Editorials

Editorials

New jail on distant horizon but planning needs to begin

The grand jury has spoken and what they said should come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention. The Bibb County Law Enforcement Center — better known as the jail — is old. At least the section that dates back to 1980. Something else that should not come as a surprise, Sheriff David Davis agrees.

Editorials

Technology part of the problem and solution: Part II

With all our technological advancements in the vehicle arena, more people are dying in crashes than at almost anytime in history according to the National Safety Council. The NSC estimates that 40,200 people died in automobile accidents in 2016, up 6 percent over 2015. We haven’t seen this level of vehicle death in a decade. Georgia has seen a 34 percent increase in vehicle deaths from 2014 to 2016 according to the NSC. Georgia had the fifth highest percentage increase in the nation. And the death toll comes in third behind Texas and California.

Editorials

Technology part of the problem and solution: Part I

Step into almost any late model vehicle and everywhere you look there is technology. The latest models have automatic braking, lane departure warning systems, front and rear collision avoidance systems and an untold number of other safety features. So why are we still dying at an unprecedented rate on our highways?

Editorials

Water wars over or just another skirmish?

Children born when the water dispute between Georgia, Alabama and Florida broke out in 1990, are all grown up now. Many probably have families of their own. The dispute had Alabama wanting more water from Lake Lanier created by the Buford Dam on the Chattahoochee River to cool its nuclear plant. Further downstream, Florida wanted the “hooch’s” water to feed Apalachicola Bay’s seafood industry worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Georgia needed the water to provide for the ever-thirsty Atlanta metro area.

Editorials

Economy looking good for 2017, but there’s a ‘but’ in there

The economic gurus from the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth and the Center for Economic Analysis at Middle Georgia State University gave attendees at the Georgia Economic Outlook luncheon a peek into the future, statewide and locally. And in the words of Benjamin Ayers, dean of the College of Business, he had “good” news to report.

Editorials

Coming to grips with trash, one piece at a time

When you look around the Macon-Bibb County community, there seems to be one constant in almost every section: trash. It’s not that the county’s Public Works Department isn’t doing its job. It’s not that Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful is not on the case and it’s not that law enforcement isn’t pitching in where it can to enforce the anti-litter laws already on the books.

Editorials

Casino debate needs to see public light

Just in case you had not noticed, the casino industry has its sights on Georgia and has some high-powered hired help to push the issue through the legislative process. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Haley Barbour, former chair of the Republican National Committee and former Mississippi governor made a courtesy call on Gov. Deal last month. They are long time friends, however, Barbour is now a registered lobbyist for a doctors’ group and Wynn Resorts, the company that operates properties in Las Vegas and China, according to its website.

Editorials

A needless tragedy that can be avoided

It’s utterly heartbreaking to hear the news of yet another child dying while possibly playing with a gun. It’s a story that’s repeated all too often. According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, on average, 2,806 people, 19 or younger, are shot unintentionally every year. The Nationwide Children’s Center for Injury Research and Policy tries to dispel some of the myths we seem to inherently believe. First some facts.

Editorials

Fighting physical and mental blight

There are about 4,000 blighted properties in Macon-Bibb County. That’s the estimate that was expressed at Macon-Bibb County Commission’s retreat in Athens last week. That estimate, if correct, has remained static even with all the efforts to move the needle. At least one commissioner, Bert Bivins, continually questioned what was going to be done? In truth, there is no good answer.

Editorials

Immigration issues could be costly to Georgia

Last week’s executive order by President Donald Trump, “Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States,” has the international community in somewhat of a tizzy. Though it is only temporary (90 days) and impacts only seven countries it has the potential to upset long-standing relationships that have nothing to do with the targets of the order, particularly in Georgia.

Editorials

Redesigned ‘Street Party’ returns to the festival

It’s hard to believe how quickly time passes, that is until you’re reminded of something. Wednesday, the Cherry Blossom Festival announced that a former staple of the festival, the Street Party, was making a come back. It disappeared from the festival for a variety of reasons five years ago. Has it really been that long? Cherry Street merchants thought the party — which attracted thousands of people — hurt their businesses. A fact hard to refute. After all, the businesses had to generally close early to avoid the crowds and once the party started festival goers weren’t interested in shopping but partying. And there were plenty of vendors outside who were more than glad to quench their thirst. And lastly, like most large crowds, they left Cherry Street a mess.

Editorials

Looking ahead by looking back

The new year brings a new set of challenges to governments big and small. Finance officers are beginning to pull figures together for department heads for the annual budgetary process dance that will begin in earnest soon. The Macon-Bibb County Commission is no different. But it is also a time to look back. Anyone familiar with the budgeting process knows a budget is just a guide. Any enterprise, from a family to multi-million dollar corporation, needs to look back to examine how close projected expenses and revenues matched reality.

Editorials

Will we ever get a handle on the garbage fee — er, tax?

