Author: Ken

I'm a long-time GOP activist who has held several positions in the Georgia Republican Party. Obviously, to anyone with a map, I reside in Middle Georgia. I would define myself as a libertarian-leaning conservative.

I enjoy talking about Austrian School Economics while taking long strolls on the beach.

You may follow me on Twitter @KenInEastman - or you may not.

Execution delayed by expired lethal drugs

The Georgia Supreme Court stayed the execution of convicted murderer Warren Hill until it can be decided if procedural changes in the execution process must be reviewed before implementation.

Normally three drugs would be used in the lethal injection process in Georgia, but the supply of the second drug to be injected, pancuronium bromide, expired two weeks before the scheduled execution according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution story.

The Department of Corrections tried to keep the execution on track by changing its procedures from using three drugs to only one, a barbiturate. That decision, however, became the basis for a stay issued by the Georgia Supreme Court less than two hours before Hill was to die for a 1990 murder.

Hill’s execution is now on hold at least until November when the justices have said they will hear lawyers’ arguments as to whether the state’s Administrative Procedures Act requires 30 days of public comment before Corrections can make the change.

The 52-year old Hill was sentenced to death for killing fellow Lee Correctional Institution inmate John Handspike. Hill, who has an IQ of 70, beat his cellmate to death with a nail-studded board. Hill’s low IQ had been the source of past complaints about his scheduled execution.

The day before the scheduled execution, the Georgia Department of Corrections decided to continue with the execution using a single drug, pentobarbital. Seven other states use a single drug for lethal injection.

Pancuronium bromide is a muscle relaxant and is recommended for use in euthanasia in some countries. Ironically, Amnesty International objects to the use of pancuronium bromide because it provides no analgesic or hypnotic properties and may disguise the pain of the condemned if the painkilling drug is ineffective.

The execution of convicted murderers continues to be a messy process for many reasons. It may be time to consider the guillotine: also messy, but relatively painless.

Welcome to Morning Reads for Friday, February 24th

– Great stories and not a dog among them –

Here in the great state of Georgia . . .
WABE’s Dennis O’Hayer conducts an interview of interest with Atlanta’s Mayor Kasim Reed
The Macon Water Authority’s pension plan was washed up, but the state legislature passed a bill allowing the body to end it for new hires
Floyd County Tornado results in one death and five school closures
Intentionally set fire damages Methodist church
Amazingly, the FBI says a sheriff not from Dodge County took bribes. The information emerged in a trial resulting in the sentencing of Talbot County Sheriff’s deputies to federal prison on corruption charges.
And there is a dog story, after all: Georgia Representative Penny Houston (R-Nashville) has proposed a bill making owners of vicious dogs felons under certain circumstances.
Georgia school systems must allow students in grades K-12 access to online courses and beginning in 2014 9th-graders must take at least one on-line course in order to graduate. The bill was proposed by State Senator Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock).
Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens has declared the ongoing tri-state water war and voting rights laws his top priorities.

National stories of interest . . .
More chicks digging sweater vests! Santorum’s support increases among women.
Apparently President Obama has an energy policy, because he’s defending it. Who knew?
For a ‘Green’ company, Solyndra has left behind a nightmare of waste that needs to be removed
The so-called ‘Honeymoon Killer’ is not a murderer an Alabama judge has ruled

Some stories I like . . .
On Saturday in Columbus, you can check out the 2012 Valley Interfaith Promise Bed Race
Researchers seek ultimate marketing tool: ‘Going viral’.
Savannah’s River Street through the years in pictures.
Reporters are fleeing Syria. Perhaps they will emigrate to Washington and find out who approved ‘Operation Fast and Furious’.

An Offer MARTA Can Refuse – or Not

My father always says, “It’s not a bargain if you can’t afford it.” I believe that is the advice he might pass along to MARTA supporters.

MARTA has long desired more flexibility in its ability to determine how it will spend its funds. Currently, 50% of MARTA funds must be spent on capital improvements and 50% on operations. This is a fairly tight financial straitjacket, though it is a way to prevent subsidization of riders at the expense of abandoning necessary upkeep of the system.

