Letters to the editor

Muddy water is disappointing

I want to make just a few observations:

(1) The current Water Authority served a purpose, but it is now time for a change. Give the city of Asheville the opportunity to operate the system without all the restrictions, and I predict we will see improvements.

(2) I am disappointed and angry that our legislative delegation is trying to set utility rates for one city and county in the state. It would seem the courts would have to settle this matter if one of the proposed bills is passed. Thank you, [Rep.] Susan Fisher, for deciding this is not an appropriate issue for the North Carolina General Assembly.

(3) I am also disappointed in actions of the Buncombe County commissioners. As a resident of the city of Asheville, I frown on my elected officials offering tax dollars to the city in order to keep some residents’ water rates artificially low. Residents of the city probably pay about half the taxes collected by the county, and your actions are further penalizing city taxpayers.

— Jim Ellis

Don’t doo it

I own a home in Montford and work downtown. I love Asheville, and I’ve lived here for going on 11 years now, since I was in middle school. There is a problem I’ve noticed over and over again around town, though.

Don’t get me wrong — I love dogs. I love all animals, in fact. Have some at home. I don’t own a dog because at the moment I simply don’t have the time to devote to a dog.

Here’s my beef: Dog owners who don’t clean up after their pooch as they walk around town and through my yard.

My daily routine takes me up Lexington, across Walnut, to Tingle Alley. Just the other day, I watched a girl walking her dog on Walnut Street wait patiently while her dog did his business on the sidewalk, and then [they walked] away. She wasn’t carrying any plastic baggies, or a scooper, or anything. It is a daily experience for me to have to keep my eyes glued to the sidewalk so that I can sidestep all the doggy doo that spots the bricks up and down the street.

I’ve come out of my home to see a person letting their dog do its business in my front yard [and] then walking away. … I don’t think it’s very fair that I walk out into my yard and step in [that], when I don’t even own a dog. And I don’t think it’s being respectful of your fellow Ashevilleans to leave it all over the sidewalk (or right off the sidewalk, under a tree — where it gets kicked into the sidewalk) where people step in it and track it all over the place.

… I’m just asking for some consideration. I don’t want to sound like a nag. But I’m tired of stepping in dog poo on my way to work every day.

And to those of you who do clean up after your pup: Thank you!

— Danielle Woodruff

Follow the clues

A few words about our situation! First, here are some clues.

The United Nations’ millennium report says that two-thirds of the world’s ecosystems are in serious danger. Tony Blair’s scientific adviser … warns that global warming is a bigger threat than terrorism. China is getting ready to out-consume/pollute the United States of America. Add 10 percent (plus) annual growth, and we will see unprecedented strain on the global system. … The Worldwatch Institute warns of major climate changes within 20 years. The Pentagon is running war games based on projected climate changes.

These clues present us with a somewhat gloomy picture of the future. The key is to take advantage of the great opportunities this presents … [such as]:

• Energy consumption. Use clean, renewable energy sources.

• Natural resources. … Protect what’s left; … recycle and reuse what’s in circulation already.

• Pollution. Simple — it needs to stop!

To make effective changes we need a four-prong attack:

(1) The most powerful weapon in a capitalist system is the money we control, … household money, as well as monies used at work and municipalities. Spend this money wisely! The system is designed to provide what we want to buy.

(2) We need help from elected officials. Make sure you know whom you vote for, and make certain they work for you.

(3) Support the environmental grassroots organizations that are taking care of the details. They need money and people hours.

(4) Spread the word. We need more people to get on the bandwagon. Talk about these issues with friends, family and coworkers.

Listen, it doesn’t take much. Thanks to the early buyers of the Toyota Prius, we now have the major car companies developing hybrid cars in every category. The people who bought the early ones put their money where their mouths were, and have changed one of the biggest industries in the world.

Remember, the opportunities are in the details! Stay positive. It’s all about attitude!

— Johan Forsberg

The housing of last resort

Last year, I may have been mistaken. At that time, I opposed funding the new jail [addition] on the grounds that I thought Buncombe County could be kept safe with no more than 350 people in jail (the design capacity of the existing jail). Since then, I have become a victim of drug- and alcohol-related crime in Buncombe and assisted a victim of violent domestic abuse, also drug related. Now, I don’t know; maybe there are over 350 dangerous criminals in Buncombe. Also, maybe jail is the housing of last resort. Maybe some of the most alcohol- and drug-addicted homeless would live longer if forcibly separated from drugs and alcohol, in a jail or something like one. And maybe there really are more than 350 of them in Buncombe.

But none of the concessions above constitute an excuse for poor jail conditions. On the contrary, if jail is to be the housing of last resort, then it needs to be a lot roomier, warmer in winter, have better food, health care, clothes, bedding, library and much better addiction treatment. The stories coming out of the Buncombe jail are consistent, credible and horrific. And jail is not prison; many inmates are pre-trial and presumed innocent. Many really are innocent, so punishment is not a factor. Punishment is for prisons, not jails. Any of us could find ourselves in jail in a stroke of bad luck.

So please, raise property taxes if that’s what it takes to keep us all warm, safe and healthy — in jail and out. And if there’s anything a city can do, like build its own jail or even pass a resolution, let’s make this a priority issue for city candidates this year.

— Alan Ditmore

More battle scars

You are to be thanked for publishing our letter which served to correct misinformation regarding the Battle of Asheville and our commemoration of the … April 2 event [“This Is a Skirmish; That Was a Battle,” April 13]. Although we were given the “go-ahead” for the ceremony on the late afternoon of March 28, this timing may indeed have been incompatible with the printing deadline to which you must adhere.

As a reenactor and military history expert, I still challenge the lingering assessment of the Asheville engagement of 1865 as a “skirmish.” Setting aside for the moment criteria previously set forth in my letter, let us consider the casualty factor to which you refer. Agreed, as our speaker intended to convey, there were apparently no Confederate casualties of the major sort. Such was not the case for Federal troops: There were at least two battle victims, one of whom left a shoe behind … with his leg protruding from it. A third Union casualty is very likely, in that one member of the panicked retreat is alleged to have fallen from his mount into the river and drowned.

Finally, to give due credit even at this late date, the 64th N.C. Regiment — not the 6th, as misprinted … — was present at the Asheville battle.

Again, we deeply appreciate your coverage of our efforts.

— M. Peter Lorenz, Captain
Battle of Asheville Commemorative Corps

In-state tuition bill is not pro-education

On April 11, a cleverly disguised bill was filed in the North Carolina House of Representatives. The “Access to Higher Education and a Better Economic Future” bill [HB 1183] … allows illegal immigrants access to N.C. universities at in-state tuition rates … [and] was being lauded as a pro-economic/education bill.

Our country has a responsibility to [its] citizens — … not illegal immigrants. UNC’s 16-school system already turns away thousands of qualified, legal students each year due to space constraints. Allowing additional seats in an already limited system to be handed out to nonlegal students is ludicrous, and a complete slap-in-the-face to [the state’s] taxpaying citizens.

Our public universities are the pride and joy of many a citizen. However, each year the costs of education go up, class sizes increase and the amount of courses offered goes down. How can we justify putting this additional burden on our already overcrowded colleges?

Make no mistake about it. If this piece of legislation passes, it opens the doors wide for a flood of pro-illegal-immigration legislation to be stuck in obscure bills. … Now it is time to make those who are elected to vote in our stead stand up for what we believe in. The amount of pressure resulting from thousands of outraged citizens has [already] resulted in 10 legislators removing their name from the bill. …

On my Web site, www.AlanTeitleman.com, I have posted: the e-mail addresses of all 120 N.C. House members; the letter that I sent to the General Assembly; and links to other sites with information and news concerning this legislation.

— Alan M. Teitleman

Judicial “ensurance”

The power-hungry Republicans are showing their true colors in their attempt to ram … extreme right-wing judicial appointees through the Senate. The reason they are calling their plan the “nuclear option” is that it will destroy a 200-year-old tradition that ensures appointed judges are fair and uphold the Constitution.

Republicans want to allow these previously rejected judges to become appointed with little or no debate. Why? To hide their immoral right-wing ideology of eliminating the minimum wage, basic employee rights, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, privacy rights, and our American rights of freedom and liberty.

— Timothy Burgin

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