Apparently, due to legislation written and implemented that was absolutely oblivious about how things actually work, the jury pool in Floyd County has quadrupled from 20,000 to 80,791 — an absolute impossibility given there are a few minor children among this area’s roughly 96,000 residents ... of whom also not all the adults are necessarily citizens.
Greater Rome is not alone in this unexpected result created by legislators who didn’t know what they were doing in an action then signed into law by a governor who didn’t grasp the fundamental errors involved. For example, Cherokee County’s pool of allegedly eligible jurors went from 12,000 to 190,000. In DeKalb it rose from about 200,000 to 735,206.
Now, elected state officeholders are not deliberately running around trying to gum up government operations by throwing monkey wrenches into the gears ... no, not even the small-government orators. Let’s grant them good intentions and hearts, as with the jury revision actually intended to better assure diversity reflecting the makeup of society when facing “a jury of one’s peers.” Nonetheless, these whoopsies have been happening time and time again, with such as the professional licensing snafu and the car-title switcheroo even now undergoing massive repairs to previous legislation that did more harm than good.
BASICALLY the problem appears to be — and it is sob-sob and not ha-ha — that a clear majority of legislators and other elected leaders simply have no clue as to how the government they are supposed to be running actually works. The same must be true of the small army of tax-paid staffers assisting them and even the lobbyists to whom they allegedly turn to for expert, insider advice.
The jury-pool mess is a particularly good example even though increasingly typical. Apparently, when coming up with the clever idea of merging the voter list and driver’s license holders to create a larger pool, all sorts of realities never crossed anybody’s mind because of an inadequate grasp of what the real world being governed is like.
For example, not all who legally drive cars are citizens. Convicted felons, who can’t vote or serve on juries, are allowed to drive (Waycross ended up with two felons on its grand jury). Many women have the habit of changing their names upon marriage with the result they could temporarily be on the list twice. A voter who registers as James D. Smith may or may not be the driver whose name is listed as James David Smith. Those over 70 have an automatic excuse from serving on juries but many still drive vehicles. And so forth.
There is probably minimal risk of a true ineligible being seated on an actual jury judging you, as there are all sorts of courtroom procedures and challenges that enter into play —but seriously?! Nobody beneath or near the Gold Dome in Atlanta suspected any of this?
WERE THIS an isolated slip on a banana peel that would be one thing, but this has become the common, ordinary and almost expected result of anything elected officials determine should be done.
Even now, the legislature is trying to clean up its car-title change chaos (lump-sum property tax upfront replacing sales tax on purchases and annual licensing charges) that has seen, among other things, the entire leasing sector grind to a halt — a mere third of the new-car market in Georgia. Apparently none of the legislators creating this actually knew how car sales worked, particularly on leases and used cars.
By the way, the real problem with this one hasn’t yet arrived. In making the switch, the state promised local governments would be made whole for the sales and property revenues they would lose — a very sizeable amount. On any budgetary matter a state promise and a wooden nickel have the same value ... just ask the public schools.
Also undergoing repairs at present is the colossal mess caused by the “proof of citizenship” mandate being applied to all who hold professional licenses — not once upon application but every year or so when seeking renewal. There are not only doctors and nurses now technically operating without a license (1,300 at last report) due to the massive paperwork backlog caused — the state saw fit to cut the Secretary of State personnel handling this at the same time — but also barbers, geologists, kick-boxing instructors and dozens of other occupations.
APPARENTLY legislators knew so little about what they were tinkering with as to really mess up the livelihoods of tens of thousands of Georgians. The proposed solution: Once and done, for providing birth certificates and so forth. My, how clever ... just as a marriage license doesn’t have to be renewed annually.
This is a very different sort of thing from new legislation that often is later found to have alarming loopholes that may, or may not, have been deliberate. For example, the surcharge on traffic tickets intended to fund high-school driving education that now seems to have wound up doing very little of that, and a whole lot of being dumped into the general funding kitty.
No, this sort of creation of sob-sob new legalities is just plain dumb, brain-dead sort of stuff.
Worse, it is creating new unfunded mandates for local governments. For example, Barbara Penson, the Floyd County Superior Court clerk, and her staff are cleaning up the jury pool list as, no doubt, are all counties around the state. Courthouse operations are only partly funded from state sources and no reports have been found saying added money is pouring in from Atlanta to do these repairs.
Similarly, the car-title switcheroo is based on the Kelly Blue Book value for cars with average mileage and condition, with already some counties reporting valuation challenges — hey, my car was rear-ended two years ago and sure isn’t worth that! One county has already allocated $175,000 a year for a contract with professional appraisers to handle the expected challenges at $38 per car.
THE UNINTENDED consequences — let’s assume lawmakers did none of this on purpose — are becoming not only very costly for citizen/taxpayers to bear but also call into question the very competency of most elected representatives.
Remember the old adage about engaging brain before starting mouth? Perhaps elected officials ought to start engaging their brains before passing a whole lot of these laws.