Letters to the EditorNews

Letters: Oconee Library, Clarence Thomas, Taxes, Talking at Shows and More

Better Uses of Money Than Oconee Library

Although Clarke County is in dire need of funds, state Rep. Houston Gaines acquires monies for his rich Republican-held counties. See $2.8 million in state funding [for a new library]. I am a reading mentor in Clarke County, and I know the teachers in Clarke County could use smaller class sizes, more aides for the classroom, and reading and math specialists.  

I’m sure many poorer counties could make better use of library funds, but here’s another idea for the $3 million he got for this rich county. I know they could use help with medical care, as the Republican-held government in Georgia is one of 10 other Republican held states who are cutting off their nose to spite their face by not expanding Medicaid [and] allowing small hospitals and clinics to close. Here’s yet another idea for better benefits for the $3 million: Gaines could have acquired money to aid the district attorneys that need to hire more lawyers, and at a decent, livable salary.  

We know why the money is going to Oconee County, and without conscience, the representatives in Georgia make sure to aid only the people that voted them in, not the people who actually need the help. Please, please, people, make sure to go to the polls and instead of voting your interests, vote your conscience.

Pat Carter


Shut Up at Shows

It pains me to write a letter such as this, but after over three decades of attending live performances in Athens, I’ve never witnessed greater disrespect shown by my fellow Athenians than I did at the Trampled by Turtles show at the Georgia Theatre. It seemed that a sizable proportion of those in attendance were not there to listen to music, but rather to talk loudly with their friends, constantly. The din of chatter by audience members throughout the show was pervasive and embarrassing—a flagrant lack of respect shown not only to the performers, but others in the audience who wished to pay actual attention and listen to the music. As obvious as it was to those in my own party, I am certain that the performers could hear it as well. Hey Athens, show some respect to the artists on stage and the audience in attendance to listen. Unless you are attending a tractor pull, shut the hell up when you are at a live performance. 

Eric Somerville


Taxes Contribute to Housing Crisis

Per the article on affordable housing [“Athens-Clarke County Seeks Solutions to Affordable Housing Crisis,” May 3], no one is talking about the very large elephant in the room. Look back on the increase in the county budget over the last 10–15 years. Property taxes comprise a large chunk of that revenue, and to think landlords don’t pass that on to tenants is absurd. No reasonable conversation about affordable housing can take place unless the sky-high property taxes property owners are charged is discussed.

Mark Bell 


Collins Should Come to Athens

Dear Rep. Mike Collins,

As residents of Georgia’s 10th Congressional District, my wife and I are asking you to hold free, accessible, in-person town halls with the intent to listen to constituents during your in-district work period starting May 26. We believe everyone regardless of their zip code or party affiliation deserves to have the opportunity to speak to you about their concerns so you will vote in the people’s best interests. 

Members of our community come from diverse backgrounds, geographies, ages, genders and perspectives on issues. We are witnessing trains derailing, attacks on children, mass shootings, a warming planet, shortages of labor and proposed cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Every in-district work period is an opportunity to hear directly from constituents through town halls, and it’s a critical part of you being able to effectively do your job: Represent your constituents. So far, you have not heard from us, and your track record has been disappointing. We want to share our concerns, solutions and ideas with you in a public town hall event. We are formally requesting that you schedule a series of town halls this summer in each of the counties you represent.

Robert B. Covi


Hold Clarence Thomas Accountable

For the last year, we have witnessed scandal after scandal come out of the Supreme Court. And in the last month alone, we’ve seen multiple breaking news stories about Clarence Thomas’ shady behavior. First, it was secretly accepting luxury vacations and lavish gifts worth millions for 20 years. Then, it was having his mother’s home bought and renovated. Now, it’s come to light that his grandnephew’s private-school tuition was taken care of for years. All by Republican mega-donor Harlan Crow. And not a single one was disclosed to the public.

Thankfully, this bad behavior can be addressed. Congress has the ability—and responsibility—to act as a check on the Supreme Court and restore faith in our judicial system. It’s time they take the first step and pass a code of ethics for the Supreme Court. No one is above accountability, and that includes our justices on the Supreme Court.

Gail Piland


Where’s My Cat?

I was anxiously awaiting your pet issue. I adore my cat, Ozzie. I downloaded an app to frame the pic to the dimensions you requested.

I told all my friends about the issue. No one wants it now. So sad!

I thought you printed all the pictures. I submitted mine early. I’m crestfallen.

Cindy Blair


[Editor’s Note: We did not have space in print for many of the adorable photos we received, but they are all included in our online gallery.]

Congratulations, Graduates!

Thanks so much for not only listing the names of both Cedar Shoals and Clarke Central 2023 graduates, but also featuring the congratulatory ads placed by their families. Something so simple, but so important and inspiring to all! I hope this will continue to become a regular feature every year! Celebrating our children’s success and achievement is monumental!

A. L. Ritter


Bikes Spotted on Prince

I was shocked to see something I had never seen before as I was driving by the Flagpole office on Prince Avenue the other day: There was actually someone riding a bicycle in the new bicycle lanes that were installed months ago.

Was this stunning sight what county commissioners predicted would be the overwhelming public response to tearing up Prince Avenue in favor of would-be bicyclists? One never knows.

I must warn drivers to be alert for future surprise bicycle sightings on Prince Avenue—there could be another any day now!

Arthur Miller


Vote GOP If You Like Gun Violence

The stunning rise in gun violence on school property is reshaping the daily lives of America’s youngest generation, putting children at the center of a previously unthinkable number of life-or-death moments.

Guns are the leading cause of death for U.S. children and teens. Firearms accounted for nearly 19% of childhood deaths in 2021, according to the CDC. Two hundred and seventy-three people were killed or wounded on school grounds from 303 gun-related incidents last year alone. Both were record highs.

State legislators have passed more laws expanding gun access than gun-control measures in the year since the mass shooting in Uvalde, TX. Of the 93 gun-related bills signed into law, 56% expanded access to firearms or benefited the firearms industry by, for example, allowing manufacturing in the state, or protecting manufacturers from liability suits. Some bills made it harder to track gun sales by barring merchants from using gun-specific codes in credit card billing. Other bills from highly rated-NRA legislators prevented government entities from patronizing businesses that boycott the firearms industry. 

Legislation in states like Georgia, where Republicans control both chambers of the legislature and the governor’s office, continue to enact bills loosening gun restrictions.

If you are OK with guns being the leading cause of death for children and teens, keep voting as you have. If you are OK with legislators passing legislation that benefits gun manufacturers, gun lobbyists and themselves, keep giving your vote to them. You can be comforted to know that when gun violence happens at your child’s or grandchild’s school, you’ll be in their thoughts and prayers, but nothing more.

Peggy Perkins