Friday, October 23, 2020

Our friend Ted Dove recently shared with Observations readers the potential impact of the 12th Amendment on the Election, and so many enjoyed reading his thoughts that we prevailed on Ted again to share further about this important topic, as well as a deeper dive into the history of the Electoral College.

Ted E. Dove

Ted E. Dove and his wife of 53 years, Carolyn, moved to Toledo Bend in March of 2004. Ted retired recently after 30+ years as an environmental consultant where he was part-owner and Vice President of an international engineering and environmental consulting company. He is a graduate of the University of Arkansas, Little Rock and an active member of First United Methodist in Many.

Ted has been a member of the Board of Directors for the Toledo Bend Lake Association, having served as President and First Vice President. He is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Toledo Bend Citizens’ Advisory Committee currently serving as Secretary and formerly as Vice President.

His career employment included 6 years as an Arkansas State Policeman, leaving the agency in 1973 as a Sergeant, to pursue opportunities in the private sector. He and Carolyn have two daughters and four grandchildren. Ted is an avid fisherman, loves duck hunting and annually has a very productive garden that he shares with friends and family.

His article follows.

The U.S. Constitution, Electoral College and 12th Amendment

How Indecisive Presidential Election Results are Resolved

If you think the current state of our political system is bad, you should be relieved to know that it may have been worse in the past. And yet we survived, thrived and have become the envy of the world. How well do you think the framers of our Constitution got along when they were collectively attempting to put together the greatest “We the People” document ever written? They did not get along very well, at least that’s what historical documents indicate. In the end, the Declaration of Independence, our Constitution and the various Amendments to our Constitution have, collectively, guided our Nation for nearly 250 years.

Today we are embroiled in a very contentious Presidential election. The contentiousness of this election is, unfortunately, fueled by the abundance of “misinformation” that runs rampant on social media along with a national news media that one way or another tends to report too many “anonymous” sources of information that are difficult to “truth.” 

One of the issues of concern that has a lot of misinformation floating around out there is what happens if there is not a clear Presidential winner of the Electoral College vote. Some seem to think that the Supreme Court of the United States would resolve this, thereby creating an avenue of concern about why our current President is trying to rush through his nomination of Amy Coney Barrett for the vacant seat on the Court. Not so. To resolve something this critical for our Nation, the writers of our Constitution and those who followed in amending this document, put into place a process for this. Article II, Section 1 of our Constitution established the Electoral College, followed by the 12th Amendment (ratified in 1804) along with the 20th Amendment which changed the dates for the Congress to take office (January 3) and the inauguration (January 20) of the President and Vice President. Prior to the adoption and ratification of the 20th Amendment, March 4 of the following year was the inauguration date for the newly elected Congress, President and Vice President. This date was established early on due to the delay in getting the Electoral Votes counted, certified and sent to the President of the Senate. The 20th Amendment was ratified in 1933.

Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution set forth how the Electoral College votes were to be determined, e.g., each state’s electoral vote count would be equal to the number of Representatives and Senators “to which the State may be entitled in the Congress.” Each State “elector” would then vote “by Ballot for two Persons” and submit their list of votes cast for each person in a sealed and certified document to the President of the Senate (the Vice President of the United States) to be opened “in the Presence of the Senate and the House of Representatives.” The person receiving a majority of the votes cast became President, and the Vice President was the person with the second most votes. 

There were also provisions within Article II, Section 1 on how the President and Vice President would be determined should there be no “majority” vote for a candidate. That provision allowed for the House of Representatives to vote (one vote per state) by ballot to determine who would be president. In the case of a tie for the second most votes, the election of the Vice President was to be determined by the Senate in the same balloting process as the House of Representatives.

This provision was ultimately taken to task in the first contested election for President which occurred in 1800. Because no candidate received the required majority electoral votes, it took 36 additional ballots within Congress to ultimately determine who the President would be, e.g., in this case, Thomas Jefferson. 

As a result of this very contentious election outcome, the 12th Amendment to the Constitution was adopted and ratified by the states in 1804. The 12th Amendment changed the way Electoral Votes were to be cast. Instead of voting for just a President, each Electoral Voter was to cast his/her vote for a President and a Vice President thereby creating separate vote tallies for each office. The resolution of any disputed Presidential electoral vote count or “missing” vote count would then fall to the House of Representatives to determine, by Ballot with each state limited to one vote, who would be President. The same process would apply to the Vice President with the exception that a disputed Vice President vote would be resolved by the U.S. Senate with each State having two votes. I’m sure a lot of thought went into the adoption of 12th Amendment but it isn’t as simple as it sounds. Here’s why:

First, all state “Electors” are elected and not appointed. In most states, each elector is required to vote for that state’s popular vote winner, at least on the first ballot. However, not every state requires this. Also, after the first ballot, an Elector may cast his/her vote for someone other than the winner of the popular vote. Ugh, this is mind-boggling.

