Madison County Opinion...

 June 14, 2000


Column
By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
June 14, 2000

Frankly Speaking

The search for freedom
When the representatives of our fledgling nation gathered in Philadelphia to "create a more perfect union," they designed a government based on several specific principles. They believed that these concepts would produce the greatest amount of freedom possible while providing those services that only a united government could produce. When they finished, they felt that the plan was the best possible.
They were not as sure that the government they designed would last. When he was asked "What have you given us?" Benjamin Franklin said, "We have given you a Republic, if you can keep it." He was right to be concerned. The government we have today has little, if any, resemblance to the one they designed.
Here are the most important of their concepts that have been destroyed:
THE SOVEREIGNTY OF THE STATES - Our forefathers recognized each state to be an independent, sovereign government. They recognized the rights and responsibilities of each state to regulate its own affairs as the citizens of that state saw fit. They considered it proper that each state be responsible for such things as law enforcement, care for the poor and handicapped (when there was no family capable of caring for their own), the building and maintaining of roads, and the regulation of commerce within its own borders.
The federal government was assigned the task of providing for a common defense, conducting foreign relations, regulating trade between states, providing for a common currency, and establishing a court system to interpret the federal Constitution and settle disputes between the states.
The people of the United States of America were so intent on limiting the power of the federal government, that they immediately wrote and ratified the first 10 amendments (the Bill of Rights) that made those limits abundantly clear.
A GOVERNMENT OF THE PEOPLE - The original idea of Congress was that the people of the several states would choose from among their numbers individuals who would lay aside their regular duties for a period of time to represent their neighbors in Washington. These duties were to be temporary and those who undertook them were considered to be making a sacrifice for their communities. The development of full-time professional politicians is totally foreign to the basic principles of our founding fathers.
NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION - That was the battle cry of the American Revolution. The basic duty of our elected officials should be to carefully supervise the collection and disbursement of our tax money. The idea of an all-powerful Internal Revenue Service that makes up its on rules completely violates the concepts on which this nation was founded.
These principles are, in my opinion, sacred. The fact that our present government runs roughshod over these principles disturbs me tremendously. The fact that the majority of Americans no longer care disturbs me even more.
Obviously, the government will not solve this problem. Those who operate the government have too much at stake (their jobs) to willingly reduce its size and scope. The major political parties cannot solve the problem. They are under the control of the professional politicians. If we have any chance of returning our nation to the sacred principles on which it was founded, new organizations and new people with new, or old, ideas must step forward. That means you and I. If we are to regain our rightful freedoms, we have to win them back by our own efforts. Let's get on with the job!
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at www.mcga.net.


Letter To The Editor
The Madison County Journal
June 14, 2000

Royston responds to accusations
Dear editor:
The point in question is that the political parties can place non-binding questions on the general primary ballot. The Republican Party chose to place four questions on the July 18, 2000, ballot.
It has been a long-standing position of the Democratic Party that if questions were to appear on the ballots of another party that the Democratic Party would like to place the questions on their ballots if they thought the questions were in order. There has been a long-standing request that if I heard that questions were to be submitted that I would notify them. I saw nothing wrong with this as I felt that if there were questions to be voted on that everyone should have a chance to vote on the questions. I feel that if a question is to be pursued for changes by our leaders that you the voters should have the opportunity to voice your opinions. I do not see how these questions will benefit me or anyone else personally or politically as they have nothing to do with my job.
Mrs. Frances Arndt of the Democratic Party reviewed the actual questions and stated "I see nothing wrong with this; let's put them on our ballot." She was advised to put something in writing, which she did, and it was notarized by Tracy Dean.
Mr. Marlin Carithers was asked to verify that this was done before 12 noon, which he did.
I do not know what time Mr. (Paul) Boatwright and Mr. (Hank) Burnham left my office, but I do know that Mrs. Arndt gave me the request before 12 noon.
Mr. Burnham stated to me personally that he did not believe me when I told him Mrs. Arndt filed her paper before noon. Now if he doesn't believe me and wants to say I falsified documents, this is a matter I resent, but he has indicated that Tracy Dean, Frances Arndt and Marlin Carithers falsified these papers and I find this utterly ridiculous, uncalled for and outrageous, to put it mildly.
I never said that I called Mrs. Frances Arndt and got her to the courthouse in less than 10 minutes. She knew earlier in the morning that the questions were coming and was prepared to submit her request as soon as the questions were filed.
Note the last paragraph (on the press release submitted by Hank Burnham) and you will get the real picture. This was written by Linda Hamrick (executive director of the Georgia Republican Party), who knows where to try to undermine anyone in the upcoming election who is not a Republican.
Mr. Burnham has stated to me that he intends to see that this election is run correctly. Mr. Burnham, my career and my future hinge on this election and I have stated to you and I state again: I will do my very best to see that it is run as nearly perfect as possible. I am the person who has all of the responsibility of conducting these elections properly. This is a responsibility and a challenge that I welcome and plan to face head on and get the job done just as I have for the 23 years that I have been here. I have employed excellent workers for elections in the past and plan to do so again this year and get the job done well. Further, I am looking forward to several more years of serving Madison County people, both Democratic and Republican.
Everyone knows that I show no difference in Democrats and Republicans. We try to help everyone in any way we can. One example of this is that on the financial disclosure reports we contact both Democratic and Republican candidates and officials repeatedly to get them to file their returns so we do not have to report them as late. This is the same action as calling Mrs. Arndt. We just try to help everyone.
Actually, thoughout this whole (press release) very little has been said about the questions being on the ballot. If these people were upset about questions, why not protest them being there? Fact is, they are not interested in the questions; they are after Hoppy.
The entire board of elections reviewed the ballot before it was printed and no one voiced any opposition to the question being there.

