4375 Bloomfield Ext.
Macon, GA 31206
DRC # 3
Lizella Area
Macon/Bibb County FD Station 105
8456 Eisenhower Parkway
Lizella, GA 31052

Sunday, May 25, 2008, DRC’s will be open from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday May 26. 2008 until further notice they will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Baffa: How to Know if Your Therapist is Legit

It is amazing to me how few questions some people ask of their therapist. You wouldn't see an unlicensed physician. You wouldn't take your dog to an unlicensed vet, yet people seeking mental health care often don't even ask if their therapist holds a valid license. People who seek mental health care for themselves or their children are most often at very vulnerable points in their life. They are looking for help-looking for answers and, unfortunately, some people are more than happy to take advantage of them. It seems that this was the case with Carmine Baffa, the Atlanta-area sometimes "life coach," other times "therapist," and now criminal defendant.

Andria Simmons wrote about Baffa in yesterday's AJC. He faces at least twenty-two charges, including charges of sexual assault of clients. Though much of this piece is disturbing, the portion that stopped me cold was the statement that licensed therapists sometimes referred patients to Baffa. I find that alarming. In Georgia, a license is required to practice therapy, and it is the least you should require of your therapist, not the most. Anyone-including the professionals who referred to Baffa-can check here on the Secretary of State's website-to see if an individual is licensed, or has ever been licensed in the State of Georgia. The website also provides information about whether the licensee has ever been disciplined by the board. Ironically, the Simmons article has this to say about one of the counselors who referred to Baffa:

Allan Allard, a counselor in Lawrenceville who referred clients to Baffa, said he was once impressed by Baffa's "charismatic personality" and communication skills. However, Allard has since come to regret his association with the man."I'm glad he's been arrested and the media is paying attention," Allard said, "because he needs to be held accountable."

I checked the Secretary of State's website for Allard. Maybe there is some sort of error in the database, but I can't find him. I checked his website, and can't find that he refers to himself as a therapist, but instead he emphasizes his "coaching" experience. "Life coaches" do not have to be licensed to practice in Georgia-unless they practice therapy. Perhaps the article mis-characterized his profession. Interesting, though. I sent the author an email about it; maybe she will follow up with Allard.

Regardless, there are somethings you can do to protect yourself from someone like Baffa. First, you should check out your therapist before seeing him or her. Check the web, google the therapist, check the SOS database, and consider these steps:

1) If the therapist's license is not on display, ask to see it. If the therapist refuses or gives you some song and dance about why it's not required, it's time to find the door. The only exception is for church or faith-based counselors and certain state agencies. If you choose to see an unlicensed counselor, however they are titled, you take a risk akin to seeing an unlicensed physician. It might work out well; then again, it might not.

2) Any therapist who suggests a "cuddle session" as Baffa allegedly did, is out of bounds. Again, find the door.

3) If your child is in counseling, the therapist should be very forthcoming with you about what happens in the sessions. Your child should feel that they are free to share with you what happens in those sessions as well. If they don't feel free to tell you about the session, that's a red flag. Confidentiality is one thing; secrecy is quite another.

4) Your therapist should discuss a treatment plan with you and should be open to discussing the risks and benefits of the plan. If they are adverse to doing this, again, find the door.

5) If a therapist suggests your child move into their home-run the other direction.

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Correction to My Numbers

On the last post about Party finances, I received the following additional information:

1. Any comparison of January of one year to May of another year is apples to kumquats.  January following an election year, before the JJ dinner, is when the party is at its lowest cash on hand.  As it should be, by the way – you spend money on the election. 
2. (In January of 2007) while there were vendor bills for the caucuses, the operating accounts of the party had sufficient funds to cover expenses and bills as the party geared up for JJ, and bills for operating expenses were current.
3) The cash on hand as of June 30, 2006 was well over 600k.  For the last presidential year, the cash on hand as of June 30, 2004 was over 1.3 million.  Of course, 500k of that was in the senate caucus account, compliments of Mark Taylor. 
Back to me again. The 90k in debt the Party retired since 2008 was cacus debt, but still the party retired it and have a half million in the bank to boot. Add to that the numbers we saw regarding the increasing numbers of donors, and I think the future looks bright as we prepare for 2008 and beyond. Jane has effectively expanded the donor base and retired real debt. Again, not too shabby.

