Broun is stirring controversy already

It's dog days. Property taxes are going up. Commission elections are coming up. And the 10th District's new congressman is already in Washington.

Under intense scrutiny from some Richmond and Columbia County folks who are still stinging over the fact that their candidate, Jim Whitehead, lost the runoff election, Paul Broun Jr. was sworn in last week and cast his first vote. Not surprisingly. both events came in for criticism.

First, it was noted that he was sworn in on the Democrats' side of the House. Second, his first vote was on an amendment to a bill saying that if a state had legalized marijuana for medical purposes, the feds couldn't bust those who prescribed it.

Twelve states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes.

Dr. Broun voted for the amendment, even though some Republican colleagues on the floor asked him not to. Even Democrat John Barrow voted no.

Dr. Broun said his vote was not about medical marijuana but about the separation of powers, the 10th Amendment and states being able to set their own policy.

"If passed, it would prohibit the federal government from setting policy in the states concerning medical marijuana use," he said. "My vote was for the states to set their own policy."

Dr. Broun said it was a case of "yes" being "no" and "no" being "yes" sometimes in Washington.

Whatever. Some people who know the difference will be running around before next year's election saying Dr. Broun voted to legalize marijuana, and people will believe it.

As for Dr. Broun standing on the Democrats' side during the swearing-in, he said that's where Democratic Rep. John Lewis, the dean of the Georgia delegation, introduced him.

"Since he introduced me there, I took that side," he said.

GOING FOR IT AGAIN: Super District 10 Augusta Commissioner Don Grantham and District 6 Commissioner Jimmy Smith, who some people say are joined at the hip, held a joint news conference to announce their intention to run again this fall.

"I have given this commitment a great deal of thought, and it was a very tough decision to make," Mr. Grantham said. "A lot of people have tried to check me into University Hospital to get some psychiatric treatment. But I always had an answer for them. 'If I didn't do it, would you do it?' And the answer from them was always, 'We'd rather keep you in there, Don.'"

Mr. Smith pledged "cooperation, not controversy. Solutions, not speeches. Hard work, not hard drives. Progress, not politics."

HERE'S TERRY!: Last week, I told you about the big meeting at Augusta Technical College concerning the need for MCG to expand onto the Gilbert Manor housing project property, but I didn't have room to tell you about Terry Elam, who moderated the meeting.

If Mr. Elam ever loses his job as president of Augusta Tech, he could get a job as a stand-up comedian. In opening remarks, he asked everybody to turn off cell phones and warned them that if they didn't their phone numbers would be automatically deleted.

"This is a technical college," he said. "And we do know how to do those kinds of things."

In laying ground rules for the question-and-answer session, Mr. Elam said it would be run like a NASCAR race, with bad questions being sent to the pit and good ones put on the speedway. Only two questions got sent to the pit - one from Commissioner Marion Williams and the other from Medical College of Georgia President Daniel Rahn.

Afterward, Mr. Elam asked me whether I had ever heard of Hugh Eugene Tudor, who ran for office in Augusta 35 times, and the one time he was elected they found out he didn't live in Richmond County.

In his 25th campaign, Mr. Tudor was asked what makes a man run for office and run and run.

"Perseverance," he answered.

It was his fifth run for mayor of Augusta, and he said if he lost he would not run for office again, but he did. Ten more times before his death in 1981, according to The Augusta Chronicle archives.

Mr. Tudor was born in Augusta in 1916. He left at 17 to see the world but came back and worked at the local mills until he started Tudor Food Products in 1942.

He began running for office in 1949. The highest office he sought was the 10th Congressional District seat in 1960. He finally won a seat on the Augusta City Council in 1962, his only victory.

He then appeared on the TV show I've Got A Secret. His secret was that he had won his first race for office after 24 attempts. He lost in the next election to the Rev. C.S. Hamilton, despite pleading with voters to send him back to the council so he wouldn't have to run for mayor a seventh time.

In that 1965 race, it came to light that Mr. Tudor had homestead exemptions in both Richmond and Columbia counties. He said it was all a mistake. He said his wife lived in Columbia County and he lived in Augusta.

"She comes into Augusta most every day, and I go out there on weekends," he said. "This year, my wife handled the tax forms for Columbia County. It's in her name. I didn't know she claimed a homestead exemption."

Sound familiar?

Anyway, Mr. Tudor said the two homesteads came out because one of his opponents was trying to knock him out of the race, but it wouldn't work.

"The only way I'll get out is to drop dead," he said.

MIAMI HEAT: It's funny how a sound or feeling in the air can transport you to another time and place with no warning. I was walking down the hall after the air conditioner quit working a week ago when the sound of the fan and ticking clock carried me back to my grandma's house in Miami.

Her bedroom smelled of Bengay, mosquito spray and lamp oil. Every night she got on her knees and prayed. Then she got in bed and read the newspaper.

I don't know why I looked forward to spending summers there.

There was no entertainment except to listen to Aunt Catherine's scratchy old records and sit beside Grandma at her pedal sewing machine and try to learn to crochet. There were no special treats, and even at an early age I had to hold the dustpan when she swept the floor and help her with the wash. It was hot, too, following her along the clothesline, shaking out each piece and handing it to her to hang up.

There was also no coddling. She plaited my hair into tight pigtails, and if I complained and jerked away, she hit me in the head with the hair brush.

There was no eating between meals and no wasting food. Grandma said if you wasted food you'd burn in hell, and I never doubted it. Sometimes we had tripe for supper.

Grandma was tough on everybody, especially Grandpa. When he came home drunk with something missing from his paycheck, she'd beat him with the broom and pour his liquor down the drain.

Our other grandma, Mama Ross, was all fun and games. She took us fishing, gave us money to go to the millpond store and told the best ghost stories. She even let me drive her car on the country roads around her house when I was only 11.

But I didn't love her any more than I did Grandma, and I've often wondered why.

Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or sylvia.cooper@augustachronicle.com.

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