Saturday September 23rd, 2017 5:18AM


By Ted Oglesby Columnist
This first column for WDUN's should clear up a lot of mis-impressions about my column leaving The Times after I had more than 54 years of columns in the Gainesville newspaper. On its 60th anniversary, I had nearly 10 in the weekly Gainesville Tribune which I owned before selling when my Air Force Reserve unit got a 2-year no-notice recall to active duty during the Vietnamese War.

I had plans to retire my column in The Times voluntarily in less than 6 years which would have been in April, 2018 if I lived that long. I also had hoped that The Times would sponsor me for induction in the Georgia Press Association's Hall of Fame which I had qualified for automatically upon completion of 50 years. Most Georgia papers do that automatically.

Out of the blue one day, The Times called telling me they had decided to retire my column so they could get more diverse views on the page. I told them I was obviously disappointed but it was their paper and they could do what they wanted. They graciously allowed me a final farewell column but edited out the references to my voluntary retirement in less than 6 years saying it "vilified" them. I assured them no vilification was intended and I was grateful for the time I had. They said I could write occasional letters to the editor subject to, of course, the normal editing policies.

I want to make absolutely clear: I appreciate and cherish my long association with The Times where I wrote more than 3,000 columns and countless editorials as the editorial editor. I realize I often was very controversial. I still take the paper and think it is one of the best innovative medium-sized dailies in the state and country. I have absolutely no hard feelings or bitterness.

My focus now will be on columns for I admittedly am controversial but have the long reputation to calling the shots as I see them, agree or disagree. The purpose of opinion pieces, be they editorial or personal column is to stimulate thought that can help citizens make their own decisions. Right or wrong, they have more information to help reach the decision best reflecting their personal beliefs and conclusions.

I am a strong believer in political endorsements so long as they explain the reasons why the writer (me) is taking that position. It is up to the reader to agree or disagree. The purpose is to not to tell somebody how to vote, but to provide information for the reader to decide agreement or disagreement. Many friends disagree with me on various issues. That's fine. One such issue big in the news now is the one percent Special Option Sales Tax to finance major transportation infrastructure (T-SPLOST.)

Here's why I am strongly supporting it. The recessionary economy is weak and still weakening even more. Costs of the projects are at the lowest they'll be until the economy turns around. Many projects in Hall County and its municipalities are direly needed. We're going to have to do those projects sooner or later. A wise old saying says one can be penny-wise but pound foolish. The plan we are voting on provides a 45 percent bonus to Hall County. Sometimes it is best to pay for such things while they can be done at the least expense. If we wait until the economy recovers the costs will be tremendously higher.

Government debt is said to be the safest. If I could get 45 percent dividends on a safe investment, I'd put all I could in it without over or under balancing my investment diversified portfolio.

If we defeat it, we're saying we are willing to wait and pay much more for what's needed yesterday. Many of my friends strongly oppose it. Hall County, with the largest population in our region is most likely to provide the margin of victory or defeat. I hope these thoughts at least will give readers some more thought and perhaps persuade them to change their minds and keep us the progressive community we are known for being. If you haven't already early voted, please get out and cast a yes vote Tuesday. Let's continue to show how to lead.
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