Madison County Opinion...

 May 23, 2001

By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
May 23, 2001

Frankly Speaking

'We intend to get our flag back'
A most important word to all Americans is sovereignty. Why? Because that word carries within it the authority of governments to make decisions for us. In a monarchy, sovereignty belongs to the king or dictator. In a theocracy, sovereignty is claimed by the church. In an oligarchy, sovereignty is held by a small elite group of rulers.
So, who has the right of sovereignty in this country? The Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights and all other founding documents say that sovereignty belongs to we the people. We Americans, individually and as a group, have the right to govern ourselves.
Thousands of Americans, in numerous wars, have sacrificed their lives, their health and their wealth to win the right of our citizens to be sovereign. Yet today, that right is being ripped away bit by bit.
Consider this: In poll after poll, the people of Georgia expressed their desire that the 1956 flag remain the official symbol of our state. As a sovereign people, we have the right to choose those emblems that represent us. However, an oligarchy, most of whom are not from Georgia, decided to impose another flag on us. They knew that the new flag did not reflect the sovereign desire of Georgians. But they violated the basic principle of American society by imposing it on us.
They knew exactly what they were doing. They demonstrated that by a provision written into the legislation forcing the change.
That bill demands that all state and local agencies of government procure and fly the new flag. Any city, county, regional or state agency that refuses to fly the false flag faces an immediate cutoff of all state money.
This is wrong. This is a slap in the face of every freedom-loving Georgian. This is wholesale theft of our sovereign rights.
When the people's flag flew over state government, certain radicalized agencies refused to fly it. That includes the City of Atlanta and the University of Georgia. At no time were these agencies threatened with financial assault for not flying the people's flag of choice.
But now, with a much-despised flag being imposed on our state, just such punishment is planned for anyone who chooses to honor the sovereign will of the people and continue to fly the favored flag.
Well, we the sovereign people of Georgia will not so easily give up our right of self-government As a new bumper sticker now appearing around the state says, "It Ain't Over!" Already, candidates for governor are promising to reconsider the Jackson/Barnes flag. The flag will be a major factor in the election of state senators and representatives.
It is likely that the question will reach the voters via a referendum of some kind, and you can bet that the vote will mirror that of Mississippi.
We intend to get our flag back, and those who attempted to steal it from us can expect to pay a high price.
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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By Zach Mitcham
The Madison County Journal
May 23, 2001

From the Editor's Desk

BOE should reinstate Kesler
Everyone knows coaches take the heat. But it's still an awful shock to see one get burned in a bad way, particularly after a stellar season.
Last week, Doug Kesler was yanked as Madison County girls' fast-pitch softball coach. The county school board approved all of the superintendent's recommendations for coaching positions, but voted unanimously against rehiring Kesler as the Lady Raiders' coach.
This is despite the fact that the MCHS principal and athletic director supported the superintendent's recommendation to keep Kesler as coach.
Ironically, only hours after being canned as softball coach, Kesler was in Athens receiving the Athens Newspapers' Northeast Georgia "Coach of the Year" in fast-pitch softball honor. It must have been a bittersweet feeling for the coach as he smiled for the camera.
But the recognition was well deserved. Madison County's softball team, in only its third season of fast-pitch play, enjoyed great success this past season, roaring into the state tournament with outstanding pitching and defense. The hitting was inconsistent, but the team's grit wasn't. And when all was said and done, Madison County claimed fourth in Class AAA, while improving its three-year fast-pitch record under Kesler to 72-27, a 72.7 winning percentage. Not bad in any sport.
Kesler backs up his team's success on the field with a professional approach. He demands a lot of his players, but he is not a Bobby Knight. He's not a screamer or a cusser. He speaks a lot of integrity and he exhibits what he preaches.
So what gives? Why the firing of a such a solid coach?
A common opinion is that one of the board members had a personal gripe with Kesler and convinced the rest of the board that the coach should go. There's also been talk that perhaps Kesler was targeted because he is a close friend of Mac Almond, who resigned as Comer Elementary principal amid allegations of criminal mismanagement of funds and other charges.
BOE chairman Robert Haggard said these allegations against the board are simply untrue, that the board would not go along with one person's vendetta against a coach and that the Almond issue was not even discussed by the BOE during its consideration of Kesler. Haggard said there are several matters, primarily discipline related, at issue. He wouldn't offer specifics, but he emphasized there is nothing criminal alleged by the board against Kesler, nothing ugly "like in Cherokee County."
Essentially, Haggard summed it up as a communication problem, saying there were problems that the board thought Kesler had dealt with that the coach was actually unaware of.
Following the dismissal, Haggard talked on the phone and then met with Kesler. This is a good move and hopefully there will be a better end to this ugly story. Unfortunately, these talks should have happened before Kesler's termination.
And whether or not the firing was a personal jab at Kesler - an argument which by appearances certainly has merit - these things remain:
The board did not inform Kesler what their problems were with him, nor did they give him a chance to defend himself before he was terminated. The board ignored the recommendations of the athletic director, principal and superintendent, leaving us to question the worth of those recommendations.
In a year filled with public image nightmares for the BOE, the school board shot itself in the foot on this one, offering hazy reasons for lassoing a good coach away from his team and stripping some talented players of their leader.
The county school board should reverse its decision to fire Kesler.
And hopefully we'll see the coach back in the dugout when the season begins in August - where the heat is simply from the weather.
And those sizzling fastballs.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.
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