published Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

'Is Hays Prison really best Georgia has?' and other letters to the editor

Is Hays Prison really best Georgia has?

Re: "Hays State Prison recognized" (June 6, Region Digest). Remarkably absent from your paper's coverage of Hays State Prison's selection as Georgia Department of Corrections facility of the year is any mention of Hays' documented history of violence and prisoner abuse.

In the past year alone, the Times-Press extensively covered 1) a lawsuit brought by Hays prisoners after officers beat them while they were handcuffed. (Hays later paid the prisoners, including one who was beaten so severely that oral surgery was required, $93,000 for their injuries); 2) A fight that led to the stabbing death of one prisoner, and 3) an assault on corrections officers.

If Hays is the best the Georgia Department of Corrections has to offer, then we should fear for the lives of prisoners and guards alike.

MARY B. SINCLAIR, Atlanta, Ga.


Politics doesn't belong at Riverbend

As we were leaving Riverbend, between Meo Mios and the marina, we encountered someone passing out fair-tax political items.

This person was wearing a large Riverbend badge around his neck. This wasn't the first time I've seen this. For many years in the past I've run into tea party folk, often with badges, handing out political stuff at that location as you head out toward MLK.

One small problem. There is a reason you don't see booths with the Democratic, Republican or Green Party representatives at Riverbend. Friends of the Festival is organized as a non-profit and as such faces strict limits on political involvement. Nonprofits are not allowed to endorse candidates or parties. Yet every year at that location we seem to see a tea party activist with Riverbend credentials engaging in political pamphleteering.

Perhaps these well meaning but clueless activists are unaware of the legal liability that they are putting Riverbend in. Americans Elect, the latest "third party," is facing scrutiny from the FEC and IRS because it were set up as a nonprofit. It is not a matter of equal time for all groups. By law, Riverbend cannot promote political groups.

It is time someone put an end to this.

ROD YOUNG, Hamilton County Green Party


Council meetings are for business

In response to a letter titled "What's the big deal if you want to pray?" (June 13). My answer is this: Give this prayer thing a rest. It's way past "overkill" here.

Religious zealots pray when they are awake, they pray over their meals, they pray at school, sporting events, community and business meetings and who knows what else in between, and they pray when they go to bed.

There is a time and place for everything, and City Council and County Commission meetings are for conducting business, not praying. If they want to pray at these meetings, why don't they just pass the collection plate and take up an offering as well?

MICHAEL CHRISTOPHER, Dalton, Ga.


Praise to church for mission work

I would like to thank the members of Burks United Methodist Church for their mission support to our community in Alaska, not only for those who were able to come but to the entire church congregation for its spiritual and financial support of missions. It has been a pleasure to meet these wonderful people from Tennessee over the past week. Because of our heavy snowfall this winter, they were able to experience snow in June while at the same time see the beauty of our green forests and mountainsides.

Their youth group and adult volunteers helped to provide many basic services to our small community, and they are greatly appreciated. Thank you for sharing the love of Jesus Christ in Sutton. We'd love to have you back again anytime.

MICHAEL AND SHARON AUBREY


DeGaetano sees chance to help

On Aug. 2, voters will determine our future with a new General Sessions judge. The candidates are all qualified, but Chattanooga needs to truly appreciate Joe DeGaetano.

In Times Free Press letters, Joe has been recognized for his: "thoughtful temperament," "an eye for fairness," "steady judiciousness," "good experience," "a knowledge to guide," and a "good knowledge of the city."

Joe was salutatorian of his high school and graduated magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University. He worked various jobs to put himself through University of Georgia Law School, where he maintained the highest grade point average for a class of 325 the entire four years. Joe has stated his intent for judge isn't "for prestige, for money, or boosting his law firm's reputation." Instead, he sees, as previously stated, "a greater opportunity to help more people and the community as a whole, as judge."

The city of Chattanooga deserves a judge who is focused on its people while making the city a more pleasurable place to live. So, if it is your hope to keep our city on an upward path, it's in your best interest to vote for a man with the same vision, Joe DeGaetano.

CONNOR ROBERTS III


Prayer foes should have silent moment

How is prayer harming anyone at the Hamilton County Commission meeting? I totally agree that it harms nothing. If it does, I've been harmed my whole life.

