Madison County Opinion...

 July 26, 2000


Column
By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
July 26, 2000

Frankly Speaking

Miller not a good choice
I am not sure that naming Former Governor Zell Miller to the U.S. Senate is good for Georgia, or for Miller. His expressed reluctance to accept the appointment was for good reason.
Miller left the governorship as one of the most popular political figures in Georgia's history. He served in the Georgia legislature, as Lt. Governor and two terms as Governor. Over the years, his standing with the public steadily grew. His approval rating at his retirement was 85 percent.
Miller gained his reputation while serving as the most powerful man in Georgia. He gained fame for bringing the lottery to Georgia and inventing the "HOPE"" scholarships.
The U.S. Senate is a totally different place from the Governor's office. As the newest Senator, Miller will have little power. He will find himself in the middle of a bloody partisan fight over control of Congress. He will be immediately subjected to powerful political pressures to conform to the Clinton/Gore policy.
Miller said he would not represent any political party, but all 7.5 million Georgians. That may be his intention, but if he truly believes he can do that, he will be badly disappointed. The dispute between political factions is so intense that he will be unable to take any position without making someone mad.
Miller is a close friend and supporter of Pres. Clinton. While he was governor of Georgia, that friendship was not of great significance. But as a U.S. Senator, he is likely to be tied more closely to Clinton, and Clinton's personal and political problems are likely to rub off on him. The Clinton connection would be another factor that could greatly diminish Miller's reputation.
Finally, Miller's age is a factor. He is currently 68 years old. Miller plans to run in the special election to complete the four years remaining in the current term. If he wins, his re-election campaign would take place in the year 2004, at the age of 72, finishing that term at 78. Thus, 10 years is the longest he would serve.
Sen. Coverdell was completing his eighth year in the Senate. All the speakers at his memorial said he was just now achieving his full power as a U.S. Senator. Georgia will not be able to benefit from Coverdell's eight years of development.
Now, with Miller taking the office, he will be again leaving the Senate just as he develops his full power. If this pattern continues, it will be well into the coming century before Georgia regains the leadership in the U.S. Senate for which it is well known.
Zell Miller's age, his ties to the liberal national Democratic party, and his close friendship with a disgraced president all suggest that Governor Barnes made a poor decision in appointing him to the U.S. Senate.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at www.mcga.net.

 

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Column
By Zach Mitcham
The Madison County Journal
July 26, 2000

County should support Martin's proposal
Unfortunately, Hwy. 29, like other roads in the county, holds stories of heartbreak for many.
And there's a bend across from Happy Kids Daycare where motorists are reminded every day of one October 1998, tragedy. A white cross marks the spot where 19-year-old Jeremy Martin was killed in a car wreck caused by a drunk driver, Raymond Newbern Jr., who is now serving a 15-year prison sentence for vehicular homicide.
On Monday, Jeremy's father, Jess Martin, stood before the Madison County Board of Commissioners with a proposal he hopes will eliminate more suffering like that endured by his family.
His plan is simple. It includes providing a place for drug and alcohol counseling in Madison County, not just for those with addiction problems, but for their families as well. The program will also make those who must perform court-ordered community service work to restore old Madison County buildings.
Martin says it will cost about $70,000 to launch the Madison County Alcohol/Drug Addiction Prevention Program and Aftercare Services (ADAPP). After that, the program will pay for itself, he says, through court fines and fees and federal grant money.
Madison County should provide the money for this program as soon as possible. Right now, leaders say there isn't money for it. If that's the case, it should be worked in to next year's budget, which will be prepared in the fall.
Many frown upon any taxpayer money going toward programs aimed at helping those who don't seem willing to themselves. This is understandable. There have been plenty of examples of people taking advantage of taxpayers through such programs.
And yes, it's the moral obligation of everyone to stay off drugs and alcohol. Likewise, people will concur that those who break the law through substance abuse should be punished.
But we should also agree that this is not enough. Beyond the punishments we expect, there should be a system geared toward promoting success. With proper counseling, a person's attitude may change about his responsibility to his family, his job and his neighbors. The positive effects may reach many, even you.
Consider that such a program may, in fact, convince the driver who will later pass you on the road not to pop open that can of beer.
Simply put, it's really not enough for people to shake their heads when a kid is killed by a drunk driver and say "what a shame." We must also ask "how can we avoid this?"
There will be no end to drug and alcohol-related tragedies. But some of them may be avoided. And the ADAPP proposal is a solid step in that direction.
Mr. Martin shows considerable strength in taking on this project. He's had to deal with the deepest hurt and resentment. And he could simply sit back and curse all those afflicted with substance abuse problems. That would be understandable for anyone who has lost a child to a drunk driver.
But Mr. Martin seems genuinely interested in offering love and hope to those affected by drugs and alcohol abuse.
He says he has a "duty to fulfill" now. And the county should provide him the tools to make it happen.
It's Madison County's duty, too.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.


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