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Not Me. Us. — Part II

Turner Rentz, III
May 13 · 26 min read
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Not Me. Us. — is a personal saying to me as well as something I’ve used to identify and dinstinguish our campaign to help make our state government more respsonsive. This saying helps me to remember that my job as both candidate and if I am to become — State Senator — is to listen to my constituency. We’re a representative democracy. And we’re faced with massive economic and social change. Our state needs to respond to its people.

This begins with your vote. So, this is written to help you considering our draft platform heading into the primary, and for the fall. You, the voter of district 37 has the final say. It is my hope that this platform document outlines where my head is at on the issues that face us — and it is my hope that this document will be a way to help you make an informed voting decision — should I be your district’s candidate for State Senate. But this is a process. So , remember, mail-in ballots will arrive this week. Watch for them in the mail.

And now, bearing in mind that you, the voter will ultimately have final say - let’s dive into the details here and hopefully give you a real understanding of where I might go as a legislator. As always, we welcome comment + suggestions below.

First, from a very high level perspective — our Mission is to make State Government effective, responsive, and to empower the voter. We’ll do that with science based policy that invites a real down-to business view of the arts, industry and regional broad scale economic growth and recovery. Hopefully this platform that I’m outlining here will be able to establish a reasonable view of how we’ll get there. This is going to be a big post — feel free to skip around to the section you need. We’re going to cover the big ones — Increasing our district’s responsiveness — Science Based Policy and Constitutional Crisis. The rest we’ll cover in town halls and document as our district’s platform.

District 37’s Covid 19 Pandemic Response.

Let’s set aside the fact that for me, as a member of this district — this is the first time I’ve ever heard this sentence. Our district’s response has been .. nothing so far. And by nothing, I mean that the only thing we’ve done is we’ve followed the executive order of a Governor whose approval rating is now plummeting due to misleading us all at the outset of this pandemic. Local and regional charities have kicked into gear, but as a resident of this district — I’ve yet to see one whisker of a response from our district — and I have been looking.

So, let’s establish a few working principles because this is a topic that affects human lives and deserves review and care. I am convinced that our Governor and his Republican allies like Lindsey Tippins have pursued a strategy of re-opening our state that will guarantee a second wave of pandemic. Does anyone remember Brian Kemp saying he was “surprised” that Covid19 transmits itself without symptoms — after his office and our state had known this as public information for well over two months? A topic that was parlor room discussion front and center — for over a month — suddenly guides our Governor from the relam of “surprise”. The working principle we’ll adopt here is that the best strategy for our state, is to re-open our economy in stages, slow, steady, and sure — and when we do — we never have to close it again. We’ll do that by testing, contact tracing, and isolation. Our state’s strategy isn’t about “winning a victory over the China virus” — but about how we manage the second wave of SARS-Novel-Coronavirus — when and not if it hits us — because the deceptive and dishonest practices of the Republicans both in Federal and State administration have resulted in negative press for Georgia. How does the Governor of a state that houses the CDC pretend that he doesn’t know Covid19 transmits itself. The answer is that we don’t. This is not about electioneering or slogans it’s about our lives. We will be led by this Governor, and as a prospective state legislator — I know full well the role he’ll play in our state’s legislative agenda — so here I will only voice the principle that whatever we do — we’ll not try to mislead you, as in this simple instance — Brian Kemp has done. With luck, we as citizens can get our Governor to pursue a stronger response. But we need to be guided by Testing — Tracing — and Isolation.

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Don’t be fooled by what you see on Google Earth Maps. This is what the mini-hospital looks like today : bright, new, a fresh coat of paint — but without staff or equipment at time of writing (5/13/20).

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We’ll work out more of this response in our town halls, and finalize our response as a community. Please join us at http://turnerrentz.com

Let’s really support our heroes with a living Wage.

There is such a thing as a bottom line. All businesses depend in some way or another on on materials cost, labor cost, and marketing. A restaurant, for example — runs off something called FLC — food, labor, and coupons. This percentage determines the overall profitability of the company and any requirement that people are paid a living wage will have their bottom line impacted.

