Madison County Opinion...

 August 1, 2001


Column
By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
August 1, 2001

Frankly Speaking

King Roy is busy drawing maps
King Roy and his Democratic vassals are at it again! This time they are drawing legislative district maps behind closed doors and plan to force their plan through the legislature without giving any of "we the people" a chance to express our opinions.
Does this trick sound familiar to you? It ought to. That is the same trick they used to steal our beautiful state flag. This time they are trying to steal our state government!
As the Georgia legislature convened to begin the process of reapportioning our state according to the year 2000 census, King Roy and his henchmen are busy drawing maps that they think will keep the Democrats in power for the next 10 years. They do not intend to allow the wishes of "We the People" to influence this process. If they cared about the opinion of the majority of Georgians they would have never changed the flag, or at least they would have held a referendum to see if we approve before making the change.
They don't give us a chance to express our opinions because they know that "We the People" will not necessarily agree with their plans. And, after all, what "We the People" want is not important to them.
One idea that has emerged from the Democrats is to draw large, multi-member districts with representatives from smaller districts but elected by all voters of the superdistrict. This would give them a chance to create more "safe" Democratic seats. Never mind that those voters of differing opinions would be trapped without effective representation of their ideas. King Barnes does not care what the voters think anyway.
The sad thing is that this power grab will likely work. The Democrats have a majority in both houses of the Georgia legislature, as well as the governor's seat. If the current Democratic office holders toe the line, as they will be pressured to do, King Barnes' dictatorial plan will be approved. If, on the other hand, as few as four Democratic state senators decide that the wishes of the voters are more important than the commands of King Roy, and vote to give all factions a voice in the redistricting plan, we still have a chance at a fair and balanced legislature.
What can we do the influence this policy? "We the People" will have to make so much noise that King Roy and the Democrats have to listen. Fill their mailboxes with letters; flood their voice mail with complaints.
Keep the newspapers well supplied with letters to the editor. Take part in every online or media poll you can find. If we are loud enough, and numerous enough, we may be able to sway those four state senators.
We will never recapture our government from King Roy and his henchmen unless more of us speak out. It is up to us.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at www.mcga.net. His e-mail address is frankg@mcga.net.



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Column
By Zach Mitcham
The Madison County Journal
August 1, 2001

From the Editor's Desk

Kids' Journal was a positive experience
Once you've gotten beyond childhood years, it's easy to get wrapped up in adult things and forget what it's like to be a kid.
This is a shame. Because in many ways, a kids' world is much more entertaining than their elders'. That fact was reinforced to me this summer.
My co-worker, Margie Richards, and I spent Fridays at the Madison County Library this summer with several Madison County kids, ages 9 to 12. We helped them produce a page for publication each week.
Before we began the Kids' Journal, I had some anxieties. What will I say? What if we bore them? What if they quit showing up? What will I fill the page with if they don't want to do anything?
The first day we had the class I felt "Mr. Editor" in my voice, an authoritative "give me your attention" style that is definitely not me. Pretty soon, I learned that things went much better if I didn't demand attention, but offered it instead.
I was rewarded for this and my anxieties went away. Because what the kids had to share was honest, endearing and often remarkable.
For instance, Mercy Montgomery wrote a fine story on the old county courthouse. It was well-structured and informative. Leanna Canup showed journalistic prowess in her stories about buildings around the square in downtown Danielsville. Holly and Mandy Pilon drew amazing pictures of animals and nature scenes.
Others - like Kyle Carr, Jeremiah NeSmith and Blake Smith - showed off artistic talents too.
Alexis Hill and Amber Crane were two of the more prolific writers in the class, producing a lot of stories that I enjoyed. For instance, Alexis wrote about why monkeys are her favorite animal and Amber wrote about her new pet bunny.
There was also an entertaining story by Maribel Montgomery on her aunt's newborn baby and a creative weather quiz by Larry Starkey.
The sincerity in the kids' writings was obvious. For instance, Nicole Adams and Catherine Cuzzourt wrote about how Cuzzourt's upcoming move wouldn't end their longtime friendship. And Cory Justice wrote about his brother serving in the Navy. It's obvious Cory loves and misses his brother.
While seeing what the kids produced was enjoyable, both Margie and I agreed that the highlight of the experience was getting to talk one-on-one with those in the class.
Whether it was discussing our favorite ice creams, the pain of an earache or the fun of paper football, the talks were entertaining.
I had fun when Nicole showed me how to rotate one arm in one direction, while rotating the other in the opposite direction. I could not do this and probably looked like I had developed a strange ailment.
I'll remember watching a film on newspapers and how we all laughed when it included a segment on how to hypnotize a chicken.
I'll remember how Kyle was always full of energy, how Alexis was soft-spoken and kind, how thoughtful Cory was, staying behind after class to make sure that all the chairs had been put back in place.
These were 14 special kids. And I'm glad I had a chance to work with them.
It was a positive experience I won't forget.
(See the final Kids' Journal on Page 1B of this week's Madison County Journal.)
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.


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