Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Blown Circuit

It seems that our betters on the Athens-Clarke County Commission have given up on the concept of property tax “circuit breakers” - at least for the time being. The ostensible purpose of a circuit breaker is to limit property tax increases on the poor and elderly by linking those taxes to the residents’ income, thereby countering the effect of neighborhood gentrification. Note that the decision to drop the idea was based on the practical difficulties of implementing such a scheme, as opposed to any belief that it was fundamentally flawed.

I am all for property tax relief, but remain convinced that a much better approach would be to adopt a “floating” homestead exemption, thereby limiting the assessment increases on those owner-occupied properties on which a homestead exemption was claimed. This is precisely the plan for which I advocated during my campaign back in 2006. Such a plan would achieve the same goals as a circuit breaker, but do so in a much simpler method and deny the Commission much opportunity to engage in its trademark social engineering. Thus, it has not been considered (nor will it be).

For earlier coverage of the issue in the Banner-Herald, see here, here, here, here, and here.

Sphere: Related Content

SCHS Pigskin Update

The bad news is that my alma mater Indians lost their first home game of the season 28-38 to LaGrange. The two teams to which the Indians have lost, the Flowery Branch Falcons and the LaGrange Grangers, are ranked in the state’s AAA Top Ten by both the AJC (#10 and #6, respectively) and MaxPreps (#6 and #3, respectively).

The good news is that the schedule may get a little easier going forward – but not by much. The Indians (1-2), currently ranked #20 by MaxPreps, enjoy a bye week this Friday and open up their region 8AAA schedule on 25 September at Hart County. The Bulldogs (2-1), who also have an open date this week, are currently ranked #15 by MaxPreps.

Up next for the Indians after Hart County are the Eastside Eagles, currently ranked #17 by MaxPreps.

Talk about your tough schedules.

Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Athens Symphony 2009-2010 Schedule

The Athens Symphony recently announced its 2009-2010 schedule, highlighted by its traditional Christmas program as well as a slight twist on its first performance of the year.

Conductor Albert F. Ligotti returns to the podium for the Athens Symphony’s 32nd season, and is on the lookout for new string players.

“The Athens Symphony has become an institution in our community, offering opportunities and expanding horizons for performers and patrons alike to enjoy outstanding live orchestral performances at no cost,” said Ligotti. “The Symphony is excited about the season ahead and ready for another wonderful year.”

2009-2010 Schedule Strikes a Chord

The community orchestra will offer six free concerts to the people of Athens and surrounding communities in its 2009-2010 season, including the annual Winter and Spring concerts and double performances of its highly popular Christmas and Pops concerts.

The season will begin with the Symphony’s Winter Concert on November 15. To kick off the season Ligotti will present a Winter Concert with a slightly different approach from concerts of years past.

“I have scheduled an all orchestral program featuring the very famous and exciting Swan Lake Ballet Suite music by Peter Tchaikovsky, said Ligotti. “If you think of Paris, you think of a bottle of wine, a checkered tablecloth and the Eiffel Tower. They’re symbols. When you think of ballet, you think of Swan Lake – probably the most famous ballet ever written.”

The season will continue with the annual Christmas concerts featuring the Athens Symphony Chorus Saturday, December 12 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, December 13 at 3:00 p.m. The Spring concert—comprised of a collection of movements from Fifth symphonies by various composers, with the second half featuring soloists from the Athens Symphony—will be held Saturday, April 3 2010 at 8:00 p.m. The Pops Concerts round out the 32nd season Friday, May 7 2010 at 8:00 p.m. and Saturday, May 8 at 8:00 p.m. featuring the Athens Symphony Chorus.

The concerts are performed for an audience of up to 2,000 at the Classic Center in downtown Athens. Admission is free but tickets are required for entry, and are available for pick up at the Classic Center Theatre Box Office beginning Monday, October 26 at 10 a.m.

Musicians Wanted – No Strings Attached

Since its founding, the Symphony has been comprised entirely of volunteer performers from Northeast Georgia. According to Ligotti, the need this year is particularly acute in all string sections. Violinists, violists, cellists and double bassists across Northeast Georgia are invited to join the symphony, with no audition necessary. Players of many levels are encouraged to attend the first rehearsal of the season Monday, September 14 from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Classic Center. Any interested parties may contact the conductor by email or by calling 706-425-4205 for additional information.

