Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Secretary of State Kemp Reminds Voters about the Start of Absentee Voting and Important Dates for Presidential Preference Primary

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp reminded voters today that absentee voting by mail for the March 6, 2012 presidential preference primary will begin Saturday, January 21, 2012. Voters can request an absentee ballot through Friday, March 2, 2012.

Georgia residents must return their absentee ballot to their county election office by close of polls on Election Day, March 6, 2012. Absentee ballots cast by overseas and military voters must be postmarked on or before March 6, 2012, but will be accepted until the end of business on March 9, 2012. Voters are not required to provide a reason when requesting an absentee ballot.

Voters can obtain an absentee ballot request form from the Secretary of State’s website: sos.ga.gov. The form must be completed and returned to the voter’s county election office. County election office personnel can also provide absentee ballot request forms.

Citizens who are eligible to vote but have not registered may register through Monday, February 6, 2012. Voter registration forms are available on the Secretary of State’s website.

In-person advance voting for the 2012 presidential preference primary will begin Monday, February 13, 2012.

Secretary Kemp reminded voters to utilize the Secretary of State’s My Voter Page (MVP) voter education website before participating in the presidential preference primary. The MVP website allows voters to view their sample ballot, find the in-person advance voting locations in their county and their Election Day polling location, check their registration status, track the status of their absentee ballot, and more. The MVP website can be accessed at sos.ga.gov/mvp.

Additionally, Georgia’s eligible military and overseas citizens who have requested an absentee ballot can obtain their ballot electronically for the presidential preference primary beginning January 21, 2012.

The Secretary of State’s Office has created two tutorial videos that specifically address absentee ballot voting options for Georgia’s military and overseas citizens. To view these videos please visit the Secretary of State’s website.

To obtain a presidential primary ballot electronically, Georgia’s military and overseas citizens must request an absentee ballot from their county election office, be sure to indicate a political party preference, and check the appropriate box to receive their ballot electronically. They can then log on to a secure website, print and vote their ballot, and then mail it back to their county election office. Further, military and overseas voters may receive access to absentee ballots for an entire year’s election cycle, removing the need to submit multiple ballot requests.

The Secretary of State’s Elections Division website also features a “Military and Overseas Voters” page that includes:

•Who qualifies as a military or overseas voter, and how to request and return an absentee ballot;
•Downloadable absentee ballot request forms;
•Contact information for your county election office; and
•Important links to state and federal voting information.

Brian Kemp has been Secretary of State since January, 2010. Among the office’s wide-ranging responsibilities, the Secretary of State is charged with conducting efficient and secure elections, the registration of corporations, and the regulation of securities and professional license holders. The office also oversees the Georgia Archives.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Wisonsin election results

Here are a couple of places you can go to keep up with the Wisconsin election results:

Washington Post is live blogging:

If you're on Facebook here's were I suggest you go: https://www.facebook.com/DefeatObama
They've been raising money, fighting the good fight to support Republicans in the recall election.

Good article for background: 

Wisconsin Democrats, fueled by millions of dollars in spending by national unions and other outside groups, were hoping to wrest control of the state Senate away from Republicans through six recall elections Tuesday that stemmed from anger over Gov. Scott Walker's collective bargaining proposal.

Latest results I have:
Still ahead in 5 of the 6, getting close to saying definite wins I'd think on two of the elections (Cowles, Harsdorf).
District 2: Cowles (R) - 59% vs. Nusbaum (D) - 41% [76% REPORTING]
District 8: Darling (R) - 55% vs. Pasch (D) - 45% [15% REPORTING]
District 10: Harsdorf (R) - 58% - Moore (D) - 42% [62% REPORTING]
District 14: Olsen (R) - 55% - Clark (D) - 45% [48% REPORTING]
District 18: Hopper (R) - 53% - King (D) - 47% [15% REPORTING]
District 32: Kapanke (R) 49% - Schilling (D) - 51% [26% REPORTING]

Monday, August 08, 2011

Westmoreland Reacts to S&P Downgrade, Volatile Markets

After a rocky week in the markets and a less than stellar deal to raise the debt ceiling, the credit agency Standard & Poor (S&P) downgraded the United States’ credit rating from AAA to AA+ last Friday afternoon. The firm had been threatening a downgrade recently, so the move was not shocking. However, the markets responded with big drops at the opening bell and remained down approximately 3.5 percent this afternoon. This follows a 5.8 percent drop in the Dow last week and a staggering 8.1 percent drop in the NASDAQ drop last week. The two remaining credit rating agencies – Moody’s and Fitch – have kept the United States at its AAA rating. President Obama addressed the nation on Monday after the downgrade and market fall. Below is Congressman Westmoreland’s reaction to current economic events.

