Friday, August 25, 2006

The Culpepper Campaign Responds

Hi kids. If you've been following things here on AthPo for the last few days, you know that there's been some back and forth about the House District 115 race. Supporters of Doug McKillip and E to the H Culpepper have been going round and round. The Culpepper campaign emailed me a more official response, which I'm posting here in toto for your perusal. Go nuts.

In the last few days I have been following the rancorous online debate of several issues concerning the candidacy of E.H. Culpepper, the first independent to seek the District 115 seat in the Georgia House of Representatives. I feel it imperative to address several points raised in these commentaries. Several issues are of factual note and several are more abstract.

I'd like to start with the factual, personal arguments brought to bear on E.H. The most prevalent issue is over a tax lien levied against E.H. in the early '90s. My, and our, response is this: it is true that due to a lack of attention to the proper amount E.H. owed in the early 90's the IRS did issue a tax lien to E.H. in May of 1996 for the years of 1988 - 1991. Just like many other taxpayers that do not have their taxes prepared for them, E.H. simply did not pay enough. In fact, in the last 11 years more than 6 million Federal tax liens were issued in the United States (IRS website, in the taxstats section). That number may seem surprisingly high, but is in fact a low estimate of how common a mistake this is (especially considering the low rate of auditing by the IRS). That analysis is not an excuse; it admittedly was a mistake. A mistake E.H. corrected long ago (as opposed to a anonymous poster's claim that these still exist). It is ancient history, and as such this will be our only comment on it because this election is about the future of our community and the candidate whose professional experience best suits the needs of Athens-Clarke County and The University of Georgia.

Another seemingly factual argument is the E.H. is really a Republican. Well, I've known E.H. personally, as have many of you, and I know his ideas for our citizens future genuinely do not fit in with either of the two parties' ideology. Of his voting record (available at the ACC Board of Elections), he has frequently voted in both parties' primary elections. Of his public contributions (available at, he has given to Jack Quinn (R), Barbara Dooley (R), Roy Barnes (D), Johnny Isakson (R), and Max Cleland (D). He's worked tirelessly for the Athens Greenway, the Georgia Rail Passenger Authority, the Classic Center initiative, 441 Heritage Corridor, the Northeast Georgia Roundtable, the BrainTrain initiative and a slew of other projects (check out the full list available on our website). There isn’t a partisan pattern – that’s why E.H. is a fit for Athens. He can’t be stereotyped, no matter how hard you try. The only logical explanation is that E.H. supports the candidates and initiatives he feels are best for this community, and has for close to a half century.

The accusation that E.H. is in any way discriminatory is definitively laughable to literally anyone who knows him. That being the case, I will not respond to such unfounded attacks that try to make this race a character battle that no one would win. In actuality, this community will lose with a lack of actual exchange of real ideas on the progress of our community (if you want to know about E.H., ask any one of his friends rather than throwing around the names of national political groups with no impact or role in Athens).

E.H.'s candidacy is based on the fact that he is the best candidate for the district. The reason’s are outlined in the five “E’s” on our website: Experience, Education, Economic Development, Effectiveness and Environmental Health. E.H. has proven he has the unique leadership skills and long-term relationships to get more results in these areas than any of the other candidates. As the campaign moves along, more and more detail will be provided on the specifics of E.H.'s vision and how he will work with the community to get tangible results back from our state government.

As I have insinuated throughout this post, E.H.'s campaign will not engage in the type of partisan rhetoric that we and the citizens of Athens-Clarke county abhor. That is part of the reason E.H. believes his independent candidacy is in the best interests of Athens-Clarke County: we can honestly evaluate the candidate that the community feels is best on the issues that genuinely affect our citizens.

To Mr. McKillip's supporters I ask this: To you, does progress mean continued slick campaigning on frivolous and personal issues? Or does it mean, as Mr. McKillip has eloquently stated himself, “debat[ing] real issues, such as education, health issues and the environment (ABH, 10/24/00)?” I think all the candidates and voters deserve a constructive airing of the concerns at stake in this race. I thank all of E.H.'s supporters and would encourage them to continue to be active in debate of these important issues.

