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One on the highlights of the year for me is joining a group of women, most of whom I see only once a year over lunch, for conversations encompassing a wide range of topics. The only time there is quiet around the room is when we share noteworthy books we’ve read in the past year.

My list is always the shortest (these women are serious about reading). Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “The Bully Pulpit” was on my list, to which my friend Sue kindly pointed out, I’ve been reading that one for years (She’s right, it was on my list last year. I’ve still got hundreds of pages to go).

Rural and Progressive came up in the discussion last Saturday, and I made a point of saying I haven’t been posting much recently as I continue to dive into a new job. That doesn’t mean I’m not following politics, so don’t count me out on posting about politics, especially while the Georgia General Assembly is in session.

GPB has added three in-house produced programs focused on state politics and issues that are worth a listen. “Political Rewind” on Friday afternoons includes a balanced group of pundits/consultants/journalists/former politicians. I’ve heard it in full more than “On Second Thought” and “Two Way Street.” All three programs cover a range of issues and topics pertinent to our state. They are worth a listen.

It is worth noting that GPB has added these programs since disgraced Georgia State Representative Chip Rogers was fired last year. Shame on the network for producing good content and failing to make it available by podcast.

I’m a stickler for fact checking and supporting data. Consequently I really like Fact-check Friday on the AJC. 

If you are curious about what I am reading that is newsworthy, from my perspective in rural Georgia, like Rural and Progressive on Facebook. I share things there almost every day. My Twitter feed includes links to news items too (events like the State of the Union address are ideal for Twitter). Those platforms, in addition to the comment section here, provide a chance to weigh in on the posted items with your thoughts.

Please join the conversation.



Climate, kidnapping, and GPB

This is good Mr President but why not step up and stop Keystone XL now? We won’t get the oil, Americans and First Nations will be forced to give up their private property to a foreign company, spills are sure to happen in our backyards, and all of us will suffer the climate effects of the dirtiest oil in the world. If you truly belief what you are preaching, act now.

Why did the world sit on its hands for over two weeks before beginning to address the 300 girls kidnapped for the purpose of being sold as child brides? It is because they are black? Because they are Nigerians? I am holding Hamatsu Abubakar in The Light until she and all her friends are returned safely to their families. Abubakar means “noble.” Bring Back Our Girls

There are two big news items from Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) and we’re only three days into the week. Chip Rogers was fired for violating GPB’s employment policies for much of his stint at the public broadcasting network. While Rogers stated his $150K per year job at GPB, the network hired a radio professional with decades of experience to produce his show. Did Rogers need help with his 30 minute show because he was also busy working as the Vice-President for Government Affairs at the Asian American Hotel Owners Association?

Yesterday the Atlanta Business Chronicle announced that Georgia State University’s 100,000 watt, student-run radio station WRAS, will broadcast GPB’s programming from 5 7 p.m. The station’s Album 88 programming has a strong following, but those listeners will have to stream Album 88 during the day until it switches back to over-the-air broadcasting after 7 p.m.

And that’s not all. GPB is switching to a news and information format with programming piped in from National Public Radio, American Public Media, and Public Radio International.  A GPB produced talk show will debut in the fall of this year.

GSU has a license to operate the student programmed station but didn’t involve WRAS management and staff in the decision making process to fundamentally change the programming format. WRAS posted this on its Facebook page,”WRAS management and staff have had no part in the decision made by the university regarding our partnership with GPB. As a completely student-run/managed station, the administration of GSU acted unilaterally in making this decision. A statement from the staff on the matter will be made public soon.”

And he’s out!

Chip Rogers and Will "The Winner" Rogers In November 2012, Governor Nathan Deal and Gold Dome Republicans found themselves in an embarrassing situation after State Senator Chip Rogers hosted a presentation in the state capitol by an Agenda 21 Conspiracy believer. Rogers boasted he would host more anti-Obama, fact-less meetings for legislators.

Deal strong-armed Georgia Public Broadcasting and created a $150K a year taxpayer-funded job for Rogers where he would produce a weekly radio show on economics and jobs.

