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Race and the Republican Party

 By John R. Alston Trotter, EdD, JD

The era of white-male-dominated politics has ended in these United States, and for us white males, this is somewhat disconcerting because we have always enjoyed this unearned privilege. But, it can’t help but be better for our country since our elected leaders are now more reflective of the demographics in the country. I have been seeing it coming for quite a while. Hence, for almost a year, you might recall that I called for Rubio to be on the Republican national ticket. But, no, Romney and his advisors chose Paul Ryan, a very Midwestern white man who could not even carry his home state of Wisconsin. Who can really doubt that Rubio would not have helped the GOP to carry the State of Florida?

Yes, we all know that race, ethnicity, and gender should have nothing to do with politics. But, they do, and they always have. When someone asks me to help them win a political race, the very first thing that I want to know (assuming that I have seen this person in person and know the race/ethnicity) is what the demographics of the district are. This is all-important. You ignore this to your own peril. I remember one time when a very influential black Republican (who now holds an important position with the UGA Administration) came to my office and asked me to help him run against an incumbent white Democratic state representative. Knowing the demographics of the district, I told him that he didn’t have a chance of winning and that I preferred not wasting my time. He ran anyway. He was creamed. I didn’t waste my time nor did I lose an ounce of sleep.

JT, Matt, and RobDr. Trotter and sons Matthew (L) and Robert (R)

I remember in this same area of the same county about the same time that a white Republican lady who had just won the Republican Primary was vying against a white Democratic lady to fill the seat of a person who chose to run for the State House. I knew that with just a little help from certain black leaders that this Republican lady could win this seat. She was a nice lady and had the backing of some very influential and wealthy supporters. She just needed a nudge. She just needed about 15% to 20% of the black vote in the district. I felt confident that I could help her in this respect because of my rather close association with the black community and black leaders in this county. I was willing to help try to “sell” her to the right people. She came to my office and nicely informed me that she was afraid of soiling her “good name” by being directly or indirectly associated with me. What chutzpah! Ha! I suppose that I was too “radical” for her. My “radicalism” was essentially attributed to my association with minorities in the county, not to any criminal or avant-garde or crazy activities. She was worried about what her church people would think – and she was very active in the Big First National Baptist Church of the county. I also was polite. I politely told her that her fellow church members could kiss my ass (if they took a number and stood in line). True story. I was a little more acerbic in the old days. I didn’t help her, and her ass didn’t win either. Ha!

Race and politics. Yes, they go together. This is why we have a primary run-off system in the South. Most other states don’t have this. Race is the major reason that so many Southerners switched their allegiances to the GOP from the Democratic Party during the mid-1960s. Remember Texas’s President Lyndon Baines Johnson and his push for the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act? White Southerners began to view LBJ as a non-Southerner and a traitor. What was once called the “Solid South” of Democratic voting in Presidential races became the “Southern Strategy” of Richard Nixon and subsequent Republican nominees for President. The “race card” is always played, ever how subtly from both sides now, both by the Democrats and Republicans. Remember how the race card was played on Bill Clinton by the Obama Campaign in 2008 as the former President was campaigning for his wife in South Carolina? That move really stung Clinton. He was obviously hurt badly by this. But, he too had apparently made comments of racial overtones to the late Senator Ted Kennedy about the young Obama when Clinton was soliciting Kennedy’s support for Hillary. The race card is a powerful tool in American politics.

So, those of you are trying to say that race has nothing to do with American politics, you are just fooling yourselves. It has almost everything to do with American politics. Look at the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Race was the most controversial and dominating issue at this convention. How do we deal with slavery and the African Slave Trade? The former would continue but the latter would end in 20 years. How do we deal with the Census and a state’s representation in the U. S. Congress? Slaves would count as three-fifths of a person. Remember the great compromises of the U. S. Congress? The Missouri Compromise of 1820 and the Great Compromise of 1850 make arguing over this “fiscal cliff” stuff look like disputes over whether to use Dixie Cups or Kroger Cups at the next PTA meeting. Does anyone recall the U. S. Civil War…the war that costs more American lives than all other wars and conflicts combined? So, this war was just a war about sectionalism and tariffs, heh?

Robert A. AlstonRobert A. Alston, December 31, 1832 – March 11, 1879

After the U. S. Civil War, former Confederate soldiers finally got back in control of Southern politics, establishing what is known as the Black Codes. But, even more heinous than these Black Codes was the diabolical convict lease system which was designed to take care of the “labor problem” in the South. People were appointed or helped to be elected to judgeships depending on their willingness to hand down harsh and lengthy sentences to former slaves for real petty crimes or trumped-up offenses. The conditions within these convict lease camps were unconscionable, with the mortality rates often climbing beyond 20%. Representative Robert A. Alston of DeKalb County was Chairman of Georgia’s Penal Committee and tried to outlaw this crime against humanity. Too many influential Georgians were making a killing off this atrocious system, using this very cheap convict labor to build railroads and buildings all over Georgia, to farm lands, and to work in the deplorable conditions of Governor Joseph E. Brown’s Dade County coal mines. Alston spoke out strongly against this system, issuing a scathing report on it that was carried in the major newspapers throughout the country. He eventually met his death in the State Capitol in March 11, 1979 with a bullet in his temple. He was only 46 years old. For several years, the black people of Georgia held an annual memorial service at his Decatur grave until the influential Bourbon Democrats put an end to this practice. He and fellow Georgian Martin Luther King, Jr., are the only two Georgians ever to be honored at the National Cathedral in Washington, D. C. (President Woodrow Wilson who hailed from Virginia but resided for a few years in Atlanta, Georgia and married a Georgia woman was also honored there.) Each state had a flag dedicated in the name of one of its citizens when the National Cathedral opened in 1933. Georgia’s flag was dedicated in the honor of its fallen martyr, Col. Robert A. Alston, a true Reconstructed Rebel. His first child, Elizabeth Howard Alston Trotter is my great grandmother, and his first grandchild, Robert Alston Trotter, Sr., is my grandfather. I named my first son, Robert Augustus Alston Trotter, after his great, great, great grandfather. Race has always been woven into the very fabric of American politics, a fact that my family has known for years.

Robert A. Alston articleWhat People Have Said About Robert Alston

This country has changed…and is still changing. The demographics are changing precipitously, and if the Republican Party doesn’t also change, then it will go the way of the old Whig Party. While I am a businessman and am opposed to more and more taxes and regulations because I think that these measures suffocate an already-weak economy, the Republican Party can no longer sit by and allow itself to be portrayed as and be seen as the party for the Country Clubbers, a party which holds its Executive Committee Meetings at the Piedmont Driving Club rather than at Mary Mac’s Restaurant. I suggest that the Old Guard (including Mitt Romney) was simply not ready for a candidate like Marco Rubio. These same folks were not ready for Condoleezza Rice. Rubio and Rice were apparently beyond their comfort zone. For the Republican Party to survive (it’s already lost three of the last four national elections, and Bush 43 was elected in 2000 – without a plurality – and in 2004 – barely scratching over 50% against a weak Democratic candidate). The Asian-American vote turned out in a greater percentage for President Obama in 2012 than even the Latino vote. Of course, the National Democratic Party has the African-American vote on lockdown.