Sincerely, Donald "Hoppy" Royston, Madison County Probate Judge and Elections Superintendent

Column
By Zach Mitcham
The Madison County Journal
June 14, 2000

County sees first
gusts of election storm

If 2000 holds a major political storm for Madison County, this week provided the first good gusts of the election season.
There was a conflict over hiring procedures between county commissioner Nelson Nash and BOC chairman Wesley Nash, who both seek the chairman's seat this year, though tensions between the two are nothing new.
But the hottest sparks this week flew between county Republican leaders and county probate judge and elections superintendent Donald "Hoppy" Royston.
Republicans Paul Boatwright and Hank Burnham claimed Royston violated state elections laws by allowing Democrats to pose the same questions on their primary ballot as submitted by the Republicans. They say Royston could not have legally allowed these questions to be placed on the Democratic ballot, maintaining that the Democrats' request was not done before the deadline and with proper specificity.
Royston said the Democrats' request was submitted in time and that he was acting in the public's interest, giving everyone the opportunity to voice their views on issues, such as changing the state flag and staggering the terms of county commissioners.
The state election code should certainly be followed without compromise. If there is hard proof of an impropriety on Royston's part, the judge should face consequences of that action.
But there is a question that deserves close examination: Why? Why pursue this? Is it simply a matter of Republicans set on having a flawless election? Perhaps.
Or could it be a smear campaign in an election year?
The latter seems distinctly possible.
Republican Party leaders maintain that attracting voters is a major motivation. By posing four non-binding questions exclusively on their party's ballot, the Republicans believe they will draw voters to their primary elections.
But that seems like shaky logic. Would you switch your party affiliation to check yes or no on four questions that won't ostensibly change anything? Do you believe those who aren't motivated enough to get to the election booths to choose a representative will suddenly be inspired to do so because of the non-binding questions?
And here's a real catcher. If Republicans were actually interested in having the questions answered in the most complete way, wouldn't they have asked Royston to include them on the Democratic ballot? Wouldn't knowing how local Democrats feel on the issues prove useful to Republicans?
Accusers should be held to the magnifying glass with the accused. And when you do this in this case, there is a possible motivation that cannot be ignored.
It's true, of course, that Royston faces a Republican opponent, Lynn Smith, in the November general election - though it should be strongly emphasized that there is nothing to indicate that Smith has any connection to the Republican allegations against Royston.
But those who want a Republican in Royston's seat may also be considering these facts: Political advertising costs money and will never get you on the front page, since 99 percent of newspapers, including this one, refuse to run advertising of any sort on the front.
But if you can generate a scandal or an investigation, you avoid advertising expenses and you get the front page coverage with big headlines smearing your enemy.
It's the Washington way, the ugliness of partisanship we've come to expect. Mask a mud pie in a suit of righteous indignation, then hope the media will lend some credibility to the story by playing up the allegations.
Only those involved could actually know if that's the case here. But it's certainly an angle that deserves consideration.
Likewise, those who want non-partisan elections in the county could certainly use this week's conflict as support for their argument.
Hopefully, Madison County can avoid that Washington touch we've come to view with disgust. But all indications are that we're in for a stormy political season.
Too bad it's not the kind of storm we really need around here.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.



Letter To The Editor
The Madison County Journal
June 14, 2000

Says her father deserves flowers at his grave
Dear editor:
With Father's Day fast approaching, I just needed to voice an opinion.
My father passed away on Dec. 6, 1998. Ever since he died, my mother, sister and myself have tried to keep flowers on his grave. Someone in this area doesn't believe he deserves them.
I hope that whoever does this can sleep at night.
I was taught by my parents to respect my elders and also the sacred ground of the deceased. To be able to carry flowers and leave them with your loved one is a part of the grieving process. If there was a point to be made, I think it has been made. If you can't afford flowers, I am sure someone could help you get them. All I ask is that we can have flowers on his grave.
It is my prayer that whoever this person is will someday find Christ and have a whole new look at his fellow man and the world around him.

Sincerely, Beth Strickland, Hull


Letter To The Editor
The Madison County Journal
June 14, 2000

Thanks rescue workers
for help after wreck

Dear editor:
I am writing this to thank all of those who saved my life on Sunday, May 14. Hi, my name is Gary Parham and I would like to thank the Madison County Emergency Services techs who helped me, Hull Volunteer firemen, all of my friends for their support, and anyone who was involved helping me that day. If I forgot anyone, I'm sorry, but thank all of you so much! Also, for those who know what I'm speaking of - thanks for not cutting my leg off. Whoever out there who said "we gotta cut it off," talking about the emergency brake stuck in my leg, I'm sorry for assuming you were speaking of my leg. I was quite delirous, so forgive me. There is no way I could ever thank any of you enough. I would just like to tell everyone to be careful and don't speed; it's not worth risking your life to get somewhere quicker. Being late is more important than never getting there.

Sincerely, Gary Parham


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