29 June 2023

A Check-in From the Editor: Talking Covington, GA REAL Politick!

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

Greetings, Fearless Readers, it's been a minute. 

#COV 

Well, things are starting to heat up as we get closer & closer to qualifying for the home city's municipal elections. 

Travis Moore continues to be the only declared candidate for East Ward, Post 2, and he's looking to be a lock for this seat. W/ the blessing of the current holder of this position, Travis is a true coalition/consensus candidate. 

Basically we have four main factions in terms of east ward voters: 1) Old Guard/Establishment; 2) #NewtonCo12/NCLA (I'm in that one); 3) The Covington Place crew; 4) The Song Alliance folks. 

Travis is unique in that all the factions seem to like him & are comfortable w/ him as their representation. 

As we turn our attention to Post 3, it does seem to be official that Don Floyd will not be seeking reelection. The one declared candidate for this seat is one Dania Bernard. New to the home city, she's only lived here for about a year. Supposedly, she's an investor w/ the Archer Aviation outfit that just clear cut that beautiful old growth timber on Williams Rd in between City Pond & Oxford. 

While she's apparently curried favor w/ some in & around Covington (including, purportedly,  some employees of the city government), she basically remains a relative unknown & many are skeptical. Based on research, she seemingly has moved around quite a bit during her entire adult life. Also, this writer was made aware of a program that can detect if copy/verbiage was originated by an AI program & based on documentation received, it seems as if at least portions of her campaign materials were perhaps originated by that technology. 

Questions abound. 

It is this publication's understanding that Jared Rutberg is about to officially declare for this seat. Conventional wisdom would seem to suggest that he'd win a two-way race, probably somewhat handily. 

Now, for Mayor

Fleeta...

Talking about possibly clutching defeat from the jaws of victory. Her major misstep last week w/ the Corrydell vote may have taken from primary contender to an also-ran. 

Even this writer was getting ready to maybe, just maybe, begrudgingly...[redacted]. 

Interesting times. We shall see. 

Okay for now, 

- MBM 



31 May 2023

TPC REAL Politick: #COV Edition, 5/31/23

 *updated as of 7:20pm, 5/31/23

H
owdy, folks. Hope all is well out there. 

So, May was a little light for us here at TPC. Our apologies. In the words of Ray Goff - We're gonna  work hard to get bettah! 

It's an odd year, so it's time for Covington municipal elections. Yaaayyy! 

So, #COV Real Politck.

East Ward, Post 2. We have a declared candidate - the one & only Travis Moore. I like Travis. He's a good fella & would be an ideal pick for this seat & has shown his bonafides by his performance & votes on the Planning Commission. He wants to work on controlling growth & getting our tax base back in balance & definitely limiting multi-family. The clear choice, naturally. 

Word on the street is that there's a certain younger lady who is apparently an investor w/ the Archer Aviation group (the folks that just clear-cut the beautiful land in between City Pond & Oxford; another story for another time) & is possibly looking at Post 2 or possibly Dirty Don Floyd's seat (hearing conflicting reports at to whether or not he's going to run again). Based on what I can tell, it seems this lady has moved around a lot & hasn't been in town for very long. Questions there, for sure. Will see if I can learn more moving forward. 

What about Mayor? Well, we know current west ward rep Kenneth Towns Morgan (corrected & updated) is running. Tim Walden has announced from the east ward. I know Tim & I like him a lot. He's a godly man & he sings & picks a pretty good guitar as well.

I'm 99.99% sure he cannot win a city wide election. 

The grapevine is saying that ole Chris Smith might throw his hat in the ring if everybody's first choice decides not to (Tommy, please run!). We shall see, though if it's Chris vs. Kenneth...well, let's cross that bridge if & when we get to it. 

**Wildcard: hearing that Eric Treets might run again, too. That'd really change up the dynamics if so**

Going back to the east ward, there's possibly a hairdresser that's thinking about running for one of the open seats. I'll try to get the 411 on that. 

Okay for now, gang. TTYS! 

- MBM 





26 May 2023

Ellis Millsaps: Where Have You Gone Joe DiMaggio?

 The rule changes are in place and they're all good. The time clock changes are universally approved. It's hard to understand why this wasn't done long ago. The only parts of the game eliminated are dead time when no play was occurring. I suppose this wasn't a big deal when most viewers were at the ballpark and had paid for an experience they might not have wanted shortened.


 Last year, I think it was, I humorously suggested that every time a player stepped out of the batter's box to adjust his batting gloves he had to give $100 to the local homeless shelter.  The time clock has pretty much taken care of that ( sorry homeless). A batter under the new rules gets one time out per at bat where he could adjust his batting gloves but otherwise that is gone by the wayside.


Now of course 99% of viewers are watching the games on TV and want to see the action moving. Game times have been substantially shortened without shortening actual play. As good or better is the limitation of pick-off attempts at first base, the most boring part of the old game.


I was against elimination of the shift because it changed the rules. I’ve changed my mind. Banning the shift has improved the game by adding offense in the form of ground ball hits. It has returned the game to the way it had been played from 1850 to 2000. Too small a sample yet but it seems to me batting averages will rise with less reason to emphasize launch angle, to hit it over the head of that gaggle of infielders, and also that should reduce strikeouts. The batter is much more likely to make contact if he is swinging levelly, i. e., on the same plane as the pitch.


Larger bases along with limiting pick-offs is already resulting in more steals, more action.


 I disagreed with the ghost runner rule but it is here to stay. My problem was that it would affect the records baseball geeks like me revere.. My example was DiMaggio's hitting streak. My faulty research told me the Yankee Clipper needed extra innings to keep his streak going. Again I was wrong. In fact DiMaggio kept his streak going through more than one rain shortened game.


During the 56 game streak he was walked a lot but struck out only five times.  That to me is more amazing than the hitting streak. The records that will be affected by the end of extra Innings are season and one game totals. As remarkable and likely as untouchable as DiMaggio's streak is Ricky Henderson's theft of 130 bases in 1982. Without looking it up I'm confident he stole some of those bases in extra Innings.


MLB agrees with me that the ghost runner rule is not real baseball because it isn't allowed in the playoffs. Next time I will discuss the Braves. - Ellis Millsaps (Ellis can be reached at:

millsapsellis00@gmail.com)

09 May 2023

Report on Newton County Hospital Authority: Still in Existence; Receiving Annual Payments From Piedmont Newton

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

*edited & updated 5/10/23

As mentioned in this space a couple of months back, an alert reader made me aware of the fact that the Newton County Hospital Authority (NCHA) was still in existence. Further, this reader asked if I would do a little digging on it. Well, that's kind of what I do, so I proceeded to investigate. After a fair amount of research & time, and after having interviewed the authority's Chair - Billy Fortson - I have this report to tender for your consideration. 

And a quick aside. A few of you may remember, going all the way back to 2015, when the deal was first struck w/ Piedmont Healthcare to take over Newton Medical Center. At that time, those of us who'd been closely following (often in a frustrating manner) all the particulars w/ the peculiar structure of the Authority had initial cause for celebration, as this would finally do away w/ the extra millage the Newton Co taxpayer had been paying for the ambulance service & indigent care while (erroneously) thinking it'd also give an extra revenue stream to the county. 

Well, there is a revenue stream now. Has been for eight years. It's just not going to the county general fund. No, rather, it goes straight to the Newton County Hospital Authority. More on that later.

First off, per the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, the Newton County Hospital Authority is not in compliance & has failed to file its mandated Annual Authority Registration & Financial (AARF) Reports since 2018. 

That was basically the first thing I asked Billy Fortson, authority Chair, when I first spoke w/ him on the phone about this approx a month ago.

He had no idea what I was talking about. 

He got back to me the next day on that & admitted that it had basically slipped through the cracks. That back in the day, somebody w/ Newton Medical Center always took care of that. 

Even though the arrangement became official in 2015, it appears that things operated as they always had up until 2018 when everything was completely separated between the two entities - the authority & the hospital itself. 

