Former Gov. Roy Barnes has been hitting Macon hard as he works the state in his return to gubernatorial politics.
He’s held several relatively high-profile events here, more than his Democratic competitors, Attorney General Thurbert Baker, state Rep. DuBose Porter, Ray City Mayor Carl Camon and former Georgia National Guard Commander David Poythress, who is a Macon native.
Barnes was in east Macon on Thursday evening, after announcing a fairly staggering fundraising effort: $2.7 million banked over the past six months.
But this wasn’t a high-dollar crowd with Barnes at Studio 32 for an event organized by Macon City Councilwoman Elaine Lucas. The crowd of about 70 included prominent and not so prominent local Democrats who listened as Barnes laid out his campaign promises and bashed the state’s current Republican leadership.
He twice characterized state budget cuts to education and charitable services as “criminal.” He said North Carolina is “leaving us in the dust on economic development” by focusing on infrastructure, particularly passenger rail.
In response to a detailed question from Macon Democrat Amy Morton, Barnes laid out four years of priorities if elected:
n Year 1: Shore up the fiscal situation. Focus on education, stop austerity cuts, help employment.
n Year 2: Transportation “and education again.”
n Year 3: Recessionary budget problems should be over and emergency measures from the years before should be reassessed. Finish dealing with the state’s water issues.
n Year 4: All education.
Barnes didn’t say how he’d pay for it all, though he did come out against across-the-board spending cuts. He said instead that some state departments could probably be done away with, but he didn’t name them.
Barnes promised to “stay away from the nut issues” he feels Republicans have favored in recent years. He particularly took the GOP to task for working against stem-cell research in Georgia.
“Listen,” he said. “Nancy Reagan is in favor of stem-cell research. Have we gotten that extreme in this state?”
He compared this race to the governor’s races of 1962 in Georgia and Alabama. Georgia elected Carl Sanders. Alabama elected George Wallace, who stood in the schoolhouse doors and defied integration. Atlanta became the leading city of the South.
“I suggest to you, you’re at the same time now,” Barnes said. “Are we going to make the right choice in this governor’s race?”
Ross: Consolidation forced on Macon by past choices
Macon City Councilman Alveno Ross voted Tuesday for Councilwoman Elaine Lucas’ 10-year plan to consolidate Macon and Bibb County services, but he did so without joy.
Many have lauded consolidation as the future in this community, but Ross said he sees it as a forced necessity. In a long speech before the vote, Ross essentially said past choices have painted city government into a corner.
The city ceded its water infrastructure to the Macon Water Authority, which ran lines into the unincorporated area. That took away a powerful persuasion to annex into the city, and the city lines stopped moving into unincorporated Bibb County.
Ross said city taxpayers pay twice for the county jail: once when they pay county taxes and again when the city pays a per-prisoner fee so the Macon Police Department can lock people up. City residents, through county taxes, also help pay for sheriff’s patrols in the unincorporated area, he said.
“We’ve given away the resources of the city and received nothing in return,” he said, with “we” meaning city leaders far predating him.
County leaders disagree with Ross on several points, noting the services Bibb County funds that benefit the city. That includes libraries, the tax assessors and tax commissioner’s office. More crime is committed in the city limits, thus the jail charge.
Still, Ross said he looks at consolidation not as a negative but as something the city has little choice but to embrace as its finances dwindle and its tax base remains somewhat stagnant.
Fundraising totals in 2010 released governor’s race
Friday was the deadline for state candidates to file campaign disclosure forms breaking down how much money they raised in the past six months and who contributed to them.
The records are available online from the Georgia State Ethics Commission at http://ethics.georgia.gov, but here are the totals for the 2010 gubernatorial candidates who had filed as of 6 p.m. Friday. Candidates had until midnight, and some looked like they’d need every minute.
Totals are given like this: amount raised in six months / amount from loans, as opposed to donations / total cash on hand.
Former Gov. Roy Barnes (D): $2.7 million / $0 / $2.2 million
Former head of the Georgia National Guard David Poythress (D): $304,000 / $185,000 / $283,000
State Rep. DuBose Porter (D): $231,000 / $0 / $225,000
U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal (R): $608,000 / $0 / $940,000
State Rep. Austin Scott (R): $223,000 / $110,000 / $159,000
State Sen. Jeff Chapman (R): $79,000 / $0 / $18,000
Obviously, that list doesn’t include Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, former Secretary of State Karen Handel or former state Sen. Eric Johnson, all Republicans. It also doesn’t include Attorney General Thurbert Baker, a Democrat.
Erickson appearance benefits Rutland Middle School
As part of Erick Erickson’s appearance earlier this week on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report,” the Macon city councilman received a large gift basket from the show’s staff, including a bottle of champagne, a bottle of vodka, cappuccino, fine chocolates, a copy of the board game “Monopoly” and other items.
Erickson also received a $100 gift card for DonorsChoose.org, an organization that Colbert is a part of that helps out schools. Erickson said he gave his gift card to Rutland Middle School for a social studies project that required the purchase of books about Africa.
The class was trying to raise $150, and Erickson said via e-mail that the gift card made up the difference.
Erickson said he had to leave most of the items behind, since he was unable to take the large gift basket on the plane. He said he let staffers from Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News take what they liked from the gift basket.
Perdue’s ‘state of the state’ address to be shown on TV
Gov. Sonny Perdue will be rolling out his budget and policy proposals this week in the last state-of-the-state speech of his eight-year tenure.
He’ll give the speech at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the state Capitol, and Georgia Public Broadcasting will air it live on its GPB Knowledge channel. The speech will be replayed at 7 p.m. that night on the regular GPB channel, a spokeswoman said.
Houston County Democrats to name board members
Houston County Democrats will meet this morning and replace board members who have moved or have bad attendance, the group said.
Breakfast will be at Ryan’s Steak House on Watson Boulevard in Warner Robins at 9 a.m., with the meeting to follow at 9:30 a.m.
Brian Westlake, a candidate for state superintendent of schools, will be the guest speaker. Newcomers are welcome.
Telegraph staff writers Travis Fain and Phillip Ramati compiled this report.