Category Archives: Immigration

Most corrupt state sells public education to Waltons

Amendment 1 results And it wasn’t even close: 2,152,091 to 1,526,959 (58.50% to 41.50%). Lowndes County went for the Atlanta-power-grab “charter school” amendment 18,606 to 17,619 (51.36% to 48.64%). The voters of Georgia just sold their children’s educational birthright for a mess of slick brochures.

Amendment 2 results The other ALEC amendment, on multi-year contracts, passed by an even wider margin: 2,241,621 to 1,275,809 (63.73% to 36.27%). Lowndes went for it 20,205 to 14,414 (58.36% to 41.64%).

Apparently Georgia voters will vote for any old thing that’s submitted to them as a constitutional amendment.

Esau sells his birthright for a mess of pottage Congratulations, ALEC and Wal-Mart! You’ve demonstrated money talks and slick brochures sell. This was even better for you than ALEC’s so-called anti-immigration law which the legislature passed and that actually devastates Georgia agriculture for the profit of private prison company CCA. This time you got the people of Georgia to vote directly against their own best interests to the benefit of school privatizing corporations in Virginia and Michigan!

Boo Georgia voters. You’ve just given the most corrupt legislature in the country the ability to commit you the taxpayers to contracts for decades. And you’ve just traded your children’s educational birthright for a mess of slick paper.


ALEC, private prisons, fossil fuels, and charter schools

It’s good to see someone trying a coordinated strategy for something good in multiple states, as Our Children’s Trust is doing for air as a public trust. We already knew going to multiple states at once works, because ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange, gets reactionary results that way.

How does ALEC do it? By

So once again, it’s refreshing to see somebody successfully try multiple states for something worthwhile!

The above ALEC projects are just some I’ve run across while researching local topics. It often seems as if every rock I turn over has the ALEC millipede scurrying around under it. Far more about ALEC is available through ALEC Exposed.

ALEC Exposed has a list of companies that have dumped ALEC recently. Georgia Power’s parent The Southern Company and UPS are still not on that list. You can help. Let them know you want them to dump ALEC!



ALEC responds to Sierra Club report

Received yesterday on Sierra Club reports on big fossil fuel’s coordinated attack on clean energy. My comments below. -jsq

Although the Sierra Club was notified of the errors in their report, they have yet to address them. In addition, neither fact checking nor communication was attempted by the Sierra Club on claims made in this report.

In response to this error-filled report , here is a short statement and brief fact check.

-Todd Wynn

And if you follow that link you find these things:

The American Legislative Exchange Council is not against renewable energy in any form….

ALEC believes that free markets in energy produce more options, more energy, lower prices and less economic disruptions. Also, ALEC believes that mandates to transform the energy sector and use renewable energy sources place the government in the unfair position of choosing winners and losers, keeping alive industries that are dependent on special interest lobbying. ALEC opposes mandates and therefore opposes infighting among fuel sources. ALEC also believes that government programs designed to encourage and advance energy technologies should not reduce energy choices or supply. They should not limit the production of electricity, for example, to only politically preferable technologies.

Translation: ALEC opposes renewable energy portfolio (REP) standards, which is one of the main points of the Sierra Club report. So ALEC’s rebuttal actually supports that point.

The rest of ALEC’s response is fiddling around the edges about Continue reading

Sierra Club reports on big fossil fuel’s coordinated attack on clean energy

Sierra Club has dug up the money trail connecting fossil fuel companies funding with current legislative attempts to block renewable energy such as solar and wind. And there’s our old friend ALEC!

Sierra Club PR today, “Clean Energy Under Siege” Study Follows Money Trail Behind Campaign Against Renewable Energy

If well-funded opponents of clean energy are willing to commit resources to hurting their enemies at the federal level, it only follows that they would pursue their goals in state and local venues as well.

Client/Parent Total
ConocoPhillips $20,557,043
Royal Dutch Shell $14,790,000
Exxon Mobil $12,730,000
Chevron Corp. $9,510,000

State Renewable Portfolio Standards have long been regarded as a major driver for the addition of renewable energy generation. RPS’s have been established in some form in 30 states and generally require a utility to produce an increasing percentage of the electricity they sell from renewable sources. Wind energy has been a particular beneficiary of state RPS laws and has also helped lower the overall cost of electricity in many of those states.

Groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) are a clear and present threat to state RPS laws. ALEC describes itself as a nonprofit group that “works to advance the fundamental principles of free-market enterprise, limited government, and federalism at the state level….”23 ALEC’s modus operandi is to provide state lawmakers with “model legislation” that will carry out the goals of its corporate members.

