Letters to the editor

Sculpture’s purpose should be honored

The alarm arose in me when I drove by Asheville’s Energy Loop [sculpture] and saw the ugly orange netting around the sculpture.

Dirck Cruser designed Energy Loop for Pack Square, and that is where it should stay. My hope, along with that of many other people in Asheville and visitors from far and wide (my firsthand knowledge includes [visitors from] Germany, Canada, England, Sweden and Malawi), is that Energy Loop will be returned to Pack Square after its renovation.

Dirck Cruser moved to Asheville (yes, Asheville — not Swannanoa) in 1972 and was the winner of Quality Forward’s statewide sculpture competition. In 1983, Gov. Jim Hunt unveiled Energy Loop in a great celebration during Bele Chere. In Dirck’s words, “The sculpture is intended to imply the brief and varied course of individual human life, the ongoing cycle of community life, and the concurrence of those two vital sources.” Energy Loop, to me, represents life in general (the ups and downs from birth to death), the rebirth of Asheville in the past several years (from a boarded-up city in the 1970s), and our own beautiful winding/varied mountains, rivers and people.

Dirck always found people’s thoughts of Energy Loop interesting. Of the negative statements, he always said that at least they looked at Energy Loop and saw something in it — which was a beginning. Maybe before this sculpture, people had never responded to art!

Asheville has so much to be proud of with Energy Loop. Let’s keep it in the newly renovated Pack Square, and let all wander in, and out, and on it — to be enjoyed by all ages in years to come — as intended.

— Karen Cruser

[Editor’s note: Karen Cruser is the widow of sculptor Dirck Cruser.]

Pick up the Trigg list and run

Loved the Beth Trigg commentary [“Think Big — A Progressive Agenda for Asheville’s New City Council,” Jan. 18].

One of the factors that makes Asheville such a wonderful place is the connection to place that so many people feel here. Trigg’s commentary shows her deep commitment to this place, as well as a sensitivity to not just standing up against something, but also being proactive.

For weeks I have been thinking that it is a good time for community progressives with proactive goals. Wow, here comes Trigg with basically my list of priorities, too.

We are economically unbalanced in the Asheville area, and a living-wage ordinance is one of my top priorities. Mandatory minimum-housing (code) enforcement that protects very vulnerable fellow city residents should have never been dropped by a caring community. Green emphasis, city-employee domestic-partner benefits (hopefully providing a good model), affordable-housing inclusionary zoning, an independent police-oversight board and clear human-rights declarations, economic development emphasis on small, local businesses, some tourist tax support of our local infrastructure, working for Asheville as a nuclear-free zone instead of being the major nuclear crossroads we are now, electing all Council seats (especially using creative new first-choice/second-choice elections) is a good, high-priority shortlist we could be working on.

I encourage community folks to take a look at the Jan. 18 Xpress and help run with the “Trigg List.”

— James Sheeler
West Asheville

Farewell from a veteran reader

Well, Asheville — it seems it is time for me to go. Western North Carolina, God bless you. You have been a wonderful place to live for these last few years. Now I hope to spend my final days somewhere on a beach in Belize. Seems the wonderful doctors at the VA have reminded and informed me of my mortality. As an old, disabled Vietnam veteran, I can take the news. Heck, it’s been a good run, no regrets.

And as for you, Mountain Xpress: Over the years, I have enjoyed your fine paper, which I will continue to read via the Internet. And who knows, maybe once in a while I’ll drop a line from Belize. Keep up the good work. And to all my friends — God bless.

— Bob Niewoehner

[Editor’s note: Bob Niewoehner has been a consistently good-humored contributor to our letters section. We wish him our very best.]

Historic sculpture deserves support

I am writing to support keeping the Energy Loop sculpture in the City/County’s new park area. I understand the late Dirck Cruser won the Quality Forward competition to become the first modern artist to have a sculpture in downtown Asheville. Many have since followed. I also understand that the city of Asheville pledged money for the upkeep of the piece over the years, but unfortunately did not follow through.

To now jeopardize the future of what has become a well-loved landmark done by a very talented artist who is no longer with us is sad, to say the least. For want of the care it was supposed to have had, are we now just going to scrap it?

