The Georgia Citizen

Keeping Georgians Informed.

Griswell Country Becomes Hill Country! The People of Clayton County Have Spoken. They Like Victor Hill. Not Guilty on all Counts. Victor Hill Becomes Undisputedly the Most Powerful Politician in Clayco! The Muhammad Ali in the Political Ring!

Griswell Country Becomes Hill Country!  The People of Clayton County Have Spoken.  They Like Victor Hill.  Not Guilty on all Counts.  Victor Hill Becomes Undisputedly the Most Powerful Politician in Clayco!  The Muhammad Ali in the Political Ring!

By John R. Alston Trotter, EdD, JD

     Well, when the Clayton County jury on August 15, 2013, brought back a unanimous verdict for Sheriff Victor Hill, this marked the official end of the J. Charley Griswell Era of Clayton domination and ushered in the Age of Victor Hill.  Actually, the two Clayco Epochs have overlapped each other for a few years.  This demarcation is not necessarily symbolic of two popular men in Clayton County who opposed each other.  No, it simply marks two major periods wherein the personalities and political charisma of each have and will dominate Clayton County for years to come.  Unbeknown to many people is the fact that Charley Griswell probably had more influence in Victor Hill’s comeback than anyone besides the candidate himself.  Griswell, being the master politician in Clayton County for four decades, certainly recognized the talent and skills of another smooth vote-getter like Victor Hill.  Over the last few years, Hill and Griswell grew fond of each other and consulted more than the public knew.  Charley Griswell was hoping perhaps more than any person in Clayco besides Hill himself that Hill would recapture the Sheriff’s badge.

Victor and Defense Team

Victor Hill emotionally celebrates his victory in the courtroom.  Attorney Steve Frey’s back is to the camera.  Photo by the AJC.

When a young Charley Griswell decided to run for a seat on the Clayton County Commission in 1972, many of the “wise” political people (viz, the incumbent political folk) told Griswell that he could not win.  But, Charley Griswell, like Victor Hill, was a man of the People.  He won.  Four years later, Griz decided that he would run for the fulltime position of Clayton County Commission Chairman.  Again, the same powerful people told him that though he had secured a seat on the commission, he would never be able to win the Chairman’s race.  Charley didn’t listen.  Griswell had built up quite a lot of goodwill with the People of Clayton County through the years, having led the Forest Park High football team to the State Championship in 1956.  The star half-back was awarded a football scholarship to the University of Georgia.   Griz knew how to deal with people.  He hadn’t been born with a silver spoon in his mouth.  He was raised off Jonesboro Road in South Fulton, before finally moving to Forest Park.  He lived with his aunt and uncle.  He worked hard, washing many cars for the people of Clayton County before securing a job at the Ford Motor Company in Hapeville.  In another article, perhaps I will describe the very humorous story about how he lost that job and then went into an industry that he knew nothing about but became an expert in, the housing industry.

Victor and well wishers

Sheriff Hill greeting his many supporters in the courtroom.  School board member Jessie Goree is to Sheriff Hill’s left. Photo by the AJC.

Griswell did indeed win the Chairman’s race in 1976, 1980, and 1984.  The Republicans were always trying to bring him down and making false accusations against him.  He was taken once or twice before a Federal Grand Jury but was never indicted.  He tells the story about admitting to the Grand Jury that he tried to help his friends when he was on the Commission.  He apparently told the Grand Jury that he thought that was what friends did, viz., help each other.  One elderly lady apparently spoke up and defended Mr. Griswell for trying to help his friends.  I am sure that the help that Griswell afforded to his friends is the same kind of help that is provided all over the county, including Washingon, D. C., by politicians for friends whom they know.  Griswell decided to take a ten year hiatus from politics when his term ended in January of 1989.

In 1998, Charley Griswell decided to jump back into the political fray in Clayton County.  He took on the two-term incumbent commissioner, Terry Starr, son of the long-time state senator, Terrell Starr.  Griswell whipped Starr fairly convincingly, campaigning in the county in short pants and toting a spit cup.  He would go knock on a voter’s door and leave the house with vine-ripe tomatoes from the back yard.  True story.  Griswell just had a way with voters.  He was not afraid to touch them and hug them and exchange stories and laugh with them.  He served two more terms on the Commission and finally gave up elected office after having never been defeated in Clayton County.

Now this brings us back to Victor Hill.  He, like Griswell, is not perfect and has feet made of clay, but he has that midas touch, and the voters like him.  Who else could have withstood an onslaught from the media after having just been served and battered by an obviously politically-inspired indictment of 37 counts?  The District Attorney apparently didn’t consider filing this indictment against Victor Hill until he announced in 2010 that he intended to run again for Sheriff of Clayton County.  According to testimony brought out in Court, 11 fulltime (and other part time) personnel were assigned to investigate private citizen Hill, even going through his garbage.  Over $400,000.00 taxpayers’ dollars was spent on this political investigation.  Nearly an entire year was spent on investigating this former sheriff.  The jury didn’t believe the narrative that was developed by the Clayton County’s D. A.’s office.  Judge Albert Collier had already dismissed ten of the counts before the trial even began.  The foreman of the jury stated on television that the jury believed that the indictment was politically motivated, that the State hadn’t proven its case, and that the members of the jury never really understood the State’s case.  It was as if the Clayton County D. A.’s office just wanted to throw everything at Hill, hoping that something would stick and that he therefore would be denied POST Certification and would therefore be barred from holding office.

JT and Steve Frye

Dr. John Trotter (L) congratulates Hill attorney Steve Frey (R) after the verdict shut-out.

The jury did not buy this snake oil indictment handed down by the Grand Jury which was presented by the D. A.’s office.  We heard months ago that it was almost a 55%-50% vote on the Grand Jury about whether to go forward with an indictment, and keep in mind that you can almost indict a ham sandwich in the grand jury process.  The defendant is not there to refute charges.  He and his attorneys are not allowed to put on their defense nor allowed to cross examine witnesses.   This should have sent a strong message to the D. A.’s office about the weakness of its case.  In a criminal case, the State has to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

The State made a big deal about Victor Hill going on a few short vacations after he was defeated by Kem Kimbrough in the 2008 Democratic Primary.  But, Victor Hill was still the Sheriff of Clayton County and still a Constitutional Office of Georgia.  It was brought out in testimony that Sheriff Hill worked “24/7.”  He could be seen walking the halls of the county jail at two or three in the morning and on the weekends.  He did not have a “9 to 5” job.  He had no boss but the People.  He himself could decide when to take a vacation, just like another Constitutional Office, President Barack Obama, recently decided to take his family on a two to three week vacation to The Hamptons.  Neither Sheriff Hill nor President Obama had to ask permission from anyone to take the vacation.  President Obama is always on duty, and he and his family took Air Force One.  The same is true for Sheriff Victor Hill.  He took a county vehicle so that he could return to Clayton County on a moment’s notice.  Can you imagine that this was one of the main parts of the State’s case?  Good grief.

Tracey Lawson-Graham

Some are speculating that Clayton District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson will not run for a third term.  Photo by Clayton News/Daily.

 

Tracy Graham Lawson’s decision to go after Victor Hill was a bad decision, for her career and the political careers of those close to her.  She has now made Sheriff Victor Hill larger than life.  Unless Victor Hill just does some remarkably stupid things (which we don’t think that he will do), he will be the Sheriff of Clayton County as long as he wants to be.   He may later decide to run for U. S. Congress or for some other office.  But, whatever he decides, he can certainly broker much influence in any future political race in Clayton County for the foreseeable future.  Everyone likes a good comeback story or a story about fighting the system and prevailing.  That’s why we liken him to Muhammad Ali who is still enormously popular with the public in general and adored by African Americans.  Welcome to Hill Country.  The Age of Victor Hill has arrived.

