Letters to the editor

Don’t forget Stella Blue

This letter is in response to all the letters printed [Oct. 21] addressing Be Here Now.

Well, there’s a fairly new club in Asheville that’s soon to be on top of Asheville’s night life. That’s Stella Blue [on College Street].

The owners, Joe and Peg, are new to the area. They searched the U.S. for a place to open their club, and Asheville was lucky. They opened less than a year ago and have done an outstanding job. They have survived a fire that kept them closed for a couple of months, and came back better than ever.

Stella Blue is bringing some great bands to Asheville and still keeping that home-town Cheers atmosphere.

Stop by Stella Blue. I know you will be pleased and come back again.

— Rick Christian

Now for some real planning

As Anne Shirley of Green Gables had her lake of shining waters, we could have our Principality of the Mountains. Consider — like Monaco — [having our own] tax haven with royal family, with gambling attracting both the rich and famous as tourists and permanent residents.

Our county needs to declare its independence, as did George Washington and the colonists, and enter into partnerships with Holiday Inns, ITT and CircusCircus, et seq, to develop a Las Vegas-type strip, together with legalized prostitution like that enjoyed in most countries of the world (including Japan, India, Russia, Mexico, etc.) and build the Best Little Whore House in the World to attract businessmen worldwide.

We could select a beautiful local couple with nice parents and wonderful children as our Royals. Like Nevada or American Indian reservations (including Cherokee, with their gambling) or Alaska and the Middle East with their oil — we could end all other taxation and still finance local government, while also giving every resident a $100,000 check each year from the casino and brothel profits.

Beats merely Bible thumping in poverty-stricken Appalachia. It’s high-noon time to decide for a change from the status quo.

— J. Geer

Wiccans, diversity and the voice of the people

I want to thank you for printing articles and commentaries by Wiccans: I really appreciate the true diversity of your paper. It is what every paper should be: The voice of the people.

I have learned much from what has been printed on your pages. Especially, I appreciate the willingness to allow Wiccans and others with non-mainstream views/opinions/lifestyles to present ideas that are important to them.

I also appreciate the coverage of the positive things that people like Byron Ballard are doing, such as her work at Riverside Cemetery with the pauper burials. Thanks for giving Wiccans a fair shake and treating them just like everyone else.

— Tom Herman

For educational reform, try a charter school

After reading the Q-and-A in [a recent Sunday Asheville Citizen-Times on] “Where the Candidates Stand” in the ’98 election, it is clear to me that few of the candidates understand the depth of educational reform that charter schools represent.

In fact, to my knowledge, not one of these candidates has visited or talked with any parent, teacher or board member of the first and only charter school in Asheville or Buncombe County: the Francine Delaney New School for Children.

Particularly distressing were the comments of Ron Dalton, [who] stated that “charter schools draw resources away [from traditional public schools]. … They are selective in students they recruit, further segregating race ideology, religion and beliefs.” Obviously, Mr. Dalton has not read North Carolina’s charter-school law or talked with anyone involved with charter schools. He is expressing beliefs with no basis in fact, at least in the case of the Delaney School.

This school has public informational meetings to fill its openings. Children are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. The student population reflects the demographics of the Asheville City Schools population (the city in which the school resides) in regards to race and socio-economic status. Of the 113 children who attend the school (from 74 families), 44 percent qualify for the federal free-and-reduced-lunch program, and 36 percent are African-American The school’s board worked diligently to design a school and educational program that would appeal to and be accessible to all families in our community. The numerous barriers that were surmounted in order to do this is a testament to the dedication of the founders and staff.

Charter schools are not an “experiment.” The use of that word by the candidates is a convenient hedge. To call something an educational experiment is to prejudge it, so that it can be eliminated when the political winds blow in a different direction.

Charter schools represent true educational reform. There is no more accountable school than a charter school. If achievement goals are not met, the school can be shut down. In traditional public schools, educational SWAT teams are sent in to help “underachieving schools,” [and] administrators or teachers are juggled around. Charter schools are being held to a higher level of accountability than traditional public schools, even as they struggle to establish themselves and operate with [fewer] resources than are available to traditional public schools.

Charter schools do not get allotments for teacher positions, administrative positions, support personnel or central-office personnel. They receive no capital-outlay funds. The only funds they receive are the per-pupil allotment for the individual children they serve. The Delaney School does not take resources away from the Asheville city or Buncombe County schools. In fact, it makes less go further.

The challenge of creating charter schools is daunting. And yet, people are interested in them. They want to create them. They are willing to go through the tremendous volunteer work and financial commitment necessary to establish a charter school. Why? Because there is real hope for children with this type of school reform.

