Photo Credit: Jason Crosby
This week surely was a reminder that all politics is local—especially in Athens. The Republicans have come and gone, electing longtime local party activist John Padgett as their new state chair. Boss Padgett pledges to take a conservative message to the liberal media.
It looked for a while as if this part of the liberal media would not be allowed in to cover the convention. The credentials people told us they weren’t giving media passes to weekly newspapers, so of course I emailed Doc Eldridge, my personal Republican, and he passed it on to Secretary of State Brian Kemp, another local Republican who is making it on the state level. In his email Doc reminded Brian that Flagpole is not their “friend” (his quotes), “but why kick this dog off the porch?” Doc meant of course that while we are friends, Flagpole is not a friend to their party.
At the local Republican meeting on the Monday night prior to the state convention, Brian told me he was working on the credentials, which was reassuring, especially considering how much he already has on his plate.
We never did hear anything about the press credentials, so Friday I walked over to the Classic Center and stood in line for registration. When my turn came, I told the woman I wanted press credentials for Flagpole, and she just reached into a big cardboard box and handed me one; didn’t even have to sign anything. So much for the secretive convention behind closed doors. Matthew Pulver’s take on the convention will appear in Flagpole next week, and Tom Crawford’s is in this issue.
Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to renew Flagpole’s corporate registration online at the Secretary of State’s office, an annual task that is usually accomplished easily. This year, though, the web site wouldn’t accept my user name or password no matter how much I racked my brain trying to figure it out. Worse, I couldn’t get through to them by telephone or email. The Secretary of State’s office, you will recall, has been brought to a standstill by the Georgia legislature’s new anti-immigrant laws that require anybody applying for any kind of license to prove citizenship. You may have already had to prove your citizenship four or five different ways in order to renew the drivers license you’ve held for 20 years. These requirements have created chaos among all the professions and occupations that are licensed by the state, and the burden has crashed down on the Secretary of State’s operations.
Keep in mind that while Brian Kemp is a rising state Republican politician, he is also head of a large and complicated state government department. Ironically, his job as an administrator is made difficult by the politics of his party.
In my desperation to get through to the Secretary of State’s office, I finally called their press division and did at least get an answering machine. I left a plea for help, saying this wasn’t a press matter but I am a member of the press. Very soon I got a call back—from the press office—from Chris Perlera, another Athenian gone to Atlanta. Chris, you may recall, ran recently for a State House of Representatives seat here, losing in the Republican primary but impressing everybody with his intelligence and self-assurance. Brian immediately snapped him up and made Chris one of his press officers.
In the middle of his busy day, Chris walked me through the new online registration process and made me glad that we’ve got Athenians in Atlanta, regardless of their party affiliation.
Of course, that’s the way it’s supposed to work, that our government is administered with competence, regardless of which party is in power. Unfortunately, when extremists take over, they make it difficult for the government to be run competently, and maybe that’s what they want. But it surely does make life difficult for all of us who are trying to go about our daily business, depending on our government to work smoothly. Alexander Pope put it this way 300 years ago: “For forms of government let fools contest; Whate’er is best administer’d is best.”
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