Our Campaign invites intelligent discussion on the variety of issues in the race for House District 115. It is our contention that E.H. represents a real chance in Athens for substantive representation, as opposed to the symbolic or formalistic representation offered by our two opponents’ candidacies. As a start and on a personal note, I would like to thank Publius for posting the article on the BrainTrain. As one of E.H.'s strongest initiatives, we welcome a debate on this issue who's fate can greatly enhance the economic development, employment level, education and overall quality of life (among other affairs) of Athens-Clarke County.

We look forward to hearing from anyone who reads this who might have any information or questions relating to the issues in our campaign. Please feel free to frequently check our website for updates and continuously forthcoming information about E.H.'s Legislative plans and contact us via email or the “Ask E.H.” section of our website ( We'll talk to you soon!


Ryan Hicks

Campaign Manager


Thursday, August 24, 2006

The AthPo Reader's Poll

Nah, we don't have any of those fancy-schmancy polling widgets, so just use the comments thread.

Which local race are you thinking about the most, or put another way, which local race has got you excited? On a similar tip, who are you lukewarm about?

Comments below.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

C'mon, ride that train. Or not.

Just to take a break from some campaign politics for the nonce, let's take a look at some actual policy. Got a question on a previous thread about whether I'd ride the choo-choo to the ATL. (I had mentioned that I'm not a supporter of the Brain Train.)

So let's talk about the Brain Train for a second, and I'll tell you why I'm not supporting it. There are basically two reasons, one practical, one fiscal.

The practical reason is that I just don't think the BT is going to go anywhere I need to go in Atlanta, except for the airport. Folks, Atlanta is all sprawled out. (I know, shocking.) To get anywhere, you either need effective public transportation or you need a car. Now, effective public transportation is something I do support, and very strongly. But Atlanta doesn't have it yet, and I don't know if they will even in my lifetime. Try to get the rich folks in North Fulton to let MARTA come in and see how far you get. Gwinnett County is also severely lacking in that department. So, I wouldn't take the choo-choo to Atlanta, because it's easier to drive my car to where I need to go rather than braintrain it to a central hub and take my chances with public transporation which may or may not go where I need it to go.

To a certain extent, then, I think that pushing the Brain Train through right now is really putting the cart ahead of the horse. Regional public transportation is great, but we need the local public transportation to support it in place first. I don't believe that Atlanta is there yet.

Here's a little bit of a sociological sub-reason to this as well. Americans, and especially those who live in the South and West, are ingrained with car culture. Now, that's not necessarily a good thing, but it is what it is. You'll need a sweeping change in the cultural zeitgeist to overcome that, and it won't happen overnight or even over a generation. So, even having the Brain Train in place doesn't guarantee that people will use it, and most people probably won't.

Now my fiscal reason is a little simpler. Friends, I love public transportation, but we cannot afford this right now. Estimates vary on the cost of this project, but it's going to be expensive. Legislators, do me a favor, please. Put that money into health care, into PeachCare, into public education, or helping small businesses stay afloat in the first few years of existence. Hell, put the money into helping local governments fund more and better public transportation on the local level. I'd love to buy the choo-choo, but we've got other more pressing problems to pay for first. The revenue to pay for choo-choos has to come from one or both of only two sources - either cut spending or raise taxes. I'm not a huge fan of the latter, for obvious reasons, and while I favor spending cuts, this legislature tends to pull money out of things like, oh, I don't know, having enough teachers, or making sure your kids can see the doctor.

Friends, I'm convincable on this issue. I'm open to debate, and I'd like to know why I should get behind the choo-choo, but right now...well, not so much.

Cowsert's website is up

He let us know last night. Anyway, it's a pretty nice website; some of the photography is top-notch. He's messaging on two things - common sense (which I like), and conservatism (which I used to like in some respects until some of Mr. Cowsert's colleagues in the GOP hijacked the word and redifined it to mean hating on gays, Mexicans, and anyone else who isn't white, fundamentalist, and Southern. Ahem. For what it's worth, I've met Bill, and I don't think he's got an intolerant bone in his body, but that's not particularly true of some of his fellow Republicans.)

