So says David Pennington, the former Dalton mayor who ran for the Republican nomination for governor and placed second with 17 percent of the vote behind Gov. Nathan Deal, who coasted to re-nomination with 72 percent. In his “Pennington Perspective” email this week, Pennington fired a scathing verbal barrage at fellow Republicans.
Questioning whether Georgia Republicans “practice what they preach” about limited government with “lower taxes, less spending and less regulation,” Pennington says fiscal year 2014 revenue growth included $473 million from “the new way cars are taxed” after the so-called birthday auto tax was eliminated, but in reality, the new ad valorem vehicle tax amounted to “Georgia’s second largest tax increase in 20 years.”
The former mayor spreads the blame around to Deal’s predecessor, Sonny Perdue, and GOP legislators. “After 12 years of Republican rule, Georgians’ taxes are higher and state spending is higher,” says Pennington. “Georgia’s growing population is getting poorer. Other Republican-led states are outperforming us because they have embraced real tax reform based on lower state income tax. … Meanwhile, Georgia’s pseudo-Republican leadership has no plans to reduce our income tax, the 9th highest in the country.” He adds: “In the last 12 years, Georgia’s Republican leadership has presided over what is arguably the largest economic decline, relative to the rest of the country, since the Civil War.”
Pennington’s blast at fellow Republicans couldn’t have been timed any worse, coming on the heels of an outrageous stunt at a Republican campaign rally last Saturday at Burt’s Pumpkin Farm in Dawson County, per Tuesday’s Around Town. In the midst of the orating, video journalist Nydia Tisdale of Roswell, owner of AboutForsyth.com, was forcibly removed from the rally by a Dawson County deputy. Of all the GOP candidates present — including Gov. Nathan Deal and Senate nominee David Perdue — only Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens had the guts to speak out against the outrage.
“If we stand for anything as a party, what are we afraid of with the lady having a camera filming us?” Olens asked. “What are we saying here that shouldn’t be on film? What message are we sending? That because it’s private property they shouldn’t be filming? What is the harm? The harm that this poses is far greater than her filming us. What are we hiding? If we are telling you why we are running and what we stand for, what are we hiding? … Who’s the winner in the long run? Not a good move.”
Coincidentally, vindication for his defense of open government came loud and clear in another case of Tisdale’s being ejected from a Cumming City Council meeting in April 2012. Olens quickly filed suit against the mayor and the city to enforce Georgia’s Open Meetings Act. He won big a week ago in a ruling by Forsyth Superior Court Judge Robert Adamson, who ordered the city and the mayor to pay $12,000 in penalties — maximum allowed under the law — and attorney’s fees, “a major victory for government transparency,” Olens said.
Kudos to Olens for standing up for our First Amendment rights.