And the winners are…..

Current leadership in the Georgia General Assembly never fails to disappoint. This year’s session has been a catalog of hate-baiting legislation against LGBTQ citizens and people of faith (and no faith). Rape victims have been dismissed, and Georgia’s Guns Everywhere mentality threatens campuses across our state.

Creative Loafing Atlanta didn’t wait until the end of the session to announce this year’s Golden Sleaze Awards. If you want to hear keen political analysis of this year’s General Assembly session in Georgia, tune in to GPB’s Political Rewind at 3:00 this afternoon.

 

Legalizing hate in Georgia

It only took three days before the Georgia General Assembly saw a bill filed that, if passed and signed by Governor Deal, will mark us a state that allows discrimination based on religious faith. Filed by Republican Representative Kevin Tanner of Dawsonville, HB756 allows business owners the right to deny services or the selling of goods to a “religious organization” or for a “religious or matrimonial ceremony” if the business owner says the organization or ceremony conflicts with his/her right to exercise their religious freedom.

That means HB756 legalizes discrimination by florists, bakers, bridal shops, caterers, wedding sites, and other businesses connected to the wedding industry, simply because the business owner personally opposes the marriage. That’s legislative code for opposing same-sex marriage.That also means the business owner can do the same if they don’t like the tenants of a religious organization.

In other words, if you don’t worship where I worship, I don’t have to treat you like I would the members of my church when you come into my place of business.

I used the word “church” because HB756 specifies churches for protection under this law. Temples, mosques, and other places of worship are not described at all, just churches. 

HB756 reads, “the term ‘religious organization’ means a church, a religious school, an association or convention of churches, a convention mission agency, or an integrated auxiliary of a church or convention or association of churches…”
Christians go to church, Jews attend synagogues or temples, and Hindus and Muslims worship in temples. Tanner and Hb756 co-sponsors Tom Rice, R-Norcross, Randy Nix, R-LaGrange, and Paul Battles, R-Cartersville, know this, and their choice of words is telling. They want to make sure churchgoers are afforded the right to discriminate.

Speaker of the House David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, is only supporting Tanner’s other bill, HB757, called the “Pastor Protection Bill,” a bill that allows a minister to decline a request to perform a marriage ceremony if it conflicts with his/her beliefs.

Of course there shouldn’t be legislation allowing a person who is licensed by the state to perform legal ceremonies, to deny services to anyone, but this move to “protect” pastors pales in comparison to Tanner’s HB756.

The wedding industry is huge, and state coffers benefit greatly from them. Hotel rooms are booked, gas tanks filled, gifts sent, clothing bought, and bouquets tossed to guests. Legalizing hate in HB756 doesn’t make legal sense or good economic sense.

Sunday reads

Just some of the news I’ve been catching up on today:

Maggie Lee at the Macon Telegraph  has an article about last Monday’s carbon pollution rules and the shift already underway towards renewal energy sources in Georgia.

Jay Bookman at the Atlanta Journal Constitution points out that the world didn’t come to an end years ago when Atlanta’s air quality was classified as “non-attainment” and the city was required to take action to reduce smog and other problems (the article concludes behind their pay wall).

The AJC is doing a series of articles on climate change and the impacts already seen on Georgia’s coast called “A rising tide of concern.” The articles are behind a pay wall and include this: “David Stooksbury, the former state climatologist, said the unwillingness of leaders to address climate change is dangerous.’I don’t think that most of our elected officials understand the long-term seriousness of what climate change will do to the agricultural economy, public health and the environment,’ Stooksbury said. ‘It will be much cheaper and better for the state if we follow a well-developed plan starting now rather than waiting until we must respond.’ ”

Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources is quoted too, stating, “Last month the wildlife resources division of the Department of Natural Resources issued its State Wildlife Action Plan, or SWAP, which states unequivocally that “climate change presents unprecedented challenges.”

The AJC reports that Governor Nathan Deal had no statement on climate change. Senator David Perdue, who lives in a mansion on one of Georgia’s Barrier Islands, Sea Island, told the AJC, ““the scientific community is not in total agreement about whether mankind has been a contributing factor.”

The rising tides will eventually wash away the sand Perdue and others have their heads buried in on this subject and many others.

 

Gun-toting Confederate flag wavers

A group of white people held a demonstration at Stone Mountain yesterday to support continuing the display of the Confederate flag at the state-owned park. Based on the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s photo gallery, people who think being armed to the teeth in public are hate flag wavers too, or they thought this would be a good place for showing off their weapons. Photos tell the story better than words.

photos from the Atlanta Journal Constitution
photos from the Atlanta Journal Constitution

 

 

Bobby Jindal doesn’t have much of an imagination

The Friday Photo
July 24, 2015

Gringos, Milledgeville, GA
Gringos, Milledgeville, GA

I posted this photo as a Friday Photo on August 29, 2014, almost two months after Georgia’s Open Carry (Guns Everywhere) law, passed by the Georgia General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Nathan Deal, went into effect.

