Issue 12.73 | Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013
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.
BLAIRSVILLE, Ga., Jan. 8, 2013 -- For some time now I have railed against the increasing lack of personal responsibility demonstrated by our society.
"The car turned in front of oncoming traffic."
"The gun went off."
"She had a gambling problem," mentioned as possible justification in a story of a PTA treasurer embezzling funds.
Cars are incapable of any action without a driver, guns are equally incapable of action without a shooter and there are many people with gambling problems who do not break the law as a result of their addiction. However, in the interest of maintaining our own and/or our society's self esteem, we find it easier to abdicate our personal responsibility to an inanimate object.
But the consequences of this behavior continue to bother us so we require our governments at all levels to get involved and fix these situations for us by creating laws. And so we end up with mandated seat belt usage (while permitting other potentially dangerous driving activities to go unchecked); prohibit smoking in most places (while allowing other cancer causing activities to go on unrestricted); prohibit texting while driving (while allowing newspaper reading, makeup application, eating and various other distracting activities).
Someday, future anthropologists will study our generations and be left with the question, "What the hell were these people thinking?"
And so that brings us to the issue of the moment - gun control.
And I say "moment" because our society will be on to the next issue in a relative short period of time because we all suffer from ADD to a greater or lesser degree. It is the reason that history repeats itself. We are incapable of staying focused long enough to develop permanent solutions so we patch it up for the moment and move on.
The horror of the Newtown, Conn. shootings is almost too much for most of us to comprehend and the utter devastation of those parents is fathomable only to other bereaved parents who have experienced the death of a child.
As we search for solutions our discussion should be framed less around the white-hot emotion of the moment and more about the facts of this situation and pragmatic answers that will prevent similar situations.
The salient facts as reported and confirmed by various media sources are:
* The guns
involved were legally obtained and owned by a law-biding citizen.
instead of a national conversation on violence, gun control and mental
health, society would be better served with a national conversation on
JAN. 8, 2013 -- What was once the "Cold War" pitted essentially the Western world of the United States versus the old world of the Communist Russia. In the 1980s, the old-style Communism was losing its spark, in 1989 the Berlin Wall fell, and by 1991, the old Russia was gone.
The United States had "won" the Cold War.
While the United States continues as the leader of the Western world, today the new star rising is Communist China, bigger than the United States in land area and people, and set to try to dominate the world in the coming century.
As China continues to churn out low-price goods, we may say that the more modern era is a "Trade War," as the West (and the United States) sees their exports faltering and China continues to expand its economic position in the world. Only time will determine how this plays out, and how other countries, notably India and Brazil, harness their technology and natural products, to compete in this global economy.
But let's go back and visit today's Russia for a while.
Indeed, the way the United State has most recently done business appears to be working well in today's Russia. Major investments from the West, billions of dollars, are flowing into Russia, as it becomes (can you imagine) a consumer society much like the United States has been.
The major component: the traditional mall. The mega shopping center, the enclosed mall, is thriving in Russia. And why not? Why would even Russians want to shop in the winter time in the open air in Russia, when they could go to an "air-conditioned" (by that we mean "heated") mall?
Malls, and consumerism, are booming in Russia. Moscow alone has 82 enclosed malls, including one named "Vegas" which maintains it is the largest in the world outside Asia, and not counting the Mall of America's amusement park within its boundaries. On top of this, an even bigger mall will open soon. American money is pouring into these mega-shopping center, from Wall Street, Morgan Stanley and Hines and others, plus monies from the oil-rich countries, seeing a good investment.
The first Western-style mall opened in 2000, and it's been gangbusters since. Among the reason for the popularity of consumer spending is the rise in the personal disposal income of the Russian people. And why not: Russia has a flat 13 percent tax rate, a fast-growing middle class, and socialized health care. Add to this that these days, most Russians own their homes (a result of post-Soviet privatization), which gives them more disposal spending money.
So bring on the grocery stores (anchors of most Russian malls), the fast food, the movies, bowling alleys, fancy clothes, new appliances and other items for the Russians to happily pick over.
What is happening in Russia is no different than the way Americans took to the malls in the post-World War II years, especially the 1960s, as the USA was on a whirlwind of growth and activity. Now Russians, with their new-found openness and more freedom, are advancing in ways many of them never felt possible.
the Cold War days, we would never have thought this would happen! Our
export of the consumer society, to of all places Russia, is one of the
distinctive changes of the modern era.
The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring GwinnettForum.com to you at no cost to readers. Today's sponsor is Aurora Theatre, the professional theatre of Gwinnett County and home of the best entertainment in Northeast Georgia. With over 300 events annually, Aurora Theatre has live entertainment to suit everyone's taste. The Aurora Theatre main stage season is comprised of Broadway's best plays and musicals alongside exciting works of contemporary theatre. Additionally, Aurora produces concerts, comedy club events, children's programs, and metro Atlanta's top haunted attraction, Lawrenceville Ghost Tours. Aurora Theatre is a world-class theatrical facility with two performances venues. It is nestled on the square in historic downtown Lawrenceville, with free attached covered parking and is surrounded by myriad of restaurants and shops. Join them for the hilarious, epic comedy Bob, by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb running January 17-February 10, 2013. For more information or to purchase tickets: http://www.auroratheatre.com/ or call 678-226-6222.