Secondly, since the submittal date for certification of the official Electoral Vote count typically occurred well after the election date and the fact that Congress did not convene until March 4 of the year following the Presidential election there was a “will we ever know” time period that created a lot of uncertainty in our Nation. Can you imagine how much unrest something like that would create in today’s environment? 

Currently, the Electoral Vote must be certified by each State, sealed in an appropriate document container and submitted to the President of the Senate by December 14. This deadline will likely be tested in this year’s election as a result of the possible legal challenges that will be made in tightly contested states, especially in those states where unsolicited ballots were mailed to all registered voters – dead, alive, no longer in the state, or otherwise. In the 2000 Gore-Bush contested vote count in Florida, the Supreme Court ultimately ordered the state to certify its Electoral Vote results which, at that time, favored Bush with Gore ultimately conceding those results thus allowing Bush to become President. 

In the case of a state’s inability to certify its Electoral Vote by December 14, the 12th Amendment is silent on how this is to be handled. How the Supreme Court might handle this is new territory but it cannot, by judicial edict, determine who won the election. In such a circumstance, we probably would not know who won until well into 2021. I certainly hope [that would not be the case.] Regardless of who you support, the best outcome for our Nation would be a clear and decisive win by one of the two major party candidates. Let’s pray that one of the two candidates wins decisively so we can move on, peacefully, and get back to “the business of the people.”

Jerry Lynn Garcie, seated center, and all of his longtime Foy Motors co-workers before Garcie’s move to Natchez, MS. Foy Manager and Garcie’s mentor, Robert Hable, is shown second from left.

Many of you know Sabine Parish native Jerry Lynn Garcie, who was a well-known face at Foy Motors and around Many before he recently relocated to Natchez, MS. Jerry visited with Observations this week to share his deep appreciation for Sabine, his current activities and future plans.

“Growing up in Sabine Parish is something I have always taken pride in. I’m proud to be born and raised in Zwolle, LA. It’s a community where the principles of faith, hard work, community service, and taking care of your neighbor are very prevalent. I’ve also been blessed to spend over 11 years at a place of business in Sabine Parish where I was allowed to make a living and serve my community,” Garcie shared.

Like a lot of kids straight out of college, he had no idea what he wanted to do for a living, but his mother, an insurance agent, encouraged him to try his hand at sales. She thought he’d be great at it and was adamant that a sales career could be successful if a person was willing to put in the work.

Following in her footsteps, Garcie passed all his tests to become a licensed Financial Services Rep for Metlife, but it didn’t feel like quite the right fit. “I was approached by Dale Barnhill of Foy Motors who asked if I’d be interested in being a salesman, and I was immediately intrigued,” Garcie said. “I love cars and trucks myself, and it sure seemed easier selling a tangible product, like a brand new truck, versus an insurance policy that no one wants to buy. I said ‘yes’ and after my first sale I was hooked.”

From the beginning, Garcie said, he didn’t want to be just “good,” but the best salesman he could possibly be. He wanted to set records. “That drive is something I hope I never lose,” he said. Eleven years and lots of memories later, he made the tough decision to say goodbye to Foy Motors, all the wonderful people he worked with and customers he had met.

“Robert Hable and the Harper family allowed me to earn a living there,” said Garcie. He continued, “Speaking of Robert, I couldn’t have been more fortunate to have anyone else as a mentor. Robert is truly a wonderful man and the employees and customers of Foy Motors will always be in good hands with that man at the helm.”

The opportunity Hable provided to Garcie to move into management and to learn to help others grow in the business are lessons Garcie treasures. He credits Hable’s support and mentorship as the key reason he was recently tapped to become General Sales Manager of a newly purchased Chevy/GMC dealership in Natchez, MS, just across the Mississippi River from Vidalia, LA.

“I hope I make [Robert] proud,” Garcie said. “Leaving is always tough, but sometimes you have to take risks beyond your comfort zone if you want to do something special, make something out of yourself and continue to grow.”

Also joining Natchez Chevy GMC is Garcie’s younger brother, Logan Sepulvado, who has started in sales.

To their friends in Sabine, Garcie said, “My family and I can’t thank you guys enough for the kind words so many of you have shown me in this transition. We would love for any of you to come by and say hello if you’re in the Natchez area.”