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DPG: Largest Cash Reserves in Years

At State Committee, Kidd and Company reported significant growth in our COH. When Kidd took office, we were 90k in debt on day one. Today, thanks to a multi-level fundraising effort, we have more than half a million dollars in the bank.

Not bad, Jane, not bad at all.

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Kidd's Add-On Delegates

Jane Kidd recommended and the executive committee approved two add-on delegates: Steve Leeds for Obama and Verna Cleveland for Clinton. The State Committee will have to approve the slate.

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DPG Meeting

I am in Atlanta. We have a full house. It seems that efforts to convince folks to stay home failed. Andre' Walker was one of the first people I saw when I came in this morning. There's no question that we have a quorum.

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Show Up. Seriously. Show Up.

The State Committee of the DPG meets tomorrow in Atlanta. We will be voting on our slate of delegates to the DNC. Some people have been trying to encourage committee members to boycott the meeting. The idea is that if we do not have quorum, then we will not be able to vote. Some people are unhappy that the presidential campaigns cut the slates of at-large delegates to one per slot. To that, I say, big deal. Get over it.

The rules are that the campaigns have the right to purge the slate. Those are the rules. If you don't like the rules, talk to your DNC rep, or better yet, run yourself, but, for now, those are the rules. Given that, I think that both campaigns exercised GREAT restraint by letting almost everyone through at the district level. And, I completely understand why they would want to exercise more control at the State Committee level. Unlike the district-level election, at State Committee, all members vote on all delegates. That means Obama supporters get to vote on both Clinton delegates and Obama delegates and vice versa. And that, my friend, opens the door wide for tomfoolery. So, no wonder the campaigns limited the slates.

Besides, I think suggesting that members stay home is a terribly short-sighted take-my-ball-and-go-home approach. Look, if Barr is on the ticket, we may have a shot at putting Georgia in play in November. Don't you think that we should at least bother to send a full delegation to Denver?

So, if you ran for and were ELECTED to serve or ACCEPTED AN APPOINTMENT to the committee, then, you have a responsibility to show up and vote. So, be there.

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It's Official: Macon Classified as Federal Disaster Area

The Telegraph is reporting that President Bush has declared Bibb and other counties in Middle Georgia a major disaster area as a result of the Mother's Day Tornado. As a result, we will receive significant financial assistance. For example, the feds will pick up the tab for the $100K plus the City of Macon has paid in overtime for storm clean-up. They will also pay for things like the destroyed 20K tornado siren at Macon State.

There is also help for individuals. As the Telegraph reports:

Residents and business owners who suffered losses may begin applying for assistance Saturday by registering online at or by calling 1-800-621-FEM (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired.
The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.

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Important Disaster Information for Macon

Macon Councilwomen Lauren Benedict asked that I post the following announcement from Macon-Bibb Emergency Management/Homeland Security:

If you had damages from the recent tornado in Macon / Bibb County, you may be eligible for assistance. If you have immediate disaster-caused emergency basic needs, call 1-866-GET – INFO (1-866-438-4636) or visit the American Red Cross Service Center currently located at 1200 Riverside Drive between the hours of 10:00 am and 6:00 pm (noon to 6:00 pm Sunday).

If you need any other type of assistance from the tornado, please call Macon / Bibb County EMA at 478-751-7214. EMA will be operating from 9 am to 5 pm on Saturday, 1 pm to 5 pm on Sunday, and 9 am to 5 Pm on Monday.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Speaking of Allen Freeman...

You all remember Rep. Allen Freeman, right? I agree with Erick that he may well face his toughest challenge yet. I really think this is a seat democrats can pick up this year. Here's why:

1) HD140 covers parts of Bibb, Twiggs, Wilkinson and Jones counties. That area has trended more democratic since 2006, slightly. The DPI is now 51.6. That means that all things being equal, a Democrat has a good chance of winning-and remember, no matter what he tells you-Allen Freeman is a republican.

