Gardens in front of city hall look super
Recently went to city hall in Franklin to pay my $5.95 taxes.
Thank you to our public officials keeping my taxes in an excellent position. Now here’s why I am writing this letter. The front of city hall is beautiful, the flowers and landscaping is super. Now I asked the young lady in the front office who was responsible for all the great work on the garden out front. She responded, it was all done by a gentleman named Scotty Keener. Well, Mr. Scotty, thank you you know I thought last year’s garden was super, but sir, you have outdone yourself this year.
Hey, Mr. Mayor, how’s about giving Scotty a raise and let him plant the city of Franklin.
Well, again, well done sir, for making our downtown look wonderful.
Wm. Trapani — Franklin, N.C.
Proud to be an American
The late and great cowboy humorist Will Rogers was fond of saying, “All I know is what I read in the newspapers.” Too bad Will didn’t have the medium of TV. Think of all the additional fodder he would have had to choose from.
The recent Olympics and the conduct of several swimmers Ryan Lochte in particular embarrassed me. I don’t think he should be allowed to represent this country in the future. Some have suggested he should be stripped of his medals.
The female soccer player Solo who called her opponents “cowards” met with a far greater reprimand from her critics and coaches, she was actually suspended.
We have a biracial quarterback in the NFL who refused to stand for the playing of our national anthem. He had a white mother and a black father and was given up for adoption at birth. He was adopted by a white couple who fed, clothed, and educated him.
Here is a man who has had the best America has to offer. I find it hard to believe he has spent time in the poor black neighborhoods. He should be in the stands not dressed out in team colors and on the team’s payroll.
Not standing for our national anthem while in civilian clothes is one thing, refusing to do so while wearing official NFL team uniforms is something else. He is letting his team, fans, and country down. The NFL needs to get its act together, their fans are paying big bucks to see them play football not protest.
NASCAR, PGA and the professional radio cowboys Association won’t put up with those kinds of insults. Dale Earnhardt Jr. when interviewed on TV about a new rule replied, “It don’t mean [expletive],” and it cost him several championship points for this slip of the tongue. A money fine would have been a slap on the wrist, but loss of championship points sent a message. A strong message indeed.
I was deeply saddened by the incident at a South Carolina High School. I saw on TV that American citizens students were forbidden to wave American flags during football games, as this taunted the Latino population. We are not talking about Confederate flags here, but flags of the good old U.S. of A. This order was quickly rescinded. What in the world was the principal and the Oconee School board thinking?
I have attended several July 4th barbecues and bluegrass festivals, and have enjoyed every one, thank you.
I would like to close with a quote from one of my favorite American presidents. Teddy Roosevelt said, “We welcome immigrants but we have room for only one flag and one language.”
Philip Powell — Highlands, N.C.
Davis, legislature raised taxes on family farmers
If you are like many residents of Macon County, you probably cut hay, raise a few head of cattle or other livestock, grow a good-sized garden, or keep bees. These activities are wholesome and enjoyable. Most mountain people grew up doing these things. They are our birthright and part of our rural heritage.
These farming enterprises are also a way to supplement our incomes in a region where quality of life is outstanding but a good-paying job can be hard to come by.
If you’re one of these many hardworking people who sells a few calves each year, honey, or fresh produce, you’ve probably noticed that you are paying a lot more taxes on your farm supplies.
A few years ago, farm-related expenses such as fertilizer, feed, seeds, beekeeping supplies, and even tractors and farm implements were exempt from state and local sales taxes. These expenses were tax-exempt for large commodity farmers in the eastern part of the state, and they were also tax-exempt for small family farmers in the mountains. Then, in 2013, the North Carolina legislature passed House Bill 998, which eliminated the exemption for farmers with a gross farm income of less than $10,000 a year. In other words, the exemption is still in place for medium and large producers, while lower income farmers got a tax hike. Effective July 1, 2014, the legislature levied a 6.75 percent surcharge on every farm purchase you make, in order to help pay for a tax cut of over 40 percent for huge corporations like Duke Energy.
And where did our local state senator, Jim Davis, stand? He chose to stand with Raleigh and against his constituents. He voted to increase taxes on family farmers. Perhaps Davis agrees with Raleigh politicians who consider our small mountain farms insignificant. Well, maybe one or two thousand dollars in supplemental income doesn’t sound like much to an orthodontist, but for our mountain families that income can mean a nice Christmas for our kids. It can mean paying off the truck, or even the house, a few years early.
