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Opinion - Democrats' disappearing act

The only hope for the almost-vaporized Democratic Party is that the GOP is so God-awful incompetent

I ran into Joe Hendricks, the district attorney for the Appalachian Judicial Circuit, at an arts festival in Blue Ridge last month. Hendricks was handing out leaflets for his re-election campaign. He told one woman: "Vote for me on the Republican primary."

The woman: "Republican? I've never voted for a Republican in my life."

Hendricks grinned: "Sorry, ma'am, but there just aren't many Democrats left. They local elections this year will all be on the Republican primary."

That's the sad state of the Democratic Party in Georgia, a species that is endangered by self-immolation.

What the GOP has done to the Dems is akin to what Gen. W.T. Sherman (R-UrbanRenewal) did to Georgia — except the Yankees actually had to fight occasionally as they burned the state. Some of the Democrats' best legislators, such as Rep. Stephanie Stuckey Benfield (D-Skedaddle) and Sen. Kathy Ashe (D-Out of here), have gone AWOL. The House and Senate Republicans, bulked up by craven cash from lobbyists, now have brawny two-thirds majorities.

There isn't a Democrat in a statewide seat — Roy Barnes (D-Ahshucks), who in bygone days would have reigned as a superior governor, was soundly thrashed by the infinitely mediocre Sonny Perdue (R-DoNuttin') and then by Nathan Deal (R-Ditto). Between Barnes' defeats, the Dems slimed themselves by picking gubernatorial candidate Mark Taylor (D-Bigsleaze), who was shellacked by Perdue.

The Democratic Congressional delegation is down to five members, and only U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Truehero) has real clout. The last Democratic U.S. senator in the state was Zell Miller (D-Needthorazine), but that hardly counts as a plus for the party.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party organization in Georgia resembles a clown car with four flat tires. There have been firings, demands for firings, financial turmoil, and just good old-fashioned incompetence.

It all goes back 48 years to the Civil Rights Act, when President Lyndon Johnson said Democrats had "lost the South for a generation." Notably, Georgia U.S. Sen. Richard Russell at the time echoed the sentiment and adumbrated the Democrats' future: Civil rights "will ... cost you the South."

So it has gone ever since, first in most presidential elections, then in the state capitals of the South, finally in just about every local election where there isn't a strong African-American electorate. Indeed, much to the glee of the white-guy, religious-whacko, birther base of the GOP, Georgia Democrats have become almost a party of minorities, women, gays, greens, and urban trendies.

The state resembles the old white-dominated South Africa with Atlanta embedded as an economic Bantustan. That enclave is ruled by a clique led by Mayor Kasim Reed (D-ThinksHe'sEmperor). The city should be a powerhouse of Democratic principles and initiatives. Rather, multimillionaires hold power by claiming they're "disadvantaged" — while true disadvantaged minority entrepreneurs go begging. The lack of progressive thinking at City Hall is best illustrated by the fact that one-percenter champion Bain & Co. has made Atlanta occupied territory. Reed's policy guru at the city was Bain top dog Peter Aman. Bain & Co. is the corporate parent of Mitt Romney's Bain Capital. The Bain motto: A few get filthy rich while the rest pay the bill.

Put another way, state Republicans and Atlanta ersatz Dems don't want to get in each other's way as long as they can pig out on their own turf. House Speaker David Ralston (R-GimmeGimmeGimme) recently complained the lobbyist-money-fueled orgy in state government shouldn't be diminished by something as silly as "ethics."

So, with a faltering state party apparatus, just a meager handful of remaining elected officials and no progressive messaging being trumpeted at Atlanta City Hall, is there hope for the Democrats?

After all, the Republicans have run Gooberland for a decade, and their governance has been awful. Schools, already bad, have gotten worse. Transportation is in crisis mode. Georgia rates an anemic 45 among states for employment. One national survey showed Georgia as the most likely state to engage in corruption. That's why the state GOP has to keep voters distracted with nonsensical laws about gays, abortion, and guns.

If there is a rising star among the Democrats, it's state Rep. Stacey Abrams (D-LittleBigHorn), the House minority leader. "We're clearly in a crossover generation," she says. "No doubt we're at a nadir. But 2014 will be a building year, and 2018 will be the Democratic comeback. I can look forward to recovering a majority in the House."

Abrams' assessment is that the GOP product is "wrong." Social issues — particularly this year's draconian legislative attack on women's health issues — will backfire. Family priorities — jobs and education — have been gutted by Republicans. "So, yes, there's a reason for political consumers not to buy the Republican brand. But as Democrats, we have to tell people what we'll do that's better."

Georgia waits.



More By This Writer

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I only met Gary Webb once. I only talked to Kathy Scruggs once.

Scruggs won't have a memorial to her work in Atlanta. She was the lead Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter covering the 1996 Olympics bombing. Early suspicions were aimed at Richard Jewell, the security guard who had first alerted authorities to a backpack at Centennial Olympic Park. For Scruggs, it was the scoop of a lifetime — one that crumbled three months after the bombing when Jewell was exonerated.

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I had talked several times to Webb, a Pulitzer Prize winner, in the early 1990s on stories involving cocaine trafficking. In 1996, he alerted me to an upcoming three-part series by him, "Dark Alliance." The heart of the story had begun a decade earlier in what became called the Iran-Contra scandal. The Reagan Administration had bartered missiles to Iran in exchange for freeing American hostages held in Lebanon. The money paid by Iran was shipped to CIA clients in Nicaragua called Contras, who were trying to topple the leftist government there. Webb's series linked the flood of Contra cocaine into America, particularly the crack epidemic in cities such as Los Angeles.

That's all documented now — including Ollie North's own diaries detailing $14 million in drug money being used by the Contras, with his and the CIA's blessings. Since the 1980s, a few courageous journalists have peeled off layers of Iran-Contra. But Webb brought the cocaine element into focus.

When Webb called me, I was an editor for the alternative newspaper in Tampa. I was astounded to learn that other Knight-Ridder papers, particularly the Miami Herald (where cocaine was always a top story) had declined to run "Dark Alliance." So, I published it, the only paper in Florida to print the series.

As the movie title suggests, Webb garnered derision, not plaudits. Three mighty newspapers, which had missed the story and were pissed, excoriated Webb.

Nick Schou, whose biography of Webb, Kill the Messenger, serves as the basis for the film, states what happened in LA Weekly: "The New York Times, Washington Post, and L.A. Times each obscured basic truths of Webb's 'Dark Alliance' series." ... "Much of the Times' attack was clever misdirection, but it ruined Webb's reputation."

Webb was demoted, and ultimately could find only part-time work at a small weekly. His finances were ruined and his family tattered. He wrote suicide notes to his children and killed himself on Dec. 10, 2004.

Robert Parry, one of the pioneer reporters on Iran-Contra, makes the case — as do many others, including me — that the decline of journalism is ominous for democracy. "The Reagan guys were smart and aggressive at playing the media," he told me. "Anyone who went after them paid a price. The journalists who did well were those who acted like Pavlov's dogs. They would bare their teeth and go after other reporters who were trying to tell the truth."

The already pathetic state of the media is now much worse. Says media scholar Robert McChesney: "Contemporary commercial journalism is essentially a mix of crime stories, celebrity profiles, consumer news pitched at the upper middle class, and warmed over press releases."

In the last decade, the news media, especially newspapers, have imploded under the weight of tremendous debt and competition with digital sources. And, most importantly, they have fired so many of their best journalists that they no longer have the compelling stories and content that used to entice people to newspapers.

One of the most serious losses in this period has been investigative reporting. What is generally called "investigative" today is simply public documents and very little else. While good, it is not the material that used to create groundbreaking stories like "Dark Alliance." Private First Class Bradley Manning first offered classified government documents to the New York Times and Washington Post and they declined. The story was essentially put out by WikiLeaks. And in the last week, the major disclosures on U.S. government surveillance were primarily broken in the U.S. online version of the Guardian, a British newspaper.

There aren't many with the guts of Webb and Scruggs who are willing to pay the cost just so people in media boardrooms can get fat. The messengers have been silenced. "
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I only met Gary Webb once. I only talked to [http://www.dougmonroe.com/clips/?clip=requiem_for_a_reporter|Kathy Scruggs] once.

Scruggs won't have a memorial to her work in Atlanta. She was the lead ''Atlanta Journal-Constitution'' reporter covering the 1996 Olympics bombing. Early suspicions were aimed at Richard Jewell, the security guard who had first alerted authorities to a backpack at Centennial Olympic Park. For Scruggs, it was the scoop of a lifetime — one that crumbled three months after the bombing when Jewell was exonerated.

