Thinking Right’s weekend free-for-all. Pick a topic:
● Georgia should sell taxpayer-owned Brasstown Valley Resort at Young Harris. The AJC’s Sunday story about a former state employee’s unchecked spending while managing a modest spa project, the cost of which jumped 434 percent to $2.6 million, is enough to make taxpayers’ blood boil. Example: The now-fired employee, Michele D. Bonner, while overseeing the renovation as acting director of the North Georgia Mountain Authority, dined 59 times over 15 months with a consultant, enjoying a 150-year-old liqueur purchased just for them. It costs $37 per glass. Total cost for the 59 meals: $9,892. Two points: 1) government should not tote suitcases and operate resorts and 2) regional government entities and development authorities lack public scrutiny and accountability. They’ll always be magnets for the kinds of dealings expected when the unsupervised are spending free money.
● GOP state school Superintendent Kathy Cox, who left office Wednesday, performed a major disservice to Georgia and to her party by resigning after qualifying. She leaves a weak field of potential replacements. Maybe it is time to have governors appoint the superintendent and the labor commissioner and possibly others now elected statewide. Governors and legislators drive major education decisions. Labor commissioners process federal money.
● Perfect legacy headline for U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) who died this week: “Longtime senator brought home pork.” If Guam tilts from military bases, West Virginia will surely sink from domestic pork.
● Republican candidate for secretary of state Doug MacGinnitie, a former Sandy Springs city councilman, has rightly taken a hit for a dumb piece of campaign literature. In it, he wrote earnestly about protecting the voting rights of a “Captain Basnett” who was recovering from battlefield wounds. My reaction on reading it was that it was far-fetched, one-in-a-million. And it was, too, an odd parallel to Democrats’ efforts to block photo ID and other reasonable voting rules with far-fetched allegations that somewhere at some time somebody will be denied the ballot. Later in the piece MacGinnitie reveals the scenario to be pure fiction. Dumb. He should have hired former Georgia Christian Alliance chairman Sadie Fields two weeks earlier — before it left the printing press.
● Brilliant. Chisel it in stone. Make it part of the oath of office for the next governor. It’s the policy position declared by Gov. Sonny Perdue’s mouthpiece, Bert Brantley. Said he, in reference to a decision not to sign on to a federal-state consortium to put windmills off the coast: “Before we join up with something, we want the full details in terms of time and effort and money.” Wind is unreliable and more costly than coal and nuclear alternatives.
● The possible setup involving Gwinnett County Commission Chairman Charles Bannister, charged by a sheriff’s deputy with driving drunk, though he registered zero on an alcohol breath test; and, the witch hunt by Clayton County Sheriff Kem Kimbrough, who’s administering polygraphs to 40-50 employees to find the source of media leaks about his management of the office, prompt questions about the need for, and roles of, urban sheriffs. Bannister’s DUI arrest is the fifth by the Sheriff’s Department this year; most all DUI cases are made by police. Urban sheriffs should pretty much be limited to serving courts and running jails.
● No illegals here, colleges report. Maybe an outside auditor running Social Security numbers would help ease the minds of skeptics, like state Senate Rules Chairman Don Balfour of Snellville and others. His comment on the report: “Maybe none of the illegal students are saying they’re illegal.”
Jim Wooten, an Opinion columnist, writes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. His column appears Friday. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.