“Friday marked the first time in history the United States of America was no longer considered the cream of the crop when Standard & Poor downgraded our credit rating from AAA to AA+. While we will not know the long-term effect this downgrade will cause, we have seen the short-term effect as markets are dramatically down around the world. In fact, during the day, the Dow was down as much as 550 points from this morning and had dropped below 11,000 several times.

“This was not something that should have surprised the president or any of his economic advisers. The S&P, as well as the other credit rating agencies, have threatened for months that the federal government’s failure to get its fiscal house in order would have serious consequences. They demanded a debt ceiling increase include at least $4 trillion in savings – something the president fought against with his insistent request for a ‘clean’ debt ceiling hike. Yet President Obama and Congressional Democrats just can’t seem to put down their credit cards and understand that the solution is to cut spending. In addition, President Obama has still not offered the specifics of a plan while advocating that Secretary Geithner remain at the Treasury Department, a choice I do not agree with.

“Unfortunately, this is just a taste of what’s to come unless Congressional Democrats and the White House are finally willing to come to the table and make some substantial cuts. We can no longer afford to play the blame game in regards to spending: the blame lies with both parties who spent without restraint over the last 20 years. But now we have the opportunity to fix those mistakes and get Washington back on a sustainable path. House Republicans have put forth multiple long-term plans to address our national debt, get our spending under control, save Medicare and Social Security from insolvency, and revive our economy – including the Path to Prosperity and Cut, Cap and Balance. Congressional Democrats and the White House need to join us in our work to stabilize our economy and get our AAA credit rating back,” stated Westmoreland.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

I don't have Dish, but...

I'll always come down on the side of no more taxes!

Dear Valued Dish Network Customer,

Thank you for your continued efforts in opposing a NEW 7% tax on satellite TV service. Your emails and calls to Georgia lawmakers have made a difference, and has them thinking twice about it!

But it's not quite over – your legislators will decide on this tax this week, and we need you to take action one more time.

Higher taxes are not the answer for Georgia families. Lawmakers need to understand that this is not the time to rush through and vote on a new tax..

Click on the link below to use our simple email tool to send a message to your legislators. Let them know in your own words how you feel about taxing your TV. We also have provided talking points to help you write your message.

If the link does not direct you to the correct page, please copy & paste the link below into your browser:


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Weekly Republican Address: Chairman Price Says GOP Will Lead As “Democrats Who Run Washington Ignore Their Responsibilities”

Chairman Price: “We need to end Washington’s spending binge to reduce uncertainty, to boost confidence, and to encourage private investment in our economy”

Delivering the Weekly Republican Address, House Republican Policy Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-GA) highlights the new majority’s effort to free our economy from the shackles of big government and skyrocketing debt that are creating the economic uncertainty that economists say makes it harder to create jobs.  Chairman Price reaffirms the new majority’s commitment to lead where the President has punted on addressing our most significant fiscal challenges, including entitlement reform.  Chairman Price is in his fourth term serving the people of Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District.  In addition to being a member of the House GOP leadership team, he is a member of the House Budget and Ways & Means Committees and a former Chairman of the Republican Study Committee.  Audio of the address is available here.  Video will be available here for viewing and here for downloading once the embargo is lifted tomorrow at 6:00 a.m.

“Hello, I’m Congressman Tom Price and I have the privilege of working for the people of Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District. In addition to serving as the Chairman of the House Policy Committee, I’m a member of the House Budget Committee.

“And by now you’ve probably heard a lot of talk coming out of Washington about a so-called budget battle.  We’ve even got some Democrats who run Washington threatening to shut down the government instead of listening to the American people and cutting spending.  Right now, our focus should be creating jobs and getting our economy moving again.

“After all, the President promised that this would be the year that he got serious about the deficits and the debt hurting our economy. Instead, he started out by asking Congress to raise the debt limit, without any commitment to cutting spending at the same time.  In his State of the Union address, he called for more ineffective ‘stimulus’ spending.  And this week he submitted a budget for the next fiscal year that destroys jobs by spending too much, and borrowing too much, and taxing too much.

