Friday, October 30, 2009

Let's Win Together! And Make Augusta Better!

Final Campaign Push!! Your Help is Needed! Let's Win Together! If you can help out in the next few days please call Butch at 706 399 4580!
Click Here to Donate to the Campaign!
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Campaign Headquarters Now Open! Click to See!
Located at Corner of Broad St and Westview Ave near original Hot Foods by Calvin location. Look for the signs. You won't be able to miss it! Call 706-399-4580 for details.
Click here to find out how you can get a beautiful signed print by artist Randy Lambeth for making a campaign contribution
If you want Butch Palmer campaign Bumper Stickers or Signs give Butch a call at 706-399-4580
Email Butch with your questions or concerns for District One and Augusta: Jameslizzman@aol.com
Are You Tired of the Status Quo in Augusta?
Positions on Key Issues
Read Butch Palmer's Extended Platform Here
District One Map
Click Here to Find out About the Chronic Nuisance Property Ordinance I am Advocating for Augusta
Tainted TEE? Read My Position on the TEE Center
A Special Message from Fellow Activist Lori Davis
About Butch Palmer
Great Editorial in the Augusta Chronicle on Citizen Activism


















Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Positions on Key Issues



Where Butch Palmer Stands on the the Key Issues:

Crime:
I support returning to precinct based policing in the inner city. The centralized policing that Consolidation brought to our inner city neighborhoods has been detrimental and the crime numbers show it. We need police on local beats. We also need to pay our officers on par with neighboring counties. We pay to train police officers, and they end up leaving for counties that pay better salaries.

Taxes: I support property tax reform. The current system rewards absentee property owners who create blight in our community. Responsible property owners are punished with higher assessments even though their market property value is being diminished by blight. I think this system is backwards and needs to be changed. Augusta needs a fair property tax code that is easy to understand.

Blight: I support enacting a Chronic Nuisance Property Ordinance to hold absentee landlords and property owners accountable for the blight they create in our neighborhoods. Blight and the crime associated with it cost all of us money. Our property values and tax base are diminished as well as our overall quality of life. I support a more pro-active and vigorous code enforcement department to get tough on blight. I also support raising the permit fee to mothball a property.

TEE Center: In the 2005 SPLOST, voters approved a $20 million dollar Trade and Exhibit Center. That project has morphed into one that has now more than tripled in cost. And when you account for associated spending, we are now talking about $110 million in government spending. I think these new figures are too high, especially in this troubled economy. I support allowing the voters to decide in a referendum if there should be any additional money spent on The TEE Center.

Transparency: I want to end the practice of back-room deal making. I want an honest and open government. I will not be party to any secret meetings, voting blocs, racial caucuses, or back-room deals. I will pledge to hold monthly town hall meetings with constituents to get your input. I will insist on a more consistent and user-friendly open records process. Citizens should know what its government is up to and we shouldn’t have to sift through a mountain of red tape to get the information for which we are entitled.

Economic Growth/Jobs: I believe the key to economic development lies in making our neighborhoods safe and attractive places to live once again. When people return to Augusta to live, the businesses and jobs will follow. I also believe we need to do more with the resources we have in District One. I want to see strengthened partnerships with MCG, small business owners, and the Richmond County School System. We need to actively market district one to bio-medical companies. We have the resources to bring thousands of new jobs to the inner city, we just need to do a better job at marketing them.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Make a campaign donation, Get Beautiful Augusta Art.

Campaign Commemorative Signed Prints (20X24) numbered. Signed by artist Randy Lambeth and candidate Butch Palmer.
Come by the Butch Palmer Campaign Headquarters at the corner of Broad St and Westview Ave in Harrisburg and you can take home a lovely signed and numbered 20X24 Print by local artist Randy Lambeth.Click Here to read a profile of the artist in Augusta Magazine. If you make a donation of $50 or more you can have one of the 2 signed prints you see below, either Eve Street Market or King Mill. So stop by, make a donation and get a beautiful work of art showcasing Augusta's history, plus you'll be supporting a campaign to change Augusta for the better, by making Butch Palmer our next District One Commissioner.
For details and hours give Butch Palmer a call at 706-399-4580 or email at jameslizzman@aol.com










Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Message From Fellow Harrisburg Activist Lori Davis

