by Bill Simon
Have you ever pondered why it is that in this state, it is only the Executive Branch of Georgia’s three-legged stool of governance (i.e., Executive, Legislative, Judiciary) that is required to respond to Open Records Requests?
Think about that for a moment. The Legislative Branch operates strictly from taxpayer dollars. The Judicial Branch operates strictly from taxpayer dollars. And, the Executive Branch operates strictly from taxpayer dollars. Why is only one branch of Georgia state government required to be subjected to “sunshine laws?”
Do only “executive branch” people have the propensity to misuse and abuse their positions with taxpayer dollars? No, that would be an absurd position for anyone to take, as there are crooked-minded people in every branch of government at all levels of any government.
A couple of years ago, The Center of Public Integrity created a survey and sent it out to people in every state and asked them to judge the state’s disclosure, transparency, and ethics laws of varying natures.
In Georgia, the survey was answered by Jim Walls, a longtime journalist, formerly with the AJC, who now operates the AtlantaUnfiltered.com website.
When the results for Georgia came back as being dead last in their grade of “F” for being the “highest for ‘corruption risk‘, there was a tad bit of overreaction from some folks in the Legislative Branch. Someone I know very well went into immediate attack mode on Jim Walls, complete with trying to get as many people to throw rocks and pies at Walls for his process of filling-out a survey form that produced an “F” grade.
Too bad for the Legislative branch to overreact to the report and immediately become embroiled in a battle with the Tea Party who insisted on “limits for lobbyist gifts” as a way to improve Georgia’s score. (Their overreaction points to an apparent guilt feeling a lot of them apparently have in their role as a legislator who consumes lobbyist gifts.)
Rather than throw rocks at Jim Walls, what the legislators should have done was look more closely at what made-up the “F” grade. Hint: It was not just about legislative ethics.
There was a section called “Judicial Accountability” which Walls’ graded in such a way as that individual grade was “C-.” Frankly, I think that on that part of the survey, Jim Walls was woefully inaccurate in his judgement, and that grade alone should have been on the order of a “D”, or, even possibly, an “F.” (“Gasp! No! Not our judiciary!?”)
Under Section 5.2 of this part of the survey, it asks the following: “Can members of the judiciary be held accountable for their actions?”
Below that is a series of 16 statements, and the survey respondent is supposed to give a percentage in which he/she agrees in the strength of the condition being offered.
Under #119, it states this: “In practice, the regulations preventing judges from using state funds for personal purposes are effective.”
Jim Walls’ answer was 75%, meaning he thought either that regulations prohibiting judges from using state funds for personal purposes are effective to work well enough “75% of the time,” or that, perhaps, this state is “75% of the way to getting perfection in creating regulations that prevent judges from using state taxpayer dollars for their own personal purposes.”
Either way, based on the research I have done (which will be presented in Part 2), that grade should have been a big, fat ZERO% when it comes to this state’s judicial branch. (Note: I don’t fault Jim Walls for missing this…this revelation took some research to figure out just how…unconstitutionally-corrupt this state’s entire judiciary branch really is. There are several other survey statements that I disagree with Walls on, but the nuances will distract you from the purpose of this story.)
Now, I know what some of you folks in the judicial branch are thinking: You’re thinking “That SOB just called ME ‘corrupt!’ Who the **** does he think he is???”
Let me put it this way: When the topmost-level of judges decide it’s okay to violate the Constitution of Georgia to protect two branches of government from following laws in which they were not specifically exempted from following, then, that pretty much means they can ignore ALL laws, and have zero integrity, zero standards, and pretty close to zero-culpability in how they decide a case brought before them.
For the vast majority of judges in this state, it is likely that they follow good judicial procedure, and that they are “honest.” But, the fact that they are not subject to the same kind of scrutiny that the executive branch of Georgia government is subjected to, there really is no way to actually verify that “presumed honesty” as the Georgia Constitution is currently structured.
And, while the Legislature may “believe” that they hold 33% of the power in Georgia government, the fact is that because of two court decisions in Georgia, in actuality, the judicial branch holds 66.7% of the power, while the legislative and executive branches split the remaining 33.3%.
The purpose of this series of articles is to describe the problem, and to present the only path for a remedy. If the Legislature likes the status quo of being able to exercise less than their constitutionally-due 33% of the power, then they will do absolutely nothing as a result of this knowledge, and they will remain just as impotent as they currently exist.
CLICK HERE TO READ PART 2 (yes, it will be much more fun to read)…
The Political Vine (“PV”) was established on July 24, 2000 by Georgia Republican activist Bill Simon. All material contained herein (unless otherwise noted) is written by a Republican whose sole agenda is to deliver facts, information, humor, opinion and rumors in a satirical/sarcastic environment that is far different from any news source you may be accustomed to.
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