03 July 2024

Past Piedmont Chronicles: [Fred Wheeler] - What Are the Hot Dogs & Fireworks All About?


[Fred Wheeler] - What Are the Hot Dogs & Fireworks All About?

 The Fourth of July is a big holiday.  There will be 160 million people cooking out; we will consume more than 155 million hot dogs.   More than $650 million will be spent on personal fire works with another $318 million spent on professional shows.
   So, what are we celebrating on the Fourth of July?  You’ve probably seen the videos of people unable to answer that question.  An acceptable answer would be, “It’s our nation’s birthday” or “It’s Independence Day.”
   How did our Independence Day come about?  Given the conflicting backgrounds, ideologies, and aspirations of the people inhabiting the Thirteen Colonies of America in contrast to those of the Mother Country, there was destined to be an irrepressible conflict between the two in the latter half of the eighteenth century.
   Since the founding of Jamestown in 1607, the colonists had gotten used to a system of self-government.  Great Britain had followed the companion policies of the establishment of representative institutions in the colonies and benign neglect.  After 1680, the elected assemblies won the right to initiate all legislation that governed the colonies.  They controlled the purse strings, including determining the pay for judges and government office holders.
   Britain embraced an economic system called mercantilism (sort of a mixture of fascism and crony capitalism of today).  It had long been accepted that they had the right to impose restrictions on trade and manufacturing.  But, the revenue from the tariffs hardly covered the costs of administrating them; and most of them were pretty much dead letters because of pervasive smuggling.
   It generally was accepted, even by the British, that Parliament could not tax the colonists for revenue.
   The irony is that the precipitating event which brought about the separation of the American colonies from Great Britain was the culmination of their partnership in an enterprise that seemed to be a huge benefit to both: their shared victory in the French and Indian War (1754-63).
   Among other things, as a result of their victory, Britain was given Canada and the area between the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.
   The downside was that Britain had run up a tremendous debt fighting the war (it was called the Seven Years’ War in Europe) and they needed to station 10,000 troops in garrisons in their newly won territory to guard against a French or Spanish invasion and depredations by Indians against the settlers. Because the colonies would benefit from these actions, Britain did not think it unreasonable for the Americans to absorb some of the costs involved.