Note:  Victor Hill wisely selected Steve Frey to be his lead counsel. He was assisted by Drew Findley of Atlanta in the argumentation before the jury.  These two fine attorneys were able to pick apart the State’s case which, like many cases brought forth from the State, looks imposing from an initial viewing but when held up to a withering cross examination tends to crumble.  © The Georgia Citizen, 2013.

The MACE Manifesto Being Publishing One Chapter Per Day!

Dr. John Trotter and Norreese Haynes’s recent book, The MACE Manifesto, is being published by Big Daddy Publishers one chapter per day during the month of July!

http://themacemanifesto.com/

Big Daddy Publishers released the following statement:

Big Daddy Publishers will be publishing a new chapter each day of July of The MACE Manifesto.  The principal author is Founder and Chairman of the Metro Association of Classroom Educators (MACE), Dr. John R. Alston Trotter, and MACE‘s Executive Vice Chairman Norreese L. Haynes contributes heavily to this shocking educational tome.  Trotter and Haynes issue what appears to be a very cogitated call for revolution, not clarification or obfuscation, in American Public Education (APE).

JT and NH in Yellow Room

Authors Norreese Haynes (L) and Dr. John Trotter (R)

These leaders of MACE appear to have  prescient insights into what is wrong with public education today.  Trotter and Haynes certainly do not pull any punches when they lower the boom on what they call “an educational state analogous to Germany‘s Weimar Republic in the 1920s or, better yet, the Pretorian Government of South Africa during the days of apartheid.” They contend that the waste and ineffectiveness and inhumanity of the public educational system in the United States is “both mind-boggling and unconscionable.”  Dr. Trotter states:  “It appears that no one wants to acknowledge what is fundamentally and systematically wrong with the system.  Everyone appears to be worried about being politically correct and polite.  Mr. Haynes and I are concerned about neither.  We simply tell the truth and let the chips fall where they may.”

 

Trust the People (Constitution), Not the Government, for Your Rights! My Thoughts on Collecting Metadata.

By John R. Alston Trotter, EdD, JD

I don’t like the federal government collecting metadata on any of us, without probable cause.  Heck, otherwise why have a Fourth Amendment which guarantees us with security within our persons and properties against unreasonable searches and seizures without warrants?

Montesquieu

Government’s goal is to limit your rights guaranteed by the U. S. Constitution.  The government doesn’t really like the Bill of Rights.  But, American Citizens historically have not trusted government.  In fact, without the express commitment by the First Congress to add the First Ten Amendments (Bill of Rights) to the freshly minted U. S. Constitution, the States probably would not have ratified this new Constitution (needed two-thirds of them to ratify).

I don’t like it when the Republicans try to limit our freedoms.  I don’t like it when the Democrats try to limit our freedoms.  Mining for metadata against its own Citizens is reprehensible, unconscionable, and, I think, unconstitutional.  I understand the need for security.  But, look at those for whom you have probable cause or at least some articulable suspicion.  Don’t try to be so damned politically correct.  I understand that mosques are off-limits for federal agents to peep into.  What?  Isn’t this where most of the terrorists congregate?  Oh, I’m sorry.  It’s more politically correct to look at the telephone calls of grandparents living in Des Moines, Iowa or the emails of businessmen in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Good grief.  At least be consistent.  Quit chipping away at the freedoms of law-abiding Citizens and go after those who actually are intent on causing great damage to our Republic.

 Gouverneur Morris

The irascible Gouverneur Morris penned the majestic words of the U. S. Constitution.

In the name of political correctness, this administration is just throwing a freedom-suffocating net around all Americans, hoping not to look politically incorrect…or just because it is about control and power.  Don’t trust the government.  The government is not United States.  The People are the United States.  When the many, many bundles of papers were gathered up in Philadelphia and assigned to a committee (after months of arguing and debating) to put the thoughts together coherently in two or three days, it took the genius of the irascible Gouverneur Morris to do so.  It was not James Wilson or James Madison (two brilliant minds at the Constitutional Convention) who wrote the document, though their geniuses are also reflected in the document itself.  No, it was the very irascible, lady-charming, forever loquacious, and often criticized and dismissed Gouverneur Morris who wrote this sublime document, including the majestic words, “We the People of the United States of America…”  I am glad that he did.

Steve Frey, Aggressive Attorney, Now Represents MACE Teachers!

The Metro Association of Classroom Educators (MACE) is pleased to announce that MACE and attorney Steve Frey have entered into an agreement that Mr. Frey will serve as General Counsel for MACE. Dr. John Trotter, the Chairman and CEO of MACE, stated: “All of us associated with MACE are very excited about having a lawyer of Mr. Frey’s caliber working with and advocating for the MACE teachers. In my personal capacity as well as in my capacity as the Chairman of MACE, Steve has been my attorney in the past. I can state unequivocally that I think that Steve Frey is the top attorney in all of Atlanta’s Southern Crescent – from Douglas County in the west all the way to Rockdale County in the east. In fact, in my opinion, he’s in the top five criminal defense attorneys in Georgia and perhaps the whole Southeastern United States. Hey, when Sheriff Victor Hill was hit with 37 indictments, who did he go to? Steve Frey. We are so excited about Steve Frey representing the MACE teachers!”

Steven M. Frey

Steven M. Frey, Esq.

Steven M. (Steve) Frey (pronounced “fry”) is a highly regarded Georgia criminal attorney. Frey combines his aggressive style with his charm and dogged determination to often work magic in the courtroom for his clients. Mr. Frey heads up The Frey Law Firm which is located at 21 Lee Street in downtown Jonesboro, Georgia. This firm was started by Mr. Frey’s father, William “Pete” Frey, who passed away in 2000. Pete Frey served for years as the elected Solicitor of Clayton County before going into a very successful criminal law practice. Pete Frey was brilliant, cagey, aggressive, and very adept in the courtroom. The lore of Mr. Frey’s father’s courtroom exploits is legendary in the Atlanta Southside. Even while still a student at the University of Georgia, Steve began working at the law office and in the courtroom with his father, aggressive attorney extraordinaire.

The saying goes that the bark doesn’t fall far from the tree, and Steve Frey is definitely a chip off the master tree. He studied the practice of law under the tutelage of his father. This practice of law is a skill that is not learned overnight; in addition, a person must have the talent and inclinations toward the practice of advocating for others. Steve Frey knows how to fight aggressively for his clients and does so without antagonizing either the judges or the opposing counsel. Mr. Frey states that respect is important in the practice of law. Steve Frey was elected by his peers to be the President of the Clayton County Bar Association.

Mr. Frey has been practicing law for around twenty years, is licensed to practice in all of the courts of Georgia and is also licensed to practice law in the Federal District and Appeals Courts.

Mr. Frey and Mrs. Frey are the proud parents of two children. The family lives in Newnan, Georgia where Steve is a member of the Newnan High School Cougar Booster Club and served in the past as President of the Newnan Country Club.

Atlanta’s Beverly Hall, Among Others, Indicted on Good Friday! What is Atlanta’s Current Superintendent, Erroll Davis, Doing to Change the Operational Conditions for the APS Teachers? Not Much! He and His Minions Still Refuse to Comply with the State’s Complaints Law! Read Here Dr. John Trotter’s Two-Day Commentary on the AJC’s Get Schooled Blog About the Sad State of Affairs in the Atlanta Public Schools.

