Letters to the editor

Jun. 02, 2013 @ 12:15 PM

Don’t raise DATA day pass

Monday night, the Durham City Council will vote on whether or not to increase the DATA bus system day pass (presently $2) to $2.50.  Though this might not sound like much of an increase, it does represent a 25 oercent increase from the present cost.  

Through my work at Healthy Families Durham with 150 low-income families, I have concluded that this pass is the most frequently used pass by low-resource families in Durham.  It allows them to travel both directions to work and school (particularly Durham Tech), and to get other business done during the day, such as WIC, pediatrician, grocery, DSS, bill paying.  Raising the cost of this pass 25 percent will impact their ability to get to work, and to get the business done that allows them to take care of their children and family.

I strongly feel that Durham City Council should find ways to deal with the transit fiscal crisis, other than raising the cost of the pass most frequently used by our lowest-income citizens of Durham.  I understand that the costs of other weekly and monthly DATA passes will need to be raised, but I implore the City Council to protect the $2 day pass, as that increase will be most likely to affect families that are struggling every day to get to work and provide for their families.

Jan Williams

Director, Healthy Families Durham


Paying for I-95

Making I-95 a turnpike has drawn criticism.

The locals’ argument: They pay highway taxes equally yet have received an unequal share of maintenance. It’s a valid argument.

In compromise, some have recommended creating a toll lane.  This is a bad approach.  If I-95 had lane capacity it could be feasible.  However, the proposal requires construction of a lane for the length of the highway. The toll would pay for the new lane and maintenance, but seems to do little to alleviate congestion.

Florida has tourism-directed taxes on rental cars and hotel rooms because so many people use Florida infrastructure they would not otherwise contribute towards.  My proposal is similar.  Many people use I-95 each day passing through without stopping in the state.  Frequent drivers such as truckers know we have higher gasoline prices. They fuel up in Virginia or South Carolina and pay nothing for the use of our highways.

My idea: an out-of-state toll.  Technology to bill by mail could be utilized to bill out-of-state plates.  There is no cost to N.C. residents. The high volume out-of-state traffic on I-95 pays for the road they use.  We get a well maintained, less congested artery. Local residents pay nothing.  If I drive from Emporia to Dillon, I can easily drive the distance without stopping or making any kind of contribution to the road I have used.  Now I will.
Disclaimer: I have no professional expertise of this plan.  I just wanted to offer my own perspective.

Thomas Elmo Lamm Jr.


Don’t expect U.S. rights abroad

Having worked in and around the criminal justice system in the United States for over three decades I have at times found myself frustrated at its workings  and have on occasion been guilty of “bad-mouthing” it.  As a law enforcement officer I have also fielded complaints from both victims and perpetrators about our justice system.

This week I followed the case of the Arizona lady who was arrested and jailed on a drug charge in Mexico.  Marihuana was being smuggled under the seat of the bus on which she was travelling.  It was discovered at a checkpoint by the authorities. Amidst her proclamation of innocence she was assumed guilty, arrested and jailed on the spot by the Mexican Army.  Days later when a surveillance video was viewed which proved her innocence she was released from jail to return to the U.S.

I am once again reminded that while our system of justice in America is not perfect, it is far better than in our neighboring Mexico and most other countries.  Recent stories from Mexico  of criminal gangs running jails, mistreatment of prisoners, extortion of money from families of prisoners, trial dates set far into the future and just the conditions of the facilities tell a story of horror.  This is enough to make one feel sympathy for a prisoner who is actually guilty of a crime – just think about the innocent ones locked up there.

Not so bad here in the USA, is it?

Kent Fletcher