Political Vine: The Insider's Source on Georgia Politics

Political Vine: The Insider's Source on Georgia Politics

The Political Vine is the home of political news, satire, rants, and rumors.

Dark Secrets in the Halls of the City of Brookhaven

PV, May 27th, 2015

City of Brookhaven’s Secret Motto: “We treat our employees just like they are our indentured servants.”

Rumors have it that tomorrow night’s Brookhaven City Council Townhall meeting is going to be akin to being a political campaign love fest for current Mayor Jerry Max (“J Max”) Davis’s launch for his campaign for State House District 80, a Special Election to be held on July 14th.  Two other announced candidates for this Special Election are Republican Attorney Catherine Bernard and Democrat Attorney Taylor Bennett.

From an email from the City of Brookhaven promoting this all-important event:

“The details of the Townhall are this: Thursday, May 28, at 6:30 p.m. at the Marist School Woodruff Auditorium, 3790 Ashford Dunwoody Road…Mayor Davis and the Council encourage and invite community members to participate in the discussion and question-and-answer session. [emphasis added]

PV Muses:  Golly, what kind of interesting questions will be asked?  Here are just a few ideas:

1) “For what legitimate purpose did Mayor Davis obtain an aerosol can of Lysol and proceed to deliberately spray it on no less than two female City employees in his presence within the property of the City of Brookhaven on or about February 23, 2015?”

2) “Is this type of abusive behavior of females in the employ of Mayor J Max Davis typical of him and his dealings with subordinate females?”

JMaxDavis.jpg

Mayor J. Max Davis

3) “Do other members of the City Council feel this is appropriate behavior to engage in and cover-up?”

4) “Have any other members of the City Council engaged in the similar behavior of engaging in an unwelcome act that humiliated any employee, male or female?”

PV Explains the relevance of these questions:  A couple of Open Records Requests were filed to obtain some information regarding an “incident” in which Mayor Davis, for some as yet unknown and bizarre reason, took a can of Lysol and sprayed it on the backsides of two clothed female employees of the City while in City Hall.

One document that was obtained had specific names redacted from it by the Brookhaven City Counsel, Tom Kurrie (more on him shortly): Memo from City Manager Marie Garrett to Human Resources Director Rick Stone.

However, our sources beyond the City told us that one of the employees whose dress was sprayed with the Lysol was former deputy city manager Susan Canon. “Former” because she resigned on March 16, 2015.

For those of you thinking “Big deal.  Lysol.  Who cares?” or similar, you should be made aware, perhaps (before you spray a can on your kid or dog), that Lysol is not a trivial thing to spray on any living entity.  Here is a copy of a warning label on the back of a can of Lysol: Lysol Directions for Use

Note a few of the listed items:

“DIRECTIONS FOR USE: It is a violation of Federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling.  Read the entire label before using the product.”  Etc.

“PRECAUTIONARY STATEMENTS: Hazards to Humans and Domestic Animals.”

“Do not use on polished wood, painted surfaces, leather, rayon fabrics, or acrylic plastics. Do not use on silk, rayon acetate or satin fabrics.”

Note that nowhere does it say “Use for fun on female employees while in your city government office.”  Therefore, Mayor J Max Davis used the product in a manner “inconsistent” with what the label states.  Therefore, Mayor J Max Davis appears to have violated whatever Federal law governs the use of aerosol cans of Lysol.

Back on May 13th of 2015, The Neighbor Newspapers had an online story relating to this incident, and revealed the fact that a complaint had been filed with the Federal EEOC, alleging some kind of “harassment” by one of the employees in this incident involving Mayor Davis and a can of Lysol.

In the story, it describes the acts of the city attorney, Tom Kurrie, and his statement that he has “investigated” the complaints of sexual harassment of city employees and he determined that no such harassment had occurred.  So, end of story?  Not quite, and not even close.

You see, City Attorney Tim Kurrie is employed by the City, and was hired at the behest of Mayor J Max Davis…who got approval of the City Council for the hire.  But, if anyone has ever observed a city council meeting (e.g., the meeting held on May 26th), the majority of city council members are political suck-ups to Mayor Davis. Essentially, it’s a Mutual Admiration Society and very little “independent thinking” is practiced in that city council.

In the meeting held on May 26th, Councilman Bates Mattison actually gushes his support of Mayor Davis’s announced candidacy for State House 80, and tells the gathered throng from the dais that he will be voting for Davis.  (Note to Bates: Stock-up on some Lysol!)

Here’s an interesting fact about the EEOC: The federal laws governing workplace harassment are not merely relating to “sexual” advances.  In City Attorney Tom Kurrie’s mind, he may be of the mistaken belief that “Sexual harassment” only involves sexual advances or comments relating to the act of having sex.  That is patently incorrect.

From the EEOC Website, here’s the snippet that is relevant and revealing: “Harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. Harassment becomes unlawful where 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.”

“Sex” in this law in the context of the City of Brookhaven incident is in reference to the gender of someone, not the act of sex.

Going back to the ORR letter written by Marie Garrett to Rick Stone, on the 4th line, mid-page, Garrett writes “As I understand it, it was unsolicited behavior. It left ____ very uncomfortable.”

Something that is “unsolicited behavior” would be interpreted in federal law to be “unwelcome conduct.”

Is Garrett lying in the letter about what the employee(s) told her? Not likely.

Are Tom Kurrie and Mayor J Max Davis lying about what happened? Very likely, and Davis’s act of spraying the Lysol on the employees has now caused an EEOC complaint to be filed (which will cost all of the Brookhaven taxpayers to defend or settle).

BUT…this isn’t the first time of documented acts by J Max Davis resulting in harm against someone else.  Back in 1989, Jerry Max Davis, II (i.e., J Max Davis) was arrested and charged with a DUI.  He pleaded nolo contendre on the case.

In this particular 1989 case, his acts caused harm to another individual as the result of a traffic mishap. Our sources say the victim was very badly hurt, and possibly left paralyzed.  There was a settlement agreement back then, however, that sealed the victim’s lips as to the extent of his injuries suffered in the accident.

One would think that after ruining someone else’s life in your earlier days that one might learn how to act right in the time-span of 26 years, right?  Wouldn’t normal people think that they should ‘straighten-up and fly right’ to live a life where you don’t deliberately cause other people harm?  Especially people in your employ who have no political power over you, while you have all the power over their lives?

One would also wonder how many other “incidents” there have been with Mayor Davis that have been covered-up or where people have looked the other way for his behalf?  Back in December 2013, a special “coin” (similar to a challenge coin) was minted and handed-out to key Brookhaven residents and Friends of Mayor Davis in celebration of the city’s founding.

However, rumor has it that the City Council and Mayor Davis worked-out some sort of secret deal with the Brookhaven police whereby any holder of this special coin, while in the city limits of Brookhaven, would be given, essentially, “diplomatic immunity” whenever they violated the law (speeding or otherwise), and all they had to do was show the Brookhaven LEO the special coin, and they would be told by LEO “Yes, Sir/Ma’m. You are free to be on your way.”

Soooo…anyone with the special coin, while being in the city limits of Brookhaven, could continue to beat their dog, their wife, their mistress, or whatever, and merely flash the secret coin sign, and ta-da!  No Brookhaven police report is taken, no arrests are made?  Brilliant, Mayor Davis.  Truly, brilliant.  No wonder there are certain people who will support you regardless of how badly you govern or mistreat others.  That kind of loyalty has been clearly bought.

In Conclusion

In this race for HD 80, look for all the old-timey male (and, likely, some idiotic females) Republican city council members, state senators, state reps (and former ones as well), and other political “dignitaries” (e.g., Phil Kent, Dick Williams, former DeKalb GOP Chair Bob Dallas, et al.) to use their names, or their political information broadcasting assets, to throw behind J Max Davis to support him…and know this: Whoever comes out in support of a total imbecile like J Max Davis (yeah, you have to BE an imbecile to spray a can of Lysol on someone else) must also either treat employees or females the way Davis did/does, or they think it’s hilarious and think nothing is wrong whatsoever about it.

Those kinds of dinosaurs will be obviously begging for attention…and PV promises that they will get far more than they ever bargained for.

Coca Cola, Inc. Disagrees With Your God-Granted Right of Free Will

Bill Simon, April 12th, 2015

Prelude

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary  provides three meanings for the word(s) “discriminate” and/or “discrimination.”  They are:

1) the practice of unfairly treating a person or group of people differently from other people or groups of people.

2) the ability to recognize the difference between things that are of good quality and those that are not.

