Letters to the editor

Your day in court without the cost

This is a heads up to financially and physically challenged persons who have had or are having any kind of discriminatory experience with landlord/tenant issues in Western North Carolina. Even if you don’t have money, you can still get some help.

If you have a good, factual basis for your case, the ability to access legal info, and if you are qualified as a disabled person (if you receive SSI, food stamps or other government aid), you may take the person or corporation who has violated your rights to small-claims court free of charge. If you prove that you are indigent (for instance, by qualifying for one of the above programs), costs and fees are waived. The recent increase from $4,000 to $5,000 in the small-claims award limit could possibly mean adequate compensation for your troubles with this common problem.

The irony of consulting with a lawyer for landlord/tenant matters is that the amount of money up front can be as much as $7,500 for retaining legal services, and it may cost $250 just to write a letter.

Most people who rent do so because that’s all they can afford to do. The ability to obtain justice in America is reserved for those with money. If you’re poor, your odds aren’t good for help, even through legal-aid offices.

My advice is to study the laws — they are strong for the legitimate complaint. And write everything down that occurs. Be relentless, and don’t let anyone or anything keep you from fighting for your rights. Investigate all options, and don’t believe everything the legal eagles tell you. Take no crap, and know your rights. Knowledge is power.

— Elizabeth Freer

It ain’t over till the bulldozer screams

In response to Susan Stewart’s letter to the editor [“Richmond Hill Is a Done Deal,” Dec. 14)], I am not surprised about the answer she received from Mayor Bellamy. In fact, that is exactly what I expected the city’s leadership to say. As expressed in my guest commentary [“Don’t Let Asheville Trash Richmond Hill Park,” Nov. 16], my caution was: “Don’t let city government … [tell] us this is the best or only choice. It is not.”

Allowing this project to proceed is to follow the path of least resistance, but it is certainly not a wise option, and it is not yet a done deal. It is only a done deal when the trees have been cut and the bulldozers have flattened the hills — not before that.

Ms. Stewart’s response is exactly what the pro-development gurus want to hear. I applaud her taking the initiative to call her city leaders and express her concern over the project, but I hope that other concerned citizens who received the same message from city leaders did not accept it with the same feeling of powerlessness. The park is the people’s land, and it is theirs to protect or allow to be taken from them. If a large enough and organized outcry is raised, this project can be stopped — but only if it happens immediately. Think of how many other “done deals” and social injustices have been thwarted by an involved and concerned citizenry! The list is long and inspiring.

Asheville’s city government has made a mistake on this decision, but there is still time to change course. If you want to stop this project from happening, call your City Council members and demand a special meeting on the issue. Send out petitions. Organize a rally. These are the ways that positive changes are made by the people for the good of the people. No democratic government can deny that kind of power.

— Neville Handel

Bush should delay judgment

It appears our president has decided to be judge and jury in the case of Tom Delay and his manipulations in the great state of Texas. Bush has declared Delay “innocent” of the charges of money laundering by funneling money into the campaign coffers that wasn’t supposed to be funneled. I realize that Mr. Delay has a sterling record with the House Ethics Committee. I believe this is only the fourth time he has been chastised, so why would anyone think of wrongdoing? I’m sure our president had this in mind when he declared Delay innocent. As the highly paid White House prevaricator Scott McClellan stated: “Call it a presidential prerogative.”

Would our president have declared Ted Kennedy or Harry Reid “innocent” if they were in Mr. Delay’s position? I know that’s a tough question, but I believe you may come up with the same answer as I.

This administration has proven to me that Republicans can do no wrong, and those lowly Democrats can do no right. In the eyes of President Bush, you are a traitor when you disagree with his opinions. He would like everyone to believe that the people who want our troops home in a reasonable amount of time are treasonous and aren’t supporting our troops. He could not be more wrong, and the sad part is, he knows that isn’t the truth — just a politically motivated character assassination. Apparently falsehoods are acceptable as long as they are favorable to the proper party.

I’m sure that in the president’s world, Rove, Libby, Abramoff, Scanlon, Cheney, Ney and any other members of the “Old Boys Club” are perfectly innocent and just being victimized by those mean Democrats for no reason other than politics. Let us not forget how they are also picking on nice, honest companies like Halliburton and its subsidiary, Kellogg Brown & Root, just because they are making hundreds of millions while other companies fold without having the chance to compete for the work. But then again, I suppose the no-bid contract is also a presidential prerogative.

— Gary M. Poppas

Prayer guidelines threaten free speech

The Air Force’s proposed guidelines on military prayer are blatant infringements of free-speech rights.

We must send a clear message to President Bush to sign an executive order protecting prayer in the military.

— Madeleine T. Pflaumbaum

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