Thinking Right’s weekend free-for-all. Pick a topic:
● Ah, the free press. There’s nothing like it. Lay out the obtainable information that points to wrongdoing by public officials, and a free people will act — as they have in DeKalb County. Former school Superintendent Crawford Lewis, former chief operating officer Patricia Reid and her former husband and her secretary have been indicted on various corruption charges related to school contracts. Kudos to AJC reporters Megan Matteucci, Tim Eberly and others who have pursued the scandal for months. Next to murder and armed robbery, the most detestable crimes are white-collar and public trust violations.
● State Rep. Tom Graves of Ranger, one of the candidates in a runoff to succeed Nathan Deal in Congress, has collected more than $300,000 from Club for Growth members determined to elect fiscal conservatives to Congress. His opponent, State Sen. Lee Hawkins of Gainesville, collects $107,000 from dentists outside Georgia. If transparent and voluntary, it’s no big deal. If House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had serious competition, I’d cheerfully give to her opponent. Free speech. Now if the contributions are being made without donor approval, that’s another matter.
● “Who are you going to believe, me, or your lying eyes?” asked Groucho Marx. President Obama told us that health care revision — which, incidentally, 63 percent of Americans want repealed — would be a cost-saver. The lying eyes of benefits experts at 661 companies read the legislation otherwise. Fully 94 percent, according to a Towers Watson study, say the law will raise their costs; 88 percent intend to pass increased costs on to employees and 74 percent expect reduced health benefits and programs. Obama or their lying eyes?
● You have to admire the restraint of Gwinnett Superior Court Judge Michael Clark. He found a term — “not unlawful” — to apply to the executive branch decision to divide the county into five zones and to charge $321 in advance for 18 months of garbage service. Since county officials had not put the service out for bids and had not established a clear process for selecting those given territorial franchises, it was “not necessarily unlawful, arbitrary or capricious.” Admirable judicial restraint, and a clear signal to Gwinnett taxpayers to force county government into the sunshine.
● “I need training,” explains DeKalb County State Court Judge Barbara Mobley. “I’ve only been on the bench five years.” What’s the big deal? Tab for three of those years: $25,000, twice that of her peers, to attend conferences in Jamaica, Panama and the Virgin Islands. Five years ago she should have acknowledged that she did not think herself qualified and would not be for years to come. Judges can bone up on their bench work in Athens. Athens as in Georgia.
● Campaign barbecues, once a staple of Georgia politics, have largely lost their luster and appeal. A great exception, though, is the Walton County Republican Party’s, held last Monday at Roy Roberts’ farm near Monroe. Most all the biggies running statewide were there, including Georgia’s next governor. U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson thinks it may be the state’s best political barbecue event.
● Propose a transportation sales tax increase, as Georgia legislators have done, and the visionaries spending other peoples’ money start planning monuments, and costly ones at that. Cobb County commissioners have given the county’s transportation director authority to try to sell a 14-mile light-rail line, projected to cost at least $2 billion, running from the Galleria to Town Center near Kennesaw. Please. Fix the bottlenecks. Make traffic move. Put the money where it produces the greatest benefit to the most people.