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A great-grand pair looks ahead
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Emily Grace came sweeping into our house in her little pink basket Sunday to inspect her great-grandparents for the first time. She must have given Reny and me high marks. She giggled and smiled during most of the visit. She only made a face and cried when bottle time ticked around.

That Reny and I are great-grandparents makes both of us gasp, as well as smile. When I was a child, I knew only briefly one of my great-grandmothers who kept me entranced with tales of Sherman's marauding soldiers at the end of the Civil War. Reny did not know hers at all.

I can hardly believe our present "great-grand" status. I can't get used to a granddaughter who is a mother and a daughter who is now a grandmother. Or a grandson-in-law, who is a Marine sergeant just back from his fifth tour of duty in Iraq.

Since the women in the house were devoting 100 percent of their attention to Emily Grace and none to the men present, I started to ask Sergeant Mark Sanzo how he felt about Iraq. Then I decided it might not be a topic he wished to explore. So we previewed Auburn and Georgia football. He is crazy about Auburn, and I am not.

As proud as I am of Emily Grace, I also fret about her future and the coming guardians of her life and safety.

I wish I had a few of those guardians present to share a slice of cake and tell E.G. and the rest of us what they think our future holds and how they plan to improve the quality of life in times to come.

Will Emily Grace enjoy as prosperous and happy a life as I have? I hope so.

Let's be specific. No more grand and general promises are needed. Will the nation and state deliver their promises of improved health-care delivery and better schools? In the fading days of the present presidential campaign, the medical topic seems to be slowly disappearing from the vote-getting formulas.

The candidates and their handlers seem more intrigued by the possibility of an African-American president than of a dynamic chief of any group who would shove the government train wreck off the tracks so we could keep on moving.

When E.G. figures out the world a little better, she might wonder why our government allows uninsured/indigent patients to use hospital emergency rooms as their primary health-care provider. That is nuts. The most expensive hospital operation, the emergency room, is being used to provide low-end medical care. Why do we not establish "free clinics" for mild sniffles and bug bites?

Why has our state decided to strip funding for mental health care to pay for other less worthy state services?

E. G. will have to fret about her education almost right off the bat. Her parents must wonder whether any public schools, which are fit to serve E. G., will be left. I think not. Why have our teachers and administrators adopted so many obstacles to teacher accountability? Oh, I know our society places a much greater burden for child care on teachers than it once did. That additional work should not relieve the education system of gathering data to measure the quality of schools.

What happened to immigration reform? For a while illegal immigration was seen as the nation's most serious problem. Now it is seldom mentioned. Why can't we close the border to stop the bleeding while we determine how best to deal with 12 to 14 million illegals who have poured into our country?

Why do most people feel that their congressmen, once elected, show up with split personalities - one good-old boy presented to his voters back home, and another fast-talking slick-oh reserved for his D.C. constituents who keep the campaign cash flowing?

Alas, E.G., you have so many questions you may want to ask when you grow up. On the other hand, the current in-power generations may finally get busy - and angry - enough to find some answers and solutions before you have to worry about such nonsense when you are grown and in the driver's seat.

Correction: Last week, we wrote that Board of Regents member Don Leebern was fined, along with another board member in a separate case, for filing improper state financial-disclosure reports.

Not so, says Leebern. He did not file the reports at all. And that is why he was investigated and agreed to pay $37,750 in fines to the state ethics commission. The Leebern violations occurred in 2005 and 2006, the two years Leebern sold $90,000 worth of water to the university system schools, governed by the regents. Leebern said through a spokesman that he knew of no FBI interest in the matter. Leebern added through the spokesman that he did not object to us comparing him to fabled playboy Hugh Hefner, but the FBI stuff made him nervous. He said he didn't believe the feds were after him, but he couldn't speak for anybody else in the case.

You can reach Bill Shipp at P.O. Box 2520, Kennesaw, GA 30156, e-mail:, or Web address: