A new boss at the “People’s Law Firm”

In case you hadn’t noticed, Georgia has a new Attorney General.  Republican Sam Olens, a fixture in Cobb County politics for many years as Chairman of the County Commission, took the reins of this powerful but often little-known office in January.

The person who occupies this constitutional office has wide-ranging responsibilities that affect virtually every citizen in the state.  If the hand-off from one attorney general to the next is rocky, the ripples can reverberate through the courts and state government for years to come.  Thankfully, this most recent transition was a smooth one; in the words of Sam Olens, a “gentlemanly” transfer of power from his predecessor, Thurbert Baker.

The décor in this small but strategically-placed office in the judicial building directly across the street from the State Capitol is vintage 1960s – with faux grass-cloth wall paper, and carpeting sporting coffee stains probably going back to the Talmadge era – Gene Talmadge, that is.  However, it is not the furnishings from which the state attorney general draws his power, but the black-bound law books that line the shelves behind what is now Sam Olens’ desk.

It is Olens’ clear intent to use those law books and the 125 or so lawyers who labor under him, in a decidedly pro-active manner.  Already, just three months into his tenure, Olens has been a legal whirling dervish; providing legal input to legislators drafting all manner of legislation, some of which may appear in those very code books behind his desk later this year.  Olens, however, clearly understands the fine line between legal advice – his bailiwick; and policy — not his concern.

He clearly understands that answering questions and offering advice while legislation is still being formulated, may save the state legal headaches and possibly a great deal of money in unnecessary litigation down the road.

In a further testament to Olens’ concern for continuing the non-partisan tradition of his office, there have been almost no personnel changes since he took command.  He is worried, however, that the tight budget he faces, which curtails his ability to match salaries offered attorneys by other state agencies, will deprive his staff of seasoned lawyers.

Transparency is a major force driving Olens in state government just as it was during his tenure as Cobb Commission chair.  His mission is clear when Olens first ticks off his priorities – “open records” and “open meetings” for all governmental entities in Georgia tops the list; with all votes public and recorded.  In this thirst for openness, Olens practices what he preaches.  Not only is the front door into his cramped suite of offices continuously open, but unless there is a sensitive case or legal matter to discuss, so is the door leading directly to his private office.

He practices a degree of frugality not always evident among government officials, even in these lean economic times.  He drives himself to work in his own car; and when forced to furlough employees already this year, he includes himself in those sacrifices.  He laments, however, that his office’s budget is so slim he is forced (like his predecessors) to outsource some of the legal work presented his office handling matters for other agencies; costs that ultimately must be borne by other agencies and wind up costing Georgia taxpayers in the long run.

His use of the Internet to publicize what his office is doing already is causing a buzz; but the importance of letting the people of Georgia know what their “law firm” is doing, immunizes Olens to any charges he might be using publicity for personal aggrandizement.

With major decisions of historic importance looming – including the “water wars” litigation and the challenge to “ObamaCare” – there will be plenty to keep this new Attorney General busy and in the news for years to come.  And Sam Olens will make certain we know about it.

by Bob Barr, The Barr  code

27 comments Add your comment

Kaiser Soze

April 4th, 2011
7:07 am

I think the good Attourney General Owens is well-situated to sound any alarm concerning the state of Georgia.

Blog Soup

April 4th, 2011
7:52 am

Over at Bookman’s, the poster-child and emblematic stereotype of Blogging By and For and Of morons, the topic was blaming god for what man does. Of course all Jay could cough up was invective. Of course he never heard of an ideologically-motivated war. And his unreasoned presentation incited his yes-men trolls to comment in kind, without any original insight or any advancement of the discussion. It took hundreds of comments to devolve into the predictable fruition of defending the crusades, using the same convoluted logic that provoked a dozen wars with Islam.

and of course their stilted texts end with the usual, “I didn’t say that…”, or “What I meant to say was….”

Bookman is the true leader of the Bozos. Bookman’s Bozos.

bwa

Over at Tucker’s. Aw, she still hasn’t cut her hair. We’ll all just have to be satisfied with what could have been.

