Jackson County Opinions...

December 5, 2001

By Mark Beardsley
The Commerce News
December 5, 2001

Make Reporting On The Recession Against The Law
Because we are finally officially in a recession, one of the major issues facing Congress is an "economic stimulus bill."
The Republican-dominated House has a version that would give rich corporations like Microsoft, IBM and La Cosa Nostra millions of dollars so they can provide huge executive bonuses. In the Senate, Democrats propose a bill to send money to people who have never worked so they can buy more drugs and alcohol, but they don't quite have the votes to get it passed. President Bush has his own plan, which is to give economic relief to the military-industrial complex by buying lots of bombs and missiles. He doesn't need congressional approval.
Nobody has asked me for my economic stimulus plan, but I am at least as prepared as the Republican and Democratic leadership to address this issue. My plan has several components, including (but not limited to) the following:
•elimination of the capital gains tax. This would further encourage rich people to buy stocks for Christmas presents, inflating the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
•an executive order establishing a month-long "holiday" from reporting on the economy. It is widely agreed that the reason we're in a recession is that the media is obsessed with reporting that we're in a recession. Reporters who violate the order can be tried in secret military tribunals held in Afghanistan.
•government subsidies to speed up the second Harry Potter movie.
•postponement of Christmas until Jan. 31 to extend the holiday shopping season.
•a reduction by the Federal Reserve of the crime rate. If Alan Greenspan would just announce a one-point drop in the crime rate, we'd all feel better and spend more money.
•a special mid-term presidential election to generate the massive spending of campaign dollars. The money spent for advertising and logistics alone could spur the economy. Al Gore, inventor of the Internet, came up with this idea.
•a national advertising program encouraging the consumption of fast food during the holidays. The restaurant business and the medical community are in full support of this proposal.
•promise of an executive order in March eliminating the manufacturing of SUVs. People rushing to beat the deadline would give the auto industry a huge boost.
•elimination of the Internet. Once people stop sharing jokes via email, checking on their stock portfolios and downloading pornography on the job, productivity will go up.
•approve President Bush’s missile defense shield. Sure, it’s a waste of money, but it will pump billions into the economy.
•invade Iraq. It will pump more defense spending into the economy and take people’s minds off the recession.
•lie like crazy about all major economic indicators. If the government tells the public the economy is good, the perception will become reality. And it doesn’t cost a thing.
Those are the major points of that plan. For the full details, send $20 and a SASE to me. It’ll make you feel good and improve my economic outlook.

The Jackson Herald
December 5, 2001

Openness needed in county government
Those who study volcanoes say that major explosions happen after years, even centuries of pressure building within the earth.
In a similar way, Monday nightıs political eruption by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners came after nearly a year of increasing pressures on the board. In one meeting, the board made a slew of major decisions that will impact Jackson County for years to come.
The two most important decisions Monday night were to hire a new county manager and to reconstitute the planning commission board by abolishing the old board and creating a new one.
Oddly, however, neither item was on the BOC agenda and, along with several other items, was added only at the beginning of the meeting.
It was obvious that the commissioners had already discussed both items among themselves and had reached an agreement before Monday nightıs meeting. While the public realizes that board members will have some informal communications among themselves, to have reached agreement on these two major points without an open public discussion is a level of secrecy that goes against the concept of an open government.
Not only that, but the board directly violated the Georgia Open Records Law by not having released the names of its top three candidates for county manager 14 days prior to taking action. The board may claim that it only had one candidate out of 37 applications, but we find that position legally and logically indefensible. It should have followed the law.
What is most troubling about these actions is the message it sends to Jackson County citizens: The board abolished the planning commission in order to put its own people in place; it hired a new county manager by ignoring the legal process which it should have followed; and it is not so quietly making moves to wrest control of other county authorities, especially the water authority.
We agree that a new county manager needed to be hired and that the planning commission needed to be updated, but both matters were done in a way that makes the public question the real motive behind the moves.
We will debate the specifics of some of the boardıs decisions at a later date, but clearly the sum of Monday nightıs actions had an air of arrogance about it. Being coy about the agenda may be cute to those on the BOC, but it looks like blatant secrecy to the public.
We have said this before, but it bears repeating for this board: What you do is important, but in political leadership, how you do it is equally important.
Openness in government isnıt easy, but it is necessary. Letıs hope Mondayıs eruption by the board vented some of its internal pressures and that it will now return to doing the publicıs business in the open.

