Jackson County Opinions...

November 29, 2000

By Mark Beardsley
The Commerce News
November 29, 2000

No Room For Political Debate On Thanksgiving
The annual Beardsley trip to Florida for the Thanksgiving family reunion went off as well as could be expected. No one had to summon the police and a considerable amount of gluttony was accomplished.
No one ate any chads, and the turkeys that were the center of attention Thanksgiving were neither Republican nor Democrat. Unless I am mistaken, the whole affair came off without any heated political arguments, no small thing with 35 people involved, including one who could have cast an absentee ballot.
The traffic on the way down was horrendous. What was uncertain was how much of it was holiday traffic and how much of it was people flocking into the state to protest, vote or litigate in the recent-but-still-ongoing election.
The traffic on Interstate 75 peaked just above Wildwood, which is where the Florida Turnpike heads off, separating those heading to Miami and West Palm Beach from people traveling to Tampa-St. Petersburg. I noticed a lot of Bush-Cheney stickers on the same vehicles as stickers reading "Gun control is hitting what you aim at," but no one waved any guns our way.
My holiday exposure to the election soap opera was limited to newspaper headlines and radio blurbs shortly before changing the station. We drove 520 miles to enjoy family, leaving political interests back home with the dog and the two cockatiels, none of whom appear interested in who will next occupy the White House.
The more pressing issue was who would pass the gravy, wash the dishes or turn out at the post-Thanksgiving evening party and the Friday Gathering of the Family at Kelly's Restaurant.
Politics came up only in the context of humor. There was a certain false lamentation about the lack of chads to eat for dinner, for example. Otherwise, our interest was in catching up with each other.
Maybe that's an indicator of why our extended family has managed to stay on speaking terms. Individually, we have our marginally functional members, one or two who might even be considered normal, and a wide array of characters and personalities that contribute to lively discussions whenever two or more are gathered.
Over the 45 or more Thanksgivings I can remember, we have had no feuds, no long-lived hurt feelings, no family divisions over politics, religion, economics or status. My generation ­ the cousins ­ all get along, at least through the hours at which we must. We communicate by email from Dunedin, FL, to Titusville, FL, St. Louis, MO, Seattle, WA, Tallahassee, FL, to North Carolina, Wyoming and to a village in Italy.
The Florida Thanksgiving celebrations sprang from my mother's family. The four children and their spouses would return to my grandmother's each year, and when she passed on, to my house. With the death of my father, the event moved to the local Presbyterian Church.
Of the four children and their spouses, only three survive. Two of those attended. Of the 14 grandchildren, 12 made it. Nine of the 10 great-grandchildren attended.
It was a good holiday, another reminder of the importance of family. Politics be damned.

The Jackson Herald
November 29, 2000

Raise driving age to 17
Gov. Roy Barnes said this week he is considering a proposal to raise the driving age in Georgia to 17 during the upcoming legislative session.
We believe that the driving age should be raised to 17 and encourage Gov. Barnes to pursue that goal.
In an ideal world, parents would regulate their children's use of a car. Limits would be set and parents would control the car keys.
In the last 25 years, however, that parental oversight has declined while at the same time, more cars are on the roads, making driving even more dangerous.
Those who argue against raising the driving age generally complain that they're tired of playing chauffeur for busy teenagers, or that teenagers need a way to get to after school jobs.
But those are minor problems compared to the life-and-death decisions teenagers make behind the wheel of a car. Driving is a privilege, not a right. Careless teenagers risk not only their lives, but also the lives of all of us.
Some have said that schools need to offer more driver education. But that is only part of the picture. No amount of driver education will make up for parents who give cars to immature teenagers with no oversight. Whatever its merits, more education won't make mature drivers out of immature kids.
The only way to protect the safety of our roads is for the upcoming General Assembly to raise, with no exceptions, the driving age to 17.





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By Mike Buffington
The Jackson Herald
November 29, 2000

Getting 'gored'
gore (gor) - 1. to pierce with a spear, horn or tusk, 2. a bloody mess, 3. (-ed) to use the system in a manner so as to manipulate the outcome of an event to one's own favor.

