Responding "None of Your Business" Causes Drama

If you remember, I wrote two blog entries that mention Senator Valencia Seay. (Click here for #1 and here for #2.) Well, the saga continues.

Senator Seay is pissed at 11 Alive because the station used her picture when running their story on elected officials who haven’t paid their state taxes. Yes, 11 Alive used her picture; however, when Senator Seay was discussed, I never heard anyone say she had not paid her taxes. The reporter said Senator Valencia Seay replied with “None of your business.” If Senator Seay would have responded with “I’m current” over “None of your business,” she wouldn’t have been discussed on the news.

Senator Seay claims she has received hate email and calls because of the 11 Alive story. If these are claims are true, they are disappointing, disheartening, and disgusting. The people who made the claims should be ashamed of themselves. They could have easily sent Senator Seay a message requesting that she, like 50%-plus of her peers, disclose whether she has paid her taxes or not.

A blog reader, who asked remained nameless, sent me what he alleges are two press release from Senator Valencia Seay’s office. I use “alleges” since I have not been able to verify them as official. Senator Seay’s state webpage or her personal website do not have them listed.

Here is one of the alleged press releases from Senator Valencia Seay:

Senator Valencia Seay today demanded an apology and an on-air editorial repudiation from 11 Alive News in Atlanta for their deceitful implication that the senator failed to pay taxes.

The station called the Senator Thursday and asked that she disclose her tax records. Told that those records were private and none of their business, 11 Alive later used the senator’s photo in a story about those who have not paid their taxes.
Tax records are private under Georgia law. Failure to pay taxes is a crime, and accusing a person of a crime – even by implication – constitutes libel under Georgia law. O.C.G.A. § 51-5-1.
Following the report, Senator Seay received the following threatening message in an email: “Pay your taxes. Typical deadbeat baby killing democrat.”

The email arrived the day after SR 452 – a proposal to allow senators to dig into the tax records of political opponents – was defeated on the floor of the Georgia General Assembly.

“This is precisely the sort of irresponsible, unprofessional and trashy journalistic response that we would expect to see as a result of Senator Johnson’s witch-hunting ethics proposal,” Senator Seay said. “Undaunted by their ignorance of the facts, 11 Alive News showed their willingness to take a refusal to disclose personal information as license to imply the worst. For the record, I have NO tax delinquencies – federal, state or local. 11 Alive should go back to doing what they do best – empty reporting on celebrity drug addiction and car crashes.”
Senator Valencia Seay is a leader among a committee of senators investigating how the recession is affecting Georgians and how best to mitigate that damage through smart responses from government. She said, “It is a shame and an abomination for me to be distracted from working on addressing the needs of homeless Georgia Veterans of wars from WWII to Iraq and Afghanistan and other citizens hard-hit by the largest recession since the Great Depression. I should not have to spend time responding to my children and grand children’s concerns that I could be a victim of an Olympic bomber/Eric Rudolf wannabe.”

Senator Valencia Seay is a former member of the Clayton County School board where she earned a reputation for being in politics for the right reasons. This reputation propelled her to a successful run for the state senate after reapportionment and redistricting. During the last election, she easily defeated a candidate backed by the infamous former Sheriff, Victor Hill.

"Baby Got Front" by Jackie Front

DO NOT watch this video in front of anyone under the age of 18.

The Surgeon General recommends that people with cardiac complications should not watch this video.

AARP is lobbying Congress to have “Baby Got Front” removed from the Internet.

Clergy requests you seek the sacrament of confession directly after watching this video.

Consider yourself warned!

Enjoy the scandal that is Jackie Beat.

Dustin Interviews Denise Duhamel

DB: Your sestina, “Delta Flight 659: to Sean Penn,” is one of your many ‘fun’ poems in your latest book, KA-CHING! I’m glad to see “Delta Flight 659: to Sean Penn” up for discussion in poem: a virtual poetry group. I sent the poem to Penn’s publicist, and I requested Penn respond to you with a poem. When it happens, as a thank you, you can write a poem about Dolly Parton and dedicate it to me.

