Your morning jolt: Chip Rogers says he’ll vote ‘yes’ on casino gambling

Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers and his Republican challenger, chamber executive Brandon Beach, met in a debate up in Milton last night, sponsored by the North Fulton & Friends Tea Party.

Yours truly served as one of two moderators. For the record, the time needed to drive the 40 miles from the state Capitol was one hour, 55 minutes. My partner was former secretary of state Karen Handel, who – should she ever give up on politics – will make a fine TV news anchor.

Topics included the transportation sales tax, ethics, and a new Milton County. Both men support the latter. But stark differences showed up when it came to education and gaming.

Atlanta developer Dan O’Leary wants to harness the Georgia Lottery as the engine to drive a vast entertainment and gaming complex in Gwinnett County. We asked the candidates what they thought about the idea. Said Rogers:

”If people earn money, and they want to spend it in a way that doesn’t violate anybody else’s rights, it’s none of my business. So if somebody wants to come in and make that development, and the free market can continue to support it, then let the free market continue to support it. The fact of the matter is, you can go to any casino that’s located on the periphery of the state of Georgia, and you drive into their parking lot, what you’ll find are all sorts of vehicles that have Georgia tags on them…

“Now I think the state is going along fairly well without it. But government shouldn’t be there telling everybody how to live their lives in all those aspects. If you have a developer that can take what’s already in place – the lottery system – and expand it, and have a free market system that produces more money for the HOPE scholarship, more money for pre-K, that’s up to the market to determine.”

Said Beach:

”I don’t think we need to have video gaming. I’m not against gambling, but I don’t think we need to have that in our state. If we are going to have gambling, I think we need to have full gambling – blackjack and craps. I don’t gamble, but I think video gambling preys on a sector of our society that can least afford to be there. “

The GOP primary ballot will ask voters whether they support casino gambling in Georgia.

“I’ll vote no,” said Beach.

“I’ll vote yes,” said Rogers.

If you’re of a certain age, the answer by the No. 2 leader of the Senate is evidence of a stunning cultural shift. Twenty years ago, an endorsement of casino gaming would have marked the end of a political career. Today, it’s just part of the mix.

Fueling Beach’s candidacy is the fight over charter schools. Beach opposes the November ballot issue that would restore the state’s authority to license charter schools over the objections of a local school system. Rogers endorses that – and more. Rogers favors an immediate, statewide conversion to a system of school vouchers. Said the candidate:

”How quickly should we do it? Yesterday. The consequences will be, we will finally have a market-based system, where the best educating schools in the system deliver a product to children and parents that they want, that they desire, that they will be involved with – and not a system that says because you live at 123 Elm Street, you must go to school over here. That’s craziness. That doesn’t work. No one would ever set something up like that in the private sector. But the fact of the matter is, this is in complete accordance with the Republican national platform….”

Said Beach:

”We need to replicate schools around the state that are like north Fulton and Cherokee. We have good schools here, and it’s because we have parental involvement. Both of my kids attended public school, Milton High School. My wife was an educator at Milton High School. We have good schools because the parents demand it, and that’s wrong in Clayton County. They don’t have the parents demanding it….We don’t need vouchers. We need good public education with parental involvement. Each kid gets an $8,000 allotment per student. So they’re getting money to get educated in a public school. We just need to make our public schools good.”

***
Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney will speak at a national convention of the NAACP in Houston, Texas, today. Here’s a paragraph from the speech he intends to deliver:

”I believe that if you understood who I truly am in my heart, and if it were possible to fully communicate what I believe is in the real, enduring best interest of African American families, you would vote for me for president. I want you to know that if I did not believe that my policies and my leadership would help families of color — and families of any color — more than the policies and leadership of President Obama, I would not be running for president.”

***
Just as the tea party movement was getting underway three years ago, the Washington Post says this was happening:

Americans paid the lowest tax rates in 30 years to the federal government in 2009, in part because of tax cuts President Obama sought to combat the Great Recession, congressional budget analysts said Tuesday.

A sharp decline in income — especially among the wealthiest Americans, who pay the highest tax rates — also played a role, according to the report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Household income fell 12 percent on average from 2007 to 2009, with income among the top 1 percent of earners decreasing by more than a third.

***
In a speech pushing the transportation sales tax, the deputy commissioner of the state Department of Transportation predicted Tuesday that federal cash for roads is about to plummet.

