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Privatization will be costly to taxpayers
This concerns all of us. On Friday, May 24, 2019, the Trump administration laid-off 1,1065 federal workers at the Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers (CCC), which will essentially kill the Forest Service that trains disadvantaged young people to fight wildland fires and other community jobs. These centers enroll over 3,000 students a year.
People in Macon County were told on 24 May that their jobs will stay open but be operated by a private firm. Some of the good ol’ boys now working at Job Corp. will be hired on as ‘private contractors,’ with two or three times the pay they currently obtain. That sounds like kickback or payback to me.
Privatization will cost the taxpayers more than Job Corp ever did. Why? Because private businesses are in the business to make money — they are not in it to help train disadvantaged 16- to 24-year-olds. The Job Corps mission statement was about training young folks. Private companies will be about getting the most profit.
Corners are often cut to increase profits after privatization. Case in point, the privatization of prisons. The private prisons have an interest in getting more people put in prison; and the prison populations are not getting rehabilitated because that “costs” and eats into profit. Since 2000, the number of people in prison has increased by 47%. These prisons lobby for more laws that put more folks in prisons for longer sentences. Also, they have lessened costs by cutting staff, food quality, and things like background checks for guards. But the companies do make a profit.
The CCC being privatized means that the program will no longer be accountable to taxpayers, who can vote folks out of office who do not run the program correctly. But a CEO answers only to his board of directors. And if we taxpayers do not like how the CEO is handling the Job Corp Forest Service — too bad.
One of the nine CCCs to close by September is the Oconaluftee Center in Cherokee, N.C. Seven of these nine centers to be closed were top performing centers. What kind of sense does this make? In 2012, this center received the highest USDA service award — it was one of 12. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it — this center is working to the highest standard, helping enrich lives – and it’s being closed!
Nine centers out of 25 will be closed. Of the remaining 16, they will be transferred from the U.S. Forest Service to the U.S. Dept. of Labor. These include Lyndon Johnson CCC in Franklin, and Schenck CCC in Pisgah Forest, N.C. Although The Franklin Press said, “It is unclear… remains to be seen if the students at the surviving 16 centers will be trained and allowed to participate in firefighting and other land management activities.” Unclear? Remains to be seen?
In three months, these centers will be under the bigger umbrella of the USDOL. Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen said that the transfer makes sense because the program “… will be more efficient and flexible to local needs when operated by the State or private sector entities.” So, the initiators of this plan know it will be flexible and efficient, but do not know if the kids will be trained in land management activities and firefighting? That ought to be known before any transfer is written in cement.
It wasn’t that long ago (2016) that Western N.C. had some serious wildfires; the 30-plus forest wildfires consumed more than 70,000 acres. Hot, dry summers will visit us again and we will regret the loss of the Job Corp Forestry Service.
Call your senators and ask them to fight for the Job Corp Forestry Service.
The Department of Agriculture:
Sonny Perdue: 1-202-720-3631
Secretary of Labor:
Alexander Acosta: 1-202-693-6000
Senator Richard Burr:
1-202-224-3154 Washington DC office
1-800-658-8916 Winston-Salem, NC office
Senator Thom Tillis:
1-202-224-6342 Washington DC office
1-919-856-4630 Raleigh, NC
Congressman Mark Meadows:
1-202-225-6401 Washington DC office
1-828-693-5660 Hendersonville, NC
Pamela Keyser – Otto, N.C.
Quote from former president still holds true
I just came across a quote from our former president, John Adams. He said “In my many years, I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a Congress.” How true.
Lois Perry – Franklin, N.C.
Cyclist makes heartfelt request of WNC drivers
My name is Lewis Smith I am the Western Area Director of Development for Baptist Children’s Homes of N.C. I travel the 23 far western counties for the children’s homes and work with all the churches and pastors here in Western North Carolina. I have been involved in ministry in these mountains for most of my adult life and count it a blessing from the Lord to represent such a wonderful and worthy ministry as Baptist Children’s Homes. I drive 4,000+ miles each month, and a few years ago I became convicted that I was gaining too much weight and I knew that if something didn’t change that it would lead to health problems down the road. I made this a matter of prayer and I became convinced that I needed to get back in good shape and lose some weight. I decided that I would accomplish this goal and do something good to benefit Baptist Children’s Homes of N.C. I decided that I would train and when I was ready, ride a bicycle across my area, cover all my counties and preach the Gospel on my way. My goal was to lose 20 pounds, ride 571 miles across the mountains, preach on my way, and raise money for the children’s homes. “Ride the West-2008” as I called it was wonderfully successful and I met all my goals. This was indeed a wonderful summertime adventure for me and my wife, Sherry. I couldn’t have made the miles or met my goals without her help and encouragement. I also couldn’t have accomplished the ride without the guidance, help, and training advice from Dave and Pam Forshee of Smoky Mountain Bicycles, here in Franklin. Sherry, Dave, and Pam have always been there for me and will always be my cycling team. When I finished the ride in 2008, I received an added blessing. I caught the “cycling bug” and I hope to ride a bike through these mountains until Jesus comes.
