|Issue 9.53 | Friday, Oct. 2, 2009 | Forward to your friends!|
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Ga., Oct. 2, 2009 -- Most judges, whether state, local, or municipal,
will tell you that managing a budget is part of the job. Budgeting for
Gwinnett County's State Court is a job that I have done for the last nine
years, and while there have been expected cutbacks and limitations in
recent years, nothing unusual has occurred.
However, in June, 2009, the administrative budget judges and chief judges of all the Gwinnett County Courts were informed that county funding would be cut by at least nine percent and that our projected budgets should reflect those cuts.
After hours of meetings, number crunching, and discussions with other department heads including prosecutors and clerks of courts, the budget judges with whom I have been working will describe the result of a nine percent cut as follows: catastrophic.
The current statistics show with certainty that case loads will continue
to rise; (2) the amount of time required to handle complex criminal cases
(such as death penalty or multi-defendant cases) continues to increase;
(3) the inmate population will grow as cases cannot be reached; (4) domestic
relations cases involving sensitive issues such as custody and child support
issues will stagnate; and (5) public safety will be compromised when the
courts are deprived of the ability to rapidly schedule DUI cases and domestic
What does this mean? Aside from the problems enumerated above, a drastic budget reduction could jeopardize the ability of the courts to perform what they are mandated to do under the Georgia and United States Constitutions: afford access to the courts and schedule speedy trials as required by law.
I often remind myself that litigants are not people who want to be in court, but people who have to be in court. People who are charged with crimes have the right to be heard. Victims of crime need a forum for redress. Individuals wishing to dissolve their marriages are entitled to finality within a reasonable period of time. Businesses with disputes are entitled to a forum for resolution.
We, the people, must provide our citizens with a court system where our community's most difficult issues can be resolved fairly and efficiently.
NAPA, Calif., Sept. 27, 2009 If you don't know much about wine when you visit Napa Valley, that's OK there are plenty of helpful people who will steer you in the right direction. In fact, there don't seem to be many directions that are wrong.
A weekend trip during harvest time in the California wine country served to lift the spirits (no pun intended) for me and my guide, an old college friend who is in the wine business. What we discovered on an all-day tour were family-run wine businesses that focus on making great, high-quality wine.
Wine is grown in the vineyard, Bell explained in a brochure about his winery. We are merely stewards of nature while the wine is in our cellar.
The result of his blend of science and art: rich Cabernets, silky Syrahs and other wine that are delights to sample.
Later after a stop at a brew pub for lunch (one winemaker told us it takes a lot of beer drinking to make good wine), we visited with T'Anne Butcher, who grew up in the wine business and today runs Wine Sensory Experience, a business in Calistoga that helps people appreciate different qualities in wine.
In her classes, students learn to appreciate how different shapes of glasses influence the smell of a wine. Glasses that are round and ball-shaped concentrate a wine's scent at the opening. Conversely, a cylinder-type glass allows smells to escape easier, which means it's harder to detect a wine's richness.
You're doing yourself a disservice if you buy cheap glassware and think it doesn't matter, because it does, she said. A moderate-priced red wine served in a proper red wine globe (a big glass) likely will taste and smell much better than the same wine in a cheap glass.
Another thing T'Anne taught us: there are four different edges to a wine glass tilted-in, tilted-out, straight-across and rounded. The edge controls how the wine hits the palate in the middle part of the tongue or in the back or front. Who knew?
Perhaps the most interesting tasting involved two versions of a Cabernet Sauvignon. One bottle was $65 from grapes produced by a well-known grower whose grapes have been the basis of award-winning wine for 20 years. Another bottle was $35 from grapes produced by another grower on land just 400 yards from the first grower's parcel of land.
Was there a difference? Absolutely. We were stunned. (Bad news for me because I liked the more expensive one better.)
Finally, we stopped by Van Der Heyden Vineyards near Napa where winemaker Michael Gregg was kind enough to show us around his family's small operation that makes about 3,000 cases of specialty wines per year.
