More Jackson County Opinions...

 August 2, 2000

By Tim Thomas
The Jackson Herald
August 2, 2000

The Miller's tale
For those who haven't heard yet, this week marked the big debut of funny man Dennis Miller as color commentator for ABC's Monday Night Football.
The ABC brain trust (let that one sink in a moment) made the move in an effort to boost sagging ratings for the long-time show by making it more interesting.
If this week's show is any indication, the attempt should prove to be successful.
Readers who share this reporter's hour on the stage of life will likely remember Miller from his days on Saturday Night Live, when every late teen and twenty-something not out barhopping sat up until 12:30 a.m. each Saturday night, sleepily awaiting the Weekend Update segment. Yes, for those of you with quick wits, I saw nearly every show. Go ahead and call me boring; I laughed my rear off.
This week, the somewhat nervous Miller was right on target for most of the evening. Though he threw in a few comic moments when they weren't quite called for and fired off a couple of the puzzling obscure references for which he's famous, Miller offered up a number of interesting comments on the game and definitely made it more enjoyable.
The comment about one player who recently underwent minor groin surgery was classic. Sure, it may have skirted the line of what some find acceptable for prime time, but this is a show for guys, after all. I'd have been comfortable saying the same thing in a living room full of male church friends.
Which points out why Miller should be successful in his new job. Most guys can readily identify with his comments, which will serve to draw the mostly male audience into the game.
Case in point: during one play, as a player took a particularly nasty hit, Miller could be heard cutting loose with the gut-wrenching "Oh!" that is heard often in living rooms around the world during football games. Here was a real, down-to-earth guy, one of the pals who comes over to watch the game every Saturday or Sunday, who just happened to have a gem of a sense of humor.
No doubt Miller has already pored over tapes of the show, hoping to improve in time for his next performance. When Monday Night Football returns August 14, look for the comic to be more comfortable and perhaps a little more discerning about what jokes to tell, and when. Most of all, look for him to continue to enjoy himself.
If you're going to tune in to the show at all, do so early in the season. The newness that makes the job fun for Miller and for us won't last forever, and his already good technique will continue to improve in the coming weeks. If you wait until he remembers it's a job, you will have missed his best.
Let's hope he can ward off that thought for a long time.
Tim Thomas is a reporter for The Jackson Herald.

Letter To The Editor
The Commerce News
August 2, 2000

Candidate 'Hurt' By Endorsement
I really did not want to write this, because I have always considered us friends, but when my opponent starts using your editorial opinion in his advertisements to prove he is the best qualified candidate, that is going too far. His advertisements claim he has the support of the editorial board, which consists of yourself and a six-pack of beer, but it is still misleading.
You did not attend any of the forums and you did not conduct any interviews to question us about the issues. You don't even keep up with Jackson County issues very well, but in case you haven't heard, the county is changing forms of government. The chairman will no longer be CEO, the county manager will be and he or she will play a large role in balancing the budget. You did not attend the forum, and so I need to point out to you that I never said I would consider Jerry Waddell as interim manager. I said he had offered to serve as interim manager. I also said David Bohanan, who has an MBA in public administration and nine years of experience working for the county, should be considered as interim manager. You failed to mention this when you were trashing me, probably because you didn't attend the forum and you didn't conduct interviews of the candidates.
If we were operating under the old form of government where the chairman ran the day-to-day affairs and was responsible for overseeing the budget, I would agree with you my opponent might be better qualified, but the new system calls for political leadership to bring the board together and set policies, which makes me better qualified than my opponent.
I have to admit your endorsement of my opponent hurt personally, maybe not politically. You accused me of having a desire for politics. If you substitute the words "public service" for politics, which is more accurate, I would say to you, "what's wrong with that?" God forbid that we should have elected officials who have a desire for public service.
As mayor of Commerce, we implemented the city manager form of government, turned a taxi cab station into a public safety complex, turned a city that was in the red to operating in the black financially, created the Downtown Development Authority, the Main Street program and Main Street manager, expanded the library, doubled the sewage plant capacity, built the Little League field and other parks, re-opened the swimming pool, etc. What has Harold Fletcher ever done for Commerce?
The words of Jesus ring true, "A prophet is without honor in his own country," but it still hurts personally. I am not made out of steel.
Tommy Stephenson

