General Assembly plays by different rules

Published 7:30 pm Thursday, July 18, 2019


“Folks, may I have your attention, please! My name is Figby and I have been asked to convene a short meeting of members of the General Assembly this morning.”

“Who the dickens are you, squirt? Where is David Ralston, our beloved speaker?”

“As I said, my name is Figby. I am chief conciliator for the Yarbrough Worldwide Media and Pest Control Company, located in Greater Garfield, Georgia. My boss, Dick Yarbrough (“Boo! Hiss! Pfft!”) has asked me to get you all together to see if we can’t come to some consensus as to whether or not you play by the same rules that you require of the rest of us. As for the speaker, he is taking time out of his busy schedule to lobby newspaper editors around the state on why he can’t take time out of his busy schedule to try court cases.”

“Ha! Ha! Ha! That’s our speaker! The guy is one of a kind! Clap! Clap! Clap!”

“Let me tell you why I am here. Mr. Yarbrough (“Boo! Hiss! Pfft!”) would like me to discuss Georgia’s Open Records law with you. This law — which you wrote — does not include the General Assembly and its related offices. City and county governments and others must adhere to open records requests from the public, but you don’t have to. Isn’t that a bit hypocritical? After all, Georgia taxpayers fund the General Assembly to the tune of about $45 million annually. You do work for the taxpayers, I believe.”

“Moan! Groan! We aren’t getting into that stuff again, are we? If the people have a need to know how we conduct their business, we will tell them. Assuming it is any of their business!”

“That seems to be a rather dismissive attitude and I wonder … ”

“Listen, you little runt. Let’s get this over with! There are lizard-loafered lobbyists waiting to take us to fancy-schmancy resorts so that we can play golf and partake of adult libations and maybe even get a campaign contribution. Time is money!”

“I assume that your schedules will be available to the public through the Open Records law?”

“Ha! Ha! Ha! Clap! Clap! Don’t you just love this little guy?”

“Folks, let me read you a portion of the Open Records Act, which states that the Legislature declares that ‘the strong public policy of this state is in favor of open government; that open government is essential to a free, open, and democratic society; and that public access to public records should be encouraged to foster confidence in government and so that the public can evaluate the expenditure of public funds and the efficient and proper functioning of its institutions.’”

“Hey, Filbert or whatever your name is, I think I can answer that one for you.”

“That is very kind of you, sir. Please, go ahead.”

“Yeah, don’t do as we do. Do as we say do! Got it?” (Uproarious laughter.)

“That may be, sir, but don’t you worry about the perception voters may have of their elected officials?”

“Listen, twerp. It’s the voters who keep sending us back. They’ve got more important things on their minds, like who’s going to get their heart broken on ‘The Bachelorette’ and stuff like that. Anyhow, the voters don’t exactly have the highest expectations of us. Check the polls. Our reputation is slightly above that of a mule skinner. Now, can we get out of here?”

“I will be through in just a moment, ladies and gentlemen, but Mr. Yarbrough (“Boo! Hiss! Pfft!”) wanted me to ask you about our gun laws.”

“Yeah! Clap! Clap! Clap! Finally, something positive to talk about!”

“If I am correct, I believe you allow guns in church (“Amen! Sweet Jesus!”) and bars (“This round is on me! Ha! Ha! Ha!”) and on college campuses. (“Rah! Rah! Sis Boom Boom!”) Then why not under the Gold Dome?”


“Anybody want to respond? Is this not another example where you pass laws you don’t have to follow?”

(More silence. Shuffling of feet.)

“Well, ladies and gentlemen, I think you have given me more than enough information to report back to Mr. Yarbrough (“Mumble! Mumble!”) I am sure he will be passing this conversation along to his readers so they may form their own judgments about whether you consider yourself above the laws you make. Thank you for your time. We are adjourned.”

“Hooray! Let’s get outta here! Look out, Sea Island! Here we come! It’s party time!”