With this bit of my cycling history stated I now come to a heartfelt request. Will you, as the traveling public of Western North Carolina please be courteous and patient when you meet cyclists on the road? North Carolina law will not allow us to ride facing traffic. We are considered vehicles by the state and must abide by all traffic laws just like folks traveling in cars. Because of this requirement cyclists are at the mercy, so to speak, of the traveling public. Please help us stay safe. Most of the cyclists that I know are mindful of their responsibility as they ride and, in turn, try to follow the rules of the road for smart cycling. We are trained to be Predictable, Visible, Alert, Assertive (not aggressive) and Courteous on the bike.
Here are my promises to you: I will as soon as I can find a safe place to pull over and let you by. I am mindful of gas prices, daily schedules, etc. and certainly don’t want to hold you up. I will not direct you to pass me or make any hand motions to wave you around; that should be your decision so please be patient and make it carefully. The life you save could be mine or yours. I am constantly aware that the ride I take today could be my last. Please help me live to ride another day. Thank you for listening and allowing me to make this request from my heart
Your partner on the road, Lewis Smith – Franklin, N.C.
What kind of legacy will I leave?
As I begin this letter, I’m sitting in a church. I awoke early and couldn’t go back to sleep. I decided to walk and hitchhike to church, about two and a half miles, I think. I soon got a ride from a neighbor.
You may not print this letter. It may be rather long. That is the power God has given you. You may even throw it in the trash can, for that is your right, but I hope you print it.
Life to me is a big show.
It’s now one week later, 7:35 a.m. on May 5, 2019. I awoke at about 4:30 a.m., and again I couldn’t go back to sleep. At about 6 a.m., I got up and about 7 a.m., I left out again on foot, walking and hitch-hiking. A young man passed me, went a ways, turned around and pulled over and picked me up. He was on his way to work, but took enough time to turn around and bring me all the way to Wells Grove Baptist Church. I invited him to come and visit us, if he didn’t have a church home. He said he might today if he had time after work. He only had an hour or so to work this morning. He’s moved here from Haywood County. He wouldn’t take money for gas either.
Getting back to the legacy we all will leave. When you get 72, like I am now, you think of these things, especially if you feel you were put here to influence maybe millions of people.
You, as an editor of a paper, may have already influenced millions. My pastor, Terry Dixon, may have already influenced millions.
She lived in the White House here in Franklin, The Helen White. If she didn’t, her daughters probably will, especially three of them. You may know the triplets, born about 1971, that sing gospel music. They are The White Sisters. Their dad, Rev. Joe White, had a Saturday morning radio broadcast on WFSC for about 30 years, I think. He also may have influenced millions.
If I die before the rapture of the church, how will people remember me? Some may walk by my casket and think, he was only a dreamer. Some may think, he was the biggest packrat I’ve ever know. Some may think, he was full of himself. Some may think, he was only a junk man. If I were to die today, and I very well could, none of us know when God will say, “It’s time.” If I were to die today, my wife could put this epitaph on my tombstone and it be true: World’s Greatest Dreamer and Procrastinator. I’m not dead yet though, so I hope my epitaph won’t read like that.
When this body of clay lays in a casket, and people walk by if I die before the rapture, I hope they’ll think:
1 – He love and feared God
2 – He tried to provide for his wife and daughter
3 – He loved going to God’s house. He said it was the nearest one would ever get to heaven.
4 – He was very saving; not wasteful
5 – He believed in paying cash for every vehicle he ever drove
6 – He didn’t rob and steal from God
7 – He forgave all those who done him wrong
That’s the seven things I would like for people to think as they walk by my casket, but what will they think? I do hope, more than anything, if I know my heart, that people will know and believe that I forgave all those that done me wrong. I believe that when we forgive, we are most like the one who died for us, of course, Jesus Christ.
I could write for another hour or so, but I’ll soon sign off. I’m not a reader, I’m a writer, but I hope some of those that read this letter will think more about the legacy they will leave. It’s serious.
Jerry R. Holden – Franklin, N.C.
Constitution contains principles of checks and balances
To impeach or not to impeach, that is the question on the minds of many Americans and the U.S. Congress. We must consider whether such action is in the vital best interests of the United States despite any political risks of its outcome.
Children of my generation were taught, accepted, and held inviolate, the Constitution’s basic principles of separation of powers and checks and balances. Every child today, and every adult in America, is learning from Donald Trump that these tenets, this foundation, our code of ethics, our Constitution, may be nothing but hogwash.
