Your morning jolt: Trouble brewing on Sonny Perdue’s turf

Trouble is brewing in Sonny Perdue’s home territory. And the governor has already tried to put a lid on it.

Last year, longtime Mayor Donald Walker of Warner Robins died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Chuck Shaheen took his place, but has faced serious fractures within his own city council. Add the salt of racial tension to that wound, and you’ve got a national story hailing from Houston County.

The cultural question: What does it mean when a white councilman tells a black councilman that he belongs in a cotton field? From WMAZ-TV in Macon last week:

The narrative, from WMAZ:

Warner Robins City Council member Daron Lee says remarks made by other council members turned racial for the second meeting in a row.

Lee [, [who is African-American] says Tom Simms Jr. referred to him as “boy” during a closed meeting two weeks ago.

Monday night [Oct. 11], council member John Williams said Lee should be working in a cotton field.

The exchange happened during a motion by Daron Lee. He wanted to clarify a contract for an investigation by former city clerk Stan Martin into city business.

Lee and three other council members voted for Martin to continue the inquiry, but John Williams, Mayor Chuck Shaheen and Tom Simms Jr. oppose his hiring.

The disagreement prompted Williams to interrupt Lee.

Lee stopped Williams, saying, “I was disrespected last Monday. I’m getting about tired of you all, talking to me any kind of way. I’m not working in a cotton field.”

Williams replied, “You should be.”

Lee said, “Oh, I should be? OK.”

Mayor Chuck Shaheen banged his gavel to end the disagreement. Then, Lee walked out. He returned a few minutes later.

Williams later said his remark was not racial:

He said, “Absolutely not, I worked in a cotton field. I drug a basket many a mile. It’s not a racial remark at all.”

Certain people had already expressed concern. On Sept. 8, Governor Perdue, state Sen. Cecil Station, R-Macon, and state Reps. Tony Seiler, R-Fort Valley, Larry O’Neal. R-Bonaire, and Willie Talton, R-Warner Robins, all signed a letter addressed to the mayor and six council members. The governor and legislators offered up the Carl Vinson Institute of Government in Athens as an intermediary.

The letter, courtesy of WMAZ:

”Warner Robins has developed a sterling reputation over recent years that has helped us weather this economic downturn better than most communities. In the past decade, we have seen people continue to choose Warner Robins as a place to raise their families and plan their futures. For two consecutive years, Bloomberg Buenessweek named Warner Robins the best place in Georgia to raise a family. Most recently, the city became home to the Little League Southeast Region headquarters and this achievement has proved very positive for those of us who enjoy calling Warner Robins home.

“However, Warner Robins is developing a new reputation that does not warrant bragging rights and will greatly hamper economic development efforts. A poor perception of the city’s leadership will have a negative impact on the city’s future. This type of negative attention does not encourage economic development prospects, and the city may find it challenging to earn grants and loans in the future. Moreover, dysfunctional actions and the ensuing reputation do not fairly represent the people of Warner Robins….

“The media coverage of the Warner Robins government is not positive and will have detrimental effects on the city, her citizens and this entire state. We appreciate your careful consideration of our offer and look forward to assisting you in any way possible…..”

***

Yes 2 Save Lives, the group behind Amendment 2 and the $10 car tag fee for a statewide trauma network, says its most recent polling shows 48 percent of likely voters in favor of passage, with 45 against. That’s the result of several weeks of TV ads.

In August, polling showed 51 percent against the measure. This most recent survey gauged the opinion of 500 voters, has an MOE of +/- 4.38 percentage points, and was conducted Oct. 19 and 20, according to spokeswoman Jane Langley.

***

The Democratic Party of Georgia sends a copy of this mailer, apparently hitting the mailboxes of African-American voters, in an attempt to push them to the polls.

notanamerican

The headline: “Nathan Deal says Barack Obama is not an American.” Last year, when still a congressman, Deal signed onto a letter asking Obama to supply more information about his bith – even though the state of Hawaii has insisted there is no dispute.

