Archive for the ‘Town Halls’ Category

>Town Hall meetings

August 3, 2010

>This is a letter that I sent to the Western Star in Bessemer, that they elected not to publish. But you will still get a chance to read it, because I’ll put it on Bessemer Opinions:

Dear Editor:

The more I think about it, the more I consider the inappropriateness of Mayor Ed May’s Town Hall meetings. I have not attended many of them recently, but I used to attend them all when he was first elected eight years ago.

The modern concept of town halls brings to mind large meeting rooms like the auditorium at City Hall, or the auditoriums in the numerous public schools in our city.

The mayor chooses to conduct his Town Hall meetings in the security of a church, and the meetings bear some resemblance to the service one might hear on a Sunday morning.

At a recent Town Hall meeting in a local church we heard how the recent pattern of scattered thunderstorms, for instance, was pre-determined by God. That didn’t bother me too much, as someone’s uneducated belief about the weather doesn’t concern me, unless that person is the one in charge of issuing tornado warnings, for instance, the paths of which I think are determined by natural forces and not the hand of God taking aim at certain ones of us.

But at a meeting three years ago after the tragic death of 14 year old Josh Hughes the mayor offered a solution to the crime problem in Bessemer that does affect me as well as the rest of Bessemer’s citizens.

The solution to violent crime, according to the mayor, rather than increased police protection would be for each one of the audience members, to tell another resident about Jesus and for that resident to do the same, until all of Bessemer had converted.

The recent murder of 23 year old Maurice Thomas at a Bessemer club shows how well that strategy has worked.

Conducting Town Hall meetings in churches is exclusionary because not all citizens feel comfortable in a particular church, or any church, for that matter. Government should be separate from religion, and combining the two, even on this level, is dangerous and inappropriate.

We have plenty of public buildings throughout our city where this type of meeting could be held, and in buildings that are paid for and owned by the citizens, we would all feel welcome.

(PS – Disclosure: I have no control over the ads that appear below the posts. I mean, which ads. I don’t necessarily approve or endorse the products or politicians or whatevers that may appear.)

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>Freepers and Hubbers are much the same

August 19, 2009

>Conservatives incapable of learning? Or unwilling?

“Trying to have a conversation with you is like trying to argue with a dining room table.”

Who does this describe? Town Hall meeting protesters? No Hub 4 McCalla protesters? I believe they are pretty much the same.

First the Town Hall. Barney Frank let’s this woman have it.

The woman obviously resists all attempts to educate herself, she just has a hateful attitude and refused to find out what health care reform is all about. Like all of the freepers.

It’s the same with the No Hub 4 McCalla crowd, who showed up wearing surgical masks (who’s going under the knife?) at an informational meeting yesterday sponsored by Norfolk Southern.

Here are comments I heard from people wearing the group’s shirt.

“Referring to the Norfolk Southern people: “I wouldn’t spit on them if they were on fire.” Now I believe that most of the people in McCalla are Christian, and I know some of the leaders of this group are church leaders. Good job, fine Christians. You’ve taught this woman well.

“They(Norfolk Southern) don’t want to hear what we’ve got to say because they know that we are right and they are wrong.” That may be her opinion, but there was a lot of information made available, and if she had actually absorbed some of it, she would have a different opinion.

“To have police here is an insult (to the No Hub people). I don’t trust them (the police) either.” Why not? Because they are “Bessemer”? Because they are black?

The idiocy continued with questions they had in today’s Birmingham News.

“How can you guarantee me a truck driver won’t come to the school, snatch my kid and carry him away?”

Oh my god. I am about to go crazy? Listen, show me some reports of truck drivers snatching kids. While you are looking, consider this. A blogger friend of mine documents “This week in holy crimes” each week. Last week’s account included 10 cases involving at least 54 victims. Here you can look at several weeks worth of holy crimes.

So maybe you should be more concerned about allowing your child in church, where it seems abuse of children (and adults) is common.

“My son is 14. what will you say to him when one of these trucks hits him and kills him?

Why would your son be on private railroad property? Your son is not old enough to drive, so he must be walking. Tell your son not to play in the road!!!

“Will you buy my house when it gets foreclosed on?” (referring to her errant belief that property values will go down).

Foreclosure occurs when you don’t pay your mortgage. There is such a disconnect there, I can’t even draw enough lines to try to make sense of that. Is the presence of Norfolk Southern going to keep you from paying your mortgage? You are more likely to lose your home because of the current health care system (which you are probably against reforming) than because an intermodal facility has been built nearby.

If the McCalla residents had come to learn, they would have discovered this.

Norfolk Southern produced a virtual three dimensional model of the area using LiDAR data which produced very accurate detail. With this technology, you could view the proposed facility from above, from any angle, from ground level on the school playground, from a nearby barn, from anywhere! What you saw was a landscaped berm protecting the school from noise, truck activity and pollution, or a 17 foot (I think) sound wall near the entrance to the facility at the other end of the property.

You could also learn that Air Quality studies have been done. The facility meets EPA’s definition of a “minor source” of pollution. EPA models were used to predict the “worst case” impact on air quality, and those impacts are well below the EPA air standards. Enlarge this picture and you can read about particulate matter, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides.

“Facility emissions are not expected to be noticeable at any off site location, at any time.”

You could have learned from a real time virtual model of existing traffic with anticipated truck traffic added that a truck only entered or left the facility every couple of minutes or so, depending on the time of day and other factors. The trucks would only be allowed to leave the facility at designated intervals, so there would be no line of trucks leaving at one time. If you stop by an interstate, and watch traffic for a few minutes with a watch (that’s a timepiece with a second hand), you may see trucks pass by at 2, 3, 4 or more per minute. And you don’t think anything of it. In other words, 400 trucks in and 400 trucks out in a day is not that much.

You also could have looked at a chart with current traffic counts and with the trucks added, and learned that the increase is barely noticeable, and does not surpass the maximum capacities for the roads.

You might have learned that natural resource surveys have been done.


You could have learned that total tax benefits of this economic development through 2020 could be over $153,000,000 with $24,000,000 going to schools and $21,000,000 going to the counties in the area.

It’s a lot easier to respect the opinions of others when they are educated opinions, even if you disagree. I have little respect for people who refuse to educate themselves.

You should appreciate Norfolk Southern’s attempt to educate you. This was the most elaborate community information event the company has ever done for this type of facility, and experts in several fields were there to answer questions. I spoke with Norfolk Southern spokeperson Rudy Husband before the public was allowed in and during the event. We noticed that the people were crowded around the displays, but Husband was concerned if they were actually absorbing the information, and knew that some people there had minds that could not be changed.

My informal exit poll showed that among some, the information was appreciated and their minds were not yet made up. And several had come in support of the facility, but to gain more information.

You (No Hubbers andTown Hall freepers) could learn a lot if you would only allow your brains to receive information and process it. A well informed citizen is a more productive and responsible citizen.