On Second Thought For Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Jun 12, 2019

If you grumble about paying taxes, you might have another reason to complain.  A new investigation shows Georgia county tax commissioners are allowed to profit personally from the collection of city taxes. 

 


Many cities want to pay counties to collect taxes since it can be easier -- and hypothetically cheaper -- than doing so themselves. It’s legal in Georgia for tax commissioners to pocket fees from the process, but no neighboring state allows this kind of system. And the amount commissioners earn from such fees is often a mystery, even to the county governments where commissioners work.

Georgia News Lab is behind the investigation.  It’s a collaboration between journalism students, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WSB-TV, and it’s embedded at GPB’s Atlanta bureau.

UGA undergraduate students Anila Yoganathan compiled data for the News Lab story, and fellow Bulldog Erin Schilling was one of the main writers on the project. They joined News Lab head David Armstrong in telling On Second Thought what they learned about the tax commissioner fee system – and why it took months of work and hundreds of open records requests to uncover their story.

The University of Georgia continues to grapple with a difficult chapter of its history. It’s been under fire for how it handled the discovery of human remains under a school building during renovations. They appear to belong to people who were enslaved.

The growing tension recently erupted in protests. Demonstrators want reparations for descendants of slaves who built the university, including financial support for university staff and students as well as acknowledgment of the school’s history publicly and within the classroom.

GPB reporter Grant Blankenship went to Athens to witness the protests, and he talks with On Second Thought about what he found.

Later this year, two Georgia veterinarians will star in a reality TV show on National Geographic.

The Critter Fixers will follow the lives of doctors Vernard Hodges and Terrence Ferguson. Hodges and Ferguson both run and operate Critter Fixer Veterinary Hospitals in Byron and Bonaire. 

The road to success wasn't exactly a dog walk in the park for Hodges, though. In 2017, he wrote Bet on Yourself: From Zero to Millions. The book details his rise from growing up poor in Fort Valley to becoming a veterinarian and millionaire real estate investor. 

Hodges spoke with On Second Thought host Virginia Prescott about the upcoming show and working to diversify the veterinary industry. He said less than two percent of veterinarians are African American.