Thursday, February 25, 2010
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Published Friday, February 19, 2010
Certainly, there's a healthy amount of political calculation behind state Rep. DuBose Porter's recent prominent mention of his Christian faith on the gubernatorial campaign trail. Porter, a statehouse veteran vying with a raft of fellow Democrats looking to carry their party's banner into this year's governor's race, undoubtedly understands that conservative Christian voters played a major role in bringing the Republican Party to dominance in the state legislature.
Before proceeding further, it's important to note that this editorial should in no way be construed as an endorsement of Porter's candidacy. If or when this newspaper makes an endorsement in the governor's race, that endorsement will be based on a wide range of information about candidates' positions on issues, and on other factors.
It is, though, worth noting the possible implications of Porter's strategy of making religion an issue in a statewide political contest. On a personal level, a candidate's views on religion can provide some real insight into the moral and ethical framework he or she purports to bring into the public arena. On a political level, Porter's strategy of talking about his faith brings home the important message that a spiritual point of reference on the issues of the day need not necessarily be ceded as the exclusive province of a single political party.
Porter made that point bluntly at a gathering of the Georgia Christian Alliance earlier this month, which he attended along with most of the Republican field in the gubernatorial race. "I am tired of people saying that you can't be a Christian and a Democrat," he said. "Because I am. My faith is important to me, it's important to my family. ... Pray for me. And pray that God's will be done in this election. I believe that to my very core."
More recently, in an interview with local political blogger and regular Banner-Herald columnist Johnathan McGinty, Porter said, "Democrats have been portrayed in the national media as Godless. Democrats are not Godless. I have yet to go to a Democratic meeting that has not opened with a prayer. ... We as Democrats believe economic justice and civil rights will be helped by a strong education system and through job creation. Is this because we believe 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you'? I think so. Is that a religious influence? It probably is."
Again not discounting the political calculation in Porter's profession of faith, the statements outlined here portray him as a man seriously committed to that faith. Given that apparent commitment, Porter's approach to the governor's race might serve as a template, both now and into the future, for other Democratic candidates who are also seriously committed to their faith.
In a political environment where Republican and Democratic candidates talk freely about their faith and its role in their lives, it's possible that, over time, that faith will become a yardstick by which voters can judge a candidate's personal fitness for office, rather than his or her political fitness to hold a position of public trust.
Originally published in the Athens Banner-Herald on Friday, February 19, 2010
Thursday, February 18, 2010
The possibilities of a husband-and-wife ticket in Georgia
February 17, 2010, by Jim Galloway
Somebody pick up the phone and call Fox. We’ve got a reality show brewing.
Late last month, DuBose Porter, a Dublin newspaper publisher and Democratic candidate for governor, couldn’t make it to a small-business forum in Atlanta. So his wife of 26 years subbed for him.
Carol Porter did well, as anyone who has watched the YouTube video will attest. So well that the couple is considering whether she should enter the 2010 campaign as a candidate for lieutenant governor. The husband and wife would run as a ticket.
“Over the last several weeks, there’s been a viral movement that has taken on a life of its own,” said DuBose Porter, the House minority leader. “There truly is no one more qualified or who knows the issues better. She’s an awesome person. She’d make an awesome candidate.”
With a general election only nine months away, Democrats have yet to field a single candidate for lieutenant governor. (State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond is often mentioned as a possibility, but has yet to make a decision.) Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, the Republican incumbent, has no primary opposition.
“Thoughtful consideration is going into it,” said Carol Porter, general manager of the family’s small newspaper chain. “Quite frankly, I’m just not sure that Casey needs a cakewalk.”
The Porter campaign — the gubernatorial one — is asking supporters if they’re open to the idea.
The partnership would be unique in Georgia politics. Candidates for governor and lieutenant governor, regardless of party, do not endorse each other, much less share the same bed. Or, for that matter, the same children — four grown sons, in this case. Media attention would be significant.
The public is familiar with spouses acting as behind-the-scenes strategists. Witness the recently dissolved partnership between Mark and Jenny Sanford in South Carolina. But a candidate’s spouse in search of her own votes is a plot line that many voters might judge worth following.
The only Southern precedent even slightly comparable might be Lurleen Wallace’s decision to run for governor of Alabama in 1966 — as a surrogate for her term-limited husband, George Wallace.
But Carol Porter can’t be termed a sock puppet. “I don’t believe that would fit,” she said. “I feel very comfortable with the issues. I have a fairly clear vision, as does DuBose, about what the problems are and what the solutions are.”
With her husband in the state Capitol much of the time, Carol Porter is the business side of the family equation. She’s the one on the board of the local Chamber of Commerce.
Her husband was born in Dublin, but her background is slightly more eclectic. The daughter of a Wrightsville, Ga., doctor, she went to boarding school at Woodward Academy in College Park. She graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in psychology. She dabbles in folk art.
Many Democrats are baffled by the possibility of a husband-and-wife strategy. Others dismiss it as a publicity stunt that smacks of desperation.
Former Gov. Roy Barnes has dominated every statewide poll among Georgia Democrats, and DuBose Porter ranked fourth among five Democrats in fund-raising last year — behind Barnes, Attorney General Thurbert Baker and former National Guard commander David Poythress.
Both Porters argue that, in a one-two campaign, they would complement each other’s fund-raising efforts, not dilute them.
But the advantage may be this: With or without money, Carol Porter’s entry into the lieutenant governor’s contest would immediately raise her profile — and, through a shared story line, that of her husband.
In essence, the Porters could double their message at a very low cost. Those who know her would agree that Carol Porter’s speeches often have more edge than those of her husband. She would be the voice that says the things that he can’t.
