Category Archives: Occupy Valdosta

Occupy Valdosta General Assembly today

Noon until 3PM today, in Drexel Park, Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, Occupy Valdosta will be having a General Assembly. This is the slow, messy, talkative, oddly organized, flashy-fingered decision-making forum descended from the direct democracy of ancient Athens. The General Assembly method is why Occupy Wall Street is two months old instead of being a one-shot one-day march.

Occupy Atlanta has published a General Assembly Guide which includes this Occupy Atlanta Pledge and Guidelines derived from Occupy Wall Street: Continue reading

Citizens at Lowndes County Commission 7 November 2011

Five citizens spoke up at the 7 November 2011 Lowndes County Commission Regular Session. Some got answers, some got excuses, and some got fingerpointing. And one illustrated how the Commission doesn’t follow its own rules.

  • George Boston Rhynes asked about Open record requests and jail deaths and got the same excuses he’s heard elsewhere: nobody seems to be responsible for supplying information to the public about what’s going on in the Lowndes County Jail.

  • John Robinson asked about Contracts on the south side related to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and to Title III Section 3 of the HUD program and got a clarification from the Chairman that the county has no Title III projects.

  • John S. Quarterman asked the Commission to video meetings like the Lowndes Board of Education does, and got a slightly different excuse this time than the many previous times he’s made similar requests.

  • Matt Portwood asked the Commission or the individual Commissioners to state a position on school consolidation and was told they weren’t going to. The VDT printed that much the next morning, the morning of the election with the referendum on school consolidation. They did not print Chairman Paulk’s allusion to his already-known support for FVCS in opposing consolidation, but LAKE published a video with that on Election Day, and you can see it here.

  • Tony Daniels wanted to know How can we pursue happiness when we don’t even have a job? and had several recommendations for how the various local elected and appointed bodies could go about getting us more jobs. He also illustrated that the Commissions ordinance on Citizens Wishing to Be Heard is, as we’ve discovered on many previous occasions, merely guidelines at the whim of the Chairman.

Citizen participation!


This is what democracy looks like at the Chamber @ Occupy Valdosta 14 October 2011

A gentle reminder to the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce of what just happened at the polls yesterday.

Myrna Ballard:

I understand that you have something that you’d like to say?

Occupy Valdosta:

This is what democracy looks like!

Here’s the video:

This is what democracy looks like at the Chamber @ Occupy Valdosta 14 October 2011
We are the 99%,
Marching to Occupy Valdosta, Occupy Valdosta,
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 14 October 2011.
Videos by Gretchen Quarterman for LAKE, the Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange.

That’s Sam Allen, president of FVCS holding the front Vote No sign; Vote No for the Children is holding another one. Greg Gullberg of WCTV is standing in front of Myrna Ballard, Jade Bulecza of WALB has a camera in the lower right, David Rodock of the VDT is standing behind Myrna Ballard in the video, Desiree Thompson of the VSU Spectator was there, Valdosta Today was there, George Boston Rhynes of K.V.C.I. and bostongbr on YouTube was there, and LAKE was there.


I would certainly encourage you to speak your mind —VSU Pres. Levy

Henry Calhoun asked VSU Interim President Louis Levy where are the free areas on campus? Dr. Levy answered:
Right outside of Palms Quad there’s a free speech thing, but, as you can see, uh…. [gestures around]
You know, like I said. If someone’s violating the law here, and creating a dangerous situation by, uh, physically disrupting the students or faculty, that’s one thing, we deal with that….

But if it’s, even this gnat, we will allow this gnat to….

Continue reading

We tend to promote free speech —VSU President Levy

Henry Calhoun found VSU Interim President Dr. Louis Levy, who came over to the Occupy Valdosta meeting 27 October. Erin Hurley invited him to come to the mid-November Teach-In. He replied:
…as long as it’s legal and non-obstructive in terms of people getting in and out of buildings. We tend to promote free speech. And if we don’t, we’ll pay the price for it later.

We actually encourage free discussion and debate. Besides, I’m a sociologist. We can take what everyone knows and put them into four different kinds of perspectives and lenses just to do battle with each other.

He thanked Erin for the invitation.

VSU students, staff, and faculty who want their next president to hold positions like that on free speech might want to get involved with selection of the next VSU president.

Here’s the video:

We tend to promote free speech.
Information and Organization,
General Assembly, Occupy Valdosta (OV),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 27 October 2011.
Videos by John S. Quarterman for LAKE, the Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange.


