Campaign money, judges’ resignations, carts

Scott Bradshaw's picture

Georgia has 159 counties and one of the key ingredients to successful state political campaigns is financial support from outside the metropolitan Atlanta area. Recent disclosure reports released by the State Ethics Commission indicate that the campaigns of three Fayette County candidates for state offices have little support from other parts of Georgia.

Former Peachtree City Mayor Harold Logsdon, Republican candidate for state insurance commissioner, reported total contributions of $59,935 with $56,216 cash on hand on March 31. Logsdon made a loan to his campaign in the amount of $46,740 which accounts for 83 percent of the cash presently available to his campaign. His campaign fund would have less than $10,000 for advertising and other expenses had he not made the loan.

All of Logsdon’s itemized contributors are from Fayette or Coweta counties except four small donations from north of I-20 and three sizable donations from out of state. Logsdon’s chief local cash donors are developer Brent Scarbrough ($6,100) and former Peachtree City Mayor Bob Lenox ($3,000).

The amount of cash available to Logsdon including the loan ranks fifth among the six serious contenders for the Republican nomination. His top opponent, state Senator Ralph Hudgens, reported total contributions in excess of $360,000 with $260,000 cash on hand. Hudgens’ support is from a broad base of Georgia individuals and businesses including independent insurance agents from virtually every corner of the state.

Peachtree City resident Gary Horlacher, Democratic candidate for Secretary of State, reported $283,364 cash on hand for the same period. Horlacher made a $22,000 personal campaign contribution and $250,000 in personal loans to the campaign. He is the source of funds for 96 percent of his campaign’s cash on hand at the end of March and has few contributions outside metro Atlanta.

Horlacher’s top Democratic opponent, Gail Buckner, reported $228,371 cash on hand. She made a $15,000 personal contribution and loaned her campaign $200,000. This is especially puzzling since she is rumored to be considering dropping out of the race.

Incumbent Secretary of State Brian Kemp has the Republican “big money dogs” behind him and will be competitive in his quest to retain the position. Sandy Springs resident Doug MacGinnitie has almost $700,000 in his campaign chest with more to come from long-time connections in Dunwoody.

Buckner and Horlacher have not hit the jackpot with contributions, and one wonders why both are investing a quarter of a million dollars in a race for secretary of state when the winner must face such strong Republican opposition in the general election.

Horlacher faces more of an uphill battle than Logsdon. Both candidates need to do a better job of introducing themselves to the power brokers below the gnat line since the much discussed Republican ring around Atlanta no longer prevails.

State School Superintendent Kathy Cox has the best chance of the candidates from Fayette County because she is a known commodity throughout the state. Some view her incumbency as a negative since the state’s educational system is in shambles due to budget shortfalls and the gradual shift of power from the Department of Education to the governor’s office.

Cox’s campaign reported a meager $23,660 cash on hand at the end of March. She will not have strong competition in the Republican primary unless a surprise candidate steps up during this week’s qualifying period. The leading announced Republican opponent is Dr. John Barge, director of secondary education in the Bartow County Schools. Barge has raised a comparable amount of funds and is popular with school administrators.

The winner of the Republican primary will likely face retired Cobb County educator Dr. Beth Farokhi who has in excess of $50,000 cash on hand. Farokhi, a prolific fundraiser, may be the most qualified person in the race and hopes to ride in on gubernatorial candidate Roy Barnes’ coattails. Her election will not be good for Georgia because she has strong teacher union leanings.

A portion of Cox’s 2009 contributions came from Department of Education employees and members of her family. It was a mistake for her to accept contributions from staffers. Smart agency heads refuse employee contributions because of ethical issues and potential questions about promotions and pay raises. Department of Education employees who contributed to Cox’s campaign include Raye Black, Brenda Turner, Matt Cardoza and Stephen Pruitt.

The most interesting item on Kathy Cox’s 2009 report is a $5,000 cash contribution from Senator Ronnie Chance’s election campaign fund to Cox’s campaign. Local folks who contributed to Senator Chance but oppose Superintendent Kathy Cox may be disappointed when they learn of this donation.

The fund-raising efforts of three Fayette County statewide candidates are a dismal failure and the lack of sufficient advertising budgets usually translates to the death of political campaigns. The good news is that elections are won or lost in the final three weeks and candidates have three months to shore up war chests before the July primary election.

