Issue 11.47 | Friday, Sept. 9, 2011
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.
LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga., Sept. 9, 2011 -- I had the privilege of attending the retirement ceremony for General Dave Petraeus in Washington last week. As you would expect, the ceremony was a time for well-deserved accolades and for reflection on Dave's many contributions over his 37-year career in the Army. I need not rehearse his accomplishments here.
I will only repeat what I said when Dave was the commencement speaker at the Georgia Gwinnett College graduation ceremony in May 2009, that is, Dave Petraeus is the most distinguished soldier of his generation. As Dave assumes his new responsibilities as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, it seems an appropriate opportunity to reflect on the characteristics that he will bring to the job.
By way of background, I should note that I have known Dave Petraeus for 30 years. We taught together on the faculty at West Point, where we co-edited a book together, and we were involved in many subsequent projects in the years that followed. I have had the opportunity to observe him over the years in the most demanding of circumstances, so I know well both the depth of his intellect and strength of his character.
What I have always admired about Dave is his unrivaled ability as a strategic thinker. I have seen it first-hand, both in the classroom, and in the field in critical operational assignments. At the retirement ceremony last week, Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made the point when he described what he called Dave's uncanny ability to "see around the next corner."
His West Point classmates who played soccer with him, called it "seeing the next shot." Whatever the metaphor, the point is well made. At root, the role of the Central Intelligence Agency is to "see around the next corner," to divine from disparate and often contradictory bits of information the outline of what lies ahead in volatile and fractious regions of the world. Beginning with the Trojan horse, one need only review the substantial history of well-documented intelligence failures to understand just how difficult that task is. In order to avoid any such unpleasant surprises, Dave will need to ascertain and enforce what he believes to be the appropriate balance between high tech gadgets and well-trained on the ground operatives (yep, spies).
Compounding the difficulty of digesting enormous amounts of information from technical and human sources and transforming it into useful intelligence, is the fact that the Central Intelligence Agency does not operate in a vacuum. As annual federal operating budgets dwindle, as they will for the next decade, all the intelligence agencies will be out to demonstrate why its budget deserves consideration above all others.
Dave Petraeus will bring to the CIA his extraordinary skill as a strategic thinker as well as years of experience fighting both tenacious enemies in the field as well as annual budget battles inside the beltway in Washington. It is hard to imagine a more qualified person for the job at this point in our nation's history.
That said, the world is an increasingly fragmented and uncertain place. Many are familiar with the cliché that "generals always prepare to fight the last war." Whatever the merits of that view, it seems clear that the role of the CIA role is to divine what's next, not to focus on what already is. I know of no one better suited to the task. We all wish Dave Petraeus the best as the nation bestows on him the responsibility for seeing around the next corner.
SEPT. 9, 2011 -- What makes the presidential campaigns interesting, especially the year in advance of the political conventions, is that some really good ideas can emerge from all the ballyhoo and bravura as the candidates hit the stump. We will say, however, that every person must pay particular attention in order to recognize the quality ideas, compared with some ideas which look good on paper, but in reality, just will not work.
In this year, we must rely upon the Republican candidates to make the most of these distinctive presentations, since at present there are no substantial Democratic challengers to the sitting president. A first term president does not throw out ideas like this, since there usually are not many challengers within his party, and anyway, he must "act presidential" and does not have the time for this.
If a Republican was a sitting president, it would be the Democrats who would have to throw out the innovative ideas.
You want an example?
Here's one. It comes from Republican candidate Jon Huntsman Jr., the former Utah governor and Democratic appointee as ambassador to China under President Obama.
Governor Huntsman's idea that caught our attention was an innovative one, something that has been brought up before, but something that got little buy-in. This candidate for president suggests that the United States strip its tax code of all loopholes and deductions.
Wow! That's a big change!
Go up against all the stakeholders who now benefit from the thousands of loopholes in the tax code! Think of the opposition such a suggestion will draw. But think, too, of the clarity of this proposal, one that gets down to the basics, and suggests, in effect, that this country start over on writing its tax laws. Accountants and lawyers will have a field day fighting this proposal, for it really would simplify tax matters and could spoil the way CPAs and attorneys currently make their living.