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Gary Webb will have a memorial, of sorts, in Atlanta. Focus Features is filming Webb's story here — titled "Kill the Messenger" and starring Jeremy Renner. That said, Webb's story was written, ultimately in his own blood, in California where he worked for the ''San Jose Mercury-News'', owned by Knight-Ridder.

I had talked several times to Webb, a Pulitzer Prize winner, in the early 1990s on stories involving cocaine trafficking. In 1996, he alerted me to an upcoming three-part series by him, "Dark Alliance." The heart of the story had begun a decade earlier in what became called the Iran-Contra scandal. The Reagan Administration had bartered missiles to Iran in exchange for freeing American hostages held in Lebanon. The money paid by Iran was shipped to CIA clients in Nicaragua called Contras, who were trying to topple the leftist government there. Webb's series linked the flood of Contra cocaine into America, particularly the crack epidemic in cities such as Los Angeles.

That's all documented now — including Ollie North's own diaries detailing $14 million in drug money being used by the Contras, with his and the CIA's blessings. Since the 1980s, a few courageous journalists have peeled off layers of Iran-Contra. But Webb brought the cocaine element into focus.

When Webb called me, I was an editor for the alternative newspaper in Tampa. I was astounded to learn that other Knight-Ridder papers, particularly the ''Miami Herald'' (where cocaine was always a top story) had declined to run "Dark Alliance." So, I published it, the only paper in Florida to print the series.

As the movie title suggests, Webb garnered derision, not plaudits. Three mighty newspapers, which had missed the story and were pissed, excoriated Webb.

Nick Schou, whose biography of Webb, ''Kill the Messenger'', serves as the basis for the film, states what happened in ''LA Weekly'': "The ''New York Times'', ''Washington Post'', and ''L.A. Times'' each obscured basic truths of Webb's 'Dark Alliance' series." ... "Much of the ''Times''' attack was clever misdirection, but it ruined Webb's reputation[.]"

Webb was demoted, and ultimately could find only part-time work at a small weekly. His finances were ruined and his family tattered. He wrote suicide notes to his children and killed himself on Dec. 10, 2004.

Robert Parry, one of the pioneer reporters on Iran-Contra, makes the case — as do many others, including me — that the decline of journalism is ominous for democracy. "The Reagan guys were smart and aggressive at playing the media," he told me. "Anyone who went after them paid a price. The journalists who did well were those who acted like Pavlov's dogs. They would bare their teeth and go after other reporters who were trying to tell the truth."

The already pathetic state of the media is now much worse. Says media scholar Robert McChesney: "Contemporary commercial journalism is essentially a mix of crime stories, celebrity profiles, consumer news pitched at the upper middle class, and warmed over press releases."

In the last decade, the news media, especially newspapers, have imploded under the weight of tremendous debt and competition with digital sources. And, most importantly, they have fired so many of their best journalists that they no longer have the compelling stories and content that used to entice people to newspapers.

One of the most serious losses in this period has been investigative reporting. What is generally called "investigative" today is simply public documents and very little else. While good, it is not the material that used to create groundbreaking stories like "Dark Alliance." Private First Class Bradley Manning first offered classified government documents to the ''New York Times'' and ''Washington Post'' and they declined. The story was essentially put out by WikiLeaks. And in the last week, the major disclosures on U.S. government surveillance were primarily broken in the U.S. online version of the ''Guardian'', a British newspaper.

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  string(6308) "  What BS. The American big city media has been the lapdogs of politicians decades before Reagan, and not just American politicians. The KGB manipulated them to the extent that even Andropov couldn't believe it. Cronkite finally admitted he was a socialist at heart. It finally took a politician that isn't a politician to call them out for what they are and have been for decades, the enemy of the American people. And that's the way it is.  The country could use more reporters like Gary Webb and Kathy Scruggs   2013-06-13T08:00:00+00:00 Opinion - The messengers have been killed   John F. Sugg 1223504 2013-06-13T08:00:00+00:00  Scores of journalists have been sacrificed by their bosses and employers. I can count about four dozen among scribes I have known. A few have died, and all have had their careers wrecked. They fell through the trapdoor when they got too close to the truth. And they were often betrayed by the newspapers where they worked.

I only met Gary Webb once. I only talked to Kathy Scruggs once.

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Gary Webb will have a memorial, of sorts, in Atlanta. Focus Features is filming Webb's story here — titled "Kill the Messenger" and starring Jeremy Renner. That said, Webb's story was written, ultimately in his own blood, in California where he worked for the San Jose Mercury-News, owned by Knight-Ridder.

I had talked several times to Webb, a Pulitzer Prize winner, in the early 1990s on stories involving cocaine trafficking. In 1996, he alerted me to an upcoming three-part series by him, "Dark Alliance." The heart of the story had begun a decade earlier in what became called the Iran-Contra scandal. The Reagan Administration had bartered missiles to Iran in exchange for freeing American hostages held in Lebanon. The money paid by Iran was shipped to CIA clients in Nicaragua called Contras, who were trying to topple the leftist government there. Webb's series linked the flood of Contra cocaine into America, particularly the crack epidemic in cities such as Los Angeles.

That's all documented now — including Ollie North's own diaries detailing $14 million in drug money being used by the Contras, with his and the CIA's blessings. Since the 1980s, a few courageous journalists have peeled off layers of Iran-Contra. But Webb brought the cocaine element into focus.

When Webb called me, I was an editor for the alternative newspaper in Tampa. I was astounded to learn that other Knight-Ridder papers, particularly the Miami Herald (where cocaine was always a top story) had declined to run "Dark Alliance." So, I published it, the only paper in Florida to print the series.

As the movie title suggests, Webb garnered derision, not plaudits. Three mighty newspapers, which had missed the story and were pissed, excoriated Webb.

Nick Schou, whose biography of Webb, Kill the Messenger, serves as the basis for the film, states what happened in LA Weekly: "The New York Times, Washington Post, and L.A. Times each obscured basic truths of Webb's 'Dark Alliance' series." ... "Much of the Times' attack was clever misdirection, but it ruined Webb's reputation."

Webb was demoted, and ultimately could find only part-time work at a small weekly. His finances were ruined and his family tattered. He wrote suicide notes to his children and killed himself on Dec. 10, 2004.

Robert Parry, one of the pioneer reporters on Iran-Contra, makes the case — as do many others, including me — that the decline of journalism is ominous for democracy. "The Reagan guys were smart and aggressive at playing the media," he told me. "Anyone who went after them paid a price. The journalists who did well were those who acted like Pavlov's dogs. They would bare their teeth and go after other reporters who were trying to tell the truth."

The already pathetic state of the media is now much worse. Says media scholar Robert McChesney: "Contemporary commercial journalism is essentially a mix of crime stories, celebrity profiles, consumer news pitched at the upper middle class, and warmed over press releases."

In the last decade, the news media, especially newspapers, have imploded under the weight of tremendous debt and competition with digital sources. And, most importantly, they have fired so many of their best journalists that they no longer have the compelling stories and content that used to entice people to newspapers.

One of the most serious losses in this period has been investigative reporting. What is generally called "investigative" today is simply public documents and very little else. While good, it is not the material that used to create groundbreaking stories like "Dark Alliance." Private First Class Bradley Manning first offered classified government documents to the New York Times and Washington Post and they declined. The story was essentially put out by WikiLeaks. And in the last week, the major disclosures on U.S. government surveillance were primarily broken in the U.S. online version of the Guardian, a British newspaper.

There aren't many with the guts of Webb and Scruggs who are willing to pay the cost just so people in media boardrooms can get fat. The messengers have been silenced.              13074084 8416955                          Opinion - The messengers have been killed "
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Article

Thursday June 13, 2013 04:00 am EDT
The country could use more reporters like Gary Webb and Kathy Scruggs | more...
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  string(5377) "The only math that many Georgia legislators learned goes like this: If a lobbyist gives you a few dollars above the table and a few more dollars quietly under the table, the sum is equal to thousands and thousands of taxpayer dollars, which are larded onto the lobbyist's clients via needless government policies and programs.

And that's exactly the "new math" that's going on with the Georgia Charter Schools Amendment on the Nov. 6 ballot. The usual Gold Dome gang — "what's in it for me" politicians and lobbyists, the people who really call the shots — last year passed Georgia's harsh immigration law while they were raking in cash from the private prison industry. Thus, the for-profit prison companies hoped the decidedly racist immigration law would provoke a surge in the prison population.

Retooling the same strategy this year for education, the legislators are whining "gimme, gimme more freebies" to their lobbyist pals who represent the charter school industry.

