News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Don’t let news media become tools of terrorists


Any reasonable thinking person cannot look at pictures of the carnage caused by war and terrorism without being revulsed. However, it is my contention that your reporting is not balanced.

Along with the pictures and reports from Lebanon that appeared in your newspaper, show pictures as well of the Israeli men, women and children who have been blown apart from the missiles being fired into their villages and towns from the Hezbollah terrorists in Southern Lebanon. Show the death and destruction caused by the suicide bombers who blow themselves apart on buses, in restaurants, at wedding receptions, in marketplaces, etc. in order to kill as many Israelis as possible.

It is the stated purpose of the terrorists and fanatical Muslims to destroy Israel and they will use any means, including the media, to attain their goal.

Marion Scott


Secret school board deals bad for public


The firing of Post-Secondary Chancellor Roy Johnson by the State Board of Education has opened the Pandora’s box concerning nepotism by prominent educators who have family members working for two-year colleges and receiving public paychecks. I do not see anything wrong with family members following their parents or relatives into similar educational pursuits. However, I do question an administrator who creates a job or hires an unmerited and unqualified family member within the educational system over well-qualified applicants.

If this hiring practice is occurring at the two-year college programs, it is reasonable to imagine that the same patronage systems are in place in four-year colleges and universities, with widespread results. Preventing family members’ embarrassment from surfacing in employment scandal matters will require full disclosure, personal moral integrity and the avoidance of even “the appearance of impropriety.”

It seems that school board members, like seasoned politicians, have failed to heed three practical points for maintaining the public trust: the office’s responsibility, the state law and lessons from history. Elected school board members should understand the gravity of performing the public’s business in secret, and to comprehend public outrage on deals made without citizens’ presence. While waiting for a stronger open meetings law from the Legislature, citizens have two alternatives: seeking legal action against the school board through the attorney general’s office or the ballot box.

Isaiah J. Ashe


If cigarette smoke bothers you, speak up


City of Decatur Ordinance 93-3146, effective July 1, 1993, and Alabama State Code, Section 22-15A-1 through 10, effective Sept. 1, 2003, prohibit smoking in the “open area” of public places. This includes restaurants, commercial stores and places of entertainment, i.e. AMF River City Bowling Lanes. Under the law, a business may be totally “non-smoking” or “may” provide a “designated smoking area” which must be separated and ventilated to keep hazardous second hand cigarette smoke out of the “open public area.” A business must have no-smoking signs at its entrance to advise customers. Most businesses in Decatur do not comply with the no-smoking laws.

If secondhand cigarette smoke bothers you, complaints should be made to the Alabama Department of Public Health, Joy Watkins, 340-2113 in Decatur, or Joel Gilliam, chief of police, 353-2515. Ask them to immediately enforce the no-smoking laws, advising you of their progress. I’m told that enforcement is complaint driven. The more complaints that are registered, the quicker the laws will be enforced.

Secondhand cigarette smoke is in the same category as asbestos, a known carcinogen. Disease caused by secondhand cigarette smoke is the single, most preventable public health hazard we face, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The surgeon general recently stated that “according to overwhelming scientific evidence, there is no safe level of second hand cigarette smoke.”

If we as citizens speak up for ourselves and demand enforcement of the law, this hazard can be eliminated and we all may live a few years longer.

R.B. Pitts


Disabled grandmother needs local help


I know a very fine lady who is a grandparent, as I am. However, my grandchildren live with their parents in their own homes. Two of this lady’s grandchildren are teenage girls who live with her. They were awarded to her by the Department of Human Resources. Their mother is a drug addict and their father apparently doesn’t care if they exist or not. She has had these two wonderful girls for about 18 months, and has worked to teach them manners, the importance of setting goals for their future and respect for themselves, as well as others.

She lives in a mobile home. The roof leaks badly and has had a coating put on it, which hasn’t fixed the problem. She has been advised that she needs a new roof and I have asked a good friend of mine who does metal roofing for a special discounted price. He will also install a peak system so the rain drains off properly for a total price of $2,500.

In spite of her circumstances, this woman cannot get any help from any of the agencies or churches she has contacted. She has been in touch with such organizations as Parents And Children Together, the Committee on Church Cooperation and Habitat for Humanity. None of these would help, even though she is on Social Security disability and drawing food stamps to feed the granddaughters.

Habitat for Humanity is not free, since the homes they build require people to sign a mortgage for part of the cost. Maybe we should ask our local churches, including my own, how much money they actually donate locally.

Robert F. Stone


Alcohol not appropriate at concerts in park


The Decatur Parks and Recreation Department is to be commended for its efforts to bring a variety of family musical entertainment to Rhodes Ferry Park. We have attended several concerts this summer and even brought out-of-town guests to this very scenic city park on the Tennessee River. The concert July 31 was probably the best attended to date, with many families with their children, as well as their pet dogs.

Decatur Parks and Recreation prohibits alcohol at these concerts, so published on several occasions in THE DAILY. Two women (possibly a third) and one man started consuming alcoholic beverages as soon as they got their folding table set up at the park. Two of the ladies drank their wine (poured from her black bag) out of their stemmed wineglasses and one was on her third glass by 7 p.m. The odor was offensive when the wind blew from the west. This exhibitionist behavior is totally inappropriate, unacceptable — and prohibited at these family events. We even left early to avoid being on the road with these impaired individuals.

The Decatur Police Department should assist its fellow city departments in making these events the best they can be, by having a presence to prevent a repeat of this distraction to clean family entertainment in the future.

C. Ronald Green


Noise at fairground a nuisance


It seems the fairground has become an open invitation for uncontrolled source of noise.

The city tells me that the fairground is in the city’s jurisdiction, yet the property is alleged to belong to the county. The city issues a noise permit for any activity there. However, they do not have a specified time the “noise” is to be terminated. After checking to see who collects the money for the rent of the fairground, I found out that it costs $1,000 per event. When the gates are opened by the people who rent the fairground, there is no designated time the rent is to terminate.

According to police Chief Joe Gilliam’s secretary, the “noise” could last all night long and there is nothing anyone can do about it. The police don’t have the authority to shut it down, according to the mayor’s secretary, Susan Hood.

The fairground is in District 4 of the city, which is represented by none other than Ronny Russell. We live in District 4. Don’t bother getting in touch with him because he thinks he was elected only to vote to put the city deeper in debt and if you want anything addressed as a nuisance, it’s up to you, the citizen, to contact the mayor’s office. If it’s the citizens’ job, then what is he doing to earn his monthly salary from the city? Obviously, Mr. Russell has forgotten he is supposed to represent the people in his district. That is only the proper protocol. Election time can’t get here soon enough to throw three of these out.

Aaron Potts


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