Letters to the editor

Beware the wolf in Amendment One’s clothing

I assume that by now everyone has seen the slick, 30-second TV ad or the glossy leaflet asking you to vote for Amendment One this November. Millions of dollars are being spent to make sure this amendment passes. Who has that kind of money to spend? The people who will benefit most by its passage.

North Carolinians For Jobs & Progress is the organization shelling out the big bucks to woo you, the voter. Co-chairs are Breeden Blackwell, N.C. Association of County Commissioners president; Mac Williams, N.C. Economic Developers Association; Barry Eveland, N.C. Citizens for Business and Industry; Joycelyn Johnson, N.C. League of Municipalities. Honorary co-chairs are former governors Jim Holshouser, Jim Martin and Jim Hunt. Finance chair is Graham Denton, state president, Bank of America. Leslie Bevacqua, steering committee chair, is associated with NCCBI.

Tom Vass of the Center For Local Innovation says that “Amendment One would provide constitutional cover for unconstitutional acts of elite lawyers, bankers, and commercial real estate developers who have managed to get a hold on the reins of power in Raleigh … [and who] have created an economic disaster for the common citizen by their centralization of power over the economy and their manipulation of the law and the constitution.”

Twice before, in 1982 and 1993, voters rejected amendments authorizing bonds called “tax increment financing.” Now, the government is trying to sneak the amendment by the voters by changing the name to “self-financing bonds.”

Former Supreme Court Justice Robert Orr spoke to the Asheville Board of Realtors in September, urging the audience to pay close attention to Amendment One. “The Constitution of North Carolina is a limitation of powers of the General Assembly,” Orr said, “and this amendment removes a part of those limits. It concerns me that neither the proposed amendment, nor the abbreviated summary which will appear on the ballot, clearly states that the current constitutional requirement of a vote by the people will be changed.”

“Since 1868, our Constitution has given the voters the final approval of deciding whether debts for projects such as the ones proposed should be incurred. If the amendment passes, then elected officials will be able to issue bonds benefiting private development projects, without seeking the approval of the voters in the affected areas,” Orr said.

Amendment One is a direct assault on our freedom and democratic right to voice our opinion at the ballot box. I’m voting no!

— Peggy Bennett
Program Director, Citizens For Change

Our common property deserves uncommon respect

Boone Guyton wrote an important commentary [“Green Building Is Everybody’s Business,” Sept. 15] recognizing our common property — land, water and air — and the importance of examining the future impact of growth on them.

The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution protects the rights of the people to hold private property. The Founding Fathers could not have imagined the need for an amendment to safeguard common property for posterity.

Bush’s administration is quickly dismantling important environmental regulations while they concentrate our focus on Iraq. The Clear Skies Act puts more pollution in the air; the Healthy Forests Act doesn’t protect the forests. Unfortunately, our Rep. [Charles] Taylor has voted for these measures that diminish the quality of our common property. WNC’s economy (not to mention our health) is so dependent on a thriving environment.

It’s a national security problem when a third of our waterways are [classified] undrinkable, and it’s a national security problem when conservation methods aren’t applied nationwide to reduce our dependence on volatile foreign-oil markets. Remember, when Bush left Texas, the air pollution was worse than L.A.’s, proving that his policies there of deregulation and having polluters self-regulate themselves do not work. (By the way, he also turned a surplus into a deficit in Texas. Does this sound familiar?)

I would like to see our politicians borrow from the Iroquois. They had it right; their Confederacy’s [Great Law] states, “In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.”

— Linda Pannullo

Willy Porter’s talent sadly went unsung

Q: What do Tori Amos, Jethro Tull, Jeff Beck, Shawn Colvin, Rickie Lee Jones, Paul Simon and Sting have in common?

A: They all had Willy Porter open their shows for them.

Willy came to Asheville recently (at the Grey Eagle Sept. 30), and Mountain Xpress didn’t do a feature on him. How does such major talent go unrecognized and unhailed by our one and only local superstar mag? Is this his publicist’s shortfall? Just wondering, as I am a big fan, and would, as such, encourage readers to check him out at www.willyporter.com.

— Jeff Gillease

[A&E Editor Melanie McGee responds: We agree that Willy Porter is a guy to be admired: Not only is he an unusually talented folk artist — he also has unusually devoted fans ready to sing his praises when tight editorial space conspires with a heavy roster of fall arts events to rob him of the props he clearly deserves.]

Kerry was clear winner in round one

John Kerry was clear, strong and convincing, and he won [the first debate]. He showed a mastery of the issues, an ability to think quickly on his feet, and he presented a strong alternative to Bush’s reckless policy of war. He was more presidential than the president.