“I’m a fiery, passionate person who truly cares, and I would like to see the children of this state get a great education. Because I think corruption is what’s holding us back,” Carol Porter said. “If we could just not run it on campaign donors — for once. If we could just do what’s right, just one good time, and get it all running and turn the economy around and educate the children. Georgia’s such a great spot. It has everything — except leadership.”
There is, of course, the matter of what would happen should they both win — first in July, then in November. But that’s an entirely different story line.
Putting your voice
in your government.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
CRAWFORD / Lawmakers should go where the money is
charltoncountyherald.com/By Tom Crawford articles/2010/02/16/opinion/ editorials/ doc4b7abcc8cfbbe844297319.txt
Georgia legislators have had to delete $1.2 billion from the current year’s budget because the recession has killed tax revenues. Lawmakers will have to reduce the budget for next fiscal year by a similar amount because the recession still shows few signs of ending anytime soon.
Who suffers the most when state spending is cut by such large amounts? Public education has consistently taken the biggest hit. At the urging of Gov. Sonny Perdue, the Legislature has cut more than $2 billion in state funding to local school systems for grades K-12 since 2003.
Those reductions continued in the revised state budget that the House approved last week. The amended budget cuts another $281 million in Quality Basic Education (QBE) funds that the state would normally send to local schools.
If the state’s public school system is to be kept intact, this cutting cannot go on much longer. Is there a way, short of passing a tax increase, to raise the money needed for education?
As it turns out, there is a solution staring legislators right in the face.
Georgia loses buckets of tax dollars every year because of retailers who charge the sales tax on their customers but keep the money rather than send it to the revenue department. This problem is well known to lawmakers and revenue officials, but they haven’t done much to deal with it.
A pilot program in Hall County uncovered the fact that nearly 1,000 businesses in that county do not have sales tax numbers, which means they are not reporting their sales tax collections to the state. There are several hundred businesses that do not have a business license from their local government.
House Minority Leader DuBose Porter (D-Dublin) and his Democratic colleagues have been trying in vain for more than a year to pass legislation that would crack down on these renegade businesses who are cheating the state of sales tax proceeds.
“Our bill will stop the tax cheaters and get the money where it ought to go,” Porter said.
Based on the results of the Hall County program, Porter estimates that unreported sales taxes for the whole state could amount to as much as $1 billion. This is not a tax increase: this is money that the businesses are already required to collect and send to the state.
Revenue Commissioner Bart Graham gets irritated whenever his agency is criticized and claims that the estimate of $1 billion in uncollected taxes is much too high. But even Graham concedes that somewhere between 5 percent and 10 percent of Georgia’s sales tax proceeds are being evaded. That conservative estimate would still amount to $250 million to $500 million a year.
That amount of money could make up for the major cuts in state funding to local school systems, and then some.
There have been indications in recent weeks that legislative Republicans could be ready to join their Democratic colleagues and take action to collect these delinquent taxes. Bills have been introduced by lawmakers from both parties to set up a system that would cross-check sales tax and business license data to identify retailers who are not turning over tax proceeds as the law requires.
Legislators have also come to the realization that you have to have tax collectors before you can actually collect taxes. The revised state budget includes money for the revenue department to hire six investigative agents and four financial analysts for its fraud detection group, which means there will be more people to go after tax cheats.
That’s a good start. The next step is for lawmakers to get moving and adopt this legislation so that Georgia can start collecting taxes that are long past due.
The General Assembly can move fast when it comes to legislation that has no relevance for its constituents. The Senate has already adopted a bill that would make it illegal to implant microchips in people, even though the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Chip Pearson (R-Dawsonville), could not cite a single instance where any person in Georgia was ever forced to undergo such an implantation.
If legislators would only move that quickly to go after tax cheats, the state and its school systems would be in much better shape.
• Tom Crawford is the editor of Capitol Impact’s Georgia Report, an Internet news service at www.gareport.com that covers government and politics in Georgia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fighting for you to get your money.
Vote in the Democratic Primary July 2010
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
11:57 am February 16, 2010, by Jim Galloway (published at ajc.com)
Late last month, Carol Porter subbed for her husband at a forum hosted by a small-business organization that featured Republican and Democratic candidates for governor.
DuBose Porter, a newspaper publisher from Dublin, is the House Democratic leader. Carol Porter, who is general manager for the family’s small newspaper chain, did well. See for yourself here:
In fact, Carol Porter did so well that some Democrats are urging her into the race for lieutenant governor, which still lacks a Democratic candidate. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, the Republican incumbent, is unopposed.
In other words, we would have a husband-and-wife team running for governor and lieutenant governor.
“She’s been approached about that. It’s true,” said Matt Caseman, spokesman for the DuBose Porter campaign. “She hasn’t made a decision. But yes, she’s considering it.”
And what does her husband of 26 years think? “He’s very supportive of anything Carol wants to do,” Caseman said.
Now, maybe this is a publicity stunt. If so, it’s one worth pondering.
Media outlets would be all over it. And his spouse’s candidacy would end attempts to talk DuBose Porter out of the governor’s race and into the lieutenant governor’s race. But there’s also the chance that Carol Porter would siphon off campaign contributions.
As of January, DuBose Porter’s campaign lagged behind three other Democrats in contributions: Roy Barnes, Thurbert Baker and David Poythress. (Porter was third in terms of cash on hand.)
