29 February 2020

The Month of February at TPC: A Report by the Editor (GATA!)

By MB McCart, Ed.

Greetings, fine folks & we sure hope it's fine as frog hair out there.

What a day? Perhaps finally an end to this quagmire du jour, in which we saw thousands of our boys & girls die; pissed away trillions of dollars & continued to line the pockets of the Bank$ters, MIC & Deep State - that was Afghanistan? We can only hope. Brother Lovett released a damn fine piece on that just earlier today.

Also, ICYMI, Ryan Ralston's been dropping those pesky truth bombs of his here, there & everywhere.

And top-notch contributions from the rest of the gang - Ms Bess, Ms Kayla & Da (as well as Bobby Lee - figure at this point he should just become a regular contributor, no?) - we are truly a situation of the sum being so much greater than the parts.

My friends, I'm so happy to report the following:

In two less days, no less, the month of February has just outpaced January of 2020 here at the ole newssite. If you'll remember, January was the best month we'd had in almost a year & a half. So, that's really saying something, in my opinion. 

And no joke - I've been stopped more in the last couple of weeks, sometimes by total strangers, talking to me about TPC. Obviously something's going on here, but what, exactly, is that something?

Well, I believe in some ways it's due to the fact that TPC has now, proverbially at least, become the paper of record of the home city & county, and by gosh, I can't tell you how thrilling, amazing, humbling & kind of crazy that is.

Thank you.

Let's keep it going, yeah? Why Stop Now? 

Kindly Yours, 

MB McCart


| Covington, GA | Newton Co. |

Your Source for the REAL Story

The CF Floyd Feature Article of Nat'l Affairs by Perrin Lovett: VICTORY in Afghanistan!!!

Seventy-five years ago, on V-J Day, US Sailor George Mendonsa was feeling especially triumphant and perhaps a little frisky. He grabbed a total yet pretty stranger, nurse Greta Friedman, and planted a long, wet kiss on her. It was in Times Square, New York, New York, in a completely different era. There is a picture of the two of them, said (like virtually everything else since 1066) to be “iconic.” Now, with stunning news out of the Middle East, expect a similar incident to unfold in the Big Bagel. Things being what they are, we might have to settle and iconize a drag queen lip-locked with Panhandle Me Elmo.

But, for once in a good while, we do have legitimately great news about that hideous monstrosity bestraddling the Potomac: The US and the Taliban have signed an Agreement to End the War in Afghanistan

Please click that link and scroll down to the document. It’s short, only four pages. The implications are huge. The main gist of concern to Americans may be summarized in the first paragraph of Part One:

The United States is committed to withdraw from Afghanistan all military forces of the United States, its allies, and Coalition partners, including all non-diplomatic civilian personnel, private security contractors, trainers, advisors, and supporting services personnel within fourteen (14) months following announcement of this agreement, and will take the following measures in this regard:

Fourteen months, and we’re outta there! It’s about damned time. There’s more - again, read the whole thing. But, the main point - if this agreement holds - is that America’s longest war will soon be over. I know you’ve all read the Afghanistan Papers, not that you needed to, and you realize that this martial expedition was a mistake from the beginning.

The Afghan War by the numbers:

0 Legitimate causes of action or objectives
0 Declarations of War (antiquated concept, pursuant to your Holy Parchment Thing)
1 Nation, already in bad shape, wrecked
2 times the CIA/DOD reported former asset Osama Bin Laden died
12s of other nations destabilized, stressed, or otherwise afflicted
19 long years (20 years before total disengagement)
50/50 chance the Deal falls apart and the US remains...
2,400+ Americans killed
1,000s of American Afghan Veteran suicides
1,000s of other Coalition casualties
20,000+ Americans wounded
110,000+ Afghans killed
360,000+ Afghans wounded
2.6 million+ Afghan refugees (95,000 in the US)
$1-2 Trillion(+) in Military-Industrial/Oil/Corporate revenues*
$2.5 Trillion+ in nominal US taxpayer expenses (for on-books outlays only)*
$10 Trillion+(?) in associated Central/Commercial banking theft*
Unlimited ill-will generated by the foregoing (likely to include the ire of the Almighty)

* The “Trillions” figures are speculative, based on intentionally nefarious accounting, and could likely be larger; the bankster graft could range much higher. We simply do not (will not) know.

