A Letter to the Citizens of Roswell

Guest Blog: From Roswell City Council Candidate Lee Fleck (Post 2)

Please see the above photo of the Financial History of Roswell. This was provided to me by the Current City Budget Director, Keith Lee  during the FY2011 budget hearings.
  • There is absolutely no way to frame this in a positive light and for the incumbent to state  that the council has been “preserving a balanced budget” is the height of deception.
  • To further state in the Georgia Voters Guide on the AJC Website (http://www.thevoterguide.org/v/ajc11/race-detail.do?id=221392494)  that Roswell continues with “sound spending practices and maintenance of healthy reserves” is untruthful.
  • The truth of the matter is that by the end of next year all your savings will be gone (Red Arrow) .
To quote Mayor Jere Wood from a publicized interview in Late June 2010:
“We’re not covering our current costs with current revenues. We’re covering them with savings. That’s not sustainable.  I’m looking a few years down the road. I see a deficit coming. At the current rate, the Council will have spent all of our available reserves by 2012. After that they will either have to raise taxes or make drastic cuts in the City budget.”
  • And prior to using “Reserves by Policy” (purple bar graph) which BY CITY POLICY is only to be used in the event of a catastrophic natural event (i.e. tornado, flood, etc)  this current Council will be forced to rack up debt to the maximum of the carrying capacity of the current bond millage rate. 
  • The city’s AAA bond rating is dependent on these reserves by policy.   But once the city is leveraged to the hilt  this administration & council will be able to spend this safety net of money.  To facilitate this objective these funds have conveniently been renamed, just this year,  as “sustainability reserves” so that any reference to the fact these savings are specifically earmarked has been eliminated.
  • When the dust settles after the election the current council will call for a General Obligation Bond in the amount of $40,000,000.  The reason they will do this is because the current Council is morally incapable of reducing expenses.   So they will rack up debt for younger citizens of Roswell to pay.
Please vote Tuesday November 8th.
Lee Fleck
Candidate for Roswell City Council, Post 2

Why the Amana Academy Has the Right to Expand

**This blog is written a little different. Based on a memo written for a graduate school class, the memo is apolitical and analyzes the Amana Academy controversy from an administrative standpoint.

The Alpharetta City Council is currently faced with a decision on whether Amana Academy, a Fulton County Charter school in Alpharetta, should be granted a zoning permit to expand in the Windward Business Center.  The proposed building is not technically zoned for a school, but could easily accommodate the desired expansion.  A great deal of opposition exists with the expansion of the school, mainly by influential members of the community adjacent to the Windward Business Center. City officials, however, risk legal, political and managerial implications based on the way they vote.

Amana Academy is a Fulton County Charter School established in 2004 that operates in Alpharetta, Georgia. Founded by a group of parents wanting more out of public school for their children, Amana Academy uses Outward Bound learning programs and encourages stewardship. The Academy also requires every student learn Arabic in order to “enhance cognitive skills, broaden students’ perspectives and bridge cultural gaps” (Amana 1). Although Amana Academy is the only public school to teach Arabic in the state of Georgia, a similar program at Mimosa Elementary Charter in Roswell requires students to learn Japanese.  The program at Mimosa is also part of the Fulton County school system but has received no opposition.

Operating out of a building in downtown Alpharetta, the Amana Academy is restricted in the number of students that are allowed to enroll. In an effort to expand, the Academy scouted a larger property in the Windward Business Center Association (WBCA) on the corner of Windward Parkway and Edison Drive. Having been vacant for four years, the property would allow the Academy to accommodate 721 students, the maximum allowed by their charter contract.  In terms of property use, Amana would add green space by adding a playground, garden and recreational field (Pepalis 1).

The building that Amana Academy is requesting use of is zoned as “Office-Institution, research and development, office-professional, light industrial and hotel conference center zoning categories” (Windward Master Plan 1). In May 2011, the Windward Business Center Association Board of Directors approved a variance for use of the building and land.  The Board does not have authority to deny the variance per the Windward Master Plan. Upon receipt of approval by the WBCA Board, Amana Academy moved forward with its’ rezoning request to the City of Alpharetta Planning Commission so the property could be used for a school.  The Planning Commission deadlocked on a vote, 3-3, and passed the vote to the City Council without a recommendation.

