Letters to the Editor

05/08 What You’re Saying: Lincoln Community Health Center, Allyn Sharp, Tony Blake, Terri Buckner

Support Lincoln Center

The Lincoln Community Health Center Foundation will hold its sixth annual Legacy Award Luncheon on Friday, May 11, at the Washington Duke Inn at 11:30 a.m.. The luncheon is the primary fundraiser for the Lincoln Community Health Center Foundation. This year’s honoree is Dr. John H. LucasSr., a leader in education in North Carolina for over 50 years. Tickets are $50 each, and to register visit www.lincolnchcf.org or call 919-956-4004.

Dr. Lucas’ dedication to equality has profoundly impacted educational systems in North Carolina and worldwide. As the author of the Lucas Concept, he was instrumental in building an inclusive, diverse environment in the education profession. Lucas served as principal at Durham’s Hillside High School for 24 years. Today, the school’s John H. Lucas Sr. Wellness Center is named in his honor, as is Lucas Middle School in Durham. Now in his 90s, Lucas continues to be an active member and leader at White Rock Baptist Church, which named him as Deacon Chair Emeritus, as well as on numerous community, state and national education boards.

Lincoln Community Health Center has served Durham since 1971, providing primary and preventive health care to an underserved, low-income population. Lincoln serves 33,000 children and adults annually, at nine sites across Durham. Nearly three-quarters of Lincoln’s patients have incomes at or below the federal poverty level, and approximately half of adult patients are uninsured. Nearly 90 percent of Lincoln’s patients are members of racial or ethnic minorities. Lincoln traces its history to the original Lincoln Hospital established in 1901.

Lincoln Community Health Center

System failed my client

The record should be set straight on some of the points made by the Durham district attorney in his recent article on local bail practices (“Get the facts on bail bonds, see the changes taking place.” April 30)

The client referenced is intellectually disabled, has been receiving mental health treatment since age 10 and is unable to effectively read or write. He has asked what the words “accurate” and “possible” mean. At our recent bond hearing, I expressed my concern that my client had been targeted by the confidential informant used in this case because of his cognitive limitations.

When my client was arrested, Durham police tried to get him to provide information on local drug dealers. When he was unable to, they piled the charges on. There were over 80 charges initially, all relating to the same alleged drug sales that law enforcement and their confidential informant had set up. By the time of the bond hearing, nearly half of those charges had been dismissed.

This client does have a habitual felon indictment pending. So did the confidential informant. His was dismissed pursuant to a plea for probation in exchange for setting my client up. The DA’s office chooses when to consider habitual felon status relevant. My client’s cognitive limitations seriously call into question the validity of his criminal convictions and therefore, his habitual felon status.

The sex offenses referenced in the DA’s response were from 2004 and provide yet another example of how the cash bail system fails. I relayed to the court at the hearing that my client was innocent of those charges, but, unable to post bond, took a plea for probation to get home to his family, not understanding that as a result he would be required to register as a sex offender. Now, that choice, which resulted from his being poor, is being used as an argument to hold him under an unconstitutionally excessive bond – again.

The assistant district attorney at the bond hearing suggested to the court that an $18,250,000 bond would be appropriate in this case.

The DA’s response to my column (“Cash bail system preys on, profits off the poor,” April 20) failed to offer any evidence that this client is either a danger to the public or a flight risk – the two factors the cash bail system is apparently designed to address (though evidence shows that it is ineffective at both).

Durham needs a district attorney who doesn’t just talk about bail reform, but takes action on bail reform – and not just if and when reelected, but now.

Allyn Sharp

The writer is a Durham-based defense attorney.

Voting our values

It’s important that we be for something and vote our values, so I’ll be voting for Earl McKee for Orange County Commissioner in District 2 and Brian Crawford for Orange County Commissioner at large this May 8.

As well as being fiscally responsible and an advocate for economic opportunity, Earl is an effective advocate for rural priorities, affordable housing, education, voting rights and equity.

Earl is a thoughtful leader who listens, identifies gaps, seeks out new ideas and perspectives, weighs the alternatives, considers outcomes, builds consensus and develops reasonable stances that are easy to understand.

Earl McKee sets an example for all of us with a long record of giving back to the community, devoting a significant amount of time and effort working in the community through his church, civic organizations and professional groups.

As an attorney Brian has leveraged his education to battle against economic inequality by advocation for well-thought-out growth and partnerships between the county, business and education. Brian understands that the way forward is to build community through inclusion.

Brian is a problem solver and a consensus builder. As the founding board chair of the Affordable Housing Advisory Board, Brian is the best candidate to resolve issues with affordable housing. Brian has a passion for education. He understands the opportunities and pitfalls of charter schools, articulating well what works and what does not.

Please join me in voting for Earl McKee and Brian Crawford for Orange County commissioner.

Tony Blake

Orange County

Crawford for commissioner

If you have not already voted in this year's primary, I am writing to ask you to vote for Brian Crawford for the at-large county commissioner seat. Brian has lived, worked, and volunteered in Orange County for over 20 years. He is an attorney who works with banks to finance affordable housing – a critical need for this community. He was the chair of the first affordable housing advisory board in the county, so this is an issue that has been a long-time commitment for him. This isn't just something he talks about from a policy perspective – he's hands-on doing it and making a difference for thousands of low-income North Carolinians.

Most importantly for me, Brian represents a voice in Orange County that is not already adequately represented. Brian grew up in poverty up north as the son of a single mother. He's lived the life so many of our rural residents are living; he has a child in the Orange County Schools; he understands that he has benefitted greatly from the social safety net.

Finally, Brian understands the overwhelming and unmet need for economic development – the kind that generates tax revenues that can offset the current reliance on residential property taxes. He knows the critical need to install water and sewer and road access infrastructure in our 3 economic development zones so that, after 20 years, we might actually benefit from them. Improved economic development is the ultimate key to adequately funding our schools and making this a more affordable community.

Thank you for your consideration. Tuesday, May 8 is the final day to vote. For county commissioner, this will determine our future since there are no Republican challengers.

Terri Buckner

Orange County

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