Madison County Opinion...

 May 31, 2000

By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
May 31, 2000

Frankly Speaking

A secret ballot is a Constitutional right
Another election season is upon us. Candidates are filling the media with positions and accusations. Pollsters are filling the telephone lines with calls asking how we plan to vote.
It is time for to remind all voters that you do not have to answer those questions. The U.S. Constitution (remember that document?) guarantees each of us the right to a secret ballot.
You hear a lot of discussion these days about the right to privacy. People should have the right to keep personal information secret. Most people assume that the right to privacy is included in the Constitution. In most cases, that right is implied, not clearly stated.
The only privacy right that is clearly stated in the Constitution is the right to a secret ballot. You have the right, if you choose to exercise it, to never reveal how you voted in any election. You do not have to answer questions from poll takers, campaign assistants or even the candidates.
Special efforts are made at the polling places to protect the secrecy of your vote. When you enter a voting booth, a curtain or door closes behind you. No poll official is allowed to enter with you unless you request their assistance.
Ballots are designed so that no one can identify the voter from numbers or other marks. Election records are allowed to show only the fact that you voted. Of course, in primary elections, which party's primary you chose is recorded to be sure you chose the same party in the event of a runoff.
There is a good reason for this. Once a person is elected to a political office, they are expected to represent all citizens of the district for which they were elected. To properly represent "we the people," they must never make decisions on the basis of how a person voted.
While many of our elected representatives follow this guideline, there will always be some who show special favors to those who vote for them, and ignore problems of those who vote against them. The writers of the Constitution saw this as a major problem, and provided for a secret ballot to prevent such abuses.
I decided many years ago to take advantage of the Constitutional right of a secret ballot and never reveal my votes. I will discuss the relative merits of candidates and issues that appear on the ballot. I have well-known political opinions that, I am sure, would indicate the likelihood that I would support one candidate over another. I might even express approval of certain candidates. I also reserve the right to change my mind at the ballot box.
I will never say to a candidate, "I will vote for you." Nor will I ever remind an office holder that "I voted for you." The right to a secret ballot is one of many Constitutional rights that we risk losing unless we practice it.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal.

By Adam Fouche
The Madison County Journal
May 31, 2000

They ought to give you a book about women when you're born
A very dedicated male reader in rural Jackson County recently called me with a very important question. He wanted to know how to handle a woman. Well, I'm going to try and answer him right here.
First, let me list everything I know for sure about women: nothing. That's right, I really know nothing for sure. I think that I know something about women. I'd like to know something about women. But, truth is, I really don't know a thing about the other (and many would say better) gender.
However, I have compiled a list of things that I think I know about women. Hopefully, it will be of some help to you clueless male readers out there (which would be all of us):
·Never, ever answer any question about how a woman looks or how she is dressed. This is a suicide. If you say she looks good, she'll tell you that you are only just saying that. If you say she looks bad, well, remember the Bobbits? Just tell her you are a guy, and you don't know anything, and you're stupid. Women will always accept the "I'm stupid" answer because they know it is true.
·Never try to understand a woman. This is impossible. Women are masters of disguise. They can hide any emotion from you that they want. Meanwhile, they know everything you are thinking, and they pick-up on every single hidden meaning in everything you say. Just face it, trying to understand a woman is like trying to unravel some great mystery of time. You can try if you want, but you'll go to your grave doing it.
·Always do the opposite of what a woman says she wants to do. If she says she wants to eat steak, take her to a seafood restaurant because that is what she really wants. Sometimes, however, she will say what she really wants so that you will pick the opposite of what she says she wants because you think that is what she really wants. But, you are wrong and this gives her an excuse to be mad at you for making her do something she didn't want to do. I know that sounds real confusing, but it is. Actually, you never really know what she really wants, so you just have to guess. Just flip a coin or something.
· Buy some cows. Cows are good excuses to leave the house. Really, that is the only reason farmers have cows. They don't buy cows to make money or get beef. They buy cows to be able to leave the house. Whenever things get too bad or you want to get away, you can say you need to go check on the cows. Then you can stay out as long as you want to.
Well, that's about all the help I can give you. I wish there was more, but that's my best advice. Just pay close attention to your lady and heed my warnings, and you should be fine. Maybe someday all newborn males will get a book about women when they're born. It probably wouldn't do any good though.
If you need anymore help, just let me know. I'll be glad to lend you my ear.
In the meantime, I'll be right here, walking around babbling about how stupid I really am.
Adam Fouche is a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers.