Ashley Wilson Pendley, a long-serving staffer, quit not long after Rogers was hired. Five months later Teya Ryan, President of GPB, hired Tonya Ott, a radio veteran with 24 years of experience, to work on Roger’s 30 minute program.

Deal denied creating Roger’s job at GPB, and he hasn’t taken credit for the Republicans wiping out all the funding for Roger’s job in the 2015 budget.

Last Friday reports surfaced that Rogers was cut loose from the state taxpayers’ payroll. Now he’s freed up to focus more attention on the other job he’s held while collecting a state paycheck.

According to news reports, Rogers has been showing up for his job as the Vice-President of Government Affairs for the Asian American Hotel Owners Association “regularly, for ‘one year or more.’ ” Rogers’ bio on the association’s web site makes no mention of working at GPB or his stint as Will “The Winner” Rogers.

Rogers’ former employer GPB is promoting a spring fund drive. When Rogers was appointed to GPB, listener/member donor dollars dropped considerably. I wonder if this announcement is intended to woo the members back who jilted the network a year ago.



GPB owes an apology to Fresh Air host Terry Gross

My love affair with Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB), at least as a donor, came to an end earlier this year when Chip Rogers was given a “special for him” job as a broadcast at taxpayer expense.

Now GPB has yet another problem with who has access to a mic.

Yesterday Adam Ragusea, the local host for WMUM, the GPB Macon, ran a promo voiced by Fresh Air host Terry Gross. Ragusea, a professional broadcaster, said afterwards it sounded like Terry Gross has a lisp.

I’m not a “Fresh Air” fan, but I am a fan of professional broadcasters being held to professional standards.

There should be zero tolerance for insensitive comments like this one broadcast on WMUM. GPB President Teya Ryan can begin to restore listener/donor confidence in the network by immediately removing Ragusea from all on-air duties and any teaching/mentor work with Mercer University students.

A handwritten apology to Ms Gross would be a good way for Ragusea to begin to learn what true professionalism entails. GPB should follow-up by broadcasting and posting an apology to listeners and educating all staff on acceptable on-air decorum.

Tell GPB you expect on-air professionalism by emailing [email protected] or calling 800.222.4788.

It takes two people to do Chip Rogers’ job

Today at Better Georgia:

It turns out that Chip Rogers can’t do the job he was hired to do at GPB.

The new radio show that Gov. Nathan Deal created for Chip Rogers was scheduled to begin airing in April. But it’s now been pushed back to July.

After Better Georgia released three videos to call attention to the Chip’s missing work product, Georgia Public Broadcasting told the AJC that they needed to hire a new executive producer to work with Chip — who is the second-highest paid employee at GPB, drawing $150,000 per year in taxpayer funded salary.

GPB hired former B98.5 FM “Morning Show” producer Jessica Forkel to do the work that Chip Rogers hasn’t been able to do over the past 130 days.

GPB has not disclosed Forkel’s salary, which will only add to the cost.

In December, Chip Rogers called this new gig his “dream job.” Now we know why.

Thanks, Gov. Deal.

A chip off the ole block

Better Georgia has issued a job performance review for former State Senator Chip Rogers since he was handed a $150K per year job at GPB by Governor Nathan Deal. Rogers has over seven months of taxpayer funded paychecks under his belt. Let’s see how he is doing.

from Better Georgia:

Gov. Nathan Deal created a job for Chip Rogers at GPB more than seven months ago.You’ll remember that Gov. Deal didn’t have a job description for Chip at that time.But Gov. Deal was sure Chip would do a swell job at something to earn his $150,000 taxpayer-funded salary.You’ll also remember that what little Gov. Deal did tell us about the job he created for Chip Rogers was that it would be “a statewide weekly radio program examining current economic development trends and highlighting companies that are growing and creating jobs.”

Well, a funny thing has happened since.


Chip Rogers has been on the job 128 days but hasn’t broadcast his new radio program once, much less weekly.

Chip has already been paid more than $50,000 from taxpayers’ pockets but hasn’t managed to do the one thing he was hired to do.

We thought we would lend a hand.

