The Opinion Shop

July 24, 2014

Letters to the Editor: Fracking, cyclist safety, possum drop, Hobby Lobby, UNC hospitals, Duke Energy ads, taxes, Medicaid, Medicare, Gov. Pat McCrory, poet laureate, Iraq, coal ash

These letters were not published in the print edition but deserve a look.

These letters were not published in the print edition but deserve a look.


I compared the content of recent TV advertisements about fracking purchased by the North Carolina Environmental Partnership with the content of articles about fracking in a current issue of Science (27 June 2014, Volume 344, Issue 6191).

The TV hyperbole is clearly misleading and differs significantly from the objective data and information in the Science articles. For example, the TV ads list a series of chemicals that can get into the groundwater. The Science articles indicate that studies are underway to determine whether fracking chemicals actually leak into the groundwater.

These and other differences suggest that the North Carolina Environmental Partnership is not creditable and that the organization may have an agenda different from protection of the North Carolina environment.

The disingenuous nature of the television comments suggests we can respect and should support the legislators castigated by the TV advertisement.

C. Edward Buckley III



Recently I fell in behind a pickup with a trailer containing construction material in Johnston County . The pickup was impeded by a bicyclist, and because there was limited visibility the pickup could not pass the cyclist for a distance of at least a mile during which we traveled at 5 to 10 mph.

The cyclist finally pulled into a driveway to let the pickup pass but immediately started to pull back onto the road even though there were eight vehicles behind the lead pickup that needed to pass. It was apparent that these were people with places to go and things to do who were impeded by a hobbyist getting exercise.

Cyclists vehemently demand respect on our busy roads, yet I have never seen one yield to a vehicle of any kind. As hobbyists, cyclists are not entitled to impede commerce or deter traffic in any way. If they want respect on our busy roads then they should be prepared to give it or understand the risk.

Don Eason

Willow Spring


I nearly died recently. This is not my first near miss nor the first time I’ve questioned why I was spared.

Upon attempting to leave a grocery store parking lot onto a busy thoroughfare, a kind woman paused and waved for me to enter the long line of traffic. As I pulled out, the dark pickup truck behind her, driven by an outraged driver, jerked and sped around her, headed right toward me blaring his horn. He raced around the corner as she continued to wait while I entered traffic. I braked, he swerved, we missed.

Road rage is never OK. We’re both too young to die.

Mary P. Jones



I am 85 years old, and my daughter recently asked me whether I think a lot about my future. I said no, but I do think a lot about the future of today’s children who, because of political inaction, face a future of submerged cities, intense heat, drought, storms.

If anyone still disbelieves the existence of climate change, let him read what scientists are predicting about the future of this planet. And we keep re-electing the same head-in-the-sand ignoramuses to public office. Don’t they at least have grandchildren they care about?

Karyn Joyner



Regarding the July 18 Under the Dome “ PETA: Bill creates ‘zone of lawlessness’ ”: Instead of dropping a possum in Brasstown, drop a human dressed in a possum costume. Playing possum, as it were.

This way they keep the thrill of seeing a creature fall without traumatizing an innocent marsupial. Variations include selecting a Possum King or Queen and dropping him or her. Or drop a human being tenderly holding a possum on the lap.

If the local residents insist on the lone-possum drop, impose legal responsibility for PTSD or other outcomes.

John Justice

Chapel Hill


I applaud Duke Energy employees supporting their company in commercials related to all the negative publicity it has received over the past few months. I’m sure many of us dedicated to our companies would have done the same. But does it send the wrong message?

Would it not have been better if Duke management got involved in these commercials and spoke from the heart on what it plans to do and how it intends to clean up the mess? The politicians have only exacerbated the wound by allowing more delay in the cleanup of the ash ponds and have voted to support fracking, which is a big issue to our drinking water. It sounds like Duke is sitting back and taking whatever the politicians will hand it on a silver platter.

It is time for Duke management, instead of its employees, to take a role in speaking for itself on its plans and intentions. Hearing it from the top would help North Carolinians realize that the management does hold responsibility for its actions. What the employees say doesn’t mean as much as if it were coming from the horse’s mouth.

