Sunday, October 24, 2010

My 2010 Georgia Election Guide

I'm starting to get more questions about who should be supported on the Georgia ballot in this election.  It's no secret I'm a hard core Democrat, so my suggestions are not surprising.  But I will note cases where other candidates are generally NOT freaks.  I'm also the Treasurer of the Atlanta Stonewall Democrats, and we have a process for giving judges a smell test, so for Fulton and DeKalb County judicial races, I will share those recommendations.  I also got a really good summary from my State Reprepresentative, Mary Margaret Oliver, who passed along a summary prepared by Rep. Stephanie Stuckey Benfield.  I'll share that and my recommendation for your vote.

GOVERNOR:  Roy Barnes 
If the Republicans are allowed to control redistricting in 2011, they will redistrict Democrats almost out of existance for the next decade.  It will be a disaster, and only Roy Barnes with a veto pen can stop it.  Also, Nathan Deal is a crook.  The man is bankrupt and may not survive a term without being indicted for corruption.  Not to mention he's the type of man who tried to make rape trial laws so lax that a woman would have to prove she "didn't ask for it" in a rape trial.  If Georiga elects Deal governor, we will continue to decline as a state, and we'll be no better than Mississippi and Alabama in making fools of ourselves by the people we elect.
LT. GOVERNOR:  Carol Porter
This is a good woman who believes we need to focus on issues like the economy and efficiency in state government rather than focus on social issues like abortion or gay adoption.  She would make a vastly superior Lt. Gov to Casey Cagle who's main accomplishment has been to forget to lock his office door while fucking his mistress on his desk.  He's also been very involved in aiding Nathan Deal in his corrupt deals with state government.
SECRETARY OF STATE:  Georgianna Sinkfield
When it comes to the office that protects integrity of our elections, I believe that a GOP SOS means that we have a default position that the poor and non-white should have obstacles in place in order to vote.  I'm bothered that Sinkfield doens't seem to be campaigning outside the black church circuit, but she's better than Kemp who made some kind of secret deal with Gov. Sonny Perdue to short circuit what was promising to be a lively GOP primary by appointing him to the office when Karen Handel resigned to run for governor.
After a successful primary, Hodges inexplicably fired his whole staff and decided to have "friends" run his campaign.  Sam Olens, the GOP nominee, is widely expected to win, and he's one of the reasonable Republicans.  He led the Cobb Commission to repeal its anti-gay resolutions from the 1990s that basically said gay people are bad and weren't welcome in Cobb County.  He also has worked with friends of mine in Cobb to pave the way for the Cobb Commission to adopt a non-discrimination in employment ordinance for LGBT workers.  The Libertarian Don Smart is pretty good too.  He won't win, but just imagine how much fun it would be to have an independent AG who dislikes both Dems and GOP :)
This is the 2nd time around for Joe running for this office.  He's got a deep background in education policy making, and God knows our schools need help, BADLY.  The Libertarian candidate is interesting, and she's a school teacher.  She doesn't give answers you'd expect from a Libertarian who is suspicious that state government should be involved in education at all, unless it's a voucher system.  The GOP candidate is a right wing FREAK, and if he wins, we can expect Georgia to make headlines like Texas disclaiming science-based fact and instead teaching that the earth is 6000 years old.
Squires is by far the superior candidate in this race, and she worked hard to clear the field so she could fundraise.  However, we have not seen the fruits of that labor, and her campaign for this VERY important office has been invisible to me...and I'm heavily involved in Democratic politics!  But she is smart, and she is tough...and she understands that this office is the only protection consumers have.
There was some SUPER shady stuff going down around this office and who would run for it.  Ostensibly, former House Speaker Terry Coleman was being groomed the last 4 years to run for the office that has been held by Tommy Irvin since 1968.  Coleman decided at the last minute to run for Labor Commissioner.  Considering Coleman was PERSONALLY responsibile for the Amendment 1 vote being held in 2004, voting for him would have been virtually impossible for any self-respecting gay person in Georgia.  Luckily, Coleman lost, which warmed my gay heart.  Powell and the GOP nominee are both big into corporate farming, but the Libertarian Kevin Cherry is big into organic farming, and he's got some ideas that could be useful for rural GA. 
This is largely an administrative post, but the idea that a party which is ACTIVELY hostile to the average worker should be in charge of the department that provides services to the average workers baffles me.  And the libertarians would probably want to see the department abolished, so again, why elect someone like that? Darryl is a good guy, and would be a very good commissioner of labor.
The Commission has become a rubber stamp for whatever rate increase Georgia Power wants to impose.  They are actively anti-consumer, so we need Keith's voice on the commission.
Unless there is a huge turnout with black voters, Thurmond doesn't stand a chance.  The fact he hasn't raised any money or campaigned doesn't help either.  But I cast this vote as a vote of support for President Obama.
For State Reps, State Senators, and Congress, vote Democrat.  In my own district, if John Lewis is not reelected, the world truly is coming to an end.


