Letters to the Editor - Overdue September 25 2003

I would like to thank you for the Dungeon Family article ("Dungeon Family Tree," Sept. 18). I believe I have read every article on the Dungeon Family and that was the best one by far. Very introspective and lots of details I have never heard before. Again, thanks for the long overdue cover story on these ATL pioneers.

-- Michael Nourollahi, Atlanta

br>?Where'd I put that cocktail napkin?
It is beginning to seem that correcting boneheaded analysis of my boss' job performance by the Loaf is going to be a full-time job of its own. I'll start with last week's "Scalawag" targeting said boss (Gov. Perdue) for the transportation bond program he recently announced (News & Views, Sept. 18).

Now, I know it is difficult to get one's facts straight when you're writing an article under a deadline on the back of a cocktail napkin after a four-day bender and the accompanying writer's block, so I'm going to help you out. Here are some actual transportation facts you may feel free to use the next time your editor orders up an AJC-style whack at Sonny on transportation.

First, the bond package you criticized makes up a mere 20 percent of overall transportation spending. There will be over $2.15 billion in transportation funds allocated this fiscal year. You guys are judging the swimsuit competition before the robes come off. Especially since around half of the total is specifically earmarked for congestion relief projects in the metro area.

The 13 counties that make up the Atlanta area for transportation purposes receive approximately 50 percent of overall transportation spending in the state with the rest being spread over the remaining 146 Georgia counties. Atlanta has about half the population; it gets half the money. It could conceivably receive more but for a state law that mandates allocation of transportation funds should be balanced between our 13 congressional districts. This 50/50 division is not new and certainly predates Perdue's administration.

The Loaf's charge that the distribution of funds was guided by political payback is a result of the communal hangover we still suffer from after 130 years of one-party control of state government. The good-ol' boys used to divvy cash up from the smoke-filled rooms and payoff their contributors with road contracts.

Things are different in the Perdue administration. For one thing, we didn't have any campaign contributors to pay off; ol' Roy sucked all of them up. For another, Sonny actually let non-partisan transportation experts figure out a ranking of programs across the state that should receive funding. Oh, and we don't have smoke-filled rooms anymore. Lefty Health Stasi types banned them. Sonny makes me smoke outside.

I suppose it's considered chic for the urbane and sophisticated team of Loaf writers to insist that all of our transportation dollars be spent in Atlanta while insisting that folks in the rest of the state can just schlep around in hand-me-down Birkenstocks. You might try and remember that Sonny is the governor of the whole state, and he's fighting for better transportation for all of us — inside Atlanta and across Georgia.

-- Dan McLagan,?Director of Communications, Governor's Office

br>?(Pre)PATRIOT Act?
In another in a long series of hysterical, hateful attacks on President Bush, Mr. Sugg again gets it all wrong — this time on the PATRIOT Act (Fishwrapper, "Why the (Un)PATRIOT Act?" Sept. 18). What Mr. Sugg doesn't say is that most of the provisions of the act were pre-existing — i.e. relating to federal investigations of crime and crime bosses. The act simply codified "terrorist" and "terrorism." No FBI agent can access Sugg's library habits without a search warrant signed by a judge. Furthermore, every poll shows that Americans not only support the act, but many want it to go even further.

-- Charles R. Jackson, Atlanta

br>?Succeeding students
I am a third-grade teacher in DeKalb County at Indian Creek Elementary, and our demographics mirror those at Cary Reynolds — very diverse with over 50 percent of the population having a different native tongue than that of English (News & Views, "Waiting for the ax to fall," Sept. 11).

I've had students who have come into my class from Bosnia or Ethiopia and only have a limited command of English. These students, with hard work from all of our staff, are able to succeed. They leave my class knowing how to write sentences and understand a good deal of what they are reading. Now, these students may not be at a third-grade level compared to other third-graders in the country, but they have learned. They have succeeded, I have succeeded, and so has our school.

I agree that every child can learn — I know it. I agree with Reg Weaver that we all learn and achieve at different rates. I am proud of our school — the teachers, parents, administration, staff and especially the students.

I know that there are teachers out there who do not do our profession justice, but I don't think that the "weeding-out" process is very effective. I want to applaud all of the teachers and administrators who have worked so hard at educating our children. It is a very tough job that requires a thought process lacking in our politicians at the state and federal levels.

-- Michael Bartone, Atlanta

br>?Age of information
Thanks for the 9-11 article ("The truth seekers, Sept. 11). For those who have gone beyond mainstream media for truthful information, it is refreshing to see a breaching of the chasm between reality and public perception of our government's involvement in the events of that day. Looking at the facts assembled so far, a plea of incompetence is generous.

This disconnect between duplicitous government actions and public awareness has always existed, but its eventual conciliation involves a time lag that dissipates efforts to remedy the problem.

Perhaps this age of information and a desire for integrity will allow us to root out the Oil Wellian, black ops aspect of government that has become so out of control and so convinced of its blessing upon the world.

Meanwhile, the fringe gets closer and closer.

-- Jeremy Lynes, Atlanta