Tuition Free College Offers More than Hope to Students

NY Governor Cuomo and Bernie Sanders at recent news conference

Last week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled a proposal to make public college tuition free for low and middle-income students. At a recent news conference he said, “New York state is going to start this year the Excelsior scholarship: if you come from any family earning $125,000 or less, you are going to get free tuition………It’s the first program like it in the US… and it should be a wake-up call to this nation.”

It would be a great kick off to 2017 if Georgia’s graduating high school seniors could get a similar deal. Georgia families deserve the same opportunities as New York students – the unfettered chance to advance their post secondary education to compete in a world economy. New York Governor Cuomo gets it. His initiative is worthy of state funding because the state budget reaps the benefits of the higher income of its residents and a highly educated workforce is the foundation of economic development.  While Georgia’s HOPE scholarship serves a record number of middle-income students, recent studies have found Georgia students from the lowest income families are underserved. Let’s improve education at every level simultaneously – improve K through 12 public education, fund research universities, and high performing students and invest in the children and the families who need it most- those with the lowest wages from working families who can support themselves but don’t earn enough to save for college. Let’s put hope and opportunity back into Georgia’s HOPE Scholarship program.

All I want for Georgia is bold leadership that sets high standards and seeks to support all Georgians especially our youth. Go Governor Cuomo! Cheers and good luck! Here in Georgia, we’re pulling for your success hoping that Governor Deal might follow your lead.

VOTE OR DIE

vote2As those of you who have not yet voted prepare to cast your ballot on Tuesday, let’s imagine our future.

Imagine a world where the President of the United States routinely stops his press conferences to shout at reporters, call a group of Americans demeaning names or encourages physical attacks on peaceful demonstrators. Well, if that seems impossible, then you have missed much of the last 18 months of political campaigning by GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump. He specializes in calling his opponent a liar and using hateful, evil speech to attack anyone who disagrees with him which isn’t hard to do since he offers few facts and little vision for the issues affecting our increasingly diverse, complex country.

We are diverse in opinion, experience, education, career, ethnicity, race, religion, and so many other ways. The best of our history has recognized our diversity as a strength. Most of us want an America where children are taught to love whom they want, achieve their dreams and use their talents to improve their world, their families and their communities. Most of us pay our fair share in taxes and sweat equity to support a strong country. Not dear old Donald Trump. He  avoids paying taxes, spouts hatred, meanness, lies, hyperbole and misinformation. His retort “believe me” is hollow and meaningless because believing him would mean you have to ignore the facts and forget the value of fairness, data or statesmanship.

Can Donald Trump be elected President? Yes.

Will America and many Americans suffer for such a foolish choice, if he is elected? A resounding Yes.

Only registered voters can stop Donald Trump’s climb to political power.

VOTE or DIE was an effective slogan to arouse voters in 2008. This is a VOTE or DIE moment. VOTE and be sure your friends and family vote too. It is time to reclaim our democracy from the mockery Donald Trump has made of it.

It is Time to Vote!

bwb65Early voting starts in seven days on October 17.

It is time to vote.

In the debate, last night Donald Trump said his lewd and sexually aggressive taped comments weren’t as bad as ISIS. Is that the best he can do?  Oh and if that isn’t bad enough Trump said he isn’t as bad as Bill Clinton. Really?

It is time to vote.

Hillary Clinton has years of public policy and legislative experience, she’s poised and she struggles to understand complex issues and address the issues in her answers.

As Georgian, as a woman, as a grandmother and mother, as a former mayor, as an African American, I will vote my conscience on November 8. I will cast my vote for Hillary Clinton for President and Jim Barksdale, the Democratic candidate for U. S.  Senate.

Barksdale is seeking elected office for the first time. He was born in Macon and has made his home in Atlanta for 61 years where he has built a successful business. He brings a deep love for his home state and a desire to support programs and policies to improve the lives of everyday folks.

It is time to vote.

There are also constitutional amendments on the ballot. The amendments include the Opportunity School District referendum, state’s Judicial Qualifications Commission, a fireworks sales tax and one that supports human trafficking victims. You should make your choice known on these amendments.

