First, it was the all-out rush to enact legislation to stop gay marriages. But gay marriages were already illegal.
Then it was the mad dash to require voter IDs to stop fraud at the polls. But there was no fraud at the polls. Absentee voting was fraught with crookedness and might have needed reining in. No one was interested. Destroying such a fine Georgia tradition was plainly out of order. The masses who stood in line were the fiends who needed to be watched.
Next came Gov. Sonny Perdue's grand scheme to spend millions in public funds to promote fishing. His campaign began in the midst of Georgia's worst drought. The fish must still be laughing.
The list of mindless proposals wrought by Perdue and House Speaker Romeo Richardson is endless: An outrageous sales tax is pending that would turn Georgia's economy on its ear. A new water board has been proposed to give metro Atlanta more authority to swipe water from the Other Georgia and to slake Georgia Power's unquenchable thirst. Environmental protection proposals that look as if they were written by strip miners are all but certain to win passage.
Have we been conned? Yes, indeed - and by the biggest bunch of charlatans ever to take possession of state government. No one seems to care. We put them there, and now we're stuck with them. They keep us in the national headlines, though - voter ID, gay weddings, pray-for-rain day, record foreclosures, a bankrupt legal system, Sonny for vice president, etc.
Just look at this mess. Will we ever get it cleaned up after these bums leave? Last year, the major accomplishment of Sonny's entire tenure, Go Fish Georgia, was the buzz of every pool hall and biker shack.
However: The centerpiece of the Perdue years turned out to be a $22 million boondoggle earmarked for the governor's home county, Houston County. The apparent behind-the-scenes thinking of the Go Fish crowd: Oaky Woods, a would-be state nature preserve next to Perdue's private land, was sold to developers, thus increasing considerably the governor's net worth. The state is making up for the loss by sinking $22 million in public funds into fishing in Houston County.
While Sonny and the Legislature have been fishing for suckers, parts of Georgia have been left to starve. Take our schools. This year alone, Sonny aims to reduce by more than $140 million the basic level of school funding that is mandated by Georgia law. Over the past six years, our state's commitment to our children's education has been shortchanged by more than $1.5 billion. You would think that, with this level of neglect, our state's leaders must believe our public schools are improving and don't need the cash to which they are legally entitled. Wrong. Most of the schools still wallow on the bottom of educational achievement. Meanwhile, the student population soars.
Not so along ago, our state's chief executives, most notably Carl Sanders, Zell Miller and Roy Barnes, called themselves "education governors." They would say that while the K-12 system was poor, the state's universities were a great diamond in the rough that they were determined to make greater. The diamond has been replaced with zirconium. Right now, only firmly dedicated HOPE lottery funds are saving the University System of Georgia from becoming the bottom-feeder of the Southeast, which is already the bottom-feeder of the nation.
Sonny is continuing his fiscal assault on the state's colleges, holding back $274 million again this year. Under Sonny, the University System has been drained of more than $1.6 billion from its budget.
For those of you counting, Sonny has withheld a total of more than $3 billion in funds from education over the last six years. Those numbers are mind-numbing. Now Perdue has the temerity to propose a tiny cut in state-levied property taxes to compensate for local tax increases - which were raised to replace state funds whacked by Perdue in the first place. Give me a break.
Leading Georgians still are so clueless that they believe Peach State universities can become centers for specialized biological research. Are they kidding? Get rid of Perdue first. Send him back to school to learn a bit of state history and finally produce an accurate quote about Georgia from our founder Lord Oglethrope. (Perdue's quotation from Oglethorpe in the guv's State of the State speech was never uttered by Oglethorpe.)
Historians will certainly remember this incident involving our leading founder. Looking over the shipload of English deadbeats chosen to settle Georgia, Oglethorpe turned to a friend and said: "Doesn't that grinning, bald-headed fellow - yeah, the one with the shifty eyes, the cutpurse - remind you of someone? I wonder how he'll wind up, and what will become of his progeny."
You can reach Bill Shipp at P.O. Box 2520, Kennesaw, GA 30156, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.