Prior to the Planning Commission meeting, members of the Windward Homeowners Association (WHA), the residential community that is adjacent to the Business Center, were unaware of the proposed expansion. Many homeowners attended the Planning Commission meeting and were angry to learn that Amana Academy was requesting expansion where the roadways were already heavily congested.  Upon learning of the potential expansion of Amana, the WHA coordinated a meeting with Amana Academy to gather more information and possibly come to a consensus. The two parties did not come to an accord and Amana moved ahead with its agenda for the August 22, 2011 City Council meeting.

In the interim, publicity surrounding the issue continued to increase in both amount and intensity. Flyers were circulated throughout Windward by unknown sources. Some were informative, others were derogatory in nature calling those affiliated with Amana Academy “camel jockeys” and “ragheads” and insisted that Amana was a “terrorist training camp” (Shan 1).

On August 18th, Amana Academy requested and was granted a deferral from the City Council meeting claiming they needed additional time to review traffic studies, consider other potential locations, as requested by the Planning Commission and continue negotiations with the Windward homeowners (Pepalis 1).

The City of Alpharetta has three options in this dilemma The Alpharetta City Council has the option to deny the request for a rezoning permit.  Recall in the Windward Master Plan that the current zoning specifications of the property permitted office-institution and research and development. Both specifications could easily be argued by Amana Academy. Therefore, the Alpharetta City Council, per the Windward Master Plan, could allow the school to occupy the building. The City Council would reinforce the verbiage “office institution” or “research and development” and allow the expansion.  This option, however, would leave room for appeal by the constituents since the wording is not explicit.

The Council also has the option to grant the rezoning permit and allow the expansion of Amana Academy in the Windward Business Center.  This option would protect Amana Academy by making the decision final with the wording being precise.

Both cases of approval could lead to some managerial implications.

Finally, the Council has the choice to deny Amana Academy a rezoning permit based on the premise that it will create a transportation issue for the residents in the surrounding areas.  This option leaves opens the door for many legal and political implications.

Legal Implications: The Alpharetta City Council risks a plethora of legal implications should they deny Amana Academy the right to expand within the Windward Business Center Association. The fact that members of the Windward Homeowners Association have expressed concern over Amana Academy beyond traffic and tax base concerns, the supposed opposition to the teachings of Arabic and the possible Islamic foundations, leaves the City in a precarious situation. Despite the justification based on traffic and the possible tax base loss, Amana Academy could file a lawsuit on the basis of discrimination.  In turn, the City will not be able to offer proof that the decision was made solely on economic and transportation bases. Although the City of Alpharetta denied the expansion of a Mosque on legal grounds, it would certainly justify probing from higher institutions if the City denied the permit.

Political Implications:  There are strong political implications for city council members who vote to either allow the school expansion under the current zoning specifications or who grant a rezoning permit to Amana Academy.  With the high level of political activeness in the Windward Homeowners Association and Windward voters making up 1/3 of the voting bloc in Alpharetta, members of the city council risk being replaced come election time.

There also may be political implications should the city council members continue to push the rezoning hearing back until after the 2011 election. Amana Academy was the petitioner for a deferral, however, rescheduling of the issue is now the responsibility of the Council.  Those members of council who have opposition in the November election could scathe by without having to confront the issue, therefore buying themselves more time.  Constituents may not think this is the most ethical sequence of addressing the issue, and members of the council could again face scrutiny.

Managerial Implications: Members of the Windward Homeowners Association argue that if Amana Academy takes over this new building in WBCA, the taxes will go to Fulton County and not Alpharetta.  While this could be detrimental for members of the Council come election time, the amount of tax dollars lost is minimal, as it is only one parcel of land and a relatively small building. Should the city deny Amana Academy use of the property, Amana could leave Alpharetta and operate in Roswell, Mountain Park, Johns Creek, or anywhere else inside the limits of Fulton County.  The City has an obligation to promote business that will produce revenue.  A nonprofit school that sends taxes to the county could be seen as a betrayal by the City. Constituents want to see their city flourish. 

