Madison County Opinion...

 May 16, 2001

By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
May 16, 2001

Frankly Speaking

Redistricting not about personal agendas
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 Republicans.
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 politics.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at His e-mail address is





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Letter To The Editor

The Madison County Journal
May 16, 2001

Dismayed with BOC for Ten Commandments resolution
Dear Editor:
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.
Greg Bleakley
MainStreet Newspapers, Inc.
PO Box 908, 33 Lee Street, Jefferson, Georgia 30549
Telephone: (706) 367-5233 Fax: (706) 367-8056

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