Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Flagpole: McCommons Declares War on Chasteen, Other Commissioners

This week's Pub Notes yields plentiful bounty for those who like to see the press take on the local electeds, as Pete McCommons does everything short of calling Tom Chasteen a raging douchebag for opposing the three-laning on Price Avenue. Pete makes short work of dismantling Tom's point about traffic diverting to Boulevard, and, in our humble opinion, does so in a pretty convincing fashion. (We had the same concern, still do actually, but to a lesser extent.) What's interesting about this piece to us is that for the first time in a long time on this issue, Pete has abandoned his more pedantic style and returned to the hell-raising, fire in the belly, full of piss and vinegar Pete that got us hooked on Flagpole lo those many years ago. Get 'em Pete!

The best stuff in here is where Pete calls out the "anti-progressive" Commissioners (McCarter, Sims, Carter) and gives the Chamber of Commerce a little what fer as well. This is the Pete McC we know and love, and we're glad to have him back. Somewhere, the ghost of the Athens Observer is smiling just a little brighter today.


First off, Flagpole's own Ben Emmanuel writes up the situation and in so doing, kind of puts the ABH to shame. Read it here.

Despite the recent withdrawal of the zoning request from next Tuesday's meeting, the flood of letters to the ABH about LPDS doesn't seem to be slacking off at all. The most recent controversy? Bashing Executive Editor Jason Winders for playing the race card in his Sunday column. Needless to say, Cedar Creek rushes to its own defense, and bends over backwards to prove that, as the cliche goes, some of their best friends are Latino. You can read for yourself here, and also here, courtesy of the gummint relations committee chair of the Cedar Creek Civic Association. In a related letter, stop picking on States. We would mention in passing that the ABH points out, correctly enough, that Winders didn't accuse Cedar Creek residents specifically, as they make clear in the editorial note at the end of today's letter from the aforementioned gummint relations committee guy.
Also in LPDS-world, people are beginning to isolate noise as the only realistic concern with respect to LPDS. Folks talk about that here and here. For what it's worth, noise isn't the only legitimate concern, in our opinion. One of the more rational LPDS opponents, who also happens to be a regular visitor to AP, is more than a touch concerned about the slippery-slopeitude of the zoning issues involved. We respect that, and certainly don't think that he or she is being alarmist, but we would submit by way of rebuttal that, if we've learned nothing else from this little imbroglio, the CCCA can certainly mount a serious challenge to anything they don't want in their backyards.

Finally in LPDS-world, we've gotten a few emails about the whole Winders/racism thingamabob, and if you really want our opinion, here it is. Yeah, we think Winders was a little over the top in implying that race is the issue in LPDS. It isn't. Are there racists involved in the opposition, as Winders alleges? Probably so. The CCCA represents over 650 homeowners, by their math. Statistically, there's probably one or two that flat just don't like Hispanics. But that's not the issue here. So, while it appears Winders is on the same side as us, we are not on the same page on racism.


Pundit Extrordinaire Bill Shipp takes the easy road out in today's column, by writing two pretty self-referential grafs, and quoting one email for the other 11. Nonetheless, it's worth a read. Basically, Shipp gets accused of driving, or at least taking a ride, on the "Mark Taylor should drop out and run again for Lieutenant Governor" bandwagon. Old friend of Taylor's, responds, rehashes Taylor's talking points, Shipp is contrite.
This isn't anything new. Seems like any time you've got two Democrats in a primary, who are both pretty strong, one of the two starts the same old refrain. (The GOP, by the by, mostly handles this stuff out of the public eye and before candidates announce their intentions, making sure that the voters are usually only left with the party-approved example of steely-eyed faux conservative zealotry.) It might not surprise anyone that this has happened numerous times, even right here in the Classic City.
Nonetheless, it makes us respect Mark Taylor just a little bit more. Is he the most electable against Perdue? We don't know. But the thing is, neither do you, and neither does Cathy Cox (or her pollster). Early polls that test the strength of different primary candidates against an incumbent are not necessarily unreliable, but they are early polls, and any support is very soft.
Here's what we're gonna do. As we've mentioned before, we don't really have a dog in this fight yet. So we're going to take a close look at both candidates for the Democratic nomination and make up our own minds. We hope you'll take a good look at Taylor, and dismiss this "weaker candidate" crap as just that. The result of very soft early polling that the other candidate is using to their own advantage.


