More Jackson County Opinions...

June 4, 2003


Column
By:Bill Shipp
The Jackson Herald
June 4, 2003

The governor’s most unlikely ally
Terry Coleman has emerged as a turn-the-other-cheek kind of guy. Georgia has not in recent memory witnessed such genteel behavior from a House speaker.
In the recently ended session of the Legislature, Gov. Sonny Perdue did everything he could to knock Coleman on his political backside. In each instance, Speaker Coleman ducked the blow, came up with a smile and even went to the aid of the sometimes befuddled governor.
Perdue tried his best to block Coleman from becoming speaker of the House, even sponsoring another Democrat as a candidate for the post. A Republican federal prosecutor (and unabashed Perdue ally) is looking to indict Democrat Coleman for a state ethics misstep, which was settled long ago. A GBI investigative team is zeroing in on several of Coleman’s activities and reporting its findings back to Gov. Perdue.
While Coleman presided over the House in a record marathon session of the Legislature, a half dozen Democrats and nearly every Republican watched his every move, hoping he would slip in his maiden voyage as speaker. All of Coleman’s detractors were egged on by Gov. Perdue and his minions.
The assault on Coleman is puzzling. Agreed, he looked vulnerable - and at times appeared tentative - as a freshman speaker. He did not rule the lower chamber with an iron fist as did his predecessor and mentor, Tom Murphy.
Without Coleman as speaker, however, Gov. Perdue might have fallen on his face in his inaugural General Assembly session.
Coleman and his Democratic team were responsible for passing nearly every significant Perdue initiative that made it through both houses of the Legislature. The Coleman-led Democratic bloc often had to overcome fierce opposition from Republicans to give the governor at least some of the legislation he desired.
Look at the record of the last session:
- Predatory lending bill: Gov. Perdue favored a more business-friendly version of the bill. Some Republican senators and nearly all African-American Democrats wanted a more consumer-oriented bill. Oddly, Speaker Coleman sided with Gov. Perdue and against his most loyal Democratic allies in supporting the bankers’ edition of the measure, which finally prevailed. Coleman said he helped enact the bankers’ bill to help maintain the health of Georgia’s lending industry. His position on the bill irked many black lawmakers and the entire consumers’ lobby.
- The budget and the tobacco tax: With a bit of assistance from a handful of Democrats, angry Republicans could have derailed Perdue’s budget and defeated his increase in tobacco taxes. But Coleman and his Tonto, House Majority Leader Jimmy Skipper, came to the rescue. Democrats were whipped into shape and agreed to support the budget and the tax, though the levy was not even close to what the tax-loving governor wanted. Failure to enact the budget would certainly have forced a special session.
- The flag: The House passed a flag-changing bill that included a referendum on the Confederate battle emblem. That is what Gov. Perdue wanted - or at least said he wanted. The Republican-controlled Senate scuttled the battle-cross referendum and sent it back to the House. Coleman cast the deciding vote that approved changing the Georgia flag - without a vote on the Rebel cross. The speaker took Perdue partly off the hook and risked his own political future. A more expedient course: Coleman could have killed off the flag-changing measure entirely, blamed the continuing controversy on Perdue and won points from the flaggers and other conservative elements. He said he did not choose that path because “I want to do what I believe is best for the state.”
- Indigent defense: Coleman and his lieutenants amended the indigent defense bill to give local courts more jurisdiction over handling legal aid for the poor. Without passage of some kind of indigent defense measure, legal experts agree, the federal courts undoubtedly would have taken over operation of parts of the Georgia’s court system.
One could cite other instances in which Coleman’s Democratic House rescued Perdue from his presumed Republican allies in the Senate. But you get the point.
Coleman doesn’t mind patting himself on the back for his first performance as speaker.
“The House served as a calming factor in all that chaos. We maintained stability,” Coleman says, implying that the badly split Republican Senate would have left Gov. Perdue bruised and beaten had not the more merciful Democrats stepped in.
No, Coleman adds, he never received a thank-you note from Gov. Perdue, though the governor expressed gratitude at a press conference for passing the budget. And, oh, yes, Coleman did receive a message some weeks back: U.S. Attorney Rick Thompson, a one-time local campaign chairman for GOP candidates, had targeted him for a federal grand jury investigation. Makes you wonder about the response Coleman would have received had he spent the first four months of 2003 playing routine party politics rather than smoothing out the bumps in Perdue’s initial gubernatorial session.