*****Updated on October 7th, 2009******

Hello supporters,

For all of you who were unable to meet with us at the Commission meeting on Tuesday, But who were there in spirit, here is the proposal that we gave to the Commission. We would like to keep everyone up to speed. :
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We the Concerned Citizens of Richmond County propose that a task force of no more than ten members be convened, by the Mayor, within 30 days to research and shepherd a Chronic Nuisance Property Ordinance for Richmond County. We propose that an Executive Committee chosen by the Mayor be comprised of one Commissioner, one representative each from Law Enforcement, Planning and Zoning, and Code Enforcement. Once these appointments are made, the Mayor may be relieved of his duties. The Executive Committee shall then be responsible for choosing the remaining Committee members. These committee members should be chosen from community leaders who have shown a dedicated interest in this particular issue, as well as a genuine concern for the health and well being of their neighborhoods. We further propose that within the period of one year, a Chronic Nuisance Property Ordinance be in place to address the negative social behavior in our communities.
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The Commission did not address the proposal at all. This is what we came to present. I don't believe that there is any room for error on our part, and I do not believe that this, at this point, is a legal issue. Just goes to show how inept the Commission is. We did appreciate the positive input of Joe Bowles, Don Grantham, and Corey Johnson. They are the only three who got it.

Lori Davis

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Are You Tired of the Status Quo?


Are you tired of a government that wastes your money with no accountability? Are you tired of a government that answers to the special interests and the political power elites and not you? Are you tired of a government that neglects its neighborhoods and its responsibilities to its citizens? Are you tired of the pork barrel spending at the expense of basic services that all taxpayers should expect for their money? Are you tired of the backroom, good-ole-boy politics and deal making? Are you tired of a government that lacks transparency and gives you the run-a-round when you ask for public records, that by law, you are entitled to? Well, so is Butch Palmer, and that's why he is running for the District One Commission seat. It's time for change in Augusta. It's time for a commissioner who will insist on accountability, reform, and transparency. It's time for a commissioner who will ask the tough questions and look out for our interests. It's time to truly change the status-quo, not just rearrange the same broken deck chairs. It's time for an independent voice on the Augusta commission. Let's support Butch Palmer and bring the Augusta commission the kind of change it so desperately needs.

A Little About Butch Palmer
Read Butch's Platform Here:

Butch Palmer's Platform
You have until Oct 5th to Register to vote for the Nov 3 General Election..
Early Voting will also start Oct 5th.
Remember, if you will not be in town on Nov. 3rd, be sure to request an absentee ballot or vote early. If you don't vote, you can't change the status quo.
Want Bumper stickers, signs, or other material?


Fill Out the Form on the right panel of this page and submit or call Butch Palmer at 706-399-4580.. items can be picked up at 520 Tuttle St Augusta in the Harrisburg neighborhood.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Butch Palmer's Position on the TEE Center

**Updated on October 2nd, 2009**
Since the costs of the TEE center have more than tripled from what voters approved in the 2005 SPLOST, I support letting the voters have a second look at the TEE Center Proposal in a referendum. The cost of the TEE center itself has nearly doubled, to around $40 million. They have also now added a $17 million parking garage to the equation, and don't forget the a $350,000 per year operational subsidy to Augusta Riverfront, LLC, a Morris owned company. This clearly is not the TEE Center voters approved in the 2005 SPLOST, so I think they should have the option to decide if all of these additional costs are justifiable. And lets not forget the bribery scandal still hovering above this current TEE center proposal.
Another option is to simply build the TEE center for the amount approved by voters, which was $20 million. That money is in the bank, including about $7 million additional in interest. One cheaper alternative for building the TEE center would be to use the space being vacated by Fort Discovery. Another suggestion is to enlarge the exhibit space at The James Brown Arena. I think we need to be open to all of the alternatives. I just have a big problem with spending so much money on a project that may not live up to its promises. I think the voters should ultimately have the final say on the issue though.
It has just been reported that the space currently occupied by Fort Discovery is up for sale. I believe it is worth considering using this space for the TEE Center. It includes over 128,000 square feet of floor space that could be used as exhibit space (in fact it is being used as exhibit space now for Fort Discovery). It has a prime riverfront location and is within easy walking distance of nearby hotels. In fact, when Port Royal was built in the early 1990s, it was envisioned that a hotel would be part of its design. The city should be able to aquire the Fort Discovery space and configure it for use as a TEE center for about what they have in the bank now that voters approved in the 2005 SPLOST. Actually, it probably would even cost less. I think this deserves to be given a strong look as a way of solving the TEE Center problem. Former Augusta mayor Bob Young suggested that the James Brown arena could be enlarged with the money we currently have for a TEE Center, and that the private management firm Global Spectrum could manage it. These are alternatives that should be given serious thought. But what we should not do is spend three times as much money on a facility on a location that has the specter of corruption hanging over it.

