Letters to the editor

Those four missing pages

Journalistically speaking, it’s a really lousy day when you discover that the newspaper that just hit the streets has four missing pages. A lot of time and effort went into producing that issue and getting it right.

We know the readers got shortchanged. A couple of letters to the editor failed to appear, the better part of one commentary was missing (the letters and the commentary are in this week’s issue), and some movie information disappeared.

But perhaps hardest hit were the advertisers who had been counting on Xpress to get the word out about their products … at a time of year that’s particularly important to merchants.

The brand new Melting Pot fondue restaurant had just opened its doors to the public.

The Asheville Wine Market had just received a special shipment of wines in time for the holidays.

Sensibilities salon and day spa was participating in a benefit for Interlace on Dec. 8-9.

Evolutions Salon had scheduled their third-anniversary open house for Dec. 14.

Other advertisers didn’t get their message out, either: City Bakery, Flying Frog Cafe, Foreign Affairs oriental market, Scandals, Blue Ridge Frame and Gallery and the Grove Street Cafe — not to mention a large number of classified advertisers scheduled to run on the second page of Marketplace.

We, at Xpress, and the folks at the Mountaineer who print our paper, are sorry for the error. We’re doing what we can to make it up and see that it doesn’t happen again.

– everyone at Xpress

Fear: the last line of defense for the status quo

This letter is in response to Ralph McClarty’s letter of Nov. 22. Mr. McClarty says that he is not inspired [by] Mickey Mahaffey’s program. When Mr. McClarty refers to a 1929-style depression and hordes of out-of-work people in order to achieve clean air, does he mean that our current rate of excess consumption is a necessity?

It seems as though any time someone proposes that we look at real change for some type of sustainable living, the last line of defense of the status quo is fear. The line usually says that you had better keep the pace of excess or your jobs will dry up, and you and your family will be hungry. It is effective at paralyzing most people into just being thankful for a system that gives as little as possible in the name of meeting the investors’ expectations.

Perhaps we can just ride all of our natural resources into the ground, [including] the air, and see if the investors can figure out a way to make a profit by restoring clean air, at least to a few. Then the angry and disgusted hordes may show up at the gated communities to take their stuff.

– Mitch Pruett
Asheville

Customer manners 101, part 2

After reading with interest, and some laughter, Maureen Gallagher’s “Customer manners 101″ [Xpress, Nov. 15], I decided to add my own two cents. Although I would not have voiced my opinion so abrasively, she is essentially correct: Customers need a lesson in civility! I, myself, spent almost three years in customer service and was most often aghast at how unnecessarily hostile the customers could be.

In my disheartening tenure in retail, I endured acts including, but by no means limited to:

(a) Physical threats (if the customers didn’t get their way);

(b) Repeated harassment;

(c) Demeaning and belittling attitudes (including the “you’re my personal shopping attendant” attitude);

(d) Some, if not all, of Maureen Gallagher’s ills.

Many of these things were done right in front of the customers’ children! These people dare to pretend to teach their children wrong from right?

When you go into a busy store, you will have to wait longer, whether you are “in a hurry” or not! Period! It is not the clerk’s fault if stingy upper management refuses to staff the store properly. If you happen to be frustrated by your wait in line, deal with it on the corporate level. They are better-equipped to handle your ires than some minimum-wage-earning clerk.

To those customers who are patient and civil, on behalf of retail clerks everywhere, I say a heartfelt “thank you.” To those who feel they have a right to treat clerks with contempt, I say, “Move to Saudi Arabia, where beating your servants is still legal!”

I realize, of course, that this letter will change nothing, other than to perhaps give those overstressed, underpaid [customer-service workers] a voice. Most of them would never write a letter to the editor for fear of retaliation from management and/or customers. But, since I no longer work behind a cash register (my own volition), I also no longer fear retaliation. Boy, I sure do feel better!

– Christopher A. Babb
Asheville

WNCW and Florida Democrats

What is going on at WNCW stinks worse than the stench of Florida Democrats. You all have been given the facts and failed to focus on them. I think some of the things that were done were without a doubt wrong and perhaps illegal. Instead of worrying about WNCW’s lawyers, go after them. The evidence you have been given is good evidence and I think there may be more, and someone needs to burn.

– Tom Osbun

Passenger-rail service is a necessity, not an option

How naive of me to have anticipated passenger-train service to Asheville as an efficient, environmentally friendly alternative to the gridlock of Interstate 40. Your recent article [Nov. 22, "The next train to Asheville"] reveals that our “planners” see [passenger-train service] as a kind of Tweetsie Railroad, conveying railway buffs to their tours of the Biltmore Estate.

