Thursday, October 30, 2008

The TOA Local Endorsements

It seems to be the time for endorsements in the blogosphere, so here are mine –not that I expect to sway any opinions whatsoever. Like others, I will not cover federal or state level offices, as my ideological predisposition can be gauged by merely glancing to the sidebar at the right.

Locally, however, thing are a bit different; Jmac over at Safe As Houses and I come from opposing philosophical camps – and yet our endorsements for Clarke County races are almost identical.

I will take that as validation of my contention that party affiliation has little to do with local issues. Back in 2004, when the matter came up for a referendum regarding the mayor and commission slots (the Board of Education has been nonpartisan for years), lots of folks on the left made hysterical predictions that Republicans would exploit nonpartisan elections to covertly infiltrate the progressive goodness of the Unified Government, leading inexorably to the county’s downfall and that the entire idea was an evil GOP plot.

What utter bunk – and yes, some of the people peddling that line knew damned well that it was bunk. Regardless, since 2004 I am the only Republican to run for a local office, thereby revealing that the argument was, indeed, bunk.

Be that as it may, here are my endorsements:

Clarke County Board of Education District 2 – J.T. Jones

I don’t have anything against Vernon Payne personally but he has been on the Board since the Carter Administration, during which time the CCSD has been mired in increasingly expensive mediocrity. The logic that the editorial staff at One Press Place used to pick Payne in this race totally eludes me.

Clarke County Board of Education District 6 – Jim Geiser

Again, nothing against Charles Worthy personally but his term as President of the Board has been less than impressive. See Jmac’s comments, with which I am in full agreement.

In a related issue, not that anyone cares, I contacted the PR folks at the CCSD to get the source material for that per pupil expenditure figure Worthy used at the candidate forum. The CCSD claims that Worthy’s figure is based on the “operating budget” and that Geiser’s figure is based on that plus “federal allocations” for the same period. The story is that the figure was arrived at by some back-of-the-envelope type calculations by the PR folks using the operating budget and the number of students. In response to my (very specific, but polite) inquiry, I received none of the specific numbers used in that calculation and no citation of sources. I still maintain that Worthy’s figure came from the Georgia Department of Education’s 2006 expenditure report for the CCSD, which it matches to the dollar, and that Geiser’s figure came from the same report for 2007, to which his campaign web site links directly and which he versified on the Banner-Herald comment board. But like I said, no one cares.

Clarke County Board of Education District 8 – David Huff

This is the one race over which Jmac and I differ. We both think that either choice would be an improvement over the retiring incumbent; he comes down of the side of Chinami Goodie, while I come down on the side of Huff. Fair enough.

Athens-Clarke County Commission District 6 – Valdis “Red” Petrovs

I’ve been in Petrovs’ corner since the get-go on this one. I found Ed Robinson’s idea of annexing portions of adjoining counties so as to extend the “green belt” questionable, to put it mildly, for quite a few reasons.

Clarke County Sheriff – Kenneth Brown

What with hiring Nuwabians, eavesdropping on inmates’ calls to their attorneys, etc., we should count ourselves fortunate, indeed, that Ira Edwards hasn’t gotten the county sued eight ways from Sunday.

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Election Night Watch Party

Join the Clarke County Republicans (and yes, there are a respectable number of us) for an Election Night Watch Party next Tuesday, 04 November. The festivities will be held at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education beginning at 7:00 p.m. Snacks and soft drinks will be served from 7:45 p.m. until 9:45 p.m. A cash bar will be available.

The fine folks over at the Paul Broun campaign are organizing the watch party, with the Clarke County Republican Committee acting as one of the sponsors.

All GOP members, spouses, companions and friends are invited.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I Like Paul Broun – And This Is Why

Andrew Napolitano has an excellent piece in today’s WSJ, the subtitle to which is "The government we have today is something the Founders could never have imagined." I think that it concisely sums up the source of most or our current political problems.