They have had significant success with several initiatives. One high-profile example is the “stand your ground” law — ALEC-authored legislation that was implemented nearly word-for-word across several states.

Let’s not forget Georgia’s HB 87 “anti-immigration” law, based on a model bill that ALEC-affiliated legislators proposed in at least 24 states. A law that actually creates new misdemeanors and felonies that feed the private prison industry, such as Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), which tried to build a private prison in Lowndes County, Georgia.

ALEC is also pushing a charter school law that the Georgia legislature passed that put a referendum on November’s ballot to authorize Atlanta overriding local school boards. Privatizing schools would do no more to improve education than privatizing prisons has done to improve incarceration. It’s all about fiddling laws for the profit of ALEC’s cronies.

Today, ALEC is in the process of approving anti-RPS language to send to willing sponsors in state Houses across the nation.

Here’s the gist of the whole thing:

It is a testament to the success and rapid growth of clean-energy resources that they are now regarded as enough of a threat to draw fire from some of the largest, most powerful corporations on the planet.

Those would be the corporations that are making historic record profits by Continue reading

Importing illegal immigrants into private Georgia prisons

Ocilla, about an hour north of here, took the private prison gamble, and now is scrambling to import enough prisoners to fill it.

Jim Galloway wrote for the AJC 11 April 2012, Importing illegal immigrants — into private Georgia prisons quoting Hannah Rappleye and Lisa Riordan Seville in The Nation 10 April 2012, How One Georgia Town Gambled Its Future on Immigration Detention,

Deportations have reached record levels under President Barack Obama, and demand for detention facilities has increased. Starting in 2002, ICE had funding for 19,444 beds per year, according to an ICE report. Today, ICE spends about $2 billion per year on almost twice the number of beds.

ICE’s reliance on facilities like the Irwin County Detention Center has put small rural towns at the center of one of today’s most contentious policy arguments—how to enforce immigration law. A yearlong investigation by The Nation shows how much politics has come to rule detention policy. Even as Georgia and Alabama passed harsh new immigration laws last year designed to keep out undocumented immigrants, documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act reveal that politicians from both states were lobbying hard to bring immigrant detainees in. ICE succumbed to the pressure, sending hundreds of detainees to the financially unstable facility in Georgia that promised to detain immigrants cheaply. That promise came at the expense of the health, welfare and rights to due process of some 350 immigrants detained daily in Ocilla.

Marvelous. Pass a low to eject illegal immigrants, except it really locks up a bunch of them, but not enough to keep Ocilla’s private prison full, so import a bunch of them back in as prisoners.

Aren’t you glad we didn’t accept a private prison in Lowndes County, Georgia?

Ocilla and Irwin County didn’t just make that bad bet once, they doubled down on it:

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Even George Will is calling for drug legalization

We can’t afford this anymore:
A $200 transaction can cost society $100,000 for a three-year sentence.
It’s time to legalize, regulate, and tax drugs, taking tax money away from private prisons and police militarization, and freeing it up for education, health care, and rehabilitation.

George F. Will wrote 11 April 2012, Should the U.S. legalize hard drugs?

Amelioration of today’s drug problem requires Americans to understand the significance of the 80-20 ratio. Twenty percent of American drinkers consume 80 percent of the alcohol sold here. The same 80-20 split obtains among users of illicit drugs.

About 3 million people — less than 1 percent of America’s population — consume 80 percent of illegal hard drugs. Drug-trafficking organizations can be most efficiently injured by changing the behavior of the 20 percent of heavy users, and we are learning how to do so. Reducing consumption by the 80 percent of casual users will not substantially reduce the northward flow of drugs or the southward flow of money.

Will-like, he ignores the real reasons we’re locking up so many people (corporate greed), but he does get at the consequences: Continue reading

No Gates for ALEC: who’s next to jump off the crony capitalism ship?

Apparently the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave more money to ALEC than Pepsi, Coke, Kraft, and Intuit combined, but no more. Who’s next?

Jessica Pieklo wrote yesterday for care2, Bill And Melinda Gates Dump ALEC,

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation became the latest high profile backer of the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council to withdraw financial support after pressure from groups opposed to ALEC’s support of “stand your ground” laws and Voter ID.

