Misplaced savings

While watching the evening news I was saddened to hear about the cancellation of July Fourth fireworks displays at many of our military installations. These cancellations were of course blamed on the budget sequestration.

A little research on my part shows that we operate approximately 1,000 military bases worldwide. Let’s assume that each celebrates our great nation’s birthday with a $10,000 fireworks display. Not having these celebrations saves us $10 million, a not insignificant sum, but we’re talking about America’s birthday here.

In the same newscast I learned that in less than a year we’ve sent $1.5 billion to the now-deposed president of Egypt. In addition, the president just concluded a trip to Africa that cost, according to The Associated Press, $100 million. While there Mr. Obama proposed $7 billion in aid for electricity generation. In a recent much-celebrated energy speech he proposed new programs that will cost $2 billion.

So let’s add this up — $10.6 billion in new spending but we can’t afford fireworks for our heroes in uniform. Can’t we at least send them a box of sparklers?

Neil G. Whitman

Waterfront Drive

Mount Pleasant

Pain on both sides

A sympathetic article written by Jennifer Berry Hawes concerned local Episcopalians who chose to leave the Diocese of South Carolina and remain with the national Episcopal Church (TEC).

Ms. Hawes observed that some were forced by circumstances to form new worshiping communities. This is not surprising given that the vast majority of Episcopalians in this diocese (over 80 percent) have remained loyal to Bishop Mark Lawrence.

However, Ms. Hawes failed to mention that a similar situation exists for some who remained with Bishop Lawrence. In North Charleston, and North Myrtle Beach parishioners who chose not to remain with TEC have had to form new worshipping communities. Those in the St. Stephen area have chosen a long commute to a different parish.

While painful, these worshipping communities are opportunities for the diocese to plant new churches. We are confident that one very positive outcome will be the expansion of the faith.

At the time the diocese disassociated from TEC, Bishop Lawrence told every parish that the decision to remain with the Diocese of South Carolina or align with TEC was theirs alone. There would be no threats to seize property, nor any lawsuits.

Bishop Lawrence’s attitude differed significantly from that of the Episcopal Church which has launched over 80 lawsuits against parishes and dioceses that could not remain associated with an institution that no longer upheld traditional Christian beliefs and values.

And when financial considerations forced those parishes and dioceses to abandon appeals, their assets were seized by TEC and, in some cases, deconsecrated and sold off.

The process of disassociation has been painful all around. Let us pray that as we move forward the grace and kindness symbolized by Bishop Lawrence’s attitude towards dissent will prevail on both sides.

Bruce McDonald

Brockman Drive

Charleston

Help for the poor

I was glad to see a June 28 article reporting that government benefits are becoming easier to access. We know that 70 percent of families qualifying for food stamps don’t receive them because the application is so burdensome.

The article mentions that the state is using a Ford Foundation grant to develop one application for all federal benefits. We welcome the state to an effort that has been under way here for three years.

Area non-profits and churches are collaborating on an online system through the Benefit Bank of South Carolina that allows families to apply for all federal benefits at one time. To date, more than 100 agencies partnered to serve 4,700 clients and bring $18.6 million into our community.

There also must be a plan to help those people move to financial stability and self-sufficiency. Community stakeholders, partner agencies and volunteers developed such a plan in 2010 that addresses education, financial stability and health simultaneously.

Palmetto Goodwill, Family Services, Inc., and Trident United Way have begun collaborating in Prosperity Centers in Moncks Corner and Summerville, offering financial education, literacy training and workforce development in addition to the single application for benefits.

Poverty is a complex problem that can only be solved by multiple partners employing a backbone organization that manages their activities. Trident United Way is proud to play that backbone role to help our community achieve its goal of 30 percent more people moving out of poverty into financial stability by 2020.

Gretchen Penney

Immediate Past Chair

Financial Stability

Impact Council

Trident United Way

Rivers Avenue

Charleston

Map of excellence

Leon C. “Buddy” Seay, who passed away June 25, was the mapping supervisor for the Charleston County Assessor’s Office from 1967 until his retirement in 1997. Under the direction of the county assessor, Robert Ragin, he supervised the first mapping of all real estate parcels in Charleston County.

I met Buddy when I was employed by the mapping department in January of 1969. I had no idea how monumental the task of mapping the county would be. Now as a real estate title abstractor, I cannot imagine starting from scratch and ending up with the best set of tax maps I have seen in the state. All were hand drawn by Buddy and his staff.

The current GIS maps would not have been possible without the maps Buddy and his staff produced. Most real estate appraisers, land surveyors, title abstractors, real estate attorneys and real estate agents still rely on the old maps created by Buddy’s staff.

Buddy was a source of information for everyone employed in the real estate field. His expertise was relied upon many times in court cases involving land disputes. Buddy will be remembered most of all for his willingness to help a confused title abstractor or land surveyor solve a property line problem.

Buddy was the perfect example of the service that is expected of public employees. He and his wealth of information will be sorely missed.

Mike Rourk

Fort Johnson Road

Charleston