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Interview with John Blackmon, July 8, 2008

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:01:01 - Early life and education

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Partial Transcript: Let's begin by having you tell us about your early life...

Segment Synopsis: Blackmon recalls his childhood home of Columbus, Georgia, attending community college in Auburn, serving on the Air Force, and attending Emory Law School after returning from active duty.

Keywords: Columbus, Georgia; Emory Law school; education; tax practice

00:04:52 - Start of career as lawyer

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Partial Transcript: But at the time I became a young lawyer in the state law department...

Segment Synopsis: Blackmon describes working under Eugene Cook and Arthur Bolton in the state law and revenue departments. He recalls being chosen to served as deputy tax commissioner and soon after becoming state revenue commissioner.

Keywords: Arthur Bolton; Eugene Cook; Lester Maddox; law department; revenue department; state revenue commissioner

00:13:29 - Working in the Maddox Administration

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Partial Transcript: Let's talk for a minute about Lester Maddox.

Segment Synopsis: Blackmon describes working for Lester Maddox, the issues of interest to Maddox, and Maddox's personality and leadership style.

Keywords: Lester Maddox; leadership; prisoner fair treatment

00:20:22 - Collaboration on enacting tax laws

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Partial Transcript: And by the way, speaking of the history of the sales tax...

Segment Synopsis: Blackmon discusses the controversial history of the sales tax in Georgia, and the support of politicians in the enactment and reform of tax law. Blackmon talks about aligning the state income tax with the federal law, and the scandal that resulted from computer error that created false tax notices.

Keywords: controversy; income tax; political collaboration; sales tax; tax reform

00:29:52 - Ambassador for business

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Partial Transcript: As you said, Peyton Hawes was a disntinguished and well-liked Georgia figure.

Segment Synopsis: Blackmon discusses succeeding Peyton Hawes as state revenue commissioner, building connections with the business community, and being selected by Governor Miller as chairman of the Democratic Party. Blackmon recalls advising Miller on a sales tax exemption for food.

Keywords: Peyton Hawes; Zell Miller; business community; chairman of Democratic Party

00:38:09 - Working in the Carter Administration

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Partial Transcript: Before we get too far along, John, I would like to talk to you a little bit about your role in the Carter administration.

Segment Synopsis: Blackmon discusses the process of internal government reorganization during Governor Carter's administration. He describes the specific ways in which departments were streamlined, the enactment of basic qualifications for appointed officials, and the lasting effect of the reorganization.

Keywords: State Revenue Commission; governmental reorganization; money management; qualifications; streamlining

00:51:18 - Political leadership in Georgia

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Partial Transcript: When do you think, John, that Georgia turned the corner?

Segment Synopsis: Blackmon describes the initiatives that each governor had enacted during his administration and how the individual developments continued the work of previous administrations.

Keywords: George Busbee; governmental reorganization; governorship

00:56:59 - Negotiating loyalties between the Carter and Maddox administrations

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Partial Transcript: John, if I may, I would like to ask you this personal question.

Segment Synopsis: Blackmon recalls working under Lester Maddox and Jimmy Carter when each was governor and negotiating political ties between them when Maddox served as Carter's lieutenant governor. Blackmon also discusses the vote on Carter's governmental reorganization bill.

Keywords: Jimmy Carter; Lester Maddox; political adversary; reorganization bill

01:01:53 - Economic growth in Georgia / Local leadership

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Partial Transcript: But during your watch, those years as revenue commissioner, the state reached a new landmark in revenue collections.

Segment Synopsis: Blackmon talks about the economic growth of Georgia during his tenure as tax commissioner. He comments on tax stability, and recalls an incident of amending a tax exemption in favor of local business. Blackmon also discusses the strength of local and state leadership during the 1960s-1990s.

Keywords: Ronnie Thompson; economic growth; exemption; political leadership; tax stability; tax structure

01:12:00 - Democratic Party in Georgia

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Partial Transcript: Well, let's turn to party politics.

Segment Synopsis: Blackmon discusses his view on the decline of the Democratic Party in Georgia, party switching, and serving as party chairman. Blackmon also recalls visiting President Clinton with a group of Georgia delegates, supporting Clinton in his reelection campaign, and recruiting Democratic candidates for state elections.

Subjects: Bill Clinton; Democratic Party; party chairman; party switching

01:25:39 - Divisive issues in the state Democratic Party

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Partial Transcript: Well, John, some disenchanted Democrats feel the state party if too urban and too minority and labor union controlled.

Segment Synopsis: Blackmon reflects on the divisiveness of the Georgia Democratic Party in the present and the characteristics of its success in the past. He talks about the funding and building of the World Congress Center and the economic development of Atlanta.

Keywords: Democratic legacy; Georgia Democratic Party; Jimmy Carter; balanced budget; tax cuts

01:35:20 - Reflection on career

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Partial Transcript: John, did you ever consider running for public office?

Segment Synopsis: Blackmon recalls considering running for public office, practicing law after retiring from state government, and reflects on his accomplishments and disappointments in his careers.

Keywords: career; election; finance; hotel tax; law practice; party politics; public office; tourism in Georgia