I was encouraged to read of Quality Forward’s continued support of Energy Loop in their recent bulletin, but felt compelled to lend my support to the cause.

Asheville is an interesting city with many new and old artists and musicians who continue its heritage and add to the magic that draws people to visit and live here. Let’s not turn our backs on an art legacy that has been a part of us for decades. The arts provide the spice that keeps life interesting!

— Victoria Robertson

Keep art in the loop

The Energy Loop must be saved! To me, it symbolizes the energy and vitality of a scenic and growing city. During a recent visit to Asheville, I learned about the controversy over the sculpture.

The importance of public art and creativity has to endure. As a former N.C. resident, it was an absolute pleasure to see the growth and positive changes Asheville has made. I loved seeing the public art and the comfortable atmosphere. However, when I saw the Energy Loop surrounded by orange safety tape, I was dismayed. I thought better of the community. I find it quite disturbing that conservation has not taken place before now. Learning that the Energy Loop was one of the city’s first public art pieces, it made me sad — very sad — to see that Asheville’s citizens are unsure of its fate.

It is not too late. Conservation can be accomplished. Asheville can take care of its citizens by being responsible for public art and increasing tourism. Several cities have public sculpture gardens; this may be a choice for Asheville. Art needs a prominent place in accessible, safe spaces for all to enjoy. I [see] no reason for this not to occur to save the Energy Loop. I’m sure that another Asheville attraction would benefit the city as well.

Given all of Asheville’s arts development, it would be a terrible disservice to let one piece of art deteriorate before everyone’s eyes. Do the city a favor and save the Energy Loop!

— Christina Taylor
Oaklyn, N.J.

Democracy requires action

Our democracy is in serious trouble. We have made it through over 200 years of politics, scandals, disasters and wars. Now, thanks to George Bush and his regime, we are on the brink of becoming a dictatorship. If Samuel Alito is confirmed, we will lose the system of checks and balances that our Founding Fathers worked so hard to establish. The executive branch will have complete control. The president will be as powerful as any dictator, with nothing to stop him from arresting anyone who disagrees with him. American citizens can be detained without trial and held indefinitely. Torture is an option that this administration has already used. People could just disappear in the middle of the night, and nobody would know what happened to them. We should be very afraid.

Alito would support Bush’s drive for unlimited executive power, which poses a grave threat to our basic rights. When I took history in high school, I was taught that the three branches of government were essential to maintain a strong democracy. With no checks and balances, a power-hungry egomaniac could destroy everything we, as Americans, hold dear. The current administration already controls Congress. If they control the Supreme Court as well, we could live in fear of the sound of booted feet on our stairs and pounding on our doors if we have the guts to publicly oppose the powers that be.

This is a serious turning point in our history. Please get involved! If you are not registered to vote, please do so at once! If you are registered and haven’t voted in the past, please vote this year! Make yourself aware of what is happening to our country. Do some research on the Internet or at your local library. Read some newspapers. Then call your congressmen and senators and give them your opinions. It is well worth the effort. If you don’t exercise your rights now, you may not be able to in the future.

— Kate Swafford

Historic values ignored

My hopes that a moderate individual would be nominated and appointed to the Supreme Court seem to be getting slimmer each passing day. By moderate, I mean: not solely representing extreme views on either side of the continuum, recognizing the importance of the values this country was founded on (individual liberty and separation of church and state), and pursuing transparency in all levels of our representative government.

Maybe the next time.

— Jennifer Nehlsen
Black Mountain

Corporate America v. individual rights

The healthy checks-and-balances system of our government is currently threatened on many fronts, but confirming Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court looms as the most lasting threat.

Mr. Alito’s record is clear. He has fought for full immunity for administration officials who illegally spy on Americans. He opposes Morrison v. Olson, which limits presidential power to fire a special counsel. His record consistently shows a bias in favor of corporate America rather than individual rights.

Please do not allow this partisan to sway the balance of the Supreme Court.

— Mary Landingham

Stop the corruption flood

Do we realize just how invested Judge Samuel Alito is in supporting unchecked executive powers? With the silent but deadly theft of our basic rights by the Bush/Cheney administration, the nomination of Alito — against every Democratic veto — is yet another giant leap into the abyss.

It is handy that Alito opposes the power for Congress to appoint a special counsel to investigate presidential scandals. How much, I wonder, is he being paid under the mantle of justice?

Interesting, too, that Alito supports full immunity for an administration illegally spying on Americans, since Bush is accused of what should basically not be tolerated. Big Brother is watching — and not only that, if he doesn’t like what he sees, Alito’s unitary-executive stance conveniently justifies indefinitely detaining American citizens without trial or charges. All of this adds up to putting what freedom we have left in jeopardy for life, until we wise up and realize what a precious gift we have allowed others to lay to waste.

Maybe one person alone will have a tougher go of standing up, but if we all commit ourselves to assisting in every way possible to stop this huge tide of corruption flooding every aspect of our lives, things would change.

— Shannon Warwick
Black Mountain

Filibuster extremism

Samuel Alito is a man with twisted, un-American and unreasonable views of justice and fair play. He is a threat to freedom and justice in this country, and his nomination deserves to be blocked.

Alito’s beliefs are contrary to American values and contrary to the U.S. Constitution. Conservatives are simply lying when they say they want a judge who is a strict constructionist. In Alito, they have nominated a judge who brazenly contradicts the Constitution at every turn.

Alito’s views regarding executive and police power are threatening to our civil rights. His views regarding citizens’ access to relief through the court system are threatening to justice and will allow the rich and powerful to get away with murder.

Alito is an extremist. Democrats and reasonable people everywhere should oppose his nomination vigorously — with a filibuster.

— Dan Steinberg

Phone your senators

The Senate is voting on Samuel Alito’s nomination to the Supreme Court soon, and we need to let our representatives know how we feel. I ask everyone reading this to look at more than just a single issue but the whole of arguments against and for the nomination.

The White House says he’s a stand-up guy and we should get him in there soon without delay. His detractors say he supports absolute presidential power, big business, removing women’s right to choose and unregulated surveilance of U.S. citizens. I think that if Mr. Alito is put on the highest court of the land, our system of checks and balances will be in grave jeopardy.

Please contact our senators and let them know how you feel about this important issue. For or against, we need to let our representatives know how the people feel: Sen. Elizabeth Dole, (202) 224-6342, District Office (Hendersonville) 698-3747; Sen. Richard Burr, (202) 224-3154, District Office (Asheville) 350-2437.

— John Root

No ideologues should apply

Any man that has stipulated in a government-job application that he was a member of a reprehensible and bigoted organization is not deserving of a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Alito is not driven by the light of democracy or reason; he is driven by his own ideological views.

We need justices who will enhance and synthesize humanity’s diverse world-views into the greater fabric of democracy, rather than justices who will bend reason to fit a singular ideology. For example, Alito would likely allow the president to strike down portions of laws he [the president] is in disagreement with, and in doing so would circumvent the democratic process.

— Ed Eads

Basic freedoms are at risk

I urge all who would defend our rights as citizens to oppose Judge Alito’s nomination for Supreme Court. Perhaps most important, Alito supports the right of the government to illegally spy on Americans. He favors increasing the president’s powers, including the ability to detain American citizens without charges or trial. Alito is the first candidate to receive no votes from the minority party in 90 years. He opposes a woman’s right to choose.

Alito would threaten the freedoms of Americans for many decades to come.

— Cathy Holt

A contrast in democracy

It’s apparent that our new City Council wants to listen to the constituents. We are very lucky for that, and we see that every week when the Xpress reports on the progress of the Council and the community involvement. This is how democracy should work, not the way the Bush administration would have it by supporting Samuel Alito for Supreme Court justice.

Alito would support President Bush’s drive for unchecked executive power, which poses a grave threat to our basic rights. Alito believes in a theory of the super-powerful “unitary executive” that would justify Bush’s attempts to indefinitely detain American citizens without trial or charges. These changes would threaten our rights in the short term, no doubt. More importantly, they would put our freedoms in jeopardy for decades to come.

— Eva Hernandez

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