— Fern Hunnicutt

Bush doesn’t play by the rules

As I watched the [first presidential] debate, I was amazed at how John Kerry did not back down from Bush and his arrogant views.

I am also amazed at how the Christian viewers still ignorantly support Bush. They are saying that he has “morals.” I don’t think that bombing an innocent nation is “having morals.” The Almighty Father says that Thou shall not kill. I ask these supporters of Bush, what would Jah do?

— Aaron Thomas

Bush, Cheney, Burr part of Dirty Dozen

I am registered as an independent, not a Democrat, but certain things are becoming increasingly clear.

The League of Conservation Voters is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group that holds our national leaders accountable and identifies those who consistently vote against the environment. For the first time ever, they have had to list a president in the “Dirty Dozen” and give him an “F” on his environmental report card. This resulted from President Bush’s consistently bad environmental record and his selling out our energy policy to wealthy corporate interests. Vice President Dick Cheney, whose secret energy task-force meetings helped formulate the legislation … [is] also on the Dirty Dozen list. Of the 12 administrators on the list, one is a Democrat and eleven are Republicans.

Rep. Richard Burr from North Carolina made this list. Burr is a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and is supposed to take a stand for what is good for his constituents. Instead, he has stood for corporate polluters and special interest, voting to kill a resolution in his committee requesting that President Bush release the names of those who met in secret with Dick Cheney to help create our national energy policy. … Could [this] be because in the past two years he has accepted over $100,000 from energy special interests?

As an educator for over 20 years, another thing that really concerns me is the statement issued by the Union of Concerned Scientists condemning the Bush administration’s suppression and distortion of scientific knowledge and its undermining of scientific advisory panels; and calling for the restoration of scientific integrity in federal policymaking. As of July 18, over 5,000 scientists, including 48 Nobel Laureates, 62 National Medal of Science recipients, 127 members of the National Academy of Sciences … have signed this statement. These scientists are extremely concerned that the Bush administration’s self-serving disregard of science will have serious consequences for the public’s health and safety.

Please be mindful of these issues when you vote.

— Cathy True

Pro-life, pro-choice, pro-Kerry

Recently, I was surveyed by phone and asked questions to which my response could [only] be yes or no. One of the questions was, “Are you pro-life?” I [was] outraged that Republicans would so obviously try to manipulate the statistics against women’s reproductive rights!

Yes, I am “pro-life,” but I am also a strong advocate for “pro-choice,” [which] certainly does not mean that I am pro-abortion. It means that I believe every woman should have the choice to decide for herself whether or not she should have a child. … Washington bureaucrats should not be allowed to dictate it! Especially since it is these same people who are against properly educating our nation about birth control … and [who] make it illegal to teach any form of contraception except abstinence in our schools.

I agree that abstinence would be the best policy … but get real. …Sex does happen and sometimes will result in an unwanted pregnancy. Doesn’t it make a lot more sense to teach all the available means of contraception [and] promote knowledge enabling women to make responsible choices, instead of forcing them to have a child that they have no means to care for? How can the Bush administration promote this policy yet slash social programs that would help single mothers. …

What about the possibility that the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest? What gives any man the right to decide if a woman should be condemned to endure the anguish of such a pregnancy?

History has proven that there will always be women with situations desperate enough to seek abortion. If you are “pro-life,” then how could you support an administration that would endanger a woman’s life by making safe and legal abortions unavailable? …

I fully support every woman’s right to make her own choice. Vote for John Kerry!

— Donna Brenner
Horse Shoe

We all need to transcend fundamentalism

The fundamentalism of Al Qaeda and George Bush are essentially the same. Both see others as either all good or all evil, and both are willing to kill thousands of innocent and guilty people, once they’ve judged who is evil. Bush’s lack of interest in finding out whether there are any good reasons why Al Qaeda hates America may guarantee that the war on terror will last until we have decimated much of the Middle East, and many more American and global cities are terrorized.

Many Americans do understand that part of the reason that Al Qaeda hates America is our history of military domination of much of the Middle East for oil and other self-serving reasons. They hate us for our current destruction of Afghanistan and our double destruction of Iraq, and for our quartering of soldiers in numerous other Middle Eastern countries. Most of all, they hate us for our helping to create and being the primary weapons supplier of Israel, and crushing it down on top of one of the most Holy places of Islam.

