The Little White Plane (as originally posted at edwardctracey.com)
by Jonny Brown
Jonny Brown is a resident of Rockdale County, GA
Submitted on November 19, 2012
The little white plane, which became known as The Spirit of Rockdale, wasn’t always a plane. The Spirit of Rockdale was officially created in 1871 but it actually started earlier than that. It started on farms around the tiny town of Conyers, Georgia, that had sprung up alongside a railroad track about 25 miles east of Atlanta. At the end of the great depression, farmers, business men, politicians and citizens realized that the Spirit of Rockdale needed to be more than just some rarely maintained dirt roads and a railroad running east to west. They decided that it should be like larger communities, not in size, but that the Spirit of Rockdale should focus on having a diverse economy rather than mainly farming plus better education for our children, so they could get jobs in our new work-place. So it was decided, not by any one person but many different people throughout the county that the Spirit of Rockdale should be a plane, a small plane.
The citizens of Rockdale County and Conyers started building the little plane. The work was slow at first, especially after just coming out of the great depression. The farmers worked on the plane in their fields. The merchants worked on the plane in their stores. Politicians worked on our plane at the capitol; the attorneys and judges worked on the plane at the court house. The preachers spoke with great passion of our plane to their congregations, and as the manufacturers came in to the county, they worked on our plane. Some people just stood in awe of our plane. Finally, the day came when our plane was built and was ready to be painted. We never had a choice in the color that our little plane was going to be painted. We had a huge amount of white paint left over from the revolutionary war. It was white, strong, durable and protected well. It wasn’t as bright and shiny as some colors but it was all that we had and we made use of it. We had a relatively small amount of black paint which was left over from the civil war. It was needed for the lettering on the plane and we were thankful to have it.
Once our plane was built it started carrying cotton and corn from our farms. It carried commerce and manufacturing. It carried education from our schools and it carried justice from our courthouse, but most of all, it carried our hopes and dreams for the future. Our little white plane, which is now referred to by everyone as The Spirit of Rockdale, did an awesome job. It wasn’t as fast as New York, and nowhere near as big as Atlanta, but it was always on time and under budget. The Spirit of Rockdale did a good job well into the 21st century.
After the Spirit of Rockdale got to doing its job, we named our crew members as had the other planes around the country had done. The pilots were called commissioners, security was the sheriff, the ticket taker was the tax commissioner, the secretary was clerk of the court, complaint personnel was magistrate judge and maintenance was probate judge.
It was mandated that every two years all the planes throughout the country would go through a stress test. The tests were of two different types, a half load test and a full load test. These tests alternated every two years. The Spirit of Rockdale had always performed well in these tests over the years with minor personnel changes. A lot of the planes around the country were not performing as well as The Spirit of Rockdale, as a matter of fact, a lot of them were dysfunctional. We kept an eye on them to figure out why the other planes were going down hill and we noticed that the problem usually started with the paint job on the planes. It wasn’t the original white paint that was causing the problem.
The other planes were having their white paint slowly removed, a little at the time, and being replaced with shiny black paint. The shiny black paint seemed to be the new trend but once it covered the majority of the plane, the plane became slow and sluggish. They were rarely on time and were never under budget, the black paint didn’t do a good job of protecting the plane. It was like it almost encouraged rust. The Spirit of Rockdale was determined to keep its white color or at least wait for a better quality of black paint to come along.
Then on November 4th, 2008 the unthinkable happened. The Spirit of Rockdale was taking off for its scheduled full load test, which it had performed many times before, with all personnel on board when it ran off the end of the runway. Commissioner Middlebrooks was killed instantly and Commissioner Hill was critically injured and was in intensive care for over two years. Mr. Hill finally survived with encouragement from friends and family and became mentally and physically stronger than ever. The rest of the crew escaped unscathed.
It was at this time my wife, Lynn Brown, came to me and said that if the Spirit of Rockdale was going to continue flying, it was going to have to be redesigned from the ground up. She said the Republican Engineering Corporation, which she and I worked for, was the only engineering firm that could handle the job. Lynn was a board member and told me she needed my help. She had me appointed to the board and Lynn went to work doing what she does best; organizing people and getting people to work long hours without pay. I went to work doing what I do best, which is what Lynn tells me to do. After the crash, once the cabin was repaired it was painted with a coat of shiny black paint. It wasn’t the new improved black paint, it was the same crap that all the other planes were using. After losing our two pilots “commissioners”, in a hurried move Oden and Oz were elected. Once elected Oden and Oz soon realized that they couldn’t fly the plane so they bought an automated pilot system and had it installed.
In the mean time Lynn went to work redesigning the plane. She enlisted every person she could find. They worked night and day for the next two years, getting ready for the half load test. The Spirit of Rockdale was not ready for a full load test but she had come a long way in the two years since the crash. The day finally came and the Spirit of Rockdale was up and flying again. It passed the half load test with flying colors. Now Lynn went to work harder than ever. With the help of Republican Engineering, people came out in droves to help. Some donated their time, some donated money, lots of money, it poured in from every direction. People called and emailed everyone they knew to ask them to help or donate money. Lynn and Republican Engineering worked countless hours. They left no stone unturned. They knocked on every door around asking people to help. The crew worked 24 hours a day, they went to every function around asking for support. As the day grew closer for the full load test, people were more enthusiastic about the Spirit of Rockdale than ever. It had been four long years since the last full load test that ended in disaster. The crew, Lynn, Republican Engineering and the volunteers were all mentally and physically ready. Finally the day had come for the full load test. On November 6, 2012 the Spirit of Rockdale taxied down the runway at 7:00am. It was cold and rainy that morning but the Spirit of Rockdale didn’t have any problem getting off the ground. It was carrying the biggest and most important load that it had ever carried. Its flight would last over fourteen hours. The Spirit of Rockdale flew higher and faster than it had ever flown. It circled all of its check points all day and on time. It was at the end of the fourteenth hour as it was headed back to the runway when the unthinkable happened. It was almost like a bad dream, the only problem was that it was no dream. The Spirit of Rockdale had been high jacked. It had been high jacked by left wing liberals supported by Oden and Oz. They had apparently hidden in the plane the night before, under the cover of darkness.
