Letters to the Editor

04/18 What You’re Saying: Worth Hill, John Rhodes, Tema Okun, Jake Richard and Kent McKane

Re-elect Sheriff Andrews

Join us in re-electing Sheriff Mike Andrews. We all have worked with Sheriff Andrews and know him to be an accomplished law enforcement professional.

Sheriff Andrews possesses the skill-sets of a seasoned law enforcement executive. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, the Sheriff’s Leadership Academy and was recognized in 2015 by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) as the Law Enforcement Executive of the Year.

The sheriff has initiated numerous community-oriented programs to address the at-risk youth, mental illness, school safety, crisis intervention, opioids abuse, safety of the elderly and crime prevention. The sheriff has also led his agency in successfully earning seven accreditations from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.

Sheriff Andrews’ 38-year commitment to Durham is incomparable. Based upon our years of service to the citizens of Durham, we ask for your vote to re-elect Sheriff Mike Andrews.

Worth Hill

Retired Durham County sheriff

This leter was also signed by retired Sheriff’s Office and the Durham Police Department law enforcement officers: Walter Lawrence, Larry Smith, Alana Ennis, Kent Fletcher, Lucy Zastrow, Steve Mihaich, Ricky Buchanan Paul Daye, Jeremiah Davis, Loretta Clyburn, Will Rogers, Sonny Harris, Stokes Barnes, Phil Greg Grayson, John Bounadonna, Phil Wiggins, Adam Clayton, Howard Alexander, Phil Harris, Clint Stone, Mark Sykes, Bobby Perry, Jim Bjurstrom, Kent Earp, Jimmy Coates, Jeff Lamb, William Bond, Gary McCorkle, John Knight, Rick Layton, Dan Trudell, Brett Hallan, Will Berry, James Cleary, Mike Williams, Larry Isaacs, David Waddell, Gary Wiggins, Michael Evans, Joey Brooks, Darrell Dowdy, John Flamion Jr., Rick Keller, Barry Cayton, Norman Gordon and Richard Clayton.

Blue Cross question

I’ve nothing against Vivian Howard or her husband, Ben Knight, cast members of UNC-TV’s “A Chef’s Live.” But in learning that the program is sponsored by NCBlueCross, the question begs to be asked.

How in the world can Dr. Patrick Conway, current NCBlueCross CEO, whose compensation package went undisclosed at time of appointment, allow his “nonprofit” organization to sponsor anything at all? This, as a result of former NCBlueCross CEO Brad Wilson, whose last total compensation was $4.2 million, continually whining about NCBlueCross barely making any profit in the face of higher and higher health-care costs, the latter of which actually having everything to do with those individuals, corporations, and public health institutions raking in millions, if not billions, in profits and nothing to do with their patients, who, according to Wilson, cause higher health-care costs as a result of not taking better care of their health.

I’m sure there are those at UNC-TV who will not like this letter. But are leaders of the whole public service sector so subjectively selfish in their collective outlook as to not see what harm this does to patients struggling to keep up with rising healthcare premiums?

And so to help balance things out, Dale Folwell, N.C. State Treasurer, arranges to have those covered by the N.C. State Health Care Plan pay more for their benefits again this year, including those who, in the past, had never had to pay anything at all.

Leadership of both political parties in “public service” has no shame.

Rather than introduce “A Chef’s Life” by stating, “Brought to you by NCBlueCross,” UNC-TV should correctly say, “Brought to you by all those getting soaked by NCBlueCross.”

John Rhodes


Justified criticism of Israel

As a Jew I am deeply angry that those of us supporting the demilitarization of our police are accused of “embarrassing” Durham.

As a Jew, I am both proud of Durham and embarrassed that rabbis and other Jewish leaders turn yet again to labels like “anti-Israel” and “anti-Semitic,” hoping their power will distract from what they seem to fear most – justified criticism of Israel’s militarized violence in the service of inhumane occupation.

In this very moment, Israel is deploying its military to deliberately maim and kill; it claims the right to withhold water and electricity to millions of people as it spins intricate narratives to justify the living prison that is Gaza. Every Jew knows deep in our hearts that this decades long occupation of the Palestinian people, made possible only by increasingly inhumane militarization, is an irredeemable violation of Jewish values.

So I claim that we are the ones who are embarrassed, those of us who refuse to hijack our Judaism and our Jewish values to mindlessly defend a state. We are the ones embarrassed by leaders who choose to support Israel no matter the recurring violation of our instruction to not do to others that which we would not want done to us. We are the ones embarrassed that they do this at a time when state sanctioned violence against people and communities of color is on the rise here and around the world.

When I wonder, will our leaders choose Judaism before Israel?

Tema Okun


Make or break for Dems

It’s a make-or-break moment for North Carolina Democrats. They have been pushing the idea that North Carolina can become a swing state since President Obama won it in 2008. After a 2016 election that saw N.C. voters elect a Democratic governor and state Supreme Court justice, while simultaneously helping send Donald Trump to the White House, this fall will help reveal whether Democrats can truly compete with the GOP in the Tar Heel State.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that 28 districts on North Carolina’s legislative map are illegally gerrymandered based on race. This means that lawmakers must redraw said districts ahead of November. Democrats are hoping to see a more balanced distribution of voters across the new districts, but Republicans have demonstrated in the past that they are not afraid to replace gerrymandered districts with new gerrymandered districts, as they did in 2016.

The implications of recent national events must also be considered. With President Trump’s approval ratings hovering around 40 percent, there is obvious frustration among the American public with Republicans in charge. If this perfect storm isn’t enough to help Democrats pull out some wins in North Carolina this fall, it is difficult to imagine what will.

Jake Richard


Textbook solution

NCPIRG at UNC-Chapel Hill reached a huge milestone recently by acquiring the 200th professor’s signature on their textbook affordability pledge. By signing this pledge, professors promise to make efforts to research and consider more affordable options for course materials, such as open educational resources (OERs).

OERs are faculty-written materials published under an open copyright license which are proven to be as effective, if not more effective, than traditionally-published textbooks. Best of all, they are free. According to the UNC office of Scholarships and Aid and the College Board, UNC students pay an average of $1,604 a year on books and supplies, which is well above the College Board National average of $1,250.

These high textbook prices are hurting students’ wallets and GPAs. Sixty five percent of students reported they have skipped buying or renting an assigned textbook due to cost. Ninety four percent of them realized this would impact their grade.

Access codes are the predominant cause of the increases in textbook prices. The access code is supplanting the place of a traditional textbook. While being framed as a newer and cheaper solution, the codes continue to cost students exorbitant amounts. Course access codes lock up all supporting educational material for a course behind a paywall. After being informed of the exacerbating effects of access codes, faculty members are much more inclined to assign OERs or other very low-cost courseware.

Kent McKane

Chapel Hill

Speak up

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