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ATLANTA, Ga., Aug. 21, 2009 -- One hundred and forty four years ago, on April 9, 1865, Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia to Union Commander Ulysses S. Grant, marking the effective end of the South's struggle for independence.
It was a fateful day for my great-grandfather and his four elder brothers, all of whom were fighting for the Confederacy.
On that day, the eldest brother Joshua Lazarus Moses was killed a few hours after Lee, unbeknownst to the troops elsewhere, had surrendered. Josh was commanding an artillery battalion that was firing the last shots in defense of Mobile, before being overrun by a Union force outnumbering his 13:1. In this battle of Fort Blakeley, one of his brothers, Horace, was captured, and another, Perry, was wounded.
Josh was the last Confederate Jew to fall in battle, one of the more than 3,000 estimated Jews who fought for the South. His first cousin, Albert Moses Luria, was the first, killed at age 19 at the Battle of Seven Pines (Fair Oaks) in Virginia on May 31, 1862.
While Lee was surrendering at Appomattox, a 2,500 man unit attached to Sherman's army, known as Potter's Raiders, was heading towards my family's hometown of Sumter, S.C. Sherman had just burned nearby Columbia, and it was feared that his troops were headed to Sumter to do the same.
My then 16 year old great-grandfather, Andrew Jackson Moses, rode out to defend his hometown, along with some 157 other teenagers, invalids, old men, and the wounded from the local hospital. It was a mission as hopeless as it was valiant, but Sumter's rag-tag defenders did manage to hold off Potter's battle-seasoned veterans for over an hour before being overwhelmed by this vastly superior force outnumbering theirs by some 15:1.
The fifth bother, Isaac Harby Moses, having served with distinction in combat in Wade Hampton's cavalry, later rode home from North Carolina after the Battle of Bentonville (N. C.), the War's last major battle, where he commanded his company, all of the officers having been killed or wounded. "He never surrendered to anyone," his Mother proudly observed in her memoirs.
The best known of the Moses family Confederates was Major Raphael Moses, General Longstreet's chief commissary officer, whose three sons also fought for the South. The uncle of the five Moses brothers, Major Moses ended up attending the last meeting and successfully carrying out the Last Order of the Confederate government.
This was to deliver the last of the Confederate treasury, $40,000 in gold and silver bullion, to help feed and supply the defeated Confederate soldiers in nearby hospitals, and those straggling home after the War--- weary, hungry, often sick, shoeless and in tattered uniforms.
Like their comrades-in-arms, the Moses' were fighting for their homeland---not for slavery, as is so often said, but for their families, homes, and country. Put simply, most Confederate soldiers felt they were fighting because an invading army from the North was trying to kill them, burn their homes, and destroy their cities.
The hard-pressed Confederates were often heavily outnumbered, outgunned, and out-supplied, but rarely outfought, showing amazing courage, skill, and valor.
That is why many native Southerners still revere their ancestors' courage, and rightfully take much pride in this heritage.
AUG. 21, 2009 -- Unbeknownst to the citizens of Norcross, its City Council submitted a request to the Gwinnett legislative delegation on March 9, 2009, to change the terms of the mayor and council from two years to four years.
This move came after the citizens of Norcross had voted down four year terms on Nov. 6, 2007 by a vote of 418-298. The mayor and council did not openly mention their action to the citizens, although a legal advertisement ran noting that the city was to seek a change in its charter.
Specifically, the Council asked the delegation to move to four year terms, though allowing the citizens of Norcross to approve it in a referendum.
What happened next is cloudy, questionable and confusing.
For the delegation came back with a draft of the proposed legislation, which it says was seen by the city officials. And what was proposed, and eventually enacted into a new charter on May 11, 2009 when it was signed by the governor, radically changed what the city sought.
The legislation did not call for a referendum. Instead, it changed the city charter to provide eventually (which will not take until 2014) only for four year terms. Not only that, but instead of electing officials by a majority vote, the measure inserted new language into the charter allowing election with only a plurality of votes. Note that the city did not ask for the plurality. In other words, run-offs are out the window in Norcross, as is the requirement that 50 percent of the voters plus one elect a mayor or councilperson in any election.
Who's at fault?
It's according to who you talk to.
Rep. Pedro Marin, who handled the legislation, says that he was unaware that no referendum and the new plurality was in the new law. He maintains that the drafts of the legislation were run by other delegation members, and the city officials. He says he merely sent the proposal to the legislative counsel, who prepared the drafts.
Mayor Bucky Johnson did not return repeated telephone calls before publication.