The Founders did so much so well in that they created what was far and away the best system of government the world has ever seen. Yes, it is imperfect, as all human creations are, but the limited government philosophy and procedural checks and balances built into the system were (and remain) astounding. On the other hand, though, they did not foresee the development of a professional governing class. Therein lies the problem.

The idea of limited government is anathema to the professional governing class and to those who look to the national government as the preferred agent of “fairness,” “social justice,” “redistribution,” etc. The problems that prompt the expansion of government never seem to get solved, so government expands even more to compensate for its own failure.

The current financial mess is a prime example. Yes, there was greed on Wall Street (and elsewhere for that matter), but when has that not been the case? The real problem can be traced directly back to Washington, where federal housing policy was dictated on the basis of politics rather than economics – and we are surprised that the result is a disaster? And the solution is to give the people who created this mess even more of my money and more regulatory authority over my economic life?

Broun’s adherence to the concept of a strictly limited national government situated within a federal framework is why I like him so much – and precisely why so many in Clarke County do not. For the self consciously progressive types who dominate the Classic City, government is the means through which they can impose their ostensibly well-meaning ideals on the rest of us for our own good, whether we want them to or not.

I may not agree with Broun on a particular issue, but I fully support his governing philosophy, which I would argue is needed now more than ever.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Paul Broun On National Television Tonight

Directly from the Paul Broun for Congress campaign:

Watch TBN Tonight:

Congressman Broun Talks about his Christian Faith

ATHENS, GA—Congressman Paul Broun will be the featured guest on Trinity Broadcasting Network’s national Praise the Lord program on Tuesday, October 28th with host Pastor Richard Hogue. The program will air on more than 56 satellites in 80 countries around the world at 10:00pm (EDT).

TBN is the world’s largest religious network and America’s most watched faith channel. TBN offers 24 hours of commercial-free inspirational programming that appeal to people in a wide variety of Protestant, Catholic and Messianic Jewish denominations.

WHO: U.S. Congressman Paul Broun, M.D.
WHAT: Praise the Lord with Pastor Richard Hogue
WHEN: TONIGHT -10:00pm Tuesday, October 28
WHERE: Trinity Broadcasting Network

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Monday, October 27, 2008

SCHS Pigskin Update

My alma mater Indians posted a 21-10 victory over Franklin County last Friday; This week, the Indians (6-2, 4-1) travel to the Granite Bowl to take on the Elbert County Blue Devils (4-4, 2-3) in their next to last Region 8AAA game of the season.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I Remain Unconvinced

It is amazing what a little negative publicity can do. Within hours of my letter to the editor appearing in yesterday’s Banner-Herald, the HTML version of the CCSD’s “Facts & Figures” had been extensively revised and the PDF version had vanished altogether, prompting something of a mea culpa from the District in today’s edition.

Says the District’s spokesman regarding my particular point:

The $9,616 figure quoted by board member Charles Worthy comes from CCSD calculations of general fund revenues and expenditures. The $10,746 figure quoted by school board candidate Jim Geiser includes general fund revenue as well as federal allocations such as school nutrition grants and Title I funds.

Perhaps. While I appreciate the fact that Mr. Wooten fell on his sword with regard to the inconsistent information on the CCSD web site, to my mind the numbers still do not add up, either figuratively or literally (and please do not interpret this as an attack on Mr. Wooten – his job is PR, not accounting; I doubt very seriously that he rummaged through budgets and ledger sheets himself, rather I assume that he wrote up information given to him by someone else).

What the District is claiming is that Worthy’s figure reflects “general fund” per pupil expenditures only. Okay, but if so, then:

1) For what year is that figure? Since the per pupil expenditure figure on the CCSD web site has been revised upward to $9724, noted to be for the 2006-2007 school year, the implication is that the lower figure dates from some earlier time. Complaining about the use of dated information is where I came into this argument.

2) Isn’t is curious that the CCSD’s “general fund” per pupil calculation for 2006-2007 matches to the dollar the 2006 amount given by the Georgia Department of Education’s expenditure report for all per pupil expenditures?