DD: Consider it done! It’ll be a ghazal with the end words Dolly and those words that rhyme with Dolly.

DB:I was about to commission you to write the best Dolly ghazal the world has ever seen; however, I checked my bank account balance, and it is four figures, two of which are behind the decimal. I’ll have to take my chances with Penn. By the way, have you seen Milk?

DD:Yes, Sean Penn was fantastic in Milk! I am so happy that he won the Academy Award for his performance.

DB:Yes, even more evidence that besides being a poet goddess, you are also a fag hag. (Mark your calendar for when you’re Atlanta; we’re hitting a gay bar!) This reminds me of a conversation we had about our dislike of the term fag hag. Did you ever think of a friendlier term?

DD:What about Dear Queer of Queen Princess? Or a Queen Colleen? Maybe there should be some kind of contest, conducted by a “fag hag” to come up with something more complimentary? The winner could get tickets to an Elton John concert or something…

DB:I’ll end our brief but lovely conversation with a challenge. Write a villanelle, or my arm could be twisted for it be a free verse poem, titled “Queen Colleen,” and the poem must address the need to replace the term fag hag.

DD:I accept your challenge!!

A Message from State Rep DuBose Porter

Here is a message from State Representative DuBose Porter (picture to the left):

Congratulations Nurses and Friends of Georgia’s Children,

Thanks to our combined efforts and money from the stimulus package, school nurses are included in the 2009 supplemental budget. (However things are still up in the air for the 2010 budget, so we need to keep fighting.)

This session’s effort on behalf of nurses has created a last minute change in key Republican talking points. This change is a good indication that our efforts had an impact. I am urging you to continue to make your voices heard so that the fight will not have to be as intense next year.

Here is a short synopsis of the sea change we were able to create with your help:
At the beginning of the 2009 session, the Republican Leadership’s strategy was to go after nurses’ jobs and children’s healthcare with a vengeance. In a group setting at the capitol when asked, “How can you take nurses away from our school kids?” the talking points delivered by a key Republican leader to the group was verbatim as follows: ”You know, these kids are just soft. These kids need to just toughen up. They used to take kids out west on wagon trains and they did fine… Today’s kids will just have to toughen up. We just need to focus this money somewhere else.”

As you know nurses spend untold hours becoming qualified to administer health care services. Often they have given up higher paying jobs to help take care of our state’s schoolchildren. School Nurses are vital to our state’s future and our Republican Leadership was ready to toss them aside.

Thanks to your efforts in voicing your concern and by our Democratic House Caucus keeping this issue in the foreground, a few key Republicans in Leadership are starting to publicly change their tune. This was a great indicator that we would win the battle. Some key Republicans even posted pro nurses in schools videos on their websites this week when they realized the nurses would be added back into the budget- just as if they have been for nurses all along. We welcome each and every one of them on board. Nurses must stay in public schools, and united, our voices are making a difference. Now that they have come forward we must make sure they do not revert to their original views next year. To insure this I ask you to stay engaged in the process.

Without a majority of votes in the House and Senate our job is to hold that majority party accountable. Our strongest allies in doing this are the voices of fellow Georgians who understand the damaging effects across the board cuts have on healthcare and education. As you know, even when times were good and Georgia had surplus money in the budget, our Republican State Leadership cut 1.6 billion from public education and as much as they could from Public Health. These short sighted efforts have and will continue to greatly damage Georgia’s ability to bounce back from this recession. A healthy and well educated public is key to our economic recovery.

Once again, thank you for your efforts. Your voices have helped us to hold the Republican Leadership’s feet to the fire. With this year’s supplemental budget we have started to win the fight. I ask you to stay engaged and continue your efforts. With a school nurse’s care, more of Georgia’s children can stay in the classroom, more parents can stay at their jobs and more teachers can spend their time teaching. By working together we can secure a more healthy future for Georgia.

