Letters to the Editor

This is Viewpoints for Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014

Wants cheaper help

Our system of taxation of individual properties is, at best, questionable. First, as taxpayers, we all are wrong in the eyes of the three divisions that prosecute our heroic attempts to be dealt with fairly. The collection division (tax commission) has the most reasonable and knowledgeable public servants. The other two are never wrong.

Living down the street from one of the wealthiest families is very taxing (no pun intended). He is taxed on a $465,000 property valuation. I’m taxed at $269,000. He is not taxed proportionately on 46 acres. One of my neighbors, on a scrub lot, is valued at nearly $1 million. Upon submitting these examples, I purportedly had a value reduction, but since the equalization division (why in God’s name do taxpayers have this unit?) failed to notify me they were not allowing the change. In trying to jump through these hurdles, I ended speaking to five people. The certified letter, I was told by equalization, was returned undeliverable. Rat No. 3. They did not advise the division office. I paid the taxes as presented. Now they want $565 more.

One of these division leaders is paid a measly $160,000, which is equal to a federal judge. Taxpayers, our mayor and commissioners are preparing to ask for a tax increase. I am tired of hearing about the juvenile handling of our tax dollars. We are one of poorest when it comes to median income, yet we pay extremely excessive wages and benefits to county employees.

Let us open all of the positions being paid $100,000 or more for others to offer their services for less.

-- Joe Hubbard

Macon

What did the pope say?

Despite his protestations to the contrary, Dr. Bill Cummings did misquote Pope Francis. There is a clause that precedes “... who am I to judge?” that Cummings left out, and it makes a difference. The pope said, “If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, well, who am I to judge them?” By leaving out the first part of the sentence, Cummings changes the meaning of “... who am I to judge?”

Also, the pope’s comments were being made in response to a question that had been asked by Ilze Scamparini, a journalist for Italian Globo TV, who wanted to know what Pope Francis intended to do about an alleged “gay lobby” at the Vatican. The context in which he spoke -- an answer to a specific question -- has an impact on how we should understand his words.

Later in his reply to Scamparini, the pope continued, “The catechism of the Catholic Church explains this in a very beautiful way, but says, wait a moment, how do you say ... it says, [that] these persons (gays and lesbians) must not be marginalized for this, they must be integrated into society.” Too often those who come out as gay or lesbian are ostracized by their families and friends and thrown out of their churches. In some countries, members of the LGBT community are attacked, imprisoned and tortured. Pope Francis was reminding us of our duty as Christians to respect and love even those who are considered sinners.

-- Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh

Macon

End run?

This week in Savannah, historic preservation professionals and proponents are conferring and celebrating the myriad advantages to saving our country’s historic resources. Macon is very much “in the house” and is being praised for our many successes over the years. I understand we are even being given some awards.

Meanwhile in Macon, our community’s values and its commitment to saving our historic resources are being undermined and eroded once again, this time with the compliance of our local government. After having been denied a demolition permit by Planning and Zoning, Lou Patel, of Warner Robins, maneuvered an end run around the rules and regulations that protect our historic structures and engaged a Savannah engineer to say that the Douglass House was in bad shape and needed to be torn down.

The city agreed to this tactic and, according to a letter from Tom Buttram, director of business and development services, has instructed Patel to either stabilize or demolish the house. That demolition began Friday.

This is the same tactic that was used to assure demolition of Tremont Temple Baptist Church. It is not only patently transparent, but it’s cynical and manipulative and stands in direct defiance to our community’s mandated protections of important historic structures.

As I understand it, a second opinion of the structural integrity of this house was not required, even though a well-qualified local contractor with great experience in rehabilitating older structures, Russell Poss, had inspected the house some months ago and found it a reasonable candidate for restoration. (Pray tell, if the house was in such bad shape, how was it going to be moved just a couple of months ago?)

Make no mistake, this is a defining “line in the sand” moment for Macon. I encourage all residents of Macon to contact their elected representatives and demand that this situation be addressed openly, honestly and fully. This community has too much riding on its reputation of being committed to historic preservation to allow this sort of back-door loss. There is no reason to believe that any historic structure in Macon is safe from the wrecking ball.

-- James H. Webb, president

InTown Macon Neighborhood Association

Religious commentary

I would like to express appreciation for the Rev. Gail T. Smith for her columns in The Telegraph. All of the writers are good in “From the Pulpit,” and I especially enjoy the Rev. Smith and Rabbi Larry Schlesinger.

I also enjoy the Rev. Andy Cook’s humor and stories about his wife and their long romance. I didn’t marry until I was 32 years old, but now my husband and I have had a long romance, so I can relate. Keep on standing in the gap.

-- Susan Ganus

Warner Robins

Pay up

Recently you printed an article about employers’ inability to find skilled employees in Middle Georgia. It’s a shame you only took the employers’ viewpoints. “You get what you pay for” is more appropriate.

Why would any highly skilled craftsmen of any trade stay locally when other employers pay double the wages plus per diem elsewhere? If local employers really want skilled help, they need to pay up or shut up

-- Roger Hicks

Lizella

Veterans Day program

I received an invitation to attend a Veterans Day program at Perdue Elementary School in Houston County on Nov. 10. The program was outstanding, and it was the best Veterans Day program I have ever attended. The students were well informed about the history of defending our country.

During the event, I had the opportunity to visit Kim Blackwell’s second-grade classroom. She is a great teacher with a very clean, neat and well organized classroom. If state leaders are serious about education in Georgia, they should visit and use Perdue Elementary School as a model for a great educational institution.

I would like to thank Principal Andy Payne, Jim Williams and the teachers, students and staff for a wonderful Veterans Day.

-- Druid N. Preston

Macon

Dim future for HBCUs

The bell is tolling for historical black colleges/universities’ sports programs and the universities themselves. Due to lack of interest of blue chip athletes and top academic students to attend HBCUs to play sports (football/basketball), the competitiveness of HBCUs have slowly declined.

Athletes and their parents say, “You can’t make the NFL/NBA if you attend an HBCU. The facilities are inferior, they do not have nutritious programs. They have lower academic standards, so who cares if HBCUs close?” The alumni care, and all African-Americans should care. HBCUs have graduated and continue to graduate professional athletes, doctors, lawyers, engineers, CEOs, politicians and teachers.

If you are not supporting your own HBCU, stop making excuses and just say what you think: Your own isn’t good enough anymore. Without increased enrollment, how can they improve? Higher enrollment creates funds for better facilities, stronger academic programs and scholarship for better athletes.

HBCUs were fine when they were the only game in town. It’s the sports program now, but with the lack of enrollment by top academic students, the next target will be the schools themselves. Every race supports their own with the exception of African-Americans.

-- Charles McGhee

Warner Robins

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