Letters to the editor

Where’s the representation?

Dr. Mumpower is correct in “staying the course” on the water issue. The city of Asheville is now in the process of being raped by our county and state officials. Our residents will cross political lines in order to correct this injustice!

There has been no parity or equality in this process. The city has considerable assets in our water system, yet we are to believe that our citizens should give up these assets in order to continue a political process that has already created a quagmire.

If it takes a convoy of our citizens to address our state Senate, then I will be there. If you have read the original Sullivan Act, then you know that the county and state have no legal leg upon which to stand.

If the state legislators think they are representing the best interests of their constituents, they are sadly mistaken. Look at the facts! We are the only city in our state that has water assets without control. We are losing our bond rating because of political infighting. It would be wise for our county and state officials to examine previous election results, which indicate that the city vote makes or breaks a commissioner’s ability to stay in office and has a definite effect on the career viability of our state officials.

Our city’s “level playing field” in this debate has been extremely compromised through state interference (considering the county attorney’s involvement in helping draft Sullivan Acts II and III). I remember the saw that states: “The best government is that which is closest to the people.” Based on the recent performance of our state government, our legislators should be spending their time building efficiency and effectiveness out of the mess they have created in Raleigh, and not getting involved in local issues. This involvement not only belittles our local elected officials, but our voters as well. Essentially, we are being told by the state that local government decisions mean nothing.

I am disgusted with the antics of my county and particularly my state representatives.

— Craig F. Young

Symbols won’t defeat drugs; try courage

I find it interesting how many folks from out of town write to the Mountain Xpress about the need to legalize drugs in Asheville/Buncombe. The letter from Florida was one of the most recent [“Move Drug Laws into 21st Century,” May 18]. I realize that Law Enforcement Against Prohibition has an organized national effort to write letters to editors. However, I believe the political process is skewed when organized groups from across the country get a loud voice in local politics.

I am not passing judgment on the Mountain Xpress, which only prints the letters it receives. I just wish to offer another side on the drug issue.

Drugs are a plague to our neighbors in low-income housing. Ask the folks in Pisgah View and Deaverview about having to wait in the drive-throughs when they try to get in or out of their neighborhoods. Their children are recruited as lookouts. What about the parties and assaults that characterize crack houses? What about the break-ins and larcenies that feed the habits of crackheads?

As somebody who lives here, I have a stake in whether we put a lid on our local criminal-drug culture or let it spread with impunity until we become a little Los Angeles, where kids get shot on their way to school for wearing “gang colors.”

If we legalize drugs, perhaps contraband markups will fall, putting dealers out of business. Do we then expect that our savvy, tough-guy dealers, who were too cool to finish school, will all go bag groceries at Ingles like good little boys?

Having now offered my criticism, I would agree with your out-of-state contributors that the so-called “war on drugs” is a joke. Symbolic gestures, slogans, posters, awareness training and other non-confrontational approaches are not going to make the world a safer place. What seems to work in other municipalities is courageous, inventive intervention by local leadership combined with equally courageous, zero-tolerance attitudes from victimized neighborhoods.

— Michael Harrison

[Editor’s note: To clarify, it is the policy of the Xpress to give publication priority to (1) letters written by local/regional residents; and, (2) letters written about local issues or about Xpress articles and opinion pieces.]

History in the making

The recent commemoration of the Holocaust and the passing of John Paul II turn one’s thoughts to Wadowice, Poland, where the young man, Karol Jozef Wojtyla, spent hours contemplating a life of religion while, just a short distance west, the Nazis were building a spur from the main rail line to Krakow, due north to Oswiecin (better known by its Germanic spelling, Auschwitz). There, they cleared the land and leveled the ground and built a couple of low-lying buildings to lodge the 45,000 or so “retainees” being readied for extermination. What was young Karol thinking; and, for that matter, the rest of Polish Christendom?

Meanwhile, in the quiet countryside deep into southern Bavaria, very close to the Austrian border just across the River Inn, Joseph Alois Ratzinger was enjoying his new life as a Hitlerjegund [Hitler Youth], proudly walking the streets of Marktl am Inn, his boyhood hometown. Just a short walk to the junction of the Salzach River, then cross the bridge, and Braunau am Inn is only an hour’s hike away: the birthplace of Der Fuhrer.

A day trip west takes you to the pleasant valley at Dachau, where more clearing and building was going on. Of course, no one in all of German Christendom knew why.

A day trip up the Inn takes you to the ancient Benedictine Abbey at Beuren, where the original script of Carmina Burana lay hidden. Does that name sound familiar? Of course: the final presentation of the season of the Asheville Symphony Orchestra and Chorus — prophetic!

— Ben Livingston

Let me handle this

The luxury of retirement and the blessing of good health afford me the time and energy to stroll the sidewalks of beautiful Asheville. Unfortunately, too many property owners don’t share the same pride in our city. I find all manner of trash and debris littering the sidewalks in many communities. In some cases, I’m forced to walk over or around the clutter, or even move onto the street to get past. Those in wheelchairs don’t stand a chance.

Is there a city ordinance that addresses unsightly and unsafe sidewalks? If so, who’s responsible for enforcement? I don’t believe they’re doing their job. I’d like the city to grant me the authority to issue citations to property owners who either permit such trash to accumulate, or deposit it there themselves. There would be more money coming to the city from the fines, but more important, our city sidewalks would be cleaner and safer.

Take pride, Asheville!

— Rick Semmens

Don’t turn your back

The recent clash over judicial nominees and Sen. Bill Frist’s attempts to remove one of the important checks and balances of our democratic system (the filibuster) further illustrates a radical minority’s attempts to consolidate power in all branches of the government. Many may think this fight is over, but it is just beginning. The true fight will be when President Bush appoints either Justice Thomas or Scalia as the new chief justice of the United States. The nuclear option (rule changes to eliminate the filibuster on presidential appointments) will then be used as a weapon to eliminate all dissenting voices and entrench radical conservatives into the halls of our government and the courts. This radical minority will continue to systematically remove all checks and balances of our grand democracy until the entire system is skewed in their favor.

The vitality of our democracy is dependent on strong and vigorous debate by all political parties. Only when the Democratic and Republican parties are equally strong can our leaders guide our nation toward the middle ground. If our democratic system essentially becomes a one-party system and important checks and balances are removed, our democracy could soon become a dictatorship.

— Jeff Trudrung

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