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The Editor's Desk: Will downtown plan simply gather dust?

the "commission work sessions", although open to the public, are practically private. i'd recommend that the commission initiate better publicized "agenda setting meetings" in which the mayor and commission together establish an agenda for the monthly, televised, meetings.

the commission seems to have abdicated its role in initiating and following through on new ideas to the professional staff, which for the most part, through inertia, maintains the status quo.

until something changes, and new energy sources emerge, i have no confidence that our local government is established to accomplish meaningful new policies, etc. for our community.

posted @ Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 11:20

Ponsoldt: Mayor slowing progress in Athens

a word to snarkydude regarding the "perception for many years (deservedly so) that our schools are underperforming": what may have been true at some times in the past has not been true lately. clarke county schools are doing well, despite the "undeserved" perception among people who are not familiar with the facts.

we'd all like to see "perfection"--but then we appreciate what we have. i think the current administrators and teachers in the clarke county school system are doing very good jobs, and of course continuing that positive performance requires the participation, support, and pride of parents and the students, themselves.

it also would help if members of the community would not, in general, refer to "perceptions of underperformance" when they really don't appreciate the facts.

for example, when my son graduated from cedar shoals, the graduation rate there was down around 40%. the improvement in that one statistic alone is a very positive development.

regarding prince avenue, my understanding is that there are a number of changes that could improve safety, short of three-laning. these possibilities need discussion and debate at televised commission meetings, without a vote, to stimulate a broader discussion and new ideas.

this is true, of course, regarding a number of important, stalled issues, including the rezoning of downtown. "work sessions" and committee meetings do not substitute for televised commission meetings where, it is hoped, commissioners don't already have their minds made up about addressing, or not addressing, problems.

with all respect to our elected officials (and staff), the likelihood is that you will achieve more positive change by opening up consideration to the entire community.

posted @ Saturday, April 19, 2014 - 13:42

Schram: Obamacare news you probably missed

while martin schram's column is mostly accurate, he omits one important thing (presumably to try to appear "non-partisan"): people who have not heard the positive news about obamacare get their "news" from fox or conservative talk radio, whose agenda is to promote ignorance.

in fact, comments to abh prove that point.

and the needed legislative fixes to obamacare can't be addressed because republican members of congress won't allow any "fixes"--they want obamacare eliminated, period.

so, to mr. schram, i'd ask: why is the beltway media so afraid of truthful discussions of facts which plainly are much more critical of the republican party?

posted @ Thursday, April 17, 2014 - 15:24

The Editor's Desk: Looking at Athens' mayoral race

@ponsoldt: jim thompson--feel free to use the above comment as a "letter" to abh if you wish.

posted @ Thursday, April 17, 2014 - 15:15

The Editor's Desk: Looking at Athens' mayoral race

nancy is a very good person who has given many years of public service to the community. i like her without reservation.

but, let's face it: she's the "establishment" candidate who has been leading mostly a "do nothing" local government. i suppose many people prefer a "do nothing" government, because they want to avoid the risk of doing something new.

nancy's refusal to put the prince avenue issue on the commission agenda (along with other possible issues) is a roadblock to progress. i could not vote for her or anyone else who so plainly plays "finger to the wind" politics and is a roadblock to the discussion and consideration of new ideas.

i hope nancy changes her mind, and her governing style, and allows discussion of the prince avenue question asap.

when i was a school board member, the board's policy was to allow any member, with the support of just one other member, to place issues on the meeting agenda for discussion and vote.

although some in the community might have forgotten (or never known), many positive things were accomplished for our school system through this much more "open" process--which effectively allowed members of the community to approach a board member with an idea or proposal with a reasonable chance that their idea would receive airing at a board meeting.

what we've seen on the commission has been just the opposite. at this rate, athens will never "match" the progress of other communities with which we compare ourselves.

posted @ Thursday, April 17, 2014 - 15:14

Georgia health exchange applications hit 220,000

nathan deal's and the republican party's refusal to expand medicaid in georgia, which of course would expand health care coverage even more, is one of the most cowardly, damaging, and ignorant policy decisions we've seen in georgia in quite awhile.

in effect, it is a death sentence for thousands of georgians, a bankruptcy notice for rural providers, and a tax increase notice for local taxpayers.

and why? spite, ideology, and fear of talk show reprisal.

posted @ Thursday, April 17, 2014 - 14:56

Obama praises Biden, but doesn't endorse for 2016

if joe biden runs for pres in 2016, right now i'd be inclined to support him. in fact, i'd love to see obama resign and pres. biden appoint him to the supreme court--if/when there's a vacancy.

posted @ Thursday, April 17, 2014 - 14:51

Atlanta Braves change policy on guns in stadium

guns don't kill people; angry fans with guns do.

