Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Thank you!

My sincere thanks to the 225 voters who responded to my campaign and ignored the BIG LIE told twice by Gary Blount.

Congratulations to Royal Weaver for a very vigorous campaign.

If I ever run again, it will only be if I get some prior indication of some support and encouragement to do so. I remain ready and willing.

I will continue to observe and comment upon local governance.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Welcome - and thank you for joining me!


My name is Jay Moreno. I'm a candidate for the Camden County Commission seat representing District 4, the district that encompasses the City of St. Marys.  That's the seat currently held by Commissioner Charlene Sears who has chosen not to run for another term. I'm running as a Republican in the July 20th primary election.

Were I not completely confident of my ability to be highly effective as a county commissioner I would not be running. More about why I am so confident of that in a moment but first, let's take a look at my "negatives" - the things that I will not bring to the office.

1. Youthful good looks.  I'll turn 63 in November. I'm bald, fat, generally considered ugly,  and I'm confined to a wheelchair. However, I do own a large suit and I clean up pretty well.

2. Effusive exuberance, back-slapping, hand-pumping, and continually grinning like a jackass eating cockleburs for no apparent reason. That's just not my style. I'm a rather shy and reserved fellow of a serious demeanor sometimes mistaken for unfriendliness.

3. A gaggle of local relatives and GOB buddies wanting county jobs and political favors.  I'm not from here - but I own a home here (501 Victoria's Circle) and I'm here to stay. I'm originally from Savannah. I moved here in August of 1993 in a job-related move.  My relatives are strung out from Savannah to Australia but not a single one lives in Camden and they are all gainfully employed or retired. Believe me, my few personal friends in the county know better than to ask. I am not now, nor have I ever been a local Realtor or builder. I neither belong to nor have any allegiance to any civic clubs or merchants' groups. I have no fee-paying clients whose interests I might put ahead of those of the taxpayers.

4. Backers. Not a soul has asked me to run period, much less to champion their agenda. Not a soul has offered financial backing, nor have I sought it. Though running as a Republican, I am truly "independent" in the non-political, traditional sense of the word.

5. A full war chest. I'm currently living off of Social Security Disability Income and the remainder of my Workers' Comp settlement for my Guillain-Barre syndrome (see "What in the world is Guillain-Barre syndrome" in the right-hand margin) while I'm waiting for the school board to start hiring teachers again. This will, of necessity, be a low-budget campaign. There will be no barbecues with tiki torches, steaks, quiche, and key-lime pie - at least not from this candidate. And no, the CCBOC does not vote on any issues effecting the school board in any way. If I am hired during my term of office, there will never be any conflict of interest whatsoever.

6. Any problems with alcohol. I typically have a few tablespooons of bourbon with my annual quart of holiday eggnog, a cold cerveza Dos Equis with a Mexican meal once or twice a year, and that's about it. However, I have no moral objection to the responsible consumption of alcohol nor the issuance of alcohol licenses to well vetted and fully compliant applicants. However, I would be quick to vote to revoke the license of any such establishment that became a neighborhood nuisance.

Are you still with me? Good.

I do have a few "positives" which make me a good choice for the job.

1. High intelligence. Now, this one is a little tricky. The trick is to be assuring without being off-putting. I trust you will agree that in this day and time, in addition to common sense (yes, I have that too) you really need above average intelligence to not only fully comprehend the issues facing legislative office holders but come up with the best solutions. Sure, I could tell you my tested IQ, but that would seem gratuitously hubristic and that is not my intention. Let me explain it this way: If I were in attendance at a Wildcats game and was one of 1,000 randomly-selected fans, statistically, I would be one of the top 20 most intelligent persons in the group.  And, yes, statistics purists, I'm aware that specifying my inclusion in the group destroys the randomness of the sample but work with me here.

