Protect our native landscape
Seeing birds sitting on trees and squirrels chasing each other on trees is going to become a rarity in Chapel Hill. Trees are being cut everywhere. In some areas, like on Homestead, it is for home construction and in others it is for more business construction. The quaint university town we moved to a little over a decade ago is just another “prosperous” industrialized city. There should be laws that protect trees, although it is too late for many of them
On Legion Road, the older developments have retained a number of the North Carolina native trees within and around the properties, including as a natural buffer to the roadway, while the current wave of development has clear cut the woods all the way to the adjacent properties and to the road so that the view is now of U.S. 15-501 and there is no muffling of sound from the constant drum of traffic on that road.
Chapel Hill has shown that property can be developed while leaving many trees and tree borders, such as in Meadowmont, where there are many small pocket parks, and trees that line N.C. 54 were retained, to the enhancement of both the community and the highway. The same pleasing aesthetics from the highway were also maintained with the Friday Center and the Courtyard Marriott.
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However, the current trend seems to be toward complete deforestation, with the subsequent building back of cookie-cutter berms and spaced plantings that bear little resemblance to the native landscape. This artificial appearance is antithetical to Chapel Hill as a Tree City and the oft-stated desire of town government and residents alike to protect the tree canopy.
Please – immediately – protect what natural landscape and tree cover is left in our town, and do not allow such completely destructive practices as are happening to continue. Taking care to protect what is native and special is not anti-growth; it does require more thoughtful development plans.
Prabha Fernandes, Drusilla Scott Ruth and Shiloh Tasgal
How will history judge us?
An open letter to Orange County Schools:
My grandparents survived the Holocaust. They fled Vienna in 1938. My mom was born in a refugee camp in Switzerland in 1943. I want to talk just a little about that experience and the parallels I see in what is happening in America today.
The Holocaust didn’t start with the Nazis deporting Jews and others to death camps. It started with small incidents allowing racism and discrimination to be articulated in public. Decent people began to look away when they saw injustice happening. My grandmother always remembered the day that a teacher at school called her brother to the front of the class as an example of what a perfect Aryan looked like. Obviously the teacher didn’t know that he was Jewish. It was a funny story, but funny and terrible in the light of the events which took place shortly after that incident.
My grandparents fled to Switzerland on the morning after Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass. When they got to the border, the Swiss guards were refusing to let any more Jews in. Many many people were deported back to their deaths. My grandparents were only allowed to stay because they had the luck to have crossed the border into the town of St. Galen. The local police chief, Paul Grüninger, defied orders and allowed people to enter. He was later fired for his actions, fined and stripped of his pension. He died in poverty. Today he is recognized as a national hero. A stadium, a street, a neighborhood and a bridge have been named after him.
I tell you these two stories because I want you to remember that that history judges individuals differently than the present does. When you allow the flag that the KKK uses to intimidate Jews and people of color into our schools, when you sanction an act of not-so-subtle racism like that, you are allowing people to consider larger acts of discrimination and violence.
It takes great courage to stand up against hatred, to protect all people from discrimination when our leaders are urging us to hate each other. But you are not facing the kind of consequences Paul Grüninger faced. You are not going to lose your job and die a pauper if you protect children in school from discrimination. Banning the confederate flag in Orange county schools a small decision which will have a small impact on your own lives. But banning this racist symbol will have a huge impact on the lives of some of the students in our schools. It will send the message to them that they matter. That their safety and mental health is a priority to those who run the school.
The kids of immigrants whose parents are being deported today will grow up to tell stories like mine. The African American children who are obligated by law to go to a school where other student are allowed to use a racist symbol to intimidate them will grow up to tell stories like mine. They will write books and make movies about their experiences.
I urge you to consider where you will stand in the eyes of history.
Peter Reitzes (tinyurl.com/jx2wwfb) criticizes the left for “intolerance, bigotry and anti-Semitism.” As an example he cites Rasmea Yousef Odeh - “a convicted terrorist” whom he claims to be an organizer of “A Day Without A Woman.” Not only is this guilt by association, worthy of Joseph McCarthy, it is false. The website www.womensmarch.com/team lists 21 leaders and some 70 associates but Odeh is not one of them.
Then he cites Keith Ellison, claimed to have been a member of the Nation of Islam over 25 years ago (which Ellison denies). Ten years ago Ellison said “I have long since distanced myself from and rejected the Nation of Islam due to its propagation of bigoted and anti-Semitic ideas and statements, as well as other issues,” It is true that the Anti-Defamation League said that statements made by Ellison “are both deeply disturbing and disqualifying” but Reitzes neglects to acknowledge that its CEO later said that while Ellison made statements and took positions the group didn’t agree with, he’s a “man of good character, an important ally in the fight against anti-Semitism and for civil rights.” (tinyurl.com/hur74c6)
I find Reitzes’ views reprehensible and worthy of Donald Trump.
Elliot M. Cramer
Stop buying Gorsuch lies
Moderates need to stop falling for the right’s efforts to re-brand Neil Gorsuch as a moderate instead of the far-right extremist he is. The fact that he was unopposed by Democrats in his previous appointment is not relevant. We now have his recent record to make a sound judgment, and his recent record verifies his far-right activism.
The Hobby Lobby decision is not mainstream. It infringes on women’s health and favors religion and corporations over civil rights. Gorsuch ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby’s plan to avoid providing birth-control coverage to employees using “complicity” as justification, meaning that by providing birth control coverage Hobby Lobby would be complicit with women committing the sinful act of sex without conception as the goal. Access to birth control is not far left, but creating outdated religious obstacles to birth control certainly is far right. His rulings show he will favor religion and deference to corporations and the executive branch over anything and everything, including civil rights.
He has voted against working people by dissenting in four out of five cases concerning workers rights. The examples demonstrate his extremism. He argued that a corporation should not be ordered to provide compensation for an undertrained employee’s death on the job. He argued against an employee who left a disabled company vehicle to get help in sub-freezing temperatures.
Gorsuch’s record demonstrates his contempt for women, LGBTQ, the disabled, and working people. He uses religion and pro-corporate activism as foundations for his decisions. He has consistently ruled in favor of corporations over consumers. Several of his positions have been further right than his conservation colleagues. He has shown his allegiance to the far right agenda. We should be very suspicious of a nominee handpicked by far right Koch-supported organizations like Gorsuch was. Don’t buy the lies.
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