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One Man’s Opinion, “Out of Their League, Tuesday, April 6, 2021
I certainly give Major League Baseball (MLB) and Jackie Robinson credit for breaking the color barrier and slowly ending segregation within the sport. Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and dozens of other stand-out players from the former Negro Leagues followed, but in terms of upper management and franchise ownership, the league looks a great deal like it did when Hank Aaron retired from the diamond and into Braves franchise management in 1974. I’m not trying to say that America’s past-time is prejudiced, but I am pointing out that among professional sports, it is far from being the ‘most woke.’
The Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Sports Council, Cobb County government, Chamber of Commerce, and CVB among others, invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in a bid and effort, fairly won several years ago, to host the MLB All-Star Game in 2021. Such sporting mega-events, like the recent NBA All-Star Game weekend in Atlanta, draw fans, visitors and heavy spending, media attention, and a surprising amount of later side investment.
Unrelated to those event hosting competitions won fairly and squarely, the Georgia General Assembly passed, and Governor Brian Kemp signed into law, an omnibus Election Law reform package, SB 202, during late March. The law in some places expands voting access, via additional advance and weekend voting, and in other places retracts it, but perhaps most importantly provides some new security protocol on the front and back end of absentee balloting. Ballot drop boxes, a temporary pandemic emergency order measure, first recommended by the Trump Administration, were also codified into law, though pulled indoors at early voting sites, and during polling hours, versus 24-hour access.
The new law is receiving as much attention as the earlier burning of Atlanta, though that re-telling and legend didn’t see its mythology reach epic proportions until nearly 70 years later, with the fictional tale of “Gone with the Wind.” The internet, Democratic and voting rights activists and multiple networks and legacy media outlets have fanned the flames a bit harder this go-round, and while we can certainly debate the justification and fairness of that, versus what is actually contained, and not, in the 98-page state statute, I will venture that no one at MLB League HQ in New York has bothered to read it.
In pulling the event, in an attempt to cause reputational injury and pain point to the state of Georgia, and it’s political leadership, here is who is actually being harmed. The Atlanta Braves, out their earlier investment and a likely sell-out stadium on the back end of a never-ending pandemic, Cobb County (the owners of Truist Park), and hundreds of area businesses, restaurants, and hotels near Battery Park and the Cobb Galleria, now facing thousands of cancellations and dozens of millions in lost revenue.
If the folks at MLB had done their homework, they might have also noted that Cobb County went for Hillary Clinton in 2016, Stacey Abrams in 2018, and President Joe Biden and Georgia’s two new Democratic U.S. Senators in 2020. On the local level, Cobb elected Lisa Cupid, a Democrat, and black female as its county commission chair, and also a new Sheriff and District Attorney, also both African-Americans.
Before sports leagues self-anoint themselves as morality police, or begin giving guidance on social justice, race, and equity issues, some internal housekeeping and fairness checks are in order first. It wasn’t all that long ago that at least one MLB team owner almost could not hold a press conference without offering an expletive or occasional racial epithet.
However, in this episode, while MLB is attempting to take on the role of a scolding Dr. Phil or even Dr. Ruth, its feet of clay give this more the impact of a Dr. Pepper. Perhaps a bit of indigestion will follow, as well as some real economic injury to folks who had absolutely nothing at all to do with the political decision being criticized.
I imagine in part based on the applause from certain national media outlets, and similar commentary from some prominent Georgia corporate chieftains, MLB’s leadership is giving itself a congratulatory pat on the back. You will know this is for real though when they decline to attend the Masters @ Augusta National, or ask Liberty Media to relocate their Braves franchise. This is more like the handful of Georgia legislators temporarily asking Coca-Cola to pull the free beverages stocked in their offices at the Georgia Capitol. Now when they start pouring Pepsi in those places and spaces…then things will really have gotten real.
Yes, wronger isn’t really a word, but “Dumb and Dumber,” had already been taken.
My two favorite sports teams are the Atlanta United and my Georgia Bulldogs. I was there when our Atlanta United won their national championship, and 40 years ago, for the UGA Bulldogs National Championship. The United has struggled the last few seasons since, and while our Dawgs now have a strong program, coach, as well as their footing, we are always going to have some tough sledding ahead with a perennial national championship team in the adjoining state as well as the same conference.
And yet, I don’t see Coach Kirby Smart asking the SEC to change the rulebook, redefine a touchdown, or change conference eligibility. THAT would be cheating or the conduct of a real loser at heart. And that would be wrong.
This brings me to the clump of changes Georgia’s General Assembly and our Governor just signed into laws for voting and elections during a day of rapid-fire bill passage without much debate and a photo finish private bill-signing ceremony that looked a lot more like the Last Supper than it did the celebratory win of a championship season.
But wait, isn’t this the same Georgia GOP that increased its majority in both the State House and State Senate in November? Yes. The same Georgia GOP that had a record number of votes cast for a Republican incumbent Senator, who outpolled his party’s Presidential nominee? Yes again. The same Georgia GOP who had a runoff candidate down-ticket who out-polled every other candidate on the ballot, Republican and Democrat alike (Bubba McDonald)? Yep, GOP, 0-3.