“Listen to economists, listen to the folks who create jobs in this country, and you’ll hear that we need to end Washington’s spending binge to reduce uncertainty, to boost confidence, and to encourage private investment in our economy.  To help create a better environment for job creation in America, the spending binge has got to stop.  Now with the support of Republican governors and our reform-minded colleagues in the Senate, the new House majority is working hard toward that goal.

“That’s why the House spent this past week working on a bill to cut discretionary spending by $100 billion over the last seven months of the current fiscal year. We’re not only living up to our Pledge to America, we’re exceeding it. And more cuts and more reforms are on the way.

“Now as part of our focus on job growth, committees in the House are combing through job-crushing government regulations, and conducting rigorous oversight of how the government spends the people’s time and your money.  We’ll soon begin work on legislation to cut wasteful mandatory spending.

“In the spring, under the leadership of our Budget Chairman, Paul Ryan, we’ll put forth a budget for the next fiscal year that confronts the fiscal challenges facing our nation instead of ducking them.  It’ll offer ideas for real entitlement reform so we can have a conversation with the American people about the challenges we face and the need to chart a new path to prosperity.

“Now as a doctor and as a parent, I find it astounding that the President has submitted a budget that ignores the recommendations of his own fiscal commission and it punts on all of the tough choices – including entitlement reform.  Instead, he’s expanded entitlements through ObamaCare – a government takeover that will destroy 800,000 jobs, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, and will accelerate our path to fiscal ruin.

“This issue demands presidential leadership – something that the President so far just seems unwilling to offer.

“Now if we can find an upside, it’s that the President admitted that his budget fails to address our fiscal crisis. You see, some Members of Congress still won’t even acknowledge that there’s a crisis. One in particular, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, said not too long ago, and I quote, “Social Security is fine.”  But you know it’s not fine. This year, for the first time, it will pay out more money than it takes in.

“And, with the wave of Baby Boomers starting to retire, there’s no way that we can protect programs like Social Security for the future and get our debt under control unless we begin to honestly address entitlements.  Now for the President, leadership requires telling friends like Harry Reid the truth, even if it’s politically difficult.

“Now, our reforms will focus both on saving these programs for current and future generations of Americans and on getting our debt under control and our economy growing. By taking critical steps forward now, we can fulfill the mission of health and retirement security for all Americans without making changes for those in or near retirement.

“The new Republican majority will lead even as the Democrats who run Washington ignore their responsibilities.

“And if Senator Reid and President Obama change their minds, we’ll be ready to work with them. In the meantime, Republicans are focused on listening to the people, confronting our nation’s challenges, and helping our economy get back to creating jobs.

“Thanks for listening.”

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

An article worth sharing: A Horrid Crime, a Dishonest Debate

The same Left that embraces terrorist Bill Ayers seeks a tactical victory in Tucson.

On June 5, 1968, a deranged 25-year-old Jordanian named Sirhan Sirhan slithered through a crowd toward Sen. Robert Kennedy as the Democratic presidential candidate basked in the glow of his California presidential primary triumph.

Neal Boortz (@talkmaster) zapped this out via Twitter this morning so I popped over and read it. Excellent article.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Quick impressions from 1st Fayette County Commission meeting of the year

Steve Brown started the meeting by nominating Robert Horgan for Chairman. Allen McCarty seconded the motion. Then Robert Horgan nominated Herb Frady for Chairman and Lee Hearn seconded the motion. The vote was 3 - 2 in favor of Frady.

Next Horgan was nominated for Vice Chair. Both Brown and McCarty voted for the motion.

Quite truthfully, I was so shocked I couldn't tell you who made the motion to nominate Horgan for Vice. I want to say that either McCarty or Brown made the motion. It's a good thing I filmed the meeting so I can view what I missed while I was mentally shaking my head in wonder.

There were a number of things discussed in the meeting, I won't bore you with all the details. I'll be breaking the meeting down via video into the various votes, you can pop over to YouTube and watch those that interest you.