3) The difference between Worthy’s and Geiser’s figures are attributed to the difference of “general fund” versus “general fund” plus “federal allocations” per pupil expenditures. Geiser’s figure is from 2007. That would mean that Worthy’s figure should also be from 2007, “general fund” per pupil expenditures being a portion “general fund” plus “federal allocation” expenditures for the same year. But how does this compare with the $9724 figure, which also dates from 2007?

Nonetheless, if one divides the “operating budget,” now given as $125,268,121 for 2008-2009 on the CCSD web site, by the “total number of students enrolled,” now given as 12,231 as of earlier this month (though the total for the grade levels added together comes to 12,227; for what is worth, it has been my experience that the FTE number used by the Department of Education is typically lower), the calculation yields a per pupil expenditure of $10,241.85. If past years are any indication, the budget will be amended upward by millions of dollars by the time the fiscal year ends, thereby increasing per pupil expenditures accordingly. And I don’t think that “operating budget” includes all spending, either.

As a general observation, I find the use of “general fund” per pupil expenditures only as a measure of spending, rather than total per pupil expenditures, to be problematic. Granted, that is just a philosophical position on my part, though a cynic may suspect that the CCSD is trying to understate its per pupil expenditures.

All of that said, however, the answer to the CCSD’s problems will not be found by quibbling over a few cents here or a few dollars there based on what sources are mined for information (though, of course, the most recent data available should be used). The problem is the general trend in the CCSD budget which, measured either in absolute or per pupil terms, has increased dramatically in recent years, irrespective of whether the money comes from the state or is derived locally, without any corresponding increase in student achievement.

Until we get past the “more money” equals ”higher achievement” mindset echoed by four of the six candidates running for seats on the Clarke County Board of Education, nothing is going to change because nothing else is going to be tried.

Addendum: Since my original post of earlier today, I did indeed find the $9724 figure on the 2006-2007 Report Card and deleted point #4 accordingly. Unfortunately, that only prompts another question as $9724 is given for 2006-2007, but the corresponding figure for 2005-2006 is $8641. That still leaves Worthy’s $9616 unaccounted for using the CCSD’s specified source material.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

SCHS Pigskin Update

My alma mater Indians posted a 28-0 win over Morgan County last Friday. This week, the team (5-2, 3-1) hosts Franklin County (5-2, 3-1) in another important Region 8AAA tilt, as the Lions make the short trip from Carnesville up to The Reservation in Toccoa.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

More Shibboleths

Two important points regarding last evenings’ candidate forum featuring the race for the District 6 Seat on the Clarke County Board of Education came to mind:

1. Challenger Jim Geiser’s claim concerning per pupil expenditures for the Clarke County School District is entirely correct. The figure for 2007 was $10,746.94, as can be readily verified on the Georgia Department of Education web site (I know because I’m the one who has been whining about per pupil expenditures since forever – Geiser may have even read about it here). District 6 incumbent Charles Worthy’s figure of $9616, actually $9616.96 to be precise, dates from 2006 and can be similarly verified.

Perhaps Mr. Worthy got that $9616 from either the HTML or PDF versions of the CCSD’s “Facts & Figures.” The two versions are inconsistent and both are mathematically incorrect. The briefest of basic calculations reveal that either one is wrong, as the same per pupil expenditure is given for two different operating budget amounts – neither of which works out to the $9616 cited – and the total number of students differs from the aggregate of the different school levels added together.

No disrespect intended, but this speaks well for neither Mr. Worthy, who serves as the President of the Board of Education, nor for the CCSD generally.