One other Democrat, state Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond, is also thinking about the race for lieutenant governor – but has yet to make a decision.- The End
What do you think? email Team DuBose
Monday, February 15, 2010
Here is the answer:
"When I was Chairman of the Education Committee and then later Chairman of Higher Education, I saw that to take education to where it needed to be you have to have the power and the will of the governor's office. I had thought when the children graduated, if the time was right, I would run for Governor. When the transportation plan failed again last year for the second time as our major city sat in gridlock, when public safety was reduced to unsafe numbers, when water was threaten for Georgians and corruption only grew more intrenched, I realized it was time to get in, and work to take out, the policies and the corruption that were holding this state down.
For one example, when I was Chairman of Education, I saw that the jobs of the future were going to go to the states that had the highest level of education. I started pushing for post secondary options to partner with high schools and technical and community colleges back when Zell Miller was Governor and it was vetoed. Then the next Governor vetoed it. I finally got it through and Governor Perdue ended the program. Industry will not locate in a state without a well-trained workforce and that is what is happening now. Had I had the power of the Governor's office back then, we would now have that well trained workforce and we would be the ones attracting industry instead of North Carolina and the other states which invested in education and job training.
Instead we have had governors the last decade who have consistently damaged our schools and not supported our teachers. I have fought for improvements in education, from smaller classrooms to rewards for teachers’ earning National Board Certification. I was the first signer on the HOPE Scholarship and I have never made one vote that would not improve our education system in a way that would attract industry and jobs to Georgia.
In 1965, eighty percent of the jobs could go to high school drop-outs (20% to higher degrees.) That 80% of the jobs, like in farming and textile have gone. Once the Pacific Rim opened up and businesses found people who would work for 25 cents an hour, the jobs for the uneducated have been leaving the United States. Those jobs are not coming back. The jobs of the future are going to go to those who are well-educated enough to be able to adapt to a changing job market and who can easily retrain.
We have to get our children reading at the grade level at which they should be reading in early grades. We have to hold onto them in the middle grades where we start to lose them. And then in high school, if we know 80% of the jobs require a post secondary degree, like a technical or community college provides, we need to start allowing our students to get these degrees. We must implement post secondary options that don't financially punish our public schools.
Corruption also must be removed from education policy. The size of future prisons can be projected based on third grade reading scores. There are many well-connected donors who stand to gain financially building prisons and even more by managing privately owned prisons. Every time you reduce your educational levels you increase the money made on prisons. It will take a Governor willing to ignore the campaign donors who are influencing every department and put the needs of Georgians first.
Corruption is really the number one problem in Georgia. If we can put the needs of the people ahead of the interests of the campaign donors, we can solve our education, transportation, and our water issues and get public safety to a point where our citizens are safe. It will take revenue to give Georgians these basic needs, basic needs that must be met to attract industry and jobs. There are ways to increase revenue by innovative thinking like the point of sale bill; and with priority budgeting; better marketing for our state; and by leveraging more of our share of federal funds (funds we will have to pay back even if they go to another state.)
We can come out of this current economic crisis a better state. Georgia is a beautiful state with natural resources for every person's tastes, from the mountains, to the valleys, to the midlands, to the coast. If we put the needs of Georgians ahead of the special interests, we can make it so industry and jobs and the families that come with them, are attracted to what we know, can be the best place on earth. I will be the Governor who puts your voice and your heart back in your government.
Put your voice and your heart
back in your government.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
If we don't act now, federal money for rail will, I repeat, will be going to other states and not just this year, but in the future. We will, I repeat, will be having to help pay for it anyway.
All of us are not just realizing we need rail. We had the chance to start our rail project in the mid-nineties. I worked on the route to Macon and another to Athens. Several of us did, but until you have someone in the Governor's office who is willing to set a course and put up the effort and do the work to bring a vision in, it just can't take off. As your Governor I will make sure that happens.
Another article you may have missed on rail:
Welcome to Georkansas: Suddenly, we have a rail gap
Excerpts from AJC, 11:27 am January 29, 2010, by Jim Galloway
...North Carolina has spent more than $300 million since 1992 to bolster its passenger rail service. On Thursday, it saw a return on that investment: a $545 million slice of President Barack Obama’s $8 billion high-speed rail stimulus.
Florida got an even bigger piece of that pie — $1.25 billion. The Sunshine State may have helped its case by boosting funding for mass transit after U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood warned that it needed to get its act together to compete for high-speed rail funds.
Georgia got a similar warning but didn’t jump to action. It got a $750,000 sliver.
Welcome to Georkansas.
This is how Birmingham felt in the 1960s, when it realized that airlines were indeed serious about big jets and big airports. Rail is the next big thing, and we have dug ourselves a large philosophic hole. Sam Williams, head of the Metro Chamber of Commerce and a longtime advocate of rail, said this morning that it will be years before we can crawl out:
“The first criteria that we’ve heard from the feds is that you have to have a state rail plan thoroughly written and presented. And you have to also have congressional support, and you have to have state government support. We’re so underfunded on infrastructure that, at this stage of the game, I don’t see them diverting any other funds to do the upfront work that North Carolina and Florida have done.
“Those states have spent hundreds and millions of dollars of their own money in the last decade. There may be specific projects – certainly there’s a lot of hope right now over the Peachtree-Auburn trolley project coming out of stimulus money. But stimulus money? We’ve gotten all the money we’re going to get.”
Renay Blumenthal, senior vice president at the Chamber, added this:
“We’ve got to put skin in the game. Which really comes back to why this regional T-SPLOST is so important. The only entity that’s got money to put into transportation right now is the federal government. We need to align our state transportation priorities with the federal transportation authorities to get access to that money. “
Which means that Gov. Sonny Perdue’s proposal for regional transportation districts will have to include language that permits expenditures on rail, or there isn’t likely to be a deal.
