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Issue 9.94 | Friday, March 5,, 2010 | Forward to your friends!

SNOWY FIELD: Bet when the naming rights to the Gwinnett Braves stadium were being discussed, no one thought of Coolray Field like this? Tuesday's snow outlined the diamond in ways most people in Georgia seldom see it. The Gwinnett Braves open their second season in the Class AAA International League out of Gwinnett on April 8. Yes, tickets are on sale now!


TODAY'S FOCUS
:: Study shows impact on public trust

ELLIOTT BRACK'S PERSPECTIVE
:: Politic, garbage and more

McLEMORE'S WORLD ARCHIVE
:: No trans fats

FEEDBACK
:: Letters on politics, Vietnam, Lee

UPCOMING
:: New shows, Sierra meeting, hazards

NOTABLE
:: Braselton plan, tree rings, EMC grant

ALSO INSIDE

_:: IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Meet a sponsor
_:: RECOMMENDED: Send us a review
_:: GEORGIA TIDBIT: "Mother" Russell
_
:: TODAY'S QUOTE: Peter on humility
_:: ARCHIVES: Read past commentaries


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TODAY'S FOCUS
Study finds political corruption has impact on social trust
By LEAH SEUPERSAD
Georgia State University
Special to GwinnettForum.com

(Editor's note: This article comes from Sean Richey, who has been at Georgia State University since 2007. He is a native of New Jersey, and holds a bachelor's and master's degree from Rutgers University, and a Ph. D. from the City University of New York. He lives in Atlanta. -eeb)

ATLANTA, Ga., March 5, 2010 -- Residents of states with more government corruption may not only lose trust in political officials, but also have less trust in the general public, according to a new study by Sean Richey, an assistant professor of political science at Georgia State University.


Richey

Richey studied arrests of government officials in 50 states combined, with 2002 through 2004 survey data of the American National Election Studies panel, which produces data on voting, public opinion and political participation.

He says: "Stories of political corruption are constantly in the media, and this research reveals that governmental corruption has large corrosive effects on civil society." Richey adds: "I find that increases in corruption in the period before the survey was taken leads to decreases in belief that government officials and ordinary citizens are trustworthy. It was the first empirical test of this concept."

Previous research notes that societies with more trust are more efficient and better working, with more desirable living conditions, such as equality and health, Richey said. Some researchers have also found that certain factors correlate with social trust, such as income equality and laws that permit widespread use of labor unions.

"There is further research needed, but this study may begin to help explain how institutional action influences trust. It suggests that people attribute the untrustworthy behavior of politicians to people generally."

-- Sean Richey

The findings show that people living in a state with more convictions for felony corruption from the previous two year period had a negative effect on generalized trust. The study also shows that people in the middle-aged generation and people who volunteer are associated with an increase in trust, while having conservative ideology and media usage correlate with decreased levels of trust. Richey said there is also a strong effect from a person's belief in government corruption, which may be based on an individual's personal experiences.

"It is common for victims of crimes to distrust society after being victimized," Richey said. "The crucial point is that there is a spill-over from the individual who did the crime, to the society. Often this maybe an error, but it still has a profound influence on attitudes. Just because politicians accept bribes, does not mean that the average citizen is less trustworthy. But what is important is that irrational decision-making still impacts behavior."

The panel data structure ensures that this research did not simply find that people in more trustworthy areas have less corruption. The results show that governmental corruption may make the society seem untrustworthy, Richey said.

"There is further research needed, but this study may begin to help explain how institutional action influences trust. It suggests that people attribute the untrustworthy behavior of politicians to people generally," Richey said. "The policy implications of this research are clear, but probably difficult to carry out. It may be difficult to control corruption through more effective law-enforcement, because elites often benefit from it and may not want to change. If successful, clean government programs can add to both the efficiency of government, and may also increase trust."

The study will be published in the March 2010 issue of the journal American Politics Research.

