The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

March 31, 2013

Letters to the Editor 3/31/13


The News Courier

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 adam@athensnews-courier.com.

Bill won’t aid students

Dear Editor:

   In reading the Alabama Accountability Act of 2013, (HB 84), aka School Flexibility Bill, aka, The Private School Voucher Act, I did not see any commitment to the failing students in Alabama’s Public Schools. In my opinion, the only thing that is really guaranteed is that certain students can move from one school to another and that money will be siphoned, without limit, from tax dollars intended for the public schools.

The legislation will do little if anything to improve education overall. However, it will diminish the public schools’ ability to adequately serve their students.

I think that the above legislation is “helter-skelter” and that the social engineers that passed it intended it to be so. Being somewhat familiar with their character, I do not trust that the leading Republicans are all that concerned with helping every student in Alabama but rather are more interested in enhancing their own political and financial careers. But I would have been impressed by their honesty if they had not resorted to subterfuge and disbanded the public schools outright. Then they could create things in their own image as they will continue to do through their copious and haughty legislation.

Sincerely,

William R. Graham

Athens

HB84 will hurt schools

Dear Editor:

Attention: Education stakeholders in Athens and Limestone County

HB84 will hurt our local schools because every penny for every tax credit for families and corporate scholarship programs comes out of the Education Trust Fund. There will be less money for all public schools in Alabama, failing or not.

We are told this bill benefits the poor children of Alabama, but most private schools cost more than the $3,500 tax credit and the poorest families do not have the money to pay the tuition up front in order to claim the tax credit. It will not benefit them. But it could benefit families who already have children in private schools since there is nothing in the bill to prevent them from forming scholarship programs or corporations to give their own children scholarships.

Students with disabilities who transfer from failing schools to private schools are still entitled to receive services from the public school they leave at the expense of the school. Since the public school will lose its federal funding for this student, the cost of these services will be borne by the local school system. So the private school gets the tuition money without having to provide the services.

There are five criteria to identify failing schools and only one has to be met for a school to be labeled “failing.” They were not created by either the state department of education, the state superintendent, or the state school board. They were created by the Legislature.

One way to qualify as a failing school is to be on a list of low-performing schools on the SDE Improvement Grant Application of 2008-2009. This list is four years old and some schools have improved and should not be on that list today.

Schools who are in the lowest 10 percent of public K-12 schools on the standardized assessment in reading and math will qualify as a failing school. This ensures that there will always be failing schools even if all schools meet and exceed state standards, because there’s always a bottom 10 percent.

The superintendent of education, the state school board, the Alabama Association of School Boards, CLASS, and the Alabama Education Association all believe this bill is going to hurt all public schools in Alabama.

So who really benefits from HB84?  To answer that question, we’ll just have to follow the money.

Sincerely,

Donna McDaniel

Athens

Marriage issue shouldn’t have to ‘percolate’

Dear Editor:

“Let’s percolate the idea until it’s constitutional.”

Percolate: Verb: Spread gradually through an area or group of people.

A divided Supreme Court debated Tuesday same-sex marriage and suggested the issue be allowed to “percolate” in the states before the Supreme Court steps in. This idea concludes the failure of this court to rationally apply the Constitution to legal questions. Percolation is the modus of progressives and social engineers who believe in incrementalism, allowing their ideas to percolate or infiltrate and “spread gradually through an area or group of people” until society is indifferent to the changes.

Questions of constitutional law do not percolate into existence, or should I say they must not percolate into law. The Constitution is the law at the time of ratification; and as any law is constructed by original intent and original source. Changing the Constitution is not thru percolation or thru some form of evolutional life as determined by nine appointed judges.

The most heated exchange came when Justice Antonin Scalia asked when the Constitution began ensuring equal marriage rights. “I’m curious, when did it become unconstitutional to exclude homosexual couples from marriage? 1791? 1868, when the 14th Amendment was adopted?” he asked.

Even though a fan of Justice Scalia I wonder where marriage is found in the Constitution.  Well look no further than Article I Section 8 Clause 1 … that’s correct, the power to tax. Marriage is a member of the tax code and here is the root of our problem and perhaps the solution. Marriage has tax advantages and benefits not available to the unwed.

Is the marriage tax law perhaps unconstitutional? The 14th Amendment provides that “no person or class of persons shall be denied the same protection of the laws that is enjoyed by other persons or other classes ...” Maybe it’s time for the federal government to withdraw from the marriage business and leave that institution or Sacrament of the Covenant to God where it belongs. Contracts, partnerships and power of attorneys provide the states responsibility and offer the protection of assets.

“The power to tax is the power to destroy,” wrote John Marshall, 194 year ago … the sacrament of marriage is God’s law, demand our First Amendment rights that protects the right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression from government interference, demand marriage is an institution of God and is protected by the Constitution.

Sincerely,

Rex Davis

Athens

Social Security confusion

Dear Editor:

There seems to be some confusion about Social Security. When SS began, the retirement age was 65 and life expectancy was 62. Very few people lived long enough to draw it. Now, life expectancy is 78. The baby boomers are now retiring and too few babies are being born to replace them. Soon, we will have two people working and paying into SS for each person drawing it.

There is no surplus in SS. All the money paid in today is being spent today on retirees. The reason? The government has “borrowed” (and spent) the money in the SS Trust Fund. If the government would just pay the money back, everything would be fine. No, the government already owes $17 trillion not counting what it owes SS.

