Commentary: Families are under attack

Every few months, it’s a different family.

Lauren Deal, attorney-at-law
Lauren Deal is a former teacher and prosecutor who is now in private practice with the Deal Law Firm in Macon. Her areas of practice include Family Law and Criminal Defense.

Some are charged because they let their children walk to neighborhood parks without an adult. Some are charged because they allowed their children to stay in parked automobiles — in reasonable weather — while their parents ran into stores, offices, or even job interviews. Some are charged for allowing their children to play alone on playgrounds. Some are charged because their children miss more than the allowed number of days of public schooling.

Kid pulled over by cops.The end result is the same: the children are unhurt, at least physically.

The parents are arrested, interrogated by law enforcement and child protective services agencies, every aspect of their parenting scrutinized, their choices demonized. They may be charged criminally, or they lose their children, or they lose their jobs…or all of the above. This process is far more damaging to their children than the incident that brought their parents into the seat of judgment in the first place.

What has happened to our society? We have criminalized parenthood.

I was born in 1977. As a child, my favorite movies included Goonies, E.T., and Flight of the Navigator. What did they all have in common? Children having adventures without their parents.

The 1980’s were a good time to be a kid. We lived off in the country on a dirt road, and we had free range as long as my brother and I were together and took the dog with us. We went all over several miles and several hundred acres, making our own adventures. Our parents worked in Atlanta, back then a 30-minute commute.

My parents had enough money to buy us an above-ground pool, so in the warm months, we spent a lot of time swimming. Today, my parents would be jailed for letting two 8 year-old kids stay home alone all summer, much less for allowing us to swim alone.

When storms started, we waiting ’til lightning crashed down around us and heavy rains shook the pool water before finally dashing through the downpour to get into the house.

One day in 5th grade, my brother and I walked up the path we took from where our bus dropped us off beside a busy highway. We saw sand mixed in with the dirt, leaves, and brambles. As we neared our house, we learned what happens when an above-ground pool is struck by lightning: It explodes.

Never again have I treated thunderstorms as casually as I did when I was a child.

Meanwhile, we don’t give today’s children the space to make dumb choices. We don’t give parents the chance to BE PARENTS. We criminalize behavior that harms no one, using vaguely-worded statutes about reckless conduct or child endangerment. We demand that parents watch their children 24-hours a day (while simultaneously tsk-tsking parents who choose to co-sleep with their children), keep them in school regardless if they are sick, and hover over their playtime with antiseptic, band-aids, and a cell phone poised to call 911 at the slightest whiff of disorder.

We have turned parents into criminals, and children into our prisoners.

Commentary: Middle Georgia, It’s time to stop the red light running

I am not sure what has been going on lately, but a dangerous habit has been trending among Macon and Middle Georgia drivers. That habit is red light running.

We’ve all been caught in situations where there is no good option, such as when the light turns yellow, but we are too close to the intersection to stop properly, but also too far away to comfortable cruise on through. I am not referring to these “orange” lights, I mean when you physically enter the intersection when the light has had enough time to turn green for the cross street traffic.

Truck and car side impact collision.
Truck and car side impact collision. Photo provided by Wikipedia Commons.

In the past few weeks, there seems to have been a definite uptick of this behavior, enough so that I see it pretty much every trip out. Perhaps it is one of those things that is somewhat viral where once a critical mass is reached, it becomes contagious as people are emboldened by the behavior of others. Now, this is why it needs to stop, if you pardon my intentional pun.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, red light running is THE leading cause of accidents on city streets. Over 150,000 injuries and close to 1,000 fatalities in the US happen per year as a result of red light running and in total it contributes heavily to the nearly 2 million traffic accidents that occur at intersections.

The financial cost across the nation is more than $14 billion dollars a year. This is about as much as the total revenue collected by the state of Georgia.

Each red light experiences about 3 red light violations an hour according to a University Transportation Center for Alabama study in 2003.  This means that over the course of the year, an average red light is violated almost 30,000 times. That’s for EACH red light.

Accidents at red lights also result in much higher percentage of death and serious injury than other types. One particularly dangerous accident is when a driver runs the red light while a car in the cross street still has speed because the light turned green before they had to stop. In those situations, both cars will be entering the intersection together at full speed, similar to a front end collision.

I was unfortunate enough to witness an accident like this first hand. The driver of the truck that ran the light was speeding and entered the intersection several seconds after my light turned green. I didn’t go because a truck next to me wanted over or I would have been hit. The driver in the curb lane didn’t have to stop and met the truck in the middle with disastrous results for the victim.

I stayed to provide an eye-witness account to the investigating officer.  The runner’s truck bounced and ended up stopped on the sidewalk on the far side of the intersection somewhat before the crosswalk. I stayed in ear shot as the violator tried to claim his light was still yellow as he also tried to explain away the fact that he was driving a work truck without a license.

The compact car that he had was sent flying down the road a couple of hundred feet and it was mangled around the driver’s door.  Inside you could hear the moaning and wailing of a woman who would be pulled out of her car by firemen braced from head to toe to prevent further spinal injuries.

All of this carnage because someone thought they needed to be somewhere about a minute before fate determined they should arrive. I am sure his thoughts a millisecond before making the decision to enter the intersection was “no one is coming” right after thinking about how good of a driver he is.

Unfortunately the traffic laws of Georgia are such that they are designed to raise revenue instead of deter dangerous decisions. People might get a 0.08 on a breathalyzer and be cited for the tiny chance they may have possibly caused an injury, but in general red light violations are ignored in favor of the much more regular income of speed enforcement.