There's one I'd suggest you watch, even though it's rather long. They discussed the East Fayetteville Bypass. The East Fayetteville Bypass was the top priority of previous Boards and was underway when Maxwell and Smith joined the Board four years ago. They stopped the road and shifted their emphasis to the final phases of the West Fayetteville Bypass, phases that weren't scheduled to be considered for years to come.

Due to the movement of funds from the East Bypass to the West, combined with the Board giving an unscheduled 7 plus million to Fayetteville, there now isn't enough money to do the East Bypass. At least that's the way it seemed. They could stop the West Bypass, I think, maybe, and possibly complete a phase or two of the East Bypass. I'll have to take a look at the tape and look into it a bit more to determine whether that last sentence is correct. If you're opposed to the West Bypass, or you live along the East Bypass route, or you get stuck in traffic that the West Bypass won't fix, you may want to look at the video. Or you can pop over to the Fayette Front Page. I'm going to post the documentation on the site for anyone interested.

Back to the rest of the meeting:

Two motions by the new guys (aside from the ones I've already noted) might be of interest to some or all of you. I think both would have been excellent ideas.

Brown and McCarty tried to get term limits for Commissioners, asking for a limit of two consecutive terms. They exempted Frady, of course. He's been on the Board for 18 years (and finally managed to get elected as Chairman). The proposal died with Horgan, Frady and Hearn voting in opposition.

The trio also voted against the Brown McCarty proposal to require that anything being voted on during a meeting be visible to the public 24 hours in advance. I listened to Horgan, Frady and Hearn's stated reasons for opposing that one and quite frankly it sounded pre-rehearsed and like a lot of baloney. Frady said the meetings were going to be different, new era of Frady-ness. I suppose things will be different whether he likes it or not. There is nothing that we won't hear about given Brown's propensity for sharing mightily!

Technically, aside from the vote for Chairman and Vice Chairman, there weren't any 'real' votes. During the first meeting of the month they use the time to discuss items, gather information and then decide by consensus if things should be voted on in subsequent meetings. The last two items I mentioned died and won't be on any upcoming agendas. Maybe in two years. (From the rumor mill, in case you haven't heard - supposedly Maxwell plans to run again. Ditto on Smith. They both ran at-large last time, they'll have to run in their districts during the next election cycle if the rumors are true.)

It was a strange, strange meeting. It's clear that we're going to see a lot of 3-2 votes during the next two years.  It's also clear that we are going to be thrown a few curves. Another thing I have noticed in recent meetings is the high attendance by the public. For years I've been to meetings and in most you could fit all non-staff in the front row with empty chairs. It's been nice to see so many taking an interest in the meetings and I hope it continues.

I talked with Brown and McCarty after the meeting, asking both what in the world they were thinking nominating the only guy on the Board who was slapped with an ethics violation and had a drug arrest and conviction --- during his term as Commissioner no less. I thought about what I'd share from our conversation - both gave me permission to quote them. I just have to tell you though that I ultimately decided it's best that they share their rationale themselves. I just think I'd muddy the water more.

I am still shaking my head about the meeting. I completely disagree with McCarty and Brown's rationale and with their vote to support Horgan as Vice Chairman. Neither of them made the motion because they believed Horgan would be the best guy for the job.

I bet Robert Horgan is also shaking his head wondering how he ended up as Vice Chair. I think most of those who voted for McCarty and Brown are wondering, too.

Excellent article in WSJ by Karl Rove

WSJ: ObamaCare Rewards Friends, Punishes Enemies

A primary task for the new Republican House majority is to undo as many of the pernicious effects of ObamaCare that it can. One of these effects is the spectacle of employers going hat-in-hand to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for waivers from some of the law's more onerous provisions.

In September, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius began granting waivers to companies that provided workers "mini-med" coverage—low-cost plans with low annual limits on what the insurance will pay out. This followed announcements by some employers that they would have to drop these plans because they did not meet the new health law's requirement that 85% of premium income be spent on medical expenses.

>> Read Full Article

Westmoreland Celebrates the First Ever Reading of the U.S. Constitution in the House of Representatives

Today, for the first time in its 221 year history, the United States Constitution was read aloud in the House of Representatives by a bipartisan group of Members of Congress. The reading is part of a new focus on the Constitution by Congressional Republicans. Congressman Westmoreland joined his colleagues, reading the 6th Amendment to U.S. Constitution. Westmoreland released the following statement on this historic occasion.

