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WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2006
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Commissioners don't run jail

THE DECATUR DAILY:

Your headline read, "Sheriff calls George a pig." Why did you put this title on your article when it could have very easily been titled "Chairman Glasscock admits he doesn't know anything about running a jail" and yet submits the vote to break the tie to not let the sheriff get the number of people needed to do his job; even after the federal recommendation and the architect's recommendation and after the sheriff has said he thought he could get by with fewer numbers. Where were the analyses from the commissioners voting no?

I would submit to you that your article is slanted and does not represent the facts. After watching John Glasscock in a television interview and watching him admit he doesn't know anything about running a jail, how in the world could he vote the way he did? There is no answer other than politics.

And how can Stacy George know anything about running a jail? He doesn't. The only thing he's concerned about is getting more money for his area; not concern about the entire county. There were no analyses by Mr. George or Mr. Glasscock to substantiate their votes; just that Greg Bartlett doesn't need that many people. For the people of this county, that's not good enough. The next election will show that the people of this county are fed up with the politics of the county commissioners.

Doyle Mayberry

Decatur

Sheriff incapable of compromise

THE DECATUR DAILY:

I believe Sheriff Greg Bartlett should have been worried about the needs of the jail when he selfishly took money that could have been spent to cover jail costs and supplemented his own income to exceed $100,000 per year.

It appears to me that the County Commission is attempting to act reasonably and compromise with the sheriff. However, I do not feel the sheriff is capable of acting in the spirit of compromise. I believe the citizens of Morgan County should hold the sheriff to his statement and require him pay for 911 equipment. It is my opinion that he certainly has taken enough money for his own salary to pay for it.

Darwin Halbrooks

Hartselle

Bickering in no one's interest

THE DECATUR DAILY:

In response to "Sheriff calls George 'pig' ", I would like to state my disappointment in our elected officials. The type of name-calling and arguing described in the article reminds me of what children do in grade school. Now, I don't propose to call either of these gentlemen "children," but their dialogue seems neither thoughtful nor productive.

While not an elected official myself, and instead the one who helps elect, I would like to remind each of these gentlemen that they are civil servants. They are elected to promote the general welfare and to conduct the business of this county that best serves the interests of us all, not to better serve one group or the other. I cannot stand and say what is adequate staffing at the new jail and I cannot say how many roads need to be repaired in each district, but I trust that these gentlemen understand that each activity must be completed to a level that properly serves this county.

My expectation as a voter is that these gentlemen sit down together and rationally discuss the needs of each side and to compromise to a level that best serves us all. That is the only way business can get done. Bickering privately and even worse, publicly, does not serve us all. It interferes with the business of this county, with the impression we present to the outside world, and at most, I fear it interferes with my personal safety when neither the jail nor the roads are adequately handled because of this argument.

Finally, I would offer an additional adage to Sheriff Greg Bartlett and Commissioner Stacy George, and that is, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." If you can't follow that, the next elected official to fill your role probably can.

Joe Logan

Hartselle

Clark's issue: money or abortion?

THE DECATUR DAILY:

Jeff Clark can use the abortion issue if it makes him feel better. I am a Democrat who doesn't believe in abortion, but I know it is the law of the land, and a great wedge issue for the GOP.

Mr. Clark should have told THE DAILY what he told me less than three months ago. He said that the Republicans offered to pay off his $30,000 campaign debt, and it was tempting. He told me he would rather go down as a Democrat than win as a Republican.

It appears as if our local politicians can be bought.

Jackie Hendrix

Decatur

Tree plan requires forethought

THE DECATUR DAILY:

I read your article in reference to the tree-cutting at Point Mallard. It's shameful as beautiful as that park is.

I live in East Tennessee and my husband has worked and lived in Decatur for two years. I love it there and walk my dog every day when I'm there for 1-2 weeks at a time.

I can see the city clearing the underbrush and low branches, and possibly a few smaller or old rotten trees being cut, but it takes an intelligent committee to direct such lasting plans. The people pay the taxes and should have a great effect on the plans and decisions of the board.

I think Point Mallard is one of the most beautifully well-planned and visited parks in the country. Please make the right decisions for all to enjoy. Don't clear out all the beauty, shade and oxygen these trees give.

