Letters to the editor

Highest and best use

As I read Cecil Bothwell’s well-written and carefully researched article “The(Non)enforcers,” [July 12 Xpress], I was struck by the irony of Greenlife Grocery and Staples being two examples of nonenforcement. Appropriately, these two businesses are almost directly opposite each other on Merrimon Avenue, just as they are, in my mind, almost directly opposite each other in many other important ways.

On the one hand, the Staples store exemplifies everything that is wrong with new big-box construction. It is offensive, grotesque and wildly out of place. And to assert that Staples is a model citizen in the community is laughable. For these reasons, I have vowed to never darken their doorway as a customer and invite everyone in North America to join me in that (non)activity.

On the other hand, I think Greenlife Grocery represents the highest and best use of an existing structure, which as the [reporter] pointed out, was originally an A&P Supermarket. It is clear that Greenlife has taken care to remodel the store in a manner that beautifies and upgrades the neighborhood. And in a city that touts the importance of Smart Growth and walkable neighborhoods, a community health-food market could not be more appropriate. The company has also come to be well known as a model citizen for its tireless support of local nonprofit organizations and sustainable agriculture in our region. I believe that these benefits far outweigh any setback transgressions approved by city officials and mitigated in good faith by the merchant. My bet is that Greenlife will also continue to look for ways to be a good neighbor to the folks on Maxwell Street. It isn’t perfect, but it certainly is very nice, and I will continue to shop there often.

— Ian Booth
Asheville

Forget the old media

In reading “Mass Communications: Citizen Media Critics implore FCC to counter consolidation” [July 5 Xpress], one can’t help sensing that the “Citizen Media” movement is longing for a past that is gone forever. As a visitor to your town, I took interest in the FCC forum because I sat in a similar one back home at Penn State just a few weeks ago.

The debate over media consolidation of radio, TV and newspapers ignores the dwindling importance of these companies as a source of information. In reading the article, one would forget that the Internet existed at all.

Blogs, RSS feeds and podcasts are all great new avenues. In fact, Americans have a greater diversity of voices than ever before. Forget CBS, Gannett, Clear Channel and Sinclair. By focusing energy on the rules of a dying media model, one is missing the incredible new opportunities open for local voices, minority opinion and alternative perspectives to be heard.

It is also ironic that the Mountain Xpress testimony to the FCC quoted Edward R. Murrow, a man who came to fame in a time when Americans were limited to information from three-to-four media networks and one or two local papers. I suspect that if he were alive today, Murrow would have a blog and podcast and totally ignore whatever CBS was doing.

— Michael Brand
Bellefonte, Pa.

Woodfin plans tax scam

The Asheville Citizen-Times reported that the new development plan for the town of Woodfin will not require a tax increase. In truth, the 3,600 citizens who are being involuntarily annexed, and who live several miles from downtown Woodfin, will pay for Woodfin’s grandiose plans. It’s a sweet deal for Woodfin. They almost double their tax revenue and provide no new services. I’m not really sure what the difference is between that and legalized stealing.

Didn’t our forefathers fight a revolution over taxation without representation?

— Paul King
Asheville

In your debit

A big thank you goes out to the kind person who not only found my debit card at the June 27 Phil Lesh show but called my bank and cancelled the card for me.

I’ll never know if it was a fellow fan or a Civic Center employee. Either way, thanks for doing that.

As always, the magic that surrounds this kind of music is definitely alive and well here in this “Heart of Town.”

— Jennifer Willett
Asheville

Gone to pot

[Editor’s note: This is in reaction to the letter entitled, “Respect deserved by all,” in the July 5 Xpress.]

