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Opinion Blogs

    Among the many benefits of somewhat late in life, re-boot parenting, I was 46 when my youngest was born, are the extended opportunities to experience the joys and wonderment often still found in this world of ours, seen through the eyes of a child. My first born is now 26, and will be teaching 4th graders this fall in Gwinnett county, her half-sister and my youngest, Olivia, will be entering 5th grade in DeKalb county schools this fall. Heading out on summer vacation, Olivia, her best friend Alexus and I headed south and west to LaGrange, Georgia and the new Great Wolf Lodge and Water Park. Great Wolf is part of a mid-western chain of now 12 family resorts, based in Chicago, but with locations all across the country. The Great Wolf Lodge, Atlanta/LaGrange opened Memorial Day weekend of 2018. Just off I-85 south, the Lodge sits freshly painted and nestled, baying at the moon one exit north of the Kia Sorrento manufacturing plant.  At roughly half the cost of a Disney or Universal stay and much lower costs of travel, a family suite or similar large room, with fridge and microwave (including the water park and a large number of other free kid-friendly amenities) is offered in a much more protected, secluded and safe family setting, seemingly most ideal from the toddler to pre-teen sets.  This Great Wolf Lodge smartly operates at least three to four business lines and revenue streams simultaneously...a summer camp (day-side), a conference center, season passes for nearby area residents and the full-service family lodge and resort. There are ten restaurants on property from a Dunkin Donuts and Ben & Jerry's to a sit down dining room with linens and a full-service menu.  The center-piece of the resort is an enclosed 100,000 square foot water park, with the water temperature at a surprisingly constant 74 degrees. The outdoor resort pool, with cabanas and a huge jacuzzi is even warmer. Kids who can swim at most any level are as a result safer and trained life-guards are omni-present at all times. The pool and water park close at 8 p.m., minimizing noise and late night teen or older high-jinks, sometimes a challenge for other family resorts. The clean-cut, well trained staff were another highlight, and judging from the accents highly dependent on the local labor pool, but all also apparently graduates of the Chick Fil A school of guest courtesy and deference.  Olivia has blossomed into a strong swimmer, but that took some patience and a few years of instruction by a gifted swim teacher, Miss Amanda. Conquering fears can take some time, and though this was far from our first water park or rodeo, Olivia was still largely clinging to the kiddie slides, or the almost ubiquitous Lazy River nearby. This trip was complicated by a blister tear under the big toe after one too many trips around the Lazy River sans swim shoes on day one.   Thank God for good friends with big smiles and some prior experience at the resort. By day two, there was no water slide we were unwilling to conquer. Triple Thunder, Otter Run racing and the River Canyon Run were each another conquest to be had. From clinging hands and slow steps of trepidation up the four floors of stairs to, '...Can we do that again?' followed by a dead sprint up the same staircase. Ol' dad's legs were going to give out long before the enthusiasm to climb every mountain. And we did.  The last two challenges were single rides, flume style. The more visually intimidating is called The Wolf Tail. Though the font and visual of this ride name looks more like Wolf Pile, my youngest calls it the 'Green Pooper,' as the rider appears to get flushed. You load in what appears to be a glass casket, in a standing position. The ride operator instructs you to fold your arms across your chest, or perhaps to pinch your nose if water shooting up same bothers you in any way. Further instructions to cross your legs at the ankle and lock your knees straight. Listen well and take heed.  After a brief count-down of 3-2-1, the bottom of the casket drops away and the rider takes a direct vertical plunge of 75-100 feet, before exiting the building into a loop to slow your descent, and soon after depositing you into a long shoot flume at the bottom of this slide. IF not for the leg cross and knees lock, you might also exit the ride with another memory, reminiscent of the Great Wolf out front baying at the moon...with a certain Ow-Ow--ow-woohoo sensation from all that water paying a call reminiscent of a high colonic. Great memories, Great Wolf, great fun. We'll be back.
