This may come under the heading of home cooking but this is National Newspaper Week, something we should both be celebrating. Me, because I get a chance every week to tell you what’s on my mind and you, because you can tell me whether or not you agree. It is the newspaper that makes it possible. Don’t try this in Iran.
I backed into this gig almost 20 years ago when I wrote a guest column after the Centennial Olympic Games of 1996 about how totally unprepared the blowhards in the city of Atlanta were for this world-class event. I was a managing director of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games and saw the city’s ineptness up close and personal. I spared no adjective in letting readers know what I thought of the city’s performance, or lack thereof.
That column caused quite a stir nationally and led to more opportunities to voice my opinions and more outlets in which to do so. Several years ago, I was told that my words reach more than a half-million households weekly in Georgia. I will take their word for it, but the only household that really matters to me is yours.
Not that we always see eye-to-eye. Strong opinions beget strong reactions. The fun of this column is to keep ’em guessing. A recent letter writer in Marietta lumped me in with a group of “right-wing” columnists. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that a reader in middle Georgia thinks I am an “Obama bedwetting liberal.” Why ruin her day?
As sure as God made little green apples, newspapers will be around long after I am gone. Their format will no doubt evolve in the ever-changing world of technology, but not their role as your watchdog. If they — and we — don’t keep an eye on the doings of our government from Washington to city hall, who will? Anonymous sources on the internet? Self-appointed “experts” in the blogosphere? I don’t think so.
The theme of this year’s National Newspaper Week is “Real Newspapers … Real News” and is obviously a response to the “Fake News” accusations currently being hurled around about the news media. I find it ironic that people will ascribe all sorts of sinister motives to the news media but will take unsubstantiated garbage on the internet as gospel. You should see some of my mail.
I have perhaps a unique perspective on the news media. I have been a part of the media for almost two decades. Prior to that, for several decades, I dealt on a regular basis with media at all levels from the television networks to major newspapers, news magazines and local media.
If the media — and I am speaking almost exclusively of the national media — are guilty of anything, it is having a serious case of self-importance and being out of touch with the American public. They don’t fake the news, they just think they know more than we do. A lot of it is an “Inside the Beltway” mentality and a scratch-my-back relationship between news people and Washington politicians.
Local newspapers, on the other hand, are where the rubber meets the road. We shop at the same grocery stores with you, buy our gas at the same service stations, attend the same churches, pay the same local taxes and have the same strong interests in seeing our community prosper. Unlike the anonymous souls in the big city papers who live in a cocoon — remind me to tell you sometime about the New York Times editor who thought contestants in the Olympic whitewater rafting competition were going to use inner tubes, I kid you not — you know who we are, how to find us and are inclined to give us instant feedback on our performance. That’s not a bad thing.
In my days in the corporate world, no matter how well I thought I had performed my duties on behalf of my company and our customers on any given day, my boss would always say, “Just remember that you run for re-election every day.”
I never forgot that admonition. I have written some 1,500 columns since that first screed in 1998, but I know I still run for re-election daily. While I don’t take myself seriously, I take this privilege to correspond with you very seriously. The real news is that none of this could happen without the newspaper. That is why I am celebrating National Newspaper Week and hope you do, too.
Dick Yarbrough is a
syndicated humor columnist
from Georgia. Contact him at
Thanks for nothing, Glynn County and your recycling contractor. You both failed us again.
After dumping recycling into the garbage the past two weeks, you lied, through your “local” telephone spokeswoman in Charlotte, about picking up our recycling Monday.
Apparently, because this Irma-affected neighborhood’s regular recycling week was to be the day of the hurricane, Sept.11, and then again last week, Sept. 25, it now has to wait yet another week, until Oct. 9, to have its recycling picked up — for the first time since Aug. 28.
It is well past time for the county commission to inform the public what kind of deal it has with its recycling and garbage partners and explain their shameful abdication.
And one would think that the local newspaper might have some curiosity about the subject, if it thinks that recycling is at all important and not just a joke.
Unfortunately, this situation is no joke, except for the behavior of the county and its contractor.
But it would be nice just to be able to do the right thing — and to have our elected officials, and their non-elected cronies, to get the right thing done.
David K. Secrest
St. Simons Island
Irma evacuation showed us again how poor our latest news on island conditions was nonexistant.
As it did during Matthew, the St. Simons Pier webcam failed to function again. This webcam is supposed to update every 90 seconds, showing current conditions at the pier, pool, village areas. There is also a webcam at the Blythe Island Pier.
If the county placed these webcams on the lighthouse, King and Prince or other three story structures with power, perhaps this ongoing problem could be eliminated.
Keeping evacuated islanders informed is very important, maintaining our infrastructure such as pothole repair, tree ordinances, traffic flow is far more worthwhile than skate parks, bike paths and other expensive, useless projects.
