2/7: On false accusations; Super Bowl trip; election changes

GwinnettForum  |  Number 16.83  |  Feb. 7, 2017  

LEED BUILDING: Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) in Braselton is the first hospital in the state, and among the first 10 in the nation, to receive Gold Certification under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for Healthcare’s rating system. Among its features with the LEED certification, the building will, compared to other hospitals, reduce energy use by 35 percent; reduce water use by 33 percent; use geothermal wells to heat and cool the hospital; reduce the carbon footprint; use LED lighting to reduce energy consumption; repurpose rainwater for local irrigation; and recycle 92 percent of the construction waste. Anthony Williamson, president of NGMC Braselton, says:  “We hope other businesses will be inspired by the sustainable initiatives implemented at NGMC Braselton and will feel empowered to make similar choices that support the health and well-being of those in their facilities.”
TODAY’S FOCUS: Stop Believing Those Who Continually Yell False Accusations
EEB PERSPECTIVE: Gwinnettians Enjoy Trip to Super Bowl, But Also Disappointed
ANOTHER VIEW: Wants Several Steps Taken To Insure  Legitimacy of Elections
SPOTLIGHT: Peach State Federal Credit Union
FEEDBACK: More Views from Readers about Casino Gambling in Georgia
UPCOMING: Holtkamp Firm Sponsors Free Admission to Hudgens Center in 2017
NOTABLE: GGC Tutoring Service Wins Award for Tri-Level Activities
RECOMMENDED: 1493 by Charles C. Mann
GEORGIA TIDBIT: Story of Ebos Landing Told From Two Highly Different Perspectives
TODAY’S QUOTE: Even George Washington Saw Problems with Partisanship
MYSTERY PHOTO: Some Land, A Building in the Background Are Clues in Mystery
LAGNIAPPE: Chinese New Year Celebrated in Chamblee
CALENDAR: Coffee and Questions with the IRS Service Coming Soon

Stop believing those who continually yell false accusations

By Jack Bernard, Peachtree City, Ga.  |  How are gun control and immigration related? Both issues are being distorted, manipulated and exaggerated for political points.


President Trump knows that 11 million illegal (mostly Latino) immigrants cannot be easily deported and that Mexico will not pay to build a wall. He is aware that this policy would cost billions, paid by us, directly or indirectly.

He understands that immigrants are taking the low paying, hard manual labor jobs that everyday Americans do not want. Otherwise, prices would rise substantially at the big box stores where his supporters shop.

Finally, the president realizes that if a drastic deportation program were enacted, it would cause moderates to run away from both him and the Republican Party.

He takes the extreme position because it riles up his frustrated, alienated supporters. But, it can backfire, as seen in the recent restrictions on immigration from select Muslim nations.

The NRA and related groups have done much the same thing on the gun issue, exaggerating and misstating the facts. Before the 2008 election, they said Obama was going to confiscate everyone’s guns if elected.  And, if not then, just wait until the next election.  It didn’t happen.

The NRA has been especially vocal since the 2008 “Heller” Supreme Court decision by supposedly conservative original construction justices. These five newly activist judges suddenly decided, contrary to prior interpretations, that there was a new right: for individuals to bear arms. Prior SCOTUS interpretations of the second amendment had always been that only regulated state militias were entitled to have guns.

Anyway, the NRA knows that it is both politically and practically impossible to take guns away from Americans. In 2009 there were 310 million guns in the nation and no one knows who owns them. Surveys show that the public wants its guns, even after gun massacres.

So, why did the NRA continually state that Obama was coming for your guns? Because doing so riles up gun-toting people. And, it kills (to use a really bad pun) reasonable gun control legislation that is actually supported by the public like… having thorough background checks, banning assault weapons and shutting down the gun show loophole.

Do not be misled by the above. The country needs to deport violent and/or criminal illegals and those non-citizens who are advocating the overthrow of our government. And, we should have reasonable limits on immigration.

As for guns, I own one myself. But, when the American Medical Association, not a liberal bastion, declares gun violence to be a national health emergency, it makes me and others pause to reflect on the small arms crisis engulfing our nation.

What we can and should do in this country is to stop believing the people and groups who continually yell fire in a crowded theater. We can stop merely accepting radical arguments that demonize the other side.

And, we can start to support elected officials who want to bring about political compromise so that we can actually get something done before things get even worse.


