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

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96 comments Add your comment

Dumb and Dumber

January 30th, 2013
5:49 pm

We used to give to GPB because the other choice, WABE, is run by the Atlanta Board of Education and we all know that the Atlanta school board is a tool factory. But I really don’t like Chipster and Nathan Deal is corrupt down to his toes.

Oh well, there is always WUTC in Chattanooga — not staid like WABE and plays great Bluegrass and Roots music — its available on the internet. I used to split contributions between GPB and WUTC — but now its all going to Chattanooga.

Georgia Voter

January 30th, 2013
5:57 pm

Has anybody been able to determine why Chip even ran for the State Senate in November? He knew in October that he was going to go to GPB. Why did this “fiscal conservative” decide to give taxpayers the cost of a special election? My guess is that it was his ego wanting to prove that he could beat Brandon Beach.

clem

January 30th, 2013
6:06 pm

no way to justify salary given what other agency heads & governor paid much less what others paid at gpb. and then the retirement issues?

pick-r-pockets

January 30th, 2013
6:17 pm

The addition of Rogers and his $150,000 salary will taint GPB as a source of unbiased news as long as he is there. Unfortunately that “fishy odor” rubs off on other GPB employees. I keep wondering when the intelligent people of Georgia will “wake up and smell the coffee” rather than continue to ignore the odor of fish just because their favorite party “told them it was roses, honey, and money.”

questions abound

January 30th, 2013
6:17 pm

how many policy rules were violated with this hire… no job existed… no interview… and how was the salary determined? The only thing that could of been worse is if the job was given to a relative of Deal.

IntownWriter

January 30th, 2013
6:22 pm

Jim, I completely agree – and understand – that Rogers and Deal are not cronies, in the sense of being friends or confidants, and that Rogers was definitely a liability. But with cronyism defined as “the appointment of friends and *associates* to positions of authority, without proper regard to their qualifications,” wouldn’t Deal’s arrangement for his associate’s hire, in this $150K position, qualify? Whether Rogers is a friend or political liability is immaterial… Deal used his influence to get Rogers this job. Who’s to say that if GPB President Teya Ryan had been a good steward of the integrity of the organization and said “No,” that Deal wouldn’t have shopped Rogers to another State agency?

Question Man

January 30th, 2013
6:27 pm

What is the betting line on whether Chip Rogers will be at GPB at the end of February? Why would any person or organization stay onboard this clearly sinking ship?

WillinRoswell

January 30th, 2013
6:33 pm

54 grand a year is hardly “princely.”

mark

January 30th, 2013
6:37 pm

GPB new weekly economics show: Problem of the week

A somewhat hated, but some what liked state senator, runs for re-election. He wins, steps down. A new election will cost $500,000. The state then hires ex senator to become a public educator for $150,000 a year. Then the donors, to his new company, stop giving due to the fact this has ticked off the donors. How much will Chip Rodgers cost the tax payers of the state of Georgia?

Kris

January 30th, 2013
6:44 pm

Dumb and Dumber “ But I really don’t like Chipster and Nathan Deal is corrupt down to his toes. ”

Well said, the Good news is that some states will put their corrupt Gov. in PRISON.

Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan was back at his longtime home on Wednesday following his pre-dawn release from a federal prison after serving more than five years for corruption.
http://news.yahoo.com/ex-ill-gov-ryan-released-halfway-house-163907530.html

Good riddance Crooked deal 2014

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

January 30th, 2013
6:45 pm

Talk about the dummycrats pointing out the speck in the Republicans eye while not saying anything out the beam in theirs.

James

January 30th, 2013
6:56 pm

The beauty of all this is the same folks who are calling Fulton County inefficient and corrupt and have declared an OPEN SEASON on reigning in the “excesses” of Fulton are quiet. Jan Jones, Lynn Riley, Martin and the real hypocrite here David Shafer who resides in the only county with three corrupt county officials – Gwinnett are doing everything they can to do nothing about the real problems in Georgia – the legislature and Governor. Go after Deal and Chip Rogers! Oh never mind they are Republicans and we work together. That group is seeking “apartness” for Fulton which remains the most fiscally conservative county government in the nation. The republicans minority hasn’t won a county wide election in Fulton in years and won’t for years to come so they are going to gerrymander their way into power as if it’s APARTHEID in South Africa. God save us all. Wake up seniors your are going to lose it all behind their tactics.