There is a possibility that the ties on spending might be loosened in the draft legislation suggested by the Transit Governance Task Force. There are; however, strings as Maria Saporta writes in The Saporta Report:

To free MARTA from the state-imposed restriction that 50 percent of its revenues be spent on capital and 50 percent be spent on operations, MARTA basically would have to turn over most of its authorities to the newly-created Transit Governance Council. For the record, no other transit agency in the nation is saddled with such an unworkable rule.
MARTA represents a $6 billion investment in our region. Why should MARTA turn over its Constitutional powers to a state-controlled entity and give up its designation as the transit authority that can receive federal funding in the region.
According to folks close to MARTA, relaxing the 50/50 rule would give MARTA flexibility over how it spends its sales tax revenue (and it is expected that currently would be worth about $20 million a year for the transit agency.
It is inconceivable that MARTA could or should give up most of its powers and its $6 billion investment in return for getting flexibility in how it can spend the MARTA sales tax collected in the City of Atlanta, and Fulton and DeKalb counties.

And then there is the issue of the make-up of the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA) which would be the body with the ultimate control of MARTA. The 15 members would all be appointed: 9 by the governor, 3 by the lieutenant governor and 3 by the state house speaker. It’s not as though petty, personal politics ever happens in Georgia, so what could possibly go wrong?

From the state’s perspective, things are different. One of the complaints about the state is that it has not contributed as much money to MARTA as is needed. It is a fact that state governments are reluctant to give up control of funds, but let’s take this a step farther.

If the state increases its control of the funds, then it has greatly increased its responsibility for MARTA. It can no longer stand at a distance and point fingers. It will be forced to have a hands-on, problem-solving approach and let’s face it, the state has many more resources at its disposal that it could employ to improve MARTA – if the price is right.

In this case, the price for the state of Georgia taking so much control of MARTA is inescapable political responsibility.

If one wants the state to “man up” and do the right thing by MARTA, then allowing the state to be responsible might be the right way to go. The next logical step would be for the state to increase its funding of MARTA to acceptable levels for a state that still lays claim to the title Empire State of the South.

Is this a bargain that MARTA can’t afford? Perhaps, after all, it is not. My father, actually a man of few words, might offer another bit of sage advice to MARTA supporters, “If you want a man’s help, then make your interests his interests.” Yeah, that bit of wisdom would certainly fit.

There is much more at The Saporta Report, so check it out to get additional information. This is not the only issue with the draft legislation that is discussed. You’re big boys and girls so you can wander over there and find your way back again. For the weary, here’s the link.

Georgia Power Plant Is Top US Greenhouse Gas Polluter

The Associated Press reports that a power plant in Georgia emits more greenhouse gases than any other source in the United States. From the WMAZ-TV website:

The most detailed data yet on emissions of heat-trapping gases show that U.S. power plants are responsible for the bulk of

Aerial view of the Robert Sherer power plant n...
Aerial view of Plant Scherer - Image via Wikipedia

the emissions blamed for global warming.

And the power plant that emits the most greenhouse gases in the U.S. is Plant Scherer in Juliette. The plant is operated by Southern Company .

The coal-fired plant reported releasing nearly 23 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas, in 2010.

This should not be a surprise. Plant Scherer is the largest coal-fired power plant in the Western Hemisphere, the fifth largest power plant in the US of all types, and produces 3,500 megawatts of power. It takes three train-loads of coal per day to fuel the the coal-fired power plant which has a turbine room approximately a mile long.

Southern Company operates the plant through its subsidiary Georgia Power. Georgia Power employess about 9,000 people throughout Georgia, servicing 2.25 million customers with electricity. Read more

Wilkinson County Tax Commissioner Kevin Rauscher Arrested

While laws are being made under the gold dome, it appears laws are being broken elsewhere. It was Juvenal who asked the still-pertinent question, “Who shall guard the guardians themselves?”

We have yet to find a satisfactory answer to that question, but the people of Irwinton and the remainder of Wilkinson County would like to know. Wilkinson County Tax Commissioner Kevin Rauscher has been arrested by the GBI on two charges, according to WMAZ TV’s website. Rauscher was charged with theft by taking and possession of the painkiller hydrocodone.

