Fresh from his first, and mildly controversial, vote as the newest member of Congress, Paul Broun paid a visit to the Columbia County Republican Party breakfast Saturday.
I couldn't make it, and apparently most of the county's elected officials continued their unofficial boycott of their party's monthly meetings. State Rep. Barbara Sims and School Board Chairman Regina Buccafusco were the only elected officials attending, says Party Chairman Debbie McCord.
In any event, Broun wasn't the headliner. That went to Shawn Hammonds, who recently returned from National Guard tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Still, Broun's vote last week on a marijuana issue put a spotlight on him. In essence, the vote was to tell the feds to butt out of states' ability to allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana.
Every other Georgia Republican voted against the bipartisan Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment. Broun easily could have avoided controversy by blending in the with the crowd. Instead, he did something totally unexpected: He voted the way he told voters he would.
During the campaign, Broun often injected a somewhat hokey tone into forums by whipping out a pocket copy of the U.S. Constitution and pledging to follow the founding document in voting.
Blah blah blah, that's what they all say. But Broun actually did it.
Broun explained his vote this way: "When states, by vote of their legislatures or by public referenda, create programs for the therapeutic use of marijuana deemed eligible by their physicians and subject to medical supervision, I believe that according to the 10th Amendement to the Constitution the federal government has no authority to intervene.
"The voters did not send me to Washington to duck controversial votes," Broun continues. "They did not send me to be intellectually dishonest. They did not send me to be a knee-jerk reactionary. They did not send me to be a hyper-partisan. I voted for states rights under the Constitution, not for promoting marijuana, and honest people understand that."
The first comment about the vote came in an e-mail from a former volunteer for Jim Whitehead's campaign, ripping Broun for "voting for marijuana use."
Reeking of sour grapes, the screeching note says, "That is not what the lazy people of the 10th District bargained for by not voting. They assumed they'd get an also-ran Republican."
If so, what they instead got was someone who, at least in this vote, actually voted the way he said he would. What a concept.
We were sad to note this weekend the passing of retired Evans Elementary School teacher Bonnie Harrison.
Staff writer Betsy Gilliland was able to profile Mrs. Harrison in a July 1 story about her husband Floyd's scrapbooks he'd created to chronicle her long teaching career.
She didn't want to talk about it for the story, but Mrs. Harrison's coworkers knew she retired in part because of cancer.
Teachers, more than just about anyone, touch a lot of lives. In 37 years as a teacher, Mrs. Harrison touched more than most. It's good to know Mr. Harrison was able to preserve memories from an educator who put so many students first.
Tie one on, Mayor
Speaking of capturing memories, remember when the Northwestern University Women's Lacrosse team visited the White House, and fashionistas criticized some of the women for wearing flip-flops?
I guess it isn't quite on that scale, but when Harlem Mayor Scott Dean was photographed recently with First Lady Laura Bush accepting his city's prestigious Preserve America grant, shouldn't he at least have worn a tie? Or maybe even a collared shirt?
At least he didn't wear flip-flops.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.
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