Hooper Letter - 03/13/09

I read and enjoy the columns of Bill Shipp and Darrell Huckaby in the Citizen. I also read the other columns and especially those provided by state Sen. John Douglas. Sen. Douglas writes to keep us informed of the goings on under the Gold Dome in Atlanta. He and I have exchanged e-mails a great deal this year, just as I have with Toney Collins, our local representative (District 95) to the state House. I am also communicating with our elected officials in Washington, or at least trying to. The best I have gotten back from any one of them so far has been a form letter addressing some issue that had nothing to do with what I had written them about. My only New Year's Resolution this year was to make sure I no longer sat back and remained a member of the silent mass of citizens out there that our elected folks have forgotten. I intend to let them know my thinking on every issue that I have a concern about. I have kept this resolution so far and don't plan on breaking it anytime soon. Of course, I am a working senior citizen, so that may have a bearing on things down the road.

I have to applaud both Sen. Douglas and Rep. Collins as both have responded to most of my inquiries. That makes me know that at least they are paying attention to one of us back home that they have been elected to represent. I think they tend to forget that sometimes, especially when the lobbyists are glad-handing and spending money on them. Just look at how well Georgia Power did in getting their rate increase (which is nothing more that a back door tax, benefiting one company) to expand their nuclear facility. That sailed through both houses and was approved by the governor. I thought the Public Service Commission handled such issues. But that is another story.

I read with interest Sen. Douglas' column in the March 11 Citizen, most especially his last paragraph in which he expressed his dismay that the Senate Ethics Committee was unable to pass a rule change to hold elected officials accountable for paying their state taxes. He said, "I am absolutely disgusted with the whole situation. I firmly believe you shouldn't write the law if you can't obey the law." What a wonderful statement! I agreed with it wholeheartedly. He did not make it clear in his column, but I learned from someone who was in attendance when this action was taken in the Senate, our senator voted yes to hold those elected officials accountable. Too bad not enough others agreed with him.

Now I pay my taxes right regularly, as I am sure most others of us ordinary citizens of Newton County and Georgia do. But if I failed to do so, would I be given he same treatment that these elected officials have received? How about the folks in Washington in elected and appointed positions who have not paid their taxes either? Could I expect the same treatment from the IRS? Heck no! When did getting elected to represent the people in our government become a license for special privileges and special class treatment?

Now maybe you understand my New Year's Resolution.

John Hooper