Madison County Opinion...

 January 3, 2001


Column
By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
January 3, 2001

Frankly Speaking

NAACP boycott of South Carolina a total bust
Former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young is attempting to quiet the storm over the Georgia Flag. In a sermon at an Atlanta Church, Young called for "thoughtful" discussion between the two sides.
After his sermon, he was asked if he supports changing the flag. "I don't give a damn," was his reply.
Is Andrew Young really that indifferent about the Georgia flag or has he discovered something the media has failed to report?
The major media have never reported a significant component in the Confederate Flag dispute. The NAACP boycott of South Carolina was a total failure!
Here are a few figures from the South Carolina Government web site:
Tourism for the 1999 season was up 11.1 percent for a total of $15.6 billion. Some 126,395 South Carolinians were employed in the tourism business, up to 3.9 percent. Tourism in South Carolina generated $409 million in state taxes and another $152 million in local taxes.
The list goes on, showing positive growth in South Carolina's tourism industry during the so-called NAACP boycott.
There were a few businesses damaged in South Carolina. But they were limited to black-owned businesses that catered to black-only clients. That's right. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People staged a boycott that hurt only colored businesses. At the same time, a backlash against the boycott sent thousands of supporters of Southern symbols pouring into South Carolina, boosting the businesses of those who refused to attack the flag.
The same thing will happen in Georgia. Any NAACP boycott in Georgia will only hurt black businessmen in the Atlanta area. The rest of the state will not be affected - or will benefit from another backlash.
These people are not dumb. They have achieved economic power by being aware of all factors that affect their businesses. They can, and probably have, read the results of the South Carolina boycott. They know who will be hurt and who will benefit.
Andrew Young may be sincere in his efforts to cool the fires of the flag fight. I hope he is. But it is clear that a continuing battle over the state flag will harm the black community much more than the rest of the state and I think Young has figured that out.
Now, someone needs to explain it to Tyrone Brooks and his buddies. The sooner we can put this false battle aside and get busy making this a better state, the sooner all Georgians will benefit.
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 Zach Mitcham
The Madison County Journal
January 3, 2001

From the Editor's Desk

Newsmakers of the year
Like years past, 2000 was a busy one in Madison County politics. Here's a look at some of the top newsmakers of the year:
·Dennis Moore - The resignation of Dr. Moore and the subsequent revelation that the county school system was in dire straits financially shocked many. Moore was ambitious in his two years as superintendent, trying to tackle many projects. But he managed school funds irresponsibly and left county taxpayers in a deep hole that will take some time to escape.
·Allen McCannon - As interim superintendent after Moore's resignation, McCannon had the difficult task of trying to provide answers about school finances after Moore's sudden departure. Many have felt frustrated with the lack of understanding about what happened to put the school system in such a bind financially. The issue has proven complex and questions remain. But McCannon has not ducked for cover amid the controversy.
·Bruce Scogin - Scogin has been the most outspoken county commissioner on a number of issues since he took office in 1999 following Jack Fortson's resignation in District 5. Most notably, Scogin pushed for a change in county policy to make commissioners foot their own legal bills to defend themselves against recall efforts. Scogin's candor has rubbed some the wrong way at times, but his frankness has been a positive for the board. On more than one occasion, Scogin has admitted mistakes at the commissioners' table. And there are a number of citizens who feel more trust in the BOC thanks to him.
·Elaine Belfield - Like Scogin, school board member Elaine Belfield has been frowned on by some for voicing her views. But people should remember that Belfield was questioning Dr. Moore's spending long before the public knew something was wrong. Some criticized Belfield for trying to "micromanage" school business. But if other school board members had been as willing to ask questions as Belfield, a lot of the schools' fiscal strife may have been avoided.
·Jesse Martin - Martin proposed a county drug counseling program to the BOC in July. And the issue proved one of the most volatile of the year. The commissioners approved $25,000 to Martin, but that money was returned by the drug counseling committee as questions about Martin's past fraud charges in Texas were posed. As a result, Martin and his committee divided into two competing boards, then the second committee disbanded. Meanwhile, Martin insisted that he is a reformed man. While a drug counseling program is a worthy endeavor, the commissioners should have a real question of trust concerning Martin.
·Wesley Nash - Nash narrowly defeated his distant relative Nelson Nash to retain the chairman's seat for four more years. The chairman has his critics. There are those who feel he is too willing to bypass the authority of the board to get his own way. But most will agree that his management of county finances has been sound. The county has had a balanced budget and not raised taxes during his tenure. Nash keeps county improvements a priority without overextending the budget.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.


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