Friday, January 30, 2009

Be Careful For What One Wishes

There are three points I wish to raise with regard to Wednesday’s appointment by the Clarke County Board of Education of Philip Lanoue, described by the Banner-Herald as “an area superintendent in metro Atlanta's Cobb County school system,” to the position of superintendent of the Clarke County School District.

The first is that current interim superintendent James Simms may have been better served by following through with his threatened resignation of last year. At that time, Simms publicly confronted the Board of Education over its interference with decisions that were properly the responsibility of the superintendent (and yes, there were shades of the Clayton County School District’s SACS accreditation debacle). Eventually, though, the two sides made nice. Be that as it may, Simms drew a line in the sand insofar as the Board was concerned and now he may be out of a job (unless he returns to the number two spot which, given the history at work here, I would think somewhat problematic). One cannot help but wonder if there is a connection between Simms’ previous outspokenness and the Board omitting him from its list of finalists. Get background on the dispute here, here, and here.

The second is that it wasn’t really an appointment. What the Board voted to do is enter contract negotiations with, and begin a background check of, Mr. Lanoue. The result of the vote was announced but, as I understand it, the meeting that produced the actual decision was closed to the public. This is an issue because it appeared that the Board originally planned to keep even the vote itself under raps, beginning the contract and background processes but keeping the public out of the loop until a formal (meaning superfluous) vote on the hiring was held at its February voting session. The consulting firm hired to conduct the search for a new superintendent indicated that a secret vote was permissible under Georgia law; I remain unconvinced as to the legality of that approach and, given the secretive nature of some of the Board’s past actions, suspect that there would have been some public relations fallout. For background, see here (specifically Jim Geiser’s comment at the bottom of the story), here, and here.

The third is that Lanoue will have his hands full in terms of both academic and administrative headaches. For years, in person, in print, and in the blogosphere, I have lamented the poor academic achievement of the CCSD as a whole and the high level of expenditures used to purchase that poor achievement. I read that the Board voted to opt for Lanoue in large part because of his record of increasing student achievement in “poor” schools. I certainly hope that he succeeds in bringing about similar change here, but we shall see. I will revisit the achievement and expenditure issues in future posts.

I am equally interested to see how Lanoue deals with the administrative, bureaucratic, and procedural aspects of his new job. On the one hand, I freely admit that I have a predilection toward being suspicious of government. On the other hand, however, the District and the Board have a long and demonstrable history of engaging in questionable practices that amply justify such suspicions, practices about which the new superintendent should be aware.

In 2004, the Board held the legally mandated public hearings on a budget that did not include a millage rate increase. The budget as later adopted, however, included a 0.25 mills property tax increase on which public hearings were never held. The Taxpayers Bill of Rights plainly dictates that the public hearings process should have been repeated on the new budget. That did not happen. A couple of we concerned citizens pursued the matter up the chain of command, being treated to an impressive display of bureaucratic obfuscation, evasion, and denial on the part of local and state officials. To make a long story short, the Department of Revenue’s position on the matter was that its regulations, ostensibly written to implement TBOR, actually allowed local taxing authorities to do precisely what that law prohibited (yes, you read that correctly) – and don’t think that local taxing authorities haven’t made the most of that interpretation. We should have spared ourselves a lot of time and trouble and simply filed a lawsuit.

Also in 2004, the Board appropriated about $150,000 to develop a plan for spending SPLOST 3 revenue. The problem was that the money for the study itself was slated to be repaid by SPLOST 3 revenue. In other words, the Board voted to spend money from a specific optional sales tax it hoped would be approved by the voters two years later and generating revenue a year after that. Had the referendum not passed, the money for the study would have had to be cannibalized from elsewhere in the 2007 budget.

Speaking of which, in 2006 the Board announced plans to hold its SPLOST 3 referendum as a special election in the month of September. To do so would have entailed an unnecessary expense, estimated at $40,438, to open and staff all 24 of the county’s precincts and program voting machines. This would be for a ballot with only one question, to be held on an election date guaranteed to result in a low turn-out. Faced with a public outcry, the Board eventually opted to hold its referendum a couple of months later, concurrent with November’s general elections.