“I’d also like to take time to thank the two men who provided me with this amazing opportunity:  Mr. Brett Oubre and Mr. Aaron Harvey. Mr. Oubre is a wonderful mentor. He now owns five dealerships, (Natchez Toyota, Natchez Nissan, Lakeside Ford, Winnsboro Dodge and Natchez Chevy GMC), and Mr. Harvey, who recommended me to partner with him to make this new dealership a very special one,” Garcie shared.

In closing Garcie said, “This isn’t ‘goodbye,’ this is just ‘I’ll see you later,’ as my ultimate goal and dream is to own my own or be part owner of a dealership somewhere [in Sabine] one day.”

He said to reach that goal he knows he needs to improve, meet new people, learn things from folks who are more experienced than he and learn more about the latest trends and processes that are emerging in today’s successful dealerships.

To those who have dreams of their own, he offered, “No matter what it is you do, be the absolute best you can at it. Extreme hard work does not go unnoticed or unrewarded. It’s simple – if you want a better life, just make sure every day you’re giving your best at your job. Also don’t be scared to leave that comfort zone. Everything you’ve ever wanted may just be waiting right on the other side.”

Garcie may be reached at www.natchezchevy.com or (601) 653-4829.

Tomorrow evening, Saturday, Oct. 24, is the October Social Distance Social in downtown Many. It all starts on the sidewalk in front of Sabine Theater at 6 p.m. Bring your appetite because the Great Chili CookOff to raise funds for Project Celebration is sure to be a good one!

The event series is sponsored by Mayor and Mrs. Ken Freeman, Wagley Companies LLC, Vanguard Behavioral Health Consultants, Attorney Verity Gentry, John and Betsy Godfrey and Laurie Gentry Designs.

As always, free bottled water from Attorney Verity Gentry will be available and free masks and hand sanitizers will be provided by Laurie Gentry Designs. Both may be found across the street from the theater.

A recent addition to the monthly Social Distance Social is an information table on the Sabine Prevention Alliance (SPA). The following provides a closer look at this important Sabine organization:

In April of 2019 the Sabine Prevention Alliance, a volunteer coalition, was formed with the mission of helping keep kids and youth, age 9 to 20, safe, sober and successful by bringing together leadership from key sectors of the community, raising awareness of the prevalence of underage drinking and implementing evidence-based strategies to prevent and reduce the progression of alcohol misuse, abuse and dependence among youth.

Soon after the Sabine Prevention Alliance was formed, the SPA Coordinator and two volunteers visited seven different schools across Sabine to administer a survey to determine risk factors, protective factors, location of hot spots and stages of readiness for those communities to initiate prevention strategies. Two key respondents from each community were also formally interviewed. The results helped determine how prepared the communities were to begin prevention efforts across the parish.

In addition to the Community Readiness Survey, the Caring Communities Youth Survey, which is conducted in all Louisiana schools bi-annually was used to identify high-priority problems, risk factors and protective factors. The 2017 Louisiana Highway Safety Data was used to determine teen drinking related Motor Vehicle Crash rates. Data from 11th District Juvenile Court was used to determine policy strengths and gaps or inconsistencies in enforcement of current law. Youth Listening Groups were held to identify rates of use, root causes and local conditions related to underage drinking. SPA Member surveys were taken to gain more insight on community strengths and local conditions. Based on these sources of data, an action plan was developed to help guide the mission of the SPA.

Surveys suggested that while other substances are being used in our parish and should be of grave concern, alcohol is the number one abused drug for kids and youth between the ages of 9 and 20. Underage drinking is resulting in spiritual, emotional, health, social, educational and legal consequences which lead to alcohol misuse, family conflicts, poor school performance and substance abuse and dependence in later years.

It was found that teen alcohol-related auto collisions in Sabine are 1 ½ times the state rate. The 30-day use rate of alcohol ranks 6th highest in the state, and the binge drinking rate was the 3rd highest in Louisiana.

Local risk factors identified in the study include cultural norms and parental attitudes favorable to drinking, continued sales of alcohol to youth under age 21, easy access to alcohol from friends and family members, unsupervised locations for parties and inconsistent enforcement of policy and laws across municipalities. It was also noted that Sabine is primarily rural with no public transportation and limited social, recreational and leisure alternatives for youth other than what is offered through the schools and some church groups.

