I have got to be missing something here. I freely admit Im
not the brightest person on the planet, but really ....
As a taxpayer, I strongly feel we are being cheated by the Georgia
Department of Education. Not only the taxpayers, but more importantly,
the children themselves.
Georgias state School Superintendent Kathy Cox proudly
announced recently that only 11,000 out of roughly 115,000 third
graders failed the reading test. She also said that this number,
about 10 percent, was much lower than failure predictions.
We now learn that passing score in Georgia is a only 42 percent
out of 100 percent of a 20-question test (eight correct answers
out of 20 questions). I have to admit it takes a lot of courage
to publicly announce that the Georgia Department of Education
accepts such a miserably low score as passing.
Apparently the state superintendents motto is, If
you set your objective low enough, success is assured.
Its a fairly safe bet that job applicants who score only
42 percent out of 100 percent on a company entrance test wont
likely be hired. If corporations delivered only 42 percent of
their objective to their stockholders, top management would be
Now we hear more hype that future cut scores will
be held back from the public until a way can be found to help
us (the stupid public) to understand how really good these lowered
cut scores are. Curiously, the states themselves can decide how
low to set their cut scores and still call it passing.
What a deal for the NEA and teachers unions! They apparently
cant bring the youngsters up to a practical passing grade
of say 70 percent, so they simply lower the bar and congratulate
themselves on the great results.
No wonder 17 million more Americans cannot read as of 2002 as
compared with 1992 according to a recent CNN news report. No
wonder too that Georgias SAT scores are at the bottom of
How Kathy Cox and her state education department can tout themselves
as doing a great job is beyond me. Anyone else out there feel
Peachtree City, Ga.
Combined bands should be recognized
I moved to Peachtree City 18 months ago. One of the first events
we got involved with was the 4th of July parade. Aside from having
such a unique place to live, I found it totally amazing and wonderful
when I found out that the two local high school bands came together
for an event.
Since The Citizen has been here much longer than I have, I would
have thought that by now that someone at The Citizen would have
already figured it out.
The McIntosh Band AND the Starrs Mill marching bands come
together each year (for the last seven years) to march together
in the Peachtree City 4th of July Parade. I dont think
there is another town on the earth that does this.
What excitement and what an example to set, two high schools
from the same town, doing something together, marching in a parade!
This year we had both band banners held side by side in front
of the bands coming down the street. We had the McIntosh golf
cart sporting McIntosh colors in front carrying water and the
Starrs Mill golf cart sporting Starrs Mill colors
carrying water in the back of the bands.
Even parade-goers noticed that we came together as one, as we
heard comments coming down the parade route.
I think after seven years of hard work to bring our community
together that it is terrible and inexcusable that the local paper
would print pictures of the two schools marching together and
printing the caption under it, The McIntosh High School
band celebrates the day with a musical tour through the streets.
I think also it might be a good idea to have a photographer
from the local area who knows what is going on to take your pictures.
I am so saddened at what the paper has done to these students
and not supporting their efforts!
[Editors reply: Ive got a young man now at Georgia
Tech who marched in that combined July 4th band for three years.
No excuses. We blew it. We are sorry.]
Current D.A. shirks responsibility; Fayettes Ballard better
In our current world of news by sound bytes, it is easy for
those reading the paper or watching the news to be misled. William
McBroom, the current district attorney for the Griffin Judicial
Circuit, has stated that quotes from various sources mentioned
by opponent Scott Ballard are half-truths.
He then implicitly admits one quote, a critical note by a juror,
by blaming a new assistant district attorney, for whom he should
take responsibility, by name.
He excuses another, the implications of a local judges
order directing him to designate assistants to try leftover cases,
by saying the order was directed to all participants.
Finally, he side-steps a third quote, criticism from the Georgia
Court of Appeals, by saying the rules required him to do what
he was criticized for doing, filing a motion for reconsideration
that contained little more than a one sentence request for the
Court to reconsider its opinion.
First, the main criticism from the Court of Appeals was the
nature of the motion, not the fact that it was filed. Second,
the rules for the Supreme Court clearly show that a motion for
reconsideration is not required prior to submitting the case
to the Supreme Court.
