Ga. last in ethics; pols blame the messenger

A new report measuring states on the strength of their laws on public corruption and government openness ranks Georgia last in the nation, a grade state officials dismissed as a biased hit job. The report, released today, scored states on 330 “corruption risk indicators” including open records law, campaign finance rules, and auditing and budgeting procedures. Georgia received an overall grade of 49 out of 100, an F. … House Ethics Committee Chairman Joe Wilkinson, R-Sandy Springs, said the report blindsided him, and he criticized the choice of author for Georgia’s report card. Jim Walls, a former Atlanta Journal-Constitution editor and owner…

Thou shalt not waste time w/ symbolic legislation

A copy of the Ten Commandments could be posted in all Georgia government buildings and schools under a bill passed unanimously Tuesday by House lawmakers. Rep. Tommy Benton, R-Jefferson, is seeking to expand a 2006 law that already permits the passage from the Old Testament to be displayed in judicial buildings and courthouses when accompanied by other historical documents deemed to have influenced the U.S. legal system. So what else has Georgia’s General Assembly been up to? *Car owners could get “In God We Trust” stickers free of charge under a bill passed Tuesday by the state Senate, which adopted the measure…

State budget finds room for fishing ponds, football stadiums

Having already subsidized a fishing museum in former Gov. H. Dumpty’s backyard the state of Georgia is now helping fund a unnecessary new football stadium for the Falcons and its billionaire owner. This month, [Gov. Nathan] Deal included $15 million in his proposed 2012 budget for the GWCC Authority to purchase the old Herndon Homes property next to the potential stadium site from the Atlanta Housing Authority.  GWCC spokesman Mark Geiger said the property could be used for a marshaling yard, for GWCC expansion or parking, or for a stadium. Last March AJC columnist Kyle Wingfield detailed what the $400 million the…

No refunds for the subsidisers

Let’s say 10 years from now — long after the Georgia General Assembly approves public funding for a new Falcons stadium (shouldn’t that be put to a statewide referendum?) — NFL owners preside over another lockout. A prolonged work stoppage ensues. Who will reimburse the taxpayers who funded the stadium, the ones misled to believe that a new facility would bring added revenues to the city and state? What about the merchants who open establishments dependent on fan business? Fan reimbursement — that’s funny. Additional subsidizing is more like it, in the form of higher ticket prices to cover alleged losses by…

What $400 mil would buy

Excellent column by the AJC’s Kyle Wingfield detailing what the money earmarked for an unnecessary football stadium could go toward instead:  For example, it could go to cutting property taxes. Atlanta takes in $18 million to $20 million in general funds for each mill of property taxes. (A mill equals a dollar of tax for every $1,000 of a home’s assessed value.) If the city were to lower property taxes by one mill and replace the revenue with hotel taxes, the owner of a $250,000 home would save $250 a year. (Hey, that’s about what it costs to take a family of…

Man cannot live on $900 million alone

Forbes lists Arthur Blank’s net worth at $1.3 billion. Taxpayers are being asked to provide $400 million toward a new stadium (to replace one barely two decades old) for Blank’s Falcons. Glad to see Georgia’s General Assembly taking care of one of the state’s five billionaires. The rest of their constitutents can suck it. “Economists have studied the economic impact of stadiums to death, and the clear consensus is that there is no positive impact,” said author and sports economist J.C. Bradbury of Kennesaw State University. “Economists don’t agree on a lot, but right wing, left wing, they all agree on that.”

Tea partiers apparently unfazed by welfare for billionaires

andishehnouraee New Falcons stadium will revitalize its n’hood. You know, just like the Ga. Dome & Turner Field did for their n’hoods. http://bit.ly/gypR9L 7 hours ago The state’s broke yet taxpayers will soon be asked to help fund an unnecessary stadium. We’ll be told that new stadiums pay for themselves, and then some, but that’s bullshit. [W]hat they do is they use debt, public debt, to help build these stadiums. And, essentially, these are bonds that go out decades, if you will. And two things generally happen: either these stadiums don’t pay for themselves in many cases, which leaves taxpayers on the…

Looks like the Baptists win again

Our last governor was a crook. His replacement has, at the very least, been cordial with impropriety. The new speaker of the house might as well be fornicating with lobbyists. And now, thanks to pressure from Christian conservatives who should have better things to worry about than the drinking habits of their fellow Georgians, legislation permitting Sunday alcohol sales has stalled. Again. Pardon me for having zero faith in Georgia’s Republican monopoly.

Georgia: The new Mississippi

Atlanta’s downtown connector is about to get another coat of asphalt. Why? The resurfacing of the northbound lanes should correct the problem of water seeping through the roadway that led to patches of black ice this past winter. “Crews will cut very thin horizontal grooves in the asphalt to drain any seeping water,” DOT spokeswoman Crystal Paulk-Buchanan said. “Then, crews will put the final layer of asphalt over this section.” Yeah, that black ice is a real problem — much graver than our failing schools. Here is the bottom line. If the changes in state and local revenues that are already occurring…

Paulding County Republicans and their “San Francisco values”

To fill the seat vacated by former House Speaker Glenn Richardson, who resigned earlier this year after his ex-wife confirmed he had an affair with a lobbyist, Paulding County voters on Tuesday elected Daniel Stout, a 29-year-old banker. Stout won despite acknowledging an affair with his mother-in-law while his wife was pregnant. If John Edwards really wants back in politics, he should change his party affiliation and move to suburban Atlanta.

Georgia praises Scientology

This may come as a surprise to some, but your Republican-controlled state Senate – usually known for catering to the concerns of conservative Christians – last week issued a sincere commendation to the Scientology Volunteer Ministers Corps. SR 998 passed the chamber on Feb. 8. The sponsors were three Democrats: Donzella James of College Park, Horacena Tate of Atlanta, and Valencia Seay of Riverdale. I guess the three state senators were impressed with Scientology’s profiteering in Haiti.