Letters to the editor

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Help root out tree vandals

I am the arborist for the city’s Public Works Department. My staff and I face the daunting task of trying to maintain the health of the trees and the safety of the people along the city’s 300-plus miles of right of way. Lately I have noticed that new trees planted in the central business district are falling prey to vandalism. These [new trees] are usually replacements for [ones] we could not help and had to remove. However, some of the victims had been installed in sites that were previously treeless. Someone is maliciously breaking off these young trees halfway or more down their trunks.

Trees already have to struggle against a hostile, growing, urban environment. Vandalism is more than they can stand. Also, not only is another tree lost, but these vandals are wasting your tax dollars when we have to keep replacing trees that were doing well.

Life in cities without adequate tree canopy is miserable, especially in the summer months. The air is hot and polluted, and the landscape stark and unwelcoming. I don’t want to live in that sort of place, and I am confident that most people would agree with me. I would appreciate your vigilance and help in watching out for our trees, young and old. Destruction of city trees is a crime. If you witness this sort of activity, please report it to Asheville Police Department.

I appreciate your help.

— Mark C. Foster
City of Asheville, Streets Division

Bring ’em home

When I learned the words to “The Star Spangled Banner” as a child, they included, “then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, etc.”

Part of the reason why growing up and growing older is painful is because we gradually discover the truth behind myths like that — Santa Claus, Mayberry, equal justice under the law, etc. And what our country stands for.

And some beliefs are especially hard to abandon because we want to believe them so badly.

Until our country blundered into the recent invasion of Iraq, I believed that we, as the most powerful [nation] in history, could afford to be prudent, patient and respectful of other people’s right to live on the same planet. After 9/11, we would stop, take a deep breath and dedicate ourselves to finding the root of the evil, with deliberate, careful steps, one at a time.

I was opposed to the invasion of Iraq for reasons that didn’t involve WMDs, or that Iraq was a threat to us. Today, I haven’t changed my mind, not because my reasons were proven correct, but because our actions were wrong from the very beginning. We senselessly violated some of the basic rules of conduct that had earned us respect around the world. This respect was built over years of work, demonstrating how the powerful giant could find even the tiniest perp — as in the case of Eric Rudolph, for example. In that case, we didn’t fire up B-52s and carpet-bomb [the town of] Murphy. Patient, honest, hard work paid off.

Now we need to truly support our troops. Bring them home from their hellish stations, their daily exposure to death. Bring them home, and if it makes the pro-war people happy, keep repeating, “We won, hoo-rah! But now we’re going home.”

— Allen Thomas

At what price civic duty?

I believe we should all do our civic duty, even at some inconvenience. I pay taxes, I vote, I have car insurance, etc, etc. Recently, I got a jury summons.

Now, I have served on two juries, and was called a third time but not empanelled. So I’ve never tried to be excused. This time, however, I thought I had a very good reason to be excused from serving. I told the judge the following:

I have a one-person retail business. I have no one to run the store in my absence. I can’t afford to hire someone, and I can’t afford to close the store.

I thought this was a reasonable excuse. The judge disagreed. She said this is not a good enough excuse because, you know, we all work.

Yes, we all work — [but] very few of us run a retail store by ourselves. Retail is not the same as office work, you know. Customers expect you to be open regular hours — the ones you have posted. And while they might understand you doing your civic duty, they are inconvenienced as well by having made the effort to come to [a] store, only to find it closed.

I have a couple of friends I can call on for, say, a day each. The best they can do is have the door open and make change, which is certainly better than nothing. However, what if I get empanelled on some trial that could take a week or two, or more?

I get to close my business, which means I have no income, which means I can’t pay my bills, which ruins my credit rating, and so forth and so on. The tiny recompense from the county will in no way offset this financial burden.

I was allowed to delay the summons until September, and I hope I can be filthy rich by then (ha!). This economy has not been kind to us small businesses, and the prospect of losing any business is disheartening, especially when [losing it by] being a good citizen.

— Lindig Hall Harris
Owner, Lin Digs Books

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