Jackson County Opinions...

July 11, 2001

By Mark Beardsley
The Commerce News
July 11, 2001

New Trend? Wedding Vows That Expire
I ran across a story recently where a couple which had been married for 25 or 30 years announced plans to renew their wedding vows.
Inasmuch as I had never heard of such vows expiring, save with the death of one party, I was stunned.
I am relatively confident that the vows Barbara and I said "I do" to were the standard "till death do we part" contract, but since that was 27 years ago, it stands to reason that wedding vows have probably changed a lot.
Anyone out there who has an expiration date on your vows, please let me know.
"To have and to hold, from this day forward, till death do us part or 2020, whichever comes first," is an interesting option. Given the divorce rate, it seems reasonable that couples would want to enter a marriage contract of a shorter duration, perhaps with an option to renew.
I have read of marriage contracts, like that of the late and former Jacqueline Kennedy and Aristotle Onassis, which had financial and other covenants designed to protect one or both parties. This is common in second, third and subsequent marriages, particularly when one of the parties has wealth and the other youth, beauty and opportunism. These arrangements are brokered among lawyers, so that the official engagement has all the romance of a mortgage loan closing and just as many signature lines.
It seems likely that, like the contracts of Major League baseball players, some of these marital contracts get re-negotiated long before their expiration date. If an outfielder with three years left on a contract has a good year and can "re-negotiate" that contract for more money, spouses who perform their duties with unexpected success should be able to re-negotiate as well. New cars, vacation homes, jewelry and the like could be included as signing or performance bonuses. Shoot, this might open a new field for talent agents.
I can see that if vows must be renewed, there will be occasions when at least one half of the couple is anxious to let them expire. In such cases, that seems much simpler and less painful than the traditional divorce. In fact, it might well result in a substantial reduction in the divorce rate.
"I see Joe and Martha are separated. Did they get a divorce?"
"No, their wedding vows expired."
I am sure there are plenty of couples in which one or the other (possibly both) party now wishes the marital contract had an expiration date.
The problem with marriage is that love too often gets in the way of good judgment. Young couples fail to consider the possibility that they could negotiate a better deal in 5-50 years or the benefits of entering the free agent market if they're not re-signed by the original partner. But it's a decision that requires a lot of thought, because it could be that when it comes time to renew, your partner has all the advantages.
I assure you that you will never hear of the Beardsleys renewing their vows. Barbara signed on for the duration, and I'm holding her to it. She might want to get a better deal, but that's tough. Our vows do not expire.I've checked.
Call me old-fashioned, but a deal is a deal.

The Jackson Herald
July 11, 2001

Judge's ruling good for county
Forget, for a moment, that Judge David Motes issued a ruling against prospective landfill developer Kelly Henderson. What was really at stake in the lawsuit was the validity of Jackson County's zoning codes.
In upholding those codes, Judge Motes put Jackson County leaders in a strong legal position to defend against future zoning lawsuits. Although some county leaders were nervous about the suit, Henderson has perhaps done the county a great favor. Motes' ruling basically affirms what was less clear earlier: That the county has a legally binding zoning code.
The ruling also sent another strong message that favored Jackson County. In his first rezoning application, Henderson was misleading about his true intentions for the rezoning request. Motes' ruling was strongly critical of that attempt to deceive the county and the judge's words will no doubt echo in the ears of other developers who want to be coy with their rezoning applications.
But while the ruling was a huge victory for the county, it did not address many other issues related to local rezoning actions. In weighing rezoning applications, county leaders will still have to be careful in their efforts to balance property rights against the rights of the surrounding community. As many will recall, the county has lost some previous zoning lawsuits by being inconsistent in how zonings decisions were applied.
While the county won this battle, the suit is a reminder that ultimately, zoning issues are legal issues. Zoning is not about allowing current property owners to simply pick their neighbors, but rather is a formal, legal process that attempts to balance concerns over land use.
And that is just as it should be.