EEB PERSPECTIVE
Political slots, garbage talk returns and electronic billboards
By ELLIOTT BRACK
Editor and publisher

MARCH 5, 2010 -- It's catch up time on some diverse items in the news today.


Brack

Now that Congressman John Linder has decided not to seek re-election, it has affected first one politician after another, somewhat like toppling dominoes. Several people who already hold political office see the announcement as a timely opportunity for them to seek higher office.

We say to them "Go for it!" After all, when several current office holders seek another single office, that means that the seat they are holding will become vacant. The net gain for the citizen is that perhaps some of the less-effective office-holders will no longer be on the public scene….sometimes to our benefit.

One name resurfacing after being away from politics is Linda Carsten, wife of former sheriff Jim Carsten. She is jumping into a Georgia House seat form the Lilburn area.

We're sure that many other current elected officials are mulling if they want to seek higher office. With top-ranking slots becoming vacated, this could be their best chance to seek higher office!

* * * * *

Here We Go Again Dept.! Garbage is back on the front burner, as the county this week finally approved a new rules requiring all homeowners in unincorporated Gwinnett to sign onto a garbage collection service. While some citizens howl and scream at such requirements, this is an ordinance vitally needed to make the county a better one. It's estimated that 20,000 Gwinnett residents are not signed up for waste collection, which often means that they dispose of their waste by inadequate means.

We say "here we go again" since from our understanding of what the county adopted this week, the new procedure is not too far from what Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful originally suggested that the county adopt about two years ago. After the commission got squawks from some people, they went into all kinds of contortions, didn't adopt the idea, and then were hit by several lawsuits on the idea.

In our estimation, the county should have been more forceful previously. Now, they seem finally to be moving in the right direction. But their previous inaction may trigger court disputes that will mean implementation of the new plan may take months….if not years.

* * * * **

A New Hazard: That's what some people are calling the new-fangled electronic highway billboards. These new roadside advertising signs abound around Gwinnett. They are uncommonly bright, attract the eye easily, and therefore cause driver distraction which is hard to ignore.

Unlike old-fashioned billboards, where the message does not change easily, the new boards can flash messages every six to eight seconds, drawing the driver's eye, and obviously, bringing on safety concerns. While many people have bombarded motorists with suggestions not to use a cell phone while driving, the electronic billboards get your attention…whether you want to look at them or not.

Legislators in several states are considering laws about the new scheme. Others may proclaim any effort in this direction a "Free Speech" issue. We consider it more of an issue like spuriously yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theatre.

Look for much more talk on these new billboards. And keep your eyes on the road, if you can!

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McLEMORE'S WORLD ARCHIVE
No trans fats

FEEDBACK
Produces tables showing other ways to address district

Editor, the Forum:

Interesting "43" article in the last issue of GwinnettForum. Besides the fact that the county still votes majority Republican, the district also includes all of Walton and Barrow Counties and a few precincts in Forsyth and Newton County…. and only the MOST CONSERVATIVE part of Gwinnett, not the whole county.

Please forgive the quickly-put-together analysis below, but I think it is much more accurate than simply pointing at the 43 percent you did.

The better way to measure a Democrat's chance at winning this congressional race would be to….. look at the previous congressional race!


*Special tables made by BJ Van Gundy

However, just for giggles, let's look at if ALL of Gwinnett was in the 7th District and all of Forsyth and Newton (Newton went for Obama) as well:

Not only would a Democrat have to break the 50 percent number in Gwinnett but the candidate would have a bit of a hard time getting past the 40 percent (or even 30 percent) in any of those areas.

A 50 percent plus 1? A Democrat will be lucky to get 40 percent in this district.

-- BJ Van Gundy, Norcross

Dear B.J.: Ah, what these times do to us! Yes, we are in the season of the political prognostication, aren't we? Reminds me of the Glass House at the Fair. You can never tell if what you see is real! At least this season peppers us with diversion. Thanks for your input. We trust your figures are accurate. -eeb

Article on Vietnam stirs memories for former soldier

Editor, the Forum:

I read with interest the article by Miss Boyce and her memories of her Vietnam trip. Many men my age have "memories" of Vietnam also, none nearly so pleasant as her's.