Gwinnettians enjoy trip to Super Bowl, but also disappointed

By Elliott Brack, editor and publisher |  Among the Georgians trekking to Houston to see the Atlanta Falcons play in the Super Bowl were Carla and Tommy Carraway of Snellville. Carla is president of Precision Planning in Lawrenceville and he’s a banker in Winder. Learning last week that this was their plan, we made arrangements to contact Carla Monday morning as they were returning to Atlanta.

We caught up with her as they were in heavy Houston traffic heading for an 8:30 a.m. flight back to Atlanta. “That is, if we make the flight,” she said.

About the game: “Oh, no! It is so sad and depressing!” Carla lamented. “It slipped through our fingers!”  She added: “The Falcons played so well for three and a half quarters. But you must hand it to the Patriots. They were pretty cool in the comeback. You could sorta see it going to happen, the sack, and holding calls, as things were not going the Falcons’ way toward the end. It was so disappointing.”

The Carraways were traveling with friends, Kim Mauldin, her brother, Dr. Gregory Mauldin of the Georgia Pulmonary Group of Snellville, and his wife, Shelley. Kim and Gregory had been to Miami in 1999 to see the Falcons lose in the Super Bowl before, and now were eventually disappointed again. The Carraways had not been to a Super Bowl before, though they are big Falcon fans.


It was a quick trip: the group had left Atlanta Sunday morning, arriving in Houston’s Bush Field a little after noon. “Once we landed, we went directly to our hotel. There were no issues with the traffic when arriving. So we left our bags, staying at the hotel only about 30 minutes, and then departed for the stadium. It was about 20 minutes south of our hotel via their Metro.

“It was surprising to me how easy the trip to the stadium was to navigate. I thought it would be harder. Of course, there were people everywhere. There was a lot going on in the Plaza outside the stadium. You had to show tickets to get into these activities. There were bands on stage, and lots of music playing. There was entertainment everywhere, something like you would see in Las Vegas, such as groups dressed in various uniforms, one of them walking on stilts. One area had about 15-20 food trucks for people to eat. And this was just at the stadium. In downtown Houston, there was the NFL Live Experience, but we didn’t go there.”

The group went into the stadium about an hour before the game began.  Their seats were in the upper level end zone in the Patriot end zone, but toward the Falcon side. “We were high up, but we could see very good. And then there was the Jumbotron which we could easily watch, just like at home.”

The group liked the halftime entertainment.  “It was pretty lively and good. Lady Gaga came out of the ceiling, and dropped to the stage to do the halftime show. There were a lot of pyrotechnics, and we enjoyed it with all its showmanship. We could see her right in front of us on stage, and then the Jumbotron was there for us also.”

Would they go to another Super Bowl?  “Yes,” Carla says, “If the Falcons were playing.”


Wants several steps taken to ensure legitimacy of elections

By George Wilson, contributing columnist  |  John Lewis was right to question the legitimacy of the election. Let’s go even further and  question the legitimacy of all our elections.

How can you freely elect anyone when you have gerrymandered districts at the federal, state and in Gwinnett local levels that largely favor the Republicans? This is especially true at the local level with Tommy Hunter’s District 3 commission seat in Gwinnett.

How can elections be close to fair when unlimited funding is available by corporations, special interests, and oligarchic interests; thanks to the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court?

Even if the elections were fair, we would still have so many uncontested districts, because of gerrymandering. Indeed, only a few legislative districts  seem competitive at election time. This is true for at the federal and state level. Does this partly explain the apathy and low voter turnout?

Furthermore, we now have some major structural deficits in our constitution. Namely the lack of representation by large states like California, Texas and New York. California has the sixth largest economy in the world, but only two U.S. senators.

To have a legitimate government the following must happen:

  • Stop gerrymandering of the U.S. Congress, state houses, and local districts by making an independent body to draw districts (a bill is pending in the Georgia House);
  • Campaign finance reform is needed to stop the buying of elections;
  • Have a Constitution Amendment to reform the U.S. Senate to reflect more of population;
  • Make it easier to register and convenient to vote;
  • Wipe the slate clean and allow anyone that has paid their debt to society to vote; and
  • Eliminate the antiquated electoral college.