2. Higher education adequate to the office.  After 4 years of active duty in the Navy, where I served as a Hospital Corpsman (HM2 - and later a Chief Petty Officer [HMC] in the reserves - where, by the way, I had exactly the same standardized Navy leadership and management courses as did Royal Weaver and served as the Leading Chief Petty Oficer and de facto XO in my 25 man Marine medical support unit) with the Marines in Vietnam, I went to college in Savannah for a couple of years in the early '70s before joining the work force full time. In 1997, while working full time and going to college at night, I completed a Bachelor of General Studies degree with a minor in political science from Savannah's Armstrong Atlantic State University. In pursuit of the political science minor, I took courses in federal, state, county, and city government; U.S. Constitutional law with an emphasis on civil liberties, as guaranteed by the Bill of Rights; U.S. Jurisprudence - the study of law and the court systems; the U.S presidency; and the U.S. Congress. Those courses, in addition to the usual core curriculum plus other electives, including some business courses, have given me a good, solid, educational foundation for the post I seek.

After two years of physical therapy following my contracting GBS, I embarked on the AASU Post- Baccalaureate Teacher Certification Program.  I finished my student teaching at Camden Middle School in May of 2009. I am now licensed by the State of Georgia to teach Middle Grades Language Arts, Middle Grades Social Studies, and Political Science in grades 6 -12. I have applied for employment with the Camden County school system. Of course, they are not currently hiring due to budget shortfalls. Let me say again that the school board is a taxing authority unto itself. There are no votes taken by the CCBOC that impact the school system in any way, ergo there can be no conflict of interest if I am elected and subsequently hired as a teacher. (Technically, there is one vote annually. The county actually must levy the school tax based upon the millage rate the school board recommends, not to exceed 20 mills. The one annual vote to approve their recommended millage rate is pro-forma).  Moreover, I fully understand the dictum to "avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest" and will abide by it, even though at this point I find it hard to imagine how a conflict of any kind would pop up in my case, as you will see when I put my financial disclosure form on line in the near future.

Currently, I am taking some Business Administration courses at the College of Coastal Georgia in preparation for applying later to the Master of Public Administration program at Valdosta State University.

I am also currently attending the Camden County government's "Citizens' Academy." I will graduate in November, a few days after the general election. I highly recommend this course, by the way.

3. Above average verbal skills. Again, this is kind of tricky business. I don't take any personal credit for what was essentially the luck of the genetic draw. Let's use that Wildcat game scenario again. In 1965, I scored in the 99+ percentile in the verbal section of the SAT. That means that were I in that sample of 1,000 fans, statistically, I would probably be no lower than ninth from the top in terms of verbal skills.

So, how will that benefit you if you elect me? Fair question. The answer is that I am a very quick study. By the way, I purchased the official Georgia Handbook for County Commissioners - the one I'll get another copy of when I go to the 18 days of mandated training in Athens - over a year ago and studied it from from cover to cover. I have no trouble reading and comprehending the extensive legalese I will no doubt encounter routinely as a commissioner. Just as importantly, I am well capable of fully explaining what is really going on with every agenda item to the general public, both verbally and in writing, as I fully intend to do both from behind the dais and via this blog. Finally, my verbal skills will enable me to be exceptionally persuasive when trying to sway other commissioners to my point of view on any given agenda item. I'm no fan of the highly overrated concept of "compromise," by the way. If you are familiar with the way Commissioner Steve Berry takes a well-thought-out and researched decision (usually but not always the correct one) on an issue, defends and promotes it to the other commissioners to the best of his ability, then graciously abides by the results of the vote, then you have seen a preview of my performance behind the dais. That is not to say that I will always be impervious to convincing arguments from the other side of the issue.

4. Physical ability and mobility adequate to the task.  Guillain-Barre syndrome is a one-time, episodic illness. Once the nerve- damaging assault by the immune system is halted with massive doses of human immunoglobulin, the active phase of the syndrome is permanently over. It is not a chronically active disease. My residual, partial paralysis of my lower legs, forearms, and hands will not get worse - or better. Obviously, I can type, open doors, negotiate the buffet line at Aunt B's, etc. The good news is that GBS never effects the CNS, that is to say the brain and spinal cord, but only the peripheral nervous system. My post-GBS mental faculties are undiminished.

