It’s fly, fly, fly

If you ask some­one at DOT why Ge­or­gia is spending so much on hous­ing its planes you’ll get this an­swer: “The state got a great deal on the hangar. It was a deal we couldn’t say no to.”

The Covington News - - Opinion -

Our gov­er­nor should con­sider tak­ing a page from Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s play­book — sell a state air­plane or two and try to hold down fly­ing. With avi­a­tion fuel sell­ing at nearly $6 a gal­lon, state of­fi­cials might be sur­prised at the sav­ings a ground­ing or­der would bring. In­stead, in Ge­or­gia o ff i c i a l - dom, it’s fly, fly, fly. And noth­ing’s too good for the up­keep of the state’s fleet of planes and he­li­copters. The state is spending $600,000 on a state-of-theart hangar at Char­lie Brown Air­port.

If you ask some­one at DOT why Ge­or­gia is spending so much on hous­ing its planes, you’ll get this an­swer:

“The state got a great deal on the hangar. It was deal we couldn’t say no to.”

Deal- shmeal! Any­body can get a great real es­tate deal th­ese days. We’ve been told re­peat­edly that Ge­or­gia is in a bud­get cri­sis. The Peach State couldn’t even af­ford to keep open the Ge­or­gia War Vet­er­ans Home in Milledgeville. So 81 old sol­diers and sailors will have to find other quar­ters.

Evict­ing the vets for bud­get rea­sons has not de­terred Gov. Sonny Per­due’s fly­ing habits. He re­cently took time out to learn to fly a he­li­copter and ac­quire a he­li­copter fly­ing li­cense.

It’s not clear who was keep­ing the store while Sonny was in­tent on be­com­ing Sky King.

He also re­cently flew a he­li­copter to nearby Gainesville to spread the word that lo­cal gov­ern­ments are wast­ing money. That al­leged waste, by the way, is Gov. Per­due’s ex­pla­na­tion for tak­ing away tax re­lief for home­owner’s.

The state bud­get is flash­ing red and alarm bells went off months ago. The clouds of re­ces­sion were ev­i­dent long be­fore the storm be­gan. In the first two months of the new fis­cal year (July and Au­gust), state rev­enue dipped al­most 7 per­cent un­der last year’s col­lec­tions.

As you may know, the present state bud­get is pred­i­cated on an as­ton­ish­ing 6 per­cent growth in rev­enue, as es­ti­mated by the gov­er­nor’s of­fice, in a year when eco­nomic fore­casts are dim at best.

That means the $20 bil­lion state bud­get has a $2.5 bil­lion to $3 bil­lion hole in it, which ex­plains why pub­lic schools and state uni­ver­si­ties are cut­ting their ser­vices to the bone.

But you know some­thing, folks? No­body seems to care.

The once-ro­bust in­ves­tiga­tive press is plagued by its own fi­nan­cial prob­lems and has mostly called off the dogs.

Pub­lic watch­dog Ge­or­gia Com­mon Cause is tak­ing a long rest. The Com­mon Cause di­rec­tor has con­fessed to giv­ing cam­paign money to Gov. Per­due. The state Ethics Com- mis­sion is a joke, and the in­spec­tor gen­eral has turned into the in­vis­i­ble woman.

Over at At­tor­ney Gen­eral Thurbert Baker’s of­fice, the “gone to lunch” sign has been en­graved in the door.

Pend­ing for nearly two years is a com­plaint against Jim Lientz, the gov­er­nor’s top as­sis­tant, al­leg­ing that Lientz failed to dis­close in­ter­ests in more than 50 busi­nesses. He faces a fine of $15,000 or more. It is a dis­ser­vice to Lientz and the pub­lic to fail to dis­pose of the al­le­ga­tions.

As­sis­tant At­tor­ney Gen­eral Ste­fan Rit­ter is as­signed to the case but can’t seem to find time to work on it. He’s cov­ered up de­fend­ing the gi­gan­tic case against Ge­or­gia’s ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing mess.

On the na­tional scene, we have two pres­i­den­tial candidates run­ning on a theme of change in Wash­ing­ton. Won­der if we’ll ever have a can­di­date for gov­er­nor dare to run on a “change-Ge­or­gia” plat­form. Prob­a­bly not as long as the state stays out of re­ceiver­ship.

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