I’m standing for a living wage — but I’m going to incorporate a few ideas into the rollout that will help businesses in my district make the transition and I hope to show them how it will ultimately improve their business to pay workers a wage that lets them walk home, head held high. But let’s be clear: business is changing. Any business owner that would tell me that they cannot afford to pay their employees a living wage is one that first and foremost, is not represented to me as a citizen of my district but an operation of the citizen that controls it. To me, fundamentally — businesses do not have the same standing rights of citizenship that others would argue are granted to them by the Supreme Court Citizen’s United Decision. So it’s the business owner that gets the vote, in my district — and I believe the best way to deal with the impact of a living wage is to understand it from both angles. The businessman, and the employee — and then to understand it from the perspective of our district.

From the perspective of a business owner, a state minimum wage that ascends to a living wage status is first and foremost something they’ll see in terms of their bottom line. It’s not something that businesses who do not have plans in place to keep, retain and train their employees for the long term — will want to embrace. So let’s clear the air; there’s nothing wrong with that. Businesses can be found in all kinds of different operational states — some growing, others shrinking, still others in hibernation and some that are just going sideways. We want to promote business growth. This means promoting an overall community demand.

The first impact on businesses region and district-wide, of a living wage — is an immediate impact on the bottom line of the businesses in our district. This has been shown time and again, and is the reason why 21 states in the union are now moving to a living wage in 2020, with over 48 cities and counties following suit all over our country. In almost all instances — increasing the minimum wage unlocked new economies. For example, a business owner might be running a seed and feed operation, selling home gardening supplies. Such businesses in Vermont — where the first living wage laws were passed — saw an almost immediate increase of over 20% higher sales in the first few quarters after the living wage law went into effect. Why? Because the employees were also citizens of their own district and those that were being paid 8.00 an hour suddenly had money to spend — and they were customers that were spending more in their local area than any other.

But let’s abandon the idealized case, and focus instead on the nitty gritty of what we’ll have to do to phase this in , for our district and our state.

Let’s set aside the discussion of what would happen for tipped workers, and the like — because tipped workers are working to help maintain the service model of the business — and they’re supposed to be paid in cash, by the customer. Will customers that have experienced a global pandemic and depression-era economic impact want to tip? Maybe. But the waiter or waitress in charge of keeping a restaurant safe and operational shouldn’t be going home with a 2.00 an hour wage in their pocket if they don’t. Their job is to keep us safe in these places. Let’s make sure we invite the kind of responsible people to those jobs — that will accomplish this standard.

There’s much more to discuss here. I personally believe that the transition should be made as part of a business modernization program for our state, and we should possibly roll out clinics to help businesses that have been leaning on low wages to keep their bottom line under control — to help them automate and improve so that they’ve got better bottom line. Certainly better sales and demand will follow this move — and at this point, it does appear that customer demand is a missing piece of the puzzle. Let’s get after it. Town hall: http://turnerrentz.com

Let’s end Cannabis Prohibition and anti-science.

I’m a candidate who embraces science based policy. Cannabis prohibition is the archetypical anti-science policy. Cannabis Sativa — and the substances that the plant creates — directly interact with 120 existing endocannibanoid receptors in the human body and as science based policy and the rapid de-criminalization and legalization of this cash crop have sparked a growing field and body of positive research and products that will bring revenue to our state. Cannabis is a substance that comprised 67% of all remedies, and cures — before the era of the unfunded government mandates of Harold J. Anslinger — in 1932 — grew wild in our state. The first laws of our country were to promote the growth of the plant.

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A note from Thomas Jefferson’s diary praising cannabis as a crop, alongside his notes about cotton

Cannabusiness, to our state and our district— means two things. First, it means we should adjust our DUI laws so that people who are under the influence of Cannabis — while driving, should be prosecuted as if they were drunk. People who are purposefully modifying their psychoactive profile while they’re navigating Atlanta traffic should be held to the same standard as if they had downed three beers. The level of intoxication should be set so that we discourage people to get into their car and drive while they’re under the influence, and we should find a real threshold of what levels of THC within a person’s body could influence their ability to respond to traffic and ensure our roads are safe.