People, places, and things acquire nicknames for various reasons. Perhaps you recall a few years ago when, at Sea World or somewhere they keep God's creatures confined in swimming pools, a woman swam happily (if stupidly) with an Orca. Families were delighted! Then, for no reason at all, Willy decided to toss the woman around for a football. She died, of course, and everyone was shocked, especially those delighted families! All I could think at the time was: well, it’s an animal the size of a bus, with a mouth large enough to hold a refrigerator, and it has KILLER in it’s (alternative) name! Afghanistan’s nickname is “the Graveyard of Empires.” The moniker was allegedly bestowed by Emperor Babur of the Mughal Dynasty (“India,” 1483-1530). His point was that the land was unconquerable. History bears witness to this truth, with the failures of Alexander, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union, among others. Those specific three, upon withdrawing from lost Afghan campaigns, soon after collapsed for one reason or another. More than one sign points to the US Empire joining them.

Like all recent US Imperial wars, the objective was not necessarily to win. “Congress gives us money to spend and expects us to spend all of it. … The attitude became we don’t care what you do with the money as long as you spend it.” - B. Gen. Brian Copes, Feb. 25, 2016. Yes. And all that spending helped kill all those people. Destroying either to make some parties richer and/or simply for destruction’s sake. Yet today, the Empire still stands, barely and shakily.

This Agreement is the first thing in the long, pointless conflict that in any way benefits the American people. It hypothetically sets the tone for further foreign de-escalations and renewed attention to that neglected region between Mexico and Canada. Thus, I have declared it a victory! Now, minding you the #metoo movement, go on out and kiss a nurse.

*Author’s note: There has been a ton of excellent commentary and reporting at TPC lately! Several times, I wanted to leave a “rah-rah” comment myself. However, I seem to have quashed my ability to so interact at Google/Blogspot sites. The digital possum rides again! Anyway, while I try to remedy that, allow me to say that everyone - all of you - are dead-on right about all the issues of the past few weeks. I really mean that. And, special acknowledgment goes to Mr. Ryan Ralston for his recent post on suicides wherein he provides relevant and useful solutions to a pressing problem. Also, I’ll note that if you combine the other stories of late, you get a fishy smell in politics! If you’ll excuse me, I have to apply a hammer to my Google. Before you go, a BONUS:

Wherein Perrin imitates the entire TPC crew:

MB: “How much $$ did the BOC waste on that @#$% pothole?!”
Kayla: “It’s really good. Order two!”
Bess: “We never found that child again…”
Da: “The midget admitted grammer ain’t not for everyone.”
Ralston: “They get around this by routinely ignoring Brady motions.”
M. Parker: “Thanks to him, Dandy and the Bass-Slayers won’t be back.”
Alibug: [PICTURE: “Sparrow Eating Flower”©]
Fred: “A communist is a Democrat who laid off the dope.”
Nettles: “Fred’s half right; they’re both dopes.”
“The Rest” - “Piles on like Pylones pylons!”
Perrin: “Where is my hammer?”


[Ellis Millsaps] - Three Musicians: Remembering Jazz Pianist & Friend, Paul Mitchell

For some reason, or maybe no reason, serendipity perhaps, I've been good friends with three outstanding musicians. Faithful readers know about Bruce Hampton and Marshall McCart. Today I am moved to write about the third.

 Paul Mitchell was a brilliant jazz pianist. I worked for years alongside the Paul Mitchell Trio at Dante's Down the Hatch in Underground Atlanta. Paul died in 2000-- he graduated from Morehouse College with a degree in music when I was 6 months old-- but if he were alive today and met me on the street I'm sure he would peer deeply into my eyes and say ”Is that you Ellis?” He wouldn't mean he wasn't sure who I was; He’d mean as he always did when he put that question to me,” Are you in there Ellis? Is this who you want to be? I believe you have gifts you haven't yet displayed.”

Often he’d ask me this question when he, Bo Newton, John Thacker (managers at Dante’s) and I would be smoking marijuana after hours (and Dante gone home) at Dante's or sometimes in the parking lot while it was crazy busy inside. How did the pretty boy hillbilly from Jacks River and the black genius from Decatur find themselves so situated?