The first thing that Erroll Davis needs to do is re-vamp the APS Complaints Policy which, as I have pointed out over and over, egregiously and flagrantly violates the Georgia Code (OCGA 20-2-989.5 et seq.). Destiny Washington, the attorney who was acting as Davis´s designee, shut down a grievance hearing on Wednesday  when I just would not let her talk over me when I was cross-examining a principal (Tyronne Smith of Mays High School). APS´s actions relative to grievances/complaints are still unconscionable under the Erroll Davis Administration.

Now about Beverly Hall and the indictments: All one has to do is go to the MACE website or look on my personal blog and see that it was the people at MACE who were warning about “systematic cheating” on the streets of Atlanta and DeKalb, calling both systems “gangsta systems” in writing and on the streets with picket signs well before there was any talk about investigating the Beverly Hall and Crawford Lewis administrations. So much for a prophetic voice, heh?

Naturally, MACE has its detractors among the administrators who can “bravely” blog anonymously about MACE being a “tiny and third rate union.”  But, it was ole Johnny Trotter and “his tiny and third union” which openly pointed out the complete disregard that the Beverly Hall and Crawford Lewis administrations had for the law, despite the fact that many, including the major media in the State, were either singing their praises or looking rather impassively at the goings-on in these systems.

So many of the administrators indicted have been the target of MACE (articles, our Needs Improvement List, pickets, letters, grievances, etc.) in the past. We never called them “criminals.” But, it looks like Paul Howard has stepped up to the plate and is calling them precisely this. I too believe that their actions were criminal, but we always leave the criminal stuff up to the prosecutors. I am impressed with Paul Howard´s mettle in prosecuting from the very top on down.

In particular, I remember the extremely hot picket on Trinity Avenue in the boiling summer heat in July of 2009 or 2010 when we were calling APS a “gangsta school system” and the three pickets three days in row in front of the DeKalb Central Office on North Decatur Road in 2009.  The first day or two was in torrential downpour of rain, and Keith Whitney of 11 Alive News called to tell me that the company’s van had to return to the station because of the ominous weather.  In these pickets, we were talking about “systematic cheating” and about DeKalb being a “gangsta school system.”  In fact, we also called Crawford Lewis a “Candy @ss” (because his administration also shut down a grievance when a teacher whom we were representing was about to testify about systematic cheating at Clarkston High School).

Yes, our tactics may be rather ruthless and politically incorrect and irreverent, but we just don’t care.  When as many egregious and unconscionable things are occurring as were occurring in these two systems, sometimes it takes “a tiny and third rate union” (ha!) to point the finger at the injustices.  I know one thing, anyone who works at MACE has more guts in their pinkie finger than these hollow and feckless administrators who blog under the cloak of darkness and who would never deign to use their real names.

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@ AJC isn’t me:  We must really get under your skin!  Ha!  It’s this “tiny and third-rate” teachers union that is always right on the situations and issues…and the same union that these disreputable administrators fear.  Whether you are a shill for incompetent and petty administrators or for GAE and/or PAGE, it doesn’t matter.  You do seem to know who to anonymously attack.  You anonymously attack those whom you fear.  You anonymously attack that which is a threat.  Otherwise, you simply ignore the group or person.  I presume that you find MACE and me too difficult to ignore!  Ha!

APS WAS and STILL IS a gangsta system, by the way.  When the administration totally disregards Georgia Statutes like the Erroll Davis Administration continues to do, then it STILL IS a gangsta system under an erstwhile corporate executive.

Yes, Maureen, I remember the bus tour and its stop at Parks.  I remember laughing uproariously about how the Partnership and you guys were either being duped big time or were willing participants in the scam.  I remember it well.  Like it was just yesterday.

I think that it is very significant that Kathy Augustine was not indicted.  Hmm.  I also remember when she called the police and tried to block me and my colleagues from entering into a “secret” school board meeting.  Cooler heads prevailed.  I think that it was the good Dr. Norman Thomas (who, by the way, should have been named the superintendent in 1999, and APS would have none of these problems) who convinced Ms. Augustine that we had every right to be in the “secret” school board meeting on the third floor of the Taj Mahal.

I think that this 7.5 million bail will be reduced significantly.

I really don’t think that the average person realizes just how much pressure that there was on the teachers to cheat.  I admire the many teachers who did not give in and do so.  Many lost their jobs as a result.  But, before losing their jobs, they underwent the most harrowing corporate executions, resulting in many losing their good health before losing their jobs.

From the very beginning, I knew that the Beverly Hall Administration was full of shit and therefore I never even once attempted to sit down talk with Beverly Hall about any issues…unlike doing so with other superintendents.  Sometimes, you simply conclude that it is a complete waste of time.  I felt and still feel this way same way about superintendents Joe Hairston, the Thompson fellow, and Edmond Heatley in Clayton County; Jim Fox, Jamie Wilson, and Robert Avossa  in Fulton County; Alvin Wilbanks in Gwinnett; and Thomas Tocco in Cobb.  Some just reek with arrogance.  Complete jackanapes.  I have probably interacted in some way with 50 to 75 superintendents in the Metro Atlanta area in the last 25 years, and some are just not worth sitting down and engaging in a conversation.  I can assure you that unlike APS superintendents Benjamin Canada, Lester Butts, and Betty Strickland, Beverly Hall (as well as fellow transplanted New Yorker, J. Jerome Harris) have this arrogant air about them.

I did speak at the school board meeting in, I think, July of 1999 when Beverly Hall was first introduced to the public in Atlanta.  I remember saying, “Dr. Hall, Welcome to Kosovo, welcome Rwanda, welcome to North Korea…because the Atlanta Public Schools doesn’t seem to think that it is located in Georgia.”   I went on to talk about APS’s almost complete disregard for the Georgia laws (relative to complaints, duty free lunch, sick leave, etc.).  Under Beverly Hall, the situation in Atlanta got worse…much, much worse.  Many lives were ruined by the actions of this administration.

Attentive Parent:  I personally haven’t heard about any talks of merger but I know that the educational think tanks that are full of Ivy League trained non-educators always push for school system mergers.  Several decades ago there was a big push for cross-district busing.  This mush-for-curriculum is, in my opinion, racist at its core.  It stems, I think, from the notion that minority students can’t keep up with the white kids and the Asian kids in the suburbs…and they can’t as long as virtually no discipline is in place in the urban schools.  I believe that with the proper discipline in place and with the teachers freed up to be creative so that they can find unusual and sometimes crazy ways to motivate the unmotivated students that these students can learn information (you know, the “old” curriculum) instead of having to push them to engage in non-accountable group projects and touchy-feely stuff which will not help them in the real world, but will doom them to lives of serfdom in the “global economy” (which is perhaps the plan).  Thanks for indulging me in “stealing” some the good stuff that you have tirelessly unearthed.  Thanks!

@ Attentive Parent:

The average parent has no clue that the average middle school student in urban schools could not tell you if Thomas Jefferson or Abraham Lincoln wrote the Declaration of Independence or if the Civil Rights Movement took place in the 19th Century of the 20th Century, much less tell you the difference between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and historical significance of Selma and Hiroshima.  These students are just clueless…and without much future.  Now, if you asked the same aged students at Marist or Westminster or Lovett the same questions, they probably readily know the answers.  Public education’s curriculum, by the design (as you eloquently point out on your blog), is full of mush, full of touchy-feely crap, full of games and group discussions/projects.  It is this way all the way up to graduate school now.

