Letter to the Editor

Citizen Forum

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Partisanship hurts all of us

Every Friday evening the PBS Newshour has a feature with two very smart newspaper men, Shields and Brooks. Brooks is the conservative of the two. This Friday, he made an observation that really struck home with me. He said that ever since the era of Newt Gingrich, the Republicans have focused on taking things away from people. He could not recall a substantive Republican issue that was an effort to make average citizens’ lives better. I said to Suzanne “That’s exactly it.” They have become all about eliminating so-called entitlements, restricting voting rights, restricting immigration, defunding or underfunding protective agencies, etc, etc. What happened? The Republicans used to be bullish on Russia. Now they speak publicly about their own constituents, Democrats, liberals and progressives the way they used to speak of Russia, as the enemy. Indeed we are the new “Evil Empire.” They would have eaten everyone in the Trump campaign and administration alive not that long ago. It is heartening to see them balking at Trump’s push to get rid of the detestable Jeff Sessions, not because he is detestable but because he followed the rule of law by somewhat recusing himself from the Russia investigations, this, in his effort to get rid of the special prosecutor. But they are also reticent about getting those involved in the Republican president’s unquestionable collusion with Russia to testify in public.

Friday, my reps had no comment on Trump’s edict about transgenders being booted out of the military. Womack’s staffer assured me that he was supporting taking funding away from transgender medical treatments in the upcoming budget. Yep, let’s take something else away. How far right can the Republican pendulum swing? At this point they have surely swung themselves right out of office.

Trump’s hard-core supporters didn’t care whether he buddied up to the white supremacists or the extreme religious right and I doubt they care about Russia either. They wanted revenge on those who had the nerve to elect a black president twice and if our democracy burns down, so what. We now have to determine whether our president was so anxious to win that he solicited and took help from our adversary or if he is just so stupid that he allowed them to manipulate him so as to weaken us with the ensuing chaos. We certainly have been reeling from the incredible incompetency, lies and mental illness in the White House and that may burn down this current version of the Republican Party, so what. Both parties need shaking up. I hope that this turmoil does not make the Democrats smug. They have been a huge letdown as well. They are big on platitudes but it is also a top-down party and they still answer to the same big money contributors that they have for so long.

— Mark Eastburn

Correcting an error

Last night at the city council meeting I made a public comment about revisiting the water/sewer rates.  I now realize that I made an error in my third point about bond payments.  I said that the bond payment “will far exceed the cash reserve.”  This statement is not true.

In my preparation, I compared the 2017 bond payments of $349,920 to the 2016 comparative bank balances cash reserves of $193,907 which I obtained from the 2016 budget printed on Feb. 16, 2017.  I was quite surprised when I heard the finance director report that the end-of-year cash reserves for 2016 were $599,576. I went back and checked the small print on my copy to find that it reported cash reserves as of July 2016, not as of the end of the year.   Apparently, the last five months of 2016 added $405,669 to the cash reserve, making it quite capable of covering the 2017 bond payments.  

My first two points, about the unfairness of the “Infrastructure and Improvement Fee” and the excessiveness of water rates that are 144 percent greater than expenses, were not affected by the error in my third point.

I continue to urge the city council to study, understand and deal with these sewer/water rate inequities and problems in a proactive way. You can do this by putting these issues on your agenda now and keeping it there until you create a water/sewer commission who will keep on top of these issues for you. 

— Eric Knowles

Everyone should serve

In 1937, the year of my birth, my guru Eleanor Roosevelt wrote: “…fascism frankly states [that] certain people will tell other people what they shall do to be happy and those people have nothing or little to say about it.”

Also, she wrote in her daily column My Day about the anti-Semitic and Fascist Father Charles E. Coughlin who spewed hatred via radio and had a 200,000 white working-class following who planned to overthrow the government by force, the elimination of the Jews and the installing of a dictator. Of his “Christian Front,” she said: “How strangely muddled in their thinking people of this kind must be, or else how easily they must be led by people who can make them think whatever they desire.”

Well, the Italian dictator and Fascist tyrant Benito Mussolini, Hitler’s friend, forbade Italy’s newspapers to run anything written by Mrs. Roosevelt. The Catholic priest Father Coughlin continued spreading horrid lies about her and the New Deal.

Unfortunately, things have not fundamentally changed. The right-wing media Fox News, some radio commentators and some churches continue to spread falsehoods and justify budding Fascism. Mrs. Roosevelt wondered how people who called themselves “Christians” could be so full of hate.

I wonder, in 2017, how people who call themselves “Christians” could consistently support an egotistical bully like Trump who recently decided to ban all transgender people from serving in the military. I know the Bible verses the fundamentalists cherry-pick to justify their hatred. Lies. I have heard their justifications for discrimination. Lies, their fear of LGBTQ people. Lies, their obsession with public bathrooms. Lies, their deceitful words — “I don’t hate gay people, I just hate what they do.” All lies.

Eleanor Roosevelt admonished us to look at a person’s actions, not the words. I agree, but I would add that hate-filled words often encourage other haters to carry out actions against those they so gleefully hate.

I am not fond of any military because violence and war never solved any problem; however, I do understand why young people go into the U.S. military to get training, to have a place to live and  three meals a day, to have a purpose and to do something for their country.  If a person is trained and able, she/ he should be allowed to serve in the military.

Even fundamentalist Christians should be allowed to serve.

— Trella Laughlin