This November, we have an alternative to Jim Davis. Jane Hipps is running to be our next state senator. Jane is a retired public school teacher, she tends a flock of sheep on her farm in Haywood County, and she won awards for gardening and food preservation as a young girl in 4-H. It’s time to elect someone who supports our mountain values and mountain way of life. On Nov. 8, I’m voting for Jane Hipps to represent us in the North Carolina Senate. I hope you will, too.
Aaron Martin — Hayesville, N.C.
Student loan program a gross misuse of funds
We’re all tired of statistics I know, and some of us (when our eyes glaze over) tune out entirely. None the less, as Aaron Levenstein perceived, “Statistics are like a bikini. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.”
Fitting neatly into Levenstein’s hypothesis is the student debt. A recent column by Josh Boak (Associated Press) places that ever-growing figure at $1.26 trillion which includes Americans beginning college right out of high school, millennials, Gen X, and even older, all of America seems mired in this multigenerational debt cycle.
Every election each candidate dutifully promises dramatic changes that will curtail the debt and make it easier and better for students to obtain an education without the heavy debt load.
That’s the “suggestive” part of Levenstein’s inference, now here’s the “vital” portion no other American is apt to read about in a newspaper or see on TV, one of those noxious little items your government would just as soon you not know.
While you, your sons, daughters and grandchildren have been working feverishly to pay off their student loans (and paying taxes all the while) they have also been paying congressional staff and federal employees to go to college, and for the past 16 years.
It’s call the “Student Loan Repayment Program #5379” and was established in 1990 (George H.W. Bush’s presidency) but was not implemented until 2000 when first employed by federal agencies. The U.S. Senate applied it in 2002, the House in 2003 and it’s been a carefully guarded secret ever since. USA-Today (Paul Singer) revealed the program (but only once) on June 19, 2013, and to my knowledge it hasn’t been mentioned (except by me) since.
During the month of July 2013, I called the offices of all 100 U.S. Senators, the North Carolina House delegation, and numerous other congressmen and women. I assure you this is without question a bipartisan filching of your tax dollars.
Only 18 Senate staff admitted to using the program (nine Democrats – nine Republicans) and only six claimed not to use it (three and three). The rest either refused to speak with me or alleged never to have heard of the program. Neither Kay Hagan’s (she’s no longer our senator) or Richard Burr’s staff would speak with me about it. Three of our 13 congressional staff said they participated, the other 10 claimed not to know anything about it.
I will repeat what I have said numerous times over the past three-plus years. I strongly believe and maintain this is a shameless misuse of public funds, is blatantly and deeply offensive to every American citizen and taxpayer and in a time of a massive (and growing) national debt and student debt, it is inconceivable that our representatives would continue funding such a gross injustice.
David L. Snell — Franklin, N.C.
Trump’s approval of Putin leadership misguided
Donald Trump has campaigned around the United States criticizing President Obama as a weak leader with a failed foreign policy. In a foreign policy forum, he stated that the Obama administration has reduced our generals to rubble. Trump praises Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s President as examples of strong leaders and suggests he would get along just fine with them since he gets along with everybody. In a recent appearance in Larry King’s show on Russian television, Trump again voiced his approval of Putin’s leadership and his disapproval of America’s leadership and its foreign policies.
Later, Trump suggested he didn’t know he would be on Russian TV. Trump in a nationally known reality TV host. He told Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” that he gained his superior knowledge of military policy from watching TV shows. As an individual who educates himself by watching TV shows it is hard to believe he wasn’t aware that Larry King, who Trump has known for years, worked for Russian TV. Trump would appear to be extremely ignorant or a liar, or both.
Consider a reverse situation. What if a candidate running against Putin for president of Russia appeared on American TV and declared that Putin was a weak leader, his government was a failure and his generals were reduced to rubble? This candidate would be jailed on “trumped” up charges or, more likely, end up dead. All this has been done under President Putin. Is this the kind of strong leadership that Trump aspires to?
One of the few books Trump is known to have read is Adolph Hitler’s book of speeches, “My New Order.” His ex-wife says Trump kept a copy of this book by his bedside. Perhaps Donald Trump’s opinions on what makes a strong leader have been formed by his reading this book.
In America a presidential candidate is free to verbally attack our sitting president, his administration and our generals without any fear of reprisal. We believe is freedom of speech and the press. Through an open public exchange of ideas and opinions we believe the truth will ultimately triumph. This is what makes America great.
Margery Abel — Franklin, N.C.