We created a series of radio shows to highlight Chip Rogers’ own economic development track record. (Watch all three videos: Oglethorpe InnAgenda 21 and Will the Winner).

Last week, Gov. Deal gave some good advice about a government that doesn’t listen to voters:

“I think too often when government oversteps its bounds,somebody simply resigns or somebody’s hand is slapped with the hope that maybe the public would forget about it,” Gov. Deal told the Tea Party.

In Gov. Deal’s administration, he doesn’t even ask for a resignation. He doesn’t slap anyone’s hands. Gov. Deal simply doesn’t care when he over steps the bounds again and again.

Gov. Deal thinks you’re not paying attention.

Tell Gov. Deal that we won’t forget about Chip Rogers. Sign and share the petition asking Gov. Deal to fire Chip Rogers today.

Bryan Long
Executive Director
Better Georgia

P.S. Make sure your friends see our videos. Take a minute to share them on Facebook. If you’ve already signed the petition to Fire Chip Rogers, please ask your friends to sign it. 

Senator Steve Gooch: Chip Rogers’ job at GPB “smacks of cronyism”

I cancelled the Missing Persons report on my General Assembly reps yesterday afternoon. Mack Jackson called and apologized for leaving my questions unanswered (he added he would let David Lucas know we talked, but Lucas, as my State Senator, still owes me a call or email on the issues I asked him about). Jackson said he heard “something” about Senator Chip Rogers resigning and taking a job at GPB, and that someone at GPB had quit, but he didn’t know much more.

That’s a pretty lame excuse. With the firestorm of press and social media coverage which continue to blaze over Governor Nathan Deal’s one person job creation program, being up to speed on a disgraced State Senator who resigned just weeks before the Session began shouldn’t be that hard.

And now we know that the Senate and the House aren’t too happy with Deal’s job cherry-picking either, thanks to a recorded discussion between a taxpayer and Senator Steve PicGoochSteve752Gooch, which Better Georgia has posted. Gooch said this is an issue that “you’d talk about behind closed doors.” The fall-out for publicly opposing a governor with plummeting job approval ratings would be like “fall(ing) down on your sword”

Gooch said that the Senate and House could have voted differently on GPB funding, but that might have resulted in the loss of some jobs at GPB in order to cover Rogers’ 150K salary. So the result of opposing Rogers’ job could be job cuts where he works?

It seems, based on Senator Bill Heath’s complaint that constituents are “annoying” when they contact him, and the fact that members of the General Assembly will not speak up about glaring “cronyism,” the taxpayers of Georgia are expected to take one for the team. April 15 is coming, and together we will pony up for Rogers salary and expenses at GPB in order to support their newest Senior Producer.

That raises some questions. If our representatives aren’t willing to speak up when they see a wrong, what are they doing there anyway? Who sent them to the Gold Dome? Who do they work for? And who is paying them to sit in silence?

Chip Rogers debunks hiring myths on GPB blog

Chip Rogers is now blogging for Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) in his new job as a Senior Producer. You won’t find it easily on the GPB web site. It isn’t listed anywhere.

Rogers’ blog on myths about job searches, is a scant three sentences long, and links to a New Hampshire based company’s website, Careerealism.

Rogers is just weeks into a new job himself, but instead of using his personal experience as a touchstone, he linked to a short list of myths. Three of the myths are interesting in light of Roger’s career path from promoting odds on sporting events as “Will ‘The Winner’ Rogers” and as the former Georgia Senate Majority Leader.

The second myth listed, “Direct Experience is the Most Important” wasn’t the case for Roger’s hiring at GPB. He went from little broadcasting experience, and no production experience, to working as a Senior Producer at GPB with the second highest salary among the network’s employees. Careerealism doesn’t mention that knowing the governor can be a big help in overcoming a lack of work experience.

The second myth ties in nicely to the fourth myth, “Applying For Jobs Online Is The Only Way To Find A New Job.” In Rogers’ case, there was no application process at all. A call was made from Governor Deal’s office to GPB President Teya Ryan, and the next thing you know, Rogers is a Senior Producer with a 150K taxpayer funded salary.

