Republican will vote ‘No’ on tax increase

Dear Editor,

The large state newspapers all seem to be supporting the increased taxes on pine plantations as well as on every taxpayer in the state.

They continually harp on more taxes on land (ad valorem) that is &uot;worth more&uot;. How much did your evaluation go up this year? That is before the tax increases, and re-evaluations will happen every year. This is only the beginning.

But why are the newspapers attacking pine plantations? Can’t they see that those pine trees are the source of paper that they print on?

They must want to justify raising the costs of their papers. Who will pay for those papers? Only those people who are too poor to afford Internet and other more sophisticated news sources. In turn, businesses will no longer pay for ads that no one reads.

But what do these large papers have to worry about? Now the owners can purchase the major radio and TV stations and have control of that market as well, according to a recent ruling out of Washington.

I do not believe the public will vote for the tax increases unless the voter is on the state payroll. Already the state is taking in more money than ever before but the tax and spend politicians say that is not enough.

The so-called accountability parts of the package just voted on have no teeth. To say there is any accountability in the tax package is absurd.

As one member of the Jefferson County Republican Committee, I will loudly vote No on the tax bill. And I refuse to be threatened by the scare tactics of &uot;legalized gambling.&uot; The governor has a veto, doesn’t he?

Is it my moral duty to help the poor with my own money? As a Christian, the answer is yes. But it is not my moral duty to compel, by legalized plunder, the taking of someone else’s money for the government to waste and give as a bribe to anyone else.

Betty A. Bostwick

Birmingham

Arc of Alabama supports plan

Dear Editor,

The Arc of Alabama is a statewide advocacy organization for people with mental retardation and developmental disabilities and their families. Since 1957, The Arc of Alabama has represented the interests of people with mental retardation and developmental disabilities on local, state and national issues.

The Arc of Alabama is committed to securing for all people with mental retardation and developmental disabilities the opportunity to choose where they learn, live, work and play.

In 1970, there were 2000-3000 people with mental retardation being served at the Partlow Developmental Center in Tuscaloosa. At that time, Partlow was the only state developmental center for people for mental retardation in Alabama.

And at that time, the Arc of Alabama advocated for additional state developmental centers to relieve overcrowding which resulted in the opening of the Lurleen Wallace Developmental Center in Decatur (1971), the Albert Brewer Developmental Center in Mobile (1973), the J.S. Tarwater Developmental Center in Wetumpka (1976) and the Glenn Ireland Developmental Center in Birmingham (1985).

The Albert Brewer Developmental Center in Mobile was closed in 2001 and most of the residents were moved to the Albert Brewer-Bayside Developmental Center in Daphne. The Glenn Ireland Developmental Center was closed in 1997.

In 1970, community-based programs and services were not readily available for people with mental retardation across Alabama. Many advocacy groups, including The Arc of Alabama, recognized that people with mental retardation could be served in their own communities and enjoy a better quality of life than that experienced in a state developmental center.

Therefore, The Arc of Alabama and its local chapters also participated in state and local efforts to initiate new community-based programs and services throughout the state. During the last 30 years, community-based programs and services have become available in every county in Alabama, serving persons with all degrees of mental retardation, even those with severe/profound mental retardation. These community programs and services, funded by local, state and federal funds, now serve over 15,000 people with opportunities for people with mental retardation to learn, live, work and play in their own communities in a most cost-effective manner, eliminating the associated stigma that persons with mental retardation can only be served in institutions.

Today, after three years of outplacements under the Wyatt Settlement agreement, there are now only 350 people with mental retardation residing in the four state developmental centers.

The cost to Alabama taxpayers of serving these individuals ranges from $136,000 to $241,000 per person per year ($135,875 at Partlow, $155, 819 at Tarwater, $194,311 at Brewer and $240,590 at Wallace).

This represents 28 percent of the Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation’s total budget for mental retardation services being used to serve only 3 percent of the total MR population.

In contrast, the average cost to Alabama taxpayers of serving people with mental retardation in community-based services and programs is about $56,000 per person per year, with those who have the most medically fragile needs costing between $80,000 and $100,000 per person per year.

It is no longer cost effective nor fair to those waiting for services for Alabama to continue operating all of these centers at less than one-third their capacity.

In addition to the 15,000 plus currently being served in the community, due to limited resources, there are over 2,000 people with mental retardation in Alabama who are waiting to receive community-based services and programs from the Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation.

I might add that none of these individuals are seeking institutional placement. The Arc of Alabama supports commissioner Kathy Sawyer’s proposed plan to consolidate the state’s mental retardation developmental centers.

We believe that Commissioner Sawyer’s plan also provides effective options for state employees who will be impacted by the consolidation of the developmental centers.

We believe that the plan will avail monies to the majority of the population with mental retardation who are waiting for services in the community. And we also believe that community-based programs and services provide the best inclusive environments and quality of life, and are most desirable and cost-effective for the people we serve.

The Arc of Alabama, our 31 local chapters and over 4,300 members are committed to continued advocacy for quality, community-based services to all of the 15,000 plus people with mental retardation and developmental disabilities currently served by the Department and the 2,000 plus people with mental retardation who are waiting for services.

We think it is vitally important that Alabama taxpayers understand and support Commissioner Sawyer’s plan to make more effective use of limited financial resources.

Together we can improve the quality of life for all people with mental retardation and developmental disabilities in Alabama.

Meddie I. Clark

President

Arc of Alabama

Buckling up is only way to have a chance at life

Dear Editor,

March 7, 2003 is a day that most people have forgotten, but for me and my friends, it’s a day that will never go away. On a peaceful Friday after school, my friend, Scott Warner was killed by a car.

It wasn’t a drunk driver or someone who was high that killed him. It was himself.

Scott was driving the car. There was no one we could blame. We couldn’t say it was that man’s fault or the car messed up, even though we tried to. He was the one who crashed.

Scott was not high or drunk. He didn’t have anything in his system that would impair his ability. But Scott was 15 and he didn’t have a seatbelt on. Scott was a great loss. Everyone in this small city misses him.

Things will never be the same.

But the reason I told that story is because you don’t have to drink to be killed in a car.

I know that a seat belt won’t always save a life. It wouldn’t save Scott but it did save the guy next to him. So, please buckle up because you never know what you have until it’s not there.

Alicia Nibler

15 years old

Caler