Letters to the editor

Dean! Dean! He’s our man!

I don’t believe that our country can endure another four years of Bush’s extremist, irresponsible policies. Bush’s policies, whether they be fiscal, social, foreign or environmental, are all driven by ideologically narrow self-interest at the expense of the greater American good.

Fortunately Dr. Howard Dean, ex-governor of Vermont, is the Democrat presidential frontrunner … looking to unseat Bush in 2004 by offering Americans his evidence-based, problem-solving approach to America’s challenges.

Dean has been difficult for the pundits to pigeonhole: He’s to the right of Bush’s “borrow and spend,” i.e., he balanced Vermont’s budget every year of his five terms; he’s pro-choice; he’s gotten an “A” rating from the NRA; he supported attacking al Qaeda in Afghanistan but he never believed Bush’s rationale for invading Iraq; he’s signed legislation to grant equal civil rights to same-sex couples; he’s a strong environmentalist; and he believes every American should have guaranteed health insurance — 96.4 percent of Vermonters did while Dean was governor.

Dean, as the “pragmatist with principles,” is inspiring record numbers of previously complacent and apathetic voters (such as myself) to get involved in taking back America from the big-money special interests that buy elections these days. Asheville’s Aug. 6 Dean Meet Up was attended by over 100 motivated citizens.

If you are concerned about the direction our country is heading, I encourage you to join the inspiring, people-powered Dean campaign to take our country back. To learn more about Howard Dean’s campaign, go to www.deanforamerica.com, or call (866) DEAN-4-USA. Locally, you can find out about the next Dean action by writing [to] wnc4dean@yahoogroups.com.

— Anne Walch
Asheville

Tow-sharks warning overstated

Paul King’s letter “Driver’s Advisory: Shark-Infested Streets” [Xpress Aug. 6], wherein he advises drivers not to park in private, downtown lots lest they be towed away by “Tow Truck Sharks” seems a bit harsh.

I manage a downtown lot and have only towed one car in 10 years, and then only after five ignored written warnings to the owner. However, I am considering changing my policy since it is obvious many people don’t give a damn that these lots are private property [and] well-marked, and that someone has paid up to $50 a month to have a space available to them.

I wonder what would happen if I parked in their driveway? They would have me towed, right? What’s the difference?

My lot is next to a restaurant (which has its own lot) and near many shops, and I have learned that if I leave my space, especially between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., even for just a little while, some stranger’s car will three-quarters of the time be in my space when I return. I am sick and tired of searching for the owner to ask them to move — and even them they are almost always grumpy about my request if I find them. Imagine how they’d feel if I called a tow truck, which I very well may start doing.

— John Hilgerdt
Asheville

Make weapons as I say, not as I do

The United States is trying to force other countries to abandon their quest for weapons of mass destruction while maintaining a stockpile of thousands of nuclear weapons and developing plans for new ones. Our government has even broken the Anti Ballistic Missile Treaty and the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The U.S.A. should be a role model for developing nations, but instead, we show them that nuclear weapons equal power.

The issue is especially important to Western North Carolina residents because parts for every weapon in the U.S. arsenal are manufactured at the nearby Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn. Y-12, the last remaining full-scale nuclear-weapons plant in the U.S., is currently upgrading weapons [that] the Bush administration orders. New facilities planned for construction at Y-12 will cost taxpayers an estimated $4 billion. Money that could fund schools and other socially beneficial programs will instead be used to enlarge an arsenal that already includes 10,000 nuclear weapons.

Y-12 isn’t just a weapons producer — it’s also a major polluter! Y-12 has been cited at least 13 times for environmental violations. According to the Department of Energy, between 1991 and 1998, Y-12 released 244 pounds of uranium into the air. One million pounds of toxic mercury have been dumped into a nearby creek and released as mercury vapor. The plant has also released other toxic chemicals, including cadmium, chromium, arsenic, lead, beryllium and lithium.

