Thursday, July 13, 2006

13 JUL 06: NOW IN 4-D!

All the Democrats running for Georgia Governor finally had a showdown debate Wednesday night. Doesn't this simply figure? While they debated, all the conservative Christians were in Wednesday night prayer meetings lobbying God for Sonny Perdue.

The four Democrats running for Georgia Governor were together at Albany's Municipal Auditorium. This must have shocked some viewers, who thought only Cathy Cox and Mark Taylor were running. You mean there are two other choices - who have NOT run attack ads, or trashed their opponents as liars?

(For the record, the two other choices are Bill Bolton and Mac McCarley - and they drove to the debate TOGETHER from metro Atlanta! Maybe they should have run as a ticket, and made fuel conservation a big campaign issue.)

The Democrats showed their differences right away in the televised debate. Mac McCarley declared in his opening statement Albany was in "almost South Georgia" - then Cathy Cox said she was "here in Southwest Georgia." Which candidate is more likely to pass a geography test?

I'd never heard of Mac McCarley before -- but it quickly became clear that he was the "comedy relief" in the debate. He's 78 years old, a native of Alabama, and had trouble hearing some of the reporters' questions. If he becomes Governor, McCarley could be the Democratic reincarnation of Ronald Reagan.

Mac McCarley made for memorable moments (say that three times fast), with several debate one-liners....

+ He wants an added sales tax, to help military personnel who come home from Iraq "with their heads not put on straight." Thankfully, he did NOT mean a grotesque scene from a CSI show.

+ He called Lieutenant Governor candidate Ralph Reed a "Christian right-wing Republican who shouldn't even be on the ballot." That's the closest anyone came all night to naming Sonny Perdue.

+ He said teachers should receive a ten-percent raise - then asked: "Where will we get the money? Who knows?" That's just what we need, a Governor with a vision for the future.

+ The World War II veteran declared, "The good Lord saved my life one time...." Then he turned around and threw away Christian voters, by calling school courses involving the Bible a "snake in the grass."

But Mac McCarley may have made the most profound point of the debate in his closing statement, when the self-proclaimed "alternate to the big three" noted Georgia remains near the bottom in education. "What have they done?" he asked viewers and voters. Well, they've made dozens of parents lottery millionaires....

Then there was Cobb County's Bill Bolton, who made a distinction between "the God nation" and "the J.J. Nation." Many viewers probably breathed a sigh of relief when Bolton explained J.J. stands for Jefferson-Jackson - NOT Jesse Jackson.

Bill Bolton boldly broadcast his belief (wow, another one!) that the "God nation" of churchgoers should focus locally on community issues, instead of trying "to take over the world." He doesn't get it, does he? That's the grand plan - win enough local issues to take over the world eventually.

Now that we've given some equal time to the Democratic underdogs, let's get to the main event. Mark Taylor said in his opening statement the debate was a time to "leave personal attacks at the door." Thankfully for bloggers like me, one of the journalists asking questions did not....

At the 26-minute mark of the debate, Mark Taylor was asked about all the attack ads in the Governor's race. He admitted there have been "too many negative ads." But Taylor didn't admit airing the first one [27 Jun] - and for all we know, he may have meant his first attack ad should have been enough.

Mark Taylor declared his ads attacking Cathy Cox are "well documented" - and accused the Cox campaign of issuing news releases attacking his mother. If Mac McCarley hadn't been standing between them, we could have seen that World Cup final head butt all over again.

Cathy Cox explained her own attack ads against Mark Taylor by saying, "I don't pick fights, but I don't run from them, either." These days, I'm thinking the running part is left to Attorney General Thurbert Baker....

Cathy Cox complained Mark Taylor had smeared her record in public service, while her attack ads about the Taylor family trucking business "make up the kind of person he is." Someone who tries to save money every chance he can is bad?!

(And what's the big deal about the Taylor family trucking business using "free prison labor?" Former Governor Roy Barnes promised in a 1998 campaign ad to have prison inmates build prisons -- and they never did.)

Yet Cathy Cox never explained those investment fraud messages, and her taped denial that she ever stated her name in them. So you might understand next Tuesday, if some investors show protection DIS-trust....

Cathy Cox's comments of condemnation continued at the close. (Hey, there's another one!) In her closing statement, she asked: "Do we want an old-style politician who's benefitted himself, his family and his friends?" Does this mean if Cox loses the primary, she'll surrender her state pension?

Amidst all of this, the debate actually had some enlightening explanations of several issues. Take education - where Cathy Cox says technical college courses should be combined with high school instruction. I had something like this when I was in junior high. It was called "General Shop."

Mac McCarley proposes a new one-cent sales tax on everything except prescription drugs, with much of the money going to school districts which have the least money. The Muscogee County School Board is going to have to hurry, and beat him to this one....