John and Luci at Rio AirportJohn and Luci Trotter in Rio de Janeiro

Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan was an awful choice…about as bad as John McCain’s choice of the screeching Sarah Palin. I remember distinctly when McCain announced his choice. I jumped out of my chair and exclaimed, “What?!” Crazy choices. If the Republican nominee is not a minority or does not choose a minority to be his or her running mate in 2016, then the Republican Party can kiss it goodbye. A woman like Nikki Haley or Condoleezza Rice sounds good. What about U. S. Senator Tim Scott? Gravitas and experienced? Remember Dan Quayle, anyone? What about Congressman J. C. Watts? Maybe he wants to get back into the mix. He’s grounded and very articulate and has a great “narrative” (as all are looking for these days). What about Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal? The GOP Presidential Primary should no longer be a “Whites Only” game. Remember the days when NFL scouts actually and boldly stated that African American athletes couldn’t handle being NFL quarterbacks? When we watch the exploits of RGIII on Sunday afternoons, we shrink with embarrassment when thinking about those racist and ridiculous thoughts of African American athletes not being able to play quarterback in the National Football League. The NFL has come a long way. So must the GOP. I want my children, if they are inclined to participate actively in the political process, to have a fair shot in either party, Democrat or Republican. © JRAT, January 4, 2013, Niteroi-Sao Goncalo, Brazil.

The Voters are Weary of Barack Obama…Weary of the Questions About This Man, Weary of His Hubris, and Weary of the Economic Stagnation Which He Has Not Solved.

by John R. Alston Trotter, EdD, JD

WARNING:  Those of you who are gung-ho President Obama supporters will probably not want to watch these videos.  The truth has a tendency to make people mad.  A truth-seeker follows the truth wherever it leads him or her.  For the record, I voted for President Obama in the Democratic Presidential Primary and in the General Election in 2008.  So, I really don’t have an ax to grind.  For the record also, I have watched videos wherein several people close to the Obama family who ought to know where he was born (including his Kenyan grandmother, Kenyan official, Kenyan friends) say that Barack Hussein Obama was born in Kenya and Kenya even has an official marker commemorating his alleged birth there.  Also, for several years, Barack Obama’s book agent had been promulgating his “official” biography, calling him “Kenyan born.”  In fact, you can see on one of these videos where the First Lady, Micelle Obama, calls Kenya the President’s “home country.”  I thought that the U. S. A. was my “home country.”  I have many, many ancestors from England, Scotland, and even Normandy but Great Britain and France are not my “home countries.”  Oh well, maybe this was simply a mistake or slip of the tongue.  Very possible.

Now, what’s the big deal?  Is President Obama an American?  I am sure.  The rules are a bit complicated, though.  They change from time to time and, from what I understand, from country to country.  And, if you are an American citizen and are abroad and plan on having a child while you are abroad, then it is imperative to check with the U. S. Embassy in the country where you are currently residing or staying to find out the American naturalization rules for babies born to one or more American parents abroad.  By the way, the U. S. Constitution says that only “natural born” citizens are eligible to run for President.  This rules out Kissinger and Arnold.

Initially, I didn’t keep up much with all the talk about President Obama’s birth certificate (or the lack thereof).  I have heard and seen some accounts of the allegations that it has been doctored up, so to speak.  But, I think from watching the first YouTube video below with this digital documents expert going over the birth certificate that is on the White House website will give you pause and make you utter, “Hmmm.”

It is very easy and chic to simply to dismiss people who are demanding some answers as “kooks,” just as the President Nixon and his ardent followers tried to deal so dismissively with Daniel Ellsberg.  Remember that it was Daniel Ellsberg who leaked “the Pentagon Papers” to The New York Times (and to many newspapers later), showing the fraudulent dealings of our government relative to our engagement (euphemism for “war”) in Viet Nam.  It was the White House “plumbers” who were determined to stop the “leaks” that led to the breaking into Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office in the office/apartment building named Watergate.  The “plumbers” were caught.  One revelation led to the next, and eventually a very popular President who had just captured 49 states in the 1972 election resigned from the Presidency in disgrace, the only President to have ever done so.  The journalistic vigor of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein is not seen among today’s reporters, at least relative to the alleged scandals of President Obama, including the birth certificate episode.  Note:  Bob Woodward is still hitting both sides pretty strongly.  I have his recent book, The Price ofPolitics, right here beside me in Brazil.  He is quite critical of President Obama in this book, as he also criticizes the Republican leaders.

Now please keep this straight:  I am not saying one way or another if President Obama was born outside of the United States, in Kenya or elsewhere.  What I am suggesting is that for one reason or the other, the White House apparently has seen an urgent need to post a PDF of a document alleging to be the President’s birth certificate which contains many, many alterations.  As they often say out in the country, “Som’pin in da milk ain’t clean.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5jz2r_Ac-0

The person who analyzes the birth certificate on the White House website is a digital expert.  This is not some Johnny-come-lately person who has a bone to pick.  Why are the anomalies present?  Why did it take even three years for the President to release this?  Why aren’t his college records from Occidental, Columbia, and Harvard available to the public?  What is he trying to hide?  I presume that it is something…or he would have released the records.  Did he get into Columbia as an Indonesian national?  Some think that he did.  Even though his records have not been officially released, the “Street Committee” (viz., those few who remember him at Occidental) apparently doesn’t give his academic performance at Occidental stellar reviews.  What is the secret past of Barack Obama?  He got clobbered when he ran against Congressman Bobby Rush in Illinois.  But, suddenly, this “Manchurian”-type candidate gets enough money to to run for and win a seat to the U. S. Senate, and a couple of years later he receives the nod from National Democratic leaders to run for the White House.  This sort of makes you think, “Hmmm.”

Note:  Barack Obama was indeed enrolled in school in Indonesia with the nationality of an Indonesian, not an American, and as a Muslim, with the last name as Barry Soetoro.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkjFc3S21nY

Islam “paved the way for European Renaissance and Enlightenment”?  Hmmm.  According to President Obama, this is the case.  He sure seems willing to extol the virtues of Islam but is so picayunish about extolling the goodness of the United States of America.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCAffMSWSzY&feature=fvwrel

I think that it is a combination of recurring questions about his background, disingenuous statements about situations like Benghazi, apparent lack of enthusiasm for the U. S. A., a terrible economy with no visible vision for how to get it going, arrogance, hubris, incompetence relative to even passing a budget, etc., that has caused the American public to become weary with Barack Obama.  The public became weary with Jimmy Carter in 1980.  A change took place then, and I believe that we will see a similar change take place this coming week.

Why Mitt Romney is so Unlikable!

 

Note:  I received this in an email today, October 22, 2012.  I did some minor stylistic editing. — John Trotter.

Mitt Romney

A lot is being said in the media about Mitt Romney not being “likable” or that he doesn’t “relate well” to people. Frankly, we struggled to understand why. So, after much research, we have come up with a Top Ten List to explain this “unlikeability.”

Top Ten Reasons To Dislike Mitt Romney:

 

1. Drop-dead, collar-ad handsome with gracious, statesmanlike aura. Looks like every central casting’s #1 choice for Commander-in-Chief.

2. Been married to ONE woman his entire life, and has been faithful to her, including through her bouts with breast cancer and MS.

3. No scandals or skeletons in his closet. (How boring is that?)

4. Can’t speak in a fake, southern, “black preacher voice” when necessary.

5. Highly intelligent. Graduated cum laude from both Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School…and by the way, his academic records are NOT sealed.

6. Doesn’t smoke or drink alcohol, and has never done drugs, not even in the counter -culture age when he went to college. Too square for today’s America?

7. Represents an America of “yesterday”, where people believed in God, went to Church, didn’t screw around, worked hard, and became a SUCCESS!

8. Has a family of five great sons….and none of them have police records or are in drug rehab. But of course, they were raised by a stay-at-home mom, and that “choice” deserves America’s scorn.

9. Oh yes…..he’s a MORMON. We need to be very afraid of that very strange religion that teaches its members to be clean-living, patriotic, fiscally conservative, charitable, self-reliant, and honest.