Image result for join or die flag
Join or Die

   However, the idea of a standing army was anathema to Americans; and they only were willing to pay taxes that their own elected representatives had passed. 
   The vast majority of political thinkers among the colonists embraced the philosophy of John Locke (1632-1704).  They believed that governments derive their power from the consent of the governed; and that men naturally possess certain rights, the chief among them being life, liberty, and property. 
   As for the attitude toward Britain, the colonists generally fell into three categories.  There were those who supported the British Government in all they did (the Tories); those who wanted reconciliation with Britain (the conservatives); and those who wanted the rights of Englishmen (the radicals).  Subsequent events gradually would cause most of the members of the latter two groups to realize that reconciliation was impossible and that rebellion was unavoidable.    
   Desperate for money to defray its debt, in 1765, Parliament passed the Stamp Act.  A tax was imposed on every piece of printed paper the colonists used: documents, licenses, newspapers – even playing cards.  The tax impacted most severely the lawyers and merchants, until now the most reliable supporters of the British Government.
   The widespread reaction was the beginning of the revolutionary movement in the American colonies.  In May 1765, the Virginia House of Burgesses passed five resolutions made by Patrick Henry that declared that America possessed all the rights of Englishmen; that the principle of no taxation without representation was an essential part of the British Constitution; and that Virginia alone enjoyed the right to tax Virginians.
   Riots occurred in August. Tax collectors were run out of their homes and had to seek refuge in military garrisons. Clubs of patriots, calling themselves “Sons of Liberty”, organized across the colonies.  A Stamp Act Congress was convened in New York in October 1765.  If the Stamp Act had not been repealed, a revolution would have started a decade before it did.
   Things settled down for a while until Parliament passed the Townshend duties in 1767, putting duties on tea, colors, glass, and paper that should be used “for defraying the charge of administration of justice, and the support of civil government” in the colonies.
   By the time the duties were supposed to go into effect, the colonies had organized a boycott of British products.  The boycott failed, but Parliament repealed all the duties except that on tea.  In response, the colonists switched to coffee or drank smuggled Dutch tea.
   There was another lull for a couple of years, then Parliament passed the Tea Act of 1773. Its purpose was to bail out the East India Company which was on the brink of bankruptcy.  It kept the three pence tax on imported tea.  But, because it allowed tea to by-pass the British middlemen, it actually was cheaper than smuggled tea.
   Parliament misjudged the Americans.  Their assumption was that the Americans would disregard the tax and welcome the cheap tea, but, they stuck by the principle of “no taxation without representation” and agreed to boycott the cheap—but, taxed tea.  In the port cities, the tax resisters desired to keep the tea from being disembarked so the duties would not be collected.
   The Boston Tea Party was held on December 16, 1773.  A group of patriots dressed as Indians went aboard the ship, “Dartmouth”, and dumped all the tea overboard.  Actually, there were other tea parties, for example, in Charleston and Yorktown. In Annapolis, the brig, “Peggy Stewart” was burned, destroying over a ton of tea.
   In London, the British Government was incensed.  In retribution, Parliament passed the Port Act which closed the port of Boston until the East India Company was compensated for its lost tea. The day the Port Act became effective, July 1, 1774, there were riots throughout the colonies.  At the urging of supporters in New York, a Continental Congress was convened. The tipping point had been reached.
   On both sides of the Atlantic things escalated. Parliament passed a series of “Coercive Acts” (Americans called them the “Intolerable Acts”). Parliament unilaterally changed the charter of Massachusetts. The Quartering Act required the citizens of Boston to open their homes to British soldiers. Most galling to the colonists was The Quebec Act which annexed the area between the Ohio and   Mississippi Rivers, later known as the Northwest Territory, to the Province of Quebec.
   In October 1774, Congress passed the Nonimportation Agreement providing that Americans boycott all British products.  British troops moved into Boston. Units of Minutemen were formed; military stores accumulated; committees of observation appointed to monitor the British troops in Boston.
   At the Second Virginia Convention, meeting at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Patrick Henry, who had earlier been elected a delegate to the Second Continental Congress, on March 23, 1775, declared:
                   “…The question before the house is one of awful moment to this country.
                   For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom
                   or slavery… Gentlemen may cry, peace, peace—but there is no peace.  The
                   war is actually begun.  The next gale that sweeps from the North will bring
                   to our ears the clash of resounding arms!  Our brethren are already in the
                   field!  Why stand we here idle?  What is it that gentlemen wish?  What would
                   they have?  Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price
                   of chains and slavery?  Forbid it, Almighty God!  I know not what course others
                   may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

 Less than a month later, on April 19, 1775, the “shot heard round the world” was fired at Lexington followed by more fighting at Concord. For those who still wanted reconciliation or peace, events were spinning out of control. Opinions changed over-night.  Militias assembled in Boston to lay siege to the British hold up there.  Militia troops under Ethan Allen captured Fort Ticonderoga on May 10.
   In Philadelphia, on June 14, Congress created the American army. The next day, they unanimously elected George Washington to be its Commander-in-Chief. On June 17, the British moved against the  New England troops who had occupied Breed’s Hill and Bunker Hill. They won the battle but paid a terrible price and were still under siege in Boston.
   On October 26, 1775, King George lll addressed the opening of Parliament by declaring that America was in rebellion. Lord Dunmore, the king’s governor of Virginia, who had evacuated Williamsburg, had naval forces destroy Norfolk on January 1, 1776. Thomas Paine published “Common Sense” in January calling for a declaration of independence.
   The hiring of foreign mercenaries by Britain was the last straw for many Americans.  In April 1776, American ports were declared open to the ships of all nations except Britain.  On May 10, 1776 Congress advised the colonies to establish governments whose authority was derived from the people rather than the king.
   On May 15, the Virginia Convention unanimously instructed its delegates to Congress to vote for independence.  Thus, Richard Henry Lee introduced a resolution in Philadelphia, to the effect that the “united Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free, and independent States”, and that foreign alliances and a plan of confederation ought to be established.

