Jackson County Opinions...

AUGUST 14, 2002

By Mark Beardsley
The Commerce News
August 14, 2002

It’s Time Now To Kick (You
Know) In Iraq
It is good to see a little saber rattling coming out of Washington, DC, these days. After eight years of Bill Clinton "feeling the pain" of various groups, it is a relief to see an administration willing to inflict some pain on some deserving third-world despot.
Even as we speak, the Pentagon is chartering ships to transport helicopters and other equipment to the Middle East, the president and vice president speak daily about how we are justified in invading Iraq, and officials are courting foreign support for Desert Storm II.
The surprise attack will come after Congress has been briefed, the press has announced the schedule of events and the polls are in as to how far the American public wants to go (from killing Saddam Hussein to taking over the entire oil-producing area of the Middle East).
As the nation that gave birth to the Moral Majority, no one can argue that America doesn't have the right to use the best-defense-is-a-good-offense philosophy in dealing with nations and leaders who harbor ill will against us. The Afghanization of Iraq will send a message to governments of anti-American nations from Cuba to France that we're skipping the "speak softly" and going directly to the "big stick."
Hussein has shown little gratitude that Bush I allowed him to live; Bush II isn't about to make that mistake. The baby formula factory we bombed in Desert Storm is back in business and intelligence sources say Hussein has Osama bin Laden on his prayer list. That's proof enough to launch the cruise missiles.
Some liberals oppose going to war. Don't they always? The cowards are falling all over themselves about every presidential action from the detention of the al Qaeda members at Guantánamo Bay to the emergency abridging of constitutional rights. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are probably planning a march to protest some alleged violation by America of someone's human rights. We'll give them the same kind of rights they give citizens in their dirty little countries, which is the right to a bullet and a blindfold if they get in the way.
"Bomb hell out of them," said Sen. Zell Miller of Afghanistan. Our own representative, Charlie Norwood, says the invasion of Iraq can't come soon enough for him. Both John Linder and Bob Barr want to fire the first bullet (well, Barr actually did fire the first bullet, but not at an appropriate time or place), and if we can get Israel involved, even Bill Clinton says he'll grab a rifle and shoot an Arab, and if it comes to that, I say send him first.
Let Iran, Libya, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Andorra, The Vatican and Liechtenstein beware. America is not going to take abuse from the world's second-rate regimes anymore. Even if we don't attack them, at least we'll look good on TV as we threaten to. Finally, behind the statesmanship of President Bush, this nation is ready to assume the role of world leadership in something besides rap music and obesity.
Get the Predators in the air, arm the cruise missiles and pull the nuclear weapons out of the vault. It's time for America to kick some (you know).
God bless America.

The Jackson Herald
August 14, 2002

Balance needed in ‘family’ property rules
It’s long been a practice in many rural communities for large landowners to cut off pieces of land for children to build a home.
But the practice, often referred to as “family subdivisions,” is not without problems.
For one thing, governments cannot legally set one group of requirements in zoning and building codes for the public, but create another group of requirements and codes for homes built on “family” land.
Recently, the Jackson County Board of Commissioners began to update its zoning and building codes and in the process, proposed to change old language that set regulations based on such family relationships.
That has been met with howls of protests from those who believe the county government wants to make it more difficult for a parent to give his child land for a home.
There are many dimensions to this very complex issue and they all go to the core problems inherent in any zoning decision — that is, to balance individual property rights against the interest of surrounding property owners and the public in general.
One of the dimensions to this issue, perhaps the most important aspect, is a question of adequate legal access to the property being given to a child. Often, the land being given to a child is not on a public road and access has been through the use of a parent’s driveway.
But ownership of land is not stagnate. Property changes hands for a variety of reasons. At some point, ownership of that land will fall into new hands. None of us will live forever.
While access may not have been a problem when the land was owned by related family members, it can become a problem when new, unrelated owners purchase the property.
The county has an interest in assuring that over the long-term, adequate legal access is provided for that property.
The question on many landowners minds, however, is the details of providing that access. In some cases, the cost of providing adequate access may make giving away the land to a child impossible.
While the county government cannot legally discriminate in its zoning requirements based on family relationships, it should be sensitive to the unique circumstances of inter-family transfers of land.
It’s a difficult balancing act because the short-term needs may, in some cases, not be compatible with the long-term interests of the community.
While this issue merits watching, we believe most of the current proposals do attempt to balance those interests. In addition, those who have, or may have, a family transfer of land should meet with the county’s zoning consultant this Friday afternoon to get more detailed information.

