Letters to the Editor – 1/13/17

Letters to the Editor – 1/13/17

Ask Arabs for Wall Rights

Rabbi David Geffen’s article caught my eye (“What Israelis Face as 2016 Winds Down,” Dec. 23).

While he notes that 60 percent of the military are (according to the poll he quoted) “lefties” and people don’t trust them, etc., Rabbi Geffen also points out that someone philanthropic is generously funding salaries for Reform and Conservative rabbis because the narrow-minded Israeli public is either secular or Orthodox.

Then he goes on to point out how Conservative and Reform Jews are demanding equal rights at the Kotel.

May I point out that the border called the Green Line that is on most every map in the world puts the Old City of Jerusalem and the Western Wall on the Arab side?

So perhaps the Women of the Wall and the Conservative and Reform who all espouse giving away Jerusalem and support the gifting of these areas to Israel’s enemies should go to the appropriate Arab government and ask for equal rights at the wall.

Raanan Isseroff, Brooklyn, N.Y.


Senate Shouldn’t Allow Unrecorded Votes

Here is a common-sense, bipartisan idea to start the year: All official votes under the Gold Dome should be recorded so that we the people always know exactly how each one of our state legislators votes.

Believe it or not, that is not the case in the Georgia Senate.

State Senate rules used for decades allow unrecorded votes on significant amendments to legislation considered on the Senate floor after all public input and any scrutiny in the committee process have been completed.

This lack of transparency in government affairs could easily have been changed Monday morning, Jan. 9, when the Senate convened for the 2017 session and voted on the rules for the next two years. Only one senator even mentioned it. And don’t look for unrecorded votes and an in-depth explanation in the news.

Georgians need to know that the state senators vote on the Senate rules as their first order of business every other year, and 2017 is one of those years. On the first day, rules can be changed with a simple majority (29 of the 56 members).

We provide this information just in case a few state senators forgot to mention it to their constituents.

The Senate rule allowing unrecorded votes on floor amendments was not touched on Monday, Day 1 of the 40-day session.

A quick explanation is in order. High up on the front wall of the Senate chamber is a large, brightly lighted machine that displays each senator’s vote and electronically records it in the permanent Senate record. It’s called the “yeas and nays” or “roll call” voting method.

In the Senate chamber, if any senator wants to change a bill that has gone through the committee process, a floor amendment can be offered, and senators can vote on whether to approve the amendment — with an unrecorded, raise-your-hand vote. And they can decide whether that vote is an unrecorded vote with another unrecorded, raise-your-hand vote.

Oddly enough, this is inaccurately referred to as the “voice vote” or “rise, stand and be counted” voting method. See Rule 5.1-3: www.senate.ga.gov/sos/Documents/senaterules2015.pdf.

It takes five senators to quickly demand a machine-recorded vote on floor amendments.

Confusing, isn’t it?

Here is an example: In 2015, the Republican-controlled Senate killed a conservative amendment aimed at ending the practice of issuing driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants by holding an unrecorded, raise-your-hand vote on whether to have an unrecorded, raise-your-hand vote.

Unrecorded won. We the people — and transparency in government — lost.

There was also an unrecorded vote involved in getting to final passage of the 2015 transportation tax increase. This writer watched both events.

Readers of all political stripes should contact their state senators and demand that the rule be changed. It can still be done at any time. But now the process is much more difficult and would require a two-thirds majority.

Believe it or not, it can be done with an unrecorded vote to decide whether the vote to change the unrecorded vote rule is an unrecorded vote. Got that?

Then we can start working on eliminating unrecorded votes in the House and Senate committee process.

— D.A. King, Marietta, president of the Georgia-based Dustin Inman Society

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