Tuesday, February 8, 2011


The Camden County Republican Party will hold its annual dinner with all its elected officials on Saturday, February 12, 2011, at Osprey Cove in St Marys, Georgia. The social hour begins at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m.

The special guest speaker for the evening will be Georgia State Attorney General Sam Olens. Also in attendance will be State Senator William Ligon and State Representative Jason Spencer.

Tickets are $50. Contact Patricia Viellenave at wvgal@tds.net for tickets or more information.

The St. Mary’s Downtown Merchants Association have also announced a townhall meeting on Saturday, February 19, featuring State Senator William Ligon and State Representative Jason Spencer which will begin at 1:00 p.m. at the Southern Junction. Southern Junction is located just across from the St. Mary’s Public Library at 600 Finley Street.

The pair of legislators indicated they looked forward to engaging the citizens of Camden County on important matters that are before the Georgia General Assembly.

Monday, February 7, 2011


By R. A. Pearson

Eric Clapton’s 2010 release Clapton is perhaps the now typical blues/jazz/rock genre CD expected by the award-winning artist. The sounds on the CD draw from a long history of music and the songs on the collection are, according to Clapton, “an eclectic collection of songs that weren’t really on the map.” He indicated as it turned out, “This album wasn’t what it was intended to be at all. In a way, I just let it happen.”

The album’s hard blues sounds include “Hard Time Blues” by Lane Harding, done in the traditional Delta blues sounds of a Robert Johnson song. The song “Run Back To Your Side” is very reminiscent of the sounds of Cream or maybe even Derrick and the Dominos, as Derek Trucks is a guest slide guitarist on the track. The jazz sounds on the CD are present in several songs, often sounding as though they were recorded in the 1930s or 40s style, including the songs “When Somebody Thinks You’re Wonderful,” and the humorous “My Very Good Friend The Milkman.” Other songs of note on the CD include “River Runs Deep,” “Everything Will Be Alright,” “Diamonds Made From Rain,” with Sheryl Crow on vocals, and “Autumn Leaves.”

Clapton’s base band for Clapton includes drummer Jim Keltner, bassist Willie Weeks, Tony Andrews, aka “Trombone Shorty” on trombone and trumpet, Tim Orindgreff on sax, and keyboardist Walt Richmond. He also brings in special guests keyboardist Steve Winwood, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, vocalist Sheryl Crow, and guitarist Derek Trucks.

The CD was produced by Eric Clapton and Doyal Bramhall II. Clapton is definitely a fan CD so check it out before you by it.

Jacob Dylan’s Women And Country is an 11 cut CD produced by the award winning T Bone Burnett. While the album is the artist’s second solo CD it has a full sound using horns and fiddles without overpowering the listener and drowning out the message of the lyrics of the songs. Dylan is joined on the CD by female singers Neko Case from the indie rock group The New Pornographers and Georgia born Kelly Hogan, formally with The Jody Grind. A few interesting cuts on the CD include “Yonder Come The Blues,” “Holly Rollers For Love” and “Lend a Hand.”

Peter Gabriel’s Big Blue Ball is a collection of tracks featuring artists, instruments and vocalists from all over the world. There are over 70 guest artists featured on the 11 cut CD and the instrumentation includes samples of insturments from around the world. Many of the vocals on the CD are performed in the language of the country of origin of the song preserving the natural flavor of the track. Some great tracks on Big Blue Ball are “Shadow,” “Forest,” “altus silva,” and “Rivers.”

Big Blue Ball is a lot like several of Gabriel’s past CDs such as The Long Way Home and several other non-typical western music collections the artist has presented to his fans in the past. A listener may wish to sample a few tracks before purchasing the CD.