2) Freeman's opponent this cycle is James "Bubber" Epps, a Twiggs County businessman who has deep, deep roots in Twiggs, Jones and Wilkinson counties. (His wife is on the county commission.) All of those counties under-preformed in 2006. In this presidential year, with a hometown boy on the ticket, they are likely to over-preform.

3) Epps has the ability to reach across party lines and attract republican support. News reports along this line are confirmed by what I'm hearing from folks in the community.

4) The district includes two precincts in East Macon. In 2006, on election day, the rain poured and democrats were hardly united behind the top of the ticket. Neither Marshall nor Taylor were running organized, funded, GOTV in the area, and turnout was abysmal. With Obama at the top of the ticket, you can expect a healthy turnout in those precincts and an organized field operation-especially if Barr gets the Libertarian nod.

5) The republican brand is tarnished beyond recognition, and for good reason. This year, I suspect that the party in power will feel the brunt of the voter's discontent about the basics: fuel prices, transportation, jobs and the housing crisis.

One final comment of this race. This can definitely be a pick-up for democrats, but get your checkbook ready. I predict that between the two candidates, this is at least a half million dollar race. That's a lot of change down here in the midstate.

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The Cost of Doing Business

Last election cycle, the Georgia Association of Realtors spent more than half a million dollars on campaign contributions and other political spending but failed to report it, as required by state ethics laws. As a consequence, according to the AJC, they have agreed to pay the largest ethics fine in history, $80,000.00.

A big chunk of the money was spent on Cagle, but I also seem to recall at least one piece of mail for Macon republican Allen Freeman that was paid for by Realtors. I can't remember whether it was the Georgia Association or some local group.

I have nothing against Realtors. My sister is a broker in another state, but I hope that this fine sends a message. As long as these large "independent" expenditures are permitted, the least we can do is make sure that the voters know about it, and are able to take it into account as they cast their votes-not two years later.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Edwards' Invites Supporters Aboard the Obama Train

Since endorsing Sen. Obama last week, John Edwards has been actively campaigning for Obama and working to encourage those of us who supported Edwards to now support Obama. He sent out an email yesterday with a link to this page and this video:

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This is really devastating.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Sam Hart: A Sign of the Times

I really like Sam's logo. What do you think?

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When They Do the Right Thing...

When the DPG does the right thing, we should show our support. The Party did the right thing last week when they canceled a long-planned fundraiser in Macon after the tornado devastated our community. In the meantime, Democrats Work brought volunteers to Macon to help with the aftermath of the storm. (There's still PLENTY for volunteers to do, by the way.) This was exactly what should've happened.

Now, the fundraiser has been rescheduled, and I want to invite you all to come to my office on May 27th at 5:30, and support the DPG. Here's the info from Jane:

What an exciting and busy year 2008 is shaping up to be!We have rescheduled our Macon reception to Tuesday, May 27th from 5:30 to 7:00pm at Amy and Daryl Morton's offices.
I really hope you are able to make room in your hectic schedule to attend.
If you'd like to be a host by giving $1,000 or $500, you can click here, or you can give $250 or $100 by clicking here.
Macon Young Professionals may attend the May 27th reception for $75 by clicking here.
To RSVP or for further information, please call us at 678-278-2102. You may also email if you have any questions or concerns.
Again, I hope to see you in Macon next Tuesday!
Best regards,
Jane Kidd,
Chair Democratic Party of Georgia

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Let's Pray-and Pay-for our Troops

How many of us have fathers or grandfathers who got an education because of the GI Bill? How can McCain not support this legislation?
Kidd, Gillespie call on McCain to support 21st Century GI Bill

