Thursday, March 19, 2009

This and That

  • Stem Cells: Former Perdue spokeswoman and native Athenian Heather Hedrick Teilhet speaks for thousands of Georgia families in her editorial in the AJC today regarding SB 169. I truly believe this stem cell bill -- even if it goes no further -- is unnecessary and has angered many conservative and pro-business Republicans. Just by getting this far, the bill has hurt our local and statewide economic development efforts amidst a recession. What a waste of time and energy.
  • OC Party: Congrats to Watkinsville's Jay Hanley for being elected chair of the Oconee County Republican Party.
  • Enough Already: Over at Tondee's Tavern, Oconee resident Johnathan McGinty articulates what I have been thinking for months -- enough already with the pessimism, state climatologists! While it hasn't been a banner year for rain, here in Northeast Georgia, the resevoirs and rivers are full. I'm not saying we're out of the woods, but our state officials need to understand that if all you do is talk continuously about how bad things are, people will quit listening (especially when we just got 3 inches of rain).
  • Slippery Slope: Was surprised to see the Watkinsville alcohol issue get such prominent play in today's Oconee Enterprise (the story is not available online); ABH covers it here. If you read the OE article, it says I am opposed to retail beer and wine sales for philosophical reasons. I don't have a problem with alcohol, but here's my philosophy: there should be a good reason besides "everyone else is doing it" to change our ordinance. The situation in Watkinsville hasn't changed since we approved pouring licenses for beer and wine in restaurants, when we decided not to do retail sales. That was clearly a good decision as it helped our restaurants and enhanced our economic development prospects -- we had a good rationale for that decision. However, I don't think we should change our ordinance to "possibly" get a wine and cheese store or to save people a little gas when they want to buy beer. Frankly, the most likely immediate outcome is more gas stations, who will be the prime beneficiaries under the current ordinance. I have also suggested that if our goal is to get a gourmet food store, let's pass an ordinance for just that (I have provided a template for consideration), rather than one that accomodates all retail outlets. That said, a quick vote count indicates that the ordinance will pass with some amendments, and it is about as tightly constructed as one gets. I just don't see the need for it. And if we follow the line of the reasoning that "90% of the rest of the county has it, so why shouldn't we" on other issues, Watkinsville would be a very different place, wouldn't it?
  • Transportation: Odds for meaningful transportation reform continue to dwindle as the House, Senate and Governor continue to play a parlor game with an issue that is critical to the future of Georgia. If you think this has bad consequences for Athens and Oconee, imagine the hand wringing in Atlanta, Savannah, and elsewhere.
  • Republican Plans: Matt Towery has a nice piece on how the Republican party can become relevant again at Insider advantage. Unfortunately for us but probably fortunately for Towery's company, a subscription is required. An excerpt: "I recognize that this appears to be a simplistic set of proposals. They are, and for a reason. Simple bold concepts work. When people want change, and inevitably they do, they don't want halfway, watered-down reform. They vote for bold proposals and real change implemented as swiftly as possible." His ideas: bring back term limits. Get rid of the IRS. Eliminate federal agencies. And restore America as a manufacturing powerhouse. Towery is much better when he focuses on these types of issues rather than sniping over problems at the Georgia Dome, etc.
  • Medicaid: Our local hospitals have gone to war at the legislature over medicaid reimbursement cuts recommended by the Governor, with a full scale e-mail and fax campaign that is rarely seen from Athens outside of environmental issues. The House has figured out a way to keep the money in by accurately applying the new FMAP match that is part of the stimulus funds. The Governor and senate budget writers aren't buying the change. Hundreds of local jobs would be lost in Athens if the Governor's version of the bill passes. Lots of detail here.
  • Georgia Gets Railroaded: Shoutout in Flagpole for Voice of Moderation here. Thanks Ben. More detail on NC's intercity commuter rail program plans here. I'm green with envy.
  • Those must be some good lobbyists: Speaking of SB 169, the author of the original bill plans to run for state insurance commissioner because lobbyists asked him to. Not the way to start a campaign, according to the ABH.
  • It's a question of Priority: Charles Krauthammer gets to the heart of many Americans' growing unease with President Obama's plans and budget growth. They recognize energy independence is a problem. Healthcare is a problem. But are they the problems we should be dealing with right now? Did they cause our economic issues? Can we solve these in the middle of a recession? The least competent aspect of the new administration appears to be the Secretary of the Treasury. Not good. But can Republicans figure out an alternative besides the "wishing for failure" one being suggested by our esteemed talk radio hosts? Parts of the Obama platform have broad appeal -- energy independence, conservation, education investments, etc. -- others, much less so.


Cody said...

Good rundown on what's happening in the area. I find it very interesting that the ABH would issue an editorial this early in the campaign season (nearly 18 months) against a potential candidate! I am not sure I've ever seen that one before, especially for Insurance Commissioner.

Kevin said...

I am with you on the reason's for being against the beer and wine ordinance. As a person who is a huge fan of craft beer, an ordinance that would prohibit sales of singles means I would not be able to buy high end craft beer in Watkinsville (it is often sold in 10-12oz, 22oz 750ml and larger bottles). This is fine but it would also make it tough to attract a high end food wine boutique type of place that may cater to the oenophile as well as the hop head--and they basically can't sell most of what a craft beer person would be looking for. Just my 2cents. If Watkinsville just prohibited the sale of cold beer and wine, there would be little incentive for a gas station to get a license for beer and wine.