What has happened, as Governor Huntsman explains, is that the current tax code has become nothing less than a Bible of Special Interests. There are carefully-carved exemptions here, deductions there, and exclusions abounding, so that therefore the tax code becomes nothing shy of means for some people to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.
In effect, it means that paying taxes is unfair to a majority of the people, benefitting only those who are able to influence legislation. You know what that means: these well-off people make contributions to politicians to insure that their interests are protected.
Governor Huntsman is on sound ground, taking part of his idea from another Republican candidate, Ron Paul. The bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Commission to reduce the deficit and lower corporate and individual tax rates, and took on such standard exemptions. But that is only the beginning of the loopholes.
These loopholes are numerous, and many see them as their "right" after they have been in practice for years. But in reality, they hurt the average taxpayers tremendously in higher taxes, and taxes that are spread unfairly.
Perhaps other candidates can put forth other innovative ideas such as Governor Huntsman has done. That's the benefit of having presidential campaigns, of getting new ideas on the table.
Government is never perfect. But there is no doubt that the tax policy of this country is out of whack, as Governor Huntsman points out, and needs reining in and changing to make our country stronger.
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Editor, the Forum:
Greed is hard to overcome, when money is involved. Human safety comes in a very far second. (College football reform in Forum, September 2). It is easy for these young men to become simply 'meat' and when no longer useful, the colleges to forget about them.
-- Mark Dohle, Conyers
What examples are higher ed institutions setting?
Editor, the Forum:
I meant to get back to you on your commentary about the football program at the University of Georgia in a recent Forum. Let me say that you nailed it! I was talking to the wife about the very subject earlier and how disappointed I was with the University and the caliber of athletes they are now recruiting. And, it does go back to recruiting.
Then we have the fiasco with the athletic director who was relieved of his duties last year. What kind of example was he setting? Where was UGA President Michael Adams when all this was going on?
Don't the Board of Regents have some responsibility in this?
I was at UGA during the Wally Butts era and I can assure you that he nor any of his assistant coaches would not have tolerated any of the malfeasance we have recently seen! One in particular coach, Quinton Lumpkin, was a no-nonsense guy. You didn't mess with him!
I can remember a quote by Coach Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers that went like this; "Winning isn't everything. It's the only thing." I think the University is embracing this and may need to rethink their philosophy. There are plenty of talented football players who aren't thugs and we need to be recruiting them.
Compares college football antics with investment banks!
Editor, the Forum:
Your recent comment on college football is timely and well-reasoned. The same administrators increase tuition, restrict faculty, denigrate curriculum and allow this money-driven out-of-control monster to flourish. Several former head coaches publicly stated that the one thing that will work is a lifetime expulsion of any head coach involved in these shenanigans.
Chances of that happening: somewhere near zero.
I might add that the strange ritual of conference worship has gotten way out of hand. Some of the "realignment" ideas being tossed about seem as greedy and far removed from the public interest as antics by investment banks.
These stadiums are public property, not part of a corporate portfolio. Even the names and logos of colleges which are marketed for profit, are clearly and rightfully public property. I don't think governors or state legislatures will be doing much to stop the madness. Over time, Congress and the Internal Revenue Service will begin to probe more and more.
I forgot to mention the waste of a young man's life by these programs. I refuse to blame the victim. Blame the head coaches. And if you get an opportunity at a booster rally, ask any player whether they actually earned a college degree. The answers are revealing.
Yearns for return of the challenges and benefits of dueling
Editor, the Forum:
When I think of the death of Button Gwinnett that you mentioned recently, remembering it was from a duel, sometimes I wish this art of settling a political argument still existed. I bet our politicians would think longer about what they say about each other.
However I know it couldn't be feasible today. The House would pass a 2,500 page bill regulating the rules of engagement but the Senate would vote no because it favored a political side and/or the President would veto because the black powder was environmentally harmful.
