Madison County Opinion...

Janaury 23, 2002


Column
By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
January 23, 2002

Frankly Speaking

The rest of the redistricting story
Last week you read the story about Senator Mike Beattyıs refusal to support the Madison County Board of Education reapportionment plan. Today, with apologies to Paul Harvey, I will tell you the rest of the story!
It is all politics, of course. Beatty is one of the thorns that make King Royıs crown so uncomfortable. Beatty was a vocal supporter of the real Georgia flag, even signing the Sons of Confederate Veterans petition against changing the flag. Lt Governor Mark Taylor, who rammed the flag bill though the Senate without allowing proper debate, took Beattyıs opposition personally. When the state legislature met to redraw district lines, Taylor and Barnes made sure that Beatty would not have a district from which he could successfully seek re-election.
Being effectively shut out of the Senate, Beatty decided to go head to head with Taylor and announced his intention to seek the Lieutenant Governorıs seat in this fallıs election.
Beatty correctly judged that the citizens of Georgia were not pleased with the reapportionment fiasco. He decided to introduce legislation to remove the worst abuses of the ³Keep the Democrats in Power² plan. Among the provisions of Beattyıs bill are prohibitions against needlessly splitting counties (Madison County was split into three house and two senate districts). His bill also would prohibit the use of multi-seat districts such as those used by the Democrats to assure their continued control of the legislature.
Taylor is sure to block Beattyıs bill. Chances are that it will never reach the senate floor. Nor did Beatty expect it to be given serious consideration. The bill was designed to give Beatty a powerful campaign tool for the fall elections, and it will serve that purpose well.
Beatty was faced with a problem when the Madison County Board of Education redistricting plan was presented to him. In order to avoid pushing some of their members into the same district, the board voted to support a plan that creates two multi-seat districts. This plan was actually devised by another Republican, Rep. Ralph Hudgens. Beatty immediately saw a serious problem.
In the fall political campaigns, Beatty will be running on his plan to reform the stateıs political system by prohibiting multi-seat districts. If he were to support the Madison County plan, his opponents would immediately accuse him of hypocrisy.
Beatty wishes to use the absurd reapportionment plan of the Democrats as his primary campaign issue. The fact that the Madison County School Board plan runs counter to his bill creates a situation that he cannot support. The Madison County plan was designed to solve a political problem. But as is often the case, it creates more problems than it solves.
I wish all concerned would find a way to make the right of ³We the People² to control our governments the priority rather than all these purely political considerations. But I guess that is too much to ask.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at www.mcga.net. His email address is frankg@mcga.net.

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Column
B y Margie Richards
The Madison County Journal
January 23, 2002

A Moment With Margie

Living the Œgood lifeı in Madison County
I took a walk through our woods Sunday afternoon with my little dog, Crickett, and several cats in tow. I smelled the pungent odor of the outdoors after Saturdayıs heavy rain and stopped often to listen to the silence, broken only by Crickett as she strove to inhale the scent of every creature that had trod the same path that day.
After our brisk walk, I sat in the front yard and relaxed, thinking of nothing in particular, just enjoying the moment.
It was when I came back inside that it struck me. How many people in the world could do what I just did — enjoy the peace and quiet of a winter evening in such a rural, even idyllic, setting?
We who live here in Madison County are so fortunate. Do we really realize how fortunate? I know I often forget or take for granted the many blessings that I have in living in this place.
I especially needed to be reminded of that this week since Iım still recovering from paying the county tax bill.
Itıs easy to complain, and some of the complaints are indeed justified, but sometimes we need to just take a look at all that we have.
This is still life in a rural community.
Smile at those you meet, and whether friend or stranger, thereıs a good chance youıll get a smile in return.
People still wave to each other and take a moment in the grocery store, bank, restaurant or hardware store to catch up on each otherıs lives.
An illness, death, fire or other catastrophe still brings out the community to lend a hand, provide food, or simply to be there to grieve or give support.
By the same token, a birth, a wedding, or a new home brings out those who want to share the joy, whether theyıre family or just an acquaintance.
New people move in, attracted to what we have here, and while we welcome them, we need to manage the growth as best we can, so that we donıt inadvertently crush what we value most.
Recently my daughter Miranda invited her friend Natalie to spend a weekend with her at home. Natalie, who grew up in Atlanta, made us see what we often take for granted with fresh eyes. Going for an afternoon jog, Natalie came back amazed that Miranda knew the names of all the dogs in the neighborhood.
She went on her first four-wheeler ride. She marveled at the woods all around, and the peace, and the quiet...
Yes, particularly in light of recent events, let us all take a moment to stop complaining and just simply be grateful for ³home.²
Margie Richards is a reporter and office manager for the Madison County Journal.


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