I read Sen. Lamar Alexander's letter (July 12) and the Free Press response and I was appalled. To stoop to name calling and denigrating Sen. Alexander's reputation should have been beneath you. I guess you felt you couldn't win the argument any other way - which is one big problem we have in the U.S.A. today. Sen. Alexander has distinguished himself in public service in many ways throughout the years. Yet you insinuated he was living high on the hog with public money. The money the ratepayers will find on their utilities bill will more than make up for the money not spent treating the illnesses caused by bad air.
The greatest threat to coal and all the wonderful jobs that come from coal is natural gas, not MACT. It is cleaner burning, no coal ash to deal with and plentiful. Power plants are turning to gas to heat the steam.
I am not a conservative but I feel you owe Sen. Alexander a big apology. My high school debate teacher would have never let you get away with those tactics.
KARLEEN SANDERS, Dayton, Tenn.
In reference to your open letter to Sen. Lamar Alexander on (the Free Press editorial page) July 12. Mr. Alexander is nothing but a career political "parasite" who most of his adult life has lived off the taxpayers of the great state of Tennessee and this nation.
I received a letter last week from Henry Smith, Senior VP of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. BCBS is the provider of group insurance for a small company I own in Chattanooga. It was an unusual letter targeting the primary health care provider which my team of employees uses locally, Memorial Hospital, an outstanding medical institution.
The letter lamented the fact that Memorial had requested a service charge increase "four times the rate of inflation" and concluded, "we cannot maintain an affordable network for you and pay them" this increase. I am sure Mr. Smith knows that Memorial's reimbursement is lower than other area hospitals.
It is no small irony that the same day I received the letter criticizing Memorial's costs, I received notice from BCBS that the cost of the group plan for my employees, a young, healthy group of folks, was going to increase more than 12 times the rate of inflation.
I wonder what my childhood mentor, Roy McDonald, founder of the Free Press, would say about this matter if he were around today? You see, he also founded the not-for-profit Tennessee Hospital Association (which became BCBS) because of his concern for rising hospital costs. I suspect Mr. Roy might object to the fortress BCBS constructed on top of Cameron Hill, from which they are charging this customer more than three times the rate increase they complained about Memorial hospital charging.
I retired from the Chattanooga Police Department after 26 years of service. What! You say? You remember the mayor and police brass tell the public how they value veteran officers?
I know you're familiar with the term "thin blue line." The blue line at the CPD is a mile thick, and it divides officers from the brass who are down a long hallway in carpeted locked offices behind card entry doors that officers don't have card keys to enter.
My point is: When you get the public willing to demand more from the elected politicians for its police and fire service, your fight to get the sworn politicians hidden away behind their locked doors should be a tad easier. This veteran sees a vindictive group behind those doors. Don't just take my word for it, ask officer David Ashley, a hero who stopped Sgt. Tim Chapin's murderer. When a police department has an officer(s) involved in such a life-changing event, it's common courtesy to honor them when they request to get off the streets, not ignore them. That's a grudge. That's not how brothers in blue treat one another, rather it's the haves and the have-nots in that place. One unappreciated veteran has left the building.
Scottie Mayfield's website states that he has put in "40 years of hard work at Mayfield Dairy Farms" and "is perhaps best known as [its] face." It is unclear, though, what responsibilities Mr. Mayfield's role at the dairy actually entails or entailed. A clear understanding of his resume during his employment is important since, based on his own pronouncements, he wants us to believe that his experience as a small-businessman qualifies him as a congressional candidate.
Mayfield Dairy was sold to Dean Foods in 1990. Dean Foods is a global conglomerate with more than $13 billion in 2011 net sales and almost 25,000 employees. Dean allows their subsidiaries, such as Mayfield Dairy, to retain local leadership to create the impression that they are locally controlled and managed.
My review of Dean Foods' annual reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission over the past 12 years suggests Mr. Mayfield was not on the board of directors, nor did any report list him as a member of its corporate executive team.
He is unwilling to debate out of concern that he is inarticulate, uninformed, without an agenda and seemingly in total disarray. Keeping him in Athens would be in the best interest of this district.