Shepherding both misbegotten pieces of law is the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a sneaky corporate-funded outfit that creates "model" legislation that Republican state lawmakers obediently inject into policy agendas. ALEC's scheme is all about diminishing your rights at the expense of corporations.

And for Republican politicians, it means they don't have to do the work of actually crafting laws; they just sign their names to what ALEC writes and then pick up mountains of "gifts" from lobbyists. A neat system for everyone but the common folk.

But not all Republicans buy the ALEC/lobbyist spin on charter schools. Many kudos are deserved for John Barge, Georgia's superintendent of schools and an honest conservative. When I asked Barge if the Charter School Amendment was being pushed by companies that stand to make a windfall, he responded: "Yes, I'd have to agree with that." Barge says that "millions of dollars in state funds that state charter schools would receive will go into the pockets of out-of-state, for-profit charter school companies."

The charter school industry (let's call it what it is, an industry, and understand that its motives are necessarily profits, but not necessarily high-quality education) has lavished contributions on top Republican leaders.

Several key state legislators — GOP Reps. Jan Jones of north Fulton County and Edward Lindsey of Atlanta — are members of ALEC. Notably, much of the language in the Georgia law voters will decide on Nov. 6 was cribbed from ALEC's "model."

The first issue at stake — as spun by the charter school industry and legislators — is that local school systems are egregiously deep-sixing charter school applications. Keep in mind, charter schools ARE public schools. They have operational and curriculum autonomy, and they claim to promote innovative strategies. But because they are publicly funded, they are public schools. The amendment would create a state-level agency to approve charters, another layer of government with a million dollar annual, unnecessary cost.

The second issue always assumed by amendment proponents is that charter schools produce superior educational outcomes. They don't. Last year, "Georgia's traditional public schools outperformed its charter schools, with 73 percent making Adequate Yearly Progress compared to 70 percent of charter schools," Barge says.

Local school systems routinely approve charters. If the applications are denied, state law already allows an appeal to the state Board of Education. The constitutional amendment would remove local control, in the form of local school boards, from the process. The amendment was proposed after the Georgia Supreme Court overturned an earlier law that would have created state charter schools and forced local school systems to pay for the schools. The underlying plan in the amendment is to vest power in a state commission. Local schools and the public would have little say in creating and monitoring charter schools. Real power would rest with the for-profit industry, which already has contracts with 60 percent of Georgia's charter schools.

Even more important, Barge has estimated that if only seven new state charter schools are created each year, it would result in $430 million in ADDITIONAL necessary state funding. That would further erode education dollars.

State lawmakers supporting the amendment claim the money won't come out of state funds designated to local school systems — but that's pure sophistry. It's still state money that should rightfully be used for local schools.

Georgia schools have been hit by more than $5 billion in draconian cutbacks in the past nine years. As a result of that terrible record, 121 out of the state's 180 school systems have been forced to cut the education year below the minimum 180 days. Since 2008, 4,423 teachers in the state have been laid off.

The result for Georgia? Why would any enterprise want to move to a state with a workforce lacking educational skills? Most companies, especially technology firms, wouldn't.

Still, two industries could have booming growth. Corporate charter schools would flourish, and with their documented sub-par records, they'd produce young adults without sufficient skills. Many of those people would turn to crime, and thereby boost the populations of the private prisons.

Isn't this a great state? "
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And that's exactly the "new math" that's going on with the Georgia Charter Schools Amendment on the Nov. 6 ballot. The usual Gold Dome gang — "what's in it for me" politicians and lobbyists, the people who really call the shots — last year passed Georgia's harsh immigration law while they were raking in cash from the private prison industry. Thus, the for-profit prison companies hoped the decidedly racist immigration law would provoke a surge in the prison population.

Retooling the same strategy this year for education, the legislators are whining "gimme, gimme more freebies" to their lobbyist pals who represent the charter school industry.

Shepherding both misbegotten pieces of law is the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a sneaky corporate-funded outfit that creates "model" legislation that Republican state lawmakers obediently inject into policy agendas. ALEC's scheme is all about diminishing your rights at the expense of corporations.

And for Republican politicians, it means they don't have to do the work of actually crafting laws; they just sign their names to what ALEC writes and then pick up mountains of "gifts" from lobbyists. A neat system for everyone but the common folk.

But not all Republicans buy the ALEC/lobbyist spin on charter schools. Many kudos are deserved for John Barge, Georgia's superintendent of schools and an honest conservative. When I asked Barge if the Charter School Amendment was being pushed by companies that stand to make a windfall, he responded: "Yes, I'd have to agree with that." Barge says that "millions of dollars in state funds that state charter schools would receive will go into the pockets of out-of-state, for-profit charter school companies."

The charter school industry (let's call it what it is, an industry, and understand that its motives are necessarily profits, but not necessarily high-quality education) has lavished contributions on top Republican leaders.

Several key state legislators — GOP Reps. Jan Jones of north Fulton County and Edward Lindsey of Atlanta — are members of ALEC. Notably, much of the language in the Georgia law voters will decide on Nov. 6 was cribbed from ALEC's "model."

The first issue at stake — as spun by the charter school industry and legislators — is that local school systems are egregiously deep-sixing charter school applications. Keep in mind, charter schools ARE public schools. They have operational and curriculum autonomy, and they claim to promote innovative strategies. But because they are publicly funded, they are public schools. The amendment would create a state-level agency to approve charters, another layer of government with a million dollar annual, unnecessary cost.

The second issue always assumed by amendment proponents is that charter schools produce superior educational outcomes. They don't. Last year, "Georgia's traditional public schools outperformed its charter schools, with 73 percent making [Adequate Yearly Progress] compared to 70 percent of charter schools," Barge says.

Local school systems routinely approve charters. If the applications are denied, state law already allows an appeal to the state Board of Education. The constitutional amendment would remove local control, in the form of local school boards, from the process. The amendment was proposed after the Georgia Supreme Court overturned an earlier law that would have created state charter schools and forced local school systems to pay for the schools. The underlying plan in the amendment is to vest power in a state commission. Local schools and the public would have little say in creating and monitoring charter schools. Real power would rest with the for-profit industry, which already has contracts with 60 percent of Georgia's charter schools.

Even more important, Barge has estimated that if only seven new state charter schools are created each year, it would result in $430 million in ADDITIONAL necessary state funding. That would further erode education dollars.

State lawmakers supporting the amendment claim the money won't come out of state funds designated to local school systems — but that's pure sophistry. It's still state money that should rightfully be used for local schools.

Georgia schools have been hit by more than $5 billion in draconian cutbacks in the past nine years. As a result of that terrible record, 121 out of the state's 180 school systems have been forced to cut the education year below the minimum 180 days. Since 2008, 4,423 teachers in the state have been laid off.

The result for Georgia? Why would any enterprise want to move to a state with a workforce lacking educational skills? Most companies, especially technology firms, wouldn't.

Still, two industries could have booming growth. Corporate charter schools would flourish, and with their documented sub-par records, they'd produce young adults without sufficient skills. Many of those people would turn to crime, and thereby boost the populations of the private prisons.

Isn't this a great state? "
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  string(5668) "    GOP politicians get failing grades for creating a charter school referendum that will undermine education   2012-09-05T08:00:00+00:00 Opinion - Civics lesson   John F. Sugg 1223504 2012-09-05T08:00:00+00:00  The only math that many Georgia legislators learned goes like this: If a lobbyist gives you a few dollars above the table and a few more dollars quietly under the table, the sum is equal to thousands and thousands of taxpayer dollars, which are larded onto the lobbyist's clients via needless government policies and programs.

And that's exactly the "new math" that's going on with the Georgia Charter Schools Amendment on the Nov. 6 ballot. The usual Gold Dome gang — "what's in it for me" politicians and lobbyists, the people who really call the shots — last year passed Georgia's harsh immigration law while they were raking in cash from the private prison industry. Thus, the for-profit prison companies hoped the decidedly racist immigration law would provoke a surge in the prison population.

Retooling the same strategy this year for education, the legislators are whining "gimme, gimme more freebies" to their lobbyist pals who represent the charter school industry.

Shepherding both misbegotten pieces of law is the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a sneaky corporate-funded outfit that creates "model" legislation that Republican state lawmakers obediently inject into policy agendas. ALEC's scheme is all about diminishing your rights at the expense of corporations.

And for Republican politicians, it means they don't have to do the work of actually crafting laws; they just sign their names to what ALEC writes and then pick up mountains of "gifts" from lobbyists. A neat system for everyone but the common folk.

