Letters to the Editor

By NEMS Daily Journal

Eminent domain has a long, good history
Eminent domain has received attention recently with an effort to put the issue on the ballot this fall. I oppose the ballot initiative because it attempts to change our state’s Bill of Rights, which according to the state Constitution, cannot be amended through the initiative process. But I have other grave concerns as well.
Some people wrongly assume eminent domain allows government to seize private citizens’ land for no good reason. In fact, Mississippi has always used eminent domain sparingly and with great care. It has been utilized for economic development only a handful of times in our history and then only for major economic initiatives benefiting the greater good and creating numerous jobs. For the Toyota site, for instance, eminent domain was used to acquire clear title on a small parcel of land that had had no clear ownership since 1927.
Current law does not need to be amended. Eminent domain in Mississippi is a fair, balanced legal process that respects private property rights and ensures individuals are heard. No fewer than five public entities, including both houses of the Legislature and the governor must approve each case where eminent domain is proposed for economic development.
Eminent domain still would be used to acquire land for roads, bridges, airports and other infrastructure projects. Only economic development would be affected by the initiative and Mississippi would be prevented from competing with other states to attract the jobs we so desperately need.
Without eminent domain, Mississippi would never have competed successfully for Nissan, Toyota or the Stennis Space Center. We cannot afford to close the door on future economic development projects that would create thousands of jobs.
Leland Speed
Jackson


Crow’s Neck’s closing leaves us its poetry
The Crow’s Neck Environmental Education Center, located in the northeast corner of Mississippi near the little town of Tishomingo, died June 30, 2011. It was born in April 1993. It was given birth by the United States Army Corps of Engineers as part of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Mitigation Project. It sat on a 530-acre peninsula surrounded by 6,600-acre Bay Springs Lake and served nearly 6,000 guests per year. Most of these were school children and teachers.
I will say up front that it is not the intent of this letter to point fingers, throw rocks or lay blame. For the past nine years the Crow’s Neck Environmental Education Center was managed well by Northeast Mississippi Community College. Dr. Johnny Allen, president of Northeast, and Cynthia Harrell, director of the Center, did everything possible to keep it open
It may come as an irony that Delta State University, being located 200 miles away, was involved with Crow’s Neck from the beginning. Over its 18-year life span we offered approximately 40 workshops in science education, Civil War history and heritage studies.
John Keats once wrote that the poetry of the earth is never dead. Crow’s Neck was a place to listen and experience this poetry of the earth: the haunting call of the whip-poor-will across the lake, the silent lightening of the fireflies in the trees, the rhythm of hundreds of tree frogs, the buzz of cicadas, a red fox barking far away, the slither of a black snake into hole, a butterfly flitting in a child’s hair, the sound of raindrops, the raucous call of jays. Perhaps Thoreau said it best, “I believe there is subtle magnetism in nature which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.”
In the last line of James Dickey’s poem ‘For the Last Wolverine,” he said, “Lord, let me die but not die out.” While something beautiful and wonderful and mystical has died, it is my hope that the experience of this place, “the sources of our strength,” will never, ever be lost or die out.
Henry E. Outlaw, Ph.D.
Professor of Chemistry and Chair Emeritus
Delta State University
Cleveland


Saltillo developer takes issue with zoning vote
Responding to Saltillo’s board rejecting a rezoning request (article published July 20, 2011).
It’s a shame that Saltillo doesn’t have any real leadership! Instead we have a mayor and board of alderman that are small minded, short sighted politicians that are more concerned with their re-election and the handful of load mouthed complainers than with the majority of voters in Saltillo. Ever since the election of this mayor and board, Saltillo has continued to regress instead of progress.
This decision to reject a rezoning request for a lot attached to the Center City Market commercial development (currently zoned part-commercial and part-residential) in particular is a perfect example! Our city leaders had rather turn away a national retailer that would create jobs and produce sales tax dollars than to take a stand against a few that oppose anything that involves change.
Alderman Brad Woodcock stated he believed that, “Shannon’s attorney failed to prove that it would not affect property values and that it would not change the characteristics of the neighborhood.” I suppose Mr. Woodcock is a real estate expert now; a commercial land appraiser said the contrary. The real change occurred years ago when the previous administration rezoned all this property to commercial, except 75 feet of said lot. Go figure!
I was also told by John Milstead with the Community Development Foundation that we had met the city’s criteria for rezoning, and he would recommend to the board to rezone said property. But then the day of the initial board meeting, he changed his mind! We need leaders who can make their own decisions rather than get their marching orders from the Community Development Foundation! Who do you think CDF is looking out for? Saltillo, or Tupelo?
For Saltillo to regain the ground lost from the present economy and current administration, we need some real leaders with real vision. If we continue on the same path as we have been traveling for the past 6 or so years, then we will be only a bedroom to Tupelo and thus our demise.
I only hope that the fine citizens of Saltillo remember this mayor’s and board’s actions when election time rolls around!
Jay Shannon, Developer
Saltillo


Voter boycott
sought Aug. 2
I am writing this letter to all citizens of Lee County to ask for their support of a boycott of the Aug. 2 primary elections.
As of a few weeks ago, I took pride in looking forward to election day, but have now realized it is not really that important for me now or in the foreseeable future.
We people have the right to vote. But rest assured on Aug. 2, I will exercise my right to not vote.
Perry L. Walls
Tupelo


Citizen sacrifice can
pay down U.S. debt
I am so tired of the rhetoric coming out of Washington these days. It seems that no one on either side of the aisle can agree on how to reduce our national debt. I am no expert on the issue, being a simple 68-year-old woman in the construction industry, but I have a plan of self- sacrifice that could help bring down our deficit without raising our debt ceiling.
If each working person would make a one-time sacrifice of 8 percent of their weekly pay to pay down the debt, then we could focus on fixing the problems and not where the money was going to come from. For example, if a person makes $20,000 a year, he could send $5. If a person makes $50,000 a year they would send $75, and so on. If everyone did this on a planned week, there would be enough revenue to ensure that the U.S. debt would not go into default.
As stated before, I am only a construction worker, and my efforts would go largely unnoticed. On the other hand, if you were to get involved and ask the people of the great state of Mississippi to help with this, maybe the politicians on the hill would have to stop bickering and actually make steps toward progress. It is clear to me that they are using the issue of the debt ceiling for their own political gains. We need to take that excuse away from them and hold their feet to the fire.
Bobbie Labarreare
New Orleans