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More views from readers about casino gambling in Georgia

Editor, the Forum:

The recent article that gambling addiction should be the basis for denying casino gambling sounds reasonable.  However it is inconsistent with our positions about alcohol, guns, and smoking. We demand that government not prevent these addictive behaviors.  So why interfere with the public’s right to gamble?

In fact, our new government’s attitude toward personal responsibility suggests approval of casino gambling.  We don’t need government to interfere with: protecting our environment; public education; health insurance; consumer protection; banking; or any other government interference with personal freedom. So why interfere with the right to gamble?  Make America Great Again!

— Alan Schneiberg, Sugar Hill

Editor, the Forum:

Casino gambling: Just wondering where in our State Constitution government is assigned the responsibility of protecting citizens from themselves?

— Patrick T. Malone, Blairsville

Right on King Coal, Big Oil blocking solutions on climate change

Editor, the Forum:

Timely, excellent, and well-thought-out piece by Bert Schuster (January 31) on climate change.

Perhaps another citation might be the 2009 publication by James Hansen, Storms of My Grandchildren. Mr. Schuster sure is right on regarding the merchants of doubt that he referenced, that well-funded force blocks a solution or solutions for the financial benefit of their clients: King Coal, Big Oil, and such.

In contrast, many of us are well-intentioned in trying to “fix” a problem, like climate change, and believe that we have a grasp on it. Unfortunately, this majority who knows that there is a real problem, don’t have a clear idea of what the problem is, and thus, fail in their remedy for a solution. They lack understanding of the root cause, and don’t address the critically important root-cause analysis.

And speaking of “root,” here’s a quote from Henry David Thoreau that makes sense in today’s world: “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.”

— Rick Krause, Lilburn

Send us your thoughts:  We encourage you to send us your letters and thoughts on issues raised in GwinnettForum.  Please limit comments to 300 words.  We reserve the right to edit for clarity and length.  Send feedback and letters to:    elliott@brack.net


Holtkamp firm sponsors free admission to Hudgens Center in 2017

Through the courtesy of Holtkamp Heating and Air of Suwanee, admission to the galleries of the Hudgens Center for the Arts in Duluth will be free for all in 2017.

The Hudgens’ Executive Director Ife Williams says: “This partnership allows us to be more inclusive. Offering free admission to our galleries is a step toward eliminating barriers, broadening our audience and strengthening community connections. We are excited to be able to open our gallery programming to everyone and grateful to the Holtkamps for making this possible.”

Suzanne and Matthew Holtkamp

The Hudgens Center for the Arts is committed to presenting a strong mix of gallery programming, highlighting both internationally and locally renowned artists across a variety of mediums.

Hudgens Center visitors can begin enjoying free access to the galleries immediately by attending the current exhibit, A Creative Adventure in Printmaking: Prints from the Experimental Printmaking Institute.

Holtkamp Heating and Air has been in business for 20 years.  Owners Matthew and Suzanne have a strong commitment to the local arts community.

Suzanne Holtkamp says: “Our family has been heavily involved in the arts in Gwinnett County for many years, and a relationship with the Hudgens Center is a natural fit for us. The organization is one of the crown jewels of the local arts scene and we’re thrilled to help everyone in our community gain free access to this world-class facility.”

The Hudgens Center is a non-profit organization that has been focused on the arts since its establishment in 1981. The Hudgens’ mission is to bring art lovers, leaders and learners together through quality programs and exhibits. That mission is accomplished through visual arts initiatives, such as year round fine art exhibits and classes for all ages, and community arts initiatives, which reach out to underserved populations.


GGC tutoring service wins award for tri-level activities

As Georgia Gwinnett College begins its spring semester, it celebrates a system-wide award from the University System of Georgia for its tutoring services.

Joseph Hoffman, a writing tutor at Georgia Gwinnett College, assists nursing major Rebecca Llewlyn, ’17, with a specialized writing format required for some of her coursework. The GGC Academic Enhancement Center’s (AEC)’s TIC-TAC-TOE program won a Chancellor’s Service Excellence Student Improvement Initiative Team Award – Silver Level.

This system-wide commendation recognizes the tutoring team’s “ability to adopt continuous-improvement methodology that emphasized student and/or employee satisfaction as well as quality of service.” The AEC provides about 18,000 tutoring sessions each academic year. In addition to serving students in the AEC itself, the center’s TIC-TAC-TOE program offer three types of tutoring service designed to be increase accessibility for all students, in the classroom, around the campus, and online.