Also consider the matter of the SPLOST 3 bonds authorized by that referendum. The caveat was that, if sales tax revenue is insufficient to repay the bonds, property taxes will be raised to compensate for the insufficiency. The CCSD presented a bond resolution to the Commission that included language attributed to the state Constitution allowing the transfer of bonded indebtedness from sales taxes to property taxes. That problem was that the stipulation was made up out of whole cloth – it is not in the Constitution. For that matter, I could find no such provision in O.C.G.A. or in the administrative regulations of either the Department of Revenue or Department of Education.

Then, in both 2006 and 2008, we have the CCSD’s participation in the deceptively-named Consortium for Adequate School Funding in Georgia. Despite the fact that the District spends top dollar relative to the other school systems in the state in both absolute and percentile terms, it claims that it is “inadequately” funded. The local contribution to funding is already at the 20 mills limit imposed by the state Constitution and the State of Georgia funds the District to the same extent that it funds every other school system in the state (that somehow manage to get far more bank for their buck, mind you, and I will again note that QBE funding of the CCSD has soared in recent years with actual “cuts” ending way back in FY ’04). Read my earlier comments on the Consortium here, here,and here.

Finally, we have the dispute over per pupil expenditures that preceded last November’s Board of Education elections. Incumbent and President of the Board of Education Charles Worthy claimed a certain level of per pupil spending, as contrasted with challenger Jim Geiser’s higher claim. As the one person in Clarke County who has railed about profligate per pupil spending for a good while now, I immediately recognized both figures and realized the Geiser’s was the more recent.

I noted as much in a letter to the Banner-Herald, which prompted wholesale and immediate changes to the CCSD web site. It also prompted a response from the District’s public relations department. Unfortunately, the rationale given for Worthy’s figures did not add up, either figuratively or literally - and when politely pressed for specifics (i.e., the number of students used in the calculations attributed by the CCSD to the figures used by either candidate, the dollar amounts of the budgets involved, a citation of sources of information, the method of calculation used to arrive at the figures), the bureaucracy could not provide them. A cynic may be inclined to think that the CCSD bureaucracy provided a useful, though wholly unverifiable, defense of the President of the Board running for reelection. For my earlier comments about this, see here, here, and here.

As evidenced by his application for it, Lanoue obviously wants the job of CCSD superintendent and, barring something completely unforeseen, has it. Now the hard part begins. I hope that he realizes into what he has gotten himself.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Just Say No

President Obama made the rounds on Capital Hill today in an attempt to gain political cover for his presidency an his party by luring House and Senate Republicans into backing the train wreck that is the latest “stimulus” package. Obama went so far as to chide the GOP to “put politics aside” and support the bill, even though it is heavily invested with the advancement of progressive politics.

I will not detail the myriad and obvious flaws with the bill, as they have been sufficiently cataloged by a variety of think tanks, news organizations, and commentators all across the blogosphere. Suffice it to say that the proposal is a stunningly expensive amalgam of pork barrel projects, special interest bailouts, and political paybacks to left-leaning interest groups. In other words, it is suspiciously like the previous stimulus/bailout which, as a matter of record, failed rather pointedly in its promised effects - this one just has a higher price tag.

If the GOP entertains hopes of ever regaining power at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, it should avoid any responsibility for this fiasco like the proverbial plague.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Concerning Multipliers And Stimuli

Just a quick follow up to last week’s post concerning the unfortunate revival of Keynesian economics. See the two Wall Street Journal articles below for brief critiques of the assumptions underlying the current (and by that I mean panicked) stimulus mania gripping our betters up in D.C:

Government Spending Is No Free Lunch: Now the Democrats Are Peddling Voodoo Economics” by Robert Barro (and yes, this one is a repeat from last week)

The Stimulus Time Machine: That $355 Billion In Spending Isn’t About The Economy"

I remain firmly convinced that the decisions being made in Washington have precious little to do with economic realities, instead having rather a lot to do with political ideology (you know, like when then-candidate Obama admitted that raising the capital gains tax rate would DECREASE revenue to the Treasury, but that he favored doing so anyway in the interest of “fairness”). If not for political ideology, they make no sense whatsoever.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

We Are (almost) All Keynesians Again

Or, if one prefers an alternate title for this seemingly rambling post, try “Keynes, Heinlein, Nixon, Muth & Obama” (sounds like the name of a K Street lobbying firm, doesn't it). Or for that matter, “Economic Esoterica” would work equally well. The reason I say “seemingly rambling” is that there is, indeed, a common thread that ties this disparate group together.