This is a man who believes in personal freedom, including freedom for LGBT Georgians.  He is the only one who applied for the Stonewall endorsement, and his answers to our questions indicate he would be a friend on the Court.  The incumbent was appointed as Sonny's stooge on the court.  I would NOT trust Nahmias to be fair or friendly when it comes to issues of gay rights on the Court. 
None of the other judges on the Court of Appeals is opposed, and this seat is open.  McFadden literally wrote the book on appeal procedure in Georgia.  He would make a fair and good judge.
This seat cannot go wrong.  I like the energy and bipartisanship with which Rothenberg has approached his campaign.  In this race, my CHIEF concern is to have a judge who interprets "best interest of the child" to INCLUDE gay parents and 2nd parent adoption.  Rothenberg will support gay families, as will Denise Warner and Courtney Johnson.  Any of these three are good choices.
FULTON COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT:  Grier, Dallaire, Robertson
There is a stealth GOP right winger running for this seat, so whatever you do, DO NOT VOTE FOR KELLY LEE for this office!  She WILL NOT support gay families in Fulton County, whereas any of the three listed above will. 

AMENDMENT 1: Allows contracts with non-compete clauses to be enforced in Georgia courts.
BALLOT QUESTION: Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to make Georgia more economically competitive by authorizing legislation to uphold reasonable competitive agreements?

Summary: Currently, the Constitution prohibits the General Assembly from authorizing any contract or agreement that may or intends to have the effect of defeating or lessening competition. Non-compete clauses in contracts may limit where a former employee works, where he or she works and the type of work they can perform. Moreover, these restrictions can be for brief periods or for years.

If passed, the amended would give the General Assembly the power to grant to courts the ability to "blue-pencil" contracts with non-compete language. This means a judge could limit the duration, geographic area, and scope of prohibited activities provided in a contract or agreement with competition restrictions and thereby make such non-compete language reasonable.

Pro: For many companies, non-compete clauses are essential to guarantee that former employees with specialized knowledge are not able to simply leave the company and take that knowledge to the next highest bidder or to create their own companies using knowledge gained from trade secrets. Most states allow “blue penciling” by judges, which Georgia currently does not.  This amendment is ANTI-WORKER including doctors,lawyers, etc.  Companies will simply write overly broad contracts and dare the employee to go to the expense of suing in court.

Con: Judges will have the unilateral ability to change the terms of a contract, either in favor of or against a former employee. This could lead to irregular decisions, depending on where the judge and the employer are based. For example, a judge in DeKalb County could throw out a non-compete agreement where the employee cannot work in the metro-area and a judge in Fulton County could uphold an identical agreement.

AMENDMENT 2: Adds $10 tag fee on private passenger vehicles to fund statewide trauma care expansion.

BALLOT QUESTION: Shall the Constitution o f Georgia be amended so as to impose an annual $10.00 trauma charge on certain passenger motor vehicles in this state for the purpose of funding trauma care?

VOTE YES, although our lilly-livered legislature should have the balls to just raise taxes themselves to pay for things like this.

Summary: This creates a $10.00 tag fee that can only be spent to fund trauma care and cannot be diverted to the general fund for other purposes. All motor vehicles designed to carry ten or fewer persons, including pickup trucks, motorcycles, sport utility vehicles, and passenger vans will pay the fee. The trauma charge would be collected together with license tag and registration fees.

