Letters to the editor

Forget the cars — ticket the hookers!

It’s too bad the man in the big, red truck couldn’t do what the Asheville Police can’t seem to do. That is, haul off hookers on Hiawasse Street and Lexington Avenue.

It amazes me that every day as I drive by looking for a parking spot in panic or fear, that I will be hauled away or ticketed at the very least. [Meanwhile], the hookers do their business illegally in clear view of all. Perhaps we should employ one of those cute little electric meter cars to ticket them. I’m sure the city could increase its revenue significantly.

Yes, we all know they move the groove to west Asheville when it gets a little hot, but those little electric jobs can scoot right over there, too.

— J. Peters

[Ed. Note: The big, red vehicle the letter writer refers to is the ubiquitous downtown tow truck, which has been the subject of several recent letters to Xpress].

Council has disempowered tenants

City Council’s decision to end Asheville’s Minimum Housing Code is disheartening. The city, landlords and managers will save money. Contractors and repairmen will possibly benefit — neglected repairs require additional work. I listened to the speakers, but never heard an advantage for us tenants. Inspections will now be complaint-driven. Complaining is difficult if one doesn’t know one’s rights. We tenants learn easily and quickly that getting along is often preferable to getting “run off.” One-year leases don’t make complaining any easier. Monthly leases must really intimidate. The [old housing code] had the power to hold landlords, managers and boards accountable for unsafe, unclean living conditions. We tenants don’t [have that power].

Tenants do not know plumbing, electrical wiring or roofing. We know insufficient insulation makes summers hotter and winters colder, we know when floors crawl with roaches, we know when our children play near flaking paint, and we know if we are afraid in our neighborhood.

Asheville appears to have a growing intolerance for economic diversity. It must become as enthusiastic about building and sustaining affordable housing as it is about building multi-thousand-dollar condos. I’m disheartened my housing options grow increasingly narrow. I’m discouraged [that] City Council has removed a successful tool of empowerment.

— Pat Farmer

Open letter to City Council: Say no to Grove Park high-rises

As a resident and homeowner in Asheville, I am unequivocally, adamantly against allowing more high-rises in the Pack Square/city-center area. I’m certain the developers are dazzling you with the potentials for increased tax revenues, and I know what hard times these are for local governments. As a citizen who ultimately is going to pay the bills and suffer from lack of services, I still say no! We love having the Grove Park Inn where it is; they have their little part of the city, and no thank you to ruining Asheville because “downtown is hot” (translation: They can make a lot of money).

Downtown is “hot” because downtown is open, visually beautiful, unique and “human friendly” — there is lots of room for lots of people to gather within view of each other, generating a sense of community, aliveness and joie de vivre. People turn out for events downtown because it is pleasant to be there and easy to get there.

How many people would work, stay or shop in two new skyscrapers? Several hundred? A thousand? What streets are they going to drive in and out of? Where are they going to park? Rush hour is getting worse downtown. And we all know about the air pollution here.

Please don’t let happen in Asheville what has happened in thousands of other once-attractive places: The greed of a few developers trying to profit from the charm has killed the charm and the golden goose. There are few places left like Asheville; the world doesn’t need another overcrowded-in-the-day/dead-at-night downtown. No thank you.

— Amina Spengler

Developers need a red light on green spaces

Regarding your recent article [about 1-26 in Madison County]: In many letters I have written before, I have cited the phenomenon of our local development being seemingly out of control.

The fact is, as your article [“Moving Mountains” cover story, July 16] mentions, those who are boosters for all kinds of development are always going to be better organized than those who object. The end result could be overdevelopment. When it’s all done, and everyone is sorry, it’s too late.

There does not seem to be any watchdog organization looking out for wooded areas — places where people have moved because those woods are there, only to find out that a whole plot is condemned and slated for condos. There is a very profound quality-of-life insult inherent in repeatedly giving deference to greedy developers and their sometimes-quite-nasty projects.

How do we get the idea to take hold that not all the land around here should be sold and cleared for whomever (every bank and investor combination)? Is there a way to designate some land as valuable green space?

I would have to agree that some improvement was necessary for the road in Madison County (I-26), but does that mean a replication of this land-sculpting [and] mountain-moving over and over?

I hate to say it, but the locals who think they don’t want zoning may find they have made a great mistake [once] the reason people have lived here and still move here is all gone.

— Thomas W. Coppola

Re-trying the case against jury duty

I want to respond to a recent Xpress commentary [“Truth or ‘Justice,'” Aug. 13] from a man who “takes a dim view” of the court system, and who accordingly, intended to avoid jury duty. I agree with writer [Michael Hopping] that our legal system is seriously flawed, but I also think the average citizen should look for ways to improve it. If he is on a jury where he believes someone’s legal rights are clearly being violated, it is his duty to try to convince his fellow jurors, or even hang the jury, if he thinks that is the right course of action.

I recently reported for and served on a Buncombe County jury. Although I had a serious enthusiasm deficit, I went believing “somebody’s gotta do it.”

Everywhere around me I saw professionalism I thought was a credit to the system. There may have been some questionable police work that showed up in the trial, but in my opinion, the accused received a fair trial by a good jury. I thought the judge often took great care to be sure the accused received every benefit of the doubt. My fellow jurors were good, fair-minded people, and mostly a lot smarter than I am.

On the other hand, I hope I never have to appear in a courtroom accused, without a world-class lawyer. The reason is to be found in the [Hopping’s] commentary — the system is not a good place for the little guy, especially of the low-income variety. Often, by the time the accused appears before a jury, the dice are already loaded. As an example, we recently saw in the case of Susan McDougal and others how seriously and dangerously the grand-jury system can be flagrantly abused at the highest levels of our government.

I believe jurors typically enter the courtroom believing that the police don’t pick up innocent people, the police don’t make mistakes, the police don’t lie, etc. The notion that the accused is innocent until proven guilty is an enormous, naive myth, probably not believed by anyone.

— Allen Thomas

Save us, Howard Dean

Harry Truman had a sign on his desk that read, “The Buck Stops Here.” Apparently, that is not the policy of our current appointed president, Mr. Bush. As he busies himself hunting relatives of Hussein in Iraq-Nam, his underlings strive with Nixon-like efficiency to take full credit for the absent “weapons of mass destruction” and the nonexistent Iraqi tie-in with al-Qaida that prompted the war with Iraq.

What is now obvious to all Americans, however, is the absolute mess Bush has made with national concerns. Once again, the Republicans are caught like deer in headlights when it comes to the economy. A historically high deficit despite interest rates close to the Eisenhower days, American jobs lost to the current rate of several hundred a minute (cited from former Sen. Thurmond’s office) and massive closings of manufacturing facilities nationwide are but a few examples of this administration’s “productivity.”

It took a Roosevelt to redeem Hoover’s domestic and international disasters such as the Great Depression. Let us hope for the election of a man like Howard Dean to save us from the policies of Bush.

— Trip Woodard

Thank you, Asheville

Back on Oct. 31 , 2002, I was the victim of a very brutal … assault on Walnut Street, just outside of Magnolia’s Raw Bar & Grill … that rendered me indigent and [facing] a $28,000 medical bill for injuries sustained. Through advice from my attorney, I placed an ad in Mountain Xpress, which was published Feb. 21, 2003, seeking a witness to this terrible crime.

Although no witnesses responded, I did get a call from Taylor Web of the local band 99 Years, who was interested in doing a benefit for me to help me get back on my feet. That benefit happened on Friday night, July 11, at Fusions on Broadway, with three bands participating in the first of a hopefully annual benefit called the Southern Hospitality Benefit Show.

So, with this letter, I have to thank the people who [helped turn] the negative that happened to me … into a positive. My thanks go out to the nightclub Fusions, for hosting the first Southern Hospitality Benefit Show; Candice Little of WLOS News, for providing the much-needed publicity and reporting this event; two bands, Reunion Tour and Senatobia; and very special thanks to the band 99 Years — especially their leader Taylor Web — who made everything possible!

Let me not forget special thanks to the people who attended this memorable event and contributed to [it], that I will cherish for the rest of my life. … I look forward to next year, the year after that [and] the year after that, where I can participate in the Southern Hospitality Benefit Show to help people who need to be helped, like I have been helped.

You can live to be a hundred and life is still too short; we are only here for a visit.

So, during this visit that we all take for granted, [we should] each and every day think about reaching out and taking a negative and turning it into a positive.

Yes, indeed, I am writing a book about my 10 years of experiences of living here in the South and specifically [about] what happened here in Asheville; in this book, I will show extreme gratitude to the great, kind, considerate, thoughtful people who have made all of the positives happen.

Thank you, Asheville, and I’ll see you at all of the Southern Hospitality Benefit Shows for years to come.

— Richard Lee Roubaud

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