We have yet to see Gov. Perdue's bill. For the future of Georgia, let's hope he puts rail in it.
vote for DuBose Porter, July 2010.
Friday, February 12, 2010
for sending Team DuBose such a fantastic photo.
ANd to Warren Mullis who sent us the one at the top!
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Yea (Y):29Nay (N):24Not Voting (-):0Excused (E):3
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Yesterday’s midterm budget was devastating to the educational system in Georgia and to the taxpayer. Where we should be focusing on attracting industry and jobs through a well educated workforce, we have instead made prisons our newest growth industry.
in the Democratic Primary, July 2010.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Recently DuBose Porter raised a few eyebrows by accepting an invitation to speak at a Governor's candidate forum hosted by the Georgia Christian Alliance. Eyebrows were not raised because Democrats are not Christians, but because in the past Democrats have not reached out to organizations of faith, as they have been branded as Republican. DuBose felt he should go speak before this group to share his message. DuBose is strong in his Christian beliefs. He and his wife, Carol, were reared in the church and they have reared their children in the church. DuBose has served on the Administrative Board at First United Methodist Church and Carol has served as Bible School Director, is on the Worship Committee and teaches an adult Sunday School class. DuBose's faith has been a large part of his life. To accept an invitation to speak before this group was an opportunity to spread DuBose's message of educating instead of incarcerating; of managing Georgia's transportation and water based on the need instead of the wishes of campaign donors; and of keeping taxes low, while maximizing existing revenue sources, like DuBose's point of sales bill, that will enable Georgia to attract jobs and industry, instead of waving them away. (Read, the blog #55, below for a great example of waving industry and jobs away.)
Johnathan McGinty, who writes for Beyond the Trestle in Athens, sent in a request for an interview with DuBose about his going to speak to the Christian Alliance. The following questions and answers below are the results:
Rep. DuBose Porter was the only Democrat to accept an invitation to participate in a forum hosted by the Georgia Christian Alliance. The conservative religious organization has a habit of supporting Republican candidates, but Porter - in a move I initially disagreed with - opted to share the stage with his opponents from the other side of aisle in, arguably, a rather hostile environment. Porter used the opportunity to defend his faith and his political beliefs, earning widespread praise from many conservatives there.
In a recent exchange with me, Porter elaborated on some of his thoughts regarding the role faith and politics play in the public sector ...
1. There aren't many Democrats who would venture over and address a gathering of individuals under the umbrella of an organization headed up by Sadie Fields. Politically, that's a tough road to hoe. What made you decide to address this group, and what were you hoping to accomplish?
The branding of Republicans with the Christian religion has cut off many Georgians from hearing the truth about what is going on in their government. Do you think they know the point of sale bill (HB 356), which I cosponsored last session (2009) would have found up to $1 billion in unreturned sales tax, was killed in committee by elected Republican leadership? Do you think they realize the largest property tax increase in Georgia history (HB 143) was passed by the elected Republicans in the 2009 session? Do you think they knew that for six years the Hawk System, another brain child of elected Republican leadership, took away representative government in Georgia? Do you think they knew that the speaker and his enforcers could go into any committee at any time and change the vote without having read one word of the bill?...
2. Speaking as a politically progressive Christian, I was impressed to see you open your comments with, quite frankly, some frustration. You said that you were tired of people not accepting that you could be both. I was hoping you could expand on that sentiment somewhat.
I feel because of some of the national branding by the Republican operatives, Democrats have been portrayed in the national media as Godless. Democrats are not Godless. I have yet to go to a Democratic meeting that has not opened with a prayer. It is time the Democrats enlarge their tent to welcome more people of faith, and I am ready to be the one to do it. My goal in speaking before the Christian Alliance was to open up a previously closed off, large group of the population of Georgia. Democrats have a strong faith too and I believe our message is often more closely aligned with the parables of Jesus. Quite frankly, I am a Democrat because I am a Christian.
3. Much of the discussion, it seems, always seems to trickle back to issues connected with social conservatism (i.e. abortion, gay rights, etc.). There are broader themes involved in Christianity, however, that aren't neatly limited to that realm. There's economic justice. There's civil rights. I remember reading that President Franklin D. Roosevelt liked to call the New Deal 'applied Christianity.' With that in mind, how does your faith guide you in areas like budgeting, education and all the other areas of policy?
I could not agree with you more. Take No. 7 in the Ten Commandments, "Thou shall not commit adultery." The Republicans are never seen in the streets getting people to the polls against adultery, yet adultery has probably done more to undermine family values (and political careers) than any of the Ten Commandments. I believe, many of the Republicans who would not think of campaigning on policies to stop adultery, are still Christians. Life is complicated. We as Democrats believe economic justice and civil rights will be helped by a strong education system and through job creation. Is this because we believe “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”? I think so. Is that a religious influence? It probably is.
4. All of that said, given the existing political climate, it is difficult to escape those hot-button issues. What would you tell social conservatives who have concerns over your positions on those issues?
I think they need to look at what the Republicans gave them when they controlled all branches of government in Washington and Georgia at the same time for more than a year. A lot of what they go to the polls on cannot be legislated in Georgia. It is time for them to realize the difference between a state and a national issue and quit allowing our transportation, our water, and our educational systems to be run into the ground while we continue to have the highest percentage of our population in the correctional system in the entire United States. Should prisons be Georgia’s number one growth industry? It is time for Georgians to face reality and quit voting rich and living poor.
5. You closed your comments asking that if those in the crowd couldn't vote for you, you hoped they would pray for you. Speaking in a more theological sense, I suppose, how does the Christian community move past what is, in some ways, the same partisanship and distrust that plagues our political process?