posted @ Thursday, April 17, 2014 - 14:48

Poll shows Perdue, Deal still leading

i'm curious: who is running/paying for the anti-gingrey tv ads? seems like wasted money.

i understand the money (from the repub establishment) coming in for purdue. i'm surprised the more savvy repub voters don't reject that establishment pressure, especially the social authoritarians. i still have hopes for paul broun.

posted @ Thursday, April 17, 2014 - 14:44

Gov. Deal to skip televised debate

who is surprised? please put an empty chair there in the governor's "honor".

but this tells me all i need to know.

where do i go to contribute to the carter campaign?

only a true believer will vote for deal.

posted @ Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - 12:57

Mayor says Prince Avenue study has become 'political football'

forget about labels like "liberalism" or "conservatism", do you really want more of a "do-nothing" government?

posted @ Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - 12:53

Mayor says Prince Avenue study has become 'political football'

prince avenue issues should have been addressed years ago. political cowardice prevented that. similarly, political cowardice (and unlawful private meetings) has prevented, so far, dealing reasonably with downtown planning, including planning that includes the eastern entry to downtown. hopefully, that will end soon.

we could learn a lot from the ways in which other communities have responded to the traffic and other issues that arise in downtown areas to promote our town. certainly, facilitating speedy commuter movement into and through downtown should not remain our only concern. i'd love to see a "swarm of outraged citizens" show up at commission meetings--and be able to ask them questions about their priorities for promoting our community--as well as where they live and shop.

posted @ Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - 12:30

Grimes: More equitable tax structure would make America a better place

i agree with these two proposed changes to our federal tax system: taxing capital gains as ordinary income makes sense, and imposing the payroll tax without an income cap, while reducing the percentage for everyone, also makes sense.

i'd add a tax on financial transactions, as well, using that revenue to target certain necessary costs, including repairing and improving infrastructure.

i've never understood why the anti-tax folks, other than those who are very wealthy, continue to carry the bags for the billionaires, especially the billionaires or very wealthy who made their money in finance. adherence to ideology almost never produces common sense results.

does "conservative" really mean refusing to tax the ultra wealthy at higher rates? that's not consistent with any definition of "conservative" i've ever heard (and from time to time in the past, i self-identified as conservative and libertarian--until i outgrew my ayn rand fixation). it's one thing to by highly suspicious of bureaucracy (public or private), but hatred and opposition to government, generally, is destructive and foolish.

by the way, use of the word "socialism" in these discussions in totally mindless--unless the term is expanded to include everyone who receives a government benefit, including even the koch brothers, and even ayn rand.

posted @ Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 15:36

Hood files first motions as own attorney, asking cop-killing and drug murder cases be tried separately

the motion is valid. the prosecutor should not oppose it.

posted @ Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 15:22

Mayor says Prince Avenue study has become 'political football'

"denson did say that 'no business people along the portion of prince avenue slated for the test have come to her with concerns about pedestrian safety.'"

this has to be a misquote--it's otherwise completely clueless.

"business people" not worried about pedestrian safety? my goodness. until a major part of their customer base is injured by traffic, will "business people" ever worry about pedestrian safety? (i know this isn't fair--hey, flagpole's new office is on prince).

i know quite a few people who have become "one issue" voters this year: they will support only candidates who endorse at least the plan for temporary pedestrian islands on prince. and this is not just a safety issue--it's a neighborhood issue as well.

posted @ Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 15:15

The Editor's Desk: Mayor taking careful approach to Prince Avenue issues

you're too nice, jim.

the prince avenue project is stuck in "finger to the wind" politics. the "commuters" who would be disadvantaged by rush hour delays from three-laning prince obviously don't want anything done.

those who live in neighborhoods adjacent to prince avenue mostly want the three-laning (i commented many years ago when three laning was first considered that, given the safety and neighborhood concerns, some form of three laning made sense).

the question for nancy and commission members, i suppose, is what are the opinions of chamber of commerce business members whose businesses may be affected (positively or negatively).

very little positive has happened in athens-clarke county during the past several years, although a few disasters have been averted (like putting walmart in a very high traffic area downtown after unlawful private meetings).

of course, the status quo is fine with many people. i think what our elected officials have to recognize is that what is good for our neighborhoods, in the longer term, will be good for the entire community, including its businesses.

for me the only serious common sense prince avenue question is how best to handle the potentially wicked merge at milledge, where four through lanes would merge into two. for that, we should listen to our traffic engineers and also look at what other communities have done in similar situations.

but, jim, while doing anything will have opposition, a "do-nothing" government more or less speaks for itself, doesn't it?

posted @ Friday, April 11, 2014 - 14:46

Schram: Court knows what it did with campaign finance

justice roberts was a highly ambitious lawyer for ronald reagan during the height of reagan's "litmus testing" for federal judges--which assured that ideology was the primary consideration in judicial appointment. he was very aware of the political need to create a "cover" for his intentions.