Sorry about that. Sometimes... Anyhoo, Bill's website is up. The issues section is pretty nice, although I think many of us would like a leeeeeeetle more detail about his plan on health care. He wants to allow small business owners to join a pool of insurance buyers, which is a good idea, since 90% of Georgia's workforce works for small businesses. Still, while that might make a dent in the number of uninsured folks who are driving up health care (and thus health insurance) costs, he doesn't say anything about the insurance companies themselves, which - some believe - share a part of the blame.

Cowsert also says that he's "committed to fully funding our educational system." OK, Bill, if you get elected, we're holding you to that. You may have noticed a big honkin' University in our back yard. We take education pretty seriously around here, and given the dropout rate in the Clarke County public schools, I don't know that Athens voters are going to look too favorably on three years of education cuts, followed by an election year education funding orgy, as Sonny did, with the help of the GOP-held state legislature.

One other issues point, and then I'll let you make up your own mind. I liked what Cowsert has to say about transportation and air pollution. But then I read a little deeper, and caught this: "I will work with state and regional transportation officials to promote making Hwy 316 an interstate-style road without excessive fees and tolls." Hmmm...without excessive fees or tolls, meaning that the option is open. I'm not strongly decided on that particular issue, except that I'm opposed to having to pay to drive to Atlanta, and I'm pretty sure that Atlanta will get the lion's share of the revenue. Bill also loves him some Brain Train, which I don't really care for.

Finally, Bill has a blog. It's apparently the happening thing for candidates.

Mayor Heidi is gonna clean this town up greenway at a time. If you'd like to help her in her effort to do that, then you should stop by the Sandy Creek Nature Center this Saturday at 9:00 am. She'll provide bags and refreshments.

Hey, as far as candidate events go, it beats punch and cookies.

Random aside: Heidi's campaign committee is called "Elect Heidi Mayor Again!" I dunno, sounds a little ungainly. I prefer Heidi 2.0, or perhaps "Heidi Part II: The Reckoning." But what do I know?

Hey, speaking of candidate events, the man we've annointed to make Ralph Hudgens cry like a little bitch, Mac Rawson, is having a soiree next month. It could be a big deal, so we're telling you now. It's going to be in Winterville on September 14, and will feature Gov. Roy Barnes and other dignitaries. In an effort to make the event as unstuffy as possible, sources in the Rawson camp tell me that barbecue will be served, and the hit to your pocketbook will be reasonably light. Y'all go.

Speaking of fundraisers, Congressional candidate Terry Holley, the man we've annointed to have his lunch eaten by Charlie Norwood, will be breezing through Athens this week to raise some cash. Folks, don't waste your time or your money on this one. As of his June 30th disclosure, Holley had raised less than $8,000 for this race (Norwood raised a shade over $1.1 million in the same time period) and had less than $2,000 cash on hand. (Norwood has over $1 million on hand.) Not to criticize Mr. Holley or anything, he's a nice guy with good ideas, but if you're thinking about writing some candidate checks, then please, consider Rawson (he needs your help and he's got a shot against Hudgy), or Jane Kidd or Bill Cowsert, whichever floats your particular boat. Another thing about Holley, for a candidate who wants to represent Athens, we haven't seen very much of him, other than at Democratic party functions (and those cats are already voting for him.)

Monday, August 21, 2006

Doug McKillip, Regina Quick, and E to the H

Here's what I know.

First of all, I got no dog in this fight. If you asked me right now for whom I would vote, my answer would be "uh..." (As opposed to "eh")

So here's what I know about these cats. Some of it's positive, some of it's negative, but like they say, you take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have... you get the idea.

