Thursday, June 04, 2009

4 JUN 09: The Return of the Rat

He admits he's made mistakes. He admits he didn't spend enough time listening in the past. Yet he says he now knows better, and wants the public to give him another chance. If you didn't know better Wednesday, you might have confused Roy Barnes with the husband on that "Jon and Kate" reality show.

Former Georgia Governor Roy Barnes ended weeks of speculation, by confirming he'll run for the seat again in 2010. We know he'll run as a Democrat - but no one apparently asked him what state flag he'll carry.

If you're relatively new to Georgia, Roy Barnes was the governor who pushed through a change of the state flag in 2001. It happened after a closed-door session with Rep. Calvin Smyre - so I think Barnes's announcement means we again won't see Thurbert Baker campaign very much in Columbus.

(You may recall that 2001 flag had several small ones at the bottom - which led me to declare it "Six Flags Over Georgia," and wonder if it was a subtle ploy to promote the amusement park.)

Roy Barnes won the Governor's race in 1998, but lost a re-election bid in 2002. Some people say the tide turned when Sonny Perdue brought up the change away from the state flag with the Confederate battle emblem. Yet you'll notice Governor Perdue never has even worn that flag as a lapel pin.

Roy Barnes received a prestigious prize after losing that election - the "Profile in Courage" award from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. Georgia Republicans probably would respond by saying if Barnes had any courage, he would have attempted a 2006 rematch with Sonny Perdue.

Roy Barnes told supporters in Cobb County Wednesday he's learned some lessons from that "one-and-done" term. One mistake he mentioned was having an "aggressive agenda." If that was a mistake for Barnes, Republicans will have a cakewalk to the White House in 2012.

But some political scholars believe Roy Barnes was brought down by more than a flag in 2002. There was Sonny Perdue's pioneering "viral video," portraying Barnes as a giant "King Rat." He was doing rats long before those piano-playing cats.

A bit of that "King Roy" rat already has surfaced, in a video on the web site of Republican gubernatorial candidate Karen Handel. The ad declares the Georgia Secretary of State is "stronger than an ox." So it's nice to see this campaign will be on a higher plane - or at least higher up the food chain.

Asked about the critics Wednesday, Roy Barnes wondered why candidates for Georgia Governor are campaigning with name-calling instead of vision and ideas. C'mon, Mr. Barnes - haven't you noticed pro wrestling draws more viewers on cable TV than C-SPAN?

Wednesday's announcement by Roy Barnes means there already are at least 11 candidates in the Georgia Governor's race. Four are Democrats. Six are Republicans. One is Libertarian. And that seems to leave the Green Party nomination wide-open for Cynthia McKinney.

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E-MAIL UPDATE: The big economic news we mentioned here Wednesday made one reader stop and reflect....

While Columbus is celebrating the addition of 800 jobs with relocation of NCR to Columbus we must remember those 800 job losses in Ohio...Hats off to this company for not going to Mexico or China..Perhaps Char Broil should sit up and take notice...

Reports from Dayton, Ohio suggest a few NCR employees might be offered the opportunity to move to Georgia. I hope this isn't based on some "Redneck Games" event, such as grits-eating.

A different issue arose about the NCR move Wednesday. Mayor Jim Wetherington admitted he's asked the Obama administration for permission to use federal stimulus money for the new ATM plant. For some reason, the mayor revealed this to the Columbus Dispatch - a newspaper in Ohio. Please don't tell me he got his Columbus cities mixed-up....

Mayor Wetherington says the city of Columbus has $1.5 million set aside, for improving the old Panasonic battery plant. But he wants to use federal stimulus money to build another large building nearby. Well, why stop there? Let's construct that building so it can double as the long-delayed natatorium.

Mayor Wetherington told the Columbus Dispatch he "wouldn't have a problem" using federal stimulus money to bring jobs to Columbus from Dayton. But he admitted other people might disagree -- and sure enough, politicians in Ohio do. They're wondering why a "law-and-order" mayor would support the grand theft of hundreds of jobs.

Another reader sent a separate e-mail about the topic of our current Big Blog Question - apparently taking issue with the argument that the Phenix City Council's big raise was kept secret:

The Citizen of East Alabama has had several stories about the Phenix City Council increasing its pay. The first ones appeared in January when the legal notice was published by Rep. Lesley Vance. There have also been Op/Ed pieces in that newspaper in opposition of the increase. People in Phenix City are apathtic when it comes to politics and politicians until they become an embarassment to the community. Maybe the recent action by the council will be a stomp to the toes of the people of Phenix City that starts making them pay attention to what their elected officials are doing with their money. Maybe the people of Phenix City will now care about what is going on and take action to let these politicans know how they feel. My guess would be that the people will not do a thing. Welcome to Phenix City where the people are sipping the kool aid by the gallon. "A-P-A-T-H-Y, apathy, apathy is our cry."

I was agreeing with practically every word of this message, until "sipping the kool aid" stopped me. C'mon now -- this is Alabama! It's either sweet tea or

By the way, Phenix City Council may have found a way to pay for its big raise Wednesday. How else do you explain a slower speed limit on Broad Street, in front of police headquarters?

Now let's make a slow procession through other Wednesday headlines....

+ Columbus attorney Mark Shelnutt pleased NOT guilty in federal court to the 40 counts against him. He's free on $50,000 bond, and is scheduled for trial right after Labor Day - so go to The Loft on Wednesday nights and get Shelnutt's autograph while you can.

(Mark Shelnutt's attorney had little to say outside the courthouse. He told reporters he won't "try the case in the media." And why should he in 2009 - now that he can use Facebook?)

+ A Columbus law officer had to direct traffic on Wynnton Road, because so many drivers showed up at Sonic for free root beer floats. Somewhere inside the restaurant, the manager must have been wondering when Oprah Winfrey mentioned the giveaway.

+ Georgia's U.S. Senators announced a federal grant of nearly three million dollars to upgrade the Columbus Airport. Trouble is, none of the airport executives or Airport Commission members apparently were ready to talk about it. This is what happens when you only visit the Transportation Department, in the executive branch.

+ The Columbus Woodbats won their first-ever game in the Great South League, knocking over Newnan 7-3. The team has put small sponsor signs in front of the brick wall at Golden Park. As if the giant ads above the brick wall aren't good enough?! Or do those small signs have protective padding for outfielders?

+ Instant Message to Cameron Napier: How did Wednesday's birthday party go? You know, the one you had for Jefferson Davis at the "First White house of the Confederacy" in Montgomery? Did a bigger crowd show up than you mentioned on Troy Public Radio the other day -- the residents you said "haven't been since eighth-grade history class"?

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

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