Columbia County's legislative delegation - state Sen. Bill Jackson and state Reps. Lee Anderson, Ben Harbin and Barbara Sims - must be useless.
Why? Our county commissioners said so.
How? Well, on Tuesday, commissioners approved without comment a $12,000 contract with Oglethorpe Public Affairs.
They hired a lobbyist.
Not just any lobbyist, either: They're getting the services of former Charlie Norwood staffer Michael Shaffer, a well-known, well-liked and well-connected young man whose job will be to look out for the interests of Columbia County, along with the other clients he represents in the Georgia Legislature.
Nothing against Shaffer, who undoubtedly does a superb job.
But isn't that why we elected Jackson, Anderson, Harbin and Sims? Isn't that why their title, in the case of the latter three, is "representative"?
Now, if Columbia County commissioners feel like they aren't getting adequate representation at the state level - including service from former local elected officials Jackson, Anderson and Sims - then it's the first we've heard of it.
In fact, it's likely the first those officials have heard of it, too, as everyone in government and business around here typically trips over themselves to heap the most praise possible on members of the local delegation.
We've heard a few complaints in the past from County Commission Chairman Ron Cross regarding Harbin, but that typically involves the House Appropriations Committee chairman's sometimes bumpy relationship with Gov. Sonny Perdue.
Never, though, have we heard local elected officials complaining that their state elected officials are failing to represent our community's interests - until now, as implied when they're spending your scarce tax dollars - whatever the amount - to advertise their displeasure.
Undoubtedly, the commissioners don't see it that way. The lobbyist will just be there to make sure they aren't blindsided by some of the technical issues going through the Legislature, because the lawmakers obviously don't have time to keep an eye on everything.
Baloney. Governments, least of anyone, should not be using tax dollars to hire lobbyists. Doing so is not only an assertion that elected officials themselves are too busy or distracted to do their jobs, but it is another step up in a destructive political arm's race. It threatens to create "haves" of local governments with lobbyists, "have nots" without, until our state elected officials are accessible only to the haggling gaggles of professional glad-handers and back-slappers.
We've got enough of that nonsense at the federal level. See how that's working out for us?
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