JD

January 30th, 2013
6:57 pm

This is the first time I have visited AJC Political Insider in about two weeks. I missed it. I hate that trolls like “Aesop” and “td” use it as a platform to spew their hate and conspiracies and ruin the blog.

I would encourage the rest of you to join me in boycotting AJC Pol Insider until Jim has these troll’s IPs banned from posting.

yuzeyurbrane

January 30th, 2013
7:15 pm

You can be sure that the $150,000 job is only the tip of the iceberg. I don’t see anyone with Chip’s humongous ego who could be bought off so cheaply. He was in financial trouble wasn’t he? Like from that shady partnership he had with Cong. Tom Graves. It is funny how financial problems of politicians get quietly resolved. Deal is an expert on that subject.

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

January 30th, 2013
7:15 pm

Obviously JD is unable to debate his side of the issues and just wants hear little Orwellian words spoken to affirm his weak minded position in life.

But I’m sure you libs are flooding galloways email inbox, I know how this works, I’ve seen it before. Take for instance a few days ago when I repeated the same curse words that are directed at me each and every day and received the very first admonishment in galloway history for it. Since then, those very same curse words, and many, many others have been spoken here with nary a peep about it. Why is that? Because I am a man and not a little whiny schoolgirl liberal emailing the blog host about every little thing that gets my panties in a wad.

Pete

January 30th, 2013
7:31 pm

The mystery is how could the good people of Cherokee County keep electing this clown to office. Can they be that dumb? It seems so. It also seems the good people of northwest GA keep electing Tom Graves to office. He’s the hypocrite who says he’s not going to “bail out” the Federal Govenment when he himself and Rogers were bailed out of a loan. And guess what? They blame the bank because they say the bank should have never loaned them the money. There is no end to the ignorance of the GA electorate!

Bobblawblaw

January 30th, 2013
7:33 pm

54k is princely?!

hiram

January 30th, 2013
7:35 pm

No legitimate business entity, in the private sector, would ever employ Nathan Deal, or Chip Rogers. If Georgia’s electorate were put in charge of personnel decisions at any successful company on the planet, it would soon implode.

td

January 30th, 2013
7:35 pm

Finally, Gov. Deal has started placing conservatives into the bureaucracy. Placing Chip into this position has put one conservative in and ticked off one progressive so bad that he quit. Now let us replace the progressive that quit with another conservative and we will finally be going in the right direction.

td

January 30th, 2013
7:38 pm

hiram

January 30th, 2013
7:35 pm

No legitimate business entity, in the private sector, would ever employ Nathan Deal, or Chip Rogers. If Georgia’s electorate were put in charge of personnel decisions at any successful company on the planet, it would soon implode.

So placing Hank Johnson, John Lewis and David Scott in positions of power are great moves by the opposition to the current leadership? Let us not forget about the decision of Cynthia?

Cherokee

January 30th, 2013
7:39 pm

hiram, I think you’re probably correct.

But it’s so tempting to point out their – his – ignorance of the real world.

And Pete, as a proud resident of Cherokee, where the metro meets the mountains, you are absolutely correct. Ignorance abounds.

Thanks Jim for the column – I always learn something when I read your work.

Cherokee

January 30th, 2013
7:43 pm

And we all hope, td, that you continue your efforts to put true conservatives in power, by nominating Paul Broun for the open Senate seat in 2014. He’s such a shining example of Georgia conservative values….

td

January 30th, 2013
7:43 pm

@ Clem,

Hiram is a little paranoid and can not understand how people can be conservative in a state where the majority of voters are Conservative.

td

January 30th, 2013
7:46 pm

Cherokee

January 30th, 2013
7:43 pm

Sorry, will not be a Bourn supporter in the primary. I think Jack Kingston would be the best choice but Tom Graves would be fine. After Jim’s article this morning, I will have to check out this good conservative woman as well.

Small Gov't

January 30th, 2013
7:48 pm

Funny you got a statement from a GPB board member who is in the process of making his living off of being Governor Goofball Perdue’s little mouthpiece for a few years….his profound differentiation between the GPB situation and state-run media entities in other countries is great.