In terms of mobility, between my power wheelchair and my wheelchair-lift-equipped van - which I drive -  I am fully mobile and independent. When it comes time to go to the mandated training in Athens, I'll simply drive myself there - or anywhere else my duties might take me. Insofar as all county buildings are ADA compliant - including access behind the commissioners' dais - not one dime of county money will be expended to accommodate me.

5. Absolute honesty, integrity, and fair, impartial, and courteous treatment of all citizens. Take my word for it - that will become evident early on.

Thank you for your time and interest. That will be all for today so that I can launch this blog. In the next installment, I will talk about my vision for Camden County's future and what we need to do in county government to help get there.

I would deeply appreciate your voting for me on July 20th.

Thank you!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hopefully, this election will not be the 2nd quadrennial District 4 Beauty Pageant!

Click on image to enlarge, but it doesn't get any better!

Note: This was actually posted today, 5/3. However, to keep them in chronological order, as opposed to reverse chronological order, the default setting for blogs, I have to change the dates. Just ignore them.

Monday, April 26, 2010

My Finanacial Disclosure Report is now on line.

See "Pages" in the upper-right-hand corner of this blog.

In the future, I will publish each of my campaign contribution / expenditure reports in that section.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The state of the county.

As those of us who call Camden home as well as many past visitors know very well, Camden is a great place to live in most respects. The people, the climate, the natural beauty, the productive estuarine ecosystem, the Atlantic, Cumberland Island National Seashore, the proximity to Jacksonville, Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, the negligible crime rate, and I could go on and on.

However, we have suffered some serious blows and some vexing problems in this first decade of the 21st century. Of course, the loss of 900 well-paying-jobs and a multi-generational tradition when the paper mill closed was the singular most devastating blow to our local economy. There was of course no help forthcoming from the Joint Development Authority which at the time was a $250,000-a-year farce.

At about the same time, our “discovery” by the larger America as a great and relatively inexpensive place to live had just started a burgeoning avalanche of growth in the county for which we were really not at all prepared. City governments were not prepared and the county government, bereft of a competent county administrator and a truly professional staff and saddled with a less- than-stellar team of bickering commissioners was most assuredly not prepared for the tremendous onslaught of residential development that was barreling down the tracks right at us.  Witness, for instance, the unlawful water/sewer and pseudo-impact fee “negotiations” that went on for a while at the county level before the county commissioners were forced to recognize them as unlawful “exactions” and had to refund all fees collected from developers to that point.

One hates to refer to anything about the current “Great Recession” (as economists are already starting to call it) as “good,” especially insofar as many of our citizens have lost jobs and tragically, in some cases, homes and businesses, but if there is any such thing, it might be that local governments –particularly our county government – have been given some time to catch their breath and re-group so as to be better prepared to benefit from controlled and self-financing future growth when the economy heats up again – as, thankfully, it is already showing signs of doing.

Then, of course, there was the great real estate re-assessment debacle and all of the righteous kerfuffle that ensued. Hopefully , when the remaining thousand or more appeals are finally sorted out, we will come to see that the overdue county-wide assessments were, on the whole, not nearly so ridiculously unrealistic as once feared. The debacle did, however, reveal some glaring inadequacies and incompetence in the assessor’s office which appear to have been sufficiently ameliorated by some key personnel changes but will bear constant monitoring. You can bet that if elected, I will support the funding of a sufficient number of positions for in-house, professional appraisers so that we never again have to farm out that function.

Update: 6/8/10.  On June 4th, Gov. Perdue signed into law Senate Bill 346. To see why this law is good news for Georgia property tax payers and how I would use the law to get relief for District 4 taxpayers in my first year in office, please click on the following link to take a brief detour to my popular local news blog, "Camden Commentary."

Moreover, we have hired what has turned out to be an exceptionally competent and forward- thinking county administrator who, in short order, has recruited a truly competent, truly professional managerial staff and streamlined county government while simultaneously improving performance. Ironically, whereas when that development train was barreling down the track we were dangerously unprepared, now that things have cooled off considerably, we have an administrator and staff way more than adequate to the task at the current level of economic activity. However, what a great position that puts us in as the economy comes roaring back as it no-doubt will!

