Letters to the editor

Bartram’s should take a walk

No doubt the Buncombe County Planning Board has the growth interests of the community at heart, but they have, in my opinion, made a judgment error in granting Town Mountain Road access to the Bartram’s Walk developer.

Town Mountain Road is a two-lane [one for each direction] route that snakes up a six-mile circuitous course. Under the best of daylight conditions, it is a driving challenge as ever-increasing traffic negotiates quadruple S-curves, often crossing the double yellow line. With the advent of over one hundred new homes reflecting a potential 150 additional cars, plus their visitors and service personnel, we can expect the problem to grow exponentially. Now let’s add three years of construction equipment and materials moving slowly up and down this road on a daily basis, and throw inclement weather into the mix. When the Blue Ridge Parkway shuts down for the winter, you have a recipe for not only a major, perpetual inconvenience, but a disaster that will only come to the fore the first time an emergency vehicle can’t get through.

While we recognize the inevitability of logical, planned growth, and even the rights of a developer to despoil our landscape heritage in the name of profit (and this is certainly a really gross example), decisions about our future need to be tempered with reality and humanness. The Planning Board is our only advocate when, as neophytes, we are confronted with highly skilled attorneys and their developer clients, who use their negotiating prowess to their home-field advantage. Who speaks for us, if not you?

We who play by the rules don’t consider the peaceful enjoyment of our lives and property as a privilege; this is our right. We see the next three years of muck, noise, diesel smells, inherent inconveniences and potential life-threatening dangers on our main artery to be a menace to our way of life and our property values. We look to the Planning Board as our champion in the arena and trust the members will reconsider their decision.

— Bosh Stack
Asheville

Fiddling while corruption burns

I can’t decide if I’m amused or outraged at Beth Trigg’s recent letter to the Xpress supporting Susan Fisher’s reelection to the state legislature [“Matching Issues and Candidates,” Aug. 9]. She could have spent her words better by discussing the corruption that has grown right under Ms. Fisher’s nose.

Fisher is chair of the misnamed “House Ethics Committee,” and one would expect her to insist on a high standard of ethical conduct by her colleagues. But evidently she saw nothing wrong with serving as chair of the committee and taking the thousands of dollars funneled into her last election campaign by Speaker Jim Black. She saw nothing wrong with Meredith Norris serving as Black’s political chief of staff and lobbying for Scientific Games and others at the same time. She saw nothing suspicious about 20-year Republican legislator Mike Decker suddenly becoming a Democrat in order to stave off a Republican majority. Fisher didn’t even seem to find it strange that Decker’s son was given a $50,000-per-year job in the state legislative building where she has an office.

Apparently, that money from Jim Black went a long way towards buying Fisher’s silence. Was there a quid pro quo? Was she so intimidated, or so grateful, that she couldn’t ask any questions or hold any hearings? The state Board of Elections held hearings. The federal attorney held hearings with a grand jury. Virtually every newspaper in the state held hearings in their editorial boardrooms. But not the very committee that had the responsibility for setting and enforcing ethical standards.

Susan Fisher fiddled while corruption happened all around her. It is time to replace her and all the others who went along with Jim Black’s blatant arrogance and dishonesty.

I urge all Xpress readers to think it through and do the right thing on Nov. 7. Vote for Mike Harrison, a proven and ethical leader, for state representative in District 114.

— Tom Rightmyer
Asheville

Now hear this, Citizens!

Recently, a Public Document having Official Business to do with a Residential Customer shows up in our mailbox. Two of us live here.

Rep. Charles Taylor’s photograph is prominent beneath the Great Seal of the United States, beside the assurance this Public Document states Official Business. His signature is in the place where you or I must put a stamp.

Residential Customer? Am I Rip Van Winkle? Has Congress passed legislation stripping me of Citizenship? Has President Bush signed a law re-naming us Residential Customers?

Have been I asleep? Has the local media not printed or broadcast the fact that Citizens are reduced to Residential Customers? Is Rep. Taylor going to tell me when Citizens were re-named Residential Customers in his missive?

No.

Instead, he tells me that he is … honored to be my voice in the U.S. House of Representatives. That is as far as I get.

Whatever law or executive order slipped past me from the federal level seems to have gone straight to local level, where I get referred to as Client. Residential Customer or Client — this language debases democracy.

Citizen, it appears, is out of style, either as a written, spoken or legal word. And to think of the blood, sweat, tears, broken families, English villages without even a rat left stirring, just to force a king sign the Magna Carta.

