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Letters 09/15/10

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Actions speak louder


    In the midst of appalling fear-provoking political rhetoric that has assaulted us daily through all types of media--even scurrilous billboard signs--it is a relief that Congressman Tom Perriello has refused to add to the pollution.  He encourages debate on issues, not argument, and  recommends that his supporters and staff  research and communicate the facts about issues.
    Instead of  mud-slinging he has worked double time to listen and talk with hundreds of folks. The results are apparent.  He has crossed party lines to vote for legislation that: benefits veterans; extends the solvency of the Medicare trust fund by a decade; closes the Part D donut hole for senior citizens;  eliminates the former denial of coverage based on preexisting conditions; allows 55,000 young adults to remain on their parents’ plans until age 26; helps 15,000 small businesses afford health insurance coverage for their workers through tax credits.  In the 5th District alone over 48,000 constituents will gain access to affordable health care because of this legislation.
    I thank Congressman Perriello for being a shining example to other politicians of how a dignified, principled and committed Congressman can behave. His actions speak louder than his detractors’ words.

Susan Bender
Huddleston

Who is to blame?

    I certainly hope the investigation into the “magically appearing” journals of Jocelyn Earnest in the jury room doesn’t languish until it dies due to lack of interest.
    Who is to blame for this shameful breech of justice? First and foremost is the Judge, and second is the person who actually made them available to the jury. But what about the jury foreperson? He/she had to know they weren’t supposed to be there. Shouldn’t that person have notified the court? Should he/she be held responsible also? And even the jurors have some culpability. They surely knew they weren’t supposed to read them. Did they do so to satisfy some perverse curiosity?
    Was it truly an accident that the journals ended up in the jury room? I’m not big on conspiracy theories but that thought certainly went through my mind. Someone should be punished for this act, starting with the judge, intentional or not.
    Also, why move the trial? Who will pay for it now? The taxpayers of Amherst County? Why burden them? And I can’t believe the judge thinks there still aren’t at least 12 people in Bedford County who could be fair and impartial in rendering a verdict.

David Goode
Bedford

Perriello
supports
veterans
    
    As a veteran, I was lucky to have had the Korean War GI Bill for my  college education as well as to buy a house. If it were not for Tom  Perriello and the House’s Veterans Subcommittee, a GI Bill providing  educational benefits for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan would not  have been passed.    Furthermore, he realized that not every returning  veteran would want to go to college, but might want additional  training, and so Tom Perriello, on his own initiative, introduced an  amendment  that extended the GI Bill to include vocational and  technical training, and it was passed.
    Further, I attended the hearing in Bedford of the US Veterans  Subcommittee, investigating the performance of the Veterans  Administration in dealing with the problems of veterans trying to use  their veterans’ benefits.  Tom was given a major compliment by the  Chairman of this Subcommittee for his work on behalf of veterans  throughout the country. And as anyone who attended this hearing can  attest, he and this Subcommittee are making a significant impact on  improving the treatment of returning veterans who seek help from the VA, assisting them and their families.
    If you doubt this, ask any  representative of the American Legion, VFW, DAV, or care-takers of  disabled veterans who were at that hearing.  Forget about your party affiliation (Perriello voted with Republicans  more than half the time in his first term). If you are a veteran, a  veteran’s family member, or if you care about veterans and their  families, you will never find a better, more responsive champion than  Tom Perriello. Yes, you may have disagreements with some of the  positions that he has taken on some issues. But when it comes to  looking out for veterans and their families, there has never been a more  devoted and aggressive champion for them than Tom Perriello, and  that’s a fact.

Fred Waddell
Moneta

Dead should
be respected

    Although I grew up in Bedford, I have lived in Florida since 1984. On numerous occasions I have returned. I always spend time in the cemetery as I have many relatives buried there.
    Today is September 4, and my parents and I have just returned from Bedford. I am quite frankly appalled at the lack of care which we found. The grass was overgrown, dried grass caked the tombstones obscuring the names.
    I understand many cities have budget shortfalls.  However, this is a personal care cemetery and our dead should be respected. In fact, assistance from the Boy Scouts, local churches, Rotary, Elks, or any number of civic organizations should be requested since help is apparently needed.

