Saturday, September 30, 2006

On the other hand...


So this Elton Dodson thing is becoming a little mini-shitstorm on the blog, and sources who were hanging out at the Iron Triangle festivus today tell me that at least the usual inside baseball players are talking about it.

Did the Commish go too far? Well, before you jump to conclusions, bear in mind that Chuck Jones had, at various times in his campaign, alluded to (and in some cases directly charged) that the ACC Commission was corrupt and engaging in collusion. He didn’t specifically exclude Dodson, so one presumes he includes him in his allegations of corruption and collusion. Dodson had every right in the world to respond, and he had every right in the world to respond in the way he did.

On the other hand, Dodson is a public figure and those kinds of charges get thrown around a lot from challengers looking for traction – it’s part of the game. On the other hand, Jones , at the time of Dodson’s comments, was not a candidate. But that doesn’t mean that he’s longer a public figure.

However, Chuck Jones is no moron. (And there’s the slogan for next time: “Chuck Jones – he’s no moron.”) As I’m sure the Commish hisself would tell you, you don’t get through law school if you’re stupid. Chuck is, in my opinion, wrong on just about every issue. As a candidate, he was waaaaay too quick to throw around charges he couldn’t back up. And there was the unfortunate Cobbham listserv incident. When you get right down to it, Chuck’s Achilles heel as a candidate was a lack of judgment and a surplus of immaturity. On the other hand, Dodson’s quote indicates a temporary lapse of maturity as well.

Here’s what I know. Dodson should have used a more diplomatic choice of words, if for no reason than taking the high road usually makes one look better.

Here’s the other thing I know. We can massively increase the revenue in the ACC General Fund if Chuck will move to the 10th District in 2008 and run against Dodson. We’ll make them debate each other every week, and put it on pay-per-view. Should be interesting and lucrative.

30 comments:

hillary said...

You know, I actually thought it was good to hear something from Dodson that didn't sound scripted and considered deeply in advance. Remember, he's pretty young, but he doesn't always act like it. Occasionally, rashness can lend someone a little humanity.

Anonymous said...

When did Dodson say this? Was this filmed or to a reporter or in person?

Jmac said...

My bet is that he wasn't entirely convinced he was on the record for that little nugget, and the reporter - being a student newspaper itself full of promising reporters going through the necessary growing pains - didn't recognize it was supposed to be or didn't pick up it should have been or whatever.

So, sure, Dodson probably should have taken the high road, but Publius raises a very important point ... that from late April through the end of September, Chuck ran an insanely negative campaign against government itself, accusing the commission of rampant elitism and corruption without any evidence to back it and waged war against a neighborhood outside of his district.

Dodson, understandably, was upset ... particularly when responding to a reporter's query about now is the commission 'anti-student' but why is the commission 'anti-student' and using Chuck as a primary source and lifting him as the champion of student rights.

You should be amazed Dodson restrained himself enough to merely say 'moron.'

Jmac said...

This ...

Dodson, understandably, was upset ... particularly when responding to a reporter's query about now is the commission 'anti-student' but why is the commission 'anti-student' and using Chuck as a primary source and lifting him as the champion of student rights.

... should be ...

Dodson, understandably, was upset ... particularly when responding to a reporter's query about not is the commission 'anti-student' but why the commission is 'anti-student' and using Chuck as a primary source and lifting him as the champion of student rights.

Todd Mitchell said...

Whether we're "lucky" Dodson didn't call Jones something worse or not, the bottom line, as others are asserting here, is that the comment really does come out of left field in the R&B article and makes Dodson look petty. The article reads along as a nice litany of student complaints about the ACC Commish, until "That moron is twisting the issues" just kind of explodes.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Dodson responsible for a lot of the big government nanny measures the students are pissed about anyway? The smoking ban is certainly his doing.

Anonymous said...

To: Publius et al. I think an interesting post would be: Who is going to be Heidi's successor? (whether it's Charlie now or someone in four years)

Anonymous said...

