Letters to the editor

Community’s I-26 vision should prevail

I just don’t get the Interstate 26 connector expansion.

Having attended several relevant meetings, I am impressed with the vision of local citizens, and dismayed by the power structure that appears willing to disregard the community’s long and oft-expressed wishes for maintaining quality of life and sustainable growth in Asheville.

Here’s how I see it, in three volumes:

Vol. I: The majority of this community is committed to quality-of-life issues — air quality, water quality, a strong sense of community, cooperative culture, sustainable growth, support of local businesses and the environmental three R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle. They are knowledgeable and concerned about the negative effects of expanding the interstate highway system through our community and the resulting induced traffic, including additional trucks of radioactive compounds, on our roads. They are actively involved in local citizens’ groups to ensure that Asheville remains a place that thousands of visitors choose to visit each year.

Vol. II: This community is willing to make changes. The $300,000,000 (projected cost) earmarked for the I-26 connector expansion could finance projects like enhancing public transportation, street work (marking lanes, streets and roads; alternating traffic lanes; cutting brush away from covered signs; providing sidewalks, bike lanes and small car parking); establishing staggered work hours and ride-share stations. These and similar adaptations will support quality of life and negate the need for further interstate expansion. They will slow the sprawl that overwhelms many cities these days as growth exceeds infrastructure, a situation already present and needing attention here in Asheville and Buncombe County.

Vol. III: The power structure appears willing to disregard the wishes of this knowledgeable and progressive community. While many major cities are taking down their multilane highways in an effort to stop their harmful effects, our leadership insists on building one through this community. While many metropolitan areas do not allow radioactive waste to be transported through their communities, our leadership insists on building more lanes to provide for its safe and efficient transport. (Do you wonder, as I do, if our highways glow in satellite photos?) While our community has long seen the need for a bypass, the leadership refuses. The community’s plan, on record since 1993, continues to be ignored. Tunnel vision (pardon the pun) of local and state leadership appears to prohibit any but the usual and customary solutions to the transportation dilemma.

Asheville deserves a visionary, comprehensive transportation plan that supports sustainable growth. Elected officials are sworn to be responsive to the people. Let us join together to devise that system without further expansion of the interstate.

— F.L. Burton

Giving credit where credit is due

I’m a great fan of Ken Hanke’s movie reviews in the Mountain Xpress; in fact, it’s one of the main reasons I pick up the magazine each week. I have a small request: Would it be possible to list the reviewer’s name (Ken Hanke or Marci Miller) at the beginning of the review instead of the end? It’s helpful to know from the outset who wrote the review, if only to frame the voice properly in my mind!

Granted, it’s a trivial effort to scan down for the reviewer’s name before reading each review (which is what I do now), but I’ve had this thought so often, it seemed reasonable to share it.

— Sue Curtis
Pisgah Forest

[Editor’s Note: Our resident movie maven declares this an intriguing proposition, but one defeated by practicality. The beginning of each review is so information-laden as is, that putting the reviewer’s name at the top would cause overload.]

Women’s issues are reasons to vote

I’m a mother of two and a stay-at-home mom. Like many this election year, I’m worried about my vote counting. Isn’t it like a mother to worry?

Well, my 5-year-old daughter asked me the other day whether there were more boys or girls. “Where?” I asked. “Everywhere,” she said. Then I said that there are more girls than boys, by about 2 percent, albeit. And it struck me that I belong to a very important voting block — women.

I have been paying some attention to local politics and see that a woman, Patsy Keever, is running for Congress here. On her Web site, as I suspected, she is interested in the issues that interest me as a woman, and issues I suspect many men are interested in: uplifting families in the middle class through job creation, education and economic change.

I feel fortunate that I can vote to support another woman this year, and I encourage other women, and men, to make an effort to find a reason to vote this November.

— Jennifer Fulford

Blondie could kick your butt

After reading your Blondie review [“Retro Grading,” Aug. 18], I’m reminded of a cocktail napkin I picked up at a recent party: “If you can’t say anything nice about someone, come and sit next to me.”

How easy it is to sit in cushioned comfort and snit-pick at the hard work of others. Perhaps when you yourself have sold more than 40 million albums and produced six number-one hits, you will give us the opportunity and pleasure of ripping you a new one.

Whether or not you can appreciate their talent, the band Blondie is one of the architects of punk, on a pedestal no less lofty than those of the Ramones, Wendy O. Williams, the Sex Pistols, the Talking Heads, or Patti Smith. Debbie Harry is in her 50s and she can still kick your butt, and she deserved your respect if for no other reason than that.

FYI, 850 people squeezed into The Orange Peel on a Monday night to hear “That Voice” and were blown away by their performance. I’m glad you weren’t there, Frank. Made more room for me to dance.

— Andrea Helm

[Frank Rabey responds: Yeah, my monstrous ego would have pushed your own right out of the club. Go back and actually read the piece this time and then pick your fight where it’s really appropriate — with yourself. I have boundless respect for Debbie Harry.]

