State Rep. Carl Rogers is taking a lot of local heat he may not deserve. That's not to say that some points made by local elected officials aren't perfectly valid. The opposite sides could be enlightening if personal sensibilities which must have been offended would permit. Let's elaborate.
First-off, the referendum on an elected mayor is nonbinding, meaning nothing has to happen. Why couldn't a specific proposed structure be present in a binding city election? Public hearings could produce ideas to be fully debated before becoming part of the structure. Once a proposed structure is produced, another round of public hearings could guide whether it is worth presenting in a binding election.
The existing rotating mayor system has served us mostly very well over the 55-plus years I've been a local journalist. I know the old saw that if it ain't broken, don't fix it. I also know that failure to adjust to changing times spell trouble. Like it or realize it or not, times are changing.
Local officials make an excellent point that such a change could destroy the at-large voting. That mightn't be necessarily so.
Couldn't a structure be devised for every council member, the mayor included, to be elected at-large? Candidates in specifically defined districts of equal population meeting reapportionment criteria could be required to live within the district they represent.
Such could prevent situations such as a representative of a district responsible only to voters in that single district being more interested in getting goodies for that district than for city interest as a whole. Or it could provide fair representation for an opponent of the district's council member.
We do need an elected, not appointed, official who can act in emergency-type situations which do occur at unexpected times and to put his or her political capital on the line in leading the council through politically controversial though needed issues.
I applaud Carl and the entire legislative delegation for creating the option but leaving it entirely to local citizens whether and how to proceed. Let's hope those who got their feelings hurt realize some real good could come of it if done properly and go about the business of ensuring it does get done properly. We never should be shy about true improvement.
While on local legislative matters, Gainesville golfing legend Tommy Aaron has been honored in the state Senate recently, thanks to Sen. Lee Hawkins.
The body passed a resolution recognizing Tommy's contributions to the community and state through a golfing career stretching through high school, college, national and international, championships. He won on the PGA, Senior and Legends tours, and is the oldest player to make the cut in Masters history.
The ultimate was winning Georgia's own major, The Masters, and putting on that green jacket. He's now deeply involved in local civic and charitable affairs and has a personal foundation providing academic scholarships to young golfers.
Whether or not you're a golfer, Aaron is a class act and means a lot to this community. I'm proud to be able to call him a long-time friend and know it's true.
I wish Hall Commissioner Bobby Banks had thought through more than is obvious the way he introduced his speed trap charge against Gainesville's proposed annexation of Interstate 985 between Gainesville and Oakwood. He may, and probably does, know more than has been publicized and may be right.
Nonetheless, considerable damage has been done to sensibilities of officials who should be working harmoniously together.
Unless it is proven true, speed trap allegations are nothing less than an insult to the lawmen protecting us. Anyone thinking there isn't considerable speeding and weaving on that stretch hasn't traveled it much.
Ted Oglesby is retired opinion page editor. Reach him at P.O. Box 663, Gainesville, GA 30503. His column appears on alternate Tuesdays.