Memorial Day Provides Opportunity to Consider Protection of Fundamental Liberties by Local Government

For me as a veteran, Memorial Day takes on special significance.  I served nearly 8 years (1983-1990) as a nuclear submarine officer in the US Navy.  I am ever thankful for the honor and privilege of serving our great nation and giving back to a country that has given so much to me.  Memorial Day presents an opportunity for citizens to honor the memory of soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.  Unlike Veterans Day, which honors all veterans, Memorial Day venerates only those veterans that died while actively serving our nation—the vast majority of whom died in battle or from battle-incurred wounds.

So what exactly did these military men and women die protecting?  Answer: our fallen veterans died protecting our central liberties such as the right to free speech, (equal) voting rights, and even the right for private individuals/entities to enter into contracts (without excessive regulation).  These fundamental freedoms are foundational to the success of our great nation; they enable and catalyze the social and economic dynamism that is essential to our nation’s so many triumphs in science, business, medicine, etc.  Unfortunately, these fundamental freedoms are always under assault.  And these threats to liberty are not only external but also internal and even local.  Right here in Milton, some council members and their partisan proxies have fought hard to undermine Miltonites’ basic rights. In my advocacy on behalf of citizens, I have experienced firsthand their attempts—mostly unsuccessful—to limit my freedom of speech and protest or otherwise marginalize me.  I have paid a heavy price for my advocacy, including significant expenditures on attorneys.

The internal threats to our liberty come from both the extreme left and the extreme right, which employ similar undemocratic and unethical tactics to advance their agendas.  When I first got involved in city politics in 2015, a handful of far-left activists had gained a foothold in Milton’s city government.  Under the guise of (faux) environmentalism, these activists and their agents on city council (including Rick Mohrig) were promoting cluster housing in areas of Milton zoned AG-1 (which requires houses be built on 1+ acres).  A strong citizens’ movement (that I helped to lead) successfully fended off these existential threats to Milton’s rural heritage and identity.

Unlike 2015, the current local threat to our liberties comes from the far right and is being led by Council Members Paul Moore and Rick Mohrig, with assistance from partisan activists like Lisa Cauley (who was a member of Milton’s so-called “Election Feasibility” Committee).  For more than a year, Moore and Mohrig have run amuck in our city government, trampling on the rights of citizens (they have pledged to serve) and disregarding their oath (of office) to uphold the rule of law.  Moore and Mohrig have intervened in petty HOA matters; they have threatened the First Amendment rights of protest and free speech through bullying and expensive litigation; and they have most recently succeeded in making voting more difficult for certain citizen in Milton (those living in District 3).  Such flagrant and callous affronts to basic political rights dishonor and disrespect the many hundreds of thousands of veterans that have sacrificed their lives for sacred American principles.

This Memorial Day, I urge citizens to take a few minutes to reflect on the principles that our military men and women sacrificed their lives to uphold.  I urge citizens to find ways to engage in local government to ensure these foundational principles are upheld and celebrated.  I urge citizens to resist efforts by local politicians (and their proxies) to undermine citizens’ fundamental rights to speak, to protest, to vote, and to pursue their own idea of happiness (without excessive government meddling).

Remembering and Honoring Our Many Military Members On Eternal Duty,


Stacey Abrams Targets Milton . . . Thank You Paul Moore and Rick Mohrig

On May 12th Stacey Abram’s Fair Fight and other progressive activist groups sent a letter to Milton’s City Council, protesting the city’s rejection of a third election-day polling location in Milton’s District 3, which is Milton’s most populous district–encompassing the Windward/Deerfield/Highway 9 area.  Districts 1 and 2 were allocated day-of polling locations, but not District 3.  I am attaching Fair Fight’s letter at the bottom of this blog post.

Yes, Ms. Abrams is targeting Milton.  And I want to be very clear that Council Members Moore and Mohrig (and political activists Lisa Cauley and Mark Amick) are responsible for unnecessarily placing a ginormous political target on Milton’s back.  These 4 Miltonites (along with 2 city staff) composed Milton’s Election Feasibility Committee that 1) recommended that Milton run its own municipal elections and 2) provided a high-level municipal election design.  They are now insisting that Milton blindly implement every element of their design—no matter how nonsensical or unfair.

