Editorial Roundup: Georgia

Rome News-Tribune. October 16, 2021.

Editorial: Let’s keep local control over our elections board

We should keep the influence of political parties out of the Floyd County Elections Board.

Allowing political parties to influence the elections rules destroys the very process. Look at Congress, they’re gridlocked along partisan lines and we’re all the worse off for it.

While the appointed members of the board will invariably have opinions of their own, they shouldn’t be beholden to any political party. Decisions made by that board should always be made without consideration to political affiliation.

No decision by a board concerning elections should have a hint of partisanship, that’s like letting teams referee a football game — regardless of the fairness of the call there’s always going to be doubt.

Legislation that is likely to be filed during a General Assembly special session in November will change the process of appointing elections board members to that enacted by some of our surrounding counties.

Those counties have two Republican Party and two Democratic Party nominated members alongside one member designated by the Grand Jury. That sounds like a Congressional or Supreme Court-style mess with those appointed by parties voting along party lines.

We need less partisanship overall and certainly less when it comes to elections.

We applaud the Floyd County Commission’s decision to expand the three-member board to a five-member board. We also support the idea of a regionally-based peer review or a state performance review.

Sometimes it takes an outside view of a process to improve it. However, we understand the hesitancy by the County Commission to bring the state in — whatever the Secretary of State’s office bills, the county has to pay.

As to some of the mistakes made by the elections board, they’re just errors.

The tome that is SB 202 is extensive and complicated ... and it’s brand new. All the volunteers who serve on that board are learning the ins and outs of the new Georgia voting law.

Whenever an entirely new legislation becomes law, there is always a period of learning and adjustment.

We’re in that learning period. The primary difference is a laser focus on the election process with all of the municipal elections contested. That’s a plus for civic engagement! A more informed electorate that participates in the process is good for our city, county and country.

We hope that those who have taken notice of the process continue to learn more and remain engaged.

Speaking of engagements, it doesn’t look like the political battleground that is Georgia will fade any time soon. If political parties have their way, that anger stoked to get people riled up for the 2022 elections will continue.

But, regardless of the opinions espoused by our Congressional representative this week, we don’t need a “national divorce.”

Marriage takes understanding, empathy and A LOT of hard work. It’s a partnership and isn’t one-sided. Sometimes you don’t like each other, but you know that deep down there’s a lot of love and commonality and separation is going to hurt everyone involved.

We need representatives who have the emotional intelligence to work together for their constituents.

Want a recent example? Talk to former 14th District Rep. Tom Graves. He walked into Congress as a firebrand and after several years in office figured out that division is the worst thing for our United States of America.

Thank you for reading and get vaccinated. Let’s end this pandemic together.

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Dalton Daily Citizen. October 14, 2021.

Editorial: National Teen Driver Safety Week is the perfect time to talk to your children about being cautious behind the wheel

There are plenty of hallmark, coming of age moments in a teenager’s life. Perhaps the one that provides a teenager with the most noticeable feeling of freedom and independence is getting a driver’s license.

If that young driver is fortunate to have a car to go along with that driver’s license, he or she no longer is at the mercy of parents, family members or friends for a ride to school, ball practice or an after-school activity. The days of walking, taking public transportation or riding a bus or a bicycle are gone.

With the freedom of a driver’s license also comes an extremely heavy responsibility. When that teen driver gets behind the wheel, he or she has the duty to ensure their safety -- and the safety of everyone they encounter on the roads, in parking lots and wherever else the car takes them.

National Teen Driver Safety Week (Oct. 17-23), sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is the perfect time to remind your teen driver of the responsibility that comes with driving a car. This year’s campaign “Your teen is in the driver’s seat but you are in control” encourages parents to continue talking about safe driving and provides advice on how to set the rules before their teens get behind the wheel.

Traffic crashes are a leading cause of death for teens 15 to 18 years old, according to the NHTSA. In 2019, 628 teen drivers died in crashes, and 2,042 teen drivers were involved in crashes where someone died.

The NHTSA provided these talking points, aptly titled “The Rules of the Road,” to share with your teen driver:

• Wear seat belts: The car doesn’t move until everyone is buckled up -- front seat and back, on every trip, every time. Almost half of the passengers killed in cars driven by teen drivers in recent years weren’t buckled up in 2019.

• No drinking and no drugs: Emphasize the fact that it’s illegal to drink before you’re 21 -- and that driving drunk or high is unacceptable at any age. In 2019, 16% of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes had been drinking.

• No distractions: Driving is the first and only task when behind the wheel. That means no phones or texting while driving, and not doing anything else -- like eating, drinking or fixing hair and makeup -- when you should fully focus on driving. About 10% of all teen drivers involved in fatal crashes in recent years were distracted at the time of the crash. Teens should activate the “do not disturb” feature on their phones to eliminate the distractions notifications cause.

• No speeding: About 27% of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes were speeding in 2019. Faster speeds rob inexperienced teen drivers of the extra reaction time they may need to avoid a crash. Emphasize that they must obey posted speed limits.

• Limit extra passengers: Teen drivers are at a greater risk for a crash when they have others in their car. Passengers can serve as a distraction for inexperienced teen drivers, and that’s why many states’ graduated driver licensing (GDL) restrictions prohibit any passengers in vehicles with teen drivers. GDL laws also set other limits on teen drivers for safety.

• Drowsy driving: We all know how important sleep is, especially for your teens during the school year when studying can cause long nights. Remind your teen the importance of a good night’s sleep, and the dangers of drowsy driving.

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Valdosta Daily Times. October 19, 2021.

Editorial: Arbery trial begs for reckoning

As jury selection begins in the Ahmaud Arbery case, it is a stark reminder of the state of race relations in Georgia and across the nation.

We must do better.

We must be better.

We must be much better.

Three white men, Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William Bryan, stand accused in the shooting death of 25-year-old Arbery, who was Black.

If he had not been a young Black man running through a predominately white neighborhood, no one reasonably thinks he would have been hunted down and shot to death on Feb. 23, 2020.

The defendants have said they were conducting what they called a “citizen’s arrest” — now effectively illegal in Georgia — because they believed Arbery was a thief.

While the defense is flimsy at best, it begs the question: Would they have believed that about him had he not been a Black man running in the street?

Young white men, perhaps former high school athletes like Arbery, run in the streets all the time. They are not chased down by men in pickup trucks and shot.

Arbery was racially profiled by three men with no authority to try, convict and execute anyone.

Both Republican and Democrat lawmakers rallied to change state citizen’s arrest laws in the aftermath of the Arbery killing, and rightly so. The antiquated, Jim Crow-era law was always racist and always wrong, from its inception.

But while a law was changed, attitudes were not.

We have a very long way to go in our state and across the nation when it comes to race relations.

And no discussions about race relations will ever be complete without candid and honest conversations about racial profiling, legal justice inequities, prison reform, lagging educational investments in communities of color and economic disparities.

While these are among the necessary conversations, they are also the very topics that become the most heated among people who adamantly protest, “I am not racist. I don’t have a racist bone in my body.”

So long as we live in a society, or a community, where Black mothers must have conversations with their sons regarding where they can and cannot run, we cannot deceive ourselves into thinking that we have made adequate progress in race relations.

Racism goes beyond whether any one person has feelings or racial animosity or hatred. It is more about systems, inequities and equal opportunity.

While we must all examine ourselves, we must also be willing to examine our institutions, laws, policies and practices.

We must be better.

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