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Rockdale Citizen Poll - 2/7/2009

The Rockdale Citizen Poll is a compilation of opinions submitted by readers. This week's Citizen Poll was an open line.

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"I have worked for Rockdale County for a very long time, and I do not know why so many phone poll comments are critical of Chairman Oden. He isn't making more changes to the organization than the past three chairmen did when they came into office. In fact, this is not the first time a new chairman hires his right-hand person."

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"OK, guys. You trying not to get Citizen Poll comments by putting the wrong extension in the newspaper on Saturday. Uh huh, the trick is on you, you put the right one on the e-mail."

Editor's Note: Thanks for catching our error. The number should be listed correctly now. We look forward to hearing from you!

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"The consistent criticisms of our new Chairman Richard Oden are coming from a handful of Republicans suffering from sour grapes. Get over it already and quit picking on him."

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"I think we should give the BOC a chance to prove himself successful before we decide can't he or not."

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"I read once that a community can be judged by how you help old people and young people. It is clear that Chairman Oden cares passionately about both. He has always been very supportive of the Senior Center in Rockdale and he has a history of trying to get troubled young people on the right track. I am totally buying this new Y-SLEEP program that he wants to start up."

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"I just wanted to encourage Chairman Oden to pay attention to constructive criticism but ignore all of the mean-spirited comments that are being made by most of the people who don't even have all of the facts."

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"Last week's phone poll had several attacks on Chairman Oden that were out of line. One caller even told him to go back to DeKalb and stay. Seriously! I would like to say to that caller that Richard Oden has lived, paid taxes and volunteered in Rockdale County for many years. This is his home as much as it is yours. With your attitude, we might all be better off if you moved elsewhere."

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"I have written letters at least a couple of times and mine are not getting in your paper anymore. But I hope to goodness that you do put this in. Would you please tell me if there is a place to go to do a recall on this Chairman Oden? And if there is, would you please put it in the paper, 'cause I wanna go and get him out of office. He is going to end up and destroying Conyers and I am mad as a red hen. I would appreciate it if you would write this in the paper."

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"Hello, Rockdale Citizen. I am glad that something positive is making into the paper, because I am tired of seeing all of the negative comments attacking our Chairman/CEO lately. The car issue, the CEO talk and the DeKalb County and Clayton County mess needs to stop. If you negative citizens, I call haters, take a close look and do the research, the county car that the chairman has was previously used by old Chairman Middlebrooks who purchased the car brand new. But oh no, there was no talk about that when he did it. Secondly, the CEO talk, if you take a look and read the laws of the county in Section 226 you will see that the chairperson is the chief executive officer of the day-to-day operations of the county government and the chairman of the BOC. Also, the DeKalb and Clayton county talk is outrageous. It seems to me that those who talk so much about Rockdale being another DeKalb or Clayton County are the racist citizens of the county speaking on this topic, especially when Clayton and DeKalb are very diverse communities, especially African American. Lastly, I read how people claim that the chairman is giving his friends jobs and money the county doesn't have. This is not true. Read people. Let's look at the big picture: for some many years Republicans have ran this county and given away positions to their friends and family who most certainly did not qualify and would not qualify for these positions. For so long they spread the wealth between their people and have gotten away with it. Now there has been a turn of events, and you don't like it. Get a grip!"

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"Trickle down economics didn't work in the Reagan Administration, the Bush Administration and won't work now. The Bush tax cuts for corporations have not produced jobs as promised. The Bush tax cuts for the wealthy have not created jobs. The U.S. government needs more revenue, not less."

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"I heard Donald Murphy on our community channel discussing finances. He talked of Rockdale County having the lowest water and sewer rates in the metro area. Does he know about our water resource, Poynter Lake, or does he think we get our water from DeKalb County? He did say he sat in on a DeKalb County financial meeting. I hope he doesn't bring DeKalb County government to Rockdale. By the way, we are the second smallest county in the state. Also, he stated we have lower rates than other counties? As a person recommending change, I hope he learns more about Rockdale County than he knows now."

