Your morning jolt: Creating an early, strong consensus on water

Just before the close of the Tuesday business day, Gov. Sonny Perdue announced that two prominent business leaders had agreed to help create a massive – and probably expensive — to-do list intended to make Georgia more independent when it comes to water.

Coca-Cola Enterprises CEO John Brock and Tim Lowe of Lowe Engineers have agree to co-chair a task force that will have until December to draw up contingency plans that will be put before the Legislature in January.

“We will consider conservation measures as well as opportunities to enhance our water supply options,” Perdue said. I.e., reservoirs and low-flow toilets.

This “water contingency task force” – blue-ribbon panels are passé, possibly because they lack drama – is intended give the governor a deep, unassailable consensus within the business community from the outset, before state lawmakers assemble.

“That’s absolutely correct. It’s not just business leaders. It’s business, community leaders, conservation people,” Brock said this morning. Membership hasn’t been firmed up yet, but a first meeting is planned for next week.

“We’ll be looking at everything, from the consequences of doing nothing, to what other states and regions around the country have done, to what kind of gap is there between water supply and water needs – and how we can close that gap,” the Coca-Cola Enterprises executive said. “Reservoirs are certainly a part of that. Conservation will play a large role.”

The task force is an outgrowth of a large gathering of civic, business and local government leaders that Perdue summoned to the Governor’s Mansion in July, shortly after a federal judge ruled that most of metro Atlanta has no right to rely on Lake Lanier for its drinking water.

Bert Brantley, a spokesman for Perdue, said membership on the task force will number “several dozen” – perhaps just under 100. Another sign that Perdue is after deep consensus: His two co-chairs, Brock and Lowe, have strong ties to the Metro Atlanta Chamber and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, respectively.

Both have a strong lobbying presence in the Capitol each January. The Georgia Chamber has a statewide reach, while the Metro Chamber is strongest with urban and suburban lawmakers.

U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss was on “The News Hour with Jim Lehrer” on Tuesday evening, discussing – with Democratic colleague Carl Levin of Michigan – a troop surge in Afghanistan.

Read the entire transcript here. Chambliss, a GOP member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, came down on the side of more troops:

….[I]f General McChrystal says that we need to devise a strategy that’s different from what we’re doing right now and if we’re going to be successful with that strategy, we need more troops, I think it’s incumbent on the president to put the kind of faith in his commanding generals to go ahead and authorize additional troops.

That, perhaps, is no surprise. More startling is Chambliss’ assessment of the Afghan government that American troops would be propping up, and the recent national elections:

The presumption is that …the Afghan people had the opportunity to go out and vote. We know for a fact that it didn’t go like it should have. It was not a free and open election.

But beyond that, this government of Karzai is just so corrupt. And the corruptness has got to be cleared up at the end of the day in order for there to be any confidence on the part of the Iraqi people that there’s going to be stability there.

You have to remember, though, that when the surge was initiated in Iraq, the Maliki government was not very stable. We didn’t have the corruptness there that we see in Afghanistan. But the government itself was not particularly steady.

Once we had the security of the country in place, then all of a sudden you saw the Iraqi people get on board with our troops, get on board with our philosophy, get on board with the Maliki government, and we’ve seen much more stability in the government of Iraq.

Until we have security in Afghanistan, I just doubt that you’re going to see any confidence in the Karzai government. And at some point, we’re going to have to root out that corruptness. Otherwise, it’s going to be doomed to failure.

U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal, the Republican from north Georgia, has drawn little attention for his attacks on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reed – until this morning. This from the New York Times:

The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, has secured a special deal protecting his state against the costs of expanding Medicaid under one of the major health care bills moving through Congress.

Mr. Reid, a Democrat, complained about the impact on Nevada when the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, unveiled his bill on Sept. 16.

Now Mr. Baucus has modified the bill to spare Nevada and three other states, and Mr. Reid, who faces a potentially difficult race for re-election next year, is taking credit for getting a “major increase” in federal money for his state….

Representative Nathan Deal of Georgia, the senior Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, said Mr. Reid “appeared to be playing politics to favor Nevada over other states.”

“Senator Reid should know that this legislation is not only bad for Nevada, but it is bad for the rest of the United States,” Mr. Deal said.

While you ponder that, consider these items found while perusing this morning’s ajc.com:

  • Austell approves contract for flood recovery help.
  • ‘Remarkably good’ smog season ends Wednesday.
  • Business coalition ranks Borders, Reed as top mayor candidates.
  • Energy-related sales tax holiday to begin.
  • Georgia gets $8.7 million in transit funds.
  • Homeless sex offenders living in woods near Marietta told to leave.
  • Fulton County schools to seek freedom from state mandates.
  • Some opinion:

  • Cynthia Tucker says Roman Polanski hasn’t paid for his crime.
  • Let’s expand on ‘America’s best idea.’
  • Nation’s dilemma on show at Grady.
  • From elsewhere in Georgia:

  • SMN: Former state Sen. Regina Thomas thinking about rematch with U.S. Rep. John Barrow.
  • And beyond:

  • WP: Wal-Mart and Kmart target recession-weary toy buyers.
  • USA Today: Obama to NATO: Afghanistan is not just ‘an American battle.’
  • NYT: Dementia risk seen in players in NFL study.
  • For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

    4 comments Add your comment

    GoOx

    September 30th, 2009
    10:52 am

    Deal, Real, Steal. Funny Deal has been a do nothing Congressman for over a decade, and now that he’s running for Governor he starts speaking up?

    Georgia Voter

    September 30th, 2009
    2:19 pm

    I wonder of the Ox is going to show his face and voice on TV. Georgians like to really get to know these candidates for Governor, much more so than the down ballot races like Insurance Commissioner. When Peach State voters take a look at John Oxendine, it will be the single best thing the Barnes campaign will have going for it! Georgians like strong, manly leaders. The Ox ain’t that.

    Base

    October 1st, 2009
    4:21 pm

    Do away with GRTA and save the money.One bus won’t make a dent in traffic.

    Levender

    October 1st, 2009
    4:26 pm

    Hopefully this group will fare better than the Water Wars negotiating team. It seems like this task force would have been a natural fit for Mike Garrett since we are talking about building reservoirs. I guess Perdue needed Southern Company’s muscle more in the negotiation side of things