Sandy Springs: Ga. 400’s ‘new’ toll rankles hoi polloi

I used to think I came across as a fairly shrewd guy. Not the sharpest pin the cushion but I hold my own with “The New York Times” crossword puzzle (in ink) and never got talked into selling Amway.

But now I’m racked with doubt over the quality of my cogitation and I think for good reason. If the man of the street told me I was dull-witted I’d shrug it off, but this is coming from the Honorable George Ervin “Sonny” Perdue III, governor of the sovereign state of Georgia.

Full disclosure — Gov. Perdue did not personally single me out. I’m referring to his public remarks when he explained why he supported breaking the 20-year promise to discontinue the Ga. 400 toll next year.

Seeing as a good number of Sandy Springsteens jump on 400 daily, this is pretty big potatoes.

Gov. Perdue suggested the toll might be suspended in 2011, then reinstated, making it a “new” toll. Pardon me Your Honor — so to speak — do any of us really look that obtuse? You stop collecting the toll for a few days, then bring it back — same road, same plaza, same amount — but it’s “new”?

Are you not just a bit compunctious to stand up in public and try to peddle that snake oil?

I’m not asking you to shroud yourself in sackcloth and ashes — certainly not the worst idea I’ve heard — but even by the bottom-of-the-barrel standards of politics this might get you into the Huckster Hall of Fame.

Using your logic I could have a wee assignation with my high school prom date based on the fact I knew her before I married the lovely Mrs. Osterman. So any hanky-panky would be pre-emptive to my marital vows, as well as retroactive. I can tell you that dog won’t hunt in the family casa.

Ham-handed sarcasm aside, scenarios like this are why people anathematize politicians. You promise carelessly, lie capriciously and behave like the indignant village strumpet who won’t concede her virtue is long gone.

Two decades ago the state asked to reach into our pockets for a set period of time — and under those conditions we accepted.

I’d give you grudging props if you’d just stood up and said: “Sorry folks, but if you think we’re giving this up you’re crazier than a rabid hedgehog in heat. Don’t let the door smack you on the fanny on the way out.”

You have a fancy title, a spiffy office, and a really swell house in Buckhead, but to any number of well-educated people in this state there is not a dime’s worth of difference between you and the grifter dealing three-card monte and trusting there’s a rube born every minute.

If you can live with that, by all means keep going into our pockets 50 cents at a time.

But were I to peddle my self-respect and rectitude, it would be for more than a picayune four bits.

Jim Osterman lives in Sandy Springs. Reach him at

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