Why Chip Rogers’ new GPB job fails the cronyism test

(Left to right) State Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock, hosts a July 2012  press conference -- along with Sen. John Albers, Rep. Sean Jerguson, and Rep. Ed Setzler – to voice opposition to TSPLOST. Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com

(Left to right) State Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock, hosts a July 2012 press conference -- along with Sen. John Albers, Rep. Sean Jerguson, and Rep. Ed Setzler – to voice opposition to TSPLOST. Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com

Years ago at the state Capitol, if you truly wanted to do a friend a favor, you fired him.

Under a quirk in state law, laid-off workers received an immediate, life-time pension. Many well-connected state employees, some in their forties, waltzed into early retirement in this manner.

There are those who point to former state Senate majority leader Chip Rogers, now Georgia Public Broadcasting’s most famous employee, as yet another example of this kind of cronyism. But that is like mistaking a bream for a large-mouth bass.

Right genus — and still fishy — but wrong species.

In fact, the Rogers affair is the mirror image of the state’s old “involuntary separation” law. Instead of firing a friend, Gov. Nathan Deal has arranged employment for a potential troublemaker. As an executive producer, Rogers will create a weekly, statewide radio program focused on economic development and jobs. A formal job description has yet to be crafted.

Yes, the optics are poor.

But for $150,000 a year in taxpayer funds and a blemish on GPB’s reputation, the governor has guaranteed himself a smoothly operating Senate. The purchase has already paid off. As early as Friday, the Legislature could dispose of one of the thorniest problems of the session – continuing a tax on Georgia hospitals in order to plug a hole in state Medicaid coverage.

Has Deal handed out state positions to close friends and allies? Certainly. His leadership style is one that values loyalty over experience. But Rogers and Deal aren’t that close. In fact, the Cherokee County lawmaker was viewed as a possible threat to an easy re-election bid for the governor in 2014.

In 2010, as majority leader, Rogers and Senate President pro tem Tommie Williams, R-Lyons, led their fellow GOP colleagues in an effort to strip Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle of his authority over the chamber. Two chaotic years followed. The governor’s ability to push his agenda through the Legislature was greatly restricted.

Williams declared early last year that he would not seek another term as the Senate’s leader. The governor quietly began helping Cagle regain his authority. David Shafer, R-Duluth, would eventually be elected president pro tem. Ronnie Chance, R-Tyrone, the governor’s floor leader, would replace Rogers as majority leader.

Rogers – although he was easily re-elected in November — would be shoved into the background, a senator without portfolio. But that’s precisely what the governor and his lieutenants were afraid of.

Last year, as the summer debate over the transportation sales tax reached a fever pitch, Rogers – who had voted to put the TSPLOST on the ballot – declared himself opposed to the measure, and began working with tea party forces. He was very effective.

Democrats have made great hay over some of Rogers’ positions – his sponsorship, for instance, of a state Capitol seminar on Agenda 21, the alleged international conspiracy to eliminate private property rights in the United States.

But the governor and his people saw a talented campaigner with a marvelous voice, who could serve as a rallying point for disaffected Senate Republicans – those who might balk at renewing the hospital “bed tax” set to expire this year. Failure would have sent Deal’s budget for the next year into a tailspin.

And so, in yet another year of budget cuts and austerity, a miracle job at GPB jumped up and grabbed Rogers by the collar.

Two weeks ago, on the third day of the new legislative session, all but three Republicans lined up and passed Deal’s Medicaid fix – after a personal pep-talk from the governor. The House could pass it as early as Friday.

The Rogers episode has clearly flummoxed the fine people on 14th Street. A long-time producer – who was paid a princely $54,000 a year — has quit in protest. Executives are worried about the next pledge drive. On Tuesday evening, GPB for the first time –very gingerly — addressed the controversy during a broadcast of “Prime Time Lawmakers.”

GPB board Chairman Mike McDougal addressed GPB’s editorial independence. “I do not believe that there’s anybody on our board that would just fall down and bow down if they were requested to come in and allow that kind of interference,” he said.

Another board member on the broadcast was Bert Brantley, former spokesman for Gov. Sonny Perdue. “There is that independence,” Brantley said. “It’s a state-owned media, but not in the sense you’d see [in] other countries, where the state runs the media and delivers the content.”

So there’s the good news. We’re not a re-creation of the Soviet Union. But we may be reliving Machiavelli’s Italy.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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

96 comments Add your comment

hiram

January 31st, 2013
8:30 am

7:49 Lars
“And supposedly, Deal knew that the election was meaningless too.”