At Wooten: who cares, why bother, wtf and hooey. Half expressed, partially completed phrases, vague references, and mere nods to logical thought complete a half -baked recipe from a true potatoe head.

the watch dog

April 4th, 2011
8:34 am

The prosecutor has more control over life, liberty and reputation than any other man in the state. While the prosecutor at his best is one of the most beneficient force in our society, when he acts from malice, he is one of the worst. The part of attorney general has all the force of government itself.
The real problems of the state are not “pernicious abstractions”. Adopting concrete remedies rather than becoming involved in a maze of controversy.
All of the above being said, what I would like to see is the list of retirement amounts and who is getting them from the state. What better place to start finding out where all the taxpayers money is going?

the watch dog

April 4th, 2011
8:36 am

one of my best comments just got erased. Now I am going to have to start all over.

A. J. C . Smith

April 4th, 2011
8:42 am

The Attorney General is an important Constitutional position and should represent the public interest in all matters. If Mr. Olens stays out of the political fray, he will do a good job. If he gets involved in it, he will become nothing more nor less than a party hack. Let’s hope he opts for the first of these.

the watch dog

April 4th, 2011
9:25 am

Two cases before Olens, the Attorney General are #1 Sunday sales of alcohol
#2 Campaign contributions from
regulated utilities cannot create political
action committees.
A Republican bill that’s already passed the Senate repeals that rule.However opponents such as government transparency lobby “Common Cause” see it as unconstitutional.

Brown D-Macon put the question to Olens. What is the Attorney General’s opinion on the Georgia law, given the U.S. Supreme Court interpretation in “Citizens United”. The Attorney General said he could not comment on it.
I consider forthrightnes in all matters as the best political quality. Adopting concrete remedies rather than becoming involved in a a maze of vagueness and no comments. The best asset a state can have is the support of the people and politicians should not speak in “pernicious abstrations”.

Dan Wilson

April 4th, 2011
10:14 am

I knew Sam was going to work when within 30 days of taking office he sign Emmanuel Hammomnds up for a one way ticket to Hell.

Tommy Maddox

April 4th, 2011
10:16 am

Horray for Sam and Georgia!

Jawgian Politik

April 4th, 2011
10:21 am

Legalize MariJuana, allow Sunday liquor sales, and tax cigarettes…. Won’t do a heck of a whole lot because the politicos in the Georgia legislation will find a way to line their and their friends pockets and continue to strip the PEOPLE of much needed services, to include Unemployment Benefits. AND NO, folks who smoke are not SLACKERS. Those who don’t admit that they do are far more devious. Put that on your list of things to do Mr. AG for one of the most backward states in the union.

DebbieDoRight

April 4th, 2011
11:39 am

Olens, however, clearly understands the fine line between legal advice – his bailiwick; and policy — not his concern. He clearly understands that answering questions and offering advice while legislation is still being formulated, may save the state legal headaches and possibly a great deal of money in unnecessary litigation down the road.

In a further testament to Olens’ concern for continuing the non-partisan tradition of his office, there have been almost no personnel changes since he took command

Uh. Huh. Did Olens have to sign the Republican “Pledge Of Loyalty” before he ran for office? If so, all that crap you just wrote was for nothing more than your word count.

carlosgvv

April 4th, 2011
12:17 pm

“continuing the non-partisian tradition of his office”

You may be certain that Republican Olens will do everything possible to serve Big Business. He will start by spending huge amounts of money on legal fees to fight Obamacare. Healthcare in American is a major cash cow for corporations so, for them, Obamacare must fail at literally all costs. The people of Georgia will be lucky to get any crumbs from the table. Count on it.

Susan B Anthony

April 4th, 2011
12:30 pm

Uh. Huh. Did Olens have to sign the Republican “Pledge Of Loyalty” before he ran for office?

Whats the matter Debbie doodoo…afraid he’s going to make it harder for you to leach off the government dole?

Port O'John

April 4th, 2011
12:48 pm

Olens was a pretty good county commissioner, but when he ran state-wide he veered hard to the right. So the question is – which is the real Sam Olens? The county commissioner who tried to work with people who may not agree with him, or the politician who just talked GOP talking points about birth certificates, health care, etc.?