Bill Gates even admits that he envisions using games to teach the kids (using his app, I’m sure).  But, the idea of transmitting knowledge (the foundation of a “common” culture, if you will) is so 1950ish to these new educational policy wonks (who don’t have the good sense to get out of the rain).  But, in the 1950s, at least we could tell you that Idaho was out west and that Massachusetts was in the northeast.  We had a very definite idea about the location of Japan, Iceland, and Argentina.  We knew how to multiply off the top of our heads and how to break down words phonetically.  We knew the parts of language and how to write cogent sentences and paragraphs.  But, these poor kids in the public schools (especially in the inner city schools) are lost when it comes to such standard and basic knowledge.  The key to success in the business world is being able to communicate in writing and orally the King’s English.  Now I am not taking away the exceptions to the rule, viz., the entertainers and the athletes who earn incomes outside this standardization of common knowledge, but how many people are going to be successful in these endeavors?  It is really somewhat criminal to set up expectations for these children to think that they are going to be the next T. I. (“King of the South”) or another Michael Vick whose mastery of juking skills have earned him millions.

Look at the successful people in our world today.  Look at President Barack Obama.  He attended Punahou Academy with very high academic standards.  Then, he was off to Occidental College, Columbia University, and Harvard Law School.   Look at President Clinton.  Georgetown University, Oxford College (Rhodes Scholar), and Yale Law School.  George W. Bush.  Started off at Midland Elementary and then San Jacinto Jr. High.  But, Poppy and Barb sent him on up to the northeast to go to the very rigorous Phillips Academy before matriculating to Yale undergrad and Harvard Business School.  This is just politics.  Look at Ted Turner.  McCauley Prep in Chattanooga and then to the very tough The Citadel in Charleston.  (I think that I am right about Ted’s education.)  Look at Oprah Winfrey.  Fish University, I think.  All of these successful people learned knowledge…yes, information.  None of the touchy-feely stuff.  None of the holding hands and singing nursery rhymes.

Today, however, none of the educrats or the educational wonks know what to do with urban education.  They are afraid of it.  They think, like Social Security with politicians, that it’s hands-off topic.  It reeks with charges of racism.  So, they think that perhaps that they can just try the soft approach…you know, group projects which will not hold each student accountable for how he or she performs.  The individual’s success or failure can be hidden in the collective meltdown.  And, be sure, it is a meltdown.  It is a meltdown of knowledge.  It is, as I often say when I see that an administrator criticizes a teacher for being “teacher centered” and not “student centered,” a pooling of ignorance.  If the students don’t know squat about the U. S. Constitution or about Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, then how can they teach each other in some group discussion/project.  They first need to have some knowledge transferred to them.  But, as my friend Beverly Fraud (often on this blog) says, “They want a guide on the side, not a sage on the stage.”  This is a good way of putting it.  Teachers become mere facilitators, not transmitters of knowledge.  Why?  Because in this new way of thinking (can we say, “Common Core Curriculum”?), verifiable, objective knowledge is no longer cherish or even tolerated.  We are now witnessing the philosophical deconstructionism attacking our schools like a far eastern tsunami.

No one wants to first tackle the near dearth of discipline in the urban schools.  This is a dirty job and not very appealing.  But, until these schools are put back in order discipline-wise, no significant learning will take place.  We have said over and over that you cannot have good learning conditions until you first have good teaching conditions.  The first thing that any school leader worth his or her salt has to do is to get the school in order.  In other words, he or she has to first establish sound, fair, and consistent discipline in the school, and the students have to know undoubtedly that the administrators support the teachers when it comes to discipline.

@ Top School:  I hear you, brother.  Money still covers up a lot.  The more money that you have, the more “justice” you receive (actual, the more “mercy”).  This has been the Atlanta way for years…going back to the 19th Century.

@ 20/20:  I have been saying over and over now that I don’t see any improvement with the Erroll Davis Administration.  He’s just the un-Beverly Hall.  His administration still violates the Georgia Code Sections which govern the schools.  Just this past week, his designee, attorney Destiny Washington, abruptly shut down a grievance hearing when my questions to Mays High principal apparently got too probative for her taste.  On the very face, the APS Complaints Policy is a joke.  It egregiously and flagrantly violates the law (OCGA 20-2-989.5 et seq.).  There is no difference between the Erroll Davis Administration and the Beverly Hall Administration in this regard.  Both administrations were/are shameless when it comes to the teachers having an avenue to complain and blow the whistle.  Someone asked earlier why we didn’t take these guys to court over these violations.  And appear before the same judges who dine with Erroll at the Rotary Club or the 191 Club or the Piedmont Driving Club?  Right.  And perchance that a judge actually would deign to rule against ole Erroll, why would I think that he and APS would be more prone to follow case law than statutory law that is a clear as the nose on your face?  Ha!

I have thought from the very beginning that ole Erroll is just a puppet.  Was there a deal in the works that if he would step down from being the CEO of the Board of Regents without any stink that he would be given a consolation prize of heading up APS?  It makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

@ Bernie:  I am not indicting all public schools.  Many are doing a great job but the advance of the Common Core Curriculum with its emphases on group projects, etc., will eventually whittle away at the excellence like what is currently happening under Robert Avossa in Fulton County.

I thought that I made it abundantly clear that I was particularly addressing the complete mess that currently characterized much of urban schooling in the United States.  I also pointed out the difference in the type of education that we received in the public schools of yesteryear before the deconstructionists got control of the curriculum and frowned upon objective, verifiable knowledge and instead began to push more existential mush.  I certainly yield to my fellow blogger, Attentive Parent, who has done a massive amount of research in this area.  I recommend that you tune into her blog.  It will be a treat.

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@ Maude:  I am still here, my friend.  I was just reading the very informative piece by Dr. Clayton Alford from New York City who has been acquainted with Beverly Hall for many decades now.  Right on target.  I read another piece that he wrote and submitted on another thread.  I think that the good Doctor about sums it up.  Beverly Hall’s so-called leadership was flawed from the very beginning, rooted in intimidation, fear, and retribution.

If we learn anything from the life of the Good Master and from mortals like Abraham Lincoln, it is not to harbor grudges.  Somehow, however, I think that these posts that Dr. Alford has written had to be said…and say it well, he did.  So apropos.  The entire Beverly Hall administration (I am talking about the close sycophants whom she promoted) was just unconscionably corrupt.  The poor teachers and administrators who wanted to do the right thing were put on a medieval rack and tortured until they resigned/retired or were corporately executed.  Of course, I would be remiss to my own organization if I did not boldly and proudly say that we were able to save and protect and empower our members.  We had to act “crazy” in the eyes of the prim and proper and wannabe socialites in Atlanta.  (Picketing on the streets and boldly speaking at board meetings and engaging in thorough and sifting cross examinations of the administrative goons who were carrying out tyrannical decrees from Trinity Avenue were seen as “crazy” by some but was seen as necessary by us.)

I remember when the teachers were apparently so stressed at one of the high schools that they called me on my cell phone, begging us to come to the school.  Mr. Haynes and I were actually just leaving a Fulton County school, but we told the teacher on the phone that we would head their way.  When we got to the Atlanta high school, many teachers were signing up for membership into MACE.  (They knew that we were not one whit afraid of the principal – very close to Hall, by the way – who seemed to be terrorizing them.)  Unbeknown to us, this principal apparently later called the police and filed warrants for our arrests.  (This was not my first arrest at the hands of an Atlanta school principal.  Another principal had me arrested apparently because she was not winning a dialectical with me in her office…with a MACE attorney and a MACE teacher present.  She had not asked us to leave at that point and when she asked us to leave, we did indeed leave.  I had a smile on my face the entire time that we were discussing the teacher’s situation.  The principal’s logic and rhetoric was flawed beyond measure.  Later, this principal, I believe, abruptly resigned/retired during the middle of a school year.)  Back to the high school:  We were arrested, yes, by the Beverly Hall administration.  My second stint at the “Garnett Street Hotel.”  Ha! I know firsthand about the goings-on of this heinous (yes, heinous) administration that even this newspaper and others tried for the longest to defend.  I give credit (much credit) to the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for finally blowing the top off of this story.  I really do think, despite the initial tepid response, that this newspaper should be in the running for a Pulitzer.  I really do.

