Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty; power is ever stealing from the many to the few

Wendell Phillips, 1852

The enemies of Freedom do not argue: they shout and they shoot.

W.R. Inge, 1935

....and the more things change, the more they stay the same...

Thursday, March 19, 2009 2

The following article appeared in a local paper in a small town in middle Tenn.:

To the Editor:
We the people...These words have always held a special meaning to me, as they do for most Americans. These words mean we have a voice in our government whether it is on a national or local level.
A few years ago when the new jail and justice center was in the planning stages, a large group of Smith County residents made their opinion known in the form of a petition with many signatures.
This petition stated we were aware that our county needed a new jail but not a justice center with new court rooms and office space, since the existing court house had already been renovated and treated for mold at the taxpayers expense. The petition asked that a jail be built for our needs and not bring more criminals from state institutions into our county. This petition was given to a county commissioner who presented it to the committee. The commissioners voted to build only the jail saving millions of dollars for the taxpayers. We felt our voices had been heard.
Since then, a new vote was taken. I was told it is not being called a justice center but the new jail will have court rooms, office space and house state inmates. I was also told this was in the paper...after the vote. An offer had previously been made for donation of land in the county area to build the jail but was rejected due to the expense of transporting prisoners from jail to the court house. Land was purchased on a cemetery site and the taxpayers were responsible for more money to relocate the graves.
Did any other taxpayer receive a call, a letter, see a notice asking for your opinion from your county commissioner? Are the Smith County patrol cards being driven after hours for personal use? Did any other taxpayer get to voice their opinion on funds spent on the superintendent of schools office building? Did the chairs in that building really cost $500.00 each? Who was held accountable for expenses when our teachers are forced to buy a lot of their own supplies and parents are asked to bring copy paper?
Our county has one of the highest wheel taxes in the state of Tennessee but we the people voted for that. We were heard.
This is a time of economic decline, unemployment and loss of homes, which will be felt in our county revenue. While I am aware that housing state inmates does generate revenue, is this what our county wants? When this "not a justice center" but a new "jail with court rooms, office space and state inmate housing" is finished, who will pay the bill and maintain the existing court house? We the people!

E. has followed up on her phone calls with an excellent letter to her local paper. A true Patriot, E. is asking for some answers, alerting fellow citizens about important issues in the community, and presenting concerns in a very professional manner. The above letter would make an excellent model for anyone wanting to write a letter to their local paper.

Way to go E., I am guessing you have opened the eyes of your fellow citizens and we have not heard the last of this...

1 comment:

  1. Yes, you are right, Sharon, it is really well done by E.! Mind you 500 bucks a piece for chairs...!!! But they do the same sort of thing over here. And not only the state, you can also see it in (private) organisations. And in aid organzisations... really, really frustrating! I personally have no problems speaking up and pointing fingers when I am confronted with such disgrace created by the state, but when it's the red cross and other organisations I rather tend to keep quiet, because it never would have the positive result I wanted it to have, if I did say something. People would just stop donating and when you have looked into the eyes of the people who are only alive because some of that money has actually been spent the proper way, then you think twice about speaking up, because you know that's the lesser of two evils and people not giving any money, because of the bad news about the organisation is worse.
    I suppose in such organisations such conflicts have to be handled internally. Mind you I have a good experience with Greenpeace here in DK. They caught somebody here doing something bad. And the really anoying thing was, that was a good guy, who was just not properly informed by his own people! So the boss asked me if I was willibng to keep quiet about it, since the counterpart had both appologized and was trying to make sure that that sort of thing would never ever happen again. After all that particular company had done so much for Denmark's environment. I think, that was a smart solution, everybody won there. Having made in public would in fact have been more desastrous for the environment.

    So I guess, what we need is legal actions, legal settlements, which honor ethical guidelines.
    In your case there perhaps an investigation might be smart, in order to find out where all the money went and who is earning on the new plans. Perhaps then more people than "just" E. are going to get interested, when they read about that in the papers!!!

    I must say, I know far too little about your situation to have an opinion, but personally i am not very much for jails at all. Forgive me, but I feel that restraining people seems to be very important in the US, even worse than in Germany. Why don't they instead spend that money on rehabilitating people?
    Because panishment never made anybody feel sorry about what they did!
    Just remember Johnny Cash's song "San Quentin" and the reaction of the prisoners to it!

    Anyway, I wish you both good luck with your mission(s) and that you will get a decent number of people to join you. You deserve it!
    love, SSG