The Madison County Journal
May 16, 2001
Redistricting not about
The Georgia legislature will meet in a called session this fall
to redistrict the state, county and city election districts.
I hope our elected officials will use more reasonable criteria
in drawing the lines this year.
The last redistricting was a joke. Politicians used their power
in an effort to punish their enemies, strengthen their own positions,
support racial policies and boost political parties. In some
cases they were successful. In others, their efforts blew up
in their faces.
For example, Georgia's Democratic controlled legislature designed
our congressional districts to create as many districts as possible
that would ensure that blacks would be elected to congress. As
a result, Georgia now has three black Democrats and eight white
This year, Democrats are already talking about ways to "eliminate"
safe Republican seats. Their prime target is eighth district
Republican Bob Barr. They need to be careful. Republicans are
seeking strong candidates for governor and senator. The Democrats
might create a powerful candidate for one of these offices.
Here in Madison County, we have an example of this kind of thinking.
County districts were drawn to carefully eliminate a Republican
candidate from a board of commissioners' race. That Republican
went on to defeat the long-term Democrat who drew up the plan
for his State House seat.
Republicans are now so strong in that district that the Democrats
failed to offer a candidate in the last election.
The second goal of Madison County's current district plan was
to create a heavily black district. This proved impractical because
the black population is less than 12 percent here. But in an
effort to get as many blacks into the same district as possible,
the plan produced the fifth district which rambles from Dogsboro
in the Western area of the county all the way to the Elbert County
line in the East. In spite of this effort, no black candidate
has ever come close to winning the district.
We deserve better than this. We deserve a redistricting plan
that identifies five natural centers of population, then draws
lines between them that produces the necessary balance in population.
The third district should contain those people who live in the
Hull/Dogsboro area regardless of their race or political affiliation.
District 4 should contain all those who live in the Danielsville
area. It is absurd to have voters on Veterans Drive being represented
by the Commissioner for Neese/Sanford.
Madison County's Commission and School Board districts should
keep as many communities intact as possible. Community concerns
are of more importance to Madison County voters than race or
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal.
His web page can be accessed at www.mcga.net. His e-mail address
The Madison County Journal
May 16, 2001
Dismayed with BOC
for Ten Commandments resolution
I was surprised and dismayed to read that the Madison County
Board of Commissioners has passed a resolution to display the
Ten Commandments in the County Government Complex.
Virtually any entry by a publicly elected governing body into
the religion arena is risky business and ill advised. This is
clearly an endorsement of one religion over all others and violates
the "separation of church and state." I am 100 percent
in favor of the concept of "freedom of religion."
Everyone should have the right to worship freely in whatever
manner they choose. It's a right that we should be proud to have
and one that should be defended at all costs. That right has
existed and been protected for over 200 years.
So, why does the BOC feel the need to display the historical
document of one religion in particular? Is it intended to help
Christians worship or express their religion more openly? If
so, why just Christians? Is the BOC also willing to post the
doctrines of Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, secular humanists and atheists?
If not, then the BOC is blatantly endorsing one religious belief
and excluding all others, and that violates the separation of
church and state.
The BOC should go out of its way to protect religious freedom,
but at the same time go out of its way to remain completely neutral,
neither endorsing or condemning any single belief. What a shame
the BOC has not decided to take this approach. This is how prejudice,
bias and exclusion are perpetuated in our society.
And Commissioners, if your response is that Madison County is
a Christian community and that you are simply abiding by the
wishes of the majority of the voters, then please present your
evidence and facts. What survey was taken showing that displaying
the Ten Commandments in the Government Complex was desired by
the people? Perhaps R.W. Moore presented a petition of the names
of Madison County residents who favored this resolution? I request
that you post a response to my letter justifying your decision
to pass this resolution.
The adoption of this resolution is a monumental decision and
it should be rescinded at once.