As he showed us cool fermentation tanks and acres of vines waiting to be picked in the next week, he explained how his winery was the only one in the world to produce a late harvest Cabernet. How? By leaving the grapes on the wine a few days longer than most operations, which causes flavors to become more concentrated. The result is a rich Cabernet that is much sweeter than most.
The bottom line from this trip: Good wine is that which tastes good to you. In the Napa Valley, there is a whole lot from which to choose. Talking with people about how they are making their wine is the best way to learn and enjoy. We'll be coming back.
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In the Sept. 11 issue, I thought you belittled those who say about Obama's "health bill" ... "with these people never stopping to think that Mr. Obama has not proposed specific legislation."
Months ago, in his February 24 speech, the President said, "I'm bringing together . . . Democrats and Republicans to begin work on this issue next week."
In Congress on September 9, defending attacks targeted at the legislation, President Obama seemed to take ownership of H.R.3200 using the words "my" and "our." "Now, my health care proposal has also been attacked by some who oppose reform as a 'government takeover' of the entire health care system. As proof, critics point to a provision in our plan that allows the uninsured and small businesses to choose a publicly sponsored insurance option "
Other instances of his words imply his ownership. Similarly, news articles discuss his "plan" in conjunction with the proposed legislation. Now you claim that the legislation which incorporates the reforms he has proposed for many years cannot be tagged with his name.
Regardless of whether he personally sat down with pen and paper to write the legislation, when healthcare reform is finally passed, you will find that those common, unthinking people will still refer to it as "Obama's health bill," as will historians. Meanwhile, commentators should learn to tolerate the common usage of words.
A disaster recovery center is to open in Gwinnett to assist residents and business owners who were victims of recent floodings. Gwinnett County residents and business owners who sustained losses can visit the center, which is located at the Mountain Park Depot, 5050 Five Forks Trickum Road in Lilburn, between the hours of 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week to apply for federal emergency assistance. County government worked closely with FEMA and GEMA to establish the center, according to Gwinnett Emergency Management's Greg Swanson. The center will remain open until further notice.
The federal declaration covers individual assistance and can include grants to help pay for temporary housing, home repairs and other serious disaster-related expenses. Low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration will also be available to cover residential and business losses not fully compensated by insurance. In addition, Gwinnett County government will also be eligible to receive federal funds for damage as a result of the recent floods.
It is also possible to apply for aid online or by telephone. Applications can be submitted online at www.fema.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free numbers will operate from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Sunday.
Korean celebration of Chosok to be in Duluth Oct. 4
A celebration marking Korea's traditional harvest holiday (Chosok) will be held Sunday, October 4 from noon to 8 p.m. at the Town Green Center adjacent to the Duluth City Hall. The event will blend Korea's traditional celebration of this major national holiday with the festival atmosphere of many American celebrations.
the eight-hour festival, a variety of dancing, music and martial art performances
will be taking place on the stage at the same time traditional Korean
games and arts are under way on the field. More than 30 booths will be
selling different Korean food and crafts and companies will be promoting
their goods and services. There will also be a community garage sale.
Many activities are free and every 30 minutes someone will win a raffle
Author Philip Lee Williams to read from new work Oct. 6
Award-winning author Philip Lee Williams will give a reading at Georgia Gwinnett College October 6 at 7 p.m. in the Cisco Auditorium. His appearance is presented by Barnes and Noble College Bookstore at Georgia Gwinnett College
for the Blue and Gray," Williams returns with The Campfire Boys,
one of the first works of fiction ever written on entertainers in the
American Civil War. Long before the USO was treating troops to shows during
World War II, soldiers themselves provided entertainment to troops in
the long days between military engagements. Now, a new novel by novelist
and essayist Williams closely examines the world of entertainers during
the American Civil War, the men who sang, acted, and danced in between
some of the worst carnage in the nation's history.
Following the reading, the author will be answering questions from the audience, and will end the evening autographing books.