According to the Wilkinson County website:

As defined by state law, the Tax Commissioner is responsible for the administration of the Homeowner’s Tax Relief Grant

Map of Georgia highlighting Wilkinson County
Wilkinson County - Image via Wikipedia

Credit on real property taxes, the billing and collection of current and delinquent ad valorem taxes due the State, Board of Education, and County on real and personal property. Disbursements of collections are made periodically to the proper taxing authority pursuant to the regulations set by Georgia law.

The Tax Commissioner is also responsible for the billing and collection of ad valorem taxes due the State, Board of Education, County, and Municipalities at the time of tag/decal sale. Disbursements of these taxes are also made to the proper taxing authority as prescribed by State law.

Also, pursuant to State law, the Tax Commissioner is responsible for the collection and disbursement of mobile home taxes, public utility taxes, and timber taxes.

The Tax Commissioner also collects and disburses real and personal property taxes for the City of Allentown, DanvilleGordon, Irwinton, Ivey, McIntyre, and  Toomsboro.

Wilkinson County is located east of Macon and Bibb County in Middle Georgia and Northwest of Dublin and Laurens County. According to the 2010 census, the county population is 9,563, a decrease of more than six percent from the population shown in the 2000 census.

This story was recently made available and is still developing. The amount of funds Rauscher allegedly took is still under investigation. Updates will be available on the WMAZ-TV website.

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Rhine Police Chief Cravey Arrested on Drug Charges

On the heels of the admission that thousands of dollars of water bill payments were missing, the small town of Rhine, Georgia, is reeling from another blow to its reputation. Rhine Police Chief Kip Cravey was arrested today on completely unrelated charges. The Dodge County News has the story:

Cravey was arrested by agents of the Oconee Drug Task Force as the result of an ongoing narcotics investigation by the Dodge County Sheriff’s Department, Eastman Police Department and the Oconee Drug Task Force.

Cravey of Eastman is facing at least two charges and may face additional charges. Cravey has been charged with one count of unlawfully distributing schedule II narcotics after he allegedly furnished more than two dozen “Soma” pills to another person during the investigation.

Cravey is a former candidate for Dodge County Sheriff and served as a deputy sheriff under former Dodge County Sheriff

Map of Georgia highlighting Dodge County
Dodge County, GA - Image via Wikipedia

Lawton Douglas. Douglas is currently serving time in federal prison for charges related to voter fraud.

Over $7,000 in missing water bill payments appears to be unrelated to the Cravey arrest. According to discussions during the Rhine City Council meetings on December 1st, former Rhine employee June Sheffield had agreed to pay restitution to the town of less than 500 people. Sheffield; however, in a December 14th interview with The Dodge County News editor Chuck Eckles, stated she did not take the money and would clear things up in January. 2012. To date, it appears the city has filed no charges with the authorities.

Rhine is located in Dodge County just north of the Telfair County line. Both complete stories are available on The Dodge County News website.

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Dear Yankee Pundits: I Apologize

Dear Yankee Pundits (And you know who y’all are), Please accept my humble apologies. I was wrong and will make a real apology. A real apology restates the offense without any euphemisms or diminishing comments or excuses. Here is my offense. A mere two days ago, in“Romney’s Southern Problem: The “M” Word”, I wrote this:

I can see Romney winning Iowa or at least finishing second in Iowa. He should win his neighboring state of New Hampshire; anything else would be a major upset. As for South Carolina – listen to me, well-meaning Yankee pundits – it’s not going to happen. It’s the “M” word.
What? “Mormon”? No, get real; you guys are far too quick to project your prejudices on others. There are members of the Church of Latter Day Saints all through the South and while they may not be ultra-active in politics, they are viewed as being good people and good neighbors. They are walking examples of the “family values” that the Republican Party endorses so heartily. Mitt Romney’s “M” word problem is Massachusetts.

I still stand by the vast majority of that statement: Romney’s projected finishes and the likelihood that non-Southerners project bizarre things upon us with little or no evidence and that Mitt Romney’s real problems are the ramifications of his successful Massachusetts elections. I can no longer honestly say; however, that Governor Romney’s religion is not an issue in the South.

