News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Just the facts on secondhand smoke threat

In response to "Secondhand smoke kills needlessly": Would any sane person want to take away the freedoms and rights of others to satisfy a few?

The chemicals referred to are commonly stated on the so-called "truth" commercials. I recommend that people study for themselves the effects of cigarette smoke and of secondhand smoke, instead of listening to someone else's theories stated as truth.

Truth: These chemicals have been found in tobacco products as well as in other things like coffee beans, lettuce and other fruits and vegetables. The amount present, if any, is so minute that the FDA deems them appropriate for consumption. To say these chemicals are distributed through the air, via secondhand smoke, is ludicrous. This is purposely used as a scare tactic to pressure lawmakers into such legislation.

Smokers should stand up and speak. There are numerous restaurants in Decatur that have chosen to be all non-smoking. If a restaurant does not have a smoking section, I do not patronize the establishment, ever. I choose not to eat at those restaurants. Non-smokers have the same choice. I choose to support those restaurants that allow smoking. If you are deeply concerned about secondhand smoke, go to one of the many restaurants that are non-smoking.

The number of people smoking today is not far (fewer) than 10 years ago. While some have quit, most have become closet smokers. The stigma that surrounds today's smoker has many afraid to be caught smoking. Take your own unscientific poll by counting the number of cars you pass and how many of those have someone smoking. I would say 70 percent would be smoking.

If a strong ordinance were passed, what economic effect would that have if all smokers chose to buy their cigarettes outside the city limits?

Jonathan D. Wynn


Bill to protect borders would be ineffective

The Border Protection, Anti-Terrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 (HR 4437) has passed the U.S. House of Representatives and will be considered soon in the U.S. Senate. This mean-spirited and ineffective bill focuses only on enforcement of immigration laws and does not include needed reforms in U.S. immigration policy that would address our current immigration problems more comprehensively.

Among several problematic aspects, this bill would: make "unlawful presence" in the United States a crime and would prosecute as criminals (with up to five years in prison) people in churches and social service organizations who offer humanitarian assistance to undocumented immigrants.

We are a nation of immigrants — and some say, a "Christian" nation. Jesus said that when we welcome the stranger (which in the Bible means the foreigner), we are welcoming him.

"So why don't you just come here legally?" No legal process exists for immigrating here to do unskilled labor, despite the obvious need for this labor pool. A fortunate few can immigrate through a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, immediate-family member, but even this process can take decades, so as to be irrelevant to the need.

"Talk radio" programs muddy the waters by meshing "illegal immigration" with "national security" and keeping out terrorists. This is pure demagoguery that ignores the real problem. Latin Americans coming here to work are not terrorists, and unlike those poor workers, terrorists have the resources it takes to work the system and come legally. Most, if not all, the Sept. 11 terrorists had entered the country legally.

Christians and other people of conscience need to contact Sens. Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions, urging them to vote against this very un-Christian and un-American legislation and to support instead "The Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act" (S. 1033/H.R. 4330), sponsored by Sens. John McCain and Ted Kennedy. For more information, visit

Rev. Gene Lankford


Work release helps inmates' rehabilitation

I'd like to make a comment about the Hartselle mom who is so upset about inmates working in her neighborhood. Unfortunately, Lisa Ekema is typical of many citizens in our "enlightened" society, even though more than 65 percent of the nearly 3 million people in prison are there for non-violent crimes.

Ms. Ekema is experiencing self-fulfilling fears. She doesn't want inmates to work, yet this is part of their rehabilitation. I am also confident she wouldn't give one a job after his release. But, if they can't work, they'll have to do something criminal to live. Small possibility she will be a desperate ex-con's victim.

There aren't any serial killers and rapists and child molesters working on the work-release crews just so they can stake out her home. Her fear is highly exaggerated. I suspect she has a lot of unfounded fears. I've lived for nearly 65 years and the only dangerous person I've been hurt by was unfortunately part of my own household.