First Annual Queer Voltage Queer Poets Competition

From the fingertips of Christopher Soden:
Queer Voltage: the theatre that produced the award-winning Queer Anarchy is pleased to announce a fundraiser : The First Annual Queer Voltage Queer Poets Competition. Any poet who self-identifies as GLBT may enter. 10-15 Finalists will be invited to read at a special event at 7PM, May 16th, 2009 at Teatro de La Muse in Plano, Texas. 1st (150.00) 2nd (75.00) and 3rd (50.00) place prizes will be awarded with three honorable mentions. All Finalists receive certificates and will be featured in a commemorative chapbook released at the Finalist’s Reading. We hope to provide actors to read for finalists unable to attend, and a video tape of the event. You need not be present to win.

Entry fee is $5.00 per poem. Poets may submit three poems for $15.00 and a copy of the winning chapbook. No poem should exceed 3 pages. Contestant’s name should not appear anywhere on poems. A cover sheet including contestant’s full contact information (Name, address, phone number, email address) poem titles and brief bio should be enclosed. Checks and money orders should be made out to Queer Voltage. Entries must be postmarked by March 31st, 2009. Christopher S. Soden, Director : Queer Voltage, 7706 Meadow Road # 121, Dallas, Texas 75230. 469-228-1575. We accept email submissions : jlgdrd@gmail.com

Poems will be judged on craftsmanship, originality of language and subtlety. Poets must self-identify as GLBT poems submitted needn’t queer issues. Judges are respected members of the literary community and represent a variety of disciplines and orientations. Top six winners will be chosen by preeminent Queer Poet and Pulitzer Prize Nominee, Cyrus Cassells. Queer Voltage is dedicated to the performance of ground-breaking, poignant and provocative drama to advance understanding and appreciation of the Queer Community as a whole.

Reinstate 4% State Sales Tax on Groceries!

UPDATE: AJC reports: “House Speaker Pro Tem Mark Burkhalter (R-Johns Creek) confirmed Tuesday that legislation to put the state’s 4 percent sales tax back on food is dead.”

I want to blog about more than Georgia politics; however, the members of the Georgia Senate and House of Representatives are keeping my attention.

Representative Chuck Sims (pictured to the left) has sponsored HB 67, which would reinstate the 4% state sales tax on groceries. Too many Georgians are already hurting because of the economic crisis. Apparently, Representative Sims has no regard for them. Apparently, Representative Sims is not aware that many Georgian have to decide between paying bills, buying medications, and eating. Why make this worse? As my brother would say, I guess he’s the kind of guy who would kick you in the balls when you’re already down.

Besides being disappointed in Representative Sims, I am disappointed in the House Ways and Means Committee for giving HB 67 a favorable vote. Does the committee even have the best interest of Georgians in mind?

Yes, HB 67 does allow for Georgia income-tax filers to apply for a credit, every year, for the amount of state sales taxes they paid for groceries. I am sure Georgians will be excited and love to track a year’s worth of grocery expenditures. I know I’d love nothing more than to become the receipt version of the cat lady. I should send Representative Sims a thank you card for looking out for us with this lovely part of the bill.

Alcohol sales do not tend to falter during hard economic times. In fact, alcohol sales often increase during hard economic times. Google it if you don’t believe me. Why not propose an increase on alcohol sales? I am like the famed Gladys of The Ellen DeGeneres Show; I love Jesus, but I like to drink a little, and I would not mind an increase on the alcohol sales tax. Another idea with alcohol—our legislators could allow each county to decide whether or not there should be Sunday alcohol sales.

Another option to increase funds for the state is House Bill 39, which would increase the state tax on cigarettes. I think it seems logical to increase state taxes on alcohol and cigarettes before reinstating the sales tax on groceries. Don’t you agree?

To Representative Sims: I guess you have never lived from pay check to pay check. You probably have never had to worry that you might not be able to feed your family. Four percent might not seem like a lot to you, but you need to realize the damage potential of 4%. Senator Sims, look out for all Georgians. Withdraw HB 67!

What can you do?
(1) Call Representative Chuck Sims at 404-656-3947 to demand he withdraw HB 67.

(2) Contact your House Representative to let him/her know you oppose HB 67.