I really think these two individuals have very little to do with their time but to cost taxpayers money. I think the majority are being pushed by a few into trying to force-feed something that is simply not going away (the right to pray). If this is really harming them, maybe they should excuse themselves from the opening of the commission meeting and go to the hall for a moment of silence.

I guess I am getting older as I used to just laugh away the way some people act, but I find it hard to keep my mouth shut at what people dig up. I think some just want to get on the news. It kind of reminds me of Judge Judy (ridiculous!)

PHIL DYAR SR., Hixson


Can orders replace the Constitution?

if the country can be governed by executive order, why do we need campaigns, elections, a Congress and a Constitution? OK, so it isn't exactly an executive order; Obama takes full credit anyhow.

JOHN ROSE, Signal Mountain


Public assistance must be changed

I grew up in a simple two-bedroom house, and we did not have a car until I was 6. If you didn't have money for lunch at school, you worked in the cafeteria.

Now, almost every time I am in a grocery line, I see different very well-dressed women with nice gold jewelry and their nails professionally done paying for their groceries with food stamps.

A teacher recently estimated half of their free-lunch students have a smart phone. Many free-lunch students have parents who buy their cigarettes for them as well. Maybe we need to add a "teen cigarette subsidy" to the food-stamp program.

If my simple two-bedroom house and no-car lifestyle was dropped into 2012, my family now would be getting food stamps, Section 8 housing subsidy, earned income tax credit and free health care. I would additionally be getting free breakfast and lunch at school, free school supplies, and get to go shopping with a cop at Christmas.

Public assistance needs to be limited to meeting the strict bare necessities of life, not to serve as a subsidy for a more elaborate lifestyle the rest of us support.

JOE KIRKPATRICK, Cleveland, Tenn.


Keep prayer everywhere

Re: citizens suing over prayers!

As a group they should be truly ashamed of themselves. Find some other drum to beat.

Let's keep prayer everywhere. Amen!

JERRY LaFRENIERE, Hixson

29
Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.

MICHAEL CHRISTOPHER, they prefer to the money collecting behind the scenes, the public for some reason isn't entirely accepting of direct bribes.

PHIL DYAR SR, gee, how considerate of you, keeping people out of the meeting. And you're complaining about others telling you what to do? But it's the County Commission who will be costing the taxpayers money, the citizens suing are the ones exercising their right to petition the government for their grievances. Why don't you go into the hallway and hold your prayer rather than force feeding your prayers on us?

JOHN ROSE, a lot of things can be done with executive order, even the Constitution specifically grants to Congress the right to devolve many powers upon the President and upon the Courts.

Believe it or not, there are issues with legislative logjams, some states (and other nations) actually recognize that even more explicitly than our Constitution does.

JERRY LaFRENIERE, no, you should be ashamed of yourself, and find another drum to beat rather than using the power of government to impose your prayers and religion upon others.

June 20, 2012 at 12:21 a.m.
anniebelle said...

John Rose Administration of George W. Bush (2001-2009)

Disposition of Executive orders signed by President George W. Bush:

2009 - E.O. 13484 - E.O. 13488 (5 Executive orders issued) 2008 - E.O. 13454 - E.O. 13483 (30 Executive orders issued) 2007 - E.O. 13422 - E.O. 13453 (32 Executive orders issued) 2006 - E.O. 13395 - E.O. 13421 (27 Executive orders issued) 2005 - E.O. 13369 - E.O. 13394 (26 Executive orders issued) 2004 - E.O. 13324 - E.O. 13368 (45 Executive orders issued) 2003 - E.O. 13283 - E.O. 13323 (41 Executive orders issued) 2002 - E.O. 13252 - E.O. 13282 (31 Executive orders issued) 2001 - E.O. 13198 - E.O. 13251 (54 Executive orders issued)


291 Total Executive orders Issued

June 20, 2012 at 6 a.m.
moon4kat said...

I agree with Michael Christopher and Rod Young. Thanks to both for writing.

June 20, 2012 at 7:48 a.m.
LibDem said...

Allahu Akbar, Jerry.

June 20, 2012 at 8:38 a.m.
Livn4life said...