  • By now, corporate medicine has milked about all the 'efficiency' it can out of the system. With mergers and streamlining, it has pushed the productivity numbers about as far as they can go. But one resource that seems endless-and free-is the professional ethic of medical staff members,' said Dr. Danielle Ofri, an author and physician at Bellevue Hospital and New York University, from a New York Times guest editorial on June 9, 2019, 'Is Exploiting Doctors the Business Plan?' We are fortunate, within my immediate and extended family, to have the benefit of several medical professionals. My sister, Tanya, is a Nurse Practitioner, my god-daughter, Dr. Martha Cohen-Slade is an ObGyn and a close family cousin has not only been a career long operating room nurse, but also served as Chair of its global professional association, the Association of peri-Operative Registered Nurses, AORN. Their career experience and insights have helped form my opinions on the status of the industry.  My god-daughter, herself also recently a new mother, delivered five babies the same day her own labor was later induced before giving birth to her first son. My sister, who has worked all over the country, while continuing her own medical studies as well as serving as an educator and nursing faculty member, routinely works through holiday weekends, continuous 30-hour shifts and in both private and hospital based practices, always delivering beyond the call and assigned 'hours' of her paycheck.  As I have also often seen these behaviors in many of my own medical advisers and professionals, I can only assume it to be part of the work ethic and 'patient needs first' ingrained during years of study and preparation for a career in health care. Hopefully, this aspect of the profession will continue forward, but not to the long term detriment of the practitioners.  Patients, particularly in an in-patient setting, are generally sicker these days. Greater severity and complexity of chronic conditions, more over-lapping illnesses or infections to treat, as well as more medications to handle, manage and assess for side-effects or treating at cross-purposes. And yet the average length of time treatment spent with each patient is expected to be shrinking, or remain the same, aided by technology and that particularly vexing plus/minus of the Electronic Medical Record (EMR). The EMR is now omni-present and 'tunneled-in' to nearly every aspect of the medical system, and though few would wish a return to the pounds-heavy paper charts and copies, the EMR is now remotely accessible 24/7, awaiting updates, notes and provider input, and many providers are now doing just that, using evening, weekend and sleep-hours, off the clock, to update and re-check EMR charts. The average provider/physician spends roughly two-hours of EMR maintenance/updates time per each hour of actual face to face patient care.  Hospitals and provider employers also know this, and in effect consider this a benefit of employing well-paid and ethically driven professionals. But all of this 'no-down time' doesn't add up to everything remaining just fine. Health care professional burn-out is an increasingly real threat to their own health as well as ongoing performance. And despite doctor and nursing shortages nationwide, which increasingly require HB1 Visas and U.S. health care employers to recruit and import medical professionals from other nations, domestic medical and nursing school slots remain in tight supply, while a significant number of Baby Boomer era providers are fast approaching retirement. In addition to the higher error levels one might associate with long-term fatigue, clinical depression and suicide rates among physicians and nurses are now also significantly surpassing those of the general population they care for.  I am no fan of a single payer, government-based health care system. I don't have to look any further than our troubled Veteran's Administration system to see what happens when a bureaucracy manages all the keys to the kingdom, but with all the great minds and innovation present in American health care, still considered the world leader in numerous arenas, there simply has to be a better way.  From 1975 to 2010, the number of health care 'administrators' within both the for profit and non-profit medical sectors, has increased by 3200 percent. If we considered converting back less than half that personnel hike towards clinical care and more direct patient support, we might be well on our way to closing the provider service gap, as well as better recognizing that the priority should remain getting and keeping patients well, versus processing piles and piles of electronic records and yes, still more paperwork. Hospitals...heal thyself.
  • When I think of Georgia football I immediately think of Coach Dooley...,” Most people think of him as a coach, but he was also a great Athletic Director who brought life to all the sports at Georgia. It wasn’t just about football, he had a great influence on the whole university. I think everyone involved with Georgia would be proud to have the field named after Coach Dooley.” said Kevin Butler, former UGA Bulldog kicker and member of Super Bowl winning Chicago Bears in 1985, now a post-game radio host for the Georgia Bulldogs. Sanford Stadium in Athens was named for a great gentleman and scholar, Dr. Steadman Vincent Sanford, who first arrived at UGA as an English professor, before taking on leadership roles on the faculty and athletics committees. Sanford would become UGA President and later Chancellor of the entire University system, and in 1911, he moved UGA's football venue from the small and cramped, but scenic Herty Field in the old north campus, to a valley and the stadium’s current location.  The original stands only sat 30,000, and the field sat atop Tanyard Creek, now encased in a cement culvert under the stadium running east to the Oconee River. A reasonably complex drainage and irrigation system on that natural turf field helps to maintain the grass as well as that historic, football shaped hedge.  Vince Dooley arrived as a young head football coach in 1963, and went on to win the NCAA National Championship in 1980 as well as six SEC Championships. Dooley is still Georgia's winning-est football coach (1963-1989), also serving an over-lapping tenure as Athletic Director, and then continuing in that role through 2004, with Georgia teams in a variety of sports winning 23 national championships and 78 SEC titles during his time as A.D.  Vince and his wife Barbara Dooley have also become generous donors to UGA academic and scholarship pursuits. There are now a Dooley Library Endowment Fund and a Dooley Professorship in Horticulture, both made possible by their generosity. And the only subject that Coach Dooley will talk longer on than football is gardening...  