30 December 2015

[tpc] - Same Basic Truths About Drugs: Part Deux; The Sequel - A Write-up by Ellis Millsaps

* editor's note: this is the long awaited follow up by J. Ellis Millsaps, cont. writer of TPC to the first installment from this Summer. As always, we appreciate you reading The Chronicles. `MBM  

Some Basic Truths About Drugs: Part Deux; The Sequel 
A write-up by Contributing Writer J. Ellis Millsaps 
Special to the Chronicles 

This part was in my original conception intended to be a separate piece. Then I decided to do a segue, then a continuation. Whatever. Here's the rest:

I was sitting outside the coffee shop in Porterdale, a place where the baristas wear guns, and a cop car pulled up and for the first time (I'm so dense sometimes) it dawned on me that their windows are tinted much darker than us regular peons are allowed to have. So I asked him about it.

He was very nice.

He said, "yes, they are," and there's probably a real good reason for that, I said. Something about how the Citizenry wouldn't know which ones of us the govt. agents were observing; I was just making conversation.

He said he didn't think so. At the last place he worked, the Chief apparently didn't want that. He wanted his government employees to be totally engaged with the People (Ed.note: who's that guy? Let's get him involved here close to home!). And so, that started me thinking...

~ We Have Perverted the Role of Law Enforcement ~

If you're as old as me (63), you likely grew up thinking the police were your friends - and back in Fannin Co. that would have included both the two deputies (Barney & Gomer).

That changed by the time I rocked college in 1969. The fact that weed was illegal made it more glamorous. W were outlaws that were sticking it to an establishment that was sending many of us to die in the jungles of what is now almost universally conceded as a pointless war.

For the next generation this fear of the police started in our middle schools and high schools, but back in the early and mid-sixties, the policeman was truly Officer Friendly. They rode in powerful and superior vehicles of course, but they didn't look like humvees and your could actually see them in there and you could wave to them.

Now, even though I know many cops, I have no idea who is behind the wheel.

Things didn't really get bad until the government allowed police departments to keep the money and cars they seized (I've written a novel, "Good Cop, Bad Cop," which somewhat addresses this; a few chapters of which will be appearing in this space soon).

It was then that the true para-militarization of the police kicked into high gear. The black windows, and the assault vehicles came. Special operations units were funded to spy on and harass citizens. Informants and many others were gotten on the payroll.

Before this started, the State Troopers patrolled the interstate highways alone and local police were happy not to have the responsibility, but once the seizure of private property was allowed, every jurisdiction with a police force and an interstate running through them - no matter how small - was out there looking for loot and revenue from procedural stops.

In fact, the city of Social Circle, GA a few years back incorporated a few hundred yards of I-20 so it could get its piece of the People's pie.

And so it continues, Officer Friendly is now your unfriendly Revenuer.

Ellis is an attorney by trade but has worn many hats over the years: father, bus boy, stand-up comedian, novelist, wiffle ball player, rock'n'roll band manager, and at one time wrote a popular and funny column for The Covington News. A Fannin Co. mountain boy originally, Mr. Millsaps now stays at the mill village of Porterdale by way of 20 years in Mansfield. Usually funny and at times irreverent and subversive, he leans left in his political philosophy but can always be counted on for a pretty darn good write-up. The Chronicles are proud to have him involved... 

29 December 2015

[TPC] - Tuesday Morning Check-in

~ The Chronicles ~ 
est. 2010
29 December '15 
(Covington, GA) 

G'morn' fine readers. It's another wet one here in the Georgia Piedmont. Oh well, sometimes it's just gotta rain. A fair amount to report since last time we've conversed, let's get straight to the bullet points:

  • The biggest news was when Keith Ellis put out a press release the day after Christmas saying that we wasn't going to be running for re-election. I think most folks figured he was either a glutton for punishment or was just simply arrogant enough to try to run again. I think it honestly caught a good number off guard, yours truly included. 
  • Trastastrophe 2015 
    • Apparently many were shocked and angered that some folks decided to put their trash out in front of the trash centers during the 4-day closing of said centers. I'll just repeat what I put on my FB: 

