17 August 2017

[TPC] - More Thoughts on Confederate Memorials & Race Relations



I've recently found myself, like many others, in an uneasy state of mind the last few days. The events of Charlottesville this past weekend and some of the events that have unfolded since then have been a trying time for many of us. Naturally, thoughts and prayers go out to those who lost their lives during this ordeal.

Like many, I watched these events unfold with horror and sadness. Hate begets hate, and I think that's the point some have tried to make, but in this charged and volatile atmosphere, it seems that almost anything can be construed to violate some construct of what is supposed to be correct, proper or acceptable.

Reprehensible purveyors of hate and evil descended upon a town in which hardly any of them were citizens of and then proceeded to get into it with various people who were in opposition to them. I'm sure a lot of these folks were truly appalled with this grotesque display, but I also feel that some of them were people who thrive off of  hate, and maybe just chaos in general. Identity, mob-mentality & us vs. them politics, where it was all or nothing and ends justified the means, ensued, and then people died while the country looked on in disbelief.

*******



As I've mentioned before, I'm basically a 6th generation Newtonian (my Great Grandfather married a Broughton girl, so we were in Morgan Co. for one of those generations). My Great-Great Grandfather, William Marion McCart Sr., served in the Confederacy as a volunteer in the GA E 53. He answered the call of his state, and, by all accounts, fought valiantly for the "lost cause." He did not, nor did any other member of my family as far as I've been able to discern, ever own a slave. They were poor folk. Dirt farmers, sharecroppers & carpenters.

In 1906 the Daughters of the Confederacy erected a statue in the center of the Covington Square to memorialize those sons of Newton Co. who answered the call of their state, the governing authority at the time, and specifically those who gave their lives. Unlike some memorials throughout the south, this monument was not placed during the 1950s or 60s as a show of defiance against integration or civil rights. That, in my opinion, is an extremely important distinction.

I've oftentimes thought about the discussions of that group of ladies over a century ago. Many of those women, the older ones, probably had a direct connection to that awful chapter of our country's history. One would presume that at least a few of them lost their Fathers during that conflict. Almost all of them heard about it from family members who witnessed it firsthand. That monument is a memorial to those who served in that conflict. That , I believe, should be a vital consideration.

Since June of this year, there's been at least one person who has publicly stated their desire to see that monument removed. I posted about that at the time and recounted a conversation I had with Nancy Shulz, BOC 3 Commissioner. Apparently she's spoken with others who might also have an issue with it, and so have I. It's something that certainly needs to be discussed, and it is being discussed. As I write this, I'm supposed to be meeting with some folks soon to do just that. We need to be willing to listen to one another.

At Tuesday night's BOC meeting, the subject was raised again. I think what Chairman Marcello Banes had to say was spot on. I, like many others, am a pretty big fan of this fella. I think he was a good choice for Newton County. He seems to be a truly free and independent elected official with the best interests of our home county at heart. And like him, I walk around our town a good bit and find myself praying a lot.

*******




I'm of the opinion that the monument should stay. For one thing, it's an beautiful statue. It really is. And the words inscribed on it are also beautiful, and very apropos, in my opinion. On the north side, it talks about the need to furl the flag. How the time had come to move on. But there's also a mention of the "sacred cause" on the east side of the monument that some people have taken issue with. And...I get it. I do.

But for some, just the fact that it's a monument related to the Confederacy, regardless of intent or purpose, it simply needs to go. But I don't agree with that.

As the famous quote goes - "those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it." This monument is a part of our history. Of course, some would say that history like this needs to be in a museum, or possibly in a cemetery.

I disagree.

Again, I feel as if it is a key part of our history. But more than that, I think it should stay because it can always be a reminder to all that the Civil War did indeed happen. That brother did fight against brother. A reminder that a critical mass of people at one time gave up on the principles that our country was founded on. In addition to remembering those Newton Citizens who gave their lives and those who fought in the War Between the States, this memorial can, and should, always be a remembrance that we have to keep talking. That we always need to always remain civil. And in this day and age, I think that needs to be in the forefront and should very much be in the public forum.

Moreover, I think this monument can also be a reminder that we are, as our Founding Fathers declared in the Constitution, always striving for that More Perfect Union, but that there have been bumps along the way. That we are, as America, who we are, and that we have a shared and intertwined history. That this beautiful and wondrous idea of Freedom and Liberty, though having come from imperfect origins, has always been striven for and expounded upon by many throughout the years, and that this light needs to always be shone and remembered. And that the South - our beloved homeplace  - was, in instances then & over the years since, sometimes on the wrong side of Justice, and history.

This is not a monument to a specific war hero, nor is it a celebration of the CSA itself. It is a memorial to American veterans, and a reminder of who we are and where we've been.

It should never be forgotten. It should always be remembered.

That is history.

The monument should stay.
























06 August 2017

[TPC] - My thoughts on Hospitality & Brown-bagging in the COV



[State of GA]
[Newton Co.]



Hospitality and brown-bagging ordinance on the agenda for Monday's Covington council meeting 


(Covington * 7/6/17) - So tomorrow night at 6:30 and the City of Covington Council will be meeting and the big item of discussion will be the aforementioned hospitality and brown-bagging ordinances. There seems to be a general consensus view that this is a good thing for the home city and needs to be passed as long as some major changes are made to the original draft.

The original draft was not worth the paper it was printed on. It was lousy. Some have wondered if that was done by design as to hopefully ensure that it wouldn't pass. That seems plausible in this writer's view. Regardless, those actively involved with creating that original draft seemed to  really miss the mark. What I don't understand it that they were given copies of ordinances from several other cities but then seemed to not even look at those.

There seems to be agreement among many that the original permit fees were way too high. From the outset, it was discussed that this needed to be a "nominal" fee and that this was only being done to supposedly bring us into compliance with state law. I'm still not sure that we needed to do anything, but...whatever. A bell has been rung which can't be un-rung, so here we are.