Jackson County Opinion Index

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By Angela Gary
The Jackson Herald
December 5, 2001

My return to childhood
My parents stood around the circle with the other parents waving and taking photographs as I went by.
The little girl beside me looked up in wonder as my horse moved up and down and round and round.
The cold winter air was cool and crisp and the crowd was having a noisy good time.
I laughed out loud at it all–my parents joining the other parents to watch their ³little girl² and the looks of wander on the faces of the other youngsters enjoying their first ride.
Have you taken a spin on a carousel lately? You know, climbed up on the colorful horse and gone round and round in circles with loud carnival music blaring in the background. If you havenıt had this experience lately, you should really give it a try. Itıs fun.
I had a huge smile on my face Saturday night as I took a spin on the carousel at Dollywood at Pigeon Forge, Tenn. I donıt know if I was laughing because it was so much fun or because it was a hoot to see my parents standing with the other parents taking photos and waving as I went by. So what if the other kids on the carousel were a few years (or decades) younger than me. I still had as much fun as they did.
This brief experience made me realize that I need to laugh more. I need to do those crazy, carefree things I did as a child more. Everyone needs to forget the stresses of work and everyday life and be a kid again, if only for a few minutes.
As my fellow columnist Adam Fouche writes this week about signs of old age, I thought Iıd list a few fun things I did as a child that Iım going to make every effort to do again as soon as possible. Some of these things are seasonal and may take me a few months to get around to, but I have my list and Iım ready. Here goes:
€go outside on a hot, muggy summerıs night and catch lightning bugs and put them in a jar.
€go to the fair and get some cotton candy AND a candy apple (without thinking about calories or fat grams) and eat them both no matter how sticky I get.
€get on a swing and go really high in the air and then jump out.
€go on a hay ride no matter how cold or uncomfortable it is.
€leave Santa a piece of my Mamaıs great chocolate pie and a cup of milk before I go to bed on Christmas Eve.
€make mud pies...build frog houses...dip my chocolate cookies in milk...watch cartoons all morning...lick the bowl after my mom makes a cake...
Angela Gary is associate editor of The Jackson Herald and editor of The Banks County News. She can be reached at AngieEditor@aol.com.

The Commerce News
December 5, 2001

Reservoir Delays Not Really Significant
At every monthly meeting of the Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority, it seems that the completion date of the reservoir and water plant and the date when Jackson County residents can begin drinking water from the project keep backing up. The work was supposed to have been completed last July 1; the most recent projection for when water will come to Jackson County residents is in February.
While the completion date remains something of a moving target and the delay is costly and frustrating to Jackson County, the delay is of little significance in the long run. The Bear Creek Reservoir will provide this county with a reliable source of drinking water for years to come, no small thing in an area in its fourth year of drought and in a state pinched for water resources.
A combination of growth and the drought is already causing the demand for water to outpace the ability of the county water system to provide it. The problem isn't a lack of available water, but the inability to lay pipes in areas where people need water. Line construction is expensive, and even with the special purpose local option sales tax there is a lot more need for water than ability to deliver it. Still, that is preferable to having no water to deliver. Once the reservoir does come on line, the Jackson County Water & Sewerage Authority's cost per gallon will decrease and its operations will begin to generate money that can be used to make bond payments for the county's share of the $63 million project. That, in turn, will enable the system to use its SPLOST funds entirely for the expansion of its distribution system.
Even then, however, it will be a long time before water lines can be built to every part of the JCW&SA distribution area. While the authority has or soon will reach the point where its operations are self-sufficient, the authority's ability to construct new lines without outside revenue sources (SPLOST or bonds) will be limited for many years.
Eventually, however, county lines will run throughout the JCW&SA distribution area and water from the Bear Creek Reservoir will be available. By that time, nobody will remember that it took months longer than expected to build a 505-acre lake and 21-million-gallon-per-day water plant. People will just be glad to have the water.

Blood Still Needed
One of the public’s reaction to the terrorists’ attacks Sept. 11 was a surge in blood donations. Americans felt like they could, by donating, tangibly demonstrate their patriotism, and for the first time in years, the country’s blood banks were full.
Alas, that public-spiritedness was short-lasting. Blood donations were so low in November that the Red Cross once again faces a shortage, particularly for O-negative blood. In mid-September, Red Cross officials hoped that many of the new donors would realize that giving blood is simple and would make it a habit. Those who gave in September are now eligible to give again, so the precipitous decline in blood donations suggests that the great willingness to help in the aftermath of Sept. 11 was short-lived.
The truth is, blood saves lives every day and the need for blood products for surgery, the treatment of illnesses and the treatment of burn victims never ends. Blood and blood products are no less necessary for those who need them today than they are in the aftermath of a huge national tragedy.
Blood is a crucial commodity that comes only from willing donors. Accident victims, those facing surgery or needing certain medical treatments have nowhere to turn but to blood donors. It shouldn’t require another terrorist attack to move Americans to donate blood to help those in such great need.
To give, visit the next nearby blood drive or call the 543-8656 to donate at the Red Cross Blood Donation Center, W. Broad Street, Athens.

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