E to the H Culpepper
Well, he's got a cool name. And the establishment Democrats, most of whom are no longer actually Democrats, seem to love him. That's cool, if you dig that crowd. His website is the best of the bunch from a design standpoint. And, he's running as an independent, a move that would probably work well in a lot of other districts, but maybe not so much in this one, where a lot of the electorate is still fairly proud to call themselves Democrats. (God knows why, given the state of our state and local Democratic parties, but I digress.)
A lot of folks are talking about the fact that E to the H is a closet Republican. Maybe so, I don't really know him to speak to him. But, I would say this. Don't assume that the independent label is a harbinger of a 5% vanity vote, like it is in most cases. Culpepper has some very smart people working for him. He could surprise some people.
As far as issues go, I'm not impressed. Culpepper's website is - well, prosy is a good word. I'm all in favor of lots of issues stuff, but the language is kind of stiff and formal. More importantly, after reading it, I'm still not sure what he stands for, other than the Brain Train. For instance, dig this section about economic development:
"One of E.H.’s biggest priorities is finding the best way to create meaningful jobs here in Athens, which coincides with community improvement on a number of levels. E.H. has the unique expertise and leaderships credentials that will get the greatest return for the Athens community. Through involvement in statewide organizations such as Parks & Historic Sites, Rail Passenger Authority, and DOT; regional and corridor development initiatives such as 316 Alliance and BrainTrain Group; and involvement in numerous local arts, church, university, and business development programs, E.H has proven himself as a leader who can help bring greater economic prosperity to our region." I mean, that's all very lovely, and we're sure you've done a lot in your long and storied career. But there's no real mention of what you're going to do in the future. There's a maxim in marketing about selling benefits, not features. Past accomplishments are features, but plans are benefits.
However, worth checking out is the "Q&A with E.H." section, where the campaign talks a little more in-depth about the independent run and jazz like that.
Finally, here's something else I know about E to the H's campaign. They should quit their bitching about the poll floating around. They've spun this as being akin to a push poll, disseminating inaccurate information. I would note that, while they've alleged the information is inaccurate, they haven't put out the "real facts" as they see them. In any event, based on what I've heard about the polling questions (and if the Culpepper folks want to give me some more detail, they can and I'll re-evaluate my position on this), this is normal political polling procedure. You test your positives, your opponents' positives, your negatives and their negatives. It's how you develop a good message. Now the only way this is a push poll is if the sample size is way out of the ordinary. Normally, you would sample 400 - 500 folks. If the sample size is closer to 2,000 or so, then it's a push poll. I'm hearing that the poll came from McKillip's campaign or the state Democratic Party, so if one of those fine organizations would care to shoot me their survey and sample size, we can clear this up once and for all.
One other thing. (I know, I know, I already said "finally.") The Culpepper campaign is the only one of the three that is keeping us in the loop on their campaign news. So, if you're interested in who's reaching out to the new media, there you go. We're interested in that, but it's kind of our job to be interested.
And that's what I know about E to the H.

Doug McKillip
Well, what do I know about Doug McKillip? He's rich like Croesus. He cut me off in traffic once in his Mercedes. (DiDDY was with me, he can vouch.) He's run before for things. He put up a lot of yard signs before his uncontested primary - which kind of seemed like a waste of yard signs, considering how those things disappear.
Issues-wise, McKillip is more specific than E to the H. He opposes cutting funding for public education, and Peachcare. More importantly, on one of our pet issues, McKillip wants to do away with the law which prevents local governments from passing living wage ordinances. By the way, McKillip doesn't have an "Issues" section, per se, on his website, so browse around.
Personally, I'm not a huge fan of McKillip, and not just because he cut me off on Atlanta Highway that time. I've met him, heard him talk, and it just seems like he's reciting the Democratic Party talking points, without putting a whole lot of thought into the issues or coming up with something new and exciting.
And that's what I know about Doug McKillip.

Regina Quick
Don't know much about Regina Quick. She's a Republican, but sources tell us that she's actually pretty liberal on a lot of issues. She seems like a nice kid, but I have no clue what she stands for. She's a Republican, so I don't see her doing very well in this district. No website.
And that's what little I know about Regina Quick.