Editor, the Forum:
Earle Snell was someone who told you what he thought. He was a leader
when the Snellville community was trying to build a Little League ball
park. Earle was right there, with everyone working on getting the fields
ready to play. It was the equipment from E. R. Snell Contractors that
helped to shape the fields. After the first fields where finished and
there was no room for a parking lot, Earle bought the land and gave it
to the association. The park continues to grow even today, all in part
because of Earle Snell and his leadership.
history. He collected photographs of many years of his family, going back
to England, and even visited some of his relatives in England. When you
went to his home, he would show you a room full of photographs of his
family (present and past), could name each one and where they were from.
He was a family leader. When there was a problem, Earle was always there to help with good advice. He and Richard Norton and Gerald Rawlins loved to play golf together at Summit Chase at least once a week in years passed.
Earle loved sports. He always traveled to see his sons, David and Robin, when they played sports, both home and away games. Later he attended all the home games for his grandsons when they played football or baseball at South Gwinnett.
was always important. His grandmother, Mrs. Gladstone Snell, lived on
U.S. Highway 78, across from the Snellville School. He and his family
would come by most every Sunday to see her and other family members. Later
he lived for many years next door to his parents on North Road in Snellville,
so he saw them about each and every day.
Earle and Jean had a home in Florida which they enjoyed for many years, a place where they were always having family and friends down to play golf and go out to eat seafood. Earle and Jean loved to play tennis when they were younger.
C. Earle Snell, 1931-2013. May you rest in peace.
Duluth Mayor Nancy Harris and Chattapoochee Dog Park Mayor Flat Shiner (pictured below at right), along with the Duluth Civitan Club will present the eighth annual "State of the City" address on Tuesday, January 22, at Gwinnett Center. This year the City will highlight "Duluth Local" to inform citizens and businesses in and around the Duluth City limits.
are $25 for the lunch. Proceeds from the event are used to support Civitan
sponsored charitable organizations. A Business Expo will begin at 11 a.m.,
with the doors opening for the lunch at 11:30 a.m. For reservations, go
or call 678-957-7299. Deadline is January 18.
New London Theatre presents Wait Until Dark through Jan. 27
London Theatre in Snellville presents "Wait Until Dark," opening
January 11 and continuing through January 27. The Broadway hit, which
delighted audiences for years and became one of Audrey Hepburn's greatest
Until Dark" will be performed Friday and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and
Sundays at 2:30 p.m. through January 27.
information about this and future performances, auditions, ticket purchases,
volunteering, or donations, visit www.newlondontheatre.org
or call 770-559-1484.
West Gwinnett Bikeway to be extended by 2 more miles
Gwinnett commissioners approved a construction contract recently to extend the multi-purpose trail known as the Western Gwinnett Bikeway.
extension will add more than two miles along Peachtree Industrial Boulevard
north to Rogers Bridge Road from its current end at Pleasant Hill Road
The new logo for the city of Peachtree Corners has won highest honors at the international Davey Awards. Peachtree Corners' design was selected out of nearly 4,000 entries from across the U.S. and around the world. Accent Creative Group, the design firm behind the award-winning logo, was honored with a gold statuette for design excellence.
The logo was officially unveiled to the public January 6 at the city's Open House. The reception welcomed over 200 attendees. Peachtree Corners Mayor Mike Mason announced the award at the event: "What an exciting achievement for our young city. On the heels of City Hall's official inauguration, we're now internationally recognized. It has set the tone for a truly prosperous year for Peachtree Corners as we move forward into 2013."
ACG head designer Ashleigh James, describes the logo's inspirations: "This sophisticated, yet playful logo differentiates Peachtree Corners as a fresh, unique city. The image of the tree is not only a nod to the city name, but also represents the city's growth and maturity. The flowing branches indicate that the city is an innovative place that is always moving forward. It also illustrates that the city strives for a positive balance between both a business and family environment. When used as an icon it is simple and vivid, quickly recognizable without the text: an intrinsic quality of a successful logo."
