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STILL CHRISTMAS: Officially, of course, we are still in the 12 days of Christmas. This photo of Christmas decorations in Norcross is from Chuck Paul, who perfectly framed the former railroad station between the two sparkling Christmas trees, for what we affirm is the best Gwinnett photo of the 2012 Christmas season. "Good eye, Chuck!"

Issue 12.72 | Friday, Jan. 4, 2013

:: Unintended consequences can pinch

:: Who was this famous American?

About green resolutions, guns

State of Suwanee, Lilburn art, more

:: Scout honor, Hardin on board


:: Gwinnett Place CID

:: The Third Miracle

:: Georgian runs for president

:: Lots of events on tap

:: Blank page for 2013


ABOUT US 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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Inability of legislators imposes unintended consequence tax
Special to
| Permalink

PEACHTREE CORNERS, Ga., Jan. 4, 2013 -- Most of us are aware of what is often called the "Law of Unintended Consequences." This is when the government, often at the national level, passes a law to solve one problem but it actually makes it worse. Let's look at what the Georgia Legislature did last year to eliminate the annual ad valorem vehicle tax due on one's birthday, which for new residents of Georgia, makes it worse.


Until March 1 of this year, a resident in Georgia buying a vehicle paid sales tax on a new vehicle plus an $18 fee to register their vehicle in the state. Then each year in their birthday month, they paid a tax based on the value of vehicle, which often could be a hundred dollars or more in local ad valorem taxes.

Now, (with increases each year) any resident buying a new or used car will pay no sales tax but instead a registration fee of 6.5 percent and never pay an annual ad valorem tax. Sounds great, but here is what happens if a new resident moves into the state with their current car.

Say the car is valued at $40,000. With the 6.5 percent registration tax, the new resident has to pay, at the tag office, $2,600 instead of $18. (The only saving grace is that half will be due immediately at the tag office with the balance over the next year.) And even if the car is valued less, say $25,000, this is still a new tax of $1,625 instead of $18. Telling this new resident it will save annual taxes of a few hundred dollars for as long as they own the car does not make it easier to pay the high, one time tax.

This is an incredible and intolerable burden. And it falls disproportionately and unfairly on younger lower income new residents, since these are the people who often move from state to state, staying only a few years. Older, more established residents will enjoy the benefit of no more annual birthday tax. It could also fall, unfairly, on employers, who will be told by prospective job seekers from out of state, that this new fee is part of moving expenses, and is expected to be paid from the employer.

And it is not just new residents who move into the state with their current car. The registration tax of 6.5 percent is imposed on all vehicles they own, which can be two vehicles for most families. Imagine getting a new job and going down to the tag office and presented with a bill for thousands of dollars just to register a car you have had for many years.

Legislators will tell you that no one saw this coming. That may be because the law is so complicated in the first place, but also because none of our esteemed legislators thought it through.

Sadly, incredible but true!

New biography of famous American hits nail on the head
Editor and publisher |


JAN. 4, 2013 -- Who is this person?

"He served under Washington and with Lincoln; he lived with Ben Franklin, lunched with Lafayette, Jefferson and Wellington; he walked with Russia's czar and talked with Britain's king; he dined with Dickens, taught at Harvard, and was American minister to six European countries. He negotiated the peace that ended the War of 1812, freed the African prisoners on the slave ship Amistad, served 16 years in the House of Representatives, restored free speech in Congress, led the antislavery movement… . and … He was the sixth president of the United States."

By now you may recognize John Quincy Adams, the first son of John and Abigail Adams. The quote above is from Harlow Giles Unger's beginning of this easily-read biography of J.Q. Adams, and presents perhaps many angles about the life of the "other" Adams that most of us do not know about. After all, his father is better remembered by most of us because of his connection with both the Revolution and financing our country through him being the American envoy to France after our independence, which led to him becoming the second president of our country.

The younger Adams easily contributes to this biography because of his zeal at keeping a diary, from the time he was young (ten years old), until his death. Unger makes great use of this treasure, as he shows us both the official and also the personal side of this giant of American history. Young JQ was tough on himself, always aspiring, always reading, and showed this in his early ability to learn languages. He was with his father for years as John Adams represented our country in Paris, mastering not only English, French and Dutch, but also learning Russian by himself.