We already know that Elton is Heidi's puppet. These 2 are peas in a pod. So he's had his way for a long time.

Elton is and has been petty, pretentious, and shows his true colors when he thought no one (that mattered) was watching.

As for the Heidi succession plan. It will likely be Heidi and either Charlie or Tom in a runoff. And whichever of the 2 boys makes it to the runoff wins... in my opinion.

Agree? Disagree?

hillary said...

Hey y'all. Mayoral debate Thursday on the East side at Cedar Shoals. They're putting flyers on mailboxes in my neighborhood.

monticello_pres said...

Hillary, you beat me to the punch. I haven't been around much lately but I wanted to make sure you all knew.

The Cedar Creek Civic Association is hosting a Mayoral Candidate Forum. Cedar Shoals HS Auditorium at 7:00 PM.

Not limited to folks from the eastside. Questions even received in advance at cedarcreekboard@yahoo.com. We're hoping to also open the forum up to questions from the audience - but no guarantee.

(Before anyone asks, la Puerta del Sol will not be on the agenda.)

hillary said...

(Before anyone asks, la Puerta del Sol will not be on the agenda.)

Hang on a sec. Why not? Because it's over and done with? Don't you think it's symptomatic of a lot of Eastside issues?

dave_in_athens said...

Thanks Hillary - glad you got the flyer. I've emailed the crack editorial staff re: the forum. Still hoping for an official mention (crosses fingers) . . .

I hope everyone is able to attend. One of Cedar Shoals' history teachers, Drew Shermeta, will be our moderator. We are working hard for a great turnout, both from the community at large, and the Cedar Shoals family. All five candidates have confirmed their attendance.

If anyone would like to submit a question in advance, please reference the above mentioned email address. Or, if you prefer, come prepared to ask in person should time allow.

All topics are fair game. Hillary, you're right-on. LPDS is a symptomatic issue - not just for the eastside, but for all of Athens. I hope you can make it Thursday.

monticello_pres said...

Hillary, put down the guns. I was trying to make a joke. No harm intended...

Elton Dodson said...

First off let me say that I owe Mr. Jones an apology. While the Red & Black fabricated that unfortunate quote from several statements, I did use the word moronic about his actions at one point and should not have. I do not think Chuck is a moron. I am, however, very upset with him. While he had no impact on the Commission and would have had no impact on the 9th District election, I believe he did a large amount of damage to students and other energetic, active Athenians.

Despite the fact that Mr. Jones was dead wrong on every issue and outright nasty in his methods of manipulation of the public, he made waves because he capitalized on a real sense of anger and resentment felt by many students and many other relatively young active members of our community. You may make as many generalizations about me as you like – I am, after all, a politician and a lawyer. I must be arrogant and scripted! Frankly, I know none of these things are true and I have ignored them. No elected official would ever sleep at night if he or she dwelled on false personality traits assigned to them.

However, I think you should ask yourself how much you miss out on and how much power you give up by basing decisions on stereotypes and out of single issue anger. Athens needs you – and by you I am admittedly using a stereotype of my own: that we need young (not age but at heart), active, engaged, cutting-edge (meaning you have a better definition of BLOG than Paris Hilton), and compassionate folks more involved in government.

So a little bit of history. The smoking ban. Hate me for it – that’s okay. But move on and recognize my motivations. I am not paternalistic and I do not believe in nanny government. I support our downtown passionately. I could care less if adults choose to smoke. I certainly made that choice for many years. While I will not go back and reengage in the ban debate, I will say this: whether I was right or wrong I supported the ban because I had the power to save people’s lives. Not people who choose to smoke – but people who choose to breathe. I know that less people will die from smoking related illness now. I know that as sure as I know the sun will come up tomorrow. So I make no apologies for it. I do not support the government making lifestyle choices for you – but I do support the government keeping people from hurting others. In any case, you need to get over it and work with me on problems that Athens is facing. Also, I was not the leader on the ban. I was important only because I had a different opinion on the matter than my predecessor, Cardee Kilpatrick.

