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Posted: May 22, 2009 12:30 a.m.

Gutter politics

Dear Editor: We are all aware that our nation is experiencing a severe economic downturn. State and county governments struggle with budget shortfalls along with the general population and attempt to continue services while they wait for better times. The mantra of the Great Depression spoke of better days being around the corner, but it took almost a decade for the economy to turn that corner. Thankfully, it doesn't look as if our corner is so far away. Nevertheless, short term adjustments are being made in personal and governmental budgets to plan for a turnaround in 2010.

I've read news reports about the budget problems faced by Newton County government and know that each commissioner struggles with the search for a solution. I have been concerned about the probability of layoffs in the public safety areas if other cuts cannot be found or taxes are not raised. I have no hesitation in saying that public safety should be the primary concern in this budget crisis. Fire, motor vehicle accidents and crime don't take a holiday because of budget woes and law enforcement usually sees an upturn in crime in bad times.

County commissioners have been bombarded from many sides of the budget argument, and I want to weigh-in on the need to continue our public safety staffing, and if it means raising taxes, please count on my approval. The tax increases suggested by at least two budget proposals are small in comparison to a fire that cannot be beaten down because of inadequate staffing or stolen property that couldn't be recovered when the assigned zone deputy was on furlough.

I truly believe that in these trying times, all of the county commissioners are going about their duties in an upright fashion that brings credit to each one. There are those who do not exhibit the same forthrightness and high standards as our commissioners. Last night I received an automated phone call that attempted to alert me and my household to the impending actions of four commissioners who are accused continuing to engage in wasteful spending. People have a right to express these views, but the automated voice said these commissioners were going to "steal," implying that their actions would rob the taxpayers. Raising taxes is certainly not stealing, and it is a sad day when criticism of governmental action drops to this level.

A campaign of gutter politics serves no person, regardless of their position on an issue. If you helped fund this scurrilous phone message, spend a little more and call the same people to apologize for this behavior. The issue is appropriate behavior, not taxes.


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