Last night nine innocent people out for a night at the movies in Lafayette, Louisiana, became the victims of a shooting. Two victims died, seven are wounded.

Republican Presidential candidate and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who has signed over 12 bills increasing access to guns and where they can be carried in his state, told the media, “We never imagined this would happen in Louisiana.” Brushing off a reporter’s question about gun control after last night’s shooting rampage and murders, Jindal said the thing to do to do now is pray.

Governor Jindal doesn’t have much of an imagination.

As for prayers? How about praying for reduced access to guns, thorough background checks, removing banning the sale of assault weapons, and serious limits on where guns can be carried?

When grandparents are the parents

Last week the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that Gov Nathan Deal said this about Georgia’s families where children are abused, or worse, murdered,“When was the last time the press or anybody else asked the greater family, ‘Why didn’t you do something about this?’ It really galls me, quite frankly, to see an able-bodied grandparent complaining about the fact that DFACS didn’t do something to protect her grandchildren. And my question is, well, where were you?’ ” (DFACS is the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services).

Where were these grandparents? US Census data from 2012 says this about grandparents and their grandchildren:

Number of grandparents living with grandchildren                    265,530
Percent responsible for grandchildren                                                  46.9
Percent of grandparents  raising  grandchildren for 5+ years          38.8
Percent of households with no parent of grandchild present           32.8
Percent of grandparents over 60 years old                                           34.1
Percent living in poverty in 2011                                                             25.2
Number of households with grandparents and grandchildren   171,939
Percent of all households in Georgia                                                        4.9

Grandparents in Georgia who care for their grandchildren are eligible for a whopping $50 per month from the state of Georgia. Have you priced diapers, day care, or children’s books lately? Fifty dollars doesn’t begin to make a dent in the costs of raising a child.

Single grandparent Deborah Paris, who is raising three grandchildren, told the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer “Our system will pay a foster care parent to take care of children and supply and do what they need for them,” she said. “But me, as a relative or actually grandparent, you give me little to no assistance. … Our system is just awful.”

We need to address multiple problems concerning the welfare of children in our state. Gov Deal shouldn’t begin by making grandparents the scapegoats where the state has failed.

 

Dial up the pressure on Gov Deal

from the good folks at Better Georgia:

Better Georgia

Gov. Nathan Deal is no stranger to ethics investigations.

In fact, he’s earned the nickname “Teflon Deal” for his ability to duck responsibility for his unethical conduct as a Congressman and as Governor.

But Gov. Nathan Deal’s ethics problems just got much, much more serious. 

New reports reveal the FBI and a federal grand jury want to examine documents and witnesses related to Gov. Deal’s ethics violations and an alleged cover-up at the state ethics commission.

WSB-TV and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution are reporting that at least five current and former state ethics officials have been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury.

Make no mistake; this is no longer an ethics investigation.

This is a criminal investigation.

Governor Nathan Deal: (404) 656-1776

The governor and his team want you to believe this is nothing more than an intra-office skirmish. They want you to believe that because Gov. Deal paid a small fine this is now a “closed” investigation. They want you to believe there’s nothing more to discover.

But we’re not fooled.

We know the governor has financial documents he’s worked hard to keep hidden for the past three years.

We know current and former ethics commission employees have accused Gov. Deal’s hand-picked ethics chief of ordering documents removed from the governor’s ethics file while an ethics probe was ongoing.

Background:

The FBI and federal grand juries have far more important things to do than worry about disagreements among office employees.

No, the FBI and federal grand juries investigate criminal activity. Period.

It’s insulting for the governor to claim that an investigation sparked by his own campaign mistakes has nothing to do with him.

Georgians simply don’t believe Gov. Deal’s lies any more.

If there is nothing to hide, Gov. Deal could have shared these documents months ago.

Or, he could share the documents today.

Instead of fighting every single attempt at an independent investigation, Gov. Deal could simply come clean.

Take Action.

Call Gov. Deal’s office.

Tell him to come clean today.

Sincerely,
Bryan Long
Executive Director
Better Georgia

P.S. Calling will make a difference. No matter how Gov. Deal responds, we will be able to say he knows exactly what voters want. We’ve provided a script and a feedback form. Call now.

