Originally created 01/08/97

Business as usual?

Remember all those platitudes last summer and fall from various Augusta state legislators - Democrat and Republican - about holding a "summit" so the local delegation "could hash issues out before Atlanta" and then "go in agreement" in January to the General Assembly?

Like Tara, it's gone with the wind.

Yes, there were delegation meetings called by Chairman Jack Connell, D-Augusta. And at least legislators are seeking (last-minute) input from Augusta's mayor and commissioners on specific municipal legislation.

Yet there was no "summit" or any meaningful debate among lawmakers on divisive issues ranging from Coliseum Authority reform to adding an extra Richmond County School Board trustee to be elected at-large to serve as president.

Sen. Charles Walker, D-Augusta, told a civic club Monday that "we're not taken seriously enough statewide. We are a powerful community. We ought to demand and get our fair share."

He's right, of course. Yet lack of unanimity on key issues continues to drag the legislative delegation down, diluting Augusta's "power."

Let's be frank. The three "movers-and-shakers" in Augusta's delegation are Walker (the new Senate majority leader), Connell (the House speaker pro tempore) and Rep. Robin Williams, R-Augusta (one of those rare Republicans who gets bills passed in the Democrat-controlled House).

It's not too late for these three amigos to push for an early Atlanta meeting with their colleagues to decide on what local bills they all concur with, or what compromises or trades they will make to gain agreement.

If that doesn't happen soon, then it will be business as usual - with most of the horse-trading on bills done (with little or no debate) during the last week of the General Assembly session.


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