The Commerce News
August 8, 2001
$600 From Social Security Fund
At our household, we're eagerly awaiting the $600 we expect from
our beloved president, George W. Bush, who lacked only three
votes of sweeping the Beardsley household last November. (The
election was closer in our house than it was in Florida, but
at least we know who carried it.)
Naturally, we view the money as a reward for Bush's near success
in our household and as an advance payment in lieu of Social
Security funds, since that's essentially where the money is coming
I hope the prez won't hold it against us if we don't immediately
cash the check and run to Wal-Mart to help rev up the economy,
because ours will go in our Roth IRA accounts instead. Since
Bush and most of the other politicians seem comfortable with
continued raids on the Social Security Trust Fund, it's probably
not a good idea to figure on Social Security as playing a significant
role in post-work budgetary planning. Not that we had ever counted
on retiring on Social Security, but we had hoped that our monthly
checks might at least pay the cable TV bill.
Bush ran, in part, on the idea of privatizing Social Security,
and that's exactly what he's doing with these refunds. Money
is "borrowed" from Social Security to try to buy more
popular support in the polls, and we can invest it in anything
from malt liquor to wheat futures. I figure even with my current
investments sinking like a fishing rod dropped over the side
of a boat, the chances of that $600 being around when I retire
are better in our Roth IRAs than in the government's IOU file.
But Bush's actions are much different from what he proposed during
the campaign, which was to let Americans invest some of that
SS money in the stock market. Now he's raiding the Social Security
Trust Fund to try to kick the economy up a notch. That's a liberal
for you. Conservatives like me would rather see the trust fund
kept solvent; lacking that, we're taking our share and, like
the man suggested when he was campaigning, doing our own retirement
Not that $600 will go very far, but it will likely go a lot further
than any $600 Washington, DC, has of our money. Like most of
the other fiscal conservatives we know, we're not counting on
much help from Uncle Sam (or George) with retirement, not when
there are more dependable alternatives like 401Ks, lottery tickets,
recycling of aluminum, dotcom stock, raffle tickets and putting
off retirement until age 83.
I admit to feeling a small amount of guilt for so selfishly investing
the tax rebate on myself instead of supporting my country by
using it to stimulate the economy. Every time I drive by Bass
Pro Shop, I have to subdue a surge of patriotism that would otherwise
compel me to do the right thing by my country.
But you know me. I can't abide by the liberal spending philosophy,
regardless of its effect on the economy. I'm a compassionate
conservative who believes in both paying our debts (national
and private) out of compassion for the lenders and for future
generations which will otherwise have to pay those bills.
But we elected a liberal, so I'll just have to put up with it.
The Jackson Herald
August 8, 2001
plans make no sense
Although we understand the political pressures that have led
to the current redistricting maps - that is, the Democratic Party
wants to preserve power - the price that would be paid by Georgia
citizens is too high. Most of the proposals we've heard or seen
split counties in ways that do not preserve local spheres of
We realize that crafting districts for common interest hegemony
is less important to some leaders than political hegemony. Political
self-interest is always a factor in redistricting decisions.
But the current plans take this political interest too far at
the expense of doing what is best for Georgia citizens. There
is no valid argument, for example, to say that Jackson County
has similar interests to Warren County in middle Georgia or Gilmer
County in north central Georgia. Yet the Senate plan splits Jackson
in such a way that we are tied to both areas. It simply doesn't
Nor do we like the governor's idea of using multi-member districts
in the House to dilute Republican strength in the state. Multi-member
districts would do a disservice to growing counties like Jackson
where larger surrounding communities would dominate the county's
representation in Atlanta. If Jackson were part of a multi-member
district with neighboring Clarke County, for example, those running
for office from Clarke would dominate the outcome. Jackson County's
interest would be lost in the politics and we would not have
our own voice in Atlanta.
Frankly, we don't care one whit about the power struggle between
the Republican and Democratic parties. If the Republicans were
in control, we have no doubt that they, too, would gerrymander
district lines to suit their political agenda just as the Democrats
are doing now.
What we do care about, however, is having some district lines
that preserve as much common interest as possible so that our
citizens will have true representation in the General Assembly.
The current proposals don't do that. If those plans move forward,
the citizens of Jackson County, and indeed the state, will have
been robbed of true representation.
And that, in our minds, should be unforgivable during the next
The Jackson Herald
August 8, 2001
leadership trips again
Won't Jefferson city officials ever learn? Once again, a member
of the city council has reportedly attempted to interfere with
the duties of hired city employees, this time apparently seeking
to have an employee fired.