Congress is already padding revenue from the federal tax on gasoline, Todd Long said. The Gainesville Times explains:

“So, how do they do that? They’re taking money out of the general fund in Washington to help fund transportation, allowing us to stay at this artificial level,” Long said.
“If Congress lives within its means — and you know that most people running for Congress, around here at least, are saying (that) — there’s this general attitude that eventually they’re going to say, ‘Whatever the gas tax brings in is what we’re going to spend on transportation,’” he said.

If that happens, in 2015, Georgia “will probably see a 25 to 30 percent decrease” in transportation funding.

***
Speaker David Ralston says campaign funds are being used to fuel a statewide fly-around by House Republican leaders, which ends today. From Walter Jones of the Morris News Service:

“There’s not one dime of taxpayer money being involved with this campaign,” said Ralston, R-Blue Ridge. His campaign is paying part of the cost, with the Republican Caucus campaign war chest picking up the rest.

***
My AJC colleague Ty Tagami says the DeKalb County School District has revised its policy on immigrants:

The new policy, approved by the school board Monday, says officials “shall not inquire” about the legal status of immigrants and non-visa holders. The old policy defined “foreign” students, but did not address legal status.

Even now, several dozen Republican state lawmakers are rushing to their drafting tables to meet this thrown gauntlet.

***
The AJC’s Politifact Georgia today takes a look at Republican claims that President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul amounts to the largest tax increase in American history.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on Facebook.

120 comments Add your comment

Max Jackson

July 11th, 2012
10:55 am

Of course Sen. “Will the Thrill” Rogers supports video gambling, since the companies which will benefit the most are friends of Rogers. He does not care if the state gets more revenue, he just wants to pay off more political cronies.

Bob Loblaw

July 11th, 2012
11:02 am

Rogers couldn’t take any other position. He endorsed illegal offshore gambling, or, wait, his “character” did.

Norris T

July 11th, 2012
11:06 am

Wow. So Karen is the only other person we could find in this whole state to moderate this debate? She may be telegenic, but that is all she is. Except of course for being the single most destructive force the Komen Foundation ever encountered.

the cat

July 11th, 2012
11:11 am

Karen Handel telegenic? EEEEWWWWWWWWW

SVKK

July 11th, 2012
11:13 am

I support gambling in this state. Every other state has it and is profitting from it.
Many Georgians make the trip up to Harrah’s Casino in N.C. and spend their money there.
Why not have it here and keep Georgia money in this state! Casinoes bring jobs, out of state and in state tourists that spend money on food , entertainment, and lodging, …why wouldn’t we want this?

Georgia is losing out by not allowing gambling. We are losing Georgian cash by having residents go to Florida, Alabama, N.C., etc.

catlady

July 11th, 2012
11:21 am

Well, you know there is something in it for Chip. Either he has friends in the biz (if it passes he will soon) or it means he will have additional money to squander as a member of the legislature. Perhaps money to use toward vouchers or charter schools.

BOB FROM ACCOUNT TEMPS

July 11th, 2012
11:21 am

I thought this developer said video gaming had no bearing and was not vital to the project – so why has he not started developing the area?

Danny O

July 11th, 2012
11:22 am

No new gambling should be allowed in Georgia if it doesn’t include poker. Poker is the only game that is not played against the house. Although luck is a factor in any single hand, poker rewards skillful, analytic play over the long run.

Baron Dekalb

July 11th, 2012
11:26 am

“If people earn money, and they want to spend it in a way that doesn’t violate anybody else’s rights, it’s none of my business.” Unless of course they want to spend it on, say, marijuana. Mr. Rogers presents is a shining example of the hypocritical inconsistency of Republican notions of “freedom”.

skegee51

July 11th, 2012
11:27 am

So coming to Ga to get Lottery tickets is not GAMBLING??

Road Scholar

July 11th, 2012
11:29 am

Gingrey and repubs wrong on healthcare…. say it ain’t so!

Well T Party folks, it is time to put your money…and vote.. where your mouth is…can you say “term limits?

Dekalb School Board is now as dysfunctional as it can get! They can’t seem to contact their employees on whether they are still employed or not…now illegal does not mean illegal. If they pay taxes …school or other..then maybe it is ok for them to attend; if not this is stealing!

