Letters to the editor

Say no to the new Home Depot

I am writing with great concern regarding the proposed Home Depot on Acton Circle, in West Asheville. As a resident of the community bordering the proposed development, I drive by this site every day, [going] to and from work. It is absolutely unsuited to a 20-acre “large box” development.

Developing this last parcel of undeveloped pasture amidst a strip of ugly development would require the land be bulldozed, graded and destroyed in order to make way for an absolutely unnecessary home building-supply center. Within one mile, there is a newly built Super Lowe’s, with an abandoned and empty Lowe’s building just across the street.

If the residents of Asheville so desperately need another home building-supply center within such close proximity to a home building-supply center that will carry the exact same inventory, why destroy a perfectly pretty pasture? Why not relegate such development to an abandoned building, one which was originally built for the purposes that the new proposed Home Depot intends to fulfill?

I urge the Asheville City Council to take into account the quality of life of the residents who will be forced to live in proximity to such a monstrosity. Within walking distance are schools and homes that will be forced to bear traffic congestion, noise and the bright halogen lights of the parking lot. More grading and paving will bring runoff and sediment into our streams.

Please, as we enter a new millennium full of new possibilities, consider the effects this decision will have on our community. After all of the recent discussions about the quality of life of the residents of Asheville, and the need to save our precious mountain landscapes, a decision in favor of Home Depot is one more scenic landscape forever lost to corporate greed.

I also urge City Council to develop policies that will prohibit “repetitive” development, and to actively encourage “recycling” of existing abandoned facilities. If there is a large-box retailer within one mile (or, better yet, five miles) of a proposed development offering the same goods and services, We don’t need it!

– Julie Fish

Trashing the state bird

Doesn’t June Melton of Fairview [letters, Jan. 5] know she’s messing with the state bird when she cleans up litter along a public highway!?

Migawd, woman, Western North Carolina won’t be recognizable if you keep that up — the featherless McDonald’s wrapper is supposed to flutter along all our highways and byways! Without all those flocks-a-flutter, even more damn Yankees will move in, thinking the place looks like Connecticut. Then, of course, comes higher property values and taxes and laws against praying with a gun in your hand.

Jeepers, June, think of the ramifications!

– Brooks Townes

Christmas past and Christmas present

I’m 32 years old, and inside me is a young girl. She believes in magic, angels, spirits, life after life, talking to animals, God, good surprises, and climbing trees to get to heaven. One of her favorite times of the year has always been Christmas, because it’s the time of the year when the outer world she lives in honors and supports her. Any other time of the year, the outer world has seen her as silly, emotional, overly sensitive, too deep and, “Oh, isn’t she so cute?”

While I was growing up, Christmas was magical. It was full of wondering what I might get, asking for exactly what I wanted and getting it, spending my allowance on surprises for my mom, dad, brother and pet dog, and feeling a part of a family belief in magic! Any other time of the year, magic was unheard of — not mentioned, not present. So, as a grown-up now, I still have that part of me who never grew up, but still believes in magic and wants to recreate Christmas like she had with Mom and Dad.

However, I, the grown-up Lisa, have chosen not to spend Christmas and other holidays with my family of origin, for personal-growth reasons. The little girl inside is grieving at the choice I’ve made for us this year. I’ve been feeling and honoring her grief, and processing my role as a parent for her. How can I create the familiar magic my parents did at Christmas? Do I want to perpetuate the consumerist rule that magic requires money? Is magic just about buying unexpected or desired gifts? How do I gift-give consciously and not disengage from my hopeful and wonderful little girl?

And how much does magic cost? Growing up, I learned that Christmas magic and birthday magic cost money. Those big stuffed animals and that beautiful aquamarine ring cost money. I learned, from watching the news last night, about an organization called Santa Pal that accepts donations of toys to give to kids who [otherwise] won’t have Christmas magic under their tree …. I was both touched and disturbed by the sentiment. Christmas magic in our consumerist culture is based on all-or-nothing thinking: If a lot of gifts (or the right ones) don’t appear beneath the tree, the magic won’t be there. What stress that puts on parents, lovers and friends! I don’t want that stress. So it seems that Christmas, to me, is about recognizing, honoring and finding a way to change that past belief system for my inner child.

As I have moved away from Christian belief systems into Goddess spirituality — which honors the Wheel of the Year — my understanding of magic has expanded. Magic happens everywhere, all the way around the Wheel of the Year — through Winter Solstice, Imbolc, Spring Equinox, Beltane, Summer Solstice, Lammas, Fall Equinox, Samhain and again through Winter Solstice. My journal is packed full of synchronicities great and small that occur daily! Each day I begin with a simple question to myself: I wonder what magic I will experience today? I am never disappointed; my little girl always gets a gift. The cost sometimes is money, but most of the time the cost is simpler: attention. All I spend is attention. When I open myself up to just wondering what magic I will experience, all I have to pay is attention.

So, yeah, maybe there’s a balance here I can build for my little one inside. Christmas, which no longer has spiritual relevance to me as an adult, still means big magic to my inner little girl. Perhaps one of the gifts I can give her is to ask her to make a wish list. As the adult, I can choose what I’m willing to give at the time. The rest may be spread out over the year, or years. In addition, she and I can, together, reflect on the year and list all the magic that has happened — as a way of affirming that magic doesn’t just happen on Dec. 25.

This is definitely a process for me. I am learning to live my life consciously — which includes bringing questions and integrity to all that I do in my outer and inner world. Christmas involves sorting through so much emotional baggage. What I’m realizing is that the best I can do is allow it all to surface and then sift out what I can no longer hold as mine. And the bottom line is trusting that my choices will serve me and my inner child — who is truly the bridge to Christmas past and Christmas present.

— Lisa Mari-Sophia Garrett Jorgensen

It’s a joke … no, it’s the new Internet tax

Once in a while, the government’s bureaucracy does something so boneheaded, you just have to ask yourself, “Why?”

Recently, the state Department of Revenue announced that the 1999 state income-tax form will include a “consumer use tax,” which requires all of us to figure out how much we spent for goods purchased on the Internet in the past year, and then pay taxes on this.

That’s right — you must gather up all your receipts from on-line purchases and catalogs, and then calculate how much in additional sales tax you owe Raleigh. The Revenue Department has even threatened to audit your credit-card records to check for compliance!

Now, there is a legitimate question about the sales tax on Internet purchases. Both local and state governments are concerned about lost revenue. Main Street merchants wonder if they’re losing business to the Amazon.coms of the world.

But this new line on our state income-tax form is such a silly idea that even Wake County Commissioner Betty Mangum, who is concerned about the effect of e-commerce on municipal budgets, was quoted by the Associated Press as saying: “I think that’s a joke, because who’s going to put it down? I’m not.”

Meanwhile, a federal ban on taxing Internet transactions remains in place until at least 2001, and Congress and the Clinton Administration want the World Trade Organization to forswear e-commerce taxes and tariffs on a global scale. A U.S. commission, chaired by Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, is now trying to carve out long-term policy on Internet taxation.

We need to unleash the full potential of the high-tech economy for consumers by breaking down obsolete government barriers. The high-tech economy represents one-quarter of the nation’s economic growth, but government bureaucrats are locking consumers into yesterday’s technologies with stone-age regulations. The world is changing, even if our tax system isn’t.

North Carolina’s General Assembly is actually to blame for this situation, because they directed the Revenue Department to start collecting the tax. Please contact your local state legislator and ask them not to tax the Internet. Just a little common sense right now would go a long way!

– Charles F. Fuller, director
N.C. Citizens for a Sound Economy

No clean air amid the smell of politics

Hamish Ziegler’s recent Xpress article on our polluted air [Dec. 15] was stellar and the best example of decent journalism I have seen in Asheville. …

The topic of his article again brings to mind a vestigial remnant of local politics: the continuing presence of Mr. Doug Clark on the WNC Regional Air Pollution Control Agency board. He [disappeared last year], only to inexplicably seek and gain re-appointment to the troubled and politicized agency that saw four resignations from its staff and board. The enviro-community howled, especially since the Buncombe County commissioners had at least two more-qualified candidates from which to choose.

Mr. Clark recently proposed that we help solve the local air-pollution disaster through the novel approach of sending “$1 for each man, woman and child in Buncombe and Haywood counties” to the N.C. Hurricane Floyd Relief Fund — the source of those funds being APCA fines received from local polluters! And if you think this is remarkable, I am not really trying hard to find an example of questionable judgment from this character, among whose 1998 accomplishments was … going back on his word to [vote for] an Asheville appointee as [board] chair, per a prior agreement.

Political patronage overcoming competence is what Clark’s re-appointment was all about. It is a stench as pungent as the ozone and smog the APCA is intended to help us address, and brings the democratic process, the Democratic Party, and a pretty decent group of county commissioners into collective disrepute.

Clark should resign. It is never too late to correct a mistake. Technical competence, dedication and leadership are needed in the governing board of this highly technical agency — not political connections.

— Forrest MacGregor

Whew … not

I am relieved. The new millennium is here. No catastrophe struck. We can get on with living, as before. I can get back to my normal life: throwing out the trash, driving to work, and eating dinner. I can think of only the trivial, worry about the inconsequential, and wrap myself in forgetfulness, like a soft, familiar blanket that lulls me to sweet unconscious.

I know that I, and millions like me, are using up the planet’s resources. I know the day will come when my children will have nowhere to put the garbage. Clean air, water, even healthy food, will be scarce. But I can’t stop everyone.

Now that worry about Y2K is over, I’ll try (again) not to think about what is going to happen to all of us, and just enjoy my medication.

– Mollie Rose

A simple step toward cleaner air

I enjoyed your article on air pollution [Dec. 15], and I am concerned about the problem. You did not mention the Clean Air Conservancy (http://cleanairconservancy.org/) as a way for people to do something about the problem. I gave many of their certificates as Christmas gifts, and as a fringe benefit, it is tax-deductible. Thanks.

– David Liberman

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