Which brings me to the point of this diatribe (thanks for reading or skipping to this point). I regret the smoking ban for same reason I regret Chuck Jones ran for office. Both turned very smart and active folks away from the true power struggle in our community (and state and country). I was a very young unknown who decided to try against the odds to topple a piece of the old guard in Athens. I did not believe at the time that I qualified that I had a substantial chance. And why would I? The money, the “important” people like land investors and elite lawyers, and certainly the Banner-Herald would be solidly united against me. I was only one year out of being a student myself when I ran. I am an outsider. If I run again in 2008, there will be the same money and power backing a candidate against me. Why?

I do not go to cocktail parties so that I can feel important, or plot at the Country Club over how best to get these “liberal” groups like Grow Green out of business so we can have Gwinnett sprawl. I am not complicit in wider bigger faster with our transportation infrastructure. I speak my mind and say what I mean. Occasionally, I wince the next day at what I have said. But you give me the choice between honesty and the occasional foot in the mouth versus carefully polished statements that say nothing, and it is an easy decision. I have done my small, but I believe important, part in changing the balance of the Commission. In my first few months in office I engineered the mass grading ordinance, which has removed the ability of seedy developers to pillage and destroy huge tracts of land (along with the run-off that goes with it). I am pushing for domestic partner benefits in my role as chairman of the Legislative Review Committee. I push for openness of government and inclusiveness at every opportunity.

Those are not the values of the old guard, stinging still from their losses in recent elections. So get with the program. Figure out who your friends are and know that even the best of friends disagree from time to time. My cell phone number is 706-254-2448. Unlike state or federal government, I am here to talk to you or be yelled at by you anytime. (Except that my little girl goes to sleep at 8:45, so the phone is off from that point forward). I spent a great deal of time telling that Red & Black reported how much I believed in student involvement. I gave him a list of ways students can (and should) get involved so that they can better hold people like me accountable. He did not print a word of it.

With non-partisan elections (engineered by the “old-guard”) in Nov, the Commission very well may regress to the dark days of 6 years ago, when Athens was headed towards sprawl, anti-student hysteria, and outright war on downtown. I ask only that you consider that however upset you may be with me over a single issue, I ran for you (see above definition). My predecessor did not. I fear the day we are back to the developer defense lawyers running the town, when citizen groups have no power, and poverty becomes just another factor to brush under the rug. I am fighting hard to hold the line. That is my only motivation in serving in this role. The pay stinks and the hours are long – if I did this for anything other than idealistic motives I’d be a real moron.

Polusplagchnos said...

Thanks for the clarifications, Elton. What is your list of ways students can and should get involved?

Blackfin_Day said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Joe Spence said...

What is Elton more full of? Shit, or himself?

Anonymous said...

Elton has the guts to run and speak his mind, which is more than any of us can say.

Todd Mitchell said...

Elton Dodson writes: "While I will not go back and reengage in the ban debate, I will say this: whether I was right or wrong I supported the ban because I had the power to save people’s lives. Not people who choose to smoke – but people who choose to breathe. I know that less people will die from smoking related illness now. I know that as sure as I know the sun will come up tomorrow. So I make no apologies for it. I do not support the government making lifestyle choices for you – but I do support the government keeping people from hurting others. In any case, you need to get over it and work with me on problems that Athens is facing."

I appreciate your direct response to my "nanny government" comment re the smoking ban. And I'm glad you stand by the decision you made, Orphan Annie theme and all ("the sun will come up tomorrow") ;> I can also assure you I'm "over it" in the sense that I don't think there will be a repeal anytime soon, and I've never been a single issue voter anyway.

However, I still maintain that the "second-hand smoke evidence", which the ban was largely based around, was essentially junk science. The "evidence" that people have died from second-hand smoke is anecdotal, spurious and often silly, and is used in a pseudo-scientific way to suggest "credibility" when in fact there is none. My chance of contracting lung cancer is greater from running every morning on Prince Avenue, than standing around in a room full of smokers.