After college Paul enlisted in the Army where he played trumpet in the US Army Band for three years. After the Army he taught himself to play the piano. In the 1950s Pascal’s, the famous gathering place for civil rights leaders, opened a nightclub, The Carousel, where Paul played. Dante first heard Paul’s trio at the Playboy club in the sixties and when he opened the Hatch in 1970 he hired that trio as his house band, a gig they held for decades.

 I came to Dante's in 1971 because my then roommate, Owen Meislin, who worked there, told another of my housemates, Tom Gallo, ( now a partner in an Atlanta law firm) that Dante had an opening for a busboy. Tom made $35 a week cleaning his father's office supply store. He asked if he could make that much at Dante’s. Owen told him he would make more than that in one night. Tom, a cautious individual, declined but I, a financially strapped Emory student, said I’d take it. Pretty soon I was rolling in money, buying a half dozen rock and roll albums at a time,( I still have a vast collection from that era) taking beautiful young women to expensive restaurants and giving away money and drugs to my friends in need.

 Dante Stephensen, a former Navy SEAL, somehow after a divorce found himself in the restaurant business as a maitre d at a busy Atlanta restaurant where he charmed guests into investing in his envisioned Dante's Down the Hatch. That done, he enlisted Paul Mitchell and his trio as the house band and set upon a remarkable run of success.

 Dante had a genius concept. He installed the city's finest wine list with a variety of cheese trays and fondue in a brilliantly conceived and executed setting, this at a time when Underground Atlanta was entering its heyday as a tourist attraction.

 Dante's would have been a success in those early days in underground regardless. but when other venues developed comparable wine lists and underground became known as too dangerous for tourists, Dante's not only survived but was able to rebuild  the ship in prestigious Buckhead digs. He would not have been able to do that without Paul Mitchell. It was Paul who established Dante's as an Atlanta institution with a faithful following, tourists be damned.

 Paul wrote successful original compositions (not only for himself but others) which drummer Alan Murphy sang in a beautiful rich baritone, but it’s the covers I most often remember, particularly the Eagles’ “Desperado”. Paul told me that the first time he heard that song he cried because those California boys so poignantly described the state of his life at the time.

(Years later I saw Alan Murphy playing drums and singing with a lesser band on the square in Covington at one of those Thursday lunch concerts. We warmly acknowledged each other but with an undertone of embarrassment. We both knew our glory days were behind us. Being a busboy at Dante's was a much richer life than being a successful small town lawyer.)

 I know very little of Paul's private life. He was a proud and dignified man but in many ways very private. I do know  obliquely that at one time he thought his life a prison where he was” walking through this world all alone.” For most if not all the time I knew him Paul taught music in the Atlanta school system, this in addition to playing jazz six nights a week until the morning hours. He was later adjunct professor of music at both Emory and Morehouse.

 He rubbed shoulders with leaders of the civil rights movement. I once heard him say,( and although I intuitively already knew it  I had never heard anyone say it ) that things began to really change for the better in the civil rights movement when young white people started smoking marijuana. 

28 February 2020

[Ryan Ralston] - The Friendship Bench

The rate of US teenagers committing suicide has reached its highest level in two decades. In 2017, there were nearly 50% more suicides among teenagers than in 2000. 
Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for those between the ages of 15 and 24. 
Second only to car accidents. 

Bullying can leave children with more than physical bruises. The emotional impact can last years and cause serious mental health issues, like depression.  
Bullying and depression do go hand in hand. 
Bullying can occur anywhere, including at the workplace for adults. However, for this discussion, we will focus on youth bullying and its tragic consequences. 
The internet and social media gave bullies a new way to torment. They take full advantage of the medium. 59% of all US teenagers acknowledge being bullied online. 
The physical injury sustained from bullying will eventually heal, but the emotional scars are what do the most damage. Depression is one such consequence. Teenagers who are physically and verbally bullied are at greater risk of developing depression. Depression, in certain instances, can lead to suicide. 
As a parent, this is heartbreaking. I witnessed it firsthand with my youngest daughter, while she was enrolled at a public high school. The bullying got so bad, my wife and I withdrew her from school and enrolled her in a private academy. We struggle financially to cover the cost of tuition, but her mental health is far more important. At the peak of the bullying, during her sophomore year, her mental health took a turn for the worse. She entered counseling and was treated for depression. Once removed from the school, the process of healing began. My daughter is now doing well and on track to graduate high school one year early. Hers is a story of success. Others are not so fortunate. 