“This is truly an historic moment. For the first time in our history, the U.S. Constitution has been read aloud in the House of Representatives. During the 111th the disdain and disregard for this amazing document by the Democratic leadership reached an all-time high, resulting in massive pieces of legislation that trampled the rights of Americans and dramatically expanded the powers and privileges of the federal government. However, with this one symbolic act of reading the document that actually created and governs Congress, Congressional Republicans have made a promise to the American people they will not allow congressional overreach to happen under their watch. I am proud to have joined many of my colleagues on this momentous occasion as the representative of the people of the Third Congressional District of Georgia,” stated Westmoreland.

To view the video of Congressman Westmoreland’s reading of the U.S. Constitution, please visit his website at www.house.gov/westmoreland.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Republicans to Live Stream Opening Session of Congress on Facebook

Later today you'll be able to keep up with what's happening in DC via Facebook. House Republicans are going to live stream the opening session on the Pledge to America Facebook page... So far I like most of what I've heard from 'our' guys. I wasn't exactly impressed with their actions during the lame duck session. I think there was a lot of typical game playing going on, I think they used it as cover to make compromises they wanted but knew they wouldn't be able to get away with in the new session.

It's always hard to judge motivation and reason for their actions from way down here in Fayette County, away from the games, away from all the insider trading that goes on. I always wonder who got what in exchange for their vote.When I think of what goes on behind the scenes my lip automatically curls. Bleh, it can't be good.

I was talking with someone yesterday about the Tea Party, other efforts to make some REAL change in Washington. I'm 100% behind efforts to clean things up, clean out the chaff, make big changes. But I also realize that the reality is we're battling a system that's taken a long, long time to perfect. The institutionalization of favor swapping, covering each others backs, knowing how to get things done, compromise, political power protection and all the rest of the behind the scenes stuff is going to be tough to change. It's like trying to clean up mercury (isn't that the stuff that beads up, separates, slides around?). I'm picturing it -- you go to touch that blob of silver to clean it up and it splits up, slithers around, attaches and hides in another little blob over to the side. Hazmat needed.

We can shine the light on one area of corruption or wrongness and they'll move into the shadows for a time or  find a way to do it differently. Don't get me wrong, I don't think that it's all bad or that everyone up there is rotten. There are good people in Washington and I know compromise is needed at times given the number of divergent opinions and beliefs.

I guess the only way to really make the change is to be there. I understand it's difficult once you're there though unless you're a strongly principled individual, someone who can't be co-opted. Of course, then the system works to boot you out so they can keep their status quo. Heck, we get mad at some of those principled people when they step on an area we support. Tough situation, going to be tough to make a long-term difference.

However, there's a new awareness, a new caring, a new involvement from the general public. I think the guys in DC are going to find that we'll keep shining the light on them. It's not the 'good old days' of 3 networks feeding the party line to the masses. With the Internet, blogging, Facebook, Twitter and numerous other ways to communicate, we're able to get together and voice our concerns, affect some change. Ha, just thought of the old saying "Power to the People". Different meaning when it was said, but heck, I'm all for the current kind of power to the people!

Wow, did I get off track. I started out simply to share the following bit from John Boehner (rec'd yesterday, tweeted yesterday, @readmylipstick, but didn't have time to blog) about the new way Republicans are sharing. I think it's cool. You can probably watch it on CSPAN also, but this allows you to be at work and keep up, too.

Republicans to Live Stream Opening Session of Congress on Facebook

Tomorrow House Republicans will live stream the opening session of the 112th Congress - including the swearing-in ceremony and remarks by Speaker-designate John Boehner (R-OH) - on the Pledge to America Facebook Page. The House will convene and the stream will go live at 12:00 p.m. ET.

This is the first time an opening session of Congress has been broadcast live on Facebook where visitors can interact and discuss the event with others, and offer feedback directly to elected representatives.

The new Republican majority has pledged to change the way Congress works – to lead by listening to and reflecting the will of the American people. Together with new rules demanding new levels of online disclosure and transparency (including requirements that all bills online at least three days before a vote and committees broadcast their hearings online), this event is another example of the new majority’s commitment to making Congress more open and accountable, and to finding new ways to connect with citizens online and off.

Click to “Like” the Pledge on Facebook. And be sure to tune in tomorrow at noon and join the conversation.