Nuclear arms are dangerous and destructive to produce, and even more dangerous and destructive to use. The time for disarmament is now. We need to send a message to our servants in Washington that we don’t like weapons of mass destruction in the hands of foreign governments or our own inept leaders. Total disarmament may seem an unrealistic goal, but we will never know unless we show the world that we are serious about freeing ourselves from the scourge of nuclear weapons.

— Ryan J. Adkins
Asheville

The udder view

In a recent interview in Mountain Xpress [“Milkman,” Xpress July 23], Buncombe County Board of Commissioners Chairman Nathan Ramsey stated, “Animal-rights people say farmers don’t want to take care of their animals. If a cow’s not healthy, the last thing she’s gonna do is give milk.”

But even under the best of conditions, the life of a dairy cow is abysmal. All dairy cows must give birth in order to begin producing milk. Most are forced to have a calf every year. Like human beings, a cow’s gestation period is nine months long, and so giving birth every 12 months is physically demanding. The cows are forced to give milk during most of their nine-month pregnancy. Because this stressful schedule causes milk production to drop, most dairy cows are slaughtered after just three or four years and then used for ground beef. Hardly what I call a “healthy” environment.

To learn more about how milk, meat and eggs are produced, I invite you to watch a short video entitled “Meet Your Meat.” It can be viewed or downloaded for free at www.meetyourmeat.com.

— Debbie Kramer
Fairview

Petition for Taylor investigation available

A few weeks ago, I heard that there was a petition going around WNC asking the House Ethics Committee to investigate Rep. Charles Taylor for bank fraud and money laundering.

The folks organizing the petition drive are called the “Committee to Investigate Rep. Charles Taylor.” It’s a nonpartisan group of concerned citizens from all over Taylor’s district (most of WNC). From them, I learned that three of Taylor’s close business and political associates have already been convicted of money laundering and bank fraud, and that they have each implicated Taylor in these crimes. As the chairman of the board at Blue Ridge Savings, Taylor allegedly signed off on fraudulent loans to (get this) one of his big campaign contributors who also happened to be the chairman of the Jackson County Republican Party! He was convicted and is awaiting sentence.

The president of Taylor’s bank also happened to be the treasurer of Taylor’s U.S. House campaigns — [that man] has also been convicted and is awaiting sentence. But for some mysterious reason, the U.S. Justice Department refuses to investigate Taylor, refuses to interview him and has ignored the credible claims of his former associates that Taylor was aware of all of the crooked transactions that benefited his political cronies. I was shocked to learn all of this, and angered that Taylor seems to be above the law.

The committee is demanding House Ethics Committee and Judiciary Committee investigations, and has a lot of signatures already. You can contact them at CICT@earthlink.net if you would like to sign the petition [or] become a petitioner, or if you would like to learn more about the case against Taylor. It’s great to know that somebody in our community is doing something about this. Now let’s do our part by supporting the petition drive.

— Doug Jones
Asheville

“The I-26 Blues”

They paved paradise, put up a I-26,
with a big Wal-mart, and gated homes for the rich.

They took the peoples’ free air, stuck in an inversion prison,
and charged for oxygen bars, just to survive the car-exhaust poison.

They took all the stores, turned ’em into global corporations,
and sent our money to the markets for Enron-type manipulations.

They took all the salaries, turned ’em into minimum wage;
then they had the gall to say, “Be happy that you aren’t slaves.”

They crushed all the homes in the way of the highway expansion,
and those people sure didn’t get to live in the gated mansions.

They took all the trees, put ’em in a Biltmore museum,
and now they charge all the people $36 just to see ’em.

Once they spoiled Madison County, they targeted Asheville town,
to connect ’26 and send the quality of life way down.

Don’t it always seem to go, you don’t know what you got till it’s gone.
The paved paradise and put up a I-26,
and made it clear as smog that Asheville’s in an awful fix.

— Bill Branyon
Asheville

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