Empathy, or thy Sister would say, putting your feet in the shoes of another. It's not easy. No, in fact, it's very hard. But it is, in my opinion, the only way for me - to be me.
I'd like to be clear about something for a moment:
The people dumping their trash at the gates of the trash centers. Yeah, I get it. It's some vulgar & base behavior; however, I can also say this - I do have that sense of empathy & an appreciation of the Citizenry's frustrations and grievances. After all, a lot of these folks just simply work their asses off to be able to exist and all they want in this world is to be able to give their children and grandchildren a good Christmas.
Then, in the peak of trash accumulation season, they see that the trash centers are closed for four+ days. They don't get that much time off. Their friends and family members who are first responders don't get that much time off for the Holidays. And then they think about the local news articles and the word on the street that this almost year-long trash abomination is either the fault of Levie and Keith's pissin' match, the Dixie Mafia, or a concerted effort by the power elite to muck things up so that we'll have to sell the landfill to Greenhill PC, and then...they get pissed off! They get that feeling of righteous indignation, and so then a couple of them leave their trash bags by the fences of the trash centers. And then others see that and they do the same.
But now, per four sources and just by virtue of seeing the public reaction of the Commons, we now know that we're going to direct valuable and precious resources to go through these trash bags to find out who these terrible, evil "hoodrats" and "trash" are so we can raise even more revenue to feed the beast & the machine. Glorified Revenuers, everyone! That's what we need, y'all. We need to stick it to the Common men and women even more because they have not yet had ENOUGH!!!
If I was the Chairman of the Board now, this what I'd do:
I'd direct staff to just simply collect the trash and place it in the proper receptacle, and that'd be that.
But that'd be too simple, wouldn't it?
I'll be calling multiple people first thing in the morning. I'm willing to go on a crusade on this thing. Tonto tells me it's a winner. First off, the scores or hundreds of folks who left their trash out will obviously be pulling for me, and the thousands of others who "get it" will be in agreement.
Thanks for your time.
Vox Populi!

Too much? Nah, I don't think so. But seriously. What a damn mess!

  • And as I found out yesterday, Newton Co. Administration and most departments were closed yesterday, Monday Jan. 28th. What's better than a 4-day weekend? Why a five day one, of course. Jeez...good work if you can get it I suppose... 
    • My take - I think this is a sign of desperation by the BOC to try to curry favor with staff and family & close friends of staff. That's how bad things have gotten, the BOC is trying to work real hard to consolidate support of about a 3 to 4% of the county's population. And to that point: 
    • I conducted an unofficial survey/poll about the job the Newton Co. BOC is doing vis-a-vis Congress, POTUS, and the GOV. 
      • The Newton Co. BOC rates below ALL OF THEM! I'd say the Newton BOC is on the bottom side of a 10% approval rating. That's terrible!

Oh well, per usual, lots of moving parts. You know us - ear to the ground and we've got the fires stoked for those smoke signals. And the communications communicaid for today - get ya' that CB radio for your truck or vehicle. Citizens' Band! And having a police/fire scanner is never a bad idea, either. Keep that powder dry and - seriously now - if the creek don't rise, we'll be seeing you again very soon.

Thanks for reading!


21 December 2015

[tpc] - The ever continuing saga of the NCRP; Bowen out as Chair

~ The Chronicles ~ 
21 December '15 
(Covington, GA) 

The Newton Co. Republican Party (NCRP) held a called County Commission (CC) meeting this evening at 6pm at the Cov. Women's Club. This writer attended the first 40 minutes or so then couldn't stand the excitement any more. As an aside, Delia Fleming stormed out about a half hour in when acting interim Chair Todd Bowen wouldn't violate Robert's Rules of Order. She was NOT IMPRESSED! Of course, she took with her, if my notes are correct, at least two proxies, so perhaps as one attendee mentioned, "she may have let her anger get the better of her."