Anyone who regularly drives to Raleigh knows that the need for alternative transportation is critical. A good trip is simply a test of nerves and reflexes; a bad day means hours of delay, stopped or crawling slowly through the cloud of collective exhaust poison.

Adding more lanes has not provided relief. The eight lanes between Greensboro and Durham were saturated with traffic within a year or two of completion. We can look forward to this same phenomenon on our own I-26 connector.

Driving east for Thanksgiving or Christmas? Forget it. The crush of cars soon undermines the holiday spirit.

Good passenger-rail service to Western North Carolina is a necessity, not an option. If politicians and businesspeople continue to plan around the gasoline automobile, then we’re all going to be stuck in traffic — whether it be on I-40 or in what’s left of Pack Square.

– George Freeman Bailey
Asheville

Make Ditmore’s immigrant-sterilization program retroactive?

In response to the letter from Alan Ditmore [Nov. 22], I’d like to know from where and how far back his ancestors migrated to this country (or is he Native American?). I would suggest that if his sterilization program [for immigrants] were then in effect, this country might be a better place.

– Aly Tase
Asheville

No level playing field at WNCW?

OK. I took out my little calculator just to see what this all added up to regarding the Mountain Oasis Festival [Xpress, Nov. 15, "Broadcast static"] — which, by the way, was a “WNCW Presents” endeavor, meaning WNCW used station money and resources to advertise this event, with no cost to [concert promoter] A.C. Entertainment and no financial benefit to the station. And, might I add, they did a bang-up job, since — along with flyers, posters, mailings and e-mails that were sent out and a billboard placed on I-240 advertising the festival — I also heard 90-second commercials and various promos throughout the days for many weeks preceding the event. In every way, it looked like a WNCW sponsorship to me.

This is the statement offered by A.C. Entertainment [according to the Nov. 15 Xpress article]: “The festival (which A.C. Entertainment spent about $250,000 to put on) was modestly profitable, says [A.C. Entertainment President Ashley] Capps. About 13,000 people attended the three-day event.”

So … and these are modest figures … approximately 5,000 people paid around $65 to attend the festival. And since [according to postings on a WNCW-related Web site] children as young as 6 were being charged full adult prices, I’m assuming it’s actually more. But we’ll use that figure:

5,000 attendees x $65 = $325,000 (weekend passes)

8,000 attendees x $25 = $200,000 (day passes)

That’s a total of a $525,000 take from the festival. Minus the “cost” of the festival, which according to Ashley Capps was $250,000, that leaves a total profit of $275,000. That’s $275,000 folks, which he states was “modestly profitable”! …

Now how do y’all feel about the fact that not only did you pay the admission price, but you also paid … underwriting … for A.C.’s advertising of this festival? And how do you feel about the fact that the station made no money on this event?

Here is another statement offered up [in the article]: “The concert apparently was an outgrowth of a relationship that WNCW and A.C. Entertainment have developed over time. Keefe says A.C. Entertainment has been advertising on the station for as long as it’s been presenting music in WNC. Capps notes that WNCW plays the type of music that A.C. Entertainment presents in its featured concerts.”

Excuse me? I guess A.C. is the only one around here that promotes the type of music WNCW plays? … Is this a joke? And exactly how stupid does the program director and general manager over there think we are out here?

The concert apparently was an outgrowth of a relationship that Mark Keefe and A.C. have developed over time? There are hundreds of venues, promoters and musicians that have been advertising — and paying for their advertising — on WNCW for as long and longer than Ashley Capps. That is a total insult to everybody who supports this station with paid advertising.

The people and businesses in these communities rely on this station to carry their messages to the public, and its powerful influence is something that has helped us to thrive. When one person is given special consideration … where does that leave the rest of us?

As the “public” in public radio, I think we better take the time to look into all the allegations surrounding the actions of the people we have put our faith and trust in and find out what is really going on over there. And we also better find out if the level playing field that is supposed to be present in our public-radio station is still there. And if it isn’t, if we don’t stand up and say something against this type of behavior, our silence will validate it.

– Debbie Ryder
Asheville

A.C. Entertainment President Ashely Capps, when asked about the $525,000 total-ticket-sales figure, said, “I wish.” He further stated that Xpress’ report of 13,000 total attendees at the festival was the result of incorrect math. “Approximately 3,000 people had weekend passes. … On Friday, we sold an additional 1,000 tickets; on Saturday, an additional 2,500; and on Sunday, an additional 400.” That would equal 6,900 paid attendees (not including those with free passes). Capps estimates total ticket sales at $230,000.

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