So when the United States sent an ambassador to Russia, Francis Dana, who did not speak Russian, 14 year old John Quincy went along as the secretary to the ambassador and his interpreter. He became a favorite of the czar, and his court. Later young Adams joined his father in London, where he matured, and eventually married a young English woman who would be his life-long companion.

Back eventually in the USA, J.Q. Adams went to Harvard, into the law, and soon was in public life, even a U.S. Senator for a short while, before going again across the Atlantic to represent U.S. interests. His term as Secretary of State to James Monroe led to him becoming the sixth president.

His was a failed presidency, since John Quincy Adams did not feel party loyalty, but a loyalty to the country, taking independent steps. Serving one term and with little accomplished, he returned home to Massachusetts, only to find his neighbors sent him back to the U.S. House of Representatives. He served for 16 years, the only former president to serve in that body. He died in Congress at age 80. However, he had become a champion of the people in Congress, with the author saying that "the nation mourned as it had not since the deaths of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin."

We knew little of John Quincy Adams before reading this book. You may recall that John Quincy Adams is the subject of the first chapter in John Kennedy's Profiles in Courage. JFK hit the nail on the head with John Quincy Adams, a president and Congressman like no other.

Gwinnett Place Community Improvement District

The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring to you at no cost to readers.. The Gwinnett Place Community Improvement District (CID) is a self-taxing district organized in March 2005 comprised of 238 commercial properties. The CID's mission is to "enhance the economic vitality of Gwinnett's central business district by strengthening the area's role as the center of commercial activity." In addition to comprehensive planning efforts to address traffic congestion, an area-wide branding and marketing initiative, daily community patrols keeping the area free from graffiti and litter, landscaping enhancements, infrastructure improvements and promoting redevelopment opportunities, the CID Board of Directors remains committed to increasing the long-term economic sustainability of greater Gwinnett Place. The Gwinnett Place CID...Keeping Gwinnett Place the Place to be. To learn more about the Gwinnett Place CID and ways to find success at Gwinnett's central business district, please visit or

  • For a list of other underwriters of this forum, click here.

Gwinnett C&B invites you to pick "green" resolutions

Editor, the Forum:

Start your year off right by choosing some "green" New Year's resolutions that will help you as well as the environment. Read our list below to see if there are any ideas that appeal to you. Try picking a resolution that is realistic for you and easy to stick with. Remember, even a small change will make all the difference!

1. Recycle especially at the Recycling Bank of Gwinnett! If you already do, add something else to your recycling list: promise to save all old electronics and batteries in a special bin and take it to your nearest drop-off facility (for a list of items and locations, CLICK HERE).

2. Join the Earn Cash, Win Prizes carpool program and start carpooling more often to win!

3. Pledge to conserve more water with My Drop Counts. Remember to turn the sink off when not in use, upgrade your shower head, and wash full loads of laundry.

4. Bike to your local grocery store. You'll get a great workout and reduce your carbon footprint.

5. Vow to buy local goods as much as you can.

6. Remember to use your reusable bags! If you forget them, recycle the plastic bags.

7. Replace your old light bulbs with energy efficient, compact florescent bulbs.

8. Bring your own travel mug when you pick up your morning cup of coffee or tea.

9. Use rainwater to water your plants. Visit your local hardware store for a rain barrel or other options. You can even put a layer of mesh over the top to keep mosquitoes out.

10. Support Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful to help our community become greener, cleaner, and more livable.

Happy New Year from Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful!

-- Connie Wiggins, Sugar Hill

Wonders who recent letter is kidding about gun solution

Editor, the Forum:

Re: The letter writer who says we cannot legislate our way into a solution on guns.

Who is he kidding?

It won't happen any other way.

-- Robert Hanson, Loganville

  • We welcome your letters and thoughts. Our policy: We encourage readers to submit feedback (or letters to the editor). Send your thoughts to the editor at We will edit for length and clarity. Make sure to include your name and the city where you live. Submission of a comment grants permission for us to reprint. Please keep your comments to 300 words or less. However, we will consider longer articles (no more than 500 words) for featuring in Today's Focus as space allows.