Deal says he was passing on concerns of constituents. The Democratic party says the charge is based on this video clip.

***

Larry Peterson at the Savannah Morning News has picked this tidbit out of Tuesday night’s gubernatorial debate in Albany:

Governor hopeful Roy Barnes wants Georgia to pick up the whole tab for Savannah harbor deepening if Washington, D.C., doesn’t ante up soon.

Barnes says the state should pay up front to get the job done quickly and ask Congress to reimburse it later – a prospect that seems iffy….

Local officials are desperate to deepen the port in time to float the huge cargo ships due along the East Coast by early 2015.

They say meeting that deadline is vital to Georgia ports – which support an estimated 295,000 jobs – staying competitive.

The new vessels will start using the Panama Canal when it’s ready for them – probably no later than early in 2015. So that’s when East Coast ports vying for their cargo must be ready for them, too.

Hoping Congress will appropriate the rest of the money needed for the project – about $300 million – the state has put up $150 million.

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65 comments Add your comment

Renegade

October 22nd, 2010
7:40 am

Getting past the inflamatory reporting, has anyone given any thought to the possibility that Councilman Lee may be right?

ROBOCOP

October 22nd, 2010
8:03 am

This goes to show how little progress has been made in race relations in many parts of Georgia and the South. These white council members need to get a grip and jump into the 21st century. This isn’t Jim Crow Georgia anymore…or, shouldn’t be.

Last Man Standing

October 22nd, 2010
8:04 am

I live near Warner Robins. No matter whose “fault” this is, these folks need to get their act together – and get it together in a hurry! Warner Robins can ill afford this kind of publicity! The obvious solution seems to be to accept the help that has been offered.

Pinky Lee

October 22nd, 2010
8:08 am

The Warner Robins city council is a joke. Each member has an ajenda and could care less about so called working together for the common good. Mayor Shaheen probably wishes he had never ran for mayor. To say the good old boy system is alive and well is an understatement in Warner Robins. The city has a diverse population due to the Air Force base, however it is attempting to be governed by a bunch of puffed up hay seeds.

Last Man Standing

October 22nd, 2010
8:08 am

ROBOCOP:

We don’t know enough about the personalities involved to immediately assume that “These white council members need to get a grip and jump into the 21st century”. Maybe you should withhold judgement until more is learned?

Cletus

October 22nd, 2010
8:11 am

Since Sonny campaigned actively for the votes of Confederate flaggers in 2002, you’d think he’d be pleased that this council member is being “kept in his place” for “acting up right smart.” After all, we can’t have that kind of uppity goings-on in Sonny’s backyard.

WE have lost our way

October 22nd, 2010
8:24 am

There is nothing better then to take people Fishing,it pulls people together.Go Fish,Go Sonny!

Last Man Standing

October 22nd, 2010
8:29 am

Renegade:

Lee may be right but there isn’t enough information provided here to draw a reasonable conclusion. We don’t know what was said “last Monday”, nor do we know what was said prior to these quoted comments. The fact remains that ALL of these folks need to get their act together and behave as adults.

Veteran Observer

October 22nd, 2010
8:47 am

I think Jesse Jackson needs to come to Warner Robins to extort someone like he did with Coca Cola so he can afford his mistress! Lets face two facts folks! First, as Star Parker says, the NAACP is irrelevant, especially if this retort upon a comment by this black councilman is “big news” and a major issue with them! Second, we need to get past this need to quit looking under every rock and blade of grass for validation of our shared racial past! People need to be measured by their good deeds and works! Americans have a tremendous capacity for greatness and we are allowing the ghosts of the distant past to cloud our present and future! Enough I say, deal with each other with maturity and ignore immaturity and bad manners and we all will benefit by it!

