Letters to the editor

Stormy weather for stormwater education

The French Broad River was nasty in the 1950s — so much so that Wilma Dykeman’s 1955 book, The French Broad, titled a chapter: “Who Killed the French Broad?” Before 1972’s Clean Water Act, it was common practice to see outhouses or privies constructed over a stream. People just knew not to swim downstream of them. People have also learned quite well about industrial pollution, and the Clean Water Act has set limits on what and how much they can discharge into a waterway. The result of all this is a much healthier river.

The process for implementing the Clean Water Act has been two-fold: education and regulatory enforcement. The results of this law have been tremendous. And the economic sky did not fall. In fact, the law improved the economy of the region. In 1957, there were 30 industries discharging untreated waste into the French Broad River watershed, and the river was incapable of being anything but a place to dump trash — which is how some cities did dispose of their waste. Due to the Clean Water Act’s limitations on industry, today over 200 industry permits have been issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for those discharging treated waste. Forty-four of them are listed on the Toxic Release Inventory. Despite this increase in industries, the river is capable of being habitat for the former native sturgeon (once eliminated), a recreational resource for businesses and the tourism sector, and a drinking water source to over 1 million people. It is clear from these facts that the Clean Water Act was not just an environmental law, but has been an economic revitalization tool.

Recently, officials have been debating about the rules surrounding stormwater management. Some do not support the development of a strong educational program, as it is a perceived waste of funding. Education (aka marketing) is the bedrock of any successful program. Resources are needed to inform those groups who will be most active in protecting our river systems — developers, realtors and landowners. Every existing and future rooftop, parking lot and driving area is a potential source of pollution. Yes, when it rains, the gasoline, oil and a number of other pollutants wash into the storm drain and eventually enter a stream. And these impervious areas [also] have a role in flooding.

Both the Asheville Chamber of Commerce and the Asheville Board of Realtors have endorsed the resolution developed by the RiverLink board of directors expressing support for a strong stormwater educational program. (The resolution can be obtained at www.riverlink.org.) Developing and implementing a targeted educational program in concert with a properly managed enforcement program will continue the Clean Water Act’s legacy to improve local economies, and come closer to the act’s goal of making our waterways safe for our children.

— Phillip Gibson
French Broad Riverkeeper
RiverLink, Inc.

Charity begins at home

I wish I could have spoken with Mr. George Keller before he wrote his hastily generalized and grossly immature commentary [“Dependence and Its Effects,” May 11] characterizing panhandlers as irresponsible winos lazily mooching off decent, hard-working Ashevilleans. Perhaps I would have referred him to the several friends I have who, during one point or another in their lives, could not find any work despite their strong resumes and years of various job experience. These friends survived on the charity of kind Americans who gave them money for food, offered them shelter for an evening, and sometimes even helped them find work until they got back on their feet. Contrast these sentiments with the writings of Mr. Keller, who amidst all his petty complaints doesn’t consider any such solutions. What, give money to the poor? Clothe and shelter them? Help them find a job? Gosh, that all sounds like something Christ would do!

Mr. Keller, you are free to write that panhandlers should never be given a cent; these are easy comments to make from behind the shaded windows of a downtown bistro. Nonetheless, your foolish “thinking” does not quiet the fact that, as this country’s job market grows steadily worse, many families are rapidly finding themselves without a home or a meal.

One day these “ne’er-do-wells” will become so hungry and wretched that they will reach the point of desperation, and you will find them banging on your door. But unfortunately for you, Mr. Keller, by this time they will be looking for a lot more than a simple handout.

— Barry Weber

[Commentary writer (and downtown resident) George Keller responds as follows: I appreciate the careful reading of my commentary by Barry Weber. I believe most panhandlers who have a legitimate need go to churches and church-based organizations such as ABCCM to get the help they need. I support ABCCM personally and through my church, to help meet the real needs of the community.]

Thanks, Ken

I wanted to drop you a note of thanks for your kind words about my movie, Seed of Chucky — both in your review in Mountain Xpress as well as in your posts in the Scarlet Street Forums (the latter of which I’ve only just discovered).

I’ve been a fan of your writing for a while — I’ve read the Tim Burton book several times, and I, too, revere Moulin Rouge — so your enthusiasm for Seed really meant a lot to me.

— Don Mancini
Los Angeles, Calif.

[Editor’s note: The above thanks were specifically for Xpress movie reviewer, Ken Hanke.]