Recommendation: The Alpharetta City Council should grant Amana Academy the zoning permit
based on the compliance of Amana with all other restrictions. Bob Pepalis made an interesting point in his article for the Alpharetta Patch, “If the Fulton County School System was buying the property it wouldn’t even come before the city’s Planning Commission…And City Council wouldn’t get the chance to make a zoning decision” (Pepalis 2). School systems are generally immune to zoning laws, but because Amana Academy is a charter, some restrictions apply.

Some members of the community have expressed sympathy for members of the city council due to the intense emotion and publicity surrounding this issue.  Unfortunately, politicians are not entitled to sympathy.  Members of the Alpharetta City Council were elected to serve the people by upholding the values of government granted by the Constitution.  While it may seem that serving the people means “playing by their rules”, it more importantly requires that core freedoms are protected. Those freedoms include freedom of speech, which is why Amana Academy should legally be granted the zoning permit.

The Hot Mess of the I85 ‘HOT’ Lanes

I have the pleasure of traveling on 85-N twice a week during evening rush hour. My route consists of roughly 7 miles on 285 and 14 miles on 85N for a complete one-way trip mileage of 25 miles (that’s including surface streets). Before the implementation of the HOT lanes, my trip time was 25-30 minutes. Since implementation, my trip time has doubled, I spend 30 minutes on the bridge at Spaghetti Junction and tension among drivers is immense. [And by that, I mean my horn may need replacing by the end of the year]

The HOT lanes are one of Georgia’s biggest mistakes yet. Channel 2 Action News set up their camera at I-85 and Jimmy Carter Boulevard during rush hour Tuesday (10/4) and watched five lanes of brake lights. There was one empty lane, which was the HOT lane. They also interviewed drivers and heard several complaints over the highest toll posted ($5.55) from Old Peachtree Road to Chamblee Tucker Road Tuesday morning. That price is $.30 cents more than Georgia’s minimum wage of $5.25 an hour

Any way you cut it, this cake tastes like crap. For those who either 1) had a hybrid/energy-efficient car or 2) carpooled with one other person, you can no longer be ‘green’ without paying for it. For those who drive the old-fashioned, not-so-green cars, your commute time has increased because of the digest of people who are now traveling in the ‘regular’ lanes. To use the lanes during rush hour is more expensive than using the lanes in the middle of the day or late at night.

Ms. Wilkins from the State Road and Tollway Authority said, “What the data said in the traffic and revenue study from about three years ago is that it would be no discernible impact to the general purpose lanes”. Well Ms. Wilkins, your study is outdated and wrong.

The system isn’t even effective. Users have to register online, (and currently, the processing time is SIX WEEKS to receive your ‘transponder’ for your dash). Then you must set up a prepaid account and “manage” that account monthly. Violations for driving in the lanes inappropriately (without a pass or without a valid account) are $75 + court fees.

You can visit the PeachPass website yourself and poke around. My favorite part is in the FAQ section. “Will the HOT lanes make my commute better or worse?” Answer: The I-85 Express Lanes will give you more choices for planning your commute. What? Ms. Wilkins also recommends contacting the Clean Air Campaign to be matched with carpool buddies, if you would like to be exempt from the toll.

So what are we going to do about it?

On Thursday, WSB-tv reported that Gov. Nathan Deal announced there will be a reduction in the toll rate along the Interstate 85 HOT lanes, starting with the Thursday rush hour night-time commute. Instead of $5.50, the cost would be $3.05 for the next two weeks. This is supposed to work as some sort of incentive to get drivers in the Express Lanes. Not sure how this will work, though. If the ‘sale’ is only for 2 weeks, and transponder receipt time is 6 weeks, newly registered users will not reap the benefits.

And, there has been speculation that the same system will be further imposed on 85, and spread to I-75 and I-575.