State of Suwanee address set for Jan. 9 at City Hall

Mayor Jimmy Burnette will give the annual State of the City address on Wednesday, January 9, in Council Chambers on the second floor of City Hall, 330 Town Center Avenue. The State of the City address is part of the January meeting of the Suwanee Business Alliance, which begins at 6 p.m. The presentation is free and open to the public.


The mayor will share City accomplishments from 2012, which include opening of a police training facility and substation in the Suwanee Gateway, streetscaping projects at I-85 and along Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, and a 0.72 reduction in the City's tax rate.

In addition, Burnette will share information about the 20/20 Vision strategic plan process as well as highlight some of the priorities and strategies identified in the plan. Suwanee's strategic plan, which engaged more than 800 area residents, business owners, and community stakeholders, resulted in seven driving principles, 33 goals, and 140 potential strategies.

Lilburn invites residents to join new art alliance

Interested Lilburn residents are invited to join the recently formed Lilburn Art Alliance to promote public art projects throughout the city. The group's mission is to create works of public art, support local artists of all kinds, and create studio space in Old Town Lilburn.

The Alliance will host its first art exhibition on Saturday, January 12, from 1 until 6 p.m. at 107 Main St. in Old Town. Sprig Restaurant will provide hors d'oeuvres and wine, and Music on Main Street will provide musical entertainment. Local artists on display will include Susan Boudreaux, Diana Dice, Teri Enfield, Alan Harp, Gwendolyn McDonald, David Raderstorf, and Peggy Sullens.

Mayor Johnny Crist says: "I hope that the Lilburn Art Alliance will be a catalyst to harness the artistic energy in this city. We have a lot of talented artists here in Lilburn and a cultured community that appreciates the fine arts. The Art Alliance will help bring them together."

The first public meeting of the Lilburn Art Alliance is scheduled for Jan. 23 at 7 p.m. at 107 Main St. For more information, contact Sonny Franks, 770-923-9933.

Kudzu Art Studio in Norcross plans Jan. 5 reception

For the first time, Kudzu Art Studio in Norcross will feature studio artists in the main gallery in a show appropriately titled "Spotlight on Studio Artists." Eight artists will present a varied array of two and three dimensional works.

The exhibit opens with an artist reception on Saturday, January 5, from 4 to 7 p.m. If unable to make this reception, you are invited to drop by any Friday or Saturday during January from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Button Gwinnett Scout District to honor Mark Tyrrell of Duluth

Marsha Bomar of Duluth will chair the 2013 Annual Button Gwinnett District Boy Scout Golden Eagle Breakfast. The event will be held Friday, January 25, at 7:30 a.m. at the 1818 Club.

The Council will recognize a long-time supporter of the youth of the community, Mark Tyrrell of Tapp Lumber Company. He is a long-time supporter of prospective Eagle Scouts seeking supplies for their Eagle Scout Projects. Mark is also a member of the Rotary Club of Duluth and Duluth United Methodist Church.

Bomar is a senior principal with Stantec and a Duluth City Councilwoman. The Golden Eagle Breakfast is an annual fundraising breakfast for the Atlanta Area Council, Boy Scouts of America. This event highlights the efforts of Scouting in the local community and serves as a fundraiser for growth, camping property, and outreach in Gwinnett County and throughout Metro-Atlanta.

Here is Cub Scout Pack 650 of the Button Gwinnett Scout District (chartered to Mt. Carmel United Methodist Church) at their Crossover Ceremony last year at Berkeley Lake Chapel. Pictured from left are Sean Corley, Lamandren Derrick, Naman Shah, Kyle Actenberg, Kameron Actenberg, Will Cooksey, Andrew Herman, Nicolas Finol, Christopher Flores, Luis Guevara , Bradley Johnson, Taylor Eaton, and their leader, Jeff Hazen.
  • For more information on the event, or to solicit an invitation, please contact the local Boy Scout Senior District Executive George Snipes.

