As we head into the final days of the general election, the overwhelming focus of the media and the public is on the presidential race. While this is understandable, there are local races and issues which also have the potential to significantly impact our lives and well-being here in Georgia.
Specifically, the race between republican incumbent Stan Wise, and libetarian party challenger David Staples for the Public Service Commission (PSC) is especially noteworthy. As an 18 year incumbent, Wise represents the interests of those he regulates, not the ratepayer. Hence his acceptance of a $10,000 campaign contribution from the law firm that represents Georgia Power. Not surprisingly, Wise routinely approves passing along cost over-runs for its nuclear reactors to ratepayers, instead of having the money come from Georgia Power's own operating budget.
As Staples puts it: "A business shouldn't be guaranteed a profit when they are not managing projects or certain aspects of that business appropriately." Just imagine if Home Depot had cost over-runs in building new stores, and had taxpayers make up the difference with those costs passed along in our property taxes. This principal is not lost on Staples, and consequently he would be a welcome and effective voice on the commission against the good old boy system that currently holds sway at the PSC.
With the higly contentious Charter School Amendment, we have an opportunity to break the public school monopoly, whose local school boards routinely deny charter school applications, regardless of well structured and organized those applications are. Thus, students in underperforming public schools whose parents cannot afford private school alternatives for their children are forced to accept whatever mediocrity the local school boards give them. Think Clayton County Pubic Schools. Moreover, think of the sorry state of public education throughout Georgia in comparison to other states, where we rank near the bottom in almost every major category.
With the Charter School Amendment, a mechanism would be put in place to appeal local school board decisions, whose interest is in preserving control and denying choice to those kids and parents who who most desperately need and deserve them. Competition is always a good thing, and that applies to education, forcing non-Charter public schools to do a better job, or risk losing students to the competition.
So as you go to vote this Tuesday, vote for Staples and Amendment 1. Better education and lower utility rates are what is at stake.