Image result for liberty flag
Moultrie Flag

   A vote was postponed until July 1 so some delegates could consult with their states on how to vote.  An overwhelming majority of delegates voted for independence on July 2.  A committee led by Thomas Jefferson was appointed to compose it and on July 4 the Declaration was approved.
                         “When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one
                           people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them
                           with another, and to assume, among the powers of the earth, the
                           separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s
                           God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires
                           that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
                            We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal;
                           that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable rights;
                           that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  That to
                           secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving
                           their just powers from the consent of the governed….”
   But, that was not the end of the matter. As its title implies, it was a declaration, not a statement of fact.  The armies and militias of the colonies would have to fight another five years before they won their independence, and wait another two years for the Treaty of Paris of 1783 to fix the terms of separation between the new nation and the Mother Country.

Image result for gadsden flag
Gadsen Flag

   Less than three months after the declaration of independence, Washington was driven out of New York and across New Jersey. Christmas, 1776 was a low ebb for the American troops. With one week to go before the enlistments of most of his troops, Washington crossed the Delaware River and routed the Hessian troops at Trenton.
   The winter quarters at Valley Forge and Morristown, New Jersey were terrible. A major turning point in the war was the surrender of British General Burgoyne and his force of 5,000 to General Horatio Gates on October 17, 1777.  It was not only a great strategic gain for the Americans because it kept the British from splitting the colonies, but it convinced France to enter the war on the side of the Americans.
   Washington bided his time in White Plains, New York, waiting for an opening to mass his forces with those of the French. His opportunity came in the fall of 1781. After a campaign from South Carolina through North Carolina, General Cornwallis limped into Yorktown. Washington rushed south with a force of 8,000 men, half of whom were French regulars.  The French fleet arrived at the end of August and landed another 3,000 troops.
   There was no remedy from the sea for Cornwallis because the French fleet controlled the bay.  On October 19, 1781 Cornwallis surrendered his entire force of 6,000 to Washington. At the time of the surrender, the American forces surrounding Cornwallis numbered 16,000. Of these, 7,000 were French, 5,500 were Continental Army, and 3,500 were Virginia Militia.

Fred Wheeler 

01 July 2024

A TPC REAL Politick Check-In: Federal Indictments in the Home County; What's up w/ Madam Mayor?

 Howdy, Folks! What's cooking? 

So, the big news last week naturally was the report that both Marcello Banes, the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of Newton Co., GA, as well BOC 3 Commissioner-Elect, Stephanie Lindsey, were both indicted by a Federal Grand Jury. 

Oh, what a tangled web we weave, indeed! 

But of course in our system one is always presumed innocent before being proven guilty; however, it's looking pretty bad for the self-described dear, old friends - Marcello & Stephanie. 

For one thing, reading the press release from the North Georgia US Attorney's office seems to give the impression that they've pretty much got 'em dead to rights

Also, it's my understanding, based on research & from what a few folks w/ familiarity w/ these things have told me, that the conviction rate for federal indictments is in the range of 90-95%. 

So, again, not looking very good for those two at the moment. But, there's a long way to go. You never know. 

It does seem to be confirmed that Ms Lindsey did receive a $150K real estate commission for a parcel in Stanton Springs some years back. Further, based on what the US Atty's office has stated, it looks as if $100K of that was put into a LLC that was organized & that finally approx $100K of that money found its way to Marcello (who served on the JDA board that voted to approve the sale) & then that amount of money was purportedly spent on that fine house Marcello built a few years back. 

My, my, my. 