In other music news, in early December 2010, outgoing Florida Governor Charlie Crist, an admitted Doors fan, along with the Florida Board of Executive Clemency, voted to posthumously pardon Jim Morrison, the lead singer of The Doors, for his convicted of indecent exposure and open profanity.during a wild concert in Miami on March 1, 1969. According to The Doors organist Ray Manzarek, Morrison whipped the fans, most of who were stoned and drunk, into a frenzy and made them believe they had seen him expose himself. None of the arresting officers actually saw Morrison expose himself and none of the more than 100 photos in evidence show any exposure. Morrison was convicted of the crimes in 1970 and received a six-month jail sentence and a $500 fine. He never served the sentence. Morrison’s widow, Patricia Kennealy Morrison, opposed the pardon which came 40 years after the conviction. Morrison died in 1971 in Paris and was buried in a graveyard in that city.

Meanwhile, the Abbey Road Crosswalk in north London, made famous after appearing on a Beatles album cover in 1969, has been granted heritage status by the English Heritage association in the U.K. The status was granted on December 22, 2010, and marks the first time a crossing has been awarded Grade II listed status. Ian Macmillan took the famous shot of the Beatles in the crossing during a 10-minute photo shoot one August morning in 1969. The crosswalk and nearby Abbey Road studios, also listed at Grade II landmark, remain a major attraction for Beatles fans the world over when they visit London.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


By R. A. Pearson

During his New Years Day 2011 address to the world, Pope Benedict XVI indicated “Humanity cannot be allowed to become accustomed to discrimination, injustices, and religious intolerance, which today strike Christians in a particular way. Once again, I make a pressing appeal (to Christians in troubled areas) not to give in to discouragement and resignation.” During the homily, on the day the Catholic Church celebrates its World Day of Peace, the pope dedicated his remarks to religious freedom and tolerance. At the time of the Pope’s sermon, the world had seen recent church bombings in Egypt and Iraq, and a death sentence in Pakistan brought on by an Islamic blasphemy law.

Perhaps the recent atrocity against Christians on the Pope’s mind as he spoke to the world on January 1, was the bombing at a Coptic Christian church in Alexandria, Egypt, the day before which had killed 21 worshippers gathered to mark the New Year and wounded about 43. The incident touched off riots in the Christian quarter of Alexandra. Reports noted there was no police security for the church at the time of the bombing. In Egypt, Christians make up about ten percent of the nation’s 79 million people and the Coptic branch is the largest branch of the Christian faith in the North African Nation. While Egyptian leaders have indicated the incident was an isolated case, Vatican leaders and observers of violence toward Christians around the world indicate the attack was part of a growing trend, especially in the Moslem world.

Another country where Christians have been severely persecuted is Iraq, the country where the United States has been fighting and training army and police forces for six years and lost more than 4,400 killed in action. The onslaught of attacks in Iraq began with the Baghdad church massacre on October 31, 2010, that killed 58 people and was followed by unrelenting bombings and shootings targeting Christians throughout Iraq, including incidents where militants invaded Christian homes and killed people sitting in their living room. A series of ten bombs exploded in Christian homes in Baghdad on December 30, killing two people and wounding more than a dozen.

The UN High Commission For Refugees said at least 1,000 families had fled Baghdad and Mosul since September 2010 for the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq. A further 133 families had registered with the organization in Syria, as had 109 individuals in Jordan. U.N officials estimate there are 500,000 Christians remaining in Iraq, down from 1 million when Saddam Hussein was ousted. It appears the Christian persecution in Iraq is divided equally between the Syrian Catholic Christians and the Chaldean Christians in the country.

Other attacks on Christian churches at the end of 2010 included two attacks on Christmas Day in northern Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, where six people died, and a bombing of a Roman Catholic Church on the island of Jolo in the Philippines where six people were injured.

However, the most publicized case of Christian persecution has been in Pakistan where an Islamic anti-blasphemy law has been in the spotlight since November 2010, when a court sentenced Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of four, to death. On January
4, 2011, the governor of the state of Punjab, Salman Taseer, who had strongly opposed the law and sought presidential pardon for the 45-year-old Christian farmhand, was gunned down by one of his bodyguards who opposed Taseer’s opposition to the law.

