Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Clearing off the Desk

Highlights of what has crossed my desk this week.....
  • Like Tom Friedman, I too am a clean energy hawk. Read his column today and you'll wonder why our national chambers of commerce are so opposed to plans to make America less dependent on foreign oil. As I told the good folks at Beyond The Trestle, if Republicans could come up with any sort of responsible, environmental platform without it getting co-opted by big business, they would be able to grab a huge new demographic.
  • Atlanta has captured another high-profile telecom company -- the North American HQ of consolidating Sony Ericsson. Sony is known for its high profile sports sponsorships (see photo) and slick technology (see other photo). Word on the street is that even state officials were surprised by the announcement, which explains why no chambers of commerce or politicians had press conferences scheduled, quotes ready, or any data on the number of jobs coming to Atlanta or where they would be located. If the company moves to Gwinnett, it could be a positive for our region. With the opening of the Kia Plant in West Point and the moves of NCR and Sony Ericsson in the second half of 2009, this has turned out to be a solid year for Georgia's Department of Economic Development. It also highlights our own area's continued lack of focus and success in larger economic development efforts. Not that we would have a chance at a Sony Ericsson, but the point is that there are opportunities in recessions. Our opportunity is to fix our economic development infrastructure. I hope our leaders seize that opportunity.
  • Mayor Jeff Thomas has resigned in High Shoals. I only met Jeff a few times at political forums, and he seemed like a nice guy. But 18 years is a long time to serve anywhere. I hope this changing community can find some unity and move forward. With SPLOST funds come some opportunity to move forward on key initiatives. The best chronicle of all things High Shoals can be found at Councilman Steve Holzman's blog.
  • Peggy Noonan, as always, offers wisdom. I hope the President listens.
  • Those of you who want some free communications advice should be sure to read this column from Myra Blackmon. Some wisdom there.
  • State Rep. Doug McKillip and Spencer Frye deserve a lot of credit for pushing this idea to the forefront. It is something I first discussed with a group during Annette Nelson's failed campaign for Athens-Clarke Commission years ago, but no one really ever wrapped their arms around it. Finding a way to stop the erosion of aging apartments in Athens makes a lot of sense, and ReNew Athens seems to be a sound approach, especially with the expertise of Frye and Habitat for Humanity at the table.
  • I'm sorry, but the Barrow County Facebook teacher controversy is overwrought and unnecessary. They need to apologize, rehire the teacher, and allow this thing to disappear. See here and here for updates and interesting comments -- one likely theory is that the initial complaint e-mail was sent by a teacher, not a parent, and delivered from an anonymous e-mail address. Companies and organizations need to be sure their HR and marketing leaders understand social media before they start legislating it.
  • The new mayor of Hartwell got arrested for DUI. Not the best way to start.
  • One of the most demagogued pieces of health care reform has become end-of-life counseling. It's one of the few parts I like. Having tough conversations before you are on the operating table just makes sense. A massive amount of our overall health care costs are spent in the last 2-3 years of life. If this isn't what you want, you should have the opportunity to talk with your doctor and make that decision. A democrat tells the story rather effectively here.
  • Lee Becker provides an update on the courthouse situation and the new QuikTrip planned for the University Parkway/Oconee Connector intersection.
  • A couple of great books I have had the pleasure of reading lately if anyone is looking for some good non-fiction: Born to Run, The Wild Trees, and The Wise Men.

1 comment:

Cody said...

Brian, I just cannot let the Friedman article go without a comment. Like you and Friedman, I believe having a viable segment of the economy be focusing on renewable, clean or "green" energy is good and necessary. The problem -- as always -- is in the details.

We are not offering any real incentives beyond coal and oil/gas. The necessary technologies to produce energy resources to take us away from oil/gas and coal are decades at the best away. And, the existing technology we have, i.e. nuclear, averages 12 years to go online, and that is if you have the planning, zoning and permits in-hand.

We are being asking to accept unrealistic reductions in carbon emissions, or green house gases, without investing in replacement technologies. We are being asked to take it in the wallets now with the promise we'll do something later to help out. When is the last time Congress has kept that promise?

When you add health care, budget deficits and other unfunded mandates, this is just one more thing to hurt American families, while the developing nations continue to "Americanize" using the same technologies we have used. The problem gets much worse and not better without these nations making the investments as well.

Which brings me to the U.S. Chamber and it's members leaving on this issue. Have you or anyone you know looked at where the majority of the manufacturing for those companies occurs? It's China, which isn't covered by any climate change regulations and will refuse to be. It makes good PR for Nike to pitch a fit here and leave the Chamber, because Nike knows nothing will change it's production practices in China.

You are right about the GOP needing to focus sensible, sound and business-friendly environmental policies. But, what we need is a focused federal government approach to energy, similar to the Apollo program. When the government lets business try to achieve a goal with incentives and funding, we all benefit from the successes and the misses. for instance, the microwave and Tang! Among many, many other everyday conveniences we enjoy today because of that investment. This federal investment will pay dividends for us all in reduced energy costs, energy-efficient appliances, new technologies, and any number of things beyond our imagination.

We only have to have the courage to put the investment first. Unfortunately, all current plans put the pain first in the hopes that something good will come. And we know that that will not happen.