Whatever happened, for sure the outcome is far different from what Norcross voters wanted back in 2007, the same day the current mayor, Bucky Johnson, got elected. Those citizens favoring the four year terms were defeated, and those voters wanting to have their government continue to have two year terms for all officials felt vindicated.
But no more.
One suggestion has been to ask the Legislature to return to two year terms. Yet it may not happen, since, as one person put it: "We don't want to have the embarrassment of having the legislature change the charter again."
Hmmmm. No change even if the citizens of Norcross would rather have two year terms? Who says the legislature, the legislative counsel, the Gwinnett legislative delegation, or the city council, should override the desire of the citizens of Norcross?
Who is supposed to really drive government at any level, elected officials, or the voters? But it appears that legislative bureaucrats, with the legislative members now pointing their finger at the legislative counsel, are really telling the citizens of Norcross how they should conduct their affairs, even going over the head of the city council (who all along wanted four year terms), and adding a plurality election rather than majority election.
you living in the other 14 cities of Gwinnett: watch out. Something like
this could happen to you, too.
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A new cartoon from our friend Bill McLemore:
Editor, the Forum:
from your recent column on retirement (Forum,
August 18): "And while some private firms are cutting back on
their retirement, pension and health plans, have you ever heard of a government
agency that cut back on the benefits for their retired personnel? Doesn't
Finds that U.S. military retirement not all it cut out to be
Two: military health care dwindled throughout my career, to the point, while still on active duty, that I had to buy supplemental insurance because the federal government chose only to have doctors for war zones and on all military bases.
my military retirement pension allows me more options for a second career.
I don't know of many military people who could actually retire on that
We welcome back a long-time
reader and letter writer
Editor, the Forum:
be fate that I chose today to access GwinnettForum. I don't know what
caused my e-mail to be dropped last year unless you had a glitch, I had
a glitch, or you didn't like my last letter. The latter never stopped
you before (even going back to Gwinnett Daily News days).
Writer raises questions
about anger-centered gatherings
Editor, the Forum:
Usually, estimates of the size of a crowd aren't really central to a story. But in the ongoing debate over health care reform, maybe they are. Take last weekend's "America's Health Care Town Hall" rally in Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta, sponsored by several groups opposed to the Democrats' health care reform plans.
Organizers claimed they gave out 12,500 armbands for the event, and supporters on the internet claimed afterwards that it drew some 10,000.But Atlanta police estimated the size of the crowd at 3,000. Judging from a video with several crowd shots throughout the event, they were much closer to the mark.
That's an even bigger exaggeration than the Fox News claim that the Tea Party in front of the State Capitol last April drew more than 15,000, when the area where it was held could hold a crowd about half that size.
It's not uncommon for true believers to see more in their own numbers than are really there. However, one has to suspect a more calculated sort of miscalculation is going on here. Crowd size isn't a lockstep indicator of anger level, either, but when you see exaggerations like this -- and misrepresentations that have been reported across the country -- it's worth asking how much of the "anger" surrounding the health care debate is spontaneous. Particularly in light of all those published reports about how the shouters at town hall meetings have been coached.
There are in fact, a lot of Americans who are suspicious about the creation of new government programs. Seniors in particular, worried about the loss of their government-administered Medicare benefits, have been turning away from the plan in droves. But there's as much dissatisfaction - maybe more - from those who want the plan to go farther than it does, as there is from those who don't want a plan at all.
26,000 Gwinnett-based businesses soon will get a letter from the county's
license and revenue office asking for compliance with a new state immigration
law. Georgia counties are required to check the immigration status of
all applicants for a business/occupation tax certificate, commonly called
a business license.
Charles Bannister said the law requires all applicants to be a U.S. citizen,
legal permanent resident, qualified alien or a nonimmigrant as defined
in the Federal Immigration and Nationality Act. Bannister explained, "We
are making sure that Gwinnett County is in compliance with the law."
Snellville to note completion of Briscoe Park renovation
The City of Snellville will be hosting a ribbon cutting to celebrate the completion of the first phase of the Briscoe Park renovation project on Saturday, August 29 at 10 a.m. The ceremony will be held at the Sager Pavilion near the new children's playground on the lake side of the park.
and their families, community groups and business owners are encouraged
to attend. Engineering for this project was provided by HDR Engineering,
Inc. and construction was completed by Sparks Grizzard Construction. This
project was funded by the 2005 Gwinnett County SPLOST program.
The open heart program Gwinnett Medical Center has spent years fighting for is yet again being held up by hospitals outside of the county.
Piedmont Hospital and Emory Healthcare have now turned to Fulton County Superior Court in their latest bid to keep open heart surgical services from being offered within Gwinnett County, the largest county in the nation without its own open heart program.
