Jackson County Opinions...

MAY 08, 2002

By Mark Beardsley
The Commerce News
May 08, 2002

Warning: Don’t Make It Easy For The Thieves
"The burglar door on your utility building is open. I've already dispatched," said the caller, who happened to be from EMC Security.
That is not the kind of news one likes to receive at work. The utility building door had been firmly closed when I left for work, and while there is nothing in the building the average (or even below average) burglar would covet or could convert to cash or crack cocaine, it's my utility building and I don't want anybody else to go in it.
For one thing, I would hate for even a burglar to note the quality of construction. At a distance, the building will pass the first-glance test, but anyone who looks at it for longer than five seconds will realize that no professional people were employed in its design or construction.
I put an alarm on the building because ownership of a utility building suggests possession of equipment or tools that might have value; I didn't want some burglar, angered by the absence of those items, to stay around long enough to trash the building. Securing it cost only an extra $50. What the heck.
It took me a few minutes to get free from the office to go by the house. When I finally got there, not only was Commerce police officer Lisa Worley on the scene, but she also had backup from a Jackson County deputy. I was relieved to know that when the alarm sounds, you get results. My dog Chief, who probably slept through the intrusion, was barking enthusiastically at them.
Nothing was missing. Or, at least, nothing was missing that I would miss right away. Who's going to miss a flat-head screwdriver or a container of nails? But for the open door, I would not believe someone had been present.
But I also read the police reports every week. Be warned, people do break into utility buildings in Commerce. They enter carports and garages. They climb through windows, break off locks, enter unlocked cars. Private residence, utility building or business, all are fair game to thieves. They want your electronics, power tools, firearms, jewelry and cash. If you have drugs, that's even better.
Next to domestic incidents (men and women drinking and fighting, mostly), property crimes are the most common crimes in Commerce. Most of the thefts are probably made by people looking for something to sell so they can buy drugs.
Every week we document how Commerce and Jackson County are growing, and not every new resident is a good citizen. Not all of our existing residents obey the Ten Commandments either. If you don't want me to read about an incident report at your house, keep it locked. Keep the utility buildings locked and the cars locked and don't leave anything valuable in plain sight. Hold on to your purse in the grocery store, don’t leave your keys in your car and don’t leave your car running while you’re doing something else. Unless you want to experience the thrill of being victimized.
And please don't hit your woman or scream obscenities when you've had too much to drink or because the kids didn't pick up their toys. I'm tired of reading about it and your neighbors won’t appreciate it.

The Jackson Herald
May 08, 2002

We’re underwhelmed by issue in Hoschton
Forgive us if we’re a little underwhelmed by all the fuss in Hoschton over the city’s police chief. If the chief did pad his payroll time sheets, as his two deputies accuse, then he certainly should be shown the door.
But we were more than amused by the breathless description about the episode given as the top news story on an Atlanta television station. “Small town police chief pads time sheet — more at 11.”
Although the city council said it had done its own investigation into the matter, and cleared the chief of wrong-doing, it eventually bowed to public pressure and to the bright lights of television and called for the GBI to investigate.
Frankly, we think the GBI has more important tasks to do than double-check the time sheets of a small town police department. If the chief had been accused of fixing tickets, dealing drugs or some other major crime, then certainly having an outside agency come in and make a probe would be important.
But to bring in the GBI to look at what is ultimately an administrative matter is like using a shotgun to kill a fly. It’s overkill, driven by a mob psychology that was revved up by the aura of broadcast — and we use this term loosely — “journalism.”
Seems to us like Hoschton has enough issues on its plate to deal with without magnifying administrative problems into full-fledged criminal investigations.

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By Mike Buffington
The Jackson Herald
May 08, 2002