Carol Skelley Oshorn
Gulf Breeze, FL

Unkempt state

    I was born in Bedford on the corner of Longwood Ave. and Park St. and often walked to my father’s grave with my mother.
    Recently, as always on a visit to Bedford, I visited our family’s grave site. I was disappointed and saddened to see it and the entire cemetery in such an unkempt state.
    It was difficult to walk through the tall grass to the grave and difficult to see the names on the markers because of the dried grass cuttings.
    In spite of cutbacks and difficult economic times a way should be found to show more respect and honor for our departed.

Anne Skelly
Roanoke

Education
support

    If we issued the miserly, tax avoiding Bedford County Supervisors a report card on education support, it would certainly be below an F—more like a Z.  Their support of the Bedford County School System (BCSS) continues to be abysmal.  It is hard for me to understand why others aren’t up in arms.  Sure the economy is down, but does that mean we just “chuck our kids.”  As one of the richest jurisdictions in the area, there is plenty of room in our property tax rate to provide increased support for education.  Of course, we can also live with under funding, and then have to fund the much more expensive consequences— police, welfare, prisons, job retraining, etc.  How shortsighted can our supervisors be?
    We are the 24th largest of the 132 jurisdictions listed in the latest VEA Educational Disparities report (July, 2010).  We are the 66th richest (capacity), but 107th in our willingness to tax ourselves (fiscal effort).  Last year we were 89th.  All of Virginia suffers the economic downturn, but Bedford County falls 18 places in our willingness to support our kids.  According to VEA, Bedford lost 68 professionals (7.4 percent) and eight support personnel (may vary with Obama stimulus that helps retain teachers).
    What about our neighbors? Appomattox ranks 107th in capacity to pay, but 70th in effort.  Amherst ranks 94th in capacity, but 78th in effort. Campbell ranks 112th in capacity, but 64th in effort.  All put Bedford County-- the richest of the group--to shame.  I wonder what they put in their water.  Among the surrounding counties, Bedford ranks last in beginning salaries, in salaries after 5 and 30 years, and in career earnings.  Oh, but who cares?  Children are only a society’s most precious commodity, except maybe in Bedford County.  Can it get worse?  Let’s see.
    BCPS ranks 130th of 132 in operational funds allocated per pupil.  We rank 102nd in total disbursements, 128th in instructional disbursements and 127th in operational disbursements.  The average State per pupil expenditure increased 33 percent over the last five years but teachers’ salaries statewide increased only 19 percent.  BCPS average classroom teacher salary was still only 92nd  of the 132 jurisdictions.  Not only won’t we pay our teachers an adequate salary but we force larger classes on them reducing even further likely positive learning outcomes.  Also we lose our best teachers to better paying districts.  BCPS ranks 111th of 132 in educational positions per 1,000 students and 110th in teachers per 1,000 students.  The only decent news in the Disparities Report is that we rank 30th in capital outlays for schools.  What advantage are new schools when we don’t adequately fund the educational effort.
    Contrast our miserly efforts with other caring districts:  Charles County ranks 36th in ability to pay and 34th in local effort.  I wish we could be so responsible.  On the other hand, Wise County is ranked 131st (second to last) in ability to pay yet ranks 36th in local willingness to pay.  I wonder what nutrients this “wise” county feeds its supervisors.  Localities that fund education best have newer texts, more electives, newer technology and smaller class sizes, all of which contribute to better outcomes.  So who are we kidding in this county about our educational enterprise--no one, except maybe our kids.  They will be the last to find out about its ultimate effect on their lives.
    While we won’t fund our own educational efforts, we rank 50th out of 132 in taking state funds.  That is, we will take from others to fund our needs.  It must be the conservative thing to do.  Virginia is the eighth wealthiest state yet we have a dismal record in state willingness to tax ourselves.  Our teacher’ salaries are only 25th among the states.  Our essentially flat (5.75 percent) State income tax needs a far more progressive rate structure.  But our Republican State Administration and House of Delegates are so tax averse that VA will ultimately pay a real price in the future.  Maybe that’s why the News Advance (8/13/10) reported that 726 of 1836 VA schools failed to meet the state standards of learning.  This number is increasing year by year.
    The Virginia Constitution established clear standards of quality in 1971 so the Legislature would take seriously their responsibilities to properly fund our schools.  Maybe our Legislators should read the Constitution periodically before they cut nearly $1 billion from K-12 education as they did this year. Not only did the Republican General Assembly zap funding, they did the same to the retirement system for new teachers--just another step in degrading their professional character.  We are much more concerned about some bust of Stalin and a Mosque in NY than we seem to be about the education of our children.  Maybe that’s the level of comprehension resulting from aborted education.  We sure need more industrious ants to replace our near-sighted grasshoppers.