For starters, many businesses for many, many years have been doing hospitality and brown-bagging. There's a precedent for it. But with this foolishness and politicizing we've seen the last couple of months, several business have had to endure an undue and totally unnecessary business hardship, especially WildArt LLC.

I was happy to hear that so many have rallied to support their cause and their Facebook post which shared the petition showing support for these ordinances reached over 10,000 views within a day of being posted. Also, The Covington News ran a very nice piece about this wonderful local business and its owner, Ann Wildmon, in their Sunday edition today.

But getting back to the ordinances themselves, $50 would be great for the permit fee; $100 should be the maximum. Again, "nominal" should be the key word. As I understand it, there's apparently a few folks out there who feel like the fee should higher since the on-premise permit for restaurants that serve alcohol are so high. Well, I think those permits are too high, but why punish these other business owners that won't be even selling alcohol. Let's push to reduce permit fees across the board. And let's not forget that these on-premise establishments are making fairly handsome mark-ups and corresponding margins with their alcohol sales. And why does it have to be an "Us vs. Them" situation. I know for a fact that a lot of folks attending some of these events where hospitality drinks and brown-bagging might occur are also hitting the on-premise spots - the restaurants. Or, if you will, a rising tide lifts all ships. This is just a smart business decision.

Also in the original ordinance was the completely arbitrary and asinine part about only allowing two 2-oz pours in a three hour period. That makes no sense whatsoever. For starters, we oxidize approx. one drink's worth of alcohol per hour. And remember, we're not talking about distilled spirits. The average pour of wine is anywhere from 4 to 6 oz. I believe, at a minimum, that three 4-oz pours needs to be the number if you have to have something in there. I still say that this is totally unenforceable, so we're really just wasting time here, but I have no doubt that some will insist that we have to have something about it. Regardless, and once again, the original draft was unrealistic and seemed to have no real logic or reasoning behind it.

Another thing that has been mentioned by many and that was covered by the The Covington News in their "Our Thoughts" section from today's paper is the verifiable fact that some people who oppose these ordinances have been calling local businesses who are supporting it and threatening their business, and in at least one case, said they were going to pray to God that they go out of business. That's just beyond ludicrous, people, but while Prohibition ended in 1933, the "Temperance Movement" is alive and well in Covington, GA in 2017.

To me, it's more than just alcohol. There are people in our society, in my true belief, that want to control people through government coercion. It's a desiring for and a love for strong government subjugation over other people. For these folks, the problem is that there ISN'T enough government. That there AREN'T enough laws already on the books. That there is TOO MUCH Freedom and Liberty. That the solution to everything is to just have total and absolute control over everything and everybody.

Well, folks, that's not how it works. This is supposed to be American. I look around and see a lot of cognitive dissonance. I see a system that sometimes is inherently unfair and unjust to parts of our society. I look around and I see the same problems that these other folks see and I have a diametrically opposite view: precisely because there already is too much control and subjugation and not enough Freedom & Liberty is why we have a lot of the issues we face on a daily basis in our city, county, state and country. And I also believe this: the fact that there is oftentimes somebody, somewhere with a vested interest in seeing things continue the way they are. It's the two things we've been seeing since the beginning of time: power and money. Almost always, every time. And I truly believe that. Regardless, things aren't working. In some ways it seems like things are slipping away, that the center is fraying. Perhaps it's time to return to our roots. Get away from the revenue model of government. Cast aside the old model for the old, old model. Get back to the basics.

As I mentioned in my weekly column at The News, I hold to the belief that your rights end where mine begin. And preconceived notions, personal opinions, and possible monetary or vested interests should never be used to compromise the rights of others. It's inherently un-American. And that's the ole .02, friends.

But again, tomorrow night - Monday the 7th - at City Hall. 6:30PM. Let your voices heard, Covington. I'll see you then.

Thanks, as always, for reading. Until next time.

- MB McCart

02 August 2017

[TPC] - Farewell to a Friend: A Remembrance of Col. Bruce Hampton by Ellis Millsaps



Farewell to a Friend 
By: Ellis Millsaps, Contributing Writer 
- Special to The Chronicles -  

Bruce Hampton
April 30, 1947 - May 1, 2017

My friend Bruce Hampton died recently. I didn’t hear about it until after the fact, but then our mutual friends have lost contact with me.
I first saw Bruce when The Hampton Grease Band played in the courtyard of Dobbs Hall, my dorm at Emory in 1969. I didn’t meet him then.
I next saw Bruce at the Uptown Cafe in Atlanta in the mid-seventies. He was doing a standup comedy act in which he pretended to be Babe Ruth swinging a an inflatable woman’s leg as a bat. I didn’t meet him then either.
I met Bruce in the late seventies when he came to play in a poker game I’d organized. We played every Wednesday night for twenty years.
The regulars in the game were Bruce, Mark Methe, who owns Wuxtry Records--Peter Buck was working at his Athens store where he met Michael Stipe, a frequent customer--David Simpson, then chairman of the Communist Party in Georgia, Bob Dorlan, a guy from Minnesota who had a pig valve in his heart until it finally stopped working, and Ben who played for the Atlanta Symphony until they involuntarily retired him, and me.
Bruce didn’t drink or do drugs like the rest of us, but he lived off a steady stream of cigarettes and caffeine. I always assumed he’d done those things heavily at a younger age and reached his tolerance, but I never asked.
Hampton was the smartest person I ever met, and through twenty years of schooling I’ve known some very bright people. He and I would sit at this poker game discussing Iris Murdoch, Howlin’ Wolf, and string theory while he regularly took our money. I concede he was even more abrasively funny than I.
Although he declared his profession to be accounting, Hampton for five decades fronted a variety of cutting edge bands, touring regularly, but usually back on Wednesdays for poker. Rolling Stone raved about The Hampton Grease Band’s initial release “Music to Eat,” but legend has it that it was Columbia Records second worst selling album ever. It was, and is still, ahead of its time. Bruce appeared in the film “Swing Blade” with his friend and fellow musician, Billy Bob Thorton.
Ben, the aforementioned symphony player was old and slow to make up his mind. It was customary for us to wait minutes for him to decide whether he was going to play or bet. We would say his name and still have to await his decision. One Wednesday in the early nineties, we went through this routine for ten minutes before we realized he was dead. When the ambulance took him away we dealt another hand, agreeing that Ben would have wanted it that way.
I tell this story because Bruce died on stage under similar circumstances. You can watch him dying online. It occurred at the Fox Theatre during an encore for a tribute concert honoring his seventieth birthday. Everybody who was anybody in southeastern rock (except for Marshall McCart and Tedo Stone) was on stage when Bruce collapsed. He was such a card that everyone assumed it was part of his schtick and finished the song, but Bruce didn’t get up.

