In Erick Erickson’s July 17 opinion column, published in The Telegraph, Erickson asserted that my administration was both insane and illegal. This coming from one who accused a sitting Supreme Court justice of having a sexual relations with a sheep. This assertion should not be given any credence at all. However, given the serious implications of his words about me and my administration, it deserves a serious response, based on facts, and not hearsay or innuendo.
I recall Erickson’s racist and unfounded comment after my campaign team and I prevailed, against great odds, to force a runoff in the 2013 mayoral election for the newly established Macon/Bibb County mayor, that all white people in Macon/Bibb County should be worried. Further perpetrating racial division in our community; something that he is very good at indeed. After all why should I, or others expect any thing more from the leader of a right-wing political organization that has been nothing short of being disrespectful and hostile toward the administration of President Barack Obama, our nation’s first African American president, although, in my opinion, by every measure, he is doing an outstanding job. But those of Erickson’s ilk could care less about facts, or positive accomplishments.
For the record, as to my position on race relations, my sanity and the legality of my administration, I offer the following facts. First, the question should be answered as to Erickson’s statement as to why white people should fear me. What have I ever done to any white person that would cause anyone to make such racist comment?
My record and history on matters pertaining to race and race relations is clear, and I would compare it with Erickson’s any day. I’m a trained race relations instructor by the U.S. Army, where I taught race relations to the Army’s Recruiting Force with stellar, documented results. One of my earliest action, upon taking office in late December 1999 was coming to the aid of Macon native and at the time Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker, much to the objection of the Atlanta civil rights community, including the dean of the civil rights community and a confidant of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Rev. Joseph Lowery.
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As to Erickson’s comments in the aforementioned column pertaining to my sanity, I accept that as purely his opinion, based on what I don’t know. To be best of my knowledge we have never as much said anything to each other than exchange greetings. However, I don’t believe the U.S. Department Of Defense Intelligence Agency, or the U.S. Army’s Intelligence Service is in the habit of handing out top secret clearances to insane people, which I have be cleared for on multiple occasions. Nor do I think the U.S. Census Bureau, where I was employed as a senior executive after retirement from the U.S. Army, clears insane people to have access to some of the most sensitive and confidential information of our citizens.
As to his assertion there was something illegal about me or my administration deserves the strongest rebuttal I can muster. First, I was elected, not once, but twice by the majority of those registered voters who bothered to vote in both of my elections. As a matter of fact I was re-elected with some 70 percent of the votes cast, something that jack-legged political pundits call a landslide.
The only illegal actions I can recall were the two recall efforts that were mounted by a few misguided and misinformed detractors, with political axes to grind, to no avail. Had I done anything illegal, perhaps they could have prevailed. Coming on the heels of those of illegal recall efforts was a full-fledged, politically motivated investigation by an overly zealous district attorney and now Superior Court Judge Howard Simms. He would eventually spend in excess of $1 million of taxpayers money in his witch hunt.
He then referred his politically motivated investigation to then U.S. Attorney to continue this frivolous and costly investigation. Again it was concluded that no laws had been broken. The only findings, after all of the valuable time and resources of the public was that perhaps some of the monies should not have been spent on some of the activities of some of the churches, such as carrying some of the students to an Atlanta outing to see an Atlanta Braves game and to visit some other historic sites in Atlanta. It’s my understanding the city reimbursed the federal government some of the grant money as unallowable expenses. However, this wasn’t the first time our city was required to reimburse the federal government for unallowable expenditures of grants. The city was required to reimburse the federal government some $400,000 from a grant awarded to the city in the aftermath of the great flood of 1994, during Tommy Olmstead’s administration and administered by the city/county emergency management agency and the Macon Water Authority.
In the future, before making such bold and unsubstantiated and accusatory comments, I advise Erickson, as a trained lawyer, to do what should be second nature. Do what Sgt. Joe Friday, one of my all-time favorite TV detectives, would say, “Just the facts, Eric. Just the facts.”
Let me state that I agree with the main point of Erickson’s column. It is a bad policy decision to give $1 million to each commission district to fight blight without a well-developed plan. Perhaps Erickson and I can meet over a Macon-brewed beer one of these days in order to get to know each other.
C. Jack Ellis is a former mayor of Macon.