No offense, sir, but while I respect what you’re doing, most folks, Christian or otherwise, would view a stoner preaching the gospel as a contradiction in terms, and simply label you as hypocritical. I personally claim no affiliation with any particular denomination or sect, but am simply seeking to state my honest opinion(s). Would Jesus himself condone people frying their brains on weed, or any other drugs, for that matter? I mean seriously …

The fact is, marijuana kills brain cells and often short-circuits motivation. Condoning illicit drug use, I feel, is anything but beneficial to those who find themselves in oppressive circumstances, such as the homeless. I once knew a guy who lost everything he had and went to stay with a friend of mine. Instead of trying to better himself, he would continuously “borrow” money from people he knew in order to buy weed, sometimes walking over 10 miles to make the illegal purchases. Said individual was hardly helping himself, and if what he was doing doesn’t count as addictive and destructive, I don’t know what does. Like I said, I respect your efforts to elevate your fellow man, but wouldn’t it be far better if drugs did not play a part in them.

— James P. Anderson
Simpsonville, S.C.

A miracle drug?

I read with interest Fr. Chris Chiaromonte’s “Respect Deserved by All,” [Letters, July 5]. Good on ya, mate.

Just a little something for all the “Bible thumpers” in Asheville — WWJD? I’ll tell you: Good ‘ol Jesus would use a little cannabis (marijuana). Think not … just read the Bible. Marijuana (and the oil there from) was a miracle drug even back then, and Jesus used marijuana. Now ain’t that something. If you want, you can look it up on your rat-trap computers. Fact is, if you believe what you read in the Bible — then Jesus used marijuana, and that ain’t what killed him!

You folks need to get a grip on reality. Don’t you have something better to do?

— Bob Niewoehner
Belize (but from Marshall, N.C.)

Can I get that on paper?

It has become clear that a paper trail for voting machines is imperative. I urge Rep. [Charles] Taylor to get on the bandwagon and co-sponsor HR 550, the passing of which will require paper trails across the nation.

— Gail Ensinger
Arden

Take a closer look at hybrids

I would like to respond to the letter in the Mountain Xpress by the owner of a Honda Insight who claimed that his electric-storage battery failed and would cost $6,000 to replace [“The Hidden Costs of Hybrids,” June 7].

An electric-system storage battery for the Honda Insight — after its 80,000-mile/eight-year warranty has run out — costs $3,211.84. The entire IMA (Integral Motor Assist) system also contains two control units called “electric motor control unit,” priced at $706.68, and a “battery electronic control unit” priced at $1,534.00.

I have no quote for labor, because a complete failure of the entire IMA hybrid system is highly unlikely, and I believe Honda would step in on such a failure. But if all three systems did fail, the total cost of parts would be $5,452.52.

Surely there were other alternatives to scrapping the most energy-efficient, aerodynamic (aluminum-body) auto in the world. I know a lot of people who would have bought that car from the letter writer. And John Svitilla and Dwayne Tressler at Apple Tree Honda both agree that they’ve never seen an entire IMA fail.

But let me speak about hybrids from my own experience. My husband and I bought one of the first 2000 Honda Insights. We got 61.5 mpg average over the five years we owned the car. Driving mostly back and forth from Weaverville to Asheville, our mpg was 65 or higher.

When our Insight’s main-brain computer failed three years after we purchased the car, Honda replaced it free of charge, even though our warranty had run out. I trust that this would happen anytime such a major problem would occur with a Honda hybrid. That’s why we bought our second, a 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid (judged “Car of The Year”). I totally trust Honda’s superb engineering design and their willingness to stand behind their vehicles.

So what really concerns me about the letter are the negative conclusions that were drawn about hybrids. The claims that hybrids are not much better than regular cars regarding emissions are simply untrue.

Hybrid technology is in the early stages of development. It’s only been around in the American market since 2000, but the IMA has a life expectancy of eight to 10 years. The cost of a battery could be significantly less by the time these batteries do begin to fail.

Batteries are improving, and the new ones are lithium. Most of the energy is expended in getting the car up to cruising speed, and if that could be done with a larger battery, then less energy would be used and mpg would rise significantly. “Auto stop” saves fuel — when waiting at a light, a hybrid’s engine shuts off! Of course, how one drives any car effects efficiency. But hybrid owners are particularly demanding when it comes to mpg.

Hybrids may not be for everyone, but they are the best solution we have to date. In this case, throwing the baby out with the bath water would mean finding some means of transportation other than the internal combustion engine — something we need to do if we are to save the planet.

— Susan Stewart
Weaverville

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