The Commerce News
July 12, 2000
Recent Report Finds
I don't care for rutabagas too much. In fact, I hate them.
For a while, I thought my dislike for this so-called vegetable
lay only in its taste and smell. But the results of a recent
study show my fears were not unwarranted.
The Georgia Association of Vegetable Advocates (GAVA) recently
published the results of a 10-month study conducted at the National
Institute of Plants, Botany Division, Consumption Sect at the
University of Georgia.
Researchers, two of whom died during the study, found rutabagas
to be "extremely dangerous." In fact, the group said
rutabagas were "more dangerous than Ricky Martin music."
The initial results of the study intrigued me, and I contacted
research director Dr. Ernie Pottlemore at GAVA to get more information.
"We have issued a warning to all vegetable consumers in
North America," he told me. "Don't eat rutabagas. You'll
The research team, composed of four high school drop-outs and
three state representatives, concluded that anyone who eats a
rutabaga will die. Even more astonishing, the team found that
73 percent of all deceased Americans have eaten at least one
A press release I received from GAVA early Tuesday morning offered
even more information, including the following statistics:
·94 percent of all federal prison inmates have eaten,
seen, heard of, touched or dreamed about a rutabaga.
·68 percent of all traffic accidents involve a driver
who was under the influence of rutabagas. Of those, three-fourths
have a blood-rutabaga content (BRC) above the legal limit of
.10 grams or more per 100 mL of blood.
·Half of all pregnancies involve a rutabaga.
·82 percent of all mental hospital patients say rutabagas
have tried to attack them.
Pottlemore told me he was first alerted to the rutabaga problem
after hearing about a woman in Thunderbolt, Ga., who was injured
when a crate full of rutabagas fell on her and scratched her
"Apparently, the young lady scratched her arm when a crate
full of rutabagas fell over," the doctor said.
I, myself, looked up "rutabaga" in the dictionary and
found the word to mean "a turnip having a large, yellowish
root used as food by humans and livestock."
Clearly, rutabagas are "large" and "yellowish"
and should only be eaten by "livestock."
I hope those of you who eat rutabagas will cease immediately.
Heed GAVA's warnings, they are very serious.
As for the local grocery stores, I urge you, as a public service,
stop selling rutabagas. The next victim of a rutabaga incident
could find legal grounds to sue. At least that is what my attorneys
If any of you come in contact with a rutabaga, do not touch it,
do not cook it and please don't eat it. The danger is real.
Adam Fouche is a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers.
The Jackson Herald
July 12, 2000
has hollow ring
That growth should dominate the local elections this year isn't
surprising. In all counties where economic expansion takes place,
growth and its related issues take center stage on the political
While there's nothing wrong with such a debate, there is something
wrong with the shrillness that has come to frame the issue. Here,
and in other counties, anti-growth candidates rise to exploit
voter frustrations. Last week, one local candidate said "greed
fuels growth." Other candidates have likewise demonized
growth as the bane of all evil. In fact, one candidate voices
the idea that government should rule over individual property
Now, we realize that with economic expansion comes an expansion
of certain problems. But we do not believe that growth is just
a product of "greed," or that the answer to dealing
with growth is to instill a Socialist government to regulate
our lives. Such simplistic views have no place in a serious discussion
about how our county should deal with growth issues.
We have said it before and we'll repeat it again: Growth brings
certain problems, but those problem are preferable to those faced
by dying communities where there is no growth.
Have we forgotten that just a few years ago, there were few housing
options in Jackson County?
Have we forgotten that just a few years ago, there were few job
options in Jackson County?
Have we forgotten that just a few years ago, our county had one
of the most negative reputations in the state as a haven for
We fear that our community's institutional memory has become
short - we're so busy complaining about the extra traffic that
we've lost sight of just how far this county has come during
the last two decades.
Rather than exploiting this for political gain, we'd like to
see local candidates offer some real, workable ideas about how
Jackson County should prepare for growth.
It's our view that our local governments should certainly be
engaged in the growth problems, but that engagement should focus
on how to provide the necessary infrastructure to handle this
growth and on the appropriate process for managing growth.
The anti-growth candidates may be tapping into voter frustration
for political gain, but they have not offered Jackson County
any workable ideas.