But not all Republicans buy the ALEC/lobbyist spin on charter schools. Many kudos are deserved for John Barge, Georgia's superintendent of schools and an honest conservative. When I asked Barge if the Charter School Amendment was being pushed by companies that stand to make a windfall, he responded: "Yes, I'd have to agree with that." Barge says that "millions of dollars in state funds that state charter schools would receive will go into the pockets of out-of-state, for-profit charter school companies."

The charter school industry (let's call it what it is, an industry, and understand that its motives are necessarily profits, but not necessarily high-quality education) has lavished contributions on top Republican leaders.

Several key state legislators — GOP Reps. Jan Jones of north Fulton County and Edward Lindsey of Atlanta — are members of ALEC. Notably, much of the language in the Georgia law voters will decide on Nov. 6 was cribbed from ALEC's "model."

The first issue at stake — as spun by the charter school industry and legislators — is that local school systems are egregiously deep-sixing charter school applications. Keep in mind, charter schools ARE public schools. They have operational and curriculum autonomy, and they claim to promote innovative strategies. But because they are publicly funded, they are public schools. The amendment would create a state-level agency to approve charters, another layer of government with a million dollar annual, unnecessary cost.

The second issue always assumed by amendment proponents is that charter schools produce superior educational outcomes. They don't. Last year, "Georgia's traditional public schools outperformed its charter schools, with 73 percent making Adequate Yearly Progress compared to 70 percent of charter schools," Barge says.

Local school systems routinely approve charters. If the applications are denied, state law already allows an appeal to the state Board of Education. The constitutional amendment would remove local control, in the form of local school boards, from the process. The amendment was proposed after the Georgia Supreme Court overturned an earlier law that would have created state charter schools and forced local school systems to pay for the schools. The underlying plan in the amendment is to vest power in a state commission. Local schools and the public would have little say in creating and monitoring charter schools. Real power would rest with the for-profit industry, which already has contracts with 60 percent of Georgia's charter schools.

Even more important, Barge has estimated that if only seven new state charter schools are created each year, it would result in $430 million in ADDITIONAL necessary state funding. That would further erode education dollars.

State lawmakers supporting the amendment claim the money won't come out of state funds designated to local school systems — but that's pure sophistry. It's still state money that should rightfully be used for local schools.

Georgia schools have been hit by more than $5 billion in draconian cutbacks in the past nine years. As a result of that terrible record, 121 out of the state's 180 school systems have been forced to cut the education year below the minimum 180 days. Since 2008, 4,423 teachers in the state have been laid off.

The result for Georgia? Why would any enterprise want to move to a state with a workforce lacking educational skills? Most companies, especially technology firms, wouldn't.

Still, two industries could have booming growth. Corporate charter schools would flourish, and with their documented sub-par records, they'd produce young adults without sufficient skills. Many of those people would turn to crime, and thereby boost the populations of the private prisons.

Isn't this a great state?              13069917 6290304                          Opinion - Civics lesson "
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Article

Wednesday September 5, 2012 04:00 am EDT
GOP politicians get failing grades for creating a charter school referendum that will undermine education | more...
array(80) {
  ["title"]=>
  string(24) "Opinion - Feeding frenzy"
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  string(12) "John F. Sugg"
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  string(85) "The Falcons and political insiders are hungry for a new stadium - and you're the bait"
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  string(85) "The Falcons and political insiders are hungry for a new stadium - and you're the bait"
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  string(4792) "The South has always had a peculiar attitude toward "freedom," dating back to the doo-dah, doo-dah days. People who had social status had more "freedom." Not much has changed, especially in Atlanta where the elites — personified by mayors, magnates, and multimillionaires — have the freedom to do what they want, while you and I have the freedom to pay the bills.

Case in point: The Atlanta Falcons want a $1 billion stadium. The team already has a stadium, of course, and it's just dandy. Except for one thing, new stadiums balloon owners' net worth. Team moguls periodically whine that new stadiums are "necessary" — for them, not us. In Atlanta, Mayor Kasim Reed has joined the Falcon chorus, proclaiming that a new stadium is just absolutely, positively needed — without exactly explaining why it's a priority.

The threat is that if a stadium isn't built, and if it doesn't include tons of "public" money (aka your dollars), then the team will scoot to greener fields in another city. Notably, the Georgia Dome was supposed to last for many more decades, and the proposed new stadium's state funding extends until 2050. It's likely state and city officials will cave in — as they have now — to another stadium long before 2050.

If Atlanta's new stadium is built, it will be grand. The NFL likes stadiums to be swanker, with more luxury seats, and the whole purpose is to jack up revenues so that owners' bank accounts will soar to heavenly levels. Fewer Atlantans will actually be able to attend games for a reasonable price, and a middle-class family of four will ponder a second mortgage to afford the $500 or more it will cost for a day at the game.

That would probably be OK, except that the public always pays a hefty percentage of the tab for the stadium. Remember Republicans — you know, those swell guys who hate taxes — well, they rushed right in two years ago to extend a 7 percent sales tax on Fulton County hotels. That will provide about $300 million in borrowed money toward the stadium. The principal plus interest will cost undoubtedly more than $1 billion over the next 35 years. You can argue that the "bed tax" is money tourist chumps pay. Maybe so, but that money could also be used for roads, transit, schools, Grady Memorial Hospital, or a hundred other critical but unfunded or underfunded priorities in Atlanta.

Plebeian Atlantans almost certainly will have much more freedom to contribute to the Falcons' Xanadu-scale pleasure dome beyond the $300 million hotel tax. It's worth noting that Arthur Blank truly is a good guy, a consummate philanthropist, and among sports team owners he's one of the few who shouldn't be straightjacketed at an institution for the terminally sociopathic. But there isn't any way the Falcons are going dig into their own pockets for all of the remaining $700 million. Or even much of it.

Nor is there any way the public will understand the finances. The NFL has a well-oiled obfuscation scheme for stadiums: The team will appear to pay part of the stadium cost, but most of what it allegedly pays will be returned to it in complex calculations involving, often, money that should be designated to the "public partners." What goes out of the owner's right pocket is returned to his left.

Will there be a public benefit for the stadium, since we're anteing much of the moolah for the team? Hahahahahahahaha. Ha! There are innumerable highly documented studies on the economic impact of stadia. The impact is great for teams, lousy for you and me.

The only studies that support stadiums are those commissioned by teams, leagues, and Chambers of Commerce. They inevitably use the "multiplier" scam — i.e., for every dollar spent on the stadium, some multiple such as two or three is added to the local economy. Serious economists scoff at the multiplier. "It never happens," says University of South Florida professor Phil Porter. On the general impact of stadium, the University of Maryland's Dennis Coates and Brad Humphreys, top scholars on the subject, conclude: "Attracting a professional sports franchise to a city and building that franchise a new stadium or arena will have no effect on the growth rate of real per capita income and may actually reduce the level of real per capita income in that city."

There are two possible options for Blank, who isn't the sort to be soiled by a closed-door feeding frenzy of insiders:

• Insist on a public debate and a referendum so that the public can know what it's buying.

• Make Atlanta full partners with the Falcons in the deal, and demand money be paid directly to worthy priorities.

Any deal that isn't transparent and doesn't contain a real payback for citizens is likely to be sacked for a loss by citizens angry are special deals for rich fellas."
  ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage_raw"]=>
  string(5973) "The South has always had a peculiar attitude toward "freedom," dating back to the doo-dah, doo-dah days. People who had social status had more "freedom." Not much has changed, especially in Atlanta where the elites — personified by mayors, magnates, and multimillionaires — have the freedom to do what they want, while you and I have the freedom to pay the bills.

Case in point: The Atlanta Falcons want a $1 billion stadium. The [http://www.thefalcoholic.com/2012/5/29/3048911/new-falcons-stadium-more-money-paid-by-fans|team already has a stadium], of course, and [http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g60898-d108699-r131411116-Georgia_Dome-Atlanta_Georgia.html|it's just dandy]. Except for one thing, new stadiums balloon owners' net worth. Team moguls periodically whine that new stadiums are "necessary" — for them, not us. In Atlanta, Mayor [http://clatl.com/freshloaf/archives/2012/03/12/mayor-kickstarts-discussion-about-new-falcons-stadium|Kasim Reed has joined the Falcon chorus], proclaiming that a new stadium is just absolutely, positively needed — without exactly explaining why it's a priority.