McBroom goes further to focus on Ballards admission that
he had made mistakes in representing two clients. No attorney,
defense or prosecution, who practices for any length of time
can honestly look back and state that he hasnt made mistakes.
Ballards open admission of that fact demonstrates his honesty
If by focusing on Ballards admission of mistakes, McBroom
hopes to imply that Ballard is not qualified, it should be pointed
out that in jury trials against Ballard from 2000 through 2004,
McBrooms office has obtained convictions on only five of
29 counts, a conviction rate of only 17 percent.
Further, three of the five convictions were misdemeanors. Ballard
is more than qualified to act as the new district attorney for
I have supported McBroom in past elections; I believe him to
be an excellent trial attorney. His failure to accept responsibility
for issues of concern, however, is not what the Griffin Judicial
Ballards honesty and integrity in dealing with limited
mistakes is indicative of the type of accountability and responsibility
we need in a district attorney and the district attorneys
His dedication to organizing and revamping the administrative
aspects of the office will speed up the administration of justice.
I support Ballard as our next district attorney because he deals
in truth, not sound bytes.
James E. Bischoff, attorney
District Attorney McBrooms attack on Ballard as low as
you can go
I thought I had seen the slimiest of all lawyer politics in
the metro Atlanta judicial races against some outstanding incumbent
Fulton Superior Court judges, but the salacious and misleading
full-page ad by District Attorney Bill McBroom targeting District
Attorney candidate Scott Ballard takes the proverbial cake!
Scott Ballard did a great job in obtaining a new trial for Margie
Swart after her Peachtree City Municipal trial was
declared to have been conducted in a manner that did not protect
her constitutional rights.
Scott advised Margie to seek a jury trial at state court, but
she opted for a bench trial based on issues relating to the unauthorized
contact of a represented defendant by Solicitor Steve Harris
while she was researching her case at the Fayette County law
Once I was asked to assist Margie in seeking a new trial, Scott
was fully cooperative. I subpoenaed Scott Ballard to verify (at
the hearing on my motion for new trial) that he had not been
privy to nor authorized any private communications
between Margie and Solicitor Harris.
He scrupulously honored his subpoena and told the truth about
every aspect of her case. His truthful testimony, along with
his stellar reputation for truthfulness with the courts in Fayette
County, helped me undo the prior state court conviction caused
by Mr. Harris unauthorized 20-minute conversation with
The issue about him missing the 10-day limit on her interlocutory
appeal was really a non-issue, because Margie would have been
allowed to have that issue reviewed by our appellate courts after
conviction (if I had not been able to get her a new trial).
She lost nothing. In fact, due to the inappropriate contact
by Harris (which led to her second conviction being set aside)
she still is unconvicted. Moreover, I have reasserted and restructured
all of her pre-trial motions for the next time this case is prosecuted,
and we will have an opportunity to have all these issues fully
Judge Fletcher Sams has allowed Mrs. Swart the full opportunity
to undo the problems caused by Mr. Harris inappropriate
contact, and has vacated the entire prior decision so that she
has a new day in court. The newly assigned prosecutor,
Keith Martin of Clayton County, has fully supported this fair
and constitutional action by Judge Sams.
Margie has not been harmed in the slightest, and she holds Scott
in the highest regard as an attorney and as a friend.
I do not know Scott Ballard that well, but I do know that his
reputation in legal circles is nothing short of impeccable, sterling
quality. He has always upheld the highest moral and ethical standards.
Politics, frankly, make me sick. It particularly saddens me
to see such inappropriate attacks in judicial races by attorneys
who are held (by the State Bar) to a higher ethical and professional
standard than other non-lawyer politicians. DA McBroom should
I can only conclude that the full-page ad that was run was designed
to confuse or mislead the voters of your judicial circuit, since
it in no way portrays any flaws or faults of Scott Ballard. It
seems to me to be an act of desperation, to try to turn the apparent
tide favoring Scott Ballard to win this election.
I am not involved in any Fayette County races. I have not contributed
a dime to any candidate in any race in the circuit. However,
I would not be much of an attorney nor much of a man to stand
mute and let this ridiculous and scurrilous attack on a good
man and a fine lawyer go unanswered.
Rest assured that if I lived in the Circuit, my vote would have
to be for Scott Ballard!
