Letters to the editor

GPI forum: Everyone is invited

There is a tremendous amount of opposition to the Asheville City Council selling our public parkland to private developers; however, a lot of people are discouraged by the politics, and think that this is already a done deal. That is exactly what they want us to think so we will go away.

It is very important that we let City Council and the Grove Park Inn know that our parkland is not for sale. You will have the chance to do that at [an] upcoming forum entitled “The Public, the Park and the Process” … a public discussion on GPI’s proposal to purchase public land in City/County Plaza.

The event takes place on Thursday, Nov. 20 at 7:30 p.m. at the Renaissance Asheville Hotel, and is sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Asheville-Buncombe County. Panelists will include representatives of The Pack Square Conservancy; the Grove Park Inn; The Preservation Society of Asheville-Buncombe County; [my own] group, PARC (People Advocating Real Conservancy); and the city of Asheville. Lobby displays will be available at 7 p.m., before the panel and audience dialogue.

If you cannot make the forum but are opposed to this proposal, please visit our Web site (www.ashevilleparc.org) for information on how [you] can still [help] save our square.

— Julie Brandt

Snoopy, Garfield and … Carl Mumpower?

I have followed [Asheville City Council member] Carl Mumpower’s literary exploits in the Mountain Xpress (10/29/03) and elsewhere. When I read his work, I reflect on my own political attitudes and views. I was once what was called a “knee-jerk liberal,” which may be only a reflection of the position of “lockstep” conservatives such as Dr. Mumpower.

I have watched some City Council meetings on Asheville TV. I commend the Xpress for covering a periodic event that appears to be impervious to color. Yellow is a great improvement over gray, the shade of the complexions of the majority on Council. Dr. Mumpower might consider if the use of trees for purposes of free communication is not better than arboreal travesty committed for his personal hygiene. Clearly, he needs something to aid him to find relief from mental constipation.

He might note that articles in the Xpress have a byline. I note that efforts at objective coverage invariably appear biased. If Dr. Mumpower were to read a precise “he-said-she-said” reportage, it would seem biased only because he would be able to reflect on his own blathering.

The Asheville political scene is in need of greater polarization. It is only in the give-and-take of ideas and demands that anything is accomplished. This is a normal dialectical process. Best we resist falling lockstep behind a thin-skinned politician educated beyond his intelligence. (This is not personal; I only know the man by his published writing.)

While the rest of us are duly deliberating, I will look forward to seeing Dr. Mumpower published next in the Sunday funnies. More colors than yellow.

— Scott MacKay

[Ed. Note: MacKay refers to a published Xpress letter from Carl Mumpower in which the Asheville City Council member ruminates “on how many trees the Mountain Xpress had killed with last week’s issue,” raises the specter of “yellow journalism,” and questions whether “a measure of bias, subjectivity, and personal agenda [is] leaking into the [paper’s] reporting of Council interplay.”]

Please go slow — businesses playing

Take down the yellow “Business District” signs.

What do they mean, anyway … that all the businesses outside of [the business district] are out of business? Whose idea was it, anyway, to put them up in the first place?

Take down the yellow “Business District” signs.

— Michael J. Harney Jr.

[Ed. Note: According to City Traffic Engineer Anthony Butzek, the three Business District signs were put up to draw attention to likewise posted — and frequently ignored — 20 mph-speed-limit signs. The city’s before-and-after studies show, he added, that drivers’ average speed has dropped about 1 mph in the vicinity of the two original Business District signs (placed on Patton Avenue and College Street in mid-August; the third, on South Lexington Avenue, went up late last month).

Which makes the signs — at $50 a pop — “a pretty good bang for the buck,” Butzek said.]

Downtown snared in “stealth chains”

Ali Marshall’s story on chain stores downtown [“Chain Reaction: The Fight for Downtown Asheville,” Xpress Nov. 5] was quite informative. Many of the companies are what I call “stealth chains” — stores that look like locally owned businesses, but really are not.

The Marble Slab Creamery [as mentioned in your article] is a case in point. Your photo shows the store’s exterior with a sign saying, “Homemade Ice Cream.” The Web site for Marble Slab begs to differ, [the FAQ section] saying that their product is made from a “secret-recipe milk mixture combined with only the finest ingredients.”

And you tastefully ignored the biggest stealth chain of them all: the Asheville Citizen-Times. It’s not based in Asheville, nor is it the Citizen, nor is it the Times. Gannett just bought those names when it bought the papers.

— Charlie Thomas

Hey, Shanafelt: Save slime for the slimy

I found Steve Shanafelt’s review [“Third Eye Blind” in Random Acts, Xpress Oct. 29] of Benjammin’s new CD to be unnecessarily mean-spirited. If Shanafelt didn’t like the CD and its philosophy, that’s fine — but why devote a whole column to a hatchet job that seemed more like a personal attack than a review?

At times, it seemed like the main reason the column was written was so Shanafelt could make himself feel cool by using clever little put-down lines. Critical reviews are fine, but please save the slime for people who really deserve it — like Britney Spears or George Bush.

— Aaron Coffin

The politics of fear and greed

In less than a year, we need to go to the polls and terminate an administration that has produced enormous financial, political and military problems at home and abroad. It has as its main agenda the destruction of all the social progress made since FDR. The slogan “compassionate conservative” is a subterfuge for a morally bankrupt, neo-fascist government with no social conscience whatsoever.

The strategy … is to create huge deficits and then claim that to avoid a financial catastrophe, all possible social services will have to be drastically pared back … or “privatized.” The tactics that are being pursued in this destructive process are fear and greed generated by the use of blatant lies, innuendo and denigration of the opposition by calling it unpatriotic. The President-Select’s advisor, Karl Rove, is an expert in the political exploitation of mankind’s basest emotions. He is the American Joseph Goebbels.

Those who remember history know how the Republicans fought tooth and nail [against] FDR’s New Deal, especially the Social Security program, and [against] LBJ’s Great Society Medicare and Medicaid initiatives. Any Republican today who was against these programs should have the decency to return his Social Security check to the treasury and refrain from using Medicare.

Using tax cuts to exploit greed, this administration has substantially reduced government income while providing most of the tax benefits to the top 1 percent of [this country’s] income distribution.

On the spending side, ill-conceived foreign wars will keep draining the treasury until the Shrub’s agenda is accomplished. As usual, the innocent young — fired up by jingoistic slogans — are the instruments of these nefarious political adventures. Axis of Evil, indeed! The ABCs of this Axis of Evil are Ashcroft, Bush and Cheney. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “There is nothing quite so terrible as evil masquerading as virtue.”

— Leon O. Gouin

[Ed. Note: Joseph Goebbels, propaganda minister for Germany’s Nazi government, framed public policy around the idea that a lie, when repeated often and forcibly enough, gains the legitimacy of truth.]

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