I was hoping that for once the Mayans would be right about something and that the world would have ended on Dec. 21 as they had said it would. That would have taken care of the fiscal cliff and all the politicians that caused it. A little fire and brimstone would serve them right.
As usual, the Mayans blew it. Then again, what can you expect from a civilization that went belly-up 12 centuries ago? If they couldn't run a civilization, why should we trust them to operate a simple thing like a calendar? Farmer's Almanac, they are not.
So here we are: One year down and a new one coming. I am pleased to report that I got through the year without having to buy House Speaker David Ralston (a) lunch (b) dinner (c) a necktie or (d) a trip to (fill-in-the-blank). I have checked Ralston's burp-and-slurp schedule monthly via the Georgia Government Transparency and (inhale) Campaign Finance Commission and can find nary a dollar spent on him since August. Hmmm. Maybe all the talk about his dolce vita took his appetite.
On the other hand, Ralston's sidekick, Speaker ProTem Jan Jones (R-Alpharetta) never disappoints me. Since Aug. 1, lizard-loafered lobbyists have spent $287.32 on her, including a $15.34 dinner recorded three times by one lobbyist representing three different organizations. I wonder if each group got billed $5.11-and-a-third cents for the dinner?
You may recall that during last year's 40-day legislative session, Rep. Jones had 13 meals with one soft drink lobbyist. She also said Georgia public school teachers were the "highest-compensated in the nation." I'm thinking now that she may have consumed too much carbonated water.
My mailbag filled to overflowing from readers when the announcement came out that State Sen. Majority Leader Chip Rogers, (R-Woodstock) aka, Mork from Ork, had resigned to take an undefined job at Georgia Public Broadcasting -- I'm guessing you will see him at gas station openings, dressed as Big Bird.
Concerned readers wanted to know what I was going to do without the Chipster. I told them not to fear; there are more humor-impaired souls on this earth than I can get to. But I must admit that losing Chip Rogers and the state flaggers in the same decade makes this an ever more challenging job.
I am delighted that Sen. Ronnie Chance (R-Tyrone) will replace Rogers as majority leader. This is a young man for whom I have a high regard. Sen. Chance's day job is operating a public relations company. I hope he will do as he advises his clients to do when it comes to dealing with the public and with people like me.
As for next year -- assuming the Mayans didn't screw things up and we all go "poof" on Groundhog Day -- I want to see meaningful ethics reform legislation in Georgia. Look for our intrepid public servants to try to give us the sleeves out of their vests and talk to us like we are children, unable to understand the complexities of the issue. Get your legislators' addresses updated. We may have to write them a note or two on the subject.
I am also going to watch political contributions, including the first donations from for-profit charter management companies. Let's see who the beneficiaries of their largesse are. Expect righteous indignation from the recipients who will claim contributions will not influence their decisions. Even the Mayans don't buy that.
Politicians never cease to amaze me. but even I was drop-jawed by Charles Gregory (R-Kennesaw) a representative who hasn't even been sworn in, but who has already introduced four bills to expand gun rights, all of this within a week of the Connecticut massacre. Speaker Ralston and some of the House veterans should remind this guy that new legislators should be seen and not heard. The debate on gun control and associated mental health issues is going to be emotional enough without having a newbie who doesn't know where the privies are located in the Capitol sticking his nose in the debate.
This begins my 15th year of sharing my opinions with you on these pages. I ruffle a few feathers now and then but fortunately it is usually a different set of feathers each week. I must be doing something right. As always, I am grateful to the paper for giving me this platform and to you for reading and responding. If the editors and the Mayans agree, may we keep it going.
Happy New Year!
Email columnist Dick Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/dickyarbrough.