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Posted: August 6, 2010 12:30 a.m.

It’s hard to stay cool and calm

It started a few days ago. And, yes, it was one of these just too hot and humid days when tempers can get a little short. All our days these days are that way, but that comes with living in Georgia in August.

I was sitting at a red light behind an SUV and wanting to make a perfectly legal right hand turn onto 278. The wait seemed interminable. The light turned green, and all of a sudden, the SUV decided that he/she/it wanted to turn right as well. He/she/it could easily have accomplished this on red, but nooooo, he/she/it apparently needed a green light to do what he/she/it might have done some minutes ago and we’d have been well on our way. I yelled inside my head.

I pulled into one of two open drive-through lanes at the bank only to find that both lanes apparently had been "rented" out to drivers who seemed to be sitting there arranging a lifetime’s worth of personal documents before sending the tube away. When finally the tubes returned, they continued sitting there, counting out every bill and penny and tucking it into various pouches and pockets in their cars and purses. All I wanted to do was to cash a check, and I jockeyed my Prius back and forth between the two lanes, betting unsuccessfully on which driver would complete the cataloguing of her personal documents first. Some 15 minutes later, I was able to pull up and complete my transaction. The teller inside thanked me for my patience. I said, "What patience? It’s all gone."

Later in the day, I parked on the square in order to pop into a store. Business completed, I hopped in the car to pull away and was reminded — once again — that you cannot back out of a space on the square without putting your car at risk of being dinged or demolished. Speeding drivers are oblivious to anything but their own schedule, cell phone, blaring music or big rumbling exhaust pipes. Over at the Kroger parking lot, same day, same experience. Come on, folks. Put your brain in gear and give another driver a break.

That had not been a good day for staying cool and composed. People were getting on my nerves. But, boy, I am really mad today. I woke up to the news that the Newton County Board of Commissioners had, by a 3-2 vote, turned down a proposal to put alcohol-by-the-drink on the November ballot. In effect, three men denied the right of 100,000 of us to vote on whether to allow establishments that serve liquor and mixed drinks to do business in Newton County. They voted to continue to send our sales tax dollars into neighboring counties like Rockdale and Morgan. They said to us, "It’s OK. Go spend your dollars somewhere else. Newton County doesn’t need it." Buy Local, my foot.

This is not a moral issue, Mort, J.C. and Earnest, if that was your rationale. You can’t establish for me or anyone else what is correct morally. More correctly, the issue of alcohol-by-drink is an economic development issue. Professionals who would like to locate national chain restaurants that we would all enjoy are going elsewhere, as they’ve done for years. And industries concerned with the amenities communities can offer to their employees will look elsewhere as well. We come up short in many ways when it comes to quality of life. Let’s get closer to the heart of the matter. It is not fair that Mort Ewing, J.C. Henderson and Earnest Simmons get to completely subvert the right of 100,000 people to voice their opinion on a subject that matters to a lot of people for a lot of various reasons. If allowed to vote, we might have turned it down or we might have given it a thumbs up. No one will ever know, will they? You want public hearings? Hold them once you fellows decide to let the people decide. Clearly you don’t trust us, won’t listen to us and think you can force feed us your personal agendas. Shame on you, and shame on us for putting up with it.

Barbara Morgan is a resident of Covington with a background in newspaper journalism, state government and politics Her column appears on Fridays.

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