That's nothing new in Jefferson. For years, city council members
have meddled in the day-to-day affairs of city business. That
has been done, in large part, because the city council has a
practice of naming city council members to "oversee"
various departments in the town. Every city councilman has one
or two departments that they are "chairman" over.
But that practice has led to nothing but problems as Jefferson
has grown. The demands being placed on the city are greater than
ever before, yet many of the key decisions are being made by
politicians who simply don't know what they're talking about.
On top of that, the inside jealousies and bickering between council
members over departmental control border on the inane.
The latest incident, however, goes even a step beyond such meddling.
Although city councilman C.D. Kidd is not the "chairman"
of the police department, he reportedly threatened the job security
of Police Chief Darren Glenn if Glenn didn't fire a local policeman.
According to an incident report for July 31, officer Richard
Jewell had responded to a juvenile problem at Heritage Heights
Apartments where some kids had been arguing. While Jewell was
talking to the boys and their parents, Kidd reportedly arrived
on the scene and asked one of the parents to walk over and talk
At that point, Jewell asked Kidd to move his car, which he said
was blocking the road. Kidd reportedly responded that he would
"move it in a minute."
After Jewell finished talking with the boys and their parents,
he was reportedly confronted by Kidd who said, "You need
a new attitude, boy."
A verbal altercation occurred between the two men over where
Kidd had parked his vehicle. Jewell reported that Kidd said,
"I am city councilman C.D. Kidd and this is private property.
I will park where I want to."
When Kidd eventually walked away, he reportedly told Jewell that
"This ain't over yet."
In an August 3 letter to city attorney Ronnie Hopkins, Chief
Glenn reported that on the day of the incident, he was paged
by Kidd while out of town. When he returned the call, Kidd reportedly
told Glenn that "you need to do something about that man,"
"He went on to say that if I did not fire Officer Jewell
that he could not support me in December," wrote Glenn.
December is when the council officially appoints its department
heads, including police chief, for the coming year.
Glenn said he told Kidd that Jewell had tendered his resignation
a few days before the confrontation to take a position at another
department and was working a notice.
"Then you had better fire him before the two weeks is over
or I'm not gonna support you, Chief, it's plain and simple,"
Glenn quotes Kidd as having said. "I want him to know that
I had something to do with it."
Glenn refused to fire Jewell and sent his letter to Hopkins to
"have this conversation on file since threats were made
If all of that sounds like small-town petty politics, it is.
All too often, local elected officials begin believing their
own rhetoric. Egos get inflated and some politicians begin to
believe it's OK to swing their political weight around.
That's not universal, of course. For every petty politician,
there are other public officials who serve the public interest
and who would never use their position in a threatening manner.
But in Jefferson, such swagger hasn't been unusual over the years.
The city's practice of making council members "chairmen"
of departments only intensifies the idea of their self-importance.
It plays on the worst in human nature, not the best. On top of
that, years of nepotism have disfigured the way the city operates
and give fodder to critics who claim that to be employed by the
City of Jefferson depends not on your ability, but rather on
This latest fiasco will no doubt soon fade. The councilman would
be foolish to pursue a vendetta over a verbal confrontation and
the officer in question will soon be leaving the department anyway.
Still, it is another indication that Jefferson's leadership is
teetering on the brink of collapse. And while some hope the advent
of a city manager government Jan. 1, 2002, will be the savior,
one has to wonder: What kind of manager would want to work for
a city government like Jefferson's?
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.
The Commerce News
August 8, 2001
Is Inspiring To Others
While the water is not flowing out to member counties yet, the
success of the regional Bear Creek Reservoir is attracting attention.
Last Monday, a delegation from Grady County visited the reservoir
and talked with representatives of the four-county Upper Oconee
Basin Water Authority to get an idea of what it takes to pull
off a project of this complexity and magnitude.
Grady County officials hope to build a reservoir on Tired Creek
to meet their water needs. But leaders there see the greatest
need for water there as being for recreational purposes, which
could make getting all the necessary state and federal approval
harder. The fact that northeast Georgia is rapidly growing and
its water supplies are limited was an advantage in getting local
leaders focused and state and federal bureaucrats interested.
Meeting the requirements of the EPD, EPA and U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers was incredibly difficult, but it was sometimes less
taxing than meeting the individual demands and soothing the egos
of politicians from four counties. Nonetheless, in addition to
gaining expertise in the political realities of regional cooperation,
officials in Jackson, Barrow, Oconee and Athens-Clarke counties
have also become knowledgeable about dealing with the regulatory
Leaders elsewhere are taking note. The Bear Creek Reservoir is
a significant accomplishment.