Two elements of this design were 1) early day voting locations (only one at Milton City Hall) and 2) two election day voting locations.  Milton is divided into 3 districts.  However, only 2 election day polling places were designated (this is down from 8 under Fulton County):  one in District 1 (Milton City Hall) and one in District 2 (the old Milton Country Club).  No polling location was designated in District 3.  Odd, right?  The reason should be intuitively obvious to even the most casual observer.  Nevertheless, let me explain . . .

District 3 has the highest concentration of Democrat voters.  Denying District 3 a polling location is “too coincidental to be a coincidence” (to quote Yogi Berra).  Interestingly, District 3 is actually the most logical location for both early and election day voting polling stations.  Traffic in Milton tends to move from north and west to south and east, as Miltonites commute to work, drop off children at school, travel to shopping/eating/etc.  This means many voters have ample reason to pass through District 3 on any given day; the same cannot be said of Milton’s 2 other districts.  In fact, I suspect many District 3 residents have never ventured to Crabapple or Birmingham Crossroads. 

Furthermore, 30% of Milton’s early votes historically have been cast at the Alpharetta Library.  Given the proximity of District 3 to the Alpharetta Library, it can be convincingly argued that many/most of these votes come from District 3.  So not only have District 3 voters been denied a convenient polling location on election day, they (along with non-Crabapple area voters) have also been denied a convenient early-voting location in Alpharetta.  Thus District 3 voters have been twice disadvantaged by Milton’s election design.  (Note:  10% of early votes have historically been cast outside Milton and Alpharetta, which will no longer be a voting option for Miltonites.)

And let’s be honest.  District 3 is comprised of less expensive housing, including all of Milton’s apartment complexes.  District 3 is where Miltonites of more modest means live . . . Milton’s police officers, fire fighters, teachers, restaurant/retail workers, tradespeople, etc.  You will also find there more families where both spouses work or that are headed by a single parent . . . families with limited time and resources.  In short, these are the voters for whom we need to make voting easiest, but for whom Milton is making voting most difficultAnd that is WRONG.  Only basic common sense need be applied to understand that Milton’s current election scheme was designed to dampen voting in District 3.  Interestingly, both District 3 Council Members—Rick Mohrig and Jan Jacobus—support the current scheme . . . as does Andrea Verhoff, who was voted into office by a coalition of Democrats and more sober and level-headed Republicans.

Furthermore, Mohrig et al’s assertion that 2 locations are needed to minimize costs doesn’t hold water.  If costs are a driver, then I would suggest replacing the District 2 polling location (the former Milton Country Club), which is furthest from Milton’s population centers, with a District 3 polling location.  Given traffic patterns in Milton, a District 3 location would also best serve as Milton’s early voting location.  If we care about costs, don’t we want to get the most bang for our buck (votes per $ spent on the election) . . . the maximum number of (legitimate) votes for our election budget?  Again, this seems to be plain common sense, except to Moore, Mohrig, Cauley, and Amick.  The current election scheme only makes sense in the context of partisan politics.

Some far-right political partisans are trying to shift the blame (away from Moore and Mohrig) to Mayor Jamison for Ms. Abrams letter to council.  And at last Monday night’s council meeting, these partisans unleashed their hounds.  The Mayor was called “woke” and “Marxist.”  However, a reaction to Milton’s election design from the left was inevitable, so this orchestrated attack on the mayor was mostly political posturing/positioning.  The truth is that Mayor Jamison foresaw the coming storm and did his best to remove the target from Milton’s back, but to no avail.  Although a registered Republican and political conservative, Jamison understands that partisanship, particularly in the design of elections, is unprincipled and, more importantly, a distraction from accomplishment of Milton’s highest priorities (like over-development) which are decidedly non-partisan.  Milton is best served by non-partisanship.

