MOUNT VERNON — Although the group was smaller than in May, the talk was no less energetic at Monday’s Up for Discussion. As always, topics ranged from local to national issues.
A possible library levy, which is still in the preliminary discussion stage, was the first topic. Most in attendance agreed that although the library provided a valuable contribution to the community, they could not support yet another tax. It was asked how much the library spent on buying movies, with the comment that money should be spent on educational items, not movies. It was pointed out that in bad economic times, getting free movies at the library is all some people can afford.
It was said the library should give a better accounting as to how it spends its money and determines its priorities, how many patrons use the library and how many books are checked out. One woman said she wasn’t sure she could support another tax, but that students need access to updated reference material.
The comment was made that with limited resources in a down economy, a community’s priorities have to be determined: Is a library more important than a police force, for example. Allowing the community to determine its own priorities is why it is thrown back to the people to vote on.
Suggestions included cutting the library’s hours during school hours, and remaining open in the evening; donating books back to the library for recirculation; using high school students as volunteer staff so they can fulfill their community service requirements; working with the computer science work study program at the Knox County Career Center; and library officials brainstorming with community members.
On the topic of whether the city’s water splotching problem has been solved, it seemed the group did not believe it has been. Several said they did not think the problem was an issue with the sun. Nancy Vail said a former chief of metallurgy at Coopers said it was a mixing problem and he knows how to solve it. She said he will be getting in touch with the city’s engineer.
Councilwoman Rebecca Jordan gave the group a tip from her grandmother to help combat the problem: Boil new clothes in salt water. That seems to remove a lot of the dye that would otherwise come out in the laundry cycle.
The discussion heated up a bit when the topic of health care was introduced. Much of it revolved on government’s involvement in health care. One man said the number of bankruptcies which have occurred due to high medical bills has been cited as a reason to provide government health care. He said bankruptcy happened to his mother; his point was she had Medicare, a government program, and a private secondary policy.
Another man has relatives in Canada, and spoke about the Canadian health system. A family member diagnosed with a hernia was told it would take two years to have it repaired. He came to the United States and had the surgery.
The comment was made that a government plan is not mandatory for people to join, it’s just an option. Several responded by asking why would anyone pay for a private plan when they could be covered for free under the government’s plan?
The health care discussion included illegal aliens, the overuse of the emergency room; reimbursement rates and cuts to physicians and hospitals; and the overcharging for simple items on bills.
The former middle school was the fourth item up for discussion. Councilman John Fair and Jordan agreed it’s taken much too long for the issue to be resolved. Fair spoke about a tour in which he was included last week at the school.
The last issue briefly discussed was a $200 million payment to the Pacific island of Palau for housing 17 prisoners from Guantanamo Bay.