Banks County Opinions...

JANUARY 15, 2003


By: Phillip Sartain
The Banks County News
January 15, 2003

Hitting the Wall
As a general rule, coming home from work is a good thing. After all, you get to relax and forget about the scratch and claw world of paying the bills. And that would apply to my house except for one thing—The Wall Of Chaos.
The Wall is kind of hard to describe. It’s the simultaneous combination of ear-splitting squeals, relentless demands, endless bickering, ravenous hunger, pent-up restlessness and competitive attention seeking exploding from my three children the second I walk in the door. It’s like getting flattened by an acoustic tidal wave.
Last Monday was a classic encounter with the Wall. When I got home, I sat in the car mustering my courage. After about 30 minutes, my wife’s face appeared in the kitchen window. I smiled and pretended that I had just pulled up and was gathering my stuff to come inside.
Looking at her, I tried to gauge the size of the Wall. Her hair wasn’t on fire and none of her veins were popping out of her head. On the other hand, I couldn’t really tell if her hands were shaking or whether her clothes were smeared with Wall of Chaos debris from the kids’ regular afternoon pillaging of the pantry and refrigerator.
As I looked, she waved for me to come inside. That’s when I noticed she was on the phone. That meant that the kids were either comatose in front of the TV or that the Wall of Chaos was so monstrous that she was reserving a room at the Holiday Inn. At any rate, I nodded and waved again, trying to buy more time.
Suddenly, she disappeared from the window. Either the zombie children had come back from the dead or the Wall of Chaos had morphed into the Howls of the Hungry. Or worse, the Wall was so insufferable that she was coming to get me so that I could enjoy parenthood, too.
In a panic, I looked around, grabbed the truck owner’s manual and quickly assumed a dead serious look just as she tapped on my window. Rather than open the door of my vehicle and jeopardize any chance of escape, I cracked my window and lovingly said, “Hey.”
The back door to the house was open and I was able to hear what sounded like a pack of wild hyenas engaged in a frenzied battle over the last Ritz cracker on the planet. I braced myself as she spoke, “Are you coming in?”
She was clearly miffed at herself for getting home first. Even so, I stalled, “Can’t. Some kind of problem with my truck. I’m looking in the manual now.” I held up the manual like a shield of proof.
“How long will you be?” she called out over the din.
“Not long,” I lied, knowing that within another twenty minutes the house would be hopelessly wrecked and the pack of hyenas would be licking their wounds and regrouping. I felt pretty good about my strategic position so I rolled the window down a little further.
“Is it something bad?” she asked.
“Don’t know,” I said, flipping pages solemnly.
“Oh,” she frowned.
Just at that moment, the hyenas went nuclear—I figured they were fighting over the crumbs by then. Lydia looked back at the house and then back at me in a pitiful way. I almost felt sorry for her, but I also knew that she understood the rules of game.
That’s when she smiled and said, “Well, I just came out to tell you that I have to go to a meeting. I won’t be long.” She called out as she got in her car, “Oh yeah, you’ll have to feed them.”
I looked through the entire owner’s manual without ever finding anything wrong with my truck. So finally I did what I usually do—I pulled out the spare pack of Ritz crackers I keep in my backpack, tossed it in the door ahead of me, waited a minute or two, and then hit the Wall.
Never mind about my nose, the scab will be gone by the time you read this.
Phillip Sartain is an attorney in Gainesville.

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By: Bill Shipp
The Banks County News
January 15, 2003