I am not a fan of Ms. Abrams.  Our country is not well-served by an “open borders” approach to voting.  The integrity of elections is important.  Ballot harvesting is a troubling issue that should be addressed.  Sensible voter identification laws are the norm in western democracies.  On the other hand, our country needs to minimize obvious hurdles to voting.  Ms. Abrams took the wrong approach in her letter.  Unfortunately, Ms. Abrams played the race card, which was wrong, unnecessary, and ultimately counter-productive.  If her purpose was to persuade, she failed.  Such reflexive and ill-conceived appeals based on race only serve to rile the hard-right and tamp down rational debate.  Cause should not be confused with effect.  The intent (i.e., the cause) in Milton’s election design was to diminish the Democrat vote, not to explicitly suppress black/brown voters.  However, given that a disproportionate number of black/brown voters reside in District 3 and are Democrats, the net effect of Milton’s election design will make voting more difficult for most black and brown voters in Milton and therefore the current election scheme is discriminatory.

The Milton Herald has done a great job covering the evolving story of local elections in Milton and North Fulton.  Following is a link to the Milton Herald‘s webpage on municipal elections.

Milton Herald: Municipal Elections Web Page

A sentient reader might be asking how we got to this sorry state of affairs?  And you hopefully are asking the obvious question:  Why are council members designing elections in which they will be running?  (Both Moore and Mohrig are up for re-election in 2023).  Unethical, huh?  Well these questions are topics for my next blog post.  Suffice to say that Milton’s design of its elections is a story of dishonesty, incompetence, and vitriolic partisanship.  It is a story that should convince citizens to flock to the ballot box to turn Moore and Mohrig out of office. 

Advocating for Free and Fair Elections,


Note:  My blog is non-partisan and will remain so.  Partisanship does not translate well at the local level in Milton.  Milton is best served by non-partisanship in spirit and in deed. The infection of local politics with partisan plague will only serve to harm Milton and tear the community asunder.

Disgraced Council Member Moore Loses Appeal . . . Ethics Charges Stick

On May 18th, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Thomas Cox denied Council Member Paul Moore’s appeal of his conviction on 3 ethics violations.  In a stinging rebuke to Mr. Moore, Judge Cox approved Tony Palazzo’s motion to dismiss.  Attached to this blog post is the Fulton County Superior Court’s order.  Assuming no more appeals are allowed, Mr. Moore will enjoy the ignominious honor of being the first City Council Member in Milton ever convicted of ethics charges.  (Several past council members have eventually beaten ethics charges leveled against them.)

By way of background, on August 30, 2022, Council Member Moore was found guilty of 3 ethics charges in a unanimous decision by a panel of 3 attorneys touted by the city as being experts in due process.  On November 16, 2022, Mr. Moore appealed his conviction by suing Tony Palazzo, who filed the original ethics charges against Mr. Moore.  Mr. Moore also named the City of Milton and the Milton ethics panel as defendants.  At this time, the City filed a response that supported the ruling of its ethics panel (but the City has since claimed it is just “bystander” and will “abide” by the decision of Superior Court—whatever that means).  Both Mr. Palazzo and Moore submitted written pleadings to the court.  Mr. Moore dismissed the attorney that originally handled his case before the ethics panel, and Moore then hired a high-powered attorney that specializes in ethics cases . . . but to no avail.

On May 11th, Judge Cox heard oral arguments from attorneys for Tony Palazzo and for Paul Moore.  I was the only member of the public in attendance at the Superior Court hearing.  (I have also read all the documents in this case since it began in May 2022.)  Mr. Palazzo’s attorney gave a masterful defense of his client, citing 2 directly relevant Georgia cases that strongly supported Palazzo’s position.  Conversely, Moore’s attorney presented no case law supporting Moore’s position, but instead disputed (unconvincingly) Pallazo’s interpretation of his two cited cases. 

In fairness to Mr. Moore, the appeal dismissal was based on procedural grounds:  1) the untimeliness of Moore’s appeal and 2) the court’s interpretation of the meaning of “quasi-judicial.”  The court’s decision was not based on the merits of the case.  However, based on my experience as a law clerk (while in college), I suspect the judge may have looked beyond the procedural questions and peeked at the merits of the case and determined he would likely rule against Paul Moore anyway.

