News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Students shouldn't have to accept status quo


Businesses must constantly improve in order to stay competitive. A business cannot afford to settle for status quo, or it will soon find itself running far behind the competition. Our schools are in the business of educating our children, and must be constantly improving as well.

Decatur school officials are actively pursuing ways to improve a good school system and recently asked the City Council for program funding. From the response of the City Council members, it appears that education is low on their priority list. School officials were rebuffed, told no to the funding request, and then told to find ways to cut their current budget.

The request included money for new computers and building improvements. The most controversial item on the list seems to be the funding for the International Baccalaureate program. Contrary to critics' assertions, IB will benefit all the children in Decatur City Schools. IB is going into all three middle schools and both high schools. This program will offer all our students a first-class education and level the educational playing field across all socio-economic levels. Wealthy parents can afford to send their children to a private college preparatory program. The rest of us take what our public school system offers.

Someone suggested that we focus spending on elementary schools. While we cannot neglect our elementary schools, we must pursue educational excellence past the elementary level. Being able to read, write, and do basic math is not enough in today's world.

Every child from every socio-economic level deserves an education that will allow him or her to compete in today's marketplace. As a city, we can't afford to skimp on our children's education. Parents, now is the time to be vocal and let our leaders know that our children shouldn't have to settle for the status quo.

Phyllis Brewer


Blankenship should not lose engineer license


I followed the story of Clete Blankenship, who was convicted of impersonating a federal tax agent to avoid a hunting citation. After going to court he was fined and given probation. I realize and he has stated himself what a dumb mistake this was on his part. The court system has done its job of making him see the "error of his ways." I'm sure he won't repeat this type of behavior.

However, his conviction could cost him his job as a Licensed Civil Engineer in Alabama. This would be a disservice to him and his family as well as the citizens of Alabama.

Mr. Blankenship designed and supervised the installation of a complicated and extensive septic system for us last year. No one else we contacted was willing to take on this project due to the location and the certainty of complications of the septic system we were required to have.

Mr. Blankenship charged a modest fee and spent many hours in person and on the telephone to ensure our system was done correctly, according to his design and specification by the Morgan County Health Department. I hope that others will be able to engage his services as he is very diligent and dedicated to those who need such a person's assistance.

I am sure he has learned a lesson without suffering the loss his profession.

Toni Robert


Alabama 20 drivers: Slow down to save lives


As I made the commute from Decatur to Huntsville on March 31, I noticed a man kneeling in the median on Alabama 20 close to the fireworks stand. My first thought was "What is wrong with him?" Then, I remembered a fatal car wreck happened there not long ago and the man was there mourning the loss of a loved one claimed in that crash. My heart sank.

Wrecks on this stretch of Alabama 20 are becoming too common. As a daily commuter from Decatur to Huntsville, I hear of the wrecks that occur here and I witness the aftermath as well. Victims of these wrecks are being seriously and fatally injured. I witness near-misses almost every day and I have to call loved ones daily to assure them that I wasn't a victim of the latest crash.

With our daily lives so full of "to-do's", we find ourselves short on time and speeding to make up for it. We all know we shouldn't speed, but we have places to go and schedules to keep. The problem is, traveling 70-plus mph on this section of road makes it difficult, and often impossible, to slow down and accommodate vehicles that enter and exit the highway.

While our lawmakers can alleviate the problem by eventually making this section of Alabama 20 a controlled-access highway, those of us who travel on it have the ability right now to prevent 90 percent of the wrecks that are occurring by simply taking our foot off the pedal.

My message is simple: Please slow down and tell others to do so as well. If you don't, the next person kneeling in the median to mourn might be you or your loved ones.

Kim Anderson


Courts, husband wrong in Schiavo matter


Mitch Chase clearly stated the problems of the claims that Terri Schiavo's death was "natural" and "painless." Not even the convicted murderer, Scott Peterson, would be executed in such a torturous way, though he may well deserve it.

What a frightening precedent has been set by the courts involved to murder an innocent woman. The judges have taken the "word" of Terri's adulterous husband as "truth." It is a severe travesty of justice and a gross misapplication of end-of-life issues.

The criminal is Terri's husband, who should have the opportunity to experience this "painless" and "natural" death. People are jailed for treating animals this way. How have some judges come to such "upside down" thinking? I hope that the Hospice involved will have the opportunity to speak the truth about this soon. The role of Hospice care is comfort and help, not murder. It must have been very difficult for those involved to follow this court order.

"Truth, justice, and the American way" is nowhere to be found in the Terri Shiavo court rulings!

Ann Allen


Leave Wilson Morgan Park green for everyone


My home for the past 37 years has been on Briarwood Drive Southwest, across from Wilson Morgan Park, and I hope to be there many more.

One part I do not want to see is any changes to Wilson Morgan Park. I helped build the children's play area, even though I am more than 80 years old.

There is plenty of traffic on Sandlin and the Beltline as it is, but if this development were to be built, the homeowners on Briarwood, Bellemeade, Russell and Rockway would have difficulty getting out on Sandlin and the Beltline.

The value of all the homes would, no doubt, decrease, and crime would increase in frequency.

This park belongs to the people of Decatur. Let's keep this small green area for the people as it is. Once it is gone, it is gone forever. Money is not everything, as some think.

Herman Casey


Lawyers are everywhere in our government


Do you know that lawyers have a monopoly on a big part of government in the United States?

Much is said about the separation of powers among the three branches of government — legislative, executive, and judicial — at the federal and state levels in this country. This separation is supposed to assure a balance of powers among these three branches of government.

For several years I have been concerned that lawyers have a monopoly on the judicial branch of government. Only a lawyer can be a judge. This means that a small percentage of the population controls the judicial branch — one-third of government at the federal and state levels.

Lawyers also occupy a fairly high percentage of the seats in Congress and to a lesser extent in state legislatures. Additionally, a lawyer must serve as the attorney general at both the federal and state levels. These positions are in the executive branch. The district attorney at the circuit and county level must also be an attorney.

There are many good lawyers. Unfortunately there are a few unscrupulous lawyers and too many judges who are judicial activists. This activism has resulted in a judicial branch that is now more powerful than the other two branches.

How much longer will the citizens of this country tolerate the judicial tyranny that has crept into our government?

Not much longer, I hope.

J. Elbert Peters


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