While there may be some merit to the Jan. 27 Blade editorial, "Non-binding, non-threatening," opposing a U.S. troop increase in Iraq, The Blade is wrong in urging Congress to vote against an increase in Army and Marine Corps personnel.
Our military ground forces strength was dangerously inadequate to meet our defensive needs even before the Iraq war. The Army is nearly broken after four years of war, and it would be in that position even in a war that was not of our choosing.
Our country should actively undertake the proposed five-year program to recruit an additional 95,000 to 100,000 Army personnel to reach a 600,000 end strength.
The Blade obviously has not looked at the demands placed upon our ground forces outside of Iraq, or it would not be making such a short-sighted call. Our current regular Army, National Guard, and Army Reserve forces are approximately 50 percent smaller today than at the end of the Cold War.
In 1989 the all-volunteer regular Army maintained 18 divisions - today it's 10. The National Guard and Reserves were also twice as large, which provided sufficient forces for both domestic missions and a strategic reserve.
If we were forced into another military action, especially one in Korea or other areas, that would be more conventional in nature, our current small force would soon evaporate through increased casualties and fatigue.
We need the increase in ground forces as an insurance policy against the unexpected and as a deterrent to those who would exploit our predicament in Iraq. Both Democratic and Republican members of Congress are supporting this increase and they should ignore The Blade's and other similar arguments against the troop increase.
All the President offers are platitudes
"The President does not have the common sense of a duck," Molly Ivins said in one of her last columns. I personally think a duck has more. What does our so-called commander in chief mean when he uses platitudes while referring to the Iraq mess? "Stay the course"? "Finish the job"?
He answers very serious questions about why we have an Army in Baghdad by using these sophomoric replies. I am totally convinced that he does not have any idea how to end this disgraceful slaughter in Iraq. To send more troops into the maelstrom is like throwing gasoline into the fire to put the fire out. The suicide bombers, terrorists, and insurgents (whatever that means) will still have as many places to hide and have more targets to annihilate once the troops are there.
In the meantime, congressmen on both sides of the aisle are fiddling while Baghdad burns. Doesn't anyone have the courage to stop this madness?
GERALD W. JACOBS
Hiring Mom would save schools money
I got a good laugh about how the Anthony Wayne School District hired a consultant, at $84,000 a year for four years, to teach it how to save money on its utility bills.
Your article said the basic premise of the consultant's program was simple: "to get teachers and staff members to turn lights and computers off" when they leave the room.
I chuckled, recalling how often I heard that at home when I was a kid. Maybe the district should hire Mom instead. She'd keep after all those watt-wasting staffers, and for a lot less than $84 grand a year.
She'd give other energy-saving advice, too, like "Close the door! I'm not paying to heat the whole neighborhood!" Maybe she can even help them avoid the emergency operating levy.
MICHAEL L. STOKES
Maumee schools project a success
Much has been written about problems with school construction projects. My firm, Bostleman Corp., was the construction consultant on the recent $45.7 million Maumee City Schools construction project. From that position we were privileged to witness a different story about a school district that got it right.
The work was accomplished with bond issue money, not state dollars. Through the diligent efforts of the Maumee School Board and administration, all the renovations and new construction promised to Maumee residents have been accomplished both on time and on budget. In today's economy that is phenomenal.
The dedication required by the administration and school board for a project of this size is tremendous. Countless construction meetings were attended by top administrators and board members. They became very knowledgeable about the construction process.
They have been good stewards of Maumee's bond issue dollars. The board challenged design and construction decisions to be sure that Maumee received the absolute best value for their dollar. The project was completed with less than 3 percent in contingency funds.
Maumee schools staff performed miracles in meeting the needs of the many move-outs, move-ins, and temporary shifts of furniture and equipment required in a multiyear, multi-phase schedule.
Many other administrators, staff, and faculty members did whatever was necessary to meet the challenging schedules that were in place. During this process, the school district has earned two Excellent ratings from the state of Ohio, indicating that educating students was always a priority and that maintaining the learning environment was paramount.
Kudos to Greg Smith, superintendent; his staff; board members Stephanie Pechowiak, Glenn Rambo, Bob Righi, Sylvia Washburn, and Janet Wolff; Larry Burda, director of facilities, and all the others for a job well done.
Minimum wage increase costly
A recent writer explained how increases in the minimum wage are going to increase inflation in our state by making small businesses increase prices for goods and services.
Instead of interviewing young high school graduates and college students who are working many of these jobs to save for college, readers would have been better served if the writer had interviewed middle-class workers who make a few dollars above minimum wage, yet will not see any raise and will only feel the pinch when costs for everything from an evening at the movies to groceries increase.
Many families that are in the income bracket I just described are not enjoying such luxuries as an evening at the movies. They have more important things to worry about, such as utility bills, food, and rent/mortgage. These wage earners will not see a raise, even though workers who have less experience or fewer qualifications will. I especially feel sorry for the home health care workers (among other labor classifications) who were shut out of a wage increase due to legislation.
I understand that there are many hard-working people who deserve a living wage. But many people shortsightedly voted for this wage increase hoping to improve their own lot in life, or to help others less fortunate.
Unfortunately, business, small as well as big, will not eat the costs of these increases; they will only cut into the finances of the struggling middle class in Ohio.
What was Westgate designer thinking?
I love what they have done with the new Westgate. Especially when I drive down Secor Road and get to look at the wall of beautiful garbage Dumpsters and the shiny new vents and air-conditioning units. A nice brick wall will soon have graffiti saying nice things to me sprayed all over it.
Oh, and don't forget the nice parking lot next to Secor that also will be collecting all kinds of garbage from the neighboring fast-food joints.
Instead of seeing the colorful flowers that were a mainstay in the lot for years, we get to look at bricks. Great decision from the designers.
All I can say is WOW. What in the heck were they thinking?
Tragically, it would now be appropriate to redesign the presidential seal, and include in it a skull and crossed bones.
Whispering Pines Drive