Mayor Dwight Tankersley is to be praised for defending the practice of preparing inmates for the outside work world. He and Public Works Director Byron Turney are actually part of the solution.

I wish the major American emotion today wasn't fear — it is so defeating to our society. People like Ms. Ekema are definitely part of the problem.

Kay Lee

Atlanta, Ga.

Heart-disease risks can be controlled

The number one killer of women in the United States is heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, "As with men, women's most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain."

Risk factors for heart disease include diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, use of tobacco products, obesity and inactivity. These risk factors can be controlled. According to the CDC, smoking is a single major cause of coronary artery disease in women, associated with sudden cardiac death in women, and increases the risk of peripheral vascular disease and stroke in women. The excess risk for heart disease can be reduced within one to two years after stopping smoking. Smoking women who die of smoking-related diseases lose an average of 14 years of productive life. Controlling the diet, increasing activity, monitoring your blood pressure and cholesterol levels are other ways to reduce risk. Seeing your physician regularly as you age will help keep in check the risk factors you can control.

Most people are not aware of the symptoms of heart attack and stroke, and often wait too long before seeking treatment. The symptoms can be vague, especially in women and diabetics. Other conditions may have similar symptoms, but don't self diagnose. See your physician. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms, don't delay. Get emergency treatment.

February is Heart Month. Take care of your hearts. More people die of heart disease than any other disease.

Jan Reid


Usurers thrive on Sixth, but Mando's closes

One recent evening in Decatur, my husband and I were looking for a quick, quiet meal out. I suggested Mando's on Sixth Avenue. We try to eat there at least once a month, and it had been about that long since we had eaten there. Imagine my shock and dismay to see the "closed for business" sign on the door! Forty years on Sixth Avenue, and gone without any fanfare that quickly! I had hoped that Mr. "Mando's" son would keep the restaurant open after his passing.

The face of Sixth Avenue is changing, and not all for the better. For instance, did you realize that in the stretch of Sixth Avenue from Prospect (at Delano Park) to the Beltline, there are at least 27 money-to-lend establishments (not including banks)? That's in a less-than-three-mile section of roadway. There are three in a strip mall, side by side!

Is this the type of business Decatur's city leaders are looking to attract? What about the four Mexican restaurants, five if you include the one across from the library that has yet to open, six if you include Taco Bell, all on the same stretch of road!

Best wishes to the De Quesada family. I thank them for being a big part of my life, and Decatur's.

Pamela H. Milligan


City shouldn't glorify infamous 'Miss Kate'

I find it a bit disturbing that our community would give such celebrative attention to the owner of a brothel. I'm referring to the infamous madam, "Miss Kate" Lackner for whom it was announced in a DAILY article that "Decatur" will be celebrating her birthday. Give me a break, this woman was irrefutably in the business of selling sexual favors for profit. "But it was different back then, it wasn't even illegal," some reader is sure to respond. Right — and the same could be said of slavery.

Maybe we should have our county archivist research the lives of the women used by the beloved Miss Kate in her noble enterprise — the daughters, mothers and sisters whose employed efforts helped elevate the grand madam, as proclaimed by some, to such "prominent stature." Maybe an uplifting little skit to portray a day-in-the-life of one of Miss Kate's girls who both worked and slept in the same bed as the stench of whiskey and cigars wafted through the charming little brothel room. I doubt these women or their families would've shared the quick wink and slanted grin cast by some of us when it comes to this celebrated woman's cheap endeavors.

Decatur, let's not sell ourselves short for the sake of catchy and marketable local lore. Certainly private entities and establishments have the right to celebrate whoever they choose, and I support that right. However, as a city, let's be guarded about whom we honor and celebrate. Finally, let's not be duped into thinking all is well with such deplorable practices, past or present, so long as the credits read: "well respected in the community."

Frankly, in the case of Kate Lackner, I just don't buy that one, regardless of who or how many may have slinked through her seedy establishment.

Miles T. Powell Jr.


Leave feedback.

Email This Page