Savannah Morning News on the beginning of Kelly Loeffler's tenure in the U.S. Senate:
Kelly Loeffler’s tenure in the U.S. Senate began Monday with a scripted pledge: “I do.”
Let’s hope she tones down the other carefully crafted responses and makes good on her commitment to “work” for all Georgians now that she’s in office.
Loeffler has cocooned herself in a partisan bubble since the early-December day Gov. Brian Kemp appointed her to succeed Sen. Johnny Isakson. When she’s spoken, she’s refused to stray from a set of strident and tiresome talking points meant to affirm her conservative principles and support for President Donald Trump.
Her first direct communication with constituents, issued via an op-ed column in newspapers and websites statewide last week, read like a cable news channel monologue, with references to an “impeachment sham,” the “radical left” and “government takeovers.”
The piece centered not on her priorities for Georgia, but on the fact that one of her first senatorial duties will be as a juror in the impeachment trial. And that she’s already reached a verdict — she’s for an acquittal.
Some Georgians will condemn her on that stance alone. Given her political circumstances, however, no one should expect her to vote otherwise. She’s facing her first election later this year and is already suspect in the eyes of the Republican base because Trump did not support her appointment.
If she fails to rally the pro-Trumpers in the coming months, a Trump surrogate is likely to challenge her in November. From there, she’ll be back peddling Bitcoin — she stepped down from managing a cryptocurrency exchange to accept the Senate appointment — this time next year.
With that reality in mind, the less rabid partisans among us will look past her rhetoric and listen if she’ll talk beyond the culture war issues.
Speak up and speak out
Loeffler’s opportunity to share her own vision starts now.
She’s on the job on Capitol Hill and can begin to build a performance record. She’s been assigned to three committees, each of which deal with subjects vitally important to Georgians.
She’ll serve on Agriculture and be tasked with seeking additional aid for the state’s farmers. As a member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, she’ll carry on Isakson’s legacy of standing for Georgia’s former military personnel.
On the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, she has an opportunity to influence health care, education and workforce development legislation. Prescription drug prices and economic development are two areas in which she’s expressed significant interest.
Georgians want to hear more about her views on those subjects than her affinity for the president.
At this point, Loeffler remains an enigma for most Georgians. We know she comes from a rural farm background and built herself into an incredibly successful financial services professional. We know she likes basketball. We know she lives on the appropriately named Tuxedo Road in Buckhead.
Beyond her canned talking points, Loeffler has maintained a low profile. That’s allowed others, particularly naysayers, to build a narrative about her. Some say she’s a closet liberal, for example.
Much of the criticism comes from fellow Republicans and can be discounted at this point — attributed to sour grapes that she was appointed over others. But the longer she waits to present her own ideas and tell her own story, the harder it becomes to debunk the hyperbole.
Loeffler recently told an Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter, “I think I can be a new voice for Georgia.” We Georgians eagerly await her departing from the script and expressing that fresh perspective.
The Brunswick News on a proposal to build a baseball field in the city:
The common complaint when people watch Major League Baseball on television today is how long the games take. There are plenty of theories as to why the game takes so long today — numerous pitching changes, hitters taking more pitches, etc. Whatever is to blame, MLB officials seem content on finding a way to speed up the game.
While that might work for MLB, when it comes to spending a bunch of money on building a baseball stadium in Brunswick, we are happy to see the city is pumping the brakes a little bit.
For those who don’t know, BQK Baseball is looking to bring a prospect franchise from the Coastal Plain League to Brunswick. The CPL is a wood-bat collegiate summer team that includes the Savannah Bananas and the Macon Bacon.
This issue first came up publicly at the last city commission meeting of 2019. BQK was looking to enter into a pair of memorandums of understanding with the city to negotiate the building, improving and financing of a baseball facility at an undetermined location.
The MOUs state that the facility would be funded by the city at an estimated cost not to exceed $13 million. BQK would also make “significant investment” in the stadium and improvements, and would commit to remaining at the stadium for at least 15 years.
Commissioners bristled at the speed of which the process was taking place. We agree with that sentiment. There’s not a pitch clock yet in the majors, and there is no reason to rush into this process. A town hall was slated to take place before Jan. 15, but that has now been pushed back to mid February at the request of BQK.
We remain intrigued about the idea of bringing baseball back to Brunswick, which served as a home to minor league clubs in the 1950s and 60s. Both franchises in Savannah and Macon have been very popular and draw thousands of fans each home game.
A franchise in Brunswick could serve as a nice piece to help the continued revitalization of the area. But as with any building project, the cost of it has to be weighed against how much it will benefit the area. If the cost is greater than the benefit, it’s not a project worth pursuing.
There is a need to rush to every decision in today’s society, but the city is correct to slow down when it comes to the stadium project. Mayor Cornell Harvey said that the MOUs were the starting point for negotiations. Now let’s see how they play out.
There is still a lot to learn about the project overall. So let’s take our time and find the best path forward before committing to a project that we will come to regret.
The Augusta Chronicle on a park that has been spared from a planned development:
What an encouraging way to help ring in the new year - with treasured land spared from unwanted development, and justice being served.
Pendleton King Park has been saved. We’ll revisit the battle while we tell you more about the outcome.
Augusta Circuit Superior Court Judge Ashley Wright approved a consent agreement that dissolves a trust established 100 years ago.
The land involves two properties - a 15.78-acre site on Johns Road called Pendleton Camp, and the 64-acre park and bird sanctuary. It used to be the sprawling estate of Henry B. and Elizabeth King. When their mansion burned in 1912, they moved to a cottage on the estate. Their plan was for their son, Pendleton, to rebuild the mansion when he returned from World War I.
But within weeks of returning to Augusta in 1919, Pendleton suffered a fatal brain aneurysm. Henry King later stipulated in his will that the land be set aside in a trust for two purposes: housing for World War I veterans and their families, and a park to honor his son “in perpetuity.”
For decades, a park foundation and a board of three trustees oversaw the property’s improvements and preservation. But in 2018, two of those three trustees signed an agreement to sell the park to Winchester Homebuilders for $1.2 million to use to erect a 25-unit housing development.
The park foundation countered with a $500,000 lien - an estimated value of hundreds of volunteer hours spent improving the park.
District Attorney Natalie Paine also petitioned to stop the sale. Richmond County Probate Court Judge Harry B. James III granted the petition and installed members from both the park foundation and the preservation group Historic Augusta as new trustees.
The consent agreement Wright approved late last year turns all property and other assets over to the Pendleton King Park Foundation. She ruled that the best way to cleave closest to King’s original wishes for the land would be to turn over the trusts’ assets and property to the foundation.
“But, Wright cautioned: ‘Any such conveyance shall contain a restriction ... that the park property shall only be used as a public park for the benefit of the general public and the citizens of Richmond County,’” The Augusta Chronicle’s Susan McCord reported last week.
Apart from developers hoping to capitalize on the land deal, we can’t think of anyone else who would think that the park shouldn’t stay as a park. As Paine said last August when filing her petition to save the park, she said simply: “This is a good thing.”
It certainly is. If you haven’t yet visited the park it’s your own fault. Not only does it contain a bird sanctuary, but visitors also can stroll the wetland boardwalks, enjoy a picturesque waterfall and even let their pets enjoy an onsite dog park.
If you need a quiet spot to contemplate how the rest of 2020 is going to play out, we recommend Pendleton King Park. it won’t make problems vanish, but it should deservedly keep you away from your computer keyboard for a while.