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Ric Latarski - Session taking a nasty turn

Apparently their mamas never told them to play nice.

At least that's the way things are already shaping up in this year's session of the General Assembly.

We are still in the first week of this year's session, and the acrid smell of petty politics and juvenile petulance is already permeating the halls under the Gold Dome.

You look around the General Assembly and you don't see the logic of Mr. Spock but you do see some of the problems Dr. Spock addressed.

It has been reported that Texas is the largest air polluter in the country, but it is obvious that the air quality test was not done while the Georgia Legislature was in session.

Don't be surprised to hear that during a legislative luncheon a food fight broke out.

The really weird thing is that much of the animosity is between members of the same party.

The squabble between Gov. Sonny Perdue and Speaker of the House Glenn Richardson would be truly comical if it wasn't the ultimate sign of personal bombast and the transmission of guvmint jumping out of gear.

If we really want to find some additional revenue for state projects, we could arrange a cage match between Perdue and Richardson and charge admission.

Given his size and experience as an ex-athlete, you would have to give the edge to Sonny, but Richardson is pretty slick, so the Guv might not be able to get a good purchase on him, thus making a clean pin tough.

No matter who wins, the ticket revenue would be enough to fund transportation projects throughout the state.

The myopic Perdue must have to read his stationery letterhead every morning to remind himself he is actually the governor.

And any man who seems to have the thirst for power that Richardson does is the very kind of person to whom it should not be granted.

Perdue gave his State of the State address, and the only real surprise was that Richardson was not hunkered down in the third row with a slingshot and box of rotten tomatoes.

Perdue's speech could have been short and sweet: "The state of the state is dry but drowning in mendacity and overflowing with turmoil." He then could have gone to his prayer service.

To his credit, Perdue did note it was time to address serious issues such as water woes, education and transportation. But when was it not?

Poking holes in the air with your finger and making speeches is the easy part, but making tough decisions to actually deal with some of these problems is another matter. What actually happens to address these issues remains to be seen.

Oneupmanship and grandstanding has always been a part of the General Assembly, but the notion that my-idea-is-the-only-one-that-is-good is a growing malady that seems to have become standard operating procedure for members of our august governing body.

Legislators may represent their districts and know that by bringing home the bacon, or some kind of pork, they enhance their chances for reelection.

But they are also responsible for the entire state and must look at problems realistically and utilize state resources - call that money - in a forthright manner.

A big road project in Boondock County might be a nice little perk, but it may not be necessary at the expense of a much more needed project in a highly congested area.

And a major construction project in metro Atlanta may need to take a backseat to dock improvements in Savannah.

It's OK to disagree, and honest, open debate is the key to finding solutions to problems.

But the job of lawmakers is to weigh the worth and merit of the issues before them and determine what impact legislation will have in the real world, how it will affect the state and its citizens everywhere from Mineral Bluff to Faceville.

This calls for honest evaluation, not some Ouija Board analysis a legislator wants to use to see how a decision will affect him or her politically.

It also calls for legislators to work together and accept the fact that no one person or party has all the right answers and that political expedience may very well not be in the best interest of the people and state.

And this demands the very cooperation that seems to have evaporated under the Gold Dome.

Maybe all you mamas should give the members of the General Assembly a call and tell them to play nice.