Thinking Right’s weekend free-for-all. Pick a topic:
● Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and a dozen members of City Council deserve the highest praise for promptly confronting a malady that could bankrupt the city. They made a change in the city’s pensions affecting new hires that seems insignificant, but could be the difference between solvency and bankruptcy. It lowered a key multiplier in a formula based on pay and service. The change will save big bucks long-term. The real worry-point for Atlanta taxpayers, though, comes 10-15 years down the road when the new hires gain critical mass and start demanding “fairness” and “equality” in their pension plan. That’s when weak and ignorant politicians buckle.
● Cobb officials delude themselves in believing that employees given a permanent financial incentive to retire are saving taxpayers money. Transferring them from one cost-center to another, while rehiring them at lesser pay, creates paper savings for taxpayers. Real savings would be if the jobs are actually and permanently eliminated.
● The office of the director of the Atlanta Citizen Review Board views her difficult-to-find office at City Hall as reflecting the board’s status as a stepchild of city government. The analogy disparages stepchildren, who have a rightful, unquestioned place in the family. Citizen Review Boards for police are relics with, at best, a one-time episode or situation-prompted purpose. A responsible mayor along with a competent chief and district attorney are the proper citizen review authorities. Don’t give power to those who may have agendas now or in the future and are not accountable to voters.
● I’m a big fan of privatization of government services and of putting business types in charge of most operations. But ultimately some things the private sector does that are tax-driven aren’t desirable for government. Example: Federal government buildings in Atlanta are being inventoried in an effort to dispose of unnecessary space. Steve Massell, president of Massell Commercial Real Estate, suggests sale and lease-backs as a way to “put money back into government coffers.” Selling roads, airports, buildings, public monuments, parks or anything else that’s paid for and leasing it back is a lousy idea for taxpayers. It gives today’s politicians spending money by transferring a current “asset” to future debt. Government can’t write the lease payments off its income tax.
● Tolls on existing, paid-for interstate lanes — the coming tax on users of a to-be-converted high-occupancy vehicle lane on I-85 in Gwinnett County, for example — is consistent with the sale-leaseback concept. Taxpayers are forced to pay again for something they already financed. (It’s just a matter of time before liberals insist on a toll-subsidy for those who aren’t the SUV-driving “rich.”)
● Horror of horrors! Because Georgia did not push the individual “earmarks” of a member of Congress to the top of its list of priorities, it’s about to “lose” $2.4 million in federal transportation funds to the dreaded alternative, a process called “competition” in which funding is based on a project’s merit. The very last reason anybody in public office should decide to commit state money is because a congressional earmark exists.
● DeKalb County and Doraville need a kick in the pants for thinking about giving $36 million in taxpayer money to a developer proposing to build on the old General Motors site in Doraville, one of metro Atlanta’s prime development prospects.
● Supporters of cop-killer Troy Anthony Davis employ the redefinition of words now commonplace on Washington when they demand that he get “justice.” Don’t get too deep into the “recanted testimony” before its quality gets fully aired.
● On illegals and in-state tuition in Georgia colleges: If submitted Social Security numbers aren’t validated, all we’re doing is training people to lie. People aren’t dumb. The street knows how to game every system government devises.