Madison County Opinion...

OCTOBER 23, 2002

By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
October 23, 2002

Frankly Speaking
Proposed amendments show weakness in constitution
When you go to vote on Nov. 5, you will be faced with a series of constitutional amendments concerning property tax exemptions. I have a real problem with these questions.
First, they demonstrate a basic weakness in the Georgia Constitution. When simple decisions of this type require a constitutional amendment, it means that the constitution is poorly written. It also means that the state government is far too active in micro-management of local affairs.
Secondly, property taxes are the prime source of revenue for most Georgia cities and counties. Placing restrictions on the tax digest makes it more difficult for local governments to raise the funds they need. The property tax base, including exemptions, should be determined by local governing bodies based on the community’s needs. Because property taxes are used to fund local governments, it makes sense that local governments should control the process.
Finally, every time you limit the ability of local governments to tax these special interests, you force them to increase taxes on private property, especially homes and businesses. In a county like Madison, where the vast majority of taxable property is from private homes, the majority of the tax burden already falls on homeowners. Additional exemptions for special interest can only increase the burden on homeowners.
My inclination is to vote against all constitutional amendments. The best way I know to express my disapproval of our current state government is simply say “NO” at every opportunity. That applies to ballot questions and most incumbent politicians at the state level.
At the same time, I urge those who win state offices in November to seriously consider calling a statewide Constitutional Commission to totally rewrite the state Constitution. The new Constitution should clearly assign duties to the state government, leaving the remainder to local governments, or to the people as the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states.
While we are at it, let’s have a new constitution make it clear that the state has no authority to conduct primary elections to benefit private political parties.
Taxes should be for the purpose of raising necessary revenue. Using tax policy to promote or discourage activity of any type should be limited to economic stimulation. Local governments are in the best position to determine when and where tax policy is needed to influence local economies. Therefore, it should be the right and responsibility of local governments to determine when tax exemptions are to be used to benefit any particular area of the economy.
Taxes have a greater impact on the individual than any other government action. The right to tax should be kept as close to the voters as possible, in the local governments
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at His e-mail address is

ByMargie Richards
The Madison County Journal
October 23, 2002

A Moment With Margie
Some marks of a true Southerner
Recently my pastor, Wayne Douglas, read an amusing piece in church concerning what it means to be a “true southern person.”
With his permission, I thought I’d share it with you, with a little editing of my own.
Use each of the following statements to complete the sentence “Only a true southerner knows....”
•the difference between a hissie fit and a conniption, and that you don’t have them - you “pitch” them.
•how many fish, collard greens, turnip greens, peas, beans, etc. it takes to make up a “mess.”
•to show or point you in the general direction of “over yonder.”
•exactly how long “directly” is - as in “I’m going to town, be back directly (pronounced ‘too-reckly’).”
•exactly when “by and by” is. (We might not use the term, but we know the concept well.)
•instinctively that the best gesture of solace for a neighbor who’s “got trouble” is a plate of hot fried chicken and a big bowl of potato salad. (If it’s a real crisis, we also know to add banana puddin’.)
•the difference between “right near” and a “right far piece.” We also know that “just down the road” can mean one mile, or 20 miles.
•the difference between a “redneck,” “a good ole’ boy” and “po’ white trash.”
•never to assume that the car with the flashing turn signal is actually going to make a turn.
•that “fixin” can be used as a noun, a verb, or an adverb.
•that the term “booger” can be a resident of the nose, a descriptive, as in “that ole’ booger,” or something scary that jumps out at you in the dark.
•that you can make friends while standing in lines. We don’t do “queues,” we do “lines” and when we’re in lines, we talk to everybody!
•that you never, never refer to only one person as “ya’ll.”
•that grits come from corn and how to eat them.
•that tomatoes with eggs, bacon, grits, and coffee are perfectly wonderful; that redeye gravy is also a breakfast food; and that fried green tomatoes are not considered a breakfast food.
Some other things about true Southerners:
When you hear someone say, “Well, I caught myself lookin” ..., you know you are in the presence of a genuine (pronounced gen-YOU—EYE -n) Southerner.
Only true Southerners say “sweet tea” and “sweet milk.” Sweet tea means sugar and lots of it; we do not like our tea unsweetened. Sweet milk means you don’t want buttermilk.
Another thing, a true Southerner knows you don’t scream obscenities at little old ladies who drive 30 mph on the freeway. You simply say “bless her heart” and negotiate around her (politely) as best you can.
One more thing, even true Southern babies know that “gimme some sugar” is not a request for the white, granular sweet substance that sits in a pretty little bowl on the middle of the table.
Margie Richards is a reporter and office manager for the Madison County Journal.

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