OF THE THINGS WE THINK, SAY OR DO.
Is it the TRUTH?
Is it FAIR to all concerned?
Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?”
These are the words each and every one of us Rotarians recites at the end of every meeting throughout the world . As indicated by the lead phrase, they are to be basic ethical principles that we pledge ourselves to apply ingoing about our every day business. I wonder if mayor Cline, who is, like myself, a past President of the Canton Rotary Club, had the opportunity to apply these principles to the recent editorial she penned which attacked myself and others using rumors and other wild allegations. She will be one of the first to admit that she never attended or was personally involved in any of the meetings referred to and is relying on 2nd or 3rd hand information at the best. And we all know how reliable that is!
It is understandable that public policy discussions involving education may engender emotion, what is not understandable is when a prominent former public official allows herself to ignore all fact for the sole purpose of character assassination against those with whom she disagrees politically.
I was quite surprised to see personal and baseless attacks made in the recent editorial by the former Mayor of Waleska, Marguerite Cline. Her column was nothing more than a collection of wild, unfounded rumors – or outright false statements that cannot be substantiated with any data. Ms. Cline did not even take the time to contact me to find out if there was any truth to these outrageous accusations.
Ms. Cline offered no proof, direct involvement, discussions or questioning of the people she attacked to hear what they had to say. Using such words as “Supposedly” the author can shield herself from any direct accusation while still making an unsubstantiated rumor sound like a fact instead of a falsehood. This tactic is often used by the media, and I was saddened to see it used by someone I have respected and supported over the years.
If the article had been based on facts, the author would have disclosed that I have supported the Cherokee County School District consistently and have voted for every increase to the education budget every time the opportunity arose. For example, I contacted the School Board members this past session in regards to a House Bill that would provide a significant increase in funds for Cherokee County and the entire delegation voted for it.
After a meeting with Board members, we took their suggestion on the upcoming constitutional amendment on schools and changed it to ensure that NO LOCAL FUNDING could be used for charter schools whatsoever – unless the Cherokee County School District voted for it AND the citizens of Cherokee also voted to do so. Does that sound like it is taking money away from the local schools?
In regards to why there is furloughs and layoffs? Let’s look at the facts. The State of Georgia gave more money last year than ever before – in total dollars and on a per student (FTE) basis - to Cherokee County Schools – a fact that the School Board agrees with in their own stories. So why the budget crunch? With the School Board getting more money last year than ever before from the state, the question might be “where is the money?” So my question is, why is the legislature falsely accused of reducing the budget when the facts show the exact opposite?
The author also conveniently ignored the fact that the delegation held several well-publicized “town hall” meetings and even formed a citizen led Blue Ribbon Committee from across the county to discuss and make recommendations on redistricting and voting methodology for the Board and Board Chair. Instead Ms. Cline simply claimed “legislators did that without any public input.” The newspaper she writes for covered this process extensively. Either she doesn’t read her own newspaper or she simply wishes to re-write history.
Debates over public policy should be based on fact and logic, not emotion and hyperbole. The citizens and taxpayers of Cherokee County deserve more than personal attacks. As one member of the delegation I can pledge we will continue to offer constructive answers to the real economic challenges we face. If the members of the school administration and their supporters wish to join us in a serious discussion we are ready. If all they offer is continuing personal attacks our entire community will suffer because of it.
Would it not be better if we could actually live by the codes of ethics that we recite every week?
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