(3) Contact the members of the House Ways and Means Committee via committee aid Lindsey Napier to express your frustration and disappointment of their favorable vote of HB 67. Email Lindsey Napier at lindsey.napier@house.ga.gov, or you can reach the committee via phone at 404-656-5103.

(4) Contact the House Ways and Means Committee to request support for HB 39. (Use the same way of communication as listed in #3.)

Elected Officials Too Good to Pay Their Taxes?

A few weeks ago I heard rumblings that there are members of the Georgia Senate and House of Representatives behind on paying their state taxes. Then the AJC ran an article on the issue. Now, 11 Alive has tackled the issue.

There are 16 House Representatives and 3 Senators who are not up to date on their taxes. 11 Alive has placed calls to elected officials giving them a chance to comment on whether or not their taxes are paid. Click here to see who 11 Alive is waiting to hear from and who has cooperated with 11 Alive. The elected officials won’t remain nameless forever. Once they have been served papers from the Georgia Department of Revenue and given time to respond, their names will available to the public.

Senator Eric Johnson (pictured above), Chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee, in some circles, is receiving credit for trying to crack down on his peers who aren’t paying their taxes. Before you praise Senator Eric Johnson, please note that a majority of the lawmakers who are not current on their taxes have been delinquent for a couple of years or more. Why did Senator Eric Johnson wait so long to raise the red flag? Oh, I guess his candidacy for Lt. Governor has something to do with it.

A message for Senator Eric Johnson: At first, some of the good citizens of Georgia will probably fall for your “I care routine,” but it won’t take them to see you treat politics like a game of poker, and sir, you play dirty. Your actions show your interest lies within your desire for power. For the sake of your own dignity, please stop the pathetic pandering for votes, and do what an elected official should do– genuinely look out for the citizens of Georgia.

Let us turn our attention to Senator Valencia Seay (pictured to the right). When 11 Alive called Senator Valencia Seay to ask about her Georgia tax status, well, she told 11 Alive it is none of their business. Woah—I did not see that answer coming from a Senator who has been serving since 2002. Is it just me or is Senator Seay telling her constituents and the rest of Georgia that she is above public disclosure?

Senator Valencia Seay serves as the Minority Caucus Vice Chair, which makes this matter even more disappointing. She is in a leadership position, and leaders should lead by example. I am happy that most of her peers are not following her example!

Contact Senator Valencia Seay to tell her to disclose whether or not she is current on her taxes. I especially urge the people of Senate District 31 to hold Senator Valencia Seay accountable. Is Senator Valencia Seay who the people of District 31 want respresenting them?

Senator Seay’s Contact Information
Email: valencia.seay@senate.ga.gov
Capitol Office Phone: 404-656-5095
Capitol Office Fax: 404-657-9728

I sent my email to Senator Valencia Seay asking her to disclose whether or not she is up to date with her Georgia taxes. Of course, I will share what she has to say in I Was Born Doing Reference Work in Sin.

Remember: If we don’t hold our elected officials accountable, who will?

UPDATE: Senator Seay speaks!

WHY DO I WRITE ~ Robert Pinsky

WHY DO I WRITE ~ Robert Pinsky

I write for the same reason a toddler, at some occasion like a wedding party, dances.

The child hears the music and observes what the elders are doing. So he or she begins grinning and bouncing around.

I can remember the feeling I got when I read certain things, heard certain music. Alice in Wonderland, Charlie Parker, Ray Charles, Mozart, Ivanhoe, “Sailing to Byzantium,” “To Elsie,” “Howl,” “At the Fishhouses.” Movies like “The Searchers” or “His Girl Friday” or “Sullivan’s Travels.”

I remember the feeling those works gave me. I would like to give other people that feeling. (I am paraphrasing wise remarks I heard in an interview with the great saxophonist Dexter Gordon.)

I try to shape words into poetry, into works of art, because of the feeling I have gotten from great works of art. I’d like to create that feeling for someone else.

That’s maybe a bit too simpleminded and practical. (Though honest.)