Duluth Historical Society issues a special invitation to join its September 20 general meeting, at 7 p. m. at the Historic Strickland House. Guest speaker is Duluth native Kathy Andrews Fincher. Kathy was born into a family of focused, determined and exceptionally artistic people. Her mother, Margaret Parsons Andrews, is a painter and visionary organizer who spearheaded a drive to raise funds to build and fund two Fine Arts Centers, including a one-of-a-kind children's fine arts museum and school. Her aunt, Ann Parsons Odum, is particularly well known for her preservation of the history of Duluth, through her paintings, some hanging in the Duluth History Museum.
Kathy, herself, is considered one of today's leading inspirational artists. Her focus is paintings of children, landscapes and still lifes. Her work is found in lithographs, books, calendars, sculpture lines, greeting cards, inspirational giftware, journals, music boxes and more.
New London Theatre presents Steel Magnolias in September
London Theatre will present Steel Magnolias opening September 9 and
continuing through September 25 each Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday
Tickets are $12 in advance or $15 on the day of the show. Children and students with ID are always $10. Seniors can enjoy tickets for the Sunday performances for $10. Tickets can be purchased either online through the website or at the theatre box office. Shows are performed at the theatre: 2485 East Main Street Snellville.
Jackson EMC ranks at top among group of Southern utilities
In a study just released by J.D. Power and Associates, Jackson Electric Membership Corporation (EMC) ranked highest in customer satisfaction among midsize utilities in the South. This marked the fourth year that Jackson EMC had been included in the study, the second consecutive award and the third time the cooperative has received the honor.
Randall Pugh, the cooperative's president/CEO, says: "Jackson EMC is extremely pleased to receive this honor again. This award recognizes every aspect of our organization, from system reliability to community involvement. Our employees have an incredibly strong commitment to and pride in the service they provide our members, and this award demonstrates that commitment. I am so very proud to work with people like these folks, who demonstrate their dedication each and every day."
ranked both large and midsize utilities in the East, Midwest, South and
West. Midsize utilities serve 125,000-499,999 residential customers, while
large utilities serve 500,000 or more customers. Factors examined by the
study included power quality and reliability, price, billing and payment,
corporate citizenship, communications and customer service.
Georgia Gwinnett College will receive $150,000 as part of the $1 million Completion Innovation Challenge grant recently awarded to Georgia by the Complete College America program and supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Georgia is one of 10 states to win the grant, out of 33 states that applied. The 18-month implementation grants support innovative, high-impact college completion initiatives designed to enhance student success and close attainment gaps for traditionally underrepresented populations.
GGC is one of two University System of Georgia institutions to receive grant funds, the other being the College of Coastal Georgia. Two Technical College System of Georgia institutions also received funds, Athens Technical College and DeKalb Technical College. All four colleges will use the grant funding to pilot innovative remediation programs. If their programs achieve success by meeting benchmarks, their programs will serve as models for other institutions in the state.
John Muth, GGC's dean of the School of Transitional Studies, says: "The overall goal is to transform remedial education by helping students shorten the time it takes them to complete their remedial education so they can move forward with college-level courses. Our program is unique in that students may take remedial courses at the same time they are taking some selected college-level courses, enabling them to improve and apply their skills more quickly."
Georgia Gwinnett's program will use diagnostic software and electronic writing analysis to assess students who place into remedial math and/or English. While GGC already has teaching modules in remedial math, the grant will fund development of similar modules in remedial English. Faculty mentorship, the hallmark of a GGC education, will play a key role in facilitating student engagement in the program.
Gwinnett hospitals win Association's Quality Honor Roll
Gwinnett Medical Center's hospitals in Duluth and Lawrenceville have been named to the Georgia Hospital Association's (GHA) Partnership for Health and Accountability (PHA) Quality Honor Roll. The hospitals were among 61 facilities in Georgia to be placed in the Presidential category, one of the highest on the list. The honor roll is based on clinical data provided by the federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS), which administers the nation's Medicare and Medicaid programs. The data was collected from January 2010 to December 2010.
Joseph Parker, president of GHA, says: "This is a great accomplishment for GMC. This recognition further underscores the commitment of the GMC staff ensuring that every patient receives the best, most effective health care possible."