I lost many friends while in Vietnam, the fathers of those children she took pictures of killed my friends. I am offended that our country, after losing huge numbers of our soldiers, would allow our younger generation to go to a country like Vietnam
and visit without even giving thought to the loss of our American Soldiers lives in that place.

Sorry, Miss Boyce, but in my opinion you need to return to school and learn your history before writing an article about such a place where our American people, your father's age, were so brutally murdered. I also remember vividly the huge crowds of young women, just as well meaning as Miss Boyce, who gathered in Oakland, Calif. as we returned by ship from our duty in Vietnam who taunted us, spit on us, and called us names for protecting their rights to do so. Your story did invoke memories, mostly bad for me.

-- Steve Rausch, Norcross, proud soldier from 1969

Raises questions about Gwinnett's General Beauregard Lee

Editor, the Forum:

I think it is time for an investigation at the Yellow River Game Ranch to once and for all determine the scientific basis of General Beauregard Lee's prognostications (including when spring is coming. Brrrr!)

Is Art Rilling of the Yellow River Game Ranch using a cattle prod to make the General come out and stay? Is it true he comes out and stays because all winter with Miss Dixie is too much for anyone?

Does the General actually have a background in meteorology or he's he just another good looking "talking head?" I think the public is owed an answer. He hasn't gotten it right this year for sure!

-- Howard N. Williams, Jr., Snellville

Dear Howard: You raise an interesting topic. Another possibility: Art Riling has stooped so low as to employ you as to plant stories about the Yellow River Game Ranch in ways to keep the Ranch as a topic of conversation for one and all? You wonder if this will lead to Grand Jury action here. -eeb

Send us a letter. We encourage readers to submit feedback or letters to the editor. Send your thoughts to editor at elliott@brack.net. We will edit for length and clarity. Make sure to include your name and city where you live. Submission of a comment grants permission to us to reprint. Please keep your comment to 200 words or less. However, if you write 500 words, we'll consider it for Today's Focus.

UPCOMING
Aurora Theatre schedules three children's performances

Aurora Theatre has assembled key children's performers in the region, bringing them to Gwinnett County in order to give parents and their children a chance to experience their artistry in Lawrenceville.

Aurora Children's Playhouse will kick off children's performances in March with Celtic Music for Kids presented by The BorderCollies on March 13. This band of minstrels will perform a high energy children's concert with an Irish flare on the Saturday before St. Patrick's Day. Their show will be packed full of music, heritage and audience participation. There will even be an instrument "petting zoo" to give children a hands-on experience. Be sure to wear green!

On March 20 Aurora Children's Playhouse welcomes back an audience favorite, "That Puppet Guy" - Lee Bryan, with The Big Bad Little Red Pig Show. Two childhood favorites have been squished together with just one Big Bad Wolf to share in all the fun. Lee has huffed and puffed new life into these stories through the use of rod puppets, hand puppets, clever music and an original script.

On March 27, Wendy Bennett puts her own spin on the timeless tale of Cinderella with puppets, costumes, props and audience participation. It's a story of transformations: pumpkins into coaches, mice into horses, shabby rags into a glistening ball gown and singer-actress Wendy Bennett into Cinderella.

Tickets are $7. There is a savings to $5 a ticket with the Playhouse Tix, 10 admissions to be used anytime for $50. For reservations, call 678-226-6222. The Aurora Theatre is at 128 Pike Street in Lawrenceville.

Lionheart Theatre sets Romeo and Juliet in Prohibition 1932

Norcross's Lionheart Theatre Company takes a Prohibition Era twist on Romeo and Juliet for three weekends opening March 19.

William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet on Verona Street keeps the bard's classic words, but puts the storied lovers in 1932 on Verona Street, where days and nights revolve around the Montague's import business and the Capulet's Ristaurante. The community witnesses the inevitable consequences of the forbidden romance.