The threat is that if a stadium isn't built, and if it doesn't include tons of "public" money (aka your dollars), then [http://www.governing.com/topics/economic-dev/when-team-leaves-its-stadium-what-do-you-do.html|the team will scoot to greener fields] in another city. Notably, the Georgia Dome was supposed to last for many more decades, and the proposed new stadium's state funding extends until 2050. It's likely state and city officials will cave in — as they have now — to another stadium long before 2050.

If Atlanta's new stadium is built, it will be grand. The NFL likes stadiums to be swanker, with more luxury seats, and the whole purpose is to jack up revenues so that owners' bank accounts will soar to heavenly levels. Fewer Atlantans will actually be able to attend games for a reasonable price, and a middle-class family of four will ponder a second mortgage to afford the $500 or more [http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2012/05/28/new-stadiums-are-resulting-in-dramatically-increased-ticket-prices/|it will cost for a day at the game].

That would probably be OK, except that the [http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/09/08/sports/20100908-stadium-sidebar.html|public always pays] a hefty percentage of the tab for the stadium. Remember Republicans — you know, those swell guys who hate taxes — well, they rushed right in two years ago to [http://gareport.com/story/2010/03/08/house-approves-tax-for-new-domed-stadium/|extend a 7 percent sales tax] on Fulton County hotels. That will provide about $300 million in borrowed money toward the stadium. The principal plus interest will cost undoubtedly more than $1 billion over the next 35 years. You can argue that the "bed tax" is money tourist chumps pay. Maybe so, but that money could also be used for roads, transit, schools, Grady Memorial Hospital, or a hundred other critical but unfunded or underfunded priorities in Atlanta.

Plebeian Atlantans almost certainly will have much more freedom to contribute to the Falcons' Xanadu-scale pleasure dome beyond the $300 million hotel tax. It's worth noting that Arthur Blank truly is a good guy, a consummate philanthropist, and among [http://www.hotpolitics.com/hotpolitics-1.html|sports team owners] he's one of the few who shouldn't be straightjacketed at an institution for the terminally sociopathic. But there isn't any way the Falcons are going dig into their own pockets for all of the remaining $700 million. Or even much of it.

Nor is there any way the public will understand the finances. The NFL has a well-oiled [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa5334/is_3_6/ai_n29414971/pg_9/|obfuscation scheme for stadiums]: The team will appear to pay part of the stadium cost, but most of what it allegedly pays will be returned to it in complex calculations involving, often, money that should be designated to the "public partners." What goes out of the owner's right pocket is returned to his left.

Will there be a public benefit for the stadium, since we're anteing much of the moolah for the team? Hahahahahahahaha. Ha! There are innumerable highly [http://thesportdigest.com/archive/article/economic-impact-sports-facilities|documented studies on the economic impact] of stadia. The impact is great for teams, lousy for you and me.

The only studies that support stadiums are those commissioned by teams, leagues, and Chambers of Commerce. They inevitably use the [http://clatl.com/atlanta/why-a-nascar-museum/Content?oid=1256431|"multiplier" scam] — i.e., for every dollar spent on the stadium, some multiple such as two or three is added to the local economy. Serious economists scoff at the multiplier. "It never happens," says University of South Florida professor Phil Porter. On the general impact of stadium, the University of Maryland's [http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CFEQFjAA&url=http://www.cato.org/pubs/regulation/regv23n2/coates.pdf&ei=6WL0T6qpL4Oe8gTv9cyCBw&usg=AFQjCNGRutiMD2l-xju4B6xHlqRPHADdyQ&sig2=4WtXU3QaWN8pnfMp9mQe-Q|Dennis Coates and Brad Humphreys], top scholars on the subject, conclude: "[A]ttracting a professional sports franchise to a city and building that franchise a new stadium or arena will have no effect on the growth rate of real per capita income and may actually reduce the level of real per capita income in that city."

There are two possible options for Blank, who isn't the sort to be soiled by a closed-door feeding frenzy of insiders:

• Insist on a public debate and a referendum so that the public can know what it's buying.

• Make Atlanta full partners with the Falcons in the deal, and demand money be paid directly to worthy priorities.

Any deal that isn't transparent and doesn't contain a real payback for citizens is likely to be sacked for a loss by citizens angry are special deals for rich fellas."
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  string(5599) "  Searching for flame resistant clothing to buy fire retardant suits and fire proximity suits? Here we provides quality of flame resistant clothing, fire retardant suits and fire proximity suits

There are many questions when it comes to Flame Resistant Clothing. Do you need fire retardant suits or fire proximity suits? Maybe you have been told that you will need to wear flame resistant clothing for your new project. Whatever the case, you suddenly have reason to be curious and ask – what exactly is clothing that opposes fire?  The Falcons and political insiders are hungry for a new stadium - and you're the bait   2012-07-11T08:11:00+00:00 Opinion - Feeding frenzy   John F. Sugg 1223504 2012-07-11T08:11:00+00:00  The South has always had a peculiar attitude toward "freedom," dating back to the doo-dah, doo-dah days. People who had social status had more "freedom." Not much has changed, especially in Atlanta where the elites — personified by mayors, magnates, and multimillionaires — have the freedom to do what they want, while you and I have the freedom to pay the bills.

Case in point: The Atlanta Falcons want a $1 billion stadium. The team already has a stadium, of course, and it's just dandy. Except for one thing, new stadiums balloon owners' net worth. Team moguls periodically whine that new stadiums are "necessary" — for them, not us. In Atlanta, Mayor Kasim Reed has joined the Falcon chorus, proclaiming that a new stadium is just absolutely, positively needed — without exactly explaining why it's a priority.

The threat is that if a stadium isn't built, and if it doesn't include tons of "public" money (aka your dollars), then the team will scoot to greener fields in another city. Notably, the Georgia Dome was supposed to last for many more decades, and the proposed new stadium's state funding extends until 2050. It's likely state and city officials will cave in — as they have now — to another stadium long before 2050.

If Atlanta's new stadium is built, it will be grand. The NFL likes stadiums to be swanker, with more luxury seats, and the whole purpose is to jack up revenues so that owners' bank accounts will soar to heavenly levels. Fewer Atlantans will actually be able to attend games for a reasonable price, and a middle-class family of four will ponder a second mortgage to afford the $500 or more it will cost for a day at the game.

That would probably be OK, except that the public always pays a hefty percentage of the tab for the stadium. Remember Republicans — you know, those swell guys who hate taxes — well, they rushed right in two years ago to extend a 7 percent sales tax on Fulton County hotels. That will provide about $300 million in borrowed money toward the stadium. The principal plus interest will cost undoubtedly more than $1 billion over the next 35 years. You can argue that the "bed tax" is money tourist chumps pay. Maybe so, but that money could also be used for roads, transit, schools, Grady Memorial Hospital, or a hundred other critical but unfunded or underfunded priorities in Atlanta.

Plebeian Atlantans almost certainly will have much more freedom to contribute to the Falcons' Xanadu-scale pleasure dome beyond the $300 million hotel tax. It's worth noting that Arthur Blank truly is a good guy, a consummate philanthropist, and among sports team owners he's one of the few who shouldn't be straightjacketed at an institution for the terminally sociopathic. But there isn't any way the Falcons are going dig into their own pockets for all of the remaining $700 million. Or even much of it.

Nor is there any way the public will understand the finances. The NFL has a well-oiled obfuscation scheme for stadiums: The team will appear to pay part of the stadium cost, but most of what it allegedly pays will be returned to it in complex calculations involving, often, money that should be designated to the "public partners." What goes out of the owner's right pocket is returned to his left.

Will there be a public benefit for the stadium, since we're anteing much of the moolah for the team? Hahahahahahahaha. Ha! There are innumerable highly documented studies on the economic impact of stadia. The impact is great for teams, lousy for you and me.

The only studies that support stadiums are those commissioned by teams, leagues, and Chambers of Commerce. They inevitably use the "multiplier" scam — i.e., for every dollar spent on the stadium, some multiple such as two or three is added to the local economy. Serious economists scoff at the multiplier. "It never happens," says University of South Florida professor Phil Porter. On the general impact of stadium, the University of Maryland's Dennis Coates and Brad Humphreys, top scholars on the subject, conclude: "Attracting a professional sports franchise to a city and building that franchise a new stadium or arena will have no effect on the growth rate of real per capita income and may actually reduce the level of real per capita income in that city."

There are two possible options for Blank, who isn't the sort to be soiled by a closed-door feeding frenzy of insiders:

• Insist on a public debate and a referendum so that the public can know what it's buying.

• Make Atlanta full partners with the Falcons in the deal, and demand money be paid directly to worthy priorities.

