Jackson County Opinions...

November 28, 2001

By Mark Beardsley
The Commerce News
November 28, 2001

Shopping Doesn't Have To Be All That Difficult
The day after Thanksgiving is the official starting point for the Christmas season and for shopping in particular. Inasmuch as newspapers are expected to provide public service and since most of you guys probably would normally wait until Dec. 20 to start shopping, I offer a few hints to make your holiday shopping easier.
First, organize. What are your goals? To spend as little money as possible? To suck up to someone, be it boss, spouse or significant other? Or, like me, to get it over with so you can move on to more fun matters, like re-grouting the shower?
Having decided your priorities, create the list. Information should include the item, its price and the store at which it can be purchased: A list is essential; success is measured on the number of items crossed out.
Plan your outing. The goal is to get it all done at once, whether you go to Atlanta or downtown Commerce. To look at it from another view, the goal is to avoid having to go to even one more store than is necessary and to spend not one more minute than you must.
Men, you must do this alone. The most inefficient shopping occurs when you take someone else with you, especially your wife. Even another guy can make it more difficult, however; you'll end up at a Bass Pro Shop and you don't want to buy your wife's gifts there.
Cash or charge? I prefer to use cash, but sometimes I resort to VISA in the hope that once the transaction is made the paperwork will mysteriously disappear. The item itself may dictate strategy, particularly if your wife sees the credit card receipts, in which case expensive purchases should be charged so she can see how much you care, and inexpensive gifts should be bought with cash so she can't.
A few of you will be tempted to shop online. Forget it. The Internet is a passing fancy invented by Al Gore, also a passing fancy. Besides, you want to see what you're buying first and get it wrapped for free, right?
Don't forget to visit your hardware and auto parts stores, which always have gifts for the ladies, although it takes a special woman to appreciate the gift of a power washer or a case of 20W-40. And while those stores don't offer gift-wrapping, here's a hint: take your purchase out to Tanger II, where the Sarepta Baptist Association will wrap them for free. Don't tell them I sent you.
Be careful what you buy. Generally speaking, the following are not good gift ideas: camouflage clothing, Dale Earnhardt paraphernalia, detergent, home pregnancy test kits, gift certificates from Weight Watchers, any mounted fish or animal that sings, perfume for under $9 per pint, duct tape, wine bottled in Mason jars and generic cigarettes.
And if you were at all inclined toward buying any of those items, it's probably best that you not attempt to purchase clothing for your spouse or girlfriend. However, if you must, here's a crucial bit of advice. Surreptitiously find her dress size and make sure any clothing you purchase is at least one, preferably, two, sizes smaller. She'll be flattered by your estimation of her small size and will get to exchange your selection for something decent.
OK guys, get going and good luck.

The Jackson Herald
November 28, 2001

Roads are a solution, not the problem
To hear the anti-suburban environmentalists tell it, roads are the bane of all evil. Roads bring development and development breeds sprawl and sprawl is, well, the antithesis of the elitists who never saw a suburb that shouldn't be turned back into a field.
But roads are not the problem. Indeed, the biggest complaint you hear about growth is the impact on traffic. We all hate to sit in traffic.
It is the lack of sufficient roads that causes traffic problems. You simply can't continue to add cars without also adding new roads designed to move traffic.
That's increasingly clear in the metro Atlanta area where politics has stymied efforts to build new roads, the result being too many cars on too little pavement.
But this lack of road infrastructure is also becoming apparent in rural areas like Jackson County. While some progress is being made with the Jefferson bypass, that alone won't solve the traffic congestion in the central and western parts of Jackson County.
It's time for our county and city leaders to have a working summit on road transportation in Jackson County. Traffic projections and long-term state projects should be outlined so that our officials can make plans for new local projects to fill in the pavement gaps.
This won't be an easy task and it will require a new sense of working together that has not previously existed in this county. It will also take a long-term commitment to funding new road projects.
But to not plan now for the growth in traffic will lead only to more problems in the future.
Now is the time to act. The question is, who will lead this effort?