So let’s draw the line here. This is the only circumstance in which Cannabis can be considered a danger to society. If anything, people who choose to gather and safely share the experience of recreational marijuana — far more often than people who would, say, share a bottle of vodka — are going to be safe before, during and after the experience. Full legalization of Cannabis means that the State of Georgia can exercise rational control over the substance. We can regulate it, and set standards that would have been as high as back before the initiative of Harold Anslinger in 1932 — and even the hemp that was grown for our United States Navy in the 40's… we will clear the way for our Agricultural community to lead the nation in the production of strains of the product — and we’ll invite a booming cannabusiness economy to our district. Tax revenues in Colorado were so strong that the state actually ran a surplus and handed out checks to their citizens. I visited the state. While Republicans like Jeff Sessions circulated memes during Colorado’s daring move — showing his people that the end of prohibition brought chaos — the truth was far different. Coloradans saw a decrease in crime, a better standard of living and a sharp increase in revenue. I’m not sure why my supposedly pro-business Republican opponent hasn’t been able to figure this out yet, but I am grateful our state has had, in its State Legislature — men like Allen Peake who have championed fair laws in our state on this exciting product. Remember, the broad picture here is one of a state Party — like the Republicans — actively embracing Anti-Science to accomplish their agenda. This is always unsustainable, whether it’s environmental legislation, business legislation — or public health policy.

As always, this topic is open to discussion in town hall and your ideas will guide the final implementation.

Restore our State and Nation’s Constitutional Order.

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Our state and our country are under threats against our very constitution. Let’s talk first about the federal constitution. Georgia is very , very lucky to have two people running for Federal Senate this year.

Jon Ossoff , a former National Security Aide — is a man who is well known to me in my years working to end Child Labor. He’s done more to end human trafficking than anyone I can think of — and his qualifications to be a responsible, effective Senator for our state are stronger than any Republican candidate I can find, anywhere.

Teresa Tomlinson, former Mayor and Public Safety Director — is a woman who won countless awards for having run her City so well, it achieved a national top 50 “Best Run City” twice. Her administration reduced crime by 39.3% from its height in 2009, including a 41.2% drop in property crime and a 15% drop in violent crime. And she balanced her city’s budget for the first time in 16 years, without having to use a reserve fund.

These two fine senators will champion the restoration of our nation’s senate from where it has been laid down at the feet of an imperial president, by a rogue senate Majority Leader. Fun fact: Mitch McConnell, when he first ran for office ran as a pro-choice progressive -just so he could fool his constituents into voting for him. He quickly went the way of dark money and reversed his positions. One voter remarked “ The worst thing I ever did was vote for Mitch McConnell”. If you send Teresa and Jon to the senate, you’ll do more for our state than a humble state senator can do — and you’ll work to restore our constitutional order.

But Georgia itself has to move forward with ways to protect our state from the type of constitutional damage that we’re now seeing. We’re living in a time of pandemic, where a Russian Influence Operation is proceeding through our society and its social media platforms unchecked by our country’s administration. Our state’s leader voiced conspiracy theory attack against his opposition in the final days of the race between Stacey Abrams, and Brian Kemp. We have trolls from the Russian Influence Operation working in social media platforms — that have created a kind of echo chamber of northern nastiness. And , yes, America has elected a largely anti-constitutional order Manhattan liberal named Donald John Trump to its highest office — and Georgia elected a Trump supporter to follow him. Donald John Trump switched from the Democrat to the Republican party seven short years ago. I’ve been a Democrat for 20. I am thinking of our state and its constitutional crisis not in terms of the attack upon our postal service, or the abuse of power that our president was impeached for — but rather, the seeming need for our state — under the hand of Brian Kemp — to be seen as a region of Trump supporters and to fall in behind the idea that Mitch McConnell and the Trump supporters are selling: the creation of an imperial president.

If that is created, an imperial Governor is sure to follow.

And let’s be clear: I’m not into the Trump Derangement Syndrome games that people play. I tend to be a bit independent, especially when it comes to matters of constitutional order. Things like — the rights of humans, women, men, and the LGBTQ+ are protected by the constitution. The supreme court decisions we follow guide us to a better understanding of the constitution. But our crisis — though it is exacerbated by the corrupt practices of Trump supporters — many of whom are now in prison — isn’t caused by Trump supporters but rather by the vast public ignorance of the constitution and its laws.