Let me show you another way that Beverly Hall stepped on the rights of others to gain money.  The State Law (OCGA 20-2-850) says that certificated employees in the Georgia schools are “entitled” to 1.25 days of sick leave days per contract month.  These days can accumulate up to 45 days, but many systems even allow the teachers to accumulate over 100 days.  But, in Atlanta under Hall (and maybe still under Erroll Davis), if a teacher is out for six days in any particular contract year, the administrators put this teacher on a Professional Development Plan (PDP) which is very onerous and job-threatening to a teacher.  We filed many grievances for teachers on this issue.  When Hall could show the school board that she lowered absenteeism, she received huge bonuses.  Huge.  And she received them by denying the teachers their “entitlement” to take care of their very sick child or to stay home and recuperate when having the flu, etc.  Many, many teachers in Atlanta came to school sick because they were afraid to use their State-granted sick leave.

So, Attorney Schall, I am not sympathetic to your opinions about the RICO charges against Beverly Hall.  She set it all up.  Never doubt this one moment, and I appreciate Dr. Clayton Alford of New York City revealing even more of her unconscionable modus operandi in the public schools of New York and New Jersey.  A leopard can’t change her spots, heh?

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  @ Beverly Fraud:  I think that at that point (2001) the AJC did not really have the stomach to follow through on Donsky’s revelations.  I think that this is pretty obvious.  The city fathers were trying desperately to show to outside investors that Atlanta’s public schools were improving greatly and that there would be a better labor pool here than in, say, Charlotte, Jacksonville, or Birmingham.  But, today the AJC is under different management and in different circumstances than in 2001.  I understand clearly your point, and you are trying to make them say “Uncle,” but few large institutions want to admit wrong, even the U. S. Government.  Let’s just be happy that in the last couple of years, the AJC did what would make Henry W. Grady quite proud.  It demonstrated impressive journalistic mettle, at the risk of offending many city fathers.  It never was really about the children; it’s always been about the money to the moneyed class of Buckhead (as our fellow blogger Top School often points out).  Now the AJC’s publisher and editor might even have a hard time securing a good table in the Piedmont Driving Club’s dining room.

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@ living:  I have been around public schools my entire life, and I have never seen so much fear and intimidation in one school system before.  APS took the prize hands down.  I personally know some who worked at the Central Office on Trinity who were abruptly escorted out of the building under armed guards…and I understand it was because they deigned to question the unethical practices.  They were not MACE members.  They were not teachers but just people whom I know.  The totalitarian nature of the school system was something that the average person could not fathom and something that the Chamber of Commerce leaders apparently didn’t worry about.

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I wonder if anyone remembers me writing right here on this blog when Mark Elgart of SACS came down very hard on Clayton County for very dubious reasons that I knew of several school systems doing much, much worse than anything that was happening in Clayton County.  In particular, I had Atlanta, DeKalb, and even Fulton in mind.  (Later on we found out that the hallowed Cobb County School Board had been meeting illegally behind closed doors for admittedly 57 times and that the much heralded Gwinnett County did not report to the State as required by law 45,000 serious – yes, serious – disciplinary offenses.)  One of the Clayton County school board members had told Mark Elgart in a public meeting that he had “no integrity” when he came traipsing down to a Clayton County School Board meeting on the sole request of the then chairperson, Ericka Davis, about a superintendent selection.  Later, according to what one school board member at the time told me, attorney Glenn Brock told the Clayton County School Board in closed door session that this was the reason that Mark Elgart was coming down on this board.

It appears that little Markie cannot handle public chastisement.  Perhaps we ought to be wondering now – with all these criminal indictments fresh on our minds – why Mark Elgart was coming down so hard on former Atlanta Chairman Khatim El.  Why was Mark Elgart such an apparent shill of this Beverly Hall?  Was he toting, as I have asserted so many, many times, the water for the Chamber of Commerce and/or other business interests with his bully club call “SACS accreditation” which is, in my opinion, not worth the paper on which it is written.  Perhaps the board of SACS and/or AdvancED ought to look for a clean start as well.  I can’t help but think that of all the people with the most eggs on their faces, ole Mark Elgart looks like he just came from the chicken coop himself.

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Maureen:  I do understand that my statements are not so pithy…such as the one above.  I have points to make, and I don’t count my words.  So, if it is in your best interests to remove my statements, go for it.  I think that I contribute something to the dialogue, but it is indeed the AJC’s blog, and I do indeed have many different avenues on which to write.

Off to lunch.  If, by the way, you, Maureen, are going to let administrators like “Georgia coach” (as admitted administrator, by the way) organize an effort by constant complaining to get me off this blog or to try to reduce me to writing harmless homilies which I won’t do, then again, it’s your choice.  Some of your more silent readers might just be disappointed.  No one really likes censorship…except those who want to control everything.  I have never complained about anyone’s posts on here…even the ones that are vitriolic toward me.

@ Catlady:  I agree.  A very thorough (not just one article here and there) investigation needs to take place on SACS and AdvancEd.  These two entities are laughable relative to any seriousness of applying its so-called standards evenly and with discrimination.  They are, to the contrary, applied most arbitrarily, capriciously, politically, and with a transparent and distinct goal of simply controlling school boards.  For this hollow organization, SACS (and its somewhat phantom parent company, AdvancEd), to sit by idly after all of the cheating in Atlanta was brought to full disclosure and to do nothing relative to this cheating is unconscionable and a clear sign that SACS stands for this:  “Still Advocating for Cronies and Superintendents.”  Mark Elgart was knee-deep in defending Beverly Hall and was using any power at his disposable with SACS to silence any of her critics among the elected members of the Atlanta School Board.

Maureen, the AJC is still the Georgia’s flagship newspaper, and its readers still expect the flagship paper to be aggressive when corruption seems to be rearing its head.  This is what keeps the newspaper relevant.  It still has much more resources at its disposal than individual blogs, though journalism has indeed changes and individual blog has the same ability to get on the internet highway as the large institutions.

I have complimented the AJC’s final thorough investigation of this huge cheating scandal in Atlanta.  I still applaud the AJC for this.  Without the AJC doing what it did, Beverly Hall may still be sitting ensconced on the 8th Floor of the Trinity Taj Mahal and ruining lives.  But, when the AJC was taken over by Ron Martin a few years back, the shorter and more “readable” articles were mandated.  More like the USA Today.  Quite frankly, I think that the average Georgian still greatly appreciates it when the AJC does the thorough investigations.  That’s when I pick up a paper copy at Publix.  There’s nothing like pouring over the paper newspaper at lunch!

Education Attorney Glenn Brock is the Money Man in the Georgia School Systems, Heh?

By John R. Alston Trotter, EdD, JD

http://www.mdjonline.com/view/full_story/9071276/article-School-board-attorney-expected-to-resign?instance=home_news_bullets&sms_ss=blogger

Who died and made Glenn Brock of the Brock, Clay, Calhoun & Rogers (aka Brock and Clay) Law Firm the legal expert (or as he refers to himself as “education attorney”) in the State of Georgia?   Come on, folks!  This is laughable!  Hell, just read in the above link of his antics and practices on the Cobb County Board of Education before he stepped down apparently in a modicum of shame…only to hand the job off to his legal teammate, Clem Doyle.  Yes, let’s keep this $2,000,000.00 per year (probably more now) in the family, so to speak.

If Glenn Brock and his legal partners keep bringing in the millions off the school systems, they might be able to retire in Rio one day.  Ha!

If Glenn Brock and his legal partners keep bringing in the millions off the school systems, they might be able to retire in Rio one day. Ha!

