Originally created 02/03/03

Across Georgia



House might allow online wine sales

ATLANTA -Wine buffs are working to overturn a Georgia law that bans Internet wine sales - a ban they say makes it impossible to buy a vintage that isn't sold in stores.

The state House is considering a bill that would allow people to buy wine directly from a Web retailer and have it shipped to their homes. The method is common for most products but forbidden when it comes to alcohol.

A bottle of wine travels from vineyard to wholesaler or distributor before making it to the shelf in Georgia. A rare wine not popular enough to be included on a distributor's menu never makes it to the store - and connoisseurs can't get their hands on it.

Georgia allows small vineyards to apply for a permit to ship wines to the state, but they have to designate a wholesaler. Direct sales to customers are off-limits.

Task force studies telecom contract

ATLANTA -A $1.8 billion contract to privatize the state government's telecommunications in Georgia is back on track after problems in finding the right bidder repeatedly forced its delay.

A 15-member state technology task force appointed by Gov. Sonny Perdue is expected to take two months to examine the aspects of Georgia's largest business deal.

The plan would put functions ranging from Internet connections in schools to state employees' wireless phones in the hands of the winning bidder. Last month, a consortium called ConnectGA, composed of BellSouth, AT&T and information technology firm EDS, became the sole bidder after IBM Corp. bowed out.

Up to 500 state employees would go to work for the winning bidder.

Perdue spokesman Shane Hix said Friday that the state expects ConnectGA to add a price tag to its proposal in the next few weeks.

Lawyer says mayor can't just quit

CUSSETA - The sudden resignation of Mayor Tim Jones last week doesn't hold legal water, said a lawyer hired by the city to examine the matter.

Mr. Jones said he was quitting as he stormed out of a city council meeting Wednesday. The council voted 3-2 to accept his resignation, but Mr. Jones apologized the next day, saying his statements were made "in the heat of the moment."

The city called lawyer Bobby Peters, who said Georgia law requires a process for public officials to step down.

"They can't just resign by saying 'I quit,"' said Mr. Peters, a former mayor of Columbus.