Get more information. Become deeply informed on the issues. People must get more engaged in their government. Corruption is rampant and corruption often has the most money to publicize their side of the issue. With the internet it is often possible to find the primary source of information and make informed decisions for one’s self. Individuals have to start taking on an active role in understanding the real issues behind the rhetoric.
Faith, Family, and The Economy.
Put your voice back in your government.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
We’re Waving Goodbye to the Future
from CapitolImpact, by Tom Crawford email@example.com
When Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood stopped in Atlanta last September, he was asked about Georgia’s prospects for getting some of the $8 billion in federal stimulus funds being allocated for a network of high-speed passenger rail lines. Like other states in the region, Georgia wanted to be part of this important project and applied for $472 million that would pay for building the link between Atlanta and Macon. But LaHood’s response to reporters’ questions about the federal money was not very encouraging.“It’ll come to Atlanta if Georgia gets its act together,” LaHood said. “There has to be a commitment by state government that transit is important.” Unfortunately for Georgia, we are still looking for that commitment from the state’s leadership.
We paid the price last week when the announcement of the rail grants was finally made. Florida and North Carolina, which are serious about investing in passenger rail, will get nearly $1.8 billion combined. That money will be spent for infrastructure projects that employ thousands of people. Georgia will get the piddling amount of $750,000 to conduct yet another study of passenger rail. The only jobs created will be for whichever consultants do the study.
This is bad news for the state, but it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. For a project of this scope and importance, the federal money is only going to states that are serious about investing for future transportation needs. Georgia has been much less than serious about this issue. We already have $87 million in federal funds that have sat unused for the last 10 years because the state still has not agreed to provide $20 million in matching funds. That money would have paid for the first part of the Atlanta-Macon line, a commuter rail link from downtown Atlanta to Clayton County.
Here’s what our leadership thought was more important to the state’s future. Gov. Sonny Perdue proposed, and the Legislature approved, $19 million a few years ago to build a bunch of boat docks and a tourist center for the “Go Fish” initiative that was supposed to attract bass fishing tournaments to Georgia. In his budget for the upcoming fiscal year, Perdue proposed that the state spend $10 million on a College Football Hall of Fame that will relocate to Atlanta and $9.1 million on a horse park at the National Fairgrounds and Agricenter in Perry.
Passenger rail service? We can’t afford any of that. Commuter rail links to Macon and Athens remain just concepts in a bureaucrat’s report, as does a high-speed rail line from Atlanta to Chattanooga.
To sum it up: our neighboring states are making a major investment to become part of a transportation network that could reshape the future of this region. We’re building boat docks and horse parks. We can’t even agree on a sales tax to repave a few highways.
This is not a partisan issue—both parties have been asleep at the wheel. Democratic governors Roy Barnes and Zell Miller also passed up opportunities to get into the rail game. Sam Williams of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce recalls how business leaders tried in vain to sell Miller’s transportation commissioner, the late Wayne Shackelford, on the value of upgrading rail service.
“We argued with Wayne Shackelford for years to try to get money for rail,” Williams said, but he wouldn’t budge. That indifference to any mode of transportation other than highways has also been a feature of the Republicans who have controlled state government in recent years. Former House Speaker Glenn Richardson was especially contemptuous of rail service, once dismissing it as “19th century technology for a 21st century problem.”
“We’re the caboose on this train,” Williams said. “If we’re cut out of this, if the rail line goes down the coast (and not through Atlanta), then shame on us.”
North Carolina and Florida are willing to make major investments that should result in benefits down the line for all of their citizens. They’re getting big money from the federal government to start putting people to work and make it a reality.
Georgia could have been part of that, too, but we have decided not to get on board. The train is leaving the station without us. We’re waving goodbye to the future.
"Those of you who have heard me campaigning around the state know I have been the biggest proponent of passenger rail, fourth penny dedication and for passing a statewide transportation plan, for many of the facts mentioned above. We can not continue to be left behind."- DuBose Porter
Follows is an article that just was published online in the Atlanta Business Chronicle:
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Democrats ante up transportation plan
Atlanta Business Chronicle - by Dave Williams Staff Writer
Democratic leaders in the General Assembly introduced legislation Thursday that would let Georgians vote on transportation funding this fall and possibly next year, earlier than a timetable proposed by Gov. Sonny Perdue.
Identical constitutional amendments submitted in the House and Senate call for a statewide referendum in November on whether Georgians should be allowed to vote by region on raising sales taxes to pay for needed highway and transit projects in their communities.
If the statewide referendum is approved, it would authorize groups of counties to develop regional plans to fund transportation improvements with a penny sales tax. One or more regional votes then would be held in 2011.
Metro Atlanta, with its traffic congestion, likely would be the first to organize a regional transportation sales tax to put before voters.
Perdue’s transportation funding plan, which the governor unveiled last month, wouldn’t come to a vote until 2012.
“We can’t wait,” said House Minority Leader DuBose Porter, D-Dublin, during a news conference held by legislative Democrats. “We have to do this now.”
Democrats repeatedly cited last week’s decision by the Obama administration to bypass Georgia for a significant piece of $8 billion in high-speed rail funding. Other Southeastern states, including Florida and North Carolina, were awarded hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds, while Georgia received just $750,000 for three feasibility studies.
Federal officials, including Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, have warned Georgia leaders to get moving on transportation funding or risk being put at the end of the line for federal assistance.
“We’re losing money and jobs to surrounding states,” said Sen. Tim Golden, D-Valdosta, chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus. “We can’t stand idly by and watch Georgia lose its position as a Southern business leader.”