He is survived by three of the six poker players and thousands of fans worldwide.


Ellis was an attorney by trade (now recovering) 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. You can read his past works at TPC by visiting his Contributing Writer page

31 July 2017

[TPC] - Monday Night Check-in: Talkin' Hospital Authority, Water Woes, more Covington BS & More



Thanks for joining us tonight, friends.

So regarding the ORR that the Newton Co. BOC sent to the the Newton Co. Hospital Authority several weeks back - a couple of weeks ago and the authority finally responded...somewhat.

Basically they did a document dump. Hundreds and hundreds of pages of information & data; most of it wasn't what the BOC had requested.

Per multiple sources, the authority seems to be trying to bide their time, possibly hoping against hope that this will all go away.

It won't...

*******

Did you know that Jim Weadick and Troy Brooks have collectively been making about a million dollars a year?

Did you know that Billy Fortson has been paid well north of a hundred thousand dollars per annum from the hospital authority?

********

There has to be a full accounting and reconciliation of all monies as it relates to the Newton Co. Hospital Authority for, at least, the last decade or so. Anything else should be unacceptable.

Ditto for the Industrial Development Authority and also the Joint Development Authority of Newton, Morgan, Jasper & Walton.

In our estimation, these state-sanctioned authorities have been very responsible for some of the most real damage done to the taxpayers of Newton Co. for years and years. Well, those authorities and then also Wm Thomas Craig, Esq.; but then again - Mr. Craig was the legal counsel for many, many years, per our sources, for all three of those authorities.

Fortunately, it seems as if there is no chance of this story ever going gentle into that good night. Not by the Citizenry, nor, as we understand it, by the current elected officials of Newton Co. (or at least a few of them), and that, my friends, is a very beautiful thing.


23 July 2017

[TPC] - "The Porch," a piece by Ellis Millsaps



The Porch 
A write-up by contributing writer Ellis Millsaps 

~ special to The Chronicles

So I'm sitting on my porch in Porterdale and Bruce Springsteen comes walking down the sidewalk.

This is not a common occurrence.

"Wassup?" I say.

"Wassup?" he responds.

I can't help but notice he's drinking something out of a paper bag. I'm rolling hand-rolled cigarettes and having my morning coffee. So I invite him to join me.

"Wanna sit for a spell?" I ask, channeling Granny Clampett.

"Well yeah," he says. "Doesn't seem like there's a whole lot happening on E. Palmetto St this morning."

"It's early," I reply, and pull up one of my three chairs. Turns out Bruce has a pint of Crown Royal, so I slide the tobacco and papers over.

I've never been crazy about Crown Royal, or Canadian whiskey in general. Seems like a watered down version of the real thing, but this already no ordinary day and all I had before was coffee.

Now I've got coffee and Bruce. Things could be awkward, we never having met before, but we seem symaptico and pretty soon we're chilling, talking about baseball with an occasional reference to Lou Reed when Bob Dylan appears and takes the third seat. 


Our pleasant conversation turns sour as Dylan and I start taking turns seeing who can be the biggest asshole, but at least the conversation is spirited as it ceases to be once Leonard Cohen appears on the porch. He doesn't walk up; he just appears. This is somewhat awkward because there are only three chairs.

Also there's the fact that Leonard is dead.

An uncomfortable silence ensues which is broken by the appearance of David Bowie and Elvis.

Of course they haven't brought any chairs either.

I've had about enough of this.

"Look," I say, "the three of us are sitting here having a pleasant, then spirited, conversation about what an A-hole Bobby is when you three show up. We're discussing baseball and Lou Reed and we're damn sure not having no "Love Me Tender" and we're sure as hell not having any "Suffragette City."

"And what the hell is that song even about anyway, Mr. Jones? And yes - I know your name is really David Jones, and I have no idea what you're doing here, but I don't think you do either, do you, Mr. Jones?"

"Yeah, something is happening here and you don't know what it is," Bob chimes in.

I glare at him.

"I know you think you're a duke and your buddy is a King, but my friend here is the Boss and he says all you dead people should leave. Zimmerman, you can stay if you behave yourself."

Bruce nods and the dead slowly fade from view.

"What was that all about," I ask Bruce.

"I thought you knew. I just got here."

To be continued. Perhaps... 


 Ellis Millsaps 

Ellis was an attorney by trade (now recovering) 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. You can read his past works at TPC by visiting his Contributing Writer page

17 July 2017

[TPC] - Monday Night Quick Bite: Vacation is over - what's the word around town?



Howdy, friends. Hope it's all good out there. Well, I just returned from a week on the Emerald Coast of Florida. I'm tanned up, well rested, and ready to go!