Only fatigue will slow killings
I’d like to have a dime for every word written in the last 30 years about the Arab-Israeli conflicts. Long a cauldron of hatred, that area of the world continues to demonstrate the worst traits of human nature.
It is almost obscene, for example, to talk of a Middle East “peace process” when both sides are in the streets killing each other. Peace is the absence of war — it is not, as some hope, a “process” that is ongoing.
For most Americans, the problems of that troubled part of the world seem incomprehensible. Even our own experience here during the American Civil War does not help us understand the centuries of bitter conflict that is bred into the lives of those living in the Middle East today. After all, while some sectional feelings in America do continue to exist — Southerners calling Northerners “Those Damn Yankees!” and Northerners referring to Southerners as “Those Hillbilly Rednecks!” — the two enemies of 1861-65 did reconcile following the Civil War. We cannot imagine that some of our Southern “rednecks” would strap explosives around their beer bellies and go to New York to blow themselves up on a street corner.
Yet in Israel, that scene is all too commonplace as young Arab men and women become human land mines. What kind of hatred would drive a promising young life to do such a thing in a civilized society?
And so the killing continues as the Arabs respond to Israeli policies and Israel responds to Arab killings. It is a cycle that has repeated itself so much that news of another killing has become ho-hum news.
But if “peace” is not an answer to the Middle East problems, what is? The bitter truth is that there will never be peace in the Middle East until both sides of the conflict tire of killing and being killed. As was pointed out in a recent syndicated column, the Japanese didn’t agree to peace terms until after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that capped four years of war. The Germans didn’t agree to peace until the Allies were in Berlin.
Peace won’t come to the Middle East until one, or both sides tire of being killed; until enough sons and daughters have died and the cause of their deaths becomes less important than the preservation of human life.
In Israel, reaching that point will be difficult because the local conflict has global implications. The infusion of people, money and weapons from other nations fuels the fires of local hatred, keeping alive a war that in the absence of outside support, would someday collapse under the weight of its own fatigue.
If we could build a wall around Israel and keep out all the support of other nations, the conflicting parties would kill each other until one side had had enough. Only then would peace be possible.
The perfect example of that goes back to our own American Civil War where the South was so thoroughly beaten. both on the battlefields and in the economy, that the will to fight was gone by 1865. (Evidence of that took place in Jefferson in January 1865 when a public gathering to petition for peace was put down by a cavalry unit from Athens.) How different that was from just four years earlier when Southern men marched off to war to uphold what they had thought was a glorious cause.
The difference between that and the Israeli-Arab conflict is that during our Civil War, other nations remained mostly neutral and did not help keep the conflict alive by supplying massive arms, men and money to either side. Imagine, for example, how different the outcome of the Civil War would have been had Great Britain taken the side of the South and kept the conflict going for another 5-10 years.
It is doubtful, of course, that any of the outside parties involved in the Middle East will back away from their support. Too much is at stake.
Thus, the fighting will continue for decades to come and the Middle East will become a place where war becomes a lifestyle, only occasionally punctuated by moments of peace when both sides take a breath before beginning the next wave of killings.
Think about that the next time you curse the troubles of our own nation and know that had history been a little different in 1865, it could have been our story as well.

In response to a recent column that stated the county government had $8 million in the bank, board of commissioners chairman Harold Fletcher argued Monday night that I must have been asleep during college accounting (actually it was Latin) and gave me a new moniker of “Shorty” Buffington.
Shorty? Well, since my brother is about 6’5”, I suppose I am rather diminutive. Or maybe Fletcher was making a reference to Enron (something about “get Shorty?”)
For the record, the county does have $8 million in the bank. To argue, as Fletcher wants, that the funds are for government operations in 2002 isn’t the point. Fletcher has whined for 16 months that the county is short of funds, blaming that on his predecessor and arch-nemesis Jerry Waddell. But the truth is the county isn’t broke and it was never in the dire shape Fletcher attempted to portray in his slaps at Waddell.
Alas, I may be short, but at least I’m not a politician who’s gotten too big for his britches.
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.

The Commerce News
May 08, 2002

Make Sure Dogs, Cats Protected From Rabies
Every May, the Jackson County 4-H Club and Commerce Veterinary Clinic host their annual series of "rabies clinics." Every year, officials warn of the potential dangers, and during the four-day clinic series, close to 2,000 dogs and cats are inoculated.
But also every year, incidents of rabies occur which expose dogs or cats that have not been protected against rabies, and those animals are either destroyed or put under harsh quarantine conditions. In spite of the warnings by health officials, in spite of a state law that requires the inoculation of all dogs and cats over three months old, there are thousands of pets subject to being affected with rabies because their owners just don't take the time to have them protected.
This is all the more critical in that Jackson County is experiencing an epidemic of rabies. Fifteen rabid animals have been documented here in the past year; four people have undergone post-exposure rabies treatment. To date, no resident has contracted rabies, but that possibility grows with the high incidence of rabies among wild animals. The first line of defense is to inoculate pets against the disease; the second is to avoid contact with wild animals. But the possibility exists that an exposed pet or wild animal could bite a child, passing the disease before parents or public officials are aware of the situation.
It shouldn't be necessary to exhort pet owners to have their animals inoculated. If not for the love of their pets, then for the love of their family members, this basic, inexpensive step must be taken, whether at the rabies clinics or elsewhere. Pet owners should realize not only that they jeopardize their pets, family and neighbors by not having their pets inoculated, but also that they could be found liable for prosecution and damages if their pets cause someone to require post-exposure treatment or, worse yet, get rabies.
The cost for a shot is $7. Nobody who refuses or "forgets" to have their dog or cat protected against rabies can claim to be an animal lover. What they can be called is irresponsible, even criminal. If your dog or cat is three months old or older and does not have a current rabies vaccination, those adjectives apply to you. Get those animals vaccinated.

Take A Look At New Comprehensive Plan
Jackson County’s proposed new comprehensive land use plan goes up on display all day Thursday, and the public is invited and encouraged to look it over and make comments. A story detailing the times and place is published elsewhere in this newspaper.
This plan will, when implemented, will be a major determining factor in the location of everything from business and industry to subdivisions, roads, utility lines, schools and apartment complexes. In theory, every land use decision will be judged against how it fits in with the county’s comprehensive plan.
The purpose of the plan is to try to bring some kind of order to the rapid growth Jackson County faces and will face for decades to come. As much as some people would like to close our borders, this county is going to explode in population. The best we can do is to try to contain and direct that explosion through careful planning.
The time for public input is now. Once the plan is finalized, it will be too late for property owners, taxpayers and developers to argue that the plan is flawed. This plan will have a large impact on how land is used – and thus its worth to its owners and potential developers. Check it out and let the board of commissioners know how you feel.

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