I will vote YES on Amendment #2 which will generate revenue for the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund and Amendment #4 which addresses the allocation of revenue from the sale of fireworks. Both Amendments have bipartisan support from legislators from across the state and broad-based community support.

Early voting begins October 17.  Please vote and take your neighbors and friends to the polls.

It is time to vote.

 

Women’s Equality Day-Friday, August 26th 2016

WDWhen passing a Resolution establishing Women’s Equality Day in 1970, the House of Representatives of the United States Congress acknowledged the fact that women, “have been treated as second-class citizens and have not been entitled the full rights and privileges, public or private, legal or institutional, which are available to male citizens” over more than four decades women have made enormous strides and yet significant challenges remain.  Today Georgia ranks number one in the nation for the fastest growth in the number of women-owned firms contributing to a growing economy. Turning to the political front, the fact that there are no women holding statewide constitutional offices  suggests that there is more work needed to fully flatten the playing field.

Women are the majority of registered voters in Georgia but women have never experienced the full collective power of the women’s vote.  The standard assertion that gender should not matter seems to function as an invisible barrier for women preventing a much broader coalition that could result in leadership that prioritizes issues and solutions of concern to women and their families.  As women work to establish businesses access to capital and contracts remains limited.  As women run for office at the local level statewide offices remain out of reach.  Electing a woman president of the United States can break through the glass ceiling and usher in an era of equity for all women regardless of race, religion, orientation or even political affiliation.  As women pause to commemorate the signing of the 19th Amendment some 96 years ago let us come together realizing that we are not as different as we are disconnected.  Georgia women are stronger together.

Rita Samuels    

Women Flying High, LLC       

Women Flying High will join Georgia Democratic women lawmakers to host a Women’s Equality Day roundtable conversation at the Georgia Capitol on Friday, August 26, 2016. The event will commemorate the signing of the 19th amendment to the U. S. Constitution giving women the right to vote in 1920.

 

Why are Georgia GOP Officials Mum on Trump’s Bigotry?

GOPThe opposition to Donald Trump’s candidacy for the Presidency of the United States is growing every day.  First there was silence, then surprise and shock and now calls for action to oppose his candidacy from corporate leaders, national security experts and technology leaders. Each person who has signed open letters makes it clear they speak as individuals based on their experience and knowledge of their industry and public affairs. None of the open letters blasts Trump directly rather they allow the GOP nominee to speak for himself. And speak he does loosely and carelessly on nearly every subject of national concern. His callousness is not reserved for a few. He lashes out at crying babies, anyone who disagrees with him or any person or organization that represents the diversity of culture and tradition among Americans. His early attacks on Mexicans and immigrants and later Muslims and now common and regular attacks on President Obama, members of congress, the media, women, crying baby in a crowded room among others are unmatched in post-WWII American presidential politics.

In Georgia and in other parts of the South otherwise good, honest voters are expected to turnout to support the GOP nominee and GOP elected officials, for the most part, stand silent watching from the wings. In Georgia the Governor, the state House and Senate, the two United States Senators and the majority of the Congressional delegation are Republicans. Some work across the aisles on key issues, some are known for their good works and delivery of “pork” to fund state projects…. but all are mum when in comes to challenging the hatred Trump spews and statements he makes nearly every day. They know ISIS wasn’t founded by President Obama or Hillary Clinton. They know immigrants contribute positively to the Georgia economy. They know babies cry in public. They know women are legitimately concerned about their rights and most gun owners want to expand background checks. They know thousands of families benefit from healthcare unavailable to them in the recent past. They know America is great now and no amount of chanting from Trump will change that. They understand the racial overtones of many of the GOP nominee’s statements. After all many GOP elected officials in the South have witnessed the expansion of democracy with the Voting Rights Acts and the impact on their own political races. Some have made changes in more than their language (staff composition, number of black church visits) to stay on good terms with African American voters who, depending on the election, turnout in record numbers and can make their campaigns more costly. Some have enjoyed close relationships with African American organizations and political figures.

