News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
SUNDAY, MARCH 26, 2006


Expanded auto industry one of state's goals

I appreciate the recent article entitled "Better off without Kia?"; however, I must clarify one key point that was attributed to me. The article states that "It's not a goal of (Alabama) to attract more auto industry."

My reply was intended to address the ongoing question of whether this administration will be considered a success if we do not attract an auto assembly plant such as Kia. It was not to imply that we will not be aggressive in recruiting more of the automotive industry into the state. In fact, it is a major goal of this administration to attract suppliers and other auto-related companies to support the assembly plants we have. Our success will not be judged solely on whether or not we attract another assembly plant.

But, should another auto manufacturer consider locating in Alabama, we will look for an attractive site that doesn't adversely impact the current plants, and create a competitive incentive package to win the project. We still have attractive sites in Alabama that would be excellent locations for assembly plants, but our success will ultimately be judged on how we supported and expanded the existing auto industry.

In addition to the growing automotive industry, it is important that we diversify our economy and focus on other growth segments such as aviation, aerospace, life sciences and research/development companies. Coupled with our automotive success, we expect that Alabama will continue as one of the Southeast's key growth states.

Neal Wade

Director, Alabama Development Office


Gambling enforcement in county unfair

The subject of gambling appears often in the news, especially video gambling in convenience stores. Also in the past, gambling machines were confiscated in local social clubs, where some of the machine proceeds were supposedly going to charity.

Last fall, the Morgan County Fair had gambling machines that paid out in cash, not prizes. I have witnessed this type of gambling for several years, in view of law enforcement personnel. I wondered why the fair could get by with gambling machines, especially ones that paid in cash, and other local establishments cannot. I am sure that the proceeds would not go to charity.

I approached two Morgan County deputies at the fair and asked why gambling was allowed at the fair, when owners of other establishments would be arrested. Their response was that the fair paid a large fee to operate. My response was, "So it's the same old story: Enough money placed at the right places can get things done."

I and other people would like to know why gambling machines are allowed at the fair and nowhere else in the county. This is not a fair enforcement of the law. I challenge THE DAILY to investigate and find answers from the district attorney, Sheriff's Department and Decatur Police Department. This would make a good story.

Elton Reeves


Dog allegedly abused; humans could be next

What a relief to know that the person who reportedly admitted to duct-taping Lucky the dog's mouth shut and leaving him to die in a trash bin is in custody and off our streets ("Lucky's alleged abuser arrested," March 17).

Sgt. Rick Archer and the Decatur police force deserve our gratitude for keeping our community safer by taking cruelty to animals seriously. Studies have shown that people who abuse animals often go on to commit violent crimes against fellow humans.

Hopefully, the person responsible for abusing Lucky will be banned from contact with animals for life and given counseling, to protect Decatur's animal and human residents.

Kit King


Find a cause and support it

This is in response to the letter criticizing those who have shown concern for Lucky the dog. I've taken in abused animals for years and heard this stuff repeatedly. Here's what I say: "I show my love of animals by giving my time and money. You obviously are concerned about abused children, so what are you doing to show it?"

I'm not just being glib. When caring people hear about a child who has been abused, few — if any — donate money or offer to take the child into their homes. If (God forbid) the child has been killed, they don't feel compelled to track down the district attorney to insist that the parent responsible be prosecuted. That's because we believe, right or wrong, that government agencies will rescue abused children, and we have strong laws against killing any person.

Not so for abused animals. The laws protecting them are flimsy at best and often go unenforced. Even when someone is convicted, the maximum penalty is paltry. Too often, the animal is euthanized to "solve" the problem.

Without media attention, outpouring of sympathy and reward fund, would an officer had been allowed to spend the time needed to make an arrest? Dr. Steve Osborne said this was the second dog found this way. For the first: no story, no investigation, no reward fund, no arrest.

Instead of knocking people for trying to right a wrong, each of us should pick something we passionately want to make better and help.

