Letters to the Editor

11/26: Your letters: Jeff Monsein, Alan Culton, Richard Cramer, Amy Rosenthal, and Donald Stacey

Let Old West Durham evolve

Durham as a whole has evolved rapidly in the past five to 10 years. Part of Durham’s prosperity can be seen in Old West Durham (OWD), a large neighborhood that started off housing workers employed at Erwin Cotton Mills just off Ninth Street. OWD has a grand history, and an even grander future. Its growth and renovation is something that should be celebrated.

The Neighborhood Protection Overlay (NPO) seeks to “preserve the established physical character of existing neighborhoods as redevelopment and new investment occurs.” In our particular case, it would limit and regulate the growth and the scope of new properties and renovations in OWD. As someone who has been investing in this area since 1984, I know how significantly OWD has blossomed, and cannot imagine how this restrictive ordinance would have any positive impact.

One of many facets of the suggested regulation is the 30 percent floor area ratio, which would set the maximum built floor area as 30 percent of the total lot. Property owners of OWD would not be able to use 70 percent of their property!

Those who have added to OWD’s appeal, property values, and the city’s tax base are being punished instead of being allowed to help OWD to reach its potential within the existing building codes and zoning requirements.

OWD’s character is not being threatened- rather, it is evolving, as our world does. Setting such restrictions and regulations is not only an attack on personal property rights, but also an attack on OWD’s potential as a neighborhood.

Jeff Monsein


Hi-yo, Silver!

When Charlie Rose said “All of us, including me, are coming to a newer and deeper recognition of the pain caused by conduct in the past...” I was reminded of that old joke where the Lone Ranger and Tonto are surrounded by Indians and the Lone Ranger says "Tonto, I think we're surrounded" and Tonto says "Speak for yourself white man, I'm outta here!”

Alan Culton

Chapel Hill

An unpleasant truth

The current sexual assault/harassment reports are revealing a perhaps unpleasant truth to all of us, whether right, left, or middle-of-the road: We are willing to overlook offensive personal behaviors of public figures if those individuals promise to promote our policy objectives in government, and even in popular-culture mediums.

If people like what Roy Moore stands for politically, they will still vote for him as they did for Trump, just as we liberals would overlook Bill Clinton's and Al Franken's behavior, since their political positions were preferable to those of their opponents. And while we may rejoice in the comeuppances of Ailes and O'Reilly, we are still prepared to enjoy contributions to our popular culture from the Weinsteins, Spaceys, and Roses, while we regret finding that they, too, have feet of clay.

There may seem to be some hypocrisy in our behaviors, but it is excusable, I think, if the greater good is served.

Richard Cramer


Author’s claims preposterous

I expected better from Duke. As a former student and employee of 15 years, I thought Duke University had moved past blatant discrimination and racism. With the publication by the closely affiliated Duke Press of “The Right to Maim” by J Puar, I see that my understanding was incorrect.

I was an undergraduate student at Duke in the 1970s. I remember all the African-American students sitting together at their own table. I’m sure they felt uncomfortable as minority students, as did I as a Jewish student – although in a different way, I’m sure.

Since those days, Duke has made great strides toward diversity, and I’ve been pleased to see it. When I was an employee, I was proud to work with the high-quality students and residents that Duke attracted. The institution expected the most from all of us.

Fast forward to the publication of Puar’s book. Couched in the cover of academia with often bizarre and disjointed language, she clearly has a racist agenda against Israel, and by extension Jews. Her prejudice is evident in her 2010 publication “Israel’s Gay Propaganda War.” Here she describes the excellent treatment of the LGBT community in Israel, but she is upset that Israel is public about it. She is well aware of the appalling treatment of the LGBT community by other countries in the Middle East – hangings, throwing them off buildings. If she truly cared about this group, she would praise Israel. Sadly, she is too racist to do so.

Is it surprising that she would write this new Duke Press work of speculation, and presumption, accusing Israel of terrible crimes? As with any lies, her outlandish claims do not bear repeating. Her premise that “debilitation is extremely profitable economically” is preposterous at best.

In her preface she uses the events in Ferguson to engender hatred of Israel and Jews. African Americans should be outraged that she hijacked the story of their suffering to make a false comparison with the situation in the Middle East. This kind of analogy between fundamentally different situations is often used to promote a political agenda, which Puar and other racists have done.

Either the Duke Press has been used by Puar without understanding what they have published, or they were complicit in promoting blood libel. How can such prejudice remain in what should be a respected institution? How low can Duke Press go?

Amy Rosenthal

Chapel Hill

Astronomical debt

The fastest thing in the universe is the speed of light. Nothing can go faster than 186,282 miles per second. That adds up to 5.88 trillion miles per year. At that speed, light from the nearest star, 25 trillion miles away, takes 4.25 years to reach us.

The national debt exceeds $20 trillion. That is $633,612 dollars per second, 3.4 times the speed of light. Interest charges alone on our national credit card amount to $215,000 Million this year. The Republican tax plan would deepen the debt $1,700 million by lowering taxes for big corporations and the richest people. Their plan’s debt would go even deeper, except they are also raising taxes on middle-class earners and revoking the financial obligations for affordable healthcare.

How will this astronomical debt be repaid? Republicans plan to cut the Social Security and Medicare entitlements that we have paid into all our lives. All this damage so the patrons who finance Republican Senators and Congressional Representatives can collect more corporate dividends and pay less tax. That means less revenue to keep vital government services functioning.

Looks like the fastest thing in the universe is the scam that has gotten taxpayers to vote Republican.

Bruce Joffe

Piedmont, Calif.

NCCU’s endowment dilemma

It is quite a dilemma that endowment funds such as NC Central University’s find themselves in. The stock market has soared well beyond any reasonable level given the factors that have historically driven stock prices.

After studying and investing in stocks for over 50 years and working at a major brokerage firm for much of that time, I see a market that has risen to almost surreal levels and will crash spectacularly at some time not far off. The bond market is perhaps even more tenuous and both are important components of pension funds and endowment funds.

The mechanisms for pushing stocks so high include the Working Group on Financial Markets popularly known as the "Plunge Protection Team." The PPT surfaced on the day following a 23 percent drop in the market in 1987. It turned the market around then but recently it has made daily appearances and pushed the market up well beyond its natural state.

So NCCU’s fund has little choice but to stay in the market so as not to miss the further rise in prices but knowing that it won’t last long and that the fund will suffer losses when the market crash arrives. If the fund sells out too early, it will be criticized for missing the rising stock prices but if it waits too long, it will find it difficult to sell when the market collapse begins and will take major losses.Such is the dilemma of a manipulated market.

Donald W Stacey


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