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Valerie June, Complete Streets, Republican Reality, and the Dangers of Sequestration

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Valerie June
I just have to say that that Valerie June cover image was one of the best the Flyer's ever done (August 15th issue). Really striking. And I'm looking forward to checking out her music, too.

Randy Frist
Memphis

Congrats, Memphis
On behalf of more than 200 nonprofits, businesses, and government partners across the state of Tennessee, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, Tennessee Network, congratulates Mayor Wharton and the city of Memphis for passing the country's 500th Complete Streets policy. Complete Streets polices are an important aspect of the Tennessee Network. Complete Streets improve safety by providing dedicated facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists, helping to make it safer for our children to walk and bike and be more physically active.

Adoption of Memphis' Complete Streets policy comes from the hard work and dedication of walking and bicycling advocate groups, like Bike/Walk Tennessee, as well as local leaders in health, education, and business, the staff who work with the Memphis bicycle and pedestrian coordinator, and nonprofits like Livable Memphis.

The Complete Streets policy adds to a growing list of achievements that are making Memphis more active and healthy including: bike lanes on 51 miles of city streets during the last two years, 15 miles of protected "green lanes" that will be added in the next two years, and a two-way, protected, cycle-track project that will connect Overton Park to the Shelby Farms Greenline — just to name a few. 

Memphis' adoption of the policy provides inspiration and encouragement to advance policies across Tennessee. We look forward to more great things from Memphis with the knowledge that Mayor Wharton will continue to support all modes of transportation across your city to improve the quality of life. 

Christy J. Smith,
Tennessee Advocacy Organizer
Safe Routes to School National Partnership
Chattanooga, Tennessee

A Different Reality?
I've decided I live in a different reality than my Republican friends. Most still insist that it's our biracial president's fault that America still suffers from high unemployment.

Facts seem to roll off their minds like water off a duck's back — facts like the jobs bill being held in the House for almost two years. They are too busy voting to kill the Affordable Care Act. Forty votes to repeal Obamacare, but not one to create jobs. Over in the Senate, Republicans seem to be proud about their success in blocking the Veterans Job Bill. At the same time, these cowards call for more involvement in Syria.

It's clear now that the most important issue on the GOP's agenda is to block any of the president's initiatives — even when he calls for corporate tax cuts!

They are so out of touch with the needs of ordinary people: Wanting to cut health care for millions. Denying care to those with preexisting conditions who cannot afford insurance. Refusing to pay for the rebuilding of our roads, bridges, and other critical infrastructure.

And now, they are planning to once again blackmail the nation by threatening to shut down the government. It's like we have nothing but Neros running the GOP. America can burn unless they get their way. 

Jack Bishop
Memphis

Sequester Danger
Our national security could be in jeopardy if the $500 billion in sequestration defense cuts are implemented. Our military has had to absorb $80 billion in prior cuts and is now cutting another $487 billion over 10 years to comply with the Budget Control Act.

That $487 billion translates to the Army reducing its forces by 80,000 soldiers over the next five years. The Marines will cut 20,000 troops. Other cuts include early retirement of ships, with the possibility of having 11 carrier battle groups instead of the 12 currently in place; the retirement of the Air Force A-10 Warthog aircraft; and the possible closure of our only tank production facility in Lima, Ohio. These cuts are occurring while leaving the Pentagon's civilian workforce of 750,000 unscathed. DOD added 62,000 civilian employees during the past four years.

If the additional billions of dollars in sequestration cuts are implemented, over a million civilian full-time jobs with contractors, subcontractors, and ancillary businesses will be lost. The unemployment rate could increase nearly 1 percentage point, and the U.S. gross domestic product could decrease by $85 billion.

The Obama administration and Congress have to find other ways to reduce the deficit without adversely impacting our national defense.

R.K. Middleton
St. Louis, Missouri

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