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Oglesby: Leaders must produce results or pay a price
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The lame-duck Congress, still controlled by Democrats, is back at work but both parties accomplished nothing visible. They've spent most of their time this first working week taking votes useful only for embarrassing the other side, creating campaign fodder to embarrass future election opponents or establish early positions to tout while campaigning in future elections.

Perhaps with these political posturing preliminaries behind them, they can finally get down to the nitty-gritty work of governing in a responsible, working-together way.

Public irritation at the hard-nosed partisanship is beginning to be heard with increasing loudness. Mark my words: Either side perceived as bull-headedly not cooperating will pay dearly. Principled, pragmatic cooperation and horse-trading is necessary.

At this point nothing's left to analyze at the federal level, though here are a few predictions: This lame-duck Congress will extend ALL Bush tax cuts for two to three years and fix the Alternative Minimum Tax levels. The START treaty is more iffy but seems to be gaining support.

Extending unemployment benefits is another matter. It'll pass if Democrats agree to spending cuts somewhere that will pay for at least a large portion of the cost. Otherwise, several million people will be adversely affected.

The estate tax fix also remains iffy. I'd hoped a lot more would have been done before adjournment, but so far it looks like a very weak response to huge problems.

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Let's go to the local level. I'm with those who think the Ashley Bell-led Hall County commission trio should rethink their idea of a token library presence in Clermont while building the main facility at the Nopone Road location, which is closer to about three times the number of residents.

While conceding Nopone is the best location, the two newcomers campaigned on saving the library for Clermont, which feels it was promised. The future of SPLOST is the big thing at stake here; countywide, we can't afford to lose its support.

My readings disagree with county officials who say SPLOST is an issue only with Clermont and not the rest of the county. Too much remains to be done, particularly in South Hall. That's being pragmatic. The more the current commission spends on a Nopone library site as though the library is going there, the more taxpayer money they waste.

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Now to the state level: Nathan Deal has been hard at work and this past week went to Washington to talk with the president and started naming who would be his department heads. All so far seem to be excellent choices. As I write, he still has more than 50 to go (some are very small departments, some such as the revenue department, huge).

Speaking of the revenue department and from my experience as an enrolled tax professional representing clients before the department and its income and sales tax divisions, it needs a thorough shaking up. The only way it will be reformed is through an on-board commissioner.

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Hall County School Superintendent Will Schofield is a great choice to chair the new state school superintendent's transition team. He's a forward-looking, innovative, always cooperative, born leader who himself would make a super state superintendent. We're lucky to keep him here.

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A pet peeve is that so many people don't know or don't practice flag protocol. Public Law 110-181 says people in uniform should give the military salute. Armed Forces and veterans not in uniform may render their choice of military or civilian salute.

Inside, nonveterans stand at attention facing the flag with hand over heart. Inside or outside, as the flag passes one holds a salute five paces before and five after the flag passes. The same applies when the National Anthem is played.

It's disgusting to see people talking and otherwise ignoring what's going on at these moments. Shame.

Ted Oglesby is retired associate and opinion editor of The Times. You can contact him at P.O. Box 663, Gainesville, GA 30503. His column appears biweekly on Tuesdays and on gainesvilletimes.com.

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