SAVANNAH, Ga. - Democratic Party of Georgia Chair Jane Kidd and candidate for U.S. House of Representatives Bill Gillespie today called on Republican John McCain to stand up for veterans by supporting the 21st Century G.I. Bill of Rights, introduced in the U.S. Senate by Democrat Jim Webb (D-Va.) The 21st Century GI Bill, if passed, would continue the legacy of the GI Bill by helping returning veterans obtain higher education in preparation for success in the private sector."Democrats believe in supporting our troops," Kidd said, "and that means sending them to war only when we have no other option, bringing them home when they've finished the job, and taking care of them and their families when they return. The 21st Century GI Bill helps the the newest generation of combat veterans obtain the education, prosperity and security that is such an important part of the American dream.""I'm running for Congress as a Democrat because I know our party has the commitment to take care of our veterans," Gillespie, who is running for U.S. House in the 1st District, said. "It's time for John McCain and Jack Kingston to stop playing politics with the future and well being of our veterans and their families. I know from experience that the GI Bill is one of the greatest achievements of our government, helping hundreds of thousands of veterans build a life after their military service. Now it's time to reinforce our commitment to the veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan."McCain is visiting Savannah today, in hopes of raising almost half a million dollars for his presidential campaign. Democrats are calling on the Senator from Arizona to take advantage of his visit to take on a greater cause - standing up for veterans' benefits. The state of Georgia is home to a dozen active military bases, and has a large and thriving community of active-duty soldiers, reservists, National Guard personnel, and veterans. More than 50,000 veterans and active-duty personnel live in the 1st congressional district."Today, we're calling on Senator McCain to do right by our servicemen and women and take advantage of his appearance in Georgia to tell America that he supports the 21st Century GI Bill of Rights, and that he will be its biggest champion on the Senate floor," Kidd said.

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King Sonny

Given the infamous "King Roy" rat ads Sonny ran just once during the 2000 cycle-only to have them become an Internet phenomenon and grist for the cable news show mill-it's really funny that members of his own party are now referring to Sonny as an "Imperial Governor."

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For the last several days, I have been focused on the great women who are running for office in Georgia, so the blog has been a little, quiet. We are back, as of now!

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Democrats Work to Help in Macon

In my box tonight:
(I'm posting from my phone, so you will need to cut and paste the links.)

We are putting out the call for volunteers who can help with the tornado recovery efforts in Macon on Friday and Saturday.
The Macon Baptist Association is coordinating food deliveries and clean-up operations at the Glenwood Hills Baptist Church.  There is a backlog of houses to get to in Macon, and they could use your help.  Volunteers are welcome to come to the church at any time.  Here are the details:

WHAT: Macon Baptist Association Tornado Recovery Operation

WHERE: Meet at the Glenwood Hills Baptist Church (3225 Rice Mill Road in Macon)
WHEN: Friday (May 16) and Saturday (May 17) - SHOW UP AT ANY TIME

Please let us know if you can help our neighbors in Macon by signing up on the Democrats Work website - click here for Friday:

or here for Saturday:

- or by sending an email to mail to:

We'll send updates and other information as we get it.  Thank you for all of your help.

Jason Carter, Democrats Work 

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NARAL Endorses Obama

Today, NARAL Pro-Choice America endorsed Obama for President. When a group like NARAL endorses the man in the race, it should send a signal to Clinton: this race is over. Stay in as long as you want, but it's a done deal.

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United Steelworkers Endorse Obama

This train is moving fast-very fast. Today, the United Steelworkers endorsed Obama. This development should be considered when evaluating the impact of the Edwards endorsement. Previously, the Steelworkers had endorsed Edwards and were critical to his campaign in Iowa. When we were in Des Moines in January, the hub for the Edwards campaign was the Steelworkers' Union Hall. (Just passed the train tracks where the remote control trains ran and there were no signals. But I digress.) I will forever associate Steelworker yellow with the Icy Iowa caucuses. They were a loyal, hardworking crew. Much tenacity.

Then, in February, after Edwards suspended his campaign, we were privileged to be at the Edwards' home for a dinner. The most touching moment of the evening was when the president of the Steelworkers, Leo W. Gerard, took the stage. He carried with him a statue of a steelworker, made, of course of steel. It was one of just six created by union members when the union was on a long, long strike. One of the six statues was for the Union Hall, and one for the President during that long, long winter. The other four were reserved to honor those in the future who fought for workers. The first of those four was given to John Edwards that night. It was the coolest moment. So appropriate.

I say all that to say this: The Steelworkers moved because Edwards moved.

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Macon DPG Fundraiser Postponed

Because Macon was so hard-hit by the tornado, the Democratic Party of Georgia has postponed the fundraiser that was to occur at my office this evening at 5:30 p.m. They did send out a notice on Tuesday morning. The event will be rescheduled in the near future, and I hope that when it is, you will be able to attend. Personally, I think that it is a showing of class to postpone this event that was scheduled in a community where so much destruction occurred. Good decision.