Speaking of the governor's race, we do have one thing to mention about the Cox campaign. As our regular readers might know, one of our frequent commenters, one Random Thoughts, took umbrage recently at two comments Cathy made (wearing the Secretary of State hat, not the candidate hat) that implied that Georgia poll workers were elderly and easily confused. (These comments were made in reference to the Voter ID Law). On our encouragement, RT posted a question about that on Cox's blog. Oddly enough, the comment never made it to the actual blog, implying (at least to those of us who have experience managing campaign blogs) that someone on the staff decided not to publish it. Here's what makes that little fiasco even better.
Your crack editorial staff (who has what we humbly think of as a divine mission to keep you informed on the goings-on of various campaigns) received a mass email recently from the Cox campaign. Sez Morton Brilliant, campaign manager, ""Grassroots" is a term you hear a lot of campaigns toss around. To Cathy Cox, it means building an open, accessible campaign..."

Yeah, not so much.

Here's how the Cox campaign should have handled it, in our humble opinion. There are a couple of options. The best and easiest, would have been to post and reply to the comment, and explain Cathy's position. You know, we're big fans of "open and accessible" campaigns that are actually open and accessible.
But failing that, a nice email explaining that this was from Cathy as SOS and not Cathy as candidate and giving an appropriate contact for the question, would have also probably worked.

But, censoring it? Just our guess here, but Cathy might have just lost a vote in the Democratic Primary.


The fine folks in charge of Athens Regional Medical Center aren't fans of three-laning Prince, sez the ABH. They cite the 35 or so emergency calls per week from ARMC to the downtown area. We wonder how three laning Baxter affected the same situation with St. Mary's. Anyone know?

Slack-ass Editors:

On a final note, we apologize from the heart of our bottom for taking a day off yesterday. We were busy, yo.

Tips go here, beeyotch.


Dawg Corleone said...

What's the nose count on Prince Avenue?

Mine: Chasteen, a certain no. Sims, McCarter, Carter likely nayes.

Lynn, a certain yes; Kinman, Dodson likely yayes.

That leaves Hoard, Maxwell, and Jordan.

I'll say Hoard no, Jordan yes. Whither Maxwell? Probably no.

Jmac said...

Jordan is all about a yes on that issue, and no one knows about Hoard or Maxwell ... particularly Maxwell. Give the man credit, he's the one commissioner I can't pin down as far as knowing where he stands from issue to issue (and I don't mean that in a condescending way, but in a play-the-cards-close-to-the-chest kinda way). The rest of your assessment is dead-on Corleone (lo and behold, we agree on something :) ).

And that's an excellent point about Prince Avenue. I'm still not a fan of three-laning it. It could hinder development out there and, regardless of what Pete says, can overload Boulevard.

My jury's still out on Cox. I've never really been a huge Taylor fan, but it isn't like I'm all fired up for Cox either. Considering I won't back Perdue, it's one of those two ... and I lean toward Cox as of now.

hillary said...

Yep. I don't really like either of them, but at least Cox is a chick. And she doesn't work the faux-populism angle quite as much.

Fishplate said...

"At least Cox is a chick" I can't see if your tongue is in your cheek, so I'll it?

As for emergency calls on Prince, seems to me an open center lane is preferable to two jammed lanes headed toward town. I used to drive a fire truck in emergency situations, and many people don't seem to know that they're supposed to yield, and if they do know, they don't know how....if the center turn lane is there, it's most likely empty, whereas durnig rush hour you are headed over into a lane that's against you.

Most of the time, though, I'd wager that the road will be clear enough that traffic won't be an impediment for the EMTs. My experience has been that outside of rush hour, there isn't all that much traffic on Prince. Does anyone know of a traffic count that's broken down by time?

RandomThoughts said...

Thank you for reporting on my lack of response from Cathy Cox. I still think it was a dumb thing to say and I'm surprised she has not been called on it by the media. I have actually spoken with several poll workers and they were surprised and not pleased by the comment. I'm afraid I can not vote for anyone this stupid.

On the emergency vehicle discussion: I was on Baxter when an ambulance tried to get through there. Both lanes were bumper to bumper and the turn lane was also occupied in several places. This was right after 5 p.m. The problem was that the cars in the turn lane had no where to go. The ambulance finally made it to an outside lane when someone pulled on the curb, took the sidewalk and finally got to the intersection where they went out of sight. It was a nightmare. I'd hate to see this happen to Prince Avenue.

Dawg Corleone said...

I got a kick out of David Lynn's comment on the radio the other day: "Prince is auto-centric."

Yes, Commissioner. IT'S A FREAKIN' ROAD!!

Funny thing about roads: they tend to be auto-centric, in the same way that railroads are train-centric and skies are cloud-centric.

The emergency vehicle angle is pertinent. No way would an ambulance or firetruck be better rolling on a 3-lane road, which was, in fact, designed for the express purpose of being slower than a 4-lane road.