The circus is coming to town!
Ordinarily, the inauguration of the governor would be the most significant event at the end of a state election cycle. Not this time.
Swearing in Sonny Perdue as Georgia’s first Republican governor since 1872 may be historic all right - but for dramatic content, it pales compared to the upheavals, intrigues and plain revolutions in progress in the rest of state government.
You need a program to keep up with the political wars breaking out in every corner of the Gold Dome. Old-timers say the state has not seen such a wild political time since the three-governor fiasco of 1947 or the Legislature’s election of Lester Maddox as governor in 1967. Old-timers are wrong on both accounts. Next week will set a new standard for three-ring circuses in Georgia government.
Consider the following:
- Ring One: A preliminary legislative bout has all but overshadowed the main event in the governor’s ring. Two Democrats - Rep. Terry Coleman of Eastman and Rep. Larry Walker of Perry - engaged in a tense and personally vindictive battle to succeed Tom Murphy as House speaker. Gov.-elect Perdue and the GOP leadership twisted arms for Walker. The top Democratic brass, including Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor and Secretary of State Cathy Cox, pulled out the stops to help Coleman. The official election is Monday. Going into the weekend, Coleman appeared to have more than enough votes to win and become the nemesis of the new governor. No matter who prevails, a pall of bitterness will linger in the House for the foreseeable future.
- Ring Two: In the state Senate, the incoming President Pro Tem Eric Johnson of Savannah is expected to lead his majority-GOP forces in reorganizing the Senate so that Democratic Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor will have plenty of time to greet Capitol guests and cut ribbons. The once-persecuted Republicans plan to strip Taylor of most of his authority to appoint committee members in the Senate. But Taylor may fight back with a series of mind-muddling parliamentary maneuvers. That showdown also is expected Monday, though a series of conferences between the antagonists are aimed at muffling the explosion.
- Ring Three: Incoming Gov. Perdue is engaged in wars on at least six fronts - or is it seven? He worked behind the scenes in the legislative fights to help Walker and Johnson. He jumped into a campaign last week to try to stop Democratic Rep. Mike Snow from being re-elected to the House. Snow won; Perdue lost. The setback signaled the possibility of an even more devastating defeat for Perdue in the contest for House speaker. The new governor has asked for the resignations of most members of state Board of Education. He has prohibited state department managers from participating in state budget hearings controlled by Democrats. And he’s trying to take over office space in the Capitol now occupied by Democratic officials.
Meanwhile, Democrats are fighting back, contending Perdue is preparing to unveil a series of tax- and fee-increases in his closely held budget. In previous years, the governor rolled out his budget a week before the Legislature opened.
By the way, Georgia, like other states, is on the verge of a fiscal crisis. Perdue’s decision to play hide-and-seek with his spending plan may not have come at the most opportune time.
Outside the big tent, a half-dozen sideshows are going full blast:
* At least 20 names have been floated as possible candidates for the U.S. Senate now that Zell Miller has said he will not seek re-election in 2004. Miller’s announced withdrawal from public life all but eclipsed some of the doings in the statehouse. Though Miller will soon be 71, and his retreat is likely, one should consider his past record: He said in 1990 he would run for only one term as governor, then retire. In 1994, he ran for a second term and declared that would be his last public office. In 2000, he was appointed and then elected to the U.S. Senate. The lesson here: Miller is subject to mood changes. So what he does in 2004 is much more important than what he says in 2003.
* Several leading Democrats pleaded with Lt. Gov. Pierre Howard to come out of political retirement and go for the Senate seat. On the Republican side, Congressman Johnny Isakson and former Congressman Bob Barr led the parade of possible candidates.
* Don’t forget the “flaggers.” Demonstrators will be out in force at the Capitol Tuesday demanding a referendum that would probably restore Georgia’s 1956 flag prominently featuring the Confederate battle emblem. Poor innocent souls. Little do they know or understand the forces arrayed against them. For instance, Gov. Perdue has appointed as his chief operating officer an ex-banker named Jim Lientz who led the business community into pressuring outgoing Gov. Barnes into changing the flag in 2001. And both candidates for House speaker helped Barnes change the flag.
So stand by, folks. We’re headed into fun times under the Gold Dome. The political shenanigans on Capitol Square next week should prove more interesting (and perhaps just as heartless and bewildering) as any TV reality show you’ll ever see.
You can reach Bill Shipp at P.O. Box 440755, Kennesaw, GA 30160 or by calling (770) 422-2543, e-mail:, Web address:
The Banks County News
Homer, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233 Fax: (706) 367-8056

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