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Going All the Way?

That's what the front of the "Hillary Clinton for President" envelope said-in BIG letters. Inside, a plea for me-me-to help by "rushing a gift."

I've endorsed Obama. A glance at an FEC filing would show I gave substantially to his campaign. I'm trying to figure out how this was targeted-maybe to all female dem donors? Regardless, I'll pass. How ironic that this came to me on the day Edwards endorsed Obama. Great timing on Edwards' part, by the way. Mark my words, though, tomorrow's news cycle is, "what about Elizabeth?" Now, that would be a plum.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Congrats to Tondees

This is very, very cool. Tondee's Tavern has been chosen as the official blog to represent Georgia at the DNCC. The DNCC is plowing new ground here. They are credentialing and granting unprecedented access to blogs. Click here to see more.

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Obama and Glen Hansard

If you want a good seat at an Obama event, take your film crew along. Last night, Daryl and I saw Irish musician Glen Hansard and Czech musician Marketa Irglova (Oscar winning song, Falling Slowly from the movie, Once) at the Cobb Energy Center. First, let me say "wow" and "wow." They were amazing, and the venue was spectacular. See both.

So, where does Obama fit in this story? Hansard said they were in Louisville on Monday and learned that Obama was giving a public speech, so they went-documentary film crew in tow. Secret Service recognized him and popped them right up on the press riser. Two interesting points-first, Hansard clearly was impressed with Obama, and during the show several comments were made about MLK, Atlanta, the fact that our civil rights movement spurred their's, and how the U.S. might soon have our first black president. Second, while Hansard did not understand the difference in being in Marietta rather than Atlanta, the Obama comments drew hearty applause from what appeared to be a mostly upper middle class white crowd. (After all, they have special Mercedes parking.) That informal poll is good news for dems in Georgia.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Picking Up the Pieces

Macon is gradually getting its legs back. Some schools will reopen tomorrow, and it looks like the Patterson et. al. worked out a creative solution to allow seniors at Southwest and Westside to take mandantory end of course tests. They'll be sharing other schools, on a rotating basis.

Thousands are still without power, and Mayor Reichert said that it will be years before some return to "baseline." But, you can feel the community beginning to step forward. In general, local leaders have done an excellent job. From my perspective, special kudos go to:

1) Mayor Robert Reichert: He passed the leadership-in-crisis test with flying colors. He was calm, serious and reassuring when he went on air Sunday. I was relieved to hear from him, as many were.

2) Johnny Wingers: He was absolutely on top of this, and his quick, ready response may well have saved the lives of those at Arrowhead Park.

3) Sheriff Modena: Again, a calm, confident, effective leader.

There are no doubt others, and no doubt will be others in the weeks and months to come.

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

More Macon Photos

This is a typical scene in Macon today.

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Ready to Help

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Okay, so now we have water but no power. It's getting windy. We got out to check the College Street office-no damage, no power. The curfew was a good idea. Some streets are blocked by limbs and lines. The wind will make that worse. I hear that City Council and Mayor will meet at 8 a.m. Schools are closed. The damage has to be in the millions.
So far, local government couldn't have responded better. Really an excellent job.

I don't know if this will work, but I'm going to try to post a couple of photographs of the damage and the efforts to help.

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Join Jane Kidd In Macon On Thursday!

Join Jane Kidd in Macon on Thursday, May 15th!

315 College Street, Suite 150Macon, GA, 31201

Google Maps

May 15, 2008
5:30pm -7:00pm

Please Join

Chair Jane Kidd, Congressman Jim Marshall, Senator Robert Brown, Rep. Nikki Randall, Sheriff Jerry and Mary Modena, Councilwoman Lauren Benedict, Bibb County Chair Steve Allen, Amy and Daryl Morton, Duke Groover, Thomas W. Herman, Marc Treadwell, Dwan Packnett, and Nancy Terrill
At a Reception to Support

The Democratic Party of Georgia

Thursday, May 15, 20085:30 pm – 7:00 pm
At the offices of Amy and Daryl Morton
315 College Street, Suite 150
Macon, Georgia 31201
Please RSVP by May 8, 2008 to: or by telephone: (678) 278-2102
Contributions may also be mailed to: Democratic Party of Georgia
P.O. Box 77856Atlanta, GA 30357

