Posts Tagged ‘legislature’

Doing It Not Just To Be Nice, But Out Of Self-interest

September 1, 2014

It was very encouraging to see the members attending the Rotary Club of Columbus Wednesday luncheon give Jamie Vollmer a standing ovation after his talk about how vital it is for business leaders, as well as the rest of the community, to support public education.

Vollmer, a former lawyer and successful  businessman who led the franchise division of the Great Midwestern Ice Cream Company in Iowa,  now spends his time making talks and writing books supporting public education. He wrote the acclaimed Schools Cannot Do  It Alone.

It’s not a matter of being nice, he says. It’s a matter of doing what needs to be done for his and the country’s self-interst. For those who have no children in public schools and oppose paying taxes for them,  he said they should be thinking about the how important it is to have an educated work force, and how they have a responsibility to their communities.  He also pointed out that history is very clear about what happens when the gap between the “haves” and “have-nots” gets too wide.  The “have-nots” come for the “haves.”

He’s among those who believe that quality education for all children is what will make for a better life  for all members of a community. I tend to agree.



Will Any Statesmen Emerge When the Georgia Legislature Goes into Session Monday?

January 10, 2009

This is the year that we are going to find out who are the real statesmen in the Georgia legislature,  or we may find there are none.  This is going to be a one of the most challenging sessions of the legislature,  and if the lawmakers simply sit on their votes and let things slide they will be committing not only a severe dereliction of duty,  but an immoral act.

Georgia State Capitol

Georgia State Capitol

Just look at the gargantuan problems facing this state. 

First of all, the recession is going to put great pressure on the state budget.  When tax revenues drop, as they always do in disastrous economic times,  programs have to cut.

Even though those tax revenues are much less,  the need for state funds are not.  Education, number one priority for most people, including lawmakers, has already been severely cut,  and more and even greater cuts are in the offing.  This will have harmful effects on the state economy because industry wants well educated people.

Transportation is an area that simply cannot be ignored.  It virtually was in the last session of the legislature since it did not pass a comprehensive transportation plan for the state.  Gridlock in the Atlanta area gets worse by the day. The state continues to emphasize road building and adding lanes to existing roads, and simply will not switch a good percentage of the dollars to mass transit.  Instead of pouring millions and millions of dollars worth of concrete and asphalt, it needs to divert a lot of that money to rail, the most efficient way to transport masses of people.  

I am really sick of the never-ending construction on I-85.  It causes miserable driving conditions and is not solving the problem.  Instead of adding lanes, they should be laying rails.  I know I have stated that before,  but it seems so obvious to me and I can’t understand why the legislators can’t grasp the facts about rail.   At least some of the states political leaders are warming up to rail, including Lt. Governor Cagle.

Believe me, even though everyone knows that the state government is going to have to concentrate on the greatest needs for the most people,   there will be a lot of people trying to get state funding for their pet projects,  and there will be legislators who will try to send sparse state funds their way.

Governor Perdue is talking about shifting a lot of emphasis to infrastructure, not only because of bridges and other infrastructure  needing to be upgraded,  but also to provide jobs.  That sounds Democratic,  the sort of thing that Barack Obama wants to do for the country, following the lead of  FDR in the early 1930’s.  Democratic or or not,  he appears to be on the right track considering the times we are in.

Yes, this is going to be the session when we learn who really in the Georgia legislature cares about the greater good for the common welfare of the people of this state.  If it is business as usual,  this state is in real trouble during these extraordinarily troubled times.

Another big issue will be attempts to change the way taxes are paid in Georgia.  We’ll  look at that in future posts.

Will Columbus Media Give Repsonsible Coverage to the State Legislature?

January 3, 2009

  On January 15th something very important, if you live in Georgia, is going to happen. The state legislature is going into session and, times being what they are, really critical, almost economically critical as the Great Depression, a world changing event that had cataclysmic outcomes, the legislature has some important decision to make. 

  This session of the Georgia legislature should get top attention by the state’s news media, but, judging from recent performances, it probably won’t.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution will probably give the most in-depth and incisive coverage, as far print media is concerned. And, thank goodness, GPTV will have its nightly Lawmakers reports that sum up each days legislative activities, but that’s not enough. It is imperative for Columbus that the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer give the legislature full coverage this year.  And Columbus television stations, the place where most people get their daily news, need to make a special effort to keep Columbus informed about what our state lawmakers are up to because what they do will have enormous impact on the ordinary citizen.

  But will Columbus media meet this challenge? It hasn’t for a number of years. I can remember when it did. The paper would have reporters that spent a great deal of time at the Capitol. And, television made an effort to keep audiences informed. I can remember when me and a photographer would drive up to Atlanta in the morning,  cover the local delegation with footage from inside the House and Senate chambers showing floor action and interviews with principals involved, and driving back in time to get the film processed and report on the action on the evening newscast. It was very rough and stressful work but it was the responsible thing to do.

  Later, when I was news director at WRBL-TV, I contracted withan Atlanta- based reporter for two or three reports a week. He would shoot reports during the day, put them on a Greyhound bus, and they would air that night.  Well, with today’s satellite capapabilties just think how effective reporting from the capitol could be.

  Now, some present day consultants may say that people really aren’t that interested in such reports, and these consultants are most interested in ratings. Well – guess what –  we had very good ratings then. Much better than they are now on any Columbus station.   

  Instead of a nightly parade of the days crimes, the easy stuff to cover, let’s see some real journalism for a change.  Yes, it takes reporters with some intellectual depth to cover political news and they don’t, as a rule, work for peanuts, but,  the investment can be worth it, not only in ratings, but in building public respect for news operations.