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By Ben Munro
The Madison County Journal
May 31, 2000

Allen McCannon: a friend to all students
For current principal and soon-to-be assistant superintendent Allen McCannon, helping students in need has always been second nature.
Eight summers ago, a nervous 13-year-old kid from Jacksonville, Fla., walked into Madison County Middle School one day in late August with his dad, not really knowing where to go or what to do.
He was supposed to be taking an algebra placement test for the upcoming eighth grade school year at his new school, but the father and son were basically at a loss about where exactly they were supposed to go. On top of that, the young teen was already paranoid enough about the impending changes he was going to have to endure when the school year started.
Seeing the confusion, a young Georgia history teacher (who was surely busy with work of his own for the upcoming school year and had nothing at all to do with the math department) poked his head out of the doorway of his classroom and in a friendly, laid-back voice, asked the two if there was anything he could do to help them.
Within minutes the teacher straightened out the situation, directing the boy and his father to the correct destination while even introducing the new student to his algebra teacher.
That was the first time I ever met Allen McCannon or "Coach McCannon" as I would come to know him that school year (he was the middle school football coach at the time).
And since then Allen McCannon has been in the business of pointing kids in the right direction and has done a fine job of it.
"Big deal," you might say to my story. No, Mr. McCannon, who will be moving up to the position of assistant superintendent at the school year's end, didn't save anybody from a burning building that day or free a person from a wrecked car that was about to explode or do anything else that would land on the six o'clock news. But he made a difference to a kid who needed to see a friendly face in strange and foreign surroundings when he didn't have to.
And it is little things like this that he has done thousands of times that have made Mr. McCannon so successful in the field of education and earned him a world's worth of respect in this county.
Since that year, when he was my Georgia history teacher, Coach- or Mr. McCannon I should say (I still accidently refer to him as coach sometimes)- has enjoyed a meteoric rise up the Madison County education ladder, moving to the principal position in Ila for three years before becoming principal of the high school my senior year.
And I believe his success stems from a simple formula: he genuinely cares about the youth of the county and knows how to relate to them as well as parents. He doesn't play the part of the intimidator as a principal but more that of a friend while still running the school efficiently.
If you looked up the phrase "people person," Mr. McCannon's name would be among the synonyms.
The picture of Mr. McCannon is a simple one - a man with a smile on his face constantly shaking hands. He's always there to help people.
During his four years at the principal position, Mr. McCannon, who is a hometown product, growing up in Colbert, has been able to put forth a positive light in a job that is surely thankless. Whether it be sports writers like me calling to find out about whether a game was canceled, parents screaming and cussing in your ear about a teacher, students "rumbling" in the hallways between classes just to see who's tougher or kids pulling pranks doing things like letting chickens loose in school, you have to deal with everything life can throw at you as a principal.
You are put in charge of over a thousand people who are going through a transitional and even rebellious stage in their lives, a combination that can spawn a world's worth of trouble. And these days, American high schools have proved to be dangerous grounds at times as evidenced by the stories of Columbine and Heritage high schools.
Thus, it takes a unique individual to fill such a position and I believe Mr. McCannon has been able to roll with the punches that the job has thrown at him and keep on smiling while others might become bitter or have a nervous breakdown.
And though the county will be getting a great new assistant superintendent when Mr.McCannon takes his new position, he will be missed at the high school. Though his four-year tenure is brief compared to that of some principals, the respect he leaves with among the students and faculty is comparable to someone who spent two decades at the position.
But I'm sure that Mr. McCannon will enjoy the same success in his new job that he has enjoyed throughout his career while now having to deal with less headaches, day in and day out.
However, I'm also sure he'll keep that easy-going, down to earth nature no matter how successful he may become.
Hopefully he'll be making a difference in the lives of Madison County youth for years to come.
Ben Munro is a reporter for The Madison County Journal.

Letters To The Editor
The Madison County Journal
May 31, 2000

County's 16 foster families should be recognized
Dear editor:
Yes, you may not have been aware of it, but May is National Foster Care Month, a time set aside to focus on the needs of some 12,000 children who are in state custody in Georgia at any given time. Foster care is a state program that provides temporary substitute homes for children whose families cannot provide a safe and nurturing environment for them. It is also one of many programs administered by the Georgia Department of Human Resources Division of Family and Children Services. Children come into the agency's custody for many reasons, including neglect, physical and sexual abuse and emotional maltreatment, but only a parent, guardian, or the juvenile court has the authority to place a child in the custody of DFCS.
Yes, these are sad situations for both children and their families, and no, foster care isn't something to be celebrated. However, the 16 approved foster families in Madison County are to be honored and their many contributions to the children they parent are certainly worthy of celebration. They make a difference in the lives of children every day and their labor of love is vital to the agency in terms of protecting children who are at risk and must be removed from their homes. For this reason, on Thursday, May 18, foster families from both Madison and Oglethorpe Counties were honored in a joint-county celebration, which took place at Watson Mill Fish Lodge in Comer. The house was filled to capacity as staff and board members from both DFCS offices joined families from both counties in a joint effort to somehow express to each and every family just how much they are appreciated. Lots of good food and a healthy dose of fun administered by Rev. Claude McBride highlighted the evening for some 150 people who enjoyed the festivities. Each family received a gift before the evening ended. As I said then, somehow our efforts to say "thanks" seem to fall short in light of all these families who give of themselves, their time and their energy to help children and their families. However, each and every adult and child seemed to enjoy the evening. And that's what it was all about, celebrating families who make a difference.
So again, many thanks to all the foster families in Madison County Oglethorpe Counties. Congratulations on a job well done! Although some of those 12,000 children mentioned are placed in relatives homes, institutions and adoptive placements, the vast majority are in family foster homes, homes just like yours and mine. Isn't that the way it should be? After all, doesn't every child need a place to call home?

Sincerely, Mary Jane Perkins, Madison County Department of Family and Children Services
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