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Wasted taxpayer money, speeding drivers, constitutional rights and more in Wednesday's Forum

Staff Report • Sep 6, 2013 at 8:22 AM

First, thank you to the Johnson City Press for keeping fundraising for a new animal shelter in the forefront for the readers. When the private campaign consultants told the Johnson City Press that public perception was key, they were correct. The public perception is that $60,000 is being wasted in the one year contract with this firm.That’s $60,000 of taxpayers’ money that would be better spent on building the new animal shelter. I found it humorous when Derric Bakker bragged that for every dollar of taxpayers’ money paid to his firm, they have raised $13 in donations. The fact is in four months they have found a total of eight donors, or two per month. Definitely not worth bragging about. These eight donors are probably the same ones that promised to donate before the private company was hired. I would like to know which businesses in Washington County have been contacted about this fundraising. I know the company I work for hasn’t been contacted. It is also past time that Washington County government steps up as Johnson City has done and makes a real donation to a project that will benefit it as well. Maybe if we got rid of most of the 25 county commissioners the county would have more money to contribute. That’s a subject for another time.ALAN MAUTNERJonesboroughPolar regionsRon McCarley’s letter of Aug. 18 invites an important lesson about Earth’s polar regions. They aren’t the same; they’re mostly opposites. Antarctica is a continent, 90 percent of which is covered by very thick ice year round. The continent extends far from the South Pole, and both wind and water currents circle it because of its elevation. It is the highest, driest, windiest and coldest continent. Meanwhile, the Arctic Region is an ocean — wind and water currents travel across the region as would be expected with pressure differences and wind belt patterns.Furthermore, as open water covers the region instead of ice, a change in “albedo” (how much reflection occurs from different kinds of surfaces) occurs. Dark areas absorb energy (re-radiating heat over time) whereas light surfaces reflect light and therefore absorb less heat. Open water is “dark,” absorbing much more heat than an ice-covered surface would have (even though its temperature is still close to 32 degrees Fahrenheit.). Surface waters will refreeze each winter, of course, but new ice is thinner than the ice that was several to many years old that covered the Arctic Ocean until recently. New (thin) ice will likely melt away again in summer if conditions continue to warm.This is called “polar amplification” of the warming climate. It’s a major reason changes in the Arctic are covered by the media.Regarding Antarctic sea ice expansion: The amount of sea ice around Antarctica varies and is being measured, but the geography of the Southern Hemisphere is very different from that of the Northern Hemisphere (continents’ positions and ocean currents). In addition to the heat issue, more open water in the Arctic contributes significant amounts of evaporation, affecting potential snowfall amounts in the Northern Hemisphere in winter. This is also why it warrants so much media attention.CAROL LANDISJohnson CityTeach cursive writingI think cursive writing should continue to be taught in schools. I’m sure there is not enough time to dwell on perfect shaping of letters, but everyone still needs to know how to write and how to read it. Hopefully the wonderful habit of handwriting a personal note will not completely disappear from our culture. To find an old letter, handwritten by someone dear to you, brings back fond memories of one who cared enough to express their thoughts in their own handwriting.GIGI McCOLLUMJohnson CityConstitutional rightsYour guest commentary about North Carolina rushing to make voting more difficult is not attributed to any author, and I can guess why. The last sentence of the commentary is as follows: “Buying nasal congestive medicine is not a constitutional right. Voting is.” The U.S. Constitution never explicitly ensures the right to vote to the citizens. There is no U.S. constitutional “right to vote.” Nowhere in the Constitution is it stated that all citizens have a right to vote. The states are left to determine who is allowed to vote and what qualifiers they must meet to be able to cast a vote. The federal government can only work to insure that the states restrictions on who can vote are fair and not discriminatory. The various states require citizens to positively identify themselves for all kinds of reasons. Why not require the same from potential voters? It is upsetting to frequently read articles in the newspapers that misrepresent the Constitution.RICHARD PARSHALLUnicoiSpeeding driversI am concerned for the safety of drivers traveling on West Mountain View Road and the section of West Oakland Avenue near my home. There have been countless occasions where drivers traveling at high rates of speed have almost wrecked traveling on these roads. Also, I have witnessed a number of reckless drivers running off the side of the road and swerving in and out of yards including our own. If travelers continue to do so, they could end up running through a home or causing serious damage to someone’s property. It is getting to the point where I fear someone is going to be speeding and ending up as the next subject in a fatal traffic accident story on the 11 o’clock news. I strongly encourage our city commissioners to consider adding a few speed bumps along West Mountain View and West Oakland. Without the installation of these much needed speed bumps, drivers are going to continue on with their same reckless driving. It is a crying shame when a resident has to fear day after day that someone is either going to wreck in their yard, damage their property, or possibly crash into their home.I would hate for a person to fatally crash along one of these roads due to their reckless driving, but it seems like a very strong possibility as long as drivers are able to continue traveling like they have been. With these speed bumps, drivers would be forced to slow down which could very well save their lives.KOBY FRANKLINJohnson CitySatire lost on tea partyThe only problem with Robert Houk’s column in Aug. 25 is that most tea partiers seem not to recognize satire. I am told that many of them actually believe that Stephen Colbert is one of them.If only they were knowledgeable about our nation’s history, they would know that it would not exist without compromise. The Constitution itself was a massive compromise for the members of the Constitutional Convention. It is the current failure on the part of Congress to accept compromise that is a very real threat to the future of our democracy.JEAN CULP FLANIGANJohnson City

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