Hey, you public servants: What next?
Now that 2003 has drawn to an end, it’s time to take stock of what our mayor and City Council have done for us.
They have provided thousands of dollars to purchase a controversial piece of art (?). They have destroyed the woods on Brotherton Street, and wasted a lot of money on plans to build co-housing on the site. They contracted to build the co-housing with an out-of-state developer, which backed out of the project. They worked behind closed doors to accommodate the Grove Park Inn’s plan to build a high-rise on the city square. They did not include public input on plans for development on “The Block” — and, as a result, got sued by property owners.
I don’t know about you, but I can hardly wait to see what they do for us in 2004!
— Richard Rice
Grow up, you squirrel-hunting, Confederate-flag-waving spreaders of unhappiness
[This letter is] in response to the meatball (you are what you eat), and it certainly sounds like the author of “Bear Meat for the Cause” [Xpress letters, Dec. 23] is your typical meat-eater, Neanderthal-minded fool.
I say get yourself educated on animal-rights issues before you make Neanderthal statements. Open your mind a little bit, [and] read up a little bit on animal-rights philosophies. Just ’cause you’re obviously a close-minded, dark-minded spreader of nonspirituality doesn’t mean all think like you, except perhaps the squirrel-hunting, Confederate-flag-waving spreaders of unhappiness.
Please grow up. Please grow up. Please grow up.
Perhaps the mad-cow-disease epidemic will force you to look a little bit [at] just how far from nature’s goodness we have gone. Who’s done more killing, destroying and spreading of fear and unhappiness? People like you — or bears, or any other animal?
— Truth Thomas
[Ed. Note: Charles Mathis’ “Bear Meat for the Cause” letter addressed the death last October of Timothy Treadwell, co-author of Amazing Grizzlies: Living With Wild Bears in Alaska, and his girlfriend, at the claws of one of his beloved animals in Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Preserve. The bear was reportedly eating Treadwell’s remains when his body was discovered.]
Folks, we can do better
If, as Ed Abbey once wrote, “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of a cancer cell,” then our Western North Carolina mountains are sick indeed. As I write, entire WNC hillsides are being bulldozed for cookie-cutter homes, condominiums and strip malls, resulting not only in a loss of scenic views, but also in erosion and a poisonous runoff of silt and petroleum byproducts into our water supply.
In Flat Rock where I live, once-strict building codes have given way to an anything-goes mentality that has lately resulted in the loss of our last open green space to an incoherent jumble of buildings whose haphazard placement will result in needless traffic snarls and accidents. At the same time, a developer once lauded for his “smart growth” designs has surrounded a waterfall that was once the jewel of our community with what appear to be shotgun shacks accented by a kitschy, fake waterwheel.
Farther up U.S. 25 in Hendersonville, historic homes are being gutted — and, in some cases, demolished — for commercial development that is completely out of character in a largely residential area, and which will result in higher property taxes to cover the infrastructure such development necessitates. Our politically compromised leaders often belittle environmentalists with “We need jobs, not trees” invective, but what kinds of jobs are they creating? Construction jobs that are high-paying but short-term, and service industry jobs that are low-paying and short-term.
Folks, we can do better. If the boom years of the 1990s taught us anything, it is that we can create high-paying jobs with good benefits and protect the environment. The two are not mutually exclusive. With its young, creative and innovative workforce and business community, Asheville is positioned as few cities in the South are to be the face of a new economic progressivism — one that posits growth and sustainability as two halves of the same whole, not as diametric opposites.
Asheville can be a national leader in health care, media, energy, technology and the arts. The foundations for such innovation are already in place. In order for the region to attract such high-quality development, however, local voters will have to muster the passion and will to show our current leadership the door.
— Jeff Callahan
Invest in the vision of our local artists
Special thanks to everyone who participated in Arts2People’s “Rant & Rave: Celebration of Free Speech” [on Dec. 12 at the Magpie Gallery in downtown Asheville]. From the incredibly talented artists sharing their vision, [to] the equally skilled technicians and organizers offering their time and energy, [and] the engaged, responsive audience which chose to share the experience with us … each and every one involved contributed to making Friday, Dec. 12, a truly special [day].
The multimedia arts venue [Magpie Gallery] is very young. Those who witnessed the power of our collaborative efforts to saturate the senses and provoke thought will doubtlessly vouch for the venue’s impact. The collective that unified to produce the Rant & Rave are all honorary members of Catalyst Productions, a loose-knit network of activated artists, techs and organizers planning to host a broad range of programs for our community to feast upon.
We believe the vitality of live art has the ability to trump the spectacle of big media. We encourage the Asheville community to invest in the vision of its local artists. Skip the movie. You won’t be disappointed.
Anyone interested in learning more about Arts2People and/or Catalyst Productions, feel free (!) to contact me at 285-9312, or preferably at email@example.com.
— Graham Hackett
Act now to keep voting open
I would like to take this opportunity to write about a matter of importance to the citizens of Western North Carolina, and of the United States as well.
Recently, a bill — HR2239 — was introduced to Congress. This bill would make an audit trail a physical part of the voting process, and it is vital to providing open and transparent records of election data.
Without the possibility of scrutiny, our voting can never be independently verified. Without a physical record of our votes, confidence in the legitimacy of our representative government is undermined.
The bill is currently in “committee.” The Committee on House Administration, to be exact; and it is uncertain whether or not it will come before the House for a vote. Please help Congressman [Charles] Taylor come to a decision regarding so-called “black-box voting.” Urge him to get this bill before the House for a vote. Our democracy should not be entrusted solely to those corporations who manufacture these machines.
— Evelyn Johnson
[Contact Rep. Taylor at his South Pack Square office at 251-1988, or by fax at 251-0794, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
War for the moral good? Not!
It has long been speculated that the war in Iraq was a contrivance of the Bush administration (along with the tax cut) to drive up American debt as a justification for axing public programs. With the Halliburton no-bid reconstruction contract, there arose further speculation that the war was a sick form of corporate welfare, shunting taxpayer money to the huge American companies (run by Bush’s friends) that would rebuild Iraq.
The recent discovery of a Pentagon memo excluding nations non-supportive of the war from bidding on the reconstruction of Iraq is the coup de grace to the Bush administration’s claim of a moral justification for this war. This document clearly states the purpose of the war: to support the interests of Mr. Bush and his corporate friends.
— Jim Horwitz