2. Mr. Worthy’s argument that the CCSD’s per pupil expenditure reflects a “high special needs population” doesn’t really work either. According to the Georgia Department of Education’s 2006-2007 Report Card, here are the percentages of “students with disabilities” and with “limited English proficiency" for Clarke and surrounding counties (you may have to click around a bit to get to the student demographics pages):

Students with Disabilities:

Barrow County 13%
Clarke County 15%
Jackson County 12%
Madison County 14%
Oconee County 10%
Oglethorpe County 13%
Statewide 12%

Limited English Proficient:

Barrow County 9%
Clarke County 10%
Jackson County 4%
Madison County 1%
Oconee County 2%
Oglethorpe County 1%
Statewide 5%

Compare the above percentages with per pupil expenditures for 2007:

Barrow County $7758.65
Clarke County $10,746.94
Jackson County $9146.91
Madison County $8219.87
Oconee County $8094.84
Oglethorpe County $8194.25
Statewide $8428.05

So, the CCSD is marginally higher than its neighbors with regard to students with disabilities and a little more so regarding limited English proficiency. And these relatively minor differences are supposed to account for the huge disparity in spending, not just among these relatively small subsets of the student population noted here but for the much larger student population as a whole?

Again, not a chance.

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Can You Say “Shibboleth?” (I though you could)

I was not the least bit surprised to read that four of the six candidates for the Clarke County Board of Education claim that the school system is under-funded (Jim Geiser and David Huff get high marks for recognizing that simply throwing more money at them is not the solution for the CCSD’s conspicuous ills).

For years now, local education officials, both the elected ones and the bureaucrats, have been hiding behind the “lack of funding” argument to deflect criticisms of the District's abysmal performance – the problem is that the actual numbers tell a much different story.

The CCSD is in about the 95th percentile statewide insofar as per pupil expenditures are concerned. Its spending far outpaces the state average in all seven categories tracked by the Georgia Department of Education, and has done so for many years. We can haggle over what portion of that money comes from the state versus what portion of it is raised locally, but that argument entirely misses the point that the dramatically increased spending of recent years has failed to improve the academic performance of the CCSD’s students.

The last time state funding to the CCSD actually decreased was FY 2004. Since then, the amount of QBE dollars flowing into the Classic City has increased substantially, both in absolute and percentage terms. The same funding formula applies to all of the 180 school systems in the state and yet, when matched against our neighboring school systems or against similar school systems around the state (in terms of size of student population and/or student demographics), the CCSD consistently underperforms – and does so while spending far and away more money.

For the seven years in question, FY 2003 through FY 2009, “austerity reductions” totaled $12,062,336 (but remember that only in two years were there actual cuts, the other five years are merely reductions to projected increases). That amount sounds big, until you compare it with the amount contributed by the state to the CCSD, which comes to a staggering $316,423,101 over the same period.

Thus, the expectation that if only the state had chipped in an extra 3.8% on top of the massive increases in funding that actually occurred, the situation somehow would be substantially different defies logical explanation.

Look at it another way. The total of austerity reductions ($12,062,336) divided by 79,763 (the CCSD’s total FTE count for FY 2003 through FY 2009) divided by the seven years in question yields an insignificant figure of $151.23 per pupil per year.

And this is why our dropout rate hovers around 40%? This is why our test scores routinely lag below the state average? This is why our AYP scores are so shockingly poor?

Not a chance.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

In The Neighborhood

On the one hand, I would think this would be a no-brainer. The Clarke County School District is considering revisions to its elementary and middle school attendance zones, slated to become effective in the 2009-2010 school year. From an economic perspective, a change to “neighborhood” attendance zones is desperately needed, as the District spent 74.39% per pupil above the state average for transportation in FY 2007 ($733.08 per pupil locally versus $420.38 statewide) . It is unfortunate that it took a spike in fuel prices to get us to this point, but we taxpayers will take what we can get.

On the other hand, though, I recognize that the issue of school attendance zones has been problematic for a long time for reasons that have nothing to do with economics. If the District assigns students to the schools in their local neighborhoods, it runs into the kind of “desegregation” problems that have prompted lawsuits in the past; if it transports students to schools in other neighborhoods to balance out racial factors, it again runs into problems regarding the race of who is getting bused.