10. And one more point…..pundits say because of his wealth, he can’t relate to ordinary Americans. I guess that’s because he made that money HIMSELF…..as opposed to marrying it or inheriting it from Dad.

Apparently, he didn’t understand that actually working at a job and earning your own money made you unrelatable to Americans. My goodness, it’s a strange world, isn’t it?

Personal Information:

His full Name is: Willard Mitt Romney He was Born: March 12, 1947 and is 65 years old. His Father: George W. Romney, former Governor of the State of Michigan.  His father was born to American parents in Mexico, and Mitt was raised in Bloomfield Hill, Michigan.   He is married to Ann Romney since 1969, and they have five sons and 15 grandchildren.  Ann Romney’s parents were born in Wales, Great Britain.

Education: B. A. from Brigham Young University and both a J. D. and an M.B.A. from Harvard University.

Religion: Mormon – The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints.

Working Background: After high school, he spent 30 months in France as a Mormon missionary.

After going to both Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School simultaneously, he passed the Michigan bar exam, but never worked as an attorney. In 1984, he co-founded Bain Capital a private equity investment firm, one of the largest such firms in the United States.

In 1994, he ran for U. S. Senator of Massachusetts and lost to Ted Kennedy.

He was President and CEO of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, rescuing the Games from financial disaster.

In 2002, he was elected Governor of the State of Massachusetts where he eliminated a 1.5 billion deficit.  He worked with a legislature that was overwhelmingly Democrat.

Some Interesting Facts about Romney:

Bain Capital, starting with one small office supply store in Massachusetts, turned it into Staples; now over 2,000 stores employing 90,000 people. Bain Capital also worked to perform the same kinds of business miracles again and again, with companies like Domino’s, Sealy, Brookstone, Weather Channel, Burger King, Warner Music Group, Dollarama, Home Depot Supply and many others.

He was an unpaid volunteer campaign worker for his dad’s gubernatorial campaign for one year.

He was an unpaid intern in his dad’s governor’s office for eight years.

He was an unpaid bishop and state president of his church for ten years.

He was an unpaid President of the Salt Lake Olympic Committee for three years.

He took no salary and was the unpaid Governor of Massachusetts for four years.

He gave away his entire inheritance from his father to charity.

Mitt Romney is one of the wealthiest self-made men in our country but has given more back to its citizens in terms of money, service and time than most men could even dream of.

And in 2011 Mitt Romney gave over $4 million to charity, almost 19% of his income.

Just for comparison purposes, Obama gave 1% and Joe Biden gave $300 or .0013%.

Mitt Romney is Trustworthy:

 

He will show us his high school and college transcripts.

He will show us his social security card.

He will show us his law degree.

He will show us his draft notice.

He will show us his medical records.

Mitt Romney’s background, experience and trustworthiness show him to be a great leader and an excellent citizen for President of the United States. You may think that Romney may not be the best representative the Republicans could have selected. At least I know what religion he is, and that he won’t desecrate the flag, bow down to foreign powers, or practice fiscal irresponsibility.

I know he has the ability to turn around this financial debacle that the current regime has gotten us into. We won’t like all the things necessary to recover from this debt, but someone with Romney’s background can do it.

But, on the minus side, he never was a “Community Organizer,” never took drugs or smoked pot, never got drunk, did not associate with communists or terrorists, nor did he attend a church whose pastor called for God to damn the US.

If you care about the United States of America, send this to all your friends!

Norreese Haynes Analyzes Bill Clinton’s Leadership Qualities

Bill Clinton.

Enigmatic Leader.

 By Norreese L. Haynes

Introduction

     William Jefferson Blythe, III was born in the little hamlet of Hope, Arkansas on August 19, 1946.  He is quintessentially a Baby Boomer, and he was most unlikely to be destined to be the 42nd President of the United States.  Billy’s (as he called called while growing up) supposedly biological father was killed in an automobile accident three years before he was born.  (Other sources – not Clinton’s autobiography, My Life – posit evidence that Bill Clinton was the biological son of a brilliant medical doctor and that he actually attended kindergarten with his half brother in Hope, Arkansas.)  Clinton’s strong-willed and party-going mother, Virginia Cassidy, decided to attend nursing school in New Orleans, and little Billy was raised in Hope by his maternal grandparents.

Clinton’s grandfather was an easy-going fellow who ran a general store in Hope, Arkansas.  A little illegal whiskey was run out of this store as well…as was the case in many dry counties of Arkansas in these days.  His grandfather Cassidy showed kindness to the “colored people” (as African Americans were called back then), offering them groceries on credit just as he did his white customers.  Bill Clinton was able to see early in his life the vagaries and vicissitudes of life.  He, unlike many other politicians who were raised in a more sheltered environment in the 1940s and 1950s, was exposed to injustices and morality and ethics which were frayed on the edges.

Norreese Haynes (L) with Attorney J. Anderson Ramay (R).

Bill Clinton’s mother later married Roger Clinton who ran an automobile dealership in Hot Springs with his brother.  The family moved to Hot Springs, known as a hot-spot of those associated with the Mafia.  Hot Springs had its legal gambling and was a party town.  Bill had been using the name “Clinton” in honor of his step-father (whom he always called “Daddy”) but when his little brother, Roger Clinton, Jr., was born, then he officially adopted the name “Clinton.”

Bill Clinton was raised around adults when he was young, and he was quite precocious.  He was smart kid, and adults favored him greatly.  He had an ease with people.  Although his mother and his step father stayed out partying late on Saturday nights, little Billy Clinton (even at age five) would get himself up early on Sunday mornings to walk to the local Baptist Church.  On his way to church, adults would get a kick out of seeing Billy Clinton walking to church with his big Bible and would blow the horn at him as he cheerfully waved back.

In high school, Bill Clinton succeeded scholastically.  He was not much of an athlete.  So, he concentrated on the band.  He was superb as a saxophone player and earned First Chair in the All State Band.  In high school, he was elected as a Student Senator to Boys Nation and made a trip to Washington, D. C., where he now-famously met President Jonn F. Kennedy and had his photo taken with President Kennedy in the rope line.

Clinton had high hopes and dreams for college and was accepted into the prestigious Jesuit school, Georgetown University located in the beautiful Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D. C., near Embassy Row and the resplendent National Cathedral.  Washington, D. C., was where action was, and Bill Clinton wanted to be around the action.  He had already decided that public service was his call in life.  One of the leading Democratic Senators in the U. S. Senate was J. William Fulbright, and Bill Clinton was determined to get to know him and to work for him.  Clinton had written to Senator Fulbright’s office, seeking a job.  Before his senior year at Georgetown, he received a letter from Senator Fulbright’s office, offering a part-time job.  He was elated.  Clinton graduated from Georgetown University in 1968 with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Foreign Service.

It is interesting that at Georgetown, Clinton fell under the influence of Professor Carroll Quigley who taught him History and Foreign Relations.  Professor Quigley, who also taught at Harvard and Princeton, was enormously popular among the Georgetown students and alumni.  One of his significant areas of expertise was the study of secret societies in the twentieth century.  He thesis is that a small, financial elite sought to control the institutions particularly in the Anglo world and that its influence was there to ensure that there was not much difference between the two major political parties in the United States, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party.  Quigley contended that this financial elite groups (heading up initially by people like Cecil Rhodes) sometimes worked through front groups like the Commission on Foreign Relations.  Quigley served as Clinton’s mentor, and Clinton mentioned Quigley in his acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention in 1992.  Perhaps Quigley took a special liking of Clinton because of his facile nature and his intellectual bent.  Clinton had been elected President of his freshmen  and sophomore classes at Georgetown, walking from dorm room to dorm room, regaling about the large and delicious nature of watermelons in Arkansas while soliciting votes from more reticent students.