As of today, May 9, 2023, they still are not in compliance

I scheduled an in-person interview w/ Mr Fortson on April 13th of this year. We met for almost an hour & went over all of the financials & I even got to go through the checkbook the past several years. 

I'd like to take a moment to thank Billy Fortson for being forthcoming & willing to meet w/ me. 

Here's, basically, the rub. In bullet point format: 

- the affiliation agreement between NCHA & Piedmont Newton closed in September of 2015 & was for 40 years

- the most recent meeting of the NCHA Board of Directors was 9/29/22 

- their most recent bank balance as of about a month & a half ago was approx $547,000  

- for the first three years of the affiliation/agreement, the authority was paid $100,000 per year from Piedmont 

- starting in 2018 that annual payment was reduced to $50,000

- looking through the checkbook, there isn't really much going on. They get the money from Piedmont once a year. Every year they pay for D & O (Directors & Officers) Insurance in an amount that has fluctuated from $2,500 to $4,315. Also, they have to do an audit most years. In 2021, apparently two audits were done for a total amount of $10,000

- the biggest outlay the authority's had in the past few years was in 2020 when they paid $25,000 as a "contributing expense" for the top floor of the old Faulkner Building next to the hospital to provide office space for a local charity - The Repairers of the Breach

And that's really about it. Not much going on. I looked over the checkbook & a fair number of the bank statements. 

The obvious question is why? Why is the authority still in operation? Apparently it has something to do w/ legalities. I've looked into it but honestly I'm not 100% sure but I believe it has something to do w/ a local government not being able to affiliate w/ a for-profit business so therefore the authority has to remain intact to act a quasi-governmental middleman of sorts (updatedPiedmont Healthcare is a not-for-profit operation technically *see addendum below)

But to me, the bigger question is this. Why the hell isn't Piedmont Newton paying more than $50,000 year! 

And another one. Is it not possible for the county government to be getting funds paid to it from the authority? 

Again, my knowledge here is lacking. I'm not sure how all of this works. Perhaps there are some out there that can clarify & shed some light. If so, please do. 

So, in closing, the Newton County Hospital Authority is very much still in existence & has approx a half million in the bank. 

Until next time, 

- MBM 

you can email Marshall at: marshallmccart (at) gmail (dot) com

P.S. I asked Fortson point blank if he or any of the officers or directors got paid anything for serving on the board & he said no. Nothing. Totally a volunteer board. From what I saw going over the financials, that seems to be accurate.

*Addendum: 

In yesterday’s piece on the Newton County Hospital Authority, I erroneously referred to Piedmont Newton as for-profit when they are in fact legally considered to be a not-for-profit.

But when I say “not-for-profit,” you should imagine me putting up finger quotes as I say it. Looking through Piedmont Newton Hospital, Inc’s IRS Form 990 there are definitely profits being made by several persons that I’ll be writing about in the future.

As for Piedmont Newton itself, it made approx. $16 million in 2020 (the latest year I have information on) & had a fund balance at the time in excess of $31 million.

Wonder how much of that was that Covid $$$?

Meanwhile, the Newton Co Hospital Authority gets $50K every year & Newton Co gets zero.

DEVELOPING…

- MBM

P.S. Piedmont Newton’s Mission Statement reads as the following:

”TO PROVIDE COMPASSIONATE AND SUSTAINABLE HEALTHCARE IN A PROGRESSIVE ENVIRONMENT.”





18 April 2023

Ellis Millsaps: The Russians are Coming and Kansas City Shitweed, Part II ( The Long-awaited)

 Read Pt I here


Sometimes while out of work or not we engaged in other money making activities. My friend 

Ken Jordan, the day after I sat in the bleachers cheering wildly as Gene Garber struck out Pete 

Rose ending his historic hitting streak, got to work that evening silk screening t-shirts depicting a drooping rose with the caption ”44 and no more” which he sold out of his trunk in the parking lot of Atlanta Stadium after the next game.


We had other ventures from which we didn't make money but otherwise profited. I'm thinking of the parties we gave at our grand house. Not only did we invite our friends but we put up notices on utility poles in the neighborhood as if we were Pylon advertising our next show. 


