Thinking Right’s weekend free for all. Pick a topic:
● Ah, so this is it. Drinkers who can’t make it through Sunday on the stash of booze they bought Saturday and those who were too discombobulated to remember on Saturday that booze is not sold on Sunday are not, it is revealed by the AJC, the driving force behind all the legislative attention directed to Sunday sales. It is the Georgia Association of Convenience Stores and its president, Jim Tudor. This is one of the reasons Republicans should be wary of getting too close to “business.” Business has the money and the incentive to legislate public policy in Georgia — and what’s good for their bottom line may not be good for others. (Really, this is not a hot-button issue with me. It’s simply that it’s symptomatic of a larger problem: Who decides what’s important for Georgia?)
● To all the recent comers to metro Atlanta, it’s a shame you weren’t here to hear radio personality Ludlow Porch, who died last Friday. America’s yearning for civil conversation with a respectful friend on the radio was soothed for years by the calming presence of Ludlow Porch. You knew he wouldn’t come in your house and trash your values or embarrass you in front of the children. All media should learn the Ludlow lesson.
● Every new account of the Atlanta Public Schools’ handling of the investigation into changed answers on state tests of student performance suggests that there is, or was, a culture of corruption in the day-to-day thinking of those who run the system. Latest is the account of a key aide to Superintendent Beverly Hall who allegedly gathered principals and advised them to tell state investigators to “go to hell.”
● State officials really do have to stop taking the bait when Washington politicians dangle enticements, as President Barack Obama and the previous Congress have done with high-speed rail. Florida Gov. Rick Scott has joined Ohio Gov. John Kasich in rejecting the bait money. In Florida, that’s $2.4 billion for a Tampa-Orlando line. But cost increases could put Floridians on the hook for another $3 billion. Too, chances are good that ridership won’t pay operating costs, leaving the state’s taxpayers to pick up the tab. Rule of thumb: If it’s not something you would do with your own money, don’t do it because “free” money is available. Ultimately, it’s never free.
● Watch also for mission-creep in existing programs. The Georgia Regional Transportation Agency is and should forever remain primarily a “coordinating” agency. Neither it nor any other entity should become a regional “operating” agency that combines MARTA and other systems into a single operation. A regional agency is one more step removed from voter control and accountability. And mixing MARTA with any other transportation entity is certain to subject the whole to MARTA’s union and its contract rights.
● Georgia legislators should maintain the same wariness about opening Underground, Jekyll Island or Lake Lanier to any form of gambling. Do that and be certain that Indian tribes will gain the right under federal law to bring casino gambling to Sparta and probably other areas. Once the state shows that it is amenable to additional gambling enterprises, the door is open.
● Dunwoody City Council declines to levy a hotel-motel tax to support its bid for the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in Macon. The tax on patrons of the five hotels in Dunwoody would have gone from 5 to 6 percent. Among my most-hated taxes are those levied on the unborn and unformed classes of payers, like future visitors and car-renters. The Legislature should pass a law requiring governments that levy such taxes provide something of value — free tickets to the facility being financed, or car rental discounts — to taxed guests.