A real apology also states why the statement or action was wrong. In this case, my friend and a fine writer, Jason Pye made a post on Peach Pundit entitled, “Judy Manning is ‘afraid’ of Mormons”this morning. The content of Jason’s piece means I cannot continue to issue a blanket denial that religion is not an issue in the South. Read more

The Battle to Control the Georgia Senate, Round 2

It’s a nasty political fight with no-holds barred and kicking, biting, gouging and low blows galore – and no Democrats are involved. It’s the battle for control of the Georgia Senate. Following the national example, Georgia Republicans formed a circular firing squad last year and commenced firing and never slackened until the session was over.

English: This is a picture of Lt. Gov. Cagle t...
Georgia Lt. Governor Casey Cagle - Image via Wikipedia

The past few peaceful months for the combatants have been spent re-loading and apparently preparing for further embarrassment in 2012. One indicator is that the sales of red rubber noses, big floppy shoes and frizzy orange wigs have skyrocketed. When the Georgia Senate convenes with Lt. Governor Cagle as its nominal head, the appropriate theme music will be Send in the Clowns.

The only thing protecting Cagle and various Georgia Senators is the relative lack of attention paid by Georgia citizens and the fact that most Georgians neither know nor care who these people are. If the people of this state stop long enough to study the sorry mess that calls itself a legislative body then all bets are off in the local and state elections.

While The Columbus Leger-Enquirer has an excellent interview with Georgia Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, touching on many subjects of interest, the real news is not in the headline. The real news is Cagle’s take on the continuing power struggle between himself and the majority of the Georgia Senate. From the story:

The Senate will continue to operate under a leadership structure implemented last session that forces Cagle to share power with other GOP leaders, but Cagle maintains that he is still head of the chamber.

Read more

Bear Essentials in Middle Georgia

It just became more difficult for Twiggs County bears to find Miss Right. A one-day hunt in Bibb, Houston and Twiggs counties yielded 34 bears, approximately ten percent of the black bear population for the midstate. Some outdoorsmen are concerned that half of those bears were females and that all of the female bears were taken down in Twiggs County in the Tarversville area. Tarversville is located near the US-23/US-129 intersection with GA-96 in Twiggs County.

American Black Bear
American Black Bear - Image by siwild via Flickr

This is within a mile of where I had my only near-collision with a bear about eight years ago. When I told people that a black bear had burst from the undergrowth on the side of the road and crossed the highway right in front of my car, I had a difficult time getting people to believe me. Bear sightings in Middle Georgia were rare in those days, but things have changed.

Bears are not only sighted more regularly, but have become nuisances with increasing complaints in Houston and Bibb counties. According to the write-up in The Macon Telegraph, the estimated 300 black bears were the driving force behind the purchase of 10,000 acres of Oakey Woods land in Houston County. The land purchase has been discussed often on Peach Pundit. Read more

As 2011 Ends, So Does Production of Gulfstream G200

This year ends the 14-year production run of Gulfstream’s mid-size business jet, the G200. The mid-sized cabin jet will be replaced by the large-cabin G280 in 2012. Savannah Now has the complete story. Below is an excerpt:

The G200 set the standard for the new super mid-size category and quickly established an important market niche. It

Gulfstream Aerospace SWQ expansion in Savannah...
Gulfstream's Savannah Location - Image via Wikipedia

became a mainstay aircraft for NetJets and many corporate operators. It also opened new markets for Gulfstream in China, Brazil and other emerging economies.

“The G200 took the basic cabin dimensions of a large-cabin aircraft and made them available to a broader market by offering a shortened, eight- to 10-place, two-seating-area layout with solid transcontinental U.S. range,” said Stan Dixon, vice president of mid-cabin programs for Gulfstream.

“It led the category for its time, as will the G280 going into the future.”

The G280 offers the largest cabin and the longest range at the fastest speed in its class. The business jet is capable of traveling 3,600 nautical miles at Mach 0.80 and has a maximum operating speed of Mach 0.85.

Two hundred fifty of the G200s were manufactured. The planes have had a dispatch reliability rate of over 99 percent.