Thus, beginning in about 1990, the District has been through a gamut of attendance zone strategies (see proximity zones, pocket bussing, controlled choice, school choice, etc.). The latest version of the District’s attendance zone policy utilizes parental choice among the various schools in one of four geographical attendance zones coupled with the capacity of individual schools within that zone. The result may be satisfactory insofar as parental preferences and legal requirements are concerned, but it also results in a complicated and expensive bussing plan.

Of course, given the skewed demographics of the CCSD student population (55% black, 21% white, 18% Hispanic, 3% multiracial, and 2% Asian for the 2006-2007 school year), any solution will probably be open to charges of racial inequality.

Regardless, those so inclined can click here for more information and PDF maps of the proposed attendance zones and here for the “rezoning presentation.”

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Monday, October 13, 2008

SCHS Pigskin Update

My alma mater Indians posted a 28-14 win over Oconee County last Friday evening at The Reservation in Toccoa. This week, the Indians (4-2, 2-1) travel to Morgan County (1-5, 1-2) for another Region 8AAA contest.

Oh, and "How Bout Them Dawgs."

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Partisan Politics & QBE Funding

So, the Democratic challengers for the two Georgia Senate seats representing Athens-Clarke County in the General Assembly assailed Bill Cowsert (District 46) and Ralph Hudgens (District 47) by trotting out the usual canard that Republican incumbents have slashed education funding by $1.5 billion. This line of attack remains as predictable as it is specious.

To reiterate, Georgia’s Quality Basic Education Act (QBE) dates from the 1980s and over the years most of the focus on QBE has concerned the state’s funding of public education. Specifically, QBE established an arcane and convoluted formula for determining the state’s annual contributions to local school systems. The economic downturn of earlier this decade predictably resulted in a reduction of state revenue, hence “austerity reductions” were introduced into QBE funding as a cost savings measure under Governor Roy Barnes.

Though the austerity reductions have continued in recent years under Governor Sonny Perdue, the actual cuts to funding lasted for two years only. Since then, the state’s QBE funding to local school systems has grown dramatically. The political demagoguery of the issue, however, has continued apace.

I will use the Clarke Count School District to illustrate the point. We will assume FY 2002, the fiscal year prior to the introduction of austerity reductions, as a baseline: FTE means “full time equivalent” student, that is to say the CCSD’s enrollment; QBE is the total of Quality Basic Education funds contributed by the state to the CCSD; and Austerity Reduction is the difference between QBE earnings according to the formula and the actual number of dollars contributed to the CCSD for each fiscal year indicated:

FY 2002
FTE 10,921
QBE $43,134,498
Austerity reduction $0
Per pupil $3949.68

FY 2003
FTE 10,989
QBE $42,394,751
Austerity reduction $1,119,072
Per pupil $3857.93

FY 2004
FTE 11,122
QBE $40,583,318
Austerity reduction $2,321,688
Per pupil $3648.92

FY 2005
FTE 11,258
QBE $41,258,951
Austerity reduction $2,719,741
Per pupil $3664.86

FY 2006
FTE 11,311
QBE $43,309,132
Austerity reduction $2,719,717
Per pupil $3828.94

FY 2007
FTE 11,415
QBE $46,766,651
Austerity reduction $1,342,765
Per pupil $4096.95

FY 2008
FTE 11,834
QBE $49,962,295
Austerity reduction $1,100,429
Per pupil $4221.93

FY 2009
FTE 11,834
QBE $52,148,003
Austerity Reduction $738,924
Per pupil $4406.63

As can be clearly seen, actual budget cuts occurred in FY 2003 and FY 2004 only. Despite the continuance of “austerity reductions,” though, QBE funding to the Clarke County School District has risen in every subsequent fiscal year in both absolute and per pupil terms. Even with austerity reductions totaling $12,062,336 over the period, the state’s QBE contributions to the Clarke County School District have increased by 20.90% in absolute terms, or 11.57% per pupil, from the FY 2002 baseline and 28.50% in absolute terms, or 20.77% per pupil, from the FY 2004 nadir (also note that the gap between "formula" and actual funding has decreased markedly in recent years). Explain to me again how such notable increases constitute “cuts” in any meaningful sense.

