The Madison County Journal
November 8, 2000
Georgia needs improved
It is outrageous that Georgia is the most restrictive state in
the nation when it comes to ballot access. Unless you are a Republican
or Democrat, you have almost no chance of getting on the ballot.
For example, 31 Libertarians ran for seats in the Georgia legislature.
Only three of them succeeded in even getting their names on the
Third-party presidential candidates found the process difficult
as well. Green Party candidate Ralph Nader was unable to gain
a place on the Georgia ballot. Neither did candidates from the
Natural Law Party or the Constitution Party.
Even when a handful of third-party candidates manages to gain
ballot access, they find that they have exhausted their resources,
and have nothing left with which to conduct an effective campaign.
The results: third-party and independent candidates find themselves
denied ballot access, or unable to mount an effective campaign
if they finally succeed.
Georgia law not only limits third-party access to the ballot,
it promotes and supports the two major parties. Republican and
Democratic parties have been written into state law, effectively
making them part of state government. Georgia taxpayers are forced
to pay the cost of Democratic and Republican primaries.
We the people of Georgia are losers because of this policy. We
are denied the opportunity to express our opinions or make our
voices heard unless we happen to agree with the two major parties.
If I agree with the principle of limited government as expressed
by the Libertarians, I have no voice. If I agree with the Green
party that big business is far too powerful and needs to be curtailed,
I cannot express that idea at the ballot booth.
Now, I have been unable to find any passage in the Georgia Constitution
that allows the state to spend my money to conduct primaries
for the large parties. I believe this program to be highly illegal.
However, I don't see any chance of our state legislature changing
this policy unless someone is willing to put up the money and
effort for a lawsuit challenging the policy.
All voices deserve to be heard. All political parties should
be able to place candidates that reflect their opinions on the
ballot.. Georgia taxpayers should not be required to finance
the major parties. All candidates, regardless of party affiliation,
should have equal access to the ballot and equal opportunities
to be heard by the voters.
The current election codes in Georgia are blatantly unfair. They
deny the people of Georgia the right to have a government of
their own choosing. The state's election codes need to be totally
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal.
His web page can be accessed at www.mcga.net.
The Madison County Journal
November 8, 2000
A Moment With Margie
plans still a reality
A dream dear to my heart is still very much alive and will hopefully
become a reality for Madison County in the near future.
Elections are now over and it's time to get back to the business
of moving this county forward.
For me, and for many others, one important aspect of this is
getting an animal shelter up and running.
As most of you know, the problem of stray and unwanted dogs and
cats in this county is alarming, and continues to grow more so
day after day, as more and more people move into the county.
BOC commission chairman Wesley Nash recently listed the problem
of stray animals as "the worst thing" about Madison
I tend to agree, with part of that statement at least. I would
say the worst thing is the attitude of people who cause the problem
of stray and unwanted animals in the first place.
We have all been appalled by stories of packs of stray dogs running
loose in the countryside and in town, attacking livestock or
pets, and occasionally a person.
In a perfect world, all people would care for their pets, spay
and neuter them and otherwise be responsible pet owners.
We do not live in such a world.
Since 1997, a group known as the Madison Oglethorpe Animal Shelter,
Inc., (MOAS) has been striving to find a site and the funds to
build an animal shelter to serve the two counties. I am proud
to be a part of this group.
Due to the financial generosity of a Madison County citizen,
who is also an animal lover, the work of MOAS, donations from
individuals and towns, along with the cooperation and this year's
financial commitment by the boards of commissioners in the two
counties, the animal shelter has moved ever closer to reality.
The Madison County BOC, under the advisement of Chairman Nash,
has agreed to lease a portion of county land adjacent to the
Madison County Transfer Station along the Colbert Danielsville
Road as a site for the shelter.
Site preparation will be done by Madison County, according to
Blueprints for a shelter that will support the estimated number
of animals from both counties have been drawn up and bids for
the facility are currently being considered.
The cost of building the shelter will be shouldered by MOAS,
as will the responsibility of day-to-day operations.
Both Madison and Oglethorpe counties have agreed to provide funding
to operate the facility at a cost of $3 per capita per county
per year (based on the 2000 census).
That comes to more than $80,000 for Madison County next year.
Although things are moving slower than we had originally hoped,
they are, as you can see, moving and it is our goal to open the
facility sometime within the coming year.
The goal of MOAS is to provide the two counties with a shelter
that they will be proud of, and this means moving slowly and
trying to get it right, for the sake of both citizens and animals.
It is in no way our intent to build an "animal dump"
for those irresponsible individuals to bring pets they are unwilling
to take responsibility for, but instead to construct a facility
that provides an environment where animals can be cared for until
they are adopted, or failing that, humanely euthanized.
Statistics tell us that euthanization will be the fate of some
of the animals held at the facility. Because of this, we intend
to also provide educational programs for both children and adults
to help stem the tide of unwanted animals who need to come there
in the first place.
We intend to provide spay and neuters "in house" to
reduce costs. In compliance with state law, all animals adopted
from the shelter will be spayed or neutered and have a rabies
The shelter will be a drop off facility only, at first, but we
hope to eventually see the implementation of an animal control
One more thing, we are not affiliated with the Madison County
resident who advertises herself as "Room for One More, Inc."
Our area, like the rest of the nation, is growing, and as Gandhi
said, "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress
can be judged by the way its animals are treated."
I think we should all take note of that.
Margie Richards is a reporter and office manager for the Madison