Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:
The Augusta Chronicle on the importance of reading:
We hope we're not misreading state officials, but they sure seem to be misreading Augusta.
Reading between the lines of Georgia Board of Regents Chancellor Hank Huckaby's remarks to the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce Breakfast on Wednesday, it sure sounds as if folks in Atlanta have very badly misread what's going on in Augusta.
Very, very badly.
The chancellor talked about his role, and Georgia Regents University President Ricardo Azziz's role, as a change agent. He talked about the institution having a statewide mission. He talked about turning over sacred cows. Did we mention he talked about the benefits of change?
Again, we hope we're wrong - we just don't know, because, sadly enough, organizers of the breakfast this week seemed overly concerned about the audience asking the chancellor any indelicate questions, so there wasn't much of a dialogue. ...
How our pride in Augusta State University was turned into a bad thing is beyond us. It's not. Folks in Atlanta should be thrilled that Augustans care this much about our state institutions. Instead, they think we need to be lectured.
And about the name: If some people think we're being provincial, how does that explain Dr. Azziz's $45,000 national survey that ranked "University of Augusta" or something close to it as the best name for the new U?
State officials seem not to know the first thing about what's going on here. We hope we're wrong, and look forward to being proved wrong - particularly by a willingness to work with us on these ongoing problems.
Change agents have to be willing to change too.
The Telegraph, Macon, Georgia, on state on track to make driving under the influence a painful experience:
The National Transportation Safety Board has made a recommendation that states lower thresholds for inebriated drivers from .08 to .05. This would follow the lead of more than 100 countries that have .05 or lower limits. Whether the move would lower the instances of alcohol-related accidents and deaths, as it has in other countries, remains to be seen. Georgia, as did many other states, lowered its alcohol limit from .10 to .08 in 2001 in order to continue receiving federal highway funds, but the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that in 2001 there were 406 alcohol-related road deaths. In 2008, that number had not receded but had risen slightly to 416.
When the Georgia General Assembly considers changing the legal alcohol limit next session, it should continue last session's efforts to bring more technology to bear. Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law earlier this month HB 407 that requires those convicted of a second DUI to have an ignition interlock installed in any vehicle available to the violator for a period of a year, up from six months and eight months. An ignition interlock device prevents a car from being started if it detects an alcohol level (similar to a Breathalyzer) that exceeds a certain limit. The device can also be set to retake samples periodically during the same trip to thwart efforts to fool the device, such as having a passenger blow into it. The device records the readings and periodically, the driver has to have those readings downloaded and submitted to the court.
Also last session, state Sen. Donzella James, D-Atlanta, introduced SB 15 that would have required ignition interlocks for first-time DUI offenders. Her bill is still alive and could be approved in the 2014 session.
Lowering the limit, combined with laws already in place, would build a psychological wall that could prevent social drinkers from overindulging, knowing that more than one drink would, most likely, put them over the legal limit. Many accidents are caused by drivers well over the .08 limit. There's no foolproof way to keep them away from a vehicle, but we can up the punishment when they don't comply with the law.
The Brunswick (Ga.) News on America needs more wise voters who care:
Another member of the U.S. House of Representatives has introduced yet another bill in a futile attempt to limit how long members of Congress can stay in office. The measure, authored by Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., would limit House members to three terms, or six years, and senators to two terms, or 12 years.
Since the change would require a constitutional amendment, two-thirds of Congress would have to approve it followed by ratification of three-fourths of the 50 states. That's a long road for any legislation to have to travel, which is as it should be when talking about altering the U.S. Constitution.
There's a better way to achieve this objective. What's needed are men and women vying for office who are more concerned about their nation, about the future of all Americans, and less about their own political careers. In other words, the nation needs statesmen.
Capping how much money can be spent on elections and re-elections also could prove beneficial to the American public. Spending millions of dollars on political contests is absolutely ridiculous, even for members of Congress and even in the USA.
What's needed above all else are wise voters - men and women who care enough about the future of their nation to take the time to look beyond political labels and study the candidates. Voting along party lines is not working out so well for the country. We have advanced in our ability to protect ourselves from foreign aggressors with state-of-the-art weapons, but that has been about the extent of this country's advancement.
Our infrastructure remains in a state of meltdown, children in public schools are still not getting the education a country of our means can afford and years later we are still debating what to do about undocumented aliens and how to manage - properly manage - the nation's budget.