Originally created 01/02/00

Kent: Praying for leaders; cutting mayor's budget

THE 20TH HAS BEEN quite a century. World War II took the United States to the pinnacle of world power. This nation became, and still is, the leader of the "Free World."

True, we won the Cold War that led to the collapse of the old Soviet Union. But in this century, and particularly starting on college campuses in the late 1960s, more Americans began considering the political/economic world views of the Communists and the other "isms" of man -- selfism ("If it feels good, do it"), secularism, atheism and socialism.

Even though our coins proclaim this is "One Nation Under God," that idea is now under tremendous assault.

President John Adams once said, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other people." Is his fear coming true?

Certainly one indication is the phenomenon called jury nullification. Example: Former Georgia lawmaker Ralph David Abernathy III, charged with multiple abuses of his public office, got off after his first trial because one juror flatly declared he'd never vote "guilty" no matter what the evidence. Some "civil rights leaders" actually said if Abernathy was guilty he shouldn't be found guilty! (Twelve jurors in his second trial convicted him.)

John Adams would also be horrified to read a recent survey of America's top political consultants. Over 50 percent admitted they were sorry their candidates had won!

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the "conscience of Russia" imprisoned by Soviets, said the greatest failure of the 20th Century is "men have forgotten God."

Polling shows most Americans believe in a Supreme Being. The big question is how they will serve their Creatoron Earth.

In this vein, let's applaud and support those in public authority who promote "a city of character" or character education in schools (like we have in Georgia and South Carolina). They are based on the old religious values of right and wrong.

Furthermore, plaudits go to the clergy and lay people of many faiths who came together this past Friday at historic St. Paul's Episcopal Church to pray for Augusta and those vested with its custodial authority. What better new year's resolution is there than to pray for one's community and all the people in it?

Cruelest cut of all

There was not seasonal good tidings and cheer directed to Mayor Bob Young from a Commission majority. Last week it eliminated the discretionary budget account historically provided to Augusta's mayor.

The Commission cut $5,000 from it and voted to use the remaining $45,000 for its own slush fund ridiculously titled a "Promotion Account." This is in addition to the infamous $10,000 "Commission Other" account.

Why this petulant slap by the Commission? Well, Young caused them to address an ethics ordinance, and supports a wide-ranging grand jury probe into wasteful and corrupt government practices -- and a Commission majority doesn't like it.

The mayor shouldn't have to go hat in hand to a majority of hostile commissioners (some of whom openly opposed his election) to be reimbursed for expenses. As it stands now, if the governor and a visiting delegation of business prospects arrive, the mayor can't even buy them a cup of coffee unless the cash comes from his own wallet. Will the 2000 Commission -- with its two new members -- right this wrong?

A FOOTNOTE: Young even submitted a budget for the $50,000 he should have been allocated -- something not done by previous mayors.

Among his items: dues to the U.S. Conference of Mayors; seed money to start an Augusta Film Commission, help for the Aviation Commission and the Boshears air show to pay for hosting the famed Blue Angels, and $5,000 to start a neighborhood deputies program to help the Marshal's Department with code enforcement. These are good things -- but will they now be funded?


Reader David Bate of Martinez is horrified that I used "a split infinitive" last week: "... Anyone claiming to be an American should be able to properly speak our common tongue, English." Yes I did. And so what?

Chronicle writing coach (and Augusta State University professor) Jim Garvey has the last word: "There's nothing wrong with using split infinitives. He sounds like an old school marm. ... He's persnickity." Thank you, coach.

Phil Kent is senior editorial writer for The Augusta Chronicle. He can be reached at (706) 823-3327 or philkent@augustachronicle.com


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