On the job front, I think that for apparently the first time in the history of the Camden County Joint Development Authority, we have a competent director who is actually earning his paycheck. I’ve developed a good relationship with JDA Director, David Keating. I’ve kept a pretty close eye on his activities to date. Given that his predecessor left him in the first down position of being 50 yards behind his own goal post, he has come a long way by doing just exactly what needed to be done in a methodical manner in a perfectly logical order. Don’t be surprised to see some results in the not-too-distant future. I look forward to working closely with David to bring much needed jobs to Camden.

With regards to property taxes, the very first thing we need to do to get residential ad valorem tax relief is to change the mix of rooftops. We have way too many residential rooftops and not nearly enough commercial / industrial ones. I will work diligently to improve that mix. One way is giving the JDA Director all of the support he needs, within reason. If David Keating comes before me as a commissioner and asks that we consider tax breaks to a potential large employer he is courting, I will not reject the idea out of hand on rigid ideological grounds. On the other hand, I will not give away the store either. However, if we are to be competitive in our recruiting efforts with competing communities across the country, we have got to start thinking out of the knee-jerk, obstructionist box that has gotten us no new major employers in many decades.

To the extent that more residential rooftops will also lessen the load per taxpayer for fixed costs of operating county government, so long as they pay their own way for the additional infrastructure and services occasioned by their construction via adequate impact fees, I am not anti residential development. However, I do think that our current impact fee rate structure needs to be re-examined in terms of rates and competitiveness. I suspect that we can – and should - raise the former without hurting the latter.

As to the need to build a new jail, "We can't just keep kicking the can down the road!," as my friend Sheriff Tommy Gregory so aptly describes the inaction of the county commission to date. We need to be addressing that - particularly how and when we will finance it - NOW! There is an interesting proposal from a Brunswick development group that says that can build a 350 bed jail for $18 million dollars, and build it rather quickly, on a lease-purchase plan. This offer was no doubt precipitated by the fact that a modification to the Georgia SPLOST law now allows SPLOST funds to be used to make such lease payments in a lease-purchase capital acquisition plan. Our first opportunity to so use SPLOST funds will come in 2013, the third year of my first term, as we vote to renew SPLOST. I am keeping track of this as it is still in the discussion phase. At this point, I am sure of only one thing: to continue to ignore the inevitable need for a new jail is foolhardy.

I am also impressed by some plans that were brought to the board by Cap Fendig recently. As a Glynn County commissioner, Cap had and is still having great success which some diversion and intervention programs he initiated. They have cut down on the Glynn County recidivism rate for misdemeanor offenders considerably. If elected, I will pursue that avenue of relief for jail overcrowding as well.  

Now, as this election nears, what we need to bear in mind is that we need a team of competent commissioners who at least approximate the intelligence, education, and competence of the administrator and staff; who do not fear the future but embrace it; and who will guide the county into the future with absolute integrity, dedication-to-duty, and scrupulously fair treatment of and impartiality toward any and all citizens.

 I’ve previously detailed why I’m confident that I am your best choice for that team in the District 4 seat. I hope that you will allow me the privilege and the honor of serving you in that capacity to the very best of my ability.

I would deeply appreciate your voting for me on July 20th.

Thank You.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I've BEEN ready!

Click on image to enlarge.

Above is the cover of my personal copy of the "Handbok for Georgia County Commissioners" which I purchased over a year ago.

All Georgia county commissioners-elect receive a copy of this same handbook when they go for their mandatory 18 hours of state training in Athens at the Carl Vinson Institute of the University of Georgia before being sworn in.

I have long since read and studied my copy from cover-to-cover.

Im ready, willing and able-minded.

I would deeply appreciate your voting for me on July 20th.

Thank you.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Caution: there are two Gary Blounts in Camden - literally!

A friend called today and said that for the second day in a row, someone asked her what she thought of Gary Blount from the school board running for county commissioner.

Oh, boy, here we go again: shades of the two Larry Johnsons in St.Marys during the elections some four and a half years ago.