The incident began in June 2009 near her village of Ittan Wali, a patchwork of lush fields and dusty streets in the Sheikhupura district of Pakistain’s Punjab province. While she was picking berries alongside local Muslim women, a disturbance developed over sharing water and Moslem water purification rituals. A few days later, the women claimed she had insulted the Prophet Muhammad. She was tried under the county’s Islamic anti-blasphemy law and became the first woman be sentenced to death for the crime in Pakistan. She has been in prison for over a year while Christian groups have protested the case and sentence. Her husband and their children fear for their lives and have gone into hiding. In December 2010, a pro-Taliban Muslim cleric offered a $5,800 reward to anyone who killed the Bibi in prison.

Christians make up 4 percent of Pakistan’s population and have been especially concerned about the blasphemy law saying it offers them no protection. Under the law, anyone who speaks ill of Islam and the Prophet Mohammad commits a crime and faces the death penalty, but activists say the vague terminology has led to its misuse. Critics of the law argue convictions hinge on witness testimony and often these are linked to personal vendettas. Also in 2009, 40 houses and a church were set ablaze by a mob of 1,000 Muslims in the town of Gojra, Punjab, and at least seven Christians were burnt to death during the incident. The attacks were triggered by reports of the desecration of the Qur’ran.

On December 29, 2010, Scandinavian intelligence agencies announced they had foiled a plot to kill staff members at the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which published caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in September 2005, and had arrested five suspects in the case. Police in Denmark and Sweden said they thwarted the terrorist attack possibly hours before it was to begin indicating the plan including shooting as many people as possible in the Copenhagen building housing the newspaper’s newsroom. Many people had thought the five-year-old incident involving the cartoons had passed; however, it is apparent some religious leaders and individuals in the Islamic world refuse to let the issue die.

The problem is for years people in the non-Muslim world have been told Islam is a peaceful, nonviolent, benevolent, and tolerant religion; however, the more the world sees of Islam, the intolerance of Islam to other religions and beliefs, the brutality of Sharia law, and hears the vengeful fatwas and sermons of the Mullahs and Ayatollahs, the less the world believes Islam is the peaceful, tolerant religion it claims to be.

While the United States has made its faux pas concerning religious freedom over the last couple of years, the protest over the placement of the Mosque/Islamic Cultural Center near Ground Zero in New York City and the planned burning of the Qur’ran by the minister in Florida being a few examples, Americans believe in the right of an individual to say, worship, and believe as they please. This right of an individual to believe and practice their religion was also included into the Charter of the United Nations and should be allowed by all member nations. However, eight of the countries included on the top ten World Watch List in 2011 for the persecution of Christians include the Islamic nations of Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Yemen, Iraq, Uzbekistan, and the Maldives. Many of these are members of the U.N. and some are U.S. friends and allies. Non-Islamic nations on the list include North Korea and Laos.

In the Pope’s New Year's message he indicated, “words were not enough” to bring about peace, particularly in the Middle East. He called for “concrete and constant commitment” from national leaders and said everyone on a local level should push for peace in their daily relations with their neighbours. It would be nice to see and hear the Mullahs, the Ayatollahs, the secular leaders of the Islamic world, and all the Muslims around the world prove once and for all that Islam is the tolerant and peaceful religion it claims to be.



As the old saying goes, “The property of no one is safe while the Georgia General Assembly is in session!” Lock up your cows, chickens, dogs and anything else you deem precious.

But with all sarcasm aside, the Georgia General Assembly will convene on January 10, 2011, and I will be one of the thirty-five freshmen in the House of Representatives entering in to one of the most challenging budget years in recent memory. I am confident we will be the most unpopular group of people in the entire state. There will be hard choices to make this session and difficult votes to cast, and no one will like all of them. Most likely, there will be no sacred cow in the state budget spared from cuts.

While I have much to learn about protocol, rules and other formalities, I have noticed a few things and have been briefed on a few issues that are sure to be front and center at the beginning of the session. First, let’s discuss the HOPE scholarship crisis. Whatever the decision will be to continue to preserve this perceived merit based scholarship, which has now turned into an entitlement for any student graduating from a Georgia high school, is sure to bring college students and angry parents to the capitol steps with protest signs demanding to protect the program and keep tuition costs low.