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"OK, enough is enough. Oden continues to propose more spending, hiring campaign buddies, and has the nerve to address department heads with 'let's scale back a little bit,' as he proposes tax increases for county residents. The attorney he is proposing charges $50 an hour more than who we already have. The $9,000 retainer for the first 52 hours comes out to $173 per hour guarantee charge. Based on attorney fee prices we have paid in the past, it seems obvious we have exceeded 52 hours per month. Will we get rollover hours in case we don't use the full 52 hours per month? Now I am reading we have to pay a campaign contributor $42,000 to advise our finance department and how many of us are wondering if this buddy will end up getting the director of finance position. Does anyone know what the process is to remove elected officials from Rockdale County government?"

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"On the day Smurfit-Stone closes its doors and removes about a half-million dollars a year in salaries from the area, 'King Oden' proposes spending about a quarter-million dollars to bribe 200 teenagers not to rob my house. What about teaching them respect for the law and the property of others instead? Strangely enough, I made it through my teenage years without 'kicking doors in' or receiving $200 a week not to do so. Ask the people looking at the empty shelves at the food bank if they might find a better use for '$225,000 to start off with.'"

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"The new chairman has spent almost $200,000 for new personnel after less than one month in office. All residents of Rockdale need to pay attention. Do your kids have access to the tools and technology that other kids in Rockdale do? Are the roads in your neighborhood safe to drive on? Is there an after-school program that lets you pick up your kids after work without having to rely on day care? Can you afford your house payments and property taxes? If you answered 'No' to any of these questions than you need to seriously consider voting on a new Board of Commissions chair - obviously his priorities don't match the residents of Rockdale. This isn't a race or party issue, people, it's about living and raising our children the best we can. Someone who spends our hard-earned money (mine and yours) so easily (without any regard for fiscal responsibility) may not be the best choice."

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"There are so many complaints regarding the BOC and Mr. Oden. I agree with some of these complaints. However, where are you people when it comes time for the BOC meetings. You/we have a vested interest in this community and we are allowed to speak at all BOC meetings, two minutes. I have been to the last two and observed the BOC vote for the chief of staff position, which was voted 2-1. Kudo's to Ms. Van Ness for voting against it. The whole pumping the brakes comment by the Wizard of Oz was ignorant. By that theory, he wants to hire a bunch of non-essential personnel and lay them off when it finally shows that it wasn't a good economical choice. Don't get me wrong, people, I like the change in the BOC and they have the potential to do some good things for the county, but so far it's stepping off with the wrong foot."

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"Read House Bill 610. The bill makes him the Chief Executive Official but says he shall be 'known as Chairman.'"

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"It's strange of all the talk of the new county commissioner designating himself as CEO, but if you look around for example, Tim Melvin is CEO of the Rockdale Career Academy but it did not become a big deal. Seems pretty strange to me ... "

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"I am amazed at the immaturity shown by parents of high school children who have written in regarding Heritage High School's attempt to do an excellent theater production. As most of you know these high school students are in a musical theater production class, which means they are studying and participating in all aspects of producing a play. This does not mean they will be stars now or ever. We have had many plays at Heritage involving community children, teachers and adult community members who are talented in their field with no complaints. Our kids actually learn from these talented adults who have finished an education that some of our students plan to pursue. ... The adult in question is not a paid performer and has actually volunteered to help in many aspects of the production. We all may recall that a local voice teacher sang in the county production for all the schools when 'Carmina Burana' was done as no high schooler had the appropriate voice for the part - did our students learn from performing this great work? Yes, the did. Did any of the students or parents from three high schools complain that their students were involved in a great choral work? No, they did not. ... Mrs. Thorne and Mr. Lamback are caring and concerned professionals every day and the community members who help build our sets, play in the pit and are resources in many aspects of our productions are the cream of the crop!"

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"I do not understand why Rockdale County is having a Teacher Job Fair on March 9 if we are indeed having to cut existing teaching positions for the 2009-10 school year. That makes zero sense, and with the problems with Clayton County's accreditation loss, I fear we will be overrun with those applying for non-existing jobs."

