Jon Richards: 61 Years Young

Jon Richards (on the right, of course) Waves Sine Die. Photo by the AJC’s Ben Gray

Jonathan Blair Richards, (November 27th, 1955-March 26, 2017) died today after a brief battle with cancer. In this overview of his life we ask that you not focus on the years cut short, but the fact that Jon made the most of the years he had with us.

Jon was born the son of the late Glenn Richards and Caroline Richards, now of Cincinnati, Ohio. He is the brother of Amy Richards of Pasadena, California and Anne (Andrew) McFall of Sarasota, Florida. He was most proud of being the uncle of Cal, Matthew, and Stuart McFall, for whom he was often the designated pumpkin carver and the official distributor of presents found under the tree on Christmas morning.

Uncle Jon and Matthew, as official distributor of Christmas Presents found under the tree.

Jon graduated from Indian Hill High School in Cincinnati, OH and then went on to get a degree from Allegheny College in Allegheny, PA in 1977 with a degree in Communications. Shortly thereafter, he followed a friend who had advised him Atlanta was the place to be, and he eventually settled in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He had the good fortune to move next door to Pat and Danny Dobbs. They began Jon’s long history of amassing Georgia friends and planting roots now firmly entrenched in Gwinnett and Georgia civic and political circles. Continue reading “Jon Richards: 61 Years Young”

Out Of State Professors Duel Over Georgia’s Adoption Bill

On Monday, Stefan posted a guest editorial from our former Contributor, Dr. Anthony Kreis. Yesterday I received a rebuttal piece from Dr. Robin Fretwell Wilson. Dr Wilson is the Roger and Stephany Joslin Professor of Law and the director of the Program in Family Law and Policy and The Fairness For All Initiative at the University of Illinois College of Law. More notably for the context here, she’s also a professor for which Dr. Kreis once served as a research assistant. According to her biography, Wilson recently worked with Utah state lawmakers to pass nondiscrimination legislation that balances LGBT rights and religious liberty. I offer this piece as part of our commitment to presenting opposing viewpoints, and to ensure that all corners of the Illinois academic legal community are able to weigh in on how Georgia makes our laws.

HB 159: The Hard Questions Facing Georgia on Adoption
by Robin Fretwell Wilson

Controversy swirls again around Georgia and “religious liberty”, now over HB 159, which would allow adoption agencies to make placements based on “mission.”

The bill does not mention religion but has become controversial for allowing agencies to refuse placements with LGBT couples if they “have a religious objection.”

What would the bill actually do?

If the state cannot place a child with one agency, it must immediately “refer … to another child-placing agency.” This might occur for neutral reasons, i.e. an agency may not place special-needs children because those placements require special skill.

The real debate is around which families agencies place with. If HB 159 becomes law, the state could not “take any adverse action against” agencies that follow their “missions.”

Patently, HB 159 is not a religious-liberty protection. This prohibition binds the state even if an agency acts for secular reasons—like being anti-gay. The Georgia legislature should dial this back. Continue reading “Out Of State Professors Duel Over Georgia’s Adoption Bill”

Some Goodbyes Are Shorter Than Others

Jon Richards says hello, and goodbye

This is a post I would rather not write, had guessed I would probably have to write, but had also hoped it would be much longer down the road than today. But today is that day.

After a meeting with Jon’s family and Jon’s doctors, the decision has been made to move Jon into hospice care. No one ever wants to make this decision. The reality is that these kinds of decisions are well above our pay grade.

The goal at this time is to keep Jon comfortable and manage the pain that is forever enjoined with stage IV cancer. He’s mostly soothed at this time. It is our prayer that he will remain this way during the days he has left.

Please continue to keep Jon’s Mom Caroline and sisters Anne and Amy in your prayers. Say one for comfort and peace for Jon, as we prepare to say our goodbyes, and “til we meet again”.

It’s Time To Tax Internet Sales

This week’s Courier Herald column:

JCPenney, once among the nation’s largest and proudest retailers, announced last week that it would be closing an additional 138 stores nationwide. Five Georgia stores, including those in Dublin, Macon, Milledgeville, Thomasville, and Tifton will be shuttered.

While JCPenney has had recent struggles trying to define its brand and marketing mix, it is not an outlier in the retail landscape. Macy’s announced in January that it is closing 68 stores nationwide including their Athens location in Georgia Square Mall. Sears Holdings, which operates both Sears and K-Mart stores, is also planning on 150 store closures this year, including Georgia locations in Columbus, Cornelia, Kingsland, and Savannah.

The trend against many established big box retailers is strong, and appears to be growing. There are also signs that it’s not just department stores experiencing capacity issues. A recent Atlanta Journal Constitution report suggests that the metro area may have too many grocery stores.

While some of the closures are due to newer, smaller, and more nimble competitors entering the market, it’s now also easy to see a broad shift from large brick and mortar retailers to internet sales channels. The days of the internet being a new fragile frontier of commerce are over. Continue reading “It’s Time To Tax Internet Sales”

Randy Robertson To Run For Senate Seat Vacated By McKoon

Chuck Williams of the Columbus Ledger Enquirer brings word that the race to replace State Senator Josh McKoon has begun.  McKoon has already announced his intention to vacate his seat.

Robertson, 54, said his 30 years in law enforcement gives him an unique perspective as he seeks the office. He retired in October 2015.

“There is no one in the House or the Senate that has the law enforcement background that I would bring to this job,” said Robertson, a 2010 graduate of the FBI National Academy in Virginia and the former Columbus Homeland Security director under former Mayor Jim Wetherington. “The Legislature often deals with issues such as criminal justice reform and I would bring subject-matter expertise to those discussions.”