William C. Head
Attorney at Law
Ballard beats McBroom in 24 of 29 court cases
When I returned home from my summer semester at UGA, I found
quite a surprise waiting on the kitchen table. Before me was
a full-page ad attacking my father, district attorney candidate
Scott Ballard. Mr. Bill McBroom, I was quite angry to see you
slander my father by attacking his competence and integrity.
During the course of this campaign, Ive felt that you have
conducted yourself very well. You are usually a gentleman.
Therefore, I was quite disappointed to see you move the campaign
in such a negative direction. My father was actually amused by
your ad. I, however, am furious and feel that your false allegations
need to be answered in a pubic forum.
First, lets discuss the issue of competence. Since the
year 2000, you have charged, in court, a total of 29 counts against
my fathers clients.
Of those cases, you have only beaten my father five times! Three
of those were misdemeanors.
At a time when the national conviction rate is very high, your
pathetic prosecutors can only win against my dad 17 percent of
the time. If my dad really is as incompetent as you claim, and
hes beaten you that many times, then I think it is clear
that somebody needs to rescue our D.A.s office!
The idea that you would even talk about competence is amazing.
While I believe that you are a good attorney, you have failed
as an executive. As a result of your disastrous March term of
court here, 120 cases are backlogged.
Since your office did such a poor job of managing your caseload,
the judges in our circuit are now baby-sitting your assistants.
Only one of the five cases your office prosecuted in court resulted
in a conviction.
My dad is in this race because law enforcement, tired of watching
their hard work go down the drain, asked my father, a skilled
trial lawyer, to try to replace you.
I remember, during my high school years (back when you were
a Democrat), watching my father try a case against one of your
prosecutors. It wasnt even a close contest. Your assistant
was totally unprepared for trial. The situation has only gotten
worse since that hot summer.
Today, because of the incompetence of your office, I fear that
our circuit is becoming a dangerous place to live.
While your charges related to my dads competence are absurd,
I found them acceptable. It is fair to question if the person
seeking an office is ready for the job. What caused my blood
to boil was your questioning of my dads character.
My father is a noble man who has served his community with honor.
There is not a person on earth that I admire more than Scott
Ballard. He has touched many lives with his compassion, love,
No incident better demonstrates the character of my father than
his handling of the discovery that my brother had autism. While
this finding devastated our family, my Dad saw it as a blessing
from the Lord. I can honestly say that no person has done more
to aid my brothers development than my father. His faith
and eagerness to do good never ceases to inspire me.
To attack my dads competence, while absurd, is acceptable
due to the nature of the campaign. To attack my fathers
integrity, however, is an outrage and not befitting a man of
In the interest of decency, I ask that you elevate the level
of your rhetoric and focus on the issues of the campaign.
Oh, and Mr. McBroom, I noticed that you claim to have been
ready for trial for 24 years. God help us if youre
ready for 25!
[Editors note: No letters were received by Tuesday deadline
in support of candidate McBroom. Had we received any, we would
have printed them.
Commission Chairman Dunn to candidate Chapman: Do you
Intelligent, reasonable people make better decisions when they
look at both sides of issues. People must be on guard not to
allow themselves to be misled and manipulated for political gain.
Perhaps maturity and experience are the best teachers, but in
this instance only hard work can properly inform our youthful
candidate for county commission, Sam Chapman.
Mr. Chapman has been spewing a constant stream of misinformation
and attacks against the county commission in the newspapers (comments,
letters and paid political ads). He is either misinformed or
is intentionally distorting the truth just to get some votes.
I choose to believe the former. Let me explain.
Most people who know me know that I support my long-time friend
Peter Pfeifer and believe he deserves re-election, based on his
hard work serving this community, but enough about Peter.
Despite my personal leanings in this election, I offered my
time and that of the county staff to assist Mr. Chapman in understanding
the responsibilities and the positions on various issues of the
county commission, to which he so desperately seeks election.
I did so after a very pleasant conversation in which he introduced
me to his beautiful wife and daughter. I left expecting him to
avail himself of the opportunity to educate himself on the issues.
He has never done so.
Additionally, he has only attended one short public meeting
of the county commission. So how did this young candidate choose
to educate himself ?
