Letters to the Editor

This is Viewpoints for Friday, June 5, 2015

Danger to democracy

We should strive to make voting easier and more accessible, not harder. My friends, read closely, and read carefully. The Macon-Bibb County Board of Elections’ proposal to eliminate voting precincts is bad for Macon-Bibb and bad for our democracy. It is my opinion, that the board is threatening the voting rights of Macon’s citizens under the guise of financial responsibility. The Macon-Bibb County Board of Elections proposal may indeed save the city a few extra dollars, however, in doing so, it targets those whose voices must be heard most in our community. This action represents an uninformed department exploiting the poorest residents of our city in order to benefit some other unnamed objective.

The Macon-Bibb County Board of Elections cites low voter participation and cost of staffing at polling locations as reasons to consolidate. These are both valid and indisputable concerns that Macon-Bibb has encountered in recent elections and must be addressed. However, I suggest we explore a route that both saves taxpayer money and also brings voting to the front door of voters across the county.

Mail-in voting has proven to be a safe, cost-efficient alternative to traditional voting methods and should be an option that the Macon-Bibb County Board of Elections is willing to explore. Having spent several months on the ground in Colorado working on election efforts for former U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, and Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock, I witnessed firsthand the power of an all mail-in ballot election and its impact.

This method allows voters the chance to receive their ballot several weeks before an election deadline and review their options from the convenience of their own home. Many voters would greatly benefit from two extra weeks to review their ballot in its entirety, identifying candidates they agree or disagree with, and researching complex issues that require clarification. A vote by mail option also would alleviate the long lines that are symptomatic of last minute voting on Election Day by giving Maconites several weeks to return their ballots.

Mail-in voting is enormously effective in boosting voter participation and would be accessible to all voting residents of Macon, regardless of class, race or proximity to a distant polling location. There are no losers in this voting method. It expands participation in our democracy to nontraditional families, the impoverished, the overworked or simply those who have never voted by providing a flexible alternative.

This is a solution -- ensuring everyone has an opportunity for their voices to be heard. What the board of elections is offering is dangerous and detrimental to the fabric our democracy. And for that very reason, I must state my disapproval and strongly oppose this proposal.

-- Danny D. Glover


‘Double standard’

The University of Georgia Student Organization Achievement and Recognition (SOAR) has recently recognized The Black Male Leadership Society as “Organization of the Year.”

This organization’s purpose is to support and encourage just black males. Can you imagine that UGA would even consider granting a charter to a white only support group much less setting them up for special recognition? Can you say “double standard”?

-- Cary S. Baxter


What do they know?

I’m really getting tired of reading articles from politicians or anybody else wanting the minimum wage raised to $12 or $15 dollars an hour. How many politicians, including our president, have risked their own money to start a business, manage it and meet a payroll? Not many. They’re too busy spending other peoples money.

According to the Small and Medium Business Benchmark Survey, the No. 1 concern that keeps small business owners up at night is expenses eating into profits. Companies with fewer than 10 employees spend over two-thirds of their total expenses on staffing, including compensation, incentives, health care and workers compensation, while companies with more than 10 employees spend over half of expenses on it. So if business owners are forced to use more of the companies profits to increase their biggest expense, what will they do? What would you do?

Why is it that we allow politicians who have never risked their capital to start a business to tell business owners how much they need to pay their employees? Especially when they have driven this country into so much debt our grandchildren won’t be able to pay it off. Are these the people that need to be telling business owners how to run their businesses? One size doesn’t fit all. The owners of the business don’t need politicians in Washington telling them how much to pay their employees.

-- Cary Beck


Leading the state -- again

Macon has led the state in pedestrian deaths per 100,000 population for at least the last three years, and sadly, Wednesday afternoon on Pio Nono Avenue, there was another pedestrian death. On Feb. 24, 2013, there was a pedestrian death also on this stretch of Pio Nono about 1,200 feet south of this latest accident. Pio Nono is another of our five-lane and three-lane, high speed roads that were built for cars and they are unsafe for pedestrians and bicyclists. The nearest crosswalk to both of these accidents was over 1,200 feet. Until we have the political will to retrofit our existing unsafe roads into complete street designs -- which are safe for cars, bicyclists and pedestrians -- our community will continue to suffer these avoidable deaths. If we can build safer and more cost-effective roads for cars, pedestrians and bicyclists, why haven’t we, why aren’t we, and why won’t we?

An online comment offered some inaccurate or misleading information to The Telegraph’s story: “in Atlanta the police have started issuing citations to [sic] anyone caught walking across roadways with no crosswalk .... good for the city of Atlanta ... Macon needs to start that.” It is perfectly legal to cross a roadway anywhere in Georgia and not use a crosswalk, whether there is one nearby or not, provided that the point of crossing is not controlled or bordered (key words) by the two nearest signalized intersections, meaning there are no other intersections between the two signalized ones. The law is easily misunderstood, but more information is here: http://peds.org/campaigns/walk-smart-drive-smart/pedestrian-rights-and-responsibilities/

Without accurate information as to the causative factors of our state’s highest pedestrian death rate, the problem will never be solved.

-- Lee Martin


The rackets

Looks like DA David Cooke has again successfully extorted money out of local businesses using racketeering charges and civil asset forfeiture laws. He’s getting better at it, too. He got a cool million this time in contrast to the paltry $175,000 from the last shakedown. I think it’s fair to say he’s running a racketeering racket.

-- Matt Dykes


Capture for the future

“The Telegraph” ran a correction on June 3, stating: “In the May 27 Sun News, Jackie Edward’s last name was incorrect in the Q and A about the book, ‘Vanished Towns Revisited: Crawford County and Byron, Georgia.’ Please allow me to inform the reader about Edwards. Being the member of a prominent Byron family, the Hays, Edwards is Byron’s foremost historian who possesses an encyclopedic recall of historic events and personages. The Byron portion of the referenced history book was dedicated to Jackie Edwards. The Peach County library system would be farsighted to capture for future generations the historical information Edwards has already documented.

-- Billy Powell

Fort Valley