3) the ability to understand that one thing is different from another thing.

For the dictionary meaning(s) of “free will,” Merriam-Webster provides these definitions:

1) the ability to choose how to act.

2) the ability to make choices that are not controlled by fate or God.

For the dictionary meaning(s) of “associate” Merriam-Webster provides these definitions:

1) to think of one person or thing when you think of another person or thing.

2) to be together with another person or group as friends, partners, etc.

If you believe you have the inherent rights of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, then, as a human, you have to also believe you have a right to recognize that one thing/person is different from another, and that you have an inherent right of free will to choose to associate or not associate with anyone, whether it be of a personal nature, a business nature, or a religious nature that affects how you run a business.

If you merely believe that your existence as a human being was a random event (or, the “magical mutation” of two or more earlier species…something akin to a cocoa bean and a peanut deciding to get together and produce a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup) and humans are just an evolved species from mutations of earlier species, then you likely believe that your rights are anything you decide they should be, and you spend your time petitioning your government to grant you those rights.

I would propose that those of you in the latter group are out to violate your own belief system by “demanding” that no one be allowed to discriminate against you for whatever reason they so choose. Because that belief system is likely related to Darwinism, which also has a concept known as “survival of the fittest” inherent within it.  No animal has the means to cheat in the natural animal kingdom, so why do those folks seek to cheat the natural order of life that they believe exists?

If you are a person who cannot survive in your life unless you demand that someone else violates their religious beliefs to associate with you (whether business-related or not), then that Utopia you’re trying to build will collapse upon itself, and sooner rather than later.  Try as you might to change, people are born with the right of free will, and, with that free will, the right to discriminate for or against anyone they so choose.

Many governments in the past have tried to restrict and control people’s free will like this before…and millions of people perished at the hands of those governments that, at the demand of people just like all the people who oppose RFRA now, enacted laws prohibiting and restricting people from exercising their right to free will. It’s utter nonsense to attempt it again because it will not turnout well for anyone, whether you are a religious follower or an atheist.

So, for the Coca Cola Company, Inc., et al. to choose to publicly step-into the fray to prohibit people’s inherent right of free will, that is a line-crossing that should be met with the only weapon people still have in their possession: The right to exercise free will to discriminate against buying ANY Coca Cola products. Which will be explained below.

Introduction

Normally, the corporate entity “Hobby Lobby” and the corporate entity known as “The Coca Cola Company” (“Coke”) would not likely appear in the same story unless they are reporting earnings.

But, in the waning days of the 2015 Georgia General Assembly, the proxies for these two corporate entities were butting heads via Senate Bill 129, a/k/a “The Georgia Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” (Georgia “RFRA”)

SB-129 passed the Senate on March 5 by a vote of 37 (Y) to 15 (N), before Crossover Day….and then didn’t just “die in a House Committee”…it got pummeled into meaninglessness by House members like Rep. Beth Baskin and Rep. Mike Jacobs.

On April 2, the Atlanta Journal & Constitution (“AJC”) published this story and mentioned SB-129, quoting both the prime sponsor of the bill, Senator Josh McKoon, as well as a link to a statement by Coke on their website in opposition of Georgia’s RFRA. Coke’s statement was as follows:

“Coca-Cola does not support any legislation that discriminates, in our home state of Georgia or anywhere else. Coca-Cola values and celebrates diversity. We believe policies that would allow a business to refuse service to an individual based upon discrimination of any kind, does not only violate our Company’s core values, but would also negatively affect our consumers, customers, suppliers, bottling partners and associates. As a business, it is appropriate for us to help foster diversity, unity and respect among all people.

We advocate for inclusion, equality and diversity through both our policies and practices. Coca-Cola does not condone intolerance or discrimination of any kind anywhere in the world.” 

McKoon’s statement was a counter to that:

“When those corporations stop doing business with the ayatollahs and when they stop doing business with countries where homosexuality is a capital crime, then I will be interested in their opinion at that point,” McKoon said. “But unless and until that happens, I don’t really think what they have to say matters a whole heck of a lot.” 

You know what?  In the broad sense of what McKoon was referring to, he is right.  Because Coca Cola happily does business in countries where people are regularly discriminated against for being a woman, or being a homosexual, or being of a different religion…BY THE GOVERNMENT(S) of those countries.

This Georgia RFRA is designed to protect people’s religious beliefs from being punished by the State of Georgia and local governments.  That is what RFRA is all about.

You should note that Coke’s statement was not about “teaching the world to sing in perfect harmony”…this statement by Coke was primarily about its wishes upon the world as anything that would affect its operations

So, I think it is a safe bet that Coke actually abhors, not only the Georgia RFRA, but also the Federal RFRA….along with the actual Supreme Court decision that Hobby Lobby (“HL”) won to protect the rights of HL’s private owners to NOT pay for contraception pills for its workers because doing so would be a violation of their religious belief.

And, in Coke’s abhorrence of RFRA, what Coke is saying is that Coke does not believe that people (that is, you and I) should be allowed to a) have free will and b) exercise that free will to “discriminate” in any way, shape, or form.  Meaning, if your religious practice says “X” is a sin and you don’t want to participate in “X” or supporting anyone else’s practice of “X”, Coke’s answer to that is “No, you cannot take into account your personal or religious beliefs when engaging in business. We hereby command you to stop exercising your free will.”

I have to wonder if Coke prohibits anyone from carrying a Bible into the Coke workplace.  Because, after all, the Bible contains some of those “admonitions” about associating with liars, crooks, and thieves (especially in my favorite chapter of Proverbs), and the like, along with admonitions against people having sex with animals, having sex with their sons & daughters, and, yes, having sex with someone of the same gender, etc.

Big point here is that the United States of America was founded on a combination of religious freedom and economic freedoms.  It was not founded so that the one right that was enshrined in the First Amendment could be trampled by the very entity for which the First Amendment was written to prohibit taking harmful actions against.

Unfortunately, with the advent of the concept of “economic development”, governments (state and local) all across the U.S. are demonstrating that THEIR brand of “economic discrimination” (e.g., sweetheart tax abatements, sweetheart tax exemptions, bribes of all kinds and forms, etc.) is not only perfectly legal, but is an actual, natural right for the government to use to trample on the rights of existing businesses and people who don’t get tax breaks…and the ones who actually end-up paying more in taxes to make-up for the shortfalls that happen before 3, 5, 10, or 20 years goes by, and there is some trickle-back in taxes to (ha-ha! Not ever) pay for the acts of economic discrimination to “lure” some poor leech of a company to move.

Speaking of economics, politics and Coke

So, if you’re on the side of Coke in this RFRA battle, by all means, keep-on sucking down (aka Coca-Cola” with Phosphoric Acid as an ingredient…which has quite the interesting MSDS sheet on it if you ever wondered) and the like to contribute money to Coke’s operations and stockholders.

But, if you’re actually on the side of Hobby Lobby, along with being of the belief that you were born to actually have free will, freedom of association, and all the rights inherent in that personal freedom throughout every aspect of your life (e.g., to be able to discriminate between buying a Coke and buying a Mountain Dew because Coke does not believe you have the right to exercise your free will), then you might be interested in knowing a few things about Coke you may not be aware of.

Coke has about 120 brands worldwide.  Here is a link to their online list of brands.  (Here is a link to these brands in alphabetical order in one easy list.) 

In addition to the cans and bottles you see of their products in retail stores and vending machines, they also supply “fountain drinks” that you might see at some movie theaters, Chick-fil-a, McDonalds, and other similar restaurants.

Now, you might wonder what Coke does with its net earnings from selling all of that caramel-colorized & sweetened Phosphoric Acid.  Besides paying shareholder dividends, Coke (“Coke” in this campaign contribution analysis includes any Coke entity, whether the corporate office, a corporate Coke-PAC, a Coke bottler, etc.) also uses it to contribute money to political entities and politicians.

Here is a link to a PDF I’ve created that took data from the Ethics.Ga.GOV website for Coke campaign contributions to Georgia-based entities (this PDF does not include Coke contributions to federal political entities).  I did not do any “clean-up” of data due to constraints on my free time (“clean-up” would have done things like combined the two “Beach for Senate” entities where the data entry person left-off the “Inc” on one of their disclosure entries).

For a lot of the plain-vanilla candidates, the default contribution from a Coke entity is $250.00.  Of an interesting note to some of you would the revealing of the total amount Coke contributed to the 2012 effort to get T-SPLOST passed in the Atlanta-metro area (seen on Page 8, and totaling $260,000).