Telephone monopoly providing poor service
I have lived here in Franklin for nearly four years now coming from a small community along the South Carolina Coastline. I served for 15 years on a cooperative telephone board while living in South Carolina. I was a member of the National Telephone Cooperative Association during my tenure and am aware of the responsibilities of telephone companies nationwide. One of them is maintenance of telephone lines.
When I moved to Franklin I found that the only telephone service in my neighborhood was through Frontier Communications. All of my neighbors told me of the shoddy service that was provided through this company, but having served on a telephone board, I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Now, I have to agree with my neighbors.
Firstly, I noticed when I first moved here that a telephone line laid on top of the ground for about six months. It was finally put underground. There is a telephone line in my driveway that is on top of the dirt right now. Also, every time it rains, our telephone communication becomes filled with static for days afterward. My biggest concern, however, is that the main telephone line that services several homes up here is stretched out from one tree and also touches another tree that has branches that touch the line when the wind blows causing sketchy communication. These trees need to be removed before the lines are destroyed and to keep communication ongoing.
I cannot cut these trees myself due to the aftereffects of Agent Orange over in Viet Nam. I am disabled and am on a fixed income so I cannot afford to have someone come and cut these trees, nor would I ask them to do this due to liability concerns from the phone company. I pay my bill to Frontier on time every month. I call Frontier tech support concerning this problem and was told that it would cost me $129 for them to send someone out here to assess the problem. I do not feel that this is my problem and I refuse to pay for something that should be maintained by Frontier Communications. This is the main communication line coming into my property that serves many homes, not just mine. I do not feel that I should be held responsible for where Frontier Communications places their lines nor where God places a tree.
Frontier has a monopoly here. We do not have a choice as to what phone company to use and, as in many other areas in the mountains, cell phone service is not available here. Therefore, Frontier Communications can treat their clients anyway they please. I could cut off my telephone service but because I am disabled, I have to have communication in case of an emergency. I am frustrated and concerned that Frontier Communications does not care about the mostly retired and/or disabled veterans that live in Franklin and surrounding areas. I feel that it is dishonorable and selfish way to do business. Charging me for reporting a problem that will eventually cause a lack of service for not only myself but others is unfair. As for myself, I am reporting Frontier Communications to the Better Business Bureau for their complete lack of concern.
Steve Bailey — Franklin, N.C.
President needs to be able to find practical solutions
Ideologues are people who refuse to change as circumstances change, dogmatic and uncompromising. They are inherently unable to solve problems unless that problem just happens to fit their preconceived ideology.
At the opposite end is someone who has an open mind and willing to apply whatever it takes to solve a problem. This is extremely necessary for anyone who expects to lead our country and solve the myriad of problems facing us.
I submit that Hillary Clinton is an ideologue and stuck in 50-year-old failed political theories, including the idea that some minorities need to be kept on welfare and that if we are nice to our enemies, they will not harm us.
Logically, our president should be free to solve problems based on practical solutions and not a slave to political ideology or big money from donors expecting favors in return.
We need free thinkers of the sort we saw in Harry Truman, John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. (One could say that Bill Clinton had a bit too much free thinking, however)
Hillary Clinton’s plan for you and me is the antithesis of a logical solution to problems in America. For example I have only to point to the present disaster in our inner cities where black Americans and Latinos have been sidelined. The more people you have trapped in poverty the more they are dependent on government and more likely to vote for Hillary and the Democrats.
I also submit that Donald Trump has spent his life solving problems as opposed to Hillary Clinton who has spent her life climbing the political ladder.
One must ask which is more valuable.
In my opinion, it’s better to have someone adept at solving problems rather than following uncompromising, dogmatic political ideology such as Hillary offers.
Yes, Donald Trump has infuriated me and others with his loose tongue and dumb comments but if we look past this at his history, we see a man who is one heck of a skilled negotiator and problem solver. When something breaks, he finds out why and fixes it. Whether getting our inner city kids on the right track or dealing with the potential Russian invasion of Ukraine, he will use his talent for making a deal. He will solve problems political ideologues cannot solve.
The press likes to say Trump flip-flops but thank heaven he is ready to change as circumstances change. Ideologues like Hillary cannot change and her so-called diplomacy has only brought the specter of war closer. Donald Trump is not a typical politician adept at politically correct speech. This is an honorable position to be in because we need, now more than ever, someone free to speak their mind and bring some honesty to our politics. Trump tells you like it really is but politicians tell you what they think you want to hear.
Think carefully; do we want more of the same or do we want someone fresh and clean. The last thing we need is another ideologue in the White House.
Bob Wilson — Franklin, N.C.