JOSEPH F. DECOSIMO
I have followed with interest your brouhaha with Sen. Alexander concerning his misguided vote for the MACT legislation and his testy response. One would think a politician of his years would be less thin-skinned.
What strikes me about his response is how willing he seems to be to accept EPA's regulation concerning mercury with its impact on Tennessee jobs but then questions the agency's sanity.
While mercury is certainly toxic, the fears of low-level emissions from coal plants are overblown. Can the senator point to any demonstrable case where human health has been impacted? Mothers with blood- mercury levels six times higher than those in the U.S. have been closely monitored for years showing no detectable effect on their children.
Alexander is a senator who seems to fly under the radar. As with so many politicians, he appears to have started from modest circumstances but is now one of the 10 wealthiest senators in Congress, hardly a poor man's club. To many Tennesseans, the increase in electricity costs as a result of his vote will be significant.
TERENCE E.C. KNEE, Hixson
Of all the rhetoric concerning the Affordable Health Care law, there is something we all need to consider, about the most controversial, the penalty for not buying health insurance. To me it is the most important.
Think about this. Millions of people, including illegals, get taxpayer-funded care by taking their illnesses to emergency rooms, where a 1986 law requires doctors to provide services even though they can't pay. By forcing these freeloaders to pay, even if they may get a subsidy from the government, they will be able to go to a doctor's office for their care thus saving the taxpayer billions per year. Right now the taxpayer is paying for all government workers, people on welfare, people on SSI, illegals, people in Congress, among others. About the only ones now that buy their insurance are the hard-working taxpayers.
Remember, we the voters have a chance every two years to replace the leaches we have in Congress, both Democrat and Republican.
JACK PINE, Dunlap, Tenn.
Re: the front page article "Hospitals get grades," July 12. Whatever formula Consumer Reports used to grade hospitals seems unreliable and inadequate on its face. Do you really believe the best hospital in America is in Billings, Mont.?
Ever since I moved to Walker County, almost 20 years ago, our records in our courthouse have been treated as though they were private, personal records belonging only to the current occupant of the office.
The Probate judge's office is a major offender. Records of births, marriages and deaths are difficult to see, retrieve, or study.
As I've grown older, tracing my family's roots has become more and more important to me. We're entitled to easy access to them. After all, they are our records.
If we elect Doug Grammer as Probate judge, he will do everything within his power to open up access to our own public records. I'm hoping he can put them online and make them easily available to all of us.
I'm voting for Grammer in the Republican primary and urge all my friends to support and vote for him, too.
ART THOMPSON, LaFayette, Ga.
I support Ron Powers for Sessions Court judge of Hamilton County. During 29 years as a counselor in the Chattanooga area, I have worked with hurting families and gone to court on behalf of countless victims. It is vitally important to elect judges who display character and integrity and make sound legal judgments when considering the welfare of those who will stand before them.
As founder of the Lighthouse Counseling Center and two programs which serve Hamilton County courts, I realize how important it is to have someone with dignity serving as a Sessions Sourt judge. Ron Powers is a dignified leader and professional.
He has exceptional organizational skills, leadership ability and respect for others. After working with Ron on a marriage workshop he and his wife organized, I can testify to the passion and commitment he has to strengthen families and improve quality of life for all residents of Hamilton County's communities.
Please consider the important role this position plays in the livelihood of Hamilton County residents and vote for Ron Powers for Sessions Court judge on Aug. 2.
JANET M. BALES
The Hamilton County school board is a place for people who have faith in our school system, a belief in public education and a willingness to serve. Ralph Miller, former educator and administrator, has all of those qualities along with the integrity needed to make the tough decisions required to educate students.
I have known him for most of my life and feel that I speak with both insight and sincerity. As a teacher, I have worked with him and for him. In all of the years that we worked together, it was obvious that he understood the mechanics within a classroom and outside of the classroom. Ralph is analytical and possesses the ability to put the workings of our schools in a business perspective while truly understanding that those needs must align with the personal needs of students.
A bonus to having Ralph Miller on our school board is his passion for music. He has always shown a clear commitment to the cultural needs which forever enrich the lives of students. Personally, he is a man of intelligence, an ongoing willingness to learn, and a sense of humor. Our schools and our community need a man of his caliber.