Bill Clinton was elected governor in 1978 and became one of the youngest governors in the nation’s history.  He was called “the Boy Governor.”  He had been elected Arkansas’s Attorney General at age of 30.  He was on a fast track for political stardom.  I have had to skip over much of his story, but I hope to weave in other parts of his story, as it is well-delineated in his large tome of an autobiography, My Life,which was published in 2004.  Clinton has done much in the world and for the world since leaving the Oval Office in January of 2001.  He has had his ups and down, being one of the youngest ex-governors (age 32) and being one of only two Presidents to ever have been impeached.  He even lost his license to practice law in Arkansas as result of the Whitewater investigation which was led by Kenneth Starr, an investigation which started off with inquiries into land deals in Arkansas and ended up discussing semen on Monica Lewinsky’s blue dress.

Clinton was the first Democratic candidate to win two full terms to the White House since Franklin D. Roosevelt, but he was the first President in about 50 years to lose both houses of Congress during mid-term elections in 1994.  He was seen as American Labor’s friend but he himself signed the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which resulted in what 1992 Presidential candidate Ross Perot predicted would create “a giant sucking sound” of jobs heading south of the border.  He was first elected President in 1992 with only a plurality of 43% of the vote.  Yet, he began his first term acting like he had a mandate by trying to usher in a national healthcare program, a program which was secretly studied by a group headed up by his wife, now U. S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  But, even after having been stunned by one of the greatest political setbacks in U. S. History (the Republican takeover of the U. S. Congress as a result of the 1994 elections), two years later Clinton stormed back to win a convincing victory over Republican Senate leader Bob Dole.  And despite this great political comeback, Clinton got embroiled in a nasty and sordid sexual scandal involving the Oval Office and a White House intern, Monica Lewinsky.  This was not the first sexual scandal to emerge in Clinton’s checkered political career.  Even in the 1992 campaign, he was all but written off with the Gennifer Flowers scandal.  Again, he emerged like the legendary phoenix from the ashes.  After Clinton and his wife went on 60 Minutes to discuss this scandal and their own marriage in what was considered a very risky move, Clinton finished a strong second to Paul Tsongas in the New Hampshire Primary.  He and his campaign immediately adopted the moniker of “The Comeback Kid.”  Yes, Bill Clinton is one of the most enigmatic political leaders of our time.

How does Bill Clinton stack up as a leader?  What about his leadership traits, as the traits are defined by Peter G. Northouse in his well-used text, Leadership: Theory and Practice?

Articulate

     If Bill Clinton is anything, he is articulate.  He could sit down with people of any strata of life – be they kings or street people – and he could carry on a pleasant conversation that is right on target of the other person’s interests and knowledge.  Clinton has always been seen as someone who can spin a phrase and frame an argument, and we are not necessarily talking about what the definition of what is is.  In 1988, Clinton was tapped by the Dukakis campaign to give the nominating speech, and the speech lasted 32 minutes.  The reviews consistently criticized Clinton for speaking too long, though Clinton insisted that the speech had been given to him by the Dukakis group.  But, because Clinton is so articulate, he probably embellished the original talking points.  Clinton has also been known to use more esoteric words when more simple words would be sufficient to convey as thought like he did on page 72:  “Except for a brief interregnum in the Carter years…” (emphasis added).  I give Clinton a Four (4) in this area, the next to strongest score on the Articulate trait.  Sometimes he just doesn’t know when to shut up.

Perceptive

     Just how perceptive is Bill Clinton?  It depends.  In 1990-1991 when most Democratic Presidential hopefuls would normally be involved in exploratory committees and fund-raising activities but were scared away from these activities because of President George H. W. Bush’s daunting high favorable ratings in the national polls, Bill Clinton still perceived that he could beat the seemingly entrenched incumbent.  Clinton reasoned that the country would be tiring of the 12 year Republican reign and would be seeking change from an economy which was beginning to show sluggish signs.  So, he jumped into the Presidential campaign against lighter Democratic Presidential timber like Paul Tsongas, Jerry Brown, and   Tom Harkin.  Though he struggled in Iowa, finishing a distant third behind Harkin, he enjoyed a strong second place behind Tsongas in New Hampshire and finally showed that he could be more than a regional candidate by capturing first place in both New York and California.  Yes, he is very perceptive.  But, we have to also pay attention to his lack of perception of his problems on the rise in 1994 with Healthcare and his complete lack of perception about his dalliances with the White House intern in 1998.  I give Clinton a 3.5 in Perceptive.

Self-confident

     Right off the bat, I give Bill Clinton a Five (5) on the Self-confident trait.  Who else dreams of being the President of the United States from his teenage years and sets out to make this happen, despite being raised in what is considered a lower middle class background?   As soon as Clinton arrived at Georgetown University, he started campaigning for President of the freshmen class and was elected.  After a year of study as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University in England and three years of law school at Yale University, Clinton returned to Arkansas as a professor of law at the University of Arkansas.  In almost no time at all, he launched into a race for U. S. Congress, and fared very well.  In 1976, at age of 30, he ran for and was elected as Attorney General of Arkansas, and two years later, he was elected as one of the youngest governors in U. S. History.  This is confidence.

Self-assured

     This trait is not so unlike the above trait, but has more to do with inner feelings of security.  Only a psychoanalyst could get a good handle of the secure feelings that Clinton has about himself.  He grew up in a tumultuous household wherein his stepfather drank very heavily and often physically abused his mother.  He was raised in his early years by his maternal grandparents since his mother was away at nursing school.  His grandmother Cassidy was a very stern and strong-willed woman who often was a taskmaster, but her love for Clinton was never doubted.  He seemed to be the center of attention for many adults.  In fact, his grandmother and mother apparently fought over his attention and affection.  This alone would put a lot of responsibility on the back of a small child.  But, it also gave him a great sense of his own importance in life.  People were fighting over his attention.  He was very precocious and did well in school.  But, perhaps his attraction to a very ambitious and goal-oriented woman like Hillary Rodham was an indication that he needed this strong-willed woman like his grandmother and mother to continue to surround him in life.  Perhaps he felt that he needed someone strong to keep him in line.  I think that overall Clinton was/is a very self-assured man, even in the face of adversity, as he often saw it in his political and personal life.  For example, after the criticism that he received from giving the long-winded nominating speech of Michael Dukakis in 1988, he turned this negative into a positive by appearing that week or the next week on the David Letterman Show and poking fun at himself.  It takes a very self-assured man to engage in self-deprecating humor on national television.  I give Clinton a 4.5 on the Self-assured trait.

Persistent

     Bill Clinton is the quintessential persistent leader.  He and others like Al Gore founded the Democrat Leadership Council (DLC) to try to veer the National Democratic Party away from a type-cast of left-leaning Welfare Statism and a  weakness on National Defense.  The Democrats of the DLC called themselves “New Democrats.”  Clinton was a leader, if not the leader, of this movement in the Democratic Party for ten years (1982 through 1992).  He was persistent in stating that the Democratic Party could not afford to give up the middle ground to the Republicans.  It was the middle ground which was determining the elections, and it was this group that Clinton was able to appeal to in the 1992 and 1996 Presidential campaigns.  Picking Al Gore (another “New Democrat”) was no accident.  Clinton was trying to show the nation that he was a different kind of Democrat…different than McGovern, Mondale, and Dukakis.  His persistent strategy worked.  His score on the Persistent trait is a Five (5).