Both Dooley’s call Athens their adopted home, raising their son and two daughters there, son Derek is now a college football coach as well, and the charmed couple have become walking icons for Bulldog Nation, both known for their southern charm, hospitality and enduring love for all things Georgia football.  Recognizing these and so many other contributions to the University, both in the academic and athletic arenas as well as becoming true pillars of the Athens community, UGA President Jere Morehead and Athletic Director Greg McGarity (whom Dooley first hired), recently informed a surprised Coach that the field he spent a quarter century coaching atop would soon be named in his honor.  Coach is now 86, and remains active on more boards and non-profits than most folks half his age. I have the pleasure of serving on the Board of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia with Coach. He attends most every meeting, often offering insightful guidance and advice, and then hops in his Kia and drives himself back to Athens. Vince and Barbara introduced me to Bulldog Kia in Athens, and that's Barbara's face saying 'See y’all at Bulldog Kia' to a few hundred thousand Bulldog fans on billboards around Athens each fall.  The Dooleys are both warm, genuine and class acts devoted to UGA. And another one like them, UGA's current President Jere Morehead said as much when he responded to efforts by more than 450 former Bulldog players calling for naming Sanford Stadium's field in honor of Coach Dooley. Current Dawgs Coach Kirby Smart played for Coach Dooley, as did former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue and hundreds of other NCAA and later NFL stand-outs.  The Athletic Association and University System Board of Regents are adding their voices to that chorus, singing a tune now long over-due. Normally each fall UGA home opener tends to be a light schedule game, and sometimes the stands don't even fill, into the now 92,000+ seats which expanded around that field during Dooley's tenures.  But I expect for this year's opener, on Saturday, September 7th against Murray State, there will be a packed house, and a later standing ovation and applause perhaps not equaled since that national championship season, when that 100-yard stretch of privet and Georgia green officially becomes Dooley Field, an honor truly and duly long over-due. The Dooley’s and their family are expected to be there for the honor and a special half-time tribute. Congratulations Coach! Go Dawgs!!
  • The fact is, John Chapman might well be the best-known figure from our national past about whom most people know almost nothing at all.” ― Author Howard Means, “Johnny Appleseed: The Man, the Myth, the American Story.” As a child in DeKalb County Elementary Schools, as well as later in college, I was blessed to have studied under several gifted educators and teachers who made me a better person, as well as a stronger scholar. In first grade, Miss Rice, and than later in 4th grade, Mrs. Morris each vastly expanded my vocabulary and world view. Just as my parents and family helped form me as a person, loving and gifted teachers helped to shape my mind, and build a lifelong desire for learning.  My oldest daughter, Barclay Carson, is herself a teacher, in Gwinnett County, leaving her own indelible and lasting mark on 1st and 2nd graders, and beginning next fall, a promotion to the 4th grade. Barclay is following in the footsteps of her mother, Nancy Lowery Powell, also a fellow educator at Trip Elementary in Loganville.  My youngest child, Olivia, is following a path more similar to my own, with an elementary education in the DeKalb County School District. After some struggles at our prior school, we moved Olivia this past fall and she is now flying high as an Oak Grove Eagle. Olivia has developmental delays and Down syndrome, and is now in a special education classroom setting, presided over for the past three decades by Mark Manganello. Mr. Mark has become both a leader and a fixture of the school, after-care, summer school and the community, completing his 31st year at Oak Grove this spring, and 40 years as an educator.  For much of that time, Mr. Mark has taught a multi-grade class, 3rd grade through 5th, joined by several para-professionals, Mark navigates the learning disabilities and challenges, specific to each child, modifying their grade level curriculum, while also rewarding and recognizing the spark of learning in each child.  Like tending a small fire into a roaring flame, it’s a joy to watch Mark's rapport grow with each student, from educator to friend, to life mentor. I have noted children no longer matriculating at Oak Grove walking towards Mr. Mark with a beaming smile, ready for a life update and probably a hug, this teacher makes connections with his charges which appear to be life-long.  As we watched Olivia's mind open and rapidly expand, her vocabulary nearly doubling, cognition and reading comprehension more than trebling and grasp of other subjects ranging from social studies to math and science each rolling clearly into view and reality, there is little doubt in my mind of where to lay the credit. Mark Manganello has created and maintains a safe and supportive learning environment, where it is both 'okay' to be different and learning, at all levels is celebrated.  A year ago when I would pick Olivia up at her school, I often found her walking towards me with head bowed, and the body language of defeat. Now as she again runs towards me, with head up and a smile on her face, I know that the lessons of this classroom and school are more than coming off the pages of a textbook, or a lesson online.  Noting how Mark has for decades played the unintentional role of 'Johnny Appleseed' planting the seeds of learning in the minds of so many children, otherwise often discarded by our public education system, we wanted to find an appropriate way to thank and recognize his legacy. Oak Grove has an incredible organic garden within its courtyard, tended over by an extremely gifted and active volunteer, Kendall Xides. Ms. Xides presides over the green-space and children across all grade levels help to tend the garden. And now that little Oak Grove utopia has its first apple tree.  It is our hope that this apple tree will bear fruit for the teachers and students at Oak Grove for many generations to come, just as the seeds of learning which Mark Manganello long ago planted so lovingly continue bearing their own fruit as perhaps his most lasting legacy. And Mark's passion for special education has also taken root in his own family, as his daughter Jennifer Manganello also teaches special education at Oak Grove, so Mr. Mark's legacy will last on there in more ways than one.  So from your the many little apples in the orchard, and their grateful parents friends and family, thanks to Mr. Mark for being our own 'Johnny Appleseed,' and may you find your coming semi-retirement as pleasant and rewarding as you have found your decades in the classroom. Cheers with a nice glass of hard cider.
