• 77°
Hartselle Enquirer

Other views

By Staff
'Good ol' boy' system continues
During a recent discussion with some senior city of Hartselle employees it was indicated the "good ol' boy" system was dead. It seems that it was given oxygen and resuscitated right before our eyes at the July 22 city council meeting.
The Decatur Daily's July 31 issue quotes Mayor Knight as saying "there was a consensus among the council that Mr. Abercrombie was the best candidate."
I do not know where this consensus would come from. I have attended all the council work sessions and council meetings since Councilman Allen Stoner resigned. Nothing has been openly discussed on a selection for a new council member to replace Mr. Stoner. The only discussion on filling the council vacancy was applications would be available at city hall and would be accepted through July 18.
It seems to indicate that a consensus was reached behind some closed door meeting between Mayor Knight, Councilman Carter and Councilman Jones. At the very least, there seems to be a question of ethics surrounding the appointment of Alvin Abercrombie to the City Council.
We need to give credit to Councilman (Tom) Chappell and Councilman (Don) Hall for voting against the appointment of Mr. Alvin Abercrombie. As indicated, all the candidates that had applied for the Place Two vacancy should have been given an equal opportunity to address the council as to why they felt they were the best-qualified candidate to fill the vacancy.
Council Hall had an excellent idea of allowing each candidate a short period of time to speak directly to the council concerning city of Hartselle issues. This way, councilmen and the citizens could see and hear from each candidate.
I have heard some phony excuses in my day. I believe that Councilman Carter tops the list with the general statement of "they might be camera shy and would be embarrassed." If a person is camera shy and would be embarrassed on camera, then he or she does not belong on the city council.
The appointment of Mr. Alvin Abercrombie to the Hartselle City Council was made under adverse conditions.
Is he the honorable individual that he would like everyone to think he is? If so, he would resign his appointment. This way, the process could begin anew and all the candidates would have an equal opportunity at the appointment. It may turn out that Mr. Alvin Abercrombie is the best candidate, but let's make the process fair for all.
I feel there are only two councilmen worthy of being reelected to another term. We need some new council people that have new and young ideas to keep Hartselle moving ahead. The "good ol' boy" system needs to be put to bed forever.
Citizens: you always need to remember that the city council is there to serve "we the citizens of Hartselle" not "we the council."
Another issue: the sales tax public forum that was held at the July 22 meeting. Why was it decided before the forum that the sales tax issue was already a done deal before you (Mayor Knight) asked for input from the audience? It had already failed, so why should anyone speak up for or against the issue? It was not going to change anything. We the citizens should have had some input on the issue before the council voted. It may not have changed anything, but at least we would have felt our city leaders were listening to us.
Lastly, my thanks to the staff of the Hartselle Enquirer for the excellent article "A penny's worth of prevention," in the Our Opinion section. I hope that some message has been driven home to those that voted down the sales tax increase.
Gene Aittala
Customer honors one lost in fire
I have been thinking all day about what I can do to bring honor to someone whom I barely knew. This morning, a newspaper article revealed the names of the people killed Monday in the apartment fire at Quail Run in Hartselle. When I read the name of my favorite host and waiter at El Portal Mexican Restaurant in Hartselle, I felt as though I had been kicked in the stomach; I felt as though I had lost a friend of the family.
For the past year, I have eaten at El Portal at least once a week, usually with friends, Jimmy and Tina Lawrence, who introduced us to the restaurant, or my husband, Tim, but sometimes I also ate alone. You see, my husband was deployed to the war in Afghanistan, so I had a lot of time on my hands in the evening. As I grew tired of eating alone so much of the time, I often went to El Portal three times a week, ate dinner and graded papers for hours. I always felt as though I was dining with friends. All of the people at the restaurant treated me like family and welcomed my company and left me to my grading, checking on me from time to time.
Mario learned my routine and sometimes stopped to talk about school and teenagers; I had no idea he was raising a son of his own at the time, as Mario seemed very conservative. I wishI had known he had a wife, Maria, and a son, Kevin. He soon became a favorite of mine, my husband and my friends. Not knowing how to honor him, we thought maybe a letter to the editor was a start. No, he was not someone who came to our homes for dinner. He didn't know my parents. He didn't even know where I worked, but he always had a giant smile on his face, offered a hearty welcome and worked harder than any waiter I've ever seen to take care of all his customers.
When my husband met him for the first time, he, too, came to like and respect his work ethic, friendly attitude and interest in those around him. It doesn't matter that we didn't know him well. What matters is that we knew him and can only hope that he knew the impact he had one those he served.
In the wake of this terrible tragedy, we just wanted to remind folks that our waiters and waitresses have names.
They are more than faces or people who bring us coffee or sandwiches; or mostly, especially Mario, take pride in their work and want to put smiles on the faces of their customers.
Many people get caught up in their own lives and think they are doing the servers a huge favor by tossing them a couple of dollars on the table at the end of the meal. I wonder, however, how many actually take the time to ask for a name or even look at a name tag. Every server has not had this effect on my family and friends, but there was something special about Mario and we are so glad we knew him for a short time.
His and his family's death have created a void in the lives of his friends and family, but we also want them to know we miss Mario as well. He was a heck of a nice guy who deserved his slice of American pie, and I can only hope that it tasted sweet in the short time he experienced it.
Respectfully submitted in the memory of Mario Salazar,
Angie Maples