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Your Views: Neighbor states try to pull a fast one on Georgia
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Looks like our senators were caught with their eyes closed by Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, who inserted into the omnibus bill wording to freeze the efforts by the Corps of Engineers to rewrite the management manuals for the two North Georgia water systems that are in peril.

This water war soap opera is shrinking the water supply for Georgians as we watch the rivers flowing south at full pool. There are no water restrictions for lower Alabama or the panhandle of Florida, but we've been on them for two years now.

The Corps has been destroying the environment along the Apalachicola River for decades. Their wetlands were blocked by all that dredging for a handful of costly barges for Georgia and Alabama. Even Georgian taxpayers wanted that waste stopped. But our politicians back then were supporting the barges for unknown reason to most of us. Maybe we're paying the price for sticking it to Florida when it wanted the dredging stopped by Congress and we refused to support it.

In 2006, we got slammed by Florida and its bogus endangered species act lawsuit for a handful of mussels so that water levels would be increased. If the dredging and drought in the '80s didn't get them, why all this fuss now when we need to lower releases during an extreme drought? They've been a lot lower before and haven't fluctuated much at all for them to be screaming for more.

Now Alabama has slammed us in a backhanded way as the three governors were in talks. No wonder Gov. Bob Riley was so quiet. He must have known what his senator was up to.

Our only recourse is to slam back and have Gov. Perdue declare a state of emergency and take over the dams. Control our waters and only release the amount of water coming in and not a drop more for Alabama and Florida. They have squandered our resources and at this point we can't afford to be more generous. If and when rains come, the reservoirs will hold water to refill and keep releases to that minimum until we recover what has been wasted.

Florida and Alabama have showed their dirty hands and now we have to fight for our water rights. Political niceness has to stop now.

Georgia Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss let Shelby slip a fast one by them and now look like a bunch of losers. Does anybody have a backbone to get the job done in Washington or the governor's office? I hope and pray now they'll get tough and protect Georgians and not let them get away with the shenanigans they've pulled.

Perdue's a lame duck, and if he's looking for higher office on this issue alone, he'll lose with Georgians. We want statesmen, not game-players wasting our resources to get ahead.

Endangered species is a ruse for the oyster business and out-of-hand growth of condos, resorts and golf courses. The panhandle is full of water. Let them pipe their underground water to Woodruff to regulate the fresh and salt mix in their river for oysters. It is not our responsibility.

Or is this all just one big scam for our river to be used as the big flush to cover up the sewer stench of Atlanta? Politicians are on notice and we're all watching to see how they handle this.

Jane Browder

Diverse church, pastor focused on the spiritual
In response to Anita Nettles' letter, "Priest condones illegal immigration" from Dec. 22: With respect to immigration, the Pastor at St. Michael Catholic Church, Father Fabio Sotelo, will take the position as specified by his Archbishop of Atlanta, Wilton Gregory.

In a pastoral letter to the Archdiocese, "Regarding Immigration Reform," dated March 1, 2006, Archbishop Gregory of Atlanta and Bishop Boland of Savannah clearly state the church's teaching regarding immigration.

There are five basic principles: "(1) persons have the right to find opportunities in their homeland, (2) persons have the right to migrate to support themselves and their families, (3) sovereign nations have the right to control their borders, (4) refugees and asylum seekers should be afforded protection, and (5) the human dignity and human rights of undocumented immigrants should be respected."

Item No. 3 will have been included to dispel confusion regarding illegal immigration. In other words, people have a right to migrate, but not illegally. Item No. 5 speaks for itself. Anita's frustration with Father Fabio was unwarranted, and probably caused by her disregard for the overall context.

Fabio supports those in our community who are poor, isolated in an unfamiliar land, with many separated from their families, and all in need of spiritual nourishment. He is most qualified for this work. His concern is with the problem at hand, which is how to spiritually feed thousands of people who suddenly appeared virtually overnight at Hall County's doorstep.

I would guess that he would be happy to leave the politics to the bishops and then take the same position that Jesus did with the "illegals" of his time, including tax collectors, prostitutes and anyone who might be hanging on the cross next to him. Christ was primarily concerned with the work of their salvation and less interested in their legal status. This is what Fabio does.

And as to comments about the "trilingual Mass:" the Catholic Church, by its very universal nature, is multilingual and multicultural. No other church on Earth is like this, and thank God for it. I believe that this diversity will ultimately bring strength and growth to St. Michael, even as many of our good English-speaking parishioners have left with the same frustration the letter expressed.

Consider this: Our recent Midnight Christmas Mass was presided over by a converted and married Anglican Episcopal priest, who concelebrated with a priest from Nigeria and another one from Columbia, Father Fabio; also with a "soon-to-be priest" deacon from Cameroon, Africa, who is the son of an immigrant; another "soon-to-be priest" deacon from Vietnam; and lastly, two married deacons from our local community.

The laity included Anglos, Latinos from various different countries, Vietnamese and people from Cameroon. There were at least five distinct cultures and languages represented.

It is simply not possible to think of the Catholic Church as monocultural. St. Michael will work through her multicultural difficulties, and ultimately we will come through stronger for the effort.

Jeffrey Jacob

Beware of Medicare drug plans' ‘gap'
People who are using Medicare prescription drug plans would do well to understand the sleight of hand being used to define "the gap."

Here is the chart we are normally shown:

Stage 1: $0-$2,400; money paid by you and insurance
Stage 2: $2,400-$3,850; you pay all drug costs in "the gap."
Stage 3: $3,850 and up; insurance pays approximately 95 percent of costs.

The sleight of hand I referred to is the fact that "the gap" doesn't really start at $2,400. That's the point where the insurance company stops paying. Your "gap" really extends from $0 to $3,850 because you only reach stage 3 when you have paid $3,850 out of your own pocket.

In my case this year, I had paid $713 and my insurance company had paid $1,687 when I entered "the gap." My insurance company will not pay another dime until I have paid $3,137 more to reach the $3,850 level. This is a lot different from the $1,450 "gap" that the chart indicates.

Jim Waldrep

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