Planning meetings, Occupy Valdosta @ VSU 27 October 2011

Yesterday’s Occupy Valdosta organizational session went faster than expected, and resulted in adding some events to the upcoming list:

Here’s Erin Hurley talking about two of those events: Continue reading

The local “unification” attack on public schools is part of a nationwide assault

The “unification” attack on the public schools in Valdosta and Lowndes County, Georgia is part of a nationwide assault on public schools, which has nothing to do with improving public education, and everything to do with private profit and private schools: disaster capitalism right here at home. And it’s not government causing our local disaster: it’s local business interests. What should we do about that?

Jeff Bryant wrote for Campaign for America’s Future 13 October 2011, Starving America’s Public Schools: How Budget Cuts and Policy Mandates Are Hurting Our Nation’s Students

Critics of America’s public schools always seem to start from the premise that the pre-kindergarten-through-12th-grade public education system in this country is failing or in crisis.

This crisis mentality is in stark contrast to years of survey research showing that Americans generally give high marks to their local schools. Phi Delta Kappa International and Gallup surveys have found that the populace holds their neighborhood schools in high regard; in fact, this year’s survey found that “Americans, and parents in particular, evaluate their community schools more positively than in any year since” the survey started.

The first factor: New austerity budgets passed by state legislatures are starting to have a huge influence on direct services to children, youth, and families.
Well, we don’t have that problem in Valdosta City and Lowndes Schools. For example, graduation rates in Valdosta schools have been improving year over year, and both school systems are solvent.

So what happened instead? Why, they made up a crisis instead!

A local business group convinced enough registered voters to sign a petition to get a referendum on the November 8th ballot to decide whether to abolish the Valdosta City School System, which would force the Lowndes County School System to take it over, and also would result in massively raised taxes, which still wouldn’t be enough, so services would have to be cut. Voila! Forced budget crisis! Fortunately, the two school systems have seen through it, and Continue reading

For the second week in a row, protesters picket outside the Chamber of Commerce —WCTV

The news media might as well make Valdosta a regular weekend stop for demonstrations. -jsq

Greg Gullberg wrote for WCTV 22 October 2011, ‘Vote No’ For Consolidation March,

For the second week in a row, protesters picket outside the Chamber of Commerce to the tune of: ‘No Consolidation’.

But unlike the occupy movement, this rally has one message; one voice.

They say: ‘Vote No’…..

But what does Valdosta’s first black mayor say about it?

“Just Vote No,” the Mayor chants from a podium.

Mayor Sonny Vickers is one of the strongest opponents of the consolidation plan. “The group that’s pushing this has no authority. No kind of plan to tell us anything. Because they are not on the board. So they cannot tell us anything specific about what’s going to happen,” says Mayor Vickers.

Being a part of this march was, in a word, liberating —Amber Smith

Amber Smith wrote for the VSU Spectator 20 October 2011, Occupy Valdosta exceeds participant’s expectations,
I don’t consider myself an extremely political person, but I do believe that people should stand up for what they believe in. The Valdosta community has recently come together to do just that.

On Friday, I participated in the Occupy Valdosta march with over 100 students, teachers, and other members of the Valdosta community. I was excited that I got to shed my title of Spectator reporter and editor for a day and actually fully take part in an event. The turnout was, in a word, amazing. Honestly, I was trying not to get my hopes up too high for this.

The rest of her very interesting experiences and opinions are well worth a read. Here’s her conclusion: Continue reading

Occupy the Voting Booth @ Vote No for Consolidation March 22 October 2011

There was quite a bit of overlap between Marching to Occupy Valdosta and the Vote No March. Gretchen’s sign says Occupy the Voting Booth.

Here’s Part 1 of 2:

Occupy the Voting Booth @ Vote No for Consolidation March 22 October 2011 Part 1 of 2:
No school consolidation,
Vote No for Consolidation March, Friends of Valdosta City Schools (FVCS),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 22 October 2011.
Videos by Gretchen Quarterman and John S. Quarterman for LAKE, the Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange.

Amber Smith, intrepid subjective VSU Spectator reporter, wrote LHS Alum Against Consolidation.

Here Amber, Bobbi Anne Hancock, LHS student Nathan Wilkins, and VSU professor Karen Noll all march together. They all Marched to Occupy Valdosta. (Erin was in Atlanta, and Austin and others were out of town due to VSU’s Fall Break.) Doubtless there were others; nobody tried to take a head count of the crossover.

Here’s Part 2 of 2: Continue reading