January 23, 2013

Former state senator joins Big Bird

Former state senator Chip Rogers started work this week at a new $150,000 a year job at Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB).

By now, we aren’t surprised when a “small government” Republican decides to leave electoral politics behind and take a taxpayer-supported job. But Rogers’ move seems particularly hypocritical.

During the past two years, the Legislature, where Rogers served as Senate majority leader, slashed funding for public broadcasting. But in his new digs at GPB, Rogers will be making almost 10 times his salary as a state senator, more than the governor, lieutenant governor or any other elected state official, and more than the vast majority of GPB employees.

The job Rogers took wasn’t advertised. Possibly because no one knew what it was. When Rogers stepped down from the Senate to take this job neither he nor GPB officials could explain exactly what he would be doing nor what his job title would be. It took them awhile to say that his title would be executive producer, community jobs program. He’ll be part of new programming aimed at covering Georgia’s push to bring in new businesses and create new jobs.

If you think this smacks of Georgia’s political elite rewarding one of their own, you aren’t alone. Better Georgia (bettergeorgia.com), a statewide progressive group, has started a petition asking GPB to fire Rogers.

GPB has a good deal of good will among its viewers. But hiring Rogers could well damage that good will.

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