BTW, if you're tweeting we have a number of Twitter accounts:

@readmylipstick is my political opinion, rabble rousing account
@FayetteFP is the Fayette Front Page
@GAFrontPage is Georgia news and politics
@artsacrossgeorgia is all about Georgia arts

We have more... personal one for my Hummingbird Hollow Pottery, then more Fayette Front Page / Georgia Front Page accounts: one for readers, a business Twitter account with business news, a music focus account, gardening, food and restaurants, history, plus there are some I handle for local charities. If you'd like the rest, let me know. TweetDeck, Seesmic and Hootsuite are great tools if you have multiple Twitter accounts, allows you to post from one account to the other, line them all up side by side, have a reply column so you can see who's answering. Lots of benefits to using one of those free platforms even if you only have one account. It sure makes Twitter easier and a bit more logical looking .


Happy new year! Hope each and every one of you has a good year, one that makes you and those around you happy. Stay healthy, take care of yourself and keep up the good fight.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Politics and bed sheets

Couple of interesting stories, all revolving around Senator Robert Brown, (D - Macon), Senate Minority Leader. First there were the inflammatory remarks he made about state Rep. Allen Peake, (R - Macon).

Brown, during the taping of an interview with Peake, said that a legislator who recently switched to the Republican Party might need to keep his white sheets "for the midnight meeting." Peake recently made the switch from Democrat to Republican. Brown has since said he was not referring to the KKK, but to sex.

On the 31st while leaving a press conference one of Brown's associates attacked a photographer. Rather than try to recap stories when I wasn't present, I'll link to two that do a good job of outlining the whole fiasco. The photographer has filed charges.

Here's a video of the attack. It kind of hangs at the beginning so hang in there when it goes blank. Here's a link if the video doesn't play for you: http://videos.macon.com/vmix_hosted_apps/p/media?id=46449141&item_index=1&all=1&sort=NULL

Peake Offended by Brown's 'White Sheet' Comment
State Rep. Allen Peake says he's offended by Sen. Robert Brown's comments that seemed to compare Georgia Republicans to the Ku Klux Klan.
It happened Tuesday morning as the pair went toe-to-toe on several issues during a taping of 13WMAZ's Close-Up program.

Telegraph photographer attacked after news conference
By JIM GAINES and SHELBY SPIRES - Telegraph writers
A man apparently accompanying state Sen. Robert Brown to a hurriedly called Thursday news conference attacked and injured Telegraph photographer Woody Marshall at Macon City Hall, prompting conflicting stories from those involved.Read more: http://www.macon.com/2010/12/31/1393922/telegraph-photographer-attacked.html#ixzz19yWSsQkt

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Big promises, high hopes...

Newly elected Fayette County Commissioner's Allen McCarty and Steve Brown were sworn in Monday morning. Brown brought a 10-point list of promises to constituents and McCarty spoke of changes that would be made when the pair were sworn into office.

It all sounded good, especially to the crowd attending the early morning ceremony.

However, all one had to do was take a look at the faces of Commissioner Herb Frady and County Manager Jack Krakeel as they watched to see how difficult it is going to be for the two new commissioners to keep some of their promises.

The two new commissioners are going to be in the minority. If the other three commissioners stick together, as is expected, the West Fayetteville Bypass will continue to move ahead. With Frady as the new Commission Chairman, as is expected, much will be hidden and more deals will be cut behind closed doors.

The one wild card I see in the mix over the next two years is that at least two of the Commissioners will be running for re-election in 2012. Speculation is that Frady will have achieved his goal to be Chairman and, given his age, will decide not to run again. Robert Horgan has expressed a desire to run for re-election despite ethics problems resulting from his arrest for marijuana possession and use. Lee Hearn, who is recovering from a fairly serious operation that turned out to be not as serious as it could have been (thank goodness) will also probably run again.

The public is adamant that what is most often called the 'bypass to nowhere' should go nowhere. They want it stopped. The three remaining commissioners from the 'old batch' have consistently voted to move it forward.

Jack Smith, Eric Maxwell, Hearn, Frady and Horgan made the decision during their tenure to stop building the East Fayetteville Bypass (one of the projects included in the SPLOST), wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars, and chose to start work on the three-phase West Fayetteville Bypass. Phase one was a high priority, taking traffic around the hospital. Phase two and three were low priorities. They bypassed much needed road projects in the SPLOST and opted to move forward on the last two phases of the Bypass. Per those who included the bypass in the SPLOST, the last two phases of the road shouldn't have been considered for many years to come, and then ONLY if conditions in the county changed substantially.