Such shrillness without substance has a hollow ring.
The Jackson Herald
July 12, 2000
only 'scratched the surface'
I thought that your editorial of July 5th, regarding the infringement
of rights guaranteed by the 1st Amendment to the Constitution,
was right on; however, it barely scratched the surface. Freedom
of speech is most certainly becoming the pawn of "political
correctness." Witness the John Rocker bruhaha because of
his negative comments about New Yorkers. Ty Cobb, who is still
honored as an outstanding baseball player, was certainly one
of the most offensive celebrities ever and yet never was the
object of the type of outrage that Rocker has become.
The fines and examples that you mentioned in your column were
incredible. Who is making these decisions? And why are we, the
people, so complacent that we just sit back and watch this type
of thing insidiously creeping into every aspect of our daily
What has changed? I believe that our government, with the voluntary
or forced help of some of the media, is eroding the essence of
freedom intrinsic to the Constitution. Free speech and the other
related rights stipulated in the 1st Amendment are being re-interpreted
so that they only apply when the government wants them to apply.
Similarly, the right to bear arms, guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment,
is also undergoing a slow and methodical erosion. Additionally,
there is evidence that the 4th Amendment, security within our
houses from unwarranted search and seizure, is undergoing a subtle
erosion that has accelerated in recent years. I viewed the pictures
of the raid to extract Elian Gonzalez with amazed disgust; the
question of whether or not there was a legal warrant issued has
still not been resolved. Another example is justified by the
"war against drugs." The government feels that it is
justified in simply taking your money if you are found to be
carrying $10,000 or more on your person on the theory that only
drug dealers would be carrying that much money. Or how about
your property if someone decides that you are growing marijuana
on your land? Gone.
Put this all together and it forms the shadowy outline of a terrifying
trend. What happens when we find ourselves severely punished
for expressing our ideas, forbidden to own firearms unless the
government says it's OK and subject to searches and the confiscation
of our property at the whim of the government? If you are sitting
there thinking that I'm paranoid and that this could never happen
to you, think again. And if you are as concerned as I am, call,
email or write all of your representatives today! There
is an election coming up and now is the time to make yourself
Sincerely, R. Wigton
The Jackson Herald
July 12, 2000
This year's elections will be important to the future of Jackson
County. The new five-member board of commissioners will set the
stage for the decade to come - if they do well, Jackson County
will do well. But if they slip into nasty political backbiting,
Jackson County will suffer.
Of primary interest in next Tuesday's balloting is the race for
chairman of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners. Since
all three candidates are running as Republicans, that race will
be decided this summer.
Under the new form of government, the chairman will be a key
player in the dynamics of the entire board. It will be the chairman
who must keep the board focused and who must see that it doesn't
get sidetracked on minor issues. It is the chairman who will
play a key role in the day-to-day communication with the county
manager. And it is the chairman who must attempt to build consensus
on the board around the important issues facing Jackson County.
Fortunately for voters, two of the three candidates have the
qualifications to fill that position and do a credible job. Both
Harold Fletcher and Tommy Stephenson have the skills needed to
lead Jackson County in the coming years. And although their styles
are different, they both have taken similar positions on the
key issues facing Jackson County.
Candidate Roy Grubbs is also in that race and while he brings
some worthy ideas to the table, his views on individual property
rights are frightening. Grubbs, who is making his first run for
political office, believes that people don't really own property,
only certain government-granted rights to property. In his view,
individual rights of property ownership are secondary to governmental
control. It is a quasi-Marxists view - that the good of the many
outweigh the rights of the individual. His views on this are
not only extreme, but in the context of zoning and land use planning,
illegal. Growth may bring problems, but I don't think Jackson
County property owners are willing to give up their individual
rights as land owners and install a Marxist-style government
to dictate their future.
While both Fletcher and Stephenson recognize the difficulties
of managing for growth, both are former county commissioners
and have no illusions about what lies ahead. Both know that hiring
a county manager will be the most important decision this new
board will soon face and both have similar views about how that
should be done.
With two strong candidates having staked out similar stands on
issues, voters are left to decide this race based on the individual
styles of these two men. In that department, they do have some
Stephenson is the consummate politician who has seldom been a
polarizing force in politics. He isn't overly sensitive to criticism
nor does he appear to get upset when he loses a political fight.
