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Government 101: Leadership and teamwork
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This year’s presidential election campaign has reached a rarely explored depth of absurdity. One candidate makes claims that few believe and still fewer take seriously. The other has a talent for obfuscation that surpasses Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First” routine for doubletalk. One got nominated through a process that awards name recognition above competence and the other spent years stacking the deck so that there was never any question as to who would be nominated.

Things have gotten so strange that even a Supreme Court justice has felt the need to speak out. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg publically scolded Donald Trump as unfit to be president. She was, in turn, criticized by the Washington Post and the New York Times for publically commenting on Donald Trump’s fitness to be president of the United States. The Post and the Times did not disagree with Ginsburg’s opinion of Trump, but they did disagree with a Supreme Court justice making public statements about a political candidate. Ginsburg later apologized for her comments.

There was a time when her comments would have drawn little criticism.

In the early history of the United States, Supreme Court justices could maintain a private law practice while serving on the court. And even later, justices were known to publicly comment on the moral character of defendants. In 1949 justices Felix Frankfurter and Stanley Reed testified in a Federal Court as character witnesses in Alger Hiss’ perjury trial.

The trial ended with a hung jury.

Alger Hiss had been a prominent State Department official and had travelled with president Franklin Roosevelt to the Yalta Conference. He was alleged to be a member of the communist party and a spy for the Soviet Union. He denied the allegations and received much support from friends and associates, including justices Frankfurter and Reed. The justices did not testify in Hiss’ second trial. He was convicted of perjury and sentenced to two concurrent five-year sentences.

The verdict was upheld by the United States Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court refused to hear Hiss’ appeal.

But that’s history, interesting, but still history, and not today’s concern. While national politics dominates the news, all politics is local, as the saying goes. And Newton County is no exception. The Board of Commissioners will look different come November. Three new commissioners will join three returning board members. The chairman’s seat will have a new occupant with some new tools to help build a new team to do the people’s work. And the commissioners will need to draw help from throughout the community as they set about building a team. The timing could not be better or more important as Newton County is on the cusp of a surge in economic growth. Much has been written about Newton County having the largest tracts of undeveloped land in the Atlanta market.

The Board of Commissioners and others will have a unique opportunity to explore ways to capitalize on Newton County’s natural assets and create a powerhouse of economic activity. All the basics are present or nearby. (1) Transportation: highways, rails, air, sea port; (2) Water, an abundant supply; (3) Energy: electric, natural gas, solar; (4) Training facilities, state sponsored and local career academy; (5) Agricultural facilities; and (6) Educational institutions nationally recognized for excellence.

And Newton County Tomorrow is ready to help with resources to facilitate the collaborative teamwork that needs to be done.

The ingredients are there. They just need to be skillfully mixed and nurtured. It will take leadership, communication, compromise and collaboration. It will take vision and commitment. It will take perseverance in the face of stiff opposition.

It will take elected leaders willing to put their community ahead of any personal goals. It will take business and community leaders willing to stand tall in support of progress. It will take a team of individuals and organizations committed to making Newton County the most desired place to work, play and live.