And again, this is the state where Republicans made no excuse Absentee Voting the law of the land in 2005? Uh-huh. And where a GOP Governor, General Assembly, and Secretary of State created three weeks of early voting, online registration, a new voting system with a verifiable paper trail, and where there has been record voter registration, record participation among all demographic groups, and record voter turnout, increasing with each cycle since 2018? Yessiree…
So now, though all of that was then right…it’s now wrong to vote Absentee? Or use ballot drop boxes suggested by the Trump Administration? Or perhaps give a bottle of water to someone standing in a precinct line for 4-6 hours waiting to vote?
Okay, I will turn down the sarcasm. And I will seriously commend Georgia House Speaker David Ralston and Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan for respectively dialing back the nearly 200 pieces of nonsense legislation proposed in each chamber ranging from ending all at-will Absentee Voting to creating a Constitutional “Chief Elections Officer” to replace Georgia’s Secretary of State.
However, SB 202 bill signing day and the related arrest of a legislative colleague for the crime of knocking on your door? This looks even more like a circular firing squad than the circus President Donald Trump got underway here during the General Election Runoff.
Securing Absentee Ballots with state or federal I.D. is a reasonable step. The Secretary of State already has Driver’s License numbers on file for nearly 90 percent of voters, as Motor Voter registration and online registration, are the top two sources of voter registration. Either a number matches, or it does not, much less subjective than a signature match.
But the bulk of the other ‘new security measures,’ like the water/sandwich ban just make our state look stupid and petty and like we do actually practice voter suppression here. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve argued with folks out of state asking me what it’s like to live in a state where our last gubernatorial election was ‘stolen.’ Yeah, the other side also has conspiracy theories that they won’t let go of either.
Back to my Bulldogs and the United, I want my teams to win, but I also want my team to be the BETTER team. To play smarter, appreciate their fans, improve their skills, play at the top of their game, and even occasionally run up the score. But I don’t want to win by default, by cheating or changing the rules in our favor. That’s what they do in California.
And I’m still very clear that is both out west and to the left. Bigger government, state take-over of local control? That’s all left…I told you these guys are losing their way. Wrong is right? And right is wrong on this one… Wrong enough to cause a major shift in direction. And these wounds are again…self-inflicted.
As this column is being written, the U.S. House is again expected to pass, along party lines, a $1.9 trillion Corona Virus Stimulus and Aid package, which will hopefully mean some economic relief and assistance in the near term for individuals and small businesses, as well as local and state governments and boards of education, struggling with challenged revenue streams and increased costs directly related to the pandemic. That said, it is generally agreed that hundreds of billions within this package has VERY LITTLE to do with COVID19 or immediate economic assistance, with some funds being obligated as far out as 2024.
Thankfully, while what some are calling a Democratic spending spree wrapped up in a COVID19 omnibus spending bill, the non-partisan Senate Parliamentarian rightly ruled that also simultaneously mandating an increase in the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour for most all employers was not germane to the legislative matter at hand, and that such a change in federal law could not be handled by budget reconciliation and a simple majority vote.
A line descendant of the state militias which first fought the Revolutionary War, citizen patriots, each loyal to the colony of their home…dating back as long as 1607, the National Guard is a joint activity of the U.S. Department of Defense, as well as reserve components of the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and Air Force, as well as independent state militias that report up to Adjutant Generals in each state. While our U.S. Army has more than 400,000 personnel in uniform, deployed across the globe, the National Guard currently has more than 8-million men and women, serving missions in all 50 states, and overseas. The past year’s summer of Racial Justice Protests and the ongoing pandemic saw the Guard deployed in multiple metropolitan areas as a peace-keeping and order force, as well as administering COVID19 tests and more recently constructing and manning mass vaccination centers.
More than occasionally derisively referred to as weekend warriors, Guard members undergo ongoing training and drills to maintain their readiness for deployment. National Guard service members have been a significant front line force in both Persian Gulf Wars and a host of ongoing conflicts, and are serving as the nation’s first-line of defense following national disasters and an increasing amount of civil unrest.
And yet the incredibly LOW payment and compensation levels for National Guard members may astound you – https://usmilitary.com/national-guard-pay-chart/
Though the aftermath of the assault on our nation’s Capitol on January 6, 2021, now has retired Lt. General Russel Honore recommending the formation of an elite and full-time strike force to respond to attacks/assaults on our nation’s Capitol, the White House and the federal district in Washington, D.C., the area is still being secured by a force of just over 5,000 National Guard personnel, the majority of which have been on the ground there since the first week of January. During the frigid days and weeks leading up to the Inauguration of President Joe Biden, Guard members were asked to camp in parking garages as well as one of several D.C. Convention Centers. The Guard has been asked to remain in Washington, and surrounding the three layers of temporary fencing surrounding the U.S. Capitol complex at least until mid-May.
