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The Covington News - - Opinion -

In­ex­cus­able

Elected lead­ers in this state have only been at work less than a month and they have al­ready stepped with both feet into trou­ble, not once, but twice.

It was re­ported last week that House Speaker David Ral­ston, his fam­ily, his chief of staff and his wife ac­cepted a $17,000 Euro­pean trip from a Washington lob­by­ist to gather in­for­ma­tion on how im­por­tant rail ser­vice is to some Euro­pean coun­tries and how such rail ser­vice would ben­e­fit Ge­or­gians.

If you re­ally be­lieve the speaker was concerned about that, you are cer­tainly liv­ing in a dream world.

Ral­ston was elected to this ex­alted po­si­tion last year, re­plac­ing a dis­graced pre­de­ces­sor.

He was put into that po­si­tion be­cause he promised to re­form the way politi­cians do busi­ness in this state.

Shame on us for be­liev­ing in such prom­ises. Ral­ston by all ac­counts has spent his first year be­ing wined and dined by nu­mer­ous lobby groups.

There re­ally hasn’t been much said by our law­mak­ers about Ral­ston’s boon­dog­gle trip on our be­half.

We would have hoped that our lo­cal leg­is­la­tors would have spo­ken up on this is­sue, but they have not.

We be­lieve Ge­or­gian’s want hon­est govern­ment; we be­lieve that they want politi­cians who are go­ing to be con­scious of the eco­nomic stress that we are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing in this state.

We be­lieve Ral­ston should set an ex­am­ple, ad­mit he made a mis­take, pay back the lob­by­ist their money for this trip and get mov­ing on cre­at­ing real re­form in our state.

If he is not ca­pa­ble of this, he should be forced to step aside.

In an­other is­sue the state giveth and the state taketh away. Un­for­tu­nately for many vic­tims of the state take away, no no­tice was given.

There are many cit­i­zens of Ge­or­gia who be­cause of this eco­nomic down­turn are be­tween a rock and a hard place. Many of the folks rushed off their tax re­turns to the state in hopes of be­ing able to boost their bank ac­counts.

These folks with the deep­est of trust in our state and its lead­ers re­ceived their state re­funds, de­posited them, prob­a­bly went to bed with a sigh of re­lief, and then spent the next day be­ing to­tally em­bar­rassed be­cause that money which they thought was theirs was re­called by the state with­out no­tice.

It seems that state of­fi­cials dis­cov­ered that there had been a $640,000 over­pay of tax re­turns be­cause of a com­puter glitch.

Mis­takes hap­pen, we un­der­stand that, but the way state of­fi­cials han­dled this was in­ex­cus­able.

Newly-ap­pointed Rev­enue Com­mis­sioner Dou­glas J. MacGin­nite was quoted as say­ing af­ter the fi­asco “Clearly we need to work to make the Depart­ment of Rev­enue more cus­tomer fo­cused. I as­sume that is why the gover­nor asked me to take this job”

Do you think, Mr. Com­mis­sioner?

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