Thinking Right’s weekend free-for-all. Pick a topic:
● Brace yourself. We’re about to be swamped with “studies” purporting to show that without the extra 1-cent tax for regional transportation, civilization as we know it will end. Just this week two groups advocating for “sustainable development” — one of those trendy buzzword labels that message-manipulators found to replace the disfavored “high density development” — reported a remarkable new “study” that uncovered a sad phenomenon about to befall metro Atlanta — that being “stranded seniors.” Within four years, 95 percent of the old folks here will live in neighborhoods with poor or nonexistent access to mass transit, we’re told by those who want more spending.
● Would that we all had been as curious about the unknown Barack Obama as we are about the emails of Sarah Palin. The media might have done him the favor done her. Headline: “Nothing juicy turns up in Palin email releases.”
● Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter would well serve taxpayers by convening a special grand jury to review the school system’s “sale-leaseback” of a central office facility that will require homeowners and businesses to pay $34.1 million more in property taxes than they would have had the system built the facility straight up. The transaction appeared to have been a ploy to avoid raising the ire of taxpayers who might have thought schools were a higher priority. The total cost now will be $73.5 million, reports the AJC’s Tim Eberly. Had the system built without the private-sector leaseback partners, the cost would have been $39.4 million.
● One other lesson from the Rep. Anthony Weiner creepiness: We should be really careful about electing people to public office who desperately need the job, either because they have no other job skills or because holding a public office makes them more important than they’ll ever otherwise be.
● The primary reason Weiner had to go was expressed Sunday by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed on “Meet the Press”: “It’s very bad for Democrats.”
● I’m sorry that if you were born too late or arrived too late in the South to have known the world of front-porch and pea-shellings conversations that gave us the remarkable storyteller Kathryn Tucker Windham of Selma, Ala. She died at home last weekend at the age of 93. Her stories were relaxed and natural, meant to be told to family and neighbors gathered in straight-back chairs listening and relating while busy hands did their own thinking.
● OK, the 4-3 Georgia Supreme Court majority that declared the state’s 2007 Charter Schools Commission unconstitutional declined, as expected, to reconsider its decision. But the ruling is based, as dissenters pointed out, on a misreading of the state’s public education history. Locals weren’t given “exclusive authority” over public schools in the 1877 state constitution, as asserted by the majority. County boards were first mentioned in the 1945 Constitution; their authority was not exclusive; and, “for much of our history, local boards of education were horribly unresponsive to a large portion of students and taxpaying parents,” wrote Justice David E. Nahmias for the minority.
● When Florida Gov. Ray Scott attempted to return $2.4 billion in unwanted mass transit funding to the federal treasury, the administration simply sent it to New York and elsewhere. The nation, meanwhile, is sinking under the weight of housing stock that had been built in excess of market demand, including “affordable” housing, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announces Tuesday that it is spending $52 million in Georgia to build affordable housing for the homeless and those living with HIV or AIDS. Once authorized, it’s money out the door.