The Madison County Journal
May 31, 2000
A secret ballot is a
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
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.
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
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.
The Madison County Journal
May 31, 2000
a friend to all students
For current principal and soon-to-be assistant superintendent
Allen McCannon, helping students in need has always been second
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
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
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
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.
The Madison County Journal
May 31, 2000
County's 16 foster
families should be recognized
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
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