Lisa Miller Cagle


Stop cutting trees at Point Mallard

For more than 30 years, the Point Mallard trail has provided the citizens of Decatur and visitors with the only piece of riverfront property for viewing and enjoying that is not privately owned by industry. It has existed in harmony with the golf course and with the rest of the park. Recently there has been massive tree cutting and clearing along the trail.

I called Parks and Recreation more than a month ago to voice my concern and was told that permission was given to cut a "few" diseased trees under 3" in diameter so that the golfers would get a better view of the river. I visited the trail and found that many more trees that were mature and healthy had been cut. At that time, I counted (conservatively) 89 trees that were not diseased and were over 3" in diameter. As of today they are still cutting.

These trees provide food, shelter and protection for the abundance of wildlife that lives along the river. The trees also provide protection for the hikers, bikers and runners from the cold and wind in the winter and from the hot sun in the summer. The deep roots of the trees prevent the erosion of the banks of the river. The trees are a part of the natural beauty of the park. Natural trail systems in other cities are held in high regard and these cities are awarded for the preservation of these trails.

Let the citizens of Decatur do the same and save and preserve the last piece of riverfront property that is open to families and visitors of Decatur.

Pam Duke


Federal forest sell-off rewards Bush's backers

The current administration has increased timber sales from public lands under pretexts of controlling wildfires and helping forest recovery after wind or fire damage by cutting down the trees. President Bush needed a better rapid rewards program, so his 2007 budget proposal will sell 300,000 acres of national forests, 3,200 acres in Alabama. The land purchased for national forests in the South was not beautiful forests that politicians wanted to keep pristine. It was eroding land that had been clearcut, farmed and abused, and had to be protected from normal use to protect the watersheds. While we value the forests as beautiful places that provide clean water, recreation and wildlife habitat, Bush values the land as a commodity to sell.

For almost 100 years, 25 percent of the money from timber sales went to local governments. This plan worked while many trees were being cut, but the amount decreased because the public did not like timber production, and Mother Nature often interfered. Congress passed an act in 2000 that provides payments based on the three highest years of timber sales. Bush proposes to sell the land and stop payments since the land will be subdivisions, malls, industrial sites and waterfront or mountain estates, back on the tax rolls.

The parcels to be sold are supposedly outlying and difficult to manage, but local and district forest service personnel were not involved in making selections. It appears that land was chosen for real estate value, along with Smith Lake in Bankhead, the Blackwater River in Conecuh and around the Talladega units.

Bush's deficit-reduction scheme eliminates an "entitlement program" and rewards rich supporters, for him a win-win situation. Once the sell-off starts, where will it end? What do we and future generations lose, what is gained, and by whom?

Hank Byrnes


Line-item veto would reduce federal deficit

In a recent letter, F. E. Morgan informed us that when President Bush assumed the presidency in January 2001, the United States had a $236 billion surplus. Though President Bush is partially to blame for the deficit, the 535 members of Congress need to share the blame.

Secondly, though we were receiving more taxes than we were spending during the Clinton administration, we still owed money to other nations. In May, 2000, our nation owed $5.7 trillion to foreign investors.

The problem is not getting revenue from taxes. The problem is that Congress and the president are not controlling spending. Congress is spending our money by adding pork to bills, and the president is not vetoing the bills and informing the people of the country why. Passing a line-item veto would solve this problem.

Arthur Laffer theorized, the less taxes a person has to pay, the more money the economy will receive through taxes. Despite lower tax rates, the U.S. Treasury is receiving more tax revenue than it did the previous year. People will not shelter as much money as they will when they get taxed at astronomical rates. Spending your money on something you want instead of giving it to the government stimulates the economy and creates jobs.

President Bush's tax cuts did not benefit the rich only. All of the tax percentage brackets were lowered by 2 percent and a 10 percent bracket for lower-wage earners was introduced. Should the government penalize people who are innovative for being successful?

President Clinton used Halliburton to perform services for our service members while they were in Bosnia. He also bombed Yugoslavia and deployed our service members to the Balkans without Congressional approval. Why didn't you complain about his illegal actions?

Carl E. Noyes Sr.


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