Sunday, November 07, 2010

7 NOV 10: No More Mister Nice Guy

"I haven't been the one going negative...." So said Zeph Baker during a live interview Wednesday on WRBL. But something's apparently changed in the last few days -- and it's a good thing the "Baker for Mayor" truck has been kept parked on Eighth Street, or it might be blocking the door of someone's campaign office in MidTown.

Mayoral candidate Zeph Baker told Saturday's Ledger-Enquirer Teresa Tomlinson's campaign engages in "political bullying." Now that's a surprise - because that "when I was young" commercial didn't show Tomlinson kick-boxing boys at all.

Zeph Baker added he's "not going to be bullied around" by the Tomlinson campaign - but he didn't tell the newspaper exactly what the bullying is. Kicks under the table at mayoral forums really shouldn't count....

Whatever the bullying is, Zeph Baker says that's why he didn't file a third-quarter campaign disclosure report on time. Baker explains he has to "protect my supporters." Hmmmm -- maybe there still IS a Republican in the mayor's race. The Republicans were accused of having secret overseas donors.

Teresa Tomlinson called the allegations of bullying "absurd." She challenged Zeph Baker to be specific - and asked why he hasn't taken any complaints of intimidation to the police. Tomlinson ought to know better than that. Bill Madison is a Baker backer -- and the NAACP would report her directly to the Justice Department.

But there are other big problems with Zeph Baker's explanation of the late disclosure report. I asked Baker about it nine days ago, and he told me it had been filed [31 Oct]. Not so, says the Columbus Elections Office - he's missed two deadlines, and now owes $100. Can this man be trusted with confidential audits of city departments?

Then Zeph Baker told WRBL the disclosure report should have been filed late Thursday. He said his campaign treasurer took a job outside Columbus. Besides, it was all about accuracy: "There's no need for us to rush into anything; let's make sure we get it right the first time." Baker's obviously following the Nathan Deal example of financial accountability....

So nine days after saying the disclosure report had been filed and making it sound like an oversight, Zeph Baker now admits it's still NOT filed - and it's part of a political plan. Clearly something doesn't add up here. Has Baker given any sermons lately on the dangers of the tongue?

And beyond the city paperwork, what about the two campaign reports Zeph Baker still hasn't filed from his 2008 State House bid? Has he been protecting the names of donors for two years? Will Baker declare Rep. Calvin Smyre is Teresa Tomlinson's tag-team wrestling partner?

If all that wasn't enough, The River City Report confirmed Saturday night the Georgia Secretary of State's office dissolved a nonprofit business Zeph Baker started in 2004. The reason - not filing an annual registration. Baker's business called Treasure Chest Outreach apparently didn't reach out to Atlanta often enough.

This record of delayed or non-filed forms certainly can't help Zeph Baker's reputation, in a four-week runoff campaign. He should be thankful Teresa Tomlinson hasn't started calling him The Late Zeph Baker....

Zeph Baker reached the runoff for mayor in part by being the "good-guy candidate" - the one who didn't call his opponents names or accuse them of misdeeds. I get the feeling Baker's decided (or an adviser told him) he can't win the runoff that way. But to bring out a "bullying" complaint about late documents makes him look like an attack dog biting his own foot.

Teresa Tomlinson's campaign certainly has been aggressive in responding to critics and accusations. Some voters have been turned off by that - and while they haven't called her a bully, they've considered her at least on the touchy side. They expect a rapid response from the fire department, but not really from a mayor.

Zeph Baker is scheduled to appear at the Government Center Monday, to receive endorsements from the two other mayoral candidates. But Paul Olson has a history of showing "zero tolerance" toward candidates who break campaign rules. The way things are looking now, I wouldn't be surprised if Edward DuBose shows up to fill Olson's spot on the platform.

There's one local outlet which you'd think would rally around Zeph Baker right now. But the "Truth About Teresa" blog has had no new posts since last Sunday. Should we take this as a sign someone in Wayne Anthony's campaign was behind it? Or is the blogger still looking all over Columbus for that mysterious "black ballot"?

-> Our other blog starts with poker, then goes in directions you might not expect. Visit "On the Flop!" <-

E-MAIL UPDATE: For another point of view on the runoff, there's this message which arrived Thursday....

Wow , what an ego on that person from the "Rise & Shine" show this morning.

Jus think, that person has not made it to the Mayor yet...gonna need a bigger office and door, the elevators doors are big enough.

Someone call E.T. we have found whom the call is for.

Since I didn't watch "Rise-N-Shine," this e-mail left me puzzled. WHICH person was the writer describing? This isn't Alaska, so you can't write in Calvin Floyd's name for the runoff.

So I asked this writer to be more specific....


She started out with an attitude, the way she was moving around in the chair, any time something was directed to her - cockiness - back with an answer, She was really glowing when a caller mentioned Zep had an ethics complaint - "like really, we'll have to look into that". Calvin seemed to be in on it too, he didn't look at Teresa much when asking questions.

Keep in mind Tomlinson's resume includes years as an attorney. It's part of a lawyer's job to appear confident in court, to persuade a jury. The only attorney I recall not acting that way was Andy Griffith in "Matlock."

Let's move on to another political topic - in this case, politics possibly making strange bedfellows....

You spelled my name wrong, but better there than not at all.

Georgia Christian Coalition President Jerry Luquire confirms he and long time friend Ed DuBois, Georgia NAACP State President, are discussing getting together once in awhile to support some pro family legislation in the General Assembly.

GCC's core interests are supporting current laws forbidding Sunday retail alcohol sales, opposing expanded gambling, and fighting taxes that punish behavior such as the proposed $1.00 per pack cigarette tax in Georgia they defeated last year. Luquire said these were not necessarily among the issues they would work together.

Jerry Luquire

I corrected Wednesday's blog entry after receiving this - and I admit I've had trouble spelling Jerry Luquire's last name for years. Perhaps he's had the same problem for years spelling Ed DuBose's last name.

I could see Jerry Luquire and Ed DuBose agreeing on the issue of Sunday alcohol sales, since the NAACP represents plenty of African-American churches. But gambling may be another matter - especially when you consider the arguments of East Alabama officials who support Victoryland. Remember: when you lose your shirt, casino employees don't lose their homes.

Another writer says I had part of Friday's post dead wrong....

Richard - the game WAS on the radio. I know, because our cable was out Thursday evening. Of course, there is no three hour pre-game show prior to kickoff. We will leave that for others with nothing better to do!

Thanks for at least mentioning Ga Tech in your column.

Jim Pound

Ga Tech - BME - class of 1980

Huh? I went around the AM dial Thursday night, but the stations you'd think would air Georgia Tech football didn't. WIOL-AM brags about carrying Atlanta Hawks and Thrashers games, but it sounds in the evening like those birds get lost in the Atlanta airport lights.

This was another case where a clarification was in order - so I asked Jim Pound for one:


You will have to move into the 1970s and get an FM radio. WAGH 101.3 on your FM dial.


Yes, I have an FM radio -- but this admittedly was the last place where I'd expect to find a Thursday night college football game. Well, almost the last place. If the Bible Broadcasting Network station WYFK-FM starts carrying Notre Dame games, that WILL be a shock....

SCHEDULED MONDAY: More of your e-mails, including one about islands....

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