We'll keep an eye on it... 

Madam Mayor 

Fleeta Smith Baggett

Mayor of the home city (Covington, GA, USA) for right at six months now. 

It's my understanding - and I feel 100% confident in reporting on this at this time - that while an official court TPO was not placed on her, a very serious warning was given to her by the CPD to no longer ever enter the premises of one of the merchants of the Covington Square. 

That happened a while back. 

Not a good look. 

Now, more recently, an official grievance has been filed against Fleeta by a City of Covington employee. 

Many are aware of how Fleeta has been brow-beating, threatening & just overall being most unpleasant to multiple city employees the last few months. She's also had public confrontations w/ multiple city employees as well as some other elected officials. 

As a confidential source told me -- "she really is totally out of control." 

Per the city's charter, the mayor is not supposed to have any involvement w/ day-to-day operations of the city government. Moreover, the position really has NO real power or authority of any sort. The only duties of this elected office are basically as follows: 

- to preside over city council meetings or other functions
- to break any possible ties of city council meetings
- to be a figurehead/public face of the city 

And that's really basically it. 

I feel as if that is simply killing Fleeta -- the not having any real power. 

But the kicker, I believe, is this: she has no way, really, of getting her way as she simply doesn't have the votes on the council to do so. If she could get a 3-3 tie, she could swing a few things her way. But, she doesn't. 

And I think that's really eating her up. 

Her behavior as of late is something that some had worried about leading up to the election but it was thought that she'd obviously be better than the alternative, and that she likely had corrected some of her previous ways. 



Okay for now. Until next time. 

- MBM 

11 June 2024

Past Piedmont Chronicles: Brunswick Stew: What Is & What Should Never Be -- The History & Variations of this Tasty Tradition

*ed note: please enjoy this piece - the most read ever at TPC - from January of 2022

he impetus behind this post goes back a couple of months ago to a FB group I'm a part of  in which a member shared a picture of their "Brunswick Stew" (see image below). 

I responded to this one along the lines of: "Yeah, that's just what we call stew."

Later, another person shared a picture of their Brunswick Stew..

I responded to this one along the lines of: "Yeah, that's what we call soup..."

My goodness. Apparently some of these folks just hate America or something. 

I've been aware of the differences related to this food item for several years & I've been familiar with a good bit of the history & backstory related to it but realized that perhaps a good number of folks aren't, so I decided to do a post about it here as my first one in the new era of TPC. 

Before we go any further, here's a pic of some proper Brunswick Stew (at least as it's considered in the GA Piedmont), compliments of Josh & Faith Henderson: 

Obviously these are some good God-fearin' Folk (and their stew is one of the best I've ever had)

Notice how everything has been properly ground up; there aren't any intact pieces of potato. There aren't any beans of any sort of any size & there sure as hell ain't NO peas! The key is that you can tell it's thick. The old saying about Brunswick Stew, at least the way I was raised, is the paddle, stick or large spoon you're using should be able to stick up straight in the concoction if you've done it right. 

As we'll see in just a bit, there are multiple variations of Brunswick Stew. A lot of these differences relate to where the stew has originated from. Furthermore, there are many questions as to the true origins of this dish. 


Some History on Brunswick Stew 

The two main claimants are Brunswick Co., Virginia & the City of Brunswick, GA. 

While there is a monument in the Brunswick, GA area that lays claim to the area originating this dish & while many in Georgia feel that their version is the most authentic, based on historical records, it's clear that the Virginia variation was the one first recorded in the annals of American history, going all the way back to the early 1800s.

But was that truly the first Brunswick Stew? 

There is documentation that Native Americans had a dish that resembled it well before. Like the aforementioned ones, this pot stew originally used small wild game such as rabbits, squirrels & possums, and that's why it had to simmer so long as to soften the natural toughness of those meats. However, there is evidence that perhaps a version of this dish goes back to the old country as well with the Duchy of Brunswick-Luneburg (located in the northern section of modern-day Germany). Certainly, the name seems to possibly confirm this hypothesis, but really - who knows? 

