Hiring and rewarding local school superintendent was the right thing to do
I commend the Hamilton County Board of Education for giving Superintendent Rick Smith a raise and a four-year contract. He is much more qualified than either of the previous out-of-town, imported "suitcase" superintendents were when they were hired and given raises.
I believe, and I hope the board believes, that local people and businesses deserve consideration and preference for all government jobs and contracts.
Superintendent Smith still doesn't make as much as the two previous school leaders, but the board has made a statement, and I believe they will make every effort to give teachers a well-deserved raise.
DON LOFTIS, Soddy-Daisy
Complete Streets the best choice
This August, Memphis, Tenn., will be recognized by the National Complete Streets Coalition, a national leader for active transportation, for adopting the country's 500th Complete Streets policy. Complete Streets policies work to ensure that all streets are safe for all types of transportation and connect people to where they live, work, play and go to school.
The Safe Routes to School National Partnership, Tennessee Network, is inviting Mayor Berke to join the nationwide movement and champion Complete Streets in Chattanooga. Complete Streets policies benefit the health of communities, making active transportation the easy choice. Businesses grow from these policies, because they improve safety by providing dedicated facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists and help make it safer for our children to walk, bike and be more physically active. Active kids do better in school, making Complete Streets an important strategy for Safe Routes to School programs.
The Safe Routes to School National Partnership, Tennessee Network, stands ready to assist you in your efforts to make Chattanooga a healthier place to live.
CHRISTY J. SMITH
Crutinize Clinton to learn abilities
Now let me see if I've got this correct -- in 2008 Barack Obama was running for president and the statement we kept hearing was "The time has come to have a black president." Not "Let's see if he has the experience and qualifications for this job," but the color of is skin was enough for him to run and be elected.
Looking ahead to the next presidential election in 2016, we've already begun hearing, "it's time for a woman to be president." Not if she would be a good president but she's a woman, so let's elect Clinton!
We didn't look too closely into Obama's abilities and experiences to become president, and has he done the job we were all expecting and hoping for? Certainly not what I was hoping for. So let's look closely at Clinton's abilities and job performance as secretary of state before we cast our votes. Oh, wait, wait, "What difference at this point does it make"? Maybe that could be her slogan!
U.S. tax burden not the problem
We are experiencing virtually jobless economic recoveries, our infrastructure is in serious deterioration, higher education is becoming increasingly unaffordable, our defense spending compared to other nations is outrageous and we lead the world in violent crime and incarceration. Most obviously we have work to do. But the Republicans tell us we are overtaxed to the point of strangling our economy. Overtaxed compared to whom and to what? According to the U.S. Commerce Department, our total taxes of all types paid in 2009 equaled 9.2 percent of personal income, the lowest such rate since 1950. The average tax burden for a developed world family with two children is 26 percent while in the U.S it runs 13.7 percent. Only three developed nations, Mexico, Chile and Turkey, have lower tax burdens than the U.S. Germany, with only one-third our population, is ahead of us and second only to China in exports. Why isn't its high tax rate (40.6 percent of GDP compared to U.S. 27 percent) choking their economy? And Germany's social security system, established in the 1890s by Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, is still solvent and viable today. But they tell us ours is going broke. It's time we woke up.
GEORGE B. REED JR.
Leadership must be on same page
So, here they go again! The "leadership" of our duly elected representatives is calling for the head of President Obama because he won't take a stand against the Egyptian government (currently it's military) and allow the Muslim Brotherhood to take back control. Interesting. Exactly what do these folks want our president to do? Why only stop supporting the military of Egypt, who by the way, prior to the removal of a guy who was driving the country into the ground, removed an abusive dictator from office with nary a whimper from our Congress. But now let's stop sending the Egyptian military aid, which actually keeps the radical elements of Islam in check.
Don't you wonder what the rest of the world thinks about the United States when it seems our elected government just can't get on the same page? Might one wonder if the same interference that our Congress wants to impose upon other countries might be something that those governments less friendly toward the United States might use as leverage to say we are unable to fix ourselves, and yet we sure do have a lot to say about how to fix others. Sounds a bit foolish, don't you think?
SCOTT C. WILSON, Ooltewah
Drug war leads to preventable deaths
Regarding Leonard Pitts' Aug. 18 column, the drug war is part of the problem. Illegal drug users are reluctant to seek medical attention in the event of an overdose for fear of being charged with a crime. Attempting to save the life of a friend could result in a murder charge. Overzealous drug war enforcement results in preventable deaths.
Rehabilitation also is confounded. I think it's safe to say that turnout at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings would be rather low if alcoholism were a crime pursued with zero tolerance zeal. Eliminating the penalties associated with illicit drug use would encourage the type of honest discussion necessary to facilitate rehabilitation and save lives.
ROBERT SHARPE, Common Sense for Drug Policy, Washington, D.C.
Teachers need higher salaries
As a school counselor for 35 years in the public school system, I was made aware over and over of research showing that a highly effective teacher in the classroom is the greatest determining factor in the successful education of a student. (Not gimmicky new programs; new names for old ideas; nor even new facilities or better athletic teams) As I recall, during the most recent economic slowdown when the questions arose concerning the extremely high salaries for CEOs and financial officers, the answer always was, "That's what it takes to get good people." From many years of observation, I have concluded that teaching is an extremely difficult job; teaching well is unbelievably challenging! So if we really value education, how do we attract our very brightest and best to the teaching profession? Certainly, higher salaries is a starting place! Thank you, Commissioner Mackey, for understanding this and for taking a stand!
Health insurance needed by all
I thought that this would be an appropriate response to the House of Representatives.
Socialism, socialism is all I hear from the know-nothing party. Or is it parties (Republican & tea party)? Yes, we need those who will access the health care system less often and likely have less expensive needs. But to think the young don't need health insurance is simply a denial of reality (something applied by Republican/tea party people to global warming, etc.). Young women get pregnant, young people deal with various diseases, and accidents happen too. Health insurance is needed by all. Those with good health and good genes are needed to share the costs. If the sharing of health costs is socialism, well, so too is trash collection and many other community expenses! I can't believe we are having this elementary discussion. We are a community, and all participate by paying often above their personal needs. I wish we could offer reality deniers a pill to overcome their anti-tribe, anti-life participation.
DAVID RICE Ringgold, Ga.
Official showed lack of respect
A letter on Sunday, Aug. 4, 2013, said it all. It was embarrassing and disgusting the lack of respect that our elected officials (except for Andy Berke and Jim Copper) showed the president on his visit to our warm and friendly city. Yes, no wonder nothing gets done in Washington. They are either red or blue. What happened to red, white and blue?
BETTY LUSK, Signal Mountain