The Madison County Journal
November 1, 2000
BOE taking right steps
Things are going as they should at our board of education. The
board is being confronted by citizens of Madison County who insist
on knowing how and why tax money is being spent by the school
We were promised a government of the people, for the people and
by the people. That only works if we the people take an active
role in overseeing government affairs. When we elect someone
to represent us on a government board of legislature, we expect
them to reflect our concerns, and to answer to us for their actions
That is what is happening now with our board of education. A
number of citizens are asking questions about the board's handling
of tax money, how well they supervise spending by school officials
and how they plan to solve the current cash flow crisis. These
people have the right, and the responsibility, to ask these questions.
The board has a responsibility to answer the questions.
I am pleased to see that the board of education is making a real
effort to satisfy these public demands for information. They
have already addressed some of them by letters to the newspapers,
comments at board meetings and discussions with news media. Now
they have set a date for a public forum to answer all questions
presented by the public. The forum will be Thursday, Nov. 30,
at 7 p.m. in the high school media center.
Now it is our responsibility to attend the forum, to ask good
questions and offer our suggestions. We have an opportunity to
re-establish local control over our schools, and we must grasp
The best way to lose control of our schools is to ignore them.
We have bureaucrats at the state and national level who feel
they know what we need in Madison County. They sit in Atlanta
or D.C. and issue orders to the local board of education. Time
after time, I have heard the superintendent tell the board, "We
are required by the State to pass this policy."
If "we the people" make it clear that we want the final
word on any subject, the board will have to decide between our
desires and the demands of the bureaucrats when making decisions.
By hearing from the board that a decision is being demanded from
Atlanta, we will be able to go to our local delegation asking
for a change in state law giving more power to the local system.
Each week, a list of local government meetings is listed in local
newspapers. All these meetings are open to the public. State
"Open Meetings" and "Open Records" laws require
that public meetings and public documents be made available to
anyone who asks for them. I urge all concerned citizens to attend
these meetings, ask questions, demand publication of vital records
and, in general, keep us fully informed about current issues
The board of education has responded to such demands, and is
making a serious effort to inform the public. I salute their
efforts and encourage the public to take this opportunity to
take control of our schools.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal.
His web page can be accessed at www.mcga.net. His e-mail address
The Madison County Journal
November 1, 2000
From the Editor's Desk
Like most people, I'm wondering what Tuesday will bring.
I'm anticipating the late night and the workers from each precinct
bringing in their tallies. The numbers will be called out and
the fate of each candidate will take shape gradually.
I can picture the crowd at the probate office, some sporting
colorful election attire - i.e., Mr. Leo Smith and his patriotic
Many of the candidates will stand outside the probate office,
wringing their hands as they wait for word on who voters favored.
It's a nerve-racking experience for many of them. But it provides
wonderful drama for the rest of us.
After you've voted Tuesday, you may consider making a trip down
to the probate office in Danielsville to watch as the numbers
Voting ends at 7 p.m., then workers at each precinct will count
the votes before bringing them to the probate office. This will
probably take at least a couple of hours. So arriving around
9 p.m. will probably give you a chance to see the first precincts
arrive, though the whole process may extend past midnight.
For those of you who don't make the trip, check out mainstreetnews.com
Tuesday night. We will post the results as precincts come in.
Here are some other election-time thoughts and tidbits:
·Mary Patton, who has been with the Madison County registrar's
office 39 and a half years, is familiar with the late elections
nights. But one night really stands out from years back, before
Madison County had voting machines. Patton and other elections
workers saw the sunrise because one precinct failed to show up.
"Ila never came in. They locked up and went home and we
stayed the whole night," said Patton.
·Madison County's voter turnout in the 1996 general election
was 65 percent, down from 79 percent in 1992, according to old
Journal records. The dramatic drop was attributed by some to
the Motor Voter Bill, which increased the number of registered
voters in Madison County by 2,348 from 1992 to 1996. Records
indicated that many of the people added to the rolls through
the Motor Voter Bill didn't vote. Wouldn't it be great to see
the county boost its turnout above the 1992 percentage? Make
sure you do your part.
·Madison Countians should push for non-partisan local
elections in 2004. Consider that partisanship allows for laziness
in candidates and voters. Candidates may laud party principles
without offering much in the way of individual expression. Meanwhile,
voters often ally themselves with one party and choose not to
learn about candidates outside of their party. Holding non-partisan
elections would force both candidates and voters to put a little
more effort into the process. It would also open the door for
candidates outside of the two-party system.
·Feel the thickness of this paper. It's the biggest one
I've been a part of since I've been with the Journal. The paper
is full of candidates' ads as well as written interviews with
office hopefuls. Take the time to read each one. And let us know
if there's anything else you'd like to see from the paper in
terms of election coverage.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.