As the soul-crushing and energy-sucking  hot mess of a public forum ground through the metaphorical bones of our Founding Fathers, apparently acting interim Chair Todd Bowen had his Charley James moment and announced he was resigning. Apparently, he was getting the lean-on and hard-sell from some of those from...how shall we say this - on high (congressional district, state, and per the Word, federal - and was feeling like he was being pulled, in a rough fashion, from multiple directions. Even after the objections of many members of the Assembly who wanted Bowen to remain as Chair for party unity, he wouldn't do it. Well, if you play the game, then yes, we all have our proverbial bosses and respective spheres of influence, as it were, which is yet another reason that this writer doesn't play that particular part of that particular game. But I digress...

After that, the rest of the CC, which was in a state of Quorum, came to a meeting of the minds and various motions were tendered, discussed, and passed, including, but not limited to, the following:

- Ray Cowan agreed to act as a temporary interim Chair for the interest of the party and to make the NCRP ExCom whole again.

- Similarly, Scott Jay is the new interim first Vice-Chair.

- And friend of the program and very intelligent and politically savvy Liz Allen was elected 2nd VC.

- Several new Precinct Chairs were appointed as well.

Existing Officers Linda Park and Vickie Henry retain their roles as 3rd VC and Sec./Treasurer, respectively.

By all accounts, everything was done above board and in compliance with NCRP and GA GOP bylaws, state & federal election laws, and Robert's Rules. There were at least 2 qualified electors and members of the NCRP in good standing who witnessed it as well as a Jasper Co. qualified elector. There also exists a detailed journal/log of the proceedings.

Well...looks like the best was made of a bad situation. Many are very thankful that Ray Cowan, a former NCRP  Officer from the Golden Days of the Party, was willing to do this for party unity; and many are very excited about the new members of the CC as well.

The final rub: it is in this writer's opinion that this assembled body did "the right things, and did things right" by not bouncing out the two establishment members of the ExCom or some of those others who are Precinct Chairs. It seems as if the long county nightmare - political realm/GOP edition - is finally coming to a close at the same time that maybe - just maybe - the elected office realm is also improving in the home county. Hell...maybe we can save ourselves and win "The Battle of Newton County" after all. But, as I've said a few times, let's not hold our breaths or nothin.'

Because there seems to be a disturbance in the Force, as it were, that this writer can detect from not even a half-mile or so as the crow flies. I can feel negative, frantic, nervous, and perhaps even possibly semi-nefarious energy emanating from a certain street in the east ward of that fair city Covington, GA. So...we shall see. But maybe not! Maybe we can start winning again, and perhaps we can make Newton Co. great again.

You know the drill. Tonto network and all. We've got the fires lit up for them smoke signals. And remember folks - get 'ya a land-line. If the network goes down, you're gonna want that good ole fashioned land line. And I ain't talkin' that uVerse crap or them o'er ones. I'm talkin' that good Dixie Bell/Southern Bell dinosaur of a line. It's still there. You have to give code words when you're talkin' w/ them ATT folks, though. Let me know if you need some help on that one...

Oh, but I just won't do, will I? Somebody needs to put me in the trash can and put a rock on the lid!

Y'all be good and Lord Willin' & all that, and we'll you see you on the flip-flop, by gosh.



13 December 2015

[TPC] - The Sunday Edition of The Piedmont Chronicles; 13 December '15 Version

The Piedmont Chronicles

~ est. 2010 ~

The Sunday Edition; 13 December 2015

In this edition: 
 ~ Local & State 
 ~ Politickin'
 ~ Music, Art & Culture
 ~ Miscellany & What-not 
 ~ Word on the Street (Tonto Network) 

Local & State 

 ~ Greetings, fine readers, and we hope this edition finds you well. 

What's new? 