Our point of departure will be an article that appeared in Time Magazine way back in 1965 entitled “We Are All Keynesians Now.” I encourage readers to take a look at the article for themselves, as it encapsulates the conventional economic wisdom of the period.

So why were we all Keynesians? In The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money, his magnum opus published in 1936, John Maynard Keynes staked out the high ground for every big-government type to come down the pike in the last seven decades. Keynes’ theories (not that they all originated with him, mind you, but for sake of discussion we will use Keynes as shorthand) were used to justify the social welfare schemes and centralized economic management policies (and boy, do I use that term advisedly) implemented by the western democracies during the Great Depression and in the post World War II period.

Jump ahead to 1966, when sci-fi pioneer Robert Heinlein produced The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, in which he popularized the term “There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch” and the acronym TANSTAAFL, meaning that you can’t get something for nothing (from what I can gather, both the term and the acronym actually date from the late 1940s). As we will see, this thought is completely anathema to Keynesian economics.

Out next stop is Richard Nixon, circa 1971, who famously reiterated the Time declaration from the previous decade. It should be remembered that Nixon, although a Republican, was hardly a conservative. Those of a certain age will remember than he implemented wage and price controls (which failed spectacularly) and greatly expanded the federal bureaucracy.

The problem was that, even at this point, the cracks in the Keynesian edifice had long since begun to show. Enter John Muth, who in 1961 published an article in Econometrica claiming that people made economic decisions based on their own “rational expectations” and that those decisions resulted in better economic outcomes than did Keynes’ government-centered approach. He thereby laid the foundation for supply-side revolution of the 1980s. See “Were Were All Keynesians Then” by Ike Brannon of the libertarian Cato Institute.

Which brings us to Barack Obama. To be fair, he is not alone in supporting some sort of New Deal II or Great Society Redux, but he is the point man for such efforts now. The current crop of folks in Washington, led naturally by the Democrats but, alarmingly to my sensibilities, abetted by some Republicans, is pushing for a return to the failed Keynesian nonsense of yesteryear.

Just think about it; the political class that in large part created this crisis to begin with is poised to throw trillions of dollars, that we don’t have, into pork-laden solutions in the hope that doing more of what got us to this point will miraculously solve the problem.

Yeah, right.

Here are some reading assignments to illustrate the folly of this approach:

No, Virginia, We’re Not All Keynesians Now” by Joseph Ben-Ami of the Canadian Centre for Policy Studies.

Remember, There’s No Free Lunch” by Jeff Jacoby in the Boston Globe

Government Spending Is No Free Lunch” by Robert J. Barro, who is on the faculty at Harvard and a fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution (and you through that California was just the land of fruit and nuts)

We Can’t Spend Our Way Out of this Quarmire” by David Rose and Lawrence White in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Finally, see this exchange between Glenn Beck, freshly ensconced in his new gig over at FOX News, and none other than Ron Paul, who to my mind is much more of a maverick than McCain ever thought of being:

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The Bailout Reader

Want to understand the various aspects of the current economic mess (what caused it and why taxpayer funded bailouts are the wrong solution)? If so, consult “The Bailout Reader” courtesy of the fine folks over at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, for whom I have a strong affinity.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009


While I certainly recognize the swearing in of our first African-American president as an historic event, I must also confess that I find the hagiographic nature of the Obama inauguration coverage somewhat stifling. Thus, as a personal remedy, I offer a brief retrospective on the departing Bush Administration.

On the positive side, Bush 43 pushed hard for tax cuts to stimulate the economy (and contrary to what many would have you believe, they actually worked – and in a big way), the appointments of solid Supreme Court Justices like Roberts and Alito (in my world, constitutional concepts like “strict constructionist” and “originalist” are good things), and for the US to alter its strategy by switching over to the offensive in the war on terror (fighting the bad guys over there being much preferable to trying to arrest them over here, after the fact no less).

