Monday, June 14, 2010

Op-ed from Gary Black on the Importance of Food Safety in Georgia

Americans tend to take for granted that the food we buy at the supermarket, farmer's markets, and even roadside produce stands is safe. Unfortunately, there will be an occasional problem or recall but we quickly move past these and back into our default mode of trust and complacency. We assume somebody is keeping an eye on things. Well, somebody is, and in Georgia, that falls to the state Department of Agriculture which I am running to lead as Agriculture Commissioner.

Although we live in a time of political attacks, negative TV ads, and sound bites, I think it is important to talk about the real issues that will face those of us running for office should we be honored by the voters with their confidence. I think we owe you a plan of action as a part of our continuing job interview and that is exactly what I am going to provide over the coming weeks -- starting today with food safety.

Food safety is a core mission of the Georgia Department of Agriculture, and it must be pursued with diligence and fiscal discipline. I want to provide fresh, but experienced leadership in this arena.

It all starts with our Food safety inspectors who are the "boots on the ground" professionals whose seal of approval impacts public health, consumer confidence and the agricultural marketplace. We need to establish a positive, goal-oriented workplace accompanied by a system to measure results. I will inspire, motivate, and hold all inspectors accountable in a manner that will be best serve the consumers and farmers of Georgia.

We must enforce all food safety laws with science-based, common-sense standards for all and prejudice towards none. I will ensure that Department inspectors have the equipment and support to perform their duties effectively. We also need to ensure that each food safety inspection is thorough and conducted in a professional manner.

We also need to put in place better, more modern plans to provide back-up in emergency situations like a food-borne illness outbreak, natural disaster or homeland security threat.

Georgia is the Ninth largest state in the country and its largest industry is agriculture. To meet the challenges this presents, our inspectors need to be the best trained and educated in the country. We need to establish timelines for inspectors to complete continuing education through the International Food Protection Training Institute and Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO). I have a plan to underwrite this training without cost to the Georgia taxpayer and will give preference to in-state training whenever possible.

We must also establish a professional certification program for Georgia's food safety inspectors. Educational and service incentives will help retain the best employees, a move that in the long run will improve performance and be more cost-effective.

To improve our value to taxpayers, we need to utilize cost-effective new media and web-based technologies to improve consumer education on a wide array of topics including safe food handling practices and food recalls. We can also use these technologies in cooperation with producer and consumer groups to provide more online guidance on promoting locally produced food and the seasonal availability of Georgia products.

Consumer confidence is a key to the health of our agricultural economy, and it starts with a strong plan for improving food safety.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Karen Handel Responds to Georgia Right To Life False Attack

"Barren" Woman Comment Insulting to Women Everywhere Group Issues Made-Up Quote, Lists Other Candidates as Supporting Ban On In-Vitro Fertilization

Former Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate Karen Handel responded today to a Georgia Right to Life attack on her pro-life position in which the group fabricated a quote to support their decision not to endorse her and even called her a "barren" woman.

The group claims that Karen told them that she "does not believe that an embryonic human is a child." That is false. In fact, Karen does believe that an embryonic human is a child. Further, no one ever asked Karen this question, and if they had, they would know this.

GRTL's real problem with Karen is twofold: First, they disagree with her stance regarding exceptions to an abortion ban in cases of rape and incest. Secondly, Karen opposes the group's push to ban in-vitro fertilization, which has helped so many couples realize their dream of having children. The group has proposed legislation to virtually eliminate in-vitro. In a meeting with Karen, the group's leadership told her directly that fertility treatments are immoral and that their goal is to completely ban the procedure.

Dan Becker, the President of Georgia Right to Life even went so far as to say of Karen "Someone's desperate right to parenthood – because they're infertile, they're barren, whatever term you want to use – is an emotionally fraught subject that has our highest sympathy."

GRTL did endorse all of Karen's opponents and praised them for their opposition to rape and incest exceptions and their support for banning in-vitro fertilization. They are welcome to their position and will have to explain it to the voters in July.

They will also have to explain signing a statement vowing to protect life until "natural death" which is in clear opposition to the death penalty which Karen strongly supports.