Of another interesting note would be what is revealed on Page 4 for Casey Cagle’s total haul from Coke over 8 years of $32,600.  I point out Cagle’s because he may very well be the most crooked SOB of a Lt. Governor in recent times who deliberately violated the Senate rules and OCGA regarding the Transportation Bill this past session because it was required by Senate Rules to lay on the desks of the senators for a minimum of 2 hours before being voted on, and Cagle also failed to provide the OCGA required fiscal note from the State Auditor’s office of the financial impact of a bill. (You can read more about that here from Senator Bill Heath’s newsletter on the issue.)

Here’s the point about any money you choose to spend on any Coke product/brand: Some piece of what you choose to give to Coke when you buy one of their products will be used to hurt you (in more ways than just drinking more sweetened Phosphoric Acid), either via Coke taking a stand against your right of free will to exercise your right to practice your religious beliefs OR by Coke using a piece of what you give them to contribute to people like Casey Cagle, David Ralston (yeah, his contributions from Coke are on Page 66), and other folks that you would not normally contribute money to.

Hopefully, for those of you who feel like Senator Josh McKoon does, and you live in Georgia, you have a right to practice and follow your religious beliefs without interference from any government entity…and if that practice happens to “discriminate” against someone else, and what they want you to do against your free will, then that is a case of one of those simple facts of life that cannot be legislated away from happening.  (Learn to suck it up, Buttercup.)

Feel free to forward this Political Vine article to whomever you desire. Oh, and stop voluntarily contributing money to Coke entities who clearly don’t think you should be able to exercise your inherent right of free will.

SB-127 (aka, “Georgia Republican Politicians Are At it Again”)

Bill Simon, April 2nd, 2015

SB 127 (aka “Incumbent Protection Act” AND “Our Attempt to Destroy PV’s Right To Free Speech”)

I have to say, you folks in the State Legislature are a trip.  Really.  While there are other organizations and people ‘communicating’ (can’t say “lobbying” can we?) with some of you right now on SB-127 to implore you to kill it…I’m going to take an ever-so different tact.

I’m going to encourage you to pass SB-127, and pass it with overwhelming votes.  You want to know why?  Because of that little gem “someone” has thought to insert where Lines 428-444 are for new law that describes what “Communication” will now mean, and what “Election targeted issue advocacy” could now mean in Georgia elections for the hundreds of people and organizations and radio stations and newspapers, etc. when they promote/endorse a candidate or promote/advise against a candidate or ballot issue.

The key part of these new definitions is that whoever engages in activity that meets qualifications as defined in this new law (e.g., Line 434-Line 435: “(E) Mailings that are sent or distributed to 100 or more households; or (F) Printed materials that exceed 1,000 copies.”), well, they (“they” being a person or any group or a newspaper, etc.) will have to register with the State Ethics Commission as a “Campaign Committee.” Which is a specific term defined in the law now.  And, then be subjected to all sorts of disclosures, etc. as to the make-up and/or financing of that entity.

Now, for years now, I know there are many, many, many people who (e.g., Gwinnett DA Danny Porter, of most recent time, who, rather than have the balls to actually send a letter-to-the-editor to this publication to deny any of my claims against him, has taken to getting a note published on a blog site known for sucking-up to government entities) are anxious for an opportunity to kick my ass legally for the content and the ideas I deliver via this publication.

That’s why I want you folks to pass this bill.  Because there will be someone (likely, no less than five “someones”) who will file an ethics complaint against me to claim that I am engaged in either “political communication” or “election targeted issue advocacy” as defined by OCGA without properly registering as a “Campaign committee.”

Why would I want that ethics complaint? Because, seriously, the Name ID of the Political Vine (and, moi) is not yet a national name/reputation.  AND…I have no less than 4 attorneys in mind who have the legal chops to destroy any moron the AG’s office would be hiring to defend this law in federal court. 

Now, my wants and needs aside, I feel compelled to point out just a few things regarding this proposed law.  Not that I care if you bother to take them into consideration, but for the few of you who actually might not like getting duped by your caucus “leadership (sic)”, you might want to know about these cases:

2011 Veto by Governor Nathan Deal of then SB-163 which was an attempt back then to do very close to the same thing that SB-127 is now trying to do:

“Senate Bill 163 attempts to address the issue of campaign communications in campaigns for state or local office that apparently have failed to provide sufficient clarity on who paid for the communication and whether a candidate authorized such communication.  The issue of campaign finance reform has been a consistent theme in Washington, DC and federal court decisions have shown that any type of limitation on the First Amendment right to engage in political speech will receive tough scrutiny. See Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 50 (2010). Such tough scrutiny would be especially likely where a violation of limitations on political speech would constitute a crime – as this legislation provides.  It is my assessment that, while the legislation is well intended, the potential vagueness in what constitutes “general public political advertising or literature” and “any colorable imitation of the name of an existing person or organization” would constitute significant First Amendment concerns.  Furthermore, as has been the case at the federal level, this legislation would likely add significant operational burdens to producing and distributing campaign messages in the variety of mediums that candidates and citizens now use to engage in political speech.  Accordingly, I VETO SB 163.

1994 SCOTUS Decision on McIntyre v Ohio Elections Commission

2010 SCOTUS Decision on Citizens United v Federal Elections Commission

BUT….nevermind these trivial, whackjob court decisions by a bunch of people (none of whom, by the way, who have ever sat on that bench, have ever graduated from the University of Georgia, or the University of Georgia law school in its 200 some-odd year history…why is that, UGA?) located in a land far, far away…you “Legislators” should sally forth and pass this law.  Really.


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The Road to Hell (in Georgia) – Part 4

Bill Simon, March 31st, 2015

“Implied Consent” Deemed to be contrary to the Fourth Amendment by Unanimous Ga Supreme Court 

A little bit of news this past weekend is a unanimous decision by the Ga Supreme Court that concluded that Georgia’s OCGA § 40-5-55 (“implied consent” to a bodily fluid extraction by law enforcement) was unconstitutional as it relates to the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment.

The link to their decision is above, so I’m not going to play legal analyst on the details.  The relevance, however, to the current legislative session is that laws written and approved by “lawmakers” CAN be found to be “unconstitutional”, regardless of what the Legislature’s “legal counsel department” claims. 

In fact, on an individual basis, each legislator swears an oath to “Uphold and Defend” both the Georgia state constitution, as well as the U.S. constitution…and they do so without any qualifiers of “Well, the legal counsel told us this was okay to write and pass.”

In fact, anyone who is still in the legislature who last voted for the implied consent law (2001 is the last date noted in the law books) should resign because, clearly, they voted for an unconstitutional law, and did not vote to “uphold” or “defend” the rights of the people of Georgia against unreasonable search and seizure, and violated their oath to God.

So, contrary to what people like BJ Pak believe, yes, the entire General Assembly CAN be found to be entirely wrong.

Now, I think this decision regarding the unconstitutionality of “implied consent” is going to be very related to what the State Senate decides to do with…

SB-94 & The Fourth Amendment

To summarize: When SB-94 first passed the State Senate, it was 3 pages long and had 66 Lines in it, and all it had to do with was eyewitness identification procedures in crimes.

Since being rammed thru the House with the full contents of HB-430 attached to it (a bill that greatly increases the power of police to engage in activities that may also be found to be in violation of the Fourth Amendment…e.g., secret wiretaps…secret search warrants…etc.) and approved a week ago, SB-94 is now 34 pages long, and has 1,148 Lines of proposed new law.

The significance of this increase in scope of SB-94 is that it really only went thru one legislative chamber’s committee vetting process (i.e., House Judiciary Non-Civil), and a committee chock full of a minimum of three former prosecutors…i.e., people allowed by legal precedent to employ lying to trick people into thinking that what they claim is the truth about any subject, whether it is criminal law or not.

The manipulation and secretive method in which it was put thru the House Judi-Non-Civil should give the State Senators enough of a pause to consider that such a massive expansion of granting more power to police should not be passed without your own chamber’s criminal law-related committee being able to examine it without the influence of a stacked committee and sub-committee.

And, permit me, for a moment, to bring-in RFRA into this discussion of SB-94.  As we observe the LGBT “community” going apesh*t over presumed interpretations of RFRA (thanks, no doubt, to the hysteria whipped-up by the likes of one former Georgia Attorney General named Michael Bowers), people like Mike Bowers and the Atlanta Journal & Constitution’s columnist Jay Bookman are woefully ignoring the actual impact that a law like SB-94, as it currently exists, could impact, not only the LGBT community, but anyone else in a truly detrimental way.

