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Letters to the Editor

Gwinnett library cardholders can access audiobooks

Thank you for featuring Michael Hill's Associated Press article, "Public libraries begin offering audiobook downloads," on Aug. 28. I thought your readers would be delighted to learn that Gwinnett County Public Library cardholders have free access to more than 1,500 downloadable audiobooks without ever leaving home.

Library customers can download eAudio books to a PC, transfer them to a portable audio device or, for about 600 of the titles, burn them to a CD. The library's downloadable audio collection includes a variety of popular fiction and nonfiction, the Pimsleur language series, and the Holy Bible, all by the same professional narrators customers enjoy on CD versions of the same titles.

Gwinnett County residents are avid audiobook fans. So many gathered recently at the Five Forks branch of the Gwinnett County Public Library to hear George Guidall, one of the most popular readers working in the audio book industry today, that some had to be turned away. To learn more about this marvelous free service or apply for a library card, visit www.gwinnettpl.org .

- Mabel Anne Kincheloe

division director, materials management

Gwinnett County Public Library

Commission should hold votes on land

After arrogantly dismissing Attorney General Thurbert Baker's ruling that land purchases by governmental entities must be voted on in public session, the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners bowed to public pressure and said it will review practices at the state and local levels and ask the advice of legal experts as to what procedures should be followed.

In metro Atlanta, only the Gwinnett County government and schools together with Forsyth County schools vote in secret on land purchases without public comment or participation. To date, more than $1 billion has been collected via the SPLOST one-cent sales tax for Gwinnett government to spend with a similar amount collected by Gwinnett schools. The school system expects to ask for another billion when its current tax expires in 2007.

The short answer to the commissioners' intended study is to adopt the Cobb County system without further delay because it provides for public input but maintains secrecy until an option to purchase has been obtained from the seller. If deemed necessary, a real estate agent can be used to negotiate the option to conceal who the purchaser (the county) is. Thus price gouging is prevented while avoiding any inference of collusion between the commission and the seller.

I predict with 99 percent certainty that following its face-saving study, Gwinnett authorities will announce, in the interest of open government and to avoid any appearance of impropriety, the option method will be used when purchasing land followed by a public discussion and vote.

If commissioners instead maintain their secret voting on land purchases, their position should be challenged in court by concerned Gwinnett citizens. I certainly would contribute to such an effort. I also think this would call into serious question the viability of future local option sales tax referendums.

- Jay Wagner

Stone Mountain