Yes, not only has Glenn Brock taken responsibility for “advising” the Cobb County Board of Education in its 57 illegal school board meetings – yes, taking votes in Executive Session – but former superintendent Fred Sanderson apparently refused to bid out the legal work…after several Cobb County School Board members kept calling for this.  By the way, the Cobb County Board of Education admitted its 57 illegal meetings.  Another by the way, this is the same Glenn Brock who seems to have a special relationship with SACS chieftain Mark Elglart.  Where one shows up, the other seems closely behind.  In 2008, Mark Elgart, Glenn Brock, Bradley Bryant, and James Bostic (the last two were State School Board members at the time) illegally met behind closed doors with the Clayton County Board of Education to “help” this school board.  Help?!  Are you kidding me?!  This kind of “help” did nothing but to destroy Clayton County…just like it is in the process of destroying DeKalb County.

I have to admit…ole Glenn Brock is quite a businessman.  His firm doubles not only as a law firm, bringing in millions and millions of dollars in revenue from the public troughs of the school systems, but it is, according to the firm, “a top rated” political lobbying firm in Georgia.  Hey, that’s not all.  Ole Glenn has his own “search firm.”  What a joke…this “search” usually means, I suspect, a call to the Broad Foundation to see if Eli Broad’s group has identified a promising superintendent…you know…like Edmond Heatley whom Glenn recommended for Clayton County.  What a disaster.  And MACE warned the Clayton County Board of Education beforehand with pickets, etc., about hiring this “reject” from Chino Valley, California.  But, no, they listened to ole Glenn and got themselves a real character for a superintendent…one whom I believe was perhaps the most despised of all time by the employees – or at least in the modern era.

I think that it was Glenn Brock who brought in Michael Hinojosa to Cobb County from Dallas Independent School System in Texas.  Hinojosa wasn’t exactly loved in Dallas, and there was not a little cheering when he left.  I don’t think that his “achievements” in Dallas were without majors detractors.  After Hinojosa, Glenn brought Robert Avossa from little Wingate College to the Fulton County School System.  Yes, Mr. Avossa, under whose leadership in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina it appears that a significant number of the student statistics were inflated and were recently adjusted by the new superintendent, came to Fulton County with his new doctorate from Wingate College almost freshly-minted to go along with his degree from NOVA out of Ft. Lauderdale.  Yes, where does Glenn Brock find these chaps?   Ah, you ask, heh?   Well, ole Bobby Avossa is also one of Eli and Edith Broad’s boys.  But, I admit that Bobby Avossa has done well in this American Experience.  It is for him a dream come true.  Born in Italy.  Raised in Italy for his first few years…and eventually growing up in Florida, he, like other appointed superintendents, wormed his way up the corporate ladder to bring in a healthy pay and benefits package of around $300,000.00.  Not quite as good as Mark Elgart, but a good healthy chunk of public cheddar.

Talking about backgrounds… Sergeant Edmond Heatley had only been a school teacher for just two years.  Yes, just two years.  What a Dream Merchant ole Glennie Boy Brock is!  Not wonder this not-so-highly-qualified appointees seem to always recommend to their respective school boards that Glenn Brock become the school board attorney!  Ha!  He helps these cats achieve the American Dream!  Of course ole Glenn doesn’t do this for free.  He too gets a good chunk of the public cheddar when he lands someone like Michael Hinojosa to the Cobb County Board of Education.  Little Mikie was born in Mexico.  He, like Italian-American Robert Avossa, is just living the American Dream!  It is easy to achieve.  Get a few degrees.  Go along to get along.  Kiss a lot of corporate ass.  Eat a little corporate do-do on the way (sometimes they even allow you to take it capsule-style, but you do have to take it!).  Sell off your integrity.  Lose your soul.  Ooh-haa!  The American Way!  By the way, do you think that old Glenn Brock would have recommended Sergeant Edmond Heatley to the Clayton County Board of Education unless he had been African-American?  Just a thought…

Yes, ole Glenn Brock has done quite well for himself.  He graduated from the University of Georgia in the early 1970s.  Worked a little.  Decided to go to law school.  Attended the unaccredited and now-defunct Atlanta Law School.  A law school a lawyer does not make.  I have known some of the best lawyers in Georgia who attended Woodrow Wilson Law School, Atlanta Law School, and John Marshall Law School, the latter of which is in the process of trying to secure full Bar accreditation.  I actually tip my hat to Glenn Brock for seeing such a good gig…or two…or three and jumping on board.  Yes, there are millions and millions in the public schools.  I read the other day that Georgia spends over a billion dollars testing its children, grading the tests, etc.  Could this really be true?

Yes, folks, it’s all about the money.  I have been telling you for years that it’s about the cheddar.  It’s about the cheddar for SACS.  It’s about the cheddar with these law firms.  It’s about the cheddar with these laughable appointed superintendent and their damn “search” firms.

Wake up, people.  The Educational Industrial Complex has taken over our schools.  Local control is a myth.  The corporacrats have been salivating over this school money for years.  Yes, even the seeming altruistic but educationally-misguided Bill Gates had his conversation with Steve Jobs in Jobs’s house when Jobs was terminally ill about getting the tablets and apps into the public schools.  The public school systems are gold mines…as our friend Glenn Brock discovered years ago.  Oh, by the way, did I mention that Glenn seems to have a fourth gig…helping bail out school systems which get in trouble with his apparent buddy, Mark Elgart of SACS?  Now this man knows how to make money off the school systems!  Ha!  © JRAT, January 28, 2013.

A Few Queries About Commission Chairman Jeff Turner’s Residences & Domicile — and a Little Historical Perspective of this Thorny Issue in Clayton County Politics

By John R. Alston Trotter, EdD, JD

If there ever was a murkier law in politics than the misnamed “residency requirement,” I don’t know what it is.  First of all, the judges sometimes come down on different sides of this issue, depending on whom they want to help or hurt.  Just the facts, Jack.  I just quickly read the AJC article yesterday about some questioning whether newly-elected Clayton County Commission Chairman, Jeff Turner, was truly elected or not, depending on where his domicile was at the time.  The article had factual mistakes in it (perhaps I will deal with these later).  I don’t recall “domicile” even being mentioned in the article.

 jeff-turnerClayton Commission Chairman Jeff Turner

I have had a little experience dealing with the murky issue of residency and domicile in the past.  So, right off the top of my head, let me throw in my two cents worth.

There is a difference between residence and domicile.  Judge Eugene Lawson who used to supervise elections in Clayton County and I used to have detailed and lengthy discussions about this issue.  At one time, Judge Lawson kept telling me that school board candidates had to reside or more accurately have a domicile in the district for one year before the election.  But, this isn’t what the law says, and he finally conceded to my view on this matter.  The Georgia Statute says “lives in the district,” and it does not specify any particular length of time.  Now, for Commissioner or Commission Chairman or any legislative seat, the requirement is to live “one year” in the district.  But, is that one year before the November election or one year before the candidate takes office in January?  This could make a difference in the Jeff Turner case.

What is the difference between “residence” and “domicile”?  A residence is where you “stay” but “domicile” is where you “hang your hat,” so to speak.  It is where you always intend to make your homestead.  You can have many residences (see J. Charley Griswell, Mike Barnes, and other former Clayton County politicians who definitely had more than one residence) but only one domicile.  You can be in the U. S. Marines and live all over the country and world, but can keep you domicile in Jonesboro where you haven’t actually spent the night in ten or more years.  But, it is where you still legally cast your vote from (via mail).  Some things do indeed make a declaration that you intended to change your domicile.  One is where you vote.  The other is homestead exemption declaration.  If you claim that you domicile is DeKalb County but you vote in Spalding County, then your domicile is Spalding County.  If you file a Homestead Exemption (you’re only allowed one) on a home of yours in Fayette County, then your domicile is Fayette County, despite the fact that you are working and “living” or “staying” in Cobb County for five straight years.