Folks, there are two Gary Blounts. One has been with the school system for years. He currently serves as the assistant superintendent. He IS NOT the one running for county commissioner.

The one running for county commissioner for District 4 is Gary Blount, CPA. That Gary Blount has been a practicing CPA in St. Marys since 1986. Back going on seven years ago, near as I recall, he was elected to St.Marys City Council where he served one term before he was voted out of office by a 3- to-1 margin.

That Gary Blount was the chairman of the water and sewer committee when they decided to build the million-gallon-per-day sewage treatment plant - the debt service on which necessitated the recent 35% increase in St. Marys water / sewer rates.

At the time that Gary Blount, himself a real estate developer and builder in addition to his CPA practice, was elected,  it was the practice of the city to collect building and tap fees up front when new subdivisions were platted. Blount succeeded in having that changed so that they were not payable until after the houses were actually built. As a result, we have an inventory of some 7,000 approved lots in St. Marys where the owners have not paid a penny to offset the cost of the new water sewer treatment plant built to accommodate their needs.

After Blount was voted out, the city voted to change that back to the way it was but, unfortunately for water and sewer customers, the 7,000 are grandfathered in. No doubt, some of those owners were and are Blount's accounting clients.

Now do you know which Gary Blount is running?

Clearing the air about the airport and this election.

Contrary to what you may have heard, the airport is really not an issue in this race for county commissioner. Here is why.

When and IF the St. Marys Airport is ever closed and rebuilt south of Woodbine, there will be only three parties involved: the Federal Aviation Administration, the City of St. Marys, and the State of Georgia. The funding obligations are as follows: FAA, 95%; St. Marys, 2.5%; and State of Georgia, 2.5%.

The county is not now and never will be involved in the construction of the new St. Marys Airport, if it ever comes to pass.

Some have said "Yeah, but the county will have to hire additional police and fire because of the airport." Not true. Other than the Bird/Stanford altercation, how many times has the SMPD been called to the current airport in your lifetime?  How many fires at the airport? There you go.

Others have said "Yeah, but the county will have to provide water and sewer and build the access roads." Again, not true. All of that is built in to the cost estimate for the airport and will be paid for by the three previously mentioned parties to the project.

What if the county is asked to maintain the short access roads? Well, the alternative would be for St.Marys to maintain them. Were I on the Board of Commissioners at the time - if it ever came - I would vote to have the county accept and maintain the roads. That would seem a small price to pay for a new de facto county airport.

So, you see, the winner of this race will be in no position as a county commissioner to officially  influence the course of the St. Marys Airport issue. Ergo, it is a moot point and a distraction in this race.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

To be blunt, candidate Blount is simply lying.

Click on letter to enlarge. When it pops back up, click on it again if it has not enlarged.

Update, 6/11/'10

Above is a copy of the campaign letter that Camden County Commission District 4 candidate Gary Blount mailed out this week. My appreciation to the supporter who sent it to me.

I regret to say that the letter is filled with half-truths and downright lies - not errors.

Let's start the debunking process with the very first sentence of the second paragraph. Of the three issues which Mr. Blount says "have dominated our community in recent months,", the last one, the airport issue, has, as he well knows but hopes you do not, absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the county or the county commission. Mr. Blount is well aware of this but hopes to use the non-issue to trick some gullible voters into believing that he can influence the airport decision as a commissioner. He can't. Yet, he cites it as one of the reasons he decided to run for county commission.

Still in that first sentence, Mr. Blount is clearly hoping that some of the voters will not know that the appraisals and assessments are done by the Camden County Board of Tax Assessors, their hired chief appraiser and the appraisers working under him, and fall for his implication that he can bring them under his control. By state law, they work quite independently of any control by the Camden County Board of Commissioners. I have stated that I will argue in favor of funding for a sufficient number of in-house appraisers so that we never again have to farm the job out with disastrous results like we had last year. I will also make every effort to have the entire county, begining with St.Marys, appraised again to take advantage of the new state law which says that appraisers "SHALL" include foreclosure sales and short sales in their comparables for doing an appraisal.