Random & unrelated thoughts

• I was surprised to learn of the hurried resignations of Superior Court Judges Johnnie Caldwell and Paschal English last week. There have been rumors of favoritism, unethical behavior and possible corruption in the Griffin Judicial Circuit for years. It appears the secretive Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission was called in to whitewash the situation and help maintain the status quo in exchange for taking one or two casualties ... just for show!

There may be more to this scandal than meets the naked eye. John Munford did a great job of reporting this story and should continue his investigative reporting until all of the facts become public. The taxpayers have seen the smoke but not the fire and are entitled to full disclosure and a change in the way the Griffin Judicial Circuit is managed.

• It is time for the Peachtree City Council to address the golf cart problem. The council was wise to ban parking along the cart path near McIntosh High School but more action is needed.

First, gas-powered carts should be prohibited on the cart path system. The powerful gas carts go too fast, make unacceptable levels of noise, and unquestionably pollute the environment more than electric carts.

Second, there is a need to prohibit the speedy GEM type carts. The cart path system is not designed to handle such fast vehicles.

Third, the city staff should get a better handle on dealing with illegal modifications to carts.

Fourth, the council should investigate the feasibility of a required golf cart safety inspection program.

Fifth, the council should consider prohibiting texting while driving golf carts.

• The Fayette County Board of Education is finally doing something right. It hired the Georgia School Boards Association (GSBA) to coordinate the search for a new superintendent. Dr. Don Rooks of the GSBA will spearhead the search and likely produce a cadre of high quality applicants for the board to consider.

This writer was well acquainted with Don Rooks when he was superintendent of the exemplary Jefferson City School System. Rooks approached all activities with a winning touch and completed controversial projects successfully while gaining the respect of all concerned.

The Fayette School Board is fortunate to have his advice and counsel. He should explain to them that the local board’s responsibility is limited to selecting a superintendent, providing budget and establishing operational policies for the school system. The superintendent is chief operating officer and Board of Education members should stop dabbling in operations and personnel matters as they have in the past.

• The Peachtree City Council made a good decision in rejecting the staff request that fire sprinkler systems be required in all new single family residences. Working smoke detectors are equally effective in saving lives and are significantly less expensive than sprinkler systems. The homeowner should be allowed to make the choice between these two fire protection options. I personally believe that hard-wired smoke detectors are the best option for safety and reliability.

The underlying motive for this proposed ordinance was of power and control by the fire safety community. It is the desire of fire safety leaders throughout the state to implement fee-based sprinkler inspection requirements with the fees dedicated to expanding the budgets of fire departments. Passage of such ordinances also creates lucrative financial opportunities for friends who manufacture and provide maintenance services for these systems.

• Homeowners and builders are losing a friend with the retirement of Tom Carty, Peachtree City’s top building official. He is a walking encyclopedia on building codes and is always helpful to citizens in resolving issues related to construction. Builders respect Carty because he is fair to all concerned and maintains an open line of communication with the building community.

Enough said!

[Scott Bradshaw, a resident of Peachtree City, is a real estate broker and residential real estate developer. He may be contacted at rand5474@bellsouth.net.]

Cyclist
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Here's a solution to our transportation...

problems. Even on PTC multi use paths.

The 2012 Pelosi GTxi SS/RT Sport Edition

With apologies to the late Senator Kennedy.

SPQR
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wedge gas

I have a 2002 gasoline club car. I have yet to see a slower golf cart.
I automatically pull over to let others pass when I see them. Having said that I'm sure you can soup them up. But I have never seen a gas powered cart whiz by as fast as some of the electric ones. Its a perception issue. If its gasoline powered it MUST be faster. Only those owning the gas models know the reality. I think I'm going to paint flames on mine and sell it to a high school kid.

The Wedge
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Okay SPQR

I most likely have an equally slow electric golf cart. In truth, I have only encountered them a few times and in the same place, may have been the same cart. Have a good weekend

SPQR
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Wedge

True. I admit saying gasoline engines are less polluting that battery
powered vehicles is a bit speculative but the reverse is also a bit of a hip shot since there is an ongoing debate. My point is the incorrect perception by so many that battery powered vehicles are squeaky green clean when in reality they are not.

The Wedge
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There really is no debate on the pollution to the environment

There is one on whether greenhouse gases should be called pollution and thrown into the mix. Coal scrubbing technologies are much improved over the past 30 years. Every aspect has a tradeoff. there is no debate that gasoline golf carts are noiser and emit a smell and fumes at the point of use-which is actually the golf cart path in PTC, vs. electric generation 100 miles away. Anecdotally, I have seen the gas powered ones to be noticeably faster than the electric ones. Are the gas ones governed slower by design, or is there nothing more than happenstance that the gas carts that I have encountered have "seemed" to be 5 mph faster in operation?

