Chapel Hill News

The conversation: Robert L. Porreca, Scott Goldsmith, Suzanne Haff, Mary Lindsley and Vicki Boyer

Easily replaced

The UNC Board of Governors’ decision to close the UNC Center for Poverty, Work and Opportunity in the face of a mass of hyperbole is a good one.

The center, established to give the magnificently narcissistic John Edwards a platform upon which to build his presidential ambition, has, since that train-wreck, been led by Mr. Gene Nichol whose opinion pieces evidence a similar character. Given a chance to prove the impact the center had on the indigent he chose to launch an attack on questioners wrapped in the flag of academic freedom. Exactly what, if anything, the center accomplished since its inception is obscured by the smoke of his self-righteous indignation

From what I have read, the center was an indigent legal service using law students. It can handily be replaced by a “UNC Indigent Legal Services” with a mission to provide same to the poor without Mr. Nichol’s self-centered posturing. Perhaps, once their cause is no longer subordinate to one man’s ego, the indigent will finally see some benefit. Gene Nichol loses nothing in the process except his stage, built on the backs of the poor.

Robert L. Porreca


Meals on Wheels: A second take

On Feb. 25, the Chapel Hill News published a column by Mary Carey, concerning the Poverty Center and her experiences with Meals-On-Wheels (MOW). I have no disagreement with Ms Carey's support of the Poverty Center, but am troubled by her statements about MOW. My wife and I have driven and baked for Chapel Hill MOW for four years now and find some of what was said to be misleading and to espouse a perspective quite different from that held by myself and, to my knowledge, many other drivers.

Ms. Carey speaks of MOW as if it were a poverty organization, which it is not. MOW serves those who are disabled or aged by delivering daily meals (five days a week) to help these people remain in their homes. Clients are charged on a sliding scale. Some of our clients are below the poverty level others are quite comfortable and most are somewhere in between. By talking about only our below poverty level clients, the article attaches a stigma to MOW which is clearly erroneous.

The perspective espoused by the column is also troubling. While some of my clients live in impoverished conditions, I would not want them to feel that I am disheartened when I enter their homes. I see my clients as people, not as the conditions in which they live and it hurts to think that they might read Ms. Carey’s words and think that those of us delivering meals are judging them by their surroundings. Most of us develop relationships with our clients. For many of our clients, we are among the few people they see in the course of a week. Short as our visits often are, we deliver more than food. Even if they do not get out much, I still ask about their week and talk about the weather and other things of interest. It is also our job to check on them. If they appear ill or disoriented, we report it so that family can be informed.

Being a driver also has its rewards, they come in the form of smiles, greetings, and sometimes even hugs. I agree with Ms. Carey that “Each recipient was (is) kind, welcoming, and incredibly appreciative.” The part of the job that I find difficult, is not the homes in which these people live, but the fact that I build relationships and these relationships end, as clients go off to hospitals or nursing homes, or pass away. I miss them and miss the chance to say goodbye .

Scott Goldsmith

Chapel Hill

Setting low bar

Robert Saunders, representing the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce board of directors, describes how the chamber wants to improve our K-12 educational system (”Moving forward in 2015,” CHN, March 4).

“The measure of success for our local schools should not be whether our high school students are admitted to Harvard or Yale, or how many Morehead, Park, or A.B. Duke scholars we produce,” Saunders wrote. “The measure of success should be whether every high school graduate is on track for the work he or she wants to do in life, and whether students are prepared to support their families and to be good citizens.”

His goals are the minimum that any school system should achieve, but what besides the minimum do we want for the children of Orange County? We want them to achieve their potential and go into the greater world and serve as their talents allow. I hope this vision for our education system is not reflective of the rest of the chamber members.

We are not, as he states, just a “sleepy university town.”

Does the rest of the chamber agree with his vision for our schools and our town? I hope not!

Suzanne Haff

Chapel Hill

Hate crime or not

Thank you so much, Wanda Hunter, for continuing this important discussion (“Key questions in the Chapel Hill shootings,” CHN, March 4).

Whether it is ultimately judged a hate crime or not, the context around this senseless tragedy makes it impossible for our community to sweep the discussions of racism and white privilege under the rug for all the reasons you point out. I have heard people report that the Muslim community wants this to be called a hate crime. How about the rest of us? This is too big to let go with last month’s news, and I join you in demanding that we ask ourselves these questions and work harder to hold ourselves to a new standard.

Here is one action coming up: take a friend or neighbor and visit our area mosque. They are having an open house on Saturday, March 14.

Mary Lindsley


Talking and listening

As a long-time observer of local elections I have seen many differences in how elected officials manage their campaigns and reach out to the general public. Some do it well, some do not.

The recent Town Hall listening sessions held by Chapel Hill’s Lee Storrow set a new and higher standard all elected officials should aspire to meet. Each session has touched on a different set of issues affecting our communities. Those present each had a chance to tell their councilman what they thought about issues like parking, zoning, development, or whatever. Lee showed himself to be a good listener with thoughtful responses. Unlike a lot of politicians, he let the people talk more than he did.

One more town hall remains and that will be March 12, in room A at the Chapel Hill library, between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. This meeting will focus on “Working Together” and Lee will be joined by Orange County Commissioner Earl McKee and UNC representative Linda Convissor. I hope you can be there.

Vicki Boyer


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