ISAK­SON

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not talk in some de­cent way about the peo­ple of Haiti who had been de­stroyed by hur­ri­cane. It was not right to give any­body in Char­lottesvill­e, Vir­ginia, the thought that the peo­ple caus­ing that prob­lem had any place in stand­ings. I spoke out in all three of those is­sues and would do it again. Be­cause that’s right. It’s the right thing. I’ve done that in Cobb County. As the best ex­am­ple, when I took on Bill Byrne and the Cobb County com­mis­sion over the res­o­lu­tion against gay peo­ple and dur­ing the Olympics in 1996, that was not some­thing I did be­cause I wanted pub­lic­ity. That’s some­thing I did be­cause I thought it was right. And I’ll do that again when some­thing comes up and it’s just wrong.

Q: Gov­er­nor Brian Kemp’s go­ing to name a suc­ces­sor for 2020. Have you talked with the gov­er­nor about that? Will you of­fer ad­vice for re­place­ment? Do you have any names?

A: If I’m asked I’ll tell him what I think, but it’s his job, so I need to be asked. Brian’s a good friend of mine. We’ve been friends for a long time. I’ve been friends with his wife’s dad longer than him, longer than Brian. So I’ve known them all a long time. I say you call me and I’ll tell you what I’m think­ing when you have a ques­tion. But it’s your de­ci­sion to make. I made a lot of de­ci­sions over the last 45 years. I’m en­joy­ing not hav­ing to make one right now. Right? The last one I made (re­tire­ment) was pretty tough, so I’m go­ing to wear it out for a while.

Q: You’ve amassed a 45year po­lit­i­cal ca­reer, and we touched on this ear­lier, but what stands out to you as your great­est ac­com­plish­ments? On three lev­els — for you per­son­ally, for the state of Ge­or­gia and for the na­tion.

A: Well, for me per­son­ally, the only thing I would point out is that... look­ing back over to 1974, of all the chal­lenges I had, and op­po­nents I had and is­sue dif­fer­ences I had, I’m still stand­ing. Some of my best friends had been some of my en­e­mies be­fore. I don’t have any­thing to be ashamed of or apol­o­gize for — for any­thing that I did or said. So that’s what I’m thank­ful for . And I just ap­pre­ci­ate that very much and ap­pre­ci­ate the peo­ple I’ve had the plea­sure of know­ing and glad that I’m still sur­viv­ing.

For the state of Ge­or­gia. Well, you know, that’s tough for me to say be­cause for­tu­nately there are a lot of them that I worked on. Some that are not very news­wor­thy or newsy but they’re im­por­tant.

But there’s no ques­tion that when I saved Delta’s pen­sion fund ... four min­utes be­fore mid­night on Au­gust 4th of 2005, that was prob­a­bly the most im­pact­ful thing I ever did. Delta was go­ing bank­rupt, go­ing into a struc­tured bankruptcy and we saved every pen­sion for every em­ployee in the state — whether a bag­gage han­dler or a teller or a stew­ardess or any­thing, not the pi­lots, but ev­ery­body else. They’re now the big­gest air­line in the world and have 35,000 re­tired em­ploy­ees on pen­sions they would’ve lost. That meant a lot to me . ... the pres­i­dent of Delta was in the gallery when I did it, not be­cause he was a plant, but be­cause his com­pany was on the line and we won with only four dis­sent­ing votes. That’s the hardest I ever worked on any­thing be­cause we had no time.

Kate Puzey, the Peace Corps vol­un­teer who was mur­dered in Benin (city in Nige­ria). I saw an ar­ti­cle in the (Atlanta) Journal Con­sti­tu­tion on the Sun­day af­ter she had been killed. I did not know her. I said, gosh, I’m her con­gress­man. So I went to the fam­ily fu­neral and I sat at the back of the church, didn’t know the fam­ily, but I just felt like I ought to be there. And when it was over, one of the fam­ily mem­bers came up to me and asked me who I was. I told them, they said, I thought that was you.

I said, well, here’s my card. If they ever need help, call me. And two weeks later they did. And I helped them get some things from Benin and one thing out of Ghana back to the fam­ily and we sat down and had some cof­fee and cried a lit­tle bit over their loss. It was a ter­ri­ble loss for them. This girl was num­ber one in her class at UVA, num­ber one in her class at Forsyth County High School. She was a su­per­star and was bru­tally mur­dered as a Peace Corps vol­un­teer. Then we passed The Peace Corps Vol­un­teer Pro­tec­tion Act, which is now known as the Kate Puzey Act. There’ve been a num­ber of women who were sex­u­ally abused and now have found ret­ri­bu­tion or found jus­tice be­cause of that law. And it’s pre­vent­ing a lot of prob­lems in the fu­ture that hap­pened in those coun­tries. So that was mean­ing­ful for me to do.

I’m work­ing on the port of Sa­van­nah, the work I’ve done in metro Atlanta for trans­porta­tion, which I was on the trans­porta­tion com­mit­tee in the house, but in the Se­nate I’ve had a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties on trans­porta­tion with the port and with Harts­field(-Jack­son air­port) to work on.

So we did some things on that and we did some things on fund­ing and education. Like the 1% lo­cal op­tion sales tax for school con­struc­tion that built, I think, $6 bil­lion in class­rooms now in Ge­or­gia with no bond debt. That’s a pretty good thing, you pay sales tax for cash for your bricks and mor­tar and that’s a pretty good deal.

Q: How about your work on nuclear power fa­cil­ity Plant Vog­tle?