justice kennedy may indeed be an "innocent"--semi-conscious of what he's accomplishing. but roberts knows. alito, scalia, and thomas also know. they are trying to re-shape the country in support of their party's patrons, the conservative billionaires who fund campaigns and benefit from the results.

roberts differs in that he tries to hide his flagrant disingenuousness. judicial activists like him choose to be disingenuous to avoid the obvious--that they are pure politicians in service to their party's ideology. roberts, after all, is the "chief justice".

posted @ Friday, April 11, 2014 - 14:25

Clarke Central High School earns high ranking from Washington Post

i congratulate the faculty, staff, students (and their families) of clarke central.

some credit for this achievement, i think, perhaps, can be attributed to the school's innovative development of "ninth grade academies" or "schools within the school" more than a decade ago, something that has proven to bring positive results.

clarke central is proving that "regression to the mean" does not have to be the watchword of public education. our two high schools' graduates demonstrate that parents do not need to send their children to private schools or charter schools to obtain a very good education--as long as the parents and families become and remain heavily involved in the school and their kids' education.

posted @ Friday, April 11, 2014 - 14:08

Athens teacher arrested for growing marijuana says it was for medicinal reasons

@Used2baFreeCountry: "can i legally vote not guilty. . ." you're talking about jury "nullification". technically, jurors cannot "nullify" the law and a judge will not instruct the jury that they have such power. however, under georgia law, a jury is the ultimate judge of both the law and facts--a somewhat unusual and not fully explained provision.

the reality is that jurors, once empaneled, can vote their consciences, as long as they don't publicly announce that's what they're doing. but the judge and prosecutor won't want jurors to understand that.

the big issue is whether, at trial, the judge will allow the defendant to introduce evidence tending to show that his possession of marijuana was solely for medicinal use and that he did not, in fact, distribute any unlawful drug; ie., that although "intent" to distribute can be presumed from the quantity of marijuana, that presumption of intent can be rebutted.

if i were called to be a juror in a "simple" marijuana possession case (i believe marijuana should be taxed but not criminalized and am supportive of what colorado is doing now), i likely would vote "not guilty" if i thought the defendant was being truthful. i would like to see and hear, however, what evidence the police collected in this case.

i think it's absurd that taxpayers pay out millions of dollars in support of the prosecution of marijuana possession cases, rather than receive millions of dollars in sales taxes from marijuana growers, as colorado now does.

it sounds like, in this case, although "possession with intent to distribute" will be charged, there is no evidence of actual distribution.

posted @ Friday, April 11, 2014 - 13:58

Jack Kingston to report $1.1M haul in Georgia Senate bid

the republican establishment will support kingston any way they can. the question remains: will georgia tea partiers support him? will conservative independents swing back to the "nunn" name? i can't wait for the republican debates to be televised . . . oh, wait.

posted @ Thursday, April 10, 2014 - 15:29

Police: UGA student died from drug overdose

drugs don't kill people. people who take or give drugs kill people. oh, wait . . .

posted @ Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - 13:15

Ethics talk heats up Georgia governor's race

nathan deal promises ethics reform. LOL. isn't his campaign manager, or one of them, jim donnan?

posted @ Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 21:40

Donnan co-defendant pleads guilty in Ponzi scheme

"ponzi scheme"? republican economics.

posted @ Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 21:38

What Others Say: Answers still needed in IRS (The Augusta Chronicle)

i wish the person writing these editorials for the augusta chronicle would sign his/her name--and acknowledge being a hack and a bag carrier.

editorials are by definition subjective--but they should not be so plainly misleading as those coming out of abh's sister publication. journalists should be attempting to spread accurate information and useful ways of analyzing issues.

the augusta chronicle editorial page is not better than the myriad of talk radio entertainers who "feed their base". we don't need more ignorance; we've got more than enough right now.

posted @ Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 13:48

Hood: UGA players' actions may prove far more than 'foolish'

well, we just don't know. "state of mind", intent, knowledge, etc., have to be assessed individually. in fact, at least in some cases, this may turn out to be more of a "civil" violation than criminal "theft by deception", requiring reimbursement of funds and not a criminal charge.

for example, if a state legislator files an "expense" statement with the state seeking reimbursement for meals which others have paid for, is that a crime? does it happen?

if a uga administrator claims to have received a job offer at a falsely inflated salary as a basis of his request that such offer be "matched", is that a crime?

if a mortgage banker approves a mortgage application knowing that the applicant does not earn the salary he has claimed on the application, at the banker's suggestion, and cannot make scheduled payments, is that a crime?

in other words, what is "wrong" is not necessarily a crime. i think richt's measured response so far has been correct.

the players apparently made "mistakes". how do we/should we judge those mistakes? do we look at comparable "mistakes" by others who are not prosecuted?

posted @ Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 13:41

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