News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


City officials should listen to voters


I live in Decatur and have been a longtime resident of North Alabama. I believe that the City Council and the mayor of Decatur are overstepping their boundaries with this so-called probe into the swap of the (Wilson Morgan) park. The park has always been a big part of Decatur and it should remain that way.

There are plenty of other spaces where retail stores can build their facilities. I am disgusted with the fact that they think they can just do whatever they want to without first putting it to a vote by the residents of this city.

Do they not realize the number of people who have given so much of their time to improve the park and all the individuals who donated their time and efforts to build Adventure Park for the children of this area? I am sick and tired of our country's government leaders thinking they are put there to tell us how we should live and act. They need to remember that we the people are the individuals who elect them into office and we pay their salaries (which, I may add, are too high for some).

They also need to remember that they are put there to speak for us as a whole, not for themselves. I have so much more I could add to this, but I think I have gotten my point across.

Michelle Baker


Police program answers questions


I was alarmed at the May 13 story about the individual stopping cars and presenting himself as an on-duty police officer. It is a fact that most law-abiding citizens are cautious enough to stop and comply with the demands of an individual presenting himself as an officer, even if no red and/or blue lights are flashing on the car and if the individual does not show a badge. Why would they do this? Simply because of limited interaction with a police officer and little knowledge of their rights and responsibilities and those of a real officer.

What does that mean to the average reader? The Decatur Police Department offers a Citizens Police Academy that is open to the citizens of Decatur and Morgan County and surrounding areas. The class is free. Attendees have the opportunity to interact with officers and ask questions they may have. While some of the information presented is specific to Decatur, a lot of the information presented is general and "good to know."

Anyone older than 21 years of age and willing to give up three hours on a Tuesday evening for 11 weeks should consider applying for this year's Citizens Police Academy. This is not training to become a police officer and there is no obligation. Call 340-7441 or 301-3139 for more information. This class really offers understanding through education.

Thomas R. Barry, volunteer

Citizens Police Academy coordinator


Jail not solution to drug problem


I'm writing about: "Waging War On Meth" (May 1).

Keeping the ingredients of meth behind the counter of licensed pharmacies and limiting their sales is certainly a much better solution than the previous non-solution of building more and bigger prisons.

Oklahoma learned the hard way that the so-called "tough on drugs" policies don't work and they are very expensive. Primarily because of their "tough on drugs" policies, Oklahoma became the fourth highest state for incarcerations.

Primarily because of our war on drugs policies, the United States has been transformed into the most incarcerated nation in the history of human civilization. Even though we in the United States have less than 5 percent of the world's population, we have more than 25 percent of the world's prisoners.

In other words, one out of every four prisoners in the world is locked in an American jail or prison.

What message does this send to the rest of the world?

Kirk Muse

Mesa, Ariz.

Israel has prospered against odds


Recently, on the day after Israel remembered its fallen soldiers, the Jewish state celebrated its independence. Fifty-seven years ago the ancient dream of the Jewish people to regain sovereignty in the land of Israel became a reality. It hasn't been easy. No country has struggled against greater odds. The wars have been nonstop and the adversaries and challenges continue to be formidable. Nonetheless, Israel is a country of remarkable achievement.

Israel's accomplishments reflect the essence of the Jewish spirit, a way of living that affirms life — something the Jewish people chose to do as they climbed out of the ashes of the Holocaust. Jews, as well as others who value democracy, free enterprise and religious freedom, must never take Israel for granted. But it is OK every now and then to stop and "kvell" — a Yiddish word meaning to beam with pride and pleasure — over Israel's tremendous achievements.

A recent editorial in the Jerusalem Post did just that, noting the following:

Strategically, Israel has been a leader in the free world's fight against Islamic terror; socially, Israel has shown how a developed country can welcome an unending stream of newcomers from every corner of the globe and emerge even stronger; economically, Israel has regained its traction after being momentarily thwarted by four years of Palestinian terror; technologically, Israel is recognized as one of the world's premier centers for high-tech innovation; and culturally, in an age in which globalization tends to erode national distinctiveness, Hebrew language and culture, almost extinct 100 years ago, are again flourishing in the Holy Land.

Richard Friedman

Executive director, Birmingham Jewish Federation


Of cooperation and cannibalism


With the Democrats and Republicans at each other's throats, how in the wide, wide world of politics can they ever expect to get anything done? OK, so the Democrats are still peeved about the last two elections. Maybe it's time to put it aside. What happened to the Dems who would work with a Republican president? They have vanished.

It might sound far-fetched, but could there be an Alferd Packer loose somewhere? Frontier historians will know the name.

Take a journey with me back to the year 1873. In that year, the Gold Rush was on, Alferd Packer led 21 men from Utah to the gold fields of Colorado.

While battling freezing weather and starvation, Packer changed his dietary habits. Three months later, he came back to civilization alone.

No one knows what really happened in the snow-covered mountains of Colorado except Packer, God and the devil. Dead men tell no tales. Packer was the only one talking.

But, Alferd Giles Packer is the only man in the United States to have ever been convicted in a court of law for a crime related to cannibalism.

In the courtroom, Judge Gerry pointed down at Packer and said, "Alferd Packer, stand up... There were seven good Democrats in Hinsdale County and you, you man-eating (here the judge used some colorful language so insert your own words), went and ate five of them. I hereby sentence you to hang by the neck until you are dead, as a warning against reducing the Democratic population of the fair state of Colorado."

Jimmy Robinson


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