Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:
The Brunswick News on vaccine scams:
Most people have no problem putting in a hard day’s work and being rewarded for their effort. It is, in many ways, what this country was founded on — a can-do attitude determined to get the job done no matter what.
Then there are others who want to leech off those who have done things the right way. They try to scheme their way into money by deceptive means, taking it from individuals through nefarious ways.
Scammers have been around forever, but their methods have evolved. Our technologically advanced times have made it even easier for these scoundrels to prey on their victims. Some have even used the pandemic to attempt to separate citizens from their money.
In early April, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr and the state Department of Health sent out a statement to warn of scammers trying to take advantage of people seeking the COVID-19 vaccine. These scam artists sought payment for the promise of getting the vaccine, scheduling the vaccine or getting on the waiting list.
If you get a call from someone claiming they can get you on a list for the vaccine for a fee, it’s a scam. You can’t buy a vaccine online or through the mail, and legitimate vaccine distribution sites won’t call to ask for your social security number, bank account or credit card number. Those are also scams.
Of course, some scammers prefer to play the pre-pandemic hits. Glynn County police sent out a release in March advising citizens that someone has been impersonating a GCPD detective in an attempt to obtain personal information. The department reminded people that GCPD officers will never call unsolicited to ask for personal information. If you do receive a call from someone claiming to be an officer, call the department on its official line to see if someone can verify that an officer reached out to you.
The department also gave out a piece of advice that everyone should remember — under no circumstances should you give out personal information over the phone to someone you don’t know.
As an extra bit of advice, don’t click on any strange links sent via email, especially if it is unsolicited and from a person you don’t recognize. Email scammers are good at making their scams look official on the surface, but they often don’t measure up upon close scrutiny. It’s always good to check the email address the sender is using, as it usually won’t measure up to the real deal.
Scammers will always exist, as there will always be unscrupulous people trying to worm their way into other people’s money. But with some knowledge of their methods and a little bit of common sense, you will be able to protect what you have earned.
The Valdosta Daily Times on Mayor Scott Matheson and the city's ethics commission:
The City of Valdosta convened an ethics panel to consider complaints against Mayor Scott Matheson from multiple community groups.
In a split decision, the ethics commission dismissed those complaints.
We urged the three-member panel to give the aggrieved parties a fair hearing.
It is to hard to say how fair or unfair it was when they hid themselves behind closed doors.
Still, the panel has ruled, and it is time to move forward.
And, moving forward, we strongly think it is time for Valdosta City Council to rethink its policies and procedures around the city’s Code of Ethics, selecting an ethics commission and how hearings are conducted.
Naming a standing ethics commission would make much more sense than this quick, ad hoc, panel that allows for the person being investigated to name at least one of the three-member panel and perhaps influence the other appointments.
To be cliche about it, that is simply allowing the fox to be in charge of the henhouse.
A standing commission of no less than five members would make much more sense.
That commission should be representative of the entire community. The faces sitting on the panel should look like the faces of Valdosta, with diversity, inclusion and equality.
The ethics commission should be completely independent of city government without any conflicts of interest.
It should convene and function independent of City Council and not at its behest.
It should take its mandate and interpret the terms of the enacting ordinance itself and not take its marching orders from the council.
Finally, any testimony or receipt of evidence should happen in an open, public meeting and be in full compliance with the state’s Sunshine Laws.
In fact, an ethics panel should go above and beyond the mere minimum of what is required by the law and should avoid any appearance of impropriety, whatsoever.
At the very least, an ethics commission should be ethical.
Council member Eric Howard voted against this most recent ethics panel. He said, among other things, that there should be gender diversity. He was right about that. Now we encourage Howard to introduce a discussion and lead the way for new ethics legislation, processes and procedures.
The Newnan Times-Herald on tornado recovery efforts:
Ever since the tornado swept through our community several weeks ago, it’s been amazing, but not surprising, to see the amount of outreach and support offered for the victims.
From those wielding chainsaws the very next morning, looking for people to help, to local organizations working together to provide resources for those in immediate need, our community has, once again, shown its true colors.
Since then, we’ve been asked by friends and family both local and out of town how they can help.
At this point, the immediate assistance after a natural disaster seems to have been taken care of.
After the debris has been cleared is when the long game begins to make sure people don’t fall through the cracks.
Right now, it appears the major need for our community is money.
So where can you send it?
There are several options, all of which benefit a wide range of those affected by the disaster.
The Coweta Community Foundation recently launched “Hope Has No Deductible,” its first program to help victims of the tornado.
The program will help both homeowners and renters with financial assistance, and is being funded through the EMA/911 Disaster Relief Fund.
The Hope Has No Deductible fund will help pay deductibles for homeowner’s insurance and car insurance for damaged vehicles. The program can also pay for deposits to get renters into a new home.
Online applications are at cowetafoundation.org, and hard copies will be available at Bridging the Gap, 19 First Ave., and the Newnan Coweta Chamber of Commerce, 23 Bullsboro Drive. The current deadline for applications is April 15, though that may be expanded.
ELEVATE Coweta Students and Backpack Buddies are partnering to ensure at-risk students in Newnan aren’t forgotten. The partnership is a natural fit, according to Kevin Barbee, ELEVATE executive director. The donations they receive help provide resources to students and their families they might not otherwise have.
Backpack Buddies is packing bags for those receiving free/reduced lunch that parents or caregivers can pick up weekly for students who are currently virtual only.
St. Vincent De Paul, a ministry of the St. George and Mary Magdalene Catholic Churches, has been concentrating its efforts on making sure people have a place to stay, including extended stays in local motels.
The group is also working with Bridging the Gap to get food to those in need, along with assisting students at Ruth Hill Elementary. To make a cash contribution, send a check to St. Vincent De Paul, 3 Village Lane, Newnan, GA 30263.
It’s inspiring to see so many nonprofits working together to help local residents get back on their feet. While this isn’t a comprehensive list, we hope it’s sufficient to allow you to give back with ease.