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Duck, and Cover

It looks like Macon and Middle Georgia got hit hard last night. You should see the video on 13WMAZ. They haven't classified the storms yet, but it looks like tornado's ripped through north and south Bibb. One person, in Dublin,is dead, and there is extensive property damage. Trees snapped in half, roofs blown off, churches steeples gone, gas leaks, houses on fire, structural damage to brick buildings and a gas leak on Heath Road in Macon. We do not have water at our house in north Bibb, apparently because a pumping station got hit. One of the houses that's on fire is in a neighborhood that also does not have water. The Bibb County Sheriff and Macon Police have a simple directive: STAY HOME. Power lines are down. Water is standing. Trees are blocking roads. It's not safe to drive around. Ben Jones, the 13WMAZ meteorologist, is speculating that, based on the damage, the tornado could have been at least an F2. Mayor Reichert has declared a state of emergency.

First, I heard the rain, and the wind and then realized that a tornado siren was blaring. That was at about 5 a.m. this morning. Daryl got up and turned on the television. I picked up my blackberry and saw the tornado warning. I ran up the steps and woke up my son, and then we turned up the television and huddled in the only room in the house that doesn't have an outside wall. Then, 13WMAZ went quiet. It was really, really scary. And, surreal. It's really easy to feel like you're over-reacting when you're huddled in that little bathroom. We're lucky at our house. There's no damage I can see, but clearly, this morning, no one was over-reacting.

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Two More Pieces of Bad News for Clinton

Obama continues to close the "Super" delegate gap. CNN now has him just two delegates behind Clinton, while ABC News declared yesterday that he had surpassed her. Now, Rasmussen Reports says that they will stop polling Clinton "in the near future" in order to focus on McCain-Obama. While that last piece of news may not seem like a big deal, I remember how deflating it was to me, as an Edwards supporter, when Gallup dropped Edwards from it's national tracking. As a supporter, it was definitely a gut-check moment.

Clinton will win West Virgina handily on Tuesday, and she will also win Kentucky. It does not matter. Every available mertic, objective and subjective, points to Obama. Unless a really big rock falls on him, this race is over. I respect her right to stay in as long as she wishes, but this is like watching a terminal patient slowly die. The systems that support the life her her campaign-donors, delegates, press, polling, etc.-all seem to be slowly shutting down. It's sad to watch, and I wonder, when it's over, will this indebted campaign look to Democrats (read: Obama) to pay the bill for the prolonged life support?

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Sorry for the absence, folks. I have been in mediation training all week, and, while it was fun, it left little time for anything else. I don't suppose the concept of me engaging in an activity that requires me to be neutral-as in have no opinion-seems like an odd fit to any of you. Anyway. I have lots to post, so look for me to catch up this weekend.

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

GMA Praises Porter

Again, Georgia Democrats may have no better friend than Glenn Richardson.

Today, the Georgia Municipal Association held a listening session in Macon, and according to those present, Executive Director Jim Higdon had glowing praise for Rep. Dubose Porter and the Democratic leadership in the House. Higdon said that Porter sought him out early in the session and pledged to hold the caucus together to oppose Richardson's now-infamous tax plan. And, Porter delivered. Higdon also praised Lt. Governor Casey Cagle and Rep. Richard Royal for their support. Had it passed, the GREAT Tax would have seriously undermined the control and authority of local governments. Higdon noted that the Speaker-for whom he showed no love-pushed the plan forward despite the absence of research to discover whether the plan was (a) needed and (b) effective.

This is the kind of critical, behind the scenes work Porter does frequently. He doesn’t showboat, but instead works quietly and effectively to build relationships with key individuals and organizations, like GMA. Politically, those are relationships that can pay big dividends for Democrats this fall. Though much has been written here and elsewhere about Richardson’s “GREAT” Tax Plan, it is worth remembering and truly remarkable that Democrats were able to cobble together a coalition and defeat the plan. Richardson ran the equivalent of well-financed, statewide campaign in support of the plan. We had virtually no money to spend opposing the plan, but we beat him anyway. That's one for the books.