And their pay –
E-3 Private First Class: $1,730 – $1,950 monthly active duty pay
E-4 Specialist/Corporal: $1,915 – $2,326 monthly active duty pay
E-5 Sergeant: $2,091 – $2,965 monthly active duty pay
From buck private to full E-5 sergeant, this is a pay range for enlisted personnel in some very hard duty locations, putting in well more than 160 hours per month. Even if that were the hour count worked, that would only produce a range from $10.80 – $18.50 an hour, in even the most, dire circumstances.
And while I certainly understand the politics of members of the Democratic Party leadership paying tribute to labor unions, some union members and advocating a higher floor for all wages…where are these cries of empathy and compassion for the several million men and women in uniform who constantly have our backs when the world and times are at their worst?
And when we revisit this topic, and we will – let’s hope fiscal conservatives and supporters of our nation’s military begin their objections with higher floor compensation for our men and women in uniform, first across the National Guard, and next from bottom to top in each of our respective service branches. And at the very least, when you next encounter a National Guard member, thank them for their economic sacrifice (away from a likely higher paying job back home), as well as their ongoing service to your state and our nation.
St. Simons Sound Incident Response
Update: Responders begin cutting operations on Section Two
BRUNSWICK, Ga. – Responders begin cutting operations on Section Two of the Golden Ray wreck.
Responders commenced cutting operations to separate Section Two from the Golden Ray wreck on Sunday. The Barge JULIE B is expected to arrive in Brunswick, Ga. this week and will receive Section Two once the section is separated and lifted. Response engineers continue to collect data from fixed monitors and hydrographic surveys and they confirm that the wreck remains stable.
The cutting chain progresses up the side of the Golden Ray wreck during cutting operations Sunday morning. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.
Responders position ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene slings around grommets on the lifting lugs of Section Two during operations to attach the VB-10000 to the Golden Ray wreck. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.
Responders on the topside of the Golden Ray wreck assist with rigging the cutting apparatus prior to cutting operations. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.
Responders attach the cutting chain to the cutting apparatus on the VB-10000 during preparations to separate Section Two from the Golden Ray wreck. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.
The 150-yard safety zone around the EPB is increased to 200 yards for recreational vessels. The UC advises mariners to please steer clear of the perimeter to ensure the safety of our responders and the public. Any unauthorized usage of drones (unmanned aerial vehicles, UAVs) around the wreck site and near response facilities is discouraged due to safety. UAVs are distractions that can lead to near misses, mishaps and injuries. Responders will report any sightings of drones and drone operators to local authorities.
Responders monitor the vicinity around the Golden Ray wreck for any signs of pollution during cutting operations. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.
Responders continue to observe and recover oil sheens and debris on the water around the wreck site. Survey teams continue to assess the shoreline to find and remove any debris or other environmental impacts. If you encounter what you believe is debris from the Golden Ray wreck, please do not handle the debris. Call the Debris Reporting Hotline at (912) 944-5620. Responders evaluate each report, survey the vicinity and recover any shipwreck debris in addition to their daily surveys of the water and the shoreline. If you encounter residual oil on the shoreline or in the water, please call the National Response Center hotline at (800) 424-8802.
The Unified Command (UC) developed a multi-layer approach for observing, surveying, documenting and mitigating any releases of oil or debris during cutting and lifting operations. Recovery personnel are on-station at the Environmental Protection Barrier (EPB), at the shoreline and on the water around the Golden Ray shipwreck. Responders are maintaining protective boom at sensitive locations around St. Simons Sound.
The St. Simons Sound Incident Unified Command is the official source of information for the motor vessel Golden Ray response operations.
For more updates, please subscribe for email alerts at https://www.stsimonssoundincidentresponse.com/subscribe
FOR ALL INFORMATION REGARDING THE RESPONSE PLEASE VISIT THE INCIDENT RESPONSE WEBSITE
The Georgia Department of Public Health is currently administering COVID-19 vaccine in Phase 1a+/1b which includes:
• Healthcare workers (physicians, nurses, laboratory technicians, EMS personnel, environmental services, etc.)
• Residents and staff of long-term care facilities
• Adults aged 65 and older (effective 1-11-2021)
• Law enforcement, firefighters, first responders (effective 1-11-2021)
• Educators and staff (Pre-K, K-12, DECAL licensed or exempt childcare programs)
• Adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their caregivers
• Parents of children with complex medical conditions who are at high risk for COVID complications (ex: malignancies requiring active treatment, sickle cell disease, asthma, obesity, cystic fibrosis, immunocompromised state, critical congenital heart disease, significant neurologic injury or condition with functional/developmental impairment and technology dependence)
Vaccine supply is very limited. Public health departments are scheduling vaccines by appointment only.
Next Event: Howard Coffin Park * 1402 Sonny Miller Way * Brunswick, GA
Date: March 10, 2021 Time: 10am – 6:30pm
Call to make an appointment: 912-230-5506 or schedule online: covid19.gachd.org/vaccine