Mental health and addiction services were closed by the Louisiana Office of Behavioral Health in 2008 although some Sabine communities had very high rates of addiction and mental illness. Other risk factors include one-parent families struggling with an average work-to-home commute of 30 minutes resulting in latchkey situations, loss of after-school, mental health and substance abuse programs in addition to very few recreational and leisure activities.

To meet its goal of prevention and education, the SPA includes many protective facets. They are

– LSU AG Center operates a vibrant 4H Program in all schools, providing resources for prevention, leadership and character development among youth across the parish.

– The Sabine Parish Sheriff’s Office has partnered with schools to fund the Dare Program over the past 30+ years. They co-fund School Resource Officers in each school, facilitate a DUI Prevention program for 10th – 12th graders each year, and co-sponsor Youth Against Drugs (YAD) programs at local churches. 

– Sabine Parish School Board Student Supports Department has administered “Keeping it Real” program in schools for the past two years and has partnered with the Sheriff’s Dept. to implement the DARE program for the elementary. In addition, PALS after-school and summer programs are offered at four schools 

– The SPARK School provides an alternative to expulsion for students involved with alcohol, drug or other behaviors. Behavioral Health Counselors are available throughout the day for SPARK students.

– Under the leadership of Judge Stephen Beasley, Sabine Parish Juvenile Court administers the F.I.N.S.  Committee as an alternative to judicial proceedings and is actively involved in the SPA by providing staff time to increase and strengthen data management of underage drinking cases, whether diverted or entering the Juvenile Justice system. Judge Beasley also currently presents a “Judge Day” to speak to schools to increase awareness of legal issues and how to avoid legal consequences of at-risk behavior.

– There are many faith-based organizations throughout the Parish, some of which are represented on the SPA.   

– Sabine Medical Center (SMC) is a member of the SPA and recently opened a 12-bed Behavioral Health Unit in Zwolle.

– Rehabilitation Services of NW Louisiana, a mental health rehabilitation service, currently serves kids and youth in home and in schools with Behavioral Specialists, who are currently located in schools across the parish.

– The Children and Youth Planning Board mandated by Act 555 has functioned in Sabine since 2005. Its function is to help guide the Parish in developing a continuum of services and programs for children, youth and families.

– Sabine Community Connections provides after-school programs for children and youth in Zwolle.

– Various school sports programs and clubs offer during and after-school positive alternatives to substance abuse and other high-risk behaviors.

– The Sabine Parish Drama Club offers youth an opportunity to learn and practice theatrical skills while serving their community.

– The Choctaw-Apache Tribe’s Rising Sun Youth Group teaches leadership skills and demonstrates traditional American Indian dance.

– Students Against Destructive Decisions (S.A.D.D) Clubs exist at Zwolle, Converse and Many High Schools. The clubs work within their schools and communities to provide positive messaging about pro-social behavior and healthy decision making.

The above list is in no way extensive and does not include ongoing offerings by the Town of Many, such as regular free movies for youth and their families, youth-themed downtown holiday parties and events, Sabine Parish rodeo activities and other various events held for area children and youth.

While the SPA delivers primary prevention services, there is a gap in early intervention and intensive services for youth who are past the experimentation stage and are advancing into recreational use, abuse and dependence.

The Sabine Prevention Alliance invites anyone concerned about underage drinking and other substance use issues, to increase their awareness and become active at any level in the SPA. Contact the group at (318) 315-0081, visit www.sabineprevents.com, Facebook @ Sabine Prevention Alliance or follow them on Snapchat, Instagram or Twitter. The SPA is located at 259 Fisher Rd. in Many. All are invited to help keep Sabine children and youth safe, sober and successful.

A special thank you to James Wagley for the above information.

It’s official! The beautiful new boutique, Good Gracious, joined the Sabine Parish Chamber of Commerce today. They cut the ribbon at noon, and the business is already a cherished member of the Many business community.

Good Gracious Boutique & Flowers is located at 1225 San Antonio Ave. They are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The business is owned and operated by Grace Thomas Manasco. Their number is (318) 273-2239.

Shown above, left to right, are Jim Cole, Sabine State Bank; Sabine Parish Chamber Director Shanna Gaspard; Good Gracious owner Grace Manasco; her husband Lang Manasco; Tanya Peterson, City Bank; and Pollie Brandon, the Law Office of Ronald D. Brandon.

That does it for today’s lagniappe. Please call or write with your ideas for future columns. Call (318) 332-8653 or send an email to robertrgentry@gmail.com. To see recent Observations, scroll through the pages provided. To see older, archived ones, visit our Facebook page. To print, save or send today’s column, please click on the appropriate icon below. As always, thanks for reading.

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