Butch Palmer
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Read Tom Grant's (former Editor of Metro Spirit) mathematical breakdown of the TEE center:
TEE Center Math


**Updated on September 8th, 2009**

There are a lot of opinions on the efficacy and need of a TEE Center (Trade and Exposition Center), but one thing is certain, the process surrounding it has become tainted with the spectre of corruption. I find that it would be a disservice to the taxpayers (who would be ultimately funding this project) to support this current proposal. Considering that the cost of this facility has nearly tripled from what voters approved in the 2005 SPLOST package, I believe that we need to open a new dialogue and debate over TEE. Does the public still want this facility and do they feel that the current price tag is justifiable? We need to look at all of the pros and the cons surrounding this facility. Are the claims being made about its economic impact on the community being exaggerated? I have read a landmark study by University of Texas at San Antonio Public Policy Professor Heywood Sanders, who is a bit of an expert on convention centers. His study says that many of the claims and predictions made by advocates of big government spending on convention centers rarely materialize. He also says that convention attendance has essentially stagnated since 1993, and is in decline. Even top tourist destinations are practically having to give the space away for free to attract conventions. Major convention center expansion in Washington, DC , Atlanta, and dozens of other cities have failed to produce the promised results. We need to examine all of the evidence before we make a commitment of of over $60,000,000 in tax money. If you would like to get another perspective on the TEE Center debate, I suggest you read Dr. Sander's study. It's quite a read, but I think you will learn a lot, as I did. You can find the study here:
http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Files/rc/reports/2005/01cities_sanders/20050117_conventioncenters.pdf

Essentially, if there is to be a TEE Center, the process must start from scratch, because the current arrangements are sullied with allegations of corruption, and the voters should ultimately have the final say. Since the costs of this project have escalated far beyond what voters initially approved in 2005, I believe this new TEE proposal with the new costs that now include a $17,000,000 parking deck should be put back before the voters in a referendum.

The back room deals that were made to advance the TEE center are also very troubling and are illustrative of why the commission needs radical change. I have pledged in my platform that I will conduct the public's business out in the open, not through back room deals. I also pledge to hold the parties accountable who waste your tax money and grant special privileges with your tax money. Augusta has scarce public resources. First and foremost, the city must demonstrate that it can provide the basic services that taxpayers should expect before it dedicates such large sums of our money on things that may not live up to their promises.

Butch Palmer

Saturday, August 22, 2009

How We Can Make District One and All of Augusta Better.

** Encourage neigborhood improvement and investment through tax incentives. Butch Palmer supports a 5 year property tax freeze in select neighborhoods to encourage development and improvment instead of penalize it. Property owners who board up buildings or allow them to go into disrepair should NOT be rewarded by the property tax code as they are currently. People who make improvements to their neighborhood are the ones who should be rewarded. Let's reform the property tax code to make it simpler and more fair.

** Develop a common-sense economic development strategy for District One that ties together main street, the medical district, the riverfront, the canal corridor, and our historic neighborhoods like Harrisburg, Laney Walker, and Olde Towne. Focus on "nuts and bolts" services that residents and businesses rely upon and improve the quality of life.

** Incentivize home ownership in District One and encourage young professionals in our medical community to make District One their home. Actively market the district one neighborhoods for new residents. Too often our inner city neighborhoods are ignored by the local real-estate community. Butch would be an advocate for inner city neighborhoods.

**Enact a tough Chronic Nuisance Properties ordinance that cracks down on the few "bad apples" that degrade entire neighborhoods. The owners of nuisance properties where repeated illegal activity occurs should face fines in a 3 strikes type policy. Hazleton, PA and Bremerton, WA have such ordinances that could act as templates for Augusta. http://www.ci.bremerton.wa.us/display.php?id=1050

**Encourage "Green" building initiatives through tax incentives. Augusta should be a leader in this area, not a follower.

