Miss California Thoughts & Links

There is much buzz about Carrie Prejean’s (AKA Miss California) comments and her appearance in the National Organization for Marriage sponsored commercial (that you can watch above). I know people are angry about what she said, but she was honest and respectful——-respect, something the Perez Hilton video lacks.

I do not agree with with Miss California comments, and I don’t have to– this is the beauty of our country. No two people are required to have the same opinion. While I disagree with Miss California’s opinion, I am happy that we live in a country where she can state her opinion as I can mine. Plus, I like knowing where she stands on the issue. Knowing who is against is 80% of the battle plan.

It seems Miss California-Carrie Prejean wants to be the next Anita Bryant. Go ahead, sister. Remember that Anita lost her contract promoting Florida orange juice because of her crusade against gays. You can have a form of tolerance and acceptance and not agree on an issue. Miss California better learn this quickly before she loses more than a crown.

Joe The Plumber: I Would Never Let “Queers” Near My Children

Adoption by Gay Families Continues to Roil UK

Gay Marriage Advances in Maine, New Hampshire as Conservative Rhetoric Evolves

NH demographic change shows in Legislature votes

Judge to oversee DeKalb schools bullying review (Jaheem Herrera)


"At vigil for Jaheem, mother weeps over his suicide"

At vigil for Jaheem, mother weeps over his suicide
Family says 11-year-old was bullied at elementary school

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A crowd of about 60 gathered Tuesday night at the DeKalb home of Jaheem Herrera to remember the fifth-grader who committed suicide last week. The 11-year-old boy hanged himself at his home after — according to his family — relentless bullying at Dunaire Elementary School.

Masika Bermudez, the boy’s mother, spoke briefly at the vigil that started about 7 p.m.

After a short prayer, Bermudez told friends and parents to make sure their children understand that whatever problems they have “don’t be afraid to talk to your mother.”

As Bermudez spoke, she clung to two daughters — Ny’irah, 7 and Yerralis, 10. Yerralis discovered her brother’s body last Thursday after school.

“His sister was screaming, ‘Get him down, get him down,’” said Norman Keene, Jaheem’s stepfather.

When Keene got to the room, he saw Yerralis holding her brother, trying to remove the pressure of the noose her brother had fashioned with a fabric belt.

“It’s heartbreaking,” said Jennifer Errion, assistant director of student support services, prevention-intervention for DeKalb schools.

DeKalb County schools have programs in place to combat the types of bullying and violence that may have led to Jaheem’s death, but a Errion acknowledged the prevention program is “not a vaccine.”

Two years ago, DeKalb public schools adopted an anti-bullying program called “No Place for Hate,” she said. The program, sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League, helps train faculty and students on accepting differences, promoting diversity and inclusion.

“We’ve created the idea that bullying is a rite of passage, and I don’t think it is,” said Errion.

At the vigil, the mother of Jaheem’s best friend relayed a story from Jaheem’s last day.

“Jaheem asked if anyone would miss him if he wasn’t here,” said Alice Brown, mother of Jaheem’s 10-year-old classmate A.J. “[A.J.] told him ‘He was his friend and he would miss him.’ “

Keene said the family knew the boy was a target of bullies, but until his death they didn’t understand the scope.

“They called him gay and a snitch,” his stepfather said. “All the time they’d call him this.”

Earlier this month the suicide of a Massachusetts boy, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover — who suffered taunts that he was gay — attracted national attention.

He was also 11. His mother found him hanging from an extension cord in the family’s home.

Bermudez also said her son was being bullied at school. She said she had complained to the school.

School officials won’t discuss allegations that bullying may have contributed to the boy’s suicide. Davis said Tuesday morning that officials are legally unable to comment on student-related records, such as whether the school had received complaints that Jaheem was being bullied.

The family has hired an attorney.

AJC article may be found here.

Other Articles:
Anti-Gay Bullying Claims Another: Jaheem Herrera, 11, Kills Himself
My bullied son’s last day on Earth
Georgia Family Blames 11-Year-Old Boy’s Suicide on Severe Bullying
Six ways to stop bullying

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!

House votes to leave in March, return in June

House votes to leave in March, return in June

By Aaron Gould Sheinin | Friday, February 6, 2009, 09:50 AM
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The state House just voted unanimously to split the 40-day legislative session into two parts, which lawmakers hope will give them flexibility to deal with whatever economic stimulus package comes from Washington.

