Beginning Thursday in Atlanta, a special council assigned the task of overhauling the state tax system will hold a two-week series of hearings across Georgia.
Which may be why an entity calling itself Georgians for Ethical Government chose this week to launch a series of robo-calls and a YouTube video aimed at House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge).
And who is/are Georgians for Ethical Government? No one’s saying – which is not entirely ethical, because money is clearly being spent.
“I would hope that whoever this is, that if their real interest is in promoting ethical government and if they have an interest in our state’s fiscal policy,” Ralston said Monday evening, “that they would come out from under their rock and engage in a constructive discussion with us.”
The production values of the attacks on Ralston leave something to be desired. The robo-call asking voters to contact the House speaker gave out the phone number for a dress shop in Rome, a spokeswoman for the House speaker said.
The YouTube video issued by the group does pick up on an AJC piece from last week, detailing cash spent shuttling Ralston and other state lawmakers up and down the coast for annual conventions.
But the video also displays a photo of a handful of happy men playing golf. Which turns out to be Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Ralph Reed and company at an outing in Scotland. “I’ve never been to Scotland,” Ralston said.
The House speaker defends the trips as necessary business. “I’ve been on no vacations,” he said.
In essence, the video attempts to tag Ralston with responsibility for any recommendations that will make – come December. But the House speaker isn’t a member of the council – although Gov. Sonny Perdue is.
Under legislation passed by the General Assembly this spring, the tax reform council will give its recommendations to a joint House-Senate committee winter, which will then pass the measure on to both chambers for up-or-down votes. No changes allowed.
That raises the rather obvious question of whether a new governor will tolerate such a fait accompli.
“I haven’t discussed it with either of the two nominees. I would expect – and that’s the curious thing about this robo-call junk. I’m not on this council. I can’t tell them what to do. I’m not going to tell them what to do.
“The only thing I’ve asked them to do is to reach out and engage – to the extent that Governor [Roy] Barnes and Congressman [Nathan] Deal want to, and have their advisors be brought up to date with the work of this group.
“… Hopefully, the governor-elect will engage and have an opportunity between November 3 and when we come into session in January, to have whatever input they wish to have with this group.”
Over at 11Alive/WXIA-TV, former sports reporter-turned-political analyst Jeff Hullinger had a little fun comparing Georgia’s race for governor with the fortunes of the Atlanta Falcons.
In both instances, he noted, fortunes will depend on who plays best on the road, outside Atlanta. Wrote Hullinger:
The only pronounced difference between the Falcons and the two campaigns?
Unlike Matt Ryan, Nathan Deal and Roy Barnes are guaranteed not to be sidelined by either a groin injury or a hip flexor in late October.
Now, this is surely the case with both nominees for governor. But we feel compelled to note that the Georgia political scene is replete with groin injuries. Usually self-inflicted.
Looks like PeachPundit may have some competition. Jeff Breedlove, formerly associated with the John Oxendine campaign for governor, sends word of a new conservative blog backed by 20 or so Republican and independent writers – most from around metro Atlanta.
We Are Politics is the name. Among the writers:
– Chris Brown of Hall County;
– Brian Donegan, chairman of Can Do Conservatives of America;
– Debbie Dooley of Georgia Tea Party Patriots;
– Karen England, executive director of the Capitol Resource Institute in California;
– Melvin Everson, the former candidate for labor commissioner and state lawmaker from Gwinnett County;
– Sadie Fields, the longtime Christian activist;
– Sam fleet, state director of the Pickens Plan;
– Virginia Galloway, state director of Americans for Prosperity;
– Micah Gravely of Paulding County;
– Shawn Hanley, chairman of the Fulton County Republican Party;
– Rhubarb Jones, the longest- running morning radio personality in the Atlanta radio market;
– Bill Knowles of Bibb County;
– Susan Meyers, president of Oak Grove Communications;
– Michael Opitz, chairman of the Madison Forum;
– Mark Rountree, president and CEO of Landmark Communications Inc.;
– Maria Sheffield, the former candidate for insurance commissioner;
– Keith Stone of Berrien County;
– John Taylor, president of Homeland Security Strategy;
– Pat Tippett, co-chair of Georgia Conservatives in Action;
– Taylor Wells of Fayette County;
– Gabe Winslow of Oregon;
– and Martha Zoller of Gainesville, host of the WXKT radio program.
And just for laughs, there’s this news from Mercer University, via the Associated Press:
The private Macon college hopes to be confirmed by the Guinness Book of World Records as having the world’s largest game of tag. The previous record holder was an event in Canada with 465 people, but Mercer officials say the campus had 481 at its game last weekend.
The university is sending documentation including videos, media coverage and notarized witness statements to Guinness in hopes of snagging the title. The massive game was part of freshman orientation at the 8,000-student college.
Tag, you’re it.