In order to understand this, I have to bring-into the discussion another OCGA law on the books that prohibits sodomy.  Sodomy is defined by OCGA 16-6-2 as:

“(a) (1) A person commits the offense of sodomy when he or she performs or submits to any sexual act involving the sex organs of one person and the mouth or anus of another.”

So, here is a scenario for you folks: Explicit in SB-94 is the ability for police or District Attorneys to obtain a search warrant based on their “belief that a crime is about to be committed.”  And, they can hold onto that warrant for a minimum of 60 days, out of view of the public, and they can then execute it when they feel like it.

Now, the problem with catching adult males and/or adult females engaged in the act of sodomy (I specifically use the term “adult” so as to differentiate between those acts of sodomy involving under-aged children and those carried-out by consenting adults) is actually a challenge as most such acts occur behind closed doors, right?  (Bonus points to the person who is the first to correctly tells me WHICH Georgia “Attorney General” is known for successfully prosecuting a case of sodomy in Georgia.)

So, if SB-94 passes, how easy do you think it’ll be for police to obtain an “anticipatory search warrant” (i.e., based on their belief that a crime is likely going to occur) when they observe a gay male couple or a gay female couple walking down the street and they watch them go into a house where they both live?  Not to get graphic, but how else but through an act of sodomy can the gay and lesbian community engage in “sex?”  What a piece of cake it will be under SB-94 to obtain a search warrant based on the belief that a “…crime is about to be committed.”

I’m not saying SB-94 was designed for that purpose, but there is NOTHING that will stop law enforcement from obtaining such types of warrants for sodomy by folks in the LGBT community, or even acts of any other type of “crime” that currently exists in Georgia law.

But the “anticipatory search warrant” does not just apply to laws dealing with sex.  It applies to ANY law….and any member of law enforcement can overreach this authority to the detriment of many innocent people if this law passes.  The fact that SCOTUS found it to be legal under certain cases does not mean that this law will stand that way for every other case.  And, as we recently discovered with Georgia’s 14 year-old “implied consent law,” not every law passed by the General Assembly is valid and constitutional.

Buried in SB-94 is the “good faith” clause that can and will lead this state on the Road to Hell when you grant such powers to an already out-of-control law enforcement community intent on killing or maiming anyone they damn well please as an Officer of The State/King…who is engaged in “…just executing a search warrant based on a law we think is about to be violated.”


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The Road to Hell (in Georgia) – Part 3

Bill Simon, March 26th, 2015

SB-94 (a/k/a “Imagine Democrats in Charge”)

Yesterday (March 24) on the House Floor, in discussion of SB-94 between Rep. BJ Pak and Rep. Chuck Efstration, a series of Q&A occurred with Pak asking questions and Efstration responding.  You readers can verify what I am saying by going to the start of the conversation at Time-Mark 1:45:37 of this video-recording of Day 35 in the Georgia House: http://www.gpb.org/lawmakers/2015/day-35.

Question 1 from Pak: “Is it not true that you once worked as a prosecutor and you now work in criminal defense?”

Efstration: “Yes”

Truth: Chuck Efstration worked as prosecutor until sometime in March of 2013, at which point he formed his own law firm on March 1, 2013, The Efstration Law Firm, PC (click the link for the incorporation date).  On April 11, 2013, Efstration filed a Document of Intent (“DOI”) to run for the office he currently holds. On that document is listed his two campaign officers Chairperson Jimmy Wilbanks, and Treasurer Jon Richards (who has been consistently writing articles promoting big government legislation and destruction of the rights of the people against government overreach on the blog PeachPundit.com).

So, for a whopping two years that Chuck Efstration has spent time away from the Gwinnett DA’s office, he has split his time between running for elected office, and fitting in a few criminal cases here and there.  So, to Pak’s obvious attempt at giving Efstration “criminal defense” chops, the truth is that that is bullsh*t, and Efstration is nobody other than…Gwinnett DA/P.A.C. Chairperson Danny Porter’s political b*tch when it comes to SB-94 absorbing HB-430’s guts.

Question 2 from Pak: “Through that lens , this bill has gone through the committee process , sub-committee meetings, etc., etc., right?”

Efstration: “Yes” 

Question 3 from Pak: “Is it not further true that all this bill does is modernize what is in case law, we codify it, simplify it, and it does not expand any police power?”

Efstration: “Yes”  

Truth: The fact is, this law, if passed for Georgia, adds/increases capabilities (not just ‘modernizes’ but adopts federal case law into Georgia law) and power to law enforcement in Georgia that does not currently exist.  The fact that federal courts will not overturn them is irrelevant.

The power given by this bill expands police power…so, Mr. Pak and Mr. Efstration conspired in the open to mislead the entire House in their consideration of SB-94.

One of these items I’ve discussed previously is the ability for police to obtain a search warrant for a crime that is “…about to happen.” (Lines 179-187, Page 6 of SB-94).  This is a new police power that Georgia law enforcement does not currently have at their disposal.  

In his response to my Facebook post about his actions on the floor, Pak told me that this has to do with an “anticipatory search warrant.”  While that term has a specific legal definition in federal case law, that specific language is NOT what is in this bill.  So, as we know from past experience with legal interpretations in this state, when you do not define what it is you really mean, then it is open to interpretation, and misinterpretation.

The BIG question is, since people like BJay Pak voted to stop ObamaCare from setting-up exchanges in Georgia, after ObamaCare was found to be constitutional by SCOTUS, why is BJay (and, really, ANY other legislator who voted to block Obamacare in Georgia) suddenly in love with embracing federal laws and bringing them to Georgia?

There are some good things, perhaps, in the new SB-94…but, with so much trickery and deception used to mislead folks like the Georgia Criminal Defense Attorneys Association, as well as the members of the House (in the open, Mr. Pak…not…really…too smart), who can effectively analyze what may be “good” when this bad is being covered-up?  Not P.A.C.  Not BJ Pak either.  Not Chuck Efstration.

But, here are a few, significant questions for the true Republicans (“true” being those who actually decided to become a Republican, not to win elections, but for the actual principles contained in the platform from 30 years ago) to answer as they contemplate the revised SB-94:

a) If Roy Barnes was governor, and he and a Dem-controlled Senate and House were all proposing this and backing it, would you be for the expansion of these police powers?

b) When the Democrats do come to power in this state in 20 years or less, can you possibly imagine how they could abuse this law?  I mean, just picture Barack Obama as Governor of Georgia with these expanded police powers given in this bill?  Imagine the ways that true Democrats could use these laws to oppose your candidacy for office…perhaps sending a member of LE to get a search warrant based on fabricated evidence of a “crime about to be committed” and the judge going along with it because, hey, he/she has a sworn affidavit and “evidence” that a crime may be about to be committed…all really designed to ensure that you don’t get reelected or elected?  And, all they have to claim is they had “good faith” in their execution of that warrant based on them being told by an opposing political operative that “…Mr.Beach said he was going to to XYZ, and I’m afraid…”?

The State Senate should insist that the original version of SB-94, As Passed The Senate, be the one that passes, and tell the House to remove HB-430 from its attachment.  Unless you folks in the Senate (e.g., David Shafer, Brandon Beach, etc., and anyone else with an eye on a higher office) are ready to defend why you opposed SCOTUS-approved Obamacare, and now you want to integrate SCOTUS-approved police state legislation into Georgia?

And, Senator Bethel, if anyone finds instances of you opposing SCOTUS-approved Obamacare, but you wishing to incorporate all these new federal-approved police powers in Georgia as a result of federal case law, you will likely also be facing such questions from your district, or for any higher office you seek that requires the voter to make a decision.

HB 310: a/k/a “Let’s expand government with no limits” 

For a legislator like Senator Tyler Harper, chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee, who has been named a “Defender of Liberty” by (presumably) The American Conservative Union, to allow HB 310 out of his committee, is a signal to me that there’s something off about that ‘award’ from the ACU.  Because HB-310 is a 119-page, 4,138 Line bill that contains all kinds of government-expanding powers that NO true believer of, or defender of, “Liberty” would ever ignore.  Things like:

1) Despite what Rep. Alan Powell claims, this legislation WILL create a brand new government agency (“Department of Community Supervision”) that has, at its very definition, the ability to (Lines 175-180) expand forever, thus employing hundreds, if not thousands of people, with, apparently, no limit to its budget:

“(b) The commissioner shall have the authority to employ as many individuals as he or she deems necessary for the administration of DCS and for the discharge of the duties of his or her office. The commissioner shall issue all necessary directions, instructions, orders, and rules applicable to employees of DCS. The commissioner shall have authority, as the commissioner deems proper, to employ, assign, compensate, and discharge employees of DCS within the limitations of DCS’s appropriation and the restrictions set forth by law.”

