Never could I be a good candidate for penning one of those advice columns. "Ask Amy" can be patient and kind and understanding; I'm better at blunt or smart-alecky.
"You want your sister's kid to stop kicking a soccer ball in your house and you don't know how to handle it diplomatically? How about 'Hey, quit kicking that *&$#@ ball in my house!' (That's a paraphrase of an actual question the other day; Amy's real answer was something like, "You should take her outside to play, and discuss the issue with her parents." Please.)
Still, if there's any time for advice, it's at the beginning of a new year. With that in mind, and with the help of a few folks who've passed along advice or questions, here are a few words of wisdom for the new year.
These pearls are worth just what I charge for them.
Dear Barry: Someone just sent me an e-mail and asked that I forward it to 10 of my friends. What should I do? Signed, Clueless
Dear Clueless: That depends. If you're a moron, forward away.
Chances are, however, if you actually paused before forwarding that message, there's hope. Don't forward it; instead, reply to your "friend" with a link to www.snopes.com.
This urban legends site is great for debunking all those nutty e-mail chains.
Dear Barry: I'm one of several people who soon will be trying to decide between hiring a school-system insider or an outside applicant as the new superintendent. What should I look for? Signed, Search Committee Member
Dear Searcher: If you choose the person you think is the best candidate, and it's the insider, you'll be accused of padding the good-ol'-boy network. If it's the outsider, you'll be criticized for failing to allow professionals to work their way to the top.
Either way, you'll be criticized. Get over it. Interview both, pick the best candidate, and move on.
Dear Barry: Demand for impact fees is huge, but our committee studying the fees rejected them. What should we do? Signed, County Commissioners.
Dear Weasels: State law requires an impact fee study committee to have 40 percent of its members from the building industry; five of the 10 members of Columbia County's committee were builders or developers, plus a sixth member who is the mother of a builder. That's 60 percent. And you're surprised they didn't like impact fees?
Commissioners can implement an impact fee for public safety without a lot of the rigmarole associated with other fees. Put them in place and give a little relief to homeowners.
(And I apologize for the name-calling if I hurt the feelings of weasels.)
Dear Barry: No one wants our proposed drag strip in Augusta. Can we...
Dear Marion Williams: No.
Dear Barry: I e-mailed a photo of my daughter 10 seconds ago. Why hasn't it been printed yet? Signed, UberMom.
Dear UberMom: We try hard to print every photo and news item we receive in a timely manner. Sometimes the available space means those items will take longer to get into print.
Please be patient. We're not charging you for it.
Dear Barry: I sold my home and don't want my nosey neighbors to know how much money I got. Can you keep that out of the paper? Signed, Rollin' in Dough
Dear Dough-roller: No. And if you get busted for drunken driving, we won't keep your name and sentence out of the paper, either. And if you get busted for DUI a second or third time, we'll also put your picture in the paper - and charge you to run it. Sweet.
Say, that wasn't so bad. Maybe next I'll try giving financial advice. If the IRS can get away with getting it wrong half the time, how hard can it be?
Have a happy New Year, with one last bit of advice: Don't believe everything you read - especially if it's forwarded by e-mail.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.
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