Issue 14.36 | Aug. 1, 2014
ABOUT US GwinnettForum.com is a twice-weekly online community commentary for exploring pragmatic and sensible social, political and economic approaches to improve life in Gwinnett County, Ga. USA.
TOWNSHIP, N.J., Aug. 1, 2014 -- At a writer's conference in Baltimore
more than a decade ago, I heard a scowling poet describe his writing process.
It was, he said, an excruciating, painful experience, like opening up
his skull and scraping out the insides and turning what he found into
thinking, "Why do you do it? Maybe you should take up fishing to
AUG. 1, 2014 -- There's a simple reason why small turnouts at elections bother me.
Simply put: Low turnouts run the risk of having a small pinch of the electorate choosing our public officials. With a small number of people voting, splinter and fringe groups can dominate the election. This can produce elected officials representing these way-out views, often not in step with the main-line, middle-of-the-road process it takes to let our government function best.
It doesn't matter is the electorate if one third right, one-third left, and one-third in the middle or independent. If these different thirds don't turn out to vote in significant numbers, we'll always have dysfunctional government, which we must say, guides the Congress these days.
Maybe there's a better way of structuring our elections. The key element of Georgia's present election system is the requirement that the winner get one more vote than 50 percent, in other words, election by a majority of those voting. As we saw in Georgia during the primary voting, some races did not see a majority winner, so the result was the run-off primary of a week ago. And sadly, only 10 percent of Georgia's registered cast ballots, giving the possibility of five percent determining the nominees in those races.
We all ought to say together, "Horrors!"
For several years now, we're been mulling plurality races, which takes place in many states, meaning either the candidate polling the most votes is the winner, not having to obtain a majority.
Now New York Sen. Charles Schumer, seeing the divisions in the Congress, wonders if states might adopt an "open primary," also known as the "top two" primary, in voting, to help eliminate polarization. Under these rules, it reduces the focus on party, allowing anyone to run in the single primary. The two candidates who gain the most votes then proceed to the General Election to see who is elected. In this process, the two top candidates polling can even be from the same party, or from no party at all. This system eliminates the low-turnout of runoffs.
The system has been in use since 2010 in California, since the 1970s in Louisiana, and in 2008 began in Washington state. Colorado and Oregon are considering this system.
Part of the theory of this system is that it encourages more participation in the primary. It also discourages appeals to extreme views. Others maintain that two well-financed zealots could end up as the eventual winner, eventually backfiring the process. But this could happen in any voting.
One thing for sure: such a process would undermine the political parties, no longer requiring a candidate to kow-tow to party leaders.
The process itself does not automatically produce better candidates. The best possible way to do that is to encourage good people to run, and lots of other good people get behind them ..and increase the number of people going to the polls. That, more than anything else, may be the panacea for producing better quality candidates.
Say what you want, but even with a low turnout, we're pretty pleased at the candidates facing Georgia voters in the governor's and the U.S. Senate races. While we can't say that about all the recent candidates, at least it gives us another chance to turn out heavily for good candidates.
turnout trumps even the worst of candidates. Lincoln said it best: "Trust
the people. Always trust the people." The recent problem is that
the people haven't turned out!
The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring GwinnettForum.com to you at no cost to readers. Today's sponsor is Hayes Family Dealerships with Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, and GMC. Mike, Tim and Ted Hayes of Lawrenceville and Gainesville with Terry Hayes of Baldwin and Stan Roberts of Toccoa invite you into their showrooms to look over their line-up of automobiles and trucks. Hayes has been in the automotive business for over 40 years, and is North Georgia's oldest family-owned dealerships. The family is the winner of the 2002 Georgia Family Business of the Year Award.
Editor, the Forum:
Re: Michelle Nunn comment from a reader in the last issue: The letter writer really missed the boat on this one in trying to paint Sam Nunn as a liberal. Although Sam Nunn is a Democrat, I don't think anyone in his right mind could possibly accurately paint him as a liberal
This person obviously is not familiar with Nunn's record.
She's ready to see those political signs removed immediately
Editor, the Forum:
Here's you one. A comment to Mike Collins, and Mr. Jody Hice, about taking their signs down. The race is over. Come down Harbins Road and Bold Springs Road in Dacula and Bethlehem and take those darn signs down. It's over boys.
Rant, rave, send us a letter
The City of Sugar Hill is turning 75 years old. In honor of the big event, the City is hosting the 75th at Sugar Hill, an all day and all night family friendly celebration of the history, residents and businesses of the City.
The festival features something for everyone and most of the day is free to the public. The celebration will be held on Saturday, August 2, from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. in the City's downtown area on West Broad Street. The event takes place rain or shine. When the sun goes down, the evening concludes with a ticketed (paid) community dinner and main stage concert.
mayor pro tem and chair of the 75th Anniversary Committee, says: "The
Mayor and Council have worked hard to build the infrastructure to develop
a thriving downtown from scratch and make Sugar Hill a destination. The
75th at Sugar Hill is an opportunity for the City to shine and showcase
the new direction we are taking from an economic development and community
standpoint. What better way to get that message out there than an all
day, all night family friendly celebration in honor of the City's 75 years?"