The last myth that Careerealsim dismisses is, “Writing A Cover Letter Is A Waste Of Time.” It fails to mention that some lucky people don’t have to be bothered with a resume, job application, OR cover letter to get a job. It is all about who you know (and maybe who you are embarrassing with Far-Right conspiracy theories).

Comments on the Careerealism site dispel any “myths”on Rogers’ recent change of employment and how he got there.


Better Georgia: 2014 election isn’t a “done Deal” for Governor

Don Weigel

Most of the political talk for the last few weeks has centered on the US Senate seat now open in 2014 – and for good reason. Sen. Saxby Chambliss’ retirement is an important moment in Georgia politics.

But let’s not lose sight of another vulnerable seat, which could be, were the right stars to align, a fight just as important as the open Senate seat: Governor.

That’s right, Governor Deal shouldn’t be sitting as comfortably as Georgia’s politcos and mainstream media would want you to believe.

Hear me out.

Better Georgia recently conducted our fifth statewide issues poll in a little over a year. There’s a lot of really interesting data in the toplines and I encourage everyone to download them read them for themselves.

Download here at:

But here’s what we know about Deal’s re-election chances:

Gov. Deal’s approval rating has slumped to 46 percent and only 32 percent of registered voters believe that Georgia is headed in the right direction, compared with a majority, 52 percent, believing our state is headed down the wrong track.

When asked to think ahead to the next general election for Governor indealn 2014 only 29 percent would vote to re-elect Nathan Deal while 41 would prefer “someone else”.

While many of these folks are Republican who will vote for Gov. Deal if he is the nominee they would still prefer someone else.

With 42 percent of Republican primary voters undecided and 35 percent wanting someone more conservative that leaves only a quarter of Republicans excited to support Gov. Deal. You can imagine an ambitious, prominent Republican picking this one-to-one primary over the crowded field for US Senate.

But here’s the great news.

The Governor has much more immediate problems than next year’s Republican Primary.  His politically toxic appointment of disgraced former senator Chip Rogers has dogged the news since mid-December and (not surprisingly) voters are not happy with the Governor.

A whopping 62 percent of voters find Gov. Deal’s appointment of Chip Rogers to be a convincing reason to vote against him.

In more than a full year of testing criticisms against Gov. Deal no single issue has stirred as much anger as this political appointment.  Even amongst voters who are certain to vote in the GOP primary 49 percent responded that it was a convincing reason to vote against the Governor.

So while everyone needs to go to because we’re 4,000 strong and growing, I also kind of hope Gov. Deal keeps fighting the inevitable departure of Chip Rogers as long as possible.

Because every day between today and that impending day we’re connecting with more and more voters across Georgia who have had enough of this Governor and conservative supermajority failing to meet our states biggest challenges while using our tax dollars to solve the Governor’s political problems.

Sign and spread this important petition, please.  Despite their best efforts they cannot ignore us.

The Governor’s “inevitable re-election” is far from a Done Deal.

Don Weigel is the Political Director for Better Georgia, the state’s fastest growing progressive advocacy organization.  He previously worked for the Georgia House Democratic Caucus for three years.


Senator Heath needs a portable escape ladder

Last week Senator Bill Heath made a critical bad turn while dodging WSB reporter Lori Geary. The Senator ducked into the Senate Clerk’s Office, and later sent the Senate Press Secretary out to tell Geary the Senator needed to get to a committee meeting. If you watch WSB’s coverage, it looks like Heath missed that meeting.

It occurred to me that Senator Heath could have used a portable fire escape ladder to rope ladderextricate himself from the Clerk’s Office. While a little bulky, this ladder could easily be tucked under one arm and carried to meetings and hearing rooms for quick escapes from reporters and constituents.

This particular ladder is sold by Home Depot, a Georgia based company. Sales would boost much needed state and local tax revenues while supporting a Georgia owned business.

