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A closer look at Sessions opposition to stimulus package

Dear Editor:

I take exception to the editorial (Fri. Jan. 30th) questioning Sen. Jeff Sessions commitment to the Black Belt area. You were correct on two fronts; Central Alabama has been hit hard by the economic downturn and now is not the time to play partisan politics. I’ve never met Sen. Sessions, but I would assume he is a fairly bright individual and would recognize the difference between the proposed Stimulus Package 2009 and the New Deal Plan from the 1930’s.

In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Works Progress Administration (WPA) to provide jobs on public work projects for needy persons. WPA projects nationwide constructed highways, bridges and parks and even such obscure projects as compiling travel guidebooks; artists, actors and musicians received jobs related to their professions. Selma/Dallas County continues to reap the rewards from local WPA projects such as Camp Grist and beautiful art work on display at the Old Depot museum.

The issue I believe Sen. Sessions has, and appears to be shared by a portion of the general public, is how exactly will the stimulus package have a direct impact on local entities and average ‘Joe the Plummer’ Americans. According to the editorial, “the stimulus money will allow projects to roll, putting good men and women to work in pre-construction and construction jobs”, or referred to as ‘shovel-ready’ projects. Locally our officials have a wish list of “shovel-ready” projects if and when stimulus funds become available.

How many former Phillies Cigar employees is it going to take to operate an asphalt machine when the runways at Craig Field are resurfaced? How many former Globe Metallurgical employees will it take to hang photographs and memorabilia on the walls of the Interpretive Center? It appears the ‘shovel-ready’ projects will first and foremost have an immediate impact on the engineering firm overseeing the renovations of the airstrip at Craig Field or the architectural firm supervising the design of the Interpretive Center. Not to imply these are not worth while projects but to ask the American people to saddle our grandchildren with the enormous debt this stimulus package will certainly cause; I’m sure this is what Sen. Sessions is concerned about.

I would ask the Times-Journal to do a follow-up article once the monies from the stimulus package becomes available and the ‘shovel-ready’ projects become a reality. Please report back to your readership the number of laid-off/displaced workers from the Cigar factory and Globe that were actually hired and engaged in any of the ‘brick to mortar’ construction work.

Barbara Burns