The deal was you paid $5 at the bar, got your hand stamped and could drink all of anything you wanted for the rest of the evening from our well stocked bar. We would collect a bunch of cash and go back to the liquor store. I recall one occasion when my oldest friend, Rick Goss, my next door neighbor in Fannin County ( he lived a mile away) and I went to the store, restocked the bar and purchased a bottle of Martell Cordon Bleu which we stowed away for later.


 You might think it's somewhat risky to invite total strangers into your house where you're handling hundreds of dollars in cash, but we didn't worry about it and besides we usually had police protection. An Atlanta city policeman whose first name I once knew but no longer recall,  worked security at Dante's on weekends and appeared regularly in uniform.


We didn't exactly pay him but he had a free ticket at the bar, a bevy of young beauties to court and spark and access to whatever else might be transpiring. I mean if you have lines laid on the table are you going to tell the cop he can't have his? I don't think so. 


Most of the 69ers, as we called our softball team, worked for a healthy income of tips, and other than sales tax and auto tag fees paid no taxes. An exception was my good friend of 50 years, Bill Demond, who worked as an exceptional cook before he became a fishmonger. In 1977 he and another guy founded the two man operation “Inland Seafood “of which he is now CEO with 10 wholesale locations and 600 employees, but prior to that he was out of work a while and accepted a job for which he was paid $500 to drive a U-Haul to Kansas and bring it back full of the marijuana which grows wild there. His financier here wanted this wild weed to mix with his quality imported stuff which he sold in bulk.


Bill made his run and came back home with his money and a grocery bag full of what we soon came to call Kansas City Shitweed. It earned its name because no matter how much you smoked  it it only reminded you a little of getting stoned. It turned out, we were to learn after a while, that the story was entirely different if you cooked it. So one Friday Bill decided he would make some marijuana brownies that we would eat before heading out to see Glen Phillips at the Roxy. What Bill made was more like marijuana pie, two thin layers of brownie surrounding an inch deep concoction of wild marijuana and butter. It was awful but we ate it.


We were headed off toward Buckhead when the road  began to curve over and over like a corkscrew. It is a testament to my young hand to eye coordination that I was able to keep the car on this winding path.


We made it to the Roxy where we were fastened to our seats, unable to move.  That was not  only because Phillips was so sensationally entertaining, (Lowell George of Little Feat with whom Glen sometimes played called him ” the most amazing guitarist I've ever seen.”  Peter Buck of REM said that he doesn't play guitar solos because he’s seen Glen Phillips.) we couldn't have moved anyway. 


You can email Ellis at millsapsellis00@gmail.com

Ellis "Da" Millsaps is a recovering Attorney 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...






http://www.thepiedmontchronicles.com/p/good-cop-bad-cop-novel-by-ellis-millsaps.html

13 April 2023

The Music Minute, Weekend of 4/15: Live Music @ The Five, Amici & Others; Shane Clark in Madison Friday Night

 Howdy, Music Lovers, and welcome back to...


The
Music Minute


As usual, we've got another big weekend lined up. Let's take a look at a few of the shows coming up in & around the home county: 

Who's Playing Where & When
Weekend of April 15th -


A playing at B at C


After Hours


|||||||


FRIDAY APRIL 14


AMICI MADISON

APRIL ALLEN - LIVE IN LAKE OCONEE



LIVE @ THE FIVE! 





SATURDAY APRIL 15


LIVE @ THE FIVE! 




SOCIAL GOAT - COV SQUARE 


And that's just a handful of the upcoming shows this weekend. Remember: live music every Friday night at Amici Covington; multiple venues in Conyers, Monroe & Social Circle are doing live music as well, so get out there & enjoy some great tunes! 

Until next time, 

MB


_SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL_
_MUSICIANS_




11 April 2023

[Past Piedmont Chronicles] - A TPC PSA by MB McCart: A Primer on Driving on the Square, About Town Generally & a Couple of Modest Proposals

 *originally published in 2019

Previously this publication has discussed some of the challenges facing the centerpiece of our beloved home city, the beautiful Covington Square.