A win for Georgia

20131107-115102.jpgGuest Post by Rob Teilhet,  former state legislator
and Executive Director of Georgia Conservation Voters.
He works as a private practice attorney at The Teilhet Firm.

 

Any community is made better when it is served by quality public officials. And in order to have quality public officials, we need quality political candidates.

Whether Senator Jason Carter wins next year or not, the State of Georgia isalready better because he is a candidate. Governor Deal will be a better candidate for having to face him. And we as Georgians will be well-served by an election that is competitive, as opposed to a foregone conclusion.

When the outcome of a political campaign is known before it even takes place, the quality of public service plummets. If you doubt that, look at the Unites States Congress. With few exceptions, incumbents in Congress easily dispatch only token opposition, and return to Washington with their minds not on their constituents or their districts or the impact of public policy, but rather on the nonsense that passes for debate in DC these days. If they had to compete for our support, and were held accountable for their results, we would be better served.

I couldn’t care less who his grandfather is. What matters to me is that in the decade I spent in Georgia politics, Jason Carter proved to be one of the smartest and most genuine people I came to know, with real concern for how decisions made in Atlanta impact people and their families. As they get to know him, the people of Georgia are going to like him. And they will listen to him. And the quality of the campaign and its impact on all of us will be better as a result.

Proverbs 27:17 says that as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. No matter the outcome, Georgia’s political iron will be a lot sharper next year as a result of today’s announcement.

For that, we will all be better off. And for that, I am thankful.

Doc, I’d like a prescription for two old bathtubs

He couldn’t get the General Assembly to pass a bill restricting state employee insurance funding to cover abortions, so Governor Nathan Deal worked another Back Room Deal and got insurance companies to stop covering abortions for state employees. It sort of begs the “Never you mind, missy” about medical procedures that are still legal and safe for women.

This closed door tactic earned Governor Deal a much deserved award from Planned Parenthood. Our Governor is Planned Parenthood Action’s Gynotician of the Week! 8-9-13-Georgia-Governor-Nathan-Deal-Gynotician-blog

As Planned Parenthood Action points out, Deal earned his B.A. and his law degree at Mercer University. But he lacks a medical degree and I bet he hasn’t even played a doctor on TV. “Never you mind, missy” a gynotician (a politician who feels more qualified than women and their doctors to make women’s health care decisions resulting in a combination of the words gynecologist and politician) knows way more than a woman and her board certified, state licensed doctor do about the best health care decisions for her.

Deal follows last week’s recipient, North Carolina’s Governor Pat McCrory and his attempt to assuage women protesting outside the governor’s mansion by offering them cookies after he signed a bill restricting abortion access which he clearly said as a candidate he wouldn’t sign. McCrory walked away to a chorus of “Hey Pat that was rude! You wouldn’t give cookies to a dude!”

What I wonder is if there are any back room deals to add old bathtubs as part of the 67325-57735state employee health insurance coverage plan. I don’t watch a lot of TV but it sure does seem like some men who need erectile dysfunction (ED) medicines (covered by state employee health insurance) also like a nice soak in an old bathtub outside with a woman in a tub next to them (can’t see their wedding rings from that distance so I can’t call them married).

And what about men in same sex partnerships? This could really run the price up on old bathtubs if every sexually active man got two tubs with his ED meds.

If the state continues to cover men’s prescription erectile dysfunction drugs, we might see some job creation for plumbers installing all these outdoor tubs and architecture salvage companies could see the demand soar for old bathtubs (I’m only guessing that because based on the number of commercials I’ve seen there must be A LOT of men who need these drugs).

Governor Deal I hope you enjoy all the accolades you’re receiving for dialing back access to health care for the women you work among every day in your office and the taxpayer-funded mansion you live in now. Some of those women might be willing to help you pack your bags after the election next year.

Regards-

Missy

When a blind trust isn’t blind, and millions are owed in state taxes

Once again Better Georgia has done the homework on icky ethics and leadership in our state’s government. Using reporting from the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Gainesville Times, and a nifty infographic that timelines Governor Nathan Deal’s troubled finances with a salvage company he co-owned with Ken Cronan, now we know that a blind trust isn’t always blind. And millions in state taxes aren’t always paid by the Texas companies who owe them.

Deal had a $300,000 per year sweetheart contract with the state for storing junked cars. Now that salvage company, one that was placed in a blind trust, has been sold to Copart, a Texas based company which owes the state of Georgia almost $74M in taxes and penalities.

And that blind trust? The AJC reports that the trust got Governor Deal to sign off on the purchase contract, one which allows both Deal and his partner to own the property and collect $120,000 each per year to lease the land to Copart.