Right quick, I'd like to give thanks and another shout-out to you, fearless reader. My last write-up here covering the hospital authority and the ambulance service here in Newton Co. completely shattered my previous high number post, which, as some of you may remember, was "Bad News Bear Creek," an article talking about how Newton Co. was set to deed back approx. $1.5 million dollar's worth of land. More on that in a bit...

Between Facebook, and the unique views here at TPC, upwards of 5,000 people viewed, 


The old line in the press biz is to never oversell the lede, right? We always strive to do that here at TPC, friends. Regardless, the interest in this is appreciated, and it's proof, in this writer's estimation, that the people of the home county are rallying and ready to effect real and positive change and do away with the business as usual that we've seen for...what, a couple of generations now? 

Someone mentioned to me today as to whether or not I felt vindicated about the hospital authority. After all, for approx. 15 years now I guess you could call me Ahab, and that perhaps that state-sanctioned authority was maybe kind of a Moby Dick for me. Well, like I told this person - yeah...maybe, but whatever. I just want it to get fixed. I go back six generations in Newton, and this is where I intend to stay. I just want things to get right. That's all I care about. Truly. 


As a quick aside, I've had a couple folks ask me about the IDA, the Industrial Development Authority. Well, I know that there's a lot of noise in the system about that as it relates to the Three Ring Circus deal, and maybe there's something there. It hasn't really been on my radar. There's only so much time in the day. But just like the hospital authority, I think there needs to be a serious accounting and reconciliation of all the monies flowing through that authority, but not just here recently. I'd go back several years. And for the record, to properly file an ORR with the IDA (or any governmental authority in Georgia), you have to actually file it with the authority's authorized  and listed agent/secretary.

Going back to the second paragraph in this piece, talking about the mitigation property off of Hwy 11, if you remember, that land was set to be quit-claimed back to the original owners on July 15th of 2017. That was Saturday. I put in a call to Phil Johnson, Atty-at-law, to see if he went to the 3rd floor of the Judicial Annex and filed those bad boys. Knowing him, I'm sure it was done. We'll find out and report back to you. 

So, let's get down to brass tacks. 

Per two sources, the Hospital Authority apparently made history this past week. For the first time ever, they actually sort of followed state law and responded to an information request. As you may remember from previous articles, they'd apparently, for years, just always ignored those requests when they came from private Citizens. Perhaps it coming from the Newton Co. Board of Commissioners may have played a role; however, per multiple sources, the information they gave was not, really, what was requested. At all. 

I'm of the opinion that they Newton Co. Hospital Authority is stonewalling, and I'm not the only one who is thinking that. 

I also think they're playing an old-fashioned game of "Chicken." As a couple folks have pointed out, the optics of the Newton Co. BOC having to sue the Authority in order to get this needed information might look kind of bad. But, then again, this is Newton Co. This is Covington. We had a sitting mayor make CNN for stealing costume jewelry in the 90s. We had a mayoral candidate make state and national news for stealing the yard signs of his opponent just a few years ago... 

"They won't fit, Mr. Bobby!" 

"Nah, they'll go! They'll fit in there!" 
For the last few years, we seem to be a mainstay on the Atlanta news stations. The bizarre and curious case of Wm. Thomas Craig. The former fire chief getting arrested and thrown in jail. The intentional lowering of water levels at Lake Varner. The rotating carousel of county managers. The catastrophe that was the BOC Chairmanship of Keith Ellis. John Douglas. JC. The list just goes on and on, people. Hell, folks, this is just a part of who we are. Might as well just embrace it. Buy the ticket and take the ride, no? If it helps to get things fixed, then what the hell! That's what I say...

In any case, just know that we're on it, and we're here to get the full story. We'll be in touch soon.

- MBM 







08 July 2017

[TPC] - Hospital Authority "lawyering up?"; worst fears realized? The biggest scandal to hit Newton in a generation?



As this publication has mentioned multiple times over the last couple of years, and as many in the home county have been saying for decades, there may be nothing bigger, and possibly more corrupt, in Newton, as the Newton County Hospital Authority.

The Authority, a state-sanctioned body that was first officialized in 1952, has come into the news lately with the whole ambulance service story that has made headway the last several weeks here in town.

For years, per multiple sources, the hospital authority was always allegedly considered a "slush fund" of sorts. For over 30 years, it always received an earmarked millage in the county budget. For several years, it also received extra funds through the regular budget with no apparent oversight. Its legal counsel for decades, as we understand it, was always Wm Thomas Craig, Esq.

A couple of weeks ago, the Newton Co. Board of Commissioners filed Open Records Requests with the Newton Co. Hospital Authority. As this publication has reported a few times over the years - the Authority has a M.O. on this - they just simply never respond. And per three sources, we're seeing it again - the Newton Co. Hospital Authority is just simply not responding. 
So now - the governing and legally-recognized authority of Newton Co., a political subdivision of the state of Georgia, the Newton Board of Commissioners, has filed the paperwork, but per multiple sources, it's the same old song - the authority is just simply not responding. Again, I repeat, the authority has violated state law once again, and is not responding to legally filed ORRs from the Newton County government.

Per three different anonymous sources, the conventional wisdom is this: the Newton Co. Hospital Authority, is now, in essence, "lawyering up."

Why would they do that?

Another question on the minds of many - where is the money? Like, the up-front proceeds from the deal with Piedmont. Where are those funds? Where is the accountability?

There, apparently, seems to be none.

That seems to be obvious.

But who serves on the hospital authority? 


That was covered in this publication a few days ago.

Its secretary and CEO, and de facto agent, for many, many years, has always been Jim Weadick, who has been the chairman of the board of directors of the hospital for many years. So - know this - you've got the hospital and its board of directors, and then you've got the Hospital Authority of Newton Co. with its board. While there's oftentimes been overlap of membership of these two boards, they are separate & distinct.

Longtime board members of the Newton Co. Hospital Authority include Billy Fortson, as well as Timothy Park, MD, DL Knox, and others.