Apparently he has sought the advice and counsel of Mayor Steve
Brown of Peachtree City, a self-proclaimed opponent of both commissioners
Pfeifer and Frady.
He has further sought counsel from officials in the Sheriffs
Office who are currently opposing the county commission on issues
Sam, I believe you were right to discuss the issues with both
of them, but if you purport to be the peoples voice
on the commission, dont you need to know what Paul
Harvey would call the rest of the story? Why have
you sought out only those who attempt to use you for their political
Dont be fooled by your new-found friends who now have
you doing their dirty work. I guess a picture with deputy sheriffs,
at least one of whom publicly said he went where he was
ordered to go, can make you feel good, but our citizens
deserve more than ego gratification if you seriously want to
The offer I made to you still stands and I cordially invite
you to come and see your county commission at work. In the meantime,
I am asking you to think about several things. If you do, you
just might want to change your campaign strategy.
(1) Do you believe you are getting the truth about the Special
Local Option Sales Tax from Mayor Brown ? Do you care?
(2) Do you know that more than 50 percent of the money to be
spent on transportation projects in the next seven years will
be spent in Peachtree City ? Do you care?
(3) Since only 34 percent of the countys residents live
in Peachtree City, would you suggest we take transportation money
away from Peachtree City? Do you care?
(4) You have stated that Peachtree City residents would pay
over 50 percent of SPLOST revenues. If you found out that the
real percentage is less than half of that, would you care?
(5) Do you know that 66 percent of the people in Fayette County
do not live in Peachtree City? Do you and Mayor Brown care about
(6) Do you know the Marshals Office has been in existence
since 1983 and the sheriff has, until now, incarcerated prisoners
arrested by the marshals? Why has he changed his position? Do
(7) You have said the county commission is trying to take the
sheriffs drug funds away from him. Do you know that we
do not want to do that and that the law does not allow it? Do
(8) If the Sheriffs Office does not comply with federal
and state law reference accountability of certain funds and the
use of taxpayers money, should the county try to fix the
problem? Do you care?
(9) Do you know that the county commission has five conscientious
and dedicated people serving our community for over 30 years
in these positions and that your opponent has voted and debated
against my position many, many times? When you call commissioners rubber
stamps for the chairman, do you not know that you demean
their service and attack their integrity and you ascribe to me
power I do not possess? Do you care?
Sam, this brand of politics works in many places in America
but hopefully the citizens of this county wont be taken
in by one-sided, distorted nonsense.
I hope you will look at public service differently in the future
than you apparently do now. A title is absolutely useless if
you dont know what you are doing when you get it!
My offer still stands: I hope to see you soon. By the way, Im
still going to vote for Peter Pfeifer but Id like to know
you care enough about our citizens to research and study the
issues which affect all of us. Armed with accurate information
and detailed analysis and self-preparation, you could be a great
asset to our community in the future.
Greg Dunn, Chairman
Board of Commissioners
Fayette County, Ga.
Editors note: No letters were received by Tuesday deadline
in support of candidate Chapman. Had we received any, we would
have printed them.
On King Greg, royal court of commissioners, sheriff,
judges, Mayor Brown
I have just read in your paper the latest salvo from Greg Dunn
on behalf of the Board of Commissioners and, really
now, isnt it enough already?
It seems that every time someone has the temerity to disagree
with Commissioner Dunn, he, on behalf of the Board of Commissioners, sends
a letter demanding compliance with their (his) directions immediately.
Failure to comply seems to follow immediately with the initiation
of litigation. Have any of these temper tantrums resulted
is a legal victory for the Board of Commissioners? Not as far
as I can tell.
Has the art of discussion, reasonable accommodation, willingness
to compromise, been completely lost by this, the current Fayette
County Board of Commissioners?
I know Steve Harris. Personally I like him. He has always been
willing to listen to a different point of view. I do not like
how he has changed since deciding to run for higher office.
I plan to vote for Tommy Hankinson, not because I like him personally,
but because he has not acted in a manner I find inconsistent
with being a judge. Steve makes a better prosecutor. He should
have run for district attorney or stayed put.
For the record, I do not like Greg Dunn. He is pompous in person,
and a media darling when the media is present. He
pretends that he is one of the only people in elected office
to have good ethics.