  • At Goodwill, we try and meet our clients where they are...and then with training and the tools we have developed, we help them get to here they want to be, and hopefully on their way to a successful career,' said Keith Parker, CEO Goodwill of North Georgia, at a Goodwill “Atlanta Works” panel discussion at the Commerce Club of Atlanta.   Long-standing legacy charitable organizations have their challenges. Public attention and favoritism are often fickle, and many local and regional charities and non-profits now also compete for limited resources with their own national chapters.  Missions change, expand and shift, and often competition arises, sometimes within the same space, from newer, smaller and even hyper local entities, with the same good intentions, but little of the long term experience or success in delivering results.  One of those most visible, and in Georgia, among the largest in the non-profit arena is Goodwill. You most likely have seen and possibly shopped in their thrift stores. They collectively generated nearly $150-million in revenue during 2018. Goodwill received more than 3-million donations during the same period, interacting with 7.5 million customers, donors and clients. Most stores are now staffed and managed by former Goodwill clients. Long known for offering job-training for the developmentally disabled and in some markets sheltered-workshops (where the disabled could be trained and respectfully employed in a safe, albeit somewhat segregated surroundings), providing a modest income, the self-respect which comes from regular employment and the measured independence which follows.  Goodwill of North Georgia (45-county service territory) is led by its CEO, Keith Parker, until recently the man who turned around metro Atlanta's long-troubled mass transit system, MARTA. At MARTA, Parker stabilized finances (now more than a quarter-billion in operating reserves), improved morale and overall operational efficiency, strengthened a police force which has helped MARTA become one of the nation's safest transit systems, as well as won the confidence of the state's business leadership, statehouse and numerous city halls. If this Parker had chosen to stay at MARTA, I would have wagered heavily in favor of the recent unsuccessful transit expansion referendum in Gwinnett County to already be counting that new penny of sales tax revenue this week. Parker is a catalytic leader and change agent. He also walks the factory floor...at MARTA he road those trains to and from work himself, most every weekday.  At Goodwill, Parker understands that that humble worker or disabled adult who walks through their doors may not know where they are heading...or just how they will get there. Fortunately Goodwill does know, and provides the tools, hand up (versus hand-out) and help to identify opportunities to begin that climb up a career ladder and hopefully to a middle-class or better lifestyle and standard of living. Parker believes that wage inequity is a challenge for most urban areas, and at Goodwill, he is trying to do something about that as well. But during Goodwill’s “Atlanta Works” panel discussion, Parker was not suggesting massive taxation or re-distribution of wealth. He was simply suggesting greater investment in human capital and more work force training, in this case privately funded.  Along with Metro Atlanta Chamber CEO Hala Moddelmog, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta CEO Raphael Bostic and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms...Parker and the panel agreed it is incumbent upon all of the business community to help lift and hire those most challenged and vulnerable, as an employed worker is not only productive and contributing to society, but also no longer a potentially dependent burden, living life on the edge in the safety net or on the streets. This was not only a noble calling to hear, but impressive to note again, that Parker, less than a year into his new gig, is already shifting the landscape, changing the conversation and building community consensus while defining the new mission to lead. The man who re-opened MARTA for business is now going to try and re-open business minds to not only employing, but training and promoting non-traditional employees.  Having a child with Down syndrome, who is blossoming more recently in school thanks to a gifted educator, we are already looking ahead to transitioning to adulthood, higher education and later employment opportunities. I don't know if Mr. Parker will still be running this show by the time our child graduates high school, but if he is, I have faith and confidence that the developmentally disabled seeking employment opportunities in north Georgia have their future in good hands...and that is more than goodwill.
  • A 4-page summary of Special Counsel Robert Muellar’s report on possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election was released over the weekend by Attorney General William Barr. The report disappointed many, showing that there was not any collusion between President Trump and Russia. Here’s why we need to keep fighting! 1. WHAT IS COLLUSION ANYWAY? Do we really know what that means? 2. WE NEED MORE INVESTIGATIONS. What else does Congress actually do… 3. PEOPLE ARE DYING OUT THERE. This is a real problem! 4. OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE? DUH! We all know what really happened. 5. I CAN’T EVEN... I haven’t slept in 2 years. 6. TO KEEP THE BLUE WAVE MOVING. Can 2020 get here any sooner… 7. HE’S JUST NOT MY PRESIDENT. I never will agree with him and he’s a liar. 8. JUST BECAUSE... All my friends say that I’m right. 9. WHAT AM I GOING TO DO NOW? 2020 is so far away… *We’re having a little fun with this. This is a parody piece and is not intended to be taken seriously.* Jared Yamamoto is a Doctrinaire and Producer of The Von Haessler Doctrine radio show heard daily from 9-Noon on News 95.5 and AM 750 in Atlanta, Georgia. Email jared.yamamoto@coxinc.com Twitter: @jaredyamamoto Instagram: @jaredyamamoto
  • Police use of force, deadly or otherwise, has been a particularly hot topic in the news in recent years. In this age of social media and near real-time access to cell phone and other video of law enforcement activity it's inevitable that police work, which has always had an element of violence associated with it, would come under an unprecedented degree of scrutiny. Traditionally, nearly all police work occurred 'out of sight' and accordingly was 'out of mind' - at least to the general public. But those days are over and the police and the public are having to adjust to this 'new normal.'   When I went to the police academy in 1989, I remember being taught in no uncertain terms that deadly force was authorized to stop a fleeing felon. In other words, we were told we could shoot someone who was a felon if they were running away from us. Fortunately I was never in a position to test that dubious training. Police training in all subjects is now light years ahead of where it was then. Training in the area of use of force is even further ahead in my view.   So what is the law in this area? Can an officer lawfully use lethal force against a felon who is merely running away? The answer of course is no. But unfortunately most examples are not that clear.   When we look at any police use of force, there is one word in the English language to consider. That word is: reasonableness   In 1989 the Supreme Court of The United States decided the landmark case of Graham v. Connor and the precedent set by Graham has been the foundation of police training on use of force ever since.   Graham provides that any use of force incident -deadly or otherwise - must be 'objectively reasonable' under the totality of the circumstances and that '[t]he 'reasonableness' of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight.' It also clarified 'the 'reasonableness' inquiry in an excessive force case is an objective one: the question is whether the officers' actions are 'objectively reasonable' in light of the facts and circumstances confronting them, without regard to their underlying intent or motivation.'   So the next time we see a viral video of a police shooting or other use of force incident try to apply the apply the Graham standard to it and you'll find that it can be extremely difficult to immediately decide whether it was 'justified.' In fact, the Graham case tells us that these things require a careful, deliberate, and thorough investigation into all the facts and circumstances before deciding that issue. Rarely - if ever - are knee jerk decisions based on a single video or social media post helpful. It's worth noting that under the Graham analysis, the presence or absence of a weapon doesn't prove anything either way. The presence of absence of a weapon is merely one factor that must be considered along with the totality of all other circumstances.   Police work can be - by it's very nature - quite ugly and violent. It's never like it is on TV or in the movies. But it is real life and involves real people. We demand that our police swear to support and defend the constitution and laws so we must in turn judge them - and their actions - according to the constitution and laws as interpreted by the courts. Unlike the court of public opinion or social media, courts and investigators don't have the luxury of picking and choosing what parts of the constitution to apply - in these cases they must follow the Graham analysis to wherever it leads - even if it leads to an unpopular place.   And by the way, it turns out that the 'Fleeing Felon Rule' - which I was taught about in the police academy in 1989 was an old rule, grounded in the old English common law that was largely done away with in 1985 when the Supreme Court decided Tennessee v. Garner and held that the police could be sued for shooting a 15 year-old who was merely fleeing and who otherwise posed no lethal threat. In other words, shooting Garner was not 'reasonable.' Philip Holloway, WSB legal analyst, is a criminal lawyer who heads his own firm in Cobb County, Georgia. A former prosecutor and adjunct professor of criminal justice, he is former president of the Cobb County Bar Association's criminal law section. Follow him on Twitter: @PhilHollowayEsq The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.
