Georgia editorial roundup
Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:
Savannah Morning News on Congressman Buddy Carter’s stance on off shore drilling:
Like oil, U.S. Congressman Buddy Carter is proving slick in our nation’s capital, at least when it comes to his stance on oil exploration and his relationship with the energy industry.
He’s courting political disaster of Deepwater Horizon proportions here at home.
Less than three months have passed since Carter requested the secretary of the interior remove the seafloor off Georgia’s coast from offshore energy development plans. The move marked a position shift for the Republican lawmaker, who’d long ignored calls from constituents and local governments within his district to stand against drilling and all activities related to it off our shores.
His letter to the interior secretary says one thing. His actions, both on the House floor and off, suggest another.
Carter recently voted against two bill amendments meant to prohibit exploration off the Atlantic Coast. The measures were offered by Democrats and the votes were largely partisan, with only 25 Republicans voting in favor of one and 18 saying “aye” on the other.
Carter’s support for either amendment would have penetrated and affirmed his newfound posture. Instead, he rejected the legislation citing a familiar qualifier: He remains an “all of the above” energy proponent and favors exploration everywhere except our shores.
The amendments were too “broad,” lumping Georgia in with other coastal states. He says he considered countering with his own amendment, one that would have addressed Georgia specifically, but recent failures of other would-be amendments dissuaded him.
“It never would have been accepted,” Rep. Carter said. Republicans “are in the minority.”
—Poor time for fundraiser
Amidst all the drilling measures being considered at the Capitol, Carter attended a campaign fundraiser billed as an “Oil & Gas breakfast” on June 13 at the Capitol Hill Club, a national social club for Republicans.
The invite bears Carter’s campaign logo, reads “You are cordially invited to an Oil & Gas breakfast in support of Representative Buddy Carter” and lists “suggested donations” of $500, $1,000 and $2,500.
Carter called the notion of linking his votes on the drilling measures with the fundraiser “ludicrous.” Doing so would certainly be reckless, as few, if any, have questioned Carter’s integrity in his nearly three decades in public office at the local, state and federal levels.
His decision to even be associated with such an event at this time is disheartening, though. Many of his constituents, including supporters, were relieved when he relented on calls to stand against drilling off Georgia’s coast. Some might even issue him a pass on his recent votes given the partisan tone at the Capitol.
But to then be the guest of honor at an event for energy industry insiders and lobbyists defies good sense. It is an unforced error, giving credence to the conspiracy theories about Carter’s attitudes toward Big Oil. The cynics will certainly be reading Carter’s next campaign contribution disclosures as if they were chapters in a racy novel.
Carter downplayed the fundraiser and its timing. He outsources his campaign fundraising to High Cotton Consulting, a firm that specializes in raising money for Republican members of Congress, candidates and parties, and they handle the scheduling. The consultant then coordinates with the scheduler in Carter’s office.
Carter insists he is not involved.
He also scoffs at the suggestion that his vote could be influenced by campaign donors. As he is apt to say, his voting card has his photo on it, but it belongs to the people of the First District.
“I appreciate all who donate to me but that has nothing to do with what I do as a legislator,” Carter said. “I can’t even tell you who gave what.”
—Stand and deliver
Carter needs to perform some seismic testing on his political psyche.
He’s for “learning what’s out there” beneath the seafloor but not necessarily in favor of drilling should oil or gas be found.
He supports the Georgia General Assembly’s concerns about the risks of exploration and drilling but talks about rescinding his stance should those issues be addressed to the Legislature’s satisfaction.
He’s acknowledged the existence of climate change but insists he’s unconvinced of fossil fuels’ contribution to the warming.
Carter’s position is a gusher-sized hedge, and his constituents are growing weary. He’d do well to firm up his stance — and back it with action.
The Brunswick News on hate mail it received in error:
You know that feeling you get when you are being blamed for something that’s not your fault? The News certainly does after this weekend.
First, let’s set the stage. We are The Brunswick News, based here in lovely Brunswick, Georgia. This might come as a surprise to some of you, but the name Brunswick is pretty popular up and down the East Coast. There’s Brunswick County in North Carolina, New Brunswick in New Jersey, the province of New Brunswick in Canada and probably others that have Brunswick somewhere in their name.
As you can guess, this occasionally causes confusion. We sometimes get letters to the editor, news submissions and other information that isn’t meant for us, but one of the other Brunswicks.
Anecdotally, it seems most of the mistakes come from our friends North of the Border.