Terry Kelly



My husband and I chose Blue Medicare, a Medicare Advantage plan, because it covers more than traditional Medicare and costs less than a supplemental plan. Low premiums and co-pays are perhaps the most important features. On average, people with advantage plans spend $1,000 less per year in out-of-pocket expenses than they would with regular Medicare. For most of us, annual expenses are capped at $5,000, which comes in handy if there are a lot of medical problems. Congress must keep Medicare Advantage fully funded.

We have been very pleased with our coverage. Our premiums are affordable and prescription drug coverage is great. The plan also offers recipients extra benefits, such as vision, dental and the Silver Sneakers fitness coverage. Having these preventive care benefits is a great way for seniors to stay healthy and improve quality of life.

Senior citizens do not get wage increases like members of Congress enjoy. We have a limited amount of money, we have to pay for our living expenses and we need good, affordable health care. Medicare Advantage provides this for over 14 million seniors. Our needs should be as important to Congress as they are to us.

Emogene Kelly



In reading the July 6 letters in the Sunday Forum, there were many that decried the Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case (one even making a ridiculous comparison between contraceptives and the police department). I have a proposal for a program that would offer contraceptives to everyone at no financial cost to anyone. It’s not a new program, but I’ll give it a new name for marketing purposes: Keep Your Pants On (the old program was called abstinence).

As a nation we spend inordinate amounts of money to prevent pregnancy and to treat sexually transmitted disease when a simple solution is all that is needed (Occam’s razor: The simplest solution is probably the right one).

It seems that liberals would rather increase taxes or implement new mandatory health care coverage than encourage people to take responsibility for their own actions. Guess what I learned in an N.C. public school in the fifth grade? If we don’t have sex, we can’t get pregnant. If we choose to have sex, we accept the consequences of that decision.

Why should I, as a taxpayer, subsidize their decision to have extramarital sexual relations and any possible “unplanned pregnancy”?

Scott Moore



A sign on the wall in UNC Hospitals’ emergency room says conversations between physicians and patients are private. But putting up a sign doesn’t make it so. Privacy is virtually nonexistent in UNC’s ER.

I had the misfortune to spend most of a recent day in the ER with my elderly father. As his legal guardian, I should have been able to have private conversations with the doctors and medical staff about my father, but privacy just doesn’t exist when patients are lined up on gurneys in hallways or separated from other patients by a few steps and flimsy half-curtains. Only ear plugs would have prevented me from hearing other patients’ complaints, symptoms and consultations.

I should not have been hearing about “do not resuscitate” standards being explained to an elderly patient or the chemotherapy complications of cancer patient or the contents being removed from another patient’s stomach. But sadly I heard all this and much more.

UNC goes to great lengths to provide privacy rights handouts, but there is no privacy in the ER. It’s time for UNC to make some real changes to its ER and to provide patients with the dignity, respect and privacy they deserve.

Jo Ann Ragazzo

Chapel Hill


I would like to know how many people are insulted by the current TV commercials sponsored by Duke Energy. “Jim, the lineman,” is telling us that Duke Energy is a wonderful and responsible company.

Come on. Duke is a for-profit monopoly being more or less forced to clean up its own mess. Whoever decided to spend money on a bunch of infantile commercials should have his or her job status questioned.

If Duke wants to impress me, clean up the coal ash and act openly and responsibly.

Carl Reichenbach



I would like to applaud the June 29 letter “ Us versus them.” Term limits for politicians are a must! Campaign finance reform, something else that would help re-establish the power of average residents, would also need the support of the very people who benefit from the millions that roll in. Neither will likely happen.

Both parties are puppets of the corporations and wealthy individuals who help finance political campaigns. We the people are merely an afterthought.

Sadly, we are partly to blame. A high-functioning democracy is dependent on an engaged and informed populace. I’m not sure we have either. The politicians rely on this.

It is disheartening to think many people’s votes are decided on negative TV ads or which candidate’s sign they see the most as they drive to work. I would love to see the “D” or the “R” next to the candidate’s name removed from the ballot. This would force people to do a little research to know exactly who they support.