The following is a statement from Karen on today's GRTL press release:

"My husband Steve and I tried for nearly ten years to have children. It is the single greatest disappointment in my life, and I can say with certainty that no one in this race cherishes human life more than I do. I am saddened that this group would resort to fabricating quotes and distorting my beliefs. I shared very personal information with the group's leadership, and they are well aware of my true beliefs. I am dismayed and very disappointed by their actions.

"I believe that life does indeed begin at conception, that an embryo is a life, and that an unborn child is a human life. While I oppose all abortions, I believe that, in addition to GRTL's exception for life of the mother, there should also be exceptions for rape and incest.

"Further, I am absolutely opposed to severely limiting fertility treatments, including in-vitro fertilization, and am saddened that my opponents appear to support. Tens of thousands of couples have been able to have children through fertility assistance. Their lives have been blessed by miracle of birth and enriched by the blessings that children uniquely have added to their lives.

Additionally, the Handel campaign provided the following perspective from a former director of GRTL:

"Karen is a loyal and trusted friend to conservatives in the pro-life, pro-family movement in Georgia. As Secretary of State she championed conservative causes like Photo ID and proof of citizenship for voting. I'm supporting Karen because I believe she will be a pro-life, pro-family, conservative Governor." -- Adrianne Susong, Former Director, Georgia Right to Life Committee

Karen is strongly pro-life. She has supported every new law passed in Georgia limiting abortions including informed consent, parental notification, waiting periods, etc. To suggest otherwise for political motivations is transparent and wrong.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Early Voting Begins Tomorrow- See Who Has Endorsed Sam for AG

Statewide Endorsements for Sam!


Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, Jr., Georgia Public Service Commission
Stan Wise, Georgia Public Service Commission


Joe D. Whitley, Former U.S. Attorney, Middle and Northern Districts of Georgia
Stephen S. Cowen, Former Acting U.S. Attorney, Northern District of Georgia



Joe Chapman, Sheriff, Walton County
Bennie DeLoach, Sheriff, Appling County
Roger Garrison, Sheriff, Cherokee County
Gary Gulledge, Sheriff, Paulding County
Anthony Heath, Sheriff, Berrien County
Dane Kirby, Sheriff, Fannin County
Terry Langley, Sheriff, Carroll County
Gerald Lawson, Sheriff, Lincoln County
Phil Miller, Sheriff, Douglas County
Al St. Lawrence, Sheriff, Chatham County
Stacy Nicholson, Sheriff, Gilmer County
Neil Warren, Sheriff, Cobb County
Mike Yeager, Sheriff, Coweta County

District Attorneys

Pat Head, DA, Cobb County
Garry T. Moss, DA, Blue Ridge


Barry Morgan, Cobb County


Paul Battles, State Representative
Mark Burkhalter, Former Speaker Pro Tem
Charlice Byrd, State Representative
Mickey Channell, State Representative
Chuck Clay, Former State Senator and Chairman, State GOP
Nathan Dean, Former State Senator and State Representative
Matt Dollar, State Representative
John Douglas, State Senator
Earl Ehrhart, State Representative
Harry Geisinger, State Representative
Cecily Hill, State Representative
Doug Holt, State Representative
Mike Jacobs, State Representative
Sean Jerguson, State Representative
Jan Jones, Speaker Pro Tem
Jeff Lewis, Former State Representative
Bettye Lowe, Former State Representative
Judy Manning, State Representative
Fran Millar, State Representative
Anne Mueller, Former State Representative
Jeff Mullis, State Senator
Jay Powell, State Representative
Tom Rice, State Representative
Chip Rogers, State Senator, Majority Leader
Donna Sheldon, State Representative
Richard Smith, State Representative
Vance Smith, Former State Representative
Dan Weber, State Senator
John Wiles, State Senator
Joe Wilkinson, State Representative
Wendell Willard, State Senator
Mark P. Williams, State Representative
Tommie Williams, Senate President Pro Tempore
John Yates, State Representative



Tommy Allegood, Mayor of Acworth
Greg “Mully” Ash, Mayor of Helen
Boyd Austin, Mayor of Dallas
Phillip Beard, Mayor of Buford
Linda Blechinger, Mayor of Auburn
Mike Bodker, Mayor of Johns Creek
R. Eric Clarkson, Mayor of Chamblee
Bill Floyd, Mayor of Decatur
John Fretti, Mayor of Valdosta
Eva Galambos, Mayor of Sandy Springs
Pat Graham, Mayor of Braselton
Travis Harper, Mayor of Nashville
Nancy Harris, Mayor of Duluth
William S. Hatcher, former Mayor of Statesboro
Donnie Henriques, Mayor of Woodstock
Gene Hobgood, Mayor of Canton
Joe Jerkins, Mayor of Austell
Bucky Johnson, Mayor of Norcross
Arthur Letchas, Mayor of Alpharetta
Joe Lockwood, Mayor of Milton
Mark Mathews, Mayor of Kennesaw
Randy Mills, Mayor of Conyers
Jerry Oberholtzer, Mayor of Snellville
Bob Poydasheff, Former Mayor of Columbus
Rick Roberts, Mayor of Ball Ground
Ken Steele, Mayor of Fayetteville
Steve “Thunder” Tumlin, Mayor of Marietta
Dave Williams, Mayor of Suwanee
Jere Wood, Mayor of Roswell

City Councilmen

John Eunice, Councilman, Mayor Pro Tem, Valdosta
Ivan Figueroa, Councilman, Johns Creek
Ashley Jenkins, Councilman, Sandy Springs
Karen Meinzen McEnery, Councilman, Sandy Springs
Barkley Russell, Councilman, Fairburn
Jim Thornton, Councilman, LaGrange
Stevie Wall, Councilman, Pooler



Buzz Ahrens, Chairman, Cherokee County
David Austin, Chairman, Paulding County
Mike Babb, Chairman, Whitfield County
Mike Berg, Chairman, Dawson County
Clarence Brown, Sole Commissioner, Bartow County
Mark Chastain, Chairman, Gilmer County
Ron Cross, Chairman, Columbia County
Melvin Davis, Chairman, Oconee County
Jimmy Dixon, Former Chairman, Burke County
Eddie Freeman, Chairman, Spalding County
Bebe Heiskell, Sole Commissioner, Walker County
Ed Jeffords, Chairman, Wayne County
Charles Laughinghouse, Chairman, Forsyth County
Kevin Little, Chairman, Walton County
Elizabeth “B.J.” Mathis, Chairwoman, Henry County
John Mayes, Chairman, Floyd County
Ashley Paulk, Chairman, Lowndes County
Jimmy Parker, Chairman, Berrien County
Bill Simonds, Chairman, Fannin County
Jack Smith, Chairman, Fayette County
Tom Worthan, Chairman, Douglas County

County Commissioners

Jack Bernard, Commissioner, Jasper County
Karen Bosch, Commissioner, Cherokee County
Elna Bragdon, Commissioner, Berrien County
Steve Brown, Commissioner, Toombs County
Billy Croker, Former Commissioner, Polk County
Brad Faircloth, Commissioner, Crisp County
Patrick Farrell, Commissioner, Chatham County
Tim Fleming, Commissioner, Newton County
Derek Good, Commissioner, Cherokee County
David Gault, Commissioner, Jones County
Walter Gibson, Commissioner, Bulloch County
Robert Griner, Commissioner, Berrien County
Jim Ham, Commissioner, Monroe County
Jim Hubbard, Commissioner, Cherokee County
Harry Johnston, Commissioner, Cherokee County
Emory Lake, Commissioner, Laurens County
Tim Lee, Commissioner, Cobb County
Reggie Loper, Commissioner, Effingham County
Tom Lowe, Commissioner, Fulton County
Tom McMichael, Commissioner, Houston County
D.M. Mullis, Commissioner, Laurens County
Mary Patrick, Commissioner, Jasper County
Louie Powell, Commissioner, Tombs County
Larry Reynolds, Commissioner, Polk County
Lynne Riley, Commissioner, Fulton County
Bud Sanders, Commissioner, Greene County
Helen Stone, Commissioner, Chatham County
Jan Tankersley, Former Commissioner, Bulloch County
Woody Thompson, Commissioner, Cobb County
Larry Thomson, Commissioner, Houston County
JaNice Van Ness, Commissioner, Rockdale County
Jay Walker, Commissioner, Houston County
Randy Waskul, Commissioner, Whitfield County
Angela Whidby, Commissioner, Franklin County

County Officials

Patty Baker, Clerk of Court, Cherokee County
Jay Stephenson, Clerk, Superior Court
Diane Webb, Clerk, State Court

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