2012
06.20

Today is the Summer Solstice, longest day of the year, and also the first day of Summer. Hope you have an opportunity today to enjoy the outdoors.

We told you so: Bengi Clift is the new Police Chief, Robert Busby is the new Fire Chief. Job was open for six days, posted for the three minimally required by law, and the people they wanted from the beginning were immediately plugged into the job without considering any other possibility.

Clift won’t yell and curse like Freeman, even though he’s about as qualified and ethically similar. (If he wasn’t, Freeman wouldn’t have made him the no. 2.) He’s young and in fairly good health, he won’t be as openly abusive as his predecessor so he won’t get fired, and he’s not likely to get a job anywhere else (see the Peter Principle for why), so you’re stuck with him for the next twenty or thirty years.

Our apologies to the people of LaFayette.

Bengi threatened one of our contributors with a criminal charge and said it would go away if we buried incriminating documentation on Freeman. That shows his ethical standards well enough, and his qualifications don’t matter beyond that.

Judge Brian House, running unopposed for another term on the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit, has violated the law by endorsing candidates in other races. But that’s OK, we don’t enforce the rules in Georgia anyway.

If you drive around the county, you might find other judge candidates who violate these rules. We’ve also got an elections board member who likes to post campaign signs on her property (another law violated). And a commissioner candidate who leaves lots of things off her required financial reports.

But hey, they’re all good people, it’s probably all fine.

Walker State Judge candidate Billy Mullinax is also violating these rules, or at least in a legally gray area, by campaigning along with Steve Wilson. They ride around together, share a billboard, their campaigns put out yard signs for each other.. It’s hard to tell where Wilson ends and Mullinax begins, which is a real problem that needs to be investigated.

Bruce Coker, candidate for Chief Magistrate Judge of Walker County, is also in a gray area when he participates in fundraisers for entities like United Way and Stocking Full of Love. According to the rules of Georgia courts (which are ethical standards for court officers, not state law), a candidate for judge must conduct himself as a judge even while campaigning – and judges aren’t allowed to do fundraising for candidates or groups. But Coker doesn’t have a clue about the law or election rules – he’ll make a great judge.

There are a lot of gray areas, and some parts of this that may be technically legal but ethically unwise. Every candidate should be working to avoid any risk of impropriety by steering clear of these campaigning and fundraising issues. But this bunch is morally (or maybe mentally) short. If you vote for Mullinax or Coker you’re going to get exactly what you deserve, which is trouble.

As President Reagan said, “Concentrated power has always been the enemy of liberty.” Yet we throw away our liberty every four years by continuing to support a commissioner who refuses to let anyone share her power or give her accountability. A vote for Bebe is a vote AGAINST having a commission-based county government.

And as we told you yesterday, Heiskell’s power and lack of accountability lets her abuse the rules, up to the point of using Walker County’s tax ID number to exempt herself from paying sales taxes.

This article indicates city garbage service returned to once-a-week pickup already, which is what Councilman Bradford said (and what we reported a couple weeks ago) – but residents are still seeing the trucks come by twice a week and City Hall said the schedule changes back on July 1st. Once again the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.

As someone else suggested, they should just randomly pick up trash and not tell us when it’ll run, because that’s the schedule everybody’s used to now.

The TSPLOST or TIA or SPIDITLUT tax we’re being urged to approve next month isn’t a one-cent tax, it’s a one-PERcent tax, which means a penny on every dollar you spend. Based on projections, the average household in Georgia will pay $518 a year for ten years. Can you afford to give up an entire paycheck every year for a decade to get three new bridges and a new highway to nowhere?

Will we get more road projects than that? Well maybe. 15-25% of the tax revenues will go to local government to use however they see fit. TSPLOST advocates say the money is designated for roads, but according to Whitfield County commissioners, it’s wide open for anything.

This columnist is concerned that those funds aren’t designated, and there’s no project list in most places for how the money will be spent. (Atlanta perspective since we have no decent local media.)

Do you trust Bebe to WISELY use her cut of this money? Why would she practically be wetting her pants in excitement over it if it was only going for roads?

More background on TSPLOST, from Savannah:

    “The tax covers a 10 year period. The funds are totaled for the region, then allocated based upon 75% a ‘constrained investment list of projects and 25% discretionary funds based upon an 80% non-state road miles per county and 20% based upon population. Funds are collected by the Georgia Department of Revenue, then transferred to the Georgia Finance and Investment Commission for distribution.’
    “Confusing? You bet. That is intentional.”

The author of that piece suggests that local chambers of commerce will suffer once people realize the role they’ve played in pushing this tax increase. But that assumes people ever “realize” anything – and if Walker County approves this tax, we’ll be giving up hope for light bulbs going off over anybody’s head any time soon.

And here’s OUR background on TSPLOST from October 2010. A few things in that we’ve learned more about since it was first posted.

Aimee Copeland, the WGA graduate who contracted flesh-eating virus last month, is now a quadruple-amputee. Her condition has been upgraded but her pain grows worse.

The Texas father who punched a wannabe child rapist to death will not face charges. We mentioned this incident last week.

LaFayette’s Kids 4 Christ is ten years old this month.

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  1. I am going to be hopeful and say that Benji was trying to keep his job, and though it wasn’t ethical, he is a man and he was desperate to keep his position. He is now reformed, realizes the mistakes he made in his pandering to the former Chief, and making moral exceptions. Now he is going to try to live up to the standards of a police chief should be, rise above small town politics and will bring honor and integrity back to the police department. Right Benji? Right?