Wal-mart (booooo!!!) is trying to build a huge, super store in downtown Athens, GA. People for a Better Athens is a citizens group dedicated to preventing said development from taking place as it would decimate the unique character of Athens, which counts REM, Widespread Panic, B-52s, Drivin' N Cryin', Drive-by Truckers as local talents. So i got an email from PFBA about a public meeting so i went, thinking i would be attending a pro-Athens, anti-Wal-mart meeting. Step over the Orange Croissant of Power to find out what i encountered
Upon arriving at aforementioned gathering, i quickly realized that this was rather much like a meta-Town Hall meeting, with all of our GA representation present (not federal). 5 men (no women), 1 of whom was not white, the widely respected Keith Heard who is the senior representative of the area to the state gov't and dutifully represents the African-American community. Chuck Williams, freshmen rep. Bill Cowsert, incumbent state senator. Doug McKillip, turncoat asshole. The aforementioned Mr. Heard and another freshmen rep., Mr Ginn. They all introduced themselves and talked about what they thought the recently-concluded legislative session had accomplished. IMHO (where the H is always silent), they accomplished a heaping pile of jack shite.
The local indie weekly paper, The Flagpole, has done an excellent job of covering all of the issues that i will discuss in this thread, so give them some traffic if you feel so inclined.
My focus will be on Doug McKillip, as he was the one who generated most of the feedback from the people at the meeting. He was elected as a Democrat and nearly instantaneously switched affiliation to be a dyed-in the wool R'thuglican. He then teamed up with Rs at the state level to redistrict the very blue Athens area so that it would a) elect as many Rs as possible to all levels of gov't and b) protect McKillip's incumbency. Asshole. After that he voted to break the GA state constitutional ban on State controlled charter schools. Then, with no apparent demand coming from his own constituents to do so, authored the odious "Fetal Pain Abortion Ban", which would ban abortions after 20 weeks, no exceptions. Gotta get the freakbags fired up to vote when you have failed to do anything to improve people's lives.
There was some blow-back about the redistricting, to which all the reps at the table said they merely fulfilled their duty and that the original, locally drawn maps were unconstitutional, yadda yadda blah blah blah. This was the first time i witnessed the greasy-smooth ability of professional politicians to talk a lot and not say anything while sounding very self-important and serious.
The second person to speak stole the show: a young woman, an undergrad at UGA who is also heavily involved with Occupy, got up and said: "Mr McKillip, i brought you a present. Since you seem to think it is so important to legislate my uterus, and you don't have one yourself, i made one for you by hand." That drew wild applause. Another woman spoke: "reports show that in GA, 75% of women who seek abortions do so because they feel like they cannot care for the baby economically. Since only 1.4% of abortions in GA were after the 20th week, why didn't you work on a single piece of legislation that would put women to work rather than further criminalizing a legal act between a woman and her doctor?" Again, wild applause. Another woman spoke saying that the law was written by 5 men, and why is it that men always think that they should be making laws that only affect women? Again, applause.
Now up to this last comment Mr McKillip hemmed and hawed and looked very uncomfortable and fidgety, placed as he was in the center of the table by the organizer for maximum discomfort. To the last comment McKillip said: "It was originally 9 men who made abortion legal, so i don't think that having 5 men blah blah blah, har har, guffaw". Unfortunately no one responded thusly, but which i thought to myself aftewards: "no, 9 men affirmed that the US Constitution does not give the authority to anyone to violate a woman's right to privacy with her doctor and her medical decisions". He also repeatedly asserted that in GA many women, "i have statistics!", seek elective abortions (no threat to mother or child's lives) up to 40 weeks. These assertions were met with guffaws and disbelief each time, and is entirely not believable to this author.
My impressions of the politicians at the event were largely negative, they attempted to smooth talk and placate people there, who were almost universally opposed to their legislative actions. There were some "oh, but i just had to vote along with everybody else cuz i'm a pandering spineless wimp, and a leader" as well as, "i really didn't want to vote for that bill cuz i'm not an expert on it, but i just had to cuz everybody else did and i just had to, also i'm a leader". Slimy scumbags. But McKillip took the cake, but it was great to watch him get so nervous and fidgety while the people he supposedly represents gave him an earful and in no uncertain terms made it clear that we didn't like him or his policies. I for one am certainly hoping that he no longer has a chance to act nervous at citizen-political Town Halls.