The crew fought with all the strength that they could muster but it was to no avail. The Spirit of Rockdale that had survived for over 160 years had crashed. Hill, Harrison, Ray, Bowie, Brown, Horn and Coggins perished instantly. The only survivor was Wigington and He was in critical condition. The doctor said if Wigington could make it to 11:00pm Friday night, he would have 95 percent chance of survival but even with all the hope and prayers that was in everyone’s hearts, it was not to be. Wigington joined his other crew members at 10:30 pm Friday night. The little white plane, Known as the Spirit of Rockdale was to be no more.
Oh there will be another plane. A shiny black one but if its not painted with a higher quality of paint than Oden, Oz and Wilson are painted with, instead of carrying commerce, manufacturing, education and a future for our children and grandchildren, the only thing it will carry will be crime, incompetence, cronyism and corruption.
Members of the public and Rockdale Democratic Party called for the resignation of the Republican member of the elections board Jonny Brown at Thursday’s elections board meeting after an editorial Brown had written came to light.
About 10 people spoke about the editorial that had been posted online on a local website. All but two of the comments were against the editorial.
The piece, dated Nov. 19, and titled “The Little White Plane,” described a metaphorical plane called the Spirit of Rockdale that was painted in white and went on to describe last year’s election campaign. (Editor’s note: The full text of the editorial can be read to the left of this article online at www.rockdalenews.com)
Rockdale Democratic Party Chair Doreen Williams said, in a letter read aloud by party secretary Carole Copeland, “Members of the Board of Elections are specifically charged with making sure all elections are carried out in a fair manner without regards to race, religion, gender or sexual preference or any other means of discrimination. With the publishing of this editorial, I seriously question Mr. Brown’s ability to assure the voters of Rockdale County that the election concerns can be and will be heard fairly and accurately. I will call immediately for Mr. Brown’s resignation as Republican appointee.”
Rockdale Republican Party Chair Don Williamson also wrote a letter that was read aloud by Lynn Brown. “In response to the Rockdale Democratic Party Chairman requesting our representative to the BOE resign, please note the following. 1) Jonny Brown has the right to a personal opinion as an individual and will continue to do so until Obama signs another executive order taking that away as well. 2) To everyone that has made the same remarks and requests that Mr. Brown should resign, you seem to have the uncanny ability to make the association that Jonny Brown is speaking for the Republican Party. Some have gone as far to state that this is a Republican party problem. We do not subscribe to the group or herd mentality and maintain that if Mr. Brown wants to state a personal opinion, that is not speaking for the Republican Party in any manner, shape or form.”
Lynn Brown, Jonny’s wife, a vice president of the Rockdale Republican Party and a former member of the elections board, also spoke as a private resident.
“There was nothing in that story racist,” she said, which brought reaction from the audience. She continued, “The definition of racism is: the belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a person is superior to others. 2, Discrimination or prejudice based on race. That was not racist, according to Webster’s.”
Resident Cheryl Board said, “Comments like those need to be left in the closet with the hoods and scowls and sheets that go with it. If those are truly the beliefs, then those people need to go back to the closets where they belong.”
Pastor J. Philip Baker said, “The comments that were made by Mr. Brown if not racist were ignorant. They did not substantiate what the majority of this community believes. I wanted to address these issues to the chairman that if he allows Mr. Brown to sit on this board unchallenged, it not only impedes on the credibility of Mr. Brown, but also questions the integrity of each members that sits on this board.”
Pastor Luke Boswell said, “No the board should not have to vote for this young man to remove himself. If he really cared about the spirit of Rockdale, he would remove himself. That’s what people do that have conscience. That’s what people do who care about the true big picture of what’s going on in our community.
Jim Roppo spoke about how he and his wife had sat through many elections board meetings over the last three years and did not see the many attendees at Thursday’s meeting, especially through a year where Judge Sidney Nation ended up removing two of the board members.
“I have mixed feelings about what Mr. Brown wrote,” said Roppo. “On one hand I recognize through the bill of rights through the first amendment of the constitution that he has the right to say whatever he wants to say. On the other hand I would say being a member of a board like this, just like I’m a member of a different board in this county, you have to be a little more circumspect. If anything I’d say that’s the case where he didn’t do a very good job.” But he added, “I think we need to be consistent here… Mr. Brown may have made the mistake. But other mistakes have been made here too,” he said.
Elections board Chairman William Todd closed out the meeting. “I have to be careful about speaking my opinion on personal things, because I may be needed to vote on something very important. My impartiality cannot be subject to question. I cannot say what I really think about any of this. I just wanted to make sure everyone had an opportunity to be heard.”
Copies of the elections board bylaws were handed out and attendees were encouraged to see if any sections applied to the situation.
After the meeting, Elections Supervisor Cynthia Welch said that no action was taken by the board, since Brown had not violated the terms of the bylaws.
The board, through its attorney, can petition a judge to decide whether or not to remove a member only if the member was violating the bylaws, such as failing to perform his or her duties, not showing up for meetings, convicted of a felony.
The local parties themselves can not remove their appointees, Welch said.
The next elections board meeting is Feb. 14, 4 p.m. at 1400 Parker Road.