Publius said...

How do you tell faux populism from real populism?

My two cents on this one: I wouldn't bet the farm that all of Taylor's rhetoric is faux populism. Having met both candidates briefly, I'll say that in my opinion, the Big Guy is not the real thing, but he's closer than folks may think.

I think I've probably ranted before about slick, consultant-driven campaigns, or perhaps a better way to put it would be slick DC-consultant-driven campaigns. I think Taylor is at least using some Southern folks to set strategy, whereas, just judging by outward appearances, Cathy is letting herself be directed from inside the Beltway. Plus the Emily's List rebuke kind of pissed me off.

I'd just like to see our local campaigns use some local talent. Also, I have yet to see anything out of the Cox campaign that I would describe as "grassroots." More like astroturf. They've got a blog that isn't updated particularly often, and is at least suspected of censorship, and that's about it.

I'm not saying that grassroots is the only way to go, but if you're going to run a consultant-driven marketing and media type campaign, don't waste your breath talking about how grassroots you are. It's kind of like Britney Spears prattling on about her indie roots.

I still think Cathy might be more electable, but as I mentioned in the post, I don't know, and neither does any other individual out there, including Cathy's pollster.

DoubleDawgDareYa said...

The emergency vehicle thing is an interesting problem with no easy solutions, be it 3 or 4 lane. The problem of course is with the increase in traffic generally, and it's one that all urban areas are experiencing. This needs to be a consideration in an overall traffic engineering plan (which it's not clear to me that Athens has had over the past few years while we've been growing exponentially).

Anonymous said...

an important point that most people seem to miss in the argument about emergency vehicles vs. 3-laning on Prince is that the the road will still be the same width as before - they aren't talking about moving the curbs. This seems a totally bogus grasping at straws thing. Worse is any argument about hurting development - double-bogus! 15-yard penalty and loss of down.

I have to ask, why would any street-side retail establishment ever be in favor of having cars go past their store fronts faster? If I had a store front on a street, I'd definitely favor having cars go more slowly past my business so they could maybe read my signage and check me out.

I have to point out that streets are not only for cars. Well, I mean everybody understands that except the Georgia Department of Transportation morons. Cars must be accomodated but so must pedestrians, bicycles, horses, and anybody else with a need to get from one place to another by whatever legal means they choose. Long gone are the days when it was OK to cut across someone's private property to get where you are going so, the streets represent the only public avenue for conveyance of any nature.

Actually, when you get right down to it, this discussion, like almost all others involving the commission and the government in general, would not even be necessary if folks actually genuinely cared about anybody but themselves. Laws get passed when people stop behaving like their mommas taught them but, since the Golden Rule is kinda hard for the police to enforce...we brought this on ourselves and there's no way to deny it.

RandomThoughts said...

if, as everyone seems to think, and as Baxter has shown, moving from 4 lanes to 3 lanes does not improve traffic efficiency, why are people in favor of it?

DoubleDawgDareYa said...

I think the argument, or at least part of the argument, for it is that it improves safety. I still haven't figured out where I'm at on this one.

DoubleDawgDareYa said...

For the record, I was very much in favor of the 3-laning that occured on Baxter, because, your nightmare scenario with the St. Mary's ambulance aside, Baxter was way too narrow for 4 lanes. I felt very cramped driving there when it was 4 lanes. However, I don't really perceive the same problem with Prince. Perhaps others do.

Jmac said...

I think you nailed it DiDDY. Baxter was very cramped and had no business being a four-lane road, so that was common sense policy to switch it to three lanes.

I'm not sure about Prince Avenue. There is ample space on that road. And, as someone noted earlier either here or at my blog, if you removed the parking slots from the sides of the road, you're bound to create ample additional room for driving and bike lanes.

Jmac said...

Oh, and I agree with Publius on Taylor. I'm no big fan of him, but he is much more geniune than folks think. I just haven't been a fan of him once he's been in office, that's all.

And, with regard to who is more electable, Cox is the more attractive candidate with her more conservative views and her appeal to working moms. But we see where being 'electable' has gotten the Democrats in recent years ...

hillary said...

No tongue in cheek. If they're roughly equivalent on the issues (which they are, as far as I'm concerned), why not vote for the lady? You know, affirmative-action-style.

Taylor really drove me up the wall with all that hoo-ha about raising university tuition last year. How about some kind of realistic solution to ever-shrinking state funds, big guy?

Fishplate said...

Well, you might as well flip a coin, then, if they are equal. If I said vote for Taylor because he's a man, I'd be accused of sexism. Voting for a woman because she's a woman means men and women are different, and we've been taught for years that that isn't true...