Determined

     When Bill Clinton determined that taking a firm stand helped him strategically, he did.  But, when his stand needed to change, he was not adverse to change his stand, as was the case of his position on welfare and gays in the military.  On the latter, the furor that was caused about his relaxing the prohibition of gays in the military resulted in a policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  Some in the gay community felt that Clinton should have taken a tougher stand.  Some felt that he had sold them out.  Others were appreciative of his efforts on their behalf, resulting in a less onerous position against them.  About welfare:  When the Republican swept the country in 1994, Bill Clinton called on the services of his long-time and often-secret political advisor, Dick Morris.  Morris advised him to come out with a position of “ending welfare as we know it.”  Clinton’s position changed from “welfare” to “workfare,” thus robbing the Republicans of one of their cherished political advantages.  Morris helped Clinton take away the issues from the Republicans, and Clinton was able to handedly defeat a hapless Bob Dole in the 1996 election.  Because of his sometimes back-peddling, I give Clinton a Four (4) on Determined.

Trustworthy

     The Trustworthy trait might be Clinton’s weakest of all traits.  His wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, might score him very low on this trait.  In fact, when Clinton was governor, there appears to have been a constant watch person surrounding him, on look-out for the “Bimbo” factor.  In fact, it was called “Bimbo Watch.”  I think that most political observers know that Clinton could not be trusted when it came to women.  His political handlers had to keep a constant vigil in this area.  Also, when Clinton changed his positions on issues like in post-1994 election, many of his partisans on the White House staff were disillusioned with him.  His score on the Trustworthy trait is Two (2).

Dependable

     This Northouse leadership trait is very similar to the Trustworthy trait.  Often Bill Clinton could not be depended on to take a firm position and to stick to it.  For example, in Arkansas, the anti-capital punishment people found out that they could not depend on Clinton.  In fact, some political pundits knew that Bill Clinton was very serious to reach the White House when he returned to Arkansas during the Presidential campaign to oversee the execution of a man whom most people felt was retarded.  Three other people were executed by the State of Arkansas when Clinton was governor.  Clinton had earlier been an opponent of the death penalty.  I give him a Three (3) on the Dependable trait.

Friendly

    I don’t know if there has ever been a friendlier President than Bill Clinton.  Ronald Reagan certainly had a cheery disposition, but Clinton, by nearly all accounts, is supremely friendly on a one-on-one personal level, much more so than accounts of Presidents like Barack Obama.  Both of the Bushes are supposed to be very friendly on a personal level, but Bill Clinton makes the person to whom he is talking think that he or she is the most important person in the world to Clinton.  Clinton can also be feisty and temperamental, especially when it comes to criticism.  But, when he is not threatened by criticism, he is like the likable friend next door.  I don’t know if this comes partly from his being raised in a small Southern town or it’s just part of his genetic make-up.  By many accounts, his mother, Virginia Cassidy, was as out-going as they come.  She seems to have never met a stranger.  Clinton scores a Five (5) on the Friendly trait.

Outgoing

     Similar to the Friendly trait, Bill Clinton was/is very Outgoing.  His office today is located in Harlem, and he acts as though he is the American Ambassador to the entire World.  When Clinton showed up at Georgetown University, he never met a stranger, and he was at ease with everyone from the shy student to the highly-placed administrators in the Georgetown administration.  A friend of my actually met Clinton by accident at the old Omni in Atlanta the day after his disastrous nominating speech for Dukakis, and my friend says that Clinton talked to him like they were long-lost cousins.  Clinton’s Outgoing score is also a Five (5).

Conscientious

     Clinton probably does not fare as well on this Northouse leadership trait.  He is notoriously late for meetings.  The media had a heyday recounting his many treks to McDonald’s for Big Macs and fries while he was President.  So, being “thorough, organized, and controlled” might not be his strength, but, hey, a person can’t have it all. His Conscientious score is a 2.5.

Diligent

     Bill Clinton’s characteristics of persistency and hardworking are not doubted.  He loved to sit up to the wee hours of the morning discussing very wonkish policy issues with friends or people on his staff.  Even when he was turned out of the Governor’s Mansion in Little Rock at the age of 32 (one of “the youngest ex-governors,” as Clinton joked), he persistently worked to get re-elected Governor in 1982 and held onto this office until he was elected President of the United States in 1992.  His score on the Diligent trait is 4.5.

Sensitive

     Clinton is known for showing tolerance and being tactful and sympathetic to others.  Robert Reich, Clinton’s Secretary of Labor, recounted the time that Reich was very sea-sick on the voyage to England where he and Clinton were fellow Rhodes Scholars.  He said Clinton was very sensitive to his plight during the vovage, even showing up to his room with a bowl of soup.  In My Life, Clinton recounts about his getting a job in Senator J. William Fulbright’s office, relieving any thought of not returning to Georgetown because of his concern for any stress that his attendance there put on his parents’ finances.  He also showed his sensitivity to his step father’s cancer and grave physical condition.  During his senior year at Georgetown, Clinton traveled back to Arkansas each chance he got to spend a lot of time with his step father, although their relationship had been strained through the years because of Roger Clinton’s often abusive treatment of Clinton’s mother.  The relationship between the Bill Clinton and his step father healed greatly during this time.  Clinton, however, was not very sensitive to Hillary Clinton’s feelings when he engaged in some of his extra-marital affairs.  The rating on this Sensitive trait is a Four (4).

Empathetic

     Bill Clinton was down in the polls when the bombing of the Alred P. Murrah Federal Building took place in Oklahoma City in April of 1995.  He showed unusual empathy for those victims and their survivors.  Clinton was/is not afraid to hug openly and to shed a tear.   Some political pundits have concluded that this display of empathy is what helped Clinton turn the corner after the drumming that he and the Democrats received in the mid-term elections in 1994.  The feelings of Americans seemed to soften toward Clinton as they witnessed the empathy that President Clinton showed toward these families.  The Clinton score on Empathetic is Five (5) for Strongly Agree.

Conclusion

     I have enjoyed reading about Bill Clinton through the years.  He is my favorite President.  As a former elected official, I have tried to emulate some of Bill Clinton’s stronger leadership traits and avoid some of his weaknesses.  But, like Clinton, I too am human.  It has been fun applying Peter Northouse’s leadership traits to the life of Bill Clinton.

Governor Deal, Pam Adamson is the Real Problem on the Clayton County Board of Education! Ha!

Read all about Pam Adamson’s latest diatribe in our sister publication, Georgia Teachers Speak Out!

http://georgiateachersspeakout.com/

Chill out, Queen Pammie.  Help me, SACS, help me!  Ha!  [photo by AJC]

Is the Clayton County Board of Education Stupid Enough to Re-hire Edmond Heatley? Hey, it’s Clayton County!

Is the Clayton County Board of Education really this stupid…to the re-hire the same superintendent whose announced resignation in Clayton County caused metaphorical dancing in the streets and whose near hiring in Berkeley, California caused  stress, angst, and consternation to the teachers and community citizens?  Stranger things — perhaps! — have happened on the Clayton County School Board, but if this board does this, we think that this takes the cake!

Read all about it >>>

www.georgiateachersspeakout.com

Clayton County Superintendent Edmond Heatley Resigns! Dr. John Trotter’s Blog, Georgia Teachers Speak Out!, Reported It First!

Yep, Clayco Folks, it’s official…the Educational Monster is leaving Clayco, and tears of joy will be flowing down Tara Boulevard, Highway 85, and Jonesboro Road.

You can read about hear >>>  www.georgiateachersspeakout.com

 

Victor Hill Stuns Observers with 54% to 46% Victory over Kem Kimbrough. Rep. Darryl Jordan Beats Back Kevin Thomas 54% to 46%. MACE “Of Counsel” Attorney Andy Ramay Defeats Chairman of Jeff Davis County Board of Education 54% to 45%. 54% to 46%…A Weird Year For Me!

