Georgia editorial roundup


Associated Press

Posted on November 19, 2013 at 1:01 PM

Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:

Nov. 18

Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle on Georgia Regents University:

State officials are at least taking a skeptical look at having Georgia Regents University expand into the

stately old mills beside the Augusta Canal. But it appears they're looking more eagerly to establish an Atlanta campus of the GRU medical school.

We think expansion here makes a ton more sense.

GRU President Ricardo Azziz's logic is that Atlanta is where the people are - though, in making that argument, he also used faulty population statistics that unfairly and inaccurately portray Augusta as shrinking.

More importantly, we don't agree with his follow-me-to-the-big-city logic, and neither do the purveyors of many of the world's best institutions of higher learning. People don't just follow crowds; they also flock to quality. Great schools - like great barbecue or any other stellar product - are worth seeking out, wherever they are.

Then there's the question of quality of life. Maybe bigger isn't always better; maybe sometimes it's just more crowded. It's no secret that Atlanta struggles with such issues. Attending a great university is more than location, more than numbers, more than even science. It's about an overall experience.

Many of the world's greatest colleges and universities are located in anything but a huge metropolis. They seem to be doing just fine. And, again, they provide their students with a unique, approachable, comfortable setting.

We do hope the Georgia Board of Regents is serious about including the consideration of a mills campus in their long-range master planning now underway.

The potential for expanding GRU along the canal - and providing students with both a pastoral setting and an urban experience - is unlimited and exciting. And, as any business knows, opportunities to expand are often best in your own backyard.

We're disappointed, though not surprised, that Dr. Azziz would seemingly go out of his way to downplay Augusta's dynamism and potential.

Let's concentrate on making the consolidated Georgia Regents University work - and making the most of it by shoring up the foundation already laid.



Nov. 17

The Telegraph, Macon, Ga., on middle Georgia has work to do to protect its economy

During a briefing last week with members of the Middle Georgia Clean Air Coalition, consultants and lawmakers in Washington, D.C., while on the same page, had different timetables about what could happen to Robins Air Force Base.

The basics: At some point, probably 2017, there will be another Base Realignment and Closure Commission. That's good news, in that many of the strikes against Robins could be mitigated by them. The bad news, however, is that 2017, for all intent and purpose, is now. That means Middle Georgia has got to get its act together.

The Pentagon is going to be looking at something it did not emphasize in the prior BRAC rounds: Cost savings. According to the consultants, saving money will be the No. 1 priority, but there is a long list of issues the Air Force and the BRAC commission will be looking at and comparing. Here's the picture. The Air Force has 500 fewer planes in service than it had in 2005. Fewer planes means less of a workload for bases such as Robins. Workers at Robins and the entire Middle Georgia community have to come to grips that, of the three maintenance depots operated by the Air Force, Tinker in Oklahoma City and Hill outside Ogden, Utah, Robins is No. 3. It's time we try harder.

Not helping the situation is a Washington, D.C. budget process that is wreaking havoc on all branches of the military -- and that chaotic environment, depending on who you talk to, could last throughout 2014. That's not good news. There are lawmakers who believe a budget deal will be reached and there are those who believe another "continuing resolution" is on its way. ...

Aside from the cost saving BRAC will attempt to identify, there are issues on the other side of Robins' fence everyone can help address. The Clean Air Coalition, comprised of seven counties and 13 municipalities (which Joe Goffman, the senior counsel in the Office of Air and Radiation at the Environmental Protection Agency, called the kind of organization envisioned by the original Clean Air Act) has been working for 10 years to improve air quality. Goffman called the MGCAC the Holy Grail of regional cooperation. School buses have been outfitted with particulate matter filters, burn bans have been instituted, low-emission vehicles have been purchased by the governments.

Why is air quality important? Any base located in area of non-attainment for air quality standards cannot accept new flying missions -- a crucial consideration in the survival of Robins. Bibb and Monroe counties were in non-attainment, but both counties have improved enough to have been removed from the non-attainment list. The standards are becoming more stringent and it will take a lot of work to stay in compliance.

And there are other issues. ...

There is good news on one of the big issues. Encroachment concerns are about to disappear thanks to injected money from Bibb, Houston and Peach counties' special purpose local option sales taxes and money from the Department of Defense and the state. Getting that issue in the rearview mirror has also opened up some opportunities to save the base money on energy.

There is no need to repeat how important Robins is to Middle Georgia. Base officials, military and civilian, will do their part to make the base the most efficient, but our communities will have to pitch in, too.



Nov. 15

Savannah (Ga.) Morning News on the federal health care law:

Expect a showdown on Capitol Hill today on Obamacare. Expect America's prevaricator-in-chief, President Barack Obama, to take a licking.

House Republicans are scheduled to vote today on legislation to permit insurance companies to continue selling existing policies that have been ordered scrapped because they fall short of coverage standards in the law.

Passage is assured. Even some Democrats, including Georgia congressman John Barrow, are expected to join their GOP colleagues and thumb their noses at the president's fibbing.

Even the Democratic-controlled Senate is cracking.

Midday Thursday, Senate Democrats arranged a closed-door meeting in the Capitol with White House officials. Senators who are up for re-election next year are nervous and want political cover for their past support of Obamacare and the disastrous rollout of the president's signature health care reform package.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., is pushing a bill that, like the companion legislation in the House, would allow everyone to keep their present coverage if they want to.

Senate Majority Harry Reid isn't going to let this measure pass. He's still the president's right-hand enabler. But the bill will be tailored to allow at least five Democrat senators to vote "yes," so they can go home and tell their constituents next year that tried to fix the problem.

But voters may not be so easily persuaded by this sleight of hand — or, by the president's weak attempt to make amends for fudging.

To add insult to more insult, Mr. Obama on Thursday announced changes to Obamacare to give insurance companies the option — but for only one year — to keep offering consumers plans that would otherwise be cancelled.

"This fix won't solve every problem for every person, but it's going to help a lot of people," the president said.

Not really.

Instead, it's just another example of the federal government kicking the can down the road.

This isn't so hard. Mr. Obama should be a man of his word. If Americans like their health insurance plan, as he said multiple times, then they should be able keep in under Obamacare. Then thousands of Americans wouldn't be forced to buy coverage for items they don't need and pay higher premiums.

House and Senate members are no dummies and are rightly worried about the mid-term elections next year. They will show their nervousness today.

This is a time when Mr. Obama's apology for lying — and his desperate effort to make up for it — ring hollow.