  • We’re still fresh off the NCAA College Football National Championship game and Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide empire was upset again by the Clemson Tigers on Monday night.  Yes, you may be shocked to see me writing about college sports instead of National or Georgia politics. It’s been so annoying in the political arena with all the border wall, paper ballots, and government shutdown nonsense so let’s switch it up and cling to college football for at least a few more days.  I shocked many of my friends when I told them that I pulled for Clemson in the National Championship to avenge the Georgia Bulldogs from their agonizing defeat they faced last season to the Crimson Tide in the same game.  Now when you tell people that you pulled for Clemson, most Southeastern Conference ‘SEC’ fans tell you that “you’ve got to pull for your conference” or “how could you pull for a soft conference like that” and my response is consistent, “I’m ready for the Alabama dynasty to die.”  Alabama has been annoyingly dominant in the SEC for over a decade. They’ve crushed SEC competition, something my friends that are big fans of the University of Georgia know all too well. That’s a story for another day.  I’m not here to rag on the Dawgs. In fact, I’ve always had a soft spot for the Dawgs and genuinely want them to do well. I grew up in Atlanta and some of my finest memories were riding around Atlanta in the car doing outdoorsy things in the Fall, listening to legendary Bulldogs announcer Larry Munson with my father on WSB.  Among the many legendary calls he made, one in particular stands out – back in 2001 when the Dawgs upset the Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxville: “We just stepped on their face with a hobnail boot and broke their nose,” Munson remarked. “We just crushed their face.”  I also remember the heartbreaking losses and crushing upsets.  With all the highs and lows of UGA football, I’ve been there with you and rode the emotional roller coaster with my friends and family that are die-hard fans.  Trust me, I remember the Jim Donnan and Mark Richt years.  But when Kirby Smart was hired as head coach back in 2015 the future seemed especially bright for UGA football.  After a decent first season with Kirby Smart, the Dawgs exceeded all expectations and stunned the country when they went to the National Championship in Smart’s second season. I think we all can recall that outcome…  Smart has the makings of a great coach and there’s no doubt that his recruiting and mindset have helped improve UGA’s roster from top to bottom. However, I’m noticing a problem developing in Athens.  Aside from Alabama’s dominance over the Dawgs, not one, but two 5-star quarterbacks that were successfully recruited to Athens have left UGA for other schools during the Smart era.  Just to put this in perspective, the hardest part for these coaches is to get these 18-year-old kids to commit and physically attend your university with all the competition in the SEC.  I know that we’ll all kick ourselves if now former UGA freshman quarterback Justin Fields, who has basically transferred to Ohio State, takes the Buckeyes to the promise land next season.  But the person who was quickly forgotten was quarterback Jacob Eason, who lost his job to current starting quarterback Jake Fromm in 2017 after injuring his left knee in the first quarter of the first game of the season against Appalachian State.  He transferred to the University of Washington and is set to start this Fall for the Huskies.  I’m also reading reports that Clemson’s freshman now National Champion quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the Cartersville, Georgia sensation, heavily considered UGA too. If you haven’t seen him, he may already be ready for the NFL.  That’s a bad trend brewing at UGA and I don’t like the long-term trajectory.  Let me first say that Jake Fromm is a great quarterback and many schools would be glad to have him. But I’ve analyzed a lot of football and I don’t see him leading UGA to a National Championship.  I really hope that I am wrong. Seriously. I want UGA to do well, but Fromm has a problem in big games when UGA is forced to throw to get back into games.  In 2017, the National Championship year, he proved that he couldn’t throw his way back into a contested road game at Jordan-Hare Stadium at Auburn.  He had horrific numbers in the National Championship game against Bama throwing 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions, going 16 for 32 passing.  And in 2018, the LSU blowout in Death Valley will forever haunt Dawgs fans. Why? Because, if the Dawgs had won that game, the SEC Championship against Alabama would not have mattered for either team. Both teams would have been seeded for the College Football Playoff and we all know what happened.  Nonetheless, I don’t blame Fromm for the recent SEC Championship loss, because Coach Smart’s 4th and long fake punt in the 4th quarter will loom larger than any players performance in that game.  For UGA’s program to reach that elite tier with the Alabamas, Clemsons, Ohio States, and Notre Dames of the world, Coach Smart must take some chances and put the best players in their positions even if it means disrupting the politics of the team.  UGA has benefitted from a relatively weak SEC East over the past 3 years and as we all know, the trends will change, and Dawgs fans should be cautious about improving schools like Kentucky and Florida.  It’s not easy to win a National Championship, but the great recruits are here and UGA has a real chance to contend for the next couple of years. Now, Smart needs to make it his top priority to keep these 5-star players flocking to Athens.  Jared Yamamoto is a Doctrinaire and Producer of The Von Haessler Doctrine radio show heard daily from 9-Noon on News 95.5 and AM 750 in Atlanta, Georgia.  Email jared.yamamoto@coxinc.com  Twitter: @jaredyamamoto  Instagram: @jaredyamamoto