By John R. Alston Trotter, EdD, JD

     In the photos above is two of my friends, Victor Hill (L) and Steve Frey (R).  I wish Victor well in the upcoming court case in November.  In Clayco, politics makes strange bedfellows, as the saying goes.  The thugs and criminals are truly afraid of Victor Hill.  (I call him “Lil Vic.”)  He gets things done, and if you have a problem, he’ll dispatch some deputies to the scene in a jippy!  This is why people like him.  Steve, in my opinion, is Clayco’s most aggressive and best attorney.  He’s been my attorney on a couple of occasions.  (He’s a UGA Bulldog too.)  I helped Victor in this campaign.  I only worked three campaigns this year…the Clayco Sheriff’s race (Victor), State Representative Darryl Jordan’s re-election against the six-year Chairman of the Clayton County Democratic Party who was apparently well-heeled and even had photos of him and Michelle Obama, etc., and for Andy Ramay challenging the incumbent chairmen of the school board in Jeff Davis County.  All my candidates won, 54% to 46%.  Weird.  I would have been satisfied with just a few votes over 50%!  But, I thought it was weird for all of the races to come down to victories with the exact same percentage!

I have to note what a heck of a race that Victor Hill ran.  (Rep. Jordan and Attorney Ramay ran great campaigns too!)  It seems that hardly anyone thought he could  pull it off.  At my office, several of us put our predictions on the white board about the four runoff elections in Clayton County on the day of the election.  I put “50.25%” for Victor Hill, but I wasn’t sure if I was voting with my heart instead of my head.  His overwhelming victory even shocked an old jaded observer like me.  I was stunned!

I am gradually getting this stuff out of my system, at least this is what I am telling myself.  Back in 2002, I did 13 campaigns all at once!  Wow!  I look back on this and ask, “How in the heck did you do this, boy?”  I am slowing down as far as active involvement is concerned.  I much rather just observe and write about politics.  I’ll watch the GOP and the Democratic National Conventions here and shortly thereafter, Lord willing, head back south to see my loved ones and friends in Brazil.

Lil Vic’s Back! Criminals, Beware! The Clayco Voters Rose Up and Declared: “Bring Back the Crime Fighter!” Jeff Turner Demolishes Eldrin Bell! Rooks Embarrasses Wole! Davenport is the Only Incumbent to Win!

Latest Update:  This is an updated and revised edition.  In our haste to get the earlier edition out before 5:00 A. M., we missed a few minor typos.  We apologize.  We like to inform the readers with both function and style.

By John R. Alston Trotter, EdD, JD

Victor Hill celebrating with friends, but dog-tired from all day campaigning.

Victor Hill:  “I am humbled by God and the voters of Clayton County.”

     Victor Hill will certainly go down in the annals of Clayton County political history – no, Georgia political history – as one of the most enigmatic political personalities of all time.  His shocking and convincing victory over incumbent sheriff Kem Kimbrough is a race for the ages.  He now stations himself in the Georgia political pantheon of charismatic leaders like Gene Talmadge, Hosea Williams, and Zell Miller.  These men had their detractors and their crushing defeats during a time or two in their lives, but they bounced back – for good or bad or both – and proved that they had more than one political life.

Victor Hill was born in the quintessential of all Southern cities, Charleston, South Carolina.  This most charming of all Southern cities has been voted more than any city in the United States as “the most polite city in America.”  While it is a polite city, it was a city that was characterized by controlled and civilized violence.  At one time during its history, the city went for decades without a murder because the Charlestonians believed strongly in The Code – The Code Duello, that is.  For the uninformed, this code clearly laid out the principles that if you had a difference to settle with a gentleman, you formally invited him to choose the type of gun he wanted to use and bring his second and his surgeon under the oaks and be prepared to settle the difference.  Stand back-to-back, take ten paces away from each other, turn around, take aim, and fire.  This was civilized and controlled violence.  This is how gentleman fought in Charleston.  Victor Hill proved himself to be a true Charlestonian Gentleman by lining up in a political duel and aiming his shot directly at Sheriff Kem Kimbrough.  Now the difference is settled.  Victor Hill scored a 64% to 56% victory over Kimbrough.  The people of Clayton County spoke loud and clear, despite the seemingly last minute efforts of The Atlanta-Journal-Constitution, WSB-TV, and The Clayton News/Daily to sway voters against the Little Giant.

Victor Hill was born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina.

     “Lil Vic” (as his friends are wont to call him) was born in 1964, the year that the U. S. Congress passed The Civil Rights Bill which was signed into law by President Lyndon Baines Johnson in a ceremony which included H. Phillip Randolph and Dr. Martin Luther King.  This was a year after Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” Speech on the Washington Mall in front of the Lincoln Memorial on that hot August day in 1963, the same year that Victor Hill was conceived in Charleston, South Carolina, a city, like other Southern cities, which was still oppressive to African Americans in actions which make us blush today.  If Charleston was not a city which engaged in the most graphic displays of racism in the manner of Police Commissioner Bull Connor’s Birmingham or Ross Barnett’s Mississippi, it was a polite and condescending racism which still communicated to the Charleston Blacks that they were not first class citizens in Charleston.  Dr. King and Hosea Williams never led a Civil Rights march down Charleston’s King or Meeting Streets, but the understood institutional and societal racism was not questioned…at least by the white citizens.

Here I am on election day with Marshall Newsome, the first African American to win a countywide race in Clayton County in 1996.  He predicted all day and all evening that Victor Hill was going to win.  Mr. Newsome defeated eight other Democratic Primary opponents in 2000 without a Runoff, despite the fact that he had already been indicted. 

But, the South was changing.  After The Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, Dr. King and other leaders within the Civil Right Movement kept pressing a reluctant President Johnson to take his measures further by urging the U. S. Congress to pass The Voting Rights Act the next year.  This year, 1965, was a watershed year.  Black people in the South now had the right to vote, without poll taxes, literacy tests, or requirements to answer dubious and esoteric questions posed about the U. S. Constitution before they were allowed to vote.  Victor Hill was one year old when this Act was passed, and as he grew in age, Victor Hill’s parents pressed upon the young Vic that he could be whatever he wanted to be when he grew up.  He wanted to be a law enforcement officer, and he began to work for the Charleston Police Department as the age of 18.  Yes, just 18.  At 18 years of age, this young crime fighter was admitted into the fraternity of the police in a city which was the scene of the first shots fired in the American Civil War, the bloodiest and costliest war in American history, a war which cost more American lives than all American wars combined.  The Charleston Militia fired cannon shots at the federal garrison at Fort Sumter located in the Charleston Harbor on a crisp spring day in April of 1861.  Victor Hill, while growing up, visited this site in the historic Charleston Battery on a number of occasions.  Perhaps because he sensed that more opportunities would be available to him if he moved to the Atlanta, Georgia area, he left his Charleston and headed western.

Victor Hill did not immediately find a job as a police officer when arriving in Atlanta, but kept looking, again demonstrating this never-give-up attitude.  He finally landed a job with the Clayton County Police Department and moved up fairly quickly within the ranks.  His immaculate manners and command for the King’s English no doubt helped his advancement up the ranks.  He became a detective and a hostage negotiator.  By 2002, he decided to run for State Representative which he won.  In 2004, he defeated the incumbent sheriff, Stanley Tuggle, quite easily and became the first African American sheriff in Clayton County’s history.  You know the rest of the story.

