Chapel Hill: Opinion

The conversation, Oct. 26: Peter Aitken, Dave Pier, Dana Mochel, John P. Anderson, Lynne Kane

Cancer research funding imbalance

Terri Buckner’s column on “pinkwashing” (CHN, is an important reminder of how many companies, some with questionable public health records, are climbing on the breast cancer bandwagon to improve their public image.

There is a related matter that people should also be aware of: the issue of cancer research funding disparities.

The many people concerned about breast cancer have devoted a lot of skill and energy into directing government and private dollars to fund research on this specific disease, with great success. While this is certainly to their credit, there is an unintended and unfortunate consequence: a serious imbalance in cancer research funding, with more dollars going to breast cancer research than to other types of cancer that have a greater public health impact.

Breast cancer kills an estimated 40,000 people each year, while pancreatic cancer kills about the same number, colorectal cancer kills 20 percent more, and lung cancer kills four times as many (data from Yet, breast cancer research gets a whole lot more money from various sources, including the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society. Looking only at the NCI funding on a per-death basis, breast cancer research funding is three times as much as for colorectal cancer, four times as much as for kidney cancer, and a whopping eight times as much as for lung cancer.

We all look forward to the day when breast cancer has been conquered, but research priorities should be based on medical and scientific factors, not influenced by political activism and clever public relations. Throwing more money at a problem does not necessarily bring a solution any sooner, but shorting research on other cancers may well delay advances that could save a lot of lives – