The Commerce News
May 9, 2001
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
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.
The Jackson Herald
May 9, 2001
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
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.
The Commerce News
May 9, 2001
An Energy Policy
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
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
The Commerce News
May 9, 2001
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
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
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
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