Letters to the editor

Words to the word-slingers

Last week’s articles on free speech and its sometimes unpleasant consequences [“Say It, Don’t Spray It” and “Uncivil Discourse?“, Nov. 8] brought to mind my own experience several years ago. I was relaxing one morning at my favorite coffee shop when I was approached by a Citizen-Times reporter and photographer who asked my opinion on the big news of the day: the capture of Saddam Hussein. I think they chose me because I was sitting by the front window with good light for a photograph.

Anyway, my response, very apolitical by my standards, was that I doubted that it would change the U.S. policy toward Iraq one iota. I was, of course, correct, but that didn’t stop several people from looking up my address in the phone book and sending me some vicious, anonymous hate mail. One even photocopied the photograph from the paper and wrote rude captions on it.

It seems that in our wonderful community, we have people with nothing better to do than harass and threaten others who don’t agree with them. Judging by their spelling and grammar, my bet is that these are uneducated people who couldn’t hold their own it a face-to-face discussion, so they choose to sling their vicious bile through unsigned letters, graffiti and e-mails. This is one of the consequences of free speech — unpleasant, but so much better than the alternative.

To Mayor Terry Bellamy and Council: Stick to your guns. If I may wax poetic, the $112,000 we charge the U.S. Army for rent is to the military budget as a gnat is to … oh, let’s say the solar system. The military already takes more than 50 percent of our income taxes; do we really need to give the poor babies a break with our local resources as well?

To SDS members at UNCA: I marched with your SDS forbearers through the streets of Berkeley almost 40 years ago. As we faced the riot police with their tear gas and billy clubs, being called names was the least of our worries. Suck it up. Being a radical is not a safe occupation in this country. If you start whining about a little nasty graffiti you won’t get very far.

To anonymous letter writers: If you want to look up my address and write to me, you go right ahead. If you come over here, watch out for the attack dogs.

— Jeff Hersk

Choo choo on this

I’m writing in response to Hanna Rachel Raskin’s “Something to Choo Choo On[“The Straight Dish,” Oct. 25]. Perhaps Ms. Raskin was fooled into thinking the dinner train was a scenic trip. It’s not. People look forward to the dinner trains for the unique dining experience — can you think of another railroad nearby with such accommodations? Clearly, Ms. Raskin knows nothing about train operations, such as brake checks before and after every train trip, table setups after the last regular train ride pulls in etc. Pulling out of the station any time before 8 p.m. in October would not only be nearly impossible, but extremely unsafe for dinner-train passengers.

And perhaps Ms. Raskin believes giving 104 passengers an unlimited amount of wine before boarding is a good idea. Remember, there’s nowhere to put the drunkards in case things should go awry.

And clearly, Ms. Raskin failed to see the amount of space at the bartender’s station. There’s barely enough room for the seemingly 60-pound bartender, much less enough room for anyone else. It isn’t a question of sufficient staffing, but rather a way to remodel vintage dining cars. Perhaps Ms. Raskin should volunteer her time in making such a thing possible, so she can drink her cares away 10 minutes sooner.

And obviously, Ms. Raskin doesn’t appreciate the adventure of meeting new people, as she so candidly put down her fellow tablemates [when] they were only trying to carry on a conversation.

Perhaps Ms. Raskin’s unnecessarily negative column was a way to increase this newspaper’s readership. Or maybe she had preconceived notions and was determined not to let her hair down and have a good time. (There’s just no helping those types of people.) In either case, she just lost a few “cool” points in my book.

— Carrie Petrea

Putting it on paper

What a surprise to walk into the voting booth on Tuesday and discover that we’ve switched to paper ballots! Thank God we appreciate the importance of accountability through a paper trail. Having mysterious and fallible voting machines manufactured by fat cats with a political agenda is not what democracy looks like — this is what democracy looks like.

Thank you, Asheville, for promoting legitimacy and transparency in a country that on the whole severely lacks such safeguards.

— Katie Morris

Start anywhere

Thank you, Mountain Xpress, for consistently creating a community resource that helps make WNC the place it is.