Hardin joins board of visitors of GGC School of Business

Henry C. Hardin III, founder, president and CEO of Lawrenceville-based SCI Companies, has joined the Georgia Gwinnett College School of Business Board of Visitors. The board partners with constituencies outside academia to build private support for the scholarships, professorships and internships which bring outstanding students, faculty and programming to Georgia Gwinnett.


Hardin is in the field of human resource outsourcing, and he has helped to establish new business models for the human resources (HR) field, enabling companies to transform from a functional operations model to a process-driven, customer-focused model.

He is a native of Miami, Fla., attended Berry College and Florida International University, and has lived in Gwinnett for 16 years. Hardin founded SCI Companies in 1985. Focused on the under-serviced small and medium-sized business market, SCI Companies' solutions deliver value through reduced administrative costs, better strategic focus and the integration of world-class HR technologies and services.

The Third Miracle
By Bill Briggs

"This true story is of a 97-year attempt to make an American nun a saint. If granted sainthood, this woman would be only the eighth American to become a saint. What a fascinating look behind the scenes! Saint- making is big business. At The Vatican, the department called 'Congregation for the Causes of Saints' is known as 'the saint-naming wing' and has nearly 80 employees. This book is about the efforts to convince the saint makers that an American nun named Mother Theodore had performed a medical miracle on a rural Indiana Baptist handyman. The book reads like a mystery, so don't read the book jacket and reviews because they give too much away. Becoming a saint is a difficult journey, but one I found very interesting. (The full name of the book is 'The Third Miracle: An Ordinary Man, a Medical Mystery, and a Trial of Faith' and it has nothing to do with the movie called 'The Third Miracle.')"

-- Susan McBrayer, Sugar Hill

  • 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

William Harris Crawford was first Ga. presidential candidate

No other Georgian of his time achieved as much political prominence in the early national period as did William Harris Crawford. A two-time U.S. presidential nominee and the only Georgian to run for the presidency prior to Jimmy Carter, Crawford campaigned in both 1816 and 1824. Although best known nationally for his 1824 bid for the presidency, the most controversial presidential election in U.S. history up to that point, Crawford served the state and nation in a variety of ways, including terms as a U.S. senator, cabinet member under two presidents, and foreign diplomat. His younger cousin, George W. Crawford, served as Georgia's governor in the 1840s.

Crawford was born on February 24, 1772, in Amherst County (later Nelson County), Va. The family moved to the Edgefield District of South Carolina in 1779 and then to Richmond County (later Columbia County), Ga., in 1783. After several years of teaching and farming, Crawford enrolled at Moses Waddel's Carmel Academy in Appling, and later at Richmond Academy in Augusta. He studied law privately, was admitted to the bar, and began practice in Lexington in 1799.

In 1804 he married a former pupil, Susanna Gerardin, soon after purchasing his Woodlawn estate in Lexington. They had nine children. William Crawford aspired to live the life of a country gentleman, but he would not get the chance to do so until the end of his career. In the meantime he gradually added to his landholdings at Woodlawn and became the overseer of a good-sized plantation. By 1834 he owned 1,300 acres and 45 slaves.

Crawford's brawny physique and straight-talking, non-rhetorical character earned him both friends and enemies in Georgia. He opposed the Yazoo Act of 1795, which transferred 35 million acres of the state's western frontier (in present-day Alabama and Mississippi) to speculators and became known as the Yazoo Land Fraud. The controversy eventually led to the famous Fletcher v. Peck (1810) decision.

Crawford's political career got under way in 1799, when he was appointed to write a digest of Georgia laws, and the resulting work, Digest of the Laws of the State of Georgia, written with Horatio Marbury, was published in 1801.

In 1803 Crawford was elected to represent Oglethorpe County in the state House of Representatives. He quickly allied himself with U.S. senator James Jackson. The leading opponent of gross land speculation, Jackson was a hero of the Revolutionary War (1775-83) and former governor of Georgia. His allies, known over time as the Jackson, the Crawford, and the Troup Party, were a powerful faction of the Jefferson party. This faction consisted of aristocratic plantation owners and residents of the more affluent, established areas of Georgia. Their powerful enemies were the Clarkites, led initially by Elijah Clarke and later by his son John Clarke, whose supporters included small farmers and frontier settlers.

