20 April 2016

Through the Looking Glass: Newton Co. Edition

The Chronicles
20 April '16


Recently, an elected municipal official on Facebook publicly said that someone should start selling T-shirts talking about surviving the 6 hour Newton Co. BOC meeting from last night. That was just for the citizens, apparently. Supposedly, the meeting went until 2AM for the members of the board - a 7 hour meeting!

How could this possibly happen? Two words. Keith Ellis. The worst Chairman of the Board ever in Newton County? Maybe. But that's another story for another time...

Click here to read about the abomination of a meeting that our governing body had last night.

The horror...

The lede from the Tommy Craig Newton Citizen was this - Levie Maddox is a racist.

Well...I've been checking on that. More on it later.

So...Archie Shepard. He passed out literature with this supposed email exchange. An exchange that at least two people have both said was doctored. Who's Archie? Is he part of the Minister's Union? Is he in with W. Thomas Craig, Esq.?

Who else is with WTC?

Per the word - multiple sources - Craig was sitting with and talking to several folks last night including the following:

- Michael Syphoe, candidate for BOC Chair
- Tim "Tee" Brown, candidate for BOC 3 Commissioner
- Ezell Brown, Sheriff of Newton Co.

Brown is an interesting situation. As I understand it, the Sheriff's Dept. is still utilizing Tommy Craig for their legal counsel, even as the Newton Co. BOC just last night made it official that they will be completely detached from Craig for legal services in any way starting May 1.


So, in re the email.

Just click on the Newton Citizen link again. Read it. Read it real good.

There is most assuredly something rotten in the county of Newton going on, folks. It stinks to high heaven, in this writer's estimation.

I'm working several leads and will be reporting back soon.



10 April 2016

[tpc] - Q & A with Phil Johnson, candidate for Newton Co. BOC Chair

The Chronicles 
10 April '16


Howdy, folks. Hope all is well out there. A while back, I had asked Phil Johnson, Democratic candidate for BOC Chair, for an interview. He happily obliged. Initially, I was going to email him some questions and then follow up with a phone interview to put together a write-up. I sent the email, and I had the phone conversation, but I've decided to just copy and paste my questions and his responses. I'm doing this because his answers were so thought out and thorough that I didn't really want to filter it or condense it in any way.

Our phone interview went really well. I've known Phil a long time and we've had some great conversations over the years. He's obviously a really smart guy, and he has a very firm grasp of the issues. For the most part, we covered a lot of things that you'll read in his responses.

While Phil and I disagree on some things and have some differences in our core political philosophies, we have a lot in common and I like a lot of what he has to say. I'm not currently endorsing anyone in this race, and I have some doubts about Phil's ability to survive the Democratic primary, but in terms of knowledge of the issues and intelligence, I would think he would probably be at the top of the list of any of the four other candidates running on either side. With that said, I'll also say this - with the campaign team he has assembled, I think he's definitely got a chance. Should be a fun race to follow. And as I've mentioned before, I'm hoping to have interviews with the other candidates in this race in addition to Phil (I've already interviewed Micheal Syphoe). Below is the text of my questions and Phil's answers.

As always, thanks for reading. 


*Ed. Note - for those of you reading on mobile devices, you'll notice gaps in the text. That's a formatting issue from me having copied and pasted Phil's response from Microsoft Word. There's probably a way to fix it, but I'm not technically savvy enough to figure it out. My apologies. 

~ Q & A with Phil Johnson ~

1)  Why are you running for Chair?

A picture of my 10 grandchildren and one great grandchild is the best answer, but you

probably want more.

I began running for Chair almost two years ago, spurred by a disturbing leadership

vacuum in our county government.  The pivotal moment came during public debate over

the 2050 Plan, when the current Chair told me he didn't believe he should take a

position on such matters.  His lack of an articulated vision and failure to seek consensus

on critical issues before the commission over the past three years absolutely convinced

me our problem is leadership.  It’s no coincidence multiple boards spent the past five

years arguing about our form of government, while ignoring the very substance of

government.  In the chase for power, we’ve abandoned the essential leadership

necessary for inclusive, transparent, responsive government.  I don't have all the

answers, but I understand full well the importance of tackling tough issues, discussing

them openly in the light of day, and having the courage to take a stand and lead.

Situations like the landfill and reservoir aren’t just issues for today; they affect future

generations in all our families.  I feel a deep sense of responsibility to ensure future

generations of my family grow up enjoying the kind of community where I have lived my


2)  Define your political philosophy specifically.

Our nation has long been divided along partisan lines, but fracturing within the parties

today reflects just how dissatisfied people are with the current system.

We’re split by significant issues nationally.  But, at the local level, I actually see people

coming together, aligned on more fundamental values like fairness, integrity, common

sense, inclusion, and transparency.  This gives me hope.

Local government isn’t tangled with the great philosophical or moral issues of our

day.  As the saying goes, local government is about making the trains run on time.

To the extent political philosophy is how government should operate, I embrace the

morality that a public official is answerable to all citizens and must be transparent,

truthful, and fair conducting the people’s business.  Outrage over the compromise of

these values is what united the people of Newton County to force the dramatic events of

the past 15 months.  And, that’s a good thing.

Where reasonable people disagree is what role government should play and how much

government we should have.  It’s an important discussion, but there are no absolute

answers.  The Apple debate over individual privacy vs. public safety is a great example

where competing objectives required weighing tradeoffs.  Locally, the 2050 Plan debate

is another excellent example.  I believe strongly in the need for local governments to

establish frameworks for future land use and development, but I also joined the voices

who felt specifics in that plan were imposing unreasonable restrictions on landowners in

some parts of the county.  Citizens expect individual freedom with property they hold or

acquire to develop, yet they also want a degree of predictability for what develops

around them.

Local government must find the delicate balance between those interests.  We won’t all

agree on where to draw the line, but it is a leader’s responsibility to frame the

objectives, facilitate honest discussion, and to the best of human ability find good

compromises that serve community interests.