Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:
The Augusta Chronicle, Augusta, Georgia, on the passing of former Gov. Carl Sanders:
We wouldn't have the Georgia we know today if it weren't for Carl Sanders.
In 1963, less than 10 years after starting his political career in the Georgia General Assembly, the 37-year-old Augustan became, at the time, the nation's youngest governor. That alone would make him remarkable.
But Sanders and the breadth of his achievements amount to so much more. He died Sunday at age 89.
How will he be remembered? For making education better. For making government more accountable. For putting citizens first.
Older Augustans might remember Sanders as a hard-charging fullback at Richmond Academy, who was asked not once but twice to play for the University of Georgia by legendary football coach Wally Butts. He accepted, and Sanders spent his first year at UGA as the freshman team's promising left-handed quarterback.
But Sanders left school to join the Army Air Forces during World War II, and was trained to fly B-17 heavy bombers. Returning to UGA in 1945, he went on to earn his law degree and marry the woman who became his wife of 67 years, the former Betty Bird Foy.
The young attorney won a seat in the state House of Representatives in 1954 and in the state Senate in 1956.
State law forbade governors to run for consecutive terms. So by the time Sanders rose to become governor, he had only one four-year term to accomplish an ambitious agenda that stressed progress and reform.
Committed to strengthening education in Georgia, Sanders oversaw the building of 6,000 more classrooms and the hiring of 10,000 more teachers. He also appropriated the first $250,000 to begin what is now Georgia Regents University's dental school.
He created a department to boost efficiency in state government, and provide needed oversight to improve prisons, transportation, health and revenue. His strong leadership navigated the state through turbulent years during the civil rights movement.
Sanders was one of Georgia's greatest governors. He guided our state through a period of booming growth. He projected precisely the image Georgia needed at a sensitive time in state and national history. Sanders was, as James F. Cook dubbed him in a 1993 biography, the "Spokesman of the New South."
And he gave so much back.
In Sanders' death we not only mourn his passing but also marvel at his extraordinary life, and how he worked to better the lives of countless others.
The Savannah Morning News, on the "culture of silence" in recent shootings:
The weekend of Nov. 14-16, new Metro Police Chief Jack Lumpkin got his first baptism of what law enforcement is really like in Savannah and the challenges he faces as top cop.
Here are the raw numbers: The city recorded nine shootings — including two that were fatal — from Friday to Sunday night.
Unfortunately, many of the victims aren't cooperating with investigators. Worse, witnesses are clamming up, too. They aren't coming forward with information that would help police put the shooters behind bars.
Welcome to Savannah, chief.
The culture of silence — sadly — remains alive and well here. It's evil's best friend.
Yet if the community wants to break this vicious cycle of violence, it's a culture that must be wrestled to the ground and smothered.
Last weekend's violence illustrates the callous disregard for life that some local gunmen have. They clearly don't fear arrest or punishment either.
Chief Lumpkin has been in his new job for only a week, so he's still getting the lay of the local landscape. But he has been in law enforcement for 43 years. So he should be well familiar with the problem of uncooperative witnesses and victims — and have some ideas on how to combat it.
Indeed, he neatly summed up the situation.
The chief said Savannah has a choice to make. It must weigh its fear of giving up information to the police against the possibility of their friends and family members dying in the streets because of gun violence.
The obvious choice is life, not more death. Yet too many Savannahians choose poorly.
Changing the culture of silence isn't easy. But it's not impossible. Improving the level of trust between the community and the police department obviously is a must.
The see-no-evil, hear-no-evil attitude has only a single beneficiary: Evil. Community leaders must redouble efforts to stomp it out.
The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, Nov. 12, on homelessness:
There are, at any given moment, about 1,500 homeless people in the Columbus area. Of these, the Homeless Resource Network served 227 people last year considered "chronically" - in effect, permanently - homeless, more than half of them veterans.
This and other local organizations have worked tirelessly and valiantly over the years to alleviate the problem of homelessness in this community. Now they're about to get some help.
Home for Good, operated through United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley, is one of just 67 such programs selected by the national nonprofit Community Solutions to participate in an intensive nationwide effort called Zero: 2016. It's an ambitious (to say the least) campaign to eliminate homelessness in the next two years.
In order to solve a problem, of course, you have to know exactly what it is, why it exists and what its real dimensions are. To compile such information in one community would be a daunting challenge; to do it nationally seems almost inconceivable.
That's not stopping the people devoting a lot of time and energy and heart to this humanitarian goal. Starting in January, Community Solutions will coordinate a "2015 Homeless Point-in-Time Count," in which participating local organizations, including Home for Good, will try to get a street by street, block by block assessment of homelessness, to get a more detailed picture of the area homeless population, and connect people to the kinds of resources and help most appropriate to their particular circumstances. Community Solutions is expected to provide guidance and data collection help for this kind of intensive endeavor.
Obviously these workers will need a lot of help, and they'll be getting it. The Housing Authorities of both Columbus and Phenix City, the Columbus Consolidated Government, United Way, the Community Foundation of the Chattahoochee Valley, health care and mental health care organizations and of course the Homeless Resource Network will all be involved.
"Is this going to be hard?" asked Christie L. Bevis, executive director of Home for Good. "Oh, yeah. But this is what we need right now."
Kudos (again) to Aflac CEO Dan Amos and his wife Kathelen, whose generosity provided $100,000 toward what should be a matching fund drive for more African-American art at the Columbus Museum.
"This is significant because it's another example of great community support," said Mercedes Parham, marketing and media manager for the museum. "We did not ask for this. This was something that came out of the generosity of the hearts of Dan and Kathelen Amos. They're longtime museum supporters. And it just goes to show that in order for things to happen, sometimes you just have to have a champion behind it."
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