Thinking Right’s weekend free-for-all. Pick a topic:
● There’s a disconnect between the education-funding “crisis” and reality. Government jobs in Georgia grew by 7,000 last year, most of them military and federal bureaucracies. And while city and county governments did shrink by 3,300, school systems added 100 teachers. The AJC’s Dan Chapman reports that government jobs now account for 17.4 percent of nonfarm employment in Georgia, up from 15.5 percent as recently as four years ago. It’s nearly impossible to get an honest reading on anything related to public education funding, the result of decades of exaggeration.
● You rarely see ObamaCare or the ground zero mosque described as “controversial,” but Georgia’s voter ID verification system routinely is. The most polarizing issues in the country aren’t labeled as controversial, while a common-sense effort like voter ID is. Go figure. Point of view, I suppose.
● Barack Obama has been a dud as a post-partisan president, but there’s hope. My longtime colleague Jay Bookman and I bring the left and the right in complete agreement: Picking former Attorney General Mike Bowers and former DeKalb County District Attorney Bob Wilson to get to the bottom of the Atlanta school cheating scandal was one smart move and Gov. Sonny Perdue is one cool dude for doing it. Well, maybe; we’re not in full agreement, but you get the drift.
● The Troy Davis witness recantation was almost entirely hype. A Georgia Supreme Court decision written two years ago by Justice Harold Melton that evaluated the quality of the alleged witness recantations was perfectly consistent with this week’s ruling by U.S. District Judge William T. Moore Jr., who re-examined the claims and concluded: “smoke and mirrors.” Whatever the agendas of those who bought the “new evidence” spin, it wasn’t justice. Davis did murder Savannah police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail 21 years ago. Those who were so ready to be ushered to a race-based explanation for his conviction were duped.
● One clue that you have a reckless local government: Fulton County has identified $59 million in needed repairs to existing facilities — and yet its commission voted 5-2 to spend $26 million to build and at $300,000 per year to operate a museum and community center at the county airport near Six Flags Over Georgia. Most telling of all is this tidbit from AJC reporter Steve Visser’s story: “Some county officials had a difficult time after the vote explaining exactly what they wanted to build.”
● Praise be the DeKalb County Commission. They rejected a cockamamie proposal to give $36 million in public money to a private developer to build on a prize piece of real estate in metro Atlanta: the vacant GM tract in Doraville. With interest local taxpayers would be required to pay, the public tab would have been $54 million. In general, public officials are dangerous when they get the urge to play mover-and-shaker with other taxpayer money. Not this time, thankfully.
● The federal government — its debt threatening to bankrupt this country — borrows $3.5 billion to motivate 10 states to improve public education, something they need no incentive from Washington to do. Georgia gets $400 million. The feds have no expertise in running or improving public schools and no real role. You’ll not convince me that an administration that pushed aside Chrysler creditors to give ownership to the Democrats’ union supporters doesn’t have an agenda that advances the interests of its education workplace unions. True reform? Not likely. And it is telling that the National Education Association union’s Georgia affiliate, the Georgia Association of Educators, finds no Republican worth endorsing in a statewide race.