I have known Randall Johnson for many years. While I may not
agree with everything the Fayette County Sheriffs Department
does, Randall Johnson is not pompous, and is concerned about
everyone in Fayette County.
Ask Commissioner Dunn one question and put his answer in the
paper. Greg Dunn has said in your paper that he does not want
to control the seized drug money sent to the Sheriffs Office.
He is also on record as utterly disapproving of the purchase
of the helicopter by the Sheriffs Department.
Tell us, Mr. Dunn, if the drug money was deposited into the
accounts controlled by the Fayette County Board of Commissioners,
would you have signed the check to purchase the helicopter?
There are few people more polarizing than Mayor Steve Brown.
People either love him or they hate him; few people are neutral.
Greg Dunn has, even here, taken his customary position of arrogance,
and laid down the law to the mayor of Peachtree City. Whether
the mayors position is right or wrong needs to be considered
in light of day, not in a private meeting where Mr. Dunn can
characterize the results how he chooses.
Please, citizens of Fayette County, wake up and send a message
to King Greg just as the citizens of Georgia sent
a message to King Roy! Its not too late; Bill
McNally (the county attorney) hasnt amassed the fortune
yet to retire to the Bahamas!
Candidate Chapman seems unaware of many issues facing commission
I am the wife of Peter Pfeifer, who is currently seeking re-election
to the office of Fayette County Commissioner, Post 3. I do not
usually write letters to the editor, but feel compelled to do
so out of concern over the misinformation being presented to
my fellow citizens.
This is not meant to attack Sam Chapman personally. I dont
know him. We, as citizens and voters, must realize that it is
our obligation to overlook personal attacks and seek the truth
about the issues before us.
No candidate can claim to please everyone, all of the time,
but they can offer to listen and evaluate individual concerns
and act accordingly. They are elected FOR us, BY us. The ultimate
crime for anyone seeking election to public office is to mislead
the citizens they intend to represent.
I am referring to statements made by Sam Chapman in the July
7th edition of The Citizen (as well as in his political ads).
I was confronted by one fabrication after another!
Mr. Chapman likes to talk big, but if you care to do any research
you will quickly find that he has no knowledge of the issues
facing the county commission. He says he supports the Sheriffs
Department. That is a very general statement. Who wouldnt
support law enforcement: only a fool (or a criminal)?
Is Mr. Chapman even aware of the facts behind this situation?
I notice that he has never been specific on this issue, or any
other. In Mr. Chapmans article in the Election section
of The Citizen, dated July 7, 2004, he chose to air his views
on the SPLOST and traffic improvement plan.
Once again, his article contained little fact and much fiction.
And again I must ask Ð Where did he get this information that
he so confidently expounds?
Personally, I find it frightening to think someone with so little
experience and lack of knowledge could even be considered as
a serious candidate.
The desire to become educated on issues has not been demonstrated.
If we allow the wrong people to dupe us into electing them, we
will all pay the price.
I must also question Mayor Steve Browns comment in the
July 7th issue of The Citizen where he states, Herb Frady
and Peter Pfeifer have done more to hurt Peachtree City than
any other commissioners I know of, citing the city being snubbed
in the countys master recreation plan.
Maybe Mr. Brown should read his own words in a previous edition
of The Citizen where he credited Peter Pfeifer for being the
only commissioner who did not approve the recreation plan. He
went so far as to include this in a State of the City Address.
When you practice deception, it catches up with you... oops!
The disagreement between the commissioners and the Sheriffs
Department is yet another example of distortion. A very few,
very vocal people have tried to make this a personal confrontation.
It is not!
Fayette County is fortunate to have a superb law enforcement
department, presently under the leadership of Sheriff Randall
Johnson. Personally, Peter has been a strong supporter of Sheriff
I dont know a single commissioner who does not support
public safety 100 percent. The issue is accountability.
The commissioners never had the desire or ability to control
drug money. By law this money belongs to the Sheriffs Department.
What they were asking for is an objective accounting of the funds.
These checks and balances are for the protection of the citizens,
the Sheriffs Department, and the county government.
Randall Johnson will not be the sheriff indefinitely. Guidelines
put in place are for the office, not the person holding the office.
If Mr./Ms. X is elected sheriff and decides to misuse
funds, and is able to do so because of a lack of accountability,
who will suffer? The citizens. And who will be to blame? The
This scenario is not far-fetched as we can see by events under
investigation in nearby counties.