The Democrats’ proposal is similar to the regional approach to transportation funding lawmakers have taken during the last two years. However, both efforts failed on the final day of the last two legislative sessions.
The new constitutional amendment also would dedicate the fourth cent of the state’s 4-cent gasoline tax, which currently goes to the general fund, to transportation, a proposal Democrats have pushed unsuccessfully in past sessions.
That provision, too, would be subject to ratification in a statewide referendum.
As a constitutional amendment, the legislation would not require Perdue’s signature. However, it does need a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate to get through the General Assembly and on to the voters, a dubious proposition with Republicans holding solid majorities in both chambers.
Vote for DuBose Porter Governor, 2010
Monday, February 8, 2010
Just like DuBose’s six year battle to defeat the Hawk system (To read more on the Hawks scroll down to blog#19), campaigning state wide is bringing DuBose’s message of anti-corruption and efficient government to light. Imagine how much of your government he could clean up and make efficient if he were your governor.
DuBose is still advocating for the "point of sale" bill. The coming inevitability that some version of HB356, the "point of sale" bill, will make it through this year, is the perfect example of what true leadership, combined with the people’s voices can do. By adding your voices to DuBose’s, and those who are working with him to stop the corruption, the truth about Georgia’s government is coming out of the darkness.
"It has shown that about 25% of the businesses that have business licenses do not have sales tax certificates," Rep. Porter says, "That's how much cheating is happening." *
Sales Taxes Missing?*
That’s what DuBose Porter has been saying for years.
Also as reported in the AJC by Aaron Gould Sheinin:
‘House Minority Leader DuBose Porter (D-Dublin), who has said for years that the state loses hundreds of millions of dollars a year in uncollected sales taxes...’
And now that DuBose is getting a statewide audience others are being forced to honor the obvious truth: As reported this morning by Paul Crawley:
‘Rep. Porter is being joined by a growing number of Republican lawmakers interested in his bill that would share state sales tax records with local governments to compare with their business licenses.’
If Crawley had been reporting on the debates, he might have added Democratic candidates are jumping on to DuBose’s bill as Sheinin added in his report later:
‘...That proposal also was seconded by Attorney General Thurbert Baker and former Gov. Roy Barnes.’
DuBose has kept the battle going for you to get your paid sales tax back as emphasized by this report from Tom Baxter of Insider Advantage:
‘...But as was evidenced again Tuesday night in the first televised debate of the Democratic candidates, he has given his party what is so far its defining issue. Porter’s rivals have endorsed... (HB356).’
This video from 11Alive explains
DuBose’s “point of sale” bill further:
With your support there is no way they can choose to furlough teachers and state employees, instead of passing this bill, this year.
Stay Informed. Get engaged. Georgia cannot financially afford to continue its corrupt policies. The results, that Georgia and our entire country are now experiencing, are self-evident.
Last year the Republican leadership killed HB356 in committee because they are operating under some misguided idea that when you vote for smaller government you mean “phase out” public schools and furlough teachers. ( As you know Georgia is already #1 in its population in the correctional system. You can predict that number on 3rd grade reading scores. You can’t afford to phase out public education. Don’t let blind allegiance to any one party keep you voting rich and living poor. Staying at the bottom of education and at the top of the correctional system percentages will keep jobs and industry away from Georgia. All the U.S./Ga. jobs of the future will go to the well-educated. DuBose Porter wants Georgians in the front of the well educated line, not the unemployment line.)
DuBose Porter knows when you voted for smaller government, you were voting for efficient government, government that maximizes your hard-earned money and puts it to work for you, not against you. Corruption in your elected politicians has allowed up to 25% of your already paid sales tax to stay in the hands of unscrupulous business owners, as discovered in the new pilot study. It is time to put your voice back in your government.
*Are Millions In Georgia Sales Taxes Missing?
COLUMBUS, GA - This is a tale of two cities, separated by the Chattahoochee River: Phenix City, Alabama and Columbus, Georgia.
It's a story of how these two cities collect their sales taxes, or as the case may be here in Georgia, don't collect a big chunk of them.
Georgia's legislature is wrestling with more than one-billion dollars in budget cuts again this year, but some argue millions of dollars of uncollected sales taxes are falling through the cracks.
Like other Georgia cities, Columbus has no idea how many of its businesses are actually paying their sales taxes.
That's because the money goes directly to the State Department of Revenue in Atlanta, who then sends back a single check to Columbus each month.
"We just want to know where it's coming from and that we're getting all that's due us," Columbus City Manager Isaiah Hugley tells 11 Alive News.
"We don't know where that money comes from, what area of town, what sectors it came from; we don't know anything," he adds, "All we know is that we're on an honor system where the State of Georgia puts $3.3-million into an account (each month)."
Across the Chattahoochee River sales taxes flow more smoothly and accurately.
That's because Phenix City's businesses pay them to a private company that cross checks those tax records against local business licenses to make sure there's no cheating.
Some estimates say Alabama cities have increased collections more than 10% under their system.
"They pick up several dozen every year where they found people that weren't paying sales taxes here...and they collect that," Phenix City Finance Director Stephen Smith tells 11 Alive News.
State Revenue Commissioner Bart Graham has admitted to state lawmakers that Georgia may be missing out on as much as 5% of sales tax collections, perhaps more.
Georgia State Representative DuBose Porter (D-Dublin), the House Minority Leader, claims collecting the missing taxes could mean an extra $250-500-million right away, enough to eliminate more furloughs for teachers and state employees.
The gubernatorial candidate also points to a pilot program in Georgia that indicates a lot is missing.
