GEORGIA VIEWS

Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:

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The Daily Citizen-News on voting early for the U.S. Senate runoff elections in Georgia:

Election season in Georgia isn’t over yet. Some say it’s just heating up.

On Tuesday, Jan. 5, Georgians will choose the state’s two U.S. senators during the general election runoff.

In the Nov. 3 general election, Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue and Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff both fell short of the 50% threshold needed to avoid a runoff.

In the other U.S. Senate race, Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler and the Rev. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, emerged as the top two vote-getters in a crowded contest in a special election for the seat vacated by Republican Johnny Isakson because of health reasons. Warnock received 32.9% of the vote while Loeffler received 25.9%.

Since the runoff was announced in the days after the general election, the airwaves, social media, mailboxes and phones have all been flooded with advertisements touting the virtues and pitfalls of the four remaining candidates.

This past Sunday night, Loeffler and Warnock faced off in a debate while Ossoff stood across from am empty lectern after Perdue passed on their debate.

Many eyes are on the Peach State as these two races could decide the balance of power in the U.S. Senate. Republicans currently hold a 50-48 majority, but if both Georgia Democrats win that would even the count at 50 senators for each party, giving Democrat Kamala Harris, the vice president-elect, the deciding vote.

Georgians can cast their votes early beginning on Monday. Whitfield County’s advance voting schedule gives you 12 days over three weeks to cast your ballot before the election. Since the Christmas holidays and New Year’s Day fall during these three weeks, there will be no advance voting on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or New Year’s Day.

Advance voting is in the Board of Elections office at the Whitfield County Courthouse (205 N. Selvidge St., suite K) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the following days:

• Monday, Dec 14, through Friday, Dec. 18.

• Monday, Dec. 21, through Wednesday, Dec 23.

• Monday, Dec. 28, through Thursday, Dec. 31.

We encourage you to take advantage of early voting. You can avoid possible lines on Jan. 5, and you won’t have to worry about a January election slipping your mind.

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The Brunswick News on honoring the legacy of a Georgia man who was a veteran and a businessman:

Whenever a proposal or request is made to honor someone’s achievements by putting their name on a building, street or park, the well-meaning gesture can be unintentionally offensive to others. That is what happened when Glynn County Commissioner Bob Coleman proposed renaming the new Glynn County Veterans Memorial Park after Golden Isles stalwart Robert Torras Sr.

The move was met with some backlash from the community, most notably veterans. It’s important to note that their objection didn’t have anything to do with Torras’ character or achievements — he was a veteran of the Air Force. It had more to do with the park being for all veterans, not one veteran, which could get lost if it was named for a specific person.

After getting community feedback, Coleman decided to pull back his proposal. We applaud the commissioner for taking the concerns of citizens to heart and deciding not to move forward with his plan. It was the right thing to do.

That being said, we hope the commission can find another way to honor Torras’ legacy. The engineer, entrepreneur and philanthropists left an indelible mark on the Golden Isles. If anyone deserves to have his name on something, it is he.

His story is one that should inspire all entrepreneurs. He ran his family-owned business with superior acumen, allowing local businesses such as the Brunswick Landing Marina and Kut-Kwick Corp. to thrive.

But his legacy is more than the success of his businesses. Torras was on the front lines when it came to wanting to make the Golden Isles better. We are thankful that he joined the fight to keep the county from building a new jail on a prime piece of real estate in downtown Brunswick. That would have been a colossal mistake that would have inhibited the growth taking place right now in downtown Brunswick.

Ever the engineer, he also sought to improve the area’s infrastructure. He knew that problem areas like the gateway onto St. Simons Island need to be revamped. Anyone who has tried to get onto or get off of the island during peak traffic times will tell you it’s quite the hassle. Hopefully, the county commission realizes it too.

The veterans memorial park wasn’t the right fit, but we should find another way to honor the life and legacy that Torras left on the Isles.

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The Valdosta Daily Times on gift card scams:

A gift card seems like that perfect stocking stuffer, but not so fast.

The Federal Trade Commission warns consumers about gift card scams.

One scam specifically targets the use of Amazon gift cards.

The warning is not to say that Amazon or other gift cards are a bad idea, but rather consumers are urged to use caution, making sure they are getting what they are paying for when purchasing cards.

The FTC warned, “If a merchant other than Amazon.com asks you to pay using an Amazon gift card, it’s probably a scam.”

In fact, the FTC said, Amazon’s gift card terms don’t allow consumers to use their Amazon gift cards to make payments anywhere other than amazon.com and a few specific designated sites.

The Federal Trade Commission explained the scam on its website:

“You discover a website that sells new HDTVs, GPS devices and other gizmos for deeply discounted prices. You haven’t heard of the site so you do some research. You find a few reviews from satisfied customers, so you go for it. During checkout, you’re instructed to purchase an Amazon gift card and then hand over the gift card information as payment.

“Unfortunately, if you do, you’ll be out the money, and you won’t get anything in return. These scammers know that bad reviews scare people away, so they may post a few positive reviews about the site. They shut down the site before people post complaints — usually in less than a month — and open under a new name somewhere else.”

The FTC explained that buying an Amazon gift card to make a payment is not the same as using “Amazon Payments,” a system designed to provide some protections for consumers.

Amazon Payments is a feature that allows Amazon members only to pay for merchandise on other websites by logging in and using a payment method they have stored on their Amazon account, according to the FTC.

The trade commission explained, “If you use a credit card stored in your Amazon Payments account, you’re still using your credit card to make the purchase, and you get certain protections when you use a credit card. You don’t have the same protections when you pay with a gift card — virtually or physically. It could be tough to trace the money or get it back if something goes wrong. Of course, that’s not a problem if you’re sending the gift card to a friend or family member as a gift.”

When shopping online, consider using a payment method that offers protections if you don’t get what you paid for, the FTC warned.

The Better Business Bureau has offered additional words of caution for consumers shopping online or by telephone:

— If the price seems too good to be true, there’s probably something wrong. Be wary if the item is selling for significantly lower than what you’ve seen elsewhere.

— Beware of high-pressure sales. Scammers want to get your money before you have time to think or get a second opinion on the deal.

— Watch out for sellers who won’t take credit cards. Beware of sellers that require you to wire money, use a prepaid debit card, or pay by gift card.

— Check for legitimate contact information. Make sure the seller has a real phone number and address on the website, so you can contact them in case of problems. When in doubt, type the phone number into a search engine and see if it matches the seller or if others have expressed concerns or filed complaints.

— Make sure websites are secure and authenticated. Before you purchase an item online, look for “https” before the web address and a small lock symbol that ensures your credit card and/or banking information is secure.

We offer these words of caution in the hope your holiday season will not be marred by theft and deception.