St. Simons Island
Glynn County Superior Court Clerk Ron Adams is right to be frustrated with the pace of a forensic audit into accounts his office manages.
Adams inherited a major problem when he was elected last November. He is right to be frustrated with the entire situation. He, like the other candidates vying for the seat, was well aware of the money had been discovered missing from several accounts. At the time, they thought the total was around $94,000, no small sum, but certainly more manageable than what it became after a Georgia Bureau of Investigation inquiry.
The GBI came back in December and told Glynn County the full scope of the missing money was around $670,000. Out of due diligence, the county decided to conduct its own forensic audit to find out exactly how much was missing from what Adams has said was likely an employee pocketing money that was supposed to go into one account, and covering it up by moving money from others into the original account.
The audit began in January. It was estimated to finish in June or July. Now we are in October, and Adams still has not seen the results — no doubt a frustrating situation.
But as he told The News this week, the scope of the work has grown and examining every transaction going back years in five accounts is no small task.
“To give you an idea of the scope, some of these accounts, one particular account has 1,000 checks written per month, and 1,000 deposited per month, and to pull up each and every one of those items for seven years is a daunting task,” Adams said.
We understand the frustration. That money is public money, paid into child support accounts and collected through court business. It all has a specific purpose and is to be used in certain ways to operate the general business of the clerk’s office. It is high time Adams and the public learn the full extent of the obvious crimes that were committed.
But to make sure we know the full scope, more patience may be needed. If the amount of money missing from those accounts continues to rise, more investigation and auditing is needed so that if and when the Prosecuting Attorney’s Council of Georgia files charges against someone, they are held accountable for their actions to the fullest extent of the law.
We, like Adams, want this issue resolved as quickly as possible. We also, like Adams, want the job done right.
The architectural rendering published in the Brunswick News before Irma hit showing the proposed plan of Christ Church Frederica to seek permission and assistance from the Glynn County Commission to straighten Frederica Road in order to facilitate parking and eliminate the need for parishioners to cross the street, on the surface, looks both attractive and benign. The one thing not mentioned in the article or shown on the architectural rendering being presented to the public by Christ Church is the Wesley Garden. As proposed, the new road would destroy the natural buffer enclosing the garden and cut through the northwest section of the garden, coming into Frederica Road adjacent to the entrance gate of the garden across from Fort Frederica.
The Wesley Garden is a two-acre azalea woods garden enclosed by natural woods and featuring stately live oaks, magnolia, and holly. Its central feature is an 18-foot, 15-ton Celtic cross dedicated to the memory of John and Charles Wesley. Certainly, no commissioner should vote on this issue before visiting the garden and seeing what is at stake. We simply must not allow this treasure to be encroached upon. Surely, Christ Church can come up with a plan that would not destroy the beauty and symmetry of the garden enjoyed by so many for the sake of its parishioners not having to cross the street at the designated crosswalk, complete with blinking light.
St. Simons Island
Being a septuagenarian, I have lived through and seen a lot pertaining to racism and civil rights. When young, I saw the discrimination blacks faced like back of the bus, separate water fountains, schools, et cetera. Once an uncle told me not to say sir when answering a black person. All this made me feel badly and carry white guilt, though innocent of any mistreatments myself.
I have also seen this country make giant efforts to make things right for the black race by spending large amounts of money, much going to blacks. I have witnessed forced busing to achieve racial balance and equality in the schools, much to the distress of both black and white parents. I have seen preference given blacks in college admittance, employment and job promotions. This preferential treatment was mostly tolerated by those who were reversely discriminated against. Most wanted blacks to excel.
To now see America’s efforts thrown back in our face with militant behavior, mostly by overpaid black athletes who owe every thing they have to this country and its largess, and in the process spit in the face of those who have made this country what it is with blood and sweat, is hard to understand or accept.
Sympathy for their plight ends here for me. If they want to know where the problem lies, look in the mirror. They alone are the answer to their complaints. Keeping off the first 20 minutes of nightly news is much more effective than clenched fists or kneeling.
St. Simons Island
Enough is enough. We have to demand new gun laws. Please don’t give me the old tired excuse that allowing untrained civilians to carry weapons will allow them to stop madmen from committing mass murder. No one could have stopped a barricaded gunman on the 32nd floor of a hotel.
Our senators must stop putting money in their pocket from the gun lobbyists and the NRA and do something to stop the outdated laws that allow one man to own 42 guns and thousand of rounds of ammunition. We are the only country in the world that allows this lunacy. The Second Amendment was written when one man had one gun and it held one bullet, not for one man to shoot nearly 600 people in less than 20 minutes. Please write your senators, I have.
St. Simons Island