The Macon-Bibb County Commission will consider at its next full meeting in February whether to add garbage and recycling fees to property tax bills rather than through the tax commissioner’s office where the fees have been collected since 2006. Before that, the fees were collected by the Macon Water Authority. with pretty dismal results. The expected move should up the collection rate above 90 percent where it sits now. The property tax collection rate is 97 percent.

Editorials

It’s difficult to run, but you can be prepared

They drop out of the sky unannounced. In a matter of a few seconds they can cause intense destruction and even death. That’s exactly what happened this past weekend when a string of possibly 39 tornadoes spawned by storms hit Georgia, Mississippi and northern Florida leaving 20 dead in their paths.

Editorials

Making sure the county keeps its promises

The Macon-Bibb County Commission is going through the not-so sexy process of deciding who best to manage two of the county’s pension funds of which there are three. However, due to consolidation, only one fund is “active.”In the two “closed” funds, retirees still receive benefits even though the old city of Macon and Bibb County no longer exist. All funds have separate boards of trustees. The closed funds are in excellent shape, one, the Macon Fire and Police Employees Retirement Pension is fully funded and the former city of Macon plan is over 90 percent funded. The active account includes all the employees of Macon-Bibb County.

Editorials

Perdue, adding to his list of life’s adventures

George E. “Sonny” Perdue III has been nominated by the incoming Trump administration to fill the Cabinet level post of Secretary of Agriculture. While we could question some of President Trump’s other selections for high level office, we have no reservations about this pick. Perdue, who served the great state of Georgia as governor from 2003 to 2011, didn’t attain his knowledge of agriculture from sleeping in a Holiday Inn last night, rather, he was literally born into into the business. While his mother was a teacher, his father was a Houston County farmer. Perdue went on to earn his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Georgia, serve in the U.S. Air Force and practice veterinary medicine. Somewhere in between all that he managed to play football at Warner Robins High School and UGA. His political career? Well, most folks around here know about all that so we won’t waste the space. Needless to say, he’s been dabbling in politics since the 1980s.

Editorials

Respect the office if not the man

Donald J. Trump, the billionaire businessman, will recite the presidential oath on Friday. Each inauguration is a demonstration to the rest of the world what the peaceful transfer of power looks like. The only shots heard that day will be the cannonade from the Presidential Guns Salute Battery that will fire from Taft Park, just north of the Capitol.

Editorials

Trying to make sense of the unexplainable

There is a phrase we’ve been hearing a lot when faced with looking for the reasoning behind the commission of certain crimes: “It’s in the water,” because there really is no reasonable explanation. For example, how do you explain the shooting of Brooklyn Rouse? The 21-year-old was going about her business of delivering pizzas on a day she was supposed to have off. Little could she know that one of those calls for pizza was actually a trap to lure a deliverer to a robbery. The trap worked, and Brooklyn was shot in the head in the process, and for what?

Editorials

Timing is key to news about air service

It is good news that passenger service, albeit limited, will return to the Macon Regional Airport. Contour Airlines, assisted by a $4.2 million annual subsidy from the U.S. Department of Transportation grant, will assure two nonstop round trips six days a week to Washington Dulles International Airport located in Sterling, Virginia, about 30 miles outside of Washington, D.C. Washington Dulles is an international hub so it opens up a world of destinations for at least the next couple of years. A Macon-Bibb County Commission committee approved a resolution to accept the deal on Tuesday and full commission approval is expected on Jan. 17.

Editorials

Gov. Deal reveals his budget priorities

Gov. Nathan Deal plopped his 350-plus page fiscal 2018 budget on lawmakers’ desks Wednesday, and to say it is ambitious would be an understatement. We’ve already known since last September that he wanted to up state law enforcement personnel salaries by 20 percent and up their training as well. Add to that a 19 percent raise for child welfare workers and a 2 percent raise for teachers and other state employees.

Editorials

Trying to avoid detection leads to missteps

As Gov. Nathan Deal enters his seventh legislative session, we would have to say he’s been a pretty good governor overall. He’s shown courage — pulling out his veto pen last year on a disastrous campus gun proposal, House Bill 859, that every college president abhorred, and House Bill 757, “Religious Liberty” legislation, saying during his press conference to announce the veto, that the bill didn’t reflect Georgia’s welcoming image as a state full of “warm, friendly and loving people.” To be sure, it was a business friendly veto, and Gov. Deal has been all about business during his tenure.

Editorials

Big issues coming up for this year’s session

The Georgia General Assembly will convene next week and it is lining up to be a busy session. With elections over, lawmakers will not be as shy as they were during the 2016 gathering and will dive head first into some possibly contentious issues.

Editorials

Good news for Robins on opening day

The 115th Congress is now in session. There is a buzz in Washington, D.C. that is common when transition is in the air. However, this buzz may be louder and more expectant than those of times past. The Republican Party has control of the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House — and there are plenty of campaign promises that constituents are looking for lawmakers to keep.

Editorials

What the hack about the Yahoo announcement?

The news last week that Yahoo had been breached and a billion or more users information may have fallen into the wrong hands is not good news for the company nor for its customers and it’s hardly a story that inspires faith in companies that horde our electronic digits that open up our electronic world.