More Jackson County Opinions...

APRIL 21, 2004


Column

By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
April 21, 2004

They trashed our Capitol
“A strength-sapping 40-day session that ended in confusion and rancor,” wrote James Salzer in the April 9th Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Now, I ask you, is that any way to describe the recent confabulation of our august General Assembly? What an insult to the majestic dignity and grandeur of that noble Body!
It gets worse. In the same sentence, Salzer wrote that the confusion and rancor could be followed by a lengthy repeat if Gov. Sonny Perdue and lawmakers can’t resolve a fight over the budget.
As I write this on April 15, Perdue is contemplating calling a special session to address two other important issues that the Legislature did not agree on during the 2004 session. That would be ethics and medical lawsuit reform.
“That kind of session,” according to Salzer, “would make life difficult for Georgia’s 236 legislators, most of whom are running for re-election this year.”
I’m sitting here wondering why any of them would want to run for re-election — or why they ran for election in the first place. They get more flack than favor. They are fair game for everybody; his or her constituents, reporters, editors, Monday morning quarterbacks, and even lowly, weekly newspaper columnists like me.
I’m sure the Honorable Governor didn’t help any when he said he was tired of changing their diapers. How does that make you feel, Bubba?
And how do you like this from Jim Galloway of the Journal-Constitution? “The final minutes of the 2004 Legislative session had the air of an insane asylum with patients dressed in their Sunday best.”
The state’s top leader hints that you are a baby with messy drawers and an ace newspaper report implies that you are crazy. How do you put up with that stuff? It gets worse.
Galloway wrote, “The graceless finish of this year’s session showed that last year’s anarchy was no fluke.”
(“Anarchy: having no rules; absence of government; a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority.”)
Where is Tom Murphy when you need him?
Last year it was the flag. This year it was gay marriage and the Ten Commandments.
I sort of agree with critics on this one. The lawmakers were so busy saving my marriage and my religion that they didn’t have time for other pressing matters.
The way I see it, if I have to depend on the Georgia General Assembly to define my marriage and my religion, then my love for Shirley and my faith in God are on shaky ground.
As one venter put it, “Our schools are the worst and our roads are a disaster, but thank goodness the state Legislature knows what’s really important: saving us from gay marriage.” I believe whoever called that one in was kidding.
Here’s another one: “After 40 days of fun and partying, the legislators and lobbyists have to come back to get the job done.” I doubt the legislators would call it fun and partying. The lobbyists, maybe.
Dwayne Fraiser of Villa Rica, in a letter to the editor of the AJC, said this: “The special session is like exiting a Braves game after nine innings, and then paying full price to re-enter the same game.”
Some citizens seemed downright angry. Consider this venter’s Vent: “There are not enough adjectives to adequately express my rage at our Legislature for failing to pass a budget, thus requiring an expensive special session.”
How expensive? Estimates run between $40,000 and $45,000 a day.
As Dwayne Fraiser said in his letter, “That money could have been used for raises for teachers, firefighters, police and social workers, not to mention — dare we say — jobs.”
Think about this: Just one day’s total would save at least one of the 47 jobs being lost at the University of Georgia because of budgetary restraints.
And so the lawmakers are coming back, hopefully to fix the budget. Maybe the confusion, rancor and anarchy will be absent this time. Jim Galloway said divided government during the first session “turned the state Capitol into a cauldron of competing personalities and agendas.” (That ain’t all it did. Read on.)
I know so little about politics and legislation and lawmaking and budgeting that I probably should apologize for writing this stuff. I do that, here and now. However, you will notice that I depended on others for most of this diatribe’s content. My only real beef was all that time they spent trying to legislate morals. I don’t believe you can do that.
Having said that, I do have one request. Please don’t trash the place when you leave this time.
Were you watching when “sine die” rang out on the floor of the House? The new guy (What’s his name?) can’t do “sine die” even close to the way Tom Murphy did it. (Gee, I miss that guy almost as much as I miss Lewis Grizzard. Maybe he’ll get over that stroke and run again.)
But one thing is certain. The distinguished 2004 legislators can make just as big a mess as their predecessors.
I have in front of me a newspaper picture. The caption reads, “Departing legislators left a mess for Phil Tucker and the cleaning crew to sort out at the House chamber.” Four men are hard at work. It looks like they could use a bulldozer. You never saw such a pile of trash. Wonder how much this cleanup will cost? Anyway, there goes another lost job that could have been saved.
Isn’t there an anti-litter law in Georgia? Wonder how many of these guys voted for it?
On their way home, wonder if they saw any trash along the roadway, thrown out by stupid, careless drivers? Did they moan and groan and complain and think about what that cleanup will cost?
And when they got home, wonder if any of them looked in their kids’ rooms and demanded they clean up the mess — right now?
One attribute of a good leader is setting a good example. I don’t know if they did that during the 2004 legislative session. I’m pretty sure they didn’t do it when “sine die” sent them off on that trashing frenzy.
One last Vent: “Could it be that the real reason Georgia’s budget is short is because we have legislators and a governor who squabble like children, forcing taxpayers to fund a megabuck special session?”
Oh well, boys will be boys. This old man used to be one, and he is sorry for some of the messes he made when he had more enthusiasm and energy than sense.
Virgil Adams is former editor and owner of The Jackson Herald.

