Letters to the Editor

Time to stop pouring money into light rail bucket

Light rail mistake

Regarding the guest column by Rod Gerwe “Enough is enough. We can’t afford Durham-Orange light rail”

This editorial is on point. The consequence of this regrettable situation is that few funds have gone toward other forms of transit. Our highways are filling up and gridlock is not far off.

Think about how wonderful it would be if millions of Orange County dollars were invested in much less expensive, dedicated bus lanes and state-of-the-art buses for all our major highways that would carry the people where they are going and connect us to Durham, Chatham and Wake, and the airport.

Let’s correct this expensive light rail mistake and stop pouring still more money into planning studies and GoTriangle salaries, and get on with Bus Rapid Transit.

Julie McClintock

via www.heraldsun.com

A special class of workers?

Robert Broome’s defense of defined benefit pension plans for state employees in “We don’t need to cut state worker benefits” arises from the indefensible position that government employees deserve a generous, guaranteed pension that is unavailable to all but a small fraction of non-government employees.

He labels as ‘knee-jerk’ any conversation that suggests defined benefit pensions be replaced with defined contribution plans – never mind that defined contribution plans are all that the great majority of non-government workers have available.

Are government workers a special class, more deserving than private citizens? More deserving than the plumber, the HVAC guy, truck driver, store clerk, bank teller, small business owner and all the rest?

Government workers with 30 years can retire in their mid-50s, while the majority of non-government workers are still on the job into their mid-60s, facing retirement without the benefits government workers can rest on. Our government employees deserve no less – and no more – than the citizens who pay their salaries.

William Burpitt

Chapel Hill

Flo saved the day

It was with deep sadness when I learned of Flo Johnston’s death. Those of us who worked in church music or presented concerts in great sacred spaces owe her so much for what she wrote in her weekly column of Church News to help promote our programs. Others may speak for theirs.

When it was becoming increasingly difficult to get publicity in the newspaper, there was Flo Johnston’s column which often saved the day for me with programs when I was organist-director of music at Westminster Presbyterian Church and director of the N.C. Boys Choir. When Flo used a color picture with an announcement of a Boys Choir concert in Duke Chapel it certainly helped. I always thanked her.

Now that column is long gone, and so is Flo. But she rendered a tremendous service to the religious life of our community. She will not be forgotten, and as Bob Wilson wrote in a wonderful tribute in Tuesday’s Herald-Sun, “No, they really don’t make ‘em like they used to.”

Bill Graham

Durham

Why Ebola deaths?

It has been almost two years since the Ebola vaccine was proven to be effective in Africa, yet Congo just reported 33 deaths from the disease to the WHO last week. Many people believe that the US does more than enough to help other nations but that could not be more false.

Although the average American believes that the US budgets allocate. 20 percent of our annual budget to foreign aid, the real percentage is less than 1 percent. Our Republican Congress and White House threatens to lower that already small number.

Even though our Republican government is so adamant in increasing the military budget during peacetime, you would think that they would know global poverty is a national security issue. Even Secretary of Defense James Mattis spoke to the president about how diplomacy and development with other nations are equally as important as tactical military defense for our nation’s safety.

Poverty does not make people into terrorists, but 9/11 showed us that extreme poverty in other nations weakens their government structure and makes them vulnerable to corrupt parties taking over. This is exactly what happened in Afghanistan, and 9/11 was the result.

Our government cannot understand that as the most powerful nation in the world, 1 percent or $30 billion is not an acceptable amount of foreign aid compared to $663 billion spent on defense. Sen. Thillis and Burr, I urge you to fight for an increase in the international affairs budget, if not for the people dying, for the safety of our nation.

Gabi Overcast-Hawk

Durham

Jewish open house

Are you seeking an ethical and non-theistic Jewish alternative in contemporary life? Are you part of an inter-cultural family?

Consider Kol Haskalah, A Humanistic Jewish Congregation, at our Open House Sunday, August 26, from 10 a.m. to noon in Murphey Hall on the UNC campus. Our congregation explores the full range of Jewish experience to choose what is relevant and meaningful, with belief in our power and responsibility to shape our own lives.

Jewish ethics serve human needs and foster freedom and dignity for all humans. Our pre-K through B’nai Mitzvah Sunday School enhances self-respect and responsible behavior in an engaging program founded in the ethics and culture of Judaism. Aug. 26 is also our first day of Sunday School for the new year. Interested students and parents can sit in on a class and meet with our Education Director David Sennett, to discuss the classes and our music component.

Rosh Hashanah service will occur Sunday, Sept.r 9, from 7 to 9 p.m., when the shofar will call us to a celebration of reflection and renewal of self and action in the community. An ongoing activity is providing and serving a meal one Sunday a month at the Durham Urban Mission. A Humanistic Judaism Book Group meets every other month, alternating fiction and nonfiction books to discuss.

Kol Haskalah is part of the Society for Humanistic Judaism begun in 1963 by Rabbi Sherwin Wine. We share a deep connection to the future of the Jewish people, ethics, and culture, acknowledging courage and independence as the path to human dignity for all people. For more information, please visit our website (https:kolhaskalah.org/), our Facebook page , or email us at info@kolhaskalah.org.

Lynne Kane

Chapel Hill

Not even oodles of noodles

Rain, rain ... no, I am not singing that song. Our reservoirs are full and I am grateful. Watching the weather channel, though, gives me pause. They are watching Hurricane Hector threatening Hawaii and of course the wild fires out west. I had family vacationing in Florida; I bet that was a washout.

You know how you feel watching those pictures of drought-ravished and war-torn countries; and you think, wow! Well, I got a “call” from someone soliciting for one of those places. I said, “No, I can’t contribute at this time. Less than a minute later, I called back and the number was out of service. Scam!

I have non perishables and bottled water. My grown son with two cars doesn’t even have oodles of noodles. He has bags of dog food for his three dogs. “Where is your canned food (people food)“? I asked, when I was pet sitting. The dogs were set for an emergency, but I wasn’t. “Canned food is not good for you, ma.” SMH

Brenda Buie Burnette

Durham

Speak up

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