And when it comes to the ambulance service, just remember, we're not talking Piedmont Newton, we are talking about the Newton Co. Hospital Authority - they are the ones who actually hold the EMS license.

***Commentary***

In this writer's estimation - there is something rotten in the county of Newton.

Many folks know it; a lot of folks have been talking about it for decades.

And always remember this, Dear Readers, while Weadick has been a centerpiece of the authority - the state-sanctioned governing authority -  he's also been, for years, the CEO of the actual board of directors for the hospital, and has, based on our information, been making approx $500,000 per annum for the last several years. His longtime associate, Troy Brooks, has been, as we understand it, making close to the same amount every year as well.

- FIN - 


It is our understanding that the Newton County Hospital Authority has, as they've done multiple times over the last several years, repeatedly violated state law multiple times regarding Open Records Requests.

The Piedmont Chronicles calls on Layla Zon, the District Attorney of the Alcovy Judicial Circuit, to fully and totally investigate the Newton County Hospital Authority, it's CEO & Secretary, Jim Weadick, as well as any other board members, presently on the board, or any who have maybe been on the board over the last 20 to 30 years, post haste. There needs to be an accounting and reconciliation of any and all monies that have flowed through this authority. 



Yours in Liberty,

MB McCart

P.S. In this writer's estimation, somebody, preferably the actual governing authority of Newton Co. - the Newton Co. BOC - should sue the Newton Co. Hospital Authority for breach of fiduciary duties of a state-sanctioned authority. That way, you'd have subpoena power. That's probably the only way you'll ever get them to do anything. Layla Zon has shown time and time again she has no interest or ability to go after things like this. The time has come, friends. The time has come... 






04 July 2017

[TPC] - The Covington Crier, Independence Day Edition: Talkin' Chris Smith, Hospitality Drinks, Increased Taxes and Power Bills



-  The CC - 
4 July 2017



Howdy, fabulous readers, and don't you all just look lovely! Is that a new scent you're wearing? I like it. 

So...C-town, baby. Just like Newton, you always know that C-town gonna C-town. And also like Newton - it just seems to thrive on chaos. Egad!

So a few days ago and I posted about Chris Smith and publicly called for him to resign. After last night's council meeting, I'm repeating that call and raising the volume to 11.

Again, Smith showed why he is, in this writer's estimation, not fit to hold elected office. For one thing, his face can get redder that an UGA home jersey. And it happens all the time. He seems to have limited control of his emotions, apparently is always led by his ego & would maybe lie when the truth was better.

He's also almost always about trying to score some cheap political points; it's grown tiresome and many - Yours Truly included - are losing their patience.

Chris, do yourself and the rest of us a favor and just quit already. If your pride won't let you do that, then pull it together, son! We're all pulling for you...well, not really.


Hospitality & Brown-bagging


Well, I read the ordinance that was given out last night for the final reading. It's terrible. An absolute joke. Who the hell wrote this thing? Oh yeah, that's right, it was Frank Turner Jr.

Number 5 is the piece de resistance, though. Two two ounce pours for a three hour period. W T actual F? Are you kidding me? And how the hell are going to enforce it? Well, for the worshipers of more and big government, they're hoping that you'll have to add a new code enforcement officer or two. So, that's what including benefits and operational budgeting - another couple hundred thousand per year to take from the hard working folks of Covington.

What the hell has happened? Why has C-town gone full-on moron? Well, I pin it all on Chris Smith. When you have dysfunction and deformity like that - this is what you get.

And you're going to tell businesses they have to pay $500 for this piece of crap? My word...

Taxes and Utility Bills WILL BE GOING UP! 


Because Covington cannot separate its wants & needs we will be seeing a price increase. And since we have panderers on the council, we can't start getting real about fundamental and needed changes in our entire structure and concept of government.

The pensions. Something's got to get done. It's gonna start killing us - it really already is.

And the benefits and the salaries. It's got to change. It's unsustainable. I'm sorry, but it just simply is.

Have you noticed your utility bills keep going up and up? That's been done to offset them needing to raise taxes. But this time around, they're probably going to have to raise utility rates and there will be a millage increase. And that's because of...? Needs & wants; panderers, and lack of restraint.

And friends, you haven't seen anything yet. Just wait until Plant Vogle goes online. That's when the rates are really going to go up. And at the path we're on, Covington will most likely see exponentially growing tax increases for the next several years.

It's a problem. We need an A-team on the council; right now, we obviously don't have it. 


* * * * * * * * * * * * * 





Hope everyone has a great and safe Independence Day, and remember the real reason for the season.

Yours in Freedom, Justice & Liberty,

Marshall B. McCart 




02 July 2017

[TPC] - Ambulance Service & Hospital Authority in Newton Co - More Questions than Answers




On June 23rd, the Covington News reported that Newton Co. had come to an agreement with Grady Hospital to handle ambulance services for the county starting August 1st. This came about after Piedmont Newton had said they had no intention of continuing ambulance service in Newton Co. once it became clear that the earmarked millage that had previously always been set aside for the Hospital Authority and its EMS license was no longer going to be available.

It was made clear in the public record that this was the case. Very, very clear. As a result, Newton Co. had started the process of giving up the ambulance service license that it (well, it was never really Newton Co. - it was always the Newton Co. Hospital Authority) had previously held. But then after public backlash, a reversal was made on that decision.

But...strange thing - that all changed in the last few days. And according to the Covington News report that came out in today's Sunday edition - everything that had been in the public record for the last couple of weeks, apparently, was never the case, according to Piedmont and Dr. Jim Weadick.

That's interesting, though, because it was totally the case. Everyone knows it, and everyone who really knows what's going on pretty much knows that that was the case.