"It has shown that about 25% of the businesses that have business licenses do not have sales tax certificates," Rep. Porter says, "That's how much cheating is happening."
Rep. Porter is being joined by a growing number of Republican lawmakers interested in his bill that would share state sales tax records with local governments to compare with their business licenses.
"We need to do everything we can to perfect the sales tax system," admits Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock).
"Some of the things Alabama has done have been very beneficial to them," he adds.
Some, including Revenue Commissioner Graham, fear a change might mean far more local audits for companies with stores in several counties, instead of one statewide audit.
But others are talking about a system where several local governments could combine those audits to make it easier on large companies.
Because DuBose now has the opportunity to run a statewide campaign his fight against corruption in Georgia’s government is reaching a larger audience. You are hearing, you are listening, and your voices are having an impact. Get your money back from the cheaters.
and your money back in your pocket.
Vote for DuBose Porter: an Independent Mind
in the Democratic Primary, July 2010.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
(And then this came in so we are adding it before Dustin's recaps:)
that Porter takes the Win
Filed under: Election 2010, State News
I just wanted to point out that I am not the only person that thinks Porter lead the debate last night:
By Tom Baxter, InsiderAdvantage Georgia
House Minority Leader DuBose Porter isn’t the front-running Democrat in polls of the governor’s race, nor is he the top fundraiser. But as was evidenced again Tuesday night in the first televised debate of the Democratic candidates, he has given his party what is so far its defining issue.
Porter’s rivals have endorsed House Bill 356 the measure he authored which would let local governments collect sales taxes at the point of sale. But the lawmaker and newspaper publisher from Dublin can claim first dibs on the issue of uncollected taxes….
By Aaron Gould Sheinin The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Debate Recap: DuBose Porter #1
House Minority Leader DuBose Porter (D-Dublin), who has said for years that the state loses hundreds of millions of dollars a year in uncollected sales taxes, repeated that mantra Tuesday and said it could be a source of education funding. That proposal also was seconded by Attorney General Thurbert Baker and former Gov. Roy Barnes….
Democratic debates by Dustin Baker:
By Dustin Baker
February 3, 2010 by Dustin
The star of the night was Dubose Porter#1. As some of his supporters said at the after-party, it was a Du-bate, and I have to agree with them. Porter showed up and he showed up strong. He had the most shirts and supporters there. I would say there were easily 15-20 people there with Porter shirts on.
Porter also talked about a high-speed train system. He says we need to get one to deal with our traffic problems. Better transportation, he argued, would attract more businesses. The federal government would be footing the bill for most of it. He said he would support such efforts if he were governor.
Porter also took a well-deserved shot at Barnes. Porter said, as governor, he would expand the PSO program. He said he would not veto it as Governor Barnes did. I can say I am disappointed with Barnes for this. PSO is an excellent program.
Porter also said we need a zero-tolerance ethics policy. I could not agree more. Porter has fought for six years against the Hawk system, so he is no Johnny Come Lately on Ethics Reform. I feel very comfortable with his history on Ethics.
Porter brought up a Constitutional Amendment he is sponsoring, which would ban individuals from serving the Legislature if they have not filed and paid their taxes. This is the type of ethics reform we need.
Porter laid out his priorities in relation to health care:
- Cover children in GA “needs to be a priority.” Do not reduce Peachcare
- Put in a electronic health care system. (I believe this is correct, but if I misheard this, please correct me).
- Reorganize reimbursement system.
Porter was also asked about Sunday Sales in Georgia. I thought this question was basically a politically divisive question that I doubt would have much impact on the state economy. He said he would leave it up to the people by a referendum or the legislature to take the initiative. He seemed to indicate that he would support a referendum to allow the people of Georgia to decide.
Barnes tried to say that he had the experience that other candidates did not have, but Porter did a great job answering it, saying: I have been in the legislature for 28 years, I have the experience. I am running for education. (paraphrase).
Overall, I say Porter gets first place. He showed up, presented himself well, and talked about the issues.
General David Poythress #2 was great at the debate. Though the poor guy had to go last almost every time, but what he said was good.
Poythress advocated closing tax loopholes to help pay for education. He said we did not need new taxes, we just need to close these loopholes and collect the taxes already on the books. He wants to overhaul the Revenue Department to make it more efficient.
Poythress is making a commitment to getting people back to work… and he is willing to put his salary on the line. He said he would not take a salary as governor until unemployment was under 7%. This got a shock across the room and everyone sat up just a little bit higher. Whether or not you feel this is a gimmick, it will resonate with voter, especially those who are furloughed or getting laid off.
Poythress also said his military background help him understand that Georgia needs a strategic plan. He said “Our state does not have a strategic plan about anything that makes any sense.”
When asked about the Water issue, Poythress said we need Congressional reauthorization. Politically, that is not likely to happen. Perdue and administration are going the legal route, but that is not a sure route, as the court could decide either way. He said the least successful attempt would be to negotiate a resolution with FL and AL.
Poythress also said he would put initiatives into place that would get doctors into south Georgia. I think this is a great idea, as south Georgia has a shortage of doctors.
Sadly, I have to give Poythress his demerit for mentioning 9/11. Again, that noun+verb+9/11 thing just is not going to cut it here. However, overall I have to say Poythress gets 2nd place. Good job guys.Thurbert Baker #3 did a good job at the debate last night. Baker did a great job of hitting on education issues. Many of his family members are involved in education, and I think that helps him prioritize as the top issue for a potential Baker administration.
Baker was also asked a question on property taxes. He answered that property owners should have their properties assessed each year and also have the right and ability to appeal any rulings on their property values.