A factional rivalry descended into a violent feud in 1802, when Crawford killed Peter Van Alen, one of Clark's allies. Four years later John Clark wounded Crawford in a duel. Unsatisfied with the result, Clark challenged him again, but Crawford refused. In a fit of anger over Crawford's unwillingness to meet, Clark cornered a Crawford ally, Judge Charles Tait, in the streets of Milledgeville and severely whipped him with a riding crop. Clark was fined $2,000 for the incident, which was a reflection of the deep-seated division between the two political factions.

(To be continued)


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2013, Gwinnett Gwinnett Forum is an online community commentary for exploring pragmatic and sensible social, political and economic approaches to improve life in Gwinnett County, Ga. USA.

Visit this site to see details of the upcoming funerals of Gwinnett Countians from local funeral homes. On the site, sign up at top right and we'll send you GwinnettObits each day.

Click on the names below to see details of their funerals.

You've got a blank page for 2013: Write well

"Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one."

-- Brad Paisley (1972 - ), American singer, songwriter, country/country rock star and musician, via Cindy Evans, Duluth.

Looking for that perfect, unique gift?

Consider a book about Gwinnett history.

Previously out of print, Elliott Brack's 850-page history, "Gwinnett: A Little Above Atlanta," is now available again. Since its original publication, the book was declared the winner of the 2010 Award of Excellence for documenting Georgia history by the Georgia Historical Records Advisory Board. It is also the winner of the Gwinnett Historical Society's Whitworth-Flanigan Award for 2011 for preserving the history of Gwinnett County.

The book includes 143 demographic and historic tables, with more than 4,000 names in the index, and 10,000 names in the appendix.Two versions of the book are available. The hardback edition is priced at $75, while a softback edition is $40. Books are available at:

  • Atlanta History Center, Atlanta
  • Books for Less, Buford
  • Gwinnett Historical Society, Lawrenceville
  • Vargas and Harbin Gallery, Norcross

You can also order books through the Internet. To do that, go to to place your order. For mail orders, there is a $5 shipping and handling fee. Purchases are also subject to the 6 percent Georgia sales tax.

Or call me (Elliott Brack) at 770 840 1003 and tell me how to dedicate a book to a friend (or to you) as he adds his signature!




Prize office space in Technology Park between Peachtree Industrial Blvd. and Georgia Highway141 (Peachtree Parkway), in Norcross (Peachtree Corners.) Exceptional view of hardwood forest, lake and waterfall in a tranquil setting where the forest filters direct sunlight. All who visit marvel at the view, throughout all seasons.

Located in the former Technology Park/Atlanta headquarters building, one of the most prestigious areas of the park, the suite consists 1,561 square feet, consisting of three offices, a large conference room with bookcases, kitchen, ample storage space and foyer, all on the entrance floor. Available on Jan. 31, 2013.

Call 770 840 1144 for more details and to arrange an appointment.


(NEW) Open House at City Hall of Peachtree Corners: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Jan. 6. The City Hall is located at 147 Technology Parkway, Suite 200, in Technology Park/Atlanta. The city's new logo will be introduced during this reception.

(NEW) Pre-Legislative Meeting: 6:30 p.m., Jan. 7, Rhodes Jordan Park Community Center, 100 East Crogan Street, Lawrenceville. Join Reps. Valerie Clark, Joyce Chandler and Brett Harrell for a Town Hall meeting on the upcoming session of the Georgia Legislature. Harrell will also be present for similar meetings at Snellville City Hall at noon Jan. 8 and at the Grayson Senior Center at 7 p.m. on Jan. 10.

(NEW) After Hours in Buford: 5:30 p.m., Jan. 8, Brand Bank, 2255 Buford Highway. Guests are welcome at this function hosted by the Buford Business Alliance.


1/29: Senate job opening
1/25: Ultraconservative South
1/22: Buford, Sugar Hill
1/18: Obama's gun program
1/15: Falcons, six tidbits
1/11: Steele built schools
1/7: Malls in former Soviet union
1/4/13: Who is this famous guy?

