Letters to the Editor

04-08 What You're Saying: Susan Halkiotis, Scott Swindler, Lee Mortimer, Alana M. Ennis, Donna Hicks and William Bowling

Blackwood impressive

I am writing this letter to share my wholehearted support for the re-election of Sheriff Charles Blackwood.

Although the list of his many achievements during this first term is truly impressive, from an exceptionally high clearance rate of reported crimes to modernizing the equipment and technology used for law enforcement; the thing about Sheriff Blackwood that has really resonated with me is his genuine concern for the citizens of Orange County.

You only need a few moments talking with him to understand his deep and enduring commitment to our community. Expertise and training in public safety and law enforcement are essential for the success of any sheriff, and Sheriff Blackwood certainly has a lengthy and remarkable list of credentials proving his qualifications in these areas. But in my opinion, it is his passion for building strong positive relationships between the Office of the Sheriff and our broad and diverse community that demonstrates his greatest strength.

Sheriff Blackwood knows that one of the key elements for fostering public safety is a trusting, collaborative bond with community, and he and his staff have worked tirelessly toward this goal. I am very proud to stand with Sheriff Blackwood as he runs for his second term in office. His commitment, passion, honesty and integrity are evident in all that he undertakes - and I look forward to seeing him continue his very good work during these next four years.

Susan Halkiotis


Call 811 before digging

Spring is a popular time for construction activity and outdoor projects, and many of those involve digging.

During April, National Safe Digging Month, PSNC Energy reminds the public that any safe digging project starts with a call to 811, the call-before-you-dig number, to have buried utility lines marked.

Before you reach for a shovel, remember North Carolina State Law requires a call to 811 at least three full business days in advance of planned excavation.

Installing mailboxes and fences are example of projects that require a call to 811. While natural gas lines are typically installed 18 to 36 inches below ground, factors like erosion and grading can change this depth. Having utility lines marked is really the only way to know where utilities are buried. Once all utility lines are marked, dig carefully with hand tools.

Striking a buried utility line while digging can cause harm to you or those around you, disrupt service to an entire neighborhood, and potentially result in fines and repair costs. Calling 811 is easy, free, and it is the law. Have a safe spring!

Scott Swindler

General Manager of Operations and Maintenance

PSNC Energy

Mythology and modern reality

I wish to thank the Herald-Sun for publishing my article, "History is a guide to understanding Mideast conflict." It attracted some positive online comments but also some harsh denunciation.

"Lies and intentional inaccuracies permeate this entire article," wrote one commenter. Another declared, "An accurate account needs to be printed in response to these intentionally misleading lies."

So, I was fully expecting a follow-up article or letter to the editor disputing my narration of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I waited — but nothing came. Perhaps the critics don't really believe their own propaganda. Or maybe they were just unwilling to make the effort to submit a thoughtfully written counterpoint.

The common mythology holds that Jews came to a sparsely populated land, wanting to live in peace with Palestinian Arabs, but that Palestinians willingly vacated their land and homes to clear the way for the slaughter of Jews by invading Arab armies. The real history tells a very different story and is essential to understanding how the conflict got to where it is today.

The modern reality becomes clearer in recent scenes from Gaza, which Israel has turned into an internment camp for Palestinians. Israeli soldiers wantonly opened fire on Palestinian demonstrators, killing 17 and wounding hundreds more. No regime engaged in such murderous conduct deserves the military, financial and political support the U.S. lavishes on Israel.

Lee Mortimer


Andrews has integrity

I’m writing in support of Sheriff Mike Andrews, who is running for re-election. I am a retired chief of police and spent many years working at the Durham Police Department. I also served as chief of police at UNC, at Duke University and the City of Burlington, Vermont.

Sheriff Andrews joined the Sheriff’s Office a few years after I joined the Durham Police Department and has risen through the ranks. I know it takes a lot to bring about change in an agency. As an outsider, it is much easier. Sheriff Andrews has managed to do it from the inside.

As an experienced police executive, I believe Durham County is well served by Sheriff Andrews and will be in the future. I now consult with police and sheriff’s departments all over the county. The Durham County Sheriff’s Office is a large and very complex agency that is currently well-run.

At a recent meeting of the People’s Alliance, people of color stood up and related how he personally had made a difference in their lives by his dedication to duty. He is a person of great integrity and progressive policies. I should know, I worked in Burlington, Vermont for several years — Bernie Sanders Country. His agency has received and maintained law enforcement accreditation for several years with no problems — quite a challenge with a jail. I believe he will continue to honorably serve the citizens of Durham County

Alana M. Ennis

Chief of Police (Retired)

We need buses, not light rail

In he March 16 "FAQ: Durham Orange Light Rail Planning", staff writer Tammy Grubb reported Durham's cost for the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit project has risen to $1.5 billion because our local governments have agreed to use short- and long-term debt to cover a shortfall.

Plus, now, the Capital Area and the Durham-ChapelHill-Carrboro planning organizations have removed other projects, including money for buses, bus routes, and bus-rapid transit routes, from their priority lists to give light rail a better chance at full state funding. We need the cheaper buses, and not the rail.

The great majority of Durham population that says they will not be able to, or, will not ride the rail, will still be paying the Durham sales tax and vehicle fee collected for the rail project. The article also said that the rail will have no big effect on air pollution or congestion. It is all about building a rail line, so Durham and Orange County can proceed with huge development along the rail tracks. This project needs to be scrapped !

William Bowling


Standing on common ground

Peter Reitzes’ op-ed “Durham should not boycott Israel or defund the police” (April 5) is misleading at best. The petition calls on “the City of Durham [to] immediately halt any partnerships that the Durham Police Department has or might enter into with the Israeli Defense Forces and/or the Israel Police.”

Having worked in Hebron from 2002-2009 with Christian Peacemaker Teams (and things have not changed there) doing human rights monitoring, hazardous accompaniment and violence-reduction work, I can speak to the tactics of Israeli military and law enforcement which are taught under a rubric of counter-terrorism in these exchange programs. It is not a good thing. One only has to look at what happened in Ferguson, Missouri, after the death of Michael Brown to see these tactics at work. Durham does not need to avail itself of these training programs. It’s no wonder that black and brown persons would not support this training when I saw how Israeli military and law enforcement treated the majority Palestinian community in Hebron.

As it’s inaccurate to paint the whole Jewish community as monolithic as Reitzes does, it’s inaccurate to impute that all members of the coalition support the same things across the board. Members of this coalition have found common ground and stood on it around Durham not participating in training under the rubric of counter-terrorism offered by Israeli law-enforcement entities.

Donna J. Hicks


Speak up

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