2) Regarding the people employed by DCS, there is no stated restriction for employing folks connected to folks via blood or via business.  Meaning…as an example from another part of OCGA, a law referencing the commissioner of the Department of Transportation has the following language: OCGA 32-2-41: “he commissioner shall not employ a person who is related within the second degree of consanguinity to the commissioner or any member of the board.”

“Consanguinity” means “1) a relationship by descent from the same ancestor, and not by marriage or affinity OR, 2) a close relationship or connection.”

If you are going to vote to start a new big-freaking department whose head is under the sole direction and choice of the Governor, do you think you’d care to ensure that the Commissioner of the new Department of Community Supervision is NOT able to hire every single one of his family members and cousins, so as to not build an entire family dynasty into one state agency?

3) Also, why is the Legislature giving ALL POWER to the Governor for this new agency?  Heck, I doubt the real Dems would even do that.  Why can’t the Senate put a stop in place to approve of the DCS commissioner?

Again, you who are sitting there in the Legislature today are not going to always be there…why do you want to turn Georgia into more of a dictatorship by giving the Governor sole ability for this agency?  This ain’t Cuba or North Korea (well…not quite yet, anyway, but we are on the march in that direction, Senator Tyler “Defender of Liberty” Harper).

4) Lines 550 – 554: “(2) ‘Electronic monitoring’ means supervising, mapping, or tracking the location of a probationer by means including electronic surveillance, voice recognition, facial recognition, fingerprinting or biometric scan, automated kiosk, automobile ignition interlock device, or global positioning systems which may coordinate data with crime scene information.”

At what point will DCS qualify its own surveillance practices as construing the law “conservatively“, “liberally“, orinappropriately“, Senator Harper? (see Line 662, below.)

5) Line 662: “This article shall be liberally construed so that its purposes may be achieved.”   HOW “liberally” is “liberally construed?”

6) Do you want me to go line-by-line here?  I’m up to 5 bullet points and only 662 lines of analysis….and I’m exhausted.  I wonder what other true, anti-Liberty gems are in the bill that people like Rep. Alan Powell has misled the Public Safety Committee on?

8) Note to Rep. Alan Powell: After watching your recorded disdain for one of the opposing witnesses being an ‘indigent criminal defense attorney,’ I happened to look-up the law passed in 2003 called the Georgia Indigent Defense Act.  Guess what, Moron?  You voted for that bill.  

You helped create the entire Indigent Defense program with your vote, Rep. Powell.  Here’s a copy of the bill as passed.  Here’s a copy of the final vote.  In summary, you’re a jackass, Mr. Powell…and even though you “switched” to the GOP in 2011, that doesn’t matter.  You didn’t switch your mindset as can be determined by your wish to kill-off the Uber (and related) business enterprises.  You are still one of those “real Democrats.”  And, separate from that, you’re nothing but an effing jackass. 


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The Road to Hell (in Georgia) – Part 2

Bill Simon, March 24th, 2015

Some more issues with SB-94

1) The concept of obtaining a search warrant on the basis of ‘thinking a crime is about to be committed.’

Lines 179-187, Page 6 of SB-94: “(a) Any peace officer seeking a search warrant while engaged in the course of official duty shall submit a written request for such warrant…under oath or affirmation, which states facts sufficient to show probable cause that a crime is being committed, or has been committed, or is about to be committed and which particularly describes the place or person, or both, to be searched and things the individuals or property to be seized. Such request for a search warrant may include related documents and oral testimony.”

I was once told by a black friend of mine that white cops have a propensity to pull a black guy/black gal over under the probable cause of DWB (‘Driving While Black’).  He told me of a time in the last 5 years that the Cobb County police pulled him over in the rain and ordered him out of his car, shoved him face-down on the hood of his car to search him…and they pretty much ordered him to remain face-down, in the rain, while they got out of the rain and into their comfy patrol cars and proceeded to try and figure out what they might be able to arrest him for.  In the end, they could find nothing, and let him go.

I bring-up this subject because this state appears to be having quite the recent uptick in cops pulling over people for…things like DWOWTW (“Driving While Old With Tinted Windows”) and harassing the living sh*t out of people (See Walton County story here) who are doing nothing wrong.

Do we actually have adequate training standards for all P.O.S.T.-certified law enforcement officers to truly be trusted with the power to presume that a crime is ABOUT to be committed, when they don’t seem to be able to master the basic concept of not killing people/maiming people they presume have already committed a crime (E.g., Kathryn Johnston, Baby Bou-Bou, David Hooks…all in Georgia in the last 10 years)?

And, P.O.S.T.-certified LEOs aside, this bill now gives “investigators” with DA-offices and Solicitor-offices the power to obtain similar search warrants.  Some of those investigators may have P.O.S.T.-certification…but not all do.  I know of at least one with a DA’s office whose experience prior to her current job as an investigator was that of a newspaper editor.

2) The concept of approving a search warrant that can be “live” for up to 60 days

Lines 283-290 of SB-94: “(2) A judicial officer may order that a search warrant and all supporting documentation therefor, including recordings or transcripts supporting such warrant, the return for such warrant, and the petition of the prosecuting attorney requesting sealing be filed under seal with the clerk until such time as the judicial officer may direct, up to an initial period of 60 days. Upon application by the prosecuting attorney, the judicial officer may extend the initial sealing for additional periods not to exceed 60 days; provided, however, that such sealing shall not extend beyond the return of the indictment or the filing of an accusation in which property or evidence seized may be admitted into evidence.”

Soooo…let me ask you folks something: Do you think it is possible that an apartment/house/duplex that someone of criminal intent lives in at one point in time…who could possibly move out in a time-span of 60 days…and be replaced by someone who is not of a criminal element who moves in, unaware that a prosecutor had previously obtained a search warrant for those specific premises, and was also unaware that prior to their move-in, a bunch of criminals were living there…and the non-criminals move-in, and one night their house gets invaded by cops executing a search warrant that was issued 55 days prior?

Again, we have the Habersham County incident in which cops did not bother to stakeout the home to confirm the criminal activity beforehand and/or the potential that non-criminals could be in the house before they raided it, flash-bang and all?  So, if they cannot be bothered to ensure their info was valid for that raid, what makes you think giving someone a 60-day window of time to raid a house is going to result in anything but (potentially) a truly much worse outcome on the validity of the “about to commit a crime” probable cause?

Now, while the following incident (I’m just going to link to it) did not happen in Georgia, events like these DO happen, and this is just one example.  If SB-94 passes as amended with HB-430’s language shoved into it, more events like this story will happen in Georgia.  It’s like tossing “strike-on-head-matches” into a gasoline refueling station with all those fumes floating around.

It’s almost as if Danny Porter (and the rest of the crew at the Prosecuting Attorneys Council) read George Orwell’s 1984, and collectively decided, “Hey…this is our operating manual for Georgia!  Let’s see how much we can shove through this Legislature!” 

Note to Senator Charlie Bethel:  Senator Bethel, your original version of SB-94, as Passed The Senate, was a good, 3-page bill that accomplished one simple thing.  

However, the “amended version” of SB-94 (with the language from HB-430 attached to it that includes your original language) has become the equivalent of the character of the little girl named Regan (played in the film The Exorcist by actress Linda Blair) spinning her head 360-degrees around, and spewing green vomit around the room and on everyone’s face in the room.

If it passes the House intact as it exists now, it will be your job to convey to your fellow State Senators that though the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee did pass HB-430 out of committee, that committee does NOT represent the entire House…and you likely know that HB-430’s language may not have withstood scrutiny in the Senate’s Non-Civil Judi-Committee had it been required to experience the full vetting process.

And, because there were two co-sponsors of HB-430 that sit on the House Judi-Non-Civil (Bert Reeves and Mandi Ballinger)…that makes it appear to be a stacked-deck to get a bill passed thru that committee.  That may all be in the “rules of play”, but it is not something that people of character and integrity  interpret to believe the process was driven by honest dealers and brokers.

 


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The Road to Hell (in Georgia) – Part 1

Bill Simon, March 23rd, 2015

SB-94 on The House Floor Today: More than meets the eye

Today, SB-94 will be on the House Floor for a vote.  Under the Agenda, it is listed as concerning only “Criminal Procedure; require a procedure for enhancing witness identification accuracy.”

