Wednesday, October 20, 2010

20 OCT 10: Tuesday Night Titans

Talk about a big doubleheader day - not in baseball, but in politics. First there was a debate with candidates for Georgia Governor in Albany. Then came a debate with the candidates for Alabama Governor in Auburn. Once again, Columbus feels minor-league - by only having city candidates at the library.

Three Raycom Media stations organized Tuesday night's Georgia gubernatorial debate. But some people were annoyed because Libertarian candidate John Monds was excluded. He lives closer to Albany than the other candidates - and he's probably the least likely of the three to write off the travel cost on his tax return.

Because of another commitment, I could only watch about the first 20 minutes of the telecast. I turned the TV off as candidates Roy Barnes and Nathan Deal were about to ask questions of each other. This made it a BYOB debate - bring your own balls of mud.

Thankfully, the candidates for Georgia Governor wasted little time in the debate reinforcing topics in their recent campaign ads. I presume they wanted to prove they really did approve those messages.

Democrat Roy Barnes began by saying the Georgia Governor's race is "not about Roy Barnes or Nathan Deal or Washington, D.C." So either he wants me to vote for John Monds, or I want a list of everyone he plans to appoint.

Roy Barnes said Georgia added 230,000 jobs while he was Governor from 1999 to 2002. But Nathan Deal answered Georgia had the largest job loss of any state during that term. Maybe all those added jobs were in flag-making....

Republican Nathan Deal declared his campaign ads have been focused on issues, while Roy Barnes's ads have been "totally negative from the very beginning." I don't think that's true - but there have been so many absurdly negative commercials since July that I don't remember them now.

(Hmmmm - maybe that's why campaigns run "attack ads" so often at this time of year. They've learned a lesson from television newscasts: bad news sells.)

Roy Barnes brought up the candidates' income tax returns, asking how Nathan Deal could pay only two percent in federal tax on about $400,000 in gross income. Deal could shut up Barnes on this issue easily - but he hasn't brought forward any charities which received tens of thousands of dollars.

Nathan Deal responded by claiming no one accused him of "anything negative" until he announced he was running for Governor. Really? Were the Democrats THAT delighted to see him switch parties?

The only question I heard directly relating to Columbus was about plans for high-speed rail lines across Georgia. Nathan Deal said a line between Atlanta and Columbus was worth studying, but noted rail lines don't tend to be profitable. For saying that, Deal can expect his own section soon on the website of Republican rail-lover Paul Olson.

Roy Barnes answered the rail question by saying all forms of transportation are subsidized by the government to some extent. Now will Columbus Council kindly spend more money on the airport, so flights cost less to Dallas?

Roy Barnes scored the quote of the night when he said of legislation in Congress: "I'm tired of the nuts on both sides." I think this was his sneaky way of endorsing Rep. Sanford Bishop for re-election....

A clip on the late-night news showed Nathan Deal seemingly calling for the release of money from special state funds. He said it's time to "tear down the silos" - which doesn't seem like a wise thing to say in a region known for cotton and peanut farming.

Roy Barnes denied he's running for President. Yet Nathan Deal tried to link him to President Obama, saying the President appears on some Barnes fliers and is endorsing Barnes in computerized phone calls. Of course, Deal has no such dilemma - as I haven't seen Governor Sonny Perdue campaign for him at all.

As the Georgia debate concluded, the debate between Alabama's candidates for Governor began at Auburn University. WTVM called it on the screen a "gubernational" debate. I thought the "Guber-Nationals" referred to a drag racing event in Dothan....

The Auburn debate was the final scheduled meeting between Democrat Ron Sparks and Republican Robert Bentley. Do you realize if Bentley and Roy Barnes both win, the two governors in this area will have matching initials? And since my initials are R.B., the Blog Exclusives should come more often than ever.

I didn't watch the streaming video of the Auburn debate, but news reports indicate Ron Sparks accused Robert Bentley of "flip-flopping" on several issues. So? Gulf Shores still is looking for any visitors it can find with flip-flops....

Robert Bentley explained while he supports an end to Alabama's state sales tax on groceries, he opposed a bill along those lines in the legislature because income taxes for small businesses would have gone up. Bentley seems to come from the George W. Bush school of economics -- cut a tax, even if the state bleeds red ink.