A few things:

The Newton Co. Hospital Authority is alive and well, and they are, by all accounts, very much kicking. They are the ones who actually have control over the EMS license, as we understand it. Many thought that once the Piedmont deal was done, the hospital authority was going to go away, but that is not the case, and per four different sources, the authority is actually who controls the license in this situation.

This is why, as we understand it, there is no legal recourse for reneging with Grady. The Newton BOC had no mandate there. It's only the authority who has legal control. The Newton BOC never had the legal capacity to even think about getting involved with this.

That's a hell of a note, eh?

So, who and what is the Newton Co. Hospital Authority?

Per the official DCA webpage: 


Creation Date:1/1/1952
Method of Creation:General Statute
Official Citation:O.C.G.A. 31-7-70
Dependency:Independent
Single or Multi Jurisdictional:Single-Jurisdictional
Members:Newton County
Contact:
James F. Weadick, CEO and Sec NCHA
5126 Hospital Drive, N.E.
Covington, Georgia   30014
770-385-4301
Board Members:
D. L. Knox, Tim Park, M. D., Richard Brown, Bob Richardson, William D. Fortson, Dr. Melvin Baker, Vincent Eagan

As many sources have told this writer for many, many moons - there is no bigger thing in Newton Co. than the Hospital Authority. As I've been told by two different sources, ORR (Open Records Request)'s have been filed on the authority many times with always the same result - nothing. No response has ever been given, to this writer's knowledge, of any ORR ever filed with this authority.

So, what is the "why" here? Why would the authority, without continuing to receive the millage they'd always received, want to keep the license?

As three different sources have all said - chances are, it has something to do with money.

Also, many questions have been bantered about regarding Billy Fortson. Questions pertaining to a strip center on Hwy 278 where there is a MRI center related to the hospital. Questions about ambulances being used to transport patients to said center.

Also, other questions about the legalities of the current ambulance service legally being able to handle non-emergency transports. And even more questions about the air-ambulance services in Newton Co. Have federal and state laws been broken numerous times over the last several years?

So many questions.

This story is very much developing...



28 June 2017

[TPC] - Newton GOP meeting with David Shafer, declared candidate for Lt. Governor



Monday night at the private meeting room of the downstairs of Irish Bred Pub, approximately four dozen folks attended the regular monthly meeting of the Newton Co. Republican Party. The meeting was convened by its Chair Scott Jay. The prayer was given by John Southerland. 

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Chairman Jay started the proceedings by discussing old and new party business and then introduced the assembled body to the program's first featured speaker, Ms. Takosha Swan, who is a possible candidate for state senate. Ms. Swan gave a very good speech which was enthusiastically received by the audience. 


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Then Mr. David Shafer, GA state Senator and declared candidate for Lt. Governor, gave a most impressive and impassioned speech in which he discussed his familial history, his raising and upbringing, and what it truly meant, in his mind's eye, to be a conservative. He actually talked about the true meaning of the word, which, literally, translates to: "to be safe with one another." He also gave a quick political history lesson on the many differences between the American and French revolutions, which this writer greatly enjoyed. 

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The meeting came to a close and most of the attendees stuck around the pub and ordered food being sure to tell the servers and staff that they were there to "feed the arts" and support the Arts Association of Newton Co., which was doing a fundraiser in conjunction with Irish Bred Pub to raise funds for the association. Many also had a chance to speak with State Senator Josh McKoon who was also in attendance. This writer had the chance for a quick interview to ask him about the "word on the street" about him possibly running for a statewide office himself. He said that he'd be having press conference at the Gold Dome at some point after Independence Day. 

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You can learn more about the Newton GOP, David Shafer or Josh McKoon by searching them on Facebook or Google.

Thanks for reading, friends. Until we meet again.

- MBM -

[TPC] - Wednesday Quick Bite: Chris Smith, why?



Howdy, folks.

Another week in the book of C-town and Newton. Per usual, it had its highs; it had its lows, but it was our week, and that makes it, as always, a great week.

So, the semi-esteemed councilman, Chris Smith, did what he always seems to do - make a complete mess of things. After the shooting at Newton Plaza Saturday morning, within maybe a half hour and before any real information was available or gathered, that fella put out a FB post saying, in essence, this:

...I've been trying to warn you. I called it. If you'd just listened to me - none of this would have ever happened, friends. Let's take it one day at a time, friends. If you listen to me, Covington will never have another bad thing ever happen to it again. It's all contingent on me. Listen to me, friends. Me, me, me... I. I. I...

It was almost nauseating. Within minutes, several, Yours Truly included, had called him out on it. Naturally, his post was removed quickly. There were several screen shots taken, however.

What I'm about to say - I do not do lightly. And, for the record, I kind of like Chris. I always have.

I'm publicly calling on Chris Smith to resign from the City of Covington council. He just doesn't have it in him. He seems to maybe be missing a core attribute of some sort to be able to properly do this, in my estimation. That day - Saturday June 24th - to me, was the last straw. It's gotten beyond ridiculous. The pandering. The politicizing. Everything... 

He just can't seem to get out of his own way.

There is, in my opinion, some type of deficiency there.

That's just my 2 cents.

His sphere of influence, though, just like some others we've seen the last few years in and around the home city and county, just continues to dwindle. Even some of his public supporters will tell you, privately, that their patience is wearing thin, that he keeps taking a beating over and over again - and it's nobody's fault but his own.

I think the big, bold move would be for him to walk away. Just concentrate on his business and perhaps become a private citizen/public advocate of sorts.

It'll never happen, though.

We'll see what we see.

Thanks for reading & we'll see you next time.

- MBM  

19 June 2017

[TPC] - The C-town Beat



...another big week in the home county... 

big week of music this past saturday evening 

My group, Sweet Harmony, put on a show that, by all accounts, was pretty epic & many thought it was one of our best ones ever! Karl the Soundman dialed us in a killer sound, we were all in the zone, and it was just a fantastic show.