Any deal that isn't transparent and doesn't contain a real payback for citizens is likely to be sacked for a loss by citizens angry are special deals for rich fellas.             13068977 5780010                          Opinion - Feeding frenzy "
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Article

Wednesday July 11, 2012 04:11 am EDT
The Falcons and political insiders are hungry for a new stadium - and you're the bait | more...
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  ["title"]=>
  string(30) "Opinion - Justice Neal Boortz?"
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  string(25) "2012-05-30T08:00:00+00:00"
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  string(12) "John F. Sugg"
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  string(163) "Just what the Georgia Supreme Court needs: A draft-dodging, race-baiting dissembler who wants to do away with trials and have summary executions on Atlanta streets"
  ["tracker_field_description_raw"]=>
  string(163) "Just what the Georgia Supreme Court needs: A draft-dodging, race-baiting dissembler who wants to do away with trials and have summary executions on Atlanta streets"
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  string(39) "Content:_:Opinion - Justice Neal Boortz"
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  string(4976) "Sure, Georgia is becoming a joke among states. Southern states have never been "tops" at doing what's right for their people, but at least there were glimmers of enlightenment in North Carolina, Florida, and Georgia. We could always say, "We're not Mississippi." Sadly, in recent years, Georgia has been racing to the rear. Schools have been eviscerated in their funding. Transportation planning is a joke. Politics is an ethical cesspool from the Gold Dome to Atlanta City Hall — and, yes, even Mississippi now has higher ethical standards than the goobers in Georgia.

So, it's entirely appropriate that Cox Radio (WSB 750-AM) hate talker Neal Boortz was nominated — briefly — to the Georgia Supreme Court. His latest attempt at self-aggrandizement sputtered. He'll likely not tell the truth why, but it could be that he lives in Florida most of the year — there's no income tax there, and Boortz is loathe to pay his fair share. Or, maybe how buffoonish he would look when all of his outrageous eruptions were played to those considering the judicial nominations.

But even if Boortz won't be Justice Boortz, he still defiles the public's airwaves. Georgia is a state with many "low information" residents. That's polite dog-whistling for some real stupid people — especially those who credulously believe what they hear on Fox News and talk radio.

Those media personalities aren't journalists or even honest public intellectuals — rather, they're the "Three Stooges" multiplied by many score. A stooge is a shill for someone else, and the people pulling the strings are the corporate masters. It's money that commands the Goebbels Brigade to unrelentingly and deceitfully claim that global warming is a myth or that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11 or that President Barack Obama might not be an American. It's money that keeps the constant vomiting of racism and hatred on the air. Keep in mind that Cox Radio's potentate is Jim Cox Kennedy, one of the most right-wing and misanthropic people in the nation (Montanans once called Kennedy the most "hated person" in the state).

In other words, Boortz is merely the monkey doing rhetorical pratfalls. That would be merely distasteful — if he hadn't briefly tried to snare a seat among the Georgia Supremes.

What would have we have known about Boortz as a judicial wannabe? For a start, he clearly disdains the law. In a 2009 AJC column about surveillance cameras, Boortz opined: "I think they should equip some of these cameras with sniper rifles. Don't you just love the idea of a little red laser dot appearing on the chest of some goon."

And to be clear that Boortz wants black folks to be subject to summary executions, he said last year: "We need more dead thugs in this city. ... Let their mommas say, 'He was a good boy. He just fell in with the good crowd.' And then lock her ass up." Boortz has routinely compared the president to the 9/11 terrorists and, just a few weeks ago, to Syrian President/mass murderer Bashar Assad.

Racism is Boortz's staple. He might embrace Herman Cain. But as most on the right chuckle, Cain was merely an entertainer that could be disregarded — and Cain himself willingly played the black stereotype minstrel." Cain didn't make the right less racist; he just gave the racists a facade to hide their white sheets and hoods.

A few years ago I made a cottage industry out of calling Boortz on his serial prevarications. After awhile, I got tired of it. It was too damn easy. But here is the best anecdote about Boortz and why any ethical media company would give him the boot — and why now he shouldn't get within a mile of any court unless as a defendant.

Boortz for years claimed that he didn't go to Vietnam because of poor eyesight. Sometimes he claimed it was asthma. That made me curious because 1) in the 1960s, you had to be virtually blind to avoid the Army, and 2) Boortz has a private pilot's license — so he should have decent eyesight. I called his alma mater, Texas A&M University (he was kicked out, although he generally obfuscates that fact), and the U.S. Selective Service. Boortz never had a medical deferment. Nope, no way, no how. Rather, when he first started college he claimed an "ROTC deferment" because he enrolled in some military course. As the university officials explained, even those courses likely wouldn't have been sufficient for the deferment. More than that, Boortz dropped out of the military classes, yet he never told Selective Service, which was illegal.

I recounted that story because Boortz was one of the legion of "chickenhawks" — a cowardly group that included Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh, and innumerable others who had ducked military service during Vietnam but nonetheless were clamoring to send troops to Iraq. Someone of Boortz's hypocrisy doesn't deserve a soapbox or judicial robes.

On the other hand, let's be fair: Boortz is good at what he does — if you can call mendacity and hatred an art form."
  ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage_raw"]=>
  string(5609) "Sure, Georgia is becoming a joke among states. Southern states have never been "tops" at doing what's right for their people, but at least there were glimmers of enlightenment in North Carolina, Florida, and Georgia. We could always say, "We're not Mississippi." Sadly, in recent years, Georgia has been racing to the rear. Schools have been eviscerated in their funding. Transportation planning is a joke. Politics is an ethical cesspool from the Gold Dome to Atlanta City Hall — and, yes, [http://clatl.com/freshloaf/archives/2010/06/24/haley-barbour-stashes-his-pac-in-georgia-where-ethics-dont-exist|even Mississippi now has higher ethical standards] than the goobers in Georgia.

So, it's entirely appropriate that Cox Radio [http://www.wsbradio.com/|(WSB 750-AM)] hate talker [http://www.atlawblog.com/2012/05/neal-boortz-among-many-nominated-for-georgia-high-court/|Neal Boortz was nominated — briefly — to the Georgia Supreme Court]. His latest attempt at self-aggrandizement sputtered. He'll likely not tell the truth why, but it could be that he lives in Florida most of the year — there's no income tax there, and Boortz is loathe to pay his fair share. Or, maybe how buffoonish he would look when all of his outrageous eruptions were played to those considering the judicial nominations.

But even if Boortz won't be Justice Boortz, he still defiles the public's airwaves. Georgia is a state with many "low information" residents. That's polite dog-whistling for some real stupid people — especially those who credulously believe what they hear on Fox News and talk radio.

Those media personalities aren't journalists or even honest public intellectuals — rather, they're the "Three Stooges" multiplied by many score. A stooge is a shill for someone else, and the people pulling the strings are the corporate masters. It's money that commands the Goebbels Brigade to unrelentingly and deceitfully claim that global warming is a myth or that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11 or that President Barack Obama might not be an American. It's money that keeps the constant vomiting of racism and hatred on the air. Keep in mind that Cox Radio's potentate is Jim Cox Kennedy, one of the most right-wing and misanthropic people in the nation ([http://clatl.com/atlanta/a-river-runs-through-cox-land/Content?oid=1266685|Montanans once called Kennedy the most "hated person" in the state]).

In other words, Boortz is merely the monkey doing rhetorical pratfalls. That would be merely distasteful — if he hadn't briefly tried to snare a seat among the Georgia Supremes.

What would have we have known about Boortz as a judicial wannabe? For a start, he clearly disdains the law. In a [http://www.ajc.com/opinion/neal-boortz-kinda-wish-179552.html|2009 ''AJC'' column about surveillance cameras], Boortz opined: "I think they should equip some of these cameras with sniper rifles. Don't you just love the idea of a little red laser dot appearing on the chest of some goon."

And to be clear that Boortz wants black folks to be subject to summary executions, he said last year: "We need more dead thugs in this city. ... Let their mommas say, 'He was a good boy. He just fell in with the good crowd.' And then lock her ass up." Boortz has routinely compared the president to the 9/11 terrorists and, just a few weeks ago, to Syrian President/mass murderer Bashar Assad.

Racism is Boortz's staple. He might embrace Herman Cain. But as most on the right chuckle, Cain was merely an entertainer that could be disregarded — and Cain himself willingly played the black stereotype [http://www.religiondispatches.org/dispatches/antheabutler/5448/is_herman_cain’s_long-running_minstrel_show_finally_at_an_end/|minstrel]." Cain didn't make the right less racist; he just gave the racists a facade to hide their white sheets and hoods.