On a personal note, I will probably be one of the few legislators in the assembly that was actually awarded the scholarship during my undergraduate years. While I graduated from high school with a 3.0 the year the first award was given in 1993, I was not eligible to receive the scholarship because an income cap existed. So, HOPE was not always a merit based scholarship. There was a needs-based component to eligibility. After I financed my first two years of college through loans and other scholarships, the income cap was removed. Maintaining my GPA at a 3.0 during college allowed me to become eligible to receive HOPE to finance the final two years of undergraduate education. My point: I did not get the first two years of my education for free, nor did I feel entitled to receive this scholarship.

Today, HOPE has morphed into an entitlement program and students are told that if you just have a “B” average you can go to college “free” in Georgia. Fact: In 1993, there were approximately 42,000 recipients with a total award of $21.4 million and in 2010, there were over 200,000 recipients with a total award of $394 million. An unintended consequence of the HOPE scholarship has been tremendous pressure put on teachers and school systems to contribute to grade inflation; therefore, producing a diluted “B” average. Furthermore, this inflationary pressure turns out more students becoming eligible for the award. The grade inflation coming from the high school level is evident by the fact that a large number (about 50%) of entering freshman lose HOPE during their first year of college because they can not maintain a “collegiate” GPA of 3.0.

One of the many solutions I “hope” is considered is to start HOPE after the first semester of college. Maybe this would help save the program money by weeding out those with inflated grades. Also, HOPE should never be paying for remedial course work. If one has to take remedial course work in college on a scholarship, is one truly a scholar?

While HOPE is certainly going to be a tough issue for the Assembly, other issues will be just as hot to deal with. Educators are bracing themselves for another round of cuts in the state’s budget. With 58% of the state’s $17 billion budget devoted to education, cuts are likely to strike at this portion again in this session. Not only will educators be looking at more cuts, they will be hit with possible pay-for-performance legislation which is one of the conditions needed to win a Federal government Race to the Top award. The win of $400 million to “improve” education is just another “strings attached” power grab from the federal government to control education in Georgia.

Tackling a projected state budget shortfall of $2 billion will be no easy feat. The only Constitutionally mandated job of the legislature is to produce a balanced budget. While major issues like illegal immigration, rewriting the state tax code and how do deal with “Obamacare” provide much political background noise, the focus of the Assembly will be how to balance the budget. Taxpayers are keenly aware of the cuts that may come, and I believe are ready to deal with it. One thing taxpayers will not tolerate is more fees, hidden charges and tax increases. Taxpayers want to see meaningful cuts to the state budget. Also taxpayers want the state to change its tax code in order to foster business and job growth, which will be the main focus in what is to be a turbulent session.

Despite dealing with all of these issues, one dynamic that is interesting for me to be a part of is serving in the Republican caucus that has grown its majority substantially. Georgia was a one-party state of Democrats prior to 2002. After 2002, the state became a two-party state. Today, the two-party state has fallen and we are once again a one-party state, but controlled by the Republicans. From my perspective thus far, this Republican caucus seems to be less uniform and more ideologically diverse with that composition being a coalition of rural-suburban influences. On the other hand, the Democrats have been reduced to a pure and progressive minority mainly composed of urban white liberals and African-Americans. With the Democrats being reduced to its more “pure” ideological elements, some in the party are abandoning a sinking ship and jumping into the Republican caucus.