My husband goes directly to “News of the Weird.” I usually start at the cover, if I have the time to sit down to it. It doesn’t matter where one starts; the paper is always packed with information about what is happening in the community. It helps connect so many things in the WNC area. You all have done such an excellent job. The new “Green Scene” is a great new addition. Your service to the community is commendable, and commend is what I hope to do with this letter. Three cheers to the Mountain Xpress!

— Abby Gage
Madison County

Unsafe at no speed

I’ve lived in Asheville for five years. I work downtown. Like many Asheville residents, I’ve received my fair share of parking tickets. Like most Asheville residents, I usually get ticketed because I put in a quarter but it takes longer than 15 minutes to get my coffee, make my purchase or whatever it was I was doing. Even when I come out to my car just minutes after the time runs out and before the parking attendant writes me a ticket, they still write the ticket. Even when numerous spaces around my car are open, they still write the ticket, saying that, “It isn’t fair to those looking for parking,” or “It’s the law, and I’m just doing my job.”

Well, I call BS on that! The problem with parking downtown isn’t a lack of spaces. Sure, sometimes it gets crowded, and sometimes you have to drive around the block a few times before a space opens up, but there is no shortage of parking spots.

The real parking problem has to do with delivery trucks and the police/parking attendants’ refusal to enforce [that] law. Too many times, delivery trucks park in the middle of driving lanes. Too many times, they park near but not completely in loading-zone parking spots. Too many times, they double-park, creating dangerous situations for drivers and pedestrians.

Just last week, there were two delivery trucks double-parked on Haywood Street right in front of the Bier Garden and Everyday Gourmet. These trucks had traffic gridlocked, causing one Asheville-transit bus driver to become so upset that he got out of his bus and verbally attacked a driver. The police were nowhere to be seen.

Every day, I watch delivery trucks park right on top of the newly painted No Parking signs in front of Zambra’s. I’ve actually seen a police officer stop and talk to a delivery person illegally parked, and [then] drive away without the truck moving. Perhaps it was just a pleasant greeting.

The parking problem in town is the Police department’s failure to enforce the laws for these delivery trucks that cause unsafe conditions for drivers and pedestrians. I’ve never seen a pedestrian face danger because of a car parked in a metered spot 10 minutes past its time. The police say that they are just letting the delivery people do their job, but when doing their job jeopardizes people’s safety, it’s a problem.

Everyone who gets a ticket for parking over their time in a metered spot should fight their ticket by demanding to have the same considerations as the delivery trucks that are breaking the law.

— Sean Doyle

Common sense comes ’round again

“Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.”

So spoke Thomas Paine in his Common Sense, written in a time when our country was being formed by great minds whose aim was to tread lightly upon the rights and duties of the citizenry, and especially to provide for a safekeeping of all our natural resources.

As new arrivals, my wife and I are struck by North Carolina’s ubiquitous beauty, the friendliness of its people, and the accessibility to all things that make a higher quality of life. As we enjoy our region’s bounty, we covenant to become part of the solutions rather than ignore the problems. We strive to make the reasonable and simple argument before those entrusted with the stewardship of our natural resources to:

• be a force for common good;

• keep the equation for change balanced with the interests of our children and grandchildren;

• judge the merits of a destruction of nature on the principles of natural law to “do good and avoid evil.”

In our recent letter to Secretary William Ross, N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, we asked, “Please call on all of our citizens for help in making those important decisions which keep you awake at night. Together, not separately, we can form a patronage for all mankind to seek the truth about the stewardship of our North Carolina abundance.”

We have seen the inexorable complexities of government’s approach to environmental issues. We have personally suffered as victims of developer misdeeds. We now know how critical it is to not allow the dissipation of our natural resources. One voice can be heard and can make a difference. Get involved; even more so if you are new to our state.

— Tom Morgan


In our Nov. 8 article “He Knows Why the Caged Bird Sings,” Asheville Development Planning Specialist Christine Logan should have been quoted as saying a variance can be “applied for” at any time, instead of “granted” at any time.

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