And Stephenson has avoided being allied with any particular group
over the years. If he keeps counsel with anyone, it isn't obvious.
Fletcher is more intense than Stephenson and has been known to
take unpopular positions because he thought it was right. Some
of that was put on him, however, during his last tenure on the
board. He and Henry Robinson, who was chairman at that time,
had a "good cop, bad cop" routine where Fletcher would
play the outspoken critic on an issue to get it to the surface
so that Robinson as chairman could be the peacemaker and deal
with it. That role didn't endear Fletcher to some, but it was
a role that ultimately served the larger interests of Jackson
Fletcher says that in hindsight, he made some mistakes during
his earlier terms, perhaps having played the "heavy"
a few too many times. He claims to have mellowed in the years
since he came off the board and says he has come to appreciate
dissenting views more than in the past.
So the question for voters next week, is which of these styles
is best for Jackson County in the coming years? Will Fletcher's
stronger style be the kind of visionary leadership the fledgling
new government needs, or will Stephenson's softer style of consensus-building
work best? And which style will work best with a new county manager?
Indeed, that's difficult to gauge because much of that will depend
on the personality and style of the manager himself.
Between Stephenson and Fletcher, the decision revolves more around
style than substance. And for voters, that isn't a bad thing.
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.
The Commerce News
July 12, 2000
The News' Picks
For Tuesday's Primaries
The election of five brand new Jackson County commissioners makes
the 2000 election cycle among the most important in the county's
history. The new commissioners will be responsible for establishing
the new form of government to be created as a result of last
No longer will there be one full-time commissioner who virtually
runs the county and two part-time commissioners who supposedly
have equal power but who actually don't. Under the new government,
there will be five part-time commissioners and a county manager,
whose responsibility it will be to run the government according
to the policies established by the commissioners.
It is a more effective and efficient form of government, but
the effectiveness depends upon the commissioners who they
hire as county manager and how willing they are to let the manager
do his job. The transition can be smooth, but it can also be
Also under the new system, only the chairman runs at-large. The
other four commissioners are elected from districts, a system
which assures that all areas of the county will have some representation.
It also means that each voter will be able to cast ballots for
only two commission candidates, the at-large chairman and a candidate
from the voter's district.
In a small county like Jackson, many of the voters know one or
all of the candidates in any given race and are likely to have
made up their minds as to how they will vote. The News is not
so pretentious as to try to tell voters how to cast their ballots,
but for those who have not yet made up their minds, consider
For Chairman: Harold Fletcher is the candidate who offers the
most for this important job. Fletcher has experience as a county
commissioner, during which time he was largely responsible for
keeping county operations in the black. He has been successful
in industry and in private business. He is not the best politician
of the three candidates, but he is serious about providing the
leadership Jackson County needs.
Fletcher's most prominent opponent is former Commerce mayor Tommy
Stephenson. Stephenson has also been a state representative and
a county commissioner, but he quit the latter post to run for
yet another office. Stephenson's interest is politics; he knew
long before he decided to run for chairman that he would run
for something state senate, state representative, chairman
... and there is no telling when he might quit in the middle
of his term in office to seek yet another post. In addition,
Stephenson lacks business experience, handling financial issues
is not among his strengths, and his suggestion that he would
consider current chairman Jerry Waddell as an interim county
manager is scary. Fletcher is by far the best choice.
For commissioner, District 2: Sammy Thomason is the choice on
the Democratic ballot. Thomason has a long history of service
in the Commerce area, from his church to the Commerce Kiwanis
Club to the Industrial Development Authority. He has also operated
a successful dental practice.
For commissioner, District 4: Kenneth Bridges gets the nod over
Tony Beatty for the district that includes Nicholson, South Jackson
and the Arcade area. Bridges has the education, common sense
and experience to serve his district well.
For Sheriff: On the Republican side, Stan Evans, incumbent, is
the choice. He has the experience, a reputation for honesty and
in the past four years there has been no compelling reason not
to re-elect him. On the Democratic side, Steve Gary is the candidate
with the experience in law enforcement and jail management.
For Coroner: Keith Whitfield has served well and deserves re-election.
He also works locally and has experience working with law enforcement
Jackson County Opinion Index