Smith, Maxwell and the remaining trio on the Commission have said all along that they were forced to do it because we voted for it in the SPLOST... yet they chose not to do other projects on that same list, and, as said earlier, chose to stop another project already in progress. Make sense to anyone? It sure gives rise to head scratching as to why.

If Horgan and Hearn stick with the project it's a sure thing they'll go down in flames when they run for re-election. The crowd that attended the swearing in was larger than any in past ceremonies. These folks are active and they are working to make some changes on the Board. It's part of the movement that has been sweeping across the country - people are paying attention and they want accountability. Those who worked locally to unseat Maxwell and Smith will not go away and are already working on the next election.

Over the next two years, well four since that's the term of elections, we're going to be hearing about everything that happens during commission meetings. Any secret deals will be made public --- Steve Brown is known for speaking his mind and sharing with the public, so that one is a given. McCarty comes across as a quiet, thoughtful person, but I gather he is not shy when it comes to issues he feels strongly about. No matter what, like the votes or not, we will know what is going on.

McCarty and Brown may not be able to do anything other than shout from the rooftops if the other three vote in lock-step though.

My expectation is that sometimes one or more of the others will break ranks and vote with McCarty and Brown, but not on issues of any importance. I expect the other three to conspire to shut them out. I expect the three remaining commissioners to continue to vote in ways that irk the majority of voters on projects favorable to developers. Frady has a reputation for being fairly crafty when it comes to determining public opinion. I expect he'll throw the public some bones to make us think he's listening, do some things that'll garner some nice headlines and have a chunk of voters saying "awww, that's a good vote". But when it comes to substance and the direction they're taking the county, we'll be reeling for years to come.

I  hope I'm wrong. I hope that ALL of the commissioners will be able to put aside their own personal quirks, desires, and friendships to vote for what is best for the county. The problem with voting on what is best for the county is that I'm pretty sure Jack Smith was voting in ways that he felt were best for the county. Most of us have a different vision of the future than he seems to have. I suppose I should amend the sentiment in that first sentence to say I hope they'll vote for what the majority of us feel is best for the county.

It's going to be an interesting next few years!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Harping on retirement funds, pensions again...

I can't resist a good article about how we've gotten ourselves into a bind on pension plans. Ya'll know that I was not a proponent of the ridiculous plan the Fayette County Commission implemented two years ago. It's going to come back to bite us just like every other similar plan has across the country. At a time when everyone else is tightening their belts the current (including the two soon-to-be-ex) commissioners have done a lot to turn this once fiscally responsible, pay-as-you-go, not-for-sale-to-developers, county into just the opposite. The current batch won't be in office to take responsibility for the havoc they've wreaked in just two short years. Someone else will be in office and will have to face the music these guys wrote.

Here's another article on pension woes, how they've increased taxes that drives home the point I've harped about over and over and over and...

New Jersey faces highest allowance gap in nation

The State of New Jersey disclosed on Thursday that the unfunded pension liability for state government employees grew from $45.8 billion to $53.9 billion in 2009, an increase of 18 percent.

New Jersey public employee pension funds currently cover some 800,000 workers in seven different pension funds impacting a wide range of government employees, including teachers, police officers, firefighters, judges and a mixed bag of bureaucrats.

The Philadelphia Inquirer noted that New Jersey residents have the largest unfunded pension liabilities in the nation.\

New Jersey pension funds now have only 62 percent of the funds necessary to pay future promised obligations, down from 66 percent the year before.

To put this in perspective, pension experts generally recommend that state pensions should be funded to at least 80 percent of their current and future obligations.

New Jersey also has an unfunded obligation of $66.8 billion for health-care costs, in addition to the $53.9 billion unfunded pension liability.

Again, to put this in perspective, the entire state budget for New Jersey this year is $29.4 billion.

Gov. Christie recommended a wide range of changes for New Jersey public employment pensions, including rolling back benefits by as much as 9 percent, increasing the retirement age for teachers from 62 to 65, and requiring all state employees to contribute 8.5 percent of their salaries to the state pension system, instead of the 3 percent some public employees now pay.