Benefit could dishonor McCartney

Included in the “Lend a Hand” section [Calendar, Aug. 11] is a notice seeking volunteers to help with The McCartney Project: Enduring Ties. This benefit is a collaboration of area nonprofits and the Garland Appeal, a foundation formed in honor of Linda McCartney to combat breast cancer. Linda was one of my heroes. I admired her passion for advocating that kindness and compassion be extended to all living beings. She was an enthusiastic animal-rights activist, and was always proud and eager to speak up on behalf of all creatures. Her death was a great loss to all the animals on the planet, human and non-human.

I knew that this benefit was in the works and was planning on volunteering. But much to my amazement, one of the nonprofit organizations selected to participate in the project is Casting for Recovery, a group that organizes fly-fishing retreats for breast cancer survivors. Linda must be “rolling over in her grave.” She once said: “People talk about seafood. I think of it as sea life. The way we pull them out of their own world and drown them in the air is just sick. We’re so brutal. No, I don’t eat anything with a face, a heart or a nervous system.” In 1999, she starred posthumously in PETA’s first nationwide anti-fishing television commercial, declaring Sept. 25 as National Fish Amnesty Day. (Visit http://www.fishinghurts.com for more information about what’s wrong with fishing.)

The organizing committee is currently in the process of deciding if the food served should be vegetarian. Why is this even a question? They clearly have no understanding of Linda’s belief system. This event dishonors Linda, and should be boycotted out of respect for her.

— Stewart David

Make thunder, not silence

Just a few short years ago, the news was the news and the facts were the facts. Now, with political spinmeisters working overtime, a toxic atmosphere has evolved in which allegations, contradictions, censorship and truth-twisting run rampant. We’re told that if we don’t like the biased news on one program, we should simply change the channel. Reality seems to have followed in the footsteps of the dinosaur.

Is this any way to run a democracy? How can voters make the best choices without accurate information and a climate that facilitates the open exchange of ideas?

Concerned WNC citizens have been doing their share to counter the propaganda and encourage the community to “take back democracy.” Rolling Thunder/Asheville is one of many organizations pursuing these objectives. On Friday evening, Sept. 10, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville, Rolling Thunder hosts local poets, speakers and musicians who will tell it like it is. “Had Enough? Get Off Your Duff!” is an entertaining way to participate in the political process.

For more information: www.main.nc.us/RollingThunder. At this critical juncture in our nation’s history, “Silence is complicity.”

— Barbara McCampbell

The reason not to vote Nader in North Carolina

Recently a reader wrote in to the Xpress urging John Kerry and John Edwards to give them a reason not to vote for Ralph Nader [Letters, Aug. 18]. I find this ironic.

Think back to the 2000 election, and you will remember that Nader worked hard to blur the distinctions between Al Gore and George Bush. He spent very little time on Bush, but he did put forward a series of half-truths about Gore meant to convince voters that there was no significant difference between the two candidates.

Now we know better. And that leads us to the question of John Kerry’s vote to give Bush war-making authority in Iraq. Kerry says that he cast that vote because, as president, he would have wanted the leverage to force Iraq to admit weapons inspectors — who would have confirmed that no war was necessary. Kerry’s critics contend he should have known that Bush would abuse his authority. But no Nader partisan has the right to say this. After all, in 2000, anyone with access to a library or the Internet could have predicted that Bush would cause a radical shift in U.S. foreign policy. And yet Ralph Nader strove to convince us otherwise.

This year, some on the left are threatening to vote for Nader unless Kerry promises to withdraw our forces immediately. I believe Kerry is wise not to make that promise. Thanks to Bush, we are responsible for the safety and prosperity of the Iraqi people, and Kerry won’t know until he’s in office how best to achieve those ends. More to the point, though, I believe our troops are in Iraq partly because Nader worked so hard to win votes at Gore’s expense. Now history is repeating itself: Everything I’ve seen tells me that Bush is prepared to send our troops to Iran, and maybe other countries as well. And everything I’ve heard from Nader says that he’s willing to see Bush do just that.

So I have this to say to anyone tempted to vote for Nader this year: North Carolina is a swing state, and your vote could decide who wins the White House. In 2000, I could have guaranteed you that Al Gore would never take us to war on false pretenses, and I can say the same for John Kerry, however he deals with the mess in Iraq. If your conscience allows you to vote for anyone else, more power to you. But I hope you are prepared to take responsibility — as Ralph Nader has not — for the consequences of your actions.

— Douglas Gibson

And where was Bush?

I am retired Navy, and joined right after Vietnam ended. I am appalled at the outrageousness of the attacks on John Kerry by the right-wingers. My biggest question for those slanderers: Where exactly was Bush?

He didn’t volunteer for duty in Vietnam. He wasn’t decorated for heroism. Of course, he also didn’t come back and then exercise his right of free speech by criticizing our involvement in the war — no, I expect he was too busy dealing with his Reserve service agreement. It looks like he couldn’t even keep his modest little agreement with the National Guard, which was keeping him from putting his life on the line in Vietnam (where, you know, John Kerry and John McCain were under fire).

I’m a retired Navy yeoman reservist. You know what? For most of us normal, everyday people in the Reserves, if you can’t find your service records, you don’t get credit for your service! So why is Bush not producing these records of his? His National Guard records would immediately clear up the controversy.

I’m totally disgusted with Bush and company right now. I did not think I could get more upset with them, but this is a nadir.

— Cheri Henderson

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