Baron Dekalb

July 11th, 2012
11:31 am

If the Great State of Georgia, goaded by the vicious Andrew Jackson, had not violated the sovereignty of the Cherokee Nation–a crime against humanity that has never been redressed–then we would already have casino gambling like a lot of those other states. As for video poker, it may be illegal but it is happening all over the place, often in small establishments run by the other kind of “Indian”.

bill

July 11th, 2012
11:34 am

To not have gambling here is nuts. It brings jobs and money to businesses.

Bob Loblaw

July 11th, 2012
11:36 am

@ Baron:

The Governor could enter into a compact today with the Seminoles and they could crank up the Yancey Bros. CATs to start clearing land tomorrow.

Baron Dekalb

July 11th, 2012
11:37 am

Yeah but wouldn’t you rather be gambling in the North GA mountains?

Free Enterprise

July 11th, 2012
11:39 am

The Mob said it right back in the 20’s….”As long as people exist, there will always be a demand for 3 things….Drugs, Gambling, and Prostitution”

Who are these politicians fooling if they actually think these stupid little backwoods laws are going to stop people from getting these things….WAKE UP YOU COUNTRY HICKS!

Ga Values .................. VOTE NO FOR WASTE, GRAFT & CORRUPTION

July 11th, 2012
11:44 am

Well we took a gamble on Deal & what did we get?? A state government as corrupt as the City of Atlanta.

Georgian for Casinos

July 11th, 2012
11:45 am

First, lottery tickets are a joke. A couple of years ago it was AJC front page news that the Lottery Commission admitted that they had reduced the number of winning tickets. I agree that if we have casinos that it should be full-fledged casinos. You will bring in a much higher class of gamblers and a better class of entertainment.. At the end of the month, I’ll be making my monthly trip to the Gulf Coast casinos. If someone will pay my gas for the trip, I’ll go in all the casino parking garages and do a count of all the Georgia cars. Oh, and I’ll have to buy some extra notebooks, because I’ll soon run out of space to count.

Auntie Christ

July 11th, 2012
11:49 am

Rogers says: ”If people earn money, and they want to spend it in a way that doesn’t violate anybody else’s rights, it’s none of my business.” And he says further: ” government shouldn’t be there telling everybody how to live their lives in all those aspects.”

Tell that to the inmates in the Ga sewer system, oops I mean prison system, who felt the same way as you do mr rogers, that felt it was none of your business that they liked to toke on some reefer, or put junk in their veins. It’s their lives, mr rogers and if they should have the right to spend an entire pay check in a casino, to the detriment of their family, how is it they don’t have the right to their own body? But I’m being foolish, while ralph reed and the casinos he represents can fill your pockets with “campaign contributions,” your average college student toker can’t, so there is no need to expect you to truly advocate for relief from government intrusion into our lives.

Tommy

July 11th, 2012
11:51 am

Georgia needs a Racino. Horse Racing and Casino combined.

Bob Loblaw

July 11th, 2012
11:56 am

Racinos are dying all over the country. Destination resort gaming facilities are the only game in town that’ll continually produce. And even then, some of those are having hard times. Oddly enough, Mississippi is the State to follow, here. Just don’t take 15 years like they did that if you build it, they will come. And I’m not talking about locusts…

Bob Loblaw

July 11th, 2012
11:57 am

Racinos are all losing money.

Bob Loblaw

July 11th, 2012
11:59 am

Racinos “wobbly”: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/tim_layden/05/05/kentucky.derby/index.html#ixzz1Lbw0A8Kc

We need destination resort properties. Put them along the coast and one south of the ATL airport where the horse racing folks can build their money-losing racetrack.

Big Hat

July 11th, 2012
11:59 am

Want to solve the illegal immigration problem? Two words: Operation Condor. Go look it up. It worked then, it will work now.

Jay

July 11th, 2012
12:01 pm

Chip Rogers will get my vote. He supports the free market. Let people spend their money how they want, tax the heck out of the casinos and let’s get out of all this school debt!

GaBlue

July 11th, 2012
12:05 pm

Auntie Christ @ 11:49,

*****STANDING AND APPLAUDING!!!******

Um… can we run you for office in 2014? Please? Pleeeeeeeeaaaaaaase?