Still in the first sentence, he brings up the need for a new county jail. Clearly, he is conveying the impression that if elected he would continue, in the Rainer tradition, to simply, as my friend Sheriff Gregory says, "just kick the can down the road." Well, Mr. Blount, perhaps you could get away with that advice as the comptroller of the now defunct Underground Contractors knowing that your major accounting client could use the bankruptcy laws to walk away from millions in debt and start anew but the county can't do that. The incontrovertible fact is that we do need a new jail. While you promise to irresponsibly kick the can down the road beyond your sought after term in office and let future generations deal with it at higher costs, I propose to exhibit the responsible, political courage to come up with a solution sooner at lower costs and start allocating future SPLOST funds to a more timely and ultimately less costly solution.

In the third paragraph, Mr. Blount asserts that I (for it is transparently obvious he is not talking about Royal Weaver) have asserted that my IQ is 140, the recognized threshold for genius. In fact, as anyone who has read my campaign blog knows, I have never made any such assertion. I have gingerly alluded to being of above average intelligence, which I think is germane in that all things being otherwise equal, the more intelligent candidate would obviously be the better choice for voters. Now that Mr. Blount has floated a false figure, let me clarify the issue by stating that my tested IQ is actually 136. If you read my campaign blog, I did not state that I am always the most intelligent homo sapien in the room, though I'm sure there have been many occasions when that was the case. It is statistically unavoidable in that an IQ of 136 puts me in the lower end of the top 2% of the distribution of human intelligence.

Also in the third paragraph, Mr. Blount's lying ways continue unabated when he claims that I proclaimed in a county commission meeting that "I agree. We're going to have to raise taxes." For openers, Mr. Blount was not there. In point of fact, in the nearly 17 years that I have been attending county commission meetings, I have NEVER SEEN Mr. Blount at a single one! Here is what actually transpired. The commissioners had been presented several options for making up a $390,000 budget shortfall in the severely trimmed FY 2011 budget. The first option was to raise taxes by one quarter of a mil ( that's $10.00 in taxes per $100,000 of appraised value, assuming no exemptions - or $20 bucks on a $200,000 house.) The last option was to once again invade the ever shrinking fund balance. Naturally, David Rainer was quick to pounce upon that irresponsible position and that's what they did. Now, after the vote, Commissioner Sears, freed of the need to protect herself from adverse political consequences, said what needed to be said - that we could not continue to raid the fund balance ad infinitum. During the public comments section, I said that I agreed with her.

Now, once again, this is a case of Blount hoping to play upon the ignorance of some voters. Here is what he is hoping you don't know.

The fund balance is what is left over at the end of the fiscal year when all of the allocated, budgeted tax revenues collected during that year have been spent. That is the money that the county has left to operate on between the beginning of the new fiscal year and when the revenues from that new fiscal year's tax revenues actually sart to come in. If you do not maintain the recommended fund balance (minimally three months operating funds, optimally four), you may end up having to borrow operating funds at interest. When David Rainer was elected, the county had an adequate fund balance. Every year since, at Rainer's insistence, the county, in a highly deceitful ruse of fiscal responsibility and false efficiency, has raided the fund balance to either artificially lower or artificially maintain an artificially low millage rate. As a result, we are now down to below two months of operating funds in the fund balance. Unless we find commissioners with the guts to deal honestly with the voters, we will soon be borrowing to pay the bills. This will come way sooner if we have a natural disaster such as a hurricane, particularly given that we do not have a separate contingency fund at all! I will be such a commissioner.

In the fifth paragraph, Mr. Blount asserts that "As in life where I've learned that 'less is more,' the same is true in government." Really? Tax records indicate that Mr. Blount's primary residence in Osprey Cove and his second one in Marsh Bluff have a combined appraised value of well over $600,000. Perhaps this represents a step down from a prior higher lifestyle for this millionaire accountant and real estate developer who no doubt "feels your pain."