This was peanuts to Deal. Remember the 4 million to the Lake Lanier guy who donated 60 thousand to his campaign? Do the math on that one. And, how can you forget the 35 million for a pair of airline tickets over at Delta? Rogers should be insulted. I still contend that this is a move to shut down public tv., and he needed to do something to rid himself of Rogers anyway – a win, win.

RexDogma

January 31st, 2013
8:32 am

I will never give money to GPB. This is nothing new for GPB, they had resignations when Perdue was Gov. Actually channel 30 is a bright spot for the Atlanta Public Schools.

Eli

January 31st, 2013
8:34 am

Why is everyone (almost) giving JD a hard time over wanting to boycott because of trolls like Aesop? He (or she) has a point. Aesop does not exactly contribute anything meaningful to the conversation and having a private citizen ban another private citizen from posting on their private website does not constitute an abridgement of the 1st amendment.

Aesop, like td, is a troll. They do not make reasonable/intellectual contributions to the discussion. They spout out hateful conspiracies. I am pretty sure they are Jim Galloway. Never are the number of posts greater than when aesop and td go all Alex Jones on this site…it makes sense that Jim is trying to gin up the amount of time people stay on his page. I hope I am wrong.

K. Lean House

January 31st, 2013
8:51 am

Wonder why no one trusts politicians. Can anyone name any honest politicians? This type of thing sickens me.

WOW

January 31st, 2013
8:57 am

@ Eli

The point of a blog is to facilitate discussion. If you feel they don’t make reasonable/intellectual contributions then ignore them. That’s your or JD’s right. As is boycotting if you feel like it. Its just kind of silly. IMO

Road Scholar

January 31st, 2013
8:59 am

The producer made $54K. Hire 3 of them for what they are paying Rogers!

Eli and others: Ignore Aesop, td, etc. While they won’t go away, there really is no need to read their posts. ie Most Journalism majors are liberals!? Can’t argue with stupid!

clem

January 31st, 2013
9:00 am

be careful you might hurt aeshat’s feelings

WOW

January 31st, 2013
9:01 am

@ TD:

There is nothing stopping conservatives from getting Journalism degrees. I wish more of them would, then they could stop complaining about how biased the media is.

As for the appointments. There used to be a list of executive appointments (under Sonny) on the Gov.’s website. It explained all the positions he could appoint citizens to and had a breakdown of which ones needed to be confirmed by the State Senate and which ones didn’t. Of course under Deal the list has disappeared. The Governor doesn’t have the power to unilaterally add to this list. Again he can hire anyone he wants to his staff, but not to a state agency.

hiram

January 31st, 2013
9:04 am

@K.LeanHouse
The problem is more the fault of the people who elect them. If it were well documented that a doctor made a list of the 10 worst doctors in the country, and detailed examples were given of his screwups, and you let him operate on you anyway – whose to blame?

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

January 31st, 2013
9:04 am

The Nazi book burnings were a campaign conducted by the authorities of Nazi Germany to ceremonially burn books in Germany and Austria by classical liberal, anarchist, socialist, pacifist, communist, Jewish, and other authors whose writings were viewed as subversive or whose ideologies undermined the National Socialist administration.

During the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976), many such books were forcibly destroyed or burned to ashes, because they were considered by the Chinese communist party as among the Four Old Things to be eschewed.

In 2003, thousands of materials were burned, including in the case of Julio Antoniao Guevara a judgement that stated that “As to the disposition of the photographic negatives, the audio cassette, medicines, books, magazines, pamphlets and the rest of the documents, they are to be destroyed by means of incineration because they lack usefulness.” The Cuban Department of the Interior also burned journalism manuals, books on the United States Constitution

liberals never change, do they?

hiram

January 31st, 2013
9:09 am

asshop is td – let the googling, copying and pasting begin…

Shanti

January 31st, 2013
9:10 am

Not Machiavelli’s Italy but perhaps the Italy of Berlusconi, who controlled pretty much all broadcast media during his tenure as prime minister and hired countless ill-qualified cronies.

td

January 31st, 2013
9:12 am

Eli

January 31st, 2013
8:34 am

” They do not make reasonable/intellectual contributions to the discussion.”

In other words they do not tow the progressive party line.

“They spout out hateful conspiracies.”

In other words, they challenge the progressive orthodox.

” I am pretty sure they are Jim Galloway.”

Conspiracy theory?

hiram

January 31st, 2013
9:14 am

Ever notice that the three faces of td always show up together?

td

January 31st, 2013
9:19 am

WOW

January 31st, 2013
9:01 am

@ TD:

There is nothing stopping conservatives from getting Journalism degrees.

And why would a conservative want to go to a school and have to listen to nothing more then bashing conservatism and promoting progressivism everyday, then have to come out and go into a profession where if you disagree then you get fired or if you are honest then you do not get hired in the first place?

