Sunday letters to the editor: The arrival of the trucks


The arrival of the trucks

To the editor: Recently after seeing two City of Spartanburg fire engines in the parking lot of their soon to be new central fire station on Forest Street, I was brought up short by the beauty of the day (sky aplenty up that way) and by the symbolic importance of what I was witnessing, an unofficial inaugural event as it were; the arrival of the trucks! (They were staking their claim.) Facing downtown, they presented a united and formidable front — twin Sphinxe’s overlooking their domain. Strength and resolve epitomized — at the ready to serve from on high. The trucks, (No.62 is a ladder truck), seemed fated to be there — very appropriate and proportional to their surroundings. A good fit. Home.

From this vantage point, the Marriott Hotel in the distance, looking quite grand and dignified, seemed to nuzzle the underside of drifting, low-hanging fair weather clouds. And from the Grain District, a few muted blasts from a train whistle sounded. The fire engines, now poised and king of the hill, could have responded in kind.

There is about to be an exciting and iconic rebooting of the shape and dynamics of downtown Spartanburg. As if Midtown Heights, with its planned new law enforcement center, central fire station and very sizable residential subdivision on Wofford Street, were missing puzzle pieces, now found. And we have our leaders and their dedicated subordinates to thank for their vision and determination. No doubt there will be other seismic shifts in Spartanburg’s future but for downtown, anything comparable to this would be monumental indeed.

– Rodney Starnes, Spartanburg

Our polarized world

To the editor: In our current polarized world, let’s take a deep breath and think about the way we think.

While coaching CEOs and executives over the years, I have learned the study of heuristics. Heuristics are mental shortcuts that our brains use to make decisions and judgments.

One dominant heuristic is confirmation bias – something every brain does. Human nature causes us to look more favorably at data (even falsehoods) that confirm decisions we have already made. We always look to confirm and defend our decisions, our opinions, our politics, our religion, our families…the list is endless. We argue ourselves into corners defending our beliefs.

Justifying or watering down unfavorable facts makes us feel safer. Defending our own we might say, “My kid is a great student stuck with a lousy teacher”. Off we go looking for data to support our theory: mistakes and inequities caused by this teacher, this school, our education system, etc.

The risk of seeing things as they are is that we may be disappointed, thinking less of ourselves or those who are important to us because new information may prove our earlier views wrong.

The big risk when confirmation bias goes unchecked: stupidity. One mentor described it this way: “Stupidity is not the absence of intelligence so much as it is the rejection of intelligence.”

Are you open minded? Do you seek better information after you’ve formed an opinion so that you might learn more, even if it requires you to change your position? Or are you clinging to your rightness or expertise?

Ignorance is forgivable. I am ignorant about most things simply because I have not experienced or learned about them, but I strive to avoid stupidity – persistent ignorance in the face of better information.

In this time of insecurity and unrest, please, let’s all not be stupid.

– Stephen I. Johnson

Exceptional character and proven leadership

To the editor: We have watched Scott Talley grow up, and we are so proud of the leader he is today. He has made our family and Spartanburg very proud! While he has many exceptional qualities that make him an excellent choice to be re-elected as state senator, his character stands out the most to us. He is conservative, reliable, trustworthy and a man of his word. You cannot say that about all politicians, but we are confident that these qualities are lived out everyday in Scott Talley’s life. He is a devoted family man, a reputable attorney and the perfect choice for state senator.

Education remains very important to him. As a member of the Education Committee, he continues to work hard to improve early childhood education. He understands that young children are our future! As lifelong supports of Spartanburg’s school districts, we truly appreciate his dedication and hard work in this important endeavor.

Scott Talley, thank you for your exceptional character and proven leadership! You have our vote on June 9th and we encourage everyone to exercise your right to vote — absentee or in person! Every vote counts!

– Steve and Mary Brockman, Spartanburg

The right choice

To the editor: A resident of Spartanburg County, Mark was born and raised in the Upstate. He and his wife Sarah have been married for 32 years and live in Woodruff. They raised their children here.

Mark is not a lawyer or career politician. Since 1983, Mark has grown his company, Jeff Lynch Appliances and TV Center, into a successful business.

After college, Mark went to work at his father’s small store. At age 25, Mark formed a purchase agreement to buy the store. Through hard work and careful planning, Mark has grown that store with a couple of employees into a multi-million dollar business, employing over 100 people, and competing with national chains.

But life is not all business for Mark.

Mark and his wife are active members of Fellowship Greenville (formerly Southside Baptist) and they are involved in crisis recovery ministries, as well as missionary efforts right here in our community and around the globe.

Mark and his wife have worked with international mission organizations such as Samaritan’s Purse and VisionTrust which care for the neediest children in some the most dangerous areas, and Cameroon Biblical Seminary in Central African Republic which trains local pastors. Through Seeds of Hope, Mark and his wife have personally participated in over 20 mission trips.

Here in the Upstate, Mark is working to make a difference as well.

Because they have seen first-hand the ruinous despair and heartbreak of drug addiction and alcoholism, Mark and his wife serve as volunteer counselors with Celebrate Recovery and they have worked extensively with Miracle Hill Ministries, helping raise money for their “Overcomers and Renewal” programs.

Mark is conservative, pro-life, and a strong supporter of President Trump.

We need conservative values in our State Senate. So please join me in voting for Mark Lynch.

– Chip White, Greer

The character necessary

To the editor: When I first met Linda Dogan upon joining Spartanburg City Council in 2003, I had a preconceived notion of my new colleague. We both tended to look at each other from a sideways perspective in those days. The white, conservative newcomer serving with the veteran black, outspoken firebrand would have far too many divergent viewpoints to work together for the citizens, right?

