Brownfields are not just an urban issue
I enjoyed reading your article about the brownfields redevelopment in Marion, Iowa, “Brownfields redux not impossible dream,” November 2004. Our city also is completing a brownfields redevelopment with the construction of a business incubator as its “crown jewel.” The uniqueness of this project is that Camden is a small rural community (population 13,154) located in southwest Arkansas. Normally the perception is that brownfields are only located in metro areas with large “Superfund sites.” This is probably due to a lack of understanding of the definition of a brownfield: “abandoned or underutilized property with possible or perceived contamination.” The property we acquired, cleaned and redeveloped is the type that is located in almost every city in our nation — that area of town that is a dilapidated, poverty-stricken “eyesore.” That’s why I’m bringing this project to your attention — maybe it can help or encourage other cities to find solutions to these problems — even if they are rural. Brownfield assessment, cleanup and redevelopment is one of the smartest investments our nation has ever made. Keep up the good work!
Kathy Lee, Assistant Mayor, Camden, Ark.
Another viewpoint on eminent domain
Your November 2004 editorial, “Twelve little words,” refers to our American Constitution as “a living document.” That phrase goes back at least to the early 1930s and FDR’s New Deal, when Justice Felix Frankfurter conceived it as a cover. It says that the Constitution means whatever judges say it means. It may have dealt a fatal blow to the American Constitution.
Not on our watch, we say. And hopefully not on any elected official’s watch. In fact, the oath of office specifically swears the officeholder to uphold the Constitution. Rewriting the Constitution or appending it with agendas not originally present is detrimental.
In the beginning of your analysis you seem to understand that the emergence of a well-funded baron class is a threat. Later you surrender to it, citing “circumstances warrant it.” Therein lies the dangerous twist invited by using circumstances to measure worthiness. Changing how we apply constitutional principles in a city in Connecticut affects the whole nation. Everyone knows that, especially untold numbers of other would-be barons elsewhere and their all-too-willing government puppets. Is it sad there are blighted areas in our cities? Sure it is. But do the loyal residents who did not leave the neighborhood deserve to be driven over? Not in our way of thinking.
Government need not be the cure, especially when the cure is worse than the disease. Applying eminent domain removes the security of private property rights and wounds the vast masses who will never be barons. These are the basic Americans whose birthright is to live in a nation free from feudalism, free from the fear that a government could ever take their property. Take away that security and you’ll not only drive homebuyers far out into the countryside, you will also set up the system we see already where the moneyed class buys land for speculation and then tries to force government to help them complete their scheme.
The United States Constitution, the most powerful blueprint for freedom we see in the world today, is all we have to rest on; it is the anchor point. To view it as mutable and adaptable is to miss the meaning of it altogether. As elected officials who recognize this, we speak from experience. Real dramas result from even leaning against the Constitution — dramas that Americans are already suffering as a result of this relentless tinkering.
Michael Byrne, Wisconsin Heights, Wis., School Board President; Vernon Wendt, Black Earth, Wis., Chairman and Dane County, Wis., Supervisor; Robert Bowman, Cross Plains, Wis., Supervisor; William Hitzemann, Blue Mounds, Wis., Chairman and Dane County, Wis., Supervisor
Future employees can learn from boomers
I read with interest the December 2004 Issues & Trends article, “Locals plan to fill jobs left by baby boomers,” about the way Henrico County, Va., is handling the succession of retiring personnel. In Kent County, Del., we have a very similar situation. Many of the employees at our wastewater plant are reaching retirement age. The transfer of this “tribal” knowledge is critical to ensure that the plant continues to run at its optimum. This knowledge was often gained by trial and error, and it seems a waste to have a new generation relearn this information. We have found a way to transfer this knowledge through the development of an environmental management system (EMS) following both the ISO 14000 and National Biosolids Partnership (NBP) models. The adoption of an EMS requires that a facility develop operational controls to ensure that critical environmental impacts are under control. These operational controls are our means of transferring the gained “tribal” knowledge. A member of my staff observes employees conducting operations and makes notes and takes digital photos. She then transcribes the information into a standard operating procedure and truth tests it with the employees. In the end, we will have captured the knowledge for future generations. For more information about EMSs in public agencies, refer to the PEER Center’s Web site at www.peercenter.net or the NBP site at www.biosolids.org.
— Jim Newton, Environmental Program Manager, Kent County, Del., Public Works Department
Questions about faith and public education
Thank you for sharing your viewpoint in the December 2004 issue. You are “right on” when you say, “The value of education is in learning how to search.” You are also correct in pointing out that “intelligent design” can’t be a theory because it can’t be proven scientifically. But, I challenge you to look at the evidence. Have you read the Book of Genesis? What does it say? Darwinism has no scientific evidence. All the links are missing. In fact, it is only a theory and not fact. I challenge you to look at the scriptures, which say, “And God said…” and “Search the scriptures for in them you will be made wise.” You may say I have a lot of faith, and you would be correct. I do. But I would also say that you have a lot of faith also. The real question is who do you place your faith in? A dead man, Darwin, or one who rose from the grave and is alive, Jesus the Christ. He made it all by speaking it into being. Wow!!! We serve an awesome God.
— Jay Snyder, Environmental Resource Manager, Ephrata Borough, Pa.
In “Why Johnny can’t think,” December 2004, you note that, “We have become a nation of warriors battling over the ideas that separate us and dragging our children along with us to prolong our ideological crusades.” Additionally, you fear that our kids will not be capable of independent thought. Your article is, in effect, promoting just that when you reject out of hand the “intelligent design” efforts.
As an “intelligent designer” I would appreciate just allowing the presentation of a few myriad indicators that contradict the “evolution” model. Could we at least consider that there are examples of coal being formed in a generation and not millions of years, or that wood has petrified in less than a generation? That the complexity of the eye bothered Mr. Darwin, and there are stalactites which have formed in just a few years and not over eons? Could we point out what Darwin thought about blacks and women? (It isn’t flattering.)
Skip God, skip intelligent design, but consider the intricacies of symbiotic relationships, the balance in the universe, the footprints of man in the same rock strata as dinosaurs, and many other things that can make us think. So, in the end I agree with you, but it isn’t just the kids’ failure to think that concerns me.
— James Jenkins, City Manager, Springfield, Mich.