As an incoming conservative freshman, there will be much to learn, but learning how “the game” is to be played within my own caucus will be a skill I will soon have to master. Representing the people from the district will be challenging no doubt is a historic session, but the journey of doing such a task will be its reward.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Jason Spencer is a Health Care professional in Southeastern Georgia and a leader in the TEA Party movement in the area. He also represents District #180 in the Georgia House of Representatives in Atlanta. His email address in Atlanta is jason.spencer@house.ga.gov and his new web page is www.staterepspencer.com . His articles are presented by THE CLARION ISSUE: Counter Editorials and Opinions on Current Events and Attitudes.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

THE WRONG ROAD: A four part series, written exclusively for the Clarion Issue, illustrating how a small community can go down the wrong road. (Part I)

By Richard Frizzell

Prior to moving to Camden County and Georgia, I had searched out many places to make a life-changing move to. I lived in New York State, first in the City of New York and later in an upstate county called Niagara County, located on the shores of Late Ontario. You might say that I got a good education in both lifestyles, one of city life and one of rural life. Another source of comparison was based on my being in the military and having traveled both within the country and abroad and having experienced all manner of different places both good and bad.

My choice of places to move to spend the rest of my life was essentially an educated choice. I was using the best information available and making a choice that would give me the best chance of social, personal and economic happiness. I often joke about something one of my neighbors said to me when he greeted me into the neighborhood, “You’re not from Georgia are you?” My response was, “No, but I got here as fast as I could.” To me this was “Mayberry by the Sea.”

I thought I had died and went to heaven. I loved to sail, hike, swim in the ocean, and fish. I also wanted to live in a place that was small, quiet and friendly. Camden County and St. Marys was just the ticket. There was sense of “Americana” and community here that I had found lacking in other places I had lived in over the course of my life. In Camden County I found a house to live in that was not going to cost a fortune, as well as low taxes, and opportunity for any kind of activity you could possibly want for self-fulfillment or entertainment. It was all just a short distance from our home. I could go anywhere I wanted for enjoyable activities either by a walk, bicycle ride, or a short car ride. Best of all, it wasn’t expensive to live here. There was a sense of calm stability, peace, and safety here in my new found home and community.

Since I have moved here some twenty years ago I have seen my dream world start to erode away by turmoil created by the city of St. Marys Elected City Council government over ideas of economic growth, and expanding city governmental agencies in an effort to mimic larger cities. St. Marys city government’s actions have been more and more confrontational and costly to its citizens over these past few years. Vested interest and personal petty agendas appear to have been promoted by those in power. It is all done, of course, with the promise of bringing opportunity and growth, economic prosperity, and a vast array of all manner of things that will make the city of St. Marys the centerpiece of “Coastal Georgia.”

However, it appears that the City Council of St. Marys has failed to consider what the city residents and the surrounding communities want for their future. We must include the surrounding communities because they too are affected by what St. Marys wants to do or does in the hope of economic growth. The cost of these “pipe dreams” doesn’t stop at the city limits and has an effect on all of the county’s citizens.

Just some of the problems that have sprung up recently that are a direct action of St. Marys City Councils of the past few years and most certainly of the present administration will be the topic of this four part series. Some of you may agree with and some you will strongly disagree with the opinions put forth in these articles. If that is true you most certainly can voice your disagreement by offering your disagreement and opinions to the Clarion Issue without fear of “intimidation by a policeman as has happened in City Council meetings” or called all manner of names by officials because of your disagreement with policies that do not directly help residents of the city.

Spending money on the purchase of a private piece of property located on the water front for 1.3 million dollars of taxpayers’ money and then borrowing from banks that same amount to provide needed lift stations to the city sewer system is just one such topic we will discuss in this four part article. Folks, if you disagree with this article, and some may disagree; you have every right to voice that disagreement without fear of retaliation or intimidation. Nor will you be called “back row buzzards” or “trouble makers”.

President John F. Kennedy once said that he had a sense of history and as President of the United States he would not repeat the mistakes of history. However, that wisdom does not appear to be prevalent among the present members of the St. Marys Council. I close the first part of this series with this thought in mind, “Alas, it is the folly of men that too soon, do they forget”(Le Morte d’ Arthur, by Malory).


By Mike Wilson

The beginning of a new year is a busy time in the Assessors’ Office. January through April 1st is the time for accepting applications for homestead exemption. To qualify, you must own your home and reside there on January 1st, and your Camden County residence must be your primary residence. There are several types of additional exemptions available to persons age 62 and over, disabled veterans, and surviving spouses of veterans, firefighters, peace officers, and surviving spouses of service men killed in action.