What, from my reading of the published article in the AJC, is Jeff Turner’s potential problem is filing a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in, I believe 2011, in Federal Court using his Henry County address and filing for divorce using this same address.  From the article, it looked like that he had changed his address with the Federal Bankruptcy Court, but failed to do so with the Henry County Court.  The latter, I think, can be explained that since his soon-to-be ex-wife was still living in Henry County, he wanted the mail to come to that address.   But, usually when couples are going through a divorce, they don’t trust each other with the other’s mail.  But, this is not bright line standard of residency.

Where did Jeff Turner vote in 2010?  This makes a big difference, I would think.  But, where did file Homestead Exemption in 2011?  The latter is a big problem.  You can’t received tax benefits by filing Homestead Exemption (even with an estrange spouse) in one county and then claim that your domicile is in another county.  That was the problem that now State Senator Valencia Seay had in 2002.  I challenged her on this in court.  The visiting senior State Superior Court Judge stated in open court that I had done an “excellent job” presenting the facts of the case and told me privately that “you could very well win this on appeal.”  Usually, visiting judges (or sitting ones, for that matter) don’t like to take an election away from someone.  I let it.  I had made my point, I thought.

If I recall correctly, one of the key cases that I used in the Valencia Seay case was the Dismuke case, an old case in Georgia which appeared right on point in this matter.

Now this same Atlanta Journal-Constitution article conjured up the illegal removal of Norreese Haynes from the Clayton County Board of Education in 2008.  Naturally, the AJC did not call this removal “illegal,” but it was.  The AJC reporter, showing a total lack of depth in reporting, mistakenly stated that Haynes’s residence was investigated, and it was proven that he had not lived in his school board district for “two years.”  Totally false.  What happened was that then Chairperson Ericka Davis apparently couldn’t handle Mr. Haynes sudden popularity and favorable publicity on the school board (exposing the now infamous “land deal,” exposing the switcheroo on the attorney’s two contracts, calling for the removal of the “thugs” in the Clayton County Schools, etc.).  She apparently had her buddy Eldrin Bell, who was Commission Chairman at the time, to have the Clayton County Police to “investigate” where Haynes “lived.”  The Police went to the wrong house, his former residence in Morrow, and found that he was not “staying” there.  No shit, Dick Tracy!  Mr. Haynes had already moved.  I called Eldrin Bell on his cell phone and told him that, but he told me that he was just doing what he was requested [by Ericka Davis] to do.  In the next day or two, Eldrin Bell, presumably to cover his political ass, sent a letter to Ericka Davis (and it was copied to the other school board members), reminding her that he was requested to conduct this investigation of Norreese Haynes.  By the way, Ericka Davis violated all of the so-called “standards” of SACS by unilaterally making this decision, without the approval of the school board.

 norreese-and-andersonNorreese L. Haynes (L) with MACE attorney J. Anderson Ramay

Norreese Haynes had already moved to a house in Conley, a house at which I visited him and a house that he had already changed to his official residence with the school system itself.  But, when people don’t want to know the truth, they will not find out the truth.

Furthermore, the only department or agency charged with determining the qualifications and residence of political candidates and office holders in Georgia is the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office.  This office conducted an extensive investigation of Mr. Haynes’s domicile and concluded, in two published reports, that there was “no evidence” and “no sufficient evidence” that he had changed his domicile just because he was renting an apartment next to the Marietta Campus of Phoenix University where he was attending classes.  In fact, the Georgia Statute explicitly states that when a student moves to “stay” or “live” near or on a college campus that this does not change his or her domicile.  Mr. Haynes continued to pay for rent at his Conley home.  He had his utilitiy bills, etc., to prove that he continued to live there, that it was his “domicile.”  I joking told Mr. Haynes that apparently it was O. K. for Clayton County’s white politicians to have more than one residence (and a single domicile) but problematic for black politicians to have the same.

The Georgia Statute explicitly states under no circumstances shall an elected official be removed from office without “judicial determination.”  Judge Deborah Benefield demonstrated her lack of integrity and judicial mettle in this case.  Instead of simply (sua sponte) telling the Clayton County Board of Education that it had to take Norreese Haynes back on the school board after he sued the school board on the matter, she went around her ass to get to her elbow, apparently trying to figure out how she could rule against Mr. Haynes.  She stated, quite incredibly, that he sued the wrong party.  Oh really?  He sued the actual culprits, viz., the board members who voted to illegally remove him and the school board itself.  Why would he sue Annie Bright, the Elections Registrar?  She did nothing to him.  She didn’t remove him?  Had he sued Annie Bright, then this weasling judge would have ruled again that the sued the wrong party.

Preston Haliburton clearly stated in open court that this action could not take place, according to the Georgia law, “without judicial determination.”  In the local media, Mr. Haliburton rightly stated that Mr. Haynes had the facts on his side and had the law on his side, but he wasn’t sure if he had the judge on his side.  He didn’t.  This case has to rank as the nadir in the rather speckled judicial career of Deborah Benefield.  It definitely earns her a chapter in the to-be-published book, Profiles in Cowardice.  By the way, it appears that this courtroom episode with Preston Haliburton got under Deborah Benefield’s skin.  She seems to still have a grudge against him.   I presume that she doesn’t like being “bested” in the courtroom.  Ha!

Now back to Jeff Turner.  Can he have more than one residence?  Sure.  He can have the address at his father’s (I think that this was mentioned in the AJC article), the Riverdale apartment, the Henry County house, a house on Lake Oconee, a cabin in Union County, a house on Ponte Verde, Florida, an apartment down here in Rio de Janeiro, and even a boathouse on the Savannah River.  But, one has to constitute his “domicile.”  You can only legal run from office in your “domicile,” the place where you “hang your hat.”

What will be the magic date?  January of 2013 or November 6, 2012?  I think that courts in Georgia have ruled both ways.   If the date is November 6, 2012, and Chairman Turner filed his Homestead Exemption (which determines our residence “for all legal purposes,” I think this is how the case law reads, if I remember accurately) after this date, then this is problematic for Mr. Turner.  But, aren’t all challenges rendered moot if they are beyond 30 days from the person becoming a candidate – or is that from the time of the election or the time of taking office?

Personally, I don’t think that Chairman Turner will be removed from office.  If he is removed, however, then all of the three-vote decisions would have to be rescinded, including the termination of Wade Starr’s contract as County Manager.  My prediction is that Jeff Turner will weather this storm.

Norreese Haynes was making too much noise on the school board, according to the thinking of some.  I had an influential politician tell me that the powers-who-were at the time were determined to get Mr. Haynes off the board.  He was talking about stuff that might have been a little embarrassing to some folks who had been making some money off the school system.  He had access to the media.  Richard Belcher of WSB TV2 interviewed him for two nights on the now infamous “land deal.”  This was land that had been sold to the school system by Gwinnett County developer John D. Stephens, apparently one of Eldrin Bell’s political financiers.  On one day alone, Norreese Haynes turned down interviews from local network channels 2, 5, 11, and 46 as well at Fox National News (Bill O’Reilly).  In the opinion of some, Haynes had to be stopped, evidently.  But, shortly after his illegal removal from the school board (action which, by the way, reminded one of the Wild, Wild West), Chairperson Ericka Davis first and former Vice Chairperson Eddie White next abruptly resigned from the school board.  Vice Chairperson Rod Johnson announced that he would be resigning but he never did.  But, he and the remaining school board members (even those who did not vote to illegally remove Norreese Haynes from the school board) were removed from the Clayton County Board of Education by Governor Sonny Perdue in the same 2008 year. © January 23, 2013, Sao Goncalo-Niteroi, Brazil.