1493 by Charles C. Mann

Reviewed by John Titus, Peachtree Corners:  This book focuses on the results of the Columbian Exchange, a term coined by Alfred Crosby, a geographer and historian. Columbus’ ships crossing the seas carried not only humans, but plants and animals, not always intentionally. Ships also carried less familiar organisms like insects, grasses, bacteria and viruses. This work delves into the ecological and economic exchange which ultimately affected Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas. Research is drawn from biologists, anthropologists, archaeologists and historians. The topics covered are many — tobacco, silver, slavery, the potato, guano, the interactions of races and peoples, agricultural construction – the list goes on and on. Like its predecessor 1491, Charles Mann has produced a fascinating read.

An invitation: what books, restaurants, movies or web sites have you enjoyed recently? Send us your recent selection, along with a short paragraph (100 words) as to why you liked this, plus what you plan to visit or read next. –eeb


Story of Ebos Landing told from two highly different perspectives

The story that gives Ebos Landing its name is one of the most colorful and enduring tales in Georgia’s rich literary history. Better known as the “Myth of the Flying Africans,” this narrative has been told and embellished for 200 years in the form of local legends, children’s stories, movies, novels, and television shows. Based on an actual historical event, this remarkable tale of an Ebo (also known as Igbo or Ibo) slave rebellion on St. Simons Island has become a powerful metaphor of African American courage, longing, and conviction.

The historical roots of the flying Africans legend can be traced back to the spring of 1803, when a group of Igbo slaves arrived in Savannah after enduring the nightmare of the Middle Passage. The Igbo (from what is now the nation of Nigeria, in central West Africa) were renowned throughout the American South for being fiercely independent and unwilling to tolerate the humiliations of chattel slavery.

The Igbo who became known as the flying Africans were purchased at the slave market in Savannah by agents working on behalf of John Couper and Thomas Spalding. Loaded aboard a small vessel, the Igbo were confined below deck for the trip down the coast to St. Simons. During the course of the journey, however, the Igbo rose up in rebellion against the white agents, who jumped overboard and were drowned.

What happened next is a striking example of the ways in which African American slaves and white slave masters interpreted “history” in starkly different terms. One of the only contemporary written accounts of the event was by Roswell King, a white overseer on the nearby plantation of Pierce Butler. King recounted that as soon as the Igbo landed on St. Simons Island, they “took to the swamp”—committing suicide by walking into Dunbar Creek. From King’s perspective the salient feature of the story was the loss of a substantial financial investment for Couper and Spalding.

African American oral tradition, on the other hand, has preserved a very different account of the events that transpired that day. As with all oral histories, the facts of the story have evolved as storytellers elaborated the tale over the years, such that there are now dozens of variations on the original episode.

In the late 1930s, more than 100 years after the Igbo uprising on St. Simons, members of the Federal Writers Project collected oral histories in the Sea Islands (many of which can now be found in Drums and Shadows: Survival Studies among the Georgia Coastal Negroes).

An older African American man by the name of Wallace Quarterman was asked if he had heard the story of Ebos landing. Quarterman replied: “Ain’t you heard about them? Well, at that time Mr. Blue he was the overseer and . . . Mr. Blue he go down one morning with a long whip for to whip them good. . . . Anyway, he whipped them good and they got together and stuck that hoe in the field and then . . . rose up in the sky and turned themselves into buzzards and flew right back to Africa. . . . Everybody knows about them.”

(To be continued)


Some land, a building in the background are clues in mystery

The key in this edition’s Mystery Photo is the land, and its building. Figure out where and what it is and you’ll win our good graces. Send in your thoughts to elliott@brack.net and be sure to include your hometown.

What we thought would be a simple mystery, with lots of spotters, didn’t turn that way for the last edition’s mystery photo. Mike Sweigart of Suwanee was first in in recognizing the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers.  The photo came from Susan McBrayer of Sugar Hill.

Others with correct entries included Bob Foreman, Grayson; and Ruthie Lachman Paul, Norcross, who had recently visited there.

George Graf of Palmyra, Va. followed with this information: “It is the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, officially named Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery, a Roman Catholic monastery near Conyers. The monastery operates a religious store both on location and online, and it is the largest Catholic retail store in the state of Georgia.  They also sell bonsai supplies and operate a green cemetery located in a secluded section of the vast monastery property.  Stained glass windows and doors are created onsite and sold online and the monastery also operates a fruitcake and fudge business.  They also operate a year round thriving retreat business and a monastic guest program for men of all faiths who are interested in living the monastic life for a short period of time.”