By refusing to respond to any congressional subpoena, Trump is saying Congress has no constitutional authority to oversee the executive branch. He’s stating that Congress is subordinate (not a co-equal) branch of government. Do we just simply forget about separation of powers?
By spending money on his ill-conceived wall that Congress explicitly refused to okay, Trump is saying Congress has no constitutional authority over spending. Goodbye, checks and balances. Goodbye, Congress.
By shutting down government whenever this man-child doesn’t get his way, Trump is saying he has the constitutional right not to execute laws whenever it suits him. Again, Farewell, Congress.
By directing the attorney general, the justice department, the FBI and the secretary of the treasury to act in his own personal interest rather than in the interests of the American people, Trump is saying that he (or any president) can run the U.S. government on his own. Adios, Constitution and Goodbye, America, Au Revoir, Ta-Ta, Sayonara.
By threatening to cut off trade with the second-largest economy in the world, Trump is saying he has sole authority to endanger the entire American economy. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (President of Mexico) is the most recent leader to try and explain the economic facts of life to Trump before he puts the world’s economy in a tailspin.
And by doing everything possible to stop an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, including firing the head of the FBI (interference we now know to be true and clearly did take place), Trump told America that it’s OK for a president to obstruct justice. Goodbye, law. You feel comfortable with that? I’m not.
The core purpose of the U.S. Constitution is to prevent tyranny. The framers wisely distributed power among the president, congress, and the judiciary, giving each of the three branches the means to limit the power of the other two. In other words, the framers of the U.S. Constitution anticipated the possibility of a Donald Trump.
The framers also put in components to enforce the Constitution against a president who tries to usurp the powers of the other branches of government (which Donald Trump clearly has). The last sentence of Article I, Section 2: “The House of Representatives shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.” In the next to last paragraph of Article I, Section 3: “The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments.”
President Donald Trump, in my view, clearly appears to be actively usurping the powers of the other branches. Therefore, the road ahead (though difficult to traverse) seems equally clear. Under our present circumstances, the Constitution mandates, commands and instructs that the House of Representatives undertake an impeachment inquiry and present the resulting evidence to the Senate.
This may not be the popular or the practical or the risk-free political thing to do. But it is the necessary thing to do and it is the right thing to do.
David Snell – Franklin, N.C.
Machine operator should have known better
Went to visit my mother’s gravesite here in town. They tell me the county is supposed look out for the care of it. If I am wrong, please tell me who is supposed to. When I bought the plot I bought it at a law firm in Franklin.
Here’s my complaint. Yes, I know the trouble it is to keep up this large area, but whoever drove a heavy tractor or backhoe or a pickup went over the gravesite next to my mom and the back of her site should have known better. The ground was wet and it left big ruts across the grave sites.
I hope when your time comes, some person or thing doesn’t do the same to your site. There’s a word that Italians use for a creep like you but I can’t put it in print!
William Trapani – Franklin, N.C.
Religion and politics don’t mix
It’s widely viewed and with good reason, that religious systems do not mix well within political systems. The examples are numerous and touch every continent or people group in our world. England and the Roman Catholic church, Ireland’s Catholics against Britain’s Protestants, the Crusaders, Islamic rule mixed in government and faith, yet fights other Islamic groups within its own government and faith. Hitler’s holocaust, when he used his own Humanistic faith within politics promoting a superior race against what he deemed a lesser race, the Jews. Many see the fault in all of this and regret how humanity is so abusive and cruel against itself. I truly am amazed and thankful that those who founded our country lived with such convictions, but saw clearly the problems and implemented separation of church and state.Yet even as we speak, we are a more divided people than ever. Many, whether realized or not, are falling into a Humanistic faith and government is its church, where we answer to no one to what we deem as a right, we worship the expansion of unrestrained freedom at the expense of others. Hatred and demonizing people is now at the altar of honor and open discussions with respect for fellow human beings is nowhere to be found, whether in politics, college campuses, or social media. We hate, really not able to explain why we hate. Hate is a total absence of love, and love and respect is the sacrifice.
There’s a realization that the abuse of faith isn’t a true representation of faith at all, but a faith in human pride and selfishness. There’s a statement used by many that a belief in God is just a crutch to lean on, it can also be said its opposite is the crutch for unbelief and blame as well, for if there is “nothing,” no God, just live then die, without a reason behind any of it, then our existence makes no sense at all, “period.”