With the exception of per pupil and percentage calculations, which are mine, these figures are all taken from the Department of Education’s Mid Term System Allotment Sheets for the CCSD spanning the period FY 2002 through FY 2009. Note that the figures for FY 2008 are revised ever so slightly (upward, no less) from this earlier post on the basis of an amended report. The figures for FY 2009 do not reflect “mid term” numbers, as those earnings sheets are not yet available.

Admittedly, these figures deal with the CCSD only, but the larger point is applicable statewide.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Questions In Absentia

I will not be able to attend the candidate forum at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education tomorrow evening. If the mechanics of the forum follow past practice, some written questions will be taken from the audience – not that any of my questions have ever been selected, mind you. Nonetheless, I hope that in my absence someone will pose these three questions to the candidates for Athens-Clarke County Commission (inquiring minds and all):

1. The mayor has repeatedly called for a “circuit breaker” mechanism that would link one’s property taxes to one’s income (see here, here, and here). Regardless of the difficulties that may accompany the implementation of such a plan, do you support this approach in theory? Why or why not?

2. Instead of limiting their use to emergency situations, the Commission has imposed a wide array of development moratoria as a means of crafting policy as a matter of course in recent years. These measures routinely are instituted with little to no advance notice, either by adopting them at special called meetings held on nights when votes would not normally be taken or by adding them to the agenda of regular voting sessions at the last minute. Either way, this practice has the effect of rendering the existing zoning ordinances meaningless, since they can be (and have been) suspended at any time. Do you support this practice? Why or why not?

3. For almost two decades, the Commission has steadfastly ignored those provisions of the Unified Government’s Charter that call for extending services into the formerly unincorporated areas of the county and for turning control of Ben Epps Airport over to the Clarke County Airport Authority. Do you support adhering to the explicit provisions of the Charter? If so, what will you do to implement them? If not, should the Charter be amended to eliminate these provisions? Why or why not?

I do not think for a minute that anyone will ask questions even remotely similar to these. Instead, I suspect that it will be the same old blather about the favored progressive topics that dominate political discussions in this town (i.e. transferable development rights, affordable housing, sustainable development, etc.) but without the critical insight that local government policy frequently has served to make each of these problems worse.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

SCHS Pigskin Update

So far this season, my alma mater Indians are doing their best Jekyll and Hyde impersonation. After falling to Eastside of Covington by the score of 38-14, the Indians are undefeated at home, but remain winless on the road.

This week, the Oconee County Warriors (2-3, 2-0) travel to The Reservation to take on the Indians (3-2, 1-1) in another Region 8AAA contest.

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Thursday, October 2, 2008

House Server Overwhelmed By Constituents

I tried several times to email Paul Broun’s office in Washington to register my opposition to the Senate version of the bailout plan (the more I find out about the various provisions of the bill, the worse I think that it is – and I didn’t think much of the House’s original version to begin with).

Being unable to send an email, I instead called on the phone. Upon mentioning that I was unable to get through via email, I was told that the House server had been overwhelmed by messages from constituents. And I’ll bet that the vast majority of those comments are staunchly opposed to this pork and special interest laden travesty that does not address the root of the problem which, in my opinion, can be found in Washington more so than on Wall Street.

By the way, you do realize that Secretary of the Treasury Paulson’s original three-page proposal has grown into a bill, guaranteed to contain provisions of which the Senators who voted for it have no idea, that is half again as thick as the Athens phone book (and will doubtlessly grow even more). And the folks in Congress cannot figure out why their approval ratings lag well below that of a lame-duck president absolutely reviled by half of the country?

I realize that there may be some short-term economic bumps if this plan does not come to fruition. On the other hand, I fully expect the long-term consequences to be much worse if it does (by the way, I really wish that John McCain had voted against it).

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Let The Games Begin

After what appears to have been a slow start to the local campaign season, things are finally heating up. So, prepare to be bombarded with candidate fora, interviews, endorsements, and questionnaires.

