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April 25, 2000


Siegelman and Education

During his gubernatorial campaign, Governor Don Siegelman vowed to make education reform a priority of his administration. For a majority of voters his articulate phrases were a soothing balm after the embarrassing statements and the silly antics of the former governor. But lately his words have been disappointing.

The governor has called for increased discipline in schools. Compelling students to say "yes, ma'am'' and "no, sir'' must not be confused with learning. By all means teach students to respect others, but let them show that respect in more meaningful ways.

Like most of us, the governor wants to attract the best possible teachers. Good teachers will excite and inspire children. However, their influence quickly fades after school hours unless it is reinforced in the home and community. Unless children see their parents read, it is unlikely that they will truly be literate. Unless children enjoy theater and music in their community, it is unlikely that their adult lives will be enriched by the arts. If children are given a purely utilitarian view of education, it is unlikely that they will excel.

Governor Siegelman hopes that by raising salaries for K- 12 teachers he can attract the best. Good salaries are important and should be supported by new taxes. But more than good salaries are needed. Alabama must restore arts programs that have been cut by financially strapped school systems. It must develop its intellectual life.

Don Siegelman has the intelligence and communication skills to begin a profound discussion about education in Alabama. It is time to begin.

-- Dan Silver

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Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Recent articles in Birmingham and Mobile newspapers have presented enough evidence to indict the policy making executives of Alabama Power for several crimes against humanity including: conspiracy to cause the deaths of people, reckless endangerment, and purposeful destruction of public property. During the period of Ozone alerts in Birmingham in 1999, the Birmingham news reported scientific evidence that Alabama Power was responsible for 65% for the ozone emissions in Alabama. They also reported the deaths of several dozen people and mentioned the hundreds of children whose asthma had either been caused by the ozone or worsened. Even healthy adults suffer lung damage when doing anything physical outdoors. The media advised people to remain indoors, but outside air IS indoor air (duhh).

Articles in the Mobile Press this weekend (William Rabb) stated that Alabama Power had sold power to out of state utilities last year which required they crank up the Infamous Barry Plant to the max rather than using the cleaner electricity from the hydroelectric plants in north Alabama. They therefore knowingly conspired to cause the deaths and injury to many Alabamians outside of their usual defense of pollution because we are making electricity for the state, and according to the Mobile Press article, Alabama Power sold this electricity at a loss. Alabamians therefore paid this monopoly to lose money and commit murder.

Anyone else who is partly responsible for knowingly causing the death of someone is liable under our laws. This is not a monarchy or dictatorship and all citizens are equally protected and responsible. Further by the above acts, the same executives are guilty of reckless or public endangerment, destruction of public property (smog damage to people and the environment).

I have written the state attorney general asking that criminal indictments be issued for the arrest of policy making executives of Alabama Power and the Southern Company and to issue a cease and desist order to keep more Alabamians from dying or having their lungs damaged needlessly by the mismanagement of this out of control monopoly. It's time to draw a line in the sand folks.

Ron Horton
Bay Minette, AL

Dear Editor,

The reason I am writing this letter in short is that I lost my father on May 14,1999. He was killed in a accident on Hwy.68 in Cumberland Co. just outside Crossville, TN. It was an accident involving his car and a boat and trailer. A man pulling a boat and trailer was heading west and my father was heading east when the boat and trailer came off from the hitch of the truck and crossed the lane into the path of my father's car. There wasn't anything at that point anyone could do. But, there is something that we can do now. With summer coming, we need to tell people about safety for towing and boating. If the man pulling the boat and trailer had done a walk around inspection before leaving home, my father might still be here.

Here are just a few safety tips. (1) Before towing your boat on the open road, make a visual check of your rig, including the trailer, boat, motor, and tow vehicle. Check the towing weight specifications for your boat, trailer, and vehicle's hitch. (2) The ideal tire pressure is molded into the sidewalls of the trailer's tires. Check all tire pressures with a reliable gauge, including the spare. Add air if necessary. (3) Check the trailer ball and safety chains. Chains should be crossed under the trailer tongue to support the trailer in case you hit a bump, and the hitch ball and coupler disconnect. Make sure the hitch coupler's locking lever is in the down position, the ball is locked to the coupler, and a pin or padlock is through the locking lever. (4) Adjust the air pressure in air-adjustable shock absorbers so that the boat trailer and tow vehicle are level. (5) If the trailer is equipped with brakes, check their adjustment according to the owner's manual, and inspect the breakaway lanyard's connection. (6) Add wheel bearing lubricators to the hubs if you don't have them. Make a visual inspection of the grease in the clear plastic hub and add the correct lubricant if needed. (7) Make sure the winch cable is tight with the boat's bow against the stop. A safety chain should be connected between the boat's bow towing eye and the trailer tongue to keep the boat from jumping over the winch stand in a panic stop. Also, secure a strap between hull and trailer near the boat's stern to keep the boat and trailer together in case of an accident. (8) Raise the outboard motor or I/O lower unit to the towing position and lock it in place. Some motors use a separate motor brace for towing. (9) Prepare for launching before leaving home to avoid conflict at the launch ramp. Secure tackle, coolers, boat covers, and other gear on board the boat so they won't blow out or bounce out, and attach lines to the bow and stern cleats for launching and docking. (10) Make sure any drain plugs are installed before launching. (11) Check brake and directional signal lights before leaving home. Replace burned-out bulbs and make sure trailer plug contacts are free from corrosion. (12) Check the springs and axle for excess rust. Also, check U-bolts bearings and wheel hubs. (13) License plate holders on trailers are subject to theft, breakage, wear and tear, and corrosion. Make sure the license plate is still in place. (14) Weight at the towing hitch is generally about 10 percent of the total loaded weight of the boat and trailer. Not enough weight on the tongue can cause the boat to fishtail at highway speeds and cause an accident. Too much weight on the tongue overloads the rear of the tow car and the hitch and aims your headlights too high. Even on low beam. (15) Use a screw-pin shackle with a wire through the pin's eye to fasten the safety chains in place. This shackle-pin is available at all Boat U.S. Marine Centers in the area where anchoring equipment is sold.

Please help me to get the word out for safety. My father died in an accident that didn't have to happen. If we work together, maybe someone won't have to die. I am working hard to get the word out. You can read more about this in the magazine called Boat U.S. (Apr/May 2000 issue).

Thank You for all your help and time in this matter!!

Debra F. Gibson
Chatsworth, GA

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