Morse Diggs’ 6pm lead story Monday on WAGA focused on what he called a “bureaucratic gap” in Fulton County government. Under some circumstances, the phrase might signal the viewer to change channels– or for the producers of the newscast to drop the story into the “witness protection block”– 6:30 or later.
But Diggs’ story was lead-worthy and remarkable. It was a new development in an ongoing saga about Fulton County government failing to pay its vendors. One of those vendors, owed more than $100,000, operates the ankle bracelets on low-grade criminals and suspects under house arrest. And the company said “enough.” It told the Sheriff’s Department it would stop monitoring the ankle bracelets.
Diggs and a photographer were in the room when a probation officer told a man he’d have to go back to jail because he couldn’t wear the ankle bracelet any longer. When the man tearfully asked why, the officer told him it was because Fulton Co. failed to pay its bill. Officials explained that the probationers had faithfully followed the terms of their house arrest. Their re-jailing, one official said, was “morally indefensible.”
Diggs later explained that it would cost the county $65 per day to jail the man. The ankle bracelet program costs $14 per day.
Diggs has made a twenty-plus year career of knocking on the doors of bureaucrats at City Hall and Fulton County. In a medium that thrives on the sensational and the visual, Diggs improbably thrives. And he beats the other guys, including the AJC, with remarkable consistency.