All acute care hospitals are required to submit care data to CMS. This data details how well a hospital's caregivers adhere to Appropriate Care Measures (ACM). Such measures are the clinical processes of care that are known to be the most effective methods of treatment for patients who have suffered heart attacks, heart failure or pneumonia. The ACM is a composite measure that determines whether or not a patient received the right care at the right time.
For instance, a recommended treatment to help prevent a heart attack is to take aspirin either before or upon arrival at the hospital, as well as at discharge.
In addition to this recognition by GHA, GMC was also recognized in independent research as it relates to the same three conditions. In a study by USA Today and WXIA-TV, patients treated at GMC hospitals for heart attack, heart failure or pneumonia had a better chance for survival in comparison to the national average.
Phil Wolfe, president and CEO of GMC, says: "It is our mission to ensure that each of our patients receives the right care at the right time and this recognition validates this. This honor is a tribute to the hard work and dedication of our staff who are constantly striving to make excellent care even better."
"The Twisted Taco in Johns Creek is the former Garrison's location near the Regal Theaters at Medlock and State Bridge roads. There's a friendly staff, inexpensive menu, and creative tacos and multiple other possibilities. Food is of good quality, and the manager even stopped by my table to check on food quality. It also has an awesome rooftop bar, and plenty of TVs for sports in both rooftop and dining areas. A guitarist is playing early and then a DJ is on in the evening upstairs. It's a fun atmosphere, and a definite return for me."
Emily Woodward was a prominent female journalist in the early 20th-century South who became an outspoken advocate of liberal causes. Eschewing a domestic life for a career in journalism and adult education, Woodward appeared personally and in print across the United States and abroad. Hers was a public life devoted to social and political advocacy.
Emily Barnelia Woodward was born on May 2, 1885, in the south-central Georgia town of Vienna, where she lived her entire life. She attended public school in Vienna and in 1910 graduated from the Gordon Institute in Barnesville.
Woodward began her work as a journalist in 1916, when she became editor of the Vienna News, a weekly newspaper purchased by members of the Woodward family. In 1918 she became sole owner of the News, which she continued editing until 1933, when she sold the paper. During her tenure as editor, Woodward became one of the most visible women in journalism in the South and enjoyed close ties with the journalism faculty at the University of Georgia and with her press colleagues around the region. In 1927 she became the first woman to be elected president of the Georgia Press Association, and in 1928 she founded the Georgia Press Institute, an annual gathering of Georgia's newspaper editors. Woodward's leadership brought together various leading lights of the journalism world to make presentations before this gathering.
After the sale of her newspaper in 1933, Woodward published a photographic history of her home state, Empire: Georgia Today in Photographs and Paragraphs (1936). She also became a more widely known figure during the 1930s through her freelance work with the Atlanta Journal, which resulted in quite a demand for her to speak around the state, region, and nation. Largely because of her reputation as a speaker, she was invited to direct an adult education program, the Georgia Public Forums, which was initiated in fall 1938 and was later overseen by the University System of Georgia.
In 1943 the University of Georgia Press published Woodward's book Forums: Why and How. During World War II (1941-45) Woodward lectured in England and Scotland for the U.S. Office of War Information and the British Ministry of War Information. After the war she traveled to Japan, where, as a member of General Douglas MacArthur's committee on education, she served as an adviser on education.
Woodward's connection to national politics had begun when she served as one of the first women delegates to a National Democratic Convention in 1928. She was a delegate to the Atlanta Conference on Race Relations in 1943 and an early proponent of saving Georgia's public schools when segregation advocates wanted them closed in the face of Brown v. Board of Education.
Woodward was awarded honorary degrees from the University of Georgia (1929) and LaGrange College (1946). She died on March 23, 1970, in Vienna. Woodward was inducted into the Georgia Newspaper Hall of Fame in 1973 and was named to the ranks of Georgia Women of Achievement in 2004.
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"Whenever people agree with me I always feel I must be wrong."
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(NEW) 12x12 Xtravaganza, exhibit and silent auction: Opening reception is 7 p.m. today (Sept. 9), at Kudzu Art Zone, Carlyle Street, Norcross. Exhibit continues on Saturday from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.