There's something creepy about Taylor, in my opinion...can't put my finger on it, though. Thank goodness we still have lots of time before the election. I'm hoping for some clarity before then, but I'm not holding my breath.

In my opinion, anyone who voluntarily runs for office sdhould be immediately disqualified on the basis of a lack of sanity. Being Governor, Senator/Congresscritter or President means, for the most part, that your main focus is to get reelected, but bending your will to the will of those more powerful than you, and almost never being able to make a difference (in a good way).

raven said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
hillary said...

It doesn't mean men and women are different. It means women are underrepresented in government and, all things else being roughly equal (qualifications and such), I don't mind doing my part to help equalize the balance a little.

Didn't Taylor used to be a big cokehead?

Dawg Corleone said...

Why do we care about "balance?"

What difference does it make--or should it make--if my governor has a penis or a vagina or, for that matter, none of the above?

I've long observed that people who claim to want "balance" in public life most often are talking about superficial matters, ie skin hue, genitalia, or sexual proclivities. "Balance" of ideology almost never comes up.


hillary said...

I'm not saying you have to. It's just something I keep in mind occasionally. It's also not that our representative democracy has to align perfectly with the demographics of the country, but it could be a little better. I'm also not sure how it's a worse standard for choosing between two roughly equivalent candidates than who I'd rather have a beer with or who has better fashion sense or better image consultants.

monticello_pres said...

To "Heidi" Prince would be ridiculous for several reasons.

First and foremost, our local (Unified) government has grown big enough. We have enough to spend money on rather than taking a perfectly good road and changing it for the sake of change. Especially since that change will require our taking that road into our budget. Some of you may not realize, but Prince is also referred to as Jefferson Hwy or state route 129. It is not as narrow as Baxter - which was the overriding reason to support the 3-laning of that road. And it is perfectly good to remain in the state maintenance budget as a 4-lane.

As for Taylor, what has he ever done? That guy is a total political being. He is like Al Gore - he wouldn't know an opinion if it bit him in the ass. Cathy Cox is a potentially powerful leader who will give Sonny a run for his money.

If you ask any Republican, they are hoping Democrats are stupid enough to bring Taylor out of the primary. They are scared of Cox.

Anonymous said...

that speculation about Mark T. is really beneath you. unless you have proof of that, it's, disappointing.
Mark is a great guy, and does indeed have very populist ideals, identical to Cathy's, pretty much. But the difference between Mark and Cathy is clear. Mark returns phone calls to everyone, Cathy has staff do it.
Mark shows up to help local candidates (like Becky Vaughn) not only in person for day long visits at a time, but during non-election (for him) years. He has led the State Senate as Lt. Gov., knows how it all works, has come up thru the ranks, worked hard and has used Ga. folks to grow himself up into a potential Governor. It's been his stated ambition for almost 15 years to become Governor.
And he has a lot of friends in low places, all over the state. If it comes down to the grass roots, I'm thinking Cathy is going to have a hard time kicking that snotty rich bitch aura in the minds of a lot of African Americans and working poor.
I'm not on the fence in the least on this one, y'all. My heart's with Mark, all the way.
And don't get me started on Cathy's shortcomings as Sec. of State, really... I won't be able to stop.

hillary said...

that speculation about Mark T. is really beneath you. unless you have proof of that, it's, disappointing.

Hey now. I didn't just pull it out of thin air. I do have a friend who worked for him between 5 and 10 years ago. I also have no proof. But I'm also _also_ not saying it's necessarily a reason to vote against him. It's just a thing.

Publius said...

I'vew heard that too. I've always just assumed that it's kind of the worst-kept secret in Georgia politics. Everybody knows it but no one talks about it.

In any event, as far as I know, and barring proof positive to the contrary, I'm going to assume that that's in his past, and therefore not particularly relevant, although you can bet the opposition (whether it be Cathy or the gubner) are going to try to make it relevant.

One other thought, some of the strongest people I know are people who have worked through crap like this and beaten it.

Anonymous said...

cool, Hillary... I'm not saying I never heard it either. I guess some vestige of my past life as a journalist makes me quiver anxiously at any well... never mind. I agree with Publius, if it's documented in any way, Cathy dearest and Sonny "let me fly that helicopter" Perdue will wring it out in the coming days. I bet Cathy will hope that Sonny does it instead of her, she really doesn't want to alienate all his supporters in the event she does win the primary. Has anyone been recieving any email from his campaign/website, brother, uncle sister or Mommy? I have contacted them several times to ask that they add me to their contact list, and I haven't recieved a single email yet. But I'm getting bombarded by Cathy. This worries me a great deal.