The Commerce News
September 27, 2000
Glad To Get Medical
Care Close To Home
First of all, let me say thanks to the
folks who provided me with drugs Sunday night, Sept. 17.
Those would be the people on duty at the BJC Medical Center emergency
room when yours truly, in agony with a kidney stone, appeared
at the door.
"How can we help you?" the attendant at the desk asked.
"Give me drugs," I gasped.
Actually, there was more to the conversation than that, but within
10 minutes an attendant gave me a shot of Demerol, and slowly
my thoughts of how attractive death would be diminished. Later,
there was morphine. Life was again worth living.
I do not handle pain well. My idea of severe pain is a botched
hit-and-run with the Braves trailing by one in the eighth. That
there should be a rock clogging up the works in my innards, accompanied
by unimaginable pain was, well, unimaginable.
"That's the male equivalent of having a baby," Barbara
"At least you got a break between contractions," I
said, a mistake I would not have made but for the influence of
narcotics. If what she says is true and it were up to men to
have babies, there would be no global overpopulation.
The medical consensus as I write is that I am still in possession
of the stone and can expect it to make itself evident until I
It was also my first night's stay at BJC Medical Center. Since
then, when recounting the tale with growing emphasis on my suffering,
I've heard the comments about "lucky to be alive,"
but for the record, I am completely satisfied with the care and
particularly the speed at which it was rendered at BJC. The folks
who treated me were polite, professional, and interested in relieving
my suffering. I am grateful.
You can go to an emergency room at a big hospital and wait for
five hours for treatment; we've seen that personally. A kidney
stone is not life-threatening, though it feels like it at the
time, and larger hospitals inevitably have busier emergency rooms,
so you will likely wait while gunshot victims and heart attack
patients are treated.
BJC Medical Center's existence is threatened by federal budget
cuts; if something doesn't change in the way Medicare is reimbursed,
hospitals like BJC will close. I remembered that as we drove
to the hospital Sunday evening; I can't imagine having had to
endure a 22-mile trip to an Athens hospital.
People here belittle BJC Medical Center. Its patient load is
largely Medicare, and it constantly struggles for respect from
those of us who disdain using the local hospital.
Because Medicare reimburses BJC at a rate much less than the
cost of providing the service, BJC Medical Center has lost money
for two years running. It can't go on that way forever. No business
can operate indefinitely, regardless of volume, if it loses money.
For some people in the Banks-Jackson area, there are hospitals
much closer than BJC. For the rest of you, I'll guarantee one
thing: When you experience your first kidney stone attack, you
won't feel like driving to Athens or Gainesville. You'll appreciate
the local hospital. You will really appreciate it.
The Jackson Herald
September 27, 2000
areas not needed
We're not quite sure why the Georgia Department
of Transportation wants to build two massive rest areas in Jackson
County. The proposal, which has drawn a lot of negative comments
from area residents who would be affected, would put the two
rest areas along I-85 between Hwy. 129 and Hwy. 332. Each would
have around 200 parking spaces, with half of those designated
But why do we need those rest stops?
We could understand why they might have been necessary 20-30
years ago before the interstate system was built up. Even today,
there are areas in the national interstate system where there
are few exits and facilities available.
That, of course, isn't the case in Jackson County or Northeast
Georgia. As a major growth corridor, this part of I-85 has hundreds
of private facilities that are accessible to the driving public.
In Jackson County, for example, there are four private truck
plazas available to the large tractor-trailer rigs. For the motoring
public, there are dozens of gas stations and restaurants which
are easily accessible.
So why should the state spend $18 million for a rest area here
when private businesses are already providing the same service?
We can think of a lot of uses for that $18 million. How about
an interchange at Hwy. 332 or Hwy. 60 to take the pressure off
the Hwy. 53 exit at Braselton? Or how about helping the county
government provide access roads between our exits that would
accommodate future growth in this part of the I-85 corridor?
We realize, of course, that along with the good things an interstate
brings to an area are some downsides. And if there was a real
need here for an auto/truck rest area, we'd be all for it in
spite of the problems it might bring.
But frankly, we don't see the need, nor do we see any benefit
to Jackson County.
And unless the DOT can show a compelling need or benefit, we
believe the project should be dropped.
Jackson County Opinion Index
The Jackson Herald
September 27, 2000
1997 Madden vote
In an election, the incumbent runs on
his record. His opponent also runs on that record by attacking
it in an effort to show how he would be different.
That's been the nature of politics for decades. But what happens
when an incumbent's record is twisted and distorted by his opponent?
That has also been going on for decades as challengers attempt
to unseat incumbents by putting their records in as bad a light
as possible. Such efforts often make it hard for voters to discern
That's what happened last week in an attack by challenger Mike
Beatty on a 1997 vote by incumbent state Sen. Eddie Madden.