It is ironic that this ladder will cost about $35.00, which is the same amount of a Georgia Public Broadcasting membership, where Senator Heath’s former colleague Chip Rogers is now working for $150K per year (quick math: Rogers’ salary is equivalent to 4,286 GPB memberships. GPB says Rogers’ salary is covered by taxpayer dollars, not GPB membership funds, as if that provides us with any relief).

Budget watchers might be wise to look for “improvements” to the Capitol like more fire escapes or underground tunnels. It seems if the need is there, the money can be found, unlike Senator Heath last week.



Gov Deal and Chip Rogers know how to put the public back in public broadcasting

Governor Nathan Deal and former state Senator Chip Chip Rogers and Will "The Winner" Rogers Rogers, aka Will “The Winner” Rogers, sure know how to put the public in public broadcasting.

Yesterday Governor Deal’s staff spent the day telling reporters that the Governor didn’t hire Rogers and appoint him to work at Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) as an Executive Producer.

The denials aren’t very convincing, because another public radio station, Atlanta’s
WABE, has an interview with Rogers spelling out exactly how Deal “reached out” to him for this job. Now Better Georgia is calling Governor Deal a liar.

But that isn’t all.

On January 31 GPB will have  a real job vacancy to fill, and it includes producing Lawmakers. a daily news report on the Georgia General Assembly, where Rogers already knows everyone!

While Deal was denying his December appointment of Roger’s, GPB Senior Producer Ashlie Wilson Pendley was submitting her resignation effective at the end of this month, and she spelled out exactly why she is leaving her job as the Senior Producer of GPB’s Lawmakers.

Wilson Pendley describes Rogers’ salary as “unconscienable” She also wrote, “This was the wrong decision for GPB. It has the appearance of the political manipulation of the public airwaves. This stinks of cronyism. I believe that this decision was in fact made at the highest political levels and forced upon this organization. In the interest of my own personal integrity, I find I must leave.” (Her letter is included in Creative Loafing’s coverage.)

GPB just can’t get a break from all the Deal/Rogers fallout. Today the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that GPB donors are cancelling their donations to the public radio station. The AJC also reports that in response to a donor’s cancellation, GPB Vice-President Yvette Cook emailed a donor and said that Roger’s salary is funded by taxpayer dollars (as if that makes it any better in the end) .

Cook’s email isn’t a confidence builder for Roger’s ability to be an Executive Producer. The AJC reports that Cook wrote Rogers “may or may not be the best spokesperson” for the programming that has been created just for him.

So Deal hired Rogers, gave him a salary almost nine times higher than what Rogers got as a state senator, and now the station where he works says Rogers may not be the best spokesperson for what he is supposed to produce? Wow.

I bet Deal and Rogers are glad this is a short work week. We aren’t even through three full days and it has already been a doozy.

Chip Rogers’ new job at GPB will cost almost $1M

graphic from Better Georgia

Today Chip Rogers begins a $150K per year job at Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) which was gerrymandered by Governor Nathan Deal. Rogers became an embarrassment for the Republicans in Georgia and resigned from the Senate seat not long after the November elections.

He’s getting quite a pay raise with this move. State Senators are paid $17K per year (plus per diem expenses, and we know how those get used by some elected officials in the General Assembly). The former Senator’s new job at GPB will ring in at $150K per year, making him the second highest salaried employee at the station (nearly twice as much as any other executive producer at GPB according to Better Georgia).

And Rogers will have a learning curve at taxpayers’ expense. He has never been an executive producer of a radio program. His previous broadcasting job was working as “Will ‘The Winner’ Rogers” for a sports  gambling network.

Better Georgia has details on Chip Rogers’ career changes and more details on the to costs to Georgia’s taxpayers.

I wonder if regular donors to GPB will have second thoughts during the Spring Membership Drive. Apparently Governor Deal found some operations money no one else knew about.

Update: GPB Producer Ashlie Wilson Pendley has resigned following reports of Rogers’ $150K salary. Jim Galloway at the AJC covers the resignation. 

Rural and Progressive

Disclaimer: Rural and Progressive is a self-published website. Any contributions supporting the research, web platform, or other work required for the owner and any invited guest contributors, is not tax deductible. Rural and Progressive is not operating as a nonprofit entity.