(NEW) Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, at Lionheart Theatre, Norcross: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, September 9-25. Reservations recommended at www.lionhearttheatre.org. Not recommended for children.
11th annual Suwanee Day 5k/10K Classic, Sept. 10, starting at Town Center Park. The 5K begins at 8 a.m. and the 10K at 9 a.m. Register at www.suwaneeday.com. Proceeds benefit the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. Suwanee Day features a parade, arts, crafts, entertainment, children's activities and fireworks. Admission is free.
Recycling event: 9 a.m. to noon, Sept. 10, Rhodes Jordan Park Community Center in Lawrenceville. Electronic recycling is free, but there is a $10 charge for auto tires and a $5 per box charge for paper shredding. Volunteers will also paint a mural and install landscaping at the Center. The event is sponsored by Gwinnett Parks and Recreation Department.
(NEW) British Car Fayre, downtown Norcross: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 10. See more than 150 British motor cars and motorcycles. Downtown streets will be closed for this event.
Duluth Fall Festival Concert, featuring Rupert's Orchestra: 6:30 p.m., Sept. 10, downtown Duluth. Enjoy music by opening act Betty Seni, while Rupert's Orchestra will take the stage at 8 p. m. Admission is free.
(NEW) Meet the authors of the new publication, "Norcross," a 128-page photo book just being released: 7 p.m. Sept. 10 at Norcross Cultural and Arts and Community Center. Edie Riehm, Gene Ramsey and Cate Kitchen went through dozens of local collectors photos to compile this book. Come and hear memorable stories they uncovered in this quest.
Living Honorarium Unveiling, Duluth Town Green, Sunday, Sept. 11 at 5:30 p.m. This will be a monument dedicated to everyday heroes in the military, fire and police forces. The idea came from Shirley Lasseter, a current county commissioner, when she was mayor. For more information, contact Alisa Williams at 678-475-3506.
(NEW) Patriot Day Concert: 6 p.m. Sept. 11, Snellville First Baptist Church. The Stone Mountain Chorus will present this free concert.
Gwinnett Technology Forum: 7:30 a.m., Sept. 13, at Gwinnett Tech's Busbee Center. This Forum will focus on state legislative issues that affect technology. Hear presentations from Rep. Mike Dudgeon of Forsyth County and Ms. Marlit Hayslett, with the Georgia Tech Research Institute.
General Membership Meeting, Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce: 11:30 a.m., Sept. 14, The 1818 Club, Duluth. Speaker will be Paul Bowers, CEO of Georgia Power Company. For reservations, go online here.
(NEW) Eighth Annual Taste of Buford: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sept. 15, Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center. Area restaurants come together to provide culinary treats. Tickets are $30 each in advance, $35 at the door. This event benefits Hi Hope Service Center. Info: www.hihopecenter.org.
Taste of Duluth: 6:30 p.m., Sept. 15, Payne Corley House in Duluth. For more information, go to www.duluthfallfestival.org.
Fair on the Square, Lawrenceville's third annual Community Fall Festival: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sept. 17, at the Historic Courthouse. Among the activities will be a fresh food market, artist market, entertainment and a variety of vendors. The Fair is partnering with the Lawrenceville Co-Op ministry, asking those attending to bring non-perishable food items for the co-op. For more information, visit online.
Meet the Author: 7 p.m., Sept. 21, at the Norcross Cultural Arts and Community Center. Author Stuart Woods will discuss and sign his books. Sponsored by Gwinnett County Public Library. For more information, visit www.gwinnettpl.org or call 770-978-5154.
(NEW) Book Signing: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Sept. 24, 1 until 4 p.m., at Books for Less, 2815 Buford Highway, Buford. Doug Dahlgren of Decatur, author of The Son, Silas Rising, will sign and discuss his novel.
Rainbow Village Gala: 6:30 p.m., Oct. 22, Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek. Wilmington Trust is the presenting sponsor. Dinner, entertainment and a silent auction will mark the 20 years of celebration. Entertainment will be with Blue Sky Atlanta. Reserve seats.
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