Monday, August 27, 2018

The Legend of a Georgia High Sheriff

In 1960, at the age of 10, (stop doing the math to see how old I am!) we moved to heaven, as far as I was concerned.  Crescent, in north McIntosh County.  For the first time, I had indoor plumbing, I had neighbors, and I had a church that met weekly instead of every fifth Sunday of the month.  And best of all, there was water, water, everywhere.  I became a “river rat,” along with all my new friends.  As wonderful as it was, McIntosh County had a dark underbelly.

MCINTOSH COUNTY was, and still is, one of the poorest counties in Georgia.  When I lived there, the shrimping industry was booming; however, one destroyed shrimp net was enough to bankrupt some fishermen.  SeaPak still had a packing house in the community of Valona that employed mostly blacks from three counties.  Later, a shoe factory was built that was the life line for those desperately seeking employment.

 BACK THEN, I-95 had not been built, and highway 17 in north McIntosh flourished with Pecan Centers, locally known as clip joints, where unsuspecting tourists were suckered into betting games.  Highway 17 was also the home of the S & S Truck Stop, with campers parked out back and little tiny shacks housing prostitutes held in white slavery.  I lived close to the famous Buccaneer Restaurant when it was a “key club” where everyone was screened through a peep hole to keep out black people.  This same peep hole was used on nights the restaurant was closed and high stakes gambling games were held.  These businesses had one thing in common, chief stake holder, Sheriff Tom Poppell.  And, that’s not all he owned……

I DON’T know if this story is folk lore or truly happened, but it was told repeatedly around the county to describe Sheriff Poppell’s autocratic rule.  A man was hog hunting and just as he shot a hog, Sheriff Poppell walked up on him.  The Sheriff accused the man of shooting his hog.  The man denied this.  Sheriff Poppell told the man, “It has my brand.”  The hunter said, “This hog doesn’t have a brand on him.”  The Sheriff said, “Yes it does!”  He instructed the hunter to lift up the hog’s curly tail, and said, “See that; that’s my brand!”

MCINTOSH COUNTY had more black residents than white.  He owned the blacks, too, so-to-speak. Voter registration among blacks was nearly 100%.  He ruled them through fear and kindness.  When a tractor trailer would break down on Highway 17, Sheriff Poppell would raid the truck of its goods and give it to the black community.  One such incident involved a truck carrying high-end shoes in all sizes.  He sent the word out and black families cleared the site of all the shoes.  Another incident involved an elderly black lady who was trying to rebuild her house.  The Sheriff stopped by and asked her how it was going.  She said, “I’m just praying for sheet rock.”  A few weeks later, her prayer was answered.  A tractor trailer jack-knifed on Highway 17 carrying an entire load of sheetrock.  That was the kindness part.  If anyone crossed Sheriff Poppell, they would disappear.  It was called swimming by wearing too many chains.  That was the fear part.

FLASH FORWARD to 1973.  SeaPak was gone.  The shoe factory closed.  I-95 was completed and forced the closing of all the Sheriff’s nefarious businesses.  The shrimping business had about dried up due to a shortage of shrimp in the sound.  Everyone in the county was hurting financially.  Shrimpers are the salt of the earth, hardworking men.  However, it was hard to turn down an offer to rent their shrimp boats for the purpose of transporting drugs.  By this time, I lived in Savannah and was an officer on the Metro Drug Squad with the Chatham County Police.  I was asked to work on a joint task force.  The target was none-other than my former Sheriff, Tom Poppell.

I WAS so excited that me, a home girl, would actually play a role in taking down the legendary Tom Poppell.  We knew the time and the place when Poppell’s rented shrimp boat would unload.  The day before the raid, I became deathly ill with pneumonia.  I couldn’t go, and I have never been so disappointed in my life.  The night of the raid, an agent phoned and told me the members of the task force were hiding in the woods when Sheriff Poppell arrived at the river bank.  The shrimp boat flashed its lights.  Sheriff Poppell flashed his.  As the shrimp boat reached the bank and just as the agents were exiting the woods, Sheriff Poppell stepped out of his patrol car with a rifle and said to the people on the boat, “Put your hands up, you’re under arrest for drug smuggling.” 

LATER I moved to Dekalb County where the sheriff was Sidney Dorsey, the most notorious Sheriff in Dekalb history.  Among other things, he had his opponent murdered. 

WHEN WE moved to Monroe County in 2000, it was refreshing to learn that Sheriff John Carey Bittick had a stellar reputation and in my eighteen years here, I have never even heard a single rumor of wrong doing by our Sheriff.  The same is true of the Sheriff before him, Carey Bittick, Jr.  Both of these former Sheriff’s were rewarded for their professionalism and respect nationwide by being appointed as a Federal Marshal. Both of these distinguished Sheriffs were elected at the age of 28. 