As far as government employment with the state. You have a valid point if the state still operated under the old merit system for personnel. Joe Frank Harris started and the Zell Miller completed the task of totally dismantalling this the state personal board and this system. Under the new form of government, management can now hire whomever they want to for whatever reason they want to. All heads of all agencies work at the will of the governor so therefore the governor can hire whomever he/she chooses to hire for any job in the state.

Tap Out

January 31st, 2013
9:25 am

Georgia voters are suckers. Even Alabama and Florida are laughing at us now.

liberalefty

January 31st, 2013
9:26 am

now GPB will honor the KKK as american heros, and misundesrstood patriots…lol

hiram

January 31st, 2013
9:29 am

@liberallefty
now GPB will honor the KKK as american heros, and misundesrstood patriots…lol

And the earth is flat, and 5,000 years old…

hiram

January 31st, 2013
9:31 am

@liberallefty
Now GPB will say the CIVIL RIGHTS ACT was a big guvment conspiracy…to give raparations to blacks…lol

And women should wear sacks over their heads…

hiram

January 31st, 2013
9:34 am

td, It’s time for cc to make his entrance…

hiram

January 31st, 2013
9:36 am

td is googling…can’t wait for the next profound revelation…

yuzeyurbrane

January 31st, 2013
9:36 am

I think td would only be happy if Georgia PBS were turned into a ministry of propaganda. Indeed, that is the subtext of the Rogers boondoggle.

Serious Robuck

January 31st, 2013
9:41 am

No one could fake td’s amazing writing abilities. Not Galloway. Not anybody. td is a primary example of why Georgia languishes at or near the bottom of every measure that matters.

hiram

January 31st, 2013
9:42 am

@yuz
Brother Deal’s goal is to make GPB a non-entity, just like he dismantled the ethics commission. They want control of the state’s treasury with zero oversight. He’s taking a play out of Sherman’s playbook – he loaded all of the reporters on a train, and sent them packing.

The Ghost of Lester Maddox

January 31st, 2013
9:49 am

That’s great background, Jim. As Paul Harvey would say, it’s the “……rest…of…the….story”.

And, heck, you even hinted at bipartisanship when you noted that Deal is far from the first Governor to employ this kind of move. Shoot, if it was illegal, then King Roy would be doing life, plus 10!

The Truth

January 31st, 2013
10:23 am

GPB will be wasting there time with pledge drives…they don’t need my money. If they can pay salaries like these they must be rolling in th dough!

So much for your credentials as a journalist, Jim

January 31st, 2013
10:38 am

This is the biggest pile of poo you’ve ever written. You and your Lt. Gov. buddy are not happy with his departure, you want his death.

clem

January 31st, 2013
10:42 am

we are waiting for a rejoinder from the stupid party

Ol' Timer

January 31st, 2013
10:50 am

@td —-Dang if I don’t believeol’ td has Tourette’s — 47 posts! He needs to get back on his meds.

GaBlue

January 31st, 2013
10:53 am

The sooner we get Cheat Rogers OFF THE GOVERNMENT TEAT entirely, the better of our state will be. Let this slimy, deceptive little weasel fend for himself in the private sector, and issue a restraining order keeping his smarmy face at least 50 feet from any government building (with exceptions only for renewing his drivers and hunting licenses). There’s simply no valid rationalization for rewarding his bad behavior with these kinds of perks.

AlanR

January 31st, 2013
10:58 am

Galloway, you lack an understanding of how things work in the real world. The best way to get rid of someone is not to fire them, but to promote them and let someone else fire them. Hard to do with elected officials, but one must give the Governor credit. Imagine Chip’s surprise in about 9 months when his show is cancelled and he is moved to another project, then quietly let go after Deal is reelected. Imagine the smile on the Governor’s face when all goes according to plan.

markie mark

January 31st, 2013
11:02 am

sometimes I got to wonder, guys…..is it worth 150k to not have Rogers in power? That may be considered a good investment for the state…..

Mike

January 31st, 2013
11:03 am

Chipper went through with his election just in case ole Nathan backed out on their deal. If Chipper decided not to run because of a deal they had made, then Nathan renigged, Chipper would have been out all the way around.
Critical thinking skills folks. You have to understand how all this stuff works. I know, I live in it everyday.

markie mark

January 31st, 2013
11:03 am

god knows, its a better expenditure of funds than a @#$@# fish museum…..

Mike

January 31st, 2013
11:04 am

Good point Markie mark. EXACTLY !!!!