— Frank T. Adams
Asheville

Seeing red and a few other colors

We all hate paying for things we don’t need, want or request. [Let’s] urge our elected officials in Washington, Sens. Dole and Burr and Rep. Taylor, to take the lead and submit legislation limiting the use of taxpayer money to pay for congressional newsletters and other mailings within six months of an election.

Yes, we all like to be informed. And if I’m desperate to know how my members of Congress are leaning on an issue, I can check out their Web site at virtually no expense. I don’t even mind getting a simple one-page, one-color letter on occasion. But what I don’t like is getting professionally designed four-color pieces that look more like campaign literature than a newsletter.

I certainly understand the advantage an incumbent has by getting the taxpayers to pay for campaign literature. It must save hundreds of thousands of dollars per congressman. And that’s why I feel that if a member of Congress has this need to communicate with voters within six months of an election, he or she should pay for these expensive mailings out of his or her campaign funds — not from the taxes paid by hard-working citizens.

I generally get a newsletter from Rep. Taylor every so many months. But now that he is in a re-election bid, I have received several four-color pieces on high-quality paper in the past few weeks. The most recent piece came last week, and it measured a whopping 33 1/2 inches wide by 12 inches tall.

At the very least, I would like to see the total cost (for writing, designing, printing and mailing) to the taxpayer printed on each piece. All official publications from the state of North Carolina include that information, … [but] all I see on Taylor’s pieces is a notice stating, “This mailing was prepared, published and mailed at taxpayer expense.” I want to know how much.

— Mark Levin
Columbus

And we just keep paying

This week I received a huge, full-color mailing touting all of the funding that Congressman Charles Taylor has brought to Western North Carolina. My first thought was that this glossy brochure must be a campaign advertisement for Rep. Taylor’s upcoming re-election bid. Then I noticed the very fine print. “This mailing was prepared, published, and mailed at taxpayer expense.”

How kind of Rep. Taylor to use our tax dollars to fund his campaign. As the people of WNC continue to watch their jobs, benefits and livelihoods disappear overseas, Charles Taylor’s net worth has grown to almost $60 million. In the meantime, Taylor conveniently misses a key vote that could help stop the bleeding of North Carolina’s jobs, and charges his constituents for a glossy self-advertisement.

Charles Taylor does not represent the best interests of the people of North Carolina. It is time for a change.

— Kim Porter
Weaverville

When does this get better?

Two weeks ago, I found myself 2,000 miles away from home in a rare event — vacation. Halfway during my time away, the “Terror Plot Averted” headlines hit. Three days later, I had to be back in the airport during an Orange Alert — toothpaste, contact solution and all. My questions are: Five years after the disgraceful tragedy of 9/11, why has the Bush administration failed to keep us safe? Why hasn’t the Republican-led Congress followed through on the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission?

I have no choice but to believe that the Bush administration and their political colleagues are refusing to prioritize the safety and best interests of myself and all Americans. To make matters worse during this time of fear and high alert, the entire state of Connecticut was forced to endure outrageous political attacks by Vice President Cheney regarding Al Qaeda, because the state voted against the interests of the Bush administration during the Democratic primary election. I commend the voters of Connecticut for voting for the best interests of their state and our nation.

— Kim Granelle
Asheville

And they huffed, and they puffed

The first anniversary of the Hurricane Katrina debacle should serve as a reminder to anyone who still needs one that while the Republican Party may not control the weather map, they certainly have no aversion to exploiting weather-related disasters in order to maintain their stranglehold on power.

To put it bluntly, Hurricane Katrina was a literal wet dream for our Republican-controlled government. All they had to do was sit back and wait while one of the last Democratic strongholds in the South flooded. Then, once the mostly poor, mostly black, mostly Democratic majority was dispersed throughout the country, the mostly affluent, mostly white, mostly Republican minority would deliver south Louisiana to the G.O.P. And if 300 years of ethnic and cultural diversity also drowned in the process? That’s politics, baby!

The sad truth for the exiled poor of New Orleans is that Bush’s promise to rebuild their city was as calculated and empty as his assurances that he would be a “uniter,” or that he would bring democracy to Iraq. On the first anniversary of this national disgrace, my plea to your readers is simple: Don’t let the G.O.P. destroy America’s cultural heritage in their quest for total rule. The best way to commemorate the Katrina dead and displaced is by giving what you can to organizations like Habitat for Humanity (www.habitat.org) that are working against incredible odds to return New Orleanians of all races and classes to their homes.

— Jeff Callahan
Flat Rock

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