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

North Carolina Delivers for Obama

Tonight was a game-changer for Democrats, but not the one Clinton hoped for. The My birth state delivered for Obama tonight, in a big way, though my home county, Rutherford, voted for Clinton by 61%, and as I sit here, Indiana is "too close to call."

Who knew.

Most thought the Democratic Primary contest would drag on into the summer. Now, no matter who wins Indiana, Obama's nomination appears inevitable, and the steep hill Clinton had to climb just became Mt. Everest. Now, it becomes increasingly difficult for Clinton to make the case to delegates that she should be the nominee. It will become increasingly difficult for her to raise money. I'm betting that the super delegates trickle to Obama will become a flood over the next few weeks. And, as he did in his speech tonight, Obama will increasingly begin to reach out to Clinton, heal the party, and run against John McCain.

And, by the way, once he's President, will blogger's spell check stop thinking "Obama" is a misspelled word?

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Party or person?

How often have we heard someone say "I vote for the person, not the party." This may be okay in local-level city or county elections, but in national general elections the philosophical difference in national and foreign policy agenda is so profound that it would be naive to vote "person" rather than "party." As our party approaches a final decision between the candidacies of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, it is understandable that supporters of one or the other candidate are feeling emotional and partisan (within the Democratic party).
We are still at the point in the political process where voting for "person" is appropriate. All of us by now have a favorite.
But once a Democratic candidate is chosen, then we must change our focus back to voting "party."
I have actually heard people say that if their preferred candidate (Obama or Clinton) is not chosen for the nomination, they will stay home from the polls or, even worse, vote for the other party. I have received emails from people saying the same thing.
As my wise old grandmother used to opine, if they opt out of voting Democratic in the general election they will be cutting off their nose to spite their face. By their absence from the polls they will be giving a vote to an agenda that will be "more of the same." By voting for the other party, again they will be giving a stamp of approval to an agenda which is anathema to their best interests.
In short, primaries --- NOT general elections ---are the time to vote "person."
When the general election arrives in November, we will be voting, not for a person, but for an agenda that will affect us, our children, our grandchildren, world peace, and the environment.
To quote Jean Paul Sartre: "Not to choose IS a choice."

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Monday, May 05, 2008

Elizabeth Edwards and Truth Telling

Whoever becomes President should appoint Elizabeth Edwards Secretary of Truth Telling. She has a knack for honesty. Sometimes that gets her in a bit of hot water, but, thankfully, she is undeterred. It's one of the things I most admire about her. Today, in the New York Times, she has an op-ed, Bowling 1, Health Care 0, that even she could not have published while John was still in the race. In it, she takes the media to task for the focus on nonsensical but sensational aspects of the campaign for President and challenges all of us to continually speak into the ear of the mainstream press, demanding information about what they choose to ignore. The editorial is on point and timely. Unless we're picking a bowling team, a deacon or a hairdresser, the issues the press has chosen to focus on don't really help us much. But, if we want that to change, we have to demand it. Here's a portion:

The problem today unfortunately is that voters who take their responsibility to be informed seriously enough to search out information about the candidates are finding it harder and harder to do so, particularly if they do not have access to the Internet. Did you, for example, ever know a single fact about Joe Biden’s health care plan? Anything at all? But let me guess, you know Barack Obama’s bowling score. We are choosing a president, the next leader of the free world. We are not buying soap, and we are not choosing a court clerk with primarily administrative duties.

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Shocked, I Tell You, Shocked and Astounded

Some folks have been waiting for years for this shoe to drop. U.S. Attorney Max Wood sent a love letter to the City of Macon inviting indicating that the Ellis administration misused money and made false statements to the feds in connection to grant money-money they allege the City spent in ways other than intended. It may take months before we all recover from our astonishment at the allegation that Ellis would've done such a thing. But, the feds just might want their money back, and my question is-is the City of Macon really going to be the only entity punished here?

Does Jack walk away? With him being the only City Official named, and with the language "making false statements to a government official" floating around, I'm guessing Jack better be hiring a lawyer, booking a trip or both.

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A Silver Jag?

Does elected office really pay that well?