IMO, the ban hasn't "saved lives" as much as it trashed the facade of downtown, where smokers now stand on the sidewalks and in the streets, enjoying their smoke *and* carbon monoxide from passing or idling cars. An absurdist might even say the ban is hastening the smokers' demise.

But I thank you for your comments and, fwiw, I voted for you two years ago. It's nice to see a commissioner willing to give out his cell phone number and take the heat when they advocate an unpopular position.

Publius said...

"However, I still maintain that the 'second-hand smoke evidence', which the ban was largely based around, was essentially junk science."

Well someone's going to have to make a "Thank You for Smoking" reference. So I will.

Is your Commissioner a doctor?
(no)
A scientific researcher of some kind?
(no)
Well then, he's hardly a credible expert, is he?

Anonymous said...

This is the second time that Elton Dodson has looked like a jackass in print and blamed it on the reporter.

Fishplate said...

The smoking ban. Hate me for it – that’s okay. But move on and recognize my motivations. I am not paternalistic and I do not believe in nanny government. I support our downtown passionately. I could care less if adults choose to smoke.

Yet you are against those same adults choosing to be in a place where smooke appears? How can you justify removing one choice, but not another?

I do not support the government making lifestyle choices for you – but I do support the government keeping people from hurting others.

I cannot fathom what your motivations were to remove personal choice fromn the individual. Until I am forced by law to enter a restaurant or bar, it remains my choice to patronize the business of my (informed) choice. In the meanwhile, I am not being hurt by others. I am choosing to hurt myself if I enter a place where smoking is allowed.

A better law would have made establishments that allow smoking to post that information at the entrance, allowing patrons to choose for themselves. You decided we were not smart enought to choose for ourselves, thus you are a nanny.

You say you do not believe in "nanny government", yet that is exactly what you supported...

In any case, you need to get over it and work with me on problems that Athens is facing.

Elton, some of your positions are attractive, and I wish I could support you. But I cannot work with a person who, without knowing me, professes to know more than me what is best for me.

GP said...

Well said fishplate. The fact that Elton believes that he's "saving lives" with the indoor smoking ban reinforces my belief that Elton is infatuated with his own self-importance.

Charles R said...

I think the charitable reading is that Elton felt that a vote was needed on the ban in order to get on to the more important issues, and his judgment of the facts and the claims (pseudo-science or not) led him to determine that it was more reasonable to prevent harm being done than to allow it to continue. I am not sure how what he has said means he is infatuated with his own self-importance, particularly when he was careful to be as self-deprecating as is reasonably allowed. Look, he's not whining. He's not complaining. He's not saying that he was manhandled by the ideologues and scalawags at the R&B. He fessed up to his inappropriate comment, apologized, and situated his own conflict with Jones in context to understand why he was frustrated or upset with him.

A self-obsessed person would not act like this. We can talk about rhetorical manipulation and say that it is always a sign of the politician to script a statement that says the statement is not scripted, but I think, unless I'm mistaken, that it would make sense to take Elton at his word.

I completely agree with the sentiment that the ban should not have taken place, even though I fully despise cigarette smoke. It is difficult for me to accept that the ban is not paternalistic, on any contemporary account of broad, civil liberalism. But, Elton doesn't even think that the ban was all that important. It was a part of the way onward to the more engaging, more pressing matters. It was a vote with a bonus: one less distraction from the real issues and a benefit to others.

He took a stand. Of course, taking stands rightfully ought to be important, and we should see the stands we take as important for ourselves and others. I don't think I would want any person to represent the interests of the people if they were not going to consider the decisions they make as important and for the benefit of others. If you elect cynical bastards to office, do not be surprised when everything goes wrong for you, your neighbors, and the strangers. So, I don't know how we can go along with not working with people who know what is best for us. I go to a doctor because the doctor, presumably, has studied the subject of the health of my body and can inform me and prescribe/proscribe more healthy behaviors. The same for instructors, car mechanics, pastors, musicians, bus drivers, chefs: we expect a certain responsibility to the job or discipline that results in greater knowledge or better skill than the uninformed or the lay person gets from not having studied, experimented, learned.