And private prisons, such as the one CCA wanted to build in Lowndes County, and “anti-immigrant” bills that creat many new crimes to fill those private prisons. And charter schools, such as the referendum for charter school tax credits on the ballot in Georgia in November. Some of our local “white fathers” pushed school consolidation a few months ago and charter schools are yet another attack on public education, backed by ALEC.

Roll Call reports that a foundation spokesperson said it does not plan to make any future grants to the organization. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation contributed more than $375,000 to ALEC in the past two years.

Meanwhile, according to ALEC Watch:

ALEC’s more than three hundred corporate sponsors pay annual membership dues ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 to advance their agendas, plus additional fees of $1,500 to $5,000 a year to participate in ALEC’s various task forces, where, according to an ALEC publication, “legislators welcome their private-sector counterparts to the table as equals.”

That’s the very model of a bad public-private partnership and crony capitalism. (More detail by ALEC Exposed.)

So what excuse does the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have? Jessica Pieklo’s article says:

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4 down and counting: Kraft and Intuit exit ALEC

After Pepsi and Coke, now Kraft (processed food products) said
“Our membership in ALEC expires this spring and for a number of reasons, including limited resources, we have made the decision not to renew.”
and Intuit (Turbo Tax and Quicken) also decided to let its ALEC membership lapse.

Reasons such as petitions by numerous organizations asking companies to ditch ALEC? We seem to have a case of the cheese fleeing the rat ship…. (Sometimes I wish I could draw.)

Here’s another petition for corporations to ditch ALEC. Let’s not forget ColorofChange’s petition about voter suppression.

And how about ALEC board member UPS, based in Atlanta?


Coke and Pepsi exit ALEC

Yesterday Coca-Cola announced it would no longer be a member of ALEC, the law-drafting pressure group American Legislative Exchange Council. Pepsi already decided that last year. Voting with your pocketbook works! There’s plenty more to do: ALEC pushed Georgia’s HB 87 that provides “customers” for CCA’s ICE prison yet is opposed by local farmers; ALEC backed the “Stand Your Ground” law that Trayvon Martin’s killer is hiding behind; ALEC is behind the charter school constitutional amendment that will be on the ballot in November. ALEC is crony capitalism in our legislature, our neighborhoods, and our schools. Here’s one way to oppose ALEC that works.

Leon Stafford and Aaron Gould Sheinin wrote for the AJC yesteray, Coke cuts ties with ALEC,

“Our involvement with ALEC was focused on efforts to oppose discriminatory food and beverage taxes, not on issues that have no direct bearing on our business,” Coke spokeswoman Diana Garza Ciarlante said.

Here’s ALEC’s “model legislation”: A Resolution in Opposition to Deiscriminatory Food and Beverage Taxes,

…opposes all efforts — federally and on the state level — to impose discriminatory taxes on food and/or beverages.

Now I don’t like food taxes, either: they’re the very model of regressive taxes that affect the poor more than the rich. But beverage taxes? As in taxes on the sugar water Coca-Cola sells? Those might improve public health and increase state revenue.

So how much has Coke supported ALEC in this?

Ciarlante said the company would not disclose its financial support of ALEC but said it was restricted to yearly dues. She said it had been a member for approximately 10 years. The company had received some phone calls protesting its relationship with ALEC, she said, but declined to comment on the decision beyond the company’s statement.

I wonder how much other support Coke provided, as in for example introductions to power-brokers around Atlanta.

Coke’s rival Pepsi also declined to renew its ALEC membership when it expired at the end of 2011, spokeswoman Heather Gleason said. The company’s 10-year membership focused exclusively on tax issues related to the beverage industry, she said.

And Pepsi probably also didn’t want to talk about lobbying for tax breaks for sugar water while legislatures are cutting education budgets.

What does ALEC do, anyway?

Continue reading

They worked hard for what they got —Mr. Robinson from Brooks County

The only speaker that got applause at the Farm Bill Forum organized by Senator Saxby Chambliss in Tifton was Mr. Robinson from Brooks County:

If we don’t get the immigration thing solved, I don’t see a future for any of the farmers.

He didn’t like HB 87. Speaking of local immigrants he knows:

They worked hard for what they got, and I think they deserve a little bit more respect.

Saxby Chambliss said it was very complex and said the federal government should step up. Wait, which branch of the government is he elected to?

Here’s the video:

They worked hard for what they got —Mr. Robinson from Brooks County
Farm Bill Forum, Senator Saxby Chambliss, Gary Black, Charles Hall, Robert Redding, John Maguire,
UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center, Tifton, Tift County, Georgia, 16 March 2012.
Video by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE).