Letters to the editor

Don’t steal this book

Asheville is having a rash of petty book-thieving. A number of desperate people have been stealing from local bookstores and selling the books at local used-book stores. Those of us who work at used-book stores are pretty savvy at spotting a stolen book, and we follow up on our suspicions. By the way, we all know each other and communicate when we discover a book thief. We are a community within the larger Asheville community.

Local independent stores have a very narrow profit margin. We don’t have deep corporate pockets to dig into. Perhaps a corporate store accounts for a certain amount of loss through employee and other theft, but independents don’t. We use all our income to cover payroll, rent, taxes, utilities and insurance. If there is any profit (which is actually rare), it goes into the bank to cover us in the lean months. Theft can actually put a small store out of business.

When you steal from a local independent store (of any kind), it’s stealing from your neighbors, your friends and the community in general.

Support diversity in Asheville by shopping at locally owned businesses, and be sure to let us know if you see anyone shoplifting.

— Gillian Coats, Owner
The Reader’s Corner Used Books

Something doesn’t add up here

On Nov. 21, by a four-to-one margin, the Weaverville Town Council approved the rezoning of approximately 35 acres of property at the junction of U.S. 19/23 and U.S. 25/70 from residential to commercial use. Added to more than 50 acres already zoned commercial at this site, this created a massive 85-acre tract for a proposed shopping complex, supposedly to be anchored by a Lowe’s and a Target.

Ms. Marcie Nisbeth, the only Council member favoring this rezoning to explain her vote at this meeting, stated that of the phone calls, e-mails and letters she had received, she tallied 347 for the project and 139 against.

First: The issue was not “the project.” The issue was rezoning. With the original 50 acres — enough to double the existing commercial development on Weaver Boulevard — there was enough land for a Lowe’s and a Target without any need for Council to make such a radical change to the zoning map.

Second: In a phone call afterwards, I asked Ms. Nisbeth how she had managed to receive nearly 500 personal responses. She revealed that of those 500, only about 200 were actually personal contacts. The rest — nearly 300, or 60 percent of her total numbers — were from petitions.

Many questions come to my mind regarding petitions. Are they worded in such a way as to promote understanding of the issue, or to continue confusion? Are they circulated in an active way with personal contact, or passively posted or passed around? The petition signatures against the rezoning totaled 148. Why was 139 the total of all Ms. Nisbeth’s responses against the rezoning?

Ms. Nisbeth’s misleading and questionable numbers were reported by the Xpress and three other newspapers, one television station and at least one radio station as if they were a “scientific poll” representing a “majority” of sentiments. If there was a “majority,” it would be the people who still do not clearly understand the issues surrounding this unprecedented decision.

— Bill Hussey Jr.

Club’s goal is welfare of all dogs

In reply to “Kennel Club Omitted a Downside” [Letters, Dec. 4], I submit that the Asheville Kennel Club is a force in the welfare of dogs in our area, purebred and not. Concerning the Asheville ordinance, the club’s position was not opposition, but [advocacy for] modifying parts of it to make it more realistic. In general, we applaud the city for coming up with an animal-control ordinance that is reasonable. Changing the wording of the definition of an animal being a public nuisance from “occasionally” to “habitually” is one point. Putting limits on differential licensing charges is another. But having the director of animal control resolve disputes between his/her department and the animal owner (to which we objected) is, shall we say, not good business practice.

Regarding the number of animals euthanized in Buncombe County, how many were dogs, how many were cats and how many were “other”? When the statistics are quoted, usually there is no breakdown. Is the reduction the result of the ordinances, or is the public more aware of the responsibilities of animal ownership? How many are too sick, too old or too vicious to be adopted?

Many Asheville KC members are involved in breed rescue: accepting dogs that appear to be purebred, paying for the vet bills, and finding loving homes for them. In recent years, the club has spent thousands of dollars for the spay/neuter of dogs in the area by providing no- or low-cost coupons through the Humane Alliance. We have spent thousands for Katrina relief directed toward animal welfare. We also support many civic groups in and around Asheville, helping them provide dog-related services.

— Robert L. Anderson, Treasurer
Asheville Kennel Club

Women should remain first-class citizens

One of the great triumphs we can point to for American women in the past 30 years was the establishment, through the ruling on Roe v. Wade, of the right for women to determine the number and spacing of their offspring. No longer was it illegal to seek an abortion. I remember the days before Roe v. Wade, when women were subjected to illegal abortions in dark alleys and dirty hotel rooms. Some lost the ability to bear children. Some got devastating infections. Some died. And some never recovered from the shame.

This benchmark decision made it possible for women to be regarded as first-class citizens, to have choices regarding their reproductive years and a sense of power over their lives. It was the most important moment for women since women got the vote.

This right of self-determination for women is now seriously threatened by Judge Samuel Alito’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. Alito has previously stated that he is opposed to Roe v. Wade.

As a nurse and a midwife, I have had the pleasure of bringing into this world the babies of mothers and fathers who chose to parent. There is nothing on Earth as gratifying as parents who love and desire to care for their children.

But I have also seen the especially disastrous consequences of forcing young women to carry their babies to term, often necessitating either giving up their babies for adoption or becoming mothers prematurely. Often they had no resources for a safe and affordable abortion, or (even with resources) if underage, they could not get parental consent to have the procedure done. These women had to forgo school or the normal enjoyments of being young. And I have also seen the consequences to their children, who never deserved to be either unwanted or unloved, or brought up by a child too young to be a parent.

If Alito is confirmed, we are headed back down that dark alley once more. In an enlightened society, women should expect that they have the basic freedom to either bear a child or not. Alito would take that freedom away.

I urge your readers, if they care about women’s health and the future of America, to speak out to our senators before it is too late and this precious right is gone. Oppose Alito’s confirmation, and hold the vision of a truly democratic society — accountable to all its citizens.

— A. Shebar

This year, make a food resolution

Dec. 26 marked the first anniversary of one of the world’s worst natural disasters, when a giant tsunami extinguished the lives of nearly 200,000 people in Indonesia, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka and other countries on the Indian Ocean.

Yet each year, seven times as many Americans die of heart disease, stroke, cancer and other chronic, killer diseases that have been linked conclusively with consumption of meat and dairy products. Meat consumption also dumps animal waste in our waterways, destroys wildlife habitats in order to grow animal feed, and tortures innocent animals in factory farms and slaughterhouses.

Because of the many benefits it would bring to us and our planet, let’s make a New Year’s resolution to replace meat and dairy products in our diet with wholesome, delicious vegetables, fresh fruits and whole grains. With every supermarket featuring a large variety of these foods as well as a rich assortment of soy-based veggie burgers, soy dogs, deli slices, ready-to-eat frozen dinners, soy milk and ice cream, it’s got to be the easiest resolution we’ll ever keep.

— Alex Chilter

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