The Broad Street Stage in front of City Hall heats up with local talent including: The Sugar Hill Church Band, Suspect B, Alexa Gilomen, Bulletproof, the Bird Dogs, and the Broad Street Concert Band. The classic car and motorcycle show kicks off at noon featuring everything from antique classics to modern day speedsters.
After the Community Dinner catered by Hammerheads Sports Grille, the headline concert featuring openers Haley and Alexis Band, followed by Andy Velo. The highlight group will be the Bacon Brothers, a gritty rock and Philly soul band fronted by actor Kevin Bacon and his brother Michael.
The dinner is sold out. Tickets are available for the concert. For more information go to: www.sugarhill75th.org.
Church Street in Lilburn closed for next three months
Starting July 31, Church Street in Lilburn will be closed for about 90 days. Motorists are advised to use Lawrenceville Highway (U.S. 29) or Poplar Street to access Main Street.
The closure is part of the Main Street Realignment Project that kicked off in February and will be finished by the end of the year. The reconfigured Main Street will create a safer, more traditional intersection at Lawrenceville Highway and set the stage for future development. Utilities are being relocated, the roadbed cleared, and the detention pond completed. Church Street will be lowered 8 feet to improve sight distance and safety.
The $3.5-million project is supported by the City of Lilburn, Gwinnett County, the State Road and Tollway Authority, and the Lilburn Community Improvement District. The contractor for the project is E.R. Snell.
Button Down Dash set for Saturday from Chamber area
The Gwinnett Chamber's third Annual Button Down Dash 5K/10K and Fun Run, presented by Gwinnett Medical Center, will be held on Saturday, August 2.
race will kick off at 7:30 a.m. at the Gwinnett Chamber parking lot at
6500 Sugarloaf Parkway and will conclude there as well. The Button Down
Dash was created in an effort to help drive the greater Gwinnett County
area toward becoming the healthiest community in the state of Georgia
while providing an opportunity to give back through the Charity Challenge.
New exhibit at Norcross' Kudzu Art Zone is "Fragments of Time"
Kudzu Gallery and Art Zone's August exhibit is entitled "Fragments of Time." In this modern age many feel pressured by time - never seeming to have enough. But this exhibit presents those brilliant moments in time when creativity takes hold and something wonderful happens.
Come relax and enjoy these happy discoveries in this show. The works are by member artists, showing their interpretation of time fragments, in a variety of styles and media. The Opening Reception will be on Friday, August 8, from 7 to 9 p.m. The exhibit runs from August 8 through September 6.
Kudzu Gallery and Art Zone is located at 116 Carlyle Street in Norcross, with hours on Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
UGA professor plans talk here as part of Civil War 150 project
Gwinnett County Public Library will present an evening with author and Professor of History at the University of Georgia, John C. Inscoe, as part of Civil War 150, a national program designed to encourage public exploration of the impact and contested meanings of the American Civil War.
The program will be held on September 15 at the Five Forks branch at 6:30 p.m. It is made possible through a grant from the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the American Library Association, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The discussion will focus on Inscoe's most recent book, The Civil War in Georgia, and is a compilation of articles drawn from the on-line "New Georgia Encyclopedia," of which he has been an editor since 1999. Discover some of the lesser known aspects of the Civil War and how it has been commemorated and remembered in Georgia.
of several books about race, politics, and the Civil War in Southern Appalachia
and in Georgia, Inscoe has edited or co-edited volumes on Appalachian
history in the 19th century, southern Unionists during the Civil War,
and Confederate nationalism and identity. Inscoe is a native of western
North Carolina, and is a graduate of Davidson College and the University
of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (MA and PhD).
Having written for medical publications and authored children's books, Katie Hart Smith of Lawrenceville will release her latest work, Couch Time with Carolyn.
The book, set in Georgia, is a memoir, delivering intimate reflections about Smith through the relationships she has maintained with her uniquely close-knit group of Southern girlfriends, known as the "Dunwoody Girls." Smith, a former Council Member for the City of Lawrenceville, and her husband Jeff, a captain at the Lawrenceville Police Department.
One of the central characters is Carolyn, a mom of one of the Dunwoody Girls and a dear friend in her own right. Although battling cancer, the older, wiser woman has plenty of fire in her to reminisce about her colorful past, delve into Smith's life, and offer priceless advice. While sipping wine, sampling chocolates and puffing on cigarettes, they chat, laugh, cry and conclude that neither life nor love is random, and that even darkest days present valuable life lessons and moments worth cherishing.
