I recently traveled from Chattanooga to the statehouse in Nashville to represent cancer patients and survivors.
I called on our state lawmakers to make reducing barriers to care for cancer patients in Tennessee a priority. I was honored to be joined by more than 100 of my fellow American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network volunteers from across the state.
I met with state Sen. Bo Watson and state Rep. Mike Carter, and made it clear that the state legislature needs to put politics aside on behalf of all those Tennesseans who will hear the words "you have cancer."
I asked our lawmakers to support legislation to reform a practice known as step therapy. Through step therapy, a patient may be required to try, then fail, on alternative drugs selected by their insurance company before coverage is granted for the drug prescribed by the patient's health care provider.
My fellow volunteers and I let our lawmakers know that we are all counting on them to take a stand against cancer by supporting what works to treat it.
Trash and junk mar North Georgia beauty
Walker County, Georgia, is one of the most beautiful counties in Northwest Georgia, but the two main roads coming into the county (Highway 2A and Highway 193) are the trashiest I've ever seen.
If you are looking for free furniture, you can find sofas, chairs, cushions, mattresses, box springs, practically anything, on or off these two roads. Include all the bags of garbage that are thrown out or blown from garbage trucks, and it is pathetic.
Yellowstone Landscaping is a hired company to clean Georgia Highways. These guys do an incredible job of picking up the trash, but the very next day the roadways look like the trash has never been picked up.
You can also start your own junkyard in any front yard in any subdivision in the county without any repercussions. I don't understand why the county permits this.
Shannon Whitfield has done a great job getting the county's finances in check, but obviously trash on the roads and junkyards are not a priority. Maybe one day they will.
Gun rights and voting rights treated unequally
Gov. Bill Lee announced his support for permitless concealed and open carry of firearms. One of his and his Republican co-conspirators' (unstated) reasons for removing the permit requirement may be the "inconvenience" of getting a permit.
There are 95 counties in Tennessee, but one can get a gun permit in only 37 of the counties. It may be considered a "hardship" to travel to another county to get a permit. Also, one who wants the permit must go to a driver license station, and we all know what kind of "service" we get at those stations.
Republicans aren't concerned, of course, about how difficult it is to get a photo ID in order to vote. In fact, they like how difficult it is. There are also only 37 counties in Tennessee where one can get a photo ID, and that's also done at those wonderful driver license stations.
Voting is one constitutional right Republicans want to suppress, not encourage. A gun owner who wants to get a permit at least has the ability to drive to another county. A person who wants to vote can't drive, because he doesn't have a license, which is why he needs a photo ID to vote. Catch 22.
Republicans suppressed the votes of Tennessee citizens in 58 counties in plain view of everyone, and they're getting away with it.
Donald Strickland, Signal Mountain
Alexander's vote was 'cowardly'
I was disappointed with Sen. Lamar Alexander's vote not to convict President Trump. The evidence was overwhelming. Everyone knew there weren't enough Republican votes to convict. However, I thought there would be at least two or three Republicans with enough integrity, courage and love of country to vote to do so.
The only Republican with these attributes was Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah. Romney took his oath to the Constitution seriously. He exemplified statesmanship.
Alexander not only shamed himself but Tennessee. Lamar will never be honored with the three Tennessee statesmen of my lifetime: Sens. Estes Kefauver, Albert Gore and Howard Baker. Kefauver voted against the McCarran Act in the 1950s, which would have outlawed the Communist Party. A bold move since he was running for re-election. That's statesmanship. Albert Gore voted against the "Southern Manifesto," which was in opposition to racial integration in 1956. A bold move since he was running for re-election. That's statesmanship! Howard Baker opposed Richard Nixon during Watergate. A bold move since he was running for re-election. That's statesmanship.
Alexander is not running for re-election; his vote was cowardly.
Wilbourne C. Markham Sr., Signal Mountain
Affordable housing still in high demand
Chattanooga politicians and fat cats are squabbling, this time about providing low-rent housing. Over the past 10 years, we have seen construction of ginormous condominiums, with equally large price tags. The "worker bees" of Chattanooga effectively have had to move elsewhere. Few oppose this "modernization" trend.
One of the reasons we all live so affordably is cheap labor. Minimum wage in Tennessee is still $7.25; it's also the federal standard. Not everyone has, or can obtain, an IT job. Not everyone has a skill that compensates well. Not everyone has graduated from college. Not everyone is equal, despite rhetoric to the contrary.
A person on minimum wage earns $15,080 annually (actual living wage is $13.28/hr.). The benchmark of 30% of income for housing shows $377 monthly needed. $15 an hour would allow people to survive, if not thrive.
So, affordable housing is not available to many in Chattanooga, with no end in sight. Even if the area near Ferger Place were developed for wage-challenged residents, it would only be paying lip service to the shortage. Read "Nickel and Dimed" by Barbara Ehrenreich to see how people live on low incomes. Could you?
TFP 'Rant' section should be ended
I agree with the letter writer in the Sunday paper who asks that the Times Free Press "Rant" section be discontinued. It's full of unkind and uncivil commentary because those who submit these statements don't have to give their names.
If you want to say something and you feel strongly about your position, you ought not mind telling who you are; that would eliminate many of the hateful statements. If you want to keep this section, publish the names of the commenters.
Robert Clapp, Ooltewah