Gulfstream Aerospace is headquartered in Savannah and has eight other US locations, including Brunswick, Georgia, along with locations in London, England, and Mexicali, Mexico.

H/T to Baker at That’s Just Peachy.

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Dear Georgia Legislature, Here’s My Christmas Wish List

First let me say that I encourage my friends on the left and middle, as well as fellow conservatives to critique this list – and hopefully add to it. The state legislature will convene in a few days, and I’m sure they are all waiting breathlessly to know what we citizens want. What do you really want? Please share your ideas.

Dear Georgia Legislature, The citizens of the state, with a few exceptions. have been good this year and so they deserve some consideration. Here is my Christmas wish list for the state of Georgia. I hope you’ll look at it carefully.

Georgia State Capitol building in Atlanta, Geo...
Georgia Capitol Building - Image via Wikipedia

1. The state needs to give individual counties the flexibility to increase the limit on local option sales taxes subject to the same current restrictions (other than the overall cap) but limit that authority to the next five years with tax receipts to go into the local government’s general fund. Some poor, rural counties may need this to remain financially viable in this economy. I don’t like increasing taxes, so if there is a better way, I’ll certainly accept it.

2 – EVERY department at the state level needs to implement zero-based budgeting.

3 – Stop thinking about education in its present form. Look for alternatives that work whether they are within the current framework or not. Look at eliminating grade-levels so that students can work at different levels within each subject matter without regard to age. Grade levels stifle students in their best subjects and bewilder them in the areas in which they struggle. Could you please pass legislation making it possible to fix this?

4 – The most independent, politically neutral ethics commission possible should be established. There is a great motivation for this: The majority today may not be the majority tomorrow and this commission must be established in a way that no one can manipulate it for political gain and so that it is effective, consistent and renders the closest thing to justice available in this world. Read more

Mayan Cities in Georgia?

I checked the calendar to ensure that it’s three days before Christmas and not two weeks before income taxes are due. Only then did I read this story on Examiner.com. It’s the real deal and perhaps we should have recognized it all along. The site described may even be the city of Yupaha that Hernando de Soto sought.

There is strong archeological and etymological evidence that Mayans not only visited but actually settled in North Georgia on and around Brasstown Bald. There are many visible stone masonry walls that were likely used for agricultural terracing. So perhaps the Mayans did not all die en masse as accepted theories state, but some may have migrated to the Southeastern United States.

If not for an honest misunderstanding, this all might have been known decades ago. It seems that “Brasstown Bald” is a mistranslation of the original name, Itsay. Settlers later added “town” and “bald” to the name, but Protestant missionaries mistakenly believed the word Itsay meant brass. It actually means Place of the Itza or as we would say, Place of the Maya.

Aerial view of Brasstown Bald
Aerial view of Brasstown Bald - Image via Wikipedia

The Creek language contained many Mesoamerican words and the Hitchiti Creeks called themselves Itsate. It’s also of interest that the ancestors of the Creeks, like the Maya, built five sided mounds and that the pottery found at Ocmulgee Mounds National Monument in Macon is “virtually identical” to the Maya Plain Red pottery.

After suffering from natural disasters and wars and famine, it appears that some Mayans chose to settle in North Georgia as a safe refuge. So, a little before next December 21st – the day the Mayan calendar ends – I might just make a trip up to Blairsville. Not that I think the world is coming to an end, but for the . . . uh . . . scenery.

This discovery may help combine and answer existing questions about structures at Fort Mountain State Park, pottery at the Ocmulgee Indian Mounds and the existence of mound structures throughout the state. This lays to rest my beliefs that the mighty Lumbee Indians were responsible for all of these things.

As an aside, this does not alter my position on illegal immigration. I highly recommend the entire, lengthy, entertaining yet educational story.

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11Alive News Survey: Georgia Voters Support Transportation Sales Tax

There’s a rule of thumb that says if there is no organized opposition to a local tax or project then it will pass. If there is any organized opposition to Georgia’s one percent regional transportation sales tax, then I’m unaware of it and so are those polled.

While not a surprise that a majority approve, the margin was impressive.