The House voted 165-0 to meet three days a week through March 25 and then return in late June. The General Assembly is constitutionally required to meet for no more than 40 days a year, although those 40 days do not have to run consecutively.

House Majority Leader Jerry Keen (R-St. Simons) said Senate leaders have also agreed to the change, although that body must approve the adjournment resolution before it takes effect.

This, Keen said, allows the Legislature to be “responsive to things that may or may not come down from Washington.”

Congress is debating a $800 billion to $900 billion economic stimulus package, which by some estimates could send $5.6 billion in additional federal dollars to Georgia for education, Medicaid, infrastructure and more.

State lawmakers, meanwhile, are consider an amended budget for the current fiscal year that must find $2 billion in savings, as well as a budget for the year that begins July 1 that seeks even deeper cuts.

Going to a three-day work week — the House and Senate would convene Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday — slows down the clock and allows budget writers and Congress more time to figure out what money is available.

“All of us see the news and read the newspaper,” Keen said. “We have worked very hard with the Senate to craft a schedule to let you know where we are but at the same time allow us enough flexibility to respond to what may or may not happen in Washington.”

Committees, especially budget-writing panels, would likely continue to meet on Mondays and Fridays, Keen said.

March 25 would represent the 35th day of the session, under the adopted resolution, and returning June 27 would give lawmakers five full days before the beginning of the next fiscal year July 1.

“If we leave and things change, this will allow us to come back in a five-day period,” he said. “It gives us a lot of flexibility and options in terms of what we do.”

State Representative Calvin Hill is Pointing His Finger

I’m going on mini-tirade. I ask that you read all the way through. Please and thanks!

A powerful state lawmaker believes Georgia’s university system must not be too bad off financially if it can afford to employ experts in such subjects as oral sex and male prostitution.

Rep. Calvin Hill (pictured to the left) (R-Canton) said the university system has resisted accepting the budget cuts that nearly every other part of state government has absorbed as lawmakers fill a $2 billion hole in the budget.

Meanwhile, he said, Georgia State University is touting its faculty as experts on issues that are outside what he believes to be the university’s mission.

“I’m saying we all need to pull together and when we have things that are extraneous and outrages, which I don’t think should be discussed with our tax dollars, maybe some of this will come to mind when we have to make budget cuts,” said Hill, vice chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. Click here to read the rest of the AJC article. I owe a thank you to friend, poet, and blogger Robin Kemp for sending this info my way.

Dr. Mindy Stombler is one of the professors who has Senator Hill pointing his fingers. I checked out Dr. Stombler’s course offering for Fall ’08 and Spring ’09, and I am here to tell you that she did not teach Blow Jobs 1101 as the AJC article would make it seem; however, Dr. Stombler did teach multiple classes of SOCI 3156: Sexuality and Society.

What is this Sexuality and Society course? I’m glad you ask. Here is GSU course listing for Sexuality and Society:

Social construction and social control of sexuality. Examining trends in sexual attitudes and behaviors across the life course and how they are influenced by social interaction and social institutions. Topics may include sex research methods, representations of sexuality, sex education, sexual health and infection, sexual violence, and the commodification of sex.

I think people from the 700 Club would even admit that course description sparks some interest. I also know, as student who attended Georgia State University, that Sexuality and Society is a very popular class, and it fills quickly. I have only heard positive reviews of the course. If Rep Hill wants to talk money, I hope he realizes a class that fills each semester equals money. I think Dr. Stombler should invite Rep Hill to audit one of her classes, since Rep Hill wants to criticize. The Capitol is only a couple of blocks from GSU, so it isn’t like it would be out of his way.

I want to share information on Dr. Stombler’s research because I find it interesting.

“Her latest research project involves unraveling the power dynamic embedded in the practices of oral sex, particularly cunnilingus, and connecting conceptualizations of cunnilingus to public discourse (particularly messages about oral sex sent through music and other media). Key questions include how people view cunnilingus and how individual and public conceptualizations of cunnilingus are mitigated by race, gender, class, and sexual orientation,” and I have pulled this from her faculty page at GSU.

