School system student housing data

dispels damaging, incorrect perceptions

The Auburn community continues to struggle with the “good problem” of growth and development, including growth in Auburn City Schools student enrollment. The discussion is driven, in part, by the perception that “multi-unit developments were the major contributor to the school system’s rapid growth” and perhaps an underlying sentiment, although stated in a recent public hearing, that growth in multi-family housing results in more minority and poor students and that is a bad thing for Auburn.

The excellent article in The Auburn Villager by Allison Blankenship and the comments by City Manager Charlie Duggan, dispel these damaging and incorrect perceptions. The article was based on the study the city has conducted each year since 2012, designed to measure this perceived relationship in response to citizen’s concerns.

The study refutes the notion that an imbalance between single and multi-family developments has resulted in an increase in the number of free and reduced lunch students. The percentage of free and reduced lunch students in Auburn was 29.4 percent in 1998 — the earliest date for which these data are available — and is 29.4 percent in 2016. No change.

The study concluded that student enrollment growth has not been spurred by multi-family developments any more than single family developments. The study showed that “the number of students living in apartments or condos actually decreased from 1,254 in 2014 to 1,202 in 2015”.

City Manager Duggan stated, “The surprising thing was that it really wasn’t even close to what people had feared.”  He further stated, "Basically, both curves are going up, and the curve for multi-family and apartments and stuff like that is not more steep; they’re kind of parallel."

The city must be clear on its objectives. If the objective is to stop the growth in student enrollments, prohibiting multi-family developments will not achieve this objective.

If the objective is to reduce the number of free and reduced lunch students, prohibiting developments through zoning out certain demographics may partially achieve this objective. However, such would not be supported by the data in the study and would, I believe, be contrary to the values of our community.

Auburn, whose heart is Auburn University and whose soul is education, cannot turn its back or shut its doors to those most needing the education our schools can provide. 

The study data clearly show that the mix in developments in our community has not changed the enrollment and demographic patterns in our schools. There is no threat. So, let us turn to real issues of growth and development — maintenance of a high quality of life, aesthetics and values that support every resident and would-be resident, including students, in the Loveliest Village on the Plains.

Gerald W. Johnson

Auburn Resident, former President of the Auburn City School Board

Keeping Treese would benefit Lee County

My name is Corinna Anderson, and I am the widow of Deputy James Anderson, who was killed in the line of duty in Lee County on Sept. 24, 2009.

My family's lives were changed forever that day. We didn't realize it then, but we had a long road ahead of us. Not only did we have to deal with the loss of James, but we had a long court process ahead of us.

I remember the first time I saw his murderer's face in court. That was a very hard day. There were many court dates to come, and I was very grateful that I had the best District Attorney and DA staff I could ever ask for.

Robbie Treese and all of the DA staff had a difficult job to do. Being compassionate and caring for my family and me are not part of his and his staff's job, but they always treated us with the utmost respect and had consideration for our feelings.

All of the DA staff worked very hard to support us and Robbie with the capital murder case we had in front of us. We had many court dates and Robbie was always there.

Robbie and his staff always had everything they needed for every court date, and during the trial in September 2011, they fought very hard for James and all of our family.

I couldn't be more satisfied with the outcome and the justice Robbie Treese and his staff got for James. They presented the case in such a professional manner that James' murderer is sitting on death row.

When Robbie Treese steps into the courtroom, he shows compassion and fights for every case he handles. I also know of other cases that Robbie Treese has prosecuted.

While working on James' capital murder case, he also was working on another capital murder case, and he was successful in that case and obtained a guilty verdict.

I know personally how Robbie Treese and all of the DA staff give 100 percent towards every case that they prosecute. I believe the keeping DA Robbie Treese in office greatly benefits the citizens of Lee County.

Corinna Anderson

Seale, Alabama

Congressional race most important

Your most consequential vote with regards to Washington is coming up March 1.

If you think it is for president you would be wrong. Think about it, Alabama is one state of 50, and you are one vote of four million Alabama citizens. With regards to the U.S. Senate you have a very important vote, but again, are one of four million voters.

Your vote for a representative to the U.S. House of Representatives is where you can have a huge impact. There are only about 700,000 citizens in a Congressional District. This opportunity comes up once every two years. In the 3rd Congressional District, Rogers has held the seat for 13 years. He is running for his seventh term.

Not surprisingly, he has evolved into a D.C. man. Early in the presidential election process he endorsed the establishment choice Jeb Bush. If Jeb would’ve survived the campaign to Alabama he would have received at most 8 percent of the vote.

This, along with many votes Congressman Rogers has cast, shows he is out of touch with his district. Since Congress doesn’t have the good sense to pass term limits it’s up to the people to do the hard work and vote out career politicians. So, on March 1, vote for Larry Dichiara to replace our D.C.-values Congressman Mike Rogers. This is the one vote where you have real power to determine how Washington will work in the future!

Thomas Casson

Auburn, Alabama

Hughes not right for DA

The following comments are in response to Brian Woodham's  article in the Feb 4th edition concerning Brandon Hughes and his questionable statements concerning his desire to become the Lee County DA.  My comments are based on 22 years of prosecution including trying every possible case including many capital murders.
I would like to address his naive comments about "his beliefs in the death penalty" and his insinuation that somehow he would know when it is appropriate more so than the current DA. First of all, the death penalty applies to capital cases. A capital offense is spelled out in state and federal statutes, so there is little question as to what is a "capital case." The DA does not determine what is a "death case," but for all capital convictions, there are two possible sentences..."death or life without parole."  
There are specific statutes that spell out what types of crimes qualify for the "death penalty," and if the DA finds that a case qualifies post conviction, he may request the jury to "consider" the death penalty in Phase II of the trial, the sentencing phase. The jury then, having found the defendant guilty of capital murder, hears evidence by both sides with most anything being admissible, and votes at least 10-2 in favor of the death penalty. They then "recommend" the death penalty to the judge.
The judge, having heard all the evidence during the trial phase and the evidence during the sentencing phase, sets sentencing off in the near future in order to give serious deliberation concerning the final sentence.
The judge prepares an extensive order, documenting all the rationale for his final decision, schedules a sentencing hearing and pronounces sentence.  The jury "advisory opinion" concerning the death penalty is just that...advisory.  The judge may override the jury recommendation and grant life without parole. 
Contrarily, the trial judge can also override the jury's recommendation of life without parole and sentence death.
The fact that Hughes is not in favor of the terms "always and never" when considering the death penalty is a good conversation subject at the coffee house, but is not equivalent to the fact that Robbie Treese, current DA of Lee County, follows the extensive statutory and case law governing capital murders.  After all, someone's "life" does depend on this issue and Mr. Hughes does not have the background or experience to be placed in a position of "life or death" consideration when he doesn't understand the process and only makes statements for political impact.
David W Glanzer
Chief Trial Attorney,  Montgomery DA's Office (1987 to 2000)
Chief Assistant District Attorney,  Lee County  (2000 to 2009)

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