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"In response to the recent comments regarding Michelle Thorne's casting of adult actors to augment a high school production of 'Les Misérables:': Shame on you. For over 10 years, Michelle Thorne has brought quality theatre to the Rockdale County community and a peerless educational theatre program. I am a professional now due in no small part to her dedication, wisdom and theatrical savvy. Also to clarify, this is not the first time that adult actors have been used in HHS productions. Clearly, the walls of that theatre are still standing. The use of adult performers in an educational situation is beneficial to the students to observe and collaborate in the creative process. ... I was deeply honored to serve for two years as Michelle Thorne's assistant director, and I say with absolute certainty that no one does more for these students. I close this comment with a word of caution: If you keep treating great teachers like this, they will leave. And, I guarantee you, if you drive Michelle Thorne away from the Heritage High School theatre department, you will never see productions like hers on that stage again. I am simply appalled, and those who felt they had to smear her name in the paper should be ashamed."

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"I just wanted to comment about the use of non-students in Heritage High School's dramas that they perform. My kids were very involved in many plays and musicals at the school and many times there were auditions for children and adults for lead roles in these productions. This is a brilliant program and many students' lives have been enriched by the director of this department. You will not find a better run, more positive program or caring atmosphere that the one at Heritage. ... My children's lives will be forever changed because of this and to the director I am thankful for broadening their horizons. ... Thank you for what you give and for your extra efforts to the arts of Rockdale County."

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"I just wanted to say how amazing J.H. House Elementary and all the others are. My family was relocated to El Paso, Texas, due to a military move. I went to have lunch with my daughter and the school cafeteria was chaotic. Kids got up and ran across the room, teachers had to yell to get attention from the kids, this was even with the principal standing there. I remembered how my second-grade daughter had it good at J.H. House. She was in advanced math and doing good. Teachers were great. Lunch was peaceful. Kudos for a great job. I sure miss Conyers."

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"Rockdale County needs to use an online mapping tool like the one DeKalb, Fulton and other counties are using to show citizens where and what kind of crimes are occurring. Arrests only represent a small percentage of total crime. If neighborhoods and citizens were made aware of the kinds of crimes that are occurring, and the prime locations for criminal activity, that would go a long way toward helping prevent more crime."

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"I would just like to quote something our music minister said this Sunday: 'If all the Christians in our country brought as much attention and respect to God as they have President Obama, what would our country be like today.' I will also add maybe less attention could be given to the new commissioner also. Obviously we need prayer to help revamp our county and not individuals who may mislead us in an election."

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"I love it when supposedly mature adults have to whine anonymously in public before they give who they perceive is the source of the problem a chance to address the issue. I am talking about adults and the issue with Mrs. Thorne. There was a previously scheduled parent meeting on Jan. 22 and the issue was brought up at that time regarding the lead roles. I think the deadline for submissions to the poll was 8 a.m. Jan. 22, so the anonymous whining began before the parent meeting. On Jan. 23, Mrs. Thorne sent out an e-mail with all her contact information that stated 'we are committed to having students fill the two lead roles' and even mentioned that a voice teacher would be working with the young men. The e-mail also said 'Please be patient with the process.' My child will not be getting a leading role, but I did not whine in public and I gave the process a chance. I bet those anonymous public whiners did not contact the Citizen and ask their comments be pulled. Give Mrs. Thorne a chance."

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"I agree 100 percent that Oden is ... wouldn't know a good decision if it hit him in the skull. He does need to be recalled. However, why do you think he is in office? I would have to say that most of you complainers out there sat on your rumps on Election Day and let the few of us who did vote try to carry another official. ... If you don't like what you see, get off your rumps and vote them out. Recall them! The Citizen's Poll is a great sounding board, but it means nothing if you complainers do nothing but complain. Take action other than spewing hot air."

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"For those traveling past Young Americans Christian School ... please be aware this is a school zone and you are required to drive at a reduced speed during designated hours. People go way too fast in this area, making it extremely dangerous for school traffic! Please slow down! Also, why is it I have seen police monitoring speed of traffic around Edwards Middle School and Honey Creek Elementary School many times, but never around Young Americans Christian School?"