In that piece, I mentioned that traffic & parking are among the two biggest issues facing our downtown business district. And to that point, here, as a service to the general public, is the...


TPC Guide to Driving on the Covington Square & Elsewhere Throughout the Home City

by: MB McCart 


For a large portion of the Square, there exists between the inner & outer lanes, a solid while line, with small breaks in the middle of the east, west, south & north sides, that denotes...something.

"Well, actually," I can hear some of you saying, "that solid white line means that you can't change lanes." Perhaps. Much research by this writer, and a couple days worth of research by the CPD & also an Atty-at-Law I reached out to, seems to confirm that you're not supposed to cross a solid white line; however, time & time again I cannot seem to find that expressly mentioned in Title 40 of the OCGA. It somewhat seems to be common knowledge that you're not supposed to cross a solid white line, but is it really an affixed rule that constitutes a moving violation? Or is it more just kind of like a general guideline? I seriously ask because in several states, that's exactly what a solid white line represents - passing not recommended, but not necessarily restricted, either.

Scott Miller, an attorney, says it is a violation in Georgia, but again - while the Code discusses white lines in Title 40, and more particularly in Chapter 6, I still can't find it where it expressly, specifically says you can't.

Regardless, and to regrettably carry on for far too long on this particular point, most folks believe you're not supposed to cross it, but many folks don't, or they simply don't care, and that really pisses off the folks who "stay in their lane" when these folks whip around them - C-town 500-style - on the curves (Turn Left!). 


And this is where I become conflicted, my friends. It irritates me as well! In fact, many times over the years (decades, actually) when I see someone in my rear-view about to whip into that inner lane, I'll actually move to the left, in essence blocking them, and I usually feel really damn good about myself for having done so, though, technically, I may have committed a moving violation myself, but somebody's got to do it. I apologize to no one.


But the traffic analyst in me, and based on countless hours of research from various vantage points in & around the Square the last few years, sees that the more people who actually do that & go ahead & take the next curve & get out of the way actually work to remedy the usual bottleneck spots which ultimately improves overall flow. And, as I've posited many times in this space, it's all about that flow, though!

So...where does that leave us? No closer to a solution, unfortunately. Apparently the city & the CPD have reached out to GDOT to get clarification on the white lines on the Square. I'm sure that'll be a quick & efficient response.

One last thing, though. And a big, big point, I believe. We need to bring back Yield signs for northbound traffic on Church for those turning right onto Floyd, and also for southbound traffic on Monticello for those turning right onto Washington. That, combined with - AGAIN!!1! - adjusting the feeder lights at Floyd & Elm + Pace & Usher, would probably solve the damn thing. 


But hey, I'm just crazy, so nobody ever listens to me...

A Few Modest Proposals:

- Perhaps public flogging for drivers turning left onto 278 from Floyd St.? These people are a problem. They should be dealt with ruthlessly & efficiently, you know, for the greater good & all.

-  Can we put in an IQ test for folks getting a driver's license? I know this is gonna sound kind of rough, but a lot of these folks (and you know who I'm talking about here - the down-with-disease, bad-DNA-having types [the Wal-Mart Crowd], various other dullards, mouthbreathers & slackjaws as well as the white & ghetto trash),  just don't need to be driving. In a few years that will become a memory after we transition to automated vehicles, but in the meantime, perhaps we should go ahead & address that?

- And, again, this is going to sound awful - but... I'm the guy that writes publicly what many others are thinking - but you know when you get behind a car with a certain type of license plate, that more times than not, it's gonna be a damn hassle! Just a big ole production with a whole bunch of uninspired, lackadaisical, selfish & inconsiderate driving. 





Drive with some purpose, people! Be efficient & expeditious! Be courteous.

But perhaps that's the rub, or, the real story, if you will. As long as we have the human element involved with driving, it's never going to be perfect. So, perhaps about the time we finally get that fully automated driving thing going, it may unfortunately coincide with Skynet becoming self-aware. So while we may be running for our lives, at least the traffic will be better.


MB McCart