Also, according to her faculty page, Dr. Stombler did a three-year study of Black and White Fraternity Little Sister programs that focused on the different ways that men exploited women in these organizations and the different ways the women resisted exploitation. All thanks to Google for your being able to read an article titled Resistance in Sweetheart and Little Sister Programs, which was written by Stombler and Padavic. Maybe I should mail a copy to Rep Hill; however, I doubt it would be do any good, and I’d rather use my stamp to send the article to someone who would actually read it and have an intellectual conversation about it.

I want to read what Dr. Stombler is currently writing up. Her current project is writing up her results from a second three-year study of gay fraternities that focuses on how men in gay fraternities negotiate the dual identities of being Gay and being Greek. Now, I think it would be stupid to question if Senator Hill wants to know about this study. I’m not a betting man; however, I would bet that Senator Hill doesn’t even know that gay fraternities exist. OHHHHH……. maybe we could talk a gay fraternity into asking Senator Hill to pledge. Or, here is an even better thought: a gay fraternity could name Rep Hill a honorary member.

Rep Hill needs to turn his finger to the Governor’s recommended continued cuts to the QBE education formula that go to operate schools, the elimination of 10 conservation rangers and 18 staffers at the Environmental Protection Division, cuts for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation crime labs and arson investigators at the Georgia Forestry Commission, reduction of case workers at the Child Protective Services Division, the closing of four prisons, and elimination of nurses in Georgia’s schools. And that, my friends, is just the beginning of what I think are important issues.

Representative, quick wasting taxpayer’s money by spending time “investigating” and talking about distinguished GSU professors when you could be working on some of the issues I listed above and many other.

"Bill to increase parental control on Internet"

Bill to increase parental control on Internet

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 02/26/08

Georgia could take the lead soon on some of the strictest legislation in the nation aimed at Internet predators.

This week, a bill is expected to reach the floor of the state Senate that would force sex offenders to submit their e-mail addresses to authorities and require Internet service providers to offer parents the ability to block certain Web sites.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Cecil Staton (R-Macon), also would require schools to offer an annual course on online safety to students in grades three and higher.

“This is the first comprehensive legislation of its kind in the country,” Staton said.
It is the second bill Staton has introduced aimed at tightening parental controls and curbing access to cyberspace for sexual predators.

Last session, he proposed legislation that would make it illegal for social networking Web sites Myspace and Facebook to allow minors to create or update online profiles without parental permission. That bill did not make it to the floor and industry officials said it would be nearly impossible to enforce.

The new bill is a good compromise, Staton said.

Georgia is not the only state taking aim at social networking sites after a spate of high-profile sexual attacks by those who met their prey online.

“With 50 state legislatures, the sites are sort of facing an onslaught,” Staton said. “We have been working with various representatives over the last months to create a bill that was more comprehensive.”

Last year, Myspace began offering free parental notification software, the latest step in a series of efforts to try to protect young users from online predators. That software enables parents to know the name, age and location their children are using on the Web site but prevents them from reading their children’s e-mail or see their profile page.

In October, Facebook officials reached a settlement with New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo in which they agreed to respond and begin addressing complaints about nudity or pornography or unwelcome contact within 24 hours of receiving them. The site also agreed to tell the complainant within 72 hours what steps it had taken.

Legislature 2008: Lawmakers chomping to bite Gators over tags

Seriously? We have an elected official worrying about car tags in Florida? Oh wait… he’s running for Congress this summer….. so waste time and money that should be going to benefit his district to benefit his own personal goals— that makes total sense.

Legislature 2008: Lawmakers chomping to bite Gators over tags

By Jim Galloway
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 02/12/08

Apparently, only one thing can unite fractious Republican lawmakers at the state Capitol.

And it’s not Hillary Clinton.

It’s the University of Florida.

On Monday, GOP lawmakers announced a rare, united House-Senate effort to force the state of Florida to lower its barriers to specialty car tags that honor University of Georgia alumni. Otherwise, the Georgia legislators said, they will discontinue the Gator-oriented tags just won from the state Department of Revenue by an Atlanta group of University of Florida grads.

Pitching the bill is House Minority Whip Barry Fleming (R-Harlem), who just happens to be running for Congress this summer and will require support from Athens, where he just happened to earn undergraduate and law degrees. And despite the Georgia-Florida jokes that clog offices and sports bars throughout the state, the lawmaker says he is dead serious.

“Just like we have reciprocity for bar exams, just as we have reciprocity on tuition and all kinds of licensing and whatnot, it would make sense to have reciprocity in this area, too,” Fleming said.