A few years ago I made a cottage industry out of calling Boortz on his serial prevarications. After awhile, I got tired of it. It was too damn easy. But here is the [http://clatl.com/atlanta/bellicose-boortz-exposed-as-draft-dodger/Content?oid=1261429|best anecdote about Boortz] and why any ethical media company would give him the boot — and why now he shouldn't get within a mile of any court unless as a defendant.

Boortz for years claimed that he didn't go to Vietnam because of poor eyesight. Sometimes he claimed it was asthma. That made me curious because 1) in the 1960s, you had to be virtually blind to avoid the Army, and 2) Boortz has a private pilot's license — so he should have decent eyesight. I called his alma mater, Texas A&M University (he was kicked out, although he generally obfuscates that fact), and the U.S. Selective Service. Boortz never had a medical deferment. Nope, no way, no how. Rather, when he first started college he claimed an "ROTC deferment" because he enrolled in some military course. As the university officials explained, even those courses likely wouldn't have been sufficient for the deferment. More than that, Boortz dropped out of the military classes, yet he never told Selective Service, which was illegal.

I recounted that story because Boortz was one of the legion of "[http://www.nhgazette.com/chickenhawks/|chickenhawks]" — a cowardly group that included Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh, and innumerable others who had ducked military service during Vietnam but nonetheless were clamoring to send troops to Iraq. Someone of Boortz's hypocrisy doesn't deserve a soapbox or judicial robes.

On the other hand, let's be fair: Boortz is good at what he does — if you can call mendacity and hatred an art form."
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  string(5339) "    Just what the Georgia Supreme Court needs: A draft-dodging, race-baiting dissembler who wants to do away with trials and have summary executions on Atlanta streets   2012-05-30T08:00:00+00:00 Opinion - Justice Neal Boortz?   John F. Sugg 1223504 2012-05-30T08:00:00+00:00  Sure, Georgia is becoming a joke among states. Southern states have never been "tops" at doing what's right for their people, but at least there were glimmers of enlightenment in North Carolina, Florida, and Georgia. We could always say, "We're not Mississippi." Sadly, in recent years, Georgia has been racing to the rear. Schools have been eviscerated in their funding. Transportation planning is a joke. Politics is an ethical cesspool from the Gold Dome to Atlanta City Hall — and, yes, even Mississippi now has higher ethical standards than the goobers in Georgia.

So, it's entirely appropriate that Cox Radio (WSB 750-AM) hate talker Neal Boortz was nominated — briefly — to the Georgia Supreme Court. His latest attempt at self-aggrandizement sputtered. He'll likely not tell the truth why, but it could be that he lives in Florida most of the year — there's no income tax there, and Boortz is loathe to pay his fair share. Or, maybe how buffoonish he would look when all of his outrageous eruptions were played to those considering the judicial nominations.

But even if Boortz won't be Justice Boortz, he still defiles the public's airwaves. Georgia is a state with many "low information" residents. That's polite dog-whistling for some real stupid people — especially those who credulously believe what they hear on Fox News and talk radio.

Those media personalities aren't journalists or even honest public intellectuals — rather, they're the "Three Stooges" multiplied by many score. A stooge is a shill for someone else, and the people pulling the strings are the corporate masters. It's money that commands the Goebbels Brigade to unrelentingly and deceitfully claim that global warming is a myth or that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11 or that President Barack Obama might not be an American. It's money that keeps the constant vomiting of racism and hatred on the air. Keep in mind that Cox Radio's potentate is Jim Cox Kennedy, one of the most right-wing and misanthropic people in the nation (Montanans once called Kennedy the most "hated person" in the state).

In other words, Boortz is merely the monkey doing rhetorical pratfalls. That would be merely distasteful — if he hadn't briefly tried to snare a seat among the Georgia Supremes.

What would have we have known about Boortz as a judicial wannabe? For a start, he clearly disdains the law. In a 2009 AJC column about surveillance cameras, Boortz opined: "I think they should equip some of these cameras with sniper rifles. Don't you just love the idea of a little red laser dot appearing on the chest of some goon."

And to be clear that Boortz wants black folks to be subject to summary executions, he said last year: "We need more dead thugs in this city. ... Let their mommas say, 'He was a good boy. He just fell in with the good crowd.' And then lock her ass up." Boortz has routinely compared the president to the 9/11 terrorists and, just a few weeks ago, to Syrian President/mass murderer Bashar Assad.

Racism is Boortz's staple. He might embrace Herman Cain. But as most on the right chuckle, Cain was merely an entertainer that could be disregarded — and Cain himself willingly played the black stereotype minstrel." Cain didn't make the right less racist; he just gave the racists a facade to hide their white sheets and hoods.

A few years ago I made a cottage industry out of calling Boortz on his serial prevarications. After awhile, I got tired of it. It was too damn easy. But here is the best anecdote about Boortz and why any ethical media company would give him the boot — and why now he shouldn't get within a mile of any court unless as a defendant.

Boortz for years claimed that he didn't go to Vietnam because of poor eyesight. Sometimes he claimed it was asthma. That made me curious because 1) in the 1960s, you had to be virtually blind to avoid the Army, and 2) Boortz has a private pilot's license — so he should have decent eyesight. I called his alma mater, Texas A&M University (he was kicked out, although he generally obfuscates that fact), and the U.S. Selective Service. Boortz never had a medical deferment. Nope, no way, no how. Rather, when he first started college he claimed an "ROTC deferment" because he enrolled in some military course. As the university officials explained, even those courses likely wouldn't have been sufficient for the deferment. More than that, Boortz dropped out of the military classes, yet he never told Selective Service, which was illegal.

I recounted that story because Boortz was one of the legion of "chickenhawks" — a cowardly group that included Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh, and innumerable others who had ducked military service during Vietnam but nonetheless were clamoring to send troops to Iraq. Someone of Boortz's hypocrisy doesn't deserve a soapbox or judicial robes.

On the other hand, let's be fair: Boortz is good at what he does — if you can call mendacity and hatred an art form.             13068303 5478912                          Opinion - Justice Neal Boortz? "
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Just what the Georgia Supreme Court needs: A draft-dodging, race-baiting dissembler who wants to do away with trials and have summary executions on Atlanta streets | more...
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  string(71) "The subtle ways the judge in the Peachtree-Pine case is hurting Atlanta"
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  string(4909) "One of the most vexing and enduring problems facing Atlanta is homelessness, as well as the related but not identical issue of panhandling. For many citizens, the topic is vastly misunderstood. They equate the visible, offensive panhandlers with homelessness — and residents fear little is being done. The truth is that Atlanta is a model for most American cities in creating effective, progressive programs that effectively find housing for the homeless and ensure that programs allow these distressed people an opportunity to re-enter society.

Among the approximately 100 agencies that serve the homeless in Atlanta, one stands out as an obstacle to finding solutions to homelessness. That agency is the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, aka the shelter at Pine and Peachtree streets. The "task force" is really one person, Anita Beaty, and a few followers.

For years, Beaty has embroiled the city in a series of lawsuits to keep control of property she does not own and has no legitimate reason to occupy. In essence, her "task force" is the organizational equivalent of an aggressive panhandler, threatening the city if she doesn't get what she wants. Beaty has alleged a conspiracy so broad that virtually anyone who criticizes her tyranny could be targeted.

But there are other more subtle dangers to Atlanta from Beaty's actions. Aiding and abetting Beaty is Fulton County Superior Court Judge Craig Schwall, who has basically refused to uphold the law. The "task force" building at Pine and Peachtree is not owned by Beaty or her group. They lost the building in foreclosure — they didn't pay their mortgage, which was due in June 2006. And Beaty refuses to pay rent today to the new owners, has stiffed the city on a water bill estimated at $250,000, and has had a federal tax lien of almost $70,000.

Last October, it looked like Beaty would finally get the heave-ho, and by February eviction loomed for the "task force." The judge seemed to know the score, saying during a hearing, "This is the most acrimonious litigation I've ever seen in my career ... and it indicates to me that the Beatys can't get along with anybody. ... I'm not convinced that the Beatys have the best interests of the homeless in this city at heart. It's more about power, money, control, revenge, and anger."

But Schwall created a complicated Rube Goldberg legal machine to throw out his own order, and let Beaty continue squatting on the property. There's suspicion that Schwall, who seems to be enthralled by Beaty's lawyer, created the very series of maneuvers that let the "task force" survive.

It's worth noting that Schwall is a Republican, a party that often prizes property rights over human rights. In this case, the judge trashes both — the property rights of the landowner and the awful conditions of the shelter's residents.