Rod Young, am I to believe that the IRS and Friends of the Festival are empowered to stop individuals from exercising their rights as US citizens to be political at public events? If so, why did you include "your" party beside your name? We may not like it but they have a right. How can an individual put at jeopardy that non-profit status by expressing his or her views? I think you just don't like that one perspective presented. You have a right to express your disregard. But to say we have to check our politics at the parking lot for Riverbend is really over the edge.

June 20, 2012 at 10:11 a.m.
Leaf said...

"How is prayer harming anyone at the Hamilton County Commission meeting? I totally agree that it harms nothing. If it does, I've been harmed my whole life."

Hmm. Maybe you have been harmed all your life. It's entirely possible that substituting faith for logic in one area of life predisposes the human brain to discount logic in favor of blind faith when making other decisions. I have observed, anectdotally of course, that true believers often aren't the best decision-makers. But which came first, the chicken or the egg?

June 20, 2012 at 10:12 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

To you public-praying peacocks, one and all: True prayer is a time of deepest reflection and meditation. For it to have any real meaning at all, one must still oneself and enter into the silence within. A few hastily chosen words uttered by some leader in a group setting is no more "praying" or supplicating your God than cheering on your favorite driver at Nascar is going to make him win the race. Public prayer is just for show, nothing more. If you feel compelled to pray in public, it is because you want to draw attention to yourself and demnonstrate how "Christian" you are. Stop all the pretense about your "right" to pray in public. Yes, you have that right and no one is trying to take that away from you. If you don't have the good sense and the propriety to keep your prayers to yourselves, then go pray on a street corner, if you must, or stand in the middle of friggin' Broad St. even. No one will try to sue you or claim their rights are being violated, I can assure you. But at least have the decency to realize that when acting in the capacity of a government position it entails some sense of respect for all constituents, regardless of faith or belief or lack thereof. It is more than just a matter of constitutionality; it's a matter of simply using one's courtesy and common sense to do the right thing. Keep your prayers where they belong: to yourselves...in private.

June 20, 2012 at 1:42 p.m.
GrundyGreen said...

livn4life you missed the point. The individual in question was RIVERBEND STAFF MEMBER. He had a Riverbend badge. Staff members of non-profits CANNOT push politics while acting in the capacity of a non-profit.

June 20, 2012 at 2:28 p.m.

Indeed, you stop being an individual once you put on authority.

Just ask any police department sued because of an individual police officer.

June 20, 2012 at 3:06 p.m.
DJHBRAINERD said...

asalaam alaikum my brothers Dyer and Le Freniere.. Will you pray with me...

June 20, 2012 at 3:39 p.m.
Easy123 said...

Ken,

Government mandated prayer and the blatant establishment of religion by the commission is still unconstitutional. It's not about "hurting" anyone. It's concerning that you still can't grasp that.

June 21, 2012 at 2:19 a.m.
Easy123 said...

You obviously haven't read James Madison, Detached Memoranda on the 1st Amendment.

"The Constitution of the U. S. forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion."

http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/amendI_religions64.html

You are arguing from ignorance. The way you try to interpret the Constitution is not how the Supreme Court or our government interprets it. And their interpretation is all that matters.

Government officials are not "citizens" per se. They are representatives of the government and cannot mandate prayer or make any attempt to establish religion. Mandating a Christian prayer before every commission meeting is precisely that: an establishment of religion. Thus, it should be deemed unconstitutional.

June 21, 2012 at 3:41 a.m.

Who needs the First Amendment to the US Constitution?

This conduct is clearly forbidden by the STATE Constitution, which can offer rights and protections beyond that of the US Constitution. And it forbids any government supported church.

You as an individual, are free in your conduct. As a public official, your conduct is not free. Just imagine if you tried to argue a judge should be allowed to favor a religion, because that was part of freely exercising it.

Wouldn't get far, with that, would you?

June 21, 2012 at 12:13 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

Ken Orr, your argement about posting a prayer in a government building and calling it "silent prayer" is laughable. That is anything but silent! Sure, it is "silent" in the sense that no words are spoken but its public visibility makes it just as obtrusive and in-your-face as any one person or group of people standing before us praying out loud. I'm typing, not speaking these words now and they appear in silence on your computer screen but I am expressing myself just as surely as if I were talking out loud.

