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:
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.
”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.
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.