Healing begins with having an honest conversation about bullying, depression, and suicide. Headlines like “Young person’s suicide linked to bullying” must serve as a wakeup call. 
The pain and suffering associated with these headlines, impacts not only the individual families, but their entire community. The issue needs to be addressed holistically. 
School administrators, teachers, and staff counselors, the ones in contact with children daily, along with their parents, must continue to work together as partners and communicate any observed symptoms of depression or suicidal behavior. 

Bullying is unwanted, destructive behavior that involves a real or perceived imbalance of power. It is an act repeated over time. It includes making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding one from a group based on race, religion, or sexual orientation. 
It is worth noting, the signs and symptoms of depression or suicidal behavior can be observed in the bully, the direct recipient of their abuse, or a witness. 
Identified signs and symptoms: 
Feelings of helplessness, anxiety, loss of energy, decreased interpersonal relationships with friends, poor school performance, poor attendance, loss of appetite, low self-esteem, unusual physical illness, irritability, outbursts of crying and anger, changes in sleeping habits, inability to focus, and unexplained mood swings.  

Families living in poorer communities like Newton County, can experience additional barriers to receiving mental health treatment. One of the primary barriers is lack of health insurance. There is also a limited number of mental health providers under employer insurance plans, making it harder to access treatment at a reduced cost. Families living in poorer communities and rural areas typically travel greater distances to access mental health care. Mental health services may require multiple visits prior to a diagnosis and treatment, which is difficult for families who can't afford to make multiple doctor’s visits during normal business hours. 
Stigma is another barrier. People suffering from depression in poorer communities not only experience the stigma surrounding mental health issues, but also that of living in poverty. Americans who live at or below the poverty line, are 20% more likely to experience mental health issues. 


The Friendship Bench program started in Zimbabwe to address depression. A Friendship Bench is literally a park bench. They are places where trained community members sit and listen to those struggling with depression. 
The program was founded in 2006 by Dr. Dixon Chibanda, a psychiatrist at the University of Zimbabwe. In Zimbabwe, like the US, there is stigma surrounding mental health. 
Chibanda identified a problem and pioneered a rather simple, yet, groundbreaking solution. After speaking with community leaders and health care professionals, he discovered people were willing to speak about depression, but not in a clinical setting with a stranger. He found individuals were more open to talk on a bench, with someone from their own community.  
On these benches, trained community counselors and individuals meet to discuss on-going mental health issues. 
Chibanda’s strategy proved effective. 
He began a six-month study of nearly 600 patients who displayed symptoms of depression. Half received standard clinical care, to include traditional counseling and prescribed medications. The other half met and spoke with a community member on a Friendship Bench. 
At the end of his study, the half who received standard care still displayed symptoms of depression. Of those participants who met on a Friendship Bench, only 13% displayed symptoms. 
Most Friendship Bench counselors are older, grandmotherly women, who volunteer their time. They require training and supervision but are not doctors or licensed social workers. 
The Friendship Bench program was expanded throughout Zimbabwe. Over 27,000 people suffering from depression have tried the therapy. 
The Zimbabwe model has been adopted in Canada, following the suicide of Lucas Fiorella. He silently suffered from depression for over 8 years before taking his own life in 2014.  
The Canadian program, founded by his father, uses 100% volunteer staff to work with a school’s faculty. They partner with community businesses to raise money for the benches.  The benches are yellow and installed at schools and playgrounds. There is a sign on each bench with their website, www.yellowisforhello.org, along with the hashtag, #YellowIsForHello, which connects students through social media platforms.  
As of date, there are no Friendship Bench programs in Georgia. 

Recently, two local teenagers committed suicide. I do not know their families. My youngest daughter shares mutual friends with the victims. It has not been discussed publicly, only whispered about privately, that mental health issues and bullying may have been involved factors. 
It’s time to have an uncomfortable conversation with our children. 

www.namiga.org (National Alliance on Mental Illness – Georgia)
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255, is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

27 February 2020

The Rebellion Comes to Senior Senator's Race in Georgia - Shane Hazel Launches Campaign

*Ed. Note - I'm a big fan of Mr. Hazel & I think it's just fantastic that we'll have a true Liberty candidate advocating for our message & "fanning the Flames of Freedom, one Heart & Mind at a Time!" - MB McCart 


Shane Hazel Is Back & He’s on Fire!
Shane Hazel Bursts Back Into Politics & He’s Running For US Senate

GEORGIA: Today, Shane Hazel officially launches his US Senate campaign. He’ll be taking on the statist democrat candidate and the current incumbent and controlled opposition, David Perdue in the general election in November.