SPQR
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Scott, do your homework

Correct.Gas golf carts are noisy and emit fumes similar to a lawn mower.
However:
They are not faster than electric carts.
They actually pollute less than electric carts if you consider the coal burned to generate the electricity to charge the environmentally toxic lead acid batteries.

The Wedge
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If you cite one source, you must the other SPQR

I agree that electrical generation is made up of prodominately coal, although natural gas peaking plants are used as well. If you cite electricity then let's look at gasoline. It comes from crude oil, is taken out of the ground in various polluting ways (see Gulf Of Mexico right now, taken to an oil refinery, which pollutes, where the various hydrocarbons are cracked into the various types of products coming from crude oil. The resultant gasoline is then put in a truck tanker and delivered to your local gas station. I am not a tree hugger, but I will make a true and verifiable point. Gasoline consumed in a golf cart is not more environmentally friendly than that golf cart powered by electrical batteries.

AtHomeGym
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Electricity Generation

I know I pay a surcharge every month on my EMC Electric Bill for changes in Natural Gas costs used to generate electricity. At least that's what the EMC spokesperson told me when I asked what it was for.

The Wedge
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AHG

yeah, they are going to charge you anyway, but I have no idea of where the generation comes from. Natural Gas burning plants are much cleaner than coal ones, just more expensive to run. Heaven forbid that we get our electricity from nuclear means--hardly any pollution with that. The next point that will be made is the "gas is already being delivered to our stations, carts consume so little of it", yet once again I would respond "electricity is already being delivered and consumed at the house, with very little of it going to the golf cart charge". then it will be "the batteries are an environmental hazard to throw away", and I would say "as opposed to the elimination of an internal combustion engine and small transmission?" see the entire debate encapsulized right here!!! wa la :)

AtHomeGym
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Wedge & Nuc Power Generation

I can get behind nuc pwr generation and I do believe Southern Company has a couple of new ones approved. Too little and maybe too late. Check percentage of electricity in France generated by nuc plants--it's huge! It's the enviros beating that drum like the NOAA dummies who are destroying the offshore fishing industry in Florida by banning of American Red Snapper fishing using outdated and/or incorrect data.

The Wedge
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AGB and Nukes

I like nuclear power and see it as very clean once a good process to inter the waste is set in stone. I was being sarcastic about the heaven forbid. in truth we need more nuc power.

Sankar
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Scott: Guts

Your research on candidates in the first part of your submission and your opinions seem fair enough.
What I want to comment about is the last part.

I have known two or three "court-house crowds" as they are generally called. It is just the way they are looked upon by unaffiliated citizens. It is also the reason that they should make a strong effort to be not that at all!

This sort of thing occurs also in many other "crowds" not just in the judiciary. Within the groups, non lethal errors are overlooked with an intention of being paid back similarly. Even in developer crowds.

As to your statement that the JQC, joint qualifications committee, "white-washing" the situation with one or two goats, I assume you are saying that the problem is much deeper and needs to be steam cleaned.
I never heard of judges "tail-gating" with attractive lawyers before for just the reason that they may show up in their court in a law suit with their cadre of friends of the bulldogs, or town officials.

If there is more that is deeper and illegal, then we must find it.

I think I remember when gas carts were allowed in PTC. It was because some wanted to sell them at their business. Nuff said, nothing else was done to protect us.

Then, I am not sure if the GSBA, Georgia School Board Association, should be the primary tub of resumes that should be considered for county superintendent. Aren't these people in the trade---watching out for one another like Atlanta does.

Sprinkler systems being mandatory in private homes would price out too many, but at least two hard wired ones would not. Hardly anyone changes those batteries!

Now, the one comment you made that will put you in the same crowd as anyone who thinks the fire department can be run more efficiently. You are a Communist, a Socialist, and a Traitor to the cause!

To think even that they would stoop to making work so as to hire more people and promote more to supervise them is deplorable! Now I know you meant just the top echelon not the average fireman, didn't you?

By the way have you ever seen what the "average" pay is for our firemen and Policemen, and also our school teachers? I saw somewhere that 10 year teachers make more than plumbers! Or even the average of a two person working household ($56,000). With 20 years, we are talking Delta Pilots.