My suggestion? Boycott the HOT lanes! It has an effect. After one week, the prices were reduced. Besides, why should we support ANOTHER tax? We are taxed enough to travel as it is. Car sales tax, gas tax and now there is federal legislation to tax by mile driven. No thank you.

Georgia has attempted to implement traffic systems from other states many times before, but they JUST CAN’T GET IT RIGHT.

Goin’ Through It Like It’s Water…

A lot of things in Roswell are swept under the rug and citizens know nothing about it–until their taxes go up. In the blog “Roswell Isn’t “Wynning”, Vote for Lee Fleck!” I mentioned the Revenue bond the city would be proposing after the election in 2011 and without the vote of constituents. The bond would go towards a new water plant in the city.

Some have argued that the plant will bring jobs and industrialize Roswell, but there are some much bigger costs:

  • Last fiscal year (2011) the city bought over $1.0 million in water from Fulton County
  • In essence, every glass of water you, and everyone who gets their water from the City, drink contains 50% Fulton County water. There are two major valves on the city’s water grid located on Holcomb Bridge that are directly tied to Fulton County.
  • Currently, the city has a water plant on Dobbs street that is capable of producing 1.2 million gallons per day (MGD). It was built in 1937 and has been refurbished to 1960 standards.—-The engineers analysis indicated that this plant will be obsolete in 10 years.
  • On average the City’s demand is well over 2 MGD and Fulton County supplies the rest of the demanded water for the very limited number of homes and businesses (approx 5000) that get their water from the City of Roswell.
  • The current cost to produce 1000 gallons of water is slightly over $2.00, however what customers are actually charged is a higher rate which includes distribution costs, and administrative overhead.
  • Contained within the Master Plan (pg 18) is the long-term sustainability costs which project this $ 2 cost accelerating to as much as $15 per 1000 gallons by 2060.
  • The proposed revenue bond will be funded with an annual utility increase of between 2-3 % through 2060.
  • Fulton County water costs in 2060 are projected to be $8.04 / 1000 gallons, suggesting that the City should rely on Fulton County for 100% of its’ water.
  • The above information is from the “Master Water Plan, July 2010” submitted by an engineering firm that the City of Roswell hired.

What’s the disconnect, people?

As mentioned before, Becky Wynn needs to go. To insure that the limited number of citizens who receive their water from the City of Roswell (and not Fulton
County) will actually have the final say on the $17 million “revenue” bond that will be presented by Wynn to build a new water plant. Again, Lee Fleck would like government to become more transparent and would call for a referendum for the people affected.


Below is page 19 of the 2010 Master Water plan and it gives a projection of the future costs of 1000 gallons of water from a new Water Plant the will be the subject of the forthcoming “Revenue” bond.

The entire plan is listed below.

Roswell Water System Master Plan text 7-2010

For more information on Lee Fleck, to request a Yard Sign, make a donation or volunteer, visit http://fleckforroswellga.com/Home.html

Why can’t we call Troy Davis supporters racists or anti-theists?

The recent blog about Troy Davis has taken quite a bit of heat–mostly from those in favor of abolishing the death penalty all together and mostly in regards to my comment that they can move elsewhere in the country. (Let’s remember the 10th amendment of state’s rights. No matter what, there should be NO FEDERAL LAW regarding the death penalty). I called those who ‘sometimes support the death penalty’ fair-weather fans and a few readers were outraged by this comment stating that they could like and not like whatever they wanted about America.

So let’s get to the point and pose a few questions to my opposition. Three more executions and near-executions have arisen since that of Troy Davis, including a white man who had his death sentence commuted to life without parole hours before his execution. The issue of race sparked again and those who were mad before Troy Davis’ execution were mad yet again, claiming that the State of Georgia was racist and should be ashamed.  Many supporters also stated that they were NOT supporting Troy Davis because he was black, but because this was a human rights issue-evident with the support of organizations like Amnesty International and the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, among others.

Now, I’m guessing you haven’t heard about Youcef Nadarkhani, the pastor in Iran who may be executed any day now for being Christian and ‘abandoning Islam’. He could potentially die because he is practicing a religion that isn’t supported by Iran. If these Troy Davis supporters are for universal human rights, then this would fall into that category, no?