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By Mike Buffington
The Jackson Herald
November 28, 2001

Time to stop Lasseter-bashing
Good grief! How much more are we going to have to hear about Michael Shane Lasseter?
You remember Lasseter, the Gainesville man who in a single bound shut down airports across the nation a couple of weeks ago. Now AirTran has filed a federal lawsuit against Lasseter, as if some pending criminal charges weren't enough.
Now I'm not an "air warrior" who flies around the country every week. At most, I'll fly four or five times during the year, enough to know my way around an airport and to experience the hassles of this "convenient" mode of travel. I've been delayed, bumped and sat on runways for a couple of hours. I've been de-iced, flown over hurricanes and once flew with smugglers at midnight in a foreign country in a plane that had no seats.
But in all of that, I've never threatened to kill anyone for delaying a flight. But Lasseter has gotten so many death threats that he's had to leave his Gainesville home for an "undisclosed location."
Let's call this episode what it really was - a massive overreaction by Hartsfield authorities that needlessly created an atmosphere of panic. There was no cause to shut down Hartsfield, or the roads around the airport.
This type of public panic is exactly the goal of terrorism. Terrorists do not have the support or weapons to overthrow a government or destroy a country. Rather, terrorism attempts to erode the backbone of a nation from within by creating fear and panic.
For airports to be prudent in their security is, of course, expected. No one wants a repeat of Sept. 11. But should we confiscate nail clippers because they could be weapons? A little common sense would be welcome.
I don't know Michael Lasseter. But I do know the feeling of misplacing a camera bag in a public place and of dashing through an airport to catch a flight. And while I've never run up a down escalator, it's easy to understand how someone in a rush might take such a shortcut.
But to have shut down an airport over that action, without any other evidence of a threat, was just stupidity on the part of Atlanta officials.
It's time to leave Michael Lasseter along, the poor schmuck. If you see O.J. Simpson running through an airport, you might wonder if anyone just got their throat cut and should call security.
But if you see a middle-aged, balding guy who looks like a small-town banker on vacation dashing up the down stairs, he's probably not a terrorist.
That's not rocket science, that's just common sense.
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.

The Commerce News
November 28, 2001

Commission Needs To
Let Manager Manage

Having decided that its first choice for county manager didn't work out, the Jackson County Board of Commissioners is in the process of hiring its second. Some 30 potential managers have submitted applications.
While the commissioners are studying the qualifications of Skip Nalley's potential successors, they should spend a little time considering their own shortcomings. If the next county manager is to succeed in Jackson County, he or she will need a lot more support and cohesiveness than Nalley received.
The commissioners appear to be more interested in running things themselves than delegating work to a manager or to others. They are headed to showdowns with the Jackson County Planning Commission over zoning issues, which probably accounts for much of planning director David Clabo's interest in the Jefferson city manager's job, and with the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority over how the authority should build water lines. They're hostile toward some members of both the planning commission and the water and sewerage authority and one commissioner has suggested that the county airport authority be abolished. The interest in dominating authorities created to de-politicize important government operations suggests that the commissioners are collectively unable or unwilling to delegate authority. That, in turn, bodes ill for a county manager and the county manager form of government in Jackson County.
In theory, a county manager is apolitical. The manager recommends policies and practices to best serve the county as a whole, guided by goals set by the board of commissioners. But until the commissioners become disciplined enough to let the county manager and the various authorities do the jobs with which they are charged, no county manager is going to succeed in this county.

Get The Word Out
Following this week's arrest of a variety of drug suspects, Commerce police chief John Gaissert said his message to those in the drug community is: "If you buy or sell drugs in Commerce, plan on going to jail."
That is no doubt the goal of most every law enforcement agency for its jurisdiction. Now, if only those in the drug business, or those young people contemplating being in that business, could understand what awaits them.
There are two parts to the equation. The retail drug trade is centered in Commerce's black community. The customers for those drug dealers are black, white and hispanic, and the drug of choice for both groups is crack cocaine.
Smart young people should realize the futility of using or selling cocaine. Ideally, the damage of an addictive drug would warn people away; but failing that, the weekly list of people arrested for drug use or drug sales should be a warning.
Perhaps some people have no fear of going to jail, but surely most do. The message must be taken to young people that their actions as drug users or drug dealers will result in their going to jail, losing any respect the community might have held for them and hastening their slide into a cycle of crime, incarceration and the danger of a life on the streets.
The message our young people need to understand is that life as a drug dealer means constant fear of arrest, if not of the danger of drug deals gone bad. It means potentially losing personal freedom for months or years at a time. What those who would use drugs need to know is that in addition to the horrors of addiction, drug use will also land them in jail, cost them their jobs and humiliate them.
The message is clear; the difficulty is getting the people to hear it.


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