Regardless of who was first, it can be agreed that the keys to this meal are as follows: 

- some type of meat(s)
- tomatoes
- potatoes 
- corn 
- a long, slow cooking time

Now, depending on the location, there will be more ingredients & that's the key to this whole thing - the location. 

We'll start with the two main American styles, then branch out to the others, but then we also have to appreciate the sub-variations therein. 

Virginia Style 

First off, the traditional VA recipe calls for NO grinding of anything (yeah, weird, I know). Furthermore, it only calls for chicken (crazy, right?). In addition to tomatoes, potatoes & corn, these people also put in butter beans (they obviously hate God). Finally, it has much more liquid that just about any other type, it's basically a soup. 

Brunwick, GA (GA Coastal) Style

It's funny to me that the Brunswick/St. Simon's/GA Coast folks have worked so hard to try to lay claim to being the originators of Brunswick Stew considering how second-rate & unimpressive theirs is. Similar to the Virginia edition, they put Lima beans in theirs & they also don't grind anything! The one thing you can give these poor bastards is the fact that their rendition is much less soupier than VA's, and the fact that they do add pork. 

North Carolina Style 

Oh yes, NC has their take on this thing & they actually think they've got the best one out there! Theirs is extremely weird, folks. They do add pork, so we'll give 'em points for that but they don't add potatoes. Like the coastal Georgia style, they have much less liquid, but somehow theirs comes out very chunky. Again, it's just really strange. 

GA Mountain Style 

Apparently an amalgamation of Virginia & North Carolina traditions, but then with their own strange bent. I remember as a 12-yr kid ordering some in Cornelia, GA & thinking to myself -- "this ain't Brunswick Stew!" 

And now we finally get to the 
pièce de ré·sis·tance

GA Piedmont Style

And to take a quick moment for Yours Truly, this is what took me so long to do this piece. I really had to research this thing. And as far as I can tell, there is a difference in Brunswick Stew between the mountains & the fall line -- our glorious home, the Georgia Piedmont. 

One thing you can do to confirm my theory is to look up Brunswick Stew recipes on the internets. Seriously, do it. 

If you live in C-town, Monroe, or Athens, or in & around Atlanta, or even Macon or Augusta, or Commerce or Comer, Villa Rica, Zebulon or Sparta, you will find most of these recipes to be odd & foreign, unlike anything you've ever experienced when it comes to this awe-inspiring dish. In fact, I only found one recipe from the traditional recipe sites that came close to what we all know & love here in our lovely neck of the woods, and that was Trisha Yearwood's recipe that is actually her Daddy's. Makes sense, considering she's a Monticello gal & all... 

So, let's talk about REAL Brunswick Stew, which shall now henceforth be referred to as Georgia Piedmont Style

Three meats. Beef, Chicken & Pork. 

Grind EVERYTHING (except, usually, the corn, but I've had versions where the corn was ground too & I think it might even be better!). 

The first few months I worked at Bess's Place in the late 90s Andy Wilson was still making Brunswick Stew & I got to witness the magic first hand. It was glorious. It's similar to most other recipes that I've been made aware of in & around our beautiful, magical area. 

Lovejoy Methodist, Red Oak Methodist & multiple other churches do amazing versions every fall. 

A fella named Richard L.Veneable makes one that would literally make you slap your mama. 

The aforementioned one from the Hendersons is as good as any I've ever had. 

Most BBQ restaurants around these parts have great ones as well. I'd have to give the nod to Jack's BBQ for the best non-church-or-private-party one around the home city & county in my humble estimation. 

When it comes to the GA Piedmont region & Brunswick Stew, in the words of Tina Turner -- we're simply the best. 


So, that's my write-up on Brunswick Stew. Hope you enjoyed it. 

