No conclusions yet on red light cameras
I would like to clarify statements I made last week to the House Transportation Committee and the media regarding Chattanooga's Photo Enforcement Program. David Magee quoted me in his column on Tuesday (Oct. 20) stating that "...traffic cameras ... were proven to 'reduce accidents, injuries, and fatalities.' " That is true because we have seen significant reductions in both speeding and accidents on streets equipped with fixed speed cameras. For example, due a combination of repaving the road and installing speed cameras, the number of crashes in the Hixson Pike S curves has fallen by over 80 percent in the last eight years. The number of citations issued is now 90 percent less than when the cameras were installed. Without question, there has been a noticeable drop in speeding and aggressive driver behavior.
Mr. Magee also quoted me as saying "We do not have sufficient data to be able to draw any conclusions as to their effectiveness." My statement was in reference to the red light cameras, not the entire program. While the preliminary results are inconclusive, we believe that over the long term the red light cameras will have a positive impact on reducing accident rates, just as the speed cameras have already demonstrated.
JOHN VAN WINKLE
City Traffic Engineer
Pursue political solution to Taliban
The Taliban is a diverse movement of more than a dozen separate insurgent organizations in Afghanistan and Islamist groups in Pakistan, divided by ideology and purposes, but united by one objective: to rid their regions of foreign forces.
U.S. military policies and air strikes are radicalizing the population "and driving more and more Pashtuns into the arms of al-Qaida and its jihadi allies."
Pentagon adviser David Kilcullen make this point in his book, "The accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One."
Instead of stoking the fires of extremism, the U.S. and it allies should pursue a political solution with as much of the Afghan and Pakistani insurgencies as possible, offering political inclusion and end of hostile action for cooperation against al-Qaida.
The Taliban has offered to halt their attacks against foreign forces and government troops in return for a security agreement, similar to the one negotiated with Iraq, which would establish conditions and a timetable for military withdrawals. No other actions make sense. Don't base economic recovery on military manufacturing. That is a bad choice!
ANN D. MAHONEY
Do not vote along party lines
How in the world did those people get elected? And no party has a monopoly on acting like children. Fighting, blaming, name calling.
Where is all the bipartisanship promised by this and every president in the past hundred years?
I say eliminate hateful rhetoric and mean-spirited dialogue. It seems that everyone wants the same thing but no one knows how to achieve it. Dividing the people along party lines is dead wrong when no one can see the other side's argument.
I can see members of Congress leaning toward their home state but shouldn't the prime goal be to save the Union? Can anyone explain the differences between one party's health plan and the other's? How can they when no one has read all the pages? No one.
It's all follow the leader, do what he/she does and says, be it president, senator, governor, member of Congress. Is that any way to run a country? Think for yourself. Do not vote along party lines like sheep following along to slaughter. Gerrymandering does a good job all by itself.
JOHN J. PERRI
Ghoulish Gala a special evening
Thank you to the nearly 500 "ghouls" who came out in support of the American Lung Association's Ghoulish Gala. This very special evening was the result of five months worth of intense labor and love from a volunteer committee of nearly 15 of Chattanooga's brightest and most compassionate young professionals, all of whom we are honored to call friends.
Funds raised from the event are earmarked to fund cutting-edge, life-saving pulmonary disease research right here in Tennessee.
The recession we find ourselves in finds Chattanooga's committed volunteers and caring citizens doing more than ever before with substantially less resources. The opportunity of serving more people in deeper need with fewer resources merely strengthens their resolve to work harder, smarter, longer and more creatively. To borrow a Chinese proverb, "Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it."
Thank you to the gala committee, sponsors, partners and patrons and to the amazing ALA staff -- it was indeed a magical evening. The event returns next year under the leadership of our friends, Jim and Kelly Brexler. Happy Halloween!
EDDIE & ROBIN
It's time to provide excellent students
I cannot believe that Bill Frist spent an entire year "crisscrossing the state" only to come up with a "roadmap" which does nothing more than present the exact same set of recommendations that every blowhard educational consultant in a suit has been presenting ad nauseum for the last 10 years: high standards, student data, excellent teachers, blah, blah, blah.
I would like just one time to hear one of these people suggest providing teachers with excellent students -- students whose parents value hard work and discipline and insist that their children go to school dressed properly and prepared to learn. Students whose parents are involved in their homework. Students whose parents value art, literature and culture. Students whose parents read and model standard English in their homes. Students whose parents hold them accountable and hold themselves accountable for their children's success as well.
The state of public education is nothing more than a reflection of the state of the American family, for the home is precisely where education starts. Change the American family and you will change American public education. Provide excellent students. Now, there's a recommendation.
MARK H. HOLDEN