At one point, Mr. Blount refers to himself as an "active...businessman." In what was no doubt a slip in memory, he forgot to mention than he is also a real estate developer and builder from time to time, as are many of his accounting clients. I'm sure his builder and developer clients appreciate that when he became a one-term city councilman in St.Marys, he promptly set about working in their interests. He promptly convinced fellow councilmen to vote for his idea of not requiring that any building fees be paid to the city until after construction was completed. I shudder to think what he has promised to do for them if he weasels his way into county government. Thankfully, as soon as the voters booted Mr. Blount out by a 3-to-1 margin, council came back to its senses and reversed the decision back to the status quo ante where they paid up-front. Regretably, while Mr. Blount held the back door open for them, developers beat feet to city hall and secured the more favorable terms on some 7,000 lots which sit vacant today - lot's for which Mr. Blount then successfully pushed to have a new sewage treatment plant built - the one we just got a 35% water-sewer rate increase to pay for.

My campaign contributions to date from anywhere but my personal bank account: ZERO.

Clients whose business interests I might look out for as a county commissioner: ZERO.

My potential conflicts of interest: ZERO.

Chances that I, unlike Mr. Blount, will always tell you the truth and let the chips fall where they may: 100%.

The choice is yours.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Is it really a good idea to risk a another Blount-led mutiny in office?

I had forgotten about this until a supporter reminded me. In 2004, when Blount was a one-term St. Marys City Councilman, there was a particularly disturbing episode when Blount recruited two other councilmen, Brian Fewox, and L.J. Williams, and staged a "boycott" of city council meetings.

Here's the story. There was a proposal on the table to make Cumberland Harbor a "special tax district." That is to say that in addition to all of the usual city taxes everyone else pays, they would pay an extra tax to pay for a new fire station and a water tower. Everyone who bought a lot on the property - and remember, many of the lots were bought on spec to flip - would be subject to the tax immediately, whether they built a house on it immediately or not. Blount did not want that. What he wanted was for new residents to "promise" to pay part of their homeowners' association dues to the city, but only once they had actually built a house.

Now, I don't know for a fact that Gary personally owned lots there at the time, but I suspect that his major client, Stan Smith, the then owner of Underground Contractors who put in the major underground utilities and did the paving and excavating there most certainly did. No telling how many of Gary's accounting clients and real estate and developer pals also did.

When Blount realized that the "other side" had four votes (counting the mayor's tie breaker) and would vote in the tax district at the next meeting, he literally walked out of the meeting then organized the boycott to deny them a quorum. Well, not only did that prevent council's voting on the tax district, it caused a crippling cessation of ALL CITY BUSINESS! The stoppage went on for a month!

There were a couple of more called meetings immediately thereafter. The three, led by Blount, still refused to show up, creating a crisis of governance in St. Marys all because the vote was not going to go Mr. Blount's way.

There was so much strife and public outcry that Mr. Fewox ended up resigning and causing the need of a special election at considerable cost to the taxpayers.

After several weeks of city governmental paralysis, the crisis ended only when the then mayor, Mayor Hase, sent police out to simulatnaeously hand-deliver letters from her to Blount and Williams telling them that, IAW the city charter, if they did not show at the next meeting, their seats would be declared vacant and they too would be replaced in a special election. They caved and came back.

It gets worse. Somehow - I don't remember, but I'll look it up - in the end, Blount prevailed. His pals got their sweetheart deal wherein they got their fire station and water tower with a promise to pay from the HOA dues rather than from binding tax obligations.

The rest is history. The city was left holding the bag for the fire station and water tower.

Do we really want to give Gary Blount the opportunity to pull that kind of crap in another public office in Camden County?

This is but one more example of Blount seeking public office to do private favors. There is no reason whatsoever to believe that this sneaky leopard has changed his spots.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A few thoughts about the possible 2011 make-up of the Camden County Board of Commissioners.

I'm sure you all will recall that Steve Berry was the first and only commissioner to immediately object to Charlene Sears attempt to have the impact fees suspended. You may also recall that before the end of that very meeting, I was at the podium denouncing the proposed move as "bone-headed" idiocy.

Now, come January 1, 2011, here is all we know for sure.

