Letters to the editor

UNCA should be a “green” leader

I am a neighbor and alum of UNCA and one of the people who has mobilized to stop UNCA from cutting down 2.5 acres of prime urban forest off W.T. Weaver Boulevard to build a freshman parking lot. My neighbors and I found out about this — not through the university — but thanks to a Good Samaritan who posted a flyer at the foot of the trail.

Recently, more than 160 people turned out to discuss the project with Steve Baxley, UNCA director of facilities — [and] most of us [were] there with very little notice. The attendees were heartsick to hear that UNCA felt it an option to clear-cut part of that forest for parking. Baxley told us that the woods parking lot would be a quick and cheap fix for the [300] spaces needed for incoming fall freshman.

We were told that 50 percent of freshmen needed cars to get to work, but the school didn’t say how many of them actually work on campus. We were told that the university felt it would put off potential students if UNCA followed other schools and made progressive parking changes. We said [that] people don’t come to UNCA for a parking spot; they come to the school for an exceptional education and for the area’s natural beauty.

“But we’re growing! We have to take the woods to grow the campus!” Hogwash. The best things about UNCA are its personal attention, excellent education and natural setting. My favorite quote is: “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.” That’s what this proposal is: part of the cancer that is eating away at our shrinking urban green space.

What UNCA is finding out is that their public does not want to see part of a beloved urban forest clear-cut. We don’t want to be Atlanta. We want our university to value that urban forest as much as we do. We want them to act as the leader they should be and reduce the number of cars coming to campus, instead of accommodating more cars and cutting more trees.

UNCA has characterized this section of woods as “unspectacular.” I urge you to go to our new Web site (www.uncaforest.org). Take one of our upcoming hikes, and you’ll see that these 2.5 acres are beyond spectacular. This forest is a crown jewel of the UNCA campus. We’re calling on our school to acknowledge and protect it.

— Heather Rayburn

Save the UNCA forest for children

Hello. I am Joy Lynne, a 14-year-old in Elkin, [N.C.] I grew up in Asheville, and I know [that] forest very well.

Destroying such a wonderful thing [of] my childhood — and I’m sure many other activist childhoods — is simply an awful thing to do. Asheville is mostly known for its beauty, and the forest, being part of the beautiful town of Asheville — [should] stay in the town forever.

Please voice this opinion. Thank you.

— Joy Lynne
Elkin, N.C.

Bothwell’s hydroponic experiment was all wet

[This is an] open letter to Cecil Bothwell re: “You can lead corn to water” [Gardening, May 5]:

With all due respect, I beg to differ on numerous points of your summation of what was a poorly thought-out experiment, and subsequently totally unfair to our industry.

When we loaned you the Rainforest aeroponic system (costing $275), had we known that you had planned to grow corn and peas, we would have told you that this system is totally unsuitable and is designed only to grow herbs, lettuces and smaller crops in small areas. We would have therefore loaned you the Eurogrower, which can grow crops such as peas and can accommodate organic nutrients and soil.

As a novice, you have proved that it takes some degree of skill to grow hydroponically — and had you researched it properly, you would have known that corn in particular is not a crop to be grown hydroponically indoors (something I have never heard of) and that commercially grown hydroponic crops do indeed require supplemental lighting.

Furthermore, with all due respect, your calculations are way off. According to industry standards, a 1,000-watt high-pressure sodium light uses less than 10 cents an hour, therefore the 430-watt we loaned you (worth $325) — equivalent to little more than 4 standard 100-watt light bulbs — costs less than 3 cents an hour to run. The vaporizer pump uses half a kilowatt of power. The nutrient you used cost $15 (since you returned half of it).

Compared to a cook stove or heat pump, 5 cents an hour is a nominal amount for fresh organic vegetables a few feet from the kitchen in mid-winter.

Anyone attempting indoor gardening would not put [the setup] in their living room since fruiting plants require total darkness for 12 hours with no ambient light. Furthermore, your cats proved the necessity for gardening in a separate room, such as a closet, basement or loft.

The “Hydro for Hunger” campaign for simplified hydroponics in Third-World countries has fed the hungry in places where conditions cannot sustain potable crops. Furthermore, hydroponics is, in fact, an environmental savior in preserving our most precious natural resource — water — not to mention the ramifications of global warming on the farming industry. Before casting unfounded aspersions, I suggest you seek advice and research your subject before you decide to damage our industry and ultimately our livelihood.

— Julia Brooke Childs
Black Mountain

[Ed. Note: The following is Cecil Bothwell’s response:

Throughout my hydroponic experiment reports, I acknowledged that I was a beginner and that corn might be an unusual choice (although I was told I could grow “anything,” and a local hydroponic supplier told me he was also growing corn this winter).

I stand behind my figures on the cost for electricity and nutrient material — but even accepting Childs’ numbers, the five ears of corn and dozen peas I grew cost $124.]

Xpress‘ drug-war coverage was fair, but missed the point

In his detailed article titled “It’s War!” in the May 12 issue of Mountain Xpress, Brian Sarzynski offered an even-handed view of fluctuating tensions within Asheville’s City Council.

In truth, however, the deeper story lays not in temporary conflicts between Council members or most certainly my imagined interest in the mayor’s job. The story most worthy of a bright light is the near-term opportunity to embrace a hard-drug-interdiction program that targets distributors, dealers and users wherever they go in our good city.

We have the resources and brief window of opportunity to provide the manpower, mandate and money to fund our Police Department to a level of service that more fairly matches the resources, creativity and persistence of those who do immeasurable harm through hard drugs.

Twenty-four-hour, vigilant hard-drug interdiction won’t be the end of the story. It’s not that easy. Yet enthusiastic pursuit of hard drugs is a crucial foundation for other interventions that, collectively, will help take Asheville to a better place.

Hard drugs impact on every person in Asheville. Ask the mothers who try to raise children in public-housing developments, neighbors who deal with repetitive break-ins, and the victims of personal violence, and you will quickly develop a keen sense of the catastrophic impact of hard drugs.

Asheville does not need to wait another year to fund a meaningful hard-drug-interdiction program. We have the money and the knowledge to address our responsibilities, to step into the wind and face this problem directly. With your support, we can resolve our differences in perspectives and priorities and dedicate our resources to this public-safety issue.

That’s an activity that will be truly worthy of your writer’s best attentions.

— Carl Mumpower,
Vice Mayor,

Whiners and developers, take a bow

Ha-ha! Y’know, I wasn’t even going to touch, or dignify [with] a response … Fisher Caudle’s amazing piece of reactionary, absurdist-comic art [Letters, April 28], written in outrage over a comment I made about Lexington Avenue in Brian Sarzynski’s article “Up and Coming: What Price Downtown Asheville?” [April 14].

But the whining editor in me couldn’t resist footnoting for Xpress readers the fact that the only critical response to Brian’s article was from a West Asheville developer from Atlanta. I don’t know whether to feel flattered or threatened by this.

By the way, I’m a whiner and proud of it.

Your loving angel,

— Eamon Martin

Xpress should have covered the March for Women’s Lives

I was one of the million-plus people who participated in the March for Women’s Lives in Washington, D.C., on April 25, 2004. I am a native of Asheville, and this was the most extraordinary event I have ever witnessed.

Most every major newspaper in this country carried the story of the march and printed the picture of the massive throng of individual women, men and children walking in one accord, in recognition and protest of the Bush administration’s war on women’s rights. Our local newspaper, the Citizen-Times, placed a short article about the march on the second page of its Mountains section, which was much appreciated.

What did Mountain Xpress do?

Our group is aware of the contributions Mountain Xpress has made to the local community. We are generally supportive of your publication, but we feel very betrayed by the minimal importance this huge march in Washington, D.C., seemed to have for Mountain Xpress.

Access to adequate health care and women’s reproductive rights are in jeopardy with the current administration. We are tired of the rhetoric being dished out by the ultra-conservatives who hold the positions of power in Washington, D.C. We have to take action now, before it’s too late. And that’s exactly what a million-plus of us did.

The Asheville Citizen-Times should have been more involved in this march. And so should Asheville’s premier alternative paper, Mountain Xpress. This was the local connection that your publication is always searching for. This was your chance to share in the historic event that received front-page coverage by many of the major newspapers all over the U.S.

And Asheville, N.C., was there representing. It’s too bad these issues did not receive the attention they should have in our hometown.

— Debbie Metcalf

Metcalf is co-secretary and newsletter editor of Asheville NOW.

[Editor’s response: Xpress did drop the ball in covering this issue. We have a post-march commentary, by a local participant, in the works. Thank you for calling attention here to the historic event.]

Bush regime is morally bankrupt

We know now — from Paul O’Neill’s account, Richard Clarke’s story and Bob Woodward’s book — that the Bush regime’s agenda, from the very first [National Security Council] meeting on Jan. 30, 2001 (10 days after inauguration) was to get rid of the Saddam regime by force. The 9/11 events were a godsend to Bush and his chickenhawks. O’Neill, Whitman and Powell camouflaged the extreme right-wing agenda of this fascist-oriented government. Two are gone, and only the ineffectual, gutless Powell remains.

After an initial foray into Afghanistan to rout Taliban-protected Al Qaeda, the focus shifted to Iraq. By a series of manipulations, lies, false juxtaposition and patriotic drumbeating, the Bush regime managed to convince Congress and the nation that Iraq had to be invaded. We were dragged into a costly, deadly quagmire with no end in sight. Some of our well-trained troops (abetted by mercenaries disguised as contractors) — unquestionably influenced by our leader’s truculent pronunciations — are savaging the Iraqi population, especially in the infamous Abu Ghraib prison.

We can now add a new word to our lexicon, saddamism, i.e., the humiliation, abuse and torture of military and civilian prisoners under the pretext of extracting useful information.

And guess who is being suggested as the new administrator of this prison? Why, the guy who ran the Guantanamo Gulag. Wow, what an improvement!

There is really no sense of deep outrage from Bush, Rumsfeld, Joint Chief of Staff [Richard B.] Myers or anyone else. Bush, in his usual inarticulate, moronic fashion, stumbles and struggles to find the right word, but he shows no signs of really caring. And why should he? He has misled us and sent hundreds of U.S. soldiers to die, not to mention the thousands of innocent Iraqis who have been killed because of the lies about WMD and the nonexistent Saddam/Al Qaeda connection. These are strong grounds to impeach this flag-waving, draft-dodging hypocrite.

Frank Harris III, chairman of the journalism department of Southern Connecticut State University, has said that since Bush is in the mood for constitutional amendments, he would like to suggest one: that every president, before committing anyone else’s sons or daughters to combat, first pledge his own sons or daughters to the war effort. I’m for that. Let’s send Bush’s drinking twins to Baghdad on a tour of duty.

Vote against this morally bankrupt president.

— Leon O. Gouin

Land of the free should open its door to immigrants

In his letter, “Illegal Immigrants a ‘Clear and Present Danger’ to America” [Letters, March 24], Jim Inman has gone to extreme measures to express hate and alienate “illegal immigrants.” This act of racism embarrasses me to be his fellow American. We all need to walk on the grave of apathy. It seems he has lost compassion for mankind, and forgotten the many reasons why people come to America. Some have fled here for their lives, while others were simply stranded. I’ll give you a couple of examples.

Once a month in a windowless courtroom at 26 Federal Plaza in Manhattan, children are summoned before a judge who can decide whether they will be removed from the United States. One afternoon, there is a Haitian girl of 17 who escaped her father’s killer; another time, a 15-year-old Ecuadorean who came 3,000 miles to earn money for his ailing mother.

Regardless of the circumstance, all people should be welcomed here — after all, we are “the land of the free,” “the melting pot.” If anyone should be upset, it would be the Native Americans.

I think the anger that you reflect should be solely directed towards governmental policy. It is the Homeland Security Act that has made it almost impossible for people to be granted visas or citizenship. Therefore, they are forced to work illegally; but if given citizenship, they would reap the benefits of America and pay taxes also. Would this make you happy?

I can agree with the letter-writer’s bashing of the policies of President Bush and the corporate world, because opening the gates to immigrants to come and work under their discretion and terms equals sweatshops and slave labor. Taking jobs from one person to enslave another — no one is winning here, [neither] Americans [nor] illegal immigrants. No person is to blame, only the system that is creating the problem.

Free yourself.

— Bridget Strickland

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