At the state level, the powers-that-be are once again trying to deny reality and "frame the narrative" vis-a-vis in-state cannabis growing. The people, and this writer, and almost errbody else will be siding with that folk hero of a state rep., Mr. Allen Peake. Deal et al need to get the memo, and right quick. 

Here locally, where to start? As this publication mentioned some time back, it seems as if our long county nightmare may possible be coming to an end. But there again, let's not hold our breath.

C-town. Questions about as to the way some departments and department heads are conducting their business without awareness or oversight from our elected ward reps and Mr. Mayor. Who are these people? What have they been doing? Obviously the city has seen a lot of turnover the past couple of years and there are many new faces of folks that many of us are not aware of. Lots of questions there. And as many have said over the years, if not for municipal services, C-town would be a bigger of a hot mess than Newton Co. Perhaps the failure is ours as the Citizenry. Well...maybe so. But that is changing...


We kinda covered that in the first segment, but here's a few additional bullet points:

  • How excited is everyone in C-town about new Councilman Josh McKelvey? I've never seen anything quite like it. There's an excitement, enthusiasm, and energy in the air for this most impressive young fellow. 
  • Newton Co. gonna Newton Co. So if the word's true, Valet Levie Maddox has read the tea leaves and will not be trying to run for Chairman of the Board. But Tonto sez he studyin' up real hard to retain BOC 5. So, a 3-man race. I love it. Travis Moore, Jared Rutberg, and Garcon Levie. Good stuff! * 
  • DC Dave Belton is looking more and more like a champion of the common man. HD 112 seems lucky to have him. Great work, Cap'n - Ciao & blue skies... 
  • Developing... 

Music, Art & Culture 

  • The battle of wills between Sweet Harmony & Amici has seemingly been resolved. Look for that magnificent Americana group at Amici in January. 
  • Speaking of Amici, Whiskey Bent played there last Friday. Man, them boys are good. Fluff Whatley has turned out to be one helluva singer and that o'er boy play guitar real good. And I keep hearing good stuff 'bout High Charity. 
  • And those artists we got in C-town! It's just too much almost. The Indians said there was something in the water in this part of the GA Piedmont, and we're not inclined to disagree. Today's featured creators: 
    • I know I keep featuring her, but I just can't help myself. It is in the estimation of this writer that she is possibly one of the greatest Artists alive on Earth. Elise Hammond
    • But Cindy Murphy, though. Oh my. Just brilliant! 
    • But perhaps my all-time fav. The one. The only. Carol V
  • Culture:

Miscellany & What Not 

TPC Top 40 Dance Party has now been pushed back to March. 

Word on the Street

This is a very special place. As mentioned earlier, they say there's something in the water. Back in the day, this area is basically where the Creek & Cherokee Indian Nations met and overlapped. The coming together of what is now the four counties was known as a special and spiritual place. I've heard that there are major water resources underground in that area as well. Hmmm...there's somethin' there. I'm just not smart enough to put my finger on it right now. I'll keep studyin' up on it...

Thanks for reading. You are appreciated very much.

'Til next time,

Your semi-esteemed Editor,

- M.B. McCart 

09 December 2015

[TPC] - Wednesday Morning Check-in: Talkin' VanNess, Solid Waste, Form of Govt. and More

The Chronicles
9 December '15

Greetings, fine readers. Hope all is well out there. Just a few quick bullet points:

