Madison County Opinion...

 November 8, 2000


Column
By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
November 8, 2000

Frankly Speaking

Georgia needs improved ballot access
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 ballot.
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 rewritten.
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 Margie Richards
The Madison County Journal
November 8, 2000

A Moment With Margie

Animal shelter 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 County.
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 Chairman Nash.
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 vaccine.
The shelter will be a drop off facility only, at first, but we hope to eventually see the implementation of an animal control officer.
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 County Journal.
 


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