Marshall McCart 

29 May 2024

The (Slightly Delayed) Newton Co Primary Results Analysis Write-up -- Down Goes Ellis; Marcello Wins Third Term

 Howdy, Pals!

Hope it's all lovely out there. 

So Tuesday last we had ourselves a primary election here in the home county & it was very interesting and by & large things went well. 

Let's start w/ the big one (at least for me): 

GOP Primary for the 5th District of the Newton Co Board of Commissioners 

Line of the night: 

"LeAnne beat Keith like he stole something!" 


But, true. 

The final count was an absolute beatdown. A 72% to 28% trouncing of the poorly regarded former Commission Chair. 

As one person asked on social media - "who put Keith up to this when he should have known he had NO chance of winning?" 

Well...the usual suspects, and we'll just leave it at that (IYKYK). 

Glad to have supported & publicly endorsed the presumptive new Commissioner of BOC 5 - Mrs. LeAnne Long (but remember - she still has a challenger in the general). 

On the Dem Side 

Marcello Banes, for the win. 

Come January he will embark on his third term as the Chair of the County Commission. Congrats to him. 

And that means that Tommy Craig disciple Marcus Jordan will soon no longer hold elected office in the home county. 

Tax Commish 

The only Democrat I endorsed in this cycle - Brent Bennett - was the top vote-getter & is in the runoff facing Avis Williams. 

BOC 3 

This one also heading to a runoff between Stephanie Lindsey & incumbent Alana Sanders. 

Sanders has allegedly cultivated a reputation for being "aloof", ill-informed & mean,  which, obviously if true, is NOT a good combination. Many are thinking that Stephanie will emerge victorious on this one & I'm thinking maybe so; however, based on prior events & happenings (again, IYKYK), I cannot in good conscience make an endorsement in this race. 

Clerk of Court 

I had a couple folks reach out to me to tell me that winner Stephanie Finnie was NOT a part of Team Craig & was by far the most qualified for this all-too-important constitutional office (the most important of the county constitutional offices, in my opinion); regardless, it's a consensus view that she by far ran the best campaign.

I congratulate our presumptive Clerk of Superior Court. Big shoes to fill there as Ms Linda Hays has served in that capacity for over 40 years. 

There were a couple of other races that weren't really on my radar. 

Until next time. 


- MBM 

16 May 2024

Newton County BOC 5: The Choice Is Clear - LeAnne Long

 Howdy, Folks, and welcome back. 

As we find ourselves at the end of early voting - and in preparation of Voting Day, Tuesday May 21st - TPC, and its Editor MB McCart, would like to relay the following: 

While this publication has previously written about why "William" Keith Ellis is NOT the one to lead the 5th district of the Newton County Board of Commissioners into 2025 & beyond, we did want to state why LeAnne Long is the right person for this all-too-important position. 

But first. The key reason why her opponent needs not be elected: 

William Thomas "Tommy" Craig, Esq

And yes, while I know that Keith has publicly stated more than once that he will not attempt to bring Tommy back as the home county's attorney, one should be sure to carefully analyze his words. Maybe not Tommy, per se, but what about his firm? What of his son? 

Those are the questions, in my opinion, that need to be asked. 

And, while it may seem to stretch any reasonable imagination or possibility, there does seem to be a belief by some that somehow the Bear Creek Reservoir could possibly be resurrected if Keith were to win. 

Look at the usual suspects. E.g. those that signed off on Keith's mailer last week

* * * * * 

LeAnne Long - The Right Candidate at The Right Time

I've known LeAnne for right at 25 years. 

I've always appreciated her for who she is & have always admired her willingness to always tell it how it is, as well as her tenacity, grit & work ethic. 

She's legit. 

She's experienced; she's previously served in elected office back in the late 90s. 

And she's an advocate. As many know, she has been on the front lines of the battle against irresponsible development time & time again over the years. 

Again, my friends, in my sincere estimation, she is the Clear Choice for BOC 5

This election is so very important. Truly hope things will turn out as they should & I believe they will. 