On the negative side, I have a real problem with “compassionate conservatism.” Not because the two concepts are oxymorons (they emphatically are not), but because even under this approach, dollars had to be routed through the Washington bureaucracy. Also, the accountability inherent in NCLB is a laudable goal, but the practice is to ostensibly increase student achievement by throwing money into a failed educational system. Unfortunately, these spendthrift attitudes carried over into other areas; the GOP under Bush forgot all about “movement conservative” basics like limited government and fiscal responsibility. And, of course, there were the missteps common to all presidencies, such as the Harriet Miers nomination.

All things considered, though, I think that W turned out to be a pretty good president. On balance, I think that Bush was demonstrably better than would have been either Al Gore or John Kerry. Needless to say, reasonable people will disagree over that assertion, not to mention the Bush Administration’s specific policies and tactics. That is not a problem. However, I found the personal invective heaped on Bush, who by all but the most stridently partisan accounts is a decent and honorable man, boorish and intellectually indefensible.

Yes, I know that such an opinion may put me in the minority right now, especially here in the Classic City, where Bush Derangement Syndrome set in years ago. However, I fully expect the general attitude to shift somewhat over time and in that I am not alone. Consider these commentators:

History Will Vindicate George Bush” by Bruce Anderson in the UK’s The Independent

The Bush Economy” by the editors of the Wall Street Journal

History Will Remember Bush Well” by Marc Thiessen in the Wall Street Journal

Bush’s Achievements” by Fred Barnes in The Weekly Standard

Thank You, Mr. President” by Heinrich Maetzke in the Jerusalem Post

Court Affirms Wiretapping Without Warrants” by James Risen and Eric Lichtblau in the New York Times (whodathunkit?)

"Exit Bush, Shoes Flying" by Charles Krauthamer in the Washington Post

I am under no illusion that my little diatribe will sway anyone’s opinion, but it makes me feel better nonetheless.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet*

The irony implicit in this story concerning the ongoing battle between Nuçi’s Space and the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County over property taxes strikes me as absolutely delicious. It will also be missed by most of the locals.

The Classic City bills itself as a self-consciously progressive community, packed to the gills with every left-leaning pressure group and nonprofit organization imaginable. And the just-as-equally self-consciously progressive Unified Government is putting the screws to some of them in order to generate more property tax revenue.

As always, there is a bit of history to consider (paraphrased though it will be for the sake of space). Back in 2003, the Unified Government dug up a Georgia Supreme Court case from 1971 that said commercial property owned by nonprofits could be taxed if it was used to make money. Armed with that, the folks in the Tax Assessors office targeted the thrift store properties owned by the Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity (not to mention the concession sales at Sanford Stadium and the inventory of the UGA bookstore).

At this point, none other than local State Representative Jane Kidd entered the fray by introducing a bill under the Gold Dome to exempt nonprofits from local property taxes. The bill failed to make it through the General Assembly in 2005 but was passed in 2006, being approved as a state constitutional amendment later that year. When Nuçi’s Space applied for a property tax exemption in 2007, the Unified Government turned it down on the basis that the property was rented out for parties on occasion.

For more background, see a couple of articles from the Banner-Herald here and here. Also, see this editorial; I would add that this is just the latest in a long series of court defeats on a variety of issues suffered by the Unified Government, legal setbacks that collectively have cost the taxpayers quite a bundle.

Consider also, though, that “nonprofit” and “tax-exempt” are not the same. The former is a state designation; registering with the Georgia Secretary of State as a “nonprofit” corporation is a comparatively simple process. It does not, however, bestow “tax-exempt status.” The latter is a federal designation accomplished through a much more involved process courtesy of the Internal Revenue Service having to do with income and sales taxes – it has nothing to do with local property taxes. Hence the necessity for a state constitutional amendment.

Be that as is may, to my mind arguments as to the property tax-exempt status of this or that charity miss the point entirely. I remained convinced that the problem with the Unified Government (and the Clarke County School District, the State of Georgia, etc.) is not due to any lack of revenue. The problem is continued unrestrained spending. Until and unless government at all levels gets spending under control, it will never have enough revenue.

Unfortunately, government exhibits no such realization. In economic good times, when government is typically flush with cash, it increases spending accordingly (usually on all manner of unnecessary things in my opinion). Then, in poor economic times, government increases spending so as (ostensibly) to help those in need or (equally ostensibly) stimulate the economy. By the way, how is that TARP thing going? Yeah, just what I thought.

