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August 31, 1999


Death of a Tax Bill

On August 17 Mobile County voters overwhelmingly rejected a desperate call for a 10- mill increase in property taxes for public schools. Few would have denied that many classrooms are in terrible shape or that 550 portable classrooms are too many. So why did residents defeat the measure which would have raised property tax on a $70,000 house by a mere $70 a year?

The Executive Committee of the Mobile County Republican Party noisily opposed the bill on the dogma that any new tax is bad. While not questioning the goal of improved education, the Committee complained that “voters have not been fully informed as to the options available to reach that goal.'' Should we be surprised that their statement described no options?

One week after the lethal vote a professor of management at University of South Alabama contended on the front page of the Mobile Register that the language of the ballot question was too difficult for most voters to understand. Should we be surprised that reading skills in a community with poor schools are poor?

And what about the Mobile Register? While its August 17 editorial urged voters to support the measure, every other paragraph reminded them about past wasteful uses of tax revenue. Why should voters trust their school leaders? The best argument that the paper could find was that citizens elected the school board. The editorial sent a muddy message. Should we be surprised that Mobile's daily newspaper played it safe?

The tax bill died on August 17 because voters rationalized their greed. Instead of recognizing that today's students determine the quality of our lives tomorrow, voters found easy excuses to be short-sighted. Undoubtedly, many of them send their children to private schools. Unless their thinking evolves, we will face a century in which all but the poor avoid the fate of inadequate public schools. We shouldn't be surprised.

-- Dan Silver

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Letters to the Editor

To The Editor of The Harbinger:

The recent story about banning the wearing of the Star of David by the Gulfport, MS School Board raises some very interesting sociopolitical issues. If the Star of David is to be banned, then not only should the Cross be banned but also the Red Crescent, the symbol associated with Islam. Please permit me to point out that the School Board, if it is truly concerned about safety, should have banned the Cross years ago. There are gangs, although not currently operating in the Gulfport, MS area, who use the Cross as their symbol. Thus, how is the public to know that the wearing of the Cross is not the beginning of gang-related activities and therefore not a prelude to violence? Therefore, if the Board truly wishes to assure the safety of the students, then Crosses must be banned. Also, there is a very important historical reason for banning the Cross. The Cross represents one of the most vicious gangs - Christianity - that has ever come into existence. No one who has studied history can deny that under the symbol of the Cross some of the worst cruelties known to humanity have been inflicted on millions of people and, under the symbol of the Cross, millions of people have died horrible deaths.

Just substitute the appropriate word (Red Crescent for Cross and Islam for Christianity) in the above paragraph and the same argument should be used for banning the wearing of the Red Crescent or any other symbol of Islam.

In view of the ongoing war between Fundamentalist Christianity and the public education system throughout the country - as made blatantly manifest by the recent actions of the Kansas Board of Education - it appears that millions of people may be in danger of having to respond to charges of heresy because they dare accept reason and empirical evidence over faith based dogma. That is one of the ultimate fates of society, should public school science curricula have to teach evolution according to religious dictates as opposed to teaching evolution based on evidence obtained through the scientific method. Let us not forget that the charge of heresy is one of the most intellectually stifling concepts ever created and introduced by religion. It is the denial of freedom of thought. History has shown this to be the case with Christianity and, more recently, with the fatwah ordered on Salmon Rushdie because he dared write a book which someone deemed to be critical of Islam, it has shown to be true of Islam.

Thus, once a charge of heresy can be leveled, one can easily see where a new era comparable to the Inquisition can be reinstituted.

The banning of the Cross and the Red Crescent must be instituted immediately along side of the banning of the Star of David.

Sincerely yours,
Sheldon Gottlieb, Ph.D.

Dear Editor,

I have a plan for people to be prepared for Y2K "disaster" and to help the homeless. You should post in your paper for people to stock up a two weeks' supply of food, (or at least some food) and then if this Y2K "global disaster" doesn't happen, then people could give their canned goods and non-perishables that were stocked up to a soup kitchen. You should also give addresses and contact information of soup kitchens/ Red Cross. That way it will be a win/win situation.


Matt W, 15 years old

Dear Editor,

Recently Tipper Gore launched a campaign to desensitize the public to the stigma that has been placed on mental illness. For generations there has been a similar stigma placed on the natural biological function of menopause. Women were silent about the "M" word, often embarrassed by their physical changes and emotional behavior. Until recently there was little research completed on the topic and treatment options were (and still are) very limited. Today, there is much medical and psychological literature which tells women what they might expect during this stage of their life, but actual real life stories about women's experiences are almost non-existent.

In an effort to assist women with sharing their experiences with perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause, an essay contest is being offered. The contestant is being asked to write in her own voice (dialect) a 3-5 page true story about one incident with or a general impression of menopause. The seventy-five finalists will have their stories placed within a book with the intent of being published, thus helping non menopausal women, spouses and the general public to become more sensitized to this often misunderstood phenomenon. The first, second, and third place winners will also receive a cash prize of $500.00, $300.00, and $200.00 respectively.

Judging will not be based on excellent writing skills, but will be based on the contestant’s ability to write a story in her own style. All ethnic groups across all socioeconomic levels are encouraged to enter the contest. More specific information about the contest can be found at

It is my hope that you will find merit in the need for menopausal women to mentor non- menopausal women by being more open about their experiences. Please feel free to return an email if you or a colleague would like to speak with me about this project. The contest deadline is September 30, 1999.

I am a licensed psychologist in the states of Florida and Colorado and have been working with women's issues since 1975. Thank you in advance for anything that you might do to inform women about the contest.

Juanita O. Brooks, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist

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