Southeast Georgia recently escaped the worst of a winter ice storm that ravaged other parts of the South, particularly Georgia’s capital, Atlanta. The utility companies that serve our region had personnel on standby and monitored the storm closely enough to at least be prepared for the worst. Thankfully, the severe ice and snow that accompanies such storms did not come our way and, for that, we should be thankful.
Atlanta, on the other hand, was caught unprepared, even after a similar storm paralyzed the city in 2011. Of course, following that storm, residents were assured that their local government would be ready for the next one, but no such luck.
Yes, nature has a mind of its own, and public officials can’t help it when bad weather comes our way. But state and Atlanta officials’ delayed and inept responses to the storm is not the worst part. What should really bother the citizens of Georgia is the delayed response by Gov. Nathan Deal in accepting responsibility for what happened.
Deal initially blamed the National Weather Service, insinuating the service failed to inform the state in a timely manner. When that notion was proven to be completely without merit, the governor was forced to bring in Georgia Emergency Management Agency Director Charley English and begin accepting responsibility for poor decisions made prior to the storm. That was two days after the storm hit and after the governor’s initial response.
Taxpayers are incredibly forgiving when public servants acknowledge mistakes up front and take responsibility. That’s exactly what Deal should have done. He’s responsible for the people he hires, and he’s responsible for the ultimate outcome. If the state had been ready for the storm and had handled it well, rest assured there would be no lack of public officials taking credit.
Of course, this isn’t the first time the state has dropped the ball. When King America Finishing was flooding the Ogeechee River with pollutants, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division’s response was tepid and delayed.
Maybe the reason many public officials’ first response is to “spin” a story is because they are convinced they can. According recent Census data, only 57 percent of eligible voters in Georgia are registered to vote, and only 41 percent of those actually do vote. When voters don’t care, public officials are much less likely to put the citizens of Georgia first. No matter what the consequences might be.