1. Steve Berry will have been gone since the end of August, replaced by someone elected not by the voters of Berry's district, but by Rainer, Sears, Zell, and Keene, all four of whom were set to vote to suspend impact fees until the public outcry became too great to ignore. Ergo, Steve's replacement may very well be someone in favor of sweet heart deals for developers at the expense of the taxpayers.

2. Rainer and Keene will definitely still be there.

3. Representing District 3 will be Zell, or E.B. Herrin, or Chuck Clark, Jr. At this point I know absolutely nothing about Chuck Clark, Jr. However, I do know that either Zell or Herrin would almost certainly vote with David Rainer virtually 100% of the time.

4. Charlene Sears, by her own decision, will not be there. District 4 will be represented by Gary Blount, or Royal Weaver, or me. Based upon his past actions as a city councilman, his being a real estate developer himself, and his having multiple people involved in real estate as clients in his CPA practice, it is not at all unreasonable to expect that he will be at least amenable to, if not actually push, sweet heart deals for developers. Royal Weaver and I both spoke out repeatedly in several different venues against the plan to suspend impact fees. I can't speak for Royal, but if elected, I plan to push for higher impact fees that more closely track with the actual costs of the infrastructure yet allow Camden County to remain competitive with other similarly desirable coastal counties. The current rates are way below that optimum level.

I would encourage you to look at your choice to represent District 4 in the context of the possible make-up and legislative leanings of the entire Camden County Board of Commissioners come 2011.

I would deeply appreciate your voting for me on July 20th.

Thank you.

Friday, April 2, 2010

"How can I help?", you ask?

Well, there are several ways I can think of, the first two of which will not cost you a thing.

First, I would really appreciate it if you would e-mail the link to this blog to everyone in St.Marys that you have an e-mail address for. Ask them to, in turn, do the same with all of their e-mail contacts. If you know for a fact that someone on your list is of the opinion that that Jay Moreno is a real jerk, then by all means e-mail it to him first!

Second, write the URL down and carry it in your wallet or purse. If you are talking politics with someone in the supermarket and you want to say "Hey, have you seen Jay Moreno's blog?", you'll have it with you. Here it is:

Third, mail your campaign donation, if you are so moved,  to Jay Moreno, 501 Victoria's Circle, St. Marys, GA, 31558. Remember, by law, I can only accept checks - no cash. Moreover, any donations of $101.00 or more must be reported by name on my campaign donation / expenditure reports, which, by the way, I will publish on this blog just after the due dates. The names of individuals contributing less than $101.00 will not be published.

I have a limited number of yard signs. Those things are nearly $6.00 each! If you would like one - especially if your home has frontage on a well traveled thoroughfare - just e-mail me. 

Lastly, anything else you would like to do to help, e-mail me at

Thank you in advance for your assistance.

I would deeply appreciate your voting for me on July 20th.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Thanks for your concern, but it's OK.

Someone recently asked had I considered the fact that if I am elected, the income as a county commissioner - $1,200 and change per month - would  disqualify me from receiving Social Security Disability Income payments of  $1,107.40 per month after they deduct my medicare premium.

Well, yes, I have thought of that. Of course, if I had been hired this year as a teacher at just under $36,000 to start, it would have been a moot point. At this point, given that the hiring freeze it not likely to thaw before school year '11/'12, it is a consideration.

As luck would have it, Social Security recipients can earn up to $980.00 per month with no reduction in SS benefits. It turns out that that is taxable income after deductible expenses.

The county health insurance employee premium is paid with before tax dollars, thus reducing the $1,200 gross. Moreover, I can deduct all out-of-pocket expenses such as mileage. In short, my net taxable will be below the $980.00 limit.

I will not lose my SSDI benefits, thereby making it possible for me to afford to hold office until I'm hired as a teacher.

On a side issue, all of my campaign expenses so far have been paid out of pocket from my remaining Workers' Comp settlement funds.

By the way, I have absolutely no ongoing medical treatment or expense for my GBS. Moroevoer, if I ever did there is a separate fund with ongoing annual annuity payments to cover any such expenses plus the cost of a new wheelchair and van repairs from time-to-time. My disability will not cost the taxpayers a penny beyond my salary.