Madison County Opinion...

NOVEMBER 20, 2002

By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
November 20, 2002

Frankly Speaking
Republicans need to clean up recent legislative mess
The first step in constructing a new building is to clear away the debris from the construction site. That is exactly what Governor-elect Sonny Perdue and the state Republicans need to do in their first legislative session.
Georgia’s government is locked up with masses of overlapping bureaucracies, unnecessary programs and bad legislation. The state legislature will serve us best by devoting their first session to rescinding recent bills, eliminating bureaucratic redundancies and simplifying the state’s rules and regulations.
The first thing they need to rescind is the Barnes Flag bill. A simple one line bill saying that the Barnes imposed flag legislation is hereby rescinded is all that is needed. That would immediately restore the 1956 flag and consign the Barnes rag to the trash heap of bad legislation. Once that is done, we will have a clean slate in which to determine if the people of Georgia want a flag change.
Next, the legislature should establish a fair, unbiased, non-political standard for reapportionment. Included in the rules should be respect for county and city borders, compactness, regional concerns and community values. This legislation should prohibit reapportionment for political purposes, including protecting incumbents. Once basic rules are established, the state’s computers could draw district lines that fit the listed criteria.
Item three on my list is a dismantling of the state school bureaucracy, especially those offices that are not under the control of the state school superintendent and board of education. Included in this proposal is a massive reduction in state school mandates, allowing the local school system to determine for themselves what is best for their children. Clearly, policy for Atlanta inter-city schools is not appropriate for Madison County. The state education department should be a resource and support center only, not a policy-making body.
Finally, for this column, I would like to see the entire body of Georgia election rules thrown out and replaced with an open, non-partisan general election ballot for all state offices. The Georgia constitution does not authorize the spending of taxpayer money to support private political parties. The state has no right to conduct primaries for private political parties. The state has no right to determine which organizations are to be recognized as political parties or regulated to the status of “political bodies.”
Once the political landscape in Georgia has been cleaned of unnecessary and unsightly debris, the legislature can establish a state government that matches the desires and needs of the state’s citizens. Only then will we have a government of the people, not of the politicians.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at His e-mail address is

By Margie Richards
The Madison County Journal
November 20, 2002

A Moment With Margie
A November reunion
When someone dies, it is often the little things that you remember about them, the way they smiled, a turn of the head, or the way they laughed.
When I think of my mother I can remember lots of little things, like the particular blue of her eyes, the way her hair looked and felt, the shape of her fingers and fingernails, and the way she smiled or frowned.
It’s been 22 years this November since she died. Always, when the leaves begin to change I feel a certain sadness and I know that the feeling is tied up indelibly in what her loss meant and will always mean to me.
This year, the date for her family’s reunion fell in November, a day after the anniversary of her death. The reunion is held in Jonesboro where she grew up and where many of her relatives still live.
I decided what better way to celebrate her life, and to honor her memory than to go and be a part of her — of my — family.
It was well worth the two-and-a-half hour trip. Sitting there surrounded by family, I felt close to Mama. I had only to turn my head to see the particular blue of her eyes, the way she smiled, or hear the ghost of her laugh.
Some, such as Mama’s first cousin Agnes, came around to share memories of her when she was a girl, of when she met my dad and started a family.
I also learned a lot of things about my ancestors that day that I didn’t know, or had forgotten, such as that my grandmother, Nanny Oakes, had lost three of her siblings by the time she was 16 years old, and that only she and one brother, Johnny, survived to adulthood, married and had families of their own.
And I saw my mother anew in my daughter Miranda when someone commented on how she favored Mama, or when looking at old photos, Miranda and I both noticed how she tilts her head a particular way for the photographer, just like her grandmother did.
When we’re young we don’t always like to be told we’re “just like” our parents, but I relished every “you’re so like your mother,” and “you remind me of your mama” I heard that day. What a compliment and what a comfort to feel such a connection to those we love.
It was my first time at the Oakes - Parker family reunion, but I don’t intend for it to be my last.
I hope from now on November will mean “family.”
Margie Richards is a reporter and office manager of the Madison County Journal.

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