And Copart? It has filed an appeal with the state Department of Revenue on the taxes it owes.

Now that Governor Deal has a little change in his pocket, maybe he can bring some pressure to bear on companies who owe our state a hefty amount of taxes and penalties. After all, the taxes are owed to the people of this state, the same ones who bankroll Governor Deal’s paycheck and the Governor’s Mansion where Deal now lives.

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.

Nothing.

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.

FireChipRogers.com

Sincerely,
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. 

Disenchantment spreads to Conservatives, last call for King America permit comments

Displeasure with the state’s “protection’ of our natural resources, specifically the Ogeechee River, has found strong voices among leading Conservatives in the last few weeks. Now State Senator Buddy Carter has joined the choir.

Yesterday the Albany Journal ran a letter from Carter in which he said the EPD has “earned a vote of no confidence” from the public and from him as well.

This week the volume was turned up by the Statesboro Herald in a strongly worded editorial. The paper spared no criticism for the EPD or King America Finishing, closing with, “We believe the EPD rightfully has earned a ton of distrust for its handling of King America’s role in the 2011 fish kill. The state agency can begin to regain its credibility as a responsible steward of the environment by demonstrating the health of the Ogeechee River is more important than the sustainability of the King America plant.”

Governor Nathan Deal took his head out of the sand long enough to tell the Statesboro paper that, “We know that we don’t want anything that’s going to pollute our waterways. We don’t want anything that’s going to make our state a worse place from the standpoint of environmental degradation.”

Make our state worse from the standpoint of environmental degradation? We are competing for the bottom of the list. I am afraid to say we can’t get any worse, but with the track record in the last few years, ineptitude among state leaders seems to rise to the challenge every time.

Tuesday the Peach Pundit weighed in with this, “Given the recent history, I find it difficult to be anything but cynical about the state’s ability to protect life in and along the river. My guess is that many who are calling now for stricter oversight will soon be demanding that King America Finishing be forced to shut down.”

Wednesday, May 15 is last call for comments on KAF permit! 

Citizens can comment on the latest King America permit through today at 5:00 p.m. Email your  comments to: EPDcomments@dnr.state.ga.us, with the words “NPDES permit reissuance King America Finishing (Dover Screven County)” in the subject line.

You don’t have to make it fancy, you just need to speak up. “Deny the NPDES permit reissuance for King America Finishing in Dover, Screven County, GA”  is just fine. Make sure you get your name and contact info on the email.

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

Better-Georgia-Logo
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: BetterGeorgia.com/2013Q1

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 FireChipRogers.com 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.  www.bettergeorgia.com

 

Senator Bill Heath tells constituents they are “annoying” him

The capacity for Georgia’s elected leaders to dig the Chip Rogers/Gov Deal hole deeper keeps growing. After 3,200 Georgians signed a petition calling for Rogers to be fired from his new $150K state taxpayer-funded job at Georgia Public Broadcast (GPB), Senator Bill Heath of the 31st Senate District responded by sending out his own email telling constituents they are “annoying” him and other legislators.

That’s not all.

Senator Heath thinks being engaged with elected officials by signing a petition is a “childish tactic.”

The senator, who sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee, is now just as duplicitous as Nathan Deal in Rogers’ appointment. As Better Georgia points out, Heath sits on a heath1powerful  committee that could stop Deal and GPB in their tracks by voting against Deal’s proposed budget.

Instead of putting the brakes on spending tax dollars to get disgraced legislators out of the Georgia Republican Party’s way, Heath said the petition signers (i.e. taxpaying constituents)  have been “conned.”

The only con job I can see is the one Governor Deal has tried to pull on Georgia voters. Now Senator Heath is helping by saying taxpayers are “annoying.”

Senator Heath and the 27 other Appropriations Committee Members, led by District 4’s Jack Hill, can put a stop to whatever you want to call it by voting No on Deal’s budget, and then following up with a careful examination of proposed spending.

I just sent Bill Heath a “special for him” email at billheath@billheath.net. I asked for a personal response since mine wasn’t one of thousands sent to him via a petition. His office number is 404.656.3943 if you want to call him. I was politely greeted by his staffer when I called to confirm the address.

I’ve asked my representatives under the Gold Dome, Representative Mack Jackson and freshman Senator David Lucas, for their thoughts on Rogers hiring and salary. I have no track record with Lucas but during previous General Assembly sessions Jackson has carved time out to respond to me by phone and email. I look forward to their thoughts on taxpayer dollars being used by the Governor to micro-manage personnel decisions at a state department.

 

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

Email-Chip-Rogers-Nathan-Deal
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.