There have been quite a number of political comebacks in American history.  In 1962 after Richard Nixon was defeated by Pat Brown for the governorship of California, he told the media that he was through with politics and quipped, “You won’t have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore.”  Six years later, Nixon was elected President of the United States.  In 1948, President Harry Truman was barely scratching the surface in the national polls, and the consensus opinion among political pundits was that Thomas Dewey of New York would defeat Truman handedly.  Truman set off on a nationwide whistle-stop tour, riding trains into small towns all over America.  He kept hammering away at “the Do Nothing Congress,” and the people would yell up to the train platform where Truman was speaking, “Give’em hell, Harry!”  Truman’s retort was:  “I’m just telling’em the truth, and they think it’s hell!”

Both Nixon and Hill staged improbable political comebacks.

      In the 1930s, Winston Churchill spent his time painting and writing in his home named Chartwell near the city of Kent, far from the hustle and bustle of the politics of London.  He was a controversial political figure and by the 1930s, he was on the outs even within his own party.  He had suffered an earlier political setback when as the First Lord of the Admiralty in 1915, he was demoted because of the Allies’ costly defeat at the hands of the Ottoman Empire at the Strait of the Dardanelles.  In the 1930s, he felt abandoned by his friends, and the British press scoffed and ridiculed him, trying to do what it could to marginalize Churchill.   But, he kept on warning the English leaders of the ominous threat of Adolph Hitler and his nascent Nazism which was spreading incrementally throughout Europe.  But, the English leaders, most notably Chamberlain, wanted to accommodate Hitler and to appease him.  It wasn’t until England was on the cusp of collapse that the people demanded the return of Winnie.  When the cigar-chomping Winston Churchill, the English Bulldog himself, returned to the powerful halls of Parliament as the new Prime Minister, the Brits gleefully whispered, “Winnie’s back!”  In Clayton County, we hear the same excitable chatter, “Lil Vic’s back!  Criminals, beware!”

Sir Winston Churhill, Time Magazine’s Man of the Century.

     For the record, Winston Churchill, whose gallant leadership against all odds during World War II, especially during The Battle of Britain in 1940 before the United States had entered the war, saved the British Commonwealth from defeat at the hands of Hitler’s Nazi Germany.  He was later knighted by the Queen of England and was forever known as Sir Winston Churchill until he died at the ripe age of 91.  He was named by Time Magazine as The Man of the Century.  He was the first person ever to be made an Honorary Citizen of the United States.  His time in the political wilderness wizened Churchill, and we believe that Victor Hill’s four years in the political desert has made him a wiser, more mature, and a more circumspective leader.  Victor wrote to the voters of Clayton County:  “I am a man who has made mistakes, owned up to them, learned from them, and I am vowing to you never to repeat them again.”  He further wrote:  “I have listened, I have learned, and I am ready to serve you….Give me a second chance, and I will make you proud by making Clayton County clean and safe again!”  The voters of Clayton County, on August 21, 2012, rose up and gave Victor Hill this second chance.

Jeff Turner Stuns Eldrin Bell and Garners the Most Votes in Clayton County!  Rooks Destroys Wole!  Davenport is Only Incumbent to Ride to Victory!

Jeff Turner was totally vindicated in Clayton County, winning the most votes for the night.

     Jeff Turner, who grew up in Clayton County and starred in basketball at Jonesboro High School, demonstrated that being home-grown instead of being an interloper from Atlanta and being a hands-on administrator instead of a be-gone Chairman who is constantly trotting up to Atlanta is the formula for success — and success is an understatement.  Jeff Turner presented to the voters a fresh, young, and handsome face and someone ready to jump into action head-first to get Clayton County back on track.  Bell, a politician who has had two terms to get things done but has accomplished little more than kibitzing in school board matters, caretaking, and in-fighting with Victor Hill, the Wade Starr forces, and Jeff Turner himself when Bell evidentally teamed up with the Wade Starr-coalition on the Commission to fire Turner as Police Chief, was turned out to pasture with less than 33% of the vote.  This was a demolition.  Bell, the ever facile and 77 year old former Atlanta Police Chief turned politician, apparently lost a huge voting bloc that he had among the white voters to Jeff Turner.  Over all, it appears that the Clayton County voters — black and white — were just tired of Eldrin Bell.

     In 2008, Bell was running against Lee Scott in the runoff election, and the white voters appeared to universally despise Lee Scott.  So, Bell reaped the benefit of this voting bloc.  But, as the Police Chief of Clayton County, Turner had done many favors for homeowner associations which were concerned with safety in their neighborhoods.  Turner is a very personable man, and, quite frankly, many voters felt sorry for him.  They did not like the way he was brusquesly pushed aside by both Eldrin Bell as well as the three commissioners who have been seen by political observers as lined up in the Wade Starr orbit.  These same commissioners, Gail Hambrick, Sonna Singleton, and Wole Ralph, voted to create a County Manager’s job and gave the job to Wade Starr.  Now Wade Starr, who makes more money than the elected Chairman, will be pitted next to the new Chairman, Jeff Turner.  Most observers seem to think that Starr engineered the movement for the ultimate ouster of Jeff Turner as Police Chief.

     Wade Starr ran against Eldrin Bell in 2004.  Terry Bizzell was also in this race.  Bell won without a runoff with 56% of the vote, Starr followed with 33%, and Bizzell got the rest.  During this election, Bell had the strong backing of former Commission Chairman Charley Griswell, former Commissioner Robbie Moore, former State Representative Frank Bailey, and yours truly.  This time, apparently Bell’s significant support was from Republican-oriented Mark Rountree’s Landmark Communications.  The slick negative flyers against Jeff Turner just didn’t work.  The Clayco political minefield is a little different from the rather tame and well-drawn lines among the GOP battlefields.

     It appears that this same Landmark Communications was with Kem Kimbrough (we will check disclosures and see who was using this Republican-leaning firm’s services).  Kimbrough sent out some large, slick mailings against Victor Hill too.  The voters apparently just saw through this stuff.  The voters knew what they wanted.  They seemed determined to throw out the incumbents.  Shana Rooks put a complete whipping on incumbent Wole Ralph, beating him 65% to 35%.  This Spelman and Tulane Law School graduate also had a few former commissioners behind her as well as had a heap of disgusted voters in the lower part of the County with her.  I presume that ole Joe Murphy, the former Mayor of Lovejoy, may have rounded up a few votes for Attorney Rooks.   And doesn’t former Commission Chairman, J. Charley Griswell, still own a huge mobile home park in Lovejoy?  Griz may have retired from active politics (having gone 6 and 0 in his undefeated career in three Commission races and three Commission Chairman races dating back to 1972), but he still keeps his pulse on what is going on in his county.  He was seen at Victor Hill’s celebration Tuesday night.

Murphy Talmadge (L) and Norreese Haynes (R) at the Hill celebration.

      State Senator Gail Davenport was also in attendance last night at Victor’s celebration as well as State Representative Sandra G. Scott and her husband Eddie Scott.   State Representative-elect Demetrius Douglass showed up.  Heck, Douglass’s opponent, former State Representative Glenn Baker, showed up in a pontoon boat with County Commissioner Michael Edmondson and others on board.  They pulled up to the dock at Mitzi Bicker’s pier.  Former Commissioner Robbie Moore showed up with Clayton County’s political legend, J. Charley Griswell.  Perhaps Moore more than anyone else helped spearhead support for Victor Hill.  I even talked with young Murphy Talmadge at Victor’s party.  Who’s he?  Well, he is a descendent of the Talmadges who ruled Georgia for 50 years, the great grandson of ole Gene Talmadge who was elected more times for governor in Georgia than anyone in the history of Georgia.  Heck, I even saw media and marketing consultant Josh Stanley of Haralson County at Victor’s party.  Why was this bi-racial crowd celebrating Victor’s victory?  Because they see Victor Hill as someone who will scare the hell out the thugs who are running the streets in Clayton County.  If they were running the streets of Habersham or Tuxedo in Buckhead, the high and mighty up there might be calling for Lil Vic to help them out too!