Following Rev Warnock’s lead… it is time to ask questions. Can Georgia Republican leaders enjoy “good relations” with African American and immigrant communities in the face of Donald Trump’s candidacy? Will voters give them a pass? Who are the Mayors William Hartsfield and Ivan Allen (who challenged the status quo of white dominance of Atlanta politics) among the current crop of established white political leadership? Deal? Cagle? Olens? Many African Americans seek to carry the Maynard Jackson banner. Who among the white Georgians, Georgia Republicans will take the moral, righteous stand against Donald Trump’s bigotry, hatred and ignorance?

Who Signed Silicon Valley’s Anti-Trump Open Letter (and Who Didn’t) http://www.inc.com/tess-townsend/silicon-valley-letter-to-trump.html

 

A Few Words on the Election by Pearl Cleage

pcleagePearl Cleage, playwright/novelist/poet/citizen

I want to offer a few words about our upcoming presidential election to be held on November 8, 2016. The reason I only need a few words – 5 to be exact – to say my say is that I am not interested in arguing a position, promoting a specific candidate or platform or discussing the record of our current president, the ever amazing Barack Obama. I have only one mission between now and Election Day and that is to make sure everybody I know is ready to vote. That means, you have registered, checked the location of your current polling place and secured the necessary ID to vote in your state/territory/district. It also means ordering an absentee ballot now if there is even the remotest chance you might not make it to the polls on Election Day and returning that ballot the day after it arrives so you won’t forget to do it. Early voting is always a good option for busy people. You should also make childcare arrangements in case there are long lines at the polls. Here too, advance preparation is key. Take water and a protein bar for sustenance. Wear comfortable shoes. Congratulate yourself on being a good citizen at a time when your country truly needs you.

If you can check off everything on this list, you are registered and ready to vote. 5 words – registered and ready to vote – will make all the difference on Election Day. 5 words – easy to adapt as a personal affirmation: I am registered and ready to vote. Easy to utilize as a friendly inquiry: Are you registered and ready to vote? Easy to offer as an invitation to action: Let’s get registered and ready to vote.

You will find the more you use those 5 little words, the easier it is to say them. To your family. To your friends. To your mail carrier. To the woman behind you in line at the Post Office or the man sitting beside you at church. After a few days, you will share my enthusiasm for these 5 little words and realize that in the midst of all the fussing and fighting and name calling and bigotry and womanhating and lying through the teeth, the only way this election will come out wrong is if sane, right thinking people aren’t registered and ready to vote when November 8 rolls around. And if that happens, all the angry tweets and indignant Facebook rants you can post aren’t going to make a damn bit of difference. ‘Nuff said.

 

Blogging While Blue: In November 2001 I won the election for mayor of Atlanta  as a first-time candidate. Miraculously the election was decided without a runoff between the top two candidates. Less than 200 voters decided the outcome of that election. Polls and those running for office tout the importance of every election. That is always true…once again we are faced with clear choices for President and U. S. Senate. The candidates hold different opinions on the issues and have totally different records, experiences, and skills they bring to bear as leaders. My 2001 election taught me how important every vote is…..since I believe  I would have lost the run-off election… There is no run off in the Presidential election.

In Georgia, you can register to vote in the Presidential election until October 11. Yours could be the deciding vote. 

Gun Control Legislation Has Me Asking Georgia Senators, “What’d I Miss”?

nolawnobreakEvery 9 out of 10 Americans believe that anyone on a government terror Watch List should not be permitted to buy an AR-15 assault weapon. It is time for Georgia Senators Isakson and Perdue to listen to the people. It is time for them to listen to Republicans and Democrats who want background checks and want to keep guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists.  Many polls show gun owners agree with increased national gun control measures.Who are Senator Isakson and Senator Perdue representing? And why?

If Senator Lindsay Graham gets it and has stepped forward to support Senator Susan Collins’ legislation it is time for Georgia’s Senators to wake up to the reality they are not operating consistent with the beliefs of most of their constituents. As Daveed Diggs’s Lafayette sings in the hit Broadway play, Hamilton, “What’d I miss”. Well, it seems Senator Isakson and Perdue “have  missed” that Georgians and Americans  believe their safety requires federal law with tighter gun control and expanded background checks.

