Maybe it’s Earl Ehrhart who needs the tin foil hat
by Dick Yarbrough
February 22, 2014 12:11 AM | 3188 views | 6 6 comments | 44 44 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dick Yarbrough
Dick Yarbrough
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C’mon, Earl. You know better than to do this. The legislation you (Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs) and Rep. John Carson (R-Northeast Cobb) have introduced to shield private contractors and subcontractors doing government business from Georgia’s Sunshine laws reeks of special-interest influence.

You want us to believe your legislation has nothing to do with the construction of the Atlanta Braves proposed $672 million stadium and to make your point, you pull out one of your patented (or should be) quotes for the Marietta Daily Journal’s Nikki Wiley, calling such an idea “the best joke I’ve heard all day” and telling your critics, “I think they need to readjust their tinfoil hat,” and then adding, “Please quote me on that. Please ask them to adjust their tinfoil hat.” OK, OK. Tinfoil hat. We get it.

If this isn’t about the new Braves stadium, could it be connected to your own construction project up the road in Emerson; the projected $1 billion, 1,300-acre LakePoint Sporting Community you are involved in with your partners — former Atlanta Braves Bobby Cox, current manager Fredi González and Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost? Is this about that? If not, what then?

You’ve gotten off some great zingers in the past. You once referred to Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle as “Eddie Haskell,” the sleazy kid on “Leave it to Beaver.” Then there were the lobbyists who opposed your efforts to improve the quality of life for all Georgians by allowing us to keep chickens in our yard. You referred to them as “Gladys Kravitz,” which stunned them into baffled silence since they and most of the free world had no idea who Gladys Kravitz is or was. (Note to readers: Gladys was a minor character on the old “Bewitched” television series and never took a position on chickens in her yard to the best of my knowledge.)

Those were good lines and earned you the sobriquet, “The Quote Machine.” Alas, the tinfoil hat shot comes across as arrogant and high-handed and not up to your usual good-humored responses. As your friend, I would suggest that if this is the best you can do to defend this obfuscated legislation, you might want to find a tinfoil hat yourself. Please quote me on that.

Do you and Carson really believe your colleagues in the General Assembly will support weakening Georgia’s Sunshine laws? And in an election year? And do I need to remind you that the MDJ is and always has been one of the strongest advocates in our state or anywhere else for protecting the public’s right to know? It is a part of the paper’s DNA. You really want to pick that fight?

You claim people are beginning to use open records requests to get information on companies’ payroll records, but you couldn’t cite one example of that being done. You hypothesize a case where two out of a contractor’s 500 employees might work on a government project but all of the company’s personnel records would be open to the public.

David Hudson, the attorney for the Georgia Press Association, says that’s wrong. Under current law, only those employees engaged in government work are subject to public records laws, not the company’s entire staff.

Keeping such records open is important, Hudson told Wiley. He says taxpayers should know if the contractor is using undocumented workers. If it is a cost-plus job, is the payroll padded? Are workers employed only because they are related to public officials of the agency? Hudson says, “These are just samples of why public oversight is necessary when the funding is coming from public funds.” I couldn’t agree more and you should, too.

Whatever your motives, you are handing the opponents of the Brave stadium a terrific opportunity to convince Cobb taxpayers that the project is rife with good ol’ boy shenanigans taking place behind the scenes, not to mention your own efforts with LakePoint. Remember that perception can quickly become reality and the perception of what you are proposing is going raising questions about ulterior motives.

I consider you one of the good guys in politics. Remember, I defended you recently after a warm-spit anonymous comment from “Moliere” about you that was less than complimentary? We both know I don’t rise to the defense of politicians all that frequently.

But if you and John Carson attempt to keep me and my readers and all Georgians in the dark on how our tax dollars are being spent, we will have to put our friendship aside for the moment and agree to strongly disagree.

You guys have conjured up a bad piece of legislation that needs to be stopped dead in its tracks. If that makes me Barney Fife in your eyes, I will just have to accept that. I’ve been called worse.

You can reach Dick Yarbrough at yarb2400@bellsouth.net; at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139; online at dickyarbrough.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dickyarb.
Comments
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onguard
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February 24, 2014
Why doesn't the MDJ and the GOP start holding the General Assembly with the likes of Earl Ehrhart accountable? Why doesn't the Sunshine Law apply to the General Assembly? Because Sam Olens wouldn't have been able to get it passed if it did. Deals behind closed doors. I sure would like to pull some of those open records requests. Come on Otis, start holding the big boys accountable.
Just Sayin'....
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February 24, 2014
Well said sir! I do not always agree with you, but this time, and on this issue, I am with you 100%. The legislation that Ehrhart is putting forth is rubbish. I would not be shocked to learn that this was cooked up in some back room at the Cobb Chamber.
East Cobb Senior
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February 26, 2014
@Just Sayin... We are in agreement on this one. Openness and transparency is the only way to operate government. Unfortunately all too many that get elected, regardless of party, seem to think that the "governed" are somehow no longer entitled to accountability from their elected representatives. All too often "lip service" and obfuscation is all they get in return for their vote.
Cobb Taxpayer
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February 22, 2014
Ehrhart never made an honest dime - just works the public sector for a living. Now what is Carson doing, following Earls crooked footsteps.

We need openness and transparency - at least some of the taxpayers who pay attention will know how they are being raided of their dollars by greed.
Concerned Citizen
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February 25, 2014
Unfortunately John Carson is a creature of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce and its business members. They were sick and tired of Bobby Franklin's not lock stepping with their agenda so they recruited Carson to run against him. When Rep. Franklin died unexpectedly that made it easier for them (The Cobb Chamber)to anoint him in the special election. His financial backing is almost exclusively business money and as one of them (John Carson is a Sun Trust Banker) is their pawn as is Ehrhart.
anonymous
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February 22, 2014
Earhart's "law" is, at best, criminally stupid and at worst, criminally intended.
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