English: Great Seal of the State of Georgia
Image via Wikipedia

The poll of 1176 registered Georgia voters was an 11Alive News Survey that showed approval across the state with the exception of the area defined as North / West Georgia, where the survey shows a 47/47 tie with six percent undecided.

This region may have been influenced by the self-identified party breakdown among voters. While Democrats favored the poll by a wide margin 70/24 with six percent undecided, Republicans opposed it 41/53 with, again, six percent undecided.

I do not have the tabs on the poll or the margin of error, but it appears to me that this is a significant margin. Overall, those polled favored passage of the tax by a 55/38 margin with seven percent undecided.

Somewhat surprisingly to me was that the highest level of approval was for the region listed as South / East Georgia where the margin was 60/35 with (you guessed it) six percent undecided. Who are these six percent anyway? This was slightly higher than the Metro region though the margin was one percent less.

So, will the transportation tax pass? Do Georgia voters understand what they will and will not get from passage or do they see it as a panacea for all that ails Georgia’s transportation ills. If so, will there be a backlash when they learn that there is a projects list already in existence? Discuss among yourselves and try to make it interesting, the legislature might be reading.

More details of the survey results on the 11Alive site.

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Georgia Firm Exports Chopsticks to China

While we are still working on sending coals to Newcastle and on selling ice to Eskimos, an Americus, Georgia, business is happily selling chopsticks to China and Japan. China has a shortage of trees and the southeastern United States has always had those. All that was required was an entrepreneur and a chopstick manufacturing plant. CNN Money has the story:

Map of Georgia highlighting Sumter County
Sumter County, GA Image via Wikipedia

Jae Lee, a U.S. citizen originally from South Korea, says his company is America’s only chopsticks manufacturer and exports them to China and Japan.

Lee started Georgia Chopsticks earlier this year in a town called Americus, population 17,000. He said that his 102 employees can’t keep up with demand from hungry Asians. As a result, he has plans to expand dramatically, hiring an additional 800 workers next year.

Thank Vladimir Putin’s Russia for the opportunity. Russia increased its timber export tax from five percent to 25 percent, creating a profitable opening for Lee, who exports 100% of his product.

In 1997, China declared a moratorium on logging its dwindling supply of domestic trees. When Lee learned of this and Russia’s increased export tax, he decided to launch Georgia Chopsticks to meet China’s demand for the disposable eating utensils. The company, only in business since April, produces four million sets of chopsticks per week.

Lee has plans to increase his product line to related niche products such as tongue depressors and toothpicks. Current demand is so strong that Lee is already considering five additional plants.

.

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Morning Reads for Tuesday, December 6th

“Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end.” – Lord John Acton

Here in Georgia …
– Ongoing Bibb-Monroe county line dispute leads to a restraining order. Good piece by Mike Stucka.
– The battered body of a missing seven year-old Canton girl has been found.
– Former managing attorney of personal injury law firm pleads guilty to taking $145,000 from firm.
– Former Peach County Assistant School Superintendent and son accused of selling a school bus for scrap metal.
A bank for celebrities has announced an Atlanta branch. Insert your own joke.
Atlanta gears up for snow and ice this winter. Mayor Reed states $1 million of equipment a good investment.

National stories of interest …
TSA defends private screenings of two women over 80 years old; blames back braces and colostomy bags.
– Just as his new book premiers, Donald Trump blasts MSNBC host; suggests he tell the truth. All 71 viewers were amazed.
US commits to another 12 years of financial aid to Afghanistan after Afghan Crime Lord President Karzai says country might again fall into Taliban hands.
Nancy Pelosi checks her broom and finds 13 year-old dirt on Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
– Conservative former Governor and US Senator George Allen and Virginia Tea Party at odds.

A few that I like …
Oldest living Negro Baseball League player discusses baseball and life: “We are blood brothers in God. Our tears are mixed together.”
– UGA Freshman Isaiah Crowell named SEC Freshman on the Year.
New, Earth-like planet best candidate for life-bearing world.
– Russ, the underdog mascot for an underdog team, is a damned good dog. Here is his Cinderella story.
Thousands of Russians protest Vladimir Putin as European election monitors declare voting was unfair and ballot boxes stuffed.