  • I wake up around 5:30 most mornings and like most people I have a well-defined routine. I smack my snooze button on my old-school Sanyo alarm clock, then crawl out of bed. I practically sleepwalk into my living room, turn on the lights, grab a glass of water, plop on my couch. Once my brain begins to turn on, I flip on my TV, radio, and computer and begin consuming news and browsing news aggregators from overnight. As I scroll through news sites, I can’t help but stumble upon trends and the latest has been the daily headlines from outlets that often rag on newly elected Democratic Representative-Elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from New York’s 14th district.  Not sure who she is? Ocasio-Cortez made history this year by becoming the youngest elected female member to the U.S. House of Representatives and is a self-proclaimed Democratic-Socialist.  She’s 29 years old and what’s amazing about her story is that she has not spent a single day in office. In fact, her first official day will be January 3rd, 2019. And yet, she is already creating a stir in Washington.  Don’t believe me? Here’s a few headlines from this morning:  'Ridiculous' it's unconstitutional for Ocasio-Cortez to run for president - Vox  Ocasio-Cortez on call to run for president: ‘How about … no’ – The Hill  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez isn't in office yet and she's already revealing inner workings of Congress – Yahoo Finance  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s new favorite pastime appears to be trolling conservative critics – Washington Post  I’m 29 years-old too and couldn’t imagine being in her position at this age. Regardless, we need to address this news phenomenon for what it is.  She’s very active on social media and right-wing news sources are obsessed with her. Political readers from both sides of the aisle hang on to every tweet and can’t believe that she’s preaching the ideals of a Democratic-socialist. My right-wing friends are secretly terrified of her and want to silence her. They paint her as a moron.  To my friends on the right, she’s one representative in a House of 435. Sure, she’s annoying on Twitter and I’m sure that you and I disagree with her on many philosophies, but in this new age of American politics, there are many politicians that are annoying on Twitter…  And to my friends on the left, this is not a piece where I’m trying to stand up and rescue the damsel in distress. I’m also not a misogynist. I’m genuinely happy for her and the energy she’s created in Washington. I have zero political affiliation. I try my best to be objective and call things as I see them and there’s no doubt that her primary victory over mainstay Democrat Joe Crowley was historical.  However, I disagree with most of Ocasio-Cortez’s political philosophies. In her young political career, she appears to have a poor grasp of basic economics. She, like many, think that the government has endless funding and her views on climate change are extreme. All topics are fodder for another piece.  The difference between this piece and the stories I read every morning is that I believe that Ocasio-Cortez should have a place to express her viewpoints. She was elected fairly and has a right to be noisy like other politicians, but people shouldn’t obsess over her.  Ocasio-Cortez represents something bigger for American politics and one that the Republican Party should strive for… youth.  I cannot count how many times I’ve seen prominent Republican figures targeting her on their TV hits with, “Can you believe that 29-year old Ocasio-Cortez said,” or, “Clearly Ocasio-Cortez is not ready for prime-time.” This needs to stop.  These people need to get over it. She’s going to be around for at least two years and yes, she is going to say dumb things, but so do the other 434 members of House of Representatives.  I don’t understand why Republicans have such a problem recruiting young-budding politicians. Their youngest representative is Elise Stefanik, who represents New York’s 21st district. She’s been in office since 2014, but when’s the last time you heard something about her? She’s 34 now and admittingly I had to look her up for this piece.  In her three years in office, why hasn’t she made a name for herself or strove to promote youth in the Republican party?  Republicans need to find a way to channel young voices. In some of the right-wing pieces I’ve read it almost feels like there’s a problem with America’s youth which is not a strategy for party longevity.  So, let’s all relax and stop the keyboard war for a day about Ocasio-Cortez. Let’s wait until she spends a meaningful day in the 116th United States Congress and hopefully in the next two years we can make a meaningful judgement of her.  Jared Yamamoto is a Doctrinaire and Producer of The Von Haessler Doctrine radio show heard daily from 9-Noon on News 95.5 and AM 750 in Atlanta, Georgia.  Email jared.yamamoto@coxinc.com  Twitter: @jaredyamamoto  Instagram: @jaredyamamoto