So I ask…Where are the human rights groups? Where are the anti-death penalty groups with their picket signs? Where are the t-shirts saying “I am Youcef Nadarkhani”? Where are these people who so vehemently opposed the death penalty “not because of race, but because of human rights issues”? Why are you fighters only fighting the race fight and not the religious fight?

Troy Davis & The Death Penalty: Race, Cost & Repercussions

The execution of Troy Davis on September 21st has fueled a lot of discussion on the death penalty in recent days. Of course there are the extremists who call for the abolition of the death penalty all together.  There are the moderates who believe that the death penalty needs some tweaking, like more appeal opportunities, longer death row time, etc.  And then there are the hooligans who think Troy Davis was only convicted because he was a black man who killed a white man.

In evaluating the death penalty, there are several aspects that one must take into consideration.  First and foremost, the death penalty is NOT a deterrent for crime.  It is a punishment for committing a crime.  The death penalty, like many other foundations of America, is based on Biblical values.  And in actuality, the death penalty has become so humane, that it is no longer feared.  Criminals are lucky that they aren’t executed in the same fashion by which they took a life.

Death row is often times considered to be a “second punishment” in addition to the actual execution.  But how is this any different from a life sentence? And isn’t it a bit hypocritical to say that jail time is punishment, when the same groups are extending the length of time in jail by appeals and stays and retrials?  Craig Haney, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz said, “People on death row live under the threat of death, which is of course an extraordinary psychological trauma, and they are denied most of the ways that people make life in prison more tolerable: meaningful social activity,
programming of any kind, activities,” but again, prison is a punishment so why must it be tolerable, or comfortable, or enjoyable? The conditions are pretty nice. All states offer television and a limited number of states offer educational training and group recreation time.

Some interesting facts about the death penalty, for those who are so against it:

  • On average, 13 years elapses between the time a death sentence is handed down
    and carried out. (1)
  • In Kentucky, more people on death row have died of natural causes than have been executed in the last 30 years. (1)
  • Almost all people facing the death penalty cannot afford their own attorney. The state must assign them two public defenders, and pay for the costs of the prosecution as well. (2)
  • The rate at which death penalties are handed down at sentencing has gone down dramatically over the last twelve years, with slow-downs occurring in almost every state that still allows the death penalty, including the southern region (4)

Dragging on the process of appeals is costly.  It costs $90,000 more annually to house a death row inmate than it does someone sentenced to life imprisonment.

Another misconception? African Americans make up the majority of death row. Wrong. According to the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC), 43.68% of inmates on death row are white, 41.77% are African American, 12.12% are Latino and the remaining 2.43% are categorized “other”.  Further, many believe that the South is more likely to sentence a black man to death row than a white man, but Alabama has equal numbers of both, and Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee have more white men on death row (3).

You don’t have to support the death penalty. You can certainly move to one of the 16 states that has banned it: Alaska, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia or Wisconsin. Or better yet, another country.

1. http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hOcn1bXU7W_NbP0JN80LCNIVFa7A
2. http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/costs-death-penalty#financialfacts
3. http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/race-death-row-inmates-executed-1976
4. http://deathpenaltyfacts.org/facts-about-the-death-penalty/

Roswell isn’t “Wynn-ing”, Vote for Lee Fleck!

I have long opposed the Roswell City Council. Their mismanagement of the budget, disconcert for what constituents want and disgraceful vendetta against the Roswell Chicken Man have left a bitter taste in the mouths of citizens. Thankfully, two of the problems are up for re-election this November, Rich Dippolito -Post 1 and Becky Wynn – Post 2. Both have opposition and both opponents have the right idea.

I am supporting Lee Fleck who is running against Becky Wynn. Fleck, a self-proclaimed ‘City Council watch dog’ has lived in Roswell for over 25 years. He has raised his family here and wants to keep Roswell a desirable place to live, work and raise a family.

