Jackson County Opinions...

May 9, 2001



Column
By Mark Beardsley
The Commerce News
May 9, 2001

Mayor's Friend Bad News From Day One
The name Samuel Wayne Rylee may not mean anything to folks outside Nicholson, but the suspect in a federal drug trafficking case is a new fixture in Nicholson politics.
Rylee was arrested Wednesday, May 2, by the FBI and GBI at the auto salvage yard he built on Cedar Road. Officers allegedly confiscated a large quantity of methamphetamine.
This is troubling, because Rylee was one of Mayor Ronnie Maxwell's biggest supporters and a key fixture in the anti-zoning campaign. During the controversy that came after Maxwell walked out of the first city council meeting after he was elected, Rylee became part of Maxwell's inner circle. When Maxwell came to Commerce to discuss zoning with me, Rylee came with him, often answering questions directed at the mayor. At one point, I had to ask Rylee to leave the office.
When anti-zoning candidates Chuck Wheeler and Billy Kitchens were elected, Rylee was at City Hall that night, closeted with them and the mayor in the mayor's office. He gloated to councilman Thomas Gary that night that "we got the men we wanted." After the meeting at which zoning was beaten back, Rylee was outside in his truck, awaiting a report. When Adam Fouche wrote a satirical column about the Nicholson zoning debate, Rylee wrote a spiteful letter in which he called Fouche a "punk" and leaped to Maxwell's defense.
His sudden prominence worried some long-time residents. How an ex-convict managed to acquire land and import wrecked vehicles to create an instant salvage yard was a point of great (and unresolved) speculation in Nicholson. His closeness with the mayor was and certainly is now a subject of commentary in and around Nicholson.
It's uncertain if anyone knew exactly what Rylee was doing, but it says a lot about Nicholson politics that a convicted felon was so warmly welcomed.
How Maxwell's association with a suspected drug trafficker and known ex-convict will play in Nicholson politics remains to be seen, but Rylee has suddenly become a political liability. Federal and state law enforcement officials may ask, and area voters will certainly want to know, what, if anything, Rylee promised to or was promised by the anti-zoning crowd in Nicholson. The drug arrest tends to verify speculation that Rylee's salvage yard was a front for something else, but now there is gossip that other Nicholson area residents may be involved. At the very least, Rylee's arrest will generate gossip and rumor, just what a fledgling city administration does not need. We may learn more about that as the investigation unfolds and details are made public.
Rylee's presence in Nicholson attracted scrutiny from the GBI and the FBI. Local residents will want to know what else they found besides a bucket full of methamphetamine.
It is disturbing that Maxwell, and to a lesser extent Kitchens and Wheeler, are aligned so closely to this man. We shouldn't declare guilt by association, but association with an unsavory ally seldom brings savory results. You can't associate long with a skunk without some of the smell rubbing off. And from day one, Wayne Rylee stank.



Editorial
The Jackson Herald
May 9, 2001

Judge's ruling a good decision
When Judge Bob Adamson ruled in favor of the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority last week, it was a good move for Jackson County.
At issue was whether or not the county had the right to survey land for a sewerage line. Once an exact location is determined, the county would then negotiate with property owners for the line's right of way. Failing a successful negotiation, the authority would have to condemn land for the line.
But a handful of property owners refused to allow anyone on the land to do the initial survey. While some of the concerns may have been sincere, others were wrapped in an anti-growth mentality that often bordered on strange.
There's no doubt that the county's entry into the sewerage business is a major step. The potential ramifications of that action are huge, both in the short term and the long term. It has forced a lot of issues to the forefront that had remained in the background.
While county leaders need to discuss those issues, it's important that progress is made on this initial step into sewerage. Some very specific commitments have been made and a lot of money hangs in the balance. The county cannot afford to back away from that, either financially or politically.
Last week's ruling may not be the last legal action on the sewerage line matter, but it did clear the way for the next step. We hope county leaders won't be discouraged over such hurdles. It's part of an important process that will someday pay great dividends for the citizens of Jackson County.

Editorial
The Commerce News
May 9, 2001

An Energy Policy Disaster
The Bush Administration's response to the American energy crisis appears to be to drill more oil wells.
In fact, if Vice President Dick Cheney's remarks represent the policy, the administration believes it is every American's right to have access to all of the energy he or she desires.
Heaven forbid that we compromise our wasteful standard of living. Let's just unearth every bit of oil and natural gas, be it in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, off the coast of Florida or at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Let's disregard the threats of global warming, the damage from acid rain and the pollution choking our cities ­ including Atlanta. We have the right to keep our thermostats at 68 degrees in the summer and 85 in the winter and to drive big and wasteful vehicles.
That is madness. It assures us a future of exorbitant energy prices and no alternative but to pay them. It guarantees that the oil and gas companies will make money, that the environment will be sacrificed to keep our SUVs running and that the government will absent itself from any meaningful discussion of alternatives.
And yet, some good may eventually come from this policy. As prices for fossil fuels increase under the laws of supply and demand, the market is likely to respond. Alternatives that were once deemed too expensive may suddenly appear more attractive. The potential profit from a new energy source ­ or methods of conserving energy ­ would attract research and development dollars.
Unfortunately, that progress would come after the nation's resources have been plundered and the environment further degraded. Prudence suggests that the first plank in any energy platform would be conservation. There is more oil and gas to be found in conservation than in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. Of course, resources conserved are not resources sold and are thus of no interest to the oil and gas companies ­ or to the Bush administration, which endorses American energy gluttony.
The Bush policy will bring disaster to the environment and the economy.


Editorial
The Commerce News
May 9, 2001

Sometimes Federal Tax Dollars Are Well Spent
It is popular in these times to decry all aspects of the federal government for any number of reasons from being wasteful with tax dollars to being corrupt. But two incidents last week, one in Nicholson and one in Commerce, remind us of the need for federal authority.
The FBI was the lead agency that shut down suspected drug dealer Samuel Wayne Rylee last Wednesday in Nicholson. Rylee, whose record of criminal activity spans a decade and a half, was widely accepted by the power structure in Nicholson, where he helped get the mayor and two councilmen elected.
In Commerce, it took federal officials to stop a purported federal scam by a local couple that supposedly defrauded the government of $25,000.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation and local officials would sooner or later have arrested Rylee. The federal arrest not only got him out of the community sooner, but will probably also result in his serving a long jail sentence. The fact that Rylee, with dozens of convictions, was still at large demonstrates the ineffectiveness of the state judicial system. No other law enforcement agency would have been likely to uncover the alleged Social Security fraud.
The federal government can be perplexing, frustrating, wasteful and ineffective. But it is also crucial to our national security, economic well-being and, as two agencies demonstrated here last week, to public safety. Sometimes those federal tax dollars are well spent.


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