Madison County Opinion...

 May 10, 2000


Column
By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
May 10, 2000

Frankly Speaking
Pleased with election qualifying
Qualifying for this year's elections has ended. I am encouraged by the results.
We will choose officers to fill 14 positions in county government. Twenty-nine people have qualified for the primaries, assuring that voters will have a choice in at least nine races. There is still time for independent candidates to qualify by petition and I hope to see others get into the race.
Those candidates without opposition so far are: Tax Commissioner Louise Watson, Sheriff Clayton Lowe, District 4 Commissioner Melvin Drake, District 3 School Board John Mason and District 4 School Board Jim Patton. Please understand that I am not saying that these people have not and will not do a good job. It is just that I hate to see an election where the people have no choice.
I am encouraged because we have so many races where the voters will have the ability to hear competing candidates express their political ideals. The only way we, the voters, can determine the future of our county is to have a variety of candidates with a variety of views. We can then influence the county's political future by voting for those candidates who best express our beliefs. That is what elections are for.
At the same time, the candidates need to know how we, the voters, feel about key issues. And we need to let them know by letters to the editor, personal contact, even paid advertisement urging votes for candidates who support one program or another.
In that spirit, I will list several issues I would like to see candidates address:
1. Open government - How will you ensure that the public has free access to government information? Are you familiar with the Georgia Open Records and Open Meeting laws and are you prepared to follow those laws in all cases?
2. Public input - How will you stay in touch with the voters to determine their wishes about controversial issues? Will you hold frequent informational meetings, or use write regular articles for publication about county issues? Will you publish a phone number, fax number and/or email address where citizens can notify you of their concerns?
3. County business - What measures will you support to ensure that county affairs are conducted in a business like manner? Will you support a clear purchasing policy, a fair employment policy and a reduction in petty rules that make it difficult for officials to do their jobs?
4. Cooperation - What measures will you take to ensure that your office functions well with other departments of county government? Will you make use of inter-government resources to reduce cost? Will you be sure employees under your control are properly trained for the jobs they do?
5. Home Rule - What will you do to keep control of Madison County's affairs in Madison County? Will you run to state or federal agencies every time a small problem arises, or will you seek local solutions before turning to higher government agencies?
I think we have a good, diverse group of candidates. I hope they will run clean, informative campaigns. I hope they will answer my questions, and the questions of other concerned voters. If they do, we the people will have an opportunity to choose the best officials for our county's future.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal.


Letter
The Madison County Journal
May 10, 2000

New law expedites adoptive process
Dear editor:
MEPA (Multiethnic Placement Act) is a new law that has been passed that is affecting the adoption process in Georgia. The focus of the law is to prevent discrimination and hopefully speed up the adoption process for Georgia's waiting children. Certainly the community has a right to know and be informed regarding any laws and policies that affect our services here at DFACS (Department of Family and Children's Services) and the children entrusted to our care.
Although the number of adoptions of children in DHR custody has greatly increased, and Georgia has been rewarded for the efforts, there are still children waiting for "forever families."
Who are the waiting children? Many are minority children. Others are older children who want to be placed with their siblings in the same home. Some have medical needs that require specialized medical care. Unfortunately, there are never enough families.
In an effort to encourage the identification and recruitment of a diverse pool of foster and adoptive parents, the MEPA became law in 1994. The new law is intended to prevent discrimination in the placement of children on the basis of race, color, or national origin. Hopefully, the enforcement of this law will decrease the length of time that children wait to be adopted.
Through the enactment of MEPA, Congress addressed concerns that many children, particularly those from minority groups, were spending lengthy periods of time in foster care awaiting adoptive placements in permanent homes. Based upon national averages, it has been determined that minority children usually wait twice as long as non-minority children for adoptive placements.
With this in mind, MEPA also recognizes that traditional practices and policies often encourage matching children with families of the same race or ethnic background. The use of such policies may delay or prevent the adoption of children by families who are well qualified to meet the individual needs of children, regardless of the race or ethnic background of the child or family.
Historically, many states have specified an order of preference for placements by making selections of adoptive families based on the family's race or ethnic background matching the child. Other common practices have included specified periods of time in which only same-race families are sought for children, before giving consideration to families of different racial and ethnic backgrounds. However, MEPA specifically forbids placement decisions made on the basis of race, color, or ethnicity of either the family or the child involved. Placements are to be made on the family's ability to meet the child's needs, and only in individualized cases when it is determined to be pertinent to the best interest of a specific child, may race be considered as a factor in the selection of an appropriate foster/adoptive family.
As a result of MEPA requirements, we are definitely seeing an increase in the number of cross-racial placements. Just as MEPA intends to prohibit racial discrimination in foster and adoptive practices, other standards are also prohibited in efforts to prevent discrimination aNd secure a wide variety of families who can meet the various needs of children. DFACS may not use set standards related to income, age, education, family structure,, and size or ownership of housing in the selection of families.
With cross-racial placements on the increase as states establish policies and practices consistent with MEPA, there are many specific identity needs of children which must be considered by families considering cross-racial parenting. Likewise, there are many parenting capabilities which need to be assessed in determining a parent's ability to parent cross-racially.
For instance, will the child have opportunities to participate in experiences with his culture? Can the parent teach skills and values that encourage a child's sense of racial and cultural pride? Will the parents understand how it feels to the child to look different from his parents? Will the parents be able to meet the differing skin, hair, and healthcare needs of their adoptive child? Long term, there's much to consider in cross-racial adoption, and parents must consider their abilities to meet these needs.
For more information about Georgia's waiting children, and how you can help as a foster or adoptive parent, contact Mary Jane Perkins at Madison County DFACS at 795-2128.
You may also meet some of Georgia's waiting children via the Internet at www.myturnnow.com.
Mary Jane Perkins
Social Services Case Manager
Madison County DFACS