Hazel, “My mission is to bring people together while preserving the freedom of every individual, regardless of skin color, age, faith, gender, love and every other nuance which make us unique. We must come together and remove the government/corporate cabals from the lives of peaceful people here in the US and around the world. It’s time to #EndTheWars, #EndTheFed & and long past time to #EndTheEmpire.”

Hazel says “Perdue currently has a failing, F, Constitutional voting record with a shocking 57% from the New American, Freedom Index. Worse he’s also one of the top spenders in the US Senate per spendingtracker.org. I don’t think Perdue is corrupt, I just don’t think he’s ever been exposed to the ideas of Austrian Economics, The Non-aggression principle or the writings & conditions of the Anti-Federalist in accepting the Federalist’s Constitution.”

The Libertarian Party of Georgia had this to say, “We're excited to have Shane Hazel running for U.S. Senate on a platform of peace, liberty & free markets. When a Marine tells you about the waste and horror of war, hear him. When a father warns that inflation and debt will bury the next generation, listen. When a fierce defender of the Constitution points to tyranny at home and abroad, don't look away. Donate a few dollars to help sustain Shane's efforts and spread the message. He's starting brushfires of liberty all the way to the GPB debate stage and he'll need our help.”

Shane Hazel is also the host and producer of The Rebellion Podcast which can be heard on all major podcast platforms and seen on YouTube. He and his fellow host, Banks Wise (currently Matt Gurtler’s campaign manager), analyze politics from local to global level, interview candidates, politicians, break stories and read original documents like the Anti-federalist in a long form format much like the Joe Rogan Experience with a focus on the principles of Peace, Liberty and Free Markets.

This is Hazel’s second run at US Congress. Although he didn’t win the GA7th house seat, many credit Hazel with Woodall’s demise. After staying out of the general election, Hazel called Woodall and guaranteed him that “if you’re voting record doesn’t get a whole lot more Constitutional, we won’t stay out of the next election.” Weeks later Woodall announced he would be retiring.

Hazel is poised to make this race explode nationally with his connections and draw from not only the Libertarians, but also his draw from the Republican liberty crowd, which will play a pivotal part in his campaign.

You can read Shane’s platform and donate to Shane at ShaneHazel.com
Facebook: ShaneHazel
Twitter: shanethazel
YouTube: The Rebellion
Other Websites: rebellionpod.com

Friends of Shane Hazel, Inc

26 February 2020

A Guest Commentary by Bobby L. Nettles: The Death Rattle of the Deep State?

*Ed. Note: I wholeheartedly concur & approve this message. - MB McCart 

Anyone that thinks this Coronavirus is a naturally occurring accident isn't paying attention.

This was done intentionally and was predicted by literally thousands of people.

This is what a worldwide globalist establishment looks like on its way down.

This is what the monsters lobbing bombs from the corner they've been chased into looks like.

China could use a few million less people now that the US has slowed their economy by forcing them into a more fair trade agreement and businesses are leaving.

The US 'permanent state' could use an economic calamity to have a shot at defeating Trump in November.


Where do these things originate?

Who creates them?

Who controls those entities?

What has been happening in Canada with Chinese professors and 'grad students' being kicked out?

Who is the head of the CDC?

Is she related to any other Deep State goons? Who I wonder?

None of these occurrences are 'organic' - they are the desperate death rattle of a global criminal canard coming unraveled while trying to save itself.

All of these entities have been projecting a Matrix like facade that we collectively accept and live within.

The media.
The government.
The entertainment industry.
The CDC.
Centralized mega farming.
The International Monetary Fund.
Big oil.
The Military Industrial Complex.
The Global Intelligence Apparatus.
Social Media.
The United Nations.
Big Tech.
The World Health Organization.
Central Banks.

It's all going to come crashing down soon, I just hope I live long enough to see the animals that have treated humanity like cattle brought to justice.