Conspiracy Theories Abound...
...about this race. The big one going around town (and mentioned in a previous thread) is that the local GOP was less than thrilled with Regina Quick as a candidate and recruited Culpepper. If he wins, according to this theory, he'll jump ship to the GOP.
Yeah, I don't know about that. Multiple sources tell us that the local GOP is less than supportive of E to the H and his candidacy. Culpepper's website mentions that the local Republican party sent down an edict promising swift and sure vengeance to any members signing his petition. (I'm guessing that involves the water torture, three weeks at Gitmo, or at the very least, a flaming bag of poo on your doorstep.) So, I'm going to need more proof before I'm ready to buy that one.
If you want my theory, here it is. Culpepper wanted to run for State House. So he did. Sometimes, the easiest theory is the best.
Oh, you want more detail? You want at least something involving shrewd political manuvering? Fine, I'll expound on why he's running as an independent. Culpepper can't run as a Republican, because he'd get his ass handed to him in 115. (Plus, he is probably more of a Democrat than he is a Republican.) He can't run as a Democrat because some of his biggest financial backers aren't Democrats. Finally, as an Independent, he avoided a primary, giving himself more time to stockpile his resources for the election that matters.

To the Culpepper and McKillip anonymous lurk-flamers on the blog: Here's your thread. Go nuts!


New policy on candidate links. We're only providing the linky goodness to the candidates that interact with us. Don't worry, not feeding us press releases and information won't affect how we cover candidates, except to the extent that we have less information on which to base our comentary.

Petty? Perhaps. But hey, if you don't keep us in the loop, then why should we bother to give you any help?

Check to the right to see the list of candidates who give a fat rat's ass about local electronic media. (You might need to refresh.)

Among the candidates who should know better: Jane Kidd, Tom Chasteen, Charlie Maddox, Jim Ponsoldt, and some others. Shame on you.

And, if you're a candidate, or know someone who is, the address is

One other thing:
James Garland has an "En Espanol" section on his site. That's a really good idea, and we extend a laurel (and hearty handshake) to Garland for remembering that there is a wide and diverse Athens community.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Open Thread: ACC Mayor's Race

Sorry folks, been a little busy, but let's pick it back up with the mayor's race. We haven't heard much out of this one lately, so give us some scoop, why dontcha?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Couple of things

1. VOTE, bitches. Turnout is pretty bad.

2. E to the H (Culpepper, that is) has launched his website. It looks pretty nice, actually. Content-rich. Check it out, and post some comments about it.

3. My battle royale with Charter Communications is still ongoing. They decided not to show up yesterday. Look for my new blog: coming soon. (Unless that domain is taken, which wouldn't surprise me.)

Pretty Peach Sticker Redux

Martin, Hicks, and Overend.

Turnout looked to be shit, as expected.

What's the good word out there?

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Up yours, Charter!

Ok, this isn't necessarily political, per se, but I've got to rant. Please note, if you're an elected official, there's a special note for you at the bottom of this post. So, Ms. Publius and I have Charter cable and high-speed internet over at the dojo. Now, a few weeks ago, Charter was kind of in and out, or in our our neighborhood, pretty much just out. I called Charter a few times, was told that there was an outage in my area due to some maintenance and upgrades. I was told we'd be back up and running in just a few days.

Not so much.

In fact, we've now been almost three weeks sans internet at the ol' homestead. The supposed maintenance outage has been resolved, but still no internet. So, we call in to the helpful folks over at Charter. After 45 minutes on hold (while listening to recorded ads touting their great customer service), we finally get to a real live human being in their tech support department. Now this guy is clearly on top of his game. In fact, we can actually hear him flipping the pages in his "resolve any technical issue through asking questions" notebook. After an hour of back and forth, Einstein has a solution: It's clearly our network card.

Well, no, says Ms. Publius (who was kind enough to spare me most of the tech support ordeal), you see we both own laptops, and his (mine) worked on both a wireless and plugged-in connection at work, only a few hours ago. And, to boot, we have no connection on hers either. So, if it's the network card, clearly, both of our laptops would have had to have lost their network cards independently within the last two hours.

