Chapel Hill: Opinion

The conversation, Oct.8: Thomas Kelley, David Schwartz, Kristi Webb, Deby Dihoff, Brenda Hyde Rogers and Carol Reuss

Biker’s hand signal

I am a regular bicycle commuter. I had a troubling and sadly typical experience Friday in downtown Carrboro.

As I was riding through a busy intersection, I glanced over my left shoulder in preparation for signaling my intention to turn left and was startled to see that a minivan, traveling at approximately 15 miles per hour, was only a few feet from my rear wheel.

When the driver passed to my right, I noticed that her window was down, so I told her that she was following too closely. She responded angrily that I was not using proper hand signals and implied that I deserved to be tailgated. She seemed to believe that by startling me she was teaching me a lesson.

To Carrboro citizens who find bike commuters irritating, I offer a deal. I will make an effort to be crisp with my hand signals. In exchange, you refrain from threatening to crush me with your five-thousand pound vehicles. Such a deal will spare my life and your financial future. If you are disappointed with bikers’ hand signals, it will be much safer and cheaper to write letters to the editor.

Thomas Kelley

Chapel Hill

Nothing personal

The Chapel Hill town staff work for all of us, and we all therefore have a responsibility to help our elected leaders identify areas of staff performance where problems may be occurring, and to offer constructive suggestions for how to fix the problems.

It is difficult for us to do this, however, because Chapel Hill town government does not provide any formal way for us to share with elected officials our concerns regarding the performance of the town manager or other senior administrators.

I and nine other Chapel Hill residents, therefore, recently used the town’s petition process to communicate to elected officials our concerns regarding the town manager’s stewardship of our public finances. Specifically, we asked the Town Council to look into several instances of what appears to be poor fiscal management, including excessive payments to consultants for work of questionable value and failure to set aside money to help fund the town’s $56 million retiree benefits liability.

Our petition should not be misconstrued as a personal attack on the town manager. It is, rather, an effort to bring to council members’ attention several instances where the town manager appears to have made poor decisions or withheld important information, or where he failed to have in place proper managerial systems and processes.

We hope the council members will address with the manager the important issues we have raised when they carry out his upcoming performance evaluation and that they will not be distracted by mischaracterizations of the petition or of our motives in submitting it. We also look forward to hearing from our elected officials what they intend to do to help ensure that the costly managerial lapses we have identified do not recur.

Further information concerning the petition and the managerial lapses we identified can be found at

David Schwartz

Chapel Hill

Oates contributes

I was so happy to read Nancy Oates’ piece in Sunday’s paper! (CHN, I have missed her since the demise of the Chapel Hill Weekly.

Please make her a regular! She and Mary Sonis make important contributions to our community.

Kristi Webb

via Facebook

Outrage over prison death

We should all be outraged over the death of Mr. Michael Kerr, who had a serious mental illness and died of dehydration while in the care of our prison system.

Mr. Kerr was in segregation for more than a month before his death. Here suicides occur more often, symptoms become more pronounced, decompensation can occur requiring crisis care to hospitalization. It simply does not work with those with mental illnesses!

What mental health care did he receive while in prison? Were the families concerns about their loved one taken into consideration? We need protections in prisons for those with disabilities, like limits on seclusion and isolation, treatment requirements, and monitoring and oversight. All this can be achieved through requiring accreditation. That has been discontinued in North Carolina, and this is the result.

Despite this truly awful story, there are some positives happening, like the prisons expansion of training for employees to help them understand that many of the behaviors are illness symptoms, not signs of needed disciplinary action. But these changes did not happen fast enough to help Mr. Kerr and his family. Let’s get these changes made now. It’s urgent.

Deby Dihoff

Executive director

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) North Carolina

Voting rights misunderstood

The League of Women Voters and our partners have won our request for the injunction to protect our citizens’ constitutional right to vote! The Fourth Circuit Appeals Court ruled yesterday that same day registration and out of precinct provisional voting must be in place for the November election. Although our request to keep the week of early voting that the law eliminated was not granted, the appeals court left open the possibility for us winning that claim when the full trial is heard July 2015.

The appeals court found that the Fourth District Court had erred in its legal analysis, failing to consider North Carolina’s long history of racial discrimination and the cumulative impact of all of the measures in the new voting law. Furthermore, the district court totally misunderstood the Voting Rights Act, and although it did not go into our constitutional claims that the intent of the law is discriminatory, we are encouraged that we will win our case based on the argument that the constitutional rights of minorities are violated by the law. To quote from the ruling, “There can be no doubt that certain challenged measures in House Bill 589 disproportionately impact minority voters.”

As the state spends hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend a flawed and unconstitutional law, we stand by our mission to protect the rights of all voters!

Brenda Hyde Rogers

League of Women Voters of North Carolina

Off my screen

It is bad enough to have my home invaded by bitter political ads but now the money-slathered campaign of Thom Tillis pushes his photo onto my computer screen. Down boy!

Carol Reuss

Chapel Hill

Our fair share

Most of us conservatives strongly believe that we should get back from the U.S. government a fair share of the funds we send there. Also, most of us think it would be sheer nonsense to be paying federal taxes into a program which would benefit 500,000 poor North Carolinians who work in low paying jobs, but our state legislature and governor have said,

Right here in the middle of the Bible Belt can you believe our state government has rejected something so badly needed by the working poor in our state, even though our taxes are already paying for it. I just read that rejection of the ACA

Now we learn that Thom Tillis, our Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate was the ring leader who persuaded the state legislature and our governor to reject this program. This is the King Daddy of all bad public policy decision I know of. I believe that anyone with a modicum of economic sense and strong Christian values would agree, be they conservative Republicans or Democrats. 500,000 people could have health insurance and the state could be receiving $10 million dollars a day and Tillis said

If all of this is true I wonder how anyone (Republican or Democrat) could support this candidate to be our U.S. Senator. North Carolina deserves better.

Charles J. Rogers