Monday, August 31, 2009

Oconee Protest Recap

Perhaps a couple of hundred folks showed up at Oconee Veterans Park on an absolutely gorgeous Saturday morning to speak their minds about healthcare “reform.”

The crowd appeared to be about evenly split between those who favored the various bills wending their ways through Congress and those who did not (unsurprisingly, I count myself among the latter). Each side, which was essentially preaching to its own choir, got a bit raucous on occasion but, for the most part, civility prevailed. Much to their credit, after the scheduled speakers had completed their remarks the organizers of the event opened up the microphone to anyone, regardless of their positions on the topic at hand.

A minor controversy arose over the invocation offered by former Oconee GOP chairman Larry Davidson; some on the left though that Davidson singled them out for disdain of some sort. My wife and I arrived late and missed Davidson’s comments. However, when we inquired of several attendees about the prayer; none of those to whom we spoke found anything particularly amiss with it.

Be that as it may, though, there was that one woman who took advantage of the open microphone to blatantly call Republican opposition to healthcare “reform” racist. According to her, conservative reticence about a government takeover of healthcare merely stemmed from having a black man in the White House. Of course, labeling opponents as racist has been a standard tactic of the left for years; I vividly remember being likened to the Ku Klux Klan for maintaining the “pro” position at a forum concerning nonpartisan elections for Athens-Clarke County mayor and commissioners back in 2004 – a referendum the overwhelmingly blue voters of Athens-Clarke County approved by a 2-to-1 margin, by the way. Fortunately, that tactic doesn’t work nearly so well anymore.

Also, though we on the right are constantly labeled “Astroturf” protestors, I will note that the only folks who came supplied with preprinted signs which, of course, denoted at least some pre-event organization and planning, were on the left.

See the Banner-Herald’s photos of the event here.

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SCHS Pigskin Update

Ouch. My alma mater SCHS Indians traveled to Flowery Branch last Friday evening, only to receive a 38-8 thumping at the hands of the Falcons (currently ranked #1 by MaxPreps and #3 by the AJC).

This week, the Indians (0-1) travel across the Tugaloo River to face Seneca, South Carolina. The Bobcats (0-1) opened the season with a 21-3 road loss to Pendleton.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Howling

What appears below was submitted as a letter to the editor of the Banner-Herald in response to this article and this editorial of last Thursday. The letter appeared in today's edition.

Facing an unprecedented revenue shortfall, the Georgia General Assembly recently discontinued the decade-old Homeowners Tax Relief Grants program. These payments, made by the state to local governments, were intended to offset the property tax burden placed on we taxpayers by those same local governments. Predictably, local officials across the state are howling now that they will be forced to increase property taxes to compensate for these lost funds. But is their consternation justified?

No, not really. That is because, since its inception, the program has simply engaged in the fiscal sophistry of robbing Peter to pay Paul. From where did the folks under the Gold Dome get the money to fund the grants in the first place? From we same taxpayers, of course. So instead of funneling tax money through the state bureaucracy, merely to have it distributed back to local governments, we are now going to pay those local governments directly.

The truth is that to the taxpayers generally, the General Assembly’s action represents not so much a tax increase as a tax transfer, from the state bureaucracy to local ones. If anything, this approach should have the advantage of making local government budgeting more transparent, if for no other reason than we taxpayers will now feel the full brunt of local expenditures.

Once again, government at all levels, not to mention the media and citizens generally, need to recognize that there is no free lunch. Ultimately, we taxpayers are the source of all government largess.

I’ve been making this same point for years. Whether it is the latest iteration of SPLOST, or Homeowner Tax Relief Grants, or an increased hotel/motel occupancy tax, we are constantly being assured that someone else will pay for our local expenditures. But it does not work out that way, does it? My property taxes increased dramatically this year, in part because of the General Assembly's action, but also because the Unified Government upped the millage rate and (unbelievably!!!) increased my assessment. Why? Because the local government has not, and will not, reign in its spending to any appreciable degree.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Winterville Municipal Elections

The qualifying dates for this coming November's municipal elections in Winterville have been established by the Athens-Clarke County Board of Elections.

There will be two at-large City Council seats up for election, the ones currently held by Kenneth Tweedell and Mary Quinn. The new (or returning) council members will serve four year terms beginning on 01 January 2010.

Those wishing to run for either of these seats must qualify at the Board of Elections office, located at 155 East Washington Street in downtown Athens, between Monday, 31 August, and noon on Wednesday, 02 September. The qualifying fee is $54.