blahh

October 22nd, 2010
8:54 am

Time to put the big boy pants on and stop complaining

ROBOCOP

October 22nd, 2010
8:57 am

Last Man Standing

If it’s true that this Simms referred to Lee as “boy,” and if what I heard Williams say regarding cotton fields for Lee actually occurred, what more information is needed? What kind of behavior would Lee have to engage in to justify being called a “boy” or being told he needed to go back to the cotton fields? In my mind there is no conduct he could have engaged in which would have warranted being referred to in that manner. I agree with you that the Council needs to have someone brought in to re-train everyone on how they need to conduct council business and how to treat each other with more respect. If that doesn’t occur, prosepctive business interests will view Warner Robins as nothing more than a typical, red-neck town and will steer clear of doing business there. That’s what’s concerning the Governor and other elected officials.

McGill

October 22nd, 2010
9:00 am

Do any of these people have credibility, and if so, which ones? The “racial card” is an easy one to play, and I don’t always fall for it.

Last Man Standing

October 22nd, 2010
9:05 am

ROBOCOP:

“If that doesn’t occur, prosepctive business interests will view Warner Robins as nothing more than a typical, red-neck town and will steer clear of doing business there”

That is EXACTLY why I said that all of them need to get their act together – and get it together in a hurry!

Bill

October 22nd, 2010
9:06 am

Why is it that when people face discrimination and speak up about it, they’re playing a “card”?

Doug

October 22nd, 2010
9:07 am

Here is what it tells us: For eight years during the Bush administration, the racists, xenophobes and homophobes in this nation were kept quiet because they thought (perhaps mistakenly) that someone in the White House understood them. Then a mixed-race man was elected President, and the lid was ripped off. The racists, xenophobes and homophobes did not find the Tea Party; the Tea Party found them. At it stoked their anger. Do you remember those signs portraying the President of the United States as a baboon? Do you remember their insistence that he is not American? Well, if not American, what? Or course, an African Muslim (something both the racists and the xeonophobes abhorr). As a white man who was born in rural Georgia in 1951, I can say that I have never seen such blatant racism in all of my days. And these crackers can stand there and tell you with a straight face: I am not a racist. Geez! And to prove it they will bring out their token Stepin Fetchit like Juan Williams or Herman Cain.

Last Man Standing

October 22nd, 2010
9:09 am

McGill:

I know none of them personally, and I agree that the ‘race card’ is easily, frequently and sometimes fraudulently played. We really weren’t given enough information to render a fair judgement in this case.

Last Man Standing

October 22nd, 2010
9:16 am

Doug:

Get a grip. Black people aren’t “black enough” if they are conservatives? Juan Williams is a LONG way from being a conservative. Herman Cain is not only a conservative, but is also an economist.

about time

October 22nd, 2010
9:25 am

Drive 30 miles outside the city limits of Atlanta and you’re back in the 1950’s.

Outraged

October 22nd, 2010
9:31 am

This is not a someone playing a ‘race card’, this is an actual event that happened to be recorded on TV. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see what happened. The elder white councilman hates the fact that the black councilman has a backbone and stands up to him so the next thing he does to lower him is make slave-like remarks. As a black man myself the one thing people with extreme racists views in america are discounting is the bitter anger and fight in black america now. We are no longer a turn-the-other cheek, we shall overcome society. We are actually ready to defend our dignity, pride, and livelihood at any moment. These types of incidents are only going to get worse in the south and it’s going to lead to something drastic forthcoming. Racist whites have the tea party, but there are many militant black groups organized under the turf that are ready to fight for justice.

khc

October 22nd, 2010
9:42 am

a glimpse behind the curtain…..

khc

October 22nd, 2010
9:42 am

a glimpse behind the curtain…..

Veteran Observer

October 22nd, 2010
9:43 am

About Time You are right! You don’t have to lock your doors, the children can walk to school, everyone knows everyone as they all grew up together black and white, everyone is involved in the community and people want whats best for it! I have always envied them as I sit in Atlanta traffic and turn on the burglar alarm at night!

