Letters to the editor

Follow the logic

In reference to the Water Disagreement and representation:

a. Who is watching the hen house in the water debate?

b. Is this City Council vs. Board of Commissioners?

c. Four of five county commissioners are city residents today.

d. All of City Council members live in the city.

e. Only one of the water decision-makers lives outside the city.

f. Are county residents being represented as well as possible?

g. If county commissioners were elected by school district boundaries, all Buncombe County residents would be represented.

h. Today, commissioners can come from anywhere in the county without geographic boundaries. (I have no representative in Swannanoa, as example.)

i. This is not the same in similar N.C. communities, where specific areas are represented with locally elected residents.

j. We need to change how county commissioners are elected.

k. Commissioners actually living in various school districts around Buncombe County would improve local government.

l. County commissioners can make this change to election rules themselves. (Simply draw a map using school district boundaries for elections.)

m. Write and call commissioners to request better representation for your area using school district lines for election. We the voters should have representatives from our own neighborhoods and communities.

o. Currently, running for a county commissioner position costs many thousands of dollars. Running in smaller district areas would be something regular folks could afford.

p. The water issue is only one example of why we need this change.

— Dale Moburg

Environmentalists, take note

Cities exist for a reason. Historically, people put up with the noise, the smog and the crime because cities offered many conveniences. Transportation, electricity, phone service, message delivery — the utilities — can be offered much more economically where people live close together.

However, for the last century or more, government at the state and federal level has worked diligently to hide the economic benefits of cities. First class mail costs the same for all addresses, no matter how remote. Rail transport between cities was cheaper than from remote rural locations until the federal government created the Interstate Commerce Commission to make the railroads charge more for the big city routes to subsidize the rural routes (destroying passenger rail in the process). Electricity is cheaper to deliver in cities, so we have the Rural Electrification Act to subsidize power lines to remote areas (putting alternative energy out of business for nearly half a century). City streets are much cheaper than limited access highways, so we have federal interstate highway subsidies to provide freeways to the suburbs where there would have been toll ways.

And now, the state and county want the city of Asheville to provide subsidized water to surrounding neighborhoods in the county.

Environmentalists, take note: We do not need Smart Growth or urban renewal grants to fight sprawl. We just need to stop subsidizing it! A good start would be to get behind Dr. Mumpower on the water issue. I realize he doesn’t sound like an environmentalist when he goes on about such technicalities as the city’s property rights and state interference in local property matters, but the reality is that on this issue he has taken the hardcore environmentalist stance. Let the developers who want to create sprawl pay a fair price.

— Carl Milsted, Jr.

Writer drew wrong conclusions

All the social ills cited by Mr. Harrison [Letters, “Symbols Won’t Defeat Drugs; Try Courage,” June 15] are the result of the prohibition of illegal drugs — not the drugs. If drugs were regulated and taxed, and those who [need treatment] were treated, these social ills would be greatly reduced.

When was the last time alcohol caused the cited problems? I think you will find that it was when alcohol prohibition was the law of the land.

— Robert Gregg

Progressive takeover has been underreported

Wes James’ letter about investigating Taylor [“Taylor Questions May Get Answered,” June 8] references a series of important local events that I feel have been underreported: the successful stacking and hostile takeover of recent Democratic Party conventions by progressive activists.

Having been defeated internally in the Dean, Kucinich, Sharpton and Mosely-Braun campaigns, and externally by the systemic hurdles faced by Nader, progressive activists wisely and successfully turned on the Democratic Party machine, based on the precinct meetings in early March. There, for the first time, we built majorities capable of wresting control from centrists linked to the Democratic Leadership Council.

At last April’s Buncombe convention, we passed resolutions refuting corporate personhood and opposing the I-26 project. These were tabled at the District 11 convention by inexperienced delegates with an unfortunate gut instinct for compromise, but might still be resurrected by the state executive committee.

Then at the District 11 convention, we passed resolutions supporting industrial hemp and medical marijuana in a bad-faith, tooth-and-nail procedural slugfest with the old guard. We also passed resolutions demanding paper ballots, publicly financed elections, universal health insurance, better air quality, proportional allotment of the presidential electoral college, progressive taxation, direct presidential election, alternative energy, mental health parity and preservation of the filibuster; and opposing media consolidation, the Social Security tax cap and the PATRIOT Act.

Then, perhaps assisted by illness on the part of the district chairman, I defied assurances by leadership that resolutions from the floor would not be permitted and moved to hear them anyway. I was hoping to vote on my resolutions for municipal funding for contraception and abortion, but deferred to a woman who had resolutions on pesticides. Unfortunately, she had also become ill, and while I was figuring this out, others successfully used the time and precedent to pass resolutions from the floor to investigate Taylor and withdraw troops from Iraq.

— Alan Ditmore

No choice, no service with water monopoly

I find it truly appalling, ridiculous and upsetting that the only provider to buy water from is a total monopoly. If our water is going to be monopolized, then we, the people, should have a say in how the business is run.

After my recent transaction with the Water Department of the city of Asheville, I would most certainly change companies if I had the choice. Unfortunately, none of us does — so they can treat us in any rude, hostile manner they feel like.

My average water bill is $34, which I have always paid on time. This year a neighbor broke our pipes, resulting in a $350 water bill. I went down to the city building, where they said they could not reduce it any more, but they’d divide it into a payment plan. They failed to mention that if I were a few days late, even with one of the payments during a month when I do not receive an actual bill, that they’d come turn my water off with no warning.

So one day I’m at home with my two kids and another child … and suddenly we have no water. I immediately called the city — thinking it must be some mistake. But no, they meant to do it, as I was a few days late with one of the payments from the payment plan.

I … [was told] that I had now voided my payment plan … and to get my water back, not only would I have to pay the entire bill, but also a $50 fee … . I was stunned! I’d never been treated this way by any customer service from any company. I then realized that this was because they are a real monopoly. … Unless one has thousands of dollars laying around to drill a well, there is no where else to get your water.

— Celeste Kuklinski

State executions are premeditated murder

Rep. Dewey Hill [D-Brunswick/Columbus] recently declared: “I’ve said that I won’t support a moratorium. But I don’t support any kind of killing. I’m saying that my ears are open and I am listening.”

I respect his opposition to killing. I, too, oppose killing — not to minimize the wrongness of the murderer, but to recognize that state killing of the murderer cannot restore life to the murdered.

The state’s claim that execution of the murderer shows that killing is wrong, demonstrates that those who have the power may kill. State execution is simply a pasteurized label for state-authorized, premeditated and planned murder carried out by the state — making otherwise law-abiding citizens accomplices by allowing our tax monies to pay for murder.

State executions multiply the number of victims by robbing children (of the executed) of a parent.

Educational and recreational programs providing wholesome opportunities for all children would benefit our communities socially and economically — developing persons with positive self-images that could be expressed in healthy, productive ways. This “ounce of prevention” would cost much less than the warehousing of human beings who have often been deprived of such benefits.

Let’s stop the killing!

— Ruth Clark

Kudos for Steve

Steve Rasmussen is one of your best journalists/reporters, and a lot of us have followed his reports, stories, calendar, etc., for years.

His interviews with various people are not only interesting — they are fascinating. He has a knack of bringing people out. We want to see more of them, please.

We really like your paper, and you are so lucky to have him on your staff.

— Lisa Micheletti
Twain Harte, Calif.

LEAF Foundation refines policy

Flawed news reports of the June 2 meeting of the Golden LEAF Foundation’s Board of Directors gave the impression that the Golden LEAF Foundation is considering changing its standing policy of making grants only to qualified nonprofits and governmental entities and, in the future, making grants directly to for-profit companies as economic incentives.

That impression is incorrect. The board is not contemplating direct grants to for-profit companies.

However, increasingly the board is receiving requests from qualified nonprofits and governmental entities asking for funds which might be used to create incentives for companies to remain in their area, increase their presence in their area, or relocate to their area. Ultimately, they are talking about jobs.

To date, the foundation has been dealing with these matters on a case-by-case basis. In an effort to develop criteria for dealing with these requests while preserving our tax status and complying with the law, the board initiated discussion of a possible policy … but again, there has been no interest expressed by the board in changing its policy of making grants only to qualified nonprofits and governmental entities. Our concern is to determine how the foundation can continue serving tobacco-dependent and economically-affected communities throughout North Carolina in a dynamic and ever-changing climate.

— William (Billy) Clarke, Chair
Golden LEAF Foundation

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