It is time to suspend partisan politics, Senators.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2016/06/22/democrats-stage-protest-on-house-floor-to-force-gun-control-votes

#NoBillNoBreak

Mr. Trump, racism was not “misconstrued”

curiel2

Donald Trump and Judge Curiel

Despite a late attempt to pivot from his attack, Donald J. Trump’s most recent explosive remarks regarding the objectivity of Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel who is overseeing a lawsuit against Trump University highlights once again what matters to him. No matter who you are—you just might not meet Trump’s standard for professional, fair, decision-making. Your professional record doesn’t matter; your experience, education nor credentials matter. What matters to Donald Trump is your ethnicity, race, gender, religion and mostly if you agree with him despite the facts.

He insults and demeans those who challenge him. He’s a classic bully whose primary concern is a presidential victory. His tactics focus on winning the presidency as if he’s closing the next great real estate deal of the century.

Can a woman judge make a fair legally sound judicial decision in a case against a man or defend him in a legal case?

Can a Christian judge make a fair legally sound decision in a case brought by a Jewish defendant?

Can an African American make a fair legally sound decision in a case brought by a white defendant?

The presumed and likely Republican Georgia winner in November, according to recent polls, will be Donald Trump. His denunciation of an American judge of Mexican heritage or one who is Muslim is ludicrous, racist, and outrageous.  Pick your word. It is likely that Donald Trump has insulted you. Sometimes it is not a group but an ideology that warrants his wrath. There seems to be no place for Donald Trump to hide his ignorance, his racism, and his sexism. He chooses to take any political route to create new division among increasingly diverse Americans, in an effort to twist and omit the facts to win attention.

Unfortunately, Trump’s racist rants are reminiscent of a time when being racist was an effective political strategy for winning. Or maybe Georgians voting for Donald Trump in November’s presidential election aren’t concerned about his tactics.  No one should fee safe or free from his attacks…at least not for very long.

Every political race and every vote counts!

voteTomorrow is election day in Georgia. No, it isn’t a Super Tuesday presidential primary or the election to determine who will lead the country but it is an election that can and will determine who makes decisions that impact our everyday lives. There are Public Service Commission candidates who, if elected, will cast their votes for how much we pay for electricity. There are candidates for solicitor general and judges who will decide which cases to prosecute or investigate. There are county commission members who decide everything from property taxes to how public health services are provided. There are state representative candidates who either fight under the Gold Dome for expanded human rights and healthcare coverage for all Georgians or who will hide under a rock when major public policy issues are debated. There are candidates who are known for their integrity, hard work, intelligence and compassion and those who are known for their greed, self-aggrandizement and lust for power and the limelight.

The decisions that every elected political figure makes can….and should matter to each of us.

Some polls and political pundits say African American and women Georgians hold the numbers in registered voters and the power to decide most elections in Georgia. Others say we are too divided on the issues and squander our power in search of one political savior. Every political race counts and so does every vote. Tomorrow, in every county the election results will write Georgia’s history.

We stand in the shade of a tree planted by others

DFranklin2DFranklin2 1Born and educated in Atlanta, David Franklin loved Atlanta and all the possibilities it offered for all Atlantans never expecting African American economic opportunities would come without controversy and lots of public debate. Rarely did he speak in public settings but he had lots to say in hundreds of conversations and to political allies.
This is one of the few letters found in his desk when he died a few years ago. The letter to Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Jack Tarver along with a Hosea Williams campaign poster, a Maynard for Mayor button and a copy of a 1974 New York Times article about Atlanta politics along with family photographs were worthy of saving as prized possessions.
Forty-one years ago David and a small group of black and white leaders joined Mayor Maynard Jackson in pushing open the doors of economic opportunity in public and private business sectors. Such courage was demonstrated by few but many have benefitted. The biggest beneficiary is the city itself whose economy has grown by leaps and bounds over four decades.
This week was David’s 73rd birthday and it reminded me of a familiar phrase. We stand in the shade of trees planted by others. Thoughtful, grateful people know so and are thankful for the opportunities afforded them by the actions of others. Only fools think otherwise or worse, believe that they stand alone as champions for their or the city’s success.