That is probably because Brunswick News Inc. is a Canadian publishing company that prints three daily newspapers and more than a dozen weekly newspapers in Canada. There is no newspaper in Canada named The Brunswick News, but that hasn’t stopped the confusion.
That confusion became downright hostile this weekend. Brunswick News Inc. in Canada terminated a contract with one of its cartoonists, Michael de Adder, after de Adder designed a cartoon that featured President Donald Trump asking two dead immigrants who had drowned while crossing the Rio Grande into America, “Do you mind if I play through?”
Despite being thousands of miles away and making it pretty clear on our website and social media platforms that we are located in Georgia, our social media and inboxes were full of people voicing their complaints about the cartoonist’s dismissal. Even after we posted a reminder on our social media platforms that we are not located in Canada and had nothing to do with this post, people continued to blame us for what happened.
Some people who realized their mistake were nice enough to apologize. We appreciate those who realized their error and apologized for it. That’s the way it should be if you make a mistake — own up to it and apologize for the error.
Of course, all of these errors could have been avoided just by paying even the slightest bit of attention to detail. People have a right to believe that the cartoonist was treated wrong, and the right to express that to the Canadian Brunswick News.
But our society has decided that speed is more important than accuracy when it comes to outrage. It’s not about who the outrage is directed at; it’s about making sure everyone else knows you are outraged about the situation.
This is not isolated to one spectrum of the political landscape. It is a societal problem, a deviation into groupthink instead of thinking critically on our own and taking the time to pay attention to what’s going on instead of blindly chiming in on a topic. Instead of taking the five seconds it takes to read our Twitter bio or scan our Facebook page to see we are clearly located in Georgia, people just assume they have the right newspaper.
We all know what assuming gets you. If we are going to make our political conversations less toxic, it starts with all of us paying more attention to the details. If you want to get your point across effectively, it starts with having all the information.
The Augusta Chronicle on a program aimed at helping veterans:
It’s so satisfying to solve two problems with one solution.
Actually these aren’t problems. They’re more like challenges.
Here’s the first challenge: Veterans leaving military service don’t always enjoy a smooth transition into the mainstream job market. And even when they get there, the skills they acquired in the service aren’t always compatible with what’s required of them as civilians.
Here’s the second challenge: The massive construction projects undertaken by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers turn over a lot of dirt. And in that dirt are a lot of archaeological artifacts, many dating back centuries. You can’t just throw them away.
So they’ve been itemized, bagged and put in boxes - tons of them. And that’s where they’ve stayed, some since the 1950s or earlier. Now they have to be re-processed, using modern archiving techniques including cameras and computers. But the Corps has lacked the manpower.
Until now - thanks to the Veterans Curation Program.
The program was started by local wounded warrior activist Laurie Ott, now an executive with University Health Care System, and Dr. Michael “Sonny” Trimble, now the director of the Corps’ Center of Expertise for Archaeological Curation and Collections Management.
From 2004 to 2007, Trimble and his archaeological team excavated Saddam Hussein’s mass civilian graves in Iraq, and America’s soldiers and Marines became his protectors. When Trimble returned stateside, immensely grateful to the servicemen and women who kept him safe, he wanted to give something back - something special - to veterans.
Through Trimble’s and Ott’s efforts, the first curation lab in Augusta opened in October 2009. Today there are seven labs and satellites of the program spanning the entire country.
In the labs, teams of veterans go through a program over several months to learn how to catalog, curate and keep records for these stacks of artifacts. When they graduate, military members who used to be armed with weapons now are armed with new job skills from database management to computer skills to old-fashioned interpersonal communication among office-workers.
Its numbers show success. As of last May, 600 vets have been through or are now enrolled in the program Of those, 72% went on to permanent employment.
The work can be fascinating. When we visited the lab Thursday, a worker was going through pottery shards excavated in the 1950s from a Indian mound that’s now beneath the shallow headwaters of Lake Hartwell on the Tugaloo River. The shards are likely Cherokee, and hundreds of years old.
Other finds are more recent. From a collection of corroded metal found during excavations for the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway across Alabama and Mississippi in the 1970s and ’80s, archaeologists unearthed an antique toy car. We personally think it’s a LaSalle convertible from the 1930s, but if you looked at it you might disagree.
If you drop by, the folks who help run the lab might even show the car to you.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 11, the program is playing host to an open house at its lab in Enterprise Mill, 1450 Greene St. You can see for yourself the progress being made - not only with the artifacts, but among the vets performing the archiving.
It’ll give you yet another reason to be proud of the people who have protected our country.