Faith is that something we all have in common in some form, whether in the Divine, self, or political systems Our (ideals) for life, are reset in the disappointments of life’s (realities), this causes deep (tension) within our hearts, minds, souls and with each other. Humanity can not, try as it may, resolve the problems of the world around us, because it can not solve the many problems within. How do we expect to bring peace into our world when individually we have little peace within? Humanity has forever tried with little success to remedy humanity’s problems. If there is a God who is there, would he not have pity and a love for us in this struggle that seems to entangle us? The truth is evident, God is here but he doesn’t reveal himself in religious or political systems, he works within the heart and soul of mankind. He comes to us because He loves as nothing else can love, He speaks in that still quiet voice whispering there’s something more, come, seek and find. He comes to the worst and the best of us, and everyone in between. Listen for the whisper … Searching for more,
Deni Shepard – firstname.lastname@example.org
Controversy needs to be resolved
In the movie “Shawshank Redemption” there is a great line: Hope is a good thing. I certainly agree. A Vietnam veteran whose name I don’t recall wrote this profound thought: Tolerance of the intolerable may be wiser than meeting rage with rage. I certainly agree.
These two concepts, hope and tolerance, come to mind as I think of this historically reckless president of the United States. Has our tolerance been stretched about as far as our Constitution can allow? Comparisons have been made to Clinton’s misconduct as well as Nixon’s. But there is really little ground on which to make those comparisons. Nixon’s impeachment centered on the theft of opposition party documents while Clinton’s was brought about by an embarrassing sex act. Both events were solely domestic affairs. Trump has been investigated for conspiring with a foreign power to influence an election plus the strong possibility that he obstructed justice in the investigation of that election interference.
Trump’s legacy will forever be tainted. He seems to have no shame for producing the need to be investigated. His “base” seems to have endless tolerance. The majority of Americans – not so much. They want Trump held accountable for his reckless administration. They want constitutional clarity for controlling future presidents. When the human conscience fails to establish acceptable limits for a president they want clearer consequences to be written into our laws to handle the misdeeds.
Many, perhaps most, Americans remain hopeful that our Constitution is strong enough to weather the storm we are currently experiencing.
One of our unique legal principles is the presumption of innocence until proven guilty of a crime. Donald Trump surely hopes that he has rigged enough legal bulwarks to prevent his being proven guilty of obstruction of justice. Hope springs eternal for him. Yet, he may be remembered as a president who could not satisfactorily prove his innocence. He can claim his own innocence until he dies. But, the cloud of doubt will hover over his head. Unless the affair is settled one way or the other. Sadly, there is little evidence that that will haunt him. Why? Several who have studied Trump say he has no moral compass to elicit regret/shame. No conscience.
What can Americans hope for then? We must seek resolution of this legal/moral mystery. We must convict Trump or allow the legal system to prove his innocence. Black or white. Grey won’t work. America is better than grey. The world needs to believe that America is a beacon of equality, justice and liberty for all. We must work for a “more perfect union” not one that is forever tainted by controversy unresolved.
America must demonstrate to the world that we can manage our own affairs. We will not promote or tolerate interference by any other country.
Dave Waldrop – Webster, N.C.
China likely to mess around with our elections
It all began with the best of intentions.
China was rattling their sabers and President Nixon decided to approach Chinese Communist dictator Chairman Mao to work on a trade deal. Obviously hoping to tame China down a bit and to encourage them to be friends instead of a threat. At the time, it was a good move on our part but it has since backfired.
Since Nixon’s time, China has moved from just being a military threat to being an economic threat plus a huge military threat as well.
Ridiculous as it may seem, Americans have been financing their military simply because we are addicted to buying the lowest priced goods we can. Few could have foreseen what came to pass.
We were sending China some $500 billion a year for stuff Americans buy. In turn, they were only buying about $60 billion of our stuff. This is a trade imbalance to say the least.
With a free market, free trade policy, countries buy stuff back and forth and everything is expected to balance out. You buy our beans and we’ll buy your peanuts.
While the China problem was brewing on the back burner, we essentially sent China industries that we deemed to be polluters.
By the way, we still get the pollution, it just comes from China instead.
Our unions sent more industries to China by demanding wages that were 20 times the typical wage in China.
In short, we shot ourselves in the foot and are now in a pickle.
To keep China from continuing to plunder our cash President Trump imposed tariffs of around 25 percent of Chinese imports trying to get them to the bargaining table. It worked for a while but the ongoing Socialist movement to take over our government told the Chinese to simply be patient and wait it out. There was also the possibility that the Socialists might succeed in forcing him out of office in some manner. So, the Chinese refused to come to any agreement on trade.
China, of course, it hoping that Joe Biden will win the election in 2020 and because he and John Kerry’s families owe the Bank of China around $1 billion and that Biden will drop the tariffs and they won’t have to make a deal. They would feel free to continue stealing our intellectual property and ignore patents and copyrights.
There is no doubt that China will attempt to interfere in our elections but unlike Russia who tried to get Hillary Clinton elected China will push for Joe Biden to win.
One thing is clear, we don’t need or want a foreign country messing around with our elections. Not being a computer guru, I have no idea how to stop it but it will take some real computer geniuses to stop it from happening. Foreign countries have been hacking into our system since Obama’s time in office and nothing was done about it. That needs to change.
Bob Wilson – Franklin, N.C.