Strong Boy, Trivia Titan & Athenian Robert Lee "Bobby" Nettles is a Cane Corso enthusiast & Friend to Freedom who simply calls 'em like he seems 'em.  

- The Piedmont Chronicles -

Your Source for the REAL Story


Most incarcerated people in the US are held in state and county facilities. That is why local criminal justice reform is essential. 
2.2 million Americans are currently incarcerated, giving the US the largest prison population in the world.
Almost half a million Americans are in a county jail awaiting some type of court action to be taken on their case. 
10.6 million Americans cycle in/out of county jails throughout each year.
The current discussion about reform has deteriorated into a thoughtless response designed to address a “disturbing” statistic identified by a self-serving politician, looking to get voted into office by arousing public fear, or to minimize the accountability for those who prosecute cases on behalf the state. Both are tainted, statist views. 
Actual reform requires courage, not government induced hysteria. The electorate should advocate for criminal laws that expire or at least require redress after a designated timeframe. These laws must direct judges and prosecutors to be transparent in their sentencing and implement procedures that automatically expunge outdated records. 
The idea of giving a criminal law an expiration date is nothing new. John Adams wrote to Thomas Jefferson in 1789 and argued, “One generation has no right to bind another.” He asserted, “Every law, naturally expires at the end of 19 years. If it be enforced longer, it is an act of force, and not of right.” Jefferson responded, “A law of limited duration is much more manageable than one which needs a repeal.”
While we have experimented with laws that expire - specifically in civil matters - we have not applied this principle to criminal laws. 
What we are experiencing with our criminal justice system, particularly in cases where there exists no victim other than the state, is not justice, but persecution.
No better mechanism exists to guarantee that our criminal laws reflect the will of the people, than to set an expiration date. The forced evaluation and debate of a law, as to the elements that constitute a crime, appropriate sentencing guidelines, and alternatives to incarceration and probation, ensure our criminal justice system is less oppressive. 
A system that takes into consideration criminal laws that have proven ineffectual (prohibition is one such example) and need to be addressed or amended, is a system that truthfully pledges equal justice for all. Each new criminal law should be dissected after an initial four-year period. From that point forward, each law would expire after eight years. These changes would protect us from a government that seeks to exploit and imprison its citizens. Our criminal laws would no longer be the product of fearmongering politicians. 

There are members of our community, elected officials in Newton County within the criminal justice system, who refuse to speak the words “criminal justice reform.” With reform comes reduced government control of its citizens, and by default, less power to abuse.  
We need a representative government with the guts to do the right thing and act, not when it is politically expedient or safe to do so, but when the public requires it. Their failure to lead speaks volumes about any motive for higher office and who they choose to serve.   
The sole function of the criminal justice system should not be profit gained through systemic exploitation. 

Since the late 1960’s, the US has spent billions of dollars funding law enforcement that focused on policing and punishment, rather than addressing the social issues that are the basis for crime. States, like Georgia, enacted criminal laws that lengthened prison sentences for many crimes. 
In Georgia, as crime rates grew throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s, legislators enacted laws that, with intent, entrapped people within the criminal justice system. The declared “war on drugs” in the 1980’s was the catalyst for the militarization of law enforcement and the heavy-handed policy of “mandatory minimum sentencing.” 
By 1995, a new prison opened every 15 days in the US.  
Our elected officials in Newton County, who work within the criminal justice system, are not an exception to these rules. To date, they maintain a delayed mindset as it relates to addressing the issues of high crime rates (Newton County consistently maintains a rate 2% higher than the national average) and the need for a discussion about local criminal justice reform (the elephant in the room). 

Another alarming trend – to the detriment of a constitutionally protected right - in our criminal justice system, emerged with the boom of prison building in the 1990’s: The measured withdrawal of the jury trial. 
It was replaced with the plea bargain. 
94% of criminal cases at the state level are resolved through a plea bargain. Bear in mind, local prosecutors handle 95% of all US criminal cases. 
District Attorneys and prosecutors retain the authority to make decisions about what to charge the accused with, whether to proceed with prosecution, cut deals with witnesses, negotiate pleas, and dictate sentencing guidelines. They hold leverage to extract guilty pleas from defendants and reduce the number of cases that go to trial. 
This power incentivizes them to use authority more aggressively. Prosecutors can deploy unprincipled tactics, such as threatening a defendant with filing a more serious charge against them, one that would carry an increased rate of incarceration. This form of coercion can lead a defendant to prematurely enter a guilty plea. 
While only 1 in 40 felony cases results in a trial, prosecutors often seek higher sentences against those who exercise their constitutional right to trial. This is referred to as “the trial tax.”  Bringing the maximum possible charge has persuaded many defendants to plead guilty instead of going to trial (which is their constitutional right). 
The plea bargain has become the easiest row to hoe for a prosecutor. This is our criminal justice system’s new standard of judging guilt or innocence. It has replaced proof beyond reasonable doubt. 

