Jul. 2, 2001: Some random thoughts on some random subjects:

Senator Max Cleland must feel pretty good about his reelection chances. He recently voted against an amendment that would withhold federal funds from school districts that denied use of their facilities to the Boy Scouts. It passed anyway. I seriously doubt Sen. Cleland’s vote reflects the sentiments of the majority of his constituents. Maybe his consultants think there are more gay voters in Georgia than Boy Scout supporters. Maybe he thinks you won’t remember.

A few weeks ago I lamented that nobody wants to take responsibility for their actions anymore. Then Alpharetta, Georgia-based Wolf Camera, the nation’s second largest photo retailing chain, filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11, which will give the company protection from creditors while they reorganize. It seems their purchase of some 450 Fox Photo stores in 1998 left Wolf financially overburdened. Who is to blame for that decision? CEO Chuck Wolf said, “The Fox Photo acquisition was a mistake, and I take full responsibility for the decision.” That was a courageous – and unusual – statement from a CEO.

Hopefully, the soap opera at the University of Georgia is finally over. Vince Dooley’s contract has been extended from the two-and-a-half years to three years by UGA president Mike Adams. That is as it should be. When Dooley retires, he will have served as coach and/or athletic director for forty years. He deserves our utmost respect and thanks for what he has contributed to the University of Georgia. Adams has done the right thing.

Hats off to Kennesaw State University. KSU has put considerable resources into a program, called CyberTech 2K1, designed to improve achievement in science, math and technology among students in academically low-performing high schools. The program just graduated some 30 sophomores and juniors from nearby South Cobb High School – many of them minority students. The results have been so good, KSU plans to add additional schools next year. Hopefully, the graduates will serve as role models and motivate other academically disadvantage students to seek careers in science, math or technology. Wouldn’t it be nice to see math students be role models in our schools instead of athletes? Kennesaw has made a nice start in doing just that.

On the other end of the scale is the Georgia Association of Educators. Their president Ralph Noble recently sent a sarcastic letter to participants in the Teach for Georgia program, which trains non-professional educators to become teachers, telling them how bad things are going to be for them in the classroom and how “inadequate” they are to teach. It was a silly grandstand play that probably made him feel good but only succeeded in making the GAE look like a bunch of petulant thumb suckers. A very bad PR move. Somebody ought to make him clean blackboards after school.

I took my son, Ken, and son-in-law, Dr. Ted Wansley, to meet Governor Barnes a couple of weeks ago. I thought it would be nice for these two teachers to get their picture made with the governor. They did and then the governor sat down with them for 30 minutes and quizzed them on their impressions of public education. The boys were candid and the governor seemed appreciative of getting an unbiased view from those on the firing line. They certainly have more credibility than the GAE.

I recently met the Bulldog’s new football coach, Mark Richt, and am very impressed. He won’t say it publicly but he didn’t inherit the most talented, best disciplined football team in the country. It is going to take a while for him to meet the high expectations of all the fair-weather fans, but he will. This man is a winner, on and off the field. The best compliment I can pay him is he reminds me of a young Vince Dooley.

Pardon me if my cynicism is showing but our state leaders don’t give a flying fig about voters in the upcoming reapportionment session. It’s all about politicians maintaining their personal power. Democrats are looking out for Democrats. Republicans are looking out for Republicans. Special interests are looking out for special interests. You and I are just bystanders.

Finally, a word to those of you still seething over the state flag change: Get over it. You lost. No matter what you hope, Roy Barnes will win reelection handily. I would suggest you find a new cause, like banning ice hockey south of the Mason-Dixie line. Now that is something I could support!