I've had the pleasure since last we met in this space to enjoy a two-plus hour lunch with Hall County Commissioner Craig Lutz. He wanted to know where I was coming from and I may have wanted to know even more where he was coming from.
Per mutual agreement, we pulled no punches with one another. I don't think either of us was disappointed though there were some issue disagreements, which is normal.
I don't know what was most important to him. Most important to me was learning the rationale behind the Lutz-Ashley Bell-Scott Gibbs action in firing the county manager, financial officer and attorney.
Briefly, what had happened was the trio decided there were some job duplication and other issues and some officials would not be reappointed. The first commission meeting of the year after an election is the organizational meeting at which key appointive officers are elected.
The three felt those who would not be reappointed deserved to know about it in advance so they could make their own plans. They started contacting those affected. Then everything admittedly got out of control and the train derailed into controversy.
They did not, as I wrote, actually take any official votes until after they took office. Regardless of whether we agree with the actions, I think they were trying to implement it in a courteous professional way. Here's hoping the commissioners now will work harmoniously together.
No resolution to the national debt limit crisis was expected before the weekend deadline for this column. It looks as though any solution, if there's one, will be passed until virtually the last minute.
Fault comes from the president, the Senate and the House. The president hasn't been outlining solutions but has spent his time trying to get Congress to create and pass solutions. He has been insisting that the deal increases the limit to a level that will suffice so that the issue can't come up again until the 2012 elections.
The House and Senate can't agree on how much spending to cut and what programs will be curtailed. Nor can they agree on whether to directly or indirectly increase revenue through either increased taxes or reform of deductions and credits. It's the old game of "don't tax me, tax that fellow hiding behind that tree."
Action has been too long coming. It's time they all started acting like responsible adults. No wonder Americans are getting fed up with everybody.
For the record, I am opposed to a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget. It deprives Congress of a needed flexibility to meet unexpected emergencies. Nor do I believe the requisite number of states would ratify it.
Better is a responsible Congress that would be required to pass a budget by midnight Sept. 30 each budget year (the fiscal year begins Oct. 1) or permanently forfeit all their pay and allowances until it is done and the president has signed it. That budget would reflect expenditures and sources of revenue including borrowing. Every member needs to learn how principled compromise works and practice it.
I only have about three more columns before the 9/11 anniversary . I am genuinely worried that the terrorists want to show in a big way that their movement is not nearly over, that they are very much alive and effective. I doubt we'll have any more airplane hijackings, though some small ones could be stolen or rented and used in some attacks.
What worries me even more is that there could be time-coordinated terror attacks of all sorts scattered all across the county such as at schools, crowded shopping malls, sabotage of waterworks, etc. In other words, make us feel we don't know what hit us, no single attack hugely calamitous but in sum total devastating.
We need to be on our guard.
Ted Oglesby is retired associate and opinion editor of The Times. His column appears biweekly on Tuesdays. You can contact him at P.O. Box 663, Gainesville, GA 30503.