Mr. Webster will no doubt be adding the third definition from above to his next dictionary edition. To be "gored" will take on a new meaning in American English now that vice president Al Gore has challenged his election loss in the courts. No matter what the outcome, Gore's move to litigate this election further opens a Pandora's Box for all future elections. Next time, we may see demands to recount every district in the nation.
Compared to this, the old system of setting disputes via a gentleman's duel doesn't seem quite as crazy.
Does anyone besides me see the irony of Gore's claim that Republican protesters "intimidated" Miami election officials? If Democrats protest, it's the "voice of the people." If Republicans protest, it's "intimidation" or "mob rule."
Al, you've been reading too much George Orwell. The political discourse from your party has lost all meaning.
Don't you just love how Gore's defenders talk about states' rights and that the U.S. Supreme Court shouldn't interfere with state election officials?
Would those same people favor doing away with the Voting Rights Act that allows federal officials to oversee elections in the South?
Here's one example: For an election official in the South to change a place of polling, say to a larger facility, it requires a ream of paperwork to the U.S. Justice Department and that department's approval before such a change could be made.
You can't have it both ways, guys. If the Supreme Court shouldn't interfere, then neither should the Justice Department.
Here's a solution for the judge in Florida to consider: Use a divining rod over the disputed ballots. Since some in Florida wish to divine the "will" of the voters by looking at dimpled ballots, let's just wave a special stick over the ballot boxes and see which way it points. If it points left, the Democrats win. If it points right, the Republicans win. If it points straight ahead, you'll know someone put Viagra in the ballot box.
AJC columnist Cynthia Tucker should take off her racially biased blinders. Last week, Tucker vilified Florida secretary of state Katherine Harris, who is white, for her role in the election there. Consider the following from that column:
Harris is "the poster girl for blind ambition..."
She was "meticulously coifed in a slightly longer version of GOP helmet hair... wearing a designer suit..."
She "bore the air of entitlement that comes from being born rich."
"Harris had already shown that she has brass, ah, knuckles."
"Girlfriend has a game plan with her own ambitions at the center."
"She likes power."
Had a white newspaper columnist written a description of a black public official in such a tone, there would be charges of racism floating through the community. That Tucker continuously writes about the state and nation in such a manner is a disgrace to the AJC and to all of those, black and white, who fought for a color-blind society 35 years ago.
Tucker's anti-Harris diatribe was another example of getting "gored."
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.

The Commerce News
November 29, 2000

Jackson Needs County-Wide Recycling Program
Athens-Clarke, Madison, Barrow, Banks, Hall and Gwinnett counties each have one, but Jackson does not.
What is the missing item? It's a county recycling program.
Recycling got pretty popular a decade ago when the state ordered local communities to reduce the amount of material they put into landfills, but it never quite caught on in Jackson County. The county tried recycling, only to find that there was no market for its plastic and glass, and visitors to the county landfill were startled to see truckloads of glass or plastic just dumped into the trenches.
Commerce used to have a program operated at the high school for recycling newsprint, aluminum cans, plastic and glass. Frailties of the marketplace eliminated plastic and glass. Then, officials decided that there wasn't enough money in recycling newsprint, so that aspect ended.
Today, inmates at the Jackson County Correctional Institute remove newsprint, corrugated cardboard and light metals as trash passes through the county transfer station, but it isn't easy for the conscientious citizen to be a good steward by recycling.
Meanwhile, our schools teach children the value of recycling and the children understand. A recent essay contest sponsored by Jackson County Community Outreach about what could be done to improve the community produced a number of recommendations that a recycling program be started.
Our five new county commissioners would be wise to listen to the concerns of those children. If all of the surrounding counties can have the state Clean and Beautiful program, surely Jackson can muster the funding to do the same. While it is true that there is little direct payback of the cost invested, most citizens are aware of the need and would be likely to support a program that makes good stewardship a county policy. The payback comes over time as the need for landfill space is reduced.
The new county commissioners should also make implementation of the long-delayed composting program at JCCI a top priority. It was a project of deposed warden Joe Dalton, but the Georgia Environmental Protection Division is dragging its feet in awarding a permit. The project would take food wastes from the county jail, prison and schools and compost it with paper. The result would be less waste going into a landfill and the improvement of county land through the addition of compost to the soil.
The focus of virtually every aspect of government right now is on managing growth. Uniform, efficient and environmentally sound practices of recycling and composting will be all the more important as the population of Jackson County swells in coming years. We hear a lot of talk about preserving greenspace. Reducing the amount of trash we generate ­ which must be buried somewhere ­ is a necessary part of preserving the character of this county.

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