Chapel Hill: Opinion

The conversation Oct. 22: Martha Warner, Wendy Tanson, Rachel Preston, Mariana Fiorentino

You do the math

Let’s see. Is it fair for citizens in our state of North Carolina to expect public servants to accurately present facts as they publicly support or oppose rulings of U.S. District Court judges? If so, we need to hold N.C. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, speaker of the N.C. House Thom Tillis, and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, all Republicans, accountable for misrepresenting facts surrounding the vote to ban gay marriage in N.C.

Columnist Patrick Gannon (CHN, reported that Forest “recalled that 61 percent of state voters voted for the 2012 constitutional amendment ‘to ensure the preservation of marriage defined as the union between one man and one woman.’” Another article reported that Speaker Phil Berger claimed that “more than 60 percent of North Carolina voters who define marriage as between one man and one woman deserve their day in court.”

News media previously informed us that 20 percent of eligible voters cast ballots on the issue of a constitutional ban on gay marriage in North Carolina. You do the math. There didn’t seem to be much discussion of the issue; and some people believed that a “yes” vote was a vote for upholding our U.S. constitutional principle of equal protection under the law. Also, Rob Christensen: our judicial branch interprets and upholds constitutional principles. The N.C. legislature belongs to another branch of government.

For those who believe gay marriage “is an affront to the Bible’s teaching,” please remember that our nation upholds the constitutional principle of separation of church and state. We also enjoy freedom of religion. We are not governed by any religion. Each individual is free to choose her/his religion (or none) but cannot impose choices on others. We value freedom!

Martha Warner

Retired high school social studies teacher


Better for business and human rights

I was so heartened to hear from a new real estate client today, a couple from California who plans to move back to North Carolina now that their marriage will be recognized by the state. As a local real estate broker in the greater Chapel Hill area, I was excited to speak with what is likely the first of many families who will opt to return to or move to the Triangle given the new recognition of their marital status.

As a member of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, I was proud to see the organization argue so passionately against Amendment One when the referendum was proposed. The chamber eloquently noted the arguments for equality and human rights, as well as the compelling reasons from the perspective of good business. And it’s clear, with the fall of Amendment One in our state, that marriage equality will not only make the area a more attractive place for employers to do business and recruit talent, but also a more attractive place for married couples and those who wish to get married to locate, prompting an uptick in relocation to our area. Of course, as Robert Kellogg notes in his letter from Wednesday’s edition (CHN,, much work remains to be done, including nondiscrimination in the workplace, transgender rights, and other related issues.

With marriage equality now in place and the fight continuing to extend equality to all peoples in all settings, I feel abundantly hopeful and happy that the California couple will be the first of many, many families to look to North Carolina as a new, viable place to call home.

Wendy Tanson

Chapel Hill

Wear bright colors

I am on a mission. My aunt, the much beloved Jean Fisher, did missionary work around the world, but this is a different very local engagement.

I am proposing that all the pedestrians, stroller pushers and bike riders wear safety colors – something very bright on your backpack, a scarf or hat, striping on your jacket, neon running shoes and light colored clothing. Pardon me if I sound racist, but especially if you are dark skinned, please help me out and wear bright, light colors.

We’ve had a run of misty dark mornings where I have had near misses with walkers, bikers and young moms pushing strollers – luckily I drive at the speed limit and look for you, but your odds would improve if you wore neon green or yellow safety vests. Somebody should invent a safety flagpole that sticks out 3 feet left or right of your bike and has super loud horn alarm if touched. Put some neon flagging on it while you are at it, and this former grammar school safety patrol officer will be much happier.

No more needless deaths on our streets!

Rachel Preston


Have you been to the ArtsCenter?

I was struck by the number of people who had never been to the ArtsCenter in Carrboro. Many who attended the Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours were surprised to learn that the ArtsCenter (TAC) is 40 years old and embarking on the Next 40 Campaign.

Attendees learned that TAC served more than 93,000 people in 2013-14. Over 30,000 children participate in activities offered by TAC. Arts Camp served 1,400 K-12 students during 11 summer weeks. The After School Arts Immersion program is attended by 40 young artists in grades K-5. They learn capoeira, movie making, puppetry, mask making, and screen children. Ninety five children attend teacher work day and holiday mini camps.

TAC also visits the schools. The art residencies programs in Orange County serves 1,400 school children many who might otherwise never experience water color, photography, ceramics, and other arts. Many discover their own creativity because of these programs. Children also visit TAC for performances, for many their first experience with live theater. Most were spellbound watching the recent Mike Wiley Production of “Box Brown.”

Theatrer, concerts and an an art gallery offer live entertainment and opportunities for artists to display their works.

The Arts School offers 483 classes for adults including theater, dance, cooking, glass working, paper making, textile arts, ceramics, sculpture, jewelry making, digital arts, photography, drawing, painting and writing. A new program called “Creatively Aging” offers classes for those 50 and up.

If you cannot remember your first time at TAC or if you never have had the experience why not stop in and pay a visit? Scholarships are offered and funded by people like you. Become a Friendof the ArtsCenter, support its programs and discover the creativity within you.

Mariana Fiorentino

ArtsCenter board member


Voting makes a diference

Bock, Stewart, and Petty run on a platform of “Common Sense” government. By that they mean abandonment of the responsibilities of good governance for the community of citizens in Chatham County. To hold to their theoretical beliefs they refused to maintain the normal cycle of property evaluation for taxing purposes. They say that they did not raise taxes – knowing full well that they will be required by law to do it after the election. Taxes provide citizen services. Voting – or not voting – has consequences.

They talk about the rights of private property. But they do not sort out through good governance which person will have these “rights” within our community of citizens. Thus in one example a “private property rights” person bought land for a gun range and put the “private property rights” of a multitude of his neighbors at risk from all the loud noise. The gun range owner will damage by thousands of dollars the property value of other citizens. Is this “Common Sense” government? Voting – or not voting – has consequences.

By the way, did the Koch-funded Americans For Prosperity try to sign up your cat to vote? They did that and mailed out much more voter misinformation. What’s with all AFP’s voter fraud activities? I thought that AFP were the citizens saying that they were going to “true the vote”? Remember, “Common Sense” government has been brought to you by these folks too. You might ask, WHOSE common sense?

Do your homework. Don’t be tricked by slick misdirection.

Each one of us is personally experiencing multiple consequences.

There are many more examples…

Do you like the consequences of our past elections?

Jim Crawford, Diana Hales, and Karen Howard provide a breath of fresh air!

Bruce Davis

Chatham County