"Ma'am, listen to me, it's your network card," says Einstein.

"Can I talk to your supervisor?" says Ms. P, "I don't think you're understanding our problem."

"Why? So he can tell you the same thing? It's your network card!"

...and so on. Here's the best part, though. Einstein (hereafter referred to Captain Technology) actually asks Ms. P if she could "put her husband on, so that he can explain it" to me. Aw shucks, lil lady. Don't you know that having a Y chromosome actually gives the bearer the ability to understand a higher level of technology? (Shit, I can't even program the VCR.)

Finally, we convince him that it isn't the network card and that Ms. P is perfectly capable on her own of understanding big words like "network card," connectivity," and "douchebag," and he promises to send someone out on Monday between 1pm and 5pm. Well, Ms. P is pretty strong-willed, especially when she's pissed off. She semi-politely informs Captain Technology that we have jobs - jobs which *gasp* require our presence at a location other than our home during normal business hours. Captain Technology, suitably cowed, arranges for a Saturday appointment.

Well, AthPo readers are pretty bright, and you've probably noticed that I'm actually typing this post on a Saturday. You might assume that Charter showed up, fixed the problem, and I'm happily sitting on my couch, watching tv, and luxuriating in my refound internet.

Not so much. In fact, we called to confirm this morning that Charter would be dropping by today. Nope. After another 45 minutes of holding, etc, we get to another service moron. Our appointment was in fact not scheduled for today, it was scheduled for Monday, or perhaps Thursday. Ay, there's the rub. So Ms. P asks again for a supervisor. No problem, but you'll have to hold, as there are about 6 people ahead of us waiting to talk to him too.

Sigh. If anyone needs me, I'll be here. Political stuff returns tomorrow. Don't forget to vote Tuesday.

A special note to all of our readers who are candidates or elected officials:
Guys, I know we just signed on with Charter for another ten years or so, but seriously, can't we allow some competition or something in the marketplace? Charter is shit. Don't believe me, ask around. I'll bet there are hundreds of your constituents who have had equally shitty experiences with these douchebags - I know most of my friends have.

Less than two hours after I slapped this angry post up, I got a very nice email from none other than her Honor herself, Mayor Heidi. She brought my rant to the attention of the proper folks in the local gummint, which was far more than I was expecting.

See, I wrote this post initially for two reasons: first, I was righteously pissed, and second, there's an old saying in customer service/marketing that every customer who has a bad experience tells ten friends. I just took that adage to the next level.

But with Mayor Heidi getting involved, well, it's a good thing. I doubt this will ever progress much farther. Charter will (hopefully!) come by and fix my shit tomorrow, and all will be right with the world. Still, this is a good reminder of why Heidi got elected and why she's most probably going to get re-elected. Details and retails, kids. She gloms on to the little details - very little that goes on in this city is off her radar. And she's a master of retail politics - reaching out to folks one-on-one. And, for a lot of voters, "I can't believe she supported rental registration/the smoking ban/what have you" is trumped by, "I bitched about something and she called me personally."

Anyway, the substance of my Heidi email was that she forwarded my complaint over to the right folks, I can file a formal complaint (which probably won't do much good), and as many of you said, the dish and dsl is the way to go. She also mentioned, rightly enough, that I probably wouldn't be particularly satisfied with any of the other providers. (Judging by context, I'm guessing that the lack of competition thing is more FCC than ACC.)

So, the bottom line of Heidi's email is that there isn't a whole hell of a lot I can do, unless I'm into filing compaints and shaking my fist in impotent rage. (I'm not. Well, ok, I sorta am.) But none of that really matters. Like I said, my shit'll get fixed, or I'll switch to BellSouth. The important thing, from a political perspective is that sometimes, City Hall is on your side. And just like I told ten friends about a bad experience with Charter, I'll give credit where where credit is due, and tell you guys and more about a good experience with the ACC gummint.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Open Thread 2: State Senate 47

Skipping around a little, let's take everyone's pulse on State Senate 47, where Mac Rawson is taking on Ralph Hudgens.