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Letters: No TIFs for retail

Johnson City Press • Dec 30, 2018 at 6:00 AM

Want to have your voice heard? Send a Letter to the Forum. Authors must sign their letters and include addresses and phone numbers for verification. Letters may be no longer than 300 words and will be edited for grammar, style and length. Send your submission to Mailbag, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605-1717 or [email protected].

No TIFs for retail

Even though I am all for utilizing TIF’s to spur development in blighted communities, I couldn’t be more against using TIF’s to incent retail development in any community. Once you do this, you open the door for every prospective retailer to come and ask for assistance, shifting the tax burden away from developers to the many local businesses that are already there.

I have invested in a 150,000 sq. ft. distribution center, built a clearance center and remodeled 70,000 sq. ft. of retail showroom space. Not only did I not ask nor receive any tax relief, my taxes were raised. I donate to most every Washington County school and many other county churches, local charities and service clubs.

I also am a firm believer that anyone building a business must not only invest in facilities, staff and inventory, but it also must invest in its community. Property taxes build schools and roads which benefit every business. Why should some of the businesses pay for this and not others? What are the qualifications to receive such an advantage and what are the determiners that disqualify a business from such an advantage?

Maybe if you have developed a business plan that requires tax relief, you should reconsider the odds of success relating to that business plan. What happens if the development relocates or disappears immediately after the tax relief has expired?

I have also heard that building this distribution center and retail space will add 200 jobs to the community. I have a retail business and distribution center a lot larger than what is proposed, and I employ 50 people. I think our county commission is on the receiving end of a sales pitch and I will simply have to trust they can see through the fluff and consider the merits or lack of merits.

SCOTT BOWMAN
Johnson City

Don’t let China’s treatment of Muslims go unchecked

One thing I love about living in Northeast Tennessee is that I am surrounded by people who value the common humanity we all share as people created in the image of God. With this in mind, people should be aware of human rights abuses perpetrated by China on Muslim minority groups, especially in Xinjiang Province.

China has detained over one million Muslims in “re-education camps,” which are really concentration camps, and the few who have emerged tell stories of torture, starvation and death. People can find themselves imprisoned for simply reciting an Islamic verse at a funeral, or calling a child who is in school abroad. Recently we learned China is using these people as forced labor, and some goods are finding their way to Western markets. Chinese President Xi Jinping has launched this new “cultural revolution” to stamp out religion and force people to place their faith in the communist party alone. He also seeks to control intellectual thought — even direct such thought himself.

Sound crazy? Perhaps, but China has done this before, during the Great Leap Forward (1958-62) and the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), when an estimated 40-50 million were killed. But we still have time to act before China’s cultural genocide against Muslims turns into actual genocide. Write your representatives and urge them to demand any deal the Trump administration negotiates with China requires Beijing to close these camps. Write to retailers, and demand that products made in these camps not be sold in their stores. Boycott all products that are linked to China, and write the Chinese Embassy and explain why.

We always say “never again” in response to such crimes against humanity: the Holocaust, Rwanda and Bosnia. Let’s be proactive this time, and finally get it right.

GAIL HELT
Bristol, Tenn.

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