Jayne M. Barker

October 22nd, 2010
9:45 am

The NAACP cannot or does not run WR. Both of these men were wrong and llve in a time frozen zone of the past. One is old and the other plays
the victim…neither helps the serious conerns of the city. It is impossible for the Governor to settle this situation of long standing by remote control. If anyone knows the history and politics of this City it is the Governor who grew up in WR. This is just the tip of the iceberg…Some are really enjoying the CNN’s recent report. I’m not…

Dave

October 22nd, 2010
9:46 am

It saddens me to hear this and to think people like this are color blind. Being a man and not to describe myself as white, we are all people of a nation. Shaheen should be fired and never hold any public office of any type in the future. We do not need people like him in office and would be better off.

bart

October 22nd, 2010
9:52 am

Georgia will never attract new business and industry as long as we keep electing and re-electing rednecks to public office. It makes it look like a majority of Georgians are racists. Then, we are on the verge of electing a crook, a bigot, and possibly even a racist to the governor’s office. What does all this tell the rest of the country about us? And no matter what anybody says, there is no way to put a positive spin on all of this stupidity.

BW

October 22nd, 2010
9:52 am

LOL….without Atlanta and its metro area this state is competing with South Carolina for most radical state.

Bill

October 22nd, 2010
9:57 am

Veteran: He wasn’t talking about the “Happy Days” 50s. He was talking about the Jim Crow 50s.

dagnabit

October 22nd, 2010
9:57 am

I’m always surprised to realize you people actually can vote. All of you.

lmno

October 22nd, 2010
9:57 am

I can tell you one thing for certain. Councilman Williams never “Drug a basket many a mile” in a cotton field. We stopped picking cotton by hand in this country a long time before he could have ever worked in a field.

I actually did work in cotton fields growing up and in college. Let me tell you, there is a racial class system that still exists on every farm in Georgia.

ROBOCOP

October 22nd, 2010
9:58 am

Lat Man Standing @ 9:05am

I am, for the firts time, in complete agreement with you.

Last Man Standing

October 22nd, 2010
10:05 am

Outraged:

“These types of incidents are only going to get worse in the south and it’s going to lead to something drastic forthcoming”

“there are many militant black groups organized under the turf that are ready to fight for justice.”

That is indeed a sad commentary. I guess that you have now adequately warned white people, and they probably will act accordingly.

Veteran Observer

October 22nd, 2010
10:12 am

By the way, for all of you that are excited over this! Remember two things, first the community elected a black councilman and second this isn’t discrimination. He fully expressed his thoughts and the other councilman replied and if he doesn’t have the guts to stand up for himself in politics he needs to leave and let another take his place! I feel very strongly that this is his issue and he should deal with it and he will either grow from it or not! It is extremely racist to assume that this man is weak and needs help, that he cannot stand up for himself! I personally believe in each individual’s strength and growth potential and do not believe that just because he is black that he cannot achieve! Gosh as someone pointed out, we have a half-black President who overcame his Marxist mother and father to rise to the highest office in our country so some respect for this councilman and his abilities needs to take place.

darnell8

October 22nd, 2010
10:16 am

The “Good Old Boy” network is over and it is time for Mr. John Williams to go…..

Perimeter Progressive

October 22nd, 2010
10:27 am

I’m still stunned Barnes was actually RIGHT with the claim Deal tried to overturn Georgia’s rape shield law. He was right! Deal is absolutely disgusting. Why does Deal think Georgia should be softer on rapists the federal government is?

http://www.politifact.com/georgia/statements/2010/oct/22/roy-barnes/barnes-said-gubertorial-race-opponent-deal-tried-w/

"I'm Black... and

October 22nd, 2010
10:28 am

…if I don’t get my way, you are a racist!”

Mr. Lee is the one who brought up the Cotton Field.

It sounds like Mr. Lee has a racial chip on his shoulder.

Grow up people! Get over your skin color and you will be taken seriously!