Chinese New Year opens


The opening of the Chinese New Year pulled Roving Photographer Frank Sharp to the Taiwan Culture Center in Chamblee, with its dancing and singing. He shot this image during the Dragon Dance, which attracted a large crowd.


(NEW) World Through the Lens Photo Show at the Tucker Library, 5234 LaVista Road. Photographer Frank Sharp’s images ae on display through February 25. The library is open on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. and on Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Detention Pond Maintenance Workshop will be February 9 at 6 p.m. at the Collins Hill Branch of the Gwinnett County Public Library. By capturing and retaining runoff during storm events, detention ponds control both stormwater quantity and quality.  The pond’s natural physical, biological, and chemical processes then work to remove pollutants. Join this free workshop. For more information, visit www.gwinnettpl.org or call 770-978-5154.

Cartooning for Teens and Cool Adults, with Lawrence Hardy. Drop-ins Welcome. Have you ever wanted to learn how to draw from your imagination? Want to learn how to draw action figures, faces and more? Welcome artist Lawrence Hardy as he shows you the fundamentals of drawing. The class is for the beginning to intermediate artists. Come sharpen your skills and pencil at Kudzu Art Center! February 10 through March 11, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. To register for classes, go to www.kudzuartzone.org.   Kudzu Art Zone is located in Norcross at 116 Carlyle Street, Norcross, phone 770-840-9844.

Georgia Backroads magazine Editor and Publisher Dan Roper will speak at noon on Friday, February 10 at the Georgia Archives in Morrow. His talk will be on “Searching for Beulah Buchanan.” She died suddenly on Thanksgiving Day 1917.  By chance, the author came across her abandoned grave in the pine woods one day in 1991 and wondered who she was, what had caused her death, what had become of her family, and what had happened to the little community that had once existed there.  It took him more than 20 years of research to find the answers to these questions. After the talk, join in at the Archives for a special celebration in honor of Georgia’s 284th birthday. Georgia State Senator Valencia Seay and Archives Director Christopher Davidson will speak briefly, and refreshments will be served.

Author Amber Brock will visit Barnes and Noble in Peachtree Corners on Wednesday, February 11, at 3 p.m. as part of the Gwinnett County Public Library’s author series. She writes historical fiction novels set in the glamorous 1920s.  She teaches English at a girls’ school in Atlanta,.  Brock will speak to fans and aspiring authors about the writing and publishing process and book promotion strategies as well as her book, A Fine Imitation. This event is free and open to the public.  Books will be available for purchase and signing.

(NEW) Internal Revenue Service Coffee and Questions will be Saturday, February 18 at noon at the Centerville Branch of the Gwinnett County Public Library, 3025 Bethany Church Road, Snellville.  IRS Manager Lonnie  Melancon will be on hand to take questions. For more information, visit www.gwinnettpl.org or call 770-978-5154.

(NEW) Wine About the Issues on February 21 at the 1910 Public House in downtown Lilburn to two legislators, Sen. P.K. Martin and Rep. Clay Cox. Sponsored by the Lilburn Woman’s Club, attendees can enjoy a complimentary beverage and light hors d’oeuvres. Seating is limited. For more details, contact to lilburnwomansclub@gmail.com.

 (NEW) Free Photography Workshop at Collins Hill Library Branch, 455 Camp Perrin Road, on February 21, at 6:30 p.m. Join the Georgia Nature Photographers Association for this informal talk and Q&A photography workshop.  They will provide information about cameras, editing software, and tips for getting better photographs with the equipment you already have.

Plant sale: The Gwinnett County Cooperative Extension office is offering varieties of Blueberries, Blackberries, Raspberries, Figs, Apples, Pomegranate, Goji Berries, Native Azaleas and other landscape plants as part of their annual sale. This year Pecan Trees and the big Titan blueberry, which produces blueberries the size of quarters, have been added to the list of pre-ordered options. Supplies are limited so please order early. Orders will be taken through March 7, 2017. Order forms may be obtained from: http://www.ugaextension.org/gwinnett, or by calling 678-377-4010 to request a form be mailed to you.


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