As is their custom, the Federation of Neighborhoods and the LEAD Athens Alumni Association will sponsor dual candidate fora to be held in Masters Hall at the UGA Center for Continuing Education. Both begin at 7:00 p.m., preceded by one-hour “meet and greet” sessions, and will be broadcast live on WUGA (91.7 FM).

The first forum, slated for Thursday, 09 October, will feature candidates for the Georgia Senate and the Athens-Clarke County Commission.

Georgia Senate District 46:

Bill Cowsert (Republican – incumbent)

Sherry Jackson (Democrat)

Georgia Senate District 47:

Ralph Hudgens (Republican – incumbent)

Tim Riley (Democrat)

In either race, the Democrat may well win Clarke County and get trounced everywhere else.

Athens-Clarke County Commission District 6:

Valdis “Red” Petrovs

Ed Robinson

This is a nonpartisan contest, at least in theory that is, and to me is the most interesting local race. Petrovs has been a mover and shaker in the PPA/OneAthens initiative, so he brings a lot of experience and knowledge concerning local issues to the table. In a move that may be used against him, Petrovs took a political risk and addressed the Clarke County Republican Committee back in July. Robinson is running as the heir apparent to the retiring Carl Jordan. I do not have anything against Robinson, who is already racking up the lefty endorsements, but I think that the absolute last thing Athens-Clarke County needs is yet another self-styled “progressive” on the Commission, as that body is too much of an echo chamber as it is.

The second forum, scheduled for Thursday, 16 October, will feature candidates for the Clarke Count Board of Education and Clarke County Sheriff.

Clarke County Board of Education District 2:

J.T. Jones

Vernon Payne (incumbent)

Clarke County Board of Education District 6:

Jim Geiser

Charles Worthy (incumbent)

Clarke County Board of Education District 8:

Chinami Goodie

David Huff

Suffice it to say that there needs to be a wholesale housecleaning over on Mitchell Bridge Road, so I’m pulling for all of the challengers against all of the incumbents. The open seat in District 8 is being contested by two newcomers. Though, again, these are nominally nonpartisan contests, the voting histories of the candidates have come under scrutiny. I remain unconvinced that voters can draw much in the way of useful insight from voting histories insofar as local offices are concerned – but this is Clarke County so it will be an issue (of course, it is not like the “blue” guys who have controlled the Board for all these years haven’t made a complete mess of public education in this community). For what it is worth, Geiser is scheduled to address the Clarke County Republican Committee on 13 October.

Clarke County Sheriff:

Kenneth Brown (Independent)

Ira Edwards (Democrat – incumbent)

Brown qualified to run as an independent rather than challenge Edwards in the Democrat primary or run as a Republican. Again, I do not have anything against Edwards, but I think that a change is needed.

Uncontested races:

Georgia House of Representatives District 113:

Bob Smith (Republican – incumbent)

Georgia House of Representatives District 114:

Keith Heard (Democrat – incumbent)

Georgia House of Representatives District 115:

Doug McKillip (Democrat – incumbent)

Smith represents only a few precincts in Clarke County, the bulk of his district lying in Oconee County. As stated before, I like Bob because he is not the least bit reluctant to stick his thumb in the eye of the Athens-Clarke County political establishment (and not just for the sake of being obstinate, but on philosophical grounds with which I usually agree). Heard will show up to collect his winnings and return to Atlanta for the next 23 months (for those unfamiliar with politics in the Classic City, Heard’s seeming absence from the community between elections is something of a running joke).

Athens-Clarke County Commission District 2:

Harry Sims (incumbent)

Athens-Clarke County Commission District 4:

Alice Kinman (incumbent)

Athens-Clarke County Commission District 8:

Andy Herod (incumbent)

Athens-Clarke County Commission District 10:

Mike Hamby

In District 10, incumbent Elton Dodson has withdrawn from the race, thereby leaving challenger Hamby as the only candidate. From what I can gather, there will not be much of a difference in the approach to policy from one to the other.

Clarke County Board of Education District 4:

Allison Wright (incumbent)

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