K. Lean House

January 31st, 2013
11:33 am

Hiram, If you don’t like a Doctors credentials, there are many, many more to choose from who have excellent standing. Is this true with politicians. If you don’t like one bum of a politician, are there excellent replacements waiting in the wings to run for office and for that particular seat. NO! More of the same I’d say. Will Rogers said politicians are like baby diapers and need to be changed regularly because of whats in the diaper. Just wished there were some reasonable replacements.

n

January 31st, 2013
12:16 pm

There is no doubt that Rogers was planted at GPB against the wishes of the GPB staff.
I am paranoid enough to think that he was planted to subvert public broadcasting in GA, which the far right hates. He was/is the treasurer of ALEC, which has public broadcasting in its sights for destruction. The far right has accomplished a coup. They have insinuated themselves into the workings of an organization that has provided a great public service for decades, which they despise because it makes people more informed citizens and voters. And they have given Rogers the opportunity to be on the government dole while he goes about the dirty work of destroying an irreplaceable public asset. And they have made people refuse to contribute to the now “enemy” GPB.
Do not blame GPB for this travesty! You can be assured that he was crammed down their throats in a purely evil intentioned political coup. I will support GPB until the day I die.

deegee

January 31st, 2013
12:45 pm

Don’t take your vengeance out on GPB. They are the unfortunate pawns in the corrupt political chess game that goes on every day in Georgia politics. Let’s channel our outrage where it belongs, at the governor’s office. Nathan Deal is just as corrupt as Sonny Perdue but Sonny was a little more discrete. Nathan just throws it out there as if he’s made of teflon. What do you expect from someone that spent 19 years in Congress? Instead of getting all up in arms with GPB, get out and campaign for someone that can beat Nathan Steal in the next election.

n

January 31st, 2013
1:17 pm

I suspect also that many of these blog comments proclaiming “I will never support GPB because of Chip Rogers being hired” are planted comments to try to whip up some sort of faux outrage among public broadcasting supporters.
It won’t work guys. We are not as stupid and easily manipulated as you think we are.

honested

January 31st, 2013
1:38 pm

n

Very good points.
I think it would be a great time for GPB to air the ‘ALEC Exposed’ program so that the unaware can get a glimpse into who and what are attempting to permanently pervert our political structure……

…..and to help explain why it is more important than ever to continue contributing to Public Broadcasting!

South GA Food Taxer

January 31st, 2013
2:01 pm

All you guys are up in arms about Chip Rogers…… where were you when the guvnah appointed two political cronies to the top spots in the Georgia National Guard?

Shar

January 31st, 2013
2:11 pm

South GA, you omit mentioning Deal’s appalling appointment of unqualified, inexperienced but loyal and deep-pocketed cronies to the Board of Pardons and Paroles, the Ports Authority, the Georgia Lottery Commission, the Department of Transportation (these last two with completely unqualified executives foisted on them as well), the Board of Regents, and on and on.

This behavior is to be expected from a person who used his political office to influence state protection for his monopolistic personal business, and then slithered out the door of Congress literally minutes before the ethics investigation of his “dealings” was to be made public. Or who covered up his ill-judged and vulnerable-to-payola personal finances until he had drummed out his Republican opposition, in full knowledge that had the voters been aware of that situation he would have lost. He’s still steaming that that big pile of T-SPLOST money that he’s already parcelled out among his pals didn’t materialize and he’s busy punishing people who got in his way. He has sold out the taxpayer on public school funding, on transportation, on ethics, on sliding through the tax on hospitals, certainly on this benighted and entirely one-sided replacement Dome, on tax breaks to businesses like Delta who pay him off, etc. He is a stain on the state, and he will be re-elected handily.

What an embarassment and a waste.

Carol

January 31st, 2013
2:42 pm

Intown Writer well said. If you have the ability to influence the employer to help employ someone it is still cronyism.

I hope old Chip was smart enough to sign an early termination contract. That would be Part B to this plan. But since he wanted a law stating you couldn’t be inplanted with a microchip without your permission, I’d say he probably was paranoid enough to sign one.

jgalloway

January 31st, 2013
4:27 pm

Liberallefty:

You’re in time-out for spamming.

Patrick Thompson

January 31st, 2013
5:30 pm

Forgotten in all of this partisan bickering on all sides and the kindergarten argument that wah wah did this or that is that these men work for us, the taxpayer. And they proudly hold out their “conservative, personal responsibility, Christian values, low tax, small government” appeal, thinking that because they say it and repeat it that it’s true. Actions are what we need, not words. And remember, they work for us – all of us, since we write the checks.

Nutmeg

January 31st, 2013
6:50 pm

This controversy isn’t going away.

People will keep talking about Chip Rogers’ inappropriate new job and Deal’s role in giving it to him until Rogers isn’t there anymore.

Period.