Monday, July 16, 2012

Off His Wagon in the 12th District

No Lee Way
Monday, July 16, 2012
Augusta, GA
By Al Gray

Lee Anderson’s Legislative Rap Sheet - Will the Legislature’s war on Middle Class Georgians Blow Up in His Face?

Lee’s Electric Rate Increase
Look on your Georgia Power Bill. Is it high enough to suit you? Now look on the billing details. On there you will see a little item called “Nuclear Construction Cost Recovery.” This comes to 5.1% of the Current Service amount. On a monthly bill of $300 this special rate increase comes to about $15.  The Bill that created this cost to us that was passed in 2009 was so hideously bad, that consumer advocate Clark Howard spoke out strongly against it, twice. Lee Anderson, now candidate for the 12th District Congressional seat threw our interests to the wind and voted for it. What is worse is that we got another 1.7% hike this spring and have yet another coming next year! With incomes down-to-flat over the last 5 years Georgians are hurting from energy costs already.

Shocking Households across Georgia
Admittedly, politicians and the public in the Augusta area were all for the jobs that this Plant Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant expansion would bring, but before Lee and the others made that vote, it came out that more than half of the increase was for advance profits for Georgia Power and its parent Southern Company. The excess was over $1 billion! The project will produce 800 permanent jobs, which is great, but the extra rate increase for the advance profits is more than $1.2 million per job! Knowing that Lee was about to make a huge mistake that was going to cost us all required a phone call. Hearing the message left made no doubt about the wise position, but Lee voted for this huge rate increase anyway.

The bill got rammed through despite our calls, Clark Howard’s appeals, and media questions. House member Lee listened to 70 Georgia Power lobbyists instead.  " House members were in such a hurry that they broke with tradition and left hundreds of House bills waiting while they OK’d a Senate bill", it was written.

Lee Loves Rascal Politicians
If you love incumbent, established politicians and like what they have done to this state, by all means vote for Lee Anderson. Anderson actually boasts about having lined up the political establishment throughout the district early and embraces them fully. Lee Anderson is the politicians’ politician and is the only career politician in the 12th District race. Got that?

Lee Likes Nancy Pelosi’s Style – Pass Bills You Haven’t Read
We can kill two birds with one stone with Lee’s tax reform vote. First, he cannot have known what he voted on, is not inquisitive enough to research issues, and he leans upon lobbyists to ‘inform’ him. When tax reform came up during the 2011 legislative session, this writer called Lee to ask if he knew what was in the bill and was promptly directed to call an agricultural businessman directly interested and involved in getting a whole new section of agricultural exemptions from sales tax written in.  Second, the legislation was rushed through during the closing days of the 2012 session without adequate estimates of the revenue losses, despite clear notice that the electricity exemption would cost Augusta Richmond county with its heavy manufacturing, Burke County with Plants Vogtle and Wilson and Effingham county with the Georgia Pacific complex and Plant McIntosh. Early in the session this costly “tax reform” had been squelched because of the heavy revenue losses to certain counties. In the Savannah Daily News it was reported: "Local governments would also lose money on an energy sales tax moratorium for industry. To replace that revenue the state has promised to return a share of its take each year, guaranteeing at least $1 billion to local governments. " This will be like all of the other of the legislature’s “guarantees” –every one of which have disappeared – won’t it? Where will these counties find another equivalent source of revenue? They won’t.

Clueless about Money
Neither Lee nor anybody else in the House has a clue about where the money will come from or how much was lost! Amy Henderson, of the Georgia Municipal Association said at the time "This is happening so quickly that there's not really time to look at it and say what is the impact going to be?" Did Lee Anderson read the bill that the experts in local government couldn’t?  What do you think?

Vanishing Point – Running from Ethics
Then there is the matter of corruption amongst all of those incumbent politicians who support Lee. Georgia has the most corrupt government out of the 50 states. Where was and Lee on ethics reform in Georgia? Anderson pledged support for ethics legislation but later cut and ran after lobbyists warned that he would lose campaign donations. Cronyism above ethics – there’s your farm boy.

No Lee Way from his T-Splost Vote
Finally, consider that Lee Anderson is proud of his vote for T-Splost, the biggest tax increase in Georgia history, a vote that Americans for Tax Reform’s Grover Norquist says violates the “No Tax Increase Pledge” that Lee signed. Representative Anderson tries to wiggle out of the vote, saying he voted to give the people the choice. The part giving voters a choice is 3 paragraphs out of the 29 page bill  he voted for. The rest is the death of home rule, a 14% tax increase, extortion against the voters, and a whole new unfunded social planning agency. Lee Anderson would like to disavow this vote. He should not be allowed that privilege.

The worst thing that could happen to Lee Anderson is to win the 12th District congressional seat. The worst thing that could happen to those who wish to reform Augusta and bring the region back to a place of honor and respect would be an Anderson win. Alas, such an outcome is hardly improbable. 

Politics is a disease that afflicts some men to the point of their ruin. Lee Anderson is one of those men.

Friends need to do an intervention here and adopt this motto – “Restore a man to his decency and honor – Send Lee Anderson back to farming.”

We will all be better for it.***

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