Real racism is the NAACP, AFFIRMATIVE ACTION, “HATE CRIME” LAWS, ETC.

td

October 22nd, 2010
10:36 am

I am offended by the terms “Redneck” and “Cracker” I have read on this blog this morning and think they are just as derogatory as the “N” word. So I guess that make the folks that said them racist as well, right?

techengineer

October 22nd, 2010
10:38 am

I believe Jim Galloway should be picking cotton in his panties..

Last Man Standing

October 22nd, 2010
10:39 am

td:

I agree with that, td. Maybe we should form an organization to combat this?

double

October 22nd, 2010
10:41 am

When making reference to the “good old boys”who are we talking about?

majii

October 22nd, 2010
10:46 am

IMHO, this incident needs to be viewed through the lens of America’s history. The period in American history during which African-Americans’ ancestors were enslaved plays a prominent role in this exchange. Although Mr. Williams worked in a cotton field during his youth, he cannot empathize with Mr. Lee whose ancestors did indeed work in cotton fields, but under vastly different conditions. They couldn’t leave the fields to go home to their families as free people, whereas, Mr. Williams could. Mr. Williams was paid for his labor, enslaved persons were not. As for Mr. Williams’ use of the term “boy” when referring to Mr. Lee, this too, is a remnant of the time when adult African-American males were not respected as men and were often referred to as “boy.” This represented a social situation in which one man used the term as a sign of superiority over another, a feeling of superiority based solely on skin color.

History matters whether one wants to admit it or not. Mr. Williams and Mr. Lee need to have a private conversation about their differences out of public view. Maybe they could then reach some sort of understanding that would allow them to continue to serve on the council together. Their main concern should be on doing what is best for the city and citizens of Warner Robins.

td

October 22nd, 2010
11:00 am

Last Man Standing

October 22nd, 2010
10:39 am
td:

I agree with that, td. Maybe we should form an organization to combat this?

I wonder if we could get a couple of million in funding from the federal or state government to run an education campaign?

Bill

October 22nd, 2010
11:03 am

Persecuted majority syndrome?

td

October 22nd, 2010
11:04 am

majii

October 22nd, 2010
10:46 am

So we agree that history matters. Does this mean you are going to get on here and correct the liberals when they say conservatives want to “live in the past” or say “history does not matter and we have to be progressive and look only to the future”?

Last Man Standing

October 22nd, 2010
11:05 am

td:

“I wonder if we could get a couple of million in funding from the federal or state government to run an education campaign?”

It wouldn’t hurt to inquire about that. Actually, I was hoping we might could get the federal government to create some entitlement programs for us?

Bill

October 22nd, 2010
11:13 am

I’m not speaking for Majii but I’m sure he doesn’t want to live in the past. Conservatives want to drag us back there.

td

October 22nd, 2010
11:16 am

Last Man Standing

October 22nd, 2010
11:05 am
td:

“I wonder if we could get a couple of million in funding from the federal or state government to run an education campaign?”

It wouldn’t hurt to inquire about that. Actually, I was hoping we might could get the federal government to create some entitlement programs for us?

Yes, we need to be given a special status because the people of the north have always said we are dumb, slow and an idiot. The northern run corporations will not let us break through the glass ceiling because we speak differently with a southern draw. We are stereotyped by the media and the African Americans that all we want is to send them back to slavery and therefore we are treated by them and the media as second class citizens. Yes, we should be set up as a discriminated minority group and be given special rights.

Last Man Standing

October 22nd, 2010
11:19 am

majii :

That was very well stated with more than a little truth in it.

Gov.-elect Nathan Bedford Forrest Deal

October 22nd, 2010
11:24 am

During my administration, we will work to ensure that any white Jawjan will be free to call a boy a boy, and we will put some of these grifters back to work in the cotton fields.

Back to the ’50’s!!!!

The 1850’s!!!

Goobers

October 22nd, 2010
11:24 am

Enter your comments here

Juan Williams

October 22nd, 2010
11:25 am

Congressman Williams was just expressing his opinion. Since when is it racist to express your feelings?