I did feel like Baker dodged the question on the JOBS bill. He was asked if he philosophically supported it, but he did not answer that and instead diverted to saying he supports getting Georgians back to work with specifically addressing the JOBS bill.
Baker said he would also be willing to consider making Georgia Sunshine Law violations a felony.
Baker also expressed his support for the second amendment. I am concerned about this, as he was asked if he supported allowing people to carry guns in church and on public transportation. While he said it would be handled in court, he did not give a specific answer. I support gun rights as much as the next Georgia, and probably more than many of my fellow Democrats, but I do not support people carrying guns on public transportation.
Baker also shared a personal story during the debate about his daughter having diabetes and how it helps him understand how the average Georgian deals with the health care issues.
I give Baker third place in the debate.
Carl Camon #4 would be what VH1 calls the “Jump of the Week.” Many who I talked to were very impressed with Camon’s performance. While it may not have persuaded them to vote for him, they say he was the unknown candidate that really “hung in with the big boys” at the debate.
Camon is a small town mayor of Ray, GA. One of the moderators called it “similar to the size of Wasilla.” This got a few laughs from the audience. Camon spent a good bit of time talking about how it helps him relate to the people.
One of Camon’s promises was that he would go to a different school in each county of the state and teach a course. He wanted to see first hand our school system is and how he could improve it. I thought this was a good proposal.
He also talked about Quality Basic Education. He said, for example, that we should keep children from repeating grades by doing a better job the first time. In the end, he argues, this will save money.
Camon also said ”Some believe you have to have money, ‘look a certain way’ to be governor…” I am not saying that Camon played the race card here, but some people got that impression. I think he was simply referring to the fact that he was from a small town and a mayor, not on the state level. However, the word choice could have been better.
I give Camon fourth place.
I was very unimpressed with Roy Barnes #5. I am not on the “hate-Roy-because-he-is-too-moderate” bandwagon. And, I am going to try to be fair in my analysis here:
First, Barnes did not seem too excited to be there. Being a former governor, I might have had higher expectations of him than some of the other candidates. Perhaps my expectations are informing my judgement. He seemed to be uncomfortable on the stage and also seemed to be moving from side to side frequently. He looked the least-professional on the stage.
That being said, Barnes wanted to help recoup some sales tax to help fund education. He also was against some ear-mark projects in the state budget, such as an equestrian park. He said education should take priority over these projects, and I whole-heartedly agree.
He also said we should not be furloughing teachers. I think this may be an attempt to reach out to the teachers he alienated. He also said he supported his unpopular educational reform from his past term in office. He seemed to imply that No Child Left Behind had co-opted his idea. However, NCLB has been an epic failure, so equating the two projects was probably a bad idea.
Barnes said he had no intentions of running for governor, but his grandchildren inspired him to run again so that he could help strengthen the education system. I felt this was noble. He said he was not doing it to get another a line on his resume.
He also said we could cut the state government but that we should not cut direct (teacher) education.
He said Young Georgians should stay in Georgia, because there are better days to come!
Also, how many time can you mention 9/11. You are both a Democrat and NOT Rudy G. That noun+verb+9/11 stuff just is not going to cut it, at least not in my blogs domain.
Overall, maybe due to my high expectations of him, I have to give Barnes fifth place. Sorry Roy, Nothing personal! You did not do a BAD job at the debate; but, you did not really stand out either. There was something about all the other candidates that I walked away saying “oh candidate X said this/stood for that.” I did not have that with you.
The 9/11 references were a little weak, but you seem to think you are going to walk-in and win the primary.
I caution you to look at Martha Coakley, the MA Democrat that lost Kennedy’s senate seat. She lost because she took her popularity for granted. She thought she was a sure-win, and the people assured her that she was not.
DuBose Porter will put your voice,
back in your government.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Above are photos of Dawgs for DuBose after the debate. We did not have free food, but we did manage to pack the House. Many thanks to Warren Mullis and all the members of Dawgs for DuBose.
The Debate was a huge success for DuBose Porter and Team DuBose and Dawgs for DuBose! Cameras were not allowed in the debate, but Team Porter had the most supporters there by far. We were the only group that had a large number of college students and all of our supporters wore their DuBose Porter "Works for Me" shirts. DuBose clearly won on the issues, the number of supporters in the crowd and two newspapers have already said he defined the issue of the night!
Porter leads, Barnes and Baker agree.
Excerpts from Last night’s debate
Collecting Unpaid Sales Taxes The Defining Issue For Democrats So Far
By Tom Baxter, InsiderAdvantage Georgia
House Minority Leader DuBose Porter isn’t the front-running Democrat in polls of the governor’s race, nor is he the top fundraiser. But as was evidenced again Tuesday night in the first televised debate of the Democratic candidates, he has given his party what is so far its defining issue.
Porter’s rivals have endorsed House Bill 356* the measure he authored which would let local governments collect sales taxes at the point of sale. But the lawmaker and newspaper publisher from Dublin can claim first dibs on the issue of uncollected taxes....
(This Blog corrected bill # to 356 the number had been printed incorrectly)
By Aaron Gould Sheinin The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
House Minority Leader DuBose Porter (D-Dublin), who has said for years that the state loses hundreds of millions of dollars a year in uncollected sales taxes, repeated that mantra Tuesday and said it could be a source of education funding. That proposal also was seconded by Attorney General Thurbert Baker and former Gov. Roy Barnes....
If you want to know more on the "point of sale" bill scroll down to Blogs#32, 18,17, and 15. DuBose also spoke on many of the other issues that you will see as you scroll on down.
An Independent mind in the Democratic primary.