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Saturday, May 03, 2008

What's With the Georgia GOP?

In a tough recruiting year, Georgia Republicans blamed the salaries for legislators, while Georgia Democrats, predictably, just blamed each other. When candidate qualifying ended in Georgia on Friday, there was a lot of grumbling on the blogs about the recruiting efforts of one political party. Sure, one party failed to field candidates in all thirteen congressional races, while the other will compete in every single one. One party had fielded fewer state House and Senate candidates than the other. One party challenged far fewer incumbents than the other. Trouble is, the party with the poorest recruiting record is the Georgia GOP, yet, the complaining has been about the DPG, with Democrats providing the grist for the mill.

Consider this:

  • Democrats qualified great candidates in every congressional race while Republicans will only compete in eleven of thirteen.
  • 145 Democrats will compete in House races, while only 136 Republicans are running. Despite their majority status, Republicans are competing in only 17 more House districts than Democrats.
  • 50 Democrats will compete in state Senate races, while only 48 Republicans will run. Again, despite their majority status, Republicans will compete in only three more Senate districts than Democrats.
  • When it comes to challenging incumbents, Democrats clean the GOP's clock. We will challenge 23 incumbent House members while Republicans will challenge only 11 incumbent Democrats. Republicans will challenge 5 incumbent Democratic senators while Democrats drew targets on the backs of 14 incumbent Republican senators.
  • Republicans have failed to challenge incumbent Democrats in a number of marginal districts, including seats held by Amy Carter, Ellis Black and Mike Cheokas.

Georgia Republicans hold majorities in the House and Senate along with the majority of the constitutional offices. Their efforts are really embarrassing considering that the Georgia GOP enjoys a substantial cash advantage over the DPG. You'd think that with the money in the bank, a Governor with a 60+% approval rating and virtually unlimited access to lobbyist dollars, the Georgia GOP would've done a better job. You'd think that they would've recruited folks to run in marginal districts (Amy Carter, Ellis Black and Mike Cheokas are all unopposed). If the Democrats had all those things in our favor and had this kind of showing, Kidd and Company would've been run out of town on a rail. Well, if we had rail, which we don't because the GOP led General Assembly couldn't manage to address transportation. I digress.

I understand Republicans wanting to draw the media focus away from their dismal efforts; I just don't understand why Democrats were helping them do it. I'm the first to acknowledge that Democrats need to do a better job of recruiting, but there is a myth floating around that candidate recruitment was a one week marathon for Democrats, capped with an ill-advised robo-call. Whoever's floating that story doesn't know what they don't know. The truth is that many of us have been actively involved in candidate recruitment for the last two years. The truth is that many hours were invested by the Party, the Caucus and various Democratic organizations like Red Clay and Georgia's WIN List. We called, we surveyed, we trained, and, yes, sometimes we begged, pleaded and cajoled to get quality candidates in races. I know this because I have been involved in the process. And, yes, just like the Republicans, during the last month, those efforts were kicked into high gear to get people who we had reached out to over the course of time in place to qualify. And, yes, there are races where we wanted to field candidates and did not, but in many of those races, we were able to identify really quality candidates whose names you will see on the ballot in 2010. We have lots of great Democrats running this year. Now, admittedly, we need to get some real estate agents for some of these folks so that we can compete in more districts, but not only are we running more folks, this is an absolutely fantastic crop of candidates.

Could we have done better? Sure, and next cycle, with your help maybe we will. Now is the time to look around you, or look in the mirror, and help find great candidates to run in 2010.

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Thanks, Insider Advantage

Insider Advantage Georgia has posted extremely helpful downloadable spread sheets that detail the qualifying results in the Georgia House and Senate. For all the talk about our recruiting (more on that in the morning), there's some good news for Democrats.

If I can count this time of night:

In the Georgia Senate, Democrats fielded 14 challengers to incumbent Republicans, while the R's qualified just 5 challengers to incumbent Democrats.

In the Georgia House, Democrats fielded 23 challengers to incumbent Republicans, while Republicans qualified 11 challengers to take on incumbent Democrats.

Of course, we have ground to make up in both chambers-ground that was lost long before Jane Kidd took office, by the way-but it looks as though we are actually contesting the most seats.

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