Letters to the Editor

7/07: What you’re saying: Sheila D. Creth, Erin Danford, Fuller Caton, Joan F. Walsh and Hathaway S. Pendergrass

Light rail rhetoric

In the July 4 article, “Orange County Counting Dollars,” it was reported that Orange County Commissioner Penny Rich voted to discontinue the county membership in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce. One of her reasons was because the chamber supported the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit project “despite county concerns.”

Commissioner Rich voted for the light right project after 1) a report by the Davenport Group commissioned by the county board indicated grave financial reservations about this project for Orange County, and 2) a significant number of county residents spoke in opposition to the light rail project over several meetings of the board of commissioners. Apparently Commissioner Rich had no reservations that the limited transit funds available to the county should be spent for the light rRail that will serve a small ridership in a tiny corner of the county rather than using these funds to improve transit throughout the county.

Commissioner Rich criticizing the chamber for supporting light rRail would be laughable if not so serious since she supported the light rail throughout the process.

Rich’s views can be heard on the Nov. 17 video of the Assembly of Governments (available on the Orange County Board website). Following the GOTriangle representative discussing the decline in state and federal funding for the light rail project, Commissioner Rich responds that tough questions need to be asked but “we are supportive of this [light rail] and that to just throw all of this work away would be such a shame.”

According to the article, Ms. Rich says she’s concerned about the cost of the chamber membership but she was unfazed by the huge financial burden she voted to put on the County for 45 years to build the DOLRT. What hypocrisy from an elected official.

Sheila D. Creth

Chapel Hill

Plastic bags an environmental threat

It’s time to take plastic bags out of supermarkets. Numerous cities across the United States and even the entire state of California have voted to ban plastic bags in local stores, and North Carolina should follow suit.

Plastic bags are a serious environmental issue, and are a major contributor to ocean pollution. Every year, 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in the ocean. According to plasticpollution.org, that’s about five grocery bags full of plastic for every foot of coastline in the world, and it’s easily avoidable.

In November 2016, California voted to ban plastic bags for large retailers. Customers bring their own reusable shopping bags or pay a 10-cent charge for paper bags. Many other cities have adopted bans, as well, including Washington, D.C.; Boulder; Chicago; and even the Outer Banks. Though not all bans are as strict, they are certainly effective. San Jose, California found an 89 percent reduction of plastic litter in the storm drain system after instituting their 2011 plastic bag ban.

In cities that ban plastic bags, or at least take steps to reduce plastic usage, pollution decreases and customers are far more likely to carry their own reusable bags. In Thurston County, Washington, the plastic bag ban reduced single-use bag usage from 63 percent to 3 percent in only six months, and a majority of shop-owners supported the ban. Durham could benefit greatly from taking this small step to reduce waste and protect the environment.

Erin Danford

Chapel Hill

What does Burr think about torture?

In December 2014, Sen. Richard Burr yielded to intense pressure from statewide faith leaders and voted for the public release of the executive summary of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on the Bush-era torture program. That 500-page redacted summary provided shocking evidence of the torture program’s brutality and ineffectiveness. Yet ever since, Burr has been fighting to suppress the complete 6,000-plus-page report, lest we find out more about the atrocities that were committed in our name.

Now we have an administration that has endorsed torture. Rather than promote greater transparency and accountability for the past so as to prevent future abuses, Burr has been scrambling to retrieve the few copies of the complete report that were given to federal agencies. He wants to bury the report in the bowels of Congress, where they will be shielded from Freedom of Information requests forever. Does Burr think torture is justifiable? If so, he has no conscience.

North Carolina was deeply involved with the rendition-to-torture flights, especially through Aero Contractors, near Smithfield. At least one-third, possibly more than half, of all those flown to torture were flown by Aero. This fall, the N.C. Commission of Inquiry on Torture will hold hearings on our state’s involvement. Sen. Burr should support this effort, not try to bury the evidence.

Joan F. Walsh


Not a health care bill

The Senate plan is not a health care bill. It is a massive transfer of wealth from working people to Wall Street.

Twenty-two million Americans would lose their insurance under the Senate bill. The Senate bill taxes working people’s health benefits while cutting taxes for millionaires and insurance companies. That’s just wrong. The Senate bill effectively destroys Medicaid – stripping health care from children, seniors and low-income Americans.

Fuller Caton


Foushee for Board of Aldermen

I am proud to endorse Barbara Foushee to serve Carrboro on the Board of Aldermen.

Through my work with the Carrboro Planning Board and with Barbara’s husband, Braxton Foushee, I have had the privilege of getting to know Barbara professionally and personally. Her work with OWASA, the Carrboro Human Services Advisory Board, and the local Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP is evidence of Barbara’s investment in our community. It is time we invest in her.

As a born and raised Carrboro resident, I have watched the Board of Aldermen assist Carrboro in transforming from a sleepy small town to a thriving, forward-thinking, and inclusive community. The current Carrboro Board of Aldermen have led Carrboro in a manner in which we can all be proud. Barbara’s proven record of leadership, and her passion for engaging with the citizens of our community will provide a powerful presence to this Board.

To quote Barbara, “If you really want to be a part of change, you have to have a seat at the table where the changes are being made.” Let’s save her a seat.

Hathaway S. Pendergrass



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