2013-05-08 / Opinions


Specific religion should not be invoked in BOS meetings

This is in response to Jerry Stroud’s letter in the opinion section dated April 17. The letter is titled: “Don’t censor county prayers.”

Jerry is outraged that there are guidelines to the invocation during the Board of Supervisors meeting. He is offended that the name Jesus Christ cannot be used, and he insists that our leaders do not have a “backbone” if they allow such censorship, apparently forced on them by a minority group, in their meetings.

In response to this, I would like to point out that our leaders are not demonstrating cowardice or a lack of strong leadership. In fact, by allowing these guidelines to prevail, they are showing strong leadership in demonstrating respect for all religions. Notice, when the Eagle Scouts recited the Pledge of Allegiance, they recited the words, “Under God,” which is a universal religious term. They did not recite, “Under Jesus Christ.” These words were added to the pledge in 1954.

When you specify Jesus Christ, you move into theology, which has no place in a county meeting. Our founding fathers were a mix of faiths, which included deists and anti-clerical Christians (Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin). Separating religious faith from government was important to our founding fathers, which is evident in our Constitution.

Invoking Jesus Christ in a non-religious gathering in a country of different faiths, is favoring one form of religious belief over the many others that exist. We cannot ignore the unaffiliated citizens or the citizens who represent faiths other than Christianity. It’s called respect, though, in my opinion I believe that prayer doesn’t belong in a secular meeting. Our constitution is a completely secular document that never invokes “God,” as it shouldn’t.

We are a nation of many faiths or none at all and it’s about time that we learn to respect each other and move on. Our country has had great leadership and poor leadership along the way. It’s not the religion that paves the way toward progression; it’s the many great men and women who have advocated change for what they believe in: equality and justice for all citizens.

These virtues have been advocated throughout our history by people of all religions and no religion at all. We need to start focusing on what unites us all rather than the frivolous things that divide us.

Ruth Castro

Proffers manage growth

I believe the major spokespeople for the groups against proffers have spent way too much time in rhetoric and PowerPoint class and not enough time in either logic or economics class. Wow – blaming proffers for someone going out of business, as one local bank president inferred? I’m sorry, but to me it sounds like an excuse for a bad business decision by the bank, which made the loan.

I went to the website developed by a consulting/lobbying firm for Citizens Against Proffer Taxes. It makes claims about the disastrous effects, long-term, for the county.

I love their pie charts, graphs, statements of ruinous effects on disproportionate taxes, growth, businesses, etc. Why would anyone ever want to buy, live and work in Chesterfield County after looking at their claims? Or, here’s a thought: Maybe proffers contribute to “managed” growth? Doesn’t make sense.

Funny...think I just read about an increase in building permits that were issued in the county, something like the best first quarter since 2008. Guess some contractors see the value of investing here. Oh, and wasn’t a senior analyst for a real estate research firm recently quoted as saying Chesterfield has a major advantage over Henrico and Richmond in that they can’t match “a considerable supply of lots” where new homes can be built?

Personally, I think doing away [with] or changing proffers is a bad idea. And that’s an issue that would sway my voting preference on Election Day.

Bill Fagan

Community High’s leadership is accomplished and dedicated

I am writing in regard to the Chesterfield Observer [March 20] article “Officials set high expectations for Community High staff, students” by Michael Buettner.

As a 25-year resident of Chesterfield County, and the parent of three children who have attended Chesterfield County Public Schools, I was saddened and angered by both Ms. Dalton’s and Dr. Teigen’s comments in the above-mentioned article.

Specifically, Ms. Dalton’s comment, “We’re looking for someone who has vision....We’re looking for someone who can walk on water,” and Dr. Teigen’s comment [that the school is] “looking for someone with real leadership skills to lead the transformation.”

I wonder how CCPS officials/administration would feel if their superiors made the above comments about the county’s current public school leadership.

The expectation that new leadership will have miraculous results is nonsensical. To not acknowledge the accomplishments and dedication of the current Community High School leadership and staff is imperceptive and harsh. Having personal experience with both the faculty and leadership of Community High School, I have found caring and knowledgeable individuals who [make] students their priority.

Dr. Teigen’s comment that the “new vision.... is meant to strengthen the school’s focus on academic rigor, character development and work-force readiness” does not address the underlying causes for the students’ need for alternative education. Professionals who will recognize the students’ basic needs, which includes trauma-informed care, should be part of that new vision.

Ms. Dalton’s comment that it (meaning Community High School) will have “the same expectations as a business” and that students will come to school “dressed as if it was a business” is unrealistic if you truly understand the population you are serving. Also, neither of those expectations has been applied to other Chesterfield County Public Schools.

Mr. Accashian was specifically recruited to Community High School by the CCPS administration. He has had a collaborative and successful approach these many years, and he has chosen school leadership that compliments the student population and school needs. To ignore his recommendations for the school’s future is shortsighted.

In closing, I want to recognize the current leadership and staff at Chesterfield Community High School. Their expertise, knowledge and compassion are exactly what the students need.

Sonyia Elder

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