Editor's Note:
Having seen you perform as mayor and Harold Fletcher perform as county commissioner, having seen how both of you have conducted yourselves, I needed neither your six-pack of beer nor attendance at a forum to pick a candidate in this race and to determine the issues. In making an endorsement, my intention was to determine which candidate I felt would best serve Jackson County, which candidate appeared to have the best background, best character and best temperament for leadership. While there have been other races in which I have found you the better choice, in this race for the chairmanship of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners, I find Harold Fletcher to be the better candidate. Don't take it pesonally.

By Jana Adams
The Jackson Herald
August 2, 2000

Can I talk to a person?
I've been making phone calls over the past few days trying (operative word there, "trying") to disconnect various utilities at my Athens apartment as I prepared to move out.
Did you know that it is just about impossible to talk to a person at some of the power, phone and gas companies? I knew the trend had been moving toward "quick touch service" on just about everything - with little time for talking and more time for "press one, press two, press three" - with the idea being that customers don't have to wait and wait for someone really busy to get to them. That's OK, but still, I was fairly disconcerted when I learned, deep within a sub-labyrinth of options, that with "press one" I would "permanently disconnect my telephone service."
That was it. No explanation.
Wait a minute. So, if I "press one" right now, is my service immediately terminated? If I "press one," will I have the chance to give my new mailing address, or will I have an unpaid bill floating around somewhere in the future after I move? Will I be able to give my ideal cut-off date, or will I go home today to find that I have no phone service?
Well, there was the number to dial to talk to a customer service representative, however, a computerized voice came on the line saying "We are experiencing extremely high call volumes at this time" and offering the option of "quick touch" service. I think the "extremely high call volumes" are easily explained - it's from all those other people out there who weren't really sure, either, what they were supposed to do.
So I went ahead with it, pressing various buttons and then giving the phone number where I can be reached after my service is terminated. That request took me so by surprise - giving my new phone number to my old phone company - that I started entering my new zip code instead. I got a computerized scolding for my mistake: "That is NOT a valid area code. Please enter..."
But wait another minute. That brings up a whole other list of concerns. What if I'm not home when they call to get my new address? Will I have that same unpaid bill floating around in that same nebulous "press one" world? Should I leave a message on my answering machine: "Hello, you've reached ##, if you need to send me a bill, please mail it to..."?
OK, so I tend to worry overly much about stuff like that. But I did hang up the phone feeling disconcerted. I was wary about making the other calls, but after pressing my way through a few sub-categories I was able to talk to a customer representative at the gas company. And although I was sort of dreading the whole touch one, touch two rigamarole with the power company, I actually talked to a very nice lady who wished me well with my move.
I guess I'm just stuck in the olden days of talking to people and being clear on what happens when. Actually, I've had people make fun of me for not wanting to make bank deposits through an ATM. I can't help it; I just feel like something might go wrong in between my pressing in all the information, feeding in my deposit, a person recording it somehow and my writing checks - yes, still relying on paper - on that account. That's crazy, I know, since people use direct deposit, online banking, online bill payment, etc., etc. all the time.
I'm pretty fond of the "rapid refill" service at my pharmacy, but maybe that's different since it doesn't involve potential unpaid bills floating around, probably lost for eons? But I do use a credit card and I also use my ATM card to make cash withdrawals, so go figure. And the mail service - the way I send my bill payments - isn't it a labyrinth all on its own? So I don't know what to think.
Does all this mean that at my relatively "young" age I am already becoming set in my ways (see Virgil Adams' column on page 5A) and wary of "new-fangled things"?
Or maybe I just need a few more words of explanation to answer all my "what ifs" when it comes to "quick touch" service.
Perhaps I should make another call, pressing one, two, three through the maze of options just to show that I can.
Jana Adams is features editor of The Jackson Herald.






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