Nothing could have been more wrong. As time passed and we addressed the various issues and challenges, we both began to understand that our ideological differences were far outnumbered by our mutual agreement on so many things. Her willing spirit to work with others exhibits a strong character. Those who know Linda are aware of her passion for service to any and all, but that passion is influenced by her effectiveness in tasking with others for positive results.

On Spartanburg County Council, the challenges of 2020 and beyond mandate experience, passion and, most importantly, character. Those are some of the many attributes of my friend; on June 9, the best choice is to vote Linda Dogan, Spartanburg County Council, District 1.

– Joe Spigner, Spartanburg

Stop the meddling

To the editor: This Tuesday June 9th in my voting precinct any Democrat that votes can only vote in the Republican primary as there is no Democratic primary at my precinct. Allowing Democrats to show up Tuesday to meddle is just as wrong as allowing Republicans to show up earlier this year to meddle. Earlier this year Republicans made it very public they planned to vote for either Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden to hopefully get rid of the other Democratic contenders. It looked like the meddling worked as shortly after a tainted South Carolina primary election everyone but Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden dropped out.

In my opinion laws should be passed to make South Carolina like other States when it comes to candidate selection. In most other States registration by party helps to ensure that Democrats select Democrats, Republicans select Republicans, Independents select Independents and so on. I believe it is time to encourage our elected officials to stop legal election meddling. Do you?

– Calvin Cowen, Duncan

What tough times have taught

To the editor: The current pandemic, along with the ensuing shutdown of our economy, has truly had some devastating effects on small businesses around the country. South Carolina is home to many proud small business owners, who are now facing enormous difficulties. As a small business owner, I recognize many of these profound challenges, and I also recognize there are tools that exist which gives me and my business a fighting chance to hang in there during these uncertain times. A recent report from the Connected Commerce Council found that because of the Covid-19 crisis 76% of small businesses are relying more on digital tools than before. Digital advertising tools have allowed me to effectively communicate with my customer base, while analytical and organizational tools from platforms such as Google have been extremely helpful in increasing my business’s overall efficiency.

These tough times have really taught me how innovative and inventive technology can be to small businesses like mine. Those in positions of power who want to break up and over regulate big tech companies must understand how much they aid small businesses. Companies such as Google and Facebook have given in hundreds of millions of dollars in ad credits to assist small businesses around the country. In times like these all of us need as much help as we can get, and I am incredibly thankful for the great American tools and services available at my disposal to help tough things out. That is why I signed a letter asking our governor to protect the very technology that my company relies upon.

– Mark Myers, Greer

’The voice of the district’

To the editor: Beyond a doubt, Linda Dogan is the most qualified candidate for Spartanburg County Council District 1. Linda C. Dogan, a former longtime Spartanburg City Council member who held the City Council seat for twenty years from 1994 until 2014. She has been employed as a Planning Technician in the county’s Planning and Development department for the last thirty-eight years. Linda has a great deal of experience dealing with local, county and state legislation acquired a great deal of experience dealing with local, county and state.

Linda Dogan has always represented “the voice of the district” in Spartanburg County. Linda Dogan has fought for the citizens of Spartanburg through advocating for better living conditions for all citizens. She exemplifies honesty, fairness, and thoughtfulness. Candidate Dogan is very well liked and respected in this community. She has served long hours as a volunteer at the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen, a community organizer and work hard as a servant in her church.

Linda will stay connected to the citizens of Spartanburg County District 1. Vote for Linda Dogan at the June 9 Primary.

– AA Whiteside, Spartanburg

The golden rule

To the editor: Too often legislators and religious groups have stood aside and allowed their proclaimed religious ideals to be denigrated by bigots and money worshipers who believe that the golden rule is a stock market reward. The photo op by the hypocrite in chief has been lauded by his minions although he was standing in front of a church he does not attend and was holding a borrowed book that he does not understand. I doubt that he even knows two Corinthians who could explain it to him.

If people in our churches share a conscience, they could join in a march for unity and follow that action with a concerned effort to to promote peace, love, and equality in our nation. Rioting and physical confrontations will only fan the flames of hatred.

The ballot box is the greatest source available to pursue a better society. Joe Biden, Jamie Harrison, Moe Brown, Dawn Bingham, and Kim Nelson could be far better alternatives than those who currently hold office. They will not solve every problem, but they will strive to serve instead of to exploit, to represent every person and not a select few, and to speak truth instead of lies. They will not see the Bible as a photo prompt but will try to apply the lessons that can be found within it.

– Steven G. Smith, Boiling Springs

Police accountability

In light of the tragic police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN, immediate actions should be taken to ensure police forces in Spartanburg County remain accountable to their citizens, the constituency that they are sworn, after all, to protect and to serve.

At a minimum, action should be taken to:

1. Ensure that clear use of force policies are in place for all police jurisdictions in Spartanburg County. These policies should be reviewed with citizens in public hearings scheduled to maximize community participation. Further, these should be adopted by public vote of the relevant elected body.

2. Establish citizen review panels composed of community representatives with explicit power to review all citizen complaints and all instances of police interactions resulting in severe bodily harm or death and to recommend consequences, ranging up to immediate firing from the police force. These panels should have independent investigative resources funded by the jurisdiction and be empowered to call witnesses including involved officers. Conclusions drawn by the panel regarding the complaint and recommended consequences should be a matter of public record.

These are the minimum first steps required to ensure transparency on police activity and accountability of elected officials for police oversight.

– Albert F. Aiken Jr., Spartanburg

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