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Column
By Ben Munro
The Madison County Journal
May 10, 2000

The PGA tour can wait
"Let's see: my arm's straight, my stance is good, my grip's right, my eye is right on the ball and swwwwing! Now why is that ball slicing 25 yards into the woods?"
Such is the frustration when trying to put together 18 holes....check that, even nine holes of golf for me and fellow hackers like me when we attempt to brave the golf course.
We're the unloved breed of golfers - that foursome that takes forever while you're itching to tee off, those guys who hit three balls off the tee in search of that very elusive drive that is straight down the middle of the fairway, those guys who spend enough time in the woods searching for lost balls that we might as well bring a tent and lantern and spend the night with nature.
Slices, hooks, draws, shanks, fat shots, thin shots, skulls, or any other lingo you can dig up in the golf dictionary - I've hit them all. I've been out of bounds, behind a tree, in the trap and just about any other golf predicament you can think of. But my fellow hackers and I come keep coming back for all the frustration.
The sport is such a unique hobby for me and the other Americans who are golf-swinging impaired. We slice our way through 18 holes, curse the day we ever bought the clubs and curse the money we paid to play this game but yet, next week, we're right back out on the course doing it all over again and doing it the next week, putting ourselves through the same misery. It must be for the love of the game, I'd guess you'd say - either that or some strange, compulsive addiction.
Golf is unusual in that it is the one sport that you can totally embarass yourself in and keep coming back for more.
I can't hit a backhand, forehand, or any other tennis shot, thus, I haven't been on a court in nearly five years. When I was a kid, I couldn't hit a fastball, curveball or any type of pitch to save my life. ("Hey Ben, you're one heck of a bunter, so we're gonna give you the bunt sign EVERY time you get the the plate," my Little League coaches told me.) So I haven't stepped into the batter's box for nearly 10 years now. And my basketball ability is so shameful, people have to drag me out of the house for even a simple game of horse.
So why is golf so different? Who knows?
For some reason, it's that one perfect stroke out of 100 in a round of golf that keeps you wanting to come back time and time again. It's the satisfaction of hitting a green from over 100 yards out that keeps you believing you can do it again.
And golf is such an emotional roller-coaster. One minute you're basking in your glory after nailing a birdie putt and then nine holes later you are wondering if your drive is going to end up on the fairway or in someone else's living room (believe me, I hit shots in more obscure places).
Golf isn't exactly the cheapest sport either. By the time you dig up enough money to buy even a second-hand set of clubs, a decent bag and some shoes, you're already tapping into next month's "rent fund" for your apartment.
But it's the crisp feel of nailing that perfectly straight drive down the middle of the fairway that makes the money worth the while - or in my case, with my extreme draw on the ball, that tee shot that takes off straight for the trees, but takes a abrupt left turn and hits in the middle of the fairway.
I know I'll never shoot even-par 72 and those PGA tour dollars won't be coming in anytime soon, but as long as I can get that one good shot out of a 100, that will be enough to keep me going.
And if you want to find me out on the course, I won't be hard to locate. I'm the guy who just sent his tee shot sailing straight down the middle - of the wrong fairway, of course.
Ben Munro is a reporter for The Madison County Journal.



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