However, that is not all this bill contains.  This bill has been modified in the House Judi-Non-Civil Committee with all of the contents of what WAS in HB-430.  SB-94 went from a 3-page bill passed by the Senate to a 30-some-odd-page bill that will be before the House today.  It still contains the original SB-94 subject matter, but it has quite a few more substantive changes to “search and seizure laws” in Georgia.  Some of these changes include:

1)  It enables law enforcement to obtain secret search warrants (Page 8, Lines 272)

2)  It enables law enforcement to secretly retain seized property (Page 11, Lines 338,339)

3) It removes the presumption of innocence until proven guilty by extending probable cause for a search warrant to include crimes “about to be committed” instead of a crime that is “being committed” or “has been committed” (Page 6, Line 184)

4) It allows non-certified personnel to apply for or issue search warrants based on their limited knowledge and experience even though have no “duty of enforcing the criminal laws..” (Page 6, Line 182)

5) It allows the state to appeal an unlawful search verdict and thus further delay the return of property unlawfully seized (Page 11 lines 357-358)

6)  It allows law enforcement to video record in a property without the consent of the owner  (Page 22 lines 741-743)

7)  It removes local control and accountability of surveillance in a jurisdiction by allowing it to be initiated and monitored remotely without consent and participation of local authorities (Page 17, lines 563-564).

8) It allows law enforcement to, essentially, ruin someone’s life with an illegal surveillance, BUT they are exempt from prosecution or taking responsibility in any way if they claim they had “good faith” in doing the action (Lines 568-570, Page 17)

Frankly, it is at this stage of the Session that I believe I can put myself…partially…in the life of most of you legislators.  I said “partially” because I have no idea what you individually have to deal with in your own lives, separate from your responsibilities in the Legislature.

But, you are nearly 2.5 months into a near daily grind of dealing with brand new subjects, meeting with tons of people, sitting through committee meetings, taking phone calls, trying to still stay connected to your “regular life with regular people and family,” all the while trying to focus on making “good decisions.”  It’s very tough, no doubt.

But, I just have to ask you to please, consider just half of points above of concerns about this modified SB-94 bill, and consider all the times you’ve heard “Well, we had good intentions” when a truly, preventable, bad result (an officer got killed in the line of duty and/or an innocent person for injured or killed) occurred as the result of a law enforcement action in this state.

Supposedly, there were “good intentions” when the Habersham County sheriff deputies busted in a house and threw a flash-bang that injured an 18-month old. There were “good intentions”, supposedly, of sheriff deputies descending upon a house in Laurens County on the basis of the word of a known thief that there was “meth” in that house…and killing a good man who had no drugs in the house, or anywhere else

The answer to “bad results” is not to enable more people to be able to engage in acts to cause more bad results to happen, and then to give immunity to the results of their actions, all on the basis of “well, we acted in good faith.”

Judi-Non-Civil Chairman Rich Golick, at the end of the discussion in committee last Wednesday said this about HB-430/SB-94: “Balance must be struck…in giving law enforcement the proper tools…without going too far.”

With the “good faith” clause entered on this bill, there is no “going too far” because even if law enforcement ‘goes too far,’ they will get immunity.  And, since it is usually law enforcement that investigates their own…there will be no concept of ‘going too far.’

It is said often that the Road to Hell is paved with “good intentions.”  The Road to More Deaths via Law Enforcement Acts in Georgia is going to be paved with “good faith” if SB-94 passes the House…and if it then passes the State Senate’s ‘Special Orders’ process.

You legislators are exhausted…but, please, do not make a decision of such significance as this one on a bill that will not get both chambers’ careful review or scrutiny.

This is not an issue of “Well, we should negotiate with the Senate that we’ll pass SB-94 if they pass HB-XYZ” type of deal.  This is not a bill that creates the Official Georgia State Snake-in-the-Grass (well…wait, that might be accurate, actually..) that has insignificant results if passed. 


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SB-94 & HB-430: Welcome To Georgia, the first Fascist State in America

Bill Simon, March 19th, 2015

Last night’s “Legislative Boxers” had, at the end, a discussion on HB-430. Many people wrote me to tell me “That bill didn’t make it before Crossover, so it is dead.”

NO, it is not dead. The House Press office responded to a question I had about their Daily Legislative Report issued last night, and this morning it was told to me that there had been a typo in it regarding this bill.

What they did in committee on 3/18/2015 was steal a bill that was passed by the Senate before Crossover Day, on a different subject (SB-94), and amended it with the language from the original HB-430 language sponsored by Rep. Efestration into it, and now SB-94 will be the bill that goes to either House Rules for assignment to the House Floor OR, I suspect, Speaker Ralston will just stick this monstrosity on the Floor without it going through House Rules.

To summarize and correct, now: SB-94 will accomplish the following if passed by the House:

(1) it enables law enforcement to obtain SECRET Search Warrants

(2) extends probable cause to include crimes “about to be committed” according to the peace officer’s mind.

(3) expands who can apply for and issue search warrants (judges in ANY court will be able to sign warrants, not just Magistrate Judges)

(4) allows surveillance without regard to jurisdiction

(5) severely limits a defendant’s right to suppress illegally obtained evidence

(6) and officers are immune to virtually all legal restrictions on their behavior when they’re in performance of their official duties in “ferretting (sic) out offender(s) or suspected offender(s) of the law or in secretly watching an individual suspected of violating laws…”

Ladies & Gentlemen, when I wrote the phrase earlier this morning about “HB-430″ alternatively being referred to as the >”Let’s shop this no-knock warrant to an untrained, ignorant-on-search-warrants, traffic-court judge to get DA Danny Porter’s search warrant against his political enemy signed if this Magistrate won’t do it!” bill, I was being sarcastic.

I didn’t know who wrote the bill at the time. Turns out, it WAS Gwinnett District Attorney Danny Porter who wrote and testified on this bill in a committee hearing yesterday in the House.

SO, HB-430 will likely come to the House Floor today (or some time in the next 9 legislative days) as SB-94. This bill was written by a guy who evidently hates a lot of people and wants the right to direct similarly-minded law enforcement officers to write search warrants, have ANY judge (i.e., any judge friend of any prosecutor in any jurisdiction) to sign the search warrant (no-knock or otherwise), and allow them to do anything they damn well please on the basis of “we honestly thought Person A was going to commit a crime, and, yes, it turns out we were wrong…but, because of this clause in Danny Porter’s law, we cannot be held responsible:”

Lines 634-636: “A good faith reliance on a court order or legislative authorization shall constitute a complete defense to any civil or criminal action brought under this part or under any other law.”

“Good faith.” Don’t you have to HAVE “faith” in order to have any “good faith?” DA Danny Porter, it is clear to see, has no faith in anyone, and wishes to legally get people he hates killed or their lives destroyed by using the force of state government to do so.

And…he has friends of a similar mindset as well. Did you folks know that former Douglas County DA David McDade, who was being investigated by the GBI last year, has now ended-up working in the Griffin Judicial Circuit…under DA Scott Ballard as an assistant DA? McDade and Porter are known to be VERY good friends. Guess we can safely add Scott Ballard to that Georgia Prosecutor Cabal of “F*ck the people’s rights! WE are in charge of their miserable little lives, and what we say goes!”

And you folks in the Republican Party who scream about Barack Obama and the Democrats…clearly, there is something rotten in the minds of the Republican Party to produce this type of bill.

Georgia Republicans: Expanding The State’s Power and Destroying People’s Rights

Bill Simon, March 18th, 2015

After winning reelection for Governor, Lt. Governor, state house seats and state senate seats last November, did the elected members of the Republican Party close their eyes and gleefully clap their hands and think to themselves “Oh-boy!..Oh-boy!..Oh-boy!…Oh-boy! NOW we can triple the size of Georgia government like I always wanted to do!!!”?

Because THAT is the impression one could easily derive from the unending supply of state government-expanding/citizen-rights restricting bills being pushed through this session. Bills like:

HB 310 (alternatively referred to as the “Let’s turn Georgia back into the prison colony we’ve always aspired to be”) will create a leviathan of new government entities, along with an “invitation” to the federal government to give us more money, and thereby give them the ability to extend their tentacles deeper and more widespread in our state. Here’s a brief summary of HB 310 (now in the State Senate):

1) It allows the Governor to establish an office with police powers that essentially enable him to have a personal, politicized force remarkably similar to what would exist in a police state.

2) It allows the Governor to grow the size of government with three new large, powerful entities: a Board of Community Supervision, a Department of Community Supervision, and a Governor’s Office of Transition, Support, and Reentry.