The people who are elected to offices that make decisions about charter schools should have accurate knowledge of the charter-school law and what is currently happening with charter schools — or the public will continue to remain misinformed about a movement that holds true hope for public education. One example of that hope exists in [our officials’] backyards. Perhaps they should go on over and pay it a visit.

— Rusty Sivils

Montford’s multiple threats

Last Jan. 10, the Asheville Citizen-Times published an article about the Asheville-Buncombe Community Christian Ministry’s appeal for an increase in donations ($70,000), in order for the organization to stay out of the red. While I am sympathetic to the numerous programs that ABCCM funds, I am somewhat puzzled at the lack of in-depth reporting or investigating to determine exactly why funds are in short supply.

I firmly believe that a major cause for this shortage could be ABCCM’s extensive property purchases on Cumberland Avenue over the past few years. Prior to 1991, ABCCM acquired the Victorian house at 106 Cherry St. (corner of Cumberland Avenue, now demolished and paved for additional parking); several years ago they made the owners of the large Victorian home at 30 Cumberland “an offer they couldn’t refuse,” and only a few months ago, ABCCM purchased the large double lot at 3 and 40 Cumberland. ABCCM now owns all but one house in an unusually long city block.

The south end of Cumberland Avenue is now facing a situation not unlike the problems on Liberty Street, where the Charles Taylor campaign headquarters [was] opened in a residential neighborhood. The biggest difference is that the Taylor problem is one building on a single lot, [whereas] ABCCM has almost an entire block in an essentially residential area that is a registered historic district.

The Montford Historic District was created by the city of Asheville to encourage the restoration of an area rich in architectural treasures. Anyone who doubts how successful this has been needs only to look at our new tax appraisals — that should change their opinion!

As a property owner in Montford, I find it extremely frustrating that we must constantly face crisis situations in order to preserve the integrity of the district. It is even more frustrating when the problems are initiated by organizations and branches of local government that should know better. (We are still trying to stop the Housing Authority of Asheville from constructing a high concentration of housing units on a single block of Bearden Street.) We need these organizations to work for the betterment of the neighborhood as a whole, not to its detriment.

— Kenneth Jones

Of nut-cases, right-wingers and impeachment

Like the mythical salt cellar at the bottom of the sea, the source of nut-case ideas and accusations is inexhaustible. As groundless as these notions often turn out to be, they take on a life of their own. Start with an investigation of a failed land deal called Whitewater that took place 20 years ago, spend more than $50 million of the taxpayers’ money. Four years later, come out with a 345-page report that contains the word Whitewater twice, and call it grounds for impeachment.

It recalls a marvelous quote in historian Richard Hofstadter’s book The Paranoid Style in American Politics. He wrote, “the right-wingers, who are willing to gamble with the future, enjoy the wide-ranging freedom of the agitational mind, with its paranoid suspicions, its impossible demands, and its millennial dreams of total victory.”

— Allen Thomas

Ode to a Load of Bull

the common fly,
for the hue and cry,
by our simple grey eagle goodbye.

You see,
alongside the eagle,
our wings rested more,
and her songs and her dream
made our fly hearts soar.

We simply forgot
(for a time)
that when the soaring was over
and the songs were all sung,
it’s our little fly jobs
to swarm your sweet-smelling dung.

But after a while,
when your largesse permits us
another lovely pile,
turn and moo us a disdainful scoff —

when there’s another grey eagle,

and we’ve all buzzed off.

— Joe Shelton
Black Mountain

Hominy homily to Taylor:

I’d like let the people of western North Carolina know that the community of Upper Hominy pulled together recently to fight the proposed “land swap” [that would have turned over 400-plus acres known as Standhill Mountain to the Western North Carolina Pallet Company, whose intention it may be to clearcut and develop this jewel of our community.

On Oct. 29, the people of Upper Hominy had a community meeting to discuss ways to prevent this devastation. We had two public speakers that night: Mr. David Young, candidate for Congress, and two ladies from the office of Charles Taylor — in other words, “not Charles Taylor.”

Those ladies, with all due respect, were not elected to represent our area and people. Mr. Taylor was, and therefore, he should have been there for us — as was David Young.

I have never voted for Charles Taylor. However, his actions as Congressman of western North Carolina — or rather, inactions, as the case may be — affect us, regardless of political party. [Since he has been re-elected], I ask only that we have a little more representation, as well as more respect from him for the people and environment he was elected to represent.

— Dennis Hayes

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