Letters to the editor

Sheriff: Medford article was spin and innuendo

Re: Vol. 11, No. 16, Nov. 17, 2004, pp. 8-9.

Note that this letter is copyrighted. It may be republished in total; however, no part may be reproduced without the whole.

Cecil Bothwell’s article referenced above clearly illustrates why I will only communicate with your publication through legal counsel. The first sentence of the article provides a “left-handed” disclaimer acknowledging that the law was followed in this department’s hiring of my son Brian Medford. However, Bothwell then proceeds to use two pages of “spin and innuendo,” defaming my son in a cowardly effort to embarrass me. Significantly, Bothwell’s only “sources” are disgruntled former employees and alleged anonymous sources.

This office and the county fully complied with the law with reference to Brian’s employment. Brian is assigned to administrative duties in this office, and does not drive any county car. In fact, Brian does no driving of any vehicles. Were he not my son, no doubt your publication would be praising the fact that he is working, paying taxes, and being a contributing member of our community while suffering the consequences of the loss of his driver’s license.

I formally request you to publish this entire letter in response to the Bothwell article.

— Bobby Medford
Sheriff of Buncombe County

[Editor’s Note: This letter is in reference to reporter Cecil Bothwell’s Nov. 17 story, “What’s in a Name?”.]

Picking the Bele Chere blues

Bele Chere have something against local musicians?

I play in the Asheville-based bluegrass band County Farm (voted best band in WNC 2004 by the Citizen-Times), and just received this from my guitar player concerning the Bele Chere band application for next year: “I was just looking at the Bele Chere app. They request the bands black out a 120-mile radius for 30 days before and after Bele Chere. I would definitely be into not playing anywhere near Asheville for all of July and August if we could play one set at Bele Chere for $150 … not!

Seriously, how do they expect local bands to meet such a requirement? Unless you play on the weekends as a hobby and don’t need the money from gigs to buy things like food, shelter, etc., it’s impossible. We are a working band; we make our living playing music for people. We play a lot of gigs inside that 120-mile radius, oddly enough.

To ask us not to play here for two months so we can make $150 playing at Bele Chere is basically telling us we aren’t wanted at this event. So much for supporting the local music scene.

Anyone that wants to check us out during the 60-day blackout period is welcome to come see us at one of the many local venues we play, ’cause we won’t be dealing with the Bele Chere blackout.

— Jay Mullenax
County Farm mandolinist

To succeed, we must dig deeper

I would like to comment on two items in the Nov. 17 issue of Xpress, and bring them together.

I am going to use the advice of George Keller [“On Disagreeing Agreeably”] and refrain from name-calling. I am also going to seek healing in our community on a person-to-person basis, as called for by Holly Boswell [“Crossing the Great Divide”].

First, let me say that I want to be as objective as possible. It should be a bit easier for me than most, as I am neither conservative nor liberal.

Both groups base their values on the Christian religion. The conservatives derive their thinking from a divine Bible. The liberals primarily derive their thinking from a historical Bible, with emphasis on the teachings of Christ. Both groups want the American culture to reflect their views through the force of government (laws). Both groups have far more in common than either would care to admit. Both want to help the poor, for example, but have very different ways of achieving that goal.

Second, let us try to understand prejudice, and permit us to do it in a way that does not attack the individual, but rather the thinking presented by the individual. If I were to say that people of color were less sophisticated and less educated than other groups, then I would be called — appropriately enough — “prejudiced,” and I would be chastised appropriately for “stereotyping” inaccurately.

In one or two breaths, the thought was presented in Ms. Boswell’s letter that those people who voted for Bush are less sophisticated, less educated, less progressive, more inclined to follow church teachings, and more inclined to follow blind conservatism. This is a pretty negative indictment of Bush voters. Is this not a stereotype? Is it even remotely true?

Stereotypes (even if they were true) are totally evil, for they pass over the high number of exceptions. In any labeled group, there will be individuals who perform far beyond the general level of the group. Most stereotypes aren’t even true to begin with, so it is best just to throw them out. Let’s take people one at a time on a “person-to-person” basis, as suggested by Ms. Boswell, instead of labeling them negatively on a group basis.

If people are to have a dialogue, they must sit down together with mutual respect. If people sit down at a negotiating table with the attitude that they are more educated, more sophisticated, more progressive, less subject to church thinking and blind thinking than others, the dialogue will fail.

Conservatives have their own set of self-righteous attitudes as well.

Perfect logic can lead to totally different conclusions if the beginning premises are different. We must respect that liberals and conservatives alike start with different premises, but premises well-founded in the goodness of their hearts and being. Until that recognition comes, there will be no successful dialogues. Until we dig deep to find the underlying premises, there will be no understanding. Until we all respect the very essence of the American Revolution, and the inherent rights of individuals to hold views that are not in agreement with one another, then no dialogues will really succeed.

— Clarence Young

Amendment One could still lose here

Buncombe County and 48 other N.C. counties defeated [in vote totals] Amendment One on the November ballot. There would have been many more votes “against” if people had better understood the wording for the amendment. It was written as a 107-word sentence. That’s right, a 107-word sentence.

In spite of the wording, most of our WNC counties voted against it. They made a statement that they didn’t want their tax dollars put at risk with Tax Increment Financing [TIF] for redevelopment or new development projects. Some of the real losers could be the schools, police and fire departments; they get zero additional funding from TIF projects, because the additional tax revenue goes to pay off the bond. This could be as long as 30 years or more.

According to the Public Policy Institute of California, only 10 percent (4 out of 38) of TIF projects generate enough revenue to pay off their loans.

At our next county commissioners’ meeting, Dec. 7, everyone who voted against Amendment One should attend and lobby for a resolution outlawing the use of Tax Increment Financing in Buncombe County. Once again, the people voted no. Let’s see if the commissioners respect the wishes of the people, or if they go along with Big Business, Big Developers and Big Lawyers who have so much to gain.

— Peggy Bennett
Citizens For Change

You get what you pay for

Recent complaints about Sinclair Broadcasting and their TV programming suggest that either people don’t understand how the system works, or — if they do — they want a different system. Have we forgotten Ronald Reagan, during the N. H. primary campaign, asserting, “I paid for that microphone”?

First, shouldn’t we all understand by now that, together with all the other radio/TV interests, Sinclair paid good money to help buy the FCC? And this is not to mention years of patient buying of congressmen/women.

Then there’s the cost of broadcasting licenses, taxes and all the other expenses of doing business in a free market. So, it costs money to own the TV airways.

Once in control of various TV channels, executives must then decide how to cash in on their investment. As a rule, public service is not a paying proposition, so other profit-making options must be considered. Advertisers must be lured and cossetted, to ensure that broadcasting remains respectable by way of big profits — just like any other part of our society.

Sinclair has to make programming decisions. This also holds true for any of the liberal media; advertisers won’t pay for dead air. Reruns of Mr. Ed or Gilligan’s Island cost money, so why not fill air time with things your advertisers prefer and you can get free, like anti-Kerry documentaries. Then, if any small bits of airtime are left over, how about another freebie, e.g., the vice president of Sinclair explaining how the free market works?

As far as how the broadcasting industry took over the FCC, remember what Sen. Samuel Hayakawa said about the Panama Canal, “We stole it fair and square.”

— Allen Thomas


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