There is much unrest. I do think people are starting to pay attention. We must be vigilant to ensure America’s government of the people, by the people and for the people continues to exist.

Brett Rodler



I keep reading and hearing over and over how Democrats are helping build a strong middle class. Really? How do high gasoline prices, exorbitant medical insurance premiums due to the ACA, higher college tuition, more hidden taxes in cell phone bills, more people on government assistance and the loss of jobs help build a stronger middle class?

Richard Rohrs



Gov. Pat McCrory and the right have boxed themselves into a corner in their robbing of Peter to rob Paul budget politics by adhering to popular but faulty logic of trickle-down economics. Sad that politicians hold on so dearly to rhetoric and disdain logic.

From Day One at his inauguration, McCrory pledged no new revenues, but I believe it’s his job to be creative, not political, in his role as governor. There are crying needs in this state in children’s education, mental health, infrastructure and overall health care that require investment and a reappraisal of a tax policy that favors McCrory’s rich donors and “fan” base. He needs to be reminded and shamed that he is governor of all the people.

Since he’s comparing his cronies to national leaders, I hope he sees his policies as futile as Herbert Hoover’s response to the Great Depression. This economy needs government stimulus to perk up and provide jobs to people, not the same tired trickle-down austerity from fat-cat donors.

Hopefully the right’s bait and switch message will be exposed in coming elections. They are not the party of Jesus Christ as they pretend.

Al Singer



In response to the May 30 news article “ Senate OKs $21.2B budget”: So, according to Sen. Ralph Hise, the current state Senate budget would cut Medicaid services for “only” about 5,000 elderly, blind and disabled people who qualify for the state/county special assistance program. Not to worry. He claims that they and other medically needy people cut from Medicaid can get insurance via the exchanges established under the federal Affordable Care Act.

Problem is, most of the people cut from Medicaid don’t make enough money to qualify for the federal subsidies that would enable them to purchase insurance. They are too poor to get subsidies, and because North Carolina refused to expand Medicaid, they are left out in the cold. Talk about death panels!

Nancy Swisher



I enjoyed the July 23 letter “ Of poets laureate and bypassing the process” articulating why experience and quality matter in the selection of North Carolina’s poet laureate.

Of course, we really shouldn’t be all that surprised about Gov. Pat McCrory’s first choice, whose body of work is slim and who is generally seen as a beginner in the artistic journey of refining her craft. He has a history of giving plum government jobs to young campaign staffers with no real experience in the positions they landed, and many of his higher-level appointments have gone to supporters or cronies who are woefully underprepared for the challenge or, worse, openly antagonistic to the purpose of the very departments they were chosen to oversee.

He sees himself as challenging the status quo when what he is really doing is bumbling around in the darkness of his own willful ignorance. I suppose we should be grateful if his next laureate appointee knows how to write a poem at all.

Karen Lewis Taylor



As George Santayana so aptly stated, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” The United States invaded Iraq and overthrew the government headed by Saddam Hussein.

Remember: Under Hussein, the government was harsh but stable.

Now the United States is sending “military advisers” to Iraq.

Remember: That’s the way our involvement in Vietnam started! Makes me wonder whether our government is run by a group of slow learners.

J. Fred Watson



Thank you for the July 8 Point of View “ Coal ash affront.” The writer is certainly correct. One of the things that concerns me the most in this bill is the woefully inadequate timeline for cleaning up the coal ash sites. Those sites closest to water should be cleaned up now with a maximum completion date of within two years instead of the five years stated in the bill. The remainder of the sites should be cleaned up within 10 years.

The idea that extensions should be granted is ludicrous. Why have a bill at all if we will grant extensions over the next 50 years?

Having the governor appoint the chairman and other members of the commission to be set up is like telling the fox that he can appoint the other foxes in the hen house. We do not need another commission. What we need is action to clean up this mess. We can only hope that someday the legislature and governor will realize that clean water needs to be protected more than the interests of Duke Energy.

Marvin Woll


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