Apparently, Kimbrough’s poor judgment didn’t set well with the voters.

      State Senator Gail Davenport finally defeated her political nemesis, Gail Buckner.  She beat back Buckner’s strong showing in Clayton County with huge support from South DeKalb voters.  This race was a very interesting race since Buckner once held this post, gave it up to run for higher office, came back and defeated Davenport, and came back this year to try to take this Senate seat away from Davenport again.  Davenport hung on for a convincing 54% to 46% victory.  The Davenport Family is one of Clayton County’s oldest and finest families.   Gail’s sweet sister, Carolyn Davenport, a retired Clayton County educator, was with Gail last night, and I am sure that their ancestors who started Dixon Grove Baptist Church off Fielder Road about a century ago are smiling with favor upon their daughter, Gail Davenport,  for getting re-elected again.  In the last two elections, Gail has beaten back two strong challenges from Mike Glanton and Gail Buckner.

Heck, Who Knows What’s Gonna Happen in Little Ole Clayco on Tuesday? I Don’t. But, It Sure is Fun Speculatin’! My Prediction? Two of the Three Imcumbents Will Lose! How’s That for Hedgin’ My Bets?

By John R. Alston Trotter, EdD, JD

     What’s going to happen in little ole Clayco?  Who knows?  Clayco, or Clayton County for those not in the know, is geographically the third smallest county in Georgia, but it does indeed have a lot a mess going on there at any given time.  It is a very colorful county, a county from which novels are made and TV movies are written.  You have a sheriff who has been accused by one former employee of being fired because she refused to engage in a threesome with him and his spokeswoman, a spokeswoman/deputy who has since this alleged event been indicted on a couple of unrelated charges.  There has been more than one sexual accusation lodged against the current sheriff.  The former sheriff who is trying to mount a comeback is currently under indictment (37 counts) for misuse of campaign monies and using the county-issued vehicle to cross State lines.  (By the way, what happens to the sheriff in Muscogee County who wants to eat lunch in Phenix City, Alabama – just a tad across the ole Chattahoochee – and two of his deputies and he go over to the restaurant that you can actually see from the Dillingham Street Bridge?  Or, what about the Dade County Sheriff who might have to jut up into Tennessee on his route to serve a warrant on a suspect who lives on the other side of Dade County?  Just wondering.)

So, in this first race, we have embattled Sheriff Kem Kimbrough who apparently has plenty of money to send out slick mailings to the voters, reminding them that Victor Hill has 37 indictments against him.  As we noted in an earlier article, there is a common adage within the legal profession about the ability to indict a ham sandwich.  Only the District Attorney gets to present his or her side before a Grand Jury.  In addition, Grant Jury witnesses are not cross-examined by the accused lawyers.  But, this makes for good political grist.  Victor Hill sent out a mailing to the voters apologizing for mistakes that he has made in the past (but not apologizing for the allegations in the indictment; he denies these accusations) and promising to be wiser and more mature if the voters give him a second chance.  He claims that he will focus all of his energies on the thugs and criminal elements in the County, not on his political opponents.  He asks the voters to “bring back the Crimefighter.”

Shana Rooks made a surprise showing in County Commission District 3.  She is a Spelman graduate as well as a graduate of Tulane University Law School.  This lawyer, who has apparently engaged in a significant amount of pro bono work on behalf of the indigent, is mounting an aggressive runoff campaign against incumbent Wole Ralph, reminding workers of his DUI charge, reckless driving charge, among other things, including, but not limited to, his participation in the largest tax increase in the history of the County Commission.  From driving around the County, it looks like that Commissioner Ralph has gone back to his original red and white signs of earlier days, unlike the sign that he started off with this campaign season, a sign not unlike the ones used by Commissioner Gail Hambrick and District Attorney candidate Leslie Miller-Terry.  Wole Ralph’s name is a little weird, but although Shana Rooks made the runoff, her earlier campaign efforts did not look overwhelming.  It appears that she has stepped it up a notch in the runoff, however.  Will this be enough to un-seat Wole Ralph, a member of the so-called Wade Starr Triumvirate on the County Commission?   It was the triumvirate of commissioners, Sonna Singleton, Gail Hambrick, and Wole Ralph, which catapulted Wade Starr from Manager of Fleet Maintenance to County Manager, effectively stripping elected County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell of his power on the Commission.

     Wole Ralph explaining to the media his DUI arrest.

     Ahhhh.  The County Chairman’s race.  This ought to be interesting.  I was personally shocked when former County Police Chief, Jeff Turner, went to the mattresses in his race against Chairman Bell.  This really surprised me.  These two candidates ended in a virtual tie at 42% a piece.  I thought that with the help of Mark Rountree and Landmark Communications doing his mailings, etc., that Eldrin Bell would win without a runoff.  Bell somewhat became the darling of the Lake Folk and other whites in the County when he took on Victor Hill when Hill brusquely fired about 20 deputies his first day in office, most of whom were white deputies.  (Hill has since apologized for this action.)  But, it appears that Bell got too caught up in the T-SPOST and was too cozy with those who were pushing for it.  Also, when Jeff Turner had been the Clayton County Police Chief, he apparently made many friends, especially among those people actively involved in the neighborhood associations.  Although Turner may not be able to sing as well or glad-hand as well as Chairman Bell, he nevertheless is fairly facile himself and presents a young, dynamic image for the County.  The voters may simply being say:  “We are tired of all of the in-fighting.  We are tired of the ole guys.  We simply want a change.  We want a new beat in Clayton County.”

So, who’s going to win?  I don’t know.  I think, however, that two of the three incumbents will go down in defeat, and it will be a new day in Clayco…different characters and personalities, but perhaps more of the same.  With whom will Michael Hightower line up?  Doesn’t he and/or his company have the lion’s share of the contracts with the County Commission?  Just asking.

If Turner beats Bell, this ought to present an interesting situation with Turner as the elected County Commissioner Chairman and Wade Starr as the appointed County Manager.  Didn’t Turner accuse Wade Starr of orchestrating his firing as the County Police Chief?  Again, just asking.

  Is Wade Starr on the hot seat?

     What if Shana Rooks beats Ralph Wole, will this be the effective end of the Triumvirate on the Commissioner, a Triumvirate often accused of being orchestrated by Wade Starr?

    

    Steve Frey, Clayton’s most aggressive and effective attorney?

      What if former Sheriff Victor Hill defeats current Sheriff Kem Kimbrough, what will happen next?  Will Victor Hill demand a speedy trial, as is his right under the U. S. Constitution?  Will Judge Albert Collier, known to be a very fair and impartial judge, grant Mr. Hill a trial quick enough so that the disposition of his case can be determined before his time to take office?  Victor Hill’s attorney, Steve Frey, is certainly not a wall flower in the courtroom.  He is quick on his feet and his mental acumen in the courtroom is rather enjoyable to watch if you are an outside observer.  I personally think that Victor Hill’s personality and charisma, as well as Steve Frey’s gregarious and facile intensity, will work on a Clayton County jury.  I freely admit that I don’t know a lot about the facts of the case, and I know that Clayton County District Attorney Tracey Lawson-Graham is very competent and won’t bring a case that lacks impact.  If this case goes to trial, it will be one for the ages.  It will be a trial that people talk about for years.  © JRAT, August 19, 2012.

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