Georgia editorial roundup
Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:
The Brunswick News paying attention to signs of domestic violence:
Home is a sanctuary for many people. We spend all day at work and can’t wait to get home to see our spouse, significant other and/or kids. It is supposed to be a safe place filled with love.
For too many people though, home isn’t as safe as it should be. There are too many who are trapped in the vicious cycle of domestic violence, the consequences of which can be deadly.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. There have been events around the Golden Isles designed to put a spotlight on the problem.
The Glynn Community Crisis Center held a luncheon a couple of weeks ago to help raise awareness of domestic violence. Included at the luncheon were empty seats at each table. It was a stark, symbolic gesture to represent the 85 people killed in domestic violence incidents in Georgia so far this year.
The statistics offered during the luncheon show just how insidious the problem is. Charmaine Thomas, lead victim advocate for the crisis center, said that a woman is physically assaulted every nine seconds and more than 10 million people experience abuse annually.
Dottie Bromley, executive director of the crisis center, said that 85% of women and 15% of men experience domestic violence. She added that both numbers are likely too low because domestic violence is often under-reported, especially among men.
It is not hard to find even anecdotal evidence that supports just how big of a problem domestic violence is. It seems like every day in the jail logs there is at least one arrest for battery under the Family Violence Act.
College of Coastal Georgia also helped raise awareness of the problem with its second annual Walk a Mile In Her Shoes event. Men from all walks gathered to participate in the event by walking around campus sporting a pair of bright red heels. Students, athletes, coaches and police officers were among those who donned a pair of heels to show their support.
It is a show that certainly grabs attention for a great cause. Before the walk, Glynn County Police Chief John Powell encouraged everyone to play their own role in stopping the problem.
His advice is something we encourage everyone to follow. If you have a friend in an abusive relationship, be their friend and try to guide them to getting help. The most important thing is not to turn a blind eye to the problem.
We all need to be more aware when it comes to the issue of domestic violence. We all need to take note of the warning signs and seek ways to help those in need. Nobody should feel like their home or relationship is a prison they can’t escape.
The Valdosta Daily Times on the Service Delivery Strategy standoff between city and county government:
More than three quarters of a million dollars.
That is how much money has been spent on what essentially amounts to a turf war between city and county government.
The Service Delivery Strategy standoff has been far too costly and it is time to put it to an end.
No, it is way past time.
Taxpayers will never get back the $800,000 that has already been spent.
What does either the city or the county have to show for the hundreds of thousands of dollars that have already been spent to pay lawyers to fight over the agreement?
It appears the two sides are no closer to reaching an agreement now than they were three years ago.
County Commissioner Scottie Orenstein said several months ago he was disgusted with himself and everyone involved in the failure of county and city governments to forge a state-mandated service delivery agreement.
So, we ask Orenstein and every other county commissioner and each city council member: How do you feel knowing — through our reporting — that combined the city and the county have spent $860,147.90 to not reach any settlements?
From day one we have said the best and most effective strategy to put the Service Delivery Strategy debacle behind us is to streamline the talks and stop trying to draft an agreement that will be the end-all agreement for county and city cooperation. Pass the most basic and broadly worded document possible that only includes the necessary pieces required by the state.
Every 10 years, every county and city in the state of Georgia must ratify a basic Service Delivery Strategy agreement designed to eliminate double taxation and the duplication of services. And every 10 years, the vast majority of counties and the cities located in those counties ratify the agreements with little fanfare.
The Georgia Service Delivery Act was intended to get local governments to work together, instead here it creates a toxic, adversarial tug-of-war. Without a Service Delivery Strategy verified by DCA, local governments may not be eligible to receive state permits or financial assistance, according to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.
The Service Delivery Act is not all that specific regarding what constitutes a government service and not specific about how detailed agreements must be. In other words, the law is broad and can be broadly interpreted.
There are a few things the agreement must include:
- elimination of unnecessary duplication
- elimination of arbitrary water and sewer rate differentials
- elimination of double taxation
- compatible land use plans
- water and sewer extension: consistency with land use plans
- resolution of annexation disputes over land use
Local officials should simply not go beyond what is required. Look at this as a skeletal framework and nothing more. Be vague and leave room for interpretation during the years of the agreement.
This is a 10-year plan and during that 10 years there will be plenty of things to work out as they come up but that is when legislators have to legislate and have the freedom to make decisions based on the current dynamics and specific situations that arise.
So, if it is not absolutely required by the state’s SDS mandate, don’t include it. If it is required, word it as broadly as possible. Narrow the talks, stick with the essentials and get this done.
Stop being childish and stop trying to win an argument by having the last word.
Get this done before Thanksgiving and give Lowndes County and Valdosta taxpayers a gift they can be thankful for: A service delivery strategy agreement and an end to this costly legal battle.
The Augusta Chronicle on solar power:
It’s not exactly the newest innovation under the sun.
But it’s an excellent idea that’s becoming more and more possible, especially in Georgia.
Solar power is no longer the exclusive province of barefoot environmentalists. Up until just a few years ago, project costs kept implementation of solar projects out-of-reach and in the realm of science-fiction.
But with its practicality rising and its price for implementation dropping, this type of alternative energy is attracting the attention of capitalists.
One of the best features is that heavily-populated cities won’t solely benefit from the alternative-energy economic largesse. Rural areas also will feel the positive effects because of the land available to accommodate projects.
Like we said, it’s not that new. In Atlanta, the Luckie Street Solar Project has been around for years. Begun by businessman and philanthropist Ted Turner, the project in 2010 took one of the most sought-after pieces of land in Atlanta at the time - the 2-acre parking lot next to Turner’s headquarters - and refitted with solar panels to provide shaded parking.
Not only does solar-shaded parking provide cooler cars for motorists, it reduces the “heat-island effect” that raises temperatures in urban areas.
Now solar-shaded lots are all over. We wouldn’t mind seeing them in the Augusta area. These big lots often are built for huge parking lots, such as employee lots next to factories. We recall seeing one not too long ago at a factory near Greenville, S.C. We also heard of an auto dealership in Texas that shades its new cars from the elements with solar panels, and offers cooler browsing for customers.
Business owners should see the benefits. A prudent investment now would return substantial savings on power bills for years to come.
Schools in Richmond County are already taking advantage of that. The Belair K-8 STEAM School, for example, covers 100% of its electric bill with its solar energy production.
Not all solar ideas have been solid-gold successes. In 2016, the world’s first “solar road” opened in France - a 1-kilometer stretch costing $5.2 million. Instead of standard paving, the road surface was fitted with more than 2,000 solar panels.
Great idea, but rotten execution. In August the project was deemed a failure. French newspaper Le Monde said the road was “pale with its ragged joints” with “solar panels that peel off the road ...” A resin coating made the road durable enough for tractor-trailers, but the noise generated by vehicles forced a reduction in the speed limit. It didn’t even deliver the promised energy-generating results.
A different approach is being tried in Georgia, on the 18-mile stretch of Interstate 85 from the city of LaGrange to the Alabama line. The Ray C. Anderson Foundation is funding The Ray, described as a “regenerative highway ecosystem” including not just solar panels but right-of-way farming of resilient wheatgrass that protects against stormwater flooding. The Ray signed an agreement in August with the Georgia Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration.
Again, more Augusta-area business owners need to look into the feasibility of solar, and how it can best benefit their lines of work.
That is, unless businesses aren’t interested in reduced operating costs and a quick return on investment.