We Wish President Obama Good Luck in His Second Term. Second Terms are Usually Tough. We Hope that He Defies the Odds!

Many Americans have strong feelings for or against President Obama.  Some are rapturous that a man of color is in the White House.  This is understandable.  Some can hardly say his name without choking.  This is not so understandable to me.  While I disagree strongly in many of his policies, especially his economic ones, he is our elected leader.  He was elected President of the United States on two occasions, and he and his family have earned four more years of public housing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Obama Painting

What are my problems with his economic policies?  I feel strongly that President Obama doesn’t understand business.  He’s never been in business, but neither had Ronald Reagan, if my memory serves me correctly.  I feel that our society is becoming an entitlement society – including corporate entitlements.  Many people just look to the government for a handout each month.  Many corporations like Halliburton also look to the government to line its corporate troughs with billions.  Both are wrong.

I am in Brazil for this Second Obama Inauguration.  I remember being in a Brazil hotel on January 20, 2009 watching the First Obama Inauguration on Fox News.  Today, I am not so lucky.  I just read about it on Facebook and elsewhere.

I have an American friend who told me just yesterday that besides his main business as an owner of several automobile dealerships, he owns 40 houses with people paying rent via Section 8.  He says that virtually none of the 40 families in the houses have people who are working.  Each household receives multiple government checks.  There is no incentive to work because many of these households receive about $2,000 in total income from the Federal Government, and if they worked, they would lose these benefits.  There no such thing here in Brazil.  Everyone works.  Everyone is hustling.  If you aren’t selling bottled water out on the street and even the major highways, then you are collecting used plastic bottles on the beach.  You are doing something to try to put some black beans and rice on the table.

There is public healthcare down here, but most of the people with whom I have interacted through the years do everything that they can to get off of it because the lines and the hours and hours of waiting to see a physician are incredible.  You can purchase a private healthcare plan for very reasonable prices and then go to private physicians and private hospitals.  But, sitting at home on your rear end and drawing checks from the Federal Government is unheard of.  It simply doesn’t exist down here.

The economy of Brazil is growing, but it doesn’t hurt that the World Cup of Futebol is coming here in 2014 and the Summer Olympics is coming in 2016.  But, you get a sense that this and other South American countries are growing countries.  Yes, they are still a little behind the times in so many ways.  I do know this.  Yes, I do.  There are so many things that I miss daily about the U. S.  But, the U. S. cannot become too comfortable with what we, by God’s grace, have built.  The tendency of reaching a plateau or being content with arrested development is dangerous.  If we are not growing in our economy, then it is slowly dying.  If we think that it is O. K. for one-half of the country to work and pay the taxes and the other half not work, pay no taxes, and just draw financial benefits from the Government, then this is some messed up thinking.

Personally, I think that the National Democratic Party has a vested interest in keeping a sizeable portion of our population dependent on the Government for financial benefits.  I am not talking about older people or young people or the disabled.  You know that I am talking about people who are too lazy to work, people who refuse to work,  people who prefer to simply draw different checks from the Government to give them sustenance.  You may say, “What does President Obama have to do with this?”  A lot.  Under his administration, virtually every area of entitlements proliferated during his first four years.

My same American friends from Missouri were noting yesterday that one of the young men who has one crippled leg was selling ice cream on the beach this year whereas last year he carried a large black plastic sack and collected trash.  I am sure that this is a promotion.  But, in the United States, this gentleman would probably never be working because the Government would want to step in and “help” him by taking away his dignity of hard work.  Sometimes the “cure” is much worse than the “ailment.”

Coming Soon! An Unauthorized Tribute to Wade Starr, Jr., the Son of Clayton County

By John R. Alston Trotter, EdD, JD

I am down here in Brazil for a while, but this internet still amazes me. I see where my friend Wade Starr was booted out of his managerial position with the Clayton County government. I understand politics, I think, and I understand Commission Chairman Jeff Turner’s desire to have his own person in charge of helping him run the day-to-day operations of Clayton County. Plus, there may have been some bad blood between him and Wade. This is understandable. This is the way politics works, be it in Washington, D. C., the State Capitol, or in Clayco. To the winner goes the spoils, and if a person lives by the metaphorical sword, then the person eventually will die by that same sword. Be that as it may, I think a kind tribute to Wade Starr, Jr., the man, and his many accomplishments on behalf of the people of Clayton County are in order.

wade-starr

Wade Starr, Jr., The Son of Clayton County

No man (or woman) is perfect. I know that I am not. Victor Hill is not perfect, but the good people of Clayton County re-elected him, and I am glad. Wade Starr is not perfect, and he will, I am sure, be the first person to tell you this. But, he has lived an exemplary life for many young people of Clayton County to emulate. The young people of Clayton County would do well to follow the example of this man who was born in a clinic in Forest Park in 1952 and lived in a humble house off Whiteline Street in Jonesboro, a house initially without indoor plumbing. No, he’s not a Grady Baby. The Starrs perhaps could not afford Grady Hospital…or perhaps they just preferred a midwife in Forest Park. But, I know one thing… Wade Starr, Jr., was born on the good soil of Clayton County. He lives and breathes the good air of Clayton County. When opportunities for upward mobility for young black professionals came knocking at his door, Wade Starr, as a young, educated African American professional, could have moved afar of Clayton County or could have simply moved next door to DeKalb or Fulton, but he chose to stick it out in Clayton County where there was only one black person in any position of leadership in the school system. Yes, just one. Eddie White was the Assistant Principal at Babb Jr. High School. There were absolutely no black person in any position of leadership in the Clayton County government. There was only one black person elected in the entire Clayton County in the early to mid-1980s, Mrs. Eula Ponds Perry, on the Jonesboro City Council. Mrs. Perry’s daughter was married to Wade’s older brother, Terry Starr. Despite the very limited and meager opportunities for young professional African Americans in Clayton County, Wade Starr chose to remain in Clayton County and to try to make a difference for his people and for his county. He tried to make a difference for all of the people of Clayton County, and I think that he did.

Stay tuned, and I will try to tell Wade’s story as it relates to Clayton County in the next few days. This story will simply come from my memory and my interaction with Wade through the years. It’s an unauthorized account of his Clayco narrative. Usually, this means that the story will be mean and nasty. Not in this case, though. It will be a kind and compassionate account of a young man who was part of the first class of African Americans in Clayton County to graduate from Jonesboro High School. Only 19 of about 65 who first matriculated to Jonesboro High School made it. Those were very tough times for young black people in Clayton County. Young people need to know about the story of Wade Starr, Jr. He was a graduate of Jonesboro Colored Elementary School. Yes, this was the official name of the school. Don’t forget that up until about the mid-1980s, the Ku Klux Klan regularly handed out literature in their sacerdotal robes in downtown Jonesboro, on Highway 85 in Riverdale in front of the Krispy Kreme, and on what is now called the corner of Mt. Zion Boulevard and Tara Boulevard next to Dunkin’ Donuts. In the day, Clayton County was a site to behold. Klan leader Stephenson made his home in Clayco, and blacks were simply not welcomed in restaurants like Butch’s in downtown Jonesboro.

It’s easy for newcomers to Clayco to forget how far the County has come as far as blatant racial discrimination is concerned. Back in the day, it was a rough place for black people to live. This is the environment which shaped the life of Wade Starr. This is the political milieu out of which Wade Starr, the politico, emerged. This is the benighted political condition over which he prevailed. It is a good story, an inspiring story. It is a story that needs to be told.

Stay tuned.

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.

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