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Earl Ehrhart 

For meddling in Atlanta's business

What does Earl have against Atlanta?

For the past couple of years, the conservative state rep from Powder Springs has been trying to push around the capital city.

First came his modest proposal to privatize Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Though it was a helpful suggestion as to how Atlanta could drum up the $3 billion needed to overhaul its decrepit sewers, it also was a slap in the face to the city's black leadership -- especially since the name of Atlanta's first black mayor had recently been affixed to the airport's marquee.

This time, Ehrhart's attack upon the city is more overt. His HB 1258, which was snaking its way toward the House floor at the time of this writing, is a pre-emptive strike on Mayor Shirley Franklin's proposed living wage ordinance.

Franklin's proposal would establish an effective minimum wage (probably about $10.50 an hour) for employees of companies seeking to do business with the city. Companies that don't wish to comply with the rule are free to ignore it; they simply won't be able to compete for city contracts -- or sign on as subcontractors.

It's not as if living wage ordinances are particularly radical or even controversial outside of right-wing ideological circles. Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, L.A., New York and more than 100 other American cities have adopted similar measures, which allow a community to put its tax money where its mouth is.

Ehrhart's bill would nullify -- in advance -- the adoption of a living wage ordinance by any Georgia city. The legislation is clearly aimed at Atlanta, however, where such an ordinance would affect as many as 10,000 janitors, parking attendants, fast-food workers and other unskilled laborers, many of whom work at the airport.

Is there a theme here? First, Ehrhart wanted to put Hartsfield under private control. Now, his new bill would derail a move to increase wages for some airport employees.

We think they would agree with our advice: Ehrhart, mind your own business.

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