Rosemarie Carden

Hampton, Tenn.

Council shortsighted about recycling

THE DECATUR DAILY:

After having read the finite rationale of two of our City Council members for voting to do away with curbside recycling just to save 2 percent, or approximately $600,000 to $700,000, from a $48 million city budget to buy more land to bury trash and garbage rather than being good stewards of the land, I am left almost speechless. Is this how councilmen Ray Metzger and Gary Hammon want to treat our fragile environment?

This question reminds me of an ancient Indian proverb: "Treat the earth well: It was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children."

It appears councilmen Metzger and Hammon are not looking out for our future, our environment or our children.

Wiley C. Blankenship II

Decatur

Check options before raising rates

THE DECATUR DAILY:

Not too many years ago, Decatur residents had a twice-weekly waste pick-up, and we were not charged for the service. The money to pay for this activity must have come from the general fund. Now we have weekly service, for which there is a fee. The most recent claim by the Public Works superintendent is that the current charge is one-half the actual cost. What am I missing here?

Perhaps the city is not capable of managing this type of business. There are, of course, private companies that do this work on a contract basis. Has that been independently explored? Securing serious quotes from waste management companies would go a long way toward explaining just how efficient our present method of removal is.

If an unbiased search for other methods of waste management proves unsuccessful, raise the rate and be done with it.

After all, common items like cell phones, TV cable and lawn services cost much more than waste management. People will pay the increased price if they receive a logical explanation for the need.

Leo M. Spain

Decatur

Rough times build character

THE DECATUR DAILY:

This is in response to the letter "Older workers should make way for young."

This younger generation wants things handed to them on a silver platter. Why should older people quit their jobs so they can have them? I do not consider myself old, but older than the writer of that letter.

I remember when I was young and raising my sons by myself. I did not wish for some older person to quit so I could have his or her job. I worked for minimum wage and sometimes I had to decide if my sons ate that week or we had lights. My sons never went to bed hungry. Sometimes I would walk to work and then to the babysitter's house to pick up my sons after work.

Yes, it was a hard time, but I made it. Both my sons are grown with families of their own, and because they saw the rough times we went through, I think they are better people because of it.

I don't feel sorry for the writer of that letter; I pity her. She grew up thinking that people owe her a better life. What of her mother and father? Would they want their children on welfare? If they do, then what does this tell us about this generation?

Sandra Pennington

Decatur

Seniors don't keep young from jobs

THE DECATUR DAILY:

I feel certain that every older worker who read Angela Hill's letter had a reaction to her thinking that we are to blame for the younger generation's woes, just because we are working. Some of my friends were angry after reading her letter, while others found her words laughable. Personally, I found Ms. Hill uninformed about the workplace.

Would we like to retire? Oh, yes. Do we have easy jobs with great benefits? Oh, no. Although most of us seniors can remember when annual raises were commonplace and benefits packages were generous, those times were long ago. Many of us have fewer benefits now because companies have cut their budgets. We have also said goodbye to annual raises and year-end bonuses.

There is no job security for any of us — and many of us have lost jobs to those much younger, even though studies have proven that older workers go the extra mile, have less absenteeism than younger workers, bring respect and loyalty to the workplace and do not continually look for another job.

We work because we need to eat, pay for housing and utilities and cover the soaring costs of medical care. We have a difficult time keeping up with the high cost of living. We're desperately hanging on to our jobs so that we can live.

If the only employment someone can find is minimum wage, then work for minimum wage. Do a super job and work up to a better position and salary. There are programs that offer job skills training. Enroll. Take some college courses. Learn. Be well-read and well-informed. No working senior citizen is causing any young person not to find good employment. The attitude of "I'd rather live on welfare than work for minimum wage" is the culprit.

Patricia S. Brooke

Decatur

Riley's plan good for Alabama

THE DECATUR DAILY:

Gov. Bob Riley seems to be going in the right direction. In his state-of-the-state address, he proposed a "new plan." I praise his plans for the new tax break and his education plan. It would be nice to see more government officials trying to make a difference in our democracy.