3) It removes the presumption of innocence until proven guilty by subjecting accused citizens who have not been convicted of a crime to excessive restrictions and conditions.

4) It increases federal control of state law enforcement by imposing reliance on federal grants and coercing law enforcement to adhere to undisclosed federal guidelines.

5) It decreases accountability and transparency of local justice systems by adding layers of state regulations that are not valuable in local administration.

Then, there’s SB-8 (alternatively known as “How to use government to punish a business you just don’t like operating”), which is due to be heard in the House Committee on Juvenile Justice today (March 19th) at 4:00pm in 506 CLOB.

SB-8 was a companion bill to the now-dead HB 244 bill which, while the main premise appeared to be honorable in that it was written on the premise of helping address the problem of human/child sex-trafficking in this state, it proceeded to jump-off the track and launch itself into a “WTF?” direction. Examples of what I am talking about include language that:

1) Expands civil forfeiture practices, placing the burden on the accused (not convicted, but merely accused) to prove their innocence to get their property back. We should be looking to reform this practice in Georgia, not add to the list. This bill allows for confiscation of direct AND indirect property.

2) Increase taxes on adult entertainment businesses…thus taxing the businesses who are not guilty of a crime other than entrepreneurship in Georgia – simply because some legislators do not like that type of businesses. Now, here is the definition in the bill that I find of particular interest (Lines 167-171) for how the main definition for an “Adult entertainment establishment” is defined:

“(A) The entertainment or activity therein consists of nude or substantially nude persons dancing with or without music or engaged in movements of a sexual nature or movements simulating sexual intercourse, oral copulation, sodomy, or masturbation;”

Now, apparently, Senator Renee Unterman (the primary sponsor of this bill) has either never danced herself, OR, she isn’t very well-read. Because, the poet Robert Frost made this observation about 100 years ago about dancing: “Dancing is a vertical expression of a horizontal desire.”

So…using the good poet’s line of reasoning, in reality, ANY dancing in ANY establishment BY Adults can, and, likely, will be interpreted by someone to be of a sexually-related nature.

Kinda makes this entire section of SB-8 about fining a business (essentially, that is Unterman’s intent, to fine and punish the strip-club industry) that just allows people to voluntarily congregate…to view other adults voluntarily deciding to dance nude…when there are other people who may similarly dance (maybe even Unterman herself, if she knows how to dance to rock and roll) with their clothes on.

3) Create yet another state commission (consisting of 8 people, 4 of whom are appointed by the Governor) to oversee funds for assistance to victims that is already active in the non-profit sector. Sorry, but it is not the duty of government to see to it that victims are healed. Government doesn’t do this for domestic violence (in fact, in Georgia courts, they have a tendency to kinda seek to inflict as much harm as possible on domestic violence victims because things like restraining orders don’t cross county lines…but, that’s an issue for another time).

In an article published on January 31st, 2015 on HuffingtonPost.com, it was reported that:

“A 2012 report by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimated that 76 percent of trafficking transactions for sex with underage girls started on the Internet, World Pulse pointed out. Those findings go hand-in-hand with a 2014 study that discovered 70 percent of child trafficking survivors surveyed were at some point sold online .”

Soooooo70% to 76% of child-sex trafficking transactions originate and are likely arranged and delivered on the basis of people engaging in communication via their cellphone, their tablet, or their desktop computer.

This SB-8 legislation’s sole goal is, really, to set-up a new state commission charged with applying for and sucking-down more FEDERAL DOLLARS to solve a problem that the writer of the bill does not adequately address to solve. People who believe that in order to solve a problem you need to form a new state-level commission and supply it with federal dollars and/or confiscated dollars from a business not proven to be directly connected to causing the problem, are people who are either stupid or crazy. Either way, they should not be allowed to remain in such a position as State Senator.

And then, there’s HB-430 (alternatively called the “Let’s shop this no-knock warrant to an untrained, ignorant-on-search-warrants, traffic-court judge to get DA Danny Porter’s search warrant against his political enemy signed if this Magistrate won’t do it” bill). This bill is out of the House committee and is now in the House General Calendar, ready to be thrown on the House Floor at any time.

Several parts are especially troubling. 1) Police can now get a search warrant if their “probable cause” consists of a peace offer thinking you are about to commit a crime, and, of course, this law gives immunity to peace officers who are wrong on that assumption, and if they kill anyone or destroy property in the execution of the warrant? Too effing bad. You, Mr. Citizen, can just die for all the State cares about what one of their agents decides to do.

2) Lines 45-46: “(4) ‘Judicial officer’ means: (A) Any judge of a court of this state

Note that this definition does not specify that a magistrate judge, which has been used for decades (if not, perhaps, a century or two) to be the only duly authorized judge to sign-off on a search warrant…but “Any judge of a court of this state.”

So, a Superior Court judge…or a Probate Court judge…or a traffic court judge will, under this bill, if passed, be authorized to sign-off on a search warrant.

3) And then there’s secret search warrants, probable cause extended to include crimes “about to be committed”, inclusion of specific surveillance methods in the Code, expanding who can apply for and issue search warrants (so it can include all Department of Correction officers, right?), allows surveillance without regard to jurisdiction, limits defendants’ right to suppress illegally gathered evidence (including a weird substitution of “constitutional” for “lawful” that is really pernicious), and officers are immune to virtually all legal restrictions on their behavior when they’re in performance of their official duties in “ferreting out offender or suspected offenders of the law or in secretly watching an individual suspected of violating the laws…”

And the best part (i.e., worst part for innocent citizens), Lines 634-636: “A good faith reliance on a court order or legislative authorization shall constitute a complete defense to any civil or criminal action brought under this part or under any other law.”

Who wrote this bill? All five main sponsors are retired law enforcement officers, prosecutors, or employees of district attorneys’ offices. The sixth is an economic development/Chamber attorney.

If HB-430 passes, it will be impossible to pretend we still have rule of law governing searches and seizures. Unless “whatever the State wants to do” counts as rule of law?

Thank you, Rep. Efstration, Rep. Reeves, Rep. Atwood, Rep. Ballinger, et al. for your support of ZERO Fourth Amendment protections for the people you claim you represent in this state.

Waiting on Republicans to limit government

SB-85: The Crony Capitalist’s Dream

Bill Simon, March 18th, 2015

Prelude

Did you know that in the State of Georgia, there is no state law requiring anyone who is either running for office, or who is a sitting elected official (state legislator, Governor, AG, county commissioner, mayor, city council members, etc.) OR even an appointee to a commission or board (…or development authority or CID or…whatever), to have submitted to and cleared a criminal background check performed by the GBI? There is nothing in state law that requires our “elected/appointed government overlords” to pass a background check. Kinda fascinating, eh?

So…keep that in mind as we go thru this episode of the Vine, along with several future Vines.

SB 85

SB-85 is being spun as a “bill to just clean-up some language” in the law that currently exists for development authorities. SB-85 has passed the State Senate and is in the House…somewhere.

This is a link to a PDFed copy of the AJC article from a couple of weeks ago. In it is the claim by the (cough! cough!) “government attorney” (read: Paid to BS people) with the Fulton County Development Authority stating:

“What has happened is, in order to stop these deals, people have gone through and looked through all of the inconsistencies in the law. And what we’ve tried to do is clean them up,” said Lew Horne, attorney for the Development Authority of Fulton County.

Yes, well, interesting wording there, Mr. Horne. Those “inconsistencies” you claim to be clearing-up is more like an attempt to take a specified number of allowed Project types that currently exists in the law (approximately 14 enumerated project types, actually)…and making the number of projects that can be financed by taxpayer dollars to be an UNLIMITED number of projects with the stipulations merely being (from the specific language in the bill), Lines 16-17:

“…improvement for the essential public purpose of the development of trade, commerce, industry, and employment opportunities.”

Here are some questions for Senator Brandon Beach to address:

1) Based on my reading, could you tell me what in your language would prevent a Development Authority from authorizing the financing of any project in a CID that would normally be required via the Ga Constitution to be financed with strictly CID-tax money?

Because according to the Ga Constitution, these are the projects that a CID can use its money to do:

Article IX. Section VII, Paragraph II:

Purposes. The purpose of a community improvement district shall be the provision of any one or more of the following governmental services and facilities:

(1) Street and road construction and maintenance, including curbs, sidewalks, street lights, and devices to control the flow of traffic on streets and roads.
(2) Parks and recreational areas and facilities.
(3) Storm water and sewage collection and disposal systems.
(4) Development, storage, treatment, purification, and distribution of water.
(5) Public transportation.
(6) Terminal and dock facilities and parking facilities.
(7) Such other services and facilities as may be provided for by general law.