Fleck has a long list of accomplishments including, but not limited to:

  • Commissioning the first water bottling plant in a war zone for the U.S. Army during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
  • Being licensed by the Department of Homeland Security as a customs broker. He has helped the city implement the Systematic Alien Verification of Entitlements (SAVE) Program, which requires foreign nationals receiving public benefits to verify their legal residency in the United States.
  • Introducing the Roswell Police Department to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Secured Communities Program, a program that integrates all of the federal crime data bases to include the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Homeland Security, ICE and Interpol with the state Georgia Bureau of Investigation criminal data bases at the point of arrest and detention

Mr. Fleck believes he is a better fit for the job than Councilwoman Wynn who has voted each year for a budget in which expenditures exceed revenues on average by $8,000,000 annually.

Fleck is also against Councilwoman Wynn, and others, who by the end of 2012 will have use up the City’s savings and have planned two bonds totalling $57 million containing some gratuitous expenditures. According to public record, besides a $40 million bond referendum, an additional $17 million “revenue” bond to build a new water plant will be implemented AFTER the November election, the latter without say by the taxpayers. The burden to repay the bond will be placed solely on the taxpayers.

When elected, Fleck plans to:

  • implement a Zero-based balanced budget and establishing a citizens financial review board will result in lower taxes
    (and fees), greater efficiencies, and more value for tax dollars spent.
  • insure that the limited number of citizens who receive their water from the City of Roswell (and not Fulton County) will actually have the final say on the $17 million “revenue” bond that will be presented by the Council to build a new water plant;
  • call for a referendum of those 7,500 residents who will be saddled with a $30,000,000 long-term liability to sustain such a facility that will be financed with a 2 to 3% annual increase in water rates for the next 50 years;
  • propose publishing the City’s check registry on the city website to promote transparency so citizens can oversee expenditures and even make cost saving suggestions.
  • provide the infrastructure and incentives to attract high tech business in conjunction with the Comprehensive 2030 Plan

This election, we have an opportunity to make a difference. Because of the Sunday Sales referendum on the ballot this November, a higher turnout is expected. It’s time to take Becky Wynn off the social committee and elect someone who can help Roswell function at its’ highest potential TODAY.

Lee Fleck is running for Post 2 of the Roswell City Council. Election day is Tuesday, November 8th. For more information, visit http://www.fleckforroswellga.com/ or e-mail Lee at leefleck@fleckforroswell.com . He is also on Facebook.

Who the *bleep* should I vote for?

It seems as if every time there is an election, they say “This is the most important election of our time!”.  This time…it really is.  Unfortunately for Republicans, the picking pool isn’t looking so hot.  Each candidate carries their suitcase of baggage.

I’m not going to tell you who to vote for. Below are the reasons NOT to vote for each candidate.  It may seem negative and it may seem as if I’m suggesting you go against the entire party.  But that’s not the case.  I simply think you should be aware of what you’re giving up when you vote for a specific candidate.

*Some candidates may have more ‘negatives’ than others but the ones with fewer may be more severe.

Michele Bachmann, Minnesota Congresswoman

  • Supports Creationism WITH evolution in schools
  • Her husband’s alleged anti-homosexual therapy practices don’t appeal to independents and moderate
  • Has a record of flip-flopping in the House (Ex: She publicly opposed a cigarette tax increased proposed by Gov. Pawlenty-sticking to her promise of ‘no new taxes’.  She then voted in favor of it.)
  • Has vowed to single-handedly bring the price of gas down to $2/gallon
  • Claims to hate the EPA but has solicited them in 2007 & 2010 for funds on “behalf of her constituents”.
  • Used the word “retarded” while explaining an unverifiable story about the HPV vaccine.

Herman Cain, CEO Godfather Pizza

  • Supported TARP, claiming it was an investment for the American taxpayers.
  • Opposes a timetable withdrawal from Iraq
  • Believes illegal immigrants should be allowed to go through the citizenship process (But does oppose entitlements for them.)