Over at the Mystic, local fave Leighlynn Shine did their thing, and I have no doubt that they were fantastic, like they almost always are.

And to top of the trifecta, Newton native and now Nashville fella, Drew Parker, was playing down in Porterdale.

There were several other big shows all throughout Covington & Newton. Man, what a scene we've got here. Very cool.

lots of moving parts 

It seems as if the Newton BOC could not handle prosperity and decided to grab some defeat from the mouth of victory. Wow, they've really stepped into it with the ambulance thing, haven't they? Do away with that particular millage only to roll into the general fund. "Sofa King, We Todd Did!" Apparently, they're now going to "revisit" things...

The city of Covington seemed to be kind of quiet this past week, but that'll be changing as they have their second meeting of the month tonight. Per usual, a constant desiring of some for just more of that good ole government. So many folks pray to the altar of "There Should Be a Law!" And for the record, those stupid signs on the north and south side of the Square with the code about bicycles & skateboards being prohibited from city sidewalks? Well, friends, they're ugly, unsightly & are messing up the aesthetics of our town square, in my estimation. And this all became a big deal because, what, one person, and maybe a second, almost got knocked down by a kid on a skateboard. In the words of Al Pacino from the movie "Heat," bad things can happen almost all the time, even when you're just "walkin' your doggie."

It's called life.

But, that's just the ole .02.

In closing, I'd like to mention something I saw the other day. I ran into a good Doctor the other day. Him and the Missus were eating at Amici. Right before they left, it started to rain pretty bad. Fortunately, they had an umbrella. So I watched them walk out to their car up on the northwest corner of College Ave. and saw something that...kindly kind of gave me the vapors a bit...The Good Doctor made sure to hold out the umbrella completely over her and therefore got the entire back of his very nice dress shirt and slacks completely drenched while his bride of...maybe getting close to 50 years...stayed completely dry. It was very sweet. That's certainly a couple in love, I'd think.

More to come this week. Hope it's all good out there. Until next time.

Your Pal,

MB McCart 



[TPC] - A Write-up by Guest Columnist, Samuel Hay



*ed. note: Sam Hay, III is a multi-generational Newtonian who has been a writer and pressman for almost his entire life - well over 50 years. Truly one of the Living Legends of the home county, we're always proud to have his contributions. Thanks, as always, for reading. - MBM 

DAY OF THE TAMALE

- A write-up by Samuel Hay, Guest Columnist 

My personal choice for dinner tonight. Living in New Orleans, food was just remarkable. Fortunately I learned how to cook a lot of it. We have holiday meals that usually are Cajun and Creole or with a big steel and mortar smoker in the back yard, ribs and BBQ. 


But one of the most memorable things about my days in New Orleans was a guy who sold tamales on the street corner out of a little push cart like an ice cream cart. His name was Manuel. While I was there he expanded to supplying some local restaurants not the least of which was Augies Delago. (Meaning on the water) Augies was a three story building on the lakefront which served appetizers and booze. There was always live music. There were always sailboats from around the world that would sail into Lake Pontchartrain and tie up just to get some New Orleans time and Augies was the place.I met people there from all over the world.Unfortunately years later Augies burned down and the City Marina off West Esplanade is located there now. 



Cindy was going to bring catfish today but she had to leave town for Nashville so we are looking forward to that next Sunday. 



In the meantime we whipped up some Manuel style tamales. And sauce. Always using ground beef instead of chicken or pork. AND you gotta know we steam them in real corn husks! So it was a good day!



The end of the story, back in New Orleans visiting friends and attending our 12th Mardi Gras, we are on the interstate and get passed by this tractor trailer truck which has painted on the side of it, "MANUELS TAMALES"! I would have to say our old pal made it big.

12 June 2017

[TPC] - A Conversation with 3rd District Commissioner Nancy Schultz about Confederate Memorials, Race Relations, Life, etc.



I reached out to Nancy Schultz, Commissioner of the 3rd district of Newton Co., earlier today to ask her a few questions about a few different things.

The first thing I asked her about was the budget situation. It's looking for sure that there will be no millage increase, though, as she admitted, there would still be a de facto tax increase based on the increased valuations. She also mentioned something that would make my Dad very happy - it's looking as if, finally, the ambulance millage will be removed from the Newton Co. budget. There's actually a hearing about that tomorrow. So, I guess that's good.

Our conversation then turned to something that's been on the mind of many, and also has been quite the item of discussion of the "word on the street." The Confederate Memorial that is the centerpiece of the Covington Square.

As many now know, a gentleman came before the Newton Co. Board last Tuesday mentioning a desiring to see that monument removed from the Newton County Square. And yes, it's really the Newton Co. Square. The city of Covington is the town seat and while that municipality currently has use and oversight of that piece of real estate, it is that primary political subdivision of Georgia that is Newton Co. that actually owns it. 




I didn't beat around the bush. I told her that the word was that there may be three votes on the Board to remove that memorial that the Daughters of the Confederacy had established approx. 100 years ago. The same organization that fought the state of Georgia legislature's attempt to change the state flag to the "battle emblem" back in the 1950s when everybody was upset over voting rights and integration. 




She said, referring to any possible imminent vote on this issue, that that was not the case at all - mo vote will be had on this issue for a very long time, if ever.

She did say that she'd had some conversations about it with a few folks. Not really very many, though. Just a handful.

We talked about New Orleans, and of "The Atlantic" piece. And also Richmond, VA., and a few other things.

Then we got into the heart of the matter.

Apparently it's part of the verbiage on the monument that's got at least a few folks worked up.

I stopped her & asked her this:

"What? The inscription on the north side of the monument specifically talks about the need to 'furl the flag' and for the CSA to rejoin the USA - for America to become whole again. What's the issue?"

"No, something about a description of those who took up arms being 'Holy Men.'"

