Georgia Says

The Times, Gainesville, Ga., on U.S. leaders could take a cue from the way Ga. governor, Atlanta mayor work together:

As the loggerhead battle of partisan squabbling continues unabated in Washington, D.C., it might behoove our national leaders to look to Georgia for an example of how leaders can come together to solve problems.

Georgia's governor and Atlanta's mayor would seem, on the surface, to be the oddest of political couples. One a seasoned, white, conservative North Georgian with years of experience as a congressman and prosecutor; the other an African-American Democrat born in New Jersey and educated in the more liberal environment of the Northeast academic and legal world.

But Nathan Deal and Kasim Reed have found they have much more in common than meets the eye, and have forged a working relationship that benefits both the state and city they represent.

Despite whatever differences in background and political philosophies they may bring to the job, they both are more pragmatic than ideological, their chief goal being to solve problems and help make Atlanta and Georgia more prosperous.

Their partnership has helped bring numerous companies and new jobs to metro Atlanta, and helped bring about the deal to build a new stadium for the Atlanta Falcons. Whatever one thinks of the stadium plan, it's clear the political obstacles were no match for two strong-willed leaders willing to work together.

Deal and Reed both cut their political teeth in the state legislature where one-party dominance has largely made such compromise hard to come by. 

Some decry tax incentives the state offers businesses to locate here, seeing it as a needless "expense." But they lose sight of the big picture: Yes, each job may carry a hefty price tag at the start, but if you extrapolate what that particular job means over time, it does pay off.

Add to that the double benefit of getting more people off unemployment and state benefits while boosting the tax digest and you have a long-term win-win proposition.

Reed clearly understands this. He has earned high marks as mayor, his charismatic personality and sharp mind making him the ideal leader for a dynamic city like Atlanta. He has only just begun what is likely to be a successful political career. 

Many Democrats bristled at this suggestion, unsure why one of their own would endorse a sitting GOP governor so early in the process. 

Fortunately, we don't have that problem right now in Georgia. For whatever issues we might have with legislative or local leaders, we at least have two men at the head of their respective parties who know how to come together and get things done.

We applaud the governor and mayor for their ongoing alliance. Here's to hoping both have several years left to come in making Georgia and Atlanta work better.

Savannah (Ga.) Morning News on juvenile injustice:

ALL GEORGIANS should be shocked, horrified and disgusted by a new federal report that says four of Georgia's youth detention centers are among the nation's worst for sexual assaults involving young inmates.

The report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics is based on juvenile inmate surveys conducted nationwide last year.

It comes at a time when Georgia is trying to overhaul its juvenile justice system, which has been plagued by reports of predatory teenage inmates assaulting other inmates and of abuse by staff members.

This latest document must accelerate needed reforms. The youthful victims of these attacks are already incarcerated for breaking laws. Being sexually assaulted while in the state's custody will make their rehabilitation more difficult — and scar them for life.

None of the four facilities are in the Savannah area. They were identified as the Augusta YDC in Richmond County, the Sumter County YDC in Americus, the Eastman YDC in Dodge County and the Paulding County YDC in Dallas.

The Paulding County facility, which serves seven counties west of Atlanta, led the nation with 32.1 percent of youth inmates reporting last year that they were victimized sexually by staff or other juveniles. That's more than three times the national rate of 9.5 percent.

If three out of every 10 inmates are being assaulted, then that facility is out of control. State officials must clean house. 

State employees who are using their positions to take advantage of young offenders shouldn't be working behind bars. They belong behind bars.

All told, nearly 300 boys in Georgia reported sexual abuse last year, based on answers provided anonymously by youth in custody. Georgia's four facilities were on a national list of 13 facilities with the highest rates of sexual misconduct. South Carolina was named, as well.

Commissioner Avery D. Niles, head of the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice, said in a prepared statement that he's "truly concerned to hear these allegations of sexual misconduct." 

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