Speak up for health freedom

In Ambassador William H. Luers’ lecture on the future of the United Nations on Wednesday, May 18, at UNCA’s Reuter Center, Luers (president and CEO of the United Nations Association) was to talk about “plans to reform the U.N. and the issues surrounding the organization at this time” [“The Question of the United Nations,” May 11 Xpress].

And reform it needs!

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), with the World Health Organization (WHO), has been working on the Codex Alimentarius — “food rules” to be as law the world over through the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Doctors, lawyers and others who have read it say that [its proposals could]:

• Take away meaningful dosages of all vitamins, minerals, herbs and nutritional supplements.

• Require herbs and supplements to be listed as drugs.

• Permit genetically modified food to go unlabeled. (With seed spread [and] pollination, it will eventually be impossible to have certified-organic food.)

• Permit more toxins in our foods.

• Outlaw energy medicine such as acupuncture and Reiki.

To create it, they have held small meetings outside the United States with representation from GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms), pesticide and pharmaceutical companies, but not health-dedicated scientists.

These organizations (FAO, WHO and WTO) list only vague guidelines on their Web sites (www.codexalimentarius.net and www.fao.org). But medical doctors [and other experts] who have read the 15,000-page document speak out: see the Web sites of the Natural Solutions Foundation, www.healthfreedomUSA.org; International Advocates for Health Freedom, www.iahf.com; and the American Holistic Health Association, www.ahha.org/codex.htm.

Americans can tell their congresspeople to support HR 1146, the American Sovereignty Restoration Act, which will assert that we do not have to go along with the WTO’s rules. Also ask senators to oppose any follow-up legislation to the Dietary Supplement Safety Act, to keep our health freedom.

— Volarte Ziurella

Help (always) wanted

For a young person wondering about a career choice, they could do worse than shoot for becoming a CEO or similar corporate higher-up. In this country, that is.

GM and Ford Motor Co. are almost completely tanked now, so they will be looking for the usual replacement CEO’s — the current ones will leave in a tsunami of money and bonuses, repeating the same process that has been going on for years. GM was once the premier corporation in America, but soon it will be gone. But there’ll still be plenty of old-time companies waiting to be run into the ground.

One can remember in the 1950s, when GM began to lose market share, the head guy saying: Americans don’t want those iddy-biddy little cars, Americans want comfort. Today, GM is blaming the unions and the benefits programs for their problems. From the beginning, while our car industry fought hard against mileage and emission standards, the first Honda CVCC’s came here and beat emission standards without even a catalytic converter.

Today, Toyota operates eight U.S. plants, and builds the number-one selling cars in the industry. Their ad says they are responsible for creating more than 200,000 jobs across America. Why aren’t they downsizing? Outsourcing? How did these companies get so far ahead of our own American-owned? Hard work and no good old boy system?

We richly reward our top guys no matter how incompetent they may be. We sit firm on the minimum wage, blame the unions, and go to court to stay immune from emission controls while the competition steals our lunch. There is no sign we are ready to change for change, so we’ll always need big guys and gals at the top to run our corporations.

— Allen Thomas

How many lives per gallon?

I watched the news the weekend of April 30, and it’s been haunting me ever since. I should know better than to watch the news, but I like to know the weather forecast.

That weekend was the 30th anniversary of the pullout from Vietnam. On the news, they showed several small children still being impacted by Agent Orange (which we sprayed on the jungle as a defoliant). These children were severely mentally or physically impaired, and unable to care for themselves. This chemical treatment contained dioxin, which is still in the soil and hence in the groundwater. I understand that a lawsuit was recently filed in the U.S. court system on behalf of these children, and the news correspondent claimed that the case was thrown out of our court by one of our federal judges. I understand that many of our soldiers who complained of the effects of Agent Orange got a settlement out of court by the chemical company that created Agent Orange, but that this company has not taken responsibility, nor has our government.

More recently, our government has never accepted responsibility for the Gulf War Syndrome problems experienced by many soldiers in Kuwait in 1990.

Now we are in the midst of another Vietnam. There is no good reason for this war. It cannot be won, and there is no rationale for the killing on both sides — as well as the destruction to Iraqi property. We cannot know what long-term effects could ensue. It is unfair what damage we are perpetrating on the children of Vietnam, and our own children today, who are losing their possible future due to greed and oil. How many lives per gallon will we pay?

Who do we think we are?

— Linda Kirkman
Horse Shoe

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