My letters to the editor by Lewis Loflin
Printed: 4/1/01 in the Bristol Herald Courier
Printed: 4/4/01 in the Kingsport Times-News
Re: Mendota Trail Hearing
To the Editor:
The Mendota Trail hearing I attended on March 26 was a joke and revealed the level of dishonesty and conceit from the Washington County Planning Commission. They intended to vote in favor of Bristol, Virginia all along and the citizens adversely affected by this trail were totally ignored.
The Bristol Gang ran the show from the beginning (over half the supporters) along with business owners, move-in retirees, and assorted eco-wackos. They don't live on poverty-wage jobs that dominate this community more and more everyday.
Those opposed are 100% Washington County. As they spoke, members of the commission rolled their eyes and still refused to answer any questions snapping, "We don't answer questions!" These decent people never had a chance and the way they were treated makes me sick.
Bristol officials hold the same contemptuous attitude towards our residents as they did their own when they blocked a 300 unit trailer park that would have provided affordable housing: One can flip the famous "Bristol Burger" or clean the restrooms, but you can't live here.
That's why this area is great for retirement and almost dead last on earning a living. What this community needs is a mandatory living wage and affordable housing, not that worthless Bristol Trainstation and hiking trail.
It's about time those of us who actually live here start to take our community back from the corrupt politicians and eco-wackos. Those of us who can't afford the high priced subdivisions have already been written off and this hearing proved that.
Published Bristol Herald Courier August 7, 2003
As a Washington County resident, I'm opposed to the Mendota Trail and a long list of government waste across this region. We're desperate for decent jobs, not useless pork.
Many roads in the Mendota area need repair/paving, yet why waste money on a horse trail? It's part of a bigger rip-off involving the Bristol Train Station, which has no economic value, and $200 million for passenger rail with no demand and a proven failure. All this just to waste transportation funds that will produce nothing for our impoverished Bristol workforce.
The $113,583 given to the nearby Carter Family Music Center by VCEDA won't either. "Tourism development" is codeword for "pork-barrel."
Waste isn't limited to welfare for the wealthy Carter Family. In Dickenson County, VCEDA squandered $642,500 in Clintwood for the Ralph Stanley Museum which is cheap compared to a local call center. For 250 "jobs" they porked out $7 million in free infrastructure, $250,000 for job training, and $1.6 million (107 kids at about $15,000 each) to subsidize daycare.
How does it cost $10,000 each to train someone to answer the phone for $6.18 an hour? Four years at a community college cost less then this. (Note: this place closed down. See A Town's Future Is Leaving the Country: Travelocity and Dickenson County)
The money squandered on the Coalfields "pork-barrel" Expressway alone could send every adult in Dickenson/Buchanan Counties to college. Moving rotting, empty buildings in Grundy ($100 million) won't stop the our "best and brightest" from fleeing the region. US 23 through nearby Norton (where I grew up) has proven these kinds of projects fail to produce decent private-sector jobs.
The Bristol Gang should stop suing citizens over Wal-Mart and horse trails. Calling government waste "tourism development" won't produce needed jobs with a living wage. Let's put a horse trail through Fat Cat Estates and the country club.
From Bristol Herald Courier Mar 6, 2001
Washington leaders need to live in real world
To the editor:
I am writing in regard to exploding property taxes in Washington County, VA. The cost of living is getting out of control, with soaring energy prices, poverty-wage jobs and Electrolux layoffs and now this. Our leaders need to start living in the real world outside of Abingdon.
The simple fact is the working poor and retired poor can't afford to pay for a high-class retirement community on $6-an-hour jobs or a $500-a-month Social Security check. We can't afford it, and the cost should go to those who benefit from it, not the general public. That means not only cutting tax rates, but by cutting wasteful spending on tourism, the arts and pork-barrel projects.
A good start is the Mendota Trail. This useless project is a waste of money and will violate residents' property rights, inflate taxes and even endanger citizens. We also need to look into industrial development, which has produced more corporate welfare and higher taxes than jobs.
I ask my fellow property owners to join me at the Mendota Trail hearing March 26 so we can get some straight answers on what this ``comprehensive plan'' will really cost. I'm sure our supervisors are willing to work with the public to solve these problems.
Finally, I wish to commend the folks at the assessor's office in Abingdon for their concern and help to a very upset public.
Lewis Loflin Bristol, VA.
Pork Barrel Spending Doesn't Create Jobs
Bristol Herald Courier Date 1/3/01
I'm writing this letter in regard to the editorial "Save bats and orchids...highway too," (Herald Courier 12/20/00). There is a lot more reasons to halt the Coalfields "pork-barrel" Expressway then just wildlife: There is no economic justification for spending $1.1 billion on that road anymore than the $100 million squandered to move the Grundy business community. Political popularity doesn't mean economically sound.
It's a proven fact that new highways do not bring jobs or prosperity to local people with Glade Spring and Russell County being the latest examples. Glade Spring wants to annex because I-81 and millions in park-barrel spending has done nothing to boost the local economy. Russell County already has two interstates yet is begging for more money for another empty industrial park. (Herald Courier 12/20/00) How many more failures will it take to stop the waste?
What's worse are kinds of jobs the experts say we should rely on. We've already lost hundreds of costly "phone jobs" in Wise and Dickenson Counties, yet they want to spend millions more on this even when the industry is in chaos on Wall Street? If the private sector won't invest in these schemes, why should taxpayers?
Stop wasting our tax dollars on development schemes that never work and benefit only a few wealthy people This money could be better used for secondary roads, pay off public debt, or lower taxes. This kind of waste with a recession looming and a billion-dollar short-fall in state revenues is just stupid and needs to end.
Let's Work Together, But Be Realistic
Bristol Herald Courier Date 01/15/01
I wish to commend the Herald Courier for the article "Growing or dying: The choice is ours." (01/01/01) While bringing out valid points, we've heard this for years and nothing comes of it. We must look at what we can and can't do.
The economy is out of our hands. National trends have left this region with few options outside low wage retail/retirement/service industries. Keeping taxes and the cost of living down is vital in communities where many residents have low or fixed incomes. Regional cooperation needs to be real, not more talk.
It's time to get political garbage like multiculturalism with its emphasis on socialism, New Age religion, environmental myth, and victimization out of our schools. Studying Western Civilization (including the role of Christianity) would stress Enlightenment values of reason, objectivity, and individualism. This idea of two different diplomas is wrong: All students should take the same classes and be treated equally. Keep the SOL, no social promotions, and stop making dropping out of school so easy.
Crack down on truancy, limit after school employment, and look into curfews such as the one proposed in Big Stone Gap. Children that are supervised and busy with homework at home don't get into sex, drugs, and crime. Our churches could be very helpful by offering safe, supervised places to go after school.
We have to solve our own problems as a community and stop waiting for government to fix everything. Let's do it in 2001!
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