This sort of legal problem isn't rocket science. Renters who refuse to pay their rent get evicted. Schwall, in an incredible, convoluted series of rulings and stalls, has refused to uphold that basic law.

That would be bad enough. But now Schwall's bizarre behavior is hurting Atlanta's economy. I am aware of contacts in the corporate and nonprofit community who fear the impact of Schwall's recalcitrance. Nonprofit organizations — one is a school — seeking to find space in the city are being told by landlords that their wealthiest donors may be asked to sign personal guarantees for the rent. The landlords fret that nonprofits could barrage the landlord with outrageous litigation and get a judge such as Schwall who won't uphold common sense and hundreds of years of established law. Some lenders — including one of the bigger banks — are hesitant to make loans in Fulton, again because Schwall's actions are having a chilling impact on the ability of businesses to enforce their rights. Finally, some companies are considering moving their legal addresses and registered agents to other counties — in order to get legal actions held in any venue other than Fulton — again fearing the mercurial court rulings of Schwall.

Beaty's perennial threat is that if her operation is evicted, hundreds of homeless men will flood the street. The truth? The hundreds of men at the shelter won't be thrown on the street. Only the operators will be evicted, and competent management spearheaded by the United Way will be brought in.

For the city, its citizens, and, most important, the homeless population, that will be good. As a community, we have the tools to heal and help people living on the street. At the heart of the problem is this basic fact: Shelter alone isn't the cure-all for homelessness. Even if Pine and Peachtree had provided safe, sanitary shelter, it has never been part of the many outstanding community efforts to try to ameliorate homelessness. Schwall and Fulton County government must bear the blame for allowing this to continue."
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  string(4913) "One of the most vexing and enduring problems facing Atlanta is homelessness, as well as the related but not identical issue of panhandling. For many citizens, the topic is vastly misunderstood. They equate the visible, offensive panhandlers with homelessness — and residents fear little is being done. The truth is that Atlanta is a model for most American cities in creating effective, progressive programs that effectively find housing for the homeless and ensure that programs allow these distressed people an opportunity to re-enter society.

Among the approximately 100 agencies that serve the homeless in Atlanta, one stands out as an obstacle to finding solutions to homelessness. That agency is the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, aka the shelter at Pine and Peachtree streets. The "task force" is really one person, Anita Beaty, and a few followers.

For years, Beaty has embroiled the city in a series of lawsuits to keep control of property she does not own and has no legitimate reason to occupy. In essence, her "task force" is the organizational equivalent of an aggressive panhandler, threatening the city if she doesn't get what she wants. Beaty has alleged a conspiracy so broad that virtually anyone who criticizes her tyranny could be targeted.

But there are other more subtle dangers to Atlanta from Beaty's actions. Aiding and abetting Beaty is Fulton County Superior Court Judge Craig Schwall, who has basically refused to uphold the law. The "task force" building at Pine and Peachtree is not owned by Beaty or her group. They lost the building in foreclosure — they didn't pay their mortgage, which was due in June 2006. And Beaty refuses to pay rent today to the new owners, has stiffed the city on a water bill estimated at $250,000, and has had a federal tax lien of almost $70,000.

Last October, it looked like Beaty would finally get the heave-ho, and by February eviction loomed for the "task force." The judge seemed to know the score, saying during a hearing, "This is the most acrimonious litigation I've ever seen in my career ... and it indicates to me that [the Beatys] can't get along with anybody. ... I'm not convinced that [the Beatys] have the best interests of the homeless in this city at heart. It's more about power, money, control, revenge, and anger."

But Schwall created a complicated Rube Goldberg legal machine to throw out his own order, and let Beaty continue squatting on the property. There's suspicion that Schwall, who seems to be enthralled by Beaty's lawyer, created the very series of maneuvers that let the "task force" survive.

It's worth noting that Schwall is a Republican, a party that often prizes property rights over human rights. In this case, the judge trashes both — the property rights of the landowner and the awful conditions of the shelter's residents.

This sort of legal problem isn't rocket science. Renters who refuse to pay their rent get evicted. Schwall, in an incredible, convoluted series of rulings and stalls, has refused to uphold that basic law.

That would be bad enough. But now Schwall's bizarre behavior is hurting Atlanta's economy. I am aware of contacts in the corporate and nonprofit community who fear the impact of Schwall's recalcitrance. Nonprofit organizations — one is a school — seeking to find space in the city are being told by landlords that their wealthiest donors may be asked to sign personal guarantees for the rent. The landlords fret that nonprofits could barrage the landlord with outrageous litigation and get a judge such as Schwall who won't uphold common sense and hundreds of years of established law. Some lenders — including one of the bigger banks — are hesitant to make loans in Fulton, again because Schwall's actions are having a chilling impact on the ability of businesses to enforce their rights. Finally, some companies are considering moving their legal addresses and registered agents to other counties — in order to get legal actions held in any venue other than Fulton — again fearing the mercurial court rulings of Schwall.

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  string(5174) "    The subtle ways the judge in the Peachtree-Pine case is hurting Atlanta   2012-05-02T13:45:00+00:00 Opinion - The ripple effect   John F. Sugg 1223504 2012-05-02T13:45:00+00:00  One of the most vexing and enduring problems facing Atlanta is homelessness, as well as the related but not identical issue of panhandling. For many citizens, the topic is vastly misunderstood. They equate the visible, offensive panhandlers with homelessness — and residents fear little is being done. The truth is that Atlanta is a model for most American cities in creating effective, progressive programs that effectively find housing for the homeless and ensure that programs allow these distressed people an opportunity to re-enter society.

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But there are other more subtle dangers to Atlanta from Beaty's actions. Aiding and abetting Beaty is Fulton County Superior Court Judge Craig Schwall, who has basically refused to uphold the law. The "task force" building at Pine and Peachtree is not owned by Beaty or her group. They lost the building in foreclosure — they didn't pay their mortgage, which was due in June 2006. And Beaty refuses to pay rent today to the new owners, has stiffed the city on a water bill estimated at $250,000, and has had a federal tax lien of almost $70,000.

Last October, it looked like Beaty would finally get the heave-ho, and by February eviction loomed for the "task force." The judge seemed to know the score, saying during a hearing, "This is the most acrimonious litigation I've ever seen in my career ... and it indicates to me that the Beatys can't get along with anybody. ... I'm not convinced that the Beatys have the best interests of the homeless in this city at heart. It's more about power, money, control, revenge, and anger."

But Schwall created a complicated Rube Goldberg legal machine to throw out his own order, and let Beaty continue squatting on the property. There's suspicion that Schwall, who seems to be enthralled by Beaty's lawyer, created the very series of maneuvers that let the "task force" survive.

It's worth noting that Schwall is a Republican, a party that often prizes property rights over human rights. In this case, the judge trashes both — the property rights of the landowner and the awful conditions of the shelter's residents.

This sort of legal problem isn't rocket science. Renters who refuse to pay their rent get evicted. Schwall, in an incredible, convoluted series of rulings and stalls, has refused to uphold that basic law.

That would be bad enough. But now Schwall's bizarre behavior is hurting Atlanta's economy. I am aware of contacts in the corporate and nonprofit community who fear the impact of Schwall's recalcitrance. Nonprofit organizations — one is a school — seeking to find space in the city are being told by landlords that their wealthiest donors may be asked to sign personal guarantees for the rent. The landlords fret that nonprofits could barrage the landlord with outrageous litigation and get a judge such as Schwall who won't uphold common sense and hundreds of years of established law. Some lenders — including one of the bigger banks — are hesitant to make loans in Fulton, again because Schwall's actions are having a chilling impact on the ability of businesses to enforce their rights. Finally, some companies are considering moving their legal addresses and registered agents to other counties — in order to get legal actions held in any venue other than Fulton — again fearing the mercurial court rulings of Schwall.

Beaty's perennial threat is that if her operation is evicted, hundreds of homeless men will flood the street. The truth? The hundreds of men at the shelter won't be thrown on the street. Only the operators will be evicted, and competent management spearheaded by the United Way will be brought in.

For the city, its citizens, and, most important, the homeless population, that will be good. As a community, we have the tools to heal and help people living on the street. At the heart of the problem is this basic fact: Shelter alone isn't the cure-all for homelessness. Even if Pine and Peachtree had provided safe, sanitary shelter, it has never been part of the many outstanding community efforts to try to ameliorate homelessness. Schwall and Fulton County government must bear the blame for allowing this to continue.             13067802 5307421                          Opinion - The ripple effect "
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Article

Wednesday May 2, 2012 09:45 am EDT
The subtle ways the judge in the Peachtree-Pine case is hurting Atlanta | more...
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