Any unregistered voter wishing to vote in this election must register by Monday, 05 October. The polling place will be the Winterville Depot, which will be open on Tuesday, 03 November, from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. Any runoff election that may be required will be held on Tuesday, 01 December.

For more information, call the Athens-Clarke County Board of Elections at (706) 613-3150 or Winterville City Hall at (706) 742-8600.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Winterville Neighborhood Watch

According to the town's newsgroup, Winterville's finest are holding an informational meeting for those interested in starting up a local Neighborhood Watch program. The meeting takes place at the Winterville Depot at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, 25 August.

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SCHS Pigskin Update

Yes, sports fans, it is that time of year again. My alma mater Stephens County Indians are gearing up to make another playoff run in Region 8AAA. To that end, there is a “Red Rage” communitywide pep rally scheduled for 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, 20 August, in downtown Toccoa.

This year's campaign will not be an easy one, as several opponents on the SCHS schedule are ranked in preseason polls: the
AJC has Flowery Branch at #3 and LaGrange at #4 in its AAA top 10, while MaxPreps has Flowery Branch at #1, Eastside at #6, LaGrange at #8, and Hart County at #18 in its AAA top 25. The Indians come in at #9 in the latter poll.

The Indians open the season on Friday evening, 28 August, at Flowery Branch. SCHS narrowly defeated the Falcons early last season, but lost the rematch in the first round of the state playoffs.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Oconee Healthcare Reform Protest

Exercise you First Amendment rights by joining The Citizens for Ethical Government in a peaceful demonstration against the various healthcare “reform” proposals being put forth by congressional Democrats and the Obama Administration.

The event, slated for Saturday, August 29, will take place at 10:30 a.m. at Oconee Veterans Park, located on Highway 53 in Watkinsville. Invited speakers include State Representative Bob Smith (District 113), State Senator Bill Cowsert (District 46), U.S. Representative Paul Broun (District 10), and Oconee Leader editor and publisher Rob Peecher, among others. There will also be people displaying signs at the Butler’s Crossing intersection and in downtown Watkinsville.

• Oconee and surrounding counties’ residents are welcome
• Bring your own signs
• Donations will be accepted to defray the cost of the event and publicity

For more information, contact Michelle Smith by telephone at (706) 206-6060 or
by email.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Red Fish Blue Fish*

The concept of odiferous ichthyoids has proven rather popular of late – on either side of the political aisle.

On the GOP right, our own 10th District Representative Paul Broun likened the Democrats’ health care proposals to “smelly, rotten fish.” The good doctor used this rhetoric during his town hall meetings in both Evans on Monday (the turnout was so large, a second session had to be arranged) and Clarkesville on Tuesday. Word from his office is that a meeting may be scheduled for the Athens area. Of course, it comes as no surprise that Broun is disinclined to support the proposals – and with darned good reason in my opinion.

On the Democrat left, first consider Obama Chief-of-Staff Rahm Emanuel, who legendarily sent a dead fish to a pollster as the means of registering his dissatisfaction (see here and here). Granted, the incident took place a while back – but you've got to admit that it is still pretty good.

Next consider that the Obama Administration is encouraging the populace to report “fishy” opposition to the Dem’s health care proposals to the Oval Office (see here and here). I will certainly agree that something here does not pass the smell test, but to my thinking the odor wafts up not from folks protesting a government takeover of health care, but rather from our betters in the White House channeling Saul Alinsky and David Axelrod.

*Apologies to Mr. Geisel.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What Do They Know That We Do Not?

Life has interfered to a considerable degree with blogging of late. Even so, I cannot let this one pass without comment, if for no other reason than to twist the tails of those myriad souls here in the Classic City who staunchly defend the educational status quo (or rather constantly carp about needing to fund more of the same).

As I have commented ad nauseam, year after year the Clarke County School District spends top dollar in terms of per pupil spending. For FY 2008, the figure was $11,180.05, which placed the CCSD in the 95th percentile of all school systems in the state.

Right across the county line, however, the Oconee County School District made do with a comparatively paltry $8542.34 per pupil, a mere 76.41% of what was spent in Clarke County.

The problem is that lower expenditure Oconee County kicks higher expenditure Clarke County’s butt eight ways from Sunday with regard to graduation test scores, graduation rates, CRCT scores, AYP scores, etc. This pattern has remained consistent for a long, long time.

And here is the kicker: while last minute teacher furloughs have played Hell with the CCSD’s pre-planning schedule, over in Watkinsville they are managing to make ends meet without any teacher furloughs (see here and here).

So once again, what do they know that we do not?

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