Robertson said he has had conversations with people who live in District 29 as well as Republicans on the state level about the post. The 2018 election will bring about political change in the state, and that appealed to him.

“You are going to have a new governor, you will have a new lieutenant governor and there will be a lot of change in Atlanta,” Robertson said. “I think it would be an exciting time to be there as a conservative representing District 29.”

Continue reading “Randy Robertson To Run For Senate Seat Vacated By McKoon”

Wishes Of A Speedy Recovery To Senator Isakson

Senator Johnny Isakson has issued the following statement, saying that he has undergone a second back surgery and is continuing on a program of physical therapy rehabilitation. Having more than reached my limit with our current healthcare “system”, I would like to extend my sincere wishes that his recovery goes smooth, steady, and quickly, and I offer an additional prayer for those in his family that get to deal with the paperwork and bureaucracy.

From a press release:

MARIETTA, Ga. – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., is recovering at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Atlanta, Ga., after undergoing surgery earlier today to address a sacral hairline stress fracture that developed in the last few days.

The hairline fracture developed as Isakson was recovering from his initial back surgery on Feb. 20 to address deterioration in his spine caused by severe arthritis. Dr. Keith D. Osborn of Resurgens Orthopaedics performed both surgeries. Continue reading “Wishes Of A Speedy Recovery To Senator Isakson”

Brockway to Seek Secretary of State Post

It’s old home week today at GeorgiaPol.

The AJC Political Insider Team beat me to it, but with news of Brian Kemp “leaking” that he’s running for Governor, the announcements of his replacements shall commence immediately.  And first out of the gate is my friend (don’t hold that against him please) Buzz Brockway.

Says the AJC of Brockway:

First in is state Rep. Buzz Brockway, a Gwinnett Republican elected to the Georgia Legislature in 2010. A Georgia Tech graduate, Brockway is known for savvy advertising and sponsoring a new crackdown on human trafficking and electronic voter registration.

“I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and I’ve had great feedback. Assuming these reports are true and Kemp runs for governor, I’m going to run for Secretary of State,” said Brockway.

“I’ve worked on election law since I took office, and we need to make sure our elections run smoothly and everyone who wants to vote can vote.”

At the risk of dragging out a tired political consultant’s line, Buzz is the consummate work horse, not show horse. Much of what the SOS office doesn’t isn’t showy, but is sure shows if it isn’t done right.

Jason Pye: Local Boy Does Good

Stolen from Pye’s Facebook page

My political online writing experience began 10 years ago last month. It began with me making a late night comment on a political blog that I had been reading for months. Way back when, there was no Facebook for most of us. If you wanted to talk with people of common interests, you had to go where they were on the internet.

One of the contributors at the time was this strange kid named Jason Pye. He was a libertarian. At times, he was also a Libertarian. He was rigid and inflexible. He refused to ride MARTA because it was federally subsidized. He was emphatic that Government shouldn’t pick winners and losers, and opposed any policy or change in policy that he believed it did. He was difficult. He was unyielding. But he was also, and more importantly, consistent.

All of us have grown a lot since those wild west days of internet politics. Some had defined ideas of where they wanted to go and how they planned to get there. Others enjoyed the ride for a while as it lasted. Some of us became a dog that caught a car we didn’t even know we were chasing (i.e, me). And then there’s Pye. Continue reading “Jason Pye: Local Boy Does Good”

Ralston Puts “Other Georgia” In The Spotlight

This week’s Courier Herald column:

There was a time in recent Georgia history when it was impolite to talk about the concept of “Two Georgias”. There was the thriving and growing Atlanta – the economic engine of the state.

Then, there was everything else. The “Other Georgia”. The people that could see the writing on the wall. The people who knew their rural grip on power was slipping. The people who could see that economic and population trends were shifting against them. The people who liked things the way they were, but knew times were changing whether they liked it or not.

With the assistance of UGA professor and Georgia political master Dr. Charles Bullock, we believe the term was popularized during the administration of Governor Joe Frank Harris by the late Doug Bachtel. “Two Georgias” was not a term of endearment. It was, in essence, perceived as a threat to those at the Capitol that they were spending too much time courting the favor of the business interests of Atlanta, and not the greater population that lived outside the area.

The 80’s were several lifetimes ago in Georgia politics. Time did march on, and political and demographic trends did shift. Continue reading “Ralston Puts “Other Georgia” In The Spotlight”

Norwood Leads Crowded Field In Atlanta’s Mayor Race

Mary Norwood, attempting another try to becoming Atlanta Mayor after falling just short 8 years ago, leads a crowded field according to a WSB TV poll by Landmark Communications/Rosetta Stone. (i.e, Mark Rountree & John Garst)

Norwood leads the field of 8 with 28.6 percent, just edging out “undecided” at 28%.  No other named candidate is in double digits.

Several candidates are grouped in the high single digits, including Vincent Fort (9.3%), Keisha Lance Bottoms (8.6%), and Ceasar Mitchell (8.0%).  The next tier includes Cathy Woolard (6.1%), Kwanza Hall (5.8%). Further down, John Eaves is at 3.8%, and Peter Aman at 1.8%.

Also polled was the race for City Council President, which has almost half of those polled undecided (49.2%).  Of those having a preference, Felicia Moore is leading at 23.7% with C.T. Martin close behind at 21.8%.  Alex Wan is a distant third at 9.5%.

You can see the breakout of the poll here.