The government collects $2.5 trillion each year and spends $3.5 trillion. The debt will be $20 trillion by the time Obama leaves office. Actually, the “government” doesn’t owe anything. We, the taxpayers, owe all that money. Would you like to pay your share? Each family of 4 owes $130 thousand. Think of it this way. Your family earns $25K per year and spends $35K per year. But you owe $170K. To solve this problem, you would probably start spending a lot less?

So, how does the government get this debt under control? We can’t quit spending, because congress is addicted to spending and the people who don’t pay taxes would still want their “free stuff.” We could tax “the rich” at 100 percent and that wouldn’t even dent the problem. It would also only work for one year, because the rich would move out of the country or stop earning and hiring people.

A recent writer to this page said Bernie Sanders is the only one telling the truth. Bernie Sanders is a professed socialist (communist) and is a liar. He wants our form of government to fail so we can be like China and Cuba. In his world, the government would own everything and would tell us when and where to work and live.

Our system has lots of problems, but at least we still have some freedom left. It is scary when people start agreeing with a communist.

Sincerely,

Bruce Wilson

Athens

Sheriff and gun control

Dear Editor:

On Sunday’s front page (March 17) the sheriff blasts new proposed legislation to protect handgun owners’ rights to “keep and bear arms.”  So why is the sheriff mystified?  Because this would require him to have proof that someone is not eligible to have a concealed carry permit.  If you read the sheriff’s handbook for concealed carry you will discover the various reasons someone is not eligible: a felony offense, drunkenness, drug addiction, dishonorable discharge from the military, court adjudged mental deficiency, U.S. citizen who has renounced citizenship, alien, in the U.S. unlawfully, conviction for Gun Control Act violation, or a person who is not deemed suitable or proper by the sheriff.  Note that this requires no proof to support why a permit is denied if none of the other restrictions fit the individual.  

The proposed legislation simply requires that the sheriff have documented proof to deny a concealed carry permit. That seems reasonable. Just like a deputy needing a search warrant before he can search you or your property.  

The sheriff says  “this law will allow good folks a wide range to carry anywhere (I say this is a good thing) and allow those with mental illness, thugs, outlaws and gang members without criminal records or recent convictions wide range to carry anywhere.”  So does he really believe that thugs and outlaws will not carry concealed handguns without a permit just because it is the law?  This sounds just like Harry Reid, Joe Biden, and Barack Obama.  Well, I guess that fits since he is a Democrat.  

Just add new gun control laws and we’ll all be safer. Right. Millions of law-abiding Americans carry guns every day and never shoot or threaten anyone. Criminals will carry handguns no matter what the law says.  

The sheriff’s own Pistol Permit Policy quotes the Second Amendment “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”  Yet he is concerned that he will be required to show proof to deny a concealed carry permit.  So you tell me that our Limestone sheriff is a “lifelong 2nd Amendment supporter.”  I say he is just another Democrat following the lead of the president he supports.

Sincerely,

Gary Wilson

Capshaw

Thanks for support

Dear Editor:

On Friday, March 22, 2013, 1,002 Limestone County, Athens City, Athens Bible School, & LLCA fourth-graders traveled to Athens State University for the 15th Annual Groundwater Festival.  This year’s theme, “Peace, Love, & Clean Drinking Water” set the perfect tone for the students to learn about water resources and conservation through various hands-on activities.  Steve Trash was also on-hand to entertain students and teachers alike with his “green” magic show.

Many people were involved with organizing this event.  We would like to express our thanks to the following: Athens State University, for the use of their facility; Tena Bullington, Tina Hicks, Mary Harris and her students for being involved in the classroom activities,  and Dwight Lovell and his support staff ; Groundwater Festival Committee Leads — Brenda Wigginton, Ashley Wallace, Candace Powers, Rachel Haraway, Bryan Smith, Tammy Smith, Brent Brown, Matt Wilson, Dickey Kennedy & Byron Cook; Sissy Brown for photography; Rob Cook-H2O Man; LCWSA employees for teaching the classes and all those who volunteered as teachers, tour guides, runners, and helpers for the festival.  Your time and effort is much appreciated.

Finally, we would like to extend a special thanks to our sponsors without whom this event would not be possible.  The Groundwater Festival is provided free of charge to all students and it is our sponsors that continue to make this possible.  This year’s sponsors were ADEM, AMRV, Limestone County Soil and Water Conservation District, Mike Cole-Wilmer & Lee, P.A., Limestone County Water & Sewer Authority, Hethcoat & Davis, ALFA-Limestone County Farmers Federation, Athens State University, CDPA, P.C., Limestone Cattlemen’s Association, Helena Chemicals, Trigreen Equipment, Limestone County CO-OP, 1st South Farm Credit, Alabama Farm Credit, Eagle Wholesale, A & L Vault, H & R Agri Power, Inc., 1st National Bank, H & D Supply, Sanders Agriculture, Thornton Farish Inc., Investment Bankers, Sundry Printing, Greenbriar Restaurant, Chick-fil-A, Pepsi, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Quiznos and Krystals.

We hope to continue making the festival a fun and educational event for our county’s children for many years to come. Again, thank you to all those who were involved in making the festival a success.  If you are interested in learning more about the Groundwater Festival or becoming a sponsor please email gholland@lcwsa.com or ‘like’ us on Facebook under the Limestone County Groundwater Festival.

Sincerely,

Greg Holland, coordinator

Limestone County Groundwater Festival