Is council trying to shirk its duty?
Monday's Chester City Council meeting began a little strangely. First, there was the conspicuous absence of one of the most vocal members of the council. Then, the sequential order of the agenda was not followed and a petitioner not named on the agenda did a presentation. If that weren't enough, the council "discussed" reducing the number of city council meetings from twice monthly to once, i.e., eliminating the second or fourth Monday meeting. Why? The city now has that much less business to conduct? Why? Council is tired of bi-weekly meetings? Why? This administration feels less of a commitment to the city? Why?
Or, is this an avenue to downsize the voice of the citizenry by reducing its number of public platforms? Why? Is this shift in meetings a sign of things to come? If the council reduces its public service (actual work time) by 50 percent, then its public servant compensation (taxpayer funded paychecks) should also be reduced by 50 percent, as less work equals less pay.
Last, the only lengthy "discussion" centered on the fate of the embattled S.L. Finley High School, now functioning as the S.L. Finley Community Center. A Salem Environmental representative made it clear that it was going to take a "tremendous amount of monies to fix this wild thing," referring to the asbestos and mold plaguing this historic structure. After playing devil's advocate (and saying over and over that he wouldn't allow his 4-year-old grandson to come to Finley Center, among other things) council member Susan Kelsey picked up where the company representative left off and proposed closing Finley Center. A vote of 8-1 favored this. It is no secret that two-thirds of the council has wanted to shutter Finley's doors for some time, and the time was ripe for doing this Monday night.
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S.L. Finley High School is not a wild thing, and maybe the council meeting didn't start out strangely after all.
Makeda Cheryl Baker Chester
Don't deny Kevorkian the right to speak out
I'm outraged. Here in the U.S.A. -- country of free speech -- our courts are taking that right away from one of our fellow citizens. Dr. Jack Kevorkian, a champion of our right to direct our own lives, is the only man with the courage to speak out and risk his life and livelihood for voluntary doctor-assisted suicide. Even those who disagree with what he says can agree that, in a free country, he has every right to say it.
What does it mean to live in a free country? It means we have a right to direct our own lives and to speak up for the things we believe in. It means you own your life. It means Dr. Kevorkian can defend people's right to end their lives when terminal health issues make living no longer worthwhile to them. It means Dr. Kevorkian has the right to say he provides people the same humanness we provide our pets, and saves both patients and their families untold anguish.
Yet our courts are prohibiting Dr. Kevorkian's right not only to practice his livelihood, but his right to speak up in support of it, as well. All his speeches will be monitored. All his Internet activity will be Googled.
When our courts require citizens' ideas to be politically or religiously correct before they can speak out, we are no longer free. The police state has arrived. Do not make it welcome.
Do everything in your power to recover Dr. Kevorkian's freedom of speech -- because if they can take his away, they can take away everyone else's. You and I are still "allowed" to speak up for free speech. Let us do so while we can.
Development would create more gridlock
As a York County resident and landowner of property adjacent to the tracts being accumulated by Newland Communities, I am concerned that the city of Rock Hill is holding talks with Newland Communities that could lead to abrogation of the Urban Services Boundary agreement and result in the very worst kind of leap-frog development.
While I have no crystal ball, I do believe that history can predict the future. One does not need to be a particularly gifted researcher to find example after example of the long-term results of sprawl allowed in areas with no infrastructure -- existing or planned. In areas of unplanned leap-frog sprawl, the result is invariably gridlock, pollution, higher taxes, and over-crowded schools. In every case there is one, and only one, clear winner -- the developers. They make their profits and move on to other unsuspecting, unprepared communities.
The city of Rock Hill and York County need to put aside whatever frictions they have and work together. Both must realize that Newland represents not a golden opportunity, but the first of many opportunists who have absolutely no vested interest in the long- term quality of life in this area.
James W. Rankin Jr.