It is interesting to note that in both his pleadings and oral arguments (and in contrast to Mr. Palazzo), Mr. Moore begged for the sympathy of the court, citing litigation costs and damage to his political and professional reputation, which were purely self-inflicted wounds.  Ironically, Mr. Moore’s whining and groveling before the court only served to highlight the feebleness of his legal case.  Mr. Moore’s charges of bullying are unconvincing and even laughable.  Rather, Mr. Palazzo has been the clear underdog in this David-vs-Goliath battle.  Mr. Palazzo has boldly and unwaveringly stood up to Mr. Moore, who was strongly backed by a supine city government that shamefully and inexplicably refused to defend its own ethic process and panel or punish Mr. Moore.  (Note that the City did not even send a representative to observe the Superior Court proceedings so that it might at least glean some learnings from this sad saga.)  Mr. Palazzo has spent copious sums of money to secure justice for himself and more importantly to uphold high ethical standards in Milton’s city government.  Mr. Palazzo should be commended for his efforts on behalf of citizens and for exposing misdeeds by Mr. Moore, the city manager, and City Council.

So what is the next chapter in this ethics scandal?  The Superior Court ruling advised Mr. Palazzo that he has 30 days to sue for his legal costs and fees.  Mr. Palazzo certainly deserves cost recovery.   Paying Mr. Palazzo’s costs would seem condign and fair punishment of Mr. Moore given that City Council refused to impose any punishment on Mr. Moore in the wake of his conviction . . . which likely emboldened Mr. Moore to sue Mr. Palazzo.

My understanding is that Mr. Moore still has some limited options to appeal the Superior Court ruling but that it is unlikely his case would ascend to an appellate court.  We’ll see . . .

Assuming Mr. Moore finally abandons his quixotic quest to overturn his ethics conviction, I predict Mr. Moore will resort to destructive partisan politics in a desperate attempt to salvage his tattered political career from the wreckage of his shameful ethics scandal.  My sources tell me that Mr. Moore’s does intend to run for re-election in the fall.  If so, Moore will need to shift attention away from his ethics conviction and toward some make-believe enemy that only he can slay.  It is my firm conviction that Mr Moore will create a repugnant bogeyman that he will heroically defeat.  And that bogeyman seems to be Stacey Abrams, the radical left, woke-ism, etc. 

On Monday night, Miltonites witnessed the first inklings of this potential strategy when a handful of partisans surfaced that have been advocating that Milton run its own elections.  These partisans mercilessly attacked Mayor Jamison (by name) for having the audacity to suggest that election fairness would be best served by providing an election-day polling location in each of Milton’s 3 City Council districts.  Milton’s current election plan provides only 2 polling locations (down from 8 when Fulton County ran Milton’s elections):  one in District 1 and one in District 2.  District 3, Milton’s most densely populated area, was inexplicably not allotted a polling location.  Coincidentally (or not), District 3 has the highest concentration of Democrat voters in Milton; also, many District 3 voters previously early-voted in Alpharetta but will no longer have that option when Milton runs its elections.  Mayor Jamison was pilloried for his modest and sensible proposal to provide equal voting access/rights for District 3 voters.  He was attacked as “woke,” “Marxist,” etc.  Such accusations are laughably ridiculous but are an omen of Milton’s future 2023 political battles.  Following is a link to a just published article in the Milton Herald that describes the Monday attack on the Mayor over elections in Milton:

Miton Herald: Partisans Attack Proposal for District 3 Polling Location

Historically, politics and elections in Milton thankfully have been mostly non-partisan.  A descent into raw partisanship—not unlike what we witness in national politics—will be hurtful to Milton.  It will shift the political discussion away from important issues, like reckless development, and toward partisan fringe-left and fringe-right issues that have no relevance to local governance.  Furthermore, partisanship will only serve to further embarrass the City of Milton, which has already suffered much embarrassment over the past year because of Paul Moore’s antics.  Right now, Paul Moore is drowning politically.  Moore is looking for a lifeline, and I don’t think he cares if he pulls down the City as the electoral depths claim his political soul.

My next blog post will be about Milton’s foray into running its own elections.  It is a shocking and embarrassing tale of dishonesty, partisanship, and incompetence.  It is Exhibit A in the case for regime change in Milton.  Stay tuned . . .

Advocating for Free and Fair Elections . . . and Ethics in Politics,


Note:  My blog is non-partisan and will remain so.  Partisanship does not translate well at the local level in Milton.  Milton is best served by non-partisanship in spirit and in deed.  The infection of local politics with partisan plague will only serve to harm Milton and tear the community asunder.