Crazy appointments for jobs in state gov’t are plentiful. There are quite a few people in and around the Capitol who must read these articles about Rogers’ placement at GPB and keep their heads down low.

Cherokee

January 30th, 2013
7:52 pm

Sorry to hear that, td.

CC

January 30th, 2013
8:04 pm

JD:

“I would encourage the rest of you to join me in boycotting AJC Pol Insider until Jim has these troll’s IPs banned from posting.”

I see you are a firm believer in the First Amendment. I congratulate you . . .

Reading is fundamental

January 30th, 2013
8:27 pm

Jim’s reference to $54,000 as “princely” was obviously written with tongue in cheek. Sheesh people! Learn to read context for Pete’s sake!

GPBEmployee

January 30th, 2013
8:28 pm

The job was never advertised. Never talked about. Nothing. Then “POP”! There’s Chip! Making more than anyone else there,too! This was after a little meeting spun together by the governor, too. It doent take a genius to see what went down. Teya has done this before too – look at some of her CNN cronies she brought on without advertising the jobs. They jsut damn appeared one day, and ALL of them are making $75k or more.

R U Kidding Me?

January 30th, 2013
8:33 pm

Mike McDougald from Rome, Georgia is a career radio man. He is also a consummate ass kisser of every sitting Governor,US Senator or Congressman for the past 30 years. He loves to boast about his close alliances to Deal, Perdue, Bob Barr and the like. But McDougald also knows public relations and despite his lips being surgically attached to the Governor’s ass, he is running from this Chip Rogers fiasco like the plague. Rogers is killing GPB and at some point soon, somebody is going to have to send him back to Woodstock.

South Georgia Retiree

January 30th, 2013
8:41 pm

This whole thing stinks, and as long as no courageous leaders step up and challenge the corruption and craziness in the capitol, it will go on. The only consolation I have is that I didn’t vote for the Gov., Lt. Gov., or any of their minions from my districts that are in the Governor’s camp. It will get worse until voters wise up and throw the bums out. The burning question is how much damage will they be allowed to do before Georgians wake up?
These days democracy in Atlanta is a farce, actually not far removed politically from the long ago days of Gene Talmadge, when he ran the state into the ground, ruined the University System, but was defeated when Ellis Arnell brought sanity back to the capitol. We need another hero like Arnell.

td

January 30th, 2013
8:47 pm

JD

January 30th, 2013
6:57 pm

This is the first time I have visited AJC Political Insider in about two weeks. I missed it. I hate that trolls like “Aesop” and “td” use it as a platform to spew their hate and conspiracies and ruin the blog.

I would encourage the rest of you to join me in boycotting AJC Pol Insider until Jim has these troll’s IPs banned from posting.

Come on over to Bookman’s. It has way more far leftest posters then this blog and I have been posting more there then here.

Bob Loblaw

January 30th, 2013
9:05 pm

@Bobblawblaw
January 30th, 2013
7:33 pm:

Get your own user name or I’ll bore you to death with copyright infringement statutes.

WOW

January 30th, 2013
9:07 pm

An elected conservative Governor should have the right to appoint conservatives, to politically appointed positions (although I wish the same standard would be given to our President)But, that’s not what happened here. This is not an appointed position, it was created, and never advertised. The University of Georgia couldn’t even hire a defensive line coach without advertising. Its against state personnel rules. Beyond that Rodgers is not professionally qualified for the job, which is why they didn’t advertise and he is getting paid more than the person he reports to. If Deal would have appointed him to an appointed position there would not be this outcry.

td

January 30th, 2013
9:14 pm

WOW

January 30th, 2013
9:07 pm

And who is to say this is not an appointed position? Is it not true that Obama created several Czar positions out of thin air to appoint friends?

WOW

January 30th, 2013
9:35 pm

An executive producer position is not a political appointment, its a technical position. One should have a background in Journalism to qualify for it. I also believe that the Legislature would have to approve the position to make it appointed as well as long as it wasn’t in the Executive Branch. The Czar positions were advisers in the executive branch, well within the right of the Executive to appoint. If he had appointed Rogers Czar of something and gave him an office in the Capitol, no one would have said a word. He hired him in a technical position for which he is not qualified to in a state agency.

