Category: Commentaries

By Benita M. Dodd To see the opposing labels slapped on metro Atlanta is to wonder whether people are referring to the same place. The region is denounced across the globe as out of control, congested: the “poster child for sprawl.” Yet it earns accolades, not only as the country’s leading entrepreneurial location but as affordable and among the 50 best places in the nation to live. As diverse as the views are the solutions proposed for the region’s real and imagined woes. Between the extreme views of halting growth or eliminating regulation exists a host of proposals that are forceful reminders that “quality growth” is a matter of perspective. As a matter of perspective: While Georgia continues to be… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd My trip downtown never was the mythical five miles barefoot in the snow, uphill both ways. It did, however, once use up a good part of the day. That B.C. (before cars) memory came flooding back recently as I read a couple of reports trumpeting the benefits of public transportation. An Oakland (Calif.) Tribune story headlined, “Trains, boats beat cars in transit race to airport,” reported that a team of transit riders beat a team of drivers in a morning commute competition. And in a Sierra Club report, “Missing the Train: How the Bush Administration’s Transportation Proposal Threatens Jobs, Commutes, and Public Transit Ridership,” the environmental group declared federal funding for public transportation inadequate, noting that… View Article

DNR Stay Rule Could Encourage Growth To Go

By Benita Dodd After two years of planning, Gadget & Gizmo Inc. is eager to set up its Southeast regional headquarters in Georgia. All that stands in the way is the air emissions permit it needs from the state Environmental Protection Division. And a little hiccup called the Stay Rule, which essentially gives any third party that appeals the permit within 30 days the ability to hinder the company’s plans indefinitely. Jack Smith, a farmer in Carroll County, has applied for a water withdrawal permit. He needs the permit in time to get his irrigation system installed in order to obtain a bank loan next year based on the anticipated harvest value. “If that permit is issued but there is… View Article
By Benita Dodd Within the next few months, Georgians across the state will never again be able to water more than three days a week. State officials, working to foster a culture of conservation, called it “a very big step” for water conservation when the board of the Department of Natural Resources approved rules for permanent statewide outdoor water use restrictions. Promoting a culture of conservation is a noble goal. Excluding agriculture, Georgia’s average daily per-capita water consumption is estimated at 168 gallons compared with a national average of 153 gallons. Our population is growing in leaps and bounds; we’re feuding with the neighbors over who gets what water, and new reservoirs are almost as scarce as hen’s teeth. Steps… View Article
By Harold Brown The picture of air pollution, asthma and other respiratory diseases has been imprinted as a clear image on the minds of Georgians, especially in metro Atlanta. High ozone days bring on warnings to people subject to asthma and other respiratory conditions to curtail their outdoor activities. Newspaper descriptions reinforce the image, reporting that, “When ozone builds up, it literally takes some people’s breath away. It can fill emergency rooms with gasping asthma patients and send coughing joggers toward home.” So commuters are encouraged to carpool or ride MARTA, while government agencies devise strict regulations to reduce air pollutants and protect public health. What could be clearer this month, which is Asthma Awareness Month and the start of… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen Prescription drug costs represent 11 percent of total U.S. health care spending, according to the most recent federal data. This relatively small portion of our health care spending, however, has enormous potential to save lives and reduce overall health care costs. Unfortunately, rather than focusing on ways to enhance the role of pharmaceuticals in keeping people healthy, elected officials are in danger of chasing illusory savings via failed regulatory schemes such as price controls. It is by now an often-repeated fact that the 80/20 Rule applies to health care: 80 percent of the cost is driven by just 20 percent of the people. These individuals most often suffer from multiple chronic diseases such as hypertension, congestive heart… View Article

Forcing Firms To Keep Jobs Stateside Could Hurt Georgia

By Benita Dodd Efforts to thwart outsourcing of jobs and services abroad have reached at least 14 states, including Georgia, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. While well intended, legislation that forces jobs to remain in the United States will prove a shortsighted attempt at micromanagement that backfires on government, policymakers and ordinary Georgians.It’s difficult to spot the silver lining when blinded by outrage over American jobs “lost” offshore, but greater harm is done at home when we hinder business from seeking cost-effective options abroad. When U.S. companies site jobs abroad, they do so to save money and improve profits. Such cost efficiency leads to American jobs saved, not lost. The lower cost of doing business is a… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen In ordering legislators to redraw the state House and Senate district maps by March 1, a panel of federal judges has given Georgia legislators an opportunity to put sound policy over politics. The sound policy in this case is to draw compact, logical districts that keep communities together and encourage competitive elections. Districts designed to protect incumbents of one particular party only encourage voter apathy and cynicism about our government, increase the influence of special interests and produce career politicians who become more interested in increasing their own influence and power rather than representing the people they serve. Our democratic republic is at risk when the average citizen – even politically active citizens – cannot describe the … View Article

Permit Transfers Hold Water For Georgia

By Benita Dodd It may seem that Georgia’s water problems are Atlanta’s alone, but the state’s economic engine is hardly alone in its concerns about water quality or quantity.   Rincon, in Effingham County, is withdrawing more groundwater than allotted, but the state prohibits it getting more water from the Floridan Aquifer while a scientific study is under way. The Environmental Protection Division wants Rincon to tie into the county’s surface water pipeline. City officials cite concerns about water quality and expense and have even considered borrowing water withdrawal permits. Rincon is suing the EPD and being sued by stymied developers. Tybee, approaching its groundwater allocation, has another 100 condominiums permitted. The city is offering to buy back irrigation meters from… View Article

Commentary: Clearing the Air on Saving Americans’ Lives

By R. Harold Brown Did you know that America’s cleaner air has saved more than 2.5 million lives over 20 years? It was news to me, but it must be true: It’s reported on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Web site. In fact, despite this impressive statistic being around since 1997, I dare say it’s news to most citizens. Neither the EPA nor others that I’m aware of are trumpeting this victory. It’s more likely that Georgians have heard the dire warnings of danger from the “spewing” of toxins from smokestacks and engine exhausts, and the projected number of deaths unless said “spewing” stops. Just one example is the Clean Air Task Force’s report in 2000 that claimed, “Nationwide, power-plant… View Article

Finally, a one volume resource from an independent source that gives those of us in public life a new view on which to make public policy.

Governor Roy Barnes more quotes