Bill Bolton is promoting what he called "hybrid high schools" in grades 11 and 12. This should please many parents, who can't afford to buy their graduates a sports car.

Mark Taylor didn't offer many specifics during the debate on improving Georgia education, except to say he'll stop state spending cuts. Who knows - maybe he can use free prison labor to teach children. Linda Schrenko was sentenced to prison Wednesday, you know....

Related to this was a surprising question about Georgia's new law allowing the Bible to be used as a school textbook. Mark Taylor responded by declaring the Bible "the greatest book ever written." That may not sit well with the national Democratic Party - who might put Bill Clinton's memoirs on top.

Bill Bolton followed that by warning Mark Taylor's Bible-based values in school classrooms would be tantamount to "abusing our children." Well, we certainly don't want young people learning that "thou shalt not steal" stuff now, do we?

Cathy Cox dared to say Georgia students should study ALL world religions, to be prepared for a global economy. Somewhere, Usama bin-Laden may smile when he hears that one....

Away from the debate, Georgia's Supreme Court refused to intervene Wednesday over the primary election rules. That means the old forms of identification are acceptable in the primary - and a spokesperson for Governor Sonny Perdue told GPB Radio this will mean "dead people" vote. So? Have more Georgians died as Democrats or Republicans?

E-MAIL UPDATE: Aren't we all happy about Columbus city workers getting pay raises? Well, maybe not....

Have you heard that the city's pay plan implementation will be staggered?? I cannot believe that this city can't come up with a way of getting this done in a timely manner. In this day and age computers do so much of the work it is nearly ridiculous. If they have to go in to raise your health insurane premium deduction individually based on your coverage, then how much harder can it be to change your pay? Sit down and get it done!!!

By the way, when it comes to the insurance they plan to charge you an additional $28 monthly for your spouse on top of the going rate if they choose to use be on your policy versus their own employer's if available. (But note: there is no "extra" fee if your spouses company doesn't offer insurance. I already questioned Mr. Barron on this and cannot get a decent response as to how this is legal. He seemed to have gotten an email attitude with me, unless of course I just read it wrong.)

Anyway, if the city can't adjust the employee's pay quickly then something is wrong with the system in general. We need people running this government that can stay on top of something this minor because if they can't handle this how will they handle something major.

Thanks for your time. Love your blog.

Thank YOU for the nice words -- but first of all, I suspect some city workers are still staggering over the fact that they're getting raises at all....

WRBL explained the other night the Columbus city pay raises are being staggered to guard against computer glitches. Would you be willing to vote for a new sales tax, if a good chunk of the money goes to IBM for an upgrade?

Besides, imagine if something actually goes wrong with the Columbus city computer system. City employees might have to go without a check for two weeks -- and who knows how many police officers would overwhelm food pantries?

I think I see the writer's point when it comes to health insurance for city employees' spouses. If the spouses have no coverage, the city realizes they're desperate. If the spouses are choosing city health insurance over a nice private plan, they must be REALLY desperate.

Another e-mailer updates the transition we spotted Tuesday at a big convenience store chain:

The Spectrum Website has been removed from its host - ....

Also, Each time I buy gas at Spectrum/Circle K with my debit/credit card it has been showing up as "CIRCLE K" on the bank statements for a month or two.

So if you have a Spectrum grocery bag lying around, it soon could be a collector's item. Put it inside your Service Merchandise bag, that's inside your Montgomery Ward bag.

Now let's wrap up the remaining news items of note from Wednesday:

+ The Ledger-Enquirer reported State Senator Ed Harbison filed a complaint with the Muscogee County Election Board, over the Urban League's "free ride to the polls" program [11 Jul]. Aw, c'mon - if the Urban League can offer rides for Reginald Pugh supporters, can't Davis Broadcasting organize something for Harbison?

+ Former Oliver Elementary School teacher Tanya Boring was found guilty of harassing a troublesome student, by stepping on his hand for several minutes. She was found NOT guilty of a stronger assault charge. So which teacher do you think will try that French soccer player's head butt first?

+ Michelin confirmed it will lay off hundreds of employees at its BF Goodrich tire plant in Opelika. The company explains U.S. tire sales are down - which seems strange, since gas consumption is slightly higher. The amount of shredded tread along Interstate 185 may jump dramatically.

(While the Opelika tire plant will lose hundreds of jobs, Michelin plans a major upgrade of a plant in Mexico. If that Michelin man starts wearing a sombrero, it may be time to worry.)

+ Alabama Power announced it will NOT close Acapulco Rock on Lake Martin to the public, despite a recent jumper's death. Instead, the company may go to Fox Sports South and offer to sponsor the Alabama International Cliff-Diving Championship.

+ The Atlanta Hawks signed free agent point guard Speedy Claxton. Not only will he get to start with Atlanta next season -- he can make extra money endorsing Claxton, Georgia fruitcakes.

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