Archive for December, 2011

12/12: A question of quality

Moderated by Maureen Downey

In a guest column today, a lawmaker from Smyrna says the cuts to the HOPE scholarship are hurting the students who need the most help going to college.

In my column, I talk about National Board Certification for teachers and Georgia’s attitude toward it. Tell us what you think.

Continue reading 12/12: A question of quality »

12/11: Is arrest expensive, ineffective practice?

By the AJC Editorial Board

Locking ’em up and ditching the key never was a cheap approach to punishing criminals. Nor was it particularly effective, or efficient, it seems.That must change, as a new report makes clear that our criminal corrections model is broken, unaffordable and unsustainable.

That’s proved by the cost of maintaining this dysfunctional system. It has more than doubled since 1990, standing now at more than a $1 billion annual burden to this cash-tight state.

The good news is that remaking our corrections system should save money in the long run. As a bonus, it might help the crime rate fall even further.

Doing a better job of handling criminals is a necessity for reasons other than monetary ones. In the past two decades, Georgia’s prison head count more than doubled, driving us into the unwanted distinction of having one of the highest incarceration rates in the nation. Meanwhile, our criminal recidivism — backsliding, if you will — has remained …

Continue reading 12/11: Is arrest expensive, ineffective practice? »

12/9: Is Congress to blame for postal agency crisis?

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

The U.S. Postal Service and the letter carriers union agree on one thing — Congress is to blame for the agency’s financial crisis. But they disagree on the former’s plan to close mail processing centers around the country, eliminate jobs and cancel Saturday delivery. In columns written exclusively for the AJC, leaders debate the proposals:

Michael S. Furey, acting district manager of the U.S. Postal Service’s Atlanta district;

and

Fredric Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers.

What do you think?

Continue reading 12/9: Is Congress to blame for postal agency crisis? »

12/8: How do you rate Congress?

Moderated by Rick Badie

Congress’ approval ratings are in the tank. Last year, a Gallup poll that tracks congressional job performance found an 83 percent disapproval rating, the worst results in 30 years. Likewise, this month’s Rasmussen Report found that 68 percent deem Congress’ job performance as poor.

U.S. representatives David Scott and Tom Graves offer their takes on the assessments.

What do you think of Congress?

Continue reading 12/8: How do you rate Congress? »

12/7: Is 80 the new 65?

When it comes to retirement, 80 is the new 65. Nearly three-quarters of Americans expect to work long into retirement age.

It’s not because they all enjoy their jobs. Slightly more than half say they’ll have to work just to pay their bills.

Retirement planner Jack Albertson offers his perspective.

And a retiree shares his approach.

Is 80 the new 65?

Continue reading 12/7: Is 80 the new 65? »

12/6: Can postal service be fixed?

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

What do you think of the U.S. Postal Service’s proposal to eliminate next-day service, as well as its plans to close mail processing centers and local post offices? And, oh yeah, the price of stamps is going up again, in January. How does it affect you? Will you continue to use the service or move more correspondence to emai? Sound off on our blog and we will run some responses in Friday’s print newspaper, too.

Continue reading 12/6: Can postal service be fixed? »

12/6: Does road funding need to change?

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

The emergence of high-mileage autos and electric cars means that a traditional way of funding highways and maintenance — the gasoline tax — is in jeopardy. That’s one reason we may see more and more toll roads.

Yet, the largely empty high-occupancy toll lanes on I-85 represent another line of thought — that government no longer works well for the people.

What do you think?

Continue reading 12/6: Does road funding need to change? »

12/4: Should Georgia expand gambling?

By the AJC Editorial Board

The numbers are hard to ignore: Video lottery casinos in Atlanta, Savannah and Jekyll Island could gin up nearly $934 million in projected gross revenue by 2014. A sizable chunk of that money could flow into state coffers during a time when spending has been cut by billions.

That prospect deserves further, sober-hearted, coldly analytical study when the Georgia General Assembly reconvenes in January, if not before. What it doesn’t warrant right now is either an outright rejection or a full-bore enthusiastic embrace. The latter would indicate that the seductive bright lights, clamor and glitz of gambling halls have triumphed over common sense and the common good.

What’s needed instead is a businesslike, comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of whether Georgia and its pressing needs in education and other areas would be better served by a measured expansion of some form of gambling. There are other questions, too. Would an Atlanta casino make …

Continue reading 12/4: Should Georgia expand gambling? »

12/2: Are Voter ID laws unfair?

Moderated by Tom Sabulis
With a presidential election less than a year away, a nationwide protest backed by the NAACP will take place Dec. 10 to condemn voter ID laws being enacted by Republican-led states, including Georgia.

Congressman Hank Johnson calls these laws an attack on our rights.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp argues they will prevent election fraud.

What do you think?

Continue reading 12/2: Are Voter ID laws unfair? »