Cherokee

January 30th, 2013
9:45 pm

“Is it not true that Obama created several Czar positions out of thin air to appoint friends?”

No, not true of course.

td

January 30th, 2013
10:05 pm

Cherokee

January 30th, 2013
9:45 pm

“Is it not true that Obama created several Czar positions out of thin air to appoint friends?”

No, not true of course.

Really? Do the math. Take the number of Czars Obama has and then subtract it from the number of Czars Bush had. The answer will be the number of Czars created by Obama.

td

January 30th, 2013
10:10 pm

WOW

January 30th, 2013
9:35 pm

“An executive producer position is not a political appointment, its a technical position.”
In your opinion. Can you show me a definition of what jobs can be executive appointments and which ones can not?

” One should have a background in Journalism to qualify for it.”

Really? Then only liberals could ever serve as a producers since they are the huge majority of the people that receive journalism degrees.

” I also believe that the Legislature would have to approve the position to make it appointed as well as long as it wasn’t in the Executive Branch.”

Can you please show me where that is written in any law?

native

January 30th, 2013
10:18 pm

I think we should applaud Mr. Rogers as a true conservative for his refusal to feed at the public trough.

hiram

January 30th, 2013
11:18 pm

I don’t think the real reason for Rogers’ appointment by Brother Deal is being discussed. GPB sends pesky reporters over to the Capitol, and they report on what the politicians are doing. Sort of like what the former Ethics Office did, before Brother Deal dismantled it. What better way to deep six GPB than to send Rogers over there, so everyone cuts off their donations?

Buzzy

January 31st, 2013
1:39 am

Makes Shady Deal look even shadier.

catlady

January 31st, 2013
6:48 am

I will certainly not be sending a cent to GPB. Perhaps ALL the GPB workers should quit. It would give Deal a chance to reward some more friends and family.

catlady

January 31st, 2013
6:58 am

On the plus side, the Chipster’s pay should be garnisheed at the rate of 95%+ until his bad debt is paid to that bank/the taxpayers of this country. Give him $800 per month until the debt is paid. And his remaining war chest should be confisgated to pay for the special election!

Another Voice

January 31st, 2013
7:06 am

Ironic to create a job reporting on jobs and economy, when the state cuts economic development, and refocuses the remaining money on “growth within the state” because they have so little success (and it costs so much in tax incentives) to attract companies to move to GA. And in a state where we clearly do not value education, which is the basis for attracting companies that want smart workers. Yeah, Deal gave back a few days of PreK classroom, but only because he’s courting the teacher vote for his reelection. Sheesh.

Taxi Smith

January 31st, 2013
7:40 am

I will never give another dollar to GPB.

Lars

January 31st, 2013
7:49 am

td: the “he” who quit at GPB was actually a “she.” Might want to get your facts straight. But the real issue here is that Rogers went into an election knowing that he never planned to take his Senate seat, which would cost the state another $500,000 on top of his new job income. And supposedly, Deal knew that the election was meaningless too.

Hide-n-seek

January 31st, 2013
8:19 am

I wonder if “Small Gov’t” has a job.

B. Thenet

January 31st, 2013
8:26 am

The GOP may win all the elections in this state, but they lost all sense of honor and decency when they elected this crook as governor.

honested

January 31st, 2013
8:27 am

I hope the ‘Unabridged Georgia Modern Dictionary’ is published soon. There are many definitions that need full comprehension by the Public.
For instance:

Conservative – Able to engage in any activity at any time that would send people not so identified to prison. Able to ignore all existing rules, laws, financial constraints due to the contrived, self-appointed title.

Republican – See ‘conservative’.

Democrat – Subject to derision for even the most pristine intentions and behavior because, after all, they are not ‘conservative’.

Moocher – Anyone receiving any aid, salary or in-kind assistance from taxpayer derived funds who is not a self-identified ‘conservative’.

I could go on, but it should be obvious to anyone paying attention that the invention of a ‘job’ at a chronically underfunded, state financed agency, external to all existing personnel rules and lacking oversight and full disclosure, well, STINKS!

Of course, td clarified it for us. To paraphrase: ” he is a conservative” so we should look no further.