Even as I write this, municipal, county, and state governments all across the country are creating new taxes by the score and jacking up existing taxes to cover decreased revenue projections. They are also lining up to get their cuts of the feds’ stimulus (and I use that term in the loosest of senses) and bailout largess.

So now trillion dollar per year deficits are projected as far as the fiscal eye can see – which means we either 1) sell more debt to countries like China (assuming that they will continue to buy it), 2) jack up taxes to an economically strangling degree, 3) inflate the currency by printing dollars, or 4) a combination of all three. None of these constitute sustainable strategies. The problem is that all of this stimulus and bailout money ultimately comes from the same place – the taxpayers.

Government at all levels is simply rearranging the proverbial deck chairs without fundamentally reconsidering the way it conducts fiscal or monetary policy. Of course, the obvious solution is for the politicians and bureaucrats to throttle back on the spending, simplify the tax codes (municipal, county, state, and federal), and stop incurring mountains of debt and unfunded liabilities.

Like that is going to happen.
Government at all levels will continue to ratchet up its efforts to grab every dollar it can even if, as has happened locally, it has to turn on the progressive voters who put into power. Get used to it.

*Apologies to BTO.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Secretary Of State Kemp?

The electoral fruit basket turnover is in full gear as folks try to move up the political pecking order. In that regard, late last week I got it on good authority that, should current Secretary of State Karen Handle throw her hat into the ring for the house on West Paces Ferry Road, former State Senator and former candidate for Commissioner of Agriculture Brian Kemp would in turn run for the office being vacated by Handle.

That good authority was none other than Kemp himself.
As it appears that Handle is indeed taking the plunge, expect Kemp to do the same.

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Free Gaza Indeed*

Rarely do I venture into the realm of international politics here, but the one-sided media coverage and feigned outrage on this issue is such that I just can’t take it anymore.

Israeli soldiers and settlers pulled out of Gaza back in 2005 – as always with the promise of peace for land. Later, Hamas defeated the incredibly corrupt Fatah for control of the Palestinian Authority. Since then, Hamas has subjected southern Israel to rocket attacks launched from Gaza on an almost daily basis, regardless of whatever “ceasefire” was ostensibly in place at any given time, and the Israelis finally responded in the only manner that terrorist groups seem to understand.

In my mind, the differences between the combatants could not be more stark. Hamas, a terrorist organization formally sworn to the destruction of the Jewish state, merely extended its tunnels and moved its rocket launchers that much closer to the border when the Israelis withdrew. Hamas, similar to its Hezbollah brothers-in arms, plays the victim card incessantly, even as it hides arms in schools, hospitals, and mosques – thereby deliberately incurring civilian casualties for propaganda purposes.

Israel, a staunch ally of the United States and a haven of parliamentary democracy and religious tolerance in a region noted for neither, calls Palestinian civilians living near Hamas targets on their cell phones to warn them of impending air attacks and distributes leaflets to the Palestinian civilians located along IDF approach routes so that they can avoid injury.

And international opinion appears to be largely on the side of the terrorists (again).

This is not to say that Israeli policy is above criticism – no country’s is. Even so, I find the moral equivalence drawn between Israel and the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah, not to mention the calls for military “proportionality” made by many, to be both intellectually disingenuous and morally irresponsible.

To buttress the point, consider a trio of reading assignments that all make related points:

The first, “Gaza Needs to be Freed from Terrorist Control” is an op/ed from the Nashville Tennessean written by Reda Mansour, who heads up the Consulate General of Israel to the Southeast. For the record, Mansour is an Israeli Arab Muslim. Given the relentless pillorying of Israel in the international media as opposed to the fawning covering typically lavished on Palestinian terrorists (reminiscent of Lenin’s employment of “useful idiots”), let the irony of that one sink in for a moment.

The second is “Yes, Israel Can Win in Gaza” by Edward Luttwak, a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, from the Wall Street Journal.

The third is a Wall Street Journal op/ed, “Muslims Against Hamas”.