The superior court exercises criminal and civil jurisdiction within Newton and Walton Counties. Superior court judges preside over all felony trials, have exclusive jurisdiction over divorces and may correct errors made by limited jurisdiction courts. Superior Courts are organized into 10 Judicial Districts, comprised of 49 Judicial Circuits. Each county has its own Superior Court, though a judge may serve more than one county. A chief judge handles the administrative tasks for each circuit. Superior court judges are constitutional officers who are elected to four-year terms in circuit-wide nonpartisan elections. Certain vacancies that occur in superior court are filled by appointment of the Governor. The Alcovy Judicial Circuit is part of the Tenth Judicial District. (This information was taken directly from www.alcovycircuit.com)

There exists an unofficial prosecutor to judge pipeline within the AJC. A methodology that is problematic, coupled with a dated mindset. 
 John M. Ott
The District Attorney of the AJC from 1985 - 1990. Ott was appointed to the bench by Governor Joe Frank Harris (D) in 1990. Ott is currently the Chief Judge of the circuit and is responsible for all administrative matters. 
W. Kendall “Ken” Wynne, Jr.
The Chief ADA of the AJC from 1990 - 2000 and District Attorney (R) from 2001 – 2009. Wynne was appointed to the bench by Governor Sonny Perdue (R) in 2010. 
Layla H. Zon
The Chief ADA under Wynne from 2003 – 2010. After Wynne was appointed judge, Zon was named District Attorney by Governor Sonny Perdue (R). She holds that position presently and runs as a Republican. Zon is stepping down as DA and is a candidate for superior court judge within the AJC. 
Melanie M. Bell
A former law clerk for Ott and ex-Chief ADA under Zon from 2013 – 2017. Bell (R) is the current Chief Magistrate Judge for Newton County. 

Why the prosecutor to judge pipeline within the AJC is problematic, coupled with a dated mindset. 
The case in chief:
7 years ago, a 20-year-old female, along with two other individuals, were arrested by deputies with the Newton County Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff was Ezell Brown. As a group, they were found to be in possession of less than one ounce of marijuana, a misdemeanor, while inside a parked car in a neighborhood. Deputies located a joint inside the passenger compartment. Its value was less than $10. At the time, no one claimed ownership. All three were arrested and taken to the county jail. 
They were given citations, a court date, and bonded out a few hours later.
Jurisdiction for this case resided with the Newton County Probate Court. Newton County does not have a state court.
The standard penalty for the offense, if an individual wanted to enter a guilty plea: Pay the $600 fine outright. No probation or additional jail time is required. 
If an individual wanted to enter a guilty plea but could not pay the $600 fine in its entirety: They were placed on 12 months’ probation until the fine was paid in full. The probation company utilized was a private, for-profit company. During that time, the individual would be mandated to pay a $50 monthly probationary supervision fee and cover the $30 cost of random drug-screening. In theory, under this scenario, the total fine could increase to $1,560. No additional jail time is required, unless they violate their probation. 
The individual could request a bench trial before the probate judge.
The individual could request a jury trial in superior court. 
The female requested a jury trial. Her assertion was the marijuana was not hers. She acknowledged being in the car and smoking some of the joint, but the marijuana, according to her, was furnished by and belonged to, her co-defendants. 
Her case was tried in superior court before a jury of her peers. It lasted a few hours. She was represented by an attorney. The female was convicted and sentenced to 180 days confinement at the county jail, 6 months’ probation, and a $1000 fine. 
Present in the courtroom was her father. Upon hearing the sentence imposed, he spoke aloud, “All that for one joint.” His daughter would miss Thanksgiving and Christmas with her family. 
One of the members of the jury, while exiting the courtroom, turned to the father and said, “The state tied our hands, we had no choice but to convict.” 