Musicians may participate in the Winter Concert if able to join the orchestra by the Monday, September 28 rehearsal. Those who miss this deadline are welcome to join rehearsals beginning Monday, November 9, when the Symphony begins rehearsing selections from Handel’s Messiah and a variety of seasonal carols for the Christmas concert.

“We seek players of many levels and ages who share the common thread of a love and respect for music,” says Ligotti. “A performer of any level will feel at home in our group.”

Musicians meet Monday evenings at 7:30 p.m. to rehearse in the weeks prior to one of the Athens Symphony’s four annual programs. The symphony performs six times per year, and members have the flexibility of committing to rehearsals and concerts on a per-program basis.

Connect with the Symphony on a More Intimate Scale

During the summer, the Symphony took time to update its website. The symphony also launched a Facebook fan page to allow its fans and members to learn more about its ongoing performances, activities and needs.

“We are hopeful that by using new technologies we can communicate, interact, and offer those who haven’t joined us a taste of our performances,” says Athens Symphony Board President Dick Hudson. “While we have no problem drawing crowds, we want to be sure Northeast Georgians understand there is an outstanding community orchestra open to all right in their backyard.”

About the Athens Symphony

The Athens Symphony was founded in the summer of 1978, when a group of local musicians convened following a survey by the Clarke County Office of Cultural Affairs that determined a strong desire within the community for a symphony orchestra. Early on, it was decided that the orchestra should be a not-for-profit organization, that its members should be unpaid volunteers from Athens and the surrounding communities, and that its concerts should be both free of charge and appealing to general audiences. Al Ligotti was immediately identified as the ideal conductor due to his wealth of musical experience, enthusiasm and high musicianship, and continues to lead the orchestra as it embarks on its 32nd season.

The non-profit organization operates through the generosity of private donors and the support of its sponsors: Athens Area Health Plan Select; Athens Banner-Herald; Athens First Bank & Trust Company; AT&T; Blasingame, Burch Garrard, Ashley, P.C. Attorneys at Law; Chick Music; The Classic Center; Georgia Power; Jackson Spalding and WGAU 1340 am.

Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

SCHS Pigskin Update

My alma mater Stephens County High School Indians (1-1) righted the ship last Friday by posting a 17-0 shutout over the Seneca Bobcats, thereby climbing to #15 in the MaxPreps AAA poll.

This week, in their first home game of the season, the Indians will play host to LaGrange, currently ranked #4 by MaxPreps and #8 by the AJC. The Grangers (1-1) split their initial two games of the season by losing 15-26 to Newnan and winning 34-7 over Heard County. Both games were played at LaGrange.

Sphere: Related Content


This post may well constitute a bit of navel gazing, but so be it (besides which, its my blog and I'll gaze if I want to). Twice within as many weeks, I have submitted letters to the editor of the Banner-Herald in which I took exception to the editorial board’s stance, and twice within as many weeks those letters have been published. The first letter concerned the General Assembly’s discontinuance of the Homeowner Tax Relief Grant program. The second letter dealt with the locale of Paul Broun’s Athens area town hall meeting.

This is not to say that the editors and I are always on opposite sides of any given issue, as often we are in substantial, and on occasion complete, agreement. Even though I disagreed with these particular editorial positions, the fine folks over at One Press Place published my letters with only minor editing. I’ve had a boatload of letters published over the years; most have been edited only scantly (in my opinion sometimes making them better and sometimes not – but that is the province of the editorial board).

For their willingness to entertain opposing views they have my thanks, as I fully realize that my manner of thinking constitutes a distinct minority in these parts. Many others locally with whom I may disagree are not nearly so respectful in their opposition, with hyperbole and invective being far more prominent than reasoned argument.

To many in the Classic City, the Banner-Herald, not to mention its parent company Morris Communications, is merely a conservative mouthpiece; one commenter recently went so far actually as to tar the publication as “Republican,” which I suppose was intended as the ultimate slur. As one who is indeed ensconced in the libertarian wing of the GOP, I would find this characterization so blindingly inaccurate as to be downright comic, except for the fact that many in this bastion of hard-left progressivism actually believe such claims. And no, I am not thereby accusing the Banner-Herald of being a shill for the political left – that distinction goes to the folks across the street. :)

Sphere: Related Content