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Going Postal

Vigilantes not handicapped
I just read the article about how the city is giving disabled citizens the authority to ticket illegal handicapped parkers ("Space Snatchers," March 21), and I say hoorah! I'm usually not on the side of anything the police are involved with, but I think this is a fantastic idea. My mother and my godmother are both legally disabled, and I can't tell you how many times I've been somewhere with either of them and had to assist them from the car, across the parking lot to our destination because some inconsiderate bastard is only thinking of themselves.

Back about two years ago one of my neighbor's friends constantly parked in the handicapped spot at my apartment. One night my buddies and I were drunk from a night of boozing and decided to take matters into our own hands. We went to the grocery and bought about four cans of shaving cream and went to work on this dude's car. We also left a note saying which apartment we were in, and if he had a problem, to come deal with it.

Anyhoo, the cops were called and didn't ticket him, but wanted to ticket us for vandalism! The pigs made us wash the guy's car, after he removed it from the handicapped spot. If you ask me, he got away, but at least now the handicappers can take matters into their own hands. Take care of bizness!

-- Steve Markham, Atlanta

Golden Sleaze Awards
Bravo ... a wonderful article highlighting some of the typical duplicity and hypocrisy in the State Legislature ("12th Annual Golden Sleaze Awards," March 21). There was one particular item that you guys didn't pick up on and this is the excerpt directly from the week of March 12 Senate Weekly Report.

"The committee met Tuesday to discuss House Bills 130 and 369, and Senate Resolution 232. Representative Chuck Sims presented House Bill 130, which would amend the OCGA relating to judicial determination of heirs and interests. It provides for court orders for disinterment and DNA testing in certain cases where the kinship of any party in interest to a decedent is in controversy. The bill passed unanimously.

Senator Joey Brush presented Senate Resolution 232, which would create a Senate Underage Drinking Study Committee. The bill was adopted. Representatives Stanley Watson and Tom Bordeaux presented House Bill 369, which seeks to amend the OCGA to provide for extraordinary motions for new trials based on newly discovered evidence regarding paternity of a child and to ensure that a motion for a new trial will be granted if genetic testing conclusively shows that the alleged father is not the natural father. Chairman Charlie Tanksley stated that he did not feel comfortable passing the bill in its current form and suggested the formation of a committee to study the bill."

According to Senator Tanksley, it's OK to dig up the dead to make sure that the right folks get his property (HB 130) but you can't do that with the living (HB 369) because he "did not feel comfortable" with the bill. Maybe Senator Tanksley has something buried in his past?

-- Buddy Everhart, Marietta

Cheers to Greg Land!
Mr. Land, Great work on this year's awards. Truth is stranger than fiction. I especially enjoyed Kathy Cox's Wet Blanket Award. I was part of the losing effort to bring world-class beers to our backward thinking and oftentimes unthinking state.

We can't have those large easy-to-open bottles of imported world class beers (Yeah, like using a cork screw is easy.) with a history and heritage longer than most legislators' thought process. Note that beer has been around since 4500 BC, while Georgia's only been a state since 1733, and many of the beers prohibited are closer to Georgia's age than any of the legislators.

But selling strong beer will exacerbate the DUI situation they claim. There's nothing wrong with chilled 18 percent "fine wine" replete with screw cap and a $3.99 price tag for a 750 ml bottle, though. Nosiree, no problem there. The fact that it's already so well chilled and so thoughtfully provided with a screw top cap, like all "fine wines," means it won't be traveling down some low-life's gullet immediately after passing out the convenience store door. Nosiree. That wouldn't happen. Wine's one of them thar sacred beverages.

Beer on the other hand, is dangerous. And the only way to protect the kiddies from getting it, is to ban the strong stuff entirely. Never mind that the last time I checked, there were laws already on the books to prohibit kids from doing so. It doesn't really matter that Tennessee and Florida, among 30 or so other states, sell these beers with no adverse effect on public safety, we know better here in Georgia.

And, when we really don't know the facts, like Kathy Cox, yelling loud enough and evoking "protecting the children" is certainly effective. There's much more danger from a DUI perspective, if that's the real concern rather than just another page from the "protecting the children" play book, from the proliferation of "new fangled" alcoholic beverages that were hitherto non-alcoholic -- to wit: lemonade, ice tea, even spring waters? The fact that the stuff goes down like water, and sometimes is in fact "water," could make it a likely choice for alcohol abusive individuals. But Georgia doesn't have a problem there. Or maybe I should just be quiet before the neo-Prohibitionists get any ideas.

I'm done venting. Now, I must attend to planning my next trip to Tennessee or maybe Florida to pick up some Chimay Grande Reserve. I figure if it's good enough for the Trappist Monks that brew it, it's good enough for me. Thanks for giving this issue some coverage. -- Rick Foote, Murrayville

Not sleazy or quixotic
In the ["12th Annual Golden Sleaze Awards," March 21] issue of Creative Loafing, Sen. Vincent Fort was awarded a Golden Sleaze Award -- The "Pocket Protector for the Poor" Plaque -- for his "quixotic" leadership on predatory lending legislation. While I know this award is intended as satire, there is something very troubling about the characterization of Sen. Fort's efforts as "quixotic." I thought it would be beneficial to state just a few of the very non-quixotic outcomes of Sen. Fort's efforts.

Non-quixotic outcome: People's lives were massively and positively affected. Many victims of sub-prime lending came forward to testify. One could witness a perceptible change in outlook as their embarrassment at their predicament metamorphosed into outrage at the sinister and calculated trap that had ensnared them. Most, if not all, of the victims received settlements after their first testimony. Do not underestimate the massive beneficial change brought about in these victims' lives by settlements pressured out of the lending institutions during this session and by the exchange of embarrassment for outrage.

Non-quixotic outcome: Education. Sen. Fort did an excellent job of raising public consciousness of this issue. If nothing else, Georgia's citizens know to watch out for sub-prime lenders, and public officials are more aware of the enormous extent of the sub-prime lending problem.

Non-quixotic outcome: Federal attention. Legislation similar to Sen. Fort's proposed bill is being pursued in the Federal House and Senate. The Federal Trade Commission has filed a huge lawsuit against CitiFinancial in the Atlanta Federal Court for that lender's unscrupulous sub-prime lending activity.

Non-quixotic outcome: Sen. Fort did the moral thing. This is what he was elected to do. There is just something basically encouraging in that fact. In any case, I hope that Michael Wall and Greg Land's label of "quixotic" does not reflect a popular assessment of the work that Sen. Fort, Liz Flowers and others have done on behalf of this state's homeowners.

I was encouraged to see a public official get this personally incensed at a blatant form of systemic evil. Sen. Fort got loud for the cameras, but he was even louder behind closed doors when no one was looking. We should take heart rather than discouragement from Sen. Fort's willingness to go to bat with such conviction. His were hopeful, not quixotic actions. The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice. This fight gives us just a little glimpse of that long curve, but it is a nice glimpse to have.

-- M. Scott Ball, Co-Executive Director, Community Housing Resource Center Atlanta

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