Letters to the Editor, Dec. 10

Dec. 09, 2013 @ 11:07 PM

Letter incorrect and hypocritical

The recent letter from Paul Carrington, former dean of Duke Law School, was factually incorrect from the start and hypocritical by the end. He starts with the factually incorrect statement, “The stated reason for the request was that [UNC law professor Gene] Nichol has been a critic of Gov. Pat McCrory and our General Assembly and has compared our state’s 2013 politics to ‘southern civil rights oppression.’”

In our public records request, we gave no reason for our request and in media interviews I never gave a reason. As any law professor should know if he chooses to speak on the topic, state law doesn’t require the requester of public records to state a reason – and I’ve never stated a reason.

What I have said is Nichol, as head of the UNC Poverty Center, is not your ordinary law professor. As a government employee spending taxpayer dollars and overseeing state employees, he is the very definition of a public employee the public records law was meant to cover.

Carrington ends with hypocrisy by calling on the IRS, the NC attorney general and the NC secretary of state to “… consider whether Civitas might be evading taxes or otherwise engaged in unlawful practices designed to suppress the right to freedom of expression.” This comes after he had written of Nichol, “His correspondence files have scant public interest.” Yet Carrington would use the full weight of government to harass and intimidate a private organization that gets no taxpayer money. That is hypocritical.

Francis X. De Luca

President, the Civitas Institute


Superintendent should resign

I agree with the editorial The Herald-Sun Dec. 8 --- it’s time to  begin a search for a new superintendent for the Durham public schools.   Expectations were that the public schools would improve under Eric Becoats’ leadership; sadly, the opposite has occurred.

After hearing the “reasons” given by the superintendent and his staff of why so many of the schools and students in Durham were low performing on the State tests this year, it was eye-opening to learn how the Orange County schools did on these same tests.  Schools in Carrboro and Hillsborough out-performed Durham County schools and there should not have been that large a difference between these schools and Durham. 

An early indication of problems with Becoats’ tenure first surfaced when he attempted to get a similar position in another state before actually accomplishing anything tangible to improve the schools in Durham.

The problems have continued and with each new revelation it seems to blindside the elected school board.   At this time the school board, county commissioners and taxpayers have to question whether Becoats is the right person for the job in Durham  -- and the answer seems to be “no.”

The elected school board has a fiduciary responsibility to replace Becoat’s as superintendent and it would be a misuse of taxpayer money to buy out the remainder of his contract.   My hope is that Becoats will resign rather than having his contract terminated but he should be terminated for cause if he chooses not to resign.

V. Rosan Hutter


Sending wood to landfill a shame

Durham's urban forester, Alex Johnson,posed the question on Sunday: “What to do with Durham's urban wood?.

If the homeowner or neighbors want it for firewood or lumber just take the loader and push it into their yard and off of city property. The final cutting and cleanup then becomes their responsibility. Perhaps the city attorney can provide a waiver of responsibility which the homeowner would accept and sign/date.

It's a shame to send good wood to the landfill just for convenience and liability.

Jeff Scharver