Why should we expect our elected officials to be only as competent as we are? If we expect mediocrity, or worse, looking for a better government is the last way to find it. And if we discover they have given in the urge to be as regular and mediocre as us, by all means we should hold them accountable or cut them loose.

Publius said...

Wow. Really well-done and rational arguments from both sides (Fishplate and Charles R.)

This is a pleasant break from "E.H. is a Republican!" "Nuh-uh" "Charlie Maddox is a Republican!" "Nuh-uh."

A well deserved (and hopefully not-too-patronizing laurel (and hearty handshake) to the both of youse.

hillary said...

I've been hearing it (the smoking ban) lately as a workplace issue again, and this is where I tend to have the most difficult time and end up in the middle, as I'm all for workplace safety regulations (as long as they're not extremely stupid, which I think they're generally not). However, there did seem to be better ways to go about it, such as providing tax breaks for anyone who outlawed smoking in his/her establishment or even installed the super fancy ventilation system that sucks all the smoke out of the air. We'll revisit this whenever the commission decides to ban smoking on patios, too. Maybe that's paranoia talking, and it would be great if Elton would confirm so, but it just seems somewhat likely.

elton dodson said...

Nothing new that front, Hilary. There has been zero discussion about that issue that I am aware of. I will not support an outdoor or patio ban. As an aside, I think the concept of shutting down bars an hour earlier because of litter is ludicrous and I would not support that either. There is no doubt that there are trash issues, particularly the morning after games. But there are more sensible ways to address the problem.

elton dodson said...

Sorry, Hillary. I do know how to spell.

hillary said...

Thanks for the extra L, Mr. D. And that's all good to know.

Fishplate said...

Of course, now that the bars have to send smokers outside, the secondhand smoke has been moved from private property indoors to public property outdoors. I can't walk down Claton Street any more without having to breathe one hundred times as much second-hand smoke as was present before the smoking ban.

That's called "unintended consequences". I used to have to choose to enter private property to be assaulted by tobacco combustion byproducts, now I get the same thing by walking on the public sidewalks.

It makes far more sense, from a Public health standpoint, to ban smoking from Public spaces and allow it in Private spaces. Send the smokers indoors where they can choose to mingle with their own kind, rather than distribute their exhalations in the space that actually belongs to Athens-Clarke County.

Fishplate said...

I think the concept of shutting down bars an hour earlier because of litter is ludicrous and I would not support that either.

See, there is hope for Mr. Dodson /grin/

There is no doubt that there are trash issues, particularly the morning after games. But there are more sensible ways to address the problem.

My theory on trash: Certain areas were always bad (i.e. the alley in the Barmuda Triangle) but since the County did two things, it's gotten worse everywhere:

1. They replaced concrete sidewalks with brick.
2. They require trash to be in plastic bags.

I see the bags, handled by people who have spent the previous nine or ten hours dealing with increasingly drunken frat boys, slung onto the brick sidewalks in such a way that they develop leaks. The slush at the bottom of the bags seeps down into the craks between the bricks where it ferments into a lovely aroma that screams "Bourbon Street" to all and sundry that pass by on the subsequent warm summer days. I like the look of the bricks, but cleaning them and keeping the loose bricks in check have become a big problem in our current downtown plan.

If we could go to some type of leakproof container for bar trash, that would go a long way toward removing the stigma of downtown. An efficient storage and collection method that eliminates having to step around piles of bags on the sidewalk in the evenings would be a good thing too. Sure, it will cost money, but so will closing bars earlier. I'd be interested in knowing just how much sales tax revenue comes to A-CC during that last hour of revelry...

Face it, we will never be able to go back to the days of just three bars and three clubs downtown. We've got to find a way to manage what we've got. But I'll wager bars and trash aren't the worst problems in the AHN, either...