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"When is the Christmas holiday season officially over so people can take down their decorations?"

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"Can anyone please give us some answers at the county office concerning senior transcripts? Hello! Your computer programs are not working and these kids have deadlines to meet with applications and scholarship requests. The counselors are doing all they can, but when you have to manually calculate three-and-a-half years of grades, that can take some time. It is not a 48- to 72-hour turnaround time like you stated in your article last week. I have been waiting four weeks for transcripts. No answers are being given and nobody in the county office seems to care. If it were your child, Dr. King, I'm sure you would be taking a closer look at what is going on and the potential problems this is causing. Dorms and classes in the colleges are filling up and the Rockdale County kids cannot even apply yet! Remember the beginning of the year, when kids without schedules were sitting in the cafeteria for a whole week? What else is it going to take for you to understand that there is a problem with your software program?"

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"It's too bad all the citizens calling the phone poll are so negative. All of us who live in Rockdale have a lot to be thankful for - great recreation, great schools, a low crime rate, wonderful churches, active and caring citizens. Many of you just can't see it because you are just looking for something to grumble about. In my opinion, a lot of ridiculous hullabaloo is being made over things that the new chairman is doing. In fact, he's just making some organizational changes to the county aimed at making things better."

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"I just wanted to congratulate all of the football players that signed letters of intent to play football in college. How exciting for these young men to move to the next level. All of the parents should be so proud of their children, but especially Justin Jones' mom. She is an inspiration to all single parents that it is possible to raise a child singlehandedly and have him succeed. Congratulations to Justin, Melvin, Reggie and Ryan Colbreath."

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"I have been closely observing the Rockdale Citizen for the last two months. The comments in the poll seem to get crazier and crazier. First, I would like to say to all of you so-called citizens that have so much to say about our new county officials, grow up and get a life. I would like see if, first and foremost, you would qualify to take on this type of job - I honestly don't think so. Second of all, I would like to see all of you naysayers who continuously hide behind the Citizen Poll with comments go to the BOC office and ask to speak with the chairman if you have such a problem with these changes. But guess what, you're not. Also, it is such a shame to see all of the negative feedback from the citizens who are probably not the ones who are not attending the BOC meetings or even the first county address. Because if you would have, you would have seen all of the crap that the chairman has to clean up that has been in hiding because of the mess your previous chairman put us in. But guess what, you aren't talking about that."

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"Mr. Oden's proposal to take 200 kids, or should I say by his own description, thieves, and pay them $7.25 an hour to work is asinine. What about the good kids in the county who want a job and want to make a difference? You are doing nothing more than rewarding their bad behavior. I have two hard-working students, one in high school and one college, why can't they have these jobs? Somebody tell me where do I sign the impeachment petition for Mr. Oden?"

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"I would like to thank Ron Simpson for the letter he wrote the editor in the Wednesday Citizen. He expressed my feelings exactly. I would like to go a little further and question Mr. Oden's reason to hire an attorney at a monthly retainer of $8,000, and this is a one-man law firm. Why is he expecting to need an attorney on retainer when he has a good firm already representing the county that doesn't require a retainer? This man is dangerous to the county. I am so sorry that he got elected. He campaigned on the basis of his integrity and his ability to do the job and his high morals. ... He is operating just the opposite of what he said. And if he would like to run a business, I wish he would open his own business and he could hire Elaine Nash too and she could hire her own personal CEO. I think they would make a good pair. I would also like to know where Garvin Haynes' mouth is when it is needed."

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"Mr. Oden and Mr. Oz, why would you pay somebody a fee more than minimum wage when minimum wage is only $6.55 an hour? ... It doesn't become $7.25 until July 28. Learn your facts on juvenile delinquents. ..."

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"My question is on the stormwater drain that we pay every year ... it is my understanding that it is a federal government requirement. However, I've talked with my friends in Gwinnett, Morgan and Walton counties and none of them has ever heard of it. I am just wondering why Rockdale is doing it if the other counties aren't doing it."