David McLoughlin
Forest

No dog park

    I would sincerely like to thank each and everyone who signed and supported my petition with such enthusiasm about a proposed dog park at Falling Creek park.
    Unfortunately, I was recently informed there was no funds for a dog park, as well as no room there at Falling Creek Park for such.
    I’m truly sorry, and as disappointed as everyone who wished for it as well.
    Thank you again for all your support.

Bonnie Arnold
Bedford

Thanks for help

    We would like to thank all of our friends, neighbors, the community and churches for all their donations to the fire fund and acts of kindness shown to us during this difficult time of adjusting to losing our home.

Shirley and Sam Logwood
Bedford

Duck and hide

    While waiting for U.S. Congressman Tom Perriello to arrive and speak to citizens of Bedford city/county, I had the opportunity to talk with a friend. The conversation led to the comparison of two candidates who are running for the U.S. Congress Representative seat on Nov. 2, 2010. They would be T. Perriello and R. Hurt.
    I asked my friend if R. Hurt would ever show up to debate Perriello. Also, I asked if Hurt would ever appear in any public forum to discuss his opinions or any legislation that he has initiated or voted into law that might improve our economy and create jobs for the voters of the 5th District? My friend answered with the words “duck and hide.”
     Unfamiliar words to me, I wanted to know exactly what those words meant. Come and find out, those words describe the Republican strategy to win the 2010 election. It means to “duck” by Hurt staying away from public discussions and debates even at conservative venues. It means that Hurt will hide from the public except to appear in generic TV adds. The purpose of this tactical strategy is to say nothing and to do nothing except to show up on the ballot on Election Day. What a surprise! Now we know.
    Tom Perriello demonstrates each day his commitment to working hard for the 5th District! Re-elect Perriello to U.S. Congress House of Representatives on Nov. 2.

Diana Persinger
Bedford

Election rhetoric

    Tom Perriello and other Democratic incumbents have been told by their leadership to emphasize what they have brought to their districts instead of their votes, in their bid for re-election.
    Those of us who have closely monitored this administration knew that stimulus money (or, more correctly, taxpayer debt) would be poured into every district in the whole country where a Democratic incumbent was in a tight race, as payment for his acquiescing to the will of President Obama and Nancy Pelosi. This money provides only a short term respite from the inevitable. The State and businesses will not have the resources to continue funding the jobs which are temporarily saved. In the long run, the stimulus has accomplished nothing permanent except to add to the Federal debt.
    Tom Perriello also voted to burden our people with “Cap and Trade” which will dramatically increase utility rates and the cost of everything which is produced by energy.
    His most egregious vote, however, was for the Obama/Pelosi Health Care Bill, designed and passed by Democrats only. Many astute Americans were mercilessly ridiculed for fearing future “rationing,” “death panels” and “hospice chutes.” Our worst fears are coming to fruition.
    President Obama’s advisory panel to the FDA has now recommended that the drug AVASTIN no longer be an option for treating stage IV breast cancer, despite incontrovertible evidence as to the effectiveness of this drug. Dr. Adam Brusky, one of the top oncologists in the U.S. and a leader in the research, has stated that in every single clinical trial in the U.S. and other countries, this drug has been proven to double or triple the life expectancy of the patient. Most women who have stage IV breast cancer live at least two years and a few live 10 to 20 years (Merck Manual of Medical Information).
    No doubt, Elizabeth Edwards (the former wife of John Edwards, the Democratic Presidential candidate) is on this drug, extending the desperately needed years she has to spend with her young children.
    I heard a woman from Florida say, before the bill was passed, that she was so thankful to live in the U.S. where AVASTIN is available because it had saved her life where other drugs had failed. It is not available in Britain under government controlled health care.
    President Obama has said that he wanted to “spread the wealth” (disregarding whether one is an achiever or non-achiever). Now, it seems he and the Democrats, including Tom Perriello, who voted for the bill, also intend to even out our life spans. It just is not fair that some be allowed to survive longer than others!

Joyce Preston
Forest