You can reach Bill Shipp at P.O. Box 440755, Kennesaw, GA 30160 or e-mail: bshipp@bellsouth.net, Web address: http://www.billshipp.com.

Jackson County Opinion Index

Column
By: Rochelle Beckstine
The Jackson Herald
June 4, 2003

Reality TV season is back
The last season finale has aired and the reality TV marathon has begun with at least one network offering sleazier premises in the hopes of reeling in bigger audiences.
NBC has the most new offerings, debuting three new reality shows in the past two weeks and at least one more next week. Two of their new concepts—For Love or Money and Dog Eat Dog—earn it the sleaziest network award.
The first episode of For Love or Money aired Monday night at 9 p.m. The premise of the show is 15 girls living in a mansion, vying for the hand of one bachelor. Sounds very familiar, doesn’t it? The twist is that the girl chosen by the bachelor will win $1 million.
He doesn’t know about the money and they can’t tell him. But what the girls don’t know is that in the end, they can walk away with the man or the money, not both. Not that I foresee any of the girls thinking twice about choosing the man. He is a charming man, good looking and down to earth. And the girls seem to be nice people, but almost all of them admitted in the series premiere that the biggest draw for them is the money and those that say they’re in it for the guy, admit that as the odds get better, they may change their minds. After watching the first episode, I feel sorry for the man. He seems to genuinely want to meet someone special while the network has set him up so that every girl he meets has ulterior motives. If the girl chooses him in the end over the money, the money issue will always be there. And after past relationships a la reality TV—the sure thing is the cool million.
The show certainly promises to be a spectacle of calculation and greed or as Paige, one of the women, said, “You’re about to see the most disgusting side of people.” And the sad part is I don’t know if I can turn away. I suppose that is the point.
NBC’s second iffy reality show, Dog Eat Dog, also has sleaze potential. According to NBC, the show is Fear Factor meets Weakest Link, but the web site appears to be exerts from Are You Hot? The show promises to have six “sexy and savvy” players play on each other’s strengths and weaknesses in a battle to claim a $25,000 cash prize. Photos from the show include girls in string bikinis laying all over one another and guys in muscle shirts. The host of the show, a former BayWatch girl, is profiled on the main page in a lacy black lace-up shirt and a mini leather skirt. The show is on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. if you’re looking for eye candy.
NBC’s other new reality shows are Fame with Joey Fatone hosting Wednesday nights at 8 and The Last Comic Standing. Fame seeks to find multi-talented performers that will be narrowed down until a final intense “boot camp” by a choreographer after which the audience chooses the winner. I believe the comic show is self-explanatory.
And you can always count on Fox for reality show offerings. American Juniors premiered Tuesday night at 8 p.m. This show is basically American Idol gone kid. The previews for the show spotlight amazing talent and angry parents. With memories of fights and killings over little league soccer and baseball swimming in my head, I can just imagine how bloodthirsty spurned parents will be when little Suzy’s future music career is on the line. The major difference between this show and American Idol is that American Juniors will not be looking for one pop star. It aims to find the best (junior) singers and dancers in America to form a five member group.
Fox also added Stupid Behavior Caught on Tape to its Thursday night lineup. Fox says it is people doing stupid things on tape. I’m very interested to see what Fox considers to be stupid. Will they pull past excerpts from reality shows it has aired or is this entirely new stupid? If this is your thing catch it Thursday night at 8 p.m.
And of course the standbys. Extreme Makeovers airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. You might catch clips of this show on Fox’s Stupid Behavior show. We’ll have to see. Big Brother 4 should start soon and the casting for The Bachelor 4 is going on now. This time the bachelor is booted Bachelor Bob (the funny breast implant salesman) from The Bachelorette. Fear Factor is on Mondays at 8 p.m. right before 30 Seconds To Fame. The Amazing Race 4 just got started on CBS. Busy reality tv summer.
Rochelle Beckstine is a columnist for MainStreet Newspapers.


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