For the home county, 

- MBM 

07 May 2024

Newton County REAL Politick: Democratic Primary - A Battle of Coalitions? #OneNewton vs The Tommy Craig Camp?

 (Covington, GA | Tuesday 5/7/24)

Welcome back, Dear Readers, and hope all is well out there. 

So we're exactly two weeks from voting day & now on our 9th day of early voting (we had both Saturday & Sunday early voting this past weekend; we will also have this upcoming Saturday for a total of 18 days of early voting including two Saturdays & a Sunday. Such a shame that Georgia has enacted such egregious voter suppression laws, ammaright?) 

As many have commented, there definitely seems to be two camps on the Team Blue side this election cycle. You can really tell by sign locations. Typically you'll see the same signs of the same candidates together, then you'll see the names of the other side together at another location. This is occurring all over the home county. 

Let's look at the dynamics of these races & try to break it down. 

For the purposes of this analysis, we'll go w/ the following names for the two camps/coalitions/sides: 

#OneNewton (Marcello Banes/Stephanie Lindsey crew) vs The Craig Camp (Tommy Craig/JC Machine/Reservoir People/Old Guard)

Now, for some of these races, we don't  have direct evidence for all candidates that their allegiance is necessarily to one side or the other. On some, we definitely do. For others, it is inferred based on conversations w/ sources & other political watchers & - again - based on those sign placements. 

At the top of ticket we'll draw our attention to the BOC Chair race between incumbent Marcello Banes & current Tax Commish - Marcus Jordan, and this one is very clear. We know Jordan has been utilizing Craig for legal counsel, so we know he's on that side.

And, I know for a fact, that Banes is diametrically opposed to both Craig as well as BOC 4 Rep JC Henderson

The next two are county constitutional offices & again this is simply my opinion & analysis based on the aforementioned criteria. 

Clerk of Superior Court 

John Bryant: either #OneNewton (Marcello/Stephanie) or unaffiliated w/ either faction. Definitely NOT Team Craig. 

Stephanie Finnie: possibly Team Tommy, per word on the street. 

Tax Commissioner 

Brent Bennett: either #OneNewton (Marcello/Stephanie) or unaffiliated w/ either faction. Definitely NOT Team Craig. 

Avis Williams: I know a good number of folks who are friendly w/ & like Avis. I believe she is Jordan's pick & based on what I'm hearing she would continue utilizing Tommy Craig for legal counsel for that office if she won. 

By the way, I believe this is the one Democratic primary that I will give an endorsement for. By all accounts, Brent Bennett is very impressive. Definitely qualified. And just seems like a really great guy. If you're pulling a blue ballot (which is what is being recommended for anyone regardless of political affiliation residing in BOC districts 1,2,3 & 4, I'd recommend giving this guy a look


Similar to Chair, we 100% know about this one. Obviously Stephanie Lindsey is a part of her own coalition. Further, we also know that incumbent Alana Sanders is in league w/ JC & a part of the other side. 


We're not covering Sheriff since Ezell is running uncontested in the primary. We've recently discussed Ezell's knack for paying Tommy Craig lots of money & we'll definitely be covering his general election race vs Justin Hipps moving forward. 

Conversations about BOC 1 & Coroner will also come later after we get into the general.

And I recently wrote about one of the candidates for BOC 5 & will cover that one again before May 21st. 

Okay for now, 

- MBM 

30 April 2024

"William" Keith Ellis - A Closer Look

Hello, friends, and welcome back to TPC. 

So our old pal William Keith Ellis is running in the GOP primary for BOC 5 in this current election cycle (early voting started yesterday, by the way). 

Right off the bat, many have been pointing out that he's really been pushing his first name in this race rather than his middle name that he's always used in a presumed attempt to run from his political past. After his unceremonious single term as BOC Chair in which the home county embarked on a true jubilation when he, as an absolute persona non grata, announced he would not be running again, most thought we'd seen the end of his political career. 