The author says: "When I decided to write about Carolyn's life lessons, I realized I had to tell real stories, most of which involve the Dunwoody Girls. The five of us have been dear friends since elementary school, so as one might imagine, we've had our share of hilarious and heartbreaking episodes. Interestingly, both male and female readers relate to the Girls' bond, and they keep telling me that they laughed and cried throughout the book. That was my intention. After all, real friendship is all about experiencing the highs and lows in life together."
The book is released on August 1.
Hooray, Hooray: County tax bills coming this week!
The 2014 property tax bills are being mailed to Gwinnett County taxpayers by August 1. All bills will have a single-installment due date of October 1. Taxpayers may choose to make partial payments as long as the total due is paid by the due date.
property owners with an escrow account, tax information is available to
the mortgage company. However, it is ultimately the responsibility of
the property owner to ensure taxes are paid by the due date. If there
are questions about who will pay the taxes, homeowners should contact
their mortgage company directly, especially if their mortgage company
has recently changed.
One of the most important components of lawn maintenance is mowing. It directly affects the health and quality of the turfgrass. Improperly-mowed lawns will suffer and develop an unsightly appearance.
Proper mowing consists of cutting the grass at the correct height and frequency. Doing so will create a healthy lawn by encouraging the development of a dense stand of turfgrass which helps reduce weeds and other pests. Mow frequently enough so that no more than one-third of the grass blade is removed. For example, if you want to maintain the lawn at a height of two inches, mow when it is three inches high. The blades should be kept sharp at all times. Dull blades will shred the ends of the grass, causing the lawn to develop an unsightly brown to white appearance. This makes it more prone to diseases and water loss. Sharpen the mower blades as needed or replace them.
The period of the 1930s and early 1940s was rich with discovery for artists in Georgia and engendered what may be termed a "golden age" in the history of painting, drawing, printmaking, and documentary photography in the state.
During this decade and a half, as with other cultural areas of expression in the state, art in Georgia demonstrated an interest in the distinctive qualities of the state's varied land and peoples, in keeping with the nationwide trend toward regionalism. The federal government encouraged this emphasis, commissioning nationally recognized artists to decorate post offices in the state with paintings and sculptures and commissioning photographers to document social conditions in various communities, especially poor, rural ones. All in all, the era was a substantial one for the visual arts in Georgia.
As in the
1920s, new organizations devoted to promoting art in Georgia were established,
while outside organizations and visiting artists continued to be attracted
to the state. In 1929 the Association of Georgia Artists, affiliated with
the Southern States Art League, was founded, and Hattie Saussy served
as president in 1933-34.
Its first exhibition opened in Savannah and traveled to Atlanta, Macon, Athens, Columbus, and Augusta. In Savannah during the early 1930s, the Telfair Art Museum worked closely with the American Federation of Arts to bring exhibitions and speakers to the city. Savannah artists also formed the Savannah Art Club. Art exhibitions in Georgia during the 1930s were listed in Art Digest, a champion of the realist American Scene aesthetic that spread throughout the country during the decade.
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A comment by Elliott Brack in the previous GwinnettForum incorrectly stated the birthplace of Hall of Famer Frank Thomas. He was born in Columbus, Ga. We regret the error. --eeb
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return to Suwanee Town Center Park on August 1 from 5:30 until
9:30 p.m. The tentative food truck line-up includes Freckled and Blue,
King of Pops, Mac the Cheese, MG's Burger Que, Nana G's Chicken and Waffles,
On Tapa the World, Pressed for Time, Smiley's Street Eats, Tex's Tacos,
and Tracey's Tasties. Students in the Suwanee Youth Leaders program are
responsible for planning activities and entertainment at the August Food
Truck Friday event.
Informal Discussion with members of Duluth City Council, Monday, August 4, at 6:30 p.m. at Point Berkeley International Village, 3645 North Berkeley Lake Road. The program calls for an informal chat with Council members about Development and Redevelopment in the Duluth area.
Housing Forum, Monday, August 4 starting at 6 p.m. at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center in Lawrenceville. Hosted by the Northeast Atlanta Metro Association of Realtors, there will be a panel of experts to discuss the programs and options available to eligible low, moderate, and middle income homebuyers. For more information about the Housing Forum, contact Tim Hur at 404-954-2322.
Workshop for Aspiring
Writers, at Suwanee Public Library, Thursday, August 14 at
6:30 p.m. Leading the workshop will be Author Joe Samuel Starnes (author
of Fall Line), using the topic: Research: A Writer's Best Friend
and A Writer's Worst Enemy- Using Research in Your Fiction. For
more details, visit www.gwinnettpl.org.
MORE EEB PERSPECTIVE
Gwinnett Forum publisher Elliott Brack suggests that Gwinnett County needs a long-range list of continuing objectives for improving the county. Read more.
GwinnettForum.com is a twice-weekly online community commentary for exploring pragmatic and sensible social, political and economic approaches to improve life in Gwinnett County, Ga. USA.
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