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By Mike Buffington
The Jackson Herald
August 14, 2002

It’s a ‘blue’ election next week
Jackson County voters will be getting blue next Tuesday.
It’s not just because of the choices on the ballot. While some of the names on the ballot may leave voters feeling blue, the ballot in most hands will literally be blue.
That’s because the vast majority of candidates in next week’s primary are on the blue Republican ballot. Only four contested races are on the white Democratic ballot and three of those low-profile contests are of little interest to Jackson County voters.
The one Democratic contest that may be of interest locally is the PSC race between former Jackson Countian Bubba McDonand and current Jackson Countian (or maybe Banks Countian, depending on whom you believe) Mac Barber. The strange irony of that contest will escape those who have not lived in Jackson County for 30 years. Take me at my word, “strange” is an understatement when applied to that race.
But beyond that challenge, the rest of the Democratic ballot is a vast sea of uncontested races.
That means that most Jackson County voters will probably get a blue Republican ballot if they want to make choices on important local or state races. In fact, several local races will be determined in the Republican Primary since there are no Democratic opponents to face in November.
That is a 180 degree turn from just a few years ago when there were no Republican candidates locally and few Republican ballots printed. All local races were one-party affairs on the Democratic ballot. Now they are all one-party affairs on the Republican ballot.
From one viewpoint, that shift reflects the impact of national party politics on local politics. Rather than building party affiliation from the grassroots up, party affiliation is being built from the top down. The pressure of the national agenda has forced a shift in local party affiliation. The litmus test for many voters is not what a candidate stands for, but rather which party he belongs to. Democrats can thank Bill Clinton for that.
That’s a shame because the result has been to polarize issues around party politics even in local races. That has always been true on the national level, but it seems a little smarmy to inject party politics in school board or other local races where party affiliation has no real meaning. In some cases, state party machines have literally taken over local races, keeping their own candidates out of the loop.
I make a motion that all county-level races should be non-partisan. Will anyone give me a second?

Predicting the outcome of any political race this season is virtually impossible. If the turnout is low, as many predict, the outcomes will be decided by only a handful of people.
The question is, what will motivate those people to turn out?
No candidate in local or state races appears to have a hard-core base of support. In the race for the Republican governor’s nominee, the three candidates have about even numbers. None of the three have a strong base at this point.
In addition to that, Jackson County’s voter profile is changing as new people move into the community. That makes election outcomes even more unpredictable because it changes past voting patterns.
There was a time when the outcome of many local races was predictable. No more.
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.

The Commerce News
August 14, 2002

Through Trucks Should
Be Banned From City A couple of commercial truck drivers who attended Monday night's city council meeting to discuss the proposed partial ban on parking such trucks overnight in the city made a good point on a related topic. Why, they asked, are 18-wheelers and other big trucks allowed to come through Commerce?
It's a good question. One of the major reasons given for the construction of the Commerce bypass was to remove through truck traffic from downtown Commerce. Well, that hasn't happened. Logging trucks bound for Huber and Louisiana Pacific barrel through Commerce. Auto carriers going to and from the Toyota Distribution Center do too, and any number of other commercial trucks use Broad and Elm streets as a shortcut between Athens and Interstate 85 or between Athens and Gainesville. In fact, viewing the truck traffic in Commerce, a visitor to our community would have no reason to suspect that there is a bypass.
There is a solution. Ban through truck traffic in Commerce and enforce the ban. Trucks have easy four-lane access to I-85 via U.S. 441; the reverse is also true. Let's get the big rigs bound for points beyond Commerce out of Commerce, where they clog up traffic, increase the wear and tear on our pavement and all too often speed through town.
Virtually every other community with a bypass has taken this initiative. Even in Atlanta, through trucks are directed around I-285 instead of through town on I-85 or I-75. Towns along U.S. 441 have used their bypasses to make their downtowns nicer through the elimination of most truck traffic. Commerce has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars making its downtown more attractive, yet Broad and Elm streets remain a thoroughfare for 18-wheelers. It doesn't have to be that way.
On Monday night, the city council passed an amendment to its zoning ordinance that, if enforced, could some day in the future eliminate big trucks from being parked overnight. Banning through truck traffic would do a whole lot more for Commerce.

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