Houston & Peach

POLITICAL NOTEBOOK: Reichert visiting Japan, YKK

Macon Mayor Robert Reichert is in Japan this week, visiting with executives of YKK, the zipper-making giant that has a facility here in Macon.

Reichert arrived Friday and will be overseas until next weekend, mayoral spokesman Andrew Blascovich said. He is traveling with his wife, and YKK paid for the trip, Blascovich said.

The trip is meant to foster goodwill with the company, which located a plant in Macon in 1974. Reichert will meet with YKK Corp. President Tadahiro Yoshida early in the week, Blascovich said.

Other than a few gifts, no city funds are being spent on the trip, Blascovich said. One of the gifts is a large, framed picture of the YKK founder’s son at former President Jimmy Carter’s inauguration. Reichert’s brother-in-law and father-in-law also are in the picture, Blascovich said.

“YKK came to Macon for a reason,” Blascovich said. “It was a community they wanted to be a part of. It’s important to visit and be a part of their community ... and truly know each other face to face.”

PORTER RALLIES IN DUBLIN

House Minority Leader and Democratic gubernatorial hopeful DuBose Porter held a formal campaign kickoff this week in Dublin, which he has represented in the Georgia House of Representatives for many years.

Porter said several hundred people showed up.

“People here have been wanting to get involved and get engaged in the campaign,” said Porter, who is a co-owner of The Courier Herald newspaper in Dublin.

Porter is part of a crowded governor’s race that a lot of folks haven’t turned their attention to yet, considering the general election isn’t until November 2010. But Gov. Sonny Perdue has a lot of big names jockeying to replace him.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle for Porter and other Democrats in the race is the fact that former Gov. Roy Barnes, whom Perdue ousted in 2002, is on the ballot again. Porter said Barnes has “higher name ID than I do, but it’s not all positive name ID.”

“I think people are looking for someone who will move the state forward,” he said. “They know that the other candidates have not been as engaged as I have in the last several years. I really think that, on our side, it’s whether we want to go back or we want to go forward.”

As House minority leader, Porter has spoken out for increased funding for schools. He is sparring even now with Georgia Department of Revenue Commissioner Bart Graham over a plan to give local governments more power to collect and audit sales tax collections. The revenue department handles that now, but Porter and others would like to see local governments contract private companies to take over some functions. They say there’s a lot of uncollected revenue to be gained.

Porter also noted his engagement on water issues, which are key right now as metro Atlanta grapples with a recent court ruling that threatens its water supply. As former Gov. Zell Miller’s floor leader, he said he helped put 100,000 acres into a protection program, and much of that land was along rivers.

He introduced the River Corridor Protection Act in the late 1980s.

“I’m probably the authority on water in the Legislature,” Porter said.

Porter also has been out front on tax issues recently. Those getting property tax bills may have noticed a marked increase, due in part to the loss of state funding for the Homeowners Tax Relief Grant. That’s a state program that funded a property tax break, but the General Assembly’s Republican majority cut the program this year to help balance the state budget.

Porter argued against that cut.

“I hope people are now seeing whose fault that was,” he said.

NOT SO LARGE AND IN CHARGE

“Living large” isn’t the best way to describe Warner Robins mayoral candidate Chuck Shaheen’s campaign headquarters.

Shaheen’s digs off Watson Boulevard near South Davis Drive, rented to him by restaurant owner and supporter Ken McCall, don’t feature running water. That has meant stocking up on bottled water and hand sanitizer, and renting a portable bathroom until his effort to unseat Mayor Donald Walker is over.

McCall bought the building from the city and said the plumbing problem was something city workers were supposed to fix. City documents show there was a visit to the site to see what, if any, problems existed that the city would still be responsible for.

Problems were documented, but the paper trail ends there. McCall said city workers had been at the site to repair and install water pipes needed for the office space to have running water.

Then Shaheen and his camp began moving in. Before the “Shaheen for Mayor” paint could dry on the front window, the city workers had disappeared.

Walker supporters, perhaps?

ALL DONALD, ALL THE TIME

Speaking of “The Donald,” hizzoner was a no-show at Thursday’s Vision 2020 meeting at Houston Healthcare, where he was to hand leadership reins over to Houston County Board of Education chief executive Tom Walmer.

He also was slated to give the welcome to start the meeting and update members on G-RAMP and the North Houston County Animal facility.

He also was a no-show Sept. 18 for an Air Force birthday celebration at the base. He had given that event as the reason he might not make a candidate’s forum planned for the same day and sponsored by the Houston County Democratic Party.

He didn’t attend the candidate’s forum, either.

ISAKSON ON THE INTERNET

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson gave this week’s Republican address, which rotates among party members on Capitol Hill.

Isakson focused on health care, according to his office. If you’d like to catch his speech, look for it and past addresses at www.youtube.com/user/gop weeklyaddress.

Telegraph staff writers Travis Fain and Marlon Walker contributed to this report.

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