Robert Bentley warned the Ron Sparks campaign has substantial donations from "gambling interests." Hmmmm - maybe Bentley is the one who should be concerned. Don't gambling houses know how to figure the odds of success in their favor?

The most stunning campaign quote of the day may have come from outgoing Governor Bob Riley. Troy Public Radio quoted him as saying the candidates to replace him are NOT spending enough money on campaign advertising. Somehow, I think the viewers of Columbus television newscasts would disagree with that....

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BLOG UPDATE: Back at the Columbus mayor's race, the Teresa Tomlinson campaign has posted a list of donations from her family's charitable fund. It's a three-page document - except the last two pages are virtually blank. Perhaps the "Truth About Teresa" blog will accuse her of writing with invisible ink.

"The Wade H. and Teresa Pike Tomlinson Fund" lists nearly $42,000 in grants made so far this year. None of them went to churches, as the anti-Tomlinson blog suspected. In fact, the biggest gift of $10,000 went to PAWS Humane - and we all know how many animal rights activists are liberal Democrats, don't we?

The list of grants from what we'll call the Tomlinson Fund also includes $1,000 paid in June, for the annual "Black History Observance Breakfast." But hold on - didn't that breakfast take place in February? A quick online check seemed to explain the delay. The fund had to wait until Aflac stock hit its low for the year.

The Teresa Tomlinson campaign probably could ignore the pokes by "The Truth About Teresa." But the posting of these records tells me Tomlinson is at least a little concerned about them. If things get really uncomfortable in the next 13 days, she might ask where Wayne Anthony's financial reports on the House of Heroes are.

Meanwhile, the four mayoral candidates had another forum Tuesday night - this one sponsored by MidTown Inc. Apparently the Columbus Public Library security was enough to protect Wayne Anthony from angry members throwing books.

Teresa Tomlinson was targeted by other candidates over one MidTown-related issue. Has she promised to run the city of Columbus the way she did MidTown Inc.? Tomlinson says no. Her opponents say she used words to that effect. All I remember is how Wynnton Road has flowers, while people in other neighborhoods apparently can't afford a seed packet.

Let's have one more political item, as we wrap up other Tuesday topics....

+ WDAK's "Viewpoint" interviewed Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson by phone for almost 20 minutes. But host Mike Gaymon made no mention of Isakson's election opponents, and didn't even promise an interview with them is coming. Clear Channel Radio may have decided the only people who want to hear Mike Thurmond listen to WBFA-FM "98.3 The Beat."

(Gaymon often says the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce does NOT endorse candidates. But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce certainly is doing it, including a TV commercial praising Alabama Congressman Bobby Bright. At this time of year, a pat on the back could mean there's money in the other hand.)

+ The River City Report discovered an online campaign to build a defense fund for Columbus attorney Mark Shelnutt. The fund has a seemingly incomplete address, and an online check showed the creator of the website is remaining anonymous - so it's nice to see the Teresa Tomlinson blogger is branching out.

+ WTVM revealed the husband of Assistant City Manager Lisa Goodwin is a longtime Columbus Police officer. Shouldn't this fact quiet the critics, who claim police couldn't be trusted with the Parks and Recreation audit? Or has Mr. Goodwin been treated like one of Charlie's Angels, and spends all his time as a school crossing guard?

+ Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor met with Columbus police officers. TV newscasts noted Tampa's crime rate has dropped 56 percent in the last seven years. But Castor has been Police Chief for only one year, and an assistant for the rest -- so she could be like Ray Goff replacing Vince Dooley as Georgia football coach.

(Mayor Jim Wetherington told WRBL he's staging his "swan song" by inviting Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor to meet with officers. Oh dear - someone needs to remind the mayor Columbus is all about ducks.)

+ Jim Morpeth of Country's Barbecue gave a lecture to business students at Columbus State University. Step one in lowering expenses: show the same TV commercials with hat-changing and "chicken and dumplings" every year for more than a decade.

+ An Acworth, Georgia family received a monthly electric bill mistakenly totaling $1.016 billion. Yes, BILLION. I know some people prefer a cool house during the summer, but this is ridiculous....

SCHEDULED THURSDAY: Two e-mails suggest some other election issues to examine....

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