Jackson County Opinion Index

Column

By: Oscar Weinmeister
The Commerce News
April 21, 2004

If The Shoes Fit, Buy Them
We’ve recently experienced a rite of spring that has little to do with sneezing or cleaning. We spent a great percentage of our tax return on this year’s warm weather wardrobes for our sons. Shorts, shirts, pants, more shirts, and something called “bubbles” for the younger one.
I think, from the fashion historian’s perspective, that a bubble is a mutant offshoot from the jumper tree, which spawned the ubiquitous onesie, but don’t quote me on that, because I’m not as well versed in the taxonomical intricacies of toddler couture as some people in my house.
Anyway, we’ve got some new clothes. We also bought many pairs of shoes. Almost 3-year old Jack has two new pairs of sandals: one pair for church and other outings where attire is more relevant, and one pair he can wear playing with pointy sticks in the ditch out behind our house. These latter shoes light up when he walks, which lately has become more of a stomping motion than what you or I might think of as a typical young person’s healthy ambulation.
These light-up sandals were purchased on a Saturday, and after sleeping in them that night, Jack tiptoed with all the consideration of a drunk elephant into our bedroom Sunday morning at 6:00. Half conscious in the dark, Amy wondered what kind of fire blinks, while I managed not to think too much about it and slept for another half hour or so.
I’m pretty sure every one of Turner’s three bubbles came with its own pair of shoes, albeit non-blinking ones, so overall he’s got more outdoor options in the footwear department, but at 8 months, the ditch doesn’t seem to have quite the pull on him that it clearly has on his brother. Actually, Turner is still enjoying that short period of time in his life where he can and frequently does chew on his foot regardless of what’s on it. More than once, while replacing his drool-soaked onesie with a dry outfit that my wife later decided wasn’t right for the occasion, I have speculated that this foot-eating habit probably helps strengthen his immune system.
Perhaps the most prized possession that made it home with us in our recent series of hunting-gatherings is a pair of sunglasses for Jack. They are wonderful sunglasses: sleek, comfortable, stylish, and cheap. Their most important feature however, is the fact that they are green, all green, with green frames and green lenses.
Green is Jack’s favorite color with no close seconds, except occasionally pink. He likes green because that is the color of the mighty T-rex. It is the color of most of the tractors he has seen. Green is the color of his Monster Truck T-shirt. Green is also the color of grass, which Daddy won’t cut. And green is incidentally the color of precipitation on the Weather Channel, which Jack sees Mommy watching every day for several hours at a time.
And so, for a month or two, I hope, we have fulfilled our duty as parents and as apparel consumers. Turner has a few new chew toys, and Jack is busy looking at the world through salad-colored glasses. I’m happy to report that we can start saving for fall.
Oscar Weinmeister is the assistant administrator of BJC Medical Center. He lives in Commerce.


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