**Give Sheriff Strength the necessary resources he needs to fight crime in Augusta and bring criminals to justice. Consider installing video surveillance cameras in public areas where crime is a problem. This would act as a strong deterrant and aid the sherriff's department in apprehending criminals. The police can't be everywhere all the time, but this would certainly help. But the solution to reducing crime is not just throwing more money at the problem. A lot can be achieved through coordination and a strategy of returning to localized, precinct based policing in the urbanized portion of Augusta/Richmond County. One of the negative consequences of consolidation was going to a more centralized style of policing.. and this has been detrimental to the inner city neighborhoods. Butch advocates returning the inner city to precinct based policing and will try to work with The Sheriff's dept to make this happen.

**Strengthen and Vigorously enforce building codes. Dilipadated buildings are not only eyesores, but safety hazards, and they thwart economic development.

**Beautify Augusta more than just one week out of the year! Let's Live up to our nickname "The Garden City" every day. Butch supports the idea of having an Augusta Volunteer Corps. This entity would help coordinate volunteer efforts that help beautify the city and aid neighborhoods and the city's neediest residents. The Aqueduct Park, The Golf and Gardens Cleanup, and the Canal Whitewater Course are all efforts spearheaded by concerned citizens volunteering their time and know-how. We, as a city, must encourage and support these efforts more. There are so many individuals and groups who would like to volunteer their time and effort to improve Augusta, so why not make it easier for them to get involved and matched with the effort that best suits their interests and skills? Lets get the churches and civic groups linked together via a central website where they can post what their needs are and how people can get involved to help. Through social networking sites like Facebook and other technologies, Augusta can form an army of volunteers working together to make the city more beautiful, more livable, and more compassionate. Augusta could follow the example of Alexandria, VA which has such a program:http://volunteeralexandria.org/ . We can make Augusta more beautiful everyday without spending a lot more tax dollars.

**Create a Greenway, similar to North Augusta's, linking the various neighborhoods in District One. This would be an attractive asset that would be relatively inexpensive to initiate and would have enormous payoff and would improve the quality of life in the inner city. The third level of the canal is a treasure that has been completely ignored and underutilised. It should be a centerpiece for an economic development strategy for district one.

**Be responsive to the needs of small business owners in the inner city. They have taken a financial risk to open their business here, and we need a commissioner who will listen to their concerns and not ignore them. Simple things like better lighting in downtown and a stronger police presence would be of great help to businesses on Broad Street and beyond. Too often our local government focuses on expensive big ticket projects that have shown little history of improving the environment for small business owners. Butch supports focusing on basic services first. We need to consider our "needs" before our "wants."

**Butch wants an independent audit of each city department and city funded authorities to elimate waste and bring more transparency to city business.

**Butch would like to see commission meetings schedulued at a time more convenient to the general public. How about when most people are off work? We should encourage our citiznes to attend commission meetings and take an active role and make it convenient for them to do so.

**Be transparent. We need a commissioner who will eschew the good-ole-boy system of backroom deals. Decisions, and how they came about, should be 100% transparent. Our commissioner should not be beholden to a particular voting bloc or special interest. We need a commissioner who will work for us and do it out in the open, and not in a backroom.

**Public records should be made available to all citizens when asked for, no excuses! The runaround given to the residents of Goshen concerning the stimulus application is unacceptable and should never happen again and if Butch is elected your commissioner, he will hold the parties accountable who break the rules.

**Get Input. Our commissioner should communicate with us on a regular basis, not just when it's time for re-election. Butch Palmer pledges to hold regular town hall meetings with constituents to get your ideas and listen to your concerns. Most of the time the best ideas for Augusta come from regular citizens and not from city hall. Butch also will pledge to provide constituents of district one with quarterly reports to keep residents informed on what their government is doing. Butch will be approachable, available, and responsive.

**It's also time to get beyond racial politics in Augusta. We do not have White districts or Black Districts. We do not have White ideas or Black ideas. We need a commissioner who refuses to play the old games and pledges to represent ALL of District One. Augusta has many fine traditions, but its tradition of racial and parochial politics is one that needs to be thrown in the dustbin of history. We need to encourage everyone with good ideas to contribute to become involved. We need to build a network of community activists and leaders whose primary goal is to make Augusta the best city it can be and we should not allow racial divisions and politics to stand in the way of that progress.

Let's make Butch Palmer our next Commissioner and let's get started in making Augusta the best city it can be. With your help, we can change the status quo, and together we can all make a difference.

Butch would like to hear from you. Call Butch at 706 399 4580 or Email Butch at jameslizzman@aol.com and be sure to friend Butch on Facebook.