Yet, we are unable to communicate these reasons to the Bush fundamentalists because we, too, cherish fundamentalist attitudes. We believe Bush’s motivations are mainly bloodthirsty greed, that is, evil — and by so demonizing him, we ensure that he will not listen to our message. We must learn to transcend this good-and-evil oversimplification and understand that everyone, from Bush to Al Qaeda, thinks he is doing good and not evil, or is having to do a temporary evil in the name of an ultimate good.

— Susan Rinehart

Where’s Bush when things heat up?

Hurricanes are believed to be getting stronger because of global warming — more heat, more rain, stronger winds, more damage. So if global warming makes hurricanes worse, then where is President Bush on this important issue?

Bush has done nothing on global warming, except perhaps make it worse. He’s tried to drill for more oil off the Florida coast. He backed out of the Kyoto treaty to reduce global-warming pollution, and he’s let dirty power plants keep on polluting, breaking a campaign promise to limit their CO2 output. He won’t raise auto fuel efficiency — instead he gives tax breaks for gas-guzzling SUVs. All of this only contributes more climate-change pollution.

Next time somebody asks you about this crazy weather, think about President Bush protecting big polluters, instead of protecting us from their global-warming pollution.

— Joann Schmahlfeldt

Read my lips — no new Republicans

After being a Republican for 40 years, I can no longer support [Republican] candidates, nor be part of a political party that has left its ideals somewhere in a back alley.

It was 12 years ago [that] I heard candidate George Bush Sr. state unequivocally at the Republican Convention, “Read my lips. No new taxes.” We now have a Republican Party that has presented HR-25, which will impose a 23 percent national sales tax on absolutely everything you and I purchase. Gas for your car will cost 23 percent more. A visit to the doctor will now have a 23 percent sales tax added. The drugs you purchase to curb illness and sustain life will now have a 23 percent sales tax added. Groceries you buy to feed your family will now cost 23 percent more. The clothes you buy will cost 23 percent more because of this tax.

Apparently, Charles Taylor can’t read. He is a proud co-sponsor of this horribly regressive tax. Patsy Keever has promised that she will roll back tax breaks to the wealthiest 1 percent of the nation, and never impose a financially harmful national sales tax on retirees and working Americans.

— Phil Burton

Let’s help Taylor achieve term limit

Washington is packed with career politicians. Like Charles Taylor. Most of them do little more than warm seats, vote as they’re told and throw bones back home to get reelected. Like Charles Taylor.

It’s time for Washington — and WNC — to have a real superstar. Like Patsy Keever.

Patsy is already being regarded, in advance of her election, as one who will have impact in Congress. The issues that matter to her are the same issues that will dominate the domestic agenda of Congress for years to come: keeping jobs in America, veterans’ affairs, strengthening Social Security and Medicare, agricultural policy, clean air and (her special interest) education. Patsy has all the tools to lead on these issues. Charles Taylor has dawdled.

According to his TV ads, Taylor is basing his bid for reelection entirely on the idea that he’s a Washington insider who knows how to bring home the goodies. In fact, everybody in Congress deals in goodies. Patsy Keever can do anything Taylor can do — and do it better.

Charles Taylor has argued for term limits since he first went to Congress in 1991. Strangely, he hasn’t voluntarily limited his own term in office. It’s time we help him do the right thing.

— Lee Ballard
Mars Hill

Bush protects polluters, not climate

President Bush is doling out hurricane assistance, but if he’s really concerned, he should be working to stop global warming.

It’s no coincidence we’re getting some of the worst extreme weather in history; it’s a predicted outcome of global warming. This is the international scientific consensus, except for a handful of scientists in the pocket of the oil companies. Some of the biggest insurance companies in the world, like Swiss Re and Munich Re, say that losses from natural disasters have been skyrocketing and will continue to do so if global warming goes unchecked.

President Bush has done nothing to stop global warming. Instead, he’s been protecting polluters that cause the problem.

— Jerry A. Edwards

It’s the climate, stupid!

It’s ironic that President Bush trumpets hurricane disaster assistance when he’s done nothing to stop global warming — which is possibly making these hurricanes worse.

Floridians are feeling the brunt right now. Scientists agree pollution from oil and gas is warming the climate, making extreme storms even stronger. Warmer oceans cause stronger hurricane winds, more rain and flooding — plus, global warming is already causing the sea level to rise. It doesn’t take a NASA scientist to know that Floridians should be concerned about global warming more than anybody.

Yet here is our president, who tries to drill for more oil off our coast, tears up the Kyoto treaty that would have cut global warming pollution, and protects the big polluters instead.

We should express our thoughts to George W. Bush. Three hurricanes in a month? Could it be the climate, Mr. President?

— Sharon Connolly

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