While most of these are ‘infrastructure-related’ projects, #2, “Parks and recreational areas and facilities” are not like “stormwater” disposal systems.

Currently, in the Georgia Supreme Court, there is a matter involving the financing of the Braves stadium whereby one of the claims by Cobb County is that the Braves stadium counts as a “recreational facility.”

Now, the word “recreation” can entail ALL kinds of things, and with Georgia being #1 in corruption, the imagination of corrupt government folks, none of whom have criminal background checks performed on them, is limitless. The problem is, maybe a CID would like to construct something that they don’t want to use their money to do, but they can get the development authority to do.

2) Separately, could you tell us where in your new paragraph (that merely “cleans-up existing language”) it would specifically prevent the financing of a project that is NOT in the geographical confines of the specific development authority’s jurisdiction? That is, sayyyy….if Cobb County Dev-Authority might wish to authorize the issuance of bonds to build a whorehouse in Nevada?

A whorehouse in Nevada would be a project that would develop trade and commerce, and provide plenty of employment opportunities.

Who cares if those employment opportunities are not in the geographical area of where the CCDA sits? (And, hey, a whorehouse will generate a ton of money to pay back those bonds, right?)

Senator, show us where your “clean-up language” would prevent a bunch of political appointees who sit on a development authority, none of whom have EVER had a criminal background check run on them by the GBI, from voting to authorize the issuing of bonds to build a project such as a whorehouse in Nevada, or even a new condo-project partly owned by, say, you, Senator Beach (a person who ALSO has not had a criminal background check by the GBI run on you), that is located in a completely different county?

Just a few questions I muse about…I’m sure I’ll have more soon…

Cobb County Republican Party-Same Sh*t, Different Year

Bill Simon, March 11th, 2015

Are you Rose Wing?

If you live in Cobb County…if you are a Republican…and if you are a delegate headed to the Cobb County Republican Convention this Saturday, you will be one of only two types of people: Either you are a person who thinks everything that I will present below regarding Rose Wing, candidate for Cobb GOP Chair, is something you, yourself, engage in right now in your own life, and you see nothing at all wrong with what she has done, or you will be a person whose stomach tightens at the very thought of engaging in the following activities that Rose Wing has experience with:

Item #1: This link will take you to a picture of a check that Rose Wing wrote to the 11th Congressional District for her entry to the April 2009 GOP district convention. That check shows it was returned for “Insufficient Funds.”  I have emails from conversations between the then-Treasurer of the 11th District Committee (beginning in June of 2009), the Chair of the district party and the then-chair of the Cobb GOP that the Treasurer wrote regarding his communication to the officers about the failure of Rose’s check to go through…and the fact that he sent Rose Wing e-mail communication about her $20 bounced check, and the fact that she NEVER acknowledged that it bounced.  That’s two months after the district convention that the district received the check back from their bank.

Now…before I go further, you should ask yourself this: If you were informed you bounced a check (especially one for an organization that you work-in for the better part of your time), would you just ignore the notice (and let the check never get cashed in your bank account), and never pay it? OR, being the ethically-minded person most people are, if someone told you your check didn’t go thru for your convention registration, would you have leaped-up and called and asked “How can I get this settled?  I need to bring you some cash…” or something like this?

Unlessof course, as a supporter and intended-voter of Rose Wing…you are exactly like Rose Wing when it comes to your checks bouncing, and you shirk your financial obligations right now?

Also, just so you folks know…there’s this teensy-weensy little law in OCGA 16-9-20 named "Deposit Account Fraud" that kinda, sorta applies to Rose bouncing a check. Because, really, you don’t know if you have $20 in your account to cover a check when you write it to attend a district convention? Tell you what…if you are THAT short on funds, then you should not be involved in politics, should you? You should be focused on earning a living and paying bills, and you know…taking responsibility for your own stuff.

For the 11th district, it didn’t just cost them in not being able to collect $20…they also got charged from their bank a $35 charge for having to return a check that could not be cashed. So, the Rose’s check bouncing cost the district $55.

As of this morning (March 10, 2015), it has been verified with the then-Treasurer of the 11th District Committee that Rose has never reconciled that check-bounce with him during his term.

Item #2: This is a link to the PDF of a letter sent by Sheila Galbreath back in January 2013, requesting Rose to resign from her chairmanship of the Georgia Federation of Republican Women (“GFRW”).  Sheila was the Treasurer of the GFRW while Rose was chair during this time, and the letter describes a whole mess of bull that was going on under Rose’s “leadership” (sic), both in the standard personnel subterfuge (e.g., sneaky stuff pulled by people like Donna Rowe and Millie Rogers in whatever endeavor they are ever involved in), along with outlandish expenditures of GFRW money by Rose, along with setting-up a PayPal account completely separate from Sheila (the TREASURER of GFRW), and never allowing Sheila access to the PayPal account for GFRW…and, instead, turning management over to someone who wasn’t even the assistant treasurer on the board of GFRW at that time.

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Revisit No-Knock Search Warrants

Bill Simon, March 8th, 2015

To re-cap what was discussed in Part 1 of this series of ‘Legislative Boxers’ ( (if you missed the previous edition,it is here), this is the essence of the basic logical thought process for legislation as defined by how HB-1 has wended its way thru the 2015 Legislature:  Legalizing the use of X in these specific cases will cause many more opportunities for the use of X in all other cases.” (“X” being cannabis oil in this HB-1 example, but “X” can apply to any subject matter in any other bill).

Now, in order to adequately explain the no-knock search warrant issue that these bills mentioned above cover (and, the important note is that we are not talking about “arrest warrants”…but, specifically, no-knock search warrants), I’m going to have to take you down a path where some of the specific issues discussed are unrelated to no-knock search warrants, but, in order for you to understand the entire situation concerned with a) the proposed legislation, b) the existing law, and c) the individuals on the pro-side of this legislation (i.e., the District Attorneys and Law Enforcement entities), I have to take you the long way around.

So, Ladies & Gentlemen, buckle-up, consume a few caffeinated beverages, and brace yourself for one heckuva ride.

First, there has been mention in general conversation and via testimony in front of the senate committee about “exigent circumstances” being approved by SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) in 1997.  For clarification for everyone, exigent circumstances is defined in case law to be “circumstances by which a law enforcement officer has a probable cause and no sufficient time to secure a warrant.”  Key phrase being “…and no sufficient time to secure a warrant.”

If there is a danger situation or hostages, or whatever…”no sufficient time to secure a warrant” means (…and, before I continue, I wish to reiterate that I am not an attorney, nor do I offer legal advice or guidance in the legal realm…but, I know how to read and I know how to research) the LEO does NOT have the time to apply to a judge for a warrant, no-knock or otherwise.  So, in the happenstance of exigent circumstances, those kinds of entry into a home or building are legal, whether they are knock-and-announce, or they are no-knock of any type.

Secondly, I wanted to relay to you a conversation that an associate of mine (i.e., a fellow citizen researcher) of this no-knock subject matter personally had with the Chief Magistrate Judge of…well, it is a county I shall not identify (because, well, you prosecutor gremlins at PAC will race to his chambers and try to get him to unwind these facts he revealed to my fellow researcher).

My associate walked into the meeting with the magistrate judge with a copy of Kevin Tanner’s proposed legislation of HB56, briefed the judge about no-knock search warrants being the subject matter of the conversation, showed the judge how the existing law says that the LEO (“Law Enforcement Officer/ials”) must announce their presence verbally before effecting entry into the building, and then asked the judge “If this law prevents them, why are they happening all over the state, and how is this not illegal?”

And, this is essentially what the judge stated (not in precise wording, but the gist of it): “As a judge, I can issue a no-knock search warrant because we are not bound by that law. But, if the LEOs execute a no-knock warrant, then they are in violation of this law as it now reads.”

So, from this statement, it breaks-down what everyone thought was one continuous action into two distinctly separate components that have never been discussed before.  First there is the “authorization” for a NKSW (No-Knock Search Warrant) signed by a judge….and, second, there is the direct action taken by the LEO who make the conscious decision to execute the warrant in violation of current law.  Kinda interesting, isn’t it?  (Especially in that…kind of cluster-f*** way that law is written and interpreted in this state, right?).

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Today's Deep Thought

I wish everybody would have to have an electric thing implanted in our heads that gave us a shock whenever we did something to disobey the president. Then somehow I get myself elected president.



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