It is time that those who make the willing choice to enter an intersection after a light has changed face charges for the endangerment of others that is frankly no different than firing a bullet through a sparse crowd of people. Sure, you’d likely miss, but there is no excuse for holding the well-being of others in such ill regard in a civilized society.

What do you think? Where are the worst places for this behavior?


Experienced Microsoft VB.NET programmers needed in Macon

PCTI, located in Macon, GA., is seeking fill multiple positions for a Sr.  Microsoft VB.NET web developer. The job description and criteria are as follows:


  • PCTI Macon Logo
    PCTI is a Macon company located on Washington Ave. Image courtesy PCTI.

    The selected candidate will work as part of an established and collaborative development, design, and project management team to support the creation and maintenance of mission-critical web-based and mobile software applications and high visibility/high demand websites.

  • Candidates will work on multiple related projects at any given time.
  • Daily work touches on projects in all stages of development ranging from requirements gathering, conceptualization/architecture, development, implementation, testing, maintenance and refactoring.
  • In addition to development efforts, work and responsibilities at this level will include the coordination of resources and project planning through interaction with the team’s project managers, mentoring more junior developers, and proposing new solutions and technologies where appropriate.

This position requires experience commensurate to a senior level programmer with at least 5+ years experience in website and web application development.

The successful candidate will have experience:

  1. Developing in ASP.NET (MVC) using VB.NET and thorough HTML/HTML5 experience.
  2. An extensive understanding of JavaScript, jQuery (or comparable), AJAX, JSON, CSS, and cross browser compatibility is essential.
  3. An understanding of and experience in n-tier Object Oriented Development is a must.
  4. Experience in building and implementing relational database structures for storing and accessing large scale data using parameterized queries and T-SQL, particularly under SQL Server 2008+ is also a requirement.
  5. Demonstrated experience with WCF, web services, OAUTH, REST, responsive development, native mobile development (iOS, Android, and Windows), unit testing, and applications which provide and/or consume data feeds (XML, JSON, RSS, etc) is highly desirable.
  6. A basic understanding of Section 508 compliance and advanced methods of delivering accessible dynamic web content is a significant plus.
  7. Experience implementing, maintaining, and working in open source and community supported content management systems is also advantageous.
  8. Previous experience in leading a team in an Agile Scrum project management environment is highly favorable as well.

Other Requirements:

  1. Candidates must be team oriented, have strong written and oral communications, client contact skills, and a keen interest in software development.
  2. A record of successfully improving existing systems and processes and automating or improving the efficiency of manual processes is advantageous.
  3. Previous work in a high demand and high visibility web environment is beneficial. Selected candidates will be required to handle multiple tasks simultaneously.

PCTI offers excellent benefits and highly competitive salaries. Applicant must be willing to undergo a U.S. Government background investigation.

Interested applicants may send resume to

PCTI is a Macon company that was founded in 1989 in order to provide IT solutions to industry and government clients. For more information visit their website.

Commentary: Living in pear-less times

This week has been especially hard on our Missionary Family as the middle of the month is for most families. This is a time in the month where food is not in the greatest of supply and resources are thinning. While returning home from a day of visiting parishioners I traveled down my last stretch of road nearly to my house when I spotted a beautiful historic Georgia Church followed by an enormousness pear tree. The tree was blustering with pears covering a great deal of the owner’s yard spilling sidewalk, and street with many rotting away.

Pastor L. W. Gainey
Pastor L. W. Gainey

This was one of those days that Lunch-time had been hurried through with “no time to stop” and I could have eaten a horse if I didn’t love them so . My first human instinct was envy; “look at such waste!” was said in my mind before I even had time to process the thought. I suppose for a few minutes I stewed over the matter- I love pears, they have more than they can eat and there they lay rotting; such a pity.

Being a person of faith is often inconvenient; oh why can’t our conscience just enjoy our self pity without the voice of inner conviction? Alas here it came; analyzing my wrongful thinking. I began to have thoughts challenging my envy and knee jerk suppositions of waste. It occurred to me that I had not stopped and asked to have a pear; was that not lazy on my part? If not lazy was I too proud to ask? If not to proud did I “assume” the owner would say no? I could have offered to trade/work for the fruit, yet I didn’t.

Continue reading “Commentary: Living in pear-less times”

Welfare-to-Work Helps Georgians Up and Out of Dependency

This editorial was originally posted on the Georgia Public Policy foundation website and is used with permission.

Welfare-to-Work Helps Georgians Up and Out of Dependency
By Benita Dodd of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation

Benita Dodd GPPF Vice-President
Benita Dodd is the Georgia Public Policy Foundation (GPPF) Vice-President. Photo courtesy GPPF.

August marks the 20th anniversary of the transformative Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act. This bipartisan welfare reform legislation signed by President Bill Clinton on August 22, 1996, dramatically transformed the nation’s welfare system, implementing strong welfare-to-work requirements and incentivizing states to transition welfare recipients into work.

The law, which created Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and replaced the 61-year-old Aid to Families with Dependent Children, also implemented stricter food stamp regulations. Those included time limits for some recipients and a lifetime ban for drug felons, which states could opt out of. (Wisely, Georgia finally opted out this year, with Gov. Nathan Deal signing criminal justice reform legislation that allows drug felons to receive food stamps upon their release.)

The 1996 law allows states to suspend the time limit in areas with high unemployment; Georgia is one of 22 states that waived the time limit during the economic downturn. With the economic turnaround, states that waived time limits for aid to low-income individuals through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) –  “food stamps”– have begun to reinstate those time limits.

Continue reading “Welfare-to-Work Helps Georgians Up and Out of Dependency”