The show was adapted by longtime Gwinnett-area actor/directors Katy Clark and J. Michael Carroll. Carroll also directs the play.

The show runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday from March 19 to April 2. Friday and Saturday shows are at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday shows are at 2 p.m. April 2 includes a 2 p.m. matinee. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and students. Group rates are available. Complimentary desserts are always served. Reservations are highly recommended. Log onto www.lionhearttheatre.org or call 678-938-8518. Lionheart is at 10 College Street, Norcross.

Sierra Club to hear about Gwinnett Parks System

Rex Schuder from Gwinnett Parks Department will provide an in-depth perspective on Gwinnett's award winning park system with information on new passive park at the March 18 meeting of the Sierra Club in Gwinnett. The group meets at Berkmar High School. The program starts at 7:30 pm. For more information on the club and the environment, contact Tom Morrissey at thmorrissey@bellsouth.net or call 404-513-4069.

Gwinnett seeks response to natural, manmade hazards

The public is invited to help plan ways to respond to both natural and manmade hazards in the Gwinnett area. The Gwinnett County Office of Emergency Management is seeking public input on the updated Gwinnett County Hazard Mitigation Plan. The draft plan has been posted to the County's website at www.gwinnettcounty.com.

Emergency Management Director Greg Swanson said, "This will be a multi-jurisdictional plan to identify local hazards, assess the risks and plan ways to reduce loss of life and property damage in emergency situations. We welcome any and all input from our residents to help keep everyone safe."

Once final, the plan will be submitted to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for review and approval. For more information or to provide feedback, please call 770-513-5610 or send your comments to ema@gwinnettcounty.com. Public input will be accepted through March 17, 2010.

NOTABLE
Braselton seeking citizen input on 2030 Comprehensive Plan

The Town of Braselton is working on its 2030 Comprehensive Plan. The final draft is now available for review online. To see the plan, go here.

The town will hold a public hearing in April, but wants to hear from citizens prior to that time. Residents can email comments, suggestions and input to the Braselton Planning Director, Kevin Keller, at kdkeller@braselton.net

Twenty rings for Suwanee As National Tree City USA

The City of Suwanee has earned designation as a national Tree City USA for the 20th year. Suwanee was recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to urban forestry.

Suwanee has met four standards in order to become a Tree City USA community: The City has a tree board, tree-care ordinance, comprehensive community forestry program, and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation. This year, Suwanee will celebrate Arbor Day in April by planting orchard trees at the new Harvest Farm at White Street Park, which currently is under construction.

The Tree City USA program is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters and the USDA Forest Service.

Fragile Kids Foundation wins $15,000 Jackson EMC grant

The Jackson EMC Foundation has awarded a $15,000 grant to the Fragile Kids Foundation to help provide equipment for chronically ill children. Grant funds will help provide low income families of medically fragile children within the counties Jackson EMC serves with van electronic wheelchair lifts. From left are Jackson EMC Foundation board member Beauty Baldwin and Jackson EMC Gwinnett District Manager Randy Dellinger, right, present Fragile Kids Foundation Executive Director Carolyn Polakowski with the $15,000 grant. Jackson EMC members fund Foundation grants by having their monthly electric bills rounded up to the next dollar amount. Since October 2005 this "spare change" has funded 384 grants to organizations and 153 grants to individuals, putting more than $4.2 million back into local communities.

RECOMMENDED
Send us a review

  • An invitation: What Web sites, books or restaurants have you enjoyed? Send us your best recent visit to a restaurant or most recent book you have read along with a short paragraph as to why you liked it, plus what book you plan to read next. --eeb

GEORGIA ENCYCLOPEDIA
Ina Russell was wife of chief justice, mother of governor

Ina Dillard Russell, once known to Georgians as "Mother Russell," was the wife of state supreme court justice Richard B. Russell Sr. and mother to U.S. senator Richard B. Russell Jr.