Gwinnett Medical Center learned that both Piedmont and Emory were filing court actions challenging the state's approval of the open heart program late in the day on Monday, the last day that the hospitals could file a legal objection in an effort to block the program.
Phil Wolfe, President and CEO of Gwinnett Medical Center, says: "These court filings send a clear signal that Piedmont and Emory are not interested in what's best for the people of Gwinnett County. It doesn't seem to matter to Piedmont and Emory that the people of our community, and the physicians who treat them, have voiced unwavering support. Nor does it seem to matter that the state approved Gwinnett Medical Center's open heart program over a year ago and reaffirmed that approval earlier this year following a lengthy administrative hearing and appeal process."
Gwinnett Medical Center applied for a Certificate of Need for its open heart program in January 2008. As a part of the state's review process, other hospitals were afforded an opportunity to file opposition, which Piedmont Hospital, Emory University Hospital and Emory Crawford Long Hospital each did. GMC received state approval in June 2008 for its program. Those three hospitals then filed administrative appeals. Following those appeals, the original approval was upheld by the Commissioner of the Department of Community Health in July 2009.
Watch out for scams if you are an EMC customer
If someone calls you posing as an EMC representative and then asks for personal information, watch out! Chances are you're talking to a scammer. Although Walton and Jackson EMCs have no reports of its customer-owners being swindled, two different phone scams are hitting customers of nearby electric utilities.
The first begins with the utility imposter informing the customer that their electric account is overdue. The caller then urgently requests a credit card number to avoid having to disconnect the customer's electric service.
The second plays on senior citizens. The caller informs the customer that the government is paying $350 toward the electric bill of seniors. The scammer then asks for Social Security and utility account numbers.
Britt Swilley, WEMC call center manager, says: "Walton EMC will not call you on short notice to disconnect your account. We use a combination of postal mail, door cards and personal visits before disconnection."
Brent Cochran of Jackson EMC said that if a member receives a suspicious phone call about their utility account, they should end the call and contact Jackson EMC. If the member has caller ID or another way of tracking the incoming phone number, they should take note of it.
If you suspect a caller is fraudulent, try to write down the incoming phone number if you have caller ID. Then call law enforcement and your EMC. If there is ever a doubt about the identity of anyone who claims to be an EMC employee or contractor, call your EMC or the police immediately.
Andrée Ruellan, a New York native of French descent, was a prominent artist of the 20th century. Although she worked primarily in New York and Europe during her long career, Ruellan's frequent trips to the South, including to Savannah, provided her with rich source material. Her mural Spring in Georgia was installed at the post office in Lawrenceville in 1942 and is housed today at the R. G. Stephens Federal Building in Athens.
The Georgia Museum of Art in Athens mounted two solo traveling exhibitions of Ruellan's work, the first one in 1993. The second exhibition, in 2005-6, was organized in celebration of the artist's 100th birthday.
Ruellan was born on April 6, 1905, in New York City. Politically allied with the Socialist movement, her parents were ardent pacifists who left France in order for Ruellan's father to avoid compulsory military service. Ruellan, who spoke only French as a young child, was encouraged by her parents when she displayed artistic ability. From 1922 to 1929 Ruellan and her mother lived in Europe. Ruellan studied in Rome, Italy, then in Paris, France. In 1925 the first one-person exhibition of her art took place at the Galerie Sacre du Printemps in Paris. Ruellan met artist John (Jack) Taylor in front of the American Express office, as both were on their way to a gallery opening of Pascin's work. Three months later, in May 1929, they married. In September 1929 Ruellan and Taylor made their home in Shady, N.Y., located 100 miles north of New York City. In 1936 Ruellan visited Charleston, S.C., where the African American population of the city captured her attention.
In 1941, Ruellan and her husband visited Savannah. In that same year, Ruellan received two commissions from the U.S. Treasury Department's Section of Fine Arts to execute post office murals. The first one, A Country Saw Mill, was completed in 1941 for the post office in Emporia, Va. The following year, her mural Spring in Georgia was installed at the post office in Lawrenceville, in Gwinnett County. In both cases, she traveled to those communities in order to sketch scenes and then returned to her studio, where she created the large canvases that were later installed.
Ruellan's last prolonged stay in the South occurred when her husband took an assignment at the University of Florida in Gainesville in the early 1960s. In 1964, following nearly a year-long stay in France, Ruellan created a series of paintings based upon drawings she made there. Ruellan became increasingly active in the Woodstock Artists Association, particularly after the death of her husband in 1983. She died on July 15, 2006, in Kingston, N.Y.
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