But, not the case. 

So, since he is running, it seemed incumbent upon me to do this post. 

Here are some of TPC's "greatest hits" regarding the old feller: 

One of my personal favorites happened late in Keith's disastrous tenure, when he bizarrely claimed that two of the BOC Commissioners at the time were trying to blackmail him. 

Here's a guest post about Ellis that was penned by Samuel Hay III (back when we were still friendly) that really hit the nail on the head, I thought. 

One that was particularly galling to me had to do w/ one of the mitigation properties the county had previously bought for the was-never-gonna-happen Bear Creek Reservoir that had both Keith's as well WTC's fingerprints all over it. 

Presiding over a six seven hour BOC meeting when he'd developed a reputation for regularly presiding over three, four & five hour meetings (the People's time was way too valuable for that)

And also for your reading pleasure are some of Keith's "greatest hits" from other news outlets: 

Yeah, a no confidence vote is always a bad sign.

And the the infamous "loan" to JC was particularly ill received by many at the time. 

More than anything, during Keith's entire tenure of January 2013 - January 2017, it just seemed as if everything was chaos. Everything was bad. 


In my honest & heartfelt opinion, the last thing we need in the home county is a return of "William" Keith Ellis in any elected position. Been there, done that. 

***Also - in my opinion, a vote for William Keith Ellis is a vote to bring back William Thomas "Tommy" Craig, Esq. as county attorney*** 

Again, been there, done that. 

Until next time, 


19 April 2024

Tommy Craig Continues Ridin' the Newton Taxpayer Gravy Train, Compliments of Ezell & Marcus Jordan

*cross-posted at MB's Word on the Street 

 Friends, I remember it vividly, as I know many of you do as well.

That glorious moment in November of 2015 when the unthinkable happened. An event that many said would never happen: the home county finally ridded itself of its caustic county attorney, the one & only William Thomas “Tommy” Craig.

Hard to believe that’s been 8 & 1/2 years ago.

Unfortunately, before too long, the Newton County Sheriff - Ezell Brown - started to help his old friend out.

When Craig was the county atty making usually right around a cool million dollars per year, Brown was utilizing Craig as attorney for the Sheriff’s department, but was only paying him on average around $50K per annum.

But soon after Tommy got the boot from the county, Ezell’s payments to Craig exploded!

For several years those numbers grew. I reported on this a couple of times over the years over at TPC but wanted to give some current numbers for those interested.

Here it is:

For FY 2023, the most recent year for which full numbers exist, the Sheriff’s department paid Wm Thomas Craig, Esq. $315,447. It’s my understanding that a Sheriff of the size of Newton Co should NOT be paying anywhere near this sum.

It certainly ain’t chump change.

3/4 of the way through FY 2024 Ezell has already paid him $252,944 so it’s looking as if the ole fella will end up getting about the same amount here in a couple of months when we end the fiscal year at the end of June.

Ezell Brown has paid Tommy Craig upwards of $2 million over the last several years.

But he’s not the only one cutting checks to Craig.

Marcus Jordan, current Tax Commissioner for the home county, has also been utilizing Craig as legal counsel for his constitutional office. Has been for several years. His numbers haven’t been anywhere near the Sheriff’s, but is fairly considerable.

Tax Commish Payments to WTC:

FY2023: $29,825
FY2024 (through nine months): $21,925

So basically Tommy Craig has been making approx $350K per year just from Ezell & Jordan. Definitely not like the old days for him, but not too shabby. Probably was key to him fixing up the old place on College Ave a while back after it’d fallen into a pretty bad state of disrepair.

My, my, my…

A final thought.

As many know, it’s looking as if this current election cycle is a clear delineation of sides. The pro-Tommy Craig crew vs. the Anti-Craig slate. BOC 5, BOC 3, Clerk of Court, Tax Commish & the Chairman race. I believe they all have that same dynamic involved.

Stay tuned for the breakdown of all of those races.


’til next time,