Centrist

July 11th, 2012
12:06 pm

I went to the Chip Rogers – Brandon Beach debate moderated by Galloway and Handel last night. Rogers was far and away the better speaker and better debater answering the questions directly and completely. Handel prefaced her question about the past Rogers – Graves real estate venture with figures Rogers dismissed as totally inaccurate and explained why. He then repeated what everyone who has followed this knows well – it was settled out of court. Few Republican voters will be swayed either way which liberals have tried to make an issue. Galloway stayed on the liberal attack lines on several questions with repeated unnecessary follow-ups, but that was to be expected by an AJC operative. The biggest difference between Rogers and Beach are T-SPLOST (Beach supports) which Galloway did not cover in this blog.

Beach badly stumbled on his missed GRTA or GDOT board vote that would have ended the GA 400 toll collections – he could have phoned his vote, but said he was in a different time zone. Beach also stumbled on a Handel question about why Fulton and Dekalb are the only Counties paying the 1% MARTA tax – he indicated all metro Counties should pay 1/4% because other County riders sometimes use MARTA. Rogers said that the tax should stop and fares raised to reflect the cost instead of any taxpayers subsidizing an expensive/underused transit system that shouldn’t be run by Atlanta cronies.

Chip for Marijuana Legalization

July 11th, 2012
12:09 pm

According to Chip’s argument for gambling, he’s also for marijuana legalization. Cool! Finally, a Republican besides Ron Paul that understands that Republicans are supposed to be for less gov’t intrusion into peoples’ private lives. I wonder if Chip realizes this…

Marlboro Man

July 11th, 2012
12:15 pm

Rodgers is a crook. NRA should worry about rifles and leave hand guns to the scared people.

person

July 11th, 2012
12:15 pm

Georgia should legalize and regulate gambling and prostitution and in return eliminate the property tax forever.

Then, this would become a boom state.

Bernie

July 11th, 2012
12:16 pm

Maybe Chip and all of his so called Christian conservative supporters can get “JESUS to come down and bless all of the video poker machines during the grand opening. Being that they know him and are so much closer to him than the rest of us.

hiram

July 11th, 2012
12:16 pm

It looks like Rogers is familiar enough with the lottery statistics to know that Georgia’s citizens are the most scammable in the country – but he already knew that – they elected him.

“Georgia Lottery Players Suckers Spending Most for Least”

“Georgia’s lottery players are the biggest suckers in a nation buying more than $50 billion a year in tickets for state-run games, which have the worst odds of any form of legal gambling.”

hiram

July 11th, 2012
12:19 pm

NotYou

July 11th, 2012
12:19 pm

AJC comments section should be open to GA residents only. Unhelpful yankee comments prohibited.

Barney

July 11th, 2012
12:20 pm

Chip Rogers is a constitutional blow hard. I think it is high time we elect an individual who will serve and represent the people. We have had enough of the career politicians at the gold dome as well as in Washington. Successful educated private sector individuals who WORK have always made the best leaders as well as examples. Go Beach! Go Dawgs!

td

July 11th, 2012
12:20 pm

person

July 11th, 2012
12:15 pm

I will agree to legalize anything a person wants to do as long as you will agree that when said person’s actions result in themselves taking responsibility for the actions and suffer the consequences for the actions. Can we agree that when a person takes his/her paycheck and looses it in a casino then we will allow him/her to go hungry or not put them in section 8 housing when they lose their houses?

Yes

July 11th, 2012
12:21 pm

@Bernie – I’m Christian conservative but can’t stand Chip and his positions that change with the wind. I know this is unfortunate since it doesn’t fit your idea but I’m sure you’re one of those open-minded folks that don’t stereotype or generalize, right?

Bernie

July 11th, 2012
12:22 pm

Jim, Maybe we could start a petition to get Karen Handel to be the top News anchor on the CARTOON NETWORK! it seems appropriate being that they are the most supporter like you of the LOONY TUNES!

I would say Karen needs to first get a DEGREE in JOURNALISM! First! before embarking on such a career change. Or why not make a call to FOX NEWS?
they seemed to be the biggest employer of washed up REPUBLICANS!

Bob Loblaw

July 11th, 2012
12:23 pm

@td: Section 8 is decided by the size of the paycheck, not what you do with it.

