Screening incumbent’s calls from media is a dumb idea
by Dick Yarbrough
October 27, 2012 12:00 AM | 1229 views | 1 1 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dick Yarbrough
Dick Yarbrough
In a world where absurdity rules — and I am talking about the world of politics — this one comes as a bit of a stunner. My colleagues Joe Kirby and Bill Kinney reported in Tuesday’s Around Town that current State Sen. Doug Stoner (D-Smyrna) will not return calls from the media.

Let’s let that one soak in a moment. Stoner is fighting for his political life, having been redistricted into a new Sixth District that is heavily Republican and against a formidable opponent, Hunter Hill, of Vinings, who has all the right credentials: Graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, three tours of duty in Afghanistan, two Bronze Stars, bright, articulate and a family man. In my opinion, Stoner would have a tough time with Hill even without all the gerrymandering.

When AT asked why Stoner won’t return calls to the media, Melissa Pike, chair of the Cobb Democratic Party, informed them that the Senate Democratic Caucus is “very, very, very firm that they are going to be united, they’re going to give a consistent response and that consistent response is going to come through Liz Flowers.” Flowers is with the caucus and will return media calls to Stoner by asking what questions will be asked him.

Pike says she wishes the House would do the same thing so “we wouldn’t have 800 answers to the same question, which makes it so easy to pick off our legislators.”

Having been around politics before Pike and Flowers were potty-trained, I will say that is about as dumb a thing as I have ever seen or heard.

If Democrats are so simple-minded they can’t be trusted to answer a question properly from the media — which, by the way, is a pass-through to voters and constituents — then they are not qualified to hold public office.

Maybe Flowers and Pike — and Stoner — should look around the room and see how few Democrats remain in the General Assembly. Maybe if they spent more time letting you and me know what was going on and developed a good messaging strategy, the Democrats in Georgia would be slightly less endangered than the Dodo bird.

If Doug Stoner can’t deal with the editors and reporters at the Marietta Daily Journal without somebody holding his hand and screening his questions, why do we think he should represent the Sixth District? We may never know the answer to that because that question would likely be screened by his lackeys and he would not be allowed to answer it. (“Sen. Stoner, there is a pesky columnist who lives in your district and wants to know why he and his readers should vote for you. I told him to mind his own beeswax. Just one more reason we need to get an unlisted number.”)

Assuming Hunter Hill is going to roll Stoner like a cheap cigarette on Nov. 6, Republicans will have a super majority and Democrats will become even more irrelevant. Liz Flowers won’t need to worry about screening calls. Georgia Democrats will be full of sound and fury, signify nothing.

In the meantime, a little “Dutch uncle” advice for Mr. Hill: When you are seated in January, don’t let fawning lizard-loafered lobbyists and special interest groups and the Republican leadership’s incestuous relationship with the American Legislative Exchange Council — which seems to be the primary governing body in our state — allow you to forget who put you in office.

Power can do strange things to good people.

If someone from the Republican Caucus suggests screening your calls and blocking the media from talking to you, tell them to go microchip their body parts. You work for the constituents. Stay in touch with them. By the way, don’t insult their intelligence — or mine — by saying political contributions you are going to receive won’t influence your decisions. Of course, they will. Otherwise, why would special interests give you money? As a tax write-off? I don’t think so. Either be honest with us or turn down ALL contributions.

I would suggest that you follow the example of Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-west Cobb). Tippins is his own man. He doesn’t drink the Kool-Aid of the zealots who haven’t had an original idea since coming to office. Yet, you will hear little if any criticism of the man from colleagues or constituents — or in this space. In my opinion, nobody represents their constituents better than Tippins. He would be an excellent role model.

And to Doug Stoner: I hope when you return to running your Dairy Queens next year and a customer asks, “Can I have fries with that?” Liz Flowers doesn’t spring up from under the counter and say, “You can’t ask him that! You must come through me!” It doesn’t work selling Blizzards and it sure doesn’t work in politics.

You can reach Dick Yarbrough at or P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139.
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Samuel Adams
October 27, 2012
Sure would love to hear your thoughts, Dick, about the guy running against Rep. David Scott in Smyrna. He's on the repub. ticket, but claims he doesn't have good enough english skills (it's not clear about his immigration status)to speak to the media, so has a surrogate talk for him. He says (through his surrogate) he was so impressed with the Constitution it made him want to run, but then it's like he's not here. Usually, the empty chairs are on the Democrat side, but this one piqued my curiosity. Any thoughts?

On Stoner: surprised he's not getting Prillamen, Connell, Leithead or the other Chamber "leaders" to talk for him. They did it on paper, didn't they?
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