Finally, Dawgs for Israel is kicking off the semester with “We Stand With Israel.” The event, which takes place at 6:00 p.m. in Room 248 of the Miller Learning Center on Thursday, 15 January, features Scott Allen, executive director of the Georgia Federation of Christians for Israel. Mr. Allen's topic is “Israel’s efforts and the necessity of our support.” Afterward, those in attendance will have the opportunity to write letters of support to Israeli soldiers, along with letters urging our congressmen to continue their support of Israel.

*This is the title of Mansour's piece as posted on the Consulate General's web site.

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Curious Case Of Mike Hamby

I had intended to post something about this prior to November’s election. However, when incumbent Elton Dodson dropped out of the running for the District 10 seat on the Athens-Clarke County Commission and left the field open to challenger Mike Hamby, it seemed kind of moot. Be that as it may, both Jmac and Hillary have mentioned this get-to-know-your-commissioner piece published in the Banner-Herald last week, so I will complete the blogging trifecta. The truth be told, this post is not so much about Hamby as it is about the seemingly curious nature of progressive politics here in the Classic City.

First a bit of background is in order. From the time of city-county unification (or consolidation, as was the term at the time) through 2004, the offices of mayor (or chief elected officer, as was also the term at the time) and commissioners were determined on a partisan basis, just as they are for “regular” county governments. Since Athens-Clarke County is a “unified” government, it had the opportunity to institute nonpartisan elections for its officers, just as can boards of education. The original charter proposed for the Unified Government specified nonpartisan elections, but political skullduggery on the part of Democrats scuttled that idea and stymied a number of attempts to institute nonpartisan elections for the next decade and a half. Finally, in 2004, voters had the opportunity to decide the matter for themselves and overwhelmingly approved a referendum to make the offices of mayor and commissioners nonpartisan (and yes, there is a long history there about which I have written at length).

Back in the 1994, Hamby ran for mayor as a neophyte Republican against incumbent Democrat Gwen O’Looney. Afterward, he even served a stint as chairman of the Clarke County Republican Committee (this is where I will insert the caveat that I do not know Hamby personally, as his involvement with the CCRC predated my own, and that I have nothing against him personally). Since then, Hamby recanted any Republican leanings and reinvented himself as a “progressive” Democrat. Says he about his conversion:

At one time, I had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. I had to go through radiation and chemotherapy. It was caught early, but in going through something like that, you realize that people aren't as lucky to have the insurance that I had. You see people waiting in the office who may have caught it late because they didn't have the insurance to go to the doctor, or for whatever reason, the money situation.

You start thinking about those things - how our government, how our community operates really affects
the lives of people. I just started looking more into it and came to the realization that Democrats, for what it's worth, take into account the individual stories of people and how those stories make up the community - the stories of people without insurance or without jobs or without affordable housing; you can go on and on through the list of the problems.

And that's not to say that Republicans don't take into account the stories, but in a lot of ways, when it boils down to it, the bottom line becomes more important to the Republicans than the more humanitarian issues, perhaps. It's just different types of ways of looking at it, and I just prefer the one that looks at it as sort of a right that people should have health care and should have education and should have a roof over their heads.

Fair enough. I will accept Hamby’s account of his political conversion at face value. I must say, though, that his analysis strikes me as questionable in the extreme – and yes, we can have reasonable disagreements over such things – but then Athens teems with those who hold similar opinions. For what it is worth, the ideological positions of the incoming Hamby do not appear to be much different from those of the outgoing Dodson.

Fast forward to now. For those who do not live in our fair city, the first things to happen when any given individual is rumored to be considering a fun for local office is that the lefty types immediately comb through the voting history of that individual and the campaign finance disclosures of past candidates so as to detect any latent Republican sympathies, however trivial they may be (and if you doubt it, ask Cardee Kilpatrick, Tom Chastain, Charlie Maddox, David Hamilton, Red Petrovs, Jim Geiser, etc.) In point of fact, the only readily identifiable Republican to run for anything at the local level in this community since 2004 is none other than yours truly.

At this point our discussion returns to Hamby. Since Dodson pulled
out of the race, one can only wonder as to how that contest may have played itself out. I assume that the local left would have mentioned Hamby’s past dalliances with things Republican but, in stark contrast to the damning critiques heaped on those other individuals mentioned above, only for the purpose of distancing him from them. This is Athens-Clarke County; progressive ideology trumps all else.

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