After reading George Snelling's Dec. 5 letter, I cannot remain silent. Dr. Snelling is a good person and probably a superb dentist. However, I have major concerns with his views on the GREAT plan.
The writer makes some pretty strong statements about The Columbia County News-Times publisher Barry Paschal, in which Snelling says Paschal opposes this plan because of his wife's position as principal of a Columbia County school. It is no secret that Mrs. Paschal is a principal; Barry has never sheltered this fact. Yet Snelling challenges Barry to disclose this alleged conflict of interest and calls his treatment of state Reps. Barry Fleming, Ben Harbin and Glenn Richardson "shameful."
Well, Barry has a tendency to use satire and tongue-in-cheek, and he hammered me once or twice in his editorials - and inaccurately at that - but I have to agree with him on this one. I assert that Snelling disclose his conflict of interest in that Georgia Dental PAC makes regular campaign contributions to Fleming and Harbin. It is legal and there is nothing wrong with it, but it is a conflict nonetheless. Also, someone with the author's name made two donations of $2,300 each to Barry Fleming for Congress on Sept. 17, which is legal, but a conflict nonetheless.
The two representatives are great legislators and I wish both of them well. However, I am not going to support GREAT just because these gentlemen are in favor of it.
As I understand it, and as it has been explained to us, GREAT will eliminate property taxes and replace them with additional sales tax. My problem with this is that these taxes have gone directly to our county's government - the money stays in the community. With GREAT, our money will go to Atlanta with the hopes and blind faith that it will be returned to us. We all know that it will not - at least not without a knock-down, drag-out fight. Keep our money in our community to fund our schools.
Furthermore, since GREAT, and most tax plans for that matter, are regressive, it will harm lower-income legal residents. For as much as we talk about "local control," GREAT puts the kibosh on that!
The letter states that Paschal's treatment of Richardson will somehow harm Columbia County legislatively. What has Glenn Richardson done for Columbia County? Nothing. The same as Sonny Perdue - nothing. That said, Richardson will probably (wink wink) run for governor and therefore might make a promise or two. If the speaker truly wants to "help," he can pass the comprehensive seat belt law. After many years of being bogged down in the Senate, it finally passed last session by a 45-10 vote (Jim Whitehead was a sponsor). However, HB 114 got nowhere in the House. Each year we do not have that law is a year that Georgia does not qualify for $20 million in federal highway funds. Will the speaker let this see the light of day despite what his friends in the insurance lobby mandate he does?
Snelling makes no reference to anything positive that GREAT can accomplish. Instead, we are to embrace it and all those who support it because Arthur Laffer fathered it, and, according to the letter, Laffer was "...trained at the University of Chicago," which is false. True, he was on its faculty. But he received a BA in Economics from Yale and an MBA and a doctorate in Economics from Stanford. Bill and Hillary went to Yale, too.
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