County budget of $1.463 billion is adopted for coming year
Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners have adopted a balanced budget for fiscal year 2013. The budget totals $1.463 billion, which is 7.1 percent lower compared to last year's budget. It was prepared with input from six county residents and business people who served on the Chairman's budget review committee and worked alongside elected officials and County staff to review departmental business plans and projected revenues.
budget preserves core services, maintains necessary reserves and addresses
changes in legislation. It also adjusts for the loss of revenues resulting
from a drop in property values, changes mandated by the consent order
that ended the Service Delivery Strategy (SDS) litigation between the
County and its cities, and the creation of the new city of Peachtree Corners.
for daily operations in fiscal year 2013 totals $1.058 billion, excluding
one-time appropriations, up slightly more than one percent from the previous
year. The capital budget is $404.7 million, a 21.6 percent decrease over
2012 that is primarily attributable to the completion of SPLOST projects
in earlier years and the resulting decrease in SPLOST project budgets
revenues are down about $274 million since the recession began in 2008
due to a 25 percent decline in taxable property values, which puts the
current tax digest at the 2005 level. Even as property values have declined,
Gwinnett's population has continued to expand, growing by about 130,000
residents between 2005 and 2012. The budget resolution summary is available
online at www.gwinnettcounty.com.
Eagle Scout project helps minimize Gwinnett Tech heat island
Scientists and environmentalists studying ways to minimize the heat island effect might want to consult Eagle Scout Brian Dalyrmple about the strategies he implemented on the Gwinnett Tech campus.
Brian, a member of BSA Troop 1534 from Buford and a junior at Mill Creek High School, earned the rank of Eagle Scout last month, developing and implementing a landscaping project designed to minimize the heat island effect on the GTC grounds. Brian's project involved 21 trees, 1,400 plants, 100 bales of pine straw and 194 hours of volunteer labor from Brian, fellow troop members and the Gwinnett Tech grounds staff.
Gwinnett Tech's leadership and grounds staff have long been focused on protecting the campus's urban forest, maintaining and improving the grounds using the latest techniques in environmental horticulture, sustainability, xeriscaping, soil management and energy-efficient landscape design. Gwinnett Tech has earned and maintained the designation of a Tree Campus USA from the Arbor Day Foundation for many years.
So, when Brian took his ideas to Gwinnett Tech's Gail Zorn, the college's grounds manager, he found both an expert and kindred spirit to help with his Eagle Service Project. Brian and his team devoted three weeks in the spring planting season to the project, which will reduce the heat island effect, conserve water and control soil erosion.
Brian is the son of Allan and Donna Dalrymple. Allan is the program director of Gwinnett Tech's Emergency Services Education program.
Upon the death of U.S. senator Abraham Baldwin in 1807, the state legislature chose William Harris Crawford to replace him. True to his character, Crawford refused to be bound by partisan loyalties in Washington D.C., which helped win him reelection in 1811. That same year, Crawford supported the re-chartering of the Bank of the United States; he understood the bank to be a constructive institution because it stabilized the economy, acted as a fiscal agent for the government, and restrained sometimes irresponsible state banks.
Crawford also, however, after rising to clarify provisions in its hasty passage, supported U.S. president James Madison's embargo measures against Great Britain and France. As the possibility of war with Britain loomed, Crawford was initially cautious with his position, asserting the superiority of the British military, yet he felt fundamentally that military force was needed. He cautioned about Spanish action in Florida, Britain's ally. In 1813, after the outbreak of the War of 1812 (1812-15), President Madison offered Crawford the position of secretary of war, but he, along with several others, declined due to the looming likelihood of a new war with Britain. Yet he did accept Madison's appointment as minister to France that same year.
Before returning from France in 1815, Crawford learned of his appointment as secretary of war from the British newspapers. Although he had expected to retire from public life, he accepted the unexpected appointment, serving for a little more than a year. His short tenure was marked with some success in making the War Department a more efficient and prepared peace-time institution.
Crawford reluctantly moved on to become secretary of the treasury in late 1816, yet it was there that he built his bureaucratic legacy. That same year Crawford was also a presidential nominee, but he garnered 54 votes to James Monroe's 65 votes from the Republican congressional caucus, which represented the remnants of Jeffersonian ideology. Monroe won the general election easily and asked Crawford to continue heading the Treasury Department.
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"Now there are more overweight people in America than average-weight people. So overweight people are now average. Which means you've met your New Year's resolution."
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:
You can also order books through the Internet. To do that, go to www.elliottbrack.com 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!
SEARCH GWINNETT FORUM
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.
(NEW) Birding at the Chicopee Woods will be the focus of the January 14 meeting of the Southern Wings Bird Club, to be held at 7 p.m. at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. Peter Gordon, education director of the Elachee Nature Science Center near Gainesville, will be the speaker. More information available at www.southernwingsbc.com.
(NEW) "Flesh eating bacteria" is the subject of the Health To You general meeting at the Snellville Senior Center, on Wednesday, January 23, at 2 p.m. Presenting the program will be Dr. Karuna Kusan, chairperson of the Infection Control Committee at Eastside Medical Center.
MORE EEB PERSPECTIVE
CONTINUING OBJECTIVES FOR GWINNETT
Gwinnett Forum publisher Elliott Brack suggests that Gwinnett County needs a long-range list of continuing objectives for improving the county. Read more.
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