Creating a new specialty car tag in Georgia requires a petition signed by 1,000 people who declare themselves willing to pony up the extra $25 for the privilege. The state revenue commissioner must approve the design.

Members of the Atlanta Gator Club just completed the process.

But in Florida, those who want a new specialty tag must pay the state government a $60,000 processing fee. An independent firm must conduct a random survey of the Florida population to determine that at least 30,000 residents intend to purchase the plates. At least 1,000 specialty tags must be sold every year. And the design must be approved by the Legislature, according to the Florida state department of motor vehicles Web site.

Georgia Senate President Pro Tem Eric Johnson (R-Savannah) said those requirements amount to a ban when it comes to UGA alumni in Florida. “If this bill passes and you can’t get a University of Georgia alumni tag in Florida, then they would not be able to renew [their] tag,” Johnson said.

Bill Piercy, an Atlanta business lawyer and a ’94 graduate of the University of Florida, didn’t like what he heard.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed. We’re willing to pay the fee just like the wildlife people,” Piercy said.

Seems Speaker Richardson Arranges Special Treatment

Quick and quiet: Speaker Richardson gets divorced
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 02/11/08

House Speaker Glenn Richardson and his wife filed for divorce, completed the dissolution of their marriage and got court records of the proceedings sealed — all in a single afternoon last week.

The Richardsons appeared privately on Wednesday before a Paulding County Superior Court judge who was not even assigned to their case. The judge, James Osborne, is a former partner in Richardson’s law firm.

Susan Richardson held the Bible when husband Glenn took the oath as Speaker of the state House in January 2007.

The judge to whom the case was assigned, Tommy Beavers, said Friday he does not know why the case ended up in Osborne’s court. Beavers said Osborne told him he had received the divorce documents before they were officially filed.

The fast-track divorce defied normal procedures as it sped through the Paulding County Courthouse in Dallas, allowing Richardson to keep most details private, including any that might reflect on his performance as a public official.

The divorce followed more than a year of speculation about the status of Glenn and Susan Richardson’s marriage. Georgia Democrats last year filed an ethics complaint against the speaker, a Republican, claiming he had had an “inappropriate relationship” with a lobbyist while cosponsoring legislation that would benefit her employer. A legislative panel dismissed the complaint.

A spokeswoman for Richardson did not respond to requests for comment. Richardson was absent from the General Assembly two full days and part of another last week as he attended the funerals of three friends killed in an airplane crash Feb. 1. One service took place Wednesday, a few hours before Richardson and his wife appeared at the courthouse.

Their marriage ended without delay.

State law requires a 30-day waiting period before uncontested divorces become final. A judge may grant an immediate divorce only after finding circumstances such as cruel treatment of one spouse by the other, incurable mental illness or adultery.

Osborne didn’t disclose why he did not wait before entering what appears to be a final order. All documents related to the case were simultaneously filed in the court clerk’s office at
4:21 p.m.

Susan Richardson, 42, appeared without an attorney, a court docket shows. Her 48-year-old husband, a lawyer, represented himself.

Osborne conducted a private hearing with the couple in his chambers, according to his order sealing the case file. It is the only document available to the public.

Hollie Manheimer, executive director of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation, which advocates for open government, said both the First Amendment and common law contain “a strong presumption of public access to court records.”

The rules that govern Georgia’s Superior Courts require judges to conduct a hearing before closing files from civil cases and to specify which documents will be sealed and for how long.

Osborne’s order indefinitely restricts access to every document in the file.

In the order, Osborne said potential harm to the Richardsons and their three children “outweighs any public interest” to inspect the documents.

Osborne has been a Superior Court judge since February 2005. A former district attorney for the Tallapoosa Judicial Circuit, Osborne was a partner, from 1978 to 1994, in Richardson’s law firm, then known as Vinson, Osborne, Richardson and Cable.

Under the Paulding Superior Court’s rules, the court clerk’s office assigns civil cases, including divorces, to the circuit’s three judges by rotation. Beavers was the next judge in line to receive a new case. But Osborne took charge of the Richardsons’ divorce before Beavers received the case file.

“I was told it was filed,” Beavers said in a brief interview Friday. “I have not seen it.”
He added, “I don’t recognize an instance” in which another Paulding County case has been resolved in a similar manner.

Through his secretary, Osborne declined to comment.