I vaguely remember something about that but I can't specifically recall (I'm definitely going to go to the Square tomorrow morning).

So, apparently, that's the "why," as it were. And removal may not be necessary to correct this, supposedly, but maybe a change to the monument? Or perhaps another marker?

I just think about folks like my Great-Great Grandfather, William M. McCart, who came to Covington right around 1850, and who was a dirt farmer & carpenter, and a man who never owned a slave but because he answered his state's call - the overseeing governmental entity at the time -  could, apparently, never be considered a "holy man."

Is that's what's being stated? 




And for the record, I didn't go into any of this with Nancy - I was just mainly listening and asking questions...

But she does maybe raise a few points, though.

One thing she mentioned a few times, and this is something that I, in general principle, agree with, is that you've got to be able to walk a mile in someone else's shoes.

I so get that. And I've always strived to do just that very thing.

But what about my shoes? What of I, being a 6th-generation Newtonian? Do my shoes not count? Is there no say for me because of...I don't know...white, male, Southern privilege?

I just don't know.

Nancy also mentioned that labeling is never a good thing and that it is vital for everyone to understand all perspectives.

I'm totally in agreement with both of those sentiments.

She did go on to say that nothing will be decided anytime soon. She wants to reach out to everybody, and not just folks in the 3rd district. We discussed bringing in the Historical Society, and the African-American Historical Society. Possibly talking to the Mayors of the five municipalities, talking to all of the Board members of Newton Co. and its Staff. Possibly holding a couple of public forums.

It all sounds very prudent to me.

And it was, as it usually is, a pleasure talking to the esteemed Gentlewoman who represents the 3rd district of Newton Co.

That's all for now. 'Til next time.

- M.B. McCart  









10 June 2017

[TPC] - A write-up from contributing writer Ellis Millsaps: "Observations of a Deranged Mind."



* Ed. note: Ellis, AKA, "Da," actually gave me this write-up about three months ago. The first installment actually talks about New Year's. So...you can kind of get an idea of both Ellis's & mine's attention to time detail. FTR - Ellis is about to start writing a regular piece once again, and starting tomorrow, you can also read a piece from the 2nd ever contributor to The Chronicles - Mr. Donnie Hamlin. We always appreciate your readership, friends. Till we meet again. - MBM 
~*~*~


Greetings from your erstwhile Porterdale Correspondent, this week reporting of the second annual New Year's Eve ball drop at The Speakeasy, downtown.

The place, when you're alone and life is making you lonely, you can always go...and everybody does know your name!

In the interest of full disclosure, I didn't actually attend the ball drop - it was pouring rain - but I did read an account of it...somewhere, so I'm confidant what follows is at least alternative fact.

At 11:35PM New Year's Eve, Speakeasy owner Tim Savage got out his ladder and climbed to the roof of the establishment's two story building. The crowd, which included at least a dozen people under the balcony, and maybe a dog, as well as five intrepid souls who'd stood in the rain beneath the ball drop, began the countdown at ten seconds till midnight and then watched as, at the stroke of midnight, Savage proceeded to drop the traditional baseball. 



06 June 2017

[TPC] - The coming battle in Newton Co. - Bernard vs. Zon



As we've reported multiple times, there is a battle on for the heart and soul of Newton Co. Lots of compelling storylines. FEDS, and the DEA; concerns about violations of the Constitution & of civil rights, etc.

And to top it all off - two magnificent, brilliant & beautiful ladies will most likely be the ones to duke it all out.

Catherine Bernard, champion of Freedom & Liberty. An encapsulation of all that is right with the world. 
Madam DA


We'll see you soon.

- MBM -


04 June 2017

[TPC] - Sunday Morning Comin' Down - News of Gregg Allman, GA GOP & Miscellany

    North Covington, Newton Co., GA, USA


Howdy, folks, hope it's good out there. Well, at least in North Covington, it's rainy & dreary - it's a perfect type of weather for the current & prevailing mood.

We went down to Macon, GA yesterday. Me and one of the Chiefs, and also the Artist/Teacher & the Carpenter. We ate at The Rookery, staked out a great spot at the hill at the front of Rose Hill Cemetery, and then I, along with upwards of a thousand other folks, got to witness Gregg Allman being laid to rest.

Look for an online piece at CovNews.com tomorrow early afternoon on this event, and then look for a very expansive piece here at TPC, probably on Tuesday evening.

It was a momentous and somber, but very beautiful and uplifting experience.

The Death Rattle of the GA GOP? 


Widespread and multiple reports of hijinks & shenanigans with any number of things: tabulation concerns, duly elected delegates being locked out, the changing and suspending of rules. Hey, it's the GAGOP - their pride and egos and a possible and alleged desiring to keep their dirty deeds from being exposed is, according to at least one source, apparently more important to them than trying to save our country and state. If that's the case, then that's just sad and pathetic. It also needs to be dealt with.

Look for an expansive, kind of stream-of-consciousness piece drawing from multiple collaborators & correspondents here at TPC at around mid-morning tomorrow.

Odds & Ends



Look for my weekly column, "The Alcovy Telegraph," in today's Covington News. Living section, page 5B. After Hours, Arts & Culture, Food & Dining, and Local Happenings. We discuss the ongoing situation with the hospitality drinks & brown-bagging situation. 

Did you know there's a fair number of folks - many who get paid by the Government - who think that if a certain thing is not expressly mentioned in the codes, then that means it's automatically & always prohibited. And that apparently also includes the city Atty. Well...they're wrong. Did you also know that municipalities are basically just corporations? 

Things are starting to reach a breaking point for the city of Covington. It's a time for choosing. One side will lose - hell, they already are. It's time they get the memo; patience is wearing very thin.

Well alright, gang, we'll be back in touch w/ y'all again very soon. Have a great Sunday.

Your friend & semi-esteemed Editor,

MB McCart