Letters to the editor

Oct. 21, 2013 @ 04:43 PM

A market solution

Robert Appleby is wrong in saying I favor "taxing" and "blackmailing" people who do not purchase health insurance. In fact, I proposed that government's role as enforcer of the Affordable Care Act should be done away with altogether.

Instead of a government-imposed penalty, I suggested that individuals who fail to insure themselves should have to pay a portion of the medical costs of a pre-existing condition for which the ACA says they cannot be denied coverage.

They would pay a gradually increasing share each year they delayed getting insurance. A one-year delay would make them responsible for 10 percent of their medical bills. A five-year delay would mean paying 50 percent. Anyone who delayed 10 years would be responsible for 100 percent of their medical bills for a pre-existing condition.

Money charged to individuals would go, not to government, but to the insurance company paying their medical bills. It's the kind of market solution I thought pro-business conservatives like Appleby would favor. But then the "individual mandate" was something originated and advocated by conservatives -- until President Obama accepted their idea.

Lee Mortimer


A question

A headline on page A3 of The Herald-Sun (Oct. 20) reads, “N.C. woman creates dolls from historic figures”. 

I have a question: how does she get access to their remains?

Lois Henry


Nothing outrageous in expenses

A $30 charge to a Manhattan hotel mini-bar does not an orgy make. A couple of Cokes and a bag of peanuts, maybe.  In fact, I didn’t see anything outrageous in the expenses documented in the two front page stories about the charges made to Eric ecoats’ Durham Public Schools credit card.

There are really only two questions to be asked that would result in this kind of public scrutiny. First, were the expenses appropriate and, second, were controls in place? It wasn’t too many years ago that DPS struggled to explain how any of the money allocated to educate our children was spent. Maybe the pendulum has swung too far the other way. When we ask a busy executive with a very challenging job to fill out forms that nobody looks at, he should be forgiven for allocating his time to more important tasks.

Asking the school board chairman to approve hotel bills, even those from a Manhattan hotel, in a budget of this size is bureaucratic niggling. If we don’t trust this guy to make those kind of decisions, he has no business making decisions about our children’s education. Nothing I have seen indicates that Becoats is doing anything but an outstanding job implementing the strategy that he developed very publicly and now implementing the newly adopted Common Core standards adopted by the state.

Jay Zenner


School board risks losing trust

It appears a lack of “goodness of fit” exists  between Eric Beoats as superintendent of the Durham public schools and the needs of our public schools and community.

Very early in his tenure  Mr. Becoats applied for a similar position in Maryland -- before he had actually accomplished anything other than travel around assessing the needs of DPS.

His misuse of the DPS credit card for personal business indicates a serious breach in judgment and ethical behavior especially since it has been reported that he did the same thing in a previous position and was reprimanded for it then.    

It has also been reported in the media that many of our schools in Durham continue to be low-performing and a majority of DPS students currently do not meet performance standards for their grade levels.

The public schools account for the majority of the county’s property tax revenues and need the public’s support for passage of bond  issues for the schools.

As a taxpayer and voter I am tired of highly paid public officials thinking they are entitled to do anything they want and never being held accountable for their actions.

The school board risks losing the trust and support of the taxpayers and public if Mr. Becoats is not terminated for cause with cancellation of his remaining contract; we need a superintendent we can trust.

V. Rosan Hutter


2013 Woofstock celebration a success

In early October, Durham Parks and Recreation sponsored its 10th Annual Woofstock Celebration. The event was a success and was met with much excitement with more than 1,500 participants. Some canines came adorned in tutus, while others were chauffeured by their owners in decorated wagons, wearing sunglasses and tiaras.

The attendance far exceeded previous years and that is all due to the new and innovative programs offered this year. As always we solicited feedback from attendees to identify what they enjoy and what we can do better. The results of the evaluations were very positive. We learned from 127 evaluations that 95.9 percent of respondents reported the event “Met” or “Exceeded” their expectations. In addition, almost 9 of 10 respondents thought that the structure of the event was “Excellent.”

New this year, DPR incorporated the Skyhoundz State Championship in response to the trend and increased interest in disc dog sports in Durham and the Triangle. As a result of these programs and through discussions with community members, we realized there was an exciting opportunity for us to host a Skyhoundz State Championship as part of Woofstock.

There were other activities for attendees, including an agility zone, low-cost rabies and microchip clinic, demonstrations; a kid’s play area, free canine caricatures, rescue and adoption agencies and 25 vendors promoting various canine services. If you attended the event this year, we want to hear from you. Visit www.DPRPlayMore.org and click the “Evaluate Us” link.

Cynthia D. Booth

Public affairs specialist

Parks and Recreation, City of Durham