My wife is new to our country. She came here from India. She was excited to be a part of the oldest constitutional democracy in existence, and she studied for — and passed the citizenship exam. I was with her in the room where she, and a group of 12 other people — their eyes wide — first stated their oath to defend our constitution, and our country. I did so with her, and the words echoed as strongly then to me now — as when I first stated them in service of our country before. This is a state senator’s top priority. He or she must keep their oath of office and their oath to defend the constitution.

The dire implications of this vast public ignorance are embedded in the very structure of our constitution. The document — which Georgia was among the very first to ratify, and champion — was created with 10 amendments known as the Bill of Rights — right out of the gate. It’s a document that elevates norms, and traditions that give meaning to Democracy. The constitution isn’t this creed — it’s not a flag you wave to use to attack others who are not in your tribe — but rather, it’s a document of compromise and best practices and frankly, even today it’s profound.

The interests of smaller states were protected by creating a Senate where states held equal voting power regardless of size. The interests of popular sovereignty were protected by creating a House of Representatives apportioned according to population. It dealt with abuse of power in a clear fashion — one that our State’s Senators — like Loeffler, or Perdue — chose largely to ignore and instead of defending her — they mouthed the words of the sitting president and chose to pretend to support the stark and unconstitutional doctrine it purveys. Donald John Trump should have been removed from office, and if our State’s Senators had voted so — our nation would have been led through this current crisis by what appears to be the steady, if sycophantic — hand of Mike Pence. But Georgia chose to lay down her power.

This is most definitely a topic for our upcoming town halls -but one in which, once established, I promise will be solemn. The State Senate is a higher chamber, and our role is not only to promote positive legislation but act in check and balance. We need to promote a better understanding of our constitution, of all of its rights outlined therein — the first, the second, the fourth, and so on.

We are fortunate now, that we can hear the US Supreme Court deliberate — and I strongly encourage all of us to listen in whenever we can. The insight and sharpness of the Justices is something that must be experienced in order to fully comprehend.

Our state’s constitutional crisis has nothing to do, however, with the cases currently on the court’s docket and though this court’s term began while our country was impeaching (but with the help of anti-constitutional moves like Loeffler and Perdue’s — did not remove) the president — it tried to make its way into our public consciousness against the backdrop of an investigation of the U.S. intelligence community being conducted by the executive branch itself, with the sought-after assistance of foreign governments.

This part is taken from an article entitled “The Real Constitutional Crisis” * by John Farmer and is italicized to show the reference.

No doubt those inter-branch and inter-party disputes eventually will be confided to the court for resolution, the hope being that the justices will overcome their partisan backgrounds and emerge as the “adults in the room.”But this inter-branch and inter-party animus — and the refereeing sure to be conducted by the court — are but symptoms of the greater crisis of our constitutional order: our vast public ignorance. Surveys have borne out that many, if not most, Americans have no idea how our government is structured, how it supposed to work, and what it requires of us as citizens.

Polling conducted by the Annenberg Foundation and Xavier University has revealed, for example, that nearly half of adult Americans cannot pass the basic test — the test passed by more than 90 percent of immigrants — given to aspiring citizens. Worse, American citizens seem to demonstrate their greatest ignorance about the basics of the American political system. Eighty-five percent have no idea what the “rule of law” is. Well OK, you might say, that concept seems to confuse even our president.

But it gets worse. Some two-thirds do not know there are three branches of government. And 71 percent of American adult citizens do not know that our Constitution is the source of supreme law in the United States.

The dire implications of this vast public ignorance are embedded in the very structure of our Constitution. … The need for an executive was satisfied by creating a President of the United States, who was vested with the power to serve as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, to negotiate treaties and appoint ambassadors to foreign nations, and otherwise run the government, enforcing the laws that Congress passed and he or she signed and did not veto.

