Feb. 25, 2002: Don’t stop at the DMV, governor, your money-back plan is needed elsewhere

If Roy Barnes were a truck, he would be a horn-blowing, tailgating, 90-mile-an-hour eighteen-wheeler. No question, the man is on a roll.

Our Governor has been going hard since he was elected four years ago. Before he had located the keys to the executive washroom, he was reforming public education in Georgia. I didn’t have the heart to tell him he was about the fiftieth governor in a row to try that. But, to his credit, he added a new twist. He got all the teachers in the state mad at him. In his enthusiasm to get rid of bad teachers, many got the inference that Barnes thought they all needed reforming. Teachers were so angry they threatened to make him come to school and write 500 times on the blackboard, “I am sorry I talked ugly about all teachers.” I suspect the Governor would have sent his advisors to do the writing, since they were the ones who thought up that strategy in the first place.

Then while we weren’t paying attention, Governor Barnes tiptoed the state flag change right past everybody. That was like sneaking a sunrise by a rooster but he got away with it. The “Fergit, Hell” crowd vowed they would get him defeated this fall when he runs for reelection. For threatening him like that, he got a redistricting plan passed that rescinds the rights of Republicans to vote or hold public office in the state.

Roy Barnes isn’t afraid of anybody. He told Mike Tyson to take his bad attitude and go act like a Neanderthal somewhere else. That took a lot of courage. I’m not sure Evander Holyfield would talk to Ironhead Mike like that.

The Governor has taken on video poker, healthcare, child-welfare reform and that source of pride to all Georgians – natural gas deregulation. I’m not quite sure what he is planning to do with that mess but I hope his legislation includes a firing squad for anybody who ever thought deregulation was a good idea.

Barnes has created a bunch of new agencies like the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority, the Georgia Technology Authority, the Consumer Insurance Advocate and the Office of Education Accountability. If there is a recession going on in Georgia, it isn’t in the Governor’s office. Business is booming there.

Just when you thought our Governor might slow down and catch his breath, he has come up with his best idea yet. Barnes pledges that starting next year, if you have to wait over 30 minutes to renew your driver’s license, you will get your $15 back. Now that is big! I’ve heard many horror stories about the excessive delays citizens have endured in getting their licenses renewed – like the expectant mother who stood in line so long that by the time she got to the window, her baby was eligible for his learner’s permit.

The license renewal proposal is a slam-dunk but knowing our Governor, he is going to quickly need a new hill to climb. There is nothing scarier than a hyperactive Governor with nothing to do. If we don’t keep him occupied, he might get bored and start fiddling with the flag again. Therefore, I have just the challenge for him. Why not extend his license renewal concept to business? For example, if you call the phone company or the power company and don’t get your problem solved in 30 minutes, your service is free. Same with your HMO, bank and Internet provider. There would be an exception made for cable companies. They would be allowed to put you on hold for a week and given three months to fix the problem. We need to be realistic here.

If you go into a store and the personnel act like they could care less you are there, you get to haul out all the merchandise you can for 30 minutes, free of charge. If your flight doesn’t take off within 30 minutes of schedule, you get a hotshot business nabob’s seat in first class and he has to go sit in the middle seat in coach. The possibilities are endless.

I know Governor Barnes is going to love this idea and will want me to work closely with him on getting it implemented. Just say the word, Governor, and I am ready to start. But I need to hear back from you in the next 30 minutes. I’ve got to go get my driver’s license renewed and I won’t be available until October.