Gwinnett GLOW breakfast features MARTA's Beverly Scott
The annual Gwinnett GLOW breakfast will feature Dr. Beverly Scott, the first female General Manager/CEO of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), when it is held on Friday, October 16, at The 1818 Club at 7:15 a.m.
has a long and distinguished career in the public transportation field,
an industry traditionally dominated by men. Her 30-year career has taken
her all over the nation, and her perspective on accomplishing goals by
working together---and reaching consensus---is one that is applicable
in every field. While her own career has been almost exclusively about
"big things that move," her words are sure to inspire listeners
to make "big moves" in their career and community.
Fitch Ratings has affirmed the City of Suwanee's general obligation bond rating at AA- and defined the City's rating outlook as "stable." Fitch Ratings' most recent review looked at Suwanee's general obligation bonds, obtained in 2002 to finance the community's open space initiative and in 2006 to partially fund construction of the new City Hall.
In a Sept. 23 press release, Fitch said: "The AA- rating reflects the City's very conservative management practices resulting in high general fund balances and ample financial flexibility. The City continues to generate positive net income within the general fund, improving upon an already strong balance sheet ."
Suwnaee's Financial Services Director Amie Sakmar says: "Considering the state of the current economy, we're very satisfied with Fitch's findings. Many local governments are concerned that their rating may be downgraded. We're pleased that one of the top rating agencies in the world has found Suwanee's debt management and conservative fiscal practices to be sound and appropriate."
noted that the City of Suwanee fund balance equals 73 percent of spending
and is "very strong."
Shannon Coffey's book on the Historic Elisha Winn House (published by Gwinnett Historical Society) is anticipated to be on sale for the first time this weekend at the Elisha Winn Fair near Dacula this weekend.
George Riley Puckett was one of the nationally known pioneer country music artists who gained experience and exposure at the Georgia Old-Time Fiddlers' Conventions, held in Atlanta between 1913 and 1935. His dynamic single-string guitar playing, featuring dramatic bass runs, earned for him an enviable reputation as an instrumentalist. Many aspiring guitarists who followed him have studied and copied his style. Although he was an accomplished musician on several instruments, his singing was most responsible for establishing him as an important figure in the history of country music.
Alpharetta in 1894, Puckett was blinded shortly after birth, presumably
the result of misapplication of medicine for his eyes. While attending
the Georgia Academy for the Blind in Macon, he learned to play the piano.
Later, as a teenager, he taught himself to play banjo, and in time he
became a contest winner on the instrument.
Puckett accompanied fiddler Gid Tanner of Dacula to New York, where, on
March 7 and 8, they recorded twelve songs and tunes for the Columbia Phonograph
Company. They were the first country-music artists to record for that
Puckett was a charter member of the influential string band Gid Tanner and His Skillet Lickers and continued to record with the group through their last session in 1934. Puckett recorded as a solo artist into the early 1940s, creating a discography of more than 200 records on such labels as Columbia, Decca, and Bluebird. His repertoire included novelty songs, religious songs, traditional folk songs, cowboy songs, and ballads from the field of popular music.
to making records, he appeared in stage shows and worked on radio stations
in Atlanta and other Georgia cities, as well as selected eastern and midwestern
cities. Riley Puckett was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame
in 1986. He died on July 13, 1946, in East Point.
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"A strong nation, like a strong person, can afford to be gentle, firm, thoughtful, and restrained. It can afford to extend a helping hand to others. It is a weak nation, like a weak person, that must behave with bluster and boasting and rashness and other signs of insecurity."
>> SPECIAL NOTICE TO GWINNETT
Those interested in the history of Gwinnett need to know that the recently published book: Gwinnett: A Little Above Atlanta, has sold fast, with the first editions about sold out. There are less than 50 books remaining unsold. If you want the book for yourself, or to buy for a present for someone this year, you need to take action. Go to www.elliottbrack.com to order, or buy the book at a local bookstore shown on the site.
(In full disclosure, the book is authored by the publisher of this Forum, and this notice is intended not so much to hawk, but to inform, those who have delayed purchase. -eeb)
The books are available at these sites:
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