  • In re the lovely and talented JaNice VanNess who just shocked the state with her incredible victory in SD 43 (a 2 to 1 Democratic district), as this pressman had also heard - this impressive feat is also on the national radar as evidenced by this write-up by the Washington Examiner. Good on 'ya, Ms. JaNice! We're all very excited to see you in action in the Gold Dome this upcoming session. It is our belief that a smart, hard-working woman like yourself is exactly what we need up there with that crew. 
  • There were two public workshops that the Newton BOC did last night. Not much to report other than: 
    • It's looking like they will likely take the recommendations of staff and the citizens' committee and set up a solid-waste authority. Seems to be a prudent move to us. 
    • Regarding form of government, there were discussions about removing veto power and other lowerings of control of the Chair. Hey, here's a quick idea, since we're operating outside of our charter right now and everything - why don't we get right on that and then decide whatever we're going to decide and then let it go through our local delegation, then the Gold Dome, and then the Governor's desk like we're supposed to. I mean really - I just don't get it. We know Craig's advice has been crap for years - we ARE IN VIOLATION OF THE LEGAL CHARTER! Gawd...
    • It's good cheap entertainment except when it ain't! 
  • Also, regarding potential development at Stanton Springs, and then also here in C-town with Alcovy village, it's hard for this writer to understand why governmental entities are always so willing to basically just believe almost anything and everything a real estate developer says. Because, as we understand it, you could put them right behind used car salesmen and politicians on a certain list. Having been in the dirt game for some time, you must always remember the two cardinal rules: 
    • Trust but verify
    • Get it in writing
Oh well, Rome wasn't built in a day. Lots of moving parts as per usual. But always remember this, you sweet, lovely, talented and most-appreciated readers - there are people, lots of people, who are on it. They in there like swimwear, and just truly on it, dawggone it!

Just call us part of the Tonto network. We've got our ears on the ground.

'Til next time... 

08 December 2015

[TPC] - Had Wm. Thomas Craig's hourly fee risen to upwards of $800 per...

The Chronicles 
8 December '15 

(Covington, GA) 

Based on a copy of an invoice that the Chronicles were made aware of, it apparently seems that the law office of Wm. Thomas Craig, Esq. had submitted an invoice for services rendered in the amount of $12,528.88 to Newton Co. for an un- itemized list of services of 16 hours worth of "case management."

For your consideration, see the image to your right: 

As an aside, this invoice for work was done on the case, Hay vs. Newton Co., in which, according to our sources and understanding, the county decided to sue a citizen of Newton Co. for filing ORRs and questioning certain goings on of the home county.

If anything, this shows more and more that Newton Co. had, in our estimation, become more and more obtuse and tone-deaf, and that, quite possibly, we'd been dealing with a county attorney who was becoming more and more out of control.

And while the county has moved on to on new, interim legal team, and are no longer using the services of Wm. Th. Craig for new business or issues, it is our understanding that Craig is still the counsel of record on several cases in various court circuits and will be for some time. It is also our understanding that Craig is still very heavily involved with several various state-sanctioned agencies in Newton and other counties and has the potential for various residual monies, commissions, other fees, etc. down the road.

Lots of questions. Lots of moving parts.

We'll keep an eye on it...

* * * * * 

02 December 2015

[TPC] - Newton Co. BOC recap & JaNice Shocks the state

The Chronicles
2 December '15

Newton Co. BOC recap & JaNice Shocks the State

Well...last night was the first Tuesday of the month so 'round these parts that meant it was another installment in...hell, don't even know what you'd call it at this point. As a hero of mine always says - hey, it's good, cheap entertainment. But in the grand scheme of things, it's really not that cheap, right?

Our esteemed board took up the latest mess at the landfill. It's a mess. Everyone blaming each other. The latest crisis/fire was the topic last night. It looks like certain folks were on tap to try to get thrown under the bus and, by all accounts, they were ready for it. The thing is, and I truly believe this, like most things we're seeing - this is really more a failure of the system itself. It's a bad model.

Ditto on an attempt to cast blame about the handling of the county attorney situation. Here's just a quick PolySci 101 tidbit - when an issue is on about a 90/10 split and you're on the wrong side of that, it wouldn't be wise to try to work that issue especially if you were going to align with a certain person who has, at this point we truly believe, absolutely no political capital whatsoever with any group or demo. Seemingly not a good move.

But to revisit a train of thought from earlier - it really is a bad situation right now. For the record, Newton Co. has been illegally operating for, what...almost two years. I truly believe all one would have to do would be to file something in any state court. But would a judge take it up? So when you try to run a government that's in violation of your charter, I guess it seems intuitive that it probably wouldn't work too good. My word...