You may also apply January through April 1st for an agricultural exemption. There are several programs available, and all require a bona fide agricultural use. One program requires U.S. citizenship and may be owned by a trust or owned by a family corporation whose majority income is derived from Georgia farm products. This ten-year program has no minimum tract size, but has a maximum of 2,000 acres per person or entity. Another program does not require citizenship and is available to corporations doing business in Georgia. In this fifteen-year program, tracts must be over 200 acres with no maximum acreage limit, and over half the tract must be in forestland. A third program offers a reduced assessment on farmland and up to $100,000 off the assessed value of farm buildings. In each program, there can be no commercial activity on the parcel, including rental property. Applicants enter into an agricultural covenant that carries significant penalties if the covenant is breached.

Through April 1st, the Assessors’ Office accepts the owner’s opinion of value of property in a document known as a return. Any changes made to the property, such as deletions, additions, and acreage changes, may also be returned. According to Georgia law, opinions of value are not accepted past the deadline of April 1st, and values cannot be adjusted when tax bills are received. If the value returned is not accepted, the property owner will receive an assessment notice by mail. With new tax laws in effect in 2011, every property owner will receive an assessment notice with the right to contest the value within a 45-day appeal period.

Also during this time, the Assessors’ Office is accepting personal property reporting forms for boats, aircraft, and business inventory and equipment. Applications for freeport exemption of qualified business inventory are accepted. The appraisal staff is reviewing the percentage of completion on construction in progress for a January 1st status, and reviewing any building permits and sales of property.

The Assessors’ Office makes every effort to maintain accurate records and encourages property owners to verify the data on property record information online at www.qpublic.net/ga/camden. Please notify the office if changes are necessary. Office hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. The telephone number is (912) 576-3241.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


By D. E. Lovett

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has begun its regulatory campaign to limit emissions of that dangerous pollutant, carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere. That’s right: the same pollutant that you emit with every breath, and that all plant life depends upon to grow, has now been declared hazardous to human health, and must be limited. All this in the name of slowing or reversing “global warming,” which is now supposed to be the greatest threat to life on earth- never mind nuclear war, starvation, poverty, disease, religious fanaticism, or any of the myriad threats we can actually do something about.

The most popular (among radical environmentalists) method of doing this is the scheme known as “cap and trade” (CAT). In its simplest form, CAT involves the federal government determining how much CO2 can safely be released (the “cap”), and issuing permits to the major producers of it. These producers can then either meet the cap, or exceed or underproduce it. If they exceed their cap, they can buy a higher cap from those who are under their cap, thus the “trade.”

CAT is fraught with so many perils that even the liberal-dominated 111th Congress found it too “toxic” to address. The Waxman-Markey proposal never made it out of committee, leaving the issue to the EPA, which now seems determined to enact regulations of dubious constitutionality. Congress has, seemingly, ceded to a regulatory bureaucracy its power to make law- a clear violation of the Constitution.

The problems with CAT are almost numberless. How will the “safe” levels of CO2 be determined? Which emitters will be targeted, and to what extent? What will the government charge for permits, and who will reap the monetary benefits? How will the proceeds be spent? What will the impact on consumers be, and how will the benefits be measured? On a deeper level, what is the morality of government benefiting monetarily from selling the right to pollute? This is right up there with “sin” taxes, which gross huge revenues, by taxing supposedly unhealthy behavior.

While it is not possible to measure all of the costs and benefits of CAT, there are a few certainties attached to the measure. The cost of energy will surely escalate, by measures estimated at between $1000 to $3000 per household per year. And the benefit, by the most optimistic measure, will be a reduction in average global temperatures of hundredths of a degree.

More than anything else, this scam illustrates the problems brought on our economy, and our well-being, by Congress delegating almost unlimited powers to unaccountable regulatory bureaucracies.