Concerns about the scope of presidential power were addressed by allowing Congress to override a presidential veto and by reposing in Congress, rather than the president, the power to declare war, by providing for Senate ratification of treaties and by providing for senatorial “advise and consent” on critical presidential appointees. Here’s the point: Such a structure requires accommodation of opposing views or it will collapse; compromise is its DNA.

If the method was compromise, the underlying principle was a healthy distrust of concentrated power. Politics attracts many good people; it also, however, attracts creatures of unbounded appetites, who never will be satisfied with the power they have at any given moment. They will lust for more and, therefore, the Founders concluded, they must be stopped. Accordingly, the U.S. Constitution is designed above all to frustrate the untrammeled exercise of power.

But that’s the truly alarming part of our current climate of ignorance. If some 70 percent of American citizens don’t know there are three branches of government, it’s a sure bet they can’t tell us why power was so divided. If they can’t identify the Constitution as our supreme law, what hope is there that they will understand the mistrust of concentrated power that underlies its structure, or the necessity for dialogue and compromise inherent in our system’s very design?

Absent that understanding, our system of checks and balances has come to many to seem self-defeating, and the emergence of an apparent “strongman” is becoming dangerously alluring. In a state where a Governor can run by pointing a shotgun at the midsection of a teenager — and in whom we continually see a return to a sort of attendant role to the current strongly anti-constitutional government of Donald John Trump — we may have already fallen into that trap once before.

Further, we see repeated crises of legitimacy since the end of the Cold War, from to wild election races with hanging chads — the rise of “birther” movements, to repeated government shutdown — we now live in a crisis of constitutional order in our state — a climate of partisan and inter-branch stalemate.

Most disturbing, absent that basic understanding of the necessity for accommodation of opposing views, compromise has died in our culture as a virtue. Our freedoms have become unmoored from any sense of civic responsibility and indistinguishable, therefore, from our appetites.

Consider this* :

In short, as a society we have become not fulfilled but deformed by the excesses of our appetites*. And it is our ignorance and our disrespect for our nation’s constitution, and our state’s constitution that drives this condition. We may remove representatives who disagree with us — that’s politics. But Politics isn’t governing — this is a complex problem, whose remediation must be guided by essential, closely held principles. I hope I’ve outlined a few of them here — but as always, I’m interested in hearing what you have to say.

Where Republicans have laid down their power on this subject, I most certainly will not. Though I may become your state Senator- I am always going to be a citizen. And I know for a fact, that the Constitution protects us as citizens better than it does anything else and the threats we’ve seen in recent years to our constitutional order pose the greatest long-term danger to our community and our state that Georgia has ever seen.

I want to hear what you have to say. Join. Donate. We’re within a few hundred dollars of reaching our goal to launch an HD Audio/Video Townhall for our district, that will be held at least weekly. Please hit my website, donate, and join the mailing list and you’ll be the first to help us lay down navigation through dangerous waters —

I hope I’ve laid out a few of the principles and ideas that are powering my campaign. But it’s nothing without the voice of the voter. And as an essential worker — a part time nurse, and someone who is now running for State Senate — it’s not like I don’t have enough to do these days. I’m trying to make this as clear as I possibly can. This is not about me. I am running because I am a citizen, like you — who wants our government to be more responsive, more efficient, and more involved. I’m tired of getting form letters and good ol’ boys standing next to pictures of their pasture candy horse saying they’re all “down to earth and down to business” while I see almost nothing going on in my district while pandemic, chaos and constitutional crisis rage like a tropical storm all across our city. Who knows? Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe my opponent, Lindsey Tippins — has something he’s doing. This is a public document — Please Lindsey — feel free to comment, and correct me. And I’d love to have you in our district’s upcoming town halls. All are welcome. Just hit the link below, donate, and when we get to the amount we need to launch the town halls -they’ll be attended by candidates, and they’ll be configured to hear your voice , at least on a weekly basis until we’re through the storm. And when or if I’m elected your state Senator, I’ll keep them on the schedule in a monthly recurring fashion.

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I hope some of this makes clear where I’m doing with my legislative agenda. Join the discussion at our website. Below. Thanks for reading. Love to hear your feedback and suggests in the comments below, and sign up from our website to be a part of the town hall.

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