A full-court press

It has seemed in the past few years that wherever there is a bone of contention regarding Augusta government, citizen activist Woody Merry is not far behind. More accurately, he's clutching the bone to examine it more closely.

 

And that's not a bad thing. We need more people to shed their complacency and work to make Augusta better. To that end, his contribution is to foster public accountability among elected officials.

Merry's currently unfolding piece of activism is in the form of a lawsuit, scheduled to be filed Monday, against District 2 Commissioner Marion Williams, citing ethics violations and delinquent property taxes.

The ethics violations stems from Williams referring to fellow Commissioner Joe Bowles as "boy" at a recent open meeting, and not recusing himself from votes on issues surrounding a drag strip project that held lucrative potential for his son-in-law.

Regarding the property taxes, Merry's attorney Robert Mullins says state law forbids a person in county or city tax default from holding public office.

Merry will pursue this suit as he has his other activist endeavors - with the best interest of Augusta at heart. But it will be interesting to see how a court reacts.

That's because there's a very real question of how effective a judge can be in making elected officials do their jobs. Can a court realistically force an ethically questionable politician to straighten up and fly right? Sound ethical behavior can be taught, but it is more often learned. How much sway would a judge have over that?

The tax issue is more legally answerable. But on the other matter, the most Merry could hope for likely would be for a court to agree that Williams' actions were unethical, and urge the Augusta Commission to administer any due punishment.

Political problems, as we have said before, best require political solutions. Not all issues can be resolved from a judge's bench.

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