Now Lawson Carey Bittick is running for Sheriff.  He is 30 years old and has 12 years’ experience in the Sheriff’s office.  Plus, Lawson has 60 years of experience as his backup.  Take it from me, one that has lived in counties with bent sheriffs, you don’t need to take that chance.  I mean no offense to any of the other fine candidates that are running.  But, I simply believe if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.

Monday, August 20, 2018

The Method Behind Kemp's Madness

Brian Kemp has been Georgia’s Secretary of State (SOS) for ten years.  Many departments come under the purview of the SOS; Corporations, Occupational Licensing, Securities, Charities and Elections.    While not to belittle the other divisions, the Elections Division is the most important because without a dependable, safe, secure voting system, the foundation of our democracy is threatened.  Brian Kemp has been a miserable failure in managing our elections process and now, he wants to be our Governor. 

BRIAN KEMP spent the past ten years preparing for his ultimate goal, that of running for Governor.  Straight out of the gate, he began taking steps to suppress the voting rights of blacks and other minorities.  He supported the Voter ID law.  He fought for very oppressive voter laws.  He purged 160,000 voters from active voter rolls simply because they moved to another location in the same county.  In 2015 Kemp’s office sent out personal data on 6 million voters to 12 organizations on discs. He blamed it on a clerical error.  He performed investigations into voter registration and turn-out efforts focused on minority voters, despite no evidence to do so.  Kemp conducted a criminal investigation against his now opponent, Stacey Abrams’ new Georgia Project aimed at registering minorities.  Of the 87,000 registration forms, only 53 were found to have irregularities. He refused to even register 40,000. He could have bought new voter systems with the money he has squandered on defending lawsuits.  He actually made this statement, “Voter registration efforts were threatening Republican control in Georgia.”  Preserving our right to vote is not a partisan issue, Mr. Kemp.

IN TOTAL, Kemp canceled 372,242 registered voters.  With population in Georgia booming, there are less registered voters now than in 2010.  Speaking to a group of his donors behind closed doors, Kemp said, “Registering all these minority voters that are out there … if they can do that, they can win these elections.” 

KEMP HAS to have every vote that he can get outside of Atlanta to win.  As of the 2010 census  54% of people living in Atlanta were black.  The number has grown since then.  Kemp is depending on rural Georgia to pull him over the finish line first. That is why he has to suppress every black or minority vote that he can. 

IT WAS revealed last week that Brian Kemp has contracted with one of his associates, Mike Malone, to go around the counties and advise on polling places to close.  Just so happens, these are counties with high black populations. He refused to say how much he was making.  He later said he was checking on American with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance.  When asked if he tried to find alternate polling places, he said, “I wasn’t hired to do that.”  (Reminds me of that commercial where the dentist tells the man he has the worse cavity he’s ever seen but he’s not a fixer.)  Ten counties with high black populations have already been visited by Malone and they heeded his advice to close certain polling places.  Those counties are Bibb, Muscogee, Morgan, Lowndes, Evans, Telfair, Charlton, Green, Tift, Webster, and Randolph.  I suppose North Georgia doesn’t have voters with disabilities.

IN RANDOLPH, where there are 62.5% blacks, 35% whites, and 2.42% other, Malone (on Kemp’s behalf) called for the closing of seven of the nine precincts.  That would essentially disenfranchise a large percentage of black voters.  Many have no automobiles and it would require a 30-mile round trip to vote.  Do you see the method behind Kemp’s madness?

WHILE IT is not a law, it is customary for a state official to resign their current office if they are the nominee for another office.  Kemp has declined to resign as SOS. The fact that Kemp is still suppressing the vote is particularly egregious since he is overseeing the election in which he is a candidate. 

KEMP HAS ignored the vulnerabilities of our voting machines.  He has been told they are susceptible to Russian hacking.  He denies this.  I guess he figures that if Trump won in 2016, why would he want to change anything with the machines, especially since he is on the ballot.  These are the same machines used in 2016 and they have not been examined forensically.  I fear my vote my not count in November.

A SECRETARY of State should not serve just the members of their party, whether it is Democrats or Republicans.  Or, like Kemp, the office should not be used to tip the scales in his own favor.  Our election process is sacred and should not be used as a political tool.  A SOS should be as non-partisan as one can be. 