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By Mike Buffington
The Jackson Herald
July 11, 2001

Has 'Big Brother' arrived?
When the city of Marietta moved to put surveillance cameras at a major intersection to catch people running a red light, it crystallized a growing issue in this country - that of privacy, or perhaps, the invasion thereof.
With the growth of the Internet and e-commerce, people have been concerned about privacy issues. Those concerns have mostly revolved around three security issues: 1. Preventing the theft of credit card information; 2. Preventing identity theft where someone assumes your identity to commit fraud or other crimes; and 3. Preventing the accumulation of data from your computer by corporations which use invasive software to "mine" your hard drive for information about you.
But in addition to those issues, there is one potential problem that few privacy advocates have focused on: The potential collection and misuse of personal data by government agencies.
That issue has come more into focus since the debate over red light surveillance cameras began, but the debate should also apply to computer data collected by government. No other entity has the scope of personal information about each of us that governments at all levels collect, from private medical records to tax and financial information. The question is, what safeguards are in place today to ensure that governments do not misuse such information against their own citizens?
This trend isn't totally new. Banks, for example, are required to provide data to government agencies when you make a $10,000 transaction. But with the advent of more powerful computers, the Internet and better database systems, the potential for government to collect and sort personal data has greatly increased in recent years.
Few people, however, have focused on that potential problem. Rather, the political leadership has focused on secondary concerns, such as how to stop media access to teacher Social Security numbers. While there may be little need for the media to have such numbers, such debates have prevented political leaders from asking the tough questions about their own agency's potential misuse of personal information.
That may be changing with the red light camera debate in Marietta. While the collection of computer data may seem too complex and esoteric for some citizens, everyone understands the implications of using cameras to photograph activities on public streets. Has "Big Brother" arrived?
The use of monitoring cameras is nothing new. Many businesses and private residences use security cameras, as do some public facilities such as courthouses. But are those single-purpose uses different in nature than cameras which monitor the public on the street?
That's a difficult question. For example, if a wreck happens on a public road, the accident scene is considered a "public event." News photographers have open access to such scenes, provided they aren't interfering with rescue and safety officials. Some would argue that those running a red light in Marietta have also created a "public event" by endangering the safety of others, therefore they have no expectation of privacy.
But how far should that go? Should car rental firms have the right to put GPS devices on rental cars to monitor renters to see if they are speeding, as happened in the Northeast recently? While that involved a private firm, it isn't too difficult to imagine that some would argue that such devices should be on all cars to monitor speeding and other potential safety problems. Is there any difference in Marietta making our picture at a red light to enforce public safety conduct and law enforcement putting a GPS on our cars for the same purpose?
This is a slippery slope we're treading on. In the name of "security," government agencies could justify any number of ways to monitor public conduct, perhaps in ways that are invasive to personal privacy.
It is not just the single instances, such as a camera in Marietta, that make this so problematic - it is the power to collect and sort such data about individuals that is cause for concern.
Governments issue both Social Security numbers and tag numbers. If government also has the ability to monitor the use of both, either with cameras on the street or software in computers, can "Big Brother" be too far behind?
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.

The Commerce News
July 11, 2001

Council's Zoning Proposal Is Troubling
Once again, the Commerce City Council has overruled its planning commission. This time, the council voted 4-2 to rezone property for the development of up to 240 apartments.
The planning commission had recommended that the rezoning request be rejected on the reasonable grounds that the area already has too many rental units and because the city's long-range land use plan calls for high-density single-family residential development in that area.
But led by Bob Sosebee, who seems to be an advocate for an unlimited amount of multi-family housing, the council rejected the planning commission's recommendation. This is troubling for several reasons.
First, the planning commission's objections seemed valid. The city does already have plenty of rental housing and the future land use plan, which was approved by the city council, calls for single-family residential housing in the area. Of what value is the plan if it is subject to change whenever a developer asks? Second, as councilman Richard Massey pointed out, the children from 240 new apartments will be difficult for the city school system to absorb. Maybe Superintendent of Schools Larry White needs to sit down with the council, Sosebee in particular, and explain the challenges the city school system already faces and the difficulties rapid growth poses. Third, ignoring the recommendations of the planning commission renders that panel useless. Why have a planning commission if valid recommendations are so arbitrarily overturned?
The decision to overturn the planning panel's recommendation seemed to be based more on accommodating the applicant than managing land use. That is very troubling indeed.

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