Newt Gingrich, Former Speaker of the House 

  • Resigned after Republican losses in midterm election
  • Had 84 ethics violations charged against him during his time as Speaker (83 were eventually dropped, but he is the only Speaker to ever have this happen)
  • Affairs with employees during the Lewinsky scandal (Normally, personal life should be left out, however, Gingrich was very instrumental in the impeachment process, so this makes him look like a hypocrite.)
  • Introduced HR 4170, a bill that would sentence drug traffickers to life imprisonment for the first offense and give the death penalty for multiple offenses. (Supporter of the death penalty or not- this would discredit the death penalty system because the punishment would not fit the crime.)
  • Self-proclaimed “Teddy Roosevelt Republican”– JOY!
  • Dedicated to conservation, although he does favor incentives over regulations and laws
  • Believes we should not continue to increase the rates of incarceration
  • Opposed to mass deportation of illegal immigrants and supports ‘open-ended’ visas for ‘high-value workers’.
  • Supports ideals of the UN, but admits it is corrupt.

John Huntsman, Former Governor of Utah, Former Ambassador to China

  • Supports civil unions but not same-sex marriage.
  • Supports reduction in greenhouse gases based on a belief of global warming
  • Supported a “driving privilege” card for illegal immigrants in Utah
  • Threatened to veto a measure repealing in-state college tuition for illegal immigrants (Numbers USA- a group which advocates less immigration gives Huntsman a D-)
  • Partial to China after serving as an ambassador to them, frequently suggests working more closely with them
  • McCain suggested he run.  More of the same?

Ron Paul, Texas Congressman 

  • Denounced the raid that killed Osama bin Laden claiming that we should have worked with Pakistani officials instead.
  • Claims he wants a defederalization of any market that the federal government currently interferes with, though he has earmarked funds to subsidize industries like Wild Shrimp and to aid in movie theater renovations in his district
  • Has voted against child predator laws claiming he has a “personal belief that the responsibility of raising kids, educating kids and training kids is up to the parents and not the state”.
  • Implicitly supports prostitution saying it doesn’t harm others
  • Opposes any definition of marriage by the government
  • Supports stem cell research
  • Does not believe in death penalty on the federal level
  • Some tag him as too extreme and therefore won’t listen to him (He warned of the current financial crisis in 05 & 06 but was ignored).  He is a strong proponent of small government and less agency intervention which terrifies a lot of people- especially those with their hands out.

Rick Perry, Governor of Texas

  • Favors in-state tuition for undocumented Texans
  • Mandated the HPV vaccine for young girls
  • Former democrat
  • Same-sex marriage stance is unclear.  When New York recently passed same-sex marriage laws, Perry stated they had the right to do it because of the 10th amendment.  He later clarified that he supports a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage
  • Originally endorsed by Giuliani in 2008 election.

Mitt Romney, Former Governor of Massachusetts 

  • Romney Care
  • Abortion stance has been inconsistent.  His wife used to donate to Planned Parenthood and in 1994, he stated “regardless of one’s beliefs about choice, you would hope it would be safe and legal”. In 2002, he vowed to up-hold pro-choice laws in Massachusetts but in 2007 said he was pro-choice because he was Governor of a liberal state but personally is pro-life.
  • Proposed a bill to reinstate the death penalty but only in cases with DNA evidence upholding the sentence.  He also wanted to change the verbiage “beyond a reasonable doubt” to “no doubt”.
  • Opposes teaching creationism in schools.
  • Supports No Child Left Behind
  • Supports a ban on assault weapons
  • Against same-sex marriage and civil unions but believes in domestic partnership benefits
  • Supported stem cell research (vowed to help President Bush ’embrace it’, but now denounces it)
  • Supported the auto industry bailout
  • Supports restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions–but only voluntary regulations
  • Favors increased immigration but opposes illegal immigrant rights
  • Would expand the role of federal government by creating organizations like the “Special Partnership Force” to battle terrorism
  • Endorsed by Pawlenty.

You MUST choose someone because ANY of the above are better than the default: O-blah-blah.

9/11 Disappointment

No matter what your beliefs about 9/11, you can’t deny the emotions that 9/11 evokes–thinking about those that died that day, how you felt, where you were, how our lives have changed since, the list could go on and on. We don’t think about these things on a daily basis, so on the 10th anniversary I was really hoping that people would reflect on everything we’ve lost-from people to freedoms.