  • It’s hard to imagine that today is already Election Day 2018. I remember less than 3 years ago when a friend invited me to attend a ‘Make America Great’ rally for Donald Trump at the Fox Theatre in Downtown, Atlanta. I wasn’t sure what to expect and left the rally speechless. I didn’t think politicians were allowed to be so vulgar, throwing red meat talking points out to a pack of hungry wolves. Sure, I had seen many Trump rallies on television and heard them on the radio, he was running for President, but to actually witness such a circus was eye-opening. I was genuinely worried about Trump’s rhetoric and thought that his tone wouldn’t help fellow Republican Party candidates running alongside him in the heated 2016 political race. I didn’t think he was ready to lead the United States.  With that being said, I was ready for change. At the time we had heard for 8 years that the U.S. was no longer a world power and that we needed to level the global playing field. I didn’t understand these viewpoints. I continued advancing in my career and distanced myself from my college years. I began to realize that hard work is the one thing that will help you prevail in this world, no matter where you came from in life. For years, we were told that the best days of America were behind us and the days of America leading the world were numbered. I disagreed.  The Democrats quickly transformed from the party in power to the party of self-entitled victims. There were some exceptions, but let’s not forget that they also believed that Hillary Clinton deserved the presidency without a single vote being cast. Middle America didn’t agree and the rest is history.  I proudly vote in every election and in 2016, I threw my vote away to Libertarian, Gary Johnson and voted for all parties on my ballot. I have zero party loyalty.  Fast-forward 3 years and Donald Trump is now President Trump and some of the polices that concerned me as a voter are being accomplished at the executive level. I still hate his rhetoric but can honestly say that my original assumption was incorrect. Trump has done a better job than most expected and few will admit it. The economy is booming, and unemployment is at a record low. You can’t give him all the credit, but he certainly deserves some of it. Trump has many weaknesses, but I vote for the individual and encourage others to do the same. Just because you don’t agree on everything a politician stands for doesn’t mean that the person is a bad candidate. If Donald Trump were on my 2018 midterm ballot today, I’d take a deep breath and probably vote for him. Why?  I hoped that the Democratic Party would have learned their lesson of going too far to the left in 2016, but to my dismay, the party of ‘Hope’ and ‘Change’ in 08’ and 12’ quickly became the resist party and party of whiners. Instead of shifting to the political center they decided to shift further to the left. Don’t forget that in 2016 the Democrats rigged their primary debates to give Hillary Clinton an edge over Bernie Sanders for their presidential nomination. Today, the party is not much different. We have a party whose main goal, if elected, will be to impeach and obstruct Trump.  I’m not saying Republicans are better. I think we all remember the gridlock between John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, and President Obama. We also can’t leave out the current immigration fiasco, lack of vision for healthcare, and the 2nd tax cut bluff that many Americans sniffed out weeks ago. Generic Democrats have polled better than generic Republicans for months now.  Nationally, Democrats and Republicans are fighting for both chambers of Congress. I predict that the Democrats will narrowly retake the House of Representatives and Republicans will hold the Senate. We’ll find out tonight.  What I’m most concerned about is the poor explanations of the candidates. I watch a good amount of television and I cannot point to a single political advertisement that changed my opinion. Perhaps it’s a good thing? This election has devolved into a battle where each side is throwing out the most outrageous advertisements to sway voters to vote straight down party lines. Don’t fall for them!  I watch these pitiful advertisements and wonder who these parties are targeting. The Baby Boomers and Gen Xers are quick to bark out that they’re targeting Millennials. Again, don’t fall for them!  Before you vote later today, look up your ballot and take some time to read about your candidates. Your city government has more of a direct impact on your daily life than the national election or even the governorship. Don’t be a pawn for one party and vote for the individual that you think will do the best job.  Here in Georgia we have a gubernatorial race that’s become the contest to see which candidate says the least. Republicans use their typical attack ads suggesting that (Insert Generic Democrat Name Here) is a socialist and that he or she wants to take your guns, raise taxes, and fund abortions while Democrats paint (Insert Generic Republican Name Here) as gun-toting irresponsible rednecks that give money to the wealthy. Both assumptions are untrue.  It’s a heated battle between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp. I would throw in Libertarian Ted Metz, but he is consistently polling around 2% and may pull just enough votes to create a runoff scenario, but that’s it. I had the privilege of meeting Abrams and Kemp earlier this year and both are good people. I happen to agree more with one than the other, but I don’t hate either of them. Take some time and read about these candidates before casting your vote. No matter what happens or if your candidate loses, the wonderful thing about America is that another election is always near.    Jared Yamamoto is a Doctrinaire and Producer of The Von Haessler Doctrine radio show heard daily from 9-Noon on News 95.5 and AM 750 in Atlanta, Georgia.  Email jared.yamamoto@coxinc.com  Twitter: @jaredyamamoto  Instagram: @jaredyamamoto