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December 12, 2001


CoLetter To The Editor

The Jackson Herald
December 12, 2001


Says Crace a poor choice
Dear Editor:
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners have appointed Al Crace as the new county manager. If history is any indication, this selection was a very poor one that county citizens will come to regret and possibly despise. As this newspaper pointed out last week, the board exceeded its authority in hiring Crace in secrecy. The board must not have had a complete grasp of Mr. Crace’s history. These are the reported facts of Crace’s past managerial tenure at Athens-Clarke County:
The Athens Daily News reports on February 20, 1999, that Athens-Clarke County will pay out $135,000 to settle a racial discrimination claim by Donarell Green. Mr. Green was assistant director of the Athens-Clarke Department of Human and Economic Development. Green alleges that in 1996, ACC Manager Crace rejected Green for the director’s job “because he did not feel that I should have the authority as a black male to dismiss a white male.” Would the Athens-Clarke government really agree to pay out such a huge sum if the case had no merit? Did Jackson County hire a bigot? Jackson County should set aside monies to resolve litigation under the leadership of Crace as Mr. Green’s case was not an isolated incident.
On July 30, 2000, the Athens-Clarke commission sent a 15-point memo to Crace. The memo questions his anger management, his tendency to procrastinate and his ability or willingness to listen. The memo accuses Crace of refusing to cooperate with commission members when they would not go along with the sum of public funds he wanted to expend on renovating his office. The commission accused Crace of ignoring their directions. Possibly worst of all, according to the commission, Crace is unresponsive. He does not respond to commissioners and he does not return phone calls from citizens.
Jackson County government employees should not be surprised when Crace loses his temper; and if you present to him any concerns you have, don’t count on him listening. The Jackson County Board of Commissioners should not expect their phone calls to be returned, nor should they expect Crace’s future cooperation if they disapprove of any of his proposals. Citizens should certainly not expect their phone calls returned, and any letter written to the manager requiring a response will, if responded to at all, be unreasonably slow in coming.
In the spring of last year, Crace was informed that he would not be reappointed to the Athens-Clarke manager’s position. Mr. Crace hired an attorney and promptly informed the Commission that he would not accept their decision. If the Jackson County Board should decide that Crace should go, do not anticipate that Crace will leave office gracefully, thanking you for the opportunity. Instead, expect legal action and expect the same pompous language.
In 1999, Deborah Gresham, a Clarke County government employee who also worked in Economic Development, reports that in 1998 the department was in disarray. Mr. Crace was asked on several occasions to provide the department some assistance with the problems they were having, Gresham reports that Crace never even bothered to visit their office. Crace later characterized the Economic Development office in the media as being “riddled with management problems.” Jackson County employees should expect the same treatment, that is to count on becoming a public scapegoat. Do not expect Mr. Crace to take any responsibility when things go wrong, instead expect blame.
Hopefully, the Jackson County Commissioners were unaware of the facts presented here, for to hire Crace in the face of them is utter disregard for the citizens of this county. But, unfortunately ignorance is no excuse and the commissioners will pay the penalty, for none will be re-elected for hiring Crace. As reported by this newspaper, the commission opened itself to legal challenge by hiring Crace in secrecy. If Athens-Clarke County did not want Crace, why would Jackson County need him?
Sincerely,
Billy F. Griffin, Jr.

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Column
By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
December 12, 2001

Inventing a new (bad) word
Terrorism isn’t just flying an airplane into the World Trade Center. Terrorism also is three hooded thugs storming a bank with chemical weapons and assault rifles.
In my opinion, both cowardly attacks are crimes against America — crimes against all decent, honest, law-abiding citizens in the country. And what’s punishment for one ought to be punishment for the other.
(Gee whiz! Have I been listening too much to Neal Boortz?)
Furthermore, while I am on this roll, let me say this: the Jefferson, Jackson and Barrow lawmen and women who brought down Smith, Hamm and Ross are heroes just as much as our military men and women who are bringing down the Taliban, Osama bin Laden and al Qaida. And I’ll put them right up there with the New York firemen and policemen who acted so courageously on September 11.
All honor, praise, glory, thanks, recognition, accolades, certificates, plaques, etc., that they receive for their heroic actions are well deserved.
However, all of the favorable stories and newscasts I’ve read and heard about them since the November 26 robbery failed to mention the one thing they deserve most.
I’m talking about a big pay raise. We could double their salaries tomorrow, and they’d still be underpaid.
I don’t just mean law enforcement people. Let’s put firemen and enlisted men and women in the underpaid group, too.
I know what some of you are saying: they are just doing the job they are paid to do.
And you know what? That’s what they are saying. “Just doing our job.”
What I’m saying is, they aren’t being paid enough to do it.
I agree that paying policemen, firemen and military personnel more money won’t necessarily buy improved protection from lawbreakers, fires and terrorism. To heck with improved protection! Let’s pay for the protection we are already getting. Then see if improvements follow. I’m betting they will. A little more support, appreciation and motivation can’t hurt.
Yes, doubling the salaries of policemen, firemen and soldiers will take a lot of money. Where will the money come from?
(I have a feeling I’m about to lose some readers. Some folks have a running fit when you even think increased taxes, and that’s what I’m thinking.)
The money to put the underpaid will come from those of us who are overpaid. Most people in this country make more than they are worth. Come on, admit it. Don’t let ego keep you from being honest.
Don’t you have everything you need and almost everything you want? You don’t have to have more to become richer. You can become richer by making your wants fewer. You won’t even have to give up any of your needs.
OK, I might as well go ahead and say what some of you will think is a liberal, leftist, socialist, communist statement: If we pay our policemen, firemen and troops what they deserve, those of us what have more than we need are going to have to give up some stuff. Perish the thought—we are going to have to share the wealth. The haves will be called upon to share with the have-nots.
No, I am not! And don’t call me a communist anymore. I am a capitalist. I believe strongly in the good ol’ America free enterprise system. You don’t think I write this stuff for nothing, do you?
Neither am I a greedist.
Hey, I may have just invented a new (bad) word. Greedist is not in my dictionary. Nor is it in Bill Gates’. Every time I type it, Microsoft Word underlines it in red.
I’ll explain what “greedist” means directly. (That’s Tennessee lingo for “in a little while.”)
I really do have everything I need and almost everything I want. I suspect that most of the people within the sound of my voice (sight of my words) are in the same boat. Excuse me, I meant to say cruise ship, first class. We got that way by being capitalists.
Greedist, the new (bad) word I’ve invented, derives from the word “greed,” which means “the quality of wanting more than one’s share.” In other words, a greedist is someone who has everything he needs and everything he wants, but thinks he needs and wants more, and will go to any length to get it.
There are some folks in this country who think they are capitalists but who are, in fact, greedists. An example is the CEO of a huge corporation who makes a multi-million dollar salary and receives a multi-million dollar bonus while his low-level employees are losing their jobs and their 401-Ks.
A greedist is hoarding more than he needs. Everything he has is a gift, and if he doesn’t share it with others, it’s stolen property. That is a concept too deep for the self-made man to understand; he thinks he did it all on his own.
The greedist’s greatest need is to share his wealth with someone who has less than he needs. Both needy persons will be blessed.
The greedist may be so blessed that he will stop being a greedist, become a good ol’ American Free Enterprise Capitalist, and be willing to help pay our policemen, firemen and soldiers what they are worth.
Virgil Adams is a former owner and editor of The Jackson Herald.


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