Winfred Dukes, Albany State, and Transportation

By now, you’ve probably heard that State Rep Winfred Dukes has been accused of costing Albany State University the funding for the Ray Charles Fine Arts Center.

You may have even heard that he got into a very verbal and visual altercation with his accuser around lunchtime today.

I can verify that the accusations are indeed accurate, and to steal a phrase from the late great Paul Harvey, here’s the REST of the story…

It all began, according to several sources, on January 30. On that day, the House of Representatives debated the Homeowner’s Tax Relief Grants. At about one hour and 36 minutes into the debate, Rep Dukes makes the comments shown in this video – which was taken directly from the video in the GPB archives. Now, the comments Rep Dukes makes about Delta and Gulfstream could be taken as attacks on Reps Burkhalter and Keen, respectively. Rep Burkhalter’s district is in the North Fulton/Alpharetta area, where Delta is a major player due to the proximity of its home base at Hartsfield Airport. Rep Keen’s district in Brunswick is the site of a major Gulfstream office. Burkhalter and Keen are also 2nd and 3rd in charge of House leadership, right behind Speaker Glenn Richardson.

So the comments in the video, and the fact that this early in the session he was already balking on major initiatives of House Leadership, didn’t earn Rep Dukes too many favors. And ultimately, as we all know, the way politics unfortunately works is who owes who favors. I personally can’t STAND this, but until we elect people with spines that will stand for right no matter what, it is the way the game is played.

So Rep Dukes already was shooting himself in the foot, when ANOTHER major pet project of House Leadership came up. Indeed, this particular project was SB 200, the Department of Transportation reorganization that was signed by Governor Perdue today, and has been a pet project of his throughout the session. House Leadership knew this particular bill was going to be extremely close, and the voting was kept open for quite a long time – roughly 5 minutes, about 5x as long as any other vote. While it was speculated then by myself, Jason Pye, and many others, that much deal making was going on during this time, I can now confirm this – and Reps Dukes and Fullerton were at the heart of it.

You see, according to what I am hearing, a deal was made whereby if Reps Dukes and Fullerton voted for SB 200, BOTH the Ray Charles project at Albany State AND the project at Darton would be funded in this year’s budget. Rep. Fullerton upheld her end of the deal and voted for SB 200, and Rep Dukes simply walked away from the chamber and did not vote. Because he did not vote, the Speaker himself was forced to take the EXTREMELY unusual move of casting a vote himself, and the Speaker’s vote – that should have been Rep Dukes’ vote – was the deciding factor in the passage of the bill.

Because of Rep Dukes reneging on his end of the deal, and because he had made no secret that the Albany State project was a pet project of his, Leadership then decided to strip the Albany State project from the budget during the final conference committee.

So you see, Rep Dukes DID, in fact, cause Albany State to lose the funding for the Ray Charles project, no matter how much he protests it.

SB 200 House Vote Record

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Project VoteSafe

I have just been informed that Governor Perdue has signed HB 227 into law as of last Friday.

This is a VERY good law that allows people who are victims or potential victims of family violence to not risk their lives by registering to vote. Basically, it says that if you have a protective or restraining order or are a verified resident of a family violence shelter, you can request that your voter registration data not be made public.

In case you didn’t know, by and large, voter registration data is publicly available, at least for political organizations and the military, and maybe other individuals/organizations. Meaning that prior to HB 227 and Project VoteSafe – the Secretary of State’s name for her implementation of the bill – if a guy wanted to know where his ex-wife was living now and knew she had registered to vote in Georgia, he could get the voter registration data and track her down. This WAS perfectly legal, and now – thankfully – it is not, once the proper procedure has been done.

So consider this a public service announcement: To those with protective/restraining orders and/or who are living in a family violence shelter: You no longer have to fear for your life or your kids’ lives if you want to vote. PLEASE go register, and PLEASE vote in every election affecting your district!

For everyone: If we here at SWGA Politics can be of any use in helping you locate any information about who your politicians are and/or where they stand, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

[Updated] Closer Look at 2010 Governor’s Race with Fox 5 Atlanta

Fox 5 Atlanta is doing a series called ‘Closer Look: Race for Governor 2010’ where they interview each of the candidates.

April 21, 2009 Karen Handel text and video
April 22, 2009 Ray McBerry text and video
April 23, 2009 John Oxendine text and video
April 24, 2009 Austin Scott text and video
April 28, 2009 David Poythress text and video
April 29, 2009 Thurbert Baker text and video
April 30, 2009 DuBose Porter text and video
May 1, 2009 John Monds text and video

SWGA Politics will also have a continuing series ‘Candidate and Liberty’, examining each candidate’s statements as they appear on their websites and looking at them from the eyes of one Libertarian – namely, me. The first mini-series in this series is now complete, and ‘John Oxendine and Liberty: Series At a Glance‘ has already been posted.

Marginalizing The Tea Parties

On April 15, tens of thousands of people literally took to the streets to protest the federal government. Most protested using tax dollars for stimulus. Others focused on auditing the Federal Reserve Bank. In Atlanta alone, estimates are that 15,000 people showed up to have their voices heard. However, the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s blog begs to differ in this post by Jim Galloway. Continue reading

Does Your Senator or Congressman Follow the Law All The Time?

How many of us if given the opportunity to hire law enforcement officers would hire an officer who said that he would enforce the law “most of the time.” Would you hire a police officer who said that if someone robbed your house that he would pick up the offender “most of the time?” Would you really want law enforcement officials who would only pursue burglars, rapists and murderers “most of the time?” Would you want a sheriff in your county who said that if you were accused of some crime that “most of the time” he would look into the charges and make sure they were valid before arresting and putting you in jail? I don’t think you would. Most of us want the law enforced all the time. Otherwise, it’s no good at all.