Alabama has been long awaiting a change in tax breaks. Gov. Riley's tax break will prevent the state from collecting income tax from a family that makes less that $15,000 a year. At this time, Alabama's threshold is $4,600. If enacted, it will be put into action over a course of five years. Gov. Riley's tax break will also raise deductions and exemptions to help all of Alabama. His education plan calls for $500 million on construction projects for schools and colleges. Also, it adds a tax holiday for the back-to-school season and five days to the school year.

It will be interesting to see how other authorities react to his plan. This is a good example of a liberal democracy.

Gov. Riley's plan depends on the power of the Legislature. Our presidential system could learn a lot from the proposal Gov. Riley is making to make things better for the working class and Alabama as a state.

Although I am sure there are loopholes in his plan, Gov. Riley and other officials can adjust the proposal package to make the plan work. Not all representatives will agree or support this plan. There will be a lot of concerns and disagreements. Hopefully, the governor will not let that stop him from trying to make his proposal work in the best interests for everyone.

Tara Colburn

Falkville

State meddling hurts Wal-Mart

THE DECATUR DAILY:

THE DAILY's editorial "Government acts when private sector doesn't" did not analyze its position very well.

Maryland lawmakers decided to play Robin Hood with the shareholders' money and voted to tax Wal-Mart by the amount which its expenditures on employee health care fell below 8 percent of payroll costs. If Wal-Mart fails to act, the tax dollars will go to Maryland, not to Wal-Mart's workers.

The editorial stated, "Maryland has become the first state to address a back-door taxpayer subsidy to some of the nation's wealthiest retailers." Does the editor think that some of the Wal-Mart employees and their dependents who are on Alabama's Medicaid rolls were not on Medicaid prior to their employment with Wal-Mart?

Wal-Mart employs a disproportionate number of older Americans who are already on Medicare. Employees at Wal-Mart work there because, overall, they like the package of wages and benefits that they receive, given their opportunity cost.

Wal-Mart also provides entry-level jobs for young, unskilled workers. The company pays as much, per worker, for health benefits as the average retail company. Also, more than 80 percent of Wal-Mart's employees are eligible for those benefits, compared to 60 percent for the average retailer.

The private sector has acted. The editor just doesn't like the results. If government meddling is such a good endeavor, then health benefits should be mandatory for all workers.

Unions are the other reason the tax is bad. Wal-Mart has successfully resisted unionization by keeping its employees generally satisfied. The unions have lobbied legislatures to punish the company with new taxes under the guise of improving employee health care.

Wal-Mart is a colossus because of its genius for streamlining and efficiency, flexibility, computerizing and modernizing its processes. The inflexibility of union labor is anathema to Wal-Mart's business model.

Steve Scurlock

Decatur

Genealogy project honors Bzdell

THE DECATUR DAILY:

Susan Bzdell, Morgan County archivist, passed away Dec. 17. Susan was the first archivist of Morgan County, and did a splendid job of organizing and preserving Morgan County records. She worked long and hard to make these records available for the public and especially for genealogists.

Deeds, marriage records, probate court, circuit court and many other types of records are housed at the Archives, dating back to formation of this state, and this county (1819).

Those who have been fortunate enough to visit the Archives are aware that Morgan County's Archives ranks among the best in the state.

In order to show our appreciation and gratitude, the Morgan County Genealogical Society is proposing that our society help complete the Veteran's Wall that Susan began, and which was dedicated on Nov. 10.

The Veteran's Wall (plaques that are already mounted on the outside south wall) needs a weather-proof frame surrounding the boards on which the plaques are mounted. We also should have plaques made for veterans of World War II through today, and have them mounted as well.

This project will be expensive; therefore, we are asking anyone who can to donate whatever amount he or she can spare to honor and memorialize Susan. Also, if you wish to memorialize a past or present person who served in the U.S. Armed Forces (any branch, any time), a donation of $10 per plaque is requested. Contact the Archives at 351-4726 for more information.

Make checks payable to MCGS and on the "for" line, put Susan Bzdell Memorial. Mail to: MCGS, 624 Bank St, NE, Decatur, AL 35601.

Edna Earle James

President, Morgan County Genealogical Society

Hartselle

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