I can assure you that Peter Pfeifer is seeking re-election because
he is dedicated to the citizens of Fayette County and has a natural
desire and ability to serve. He has devoted much time as an active,
involved leader in our community for more than 12 years, volunteering
in various capacities. Peter wants to maintain and improve all
that Fayette County has to offer.
His record, since becoming a county commissioner, speaks for
itself and is something he is proud of. He would like the opportunity
to continue to represent you.
Please feel free to contact Peter at 770-487-2654 with any questions
or concerns you may have. We ask for your support and your vote
on July 20th, for all the right reasons!
Peachtree City, Ga.
Judge Caldwell is best man for judges slot
Growing up in Fayette County with a father who practiced law,
I got to be pretty familiar with local attorneys and judges.
Johnnie Caldwell was one name I remembered well when I passed
the bar and began practicing with my dad.
Judge Caldwell has been a staple in the Griffin Judicial Circuit
for as long as I can remember. He has worked as an assistant
district attorney, district attorney, and of course as superior
Caldwells opponent, John Mrosek, has made numerous accusations
that Caldwell is not harsh enough in his sentences for criminal
As a criminal defense lawyer, I can state outright that he is
regarded as one of the toughest in the area.
Focusing on individual cases, as Mrosek does, is not fair to
any sitting judge. There are many cases, as Caldwell has pointed
out, that the evidence against a person may not be strong enough
to obtain a conviction from a jury.
The district attorneys office often attempts to offer
a lesser form of punishment to assure that the defendant is punished
in some fashion.
As for any implication that Caldwell merely rubber stamps plea
agreements, I can personally state that he has rejected a number
of plea agreements in cases that I have handled.
More important than looking at the sentence sheet on any individual
case is that Caldwell is fair in his administration of justice.
If all he did was hand out harsh sentences, I could assure you
that as a defense attorney, I wouldnt be supporting him.
Caldwell looks at the law as it applies to the case and applies
it fairly. That is all that we as defense attorneys can ask of
It is not just criminal cases, however, where Caldwell has excelled;
those are just a part of a superior court judges job.
He works to speed the administration of cases in both civil
and criminal cases. He fully expects attorneys to be ready for
trial when they are called, to present their case in a manner
that is not only respectful to the court and fitting for their
clients, but also expeditiously without the long-winded tirades
to which we are subject.
Johnnie Caldwell is an excellent judge who is tough but fair
in his administration of criminal justice. The attacks made by
his opponent are unwarranted, unsubstantiated, and irresponsible.
Caldwell is the best person for the job, both for Fayette County
and the rest of the Griffin Judicial Circuit.
Brian S. Bischoff, attorney
Editors note: No letters were received by Tuesday deadline
in support of candidate John Mrosek. Had we received any, we
would have printed them.
Keep seasoned educator Marion Key on BoE
I have been a resident of Fayette County for nearly 18 years.
I was motivated to locate here by a great school system and amiable
family environment. I have seen most of our schools go from great
to Schools of Excellence and beyond.
In general, our school boards have served us well, but there
were a few years, in the late 1990s when the board seemed to
lose focus on their purpose. The education of children appeared
to take second place to the political focus of the group in place
at the time.
I am more confident with the team in place since 2000 and the
progress they have made. The most positive thing they have accomplished
is restoring confidence in the board and their decisions. It
would seem wise to let the incumbents continue the lead this
progression and train any new members.
Youth can bring enthusiasm and new ideas to any environment,
but it should not be forgotten that sage wisdom cannot be overlooked
as a needed and steadying influence on that youthful exuberance.
Those who have worked and been active in the academic environment
are needed on the board to bring perspective to the youthful
view given by those who are active generally only during their
childrens school years when emotions, more than careful
scrutiny of long-term effects of policy, guide the decision-making.
I have known Marion Key and her educator-husband for many years.
My son profited from their wisdom in the classroom. Now let your
children profit from Marions wisdom on the school board.
Judy Gerard Aselton
Peachtree, City, Ga
[Editors note: No letters were received by Tuesday deadline
in support of candidate Connie Leary. Had we received any, we
would have printed them.)