JOHN BARROW is running for SOS.  He will restore our confidence in our election systems and treat every voter’s registration form with respect and not throw it out because of party affiliation, race, or color.  John Barrow has the stature of one worthy to be our Secretary of State. Plus, he said at the Blue Bridge Society last week he would expedite a decision on the county boundary line.  Kemp has not issued a decision on the county line since 2011.  Monroe County should stop him from making one now since he is a lame duck on the ballot.  Let’s wait for a more honest and fair SOS, and then we can live better with whatever decision he makes.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Has Roger Stone Pulled His Last Dirty Trick?

To the chagrin of most Democrats, myself included, it appears the Mueller investigation will not be finished in time for the mid-term elections.  The thinking is that while there is no law, historically the Justice Department has not released information that may sway an election one way or the other.  However, it’s not unprecedented that they do so.  You will recall James Comey did a number on Hillary Clinton just prior the 2016 election.  Comey feared that if he did not make it known there were more emails, he would be accused of favoring Hillary.  He made a political decision to ignore the unwritten rule.  Mueller will not do that because he will not be swayed by politics. Trump has at least until February or March after the new Congress is sworn in to be exposed as an illegitimate President. Oh well.  While it would be nice for the news to come before the mid-terms, that means there will only be a blue wave instead of a tsunami. 

THAT BEING said, there may be time for one more Friday afternoon of indictments before the mid-terms; maybe 3 or 4 new indictments (witches), adding to already over 30 indictments.  My money is on Roger Stone and his associates as the next ones to make the perp walk.  It’s ironic that the Netflix documentary about Roger Stone’s life was entitled, Get Me Roger Stone.  After fifty years of his sleazy, dirty political tricks, it’s about damn time somebody got Roger Stone!  Stone’s specialty is political cheating by any means necessary.  He was Richard Nixon’s political trickster and bag man.  In fact, he loved Nixon so much, he got a tattoo of Nixon’s face on his back. 

AFTER STONE’S hero, Nixon, bit the dust, he went into the lobbying business with none other than Paul Manafort and Charles Black, whose clients included such fine third world dictators as Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines and others.  An example of his campaign work is the infamous Willie Horton ad that killed Dukasis in his Presidential bid. During the Gore/Bush recount in Florida, Stone organized the Brooks Brothers riot of Republicans protesting against the recount.  It has not been proven, but Terry McAuliffe accused Stone of forging the document showing that George W. Bush had not fulfilled his service obligations, which led to CBS reporting this and Dan Rather’s reputation being nearly destroyed.

 STONE’S CLIENTS read like a who’s who in Republican politics.  The number of dirty tricks attributed to him is too long to list and most are not appropriate to print in this newspaper.  Stone always manages to deny and lie his way out of responsibility for these acts.  Trump/Stone, two peas in a pod.

STONE AND Donald Trump have been long-time friends.  In the 1990’s Stone worked for Donald Trump as a lobbyist for his gaming casinos.  In 2000, Stone served as campaign manager for Trump in his failed run for President on the Reform Party’s ticket.  It has been said that was another Stone dirty trick.  It was to sideline Pat Buchanan to help George W. Bush win the nomination. Thereafter, Stone encouraged Trump to run for President again 2016.  Stone was Trump’s earliest campaign advisor in 2015 but left by August, 2015, claiming he quit and Trump claiming he was fired.  Regardless, he continued to campaign for Trump.  During the campaign, Ted Cruz accused Stone of planting a story that he had five extra marital affairs.  Cruz said, Stone is “pulling Trump’s strings.  He planned Trump’s campaign and he is his henchman and dirty trickster.”  During the campaign, both CNN and MSNBC refused to allow Stone on their network due to seriously nasty and bigoted tweets about television personalities. 

STONE IN his zeal to elect Trump, threatened Republican delegates to the National Convention that if they opposed Trump, he would publicly release their hotel room number.  When the gold star father, Khizr Khan spoke at the Democratic Convention, Stone accused Khan of sympathizing with the enemy. 

ROGER STONE’S tweets before the release of Hillary and Podesta’s emails indicated he knew it was going to happen.  Stone has denied this.  However, he has since admitted that he had personal contact with WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange and with a person claiming to be Gucifer 2.0, whom the intelligence services say was the persona used by the Russian military hackers.

IN MY opinion, I think Stone, with Trump’s blessing, left the campaign in order for Stone to get “down and dirty” to do whatever necessary to help Trump, including colluding with Russian operatives.  By pretending not to be a part of the campaign, Trump had deniability.  Remember, Stone and Manafort were former business partners, Manafort had close ties to the Kremlin, and Manafort showed up out of nowhere and became Trump’s campaign manager.  Coincidence?  I don’t know why it would be.

I DON’T SEE how Stone is going to talk his way out of this one.  Finally, Roger Rabbit is out of tricks!