Well, that’s my legacy. Just look up Se­nate Bill 29 some­where in the an­nals of his­tory and you will find out all you ever need to know about play­ing foot­ball. Tom All­good was the Demo­cratic ma­jor­ity leader in the Se­nate. Roy Barnes was his aide, his deputy, and I was the only per­son that the Speaker could get to take that bill to the floor. He let me do it be­cause he thought I was ex­pend­able ‘cause I was Repub­li­can. He knew any­body that did it was go­ing to get killed. And I got down there, we won 93 to 87, as close as you can get, be­cause it’s a 90-90 split in the House. Passed it in the House, but the Se­nate re­jected it.

We got a con­fer­ence com­mit­tee agree­ment. I still re­mem­ber the mo­tion to this day. I said, Mr. Speaker, I want to move (to pass) the House-bill passed amendment to Se­nate Bill 29. ... And it passed again by one vote. We got on build­ing what’s now the last nuclear re­ac­tor in Amer­ica. When they turn that booger on next year, it’s go­ing to be the last one that’ll be built ... it’s go­ing to be fin­ished pretty soon. Not eas­ily, but it’s go­ing to be fin­ished. That was fun, too.

Q: I think most peo­ple know about your pub­lic life, but pro­fes­sion­ally. North­side Realty had $1.4 bil­lion in an­nual sales and over 1,000 agents and 30 of­fices.

A: I get too much credit for a lot of things. That’s one of them. We had a great com­pany. It was built and founded by my fa­ther and Howard Chatham ac­tu­ally owned it. I got the chance to work there and we did pretty good af­ter I got there. But I took some­thing that was al­ready op­er­at­ing and things changed as IBM moved this way and other peo­ple started trans­fer­ring ... east Cobb be­came the place to go. I was a 25 to 35 year old sales­man who was look­ing to get my kids ed­u­cated and a few more years in col­lege and started sell­ing houses and had a wife, and a lot of ex­penses with my habits, which were pol­i­tics.

I was re­ally for­tu­nate. We sold a lot of houses and a lot of peo­ple still live in them and a lot of them voted for me. It gave me a chance to learn how to take re­jec­tion with­out feel­ing like I was be­ing re­jected.

Q: What about the Uni­ver­sity of Ge­or­gia? Are you go­ing to do any­thing there?

A: I’m a Dawg un­til the day is over. God’s blessed me in many ways and UGA is one of them. And I got a lot of friends over there and I love Ge­or­gia foot­ball. And just so we know, I know they don’t need me on the team, that’s for sure. I can’t fit into the same clothes as those peo­ple. They’re the big­gest I’ve ever seen. I played high school foot­ball, 165 pounds. One leg of those guys to­day weighs 165 pounds.

But I can’t tell you (about fu­ture plans). First of all, when you re­tire from the Se­nate … there’s a pro­hi­bi­tion against any ne­go­ti­a­tion or talk­ing about any­thing that you’re go­ing to do for a year.

I have thought about (what is next), but only to the ex­tent I’m go­ing to do some­thing. I don’t know what it’s go­ing to be. And it may be work­ing at the kitchen at MUST (Min­istries), I don’t know, but I’ll do some­thing hope­fully valu­able ... And I’ll en­joy do­ing that. Q: What do you do for fun? A: Work.

But, I’ve got eight grand­chil­dren ... I love them. I love Ge­or­gia foot­ball. I’m not a big reader, but I’m pretty avid watcher of news on tele­vi­sion … the other night, there was a show on World War II, which was just fan­tas­tic. It was a four-hour deal and I watched the whole thing be­gin­ning to end. It kind of took my mind off things, plus ed­u­cated me on some stuff. I’d been back for the DDay cel­e­bra­tion in Nor­mandy, which piqued my in­ter­est in a lot of that. But I missed a lot of other things. I can’t play golf any­more. I can’t drive any­more and I can’t drink liquor any­more. So I don’t have any fun things to do.

When you get some­thing like Parkin­son’s you have to watch what you eat, and what you do and get plenty of rest. So since I can’t drive any­more, I bum rides from ev­ery­body and can’t have any li­ba­tions any­more . ... I’m not do­ing a lot of things I didn’t need to be do­ing in the first place.

Q: The spot on your kid­ney, is there any more treat­ment for that ?

A: No. I have a checkup every 90 days. (Well­star) Kenne­stone (Hos­pi­tal) has some great peo­ple, great sur­geons. They got a great one from the Cleve­land Clinic who did my surgery ...

I don’t have to take any medicine ... don’t even have to have any ra­di­a­tion, but I have to get an MRI every three months.

Dr. Wil­liams at Kenne­stone took (the tu­mor) out Mon­day. I came home that night and laid down, rested, and got up the next morn­ing and went to work and I’m do­ing fine. It didn’t hurt . ... Never took a Tylenol. I’ve done back surgery and kid­ney surgery with­out tak­ing any time off. I won’t take those opi­oids.

Q: How do you feel about leav­ing pol­i­tics af­ter 45 years?

A: I’m not leav­ing yet. The car is here, but I haven’t got­ten in. Yeah. I’m re­ally at peace with all of it . ... It’s get­ting tougher and tougher and I’m not as mo­bile as I was . ... but I have not had any prob­lem with cog­ni­tive stuff or any­thing like that. My bal­ance is just not good and my endurance is not good. I knew what was go­ing on in­side of me and I knew what I could and couldn’t do ...

Look, I did ev­ery­thing I could as long as I could to stay where I was. I’ve been to 34 phys­i­cal ther­apy ses­sions in Au­gust. I’ve done all that stuff and I’ll con­tinue to do it ‘cause I’m go­ing to be a hard­charg­ing son-of-a-gun from now on. What I’d rather do is leave at the top and do the right thing for the right rea­son and do a good job rather than hav­ing ev­ery­body feel sorry for me some time. I’m go­ing to be some­where else when that hap­pens.

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