But, things don’t always go how they should. To me the day felt like an endless campaign event. I attended the Alpharetta-Milton 9/11 Memorial and was completely disappointed to learn that the agenda for the memorial included a long list of speeches from politicians. Alpharetta Mayor Arthur Letchas and Milton Mayor Joe Lockwood spoke first. This was appropriate. As hosts of the events, they welcomed us and encouraged us to really reflect. But they were followed by a total of SIX political speeches!!

We opened with a heart wrenching recording from the 911 dispatch in New York, the color guard, Star-Spangled Banner, and a prayer. So far, so good. After a long line of speeches from Representatives, Commissioners, and the like, we were graced with Senator Albers dressed up like a firefighter. (Don’t worry, you would still be able to identify him. He had on his Alpharetta Volunteer Firefighter name tag, as well as a Senator name tag–a uniform code violation, mind you. Diplomatic immunity? I suppose.) His speech was solemn, followed by a radio call into the local dispatch and some sirens. Quite a show. I was wondering if he was going to shoot someone out of a cannon.

But the whole thing was entirely set up. It lacked genuineness. Each politician got up there, said what THEY were doing on 9/11, how things have changed for THEM since 9/11, what great Americans they are and then they thanked our public servicemen and women. Some of them read directly from press releases they had sent out earlier in the morning. It was a sham. A complete disappointment.

I thought on 9/11 we would be honoring the firefighters, the police officers, the Port Authority, the victims and the men and women in Afghanistan and Iraq–those we’ve lost and those who continue to serve. Thank those who protect us unconditionally every day.

I thought on 9/11 we would pray for our country and take pride in the foundations: liberty, freedom and vigilance.

I was wrong. All we got was a slew of politicians and a headache—At least it was free.

Cops taking a Scroll…

The Alpharetta-Milton Patch reported the crime blogger on August 30, 2011.  In it was your usual identity theft, car break-in’s and drug busts.  But I found one particular case that disturbed me.

Earlier in the week, two teens were pulled over in Milton on Cogburn Road because of broken tail light.  The officer smelled alcohol and marijuana coming from the car and subsequently charged the driver with DUI, possession of marijuana less than one ounce and brake light citations.  Clearly, these kids were up to no good, and clearly, they were headed to jail.  No one would argue that.  But then I read this: “Police read text messages on the driver’s phone that sound as if a drug deal was being made.”

Excuse me, but what gave the officer the right to scroll through this young man’s text messages?  How was the cell phone suddenly evidence in a DUI, possession and brake light case?

The text messages prompted the officer to do a SECOND search of both of the teens and found a scale, more marijuana and $655 in cash.  The officer then charged both teens with ‘Intent to distribute’.  I have a major problem with how all of this went down.  Sure, these teens were going to jail and all of the above mentioned items would have been confiscated when they were booked.  The fact that they were discovered by a search of the cell phone is absolutely incensing to me.  There is this thing given to us by the Constitution called ‘rights’ (they often pertain to privacy) and it’s absurd that a police officer can violate that, especially when it is irrelevant to the case.

My disbelief lead me to do some research.  Apparently not too long ago, a Georgia appellate court decision upheld a warrantless search of a cell phone found in an arrestees’ car (not on her person).  Various websites also stated that officers must have reasonable suspicion that a crime is occuring…was there more reasonable suspicion to lead to a cell phone search? I don’t think so.  And wouldn’t most agree that this law was instated (and upheld) on the premise of texting and driving? I also learned that many states are classifying cell phones as ‘containers’- how they think that adds up, I’m not sure.  Is my brain a ‘container’ as well? It holds information.

**Note: Had the phone needed a password for it to be unlocked, the teens could have invoked their 5th amendment right to silence and the officers would not have been able to search the phone without a warrant.

Alpharetta-Milton Patch Article http://alpharetta.patch.com/articles/milton-teens-face-drug-charges-parents-wrath