Still, even these changes might not be enough to make a meaningful dent on the state's unfunded pension obligations.

State pension crisis pushing property taxes higher

The crisis in state pensions is cascading into a property-tax crisis.

The Wall Street Journal reported that cities across the nation are raising property taxes, largely to cover rising pension and health-care costs for their employee and retirees.

With state revenue continuing to lag behind projections, states are squeezed to meet pension obligations. The problem is that higher property taxes can end up being self-defeating, forcing homeowners with expensive properties to move to states with lower property taxes, with the result that the state ends up collecting even less tax revenue despite the higher tax rates.

State budget crisis faces nation in 2011

In October, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported that to balance their 2011 budgets, states had to address fiscal year 2011 gaps totaling an estimated $125 billion, or 19 percent of budgets in 46 states.

State tax revenues were 8.4 percent lower in fiscal year 2009 than in 2008, and an additional 3.1 percent lower in 2010, reflecting the worst recession since the 1930s.

"States will continue to struggle to find the revenue needed to support critical public services for a number of years, threatening hundreds of thousands of jobs," the center reported.

The center sees no diminishment in budget problems in 2012.

Already 39 states have projected budget gaps that are expected to total $112 billion for fiscal year 2012, a budget gap that is expected to grow to approximately $140 billion once all states have submitted their 2010 estimates.

Even worse, the federal aid to the states provided by the February 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and to a smaller extent in the August 2010 jobs bill, estimated at $60 billion in 2011, is expected to decline to $6 billion in 2012.

"Taking all these factors into account, it is reasonable to expect that for 2012, shortfalls are likely to exceed $140 billion with only $6 billion in federal Recovery Act dollars remaining available," the report concluded.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jerome R. Corsi received a Ph.D. from Harvard University in political science in 1972. He is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling books THE OBAMA NATION: LEFTIST POLITICS AND THE CULT OF PERSONALITY and the co-author of UNFIT FOR COMMAND: SWIFT BOAT VETERANS SPEAK OUT AGAINST JOHN KERRY. He is also the author of AMERICA FOR SALE, THE LATE GREAT U.S.A., and WHY ISRAEL CAN'T WAIT. Currently, Dr. Corsi is a Senior Managing Director in the Financial Services Group at Gilford Securities as well as a senior staff writer for WorldNetDaily.com.
Article used with permission.

Georgia Lawmakers Vote to Forego Scheduled Cost of Living Salary Increase for Third Straight Year

The Legislative Affairs Committee of the Georgia General Assembly has voted to forego the “cost of living” salary increase scheduled to be given state employees. This marks the third consecutive year the legislature has decided not to take the cost of living salary increase.

“Georgia families are continuing to struggle and our State continues to face daunting budget shortfalls. Foregoing these cost of living increases is a small step in the right direction and the responsible thing to do,” said Administration Floor Leader Ronnie Chance (R-Tyrone).

Georgia General Assembly members are paid an annual salary of $17,341. During the last 18 months, almost all lawmakers have also participated in a voluntary 1-day per month furlough further reducing their salary. The last time Georgia legislators received a pay increase was in January of 2007.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Congressman Westmoreland Named to Financial Services Committee

This week, Congressman Lynn Westmoreland (GA-03) was one of the 12 new members named to the powerful House Financial Services Committee. The Financial Services committee has jurisdiction over the housing and financial services sectors, including banking, insurance, real estate, public and assisted housing, and securities. Below is Congressman Westmoreland’s statement on his selection.

“I am honored my colleagues have named me to the Financial Services Committee. Georgia is a growing financial center and serves as headquarters for numerous Fortune 500 companies, such as Coca-Cola, Aflac, UPS, and Home Depot, and it is important we have a conservative, free-market voice on the committee who is working for Georgia. Georgia has been hit especially hard by the current economic downturn. We have had more bank failures since 2008 than any other state in the country and we are also one of the top ten states for foreclosures. It is important that our state is represented on the committee that has jurisdiction over banks and the housing market. I am looking forward to serving Georgia on this important committee,” stated Westmoreland.

Currently, Georgia has two members on the Financial Services Committee – Congressman David Scott (GA-13), a Democrat, and Congressman Tom Price (GA-06), a Republican. Price will be leaving the committee in the 112th Congress for a seat on the Ways and Means Committee.