If he uses the AG’s office to further GOP political interests, then, well, he’s a failure. If you want to know what a poltical idealogue can do as an Attorney General — just look at Alberto Gonzalez. Water-boarding anyone?

I know the GOPers will spit nails at this, but at least Eric Holder looked at the evidence that convicted GOP Senator Ted Stevens (convicted by GOP appointed prosecutors) and determined that the case should not have gone forward and got Stevens released. But let’s overlook that and focus on hating Eric Holder because he was appointed by a democrat.

DebbieDoRight

April 4th, 2011
1:42 pm

Whats the matter Debbie doodoo…afraid he’s going to make it harder for you to leach off the government dole?

What IS IT with you people? Just because you and yours are living in a trailerpark and are on welfare and foodstamps you think everyone is too!! Susie get a J-O-B; stop having all those meth babies, stop screwing your cousin; THEN talk about someone else. Get your priorities straight first. Jeesh!

Susan B Anthony

April 4th, 2011
1:50 pm

What IS IT with you people?

Debbie…honey…its just not right you speak to your mama like that.

Let the Big Dawg Eat

April 4th, 2011
3:44 pm

I’m saying a prayer for AG Olens, and hoping that he maintains his integrity in the face of the assaults which surely will come his way.

Single-Issue Voter

April 4th, 2011
4:23 pm

I am so proud of Sammy, and I know his heart is in the right place.
When Sammy was a young boy, people used to look at him and say “that boy judt doesn’t have what it takes to rubber stamp decisions by the Great Dunce-ocracy.” But those people were wrong. Sam Olens is perfectly qualified to roll over and beg and do whatever it takes to appease all the mouth-breathing morons who run the show down at the Capitol. This state was founded on the priciples of justice for whites, public third grade education for everyone, and free pizza and concert at the local Baptist church. And I know Sammy will always stand up for his constituents. He’s a good man, and he needs the support of all you gun-toting bigots out there. Amen.

Sam's not from Georgia

April 4th, 2011
4:24 pm

I want to see his Burth Surtificate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

poison pen

April 4th, 2011
4:35 pm

Debbie, is having a bad day, they really ripped her a new one on Bookman’s blog.

Jeb

April 4th, 2011
6:40 pm

Jesus will show us the way.

killerj

April 4th, 2011
8:22 pm

Go Tea Party.

Ralph Philips

April 4th, 2011
8:59 pm

Engaging and well written article! This tops anything I have read lately on the subject at hand. I wonder if this’ll be posted on Twenty-First Tycoon. Although the site has awesome political, business, technology and real estate news, they could use more stuff like this. http://www.21Tycoon.com

the watch dog

April 5th, 2011
8:42 am

What will be the strategy of the new A.G. Sam Olens with reference to the ongoing dispute over water rights between Georgia, Alabama and Florida. According to government studies, 100 million gallons a day of water going from Lake Lanier is lost every day on its way to Atlanta. Fixing the water pipes should be priority number one and what about the Georgia legislature repealing the ruling that utilities cannot belong to political action groups. The Supreme Court has already ruled that it is unconstitutional for utilities to belong to political action groups.

carlosgvv

April 5th, 2011
11:19 am

the watch dog

I thought you would have known by now that The Georgia Legislature does everything it can to ignore The Supreme Court.

DebbieDoRight

April 5th, 2011
12:37 pm

Debbie…honey…its just not right you speak to your mama like that

Susie I was talking to you!! You’re not fit to be anyone’s mother and certainly not mine!! Just between us girls, Susie, why don’t you do something about those meth babies and clean up that filthy trailer — I may be forced to call DFACS on you because babies aren’t supposed to sit around in their sh##tty diapers all day while you get high. PS: Neither is your mother. Get Help Susie.

Capitol Avenue Cal

April 5th, 2011
1:52 pm

Tell him to keep an eye out for crooked legislators. Just because they call themselves Republicans now rather than Democrats doesn’t mean anything. A cat can’t change his stripes.

retiredds

April 5th, 2011
5:00 pm

Olens has to be good in Barr’s eyes, he’s a Republican isn’t he?