The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

March 18, 2012

Letters to the Editor 3/18/12

The News Courier

— Letters policy

The News Courier encourages letters to the editor. Submissions should be no more than 400 words and should include a name, address and telephone number for verification. Submissions that do not meet requirements are subject to editing. Send letters by noon on Thursdays to P.O. Box 670, Athens, AL, 35613, or email to

Abortion argument stunk

Dear Editor: 

The Courier’s Sunday, March 3, reprinting of the Montgomery Advertiser’s abortion legislation article and the arguments (I use the term loosely) contained within are so thinly veiled that I had to laugh at its ridiculousness. 

The crux of the author’s “argument” against abortion legislation is that a provision of the bill would require abortion providers to perform an ultrasound so that the woman can make an informed decision before proceeding with the abortion. According to the opinions  — presented-as-facts in this lopsided article, the ultrasound is “invasive.”  Really?!?  So, exactly, how invasive does the author think an abortion will be?

Having worked for an OB-GYN as well as having two children of my own, I can say that even the transvaginal transducer ultrasound is less invasive than the reproductive process by which children are conceived. Intrusive … give me a break. 

The truth is that a large percentage of women who see their unborn child on ultrasound or see/hear the heartbeat choose to carry the child to term. Oh, heaven’s above, if a mother should decide to carry her child and then keep/adopt it after the fact. I don’t know why hard-lined abortion advocates (not people who think the service should be available, but those who take it as a personal affront when someone chooses not to have an abortion) try to pretend they are on a moral high ground defending the rights of the downtrodden women of America. A true reproductive rights activist should be just as pleased that a woman had the opportunity to make an informed decision no matter what her decision turned out to be.

The article’s author went onto try to paint a picture of women up in arms, I’m assuming with N.O.W. signs, against the Republican Party if this bill passes, even scaring their husband’s into submission by swaying them in their exercise to vote.

Gimme a break. This article stunk from an agenda from the first syllable to the last period. Period.  


J.E. Ford


Economy demands accountability

Dear Editor:

Having had profit and loss responsibility for several corporations, I have had experience in developing and approving multi-million dollar budgets.  Our city officials have similar responsibilities, but with less control over the generation of revenues to offset the expenses of serving a city like Athens.

Athens has many organizations that are supported by special interest groups that want and or get city funds allocated to them.  A real world example is the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism group.  You cannot justify funding based upon “market research” reporting without solid data regarding why the funds are necessary and a clear plan for the use of the funds. 

For example, the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism personnel have not done extensive polling and questioning of out-of-town and out-of-state visitors regarding where they are from, where they are going, the purpose of their trip, and what would attract them to Athens.  This would seem very basic to any plan and how to be able to meet the needs/desires of visitors. Yet, amazingly, it has never been done in depth! 

Why don’t all retail businesses, in Athens, remain open, on Monday and Thursday evenings, as other cities have done, in the past, to increase sales and tax revenues?  This will become critical with the incursion of new retail businesses in west Madison and along county line road. Again, where is the Chamber’s leadership?

There should be in depth justification before any funds are allocated other than just the desire for money to implement the special interest desires and salaries of “directors” of something that is redundant or unnecessary. 

Many organizations response for detailed funding allocation reports  have either not delineated expenditures or that it was based upon salaries, but no comment showing  how funds had directly benefited citizens. Our City Council has several members that really want to make the most efficient use of taxpayer funds, but not just dole out funds for the sake of giving out taxpayer dollars.

The “market research” project by Athens State students will not be the final, decision making answer. It will be one piece of the final overall financial plan. Our economy demands accountability!


Quentin D. Anderson Sr.


Disagree with letter

Dear Editor:

My letter is in response to the Athens News Courier "Letter to the Editor" written by former vice chairman of the Limestone County Republican Party, Randy Smeenk.

Randy Smeenk stated that it is civic duty to inform the voting public of some moral and ethical issues surrounding two Limestone County Republican candidates. I am publicly stating that Randy Smeenk's statement couldn't be further from the truth and I totally disagree with him.

The two members who Randy named are our present chairman and present vice chair of the local Republican Party. The reason Mr. Smeenk feels they are unethical is they voted to lower candidate qualification fees. If lowering the fees was morally or ethically wrong, the entire Limestone executive committee is equally guilty. The Limestone Republican Executive Committee voted unanimously to lower  candidate qualification fees to open the door to more candidates.

Furthermore, in respect to our two members who Randy Smeenk is choosing to slam and lie about. Our new chairman, Ronnie Coffman has been a loyal member of the Republican Party before it was "cool". Our new vice chairman, Rex Davis, (who I might add, replaced Randy Smeenk), has worked tirelessly for the Limestone Republican Party and if anyone deserves to hold office as a local Republican, it's these two men.

Randy Smeenk also has a problem with the fact that each candidate holds a recently elected position in the Limestone County Republican Executive Committee while running for public office and said it is ethically and morally wrong.  

In my opinion Randy Smeenk is a sore loser and will do anything he can to harm the sitting committee members of the local Republican Party.

During the time Randy Smeenk held the position of vice chair he did everything he could to run the tea party members out of the Republican executive committee.  I am one of those tea party patriots who he turned his wrath upon. If you do not totally agree with Randy Smeenk you are on his hit list.

Last but not least, Randy Smeenk's statement, “We need candidates with strong moral and ethical character representing us at all levels. Let us start this process now, by electing highly qualified individuals for public office.” This is one statement I can agree with Randy Smeenk on. All the Republican candidates that I am aware of, including Ronnie Coffman and Rex Davis, are respectful and upstanding citizens of Limestone County.


Deborah King


Letter was incorrect

Dear Editor:

As a sitting member of the Limestone County Republican Executive Committee (LCREC), I feel obligated to address the charges made by our former vice chairman Randy Smeenk in his letter to the News Courier dated March 11, 2012.

Mr. Smeenk alleged that our current chairman, Ronnie Coffman, and vice chairman, Rex Davis, had used their LCREC positions for personal and financial gain. The basis for this charge was that the LCREC had taken the action to reduce the qualifying fee for candidates for the 2012 elections, in which both Mr. Coffman and Mr. Davis are participating.  He likewise made the charge that it was “morally and ethically wrong” for those holding leadership positions in the LCREC to run for public office, and that the reduction in qualifying fees would “unfairly and significantly reduce financial assistance available to all Republican candidates in Limestone County as they move into the fall general election”.

Mr. Smeenk’s information is incorrect and needs clarification.

No. 1. The change in qualifying fees was approved by the entire membership of the LCREC unanimously.  We believed as a committee that the reduction in fees would encourage potential candidates to run who might have decided otherwise due to the qualifying fees being cost-prohibitive.

No. 2. Mr. Coffman and Mr. Davis are not the first LCREC officers to ever run for office. Even if they were, I personally don’t see a problem with this practice.  The officers of the LCREC are the ones on the front lines communicating the values and ideals of the Republican Party, and are exactly the type of people we want as candidates. 

No. 3. The change in qualifying fees is not reducing the financial assistance available to Republican candidates for the elections this fall in any way. Three of the five races have no Democratic opposition and no fall campaign to fund. A fourth race has the qualifying fees set by the state rather than the local party.  The fifth race had no Primary since there was only one declared candidate.

In conclusion, while Mr. Smeenk may have problems with the way the LCREC handled the qualifying fees for this election, in no way does it approach the level of being “morally and ethically wrong.” His portrayal of the situation unnecessarily damages the reputations of not only the two individuals in question but the Republican Party of Limestone County as a whole.


Vic Schiavone