A major part of the Beatty strategy in the Senate District 47
race is to attack Madden's voting record and paint him as a closet
"liberal." During recent weeks, Beatty's campaign has
been flooding area fax machines, including those of the media,
with various shots at Sen. Madden. I have a large pile of those
faxes on my desk, but one last week caught my eye. The fax heading
read: "Incumbent Eddie Madden votes for criminal's rights
above victim's rights."
Now, that's a fairly strong allegation to make, so I read the
memo and discovered it was about a piece of legislation which
I had followed closely back in 1997 - SB 48.
According to Beatty, Sen. Madden "voted to allow criminals
to profit from books and movies about their crimes." Beatty
went on to label it "one of the most repulsive votes I could
ever imagine a legislator casting."
Whoa, Mike. Calm down. I'm afraid the truth of that legislation
and Sen. Madden's vote is a lot different than you're making
it out to be. I know because I was involved with efforts by the
Georgia Press Association to deal with language in that particular
Here's the real story: In the 1997 legislative session, several
state senators introduced SB 48 to allow privately run prisons
to use convict labor the same as state run prisons. The bill
passed the state Senate and moved on to the state House. In that
chamber, the legislation was amended twice. The second amendment
added language that not only said those convicted of a crime
shouldn't profit from books and movies, but also that anyone
who writes about a crime had to share profits from books, articles
or movies with victims.
That amendment came from a freshman legislator and got a lot
of attention, including scrutiny by the Georgia Press Association.
As a member of the GPA's legislative affairs committee, I and
others questioned the amendment's language because it was too
broad. For example, it could have been interpreted in such a
way as to force newspapers to pay crime victims when we covered
a trial. It would also have forced those writing a book about
a crime to pay victims 50 percent of the book's profits. The
language was clearly unconstitutional and newspapers along with
others across the state opposed the amendment. (There is already
a law in Georgia that prevents criminals profiting from books
and movies about their crimes.)
But the amendment passed in the House and the amended SB 48 went
back to the Senate. I called Sen. Madden and voiced opposition
to the bill with the language of the amendment in it. Other senators
also got phone calls questioning the constitutionality of the
bill's amended language. Consequently, the Senate voted 42-9
to remove the unconstitutional language from the bill and sent
the rest of the legislation back to the House. Sen. Madden voted
with the majority and it is that vote which Beatty is pointing
to when saying Madden voted "for criminal's rights above
Clearly, that wasn't the case. Sen. Madden didn't endorse criminal
rights with his vote. He voted to remove language that wasn't
legal and that would have had no effect on criminals.
Such political maneuvering isn't new to campaigns, of course.
But when examining a candidate's voting record at the state or
national level, it is often very difficult to get the truth.
One bill, such as this SB 48, often goes through a variety of
changes as it moves through the legislative process. Votes by
a legislator on a particular bill have to be considered in the
larger context of what was happening with the legislation at
the time. Seldom are the votes as black-and-white as they are
painted by political opponents.
That's not to say voters shouldn't look at an incumbent's voting
record. Certainly, that record should be open to scrutiny.
At the same time, voters shouldn't automatically believe every
word a political opponent says about an incumbent's voting record.
Often, as in the case with Beatty's rhetoric on that 1997 legislation,
the facts are taken out of context. In this case, Beatty went
further and bent the truth in an obvious effort to mislead voters.
I've known Mike Beatty for a long time and while I haven't always
agreed with his politics, I had believed he was above such misleading
And politicians wonder why voters have become so cynical.
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.
The Commerce News
September 27, 2000
Of New Business Not Good
Banks Crossing's newest business made
its presence known last week in a manner that gives one pause
to question its corporate citizenship. 84 Lumber announced its
grand opening by illegally posting signs all over the public
rights of way in Jackson County, directing people to its Thursday
Perhaps company officials saw all the political and real estate
signs and figured that anything goes on public rights of way
and utility poles. But we expect more of a major corporate citizen
than to trash our roadsides with illegal advertising, however
momentous the event it promotes might seem.
The little signs with the words "84 Lumber" and an
arrow also bear witness to our own governments' lack of concern
for enforcing the law. With the exception of Commerce and some
Department of Transportation crews, most local governments wink
at those who litter the public right of way, as if there's any
difference between trash thrown out of a moving car and trash
attached to a pole hammered into the ground.
It is against the law to post a sign in the public right of way
or on a utility pole. Period. Any advertisement or promotion,
other than utility and traffic signs, may not be put on the right
of way. The right of way is public property just like a
city park and advertisements for politicians, real estate
companies and 84 Lumber are no more appropriate there than are
discarded fast food containers and empty beer bottles.