Originally created 07/12/00

Flood costs & politics

Last Friday state Rep. Robin Williams, R-Augusta, did what he does best: He traveled to Atlanta to help constituents in need. This time, he met with Georgia's governor to assist residents of the Commonwealth subdivision who are displaced flood victims.

Williams, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, knows there's unfortunately no state money now to buy their worthless, flood-damaged homes. But he did secure $105,000 from Gov. Roy Barnes' discretionary fund. It will be sent "immediately," in the words of the governor's spokeswoman, to Georgia Emergency Management Agency officials for Commonwealth residents' rent or motel bills.

Williams is also visiting with flood victims to help them fill out paperwork allowing them to receive government assistance. As for the government buyout of homes, Williams has been careful to note that it must come from the state budget and requires approval from the House Appropriations Committee - which meets this fall.

Sen. Don Cheeks, D-Augusta, was green with envy over the way Williams and the governor jumped quickly to promise the early money. He wanted to get into the act, too - and even tried to "spin" events to make Williams look bad and insinuate he was making promises he couldn't keep. Cheeks corralled Williams' July 18 primary opponent, Sue Burmeister on Tuesday for a hastily-called "press availability" with an unknowing mayor and GEMA officials - all designed to make the Democratic lawmaker look good. Williams was never invited.

It was a political stunt by Cheeks.

Williams says "Don Cheeks and I want the same thing" - that is, to help flood victims. But Cheeks should have kept partisan shots out of what is a serious problem where peoples' livelihoods and futures are at stake. Gov. Barnes and Williams are to be commended for at least getting the ball rolling to assist homeless Commonwealth residents.


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