Pro: This provides a new and necessary funding source for Georgia’s trauma care system that will be protected from other uses.

Con: The new funds may encourage the legislature to reduce its other funding streams; and large passenger vehicles, like buses, are exempt from the fee.

AMENDMENT 3: Allows the State to execute multiyear contracts for long-term transportation projects.

BALLOT QUESTION: Shall the Constitution o f Georgia be amended so as to allow the Georgia Department of Transportation to enter into multiyear construction agreements without requiring appropriations in the current fiscal year for the total amount of payments that would be due under the entire agreement so as to reduce long-term construction costs paid by the state?

VOTE YES - Why shouldn't the state be able to get reduced prices for multi-year contracts, with basic language that says its dependent on appropriated funds being available, just like the feds do.

Summary: Currently, a state agency cannot enter into contracts with private vendors if the contract requires payments beyond the funds available for that fiscal year. This means that unless an agency has funds in hand for a 5-year project, like a road project, it can only contract year-to-year. This amendment would allow the General Assembly by statute to let the Department of Transportation enter into construction agreements without obligating present funds for the full amount of the obligation.

Pro: Many contractors and states prefer multi-year contracts because they allow for bonuses for early completion, increase competition among bidders and allow for better transportation planning.

Con: This will allow DOT to agree to a project it may not be able pay for in the long-term.

AMENDMENT 4: Allows the State to execute multiyear contracts for projects to improve energy efficiency and conservation.

BALLOT QUESTION: Shall the Constitution o f Georgia be amended so as to provide for guaranteed cost savings for the state by authorizing a state entity to enter into multiyear contracts which obligate state funds for energy efficiency or conservation improvement projects?

VOTE YES - This will allow green energy retro-fitting, and the state can always include clasues about subject to funding for these projects, just like the federal govt does.

Summary: Currently, the constitution prohibits a state agency from entering into contracts with private vendors that obligate funds the agency does not already have committed. This amendment will authorize “energy performance contracts.” These contracts basically let a state agency use debt to finance energy efficiency and water improvement projects at state buildings, and the vendors who build the projects guarantee payments back to the agency based on realized savings (lower energy costs, less water used), which is achieved by the cost savings resulting from the improvements.

Pro: State agencies can upgrade to more energy and water efficient buildings by using a debt instrument that is underwritten by the very vendors who promise the savings. If it works, the agency has lower costs. If it doesn’t, the agency has guaranteed payments to make up the loss.

Con: It creates a new debt instrument for state government.

AMENDMENT 5: Allows owners of industrial-zoned property to choose to remove the industrial designation from their property.

BALLOT QUESTION: Shall the Constitution o f Georgia be amended so as to allow the owners of real property located in industrial areas to remove the property from the industrial area?

VOTE YES  - This affects only two parts of two South GA counties.

Summary: The proposal amends the provisions of the Constitution relating to industrial areas which exist in only two counties in the state: Chatham County and Jeff Davis County. Currently, the counties face restrictions on the ability of these areas to participate in the municipal services provided near their locations. This restriction is a hold-over from the 1983 constitutional revision.

Pro: Property owners who currently have the responsibility for certain services will be permitted to join a neighboring city and reduce its costs.

Con: Unknown.

STATEWIDE REFERENDUM: Provides for inventory of businesses to be exempt from state property tax.

BALLOT QUESTION: Shall the Act be approved which grants an exemption from state ad valorem taxation for inventory of a business?

VOTE NO - Another giveaway for business.  In these times, that should NOT be allowed.
Summary: This Act provides that all tangible personal property constituting the inventory of a business shall be exempt from state ad valorem taxation. If approved by a majority of the voters, the Act becomes effective on January 1, 2011, and applies to all tax years beginning on or after that date. Pro: Georgia is one of only 14 states that currently imposes an inventory tax. The amount raised by such a tax is minimal for the state, and nominal for most cities and counties.

Con: Certain cities and counties do rely on the inventory tax, which means a wholesale repeal could lead to a rise in the millage rate in those areas, particularly those school districts

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