Blandina Dillard, the 13th and last child of farmers America Frances Chaffin and Fielding Dillard, was born on February 18, 1868, in Oglethorpe County. She attended school locally before enrolling at the Palmer Institute in Oxford and the Lucy Cobb Institute in Athens. In 1889 she began teaching third grade at the Washington Street School in Athens.
In 1891 she married Richard Russell Sr., a young Athens lawyer. In 1906 he became one of the first three judges to serve on the Georgia Court of Appeals, and in 1922 he was elected chief justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia.

While her husband pursued his political career, Russell raised seven sons and six daughters on the family farm in Winder, where she also managed several tenant farmers. Although her 1912 ledger shows that she sewed more than 200 garments that year, Russell preferred working outside, planting peanuts, cotton, tomatoes, and potatoes and raising hogs and chickens to make money and feed her family.

Russell's children grew up to become productive citizens, choosing careers in business, education, law, medicine, the military, the ministry, and politics. Russell's oldest son, Richard Russell Jr., became governor of Georgia in 1931, when he was just thirty-three years old. Because he was a bachelor, Russell Jr. asked his mother and father to preside at the Governor's Mansion with him. Thus the heads of the executive and judicial branches of state government were housed under one roof during Russell's tenure as Georgia's first lady. Two years later Russell Jr. became the youngest member of the U.S. Senate.

In 1932 the Georgia State College for Women, the alma mater of five of Russell's daughters, renamed its library to honor her. Although she never held public office herself, Russell received an unusual salute typically reserved for political leaders and statesmen-Georgia flags were lowered to half-mast in her honor on August 30, 1953, when she died of a cerebral hemorrhage.

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TODAY'S QUOTE
If this embarrasses you, then you are humble

"Humility is the embarrassment you feel when you tell people how wonderful you are."

-- Educator and Writer Laurence J. Peter (1919 - 1988).

MODERN HISTORY OF 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. Get yours before they're gone. Go to http://www.elliottbrack.com/ to order, or buy the book at a local bookstore shown on the site.

The books are available at:

  • Books for Less in downtown Snellville and Lawrenceville (Highway 20 near the Braves park);
  • Labaire Pottery, downtown Norcross

MORE EEB PERSPECTIVE

5/4: Governor's race

4/29: New math-sci school

4/27: Asian temple to open

4/23: Airport delay

4/20: Red Cross building

4/16: Grand openings

4/13: Congressional races

4/9: Gwinnett in great light

4/6: About flag lapel pins

4/2: Starting our 10th year

3/30: Perdue and history

3/26: Bishop Sheals' 30th

3/23: Health, waste issues

3/19: On Cox' lottery proposal

3/16: Gwinnett is BB hotbed

3/12: Big schools save money

3/9: Health insurance co-ops

3/5: Politics, garbage, more

3/2: "43" takes on meaning

EEB index of columns

MORE RECENT COMMENTARY

5/4: Olson: Hudgens' contest

4/30: Corley: Golf tournament

4/27: Malcolm: Health care, taxes

4/23: Grant: New iPad great

4/20: Trujillo: Jazzy Thing

4/16: West: Earth Day celebration

4/13: A. Brack: Civil War and today

4/9: Bolling: Lanier venues

4/6: Ebner: 5 things about Gwinnett

4/2: McDowell: Lilburn CID

3/30: Brown: Market terminals

3/26: Spitzler: Native plants

3/23: Millsaps: Campus innovation

3/19: Hoffman has poetry book

3/16: DiLeonardo: Counselors noted

3/12: Freyer: Turnkey jail needed

3/9: Collobert: Francophone Fest

3/5: Seupersad: Corruption study

3/2: Boyce: Vietnam trip


FOR CHARITY. You can give "A Gift of Laughter," a great book of cartoons by Bill McLemore, to help raise money for Rainbow Village. At just $20, it's a fun way to help. To order, call 770-497-1888, or email to info@gwinnettforum.com.

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. Contact us today.

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Statehouse Report -- a weekly legislative forecast that keeps you a step ahead of what happens at the South Carolina Statehouse. It's free.

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