The following week, The Covington News published the female’s name, address, and sentence in the Police Blotter section of the paper. 

Some have no issue with her sentence and refer to this case as justice served.  
This was persecution, not prosecution, enacted by government against a citizen, done in the name of the law, absent common sense. The involved government officials enjoy anonymity. They were not named in The Covington News. They hide behind procedure with abstruse statements like, “I took an oath to uphold the law.” They were positioned to make a difference in this young woman’s life, to intervene and demonstrate authentic leadership. Instead, they chose to do harm. 
The prosecutor was not blameworthy, they were forced to proceed with this case. It was handed to them, as a junior prosecutor, “for practice.” They were ordered to proceed by their supervisor. They were not permitted to offer pre-trial diversion, which could have averted this tragedy. The prosecutor no longer works in the criminal justice system. They work in civil law.  

The presiding judge was Wynne. He seeks reelection. 
The DA was Zon. She seeks your vote for judgeship within the AJC. Visit her website: www.laylazonforjudge.com. Nowhere will you find the words criminal justice reform (local or otherwise), nor has she spoken publicly about the need to do so. In a Covington News article dated 08/23/19, when speaking about other DA’s throughout Georgia who refuse to prosecute misdemeanor marijuana possession cases, Zon said, “She understands her colleagues across the state have different opinions on the matter.” Then added, “Cases involving marijuana, both misdemeanor and felony, unless it involves the sale, distribution or trafficking, that are handled by the DA's office are placed into a Pre-Trial Intervention Program if the individual has no criminal history. That way, first-time offenders arrested on charges of possession of marijuana are given the opportunity to have their charges dismissed and have no criminal history for employment purposes.”
The Chief ADA and prosecution supervisor was Bell. She seeks reelection. Bell has not spoken about the need for local criminal justice reform. Her office utilizes a private for-profit probation company (CSRA Probation Services, Inc.) to supervise its probationers. To include those under sentence for misdemeanor marijuana possession. 
The others in the room need to explain their actions. They seek our votes for reelection or higher office. 

180 DAYS
For 6 months the taxpayers of Newton County spent thousands of dollars housing, feeding, and providing any necessary medical care for the young woman. 
Jurors were ordered, under the threat of imprisonment, to be present that day and hear the case. If employed, they had to miss work. Lost income needed to pay bills or feed their family, be damned.  
The prosecutor was pulled from other duties for one week, in preparation for trial. Time that should have been spent investigating crimes with actual victims. 
All because one young woman momentarily held the leaves of a plant. 

In 2019, the DA's Office in Newton County received over 100 cases for prosecution (requested jury trials) for misdemeanor marijuana possession. In Walton County, the DA's Office received over 110 cases.
These numbers do not include hundreds of other misdemeanor cases received by the Newton County Probate Court, Covington Municipal Court, Oxford Municipal Court, and Porterdale Municipal Court. All are limited jurisdiction courts. For example, the fine imposed by the Covington Municipal Court for possessing a misdemeanor amount of marijuana is over $1300. 
The ADA’s working for Zon in both her offices (in certain instances) still use sentencing guidelines approved by Wynne when he was DA nearly a decade ago. 

The following data is Uniform Crime Reporting taken directly from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. It was reported by the Newton County Sheriff’s Office, Covington PD, Oxford PD, and Porterdale PD. 
Since 2013, the year this young woman was convicted and sentenced to serve 180 days in the county jail for possessing leaves from a plant, and 2017, the year the current UCR cycle ends, in Newton County there were: 
30 murders; 66 rapes; 249 robberies; 1,651 assaults; 3,307 burglaries; 7,987 larcenies; 1,188 cars stolen. 
During that timeframe, no one died from smoking marijuana or holding its leaves. 
Yet, we are told that prosecuting misdemeanor marijuana possession cases will make our community safer and is an efficient way to spend taxpayer resources.  

We must confront our elected officials and demand better judgement. Until we do, these atrocities will continue. Wasting hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars annually prosecuting someone for possessing a plant, when there are serious issues to be addressed, is absurd. 
The ignorance displayed by our elected officials is not a matter of procedure, but choice. 
The next time you read the local police blotter and see someone convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession, remember, there were other people in the room.