It was 10 years ago this month that the Atlanta Business Chronicle asked me to write a column giving my view of Atlanta two years after the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games. I had been the managing director of communications and government relations for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games and the paper wanted to know how I thought the city had changed after hosting the world. Or had it changed at all? The offer was too good to resist.
Are we Georgians a privileged group or what? Here we sit in the greatest state in the union with its majestic mountains; beautiful beaches; the oldest state-chartered university in the nation located in Athens, the Classic City of the South; sweet Vidalia onions and more barbecue than we can eat.
No good deed goes unpunished. Recently I mentioned that Sen. Saxby Chambliss wanted to hear from you regarding your thoughts on the current energy crisis. A lot of you wrote him, and many of you sent me a copy. I found your letters a lot more thoughtful than the reply you received from the senator's office. To call the response a "form letter" would demean form letters.
This is a story of two good men. Separated in age by several decades and in geography by several thousand miles, but with much in common: Successful careers, devoted family men, veterans, athletes, men of high character. Both with a love for the University of Georgia. Both are my friends.
You'd better sit down for this one. I must confess that I, your modest and much-beloved columnist, don't have all the answers. (I can hear the gasps from Adel to Zebulon.)
I was deep in thought on my back porch at Big Canoe in the North Georgia mountains when the phone rang. It was Sen. Saxby Chambliss calling from Washington. He sounded as if he had been rode hard and put away wet. Given his druthers, I suspect he would have preferred sitting on the porch staring at the mountains than stuck in Washington with a group of people sporting a 13 percent approval rating. I'm talking about Congress, of course.
I will have more to say on the subject in a few weeks, but your response to my request for supplies for Marine Lt. Frank Wilson and his Light Armored Reconnaissance unit in Afghanistan has been nothing short of spectacular. I talked recently to Lt. Wilson's father, also named Frank, an attorney in Cobb County, to let him know what you have done. He is very grateful to you.
Hooray for Bill Curry! He is the new football coach of the Georgia State University Panthers.
When roaming the political jungles of Georgia, beware of the Killer B's: Barr (Bob) is running for president; Bubba (aka, Lauren McDonald) is running for the Georgia Public Service Commission; Barnes (former Democratic Gov. Roy) is being encouraged to run for anything, as is Bowers (former State Attorney General Michael).
Since I had talked recently to David Egan -- whose group, the Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island, has great concerns about the island's proposed revitalization -- I thought it only fair to see what the Jekyll Island Authority has to say. (Besides, it affords me the opportunity to stop by the exquisite little Georgia Sea Grill on St. Simons Island and stuff my face with corn-fried shrimp. Being a modest and much-beloved columnist does have its rewards.)
There are no two ways about it: Being a grandfather is better than a plateful of hot buttered biscuits. Nothing compares to it. Nothing comes close.
I have met the real Forrest Gump. Not the ninny sitting on a Savannah park bench, prattling about a box of chocolates. His name is Sammy L. Davis and he is a recipient of the Medal of Honor, this nation's highest award for military heroism.
OK, listen up. I have a job for you. Actually, it's not a job. It's a good deed.
I learned the hard way in my corporate life never to underestimate the power of grass-roots organizations. They are always the last to blink in a fight. I have the scars to prove it.
What are we going to do with Jimmy Carter? The man has gone from being a joke to someone who is suddenly very unfunny.
In 1997, Gov. Zell Miller appointed me to fill a vacant seat on the five-member State Ethics Commission and then reappointed me to a full term where I served until 2002. It was a rewarding experience and I am proud of the good things we accomplished at the commission.
"I have gotten bad news and am much the worse for it.
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