The reality is that the biggest problem we have in the country today is a result of the elected officials we send to Washington abiding by the law “most of the time” if at all. The supreme law of the land is the United States Constitution. Every elected official from the President of the United States down to the lowest city or county elected officer takes an oath of office that says they will “uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

The Framers of the Constitution were very wise in spelling out the limits on the federal government. In fact, the entire purpose of the Constitution was to put limits on the federal government, not on the states or the people. These limits were stated in the enumerated powers of Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution.

The Constitution was written under the principle of “positive grant.” Quite simply, the federal government is authorized to exercise only those powers which are “positively” “granted” to it by the Constitution. If a power is specifically listed in the Constitution, the federal government can do it. If it isn’t listed then it’s forbidden to the federal government. It really is that simple. This principle was so important to the Founding Fathers that they codified it in law as the 10th Amendment.

Herein lies the problem. It has been a very long time since most any of our elected officials have paid any attention to the Constitution except when it suits them. They routinely violate their oath of office by voting for new laws or for expenditures that are not constitutionally permitted.

Many politicians take a very liberal approach to Article I Section 8, and the 10th Amendment, by claiming that all the taxing and spending they do is permitted under what’s called the “general welfare” clause. They claim that as long as their actions promote the overall general welfare, it’s OK. This is clearly not what was intended by the Founding Fathers. Anyone willing to do just a little homework can find evidence of the real intent of the general welfare reference which is what true conservatives should use as a benchmark.

In the first Congress a bill was brought forth to give money to cod fishermen in New England. Nothing in the Constitution permitted this and James Madison, who is credited with being the primary author of the Constitution, responded with the following:

“If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may appoint teachers in every State, county and parish and pay them out of their public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision of the poor; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads; in short, every thing, from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress…. Were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited Government established by the people of America.”

How can you tell if your elected official is one of those “most of the time” people?

First, keep the above Madison quote in mind.

Second, get a copy of Article I Section 8 of the Constitution and see what it allows. You can find a copy online here: http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html#A1Sec8

Third, go to http://www.votesmart.org and check your Congressman or Senator’s voting record. Find out how many issues not covered in Article I Section 8 he or she has voted to authorize. You may find that “most of the time” has become “some of the time” or possibly “none of the time.”

Complaints from the recent TEA parties focused mainly on too much spending or too much taxation. Both of these are just symptoms of the real problem. The actual problem is that our elected Congressmen and United States Senators have not been and are not obeying the law 100% of the time as you would expect of a local city or county police officer. If they were obeying the law, and their oaths of office, there would not be billions and trillions of dollars spent by the federal government. The vast majority of the money spent every year in the annual budget and in the recent bailouts is totally unconstitutional. If they weren’t spending so much money unconstitutionally there would be no need of high taxes.

We can continue to argue about whether spending and taxes are too high or we could just start refusing to send people back to Washington who are not totally committed to obeying the intent of the Constitution, the law of the land, all the time.

The best way to begin to correct the problem is to demand accountability for past actions of those candidates running for re-election. If you want to expose the constitutional transgressions of a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives or U.S. Senate ask them if they’ve ever cast a vote for a bill that wasn’t permitted by Article I Section 8. If their answer is yes, then ask them why they aren’t obeying the law 100% of the time. Go even further and ask them why they violated their oath of office. If they answer no, and you know better, break out your votesmart.org research. Go line by line through their voting record for their last term in office. Ask them to show you where the authority lies for every questionable vote.

As always, we need elected officials who will remain true to the Constitution. Unfortunately, many elected officials will follow the Constitution only if we expect it of them. Now is the time to make our expectations known to those who want us to put our trust in them as representatives of the people.

-Ben Brandon
Ben Brandon is a libertarian Republican from NWGA and friend of SWGA Politics.

John Oxendine and Liberty, Part 2a: Oxendine Business Plan: Goal to Agriculture

Part 1 of this ‘John Oxendine and Liberty’ post dealt with the ‘Transportation‘ and ‘Family Values‘ pages in the Issues section of JohnOxendine.com. This post deals with the ‘Business‘ page, from the heading ‘The Oxendine Goal’ through the heading ‘Agriculture, the King of Georgia Business’.

‘The Oxendine Goal’:

Make Georgia the most business-friendly state in America.

A noble and admirable goal in fact. But I doubt Mr. Oxendine will be able to accomplish it, because he intends to get government MORE involved in business and individual decisions, when the correct way to assume a ‘pro-business’ stance is to REMOVE government from business and individual decisions.

‘The Oxendine Belief’:

A conservative, free market approach to government will create jobs; enhance revenue for the state without new taxes and burdensome regulations. Thereby, improving the quality of life for all Georgians.

Mr. Oxendine, you and your fellow conservatives only want to GROW government regulations. How does that encourage the free market? It in fact does exactly the opposite, slowing the free market from achieving the results that are best for all concerned. Again, the correct solution is LOWERED government regulation of both business and individual decisions, resulting in higher quality of life for a business’s employees and higher profit for the business itself.
[Continue Reading]

Ken Hodges Running for Attorney General

Former Dougherty County District Attorney Ken Hodges will announce in just a few hours that he is running for Attorney General, the seat being vacated by his close personal friend Thurbert Baker due to Baker’s run for Governor.

For the news I saw and my reaction to when Mr. Hodges first announced the possibility, see this WALB article or this earlier post on SWGA Politics, ‘Ken Hodges for AG? Let’s Hope Not