Lars

July 11th, 2012
12:24 pm

Rogers said ” But government shouldn’t be there telling everybody how to live their lives in all those aspects.” He really said that? So can we please get the Repubs out of women’s reproductive health care?

hiram

July 11th, 2012
12:26 pm

@td
“Can we agree that when a person takes his/her paycheck and looses it in a casino then we will allow him/her to go hungry or not put them in section 8 housing when they lose their houses?”

I will agree, If you will agree that, if a person borrows 2 million dollars from a bank and squanders it on a stupid investment, that the bank should take his house and every asset that he has, and not put him in section 8 housing.

Look before I leap...

July 11th, 2012
12:32 pm

Would be interested in how many of the legislators claim per diem for these trips.

“Speaker David Ralston says campaign funds are being used to fuel a statewide fly-around by House Republican leaders, which ends today.

“There’s not one dime of taxpayer money being involved with this campaign,” said Ralston, R-Blue Ridge. His campaign is paying part of the cost, with the Republican Caucus campaign war chest picking up the rest.”

Not Fooled by Chipacrite

July 11th, 2012
12:34 pm

I had opportunity to attend the debate last night between Chipacrite and Brandon Beach. I found it interesting that when Chipacrite was asked about his motel / mortgage / banking / felonious partners he continued to slither and slide like a common garden snake.

What the Chipster failed to explain is what he and Graves did with the loan proceeds that were earmarked for the renovation of said motel. The motel was purchased and NO renovations were done. Could it be that Chippy and Graves used the renovation money to purchase homes? Could it be that the renovations were not done because the local interchange was no longer on the TSplost list of projects?

For me….the whole thing smells fishy. A bank fails, two sleazy legislators buy new homes for cash and a flea bag motel is handed over to a felon for “future considerations” and is never renovated.

This is the sort of activity that should outrage each and every citizen. Track records and CHARACTER speak volumes.

Baron Dekalb

July 11th, 2012
12:37 pm

What the Republicans are doing to Georgia in general “should outrage each and every citizen.” None of them have the imagination or experience to do anything but hold us back as a state. You need to stop rearranging the deck chairs, the water is lapping at your feet…

Look before I leap...

July 11th, 2012
12:39 pm

“I will agree, If you will agree that, if a person borrows 2 million dollars from a bank and squanders it on a stupid investment, that the bank should take his house and every asset that he has, and not put him in section 8 housing.”

I’d take that even further:
Every dollar that is mismanaged by the exceedingly unqualified, boy-wonder crony that Deal appointed to the State Transportation Planning chair, come right out of Deal’s wallet.

yuzeyurbrane

July 11th, 2012
12:41 pm

We’ll get to see how charismatic Rogers really is. And how perverse the thinking of Georgians in that district has become.

Anyone But Chip

July 11th, 2012
12:42 pm

@Centrist
I happen to agree that Rogers was “far and away the better speaker and better debater” but not sure that I agree on answering the questions directly. I think he was the best politician up there, and that’s the scary part.

On the question of the vote on GA 400 tolls, I’d agree that this raised several eyebrows. Too bad you also didn’t point out that it seemed to be rigged in such a manner as to exploit Beach’s absence based on it being a non-scheduled meeting.

Chip had all his bases covered, answered every question just perfect and will undoubtedly have another term, and they will all get what they paid for. Career politicians out for personal gain and power (especially within the Republican ranks) is exactly why the Tea Party came about. The debate last night proved only one thing really….that the Tea Party has been swallowed by the Republican establishment (at least in North Fulton).

Centrist

July 11th, 2012
12:42 pm

Anybody else here concerned about the purposeful lack of AJC reporting on the biggest divisive issue (and first item) in the debate about T-SPLOST, and ignoring Beach’s two vulnerabilities concerning his remarks on his absent GA 400 toll vote/ wanting suburban counties to pay a MARTA tax?

Carjole

July 11th, 2012
12:43 pm

Chip says yes to casino gambling–shocked, I’m shocked I tell you!

hiram

July 11th, 2012
12:46 pm

td,
Don’t you know that the people in section 8 housing and trailer parks are the target market for the lottery, and will be for the casinos – they are the ones with the least amount of education, with the least understanding of the laws of probablility – they are the easiest marks of all(a fool and his money soon part). When Georgia’s current politicians brainstorm on ways to raise revenue, this is about the upper limits of their combined creativity – pretty much the apex for small time cons.