You ask, "How silly do we want to get with this thing?" Apparently about as silly as you arrogant christian cretins keep trying to make it.

June 21, 2012 at 1:39 p.m.
Easy123 said...

That isn't the issue. It's never been the issue.

June 21, 2012 at 1:47 p.m.

A citizen doesn't have to request. They can pray as they like.

Once you take on an official position, you're no longer acting as a citizen, but are in a separate capacity where you do not get to do as you like.

If any members of the County Commission wish to resign their posts, they can act as private citizens and pray as they like. Though, of course, they can't make a disruption to others, but that's not because of the prayer, but because of their separate conduct.

Of course, the County Commission doesn't have to give people to speak as they will at meetings, and in fact, I feel they shouldn't.

But that's another problem.

June 21, 2012 at 2:03 p.m.
Easy123 said...

No one is attempting to censor any citizen. Once again, that's never been this issue.

June 21, 2012 at 2:07 p.m.
Easy123 said...

And that would likely be deemed unconstitutional.

June 21, 2012 at 2:16 p.m.
Easy123 said...

The "moral" majority? Wiser? Can your get any more self-righteous?

Christians don't have a monopoly on morality. And you still haven't proved that "Christ" was even a real person, much less the son of "God".

By the way, the Jews are "God's" people. Are you Jewish?

June 21, 2012 at 3:23 p.m.
lkeithlu said...

much wiser to those liberals who are so often anti-Christ.

Almost all liberals I know are Christians, KenOrr

June 21, 2012 at 3:48 p.m.
JustOneWoman said...

Maybe it is time for a few of the "other" religions to start applying for equal time at the Commission meetings. Then just watch how fast they shut down those official prayers.

June 21, 2012 at 4:27 p.m.
Easy123 said...

If a Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, etc. wanted to say a prayer at the Commission, I guarantee you, the 1st Amendment would be used EXCESSIVELY by the Christians to oppose it. Christians don't understand the Constitution. They only want to use it/misinterpret it when it helps push their agenda. And then they cry: "prayer doesn't hurt anyone", like it's is a criminal case or something. It's total ignorance on their part.

June 21, 2012 at 5:02 p.m.
lkeithlu said...

Actually, it isn't ignorance, Easy. They are required to bring to their faith (in all seriousness, and I am not saying this is entirely negative) It isn't false or contrived-they really believe this. Their path to salvation depends on taking every opportunity to spread the word of God. This is why they don't see a problem. Theirs is the one "TRUE" faith; everyone else is just misguided or uneducated in the true word. It is real and it is for the most part quite honest.

June 21, 2012 at 5:11 p.m.
Easy123 said...

Ikeithlu,

I totally understand this. And I agree with you. I was referring to their ignorance about the Constitution. They only want to use it when they believe it supports their cause. And even then, they attempt to skew the meaning or ignore Supreme Court rulings.

But I am entirely aware of their "higher calling" to spread their message to the masses. Their true mission is a global theocracy. They believe that when everyone has heard their message, the Messiah will come again.

June 21, 2012 at 5:17 p.m.

Easy123, Actually, there's a real case where that did happen.

Hartford Connecticut. In 2010.

Lkeithlu, the term for it is dominionism.

June 21, 2012 at 5:21 p.m.
lkeithlu said...

yup to both of you This site is a real education for me.

June 21, 2012 at 5:34 p.m.
Exusiai said...

Here is the linchpin "Mandated Prayer"

the prayer at these meetings is not mandatory, it is voluntary. Welcome to the definition of words folks.

June 22, 2012 at 10:08 a.m.
Easy123 said...

How can a verbal prayer by one person be "voluntary" or does the whole commission pray at the same time? They have a prayer before every meeting and one person prays for the whole.

man┬Ědate 1. An authoritative command or instruction.

I would wager a guess that the person prayer beings with "Let us pray" or something of that sort. This is mandated prayer.

June 22, 2012 at 11:18 a.m.

Indeed, we are mandated to accommodate the prayer, notice how the meeting is conducted with it, and there's no option to proceed otherwise.

Or can I expect to question the commissioners and speak as it happens?

Not when we're being told to shut up and leave the room.

Sorry, your own letters are the best evidence.

June 22, 2012 at 3:48 p.m.
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