12/28: Enjoying holiday cards
12/21: Fort Daniel, Chambliss
12/18: Ban assault weapons
12/14: Army-Navy game
12/11: Who stole American dream?
12/7: Lock 'em in a room
12/4: On Partnership Gwinnett

11/30: Hera Lighting
11/27: Voting out scalawags
11/20: Arts alive in Gwinnett
11/16: Hope Clinic needs help
11/13: Casino coming?
11/9: GOP and Georgia Dems
11/6: Early voting, more
11/2: Will Sandy impact election?

10/30: Georgia and GI Bill
10/26: Barge making name
10/23: Our 2012 endorsements
10/19: Pet peeves, more
10/15: Long plane flights
10/12: NO on Amendment 1
10/9: Elisha Winn Fair
10/5: Lots of construction
10/2: Texting while walking

9/28: WSB sets lower bar
9/25: State Archive fracas
9/21: Charter concerns
9/18: Benefits of living here
9/14: Continuing objectives
9/11: Trip to France, Spain
9/7: Community pride

8/31: Conversation on guns
8/24: More robocalls ahead
8/21: Newspaper museum
8/17: Seem easier to vote?
8/14: Western ridges, fall line
8/10: Runoff endorsements
8/7: New UGA health campus
8/3: Primaries raise more questions


1/29: South: Gwinnett's judges
1/25: Calmes: Ballet semifinals
1/22: Sawyer: State of Gwinnett
1/18: Belfoure: Winton Machine
1/15: Ashley: Disabling phone GPS
1/11: Olson: Black artists featured
1/8: Malone: Gun control
1/4/13: Nelems: Unintended

12/28: Hester: New in tech
12/21: Wiggins: Recycle trees
12/18: Two canal cruises to take
12/14: C. Brack: Give a little
12/11: Goodman: Suwanee's art
12/7: Duke: Director of Encouragement
12/4: Dorough: Food co-op

11/30: McHenry: CID redevelopment
11/27: Sutt: Gwinnett arts' questions
11/20: Urrutia: Grad wins award
11/16: Collins: Las Vegas
11/13: Barksdale: Storm prep
11/9: Houston: Kettle Creek
11/6: Stilo: Christmas Canteen
11/2: Crews: View Point Health

10/30: Willis: Amendment One
10/26: Brown: Doc's research
10/19: Hudgens Prize jurors picked
10/15: Urrutia: $2 million gift to GGC
10/12: Young: Lilburn city hall
10/9: Long: Charter schools
10/5: Jones: PGA golf to return
10/2: DeWilde: Suwanee's red code

9/28: Stilo: Pinter's Betrayal
9/21: Love: Model for Nigeria
9/21: Walsh: Childhood obesity
9/18: Ashley promoted
9/14: Wiener: CID's initiative
9/11: Olson: $50K Hudgens contest
9/7: Stilo: Acting classes for all

8/31: Havenga: Great Days of Service
8/24: Griswold: Casino for OFS site
8/21: Brooks: Taking the Megabus
8/17: Summerour: Newspaper family
8/14: Sharp: Newport visit
8/10: Thomas: On schizophrenia
8/7: Carraway: Amendment wording
8/3: Willis: Ready for school parents?


Gwinnett Forum publisher Elliott Brack suggests that Gwinnett County needs a long-range list of continuing objectives for improving the county. Read more.

  • Development of a two-party system for local offices
  • Transparent operations to restore faith in Gwinnett's County Commission
  • Moving statewide non-partisan judge election runoffs to the General Election
  • Light rail for Gwinnett from Doraville MARTA station to Gwinnett Arena
  • Extension of Gwinnett Place CID area to include Arena and Discovery Mills Mall
  • Banning of tobacco in all Gwinnett parks
  • Making Briscoe Field a commercial airport for jet-age travel
  • Approval of Educational SPLOST in 2013
  • More diverse candidates for political offices and appointment to local boards
  • Physical move of former St. Gerard's Catholic Church in Buffalo, N.Y., to Norcross
  • Creative efforts to support the arts in Gwinnett
  • Advancement and expansion of city and Gwinnett historical societies
  • Stronger regulation of late-night establishments with alcoholic licenses


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