In terms of the proposed development at Stanton Springs, the Board tabled it. And that seems like a smart, prudent move. Now, nobody can try to sue them, and it gives them, and the public, the time to really study up on things. Well done, BoC. Well done...

JaNice, FTW!

JaNice Van Ness is the new Senator-elect for district 43. So...is it true that Senate district 43 went over 2 to 1 for Obama in 2012? And now we see a dynamic Republican win the dang thing? Wow. Just wow...

Obviously JaNice Van Ness is a very special lady. She's smart, honest, articulate, and a hard worker. She's made for a great candidate, and many believe that she'll make an even better Senator. I'm just glad that friend of the program Aaron Brooks and a few others made sure to get this on the radar of the folks at the state level. And I'm so glad that so many energetic and engaged folks helped JaNice on the ground. There really is no substitute for good ole fashioned politickin.'

As an aside, I, along with others, have wondered if political consultants are really just becoming slack-jawed dullards who would fit right in with the management of WKRP. Or Butts-Mehre for that matter. That one mailer, and who it was sent to, seemed like a bad decision. And as many have said before, a lot of times - good, dynamic candidates win in spite of their consultants. There seems to be a lot of tone-deafness out there. And that makes sense as many in that racket are firmly in the political class and really have no intuition or feel for the grassroots.

Hope all is well out there. Have a happy Wednesday!

01 December 2015

Update on the proposed Stanton Springs development

The Piedmont Chronicles

~ est. 2010 ~

There has been much attention and concern given to the proposed development at Stanton Springs, the multi-county development at the four corners of Newton, Walton, Jasper and Morgan counties. This will be the location of Baxter's Baxalta's new mega-site in which they're going to be...it seems as if no one is really completely sure (plasma, a new drug, "Capt. Trips"), which is a cause for concern in the eyes of this publication. 

Last week on Tuesday night, the Newton Co. Planning and Zoning Commission voted 3-1 to table any recommendation on a rezoning of a part of the land. There are actually two tracts involved and a developer by the name of Kippy Clarke is wanting to buy these to put in a residential development.

News was made some time before when Newton County's representatives to the Joint Development Authority ( the state-sanctioned body that has purview over Stanton Springs) voted against the folks from the other counties to deny this rezoning. It seems as if the main push is so the Bank of Madison can get some debt service, but all roads, at least in terms of approving the zoning request, go through Newton Co. at this time.

As the Chronicles mentioned earlier, this deal didn't seem to pass the smell test. Putting in a road, selling way below market value, and, since this entire residential area would be in Newton, the home county would have 100% of expenditures for fire, emergency, and other services, but would only be getting 37% of any revenues. And any proceeds gathered would be reduced by half after the JDA gets their cut.

For a more in-depth understanding of all the moving parts involved with this one, we recommend readers study up on some recent articles by the one and only MP Pat (by all accounts an awesome taxpayer advocate), at the Taxpayer's Advocacy Group (TaxDogs): 

As this publication wondered a few days back, it seemed like a bit of a flip that Newton's reps' to the JDA, Keith Ellis (Newton BOC Chair) and Mort Ewing turned against it. So I reached out to Mr. Ellis. These were his four main gripes: 

  1. Paying for the road for the development - "makes no sense." Okay, check. 
  2. Price is "way too low...even with the flood plain concerns." Yes...
  3. "Giving up that commercial could hurt us down the road." Alright. 
  4. "One person involved has been known to flip properties." Yep. That's what we heard. 
Well damn. We agree with Keith Ellis on something. How 'bout that. 

I also asked him about a narrative that's been floating around with  some folks that there will be re-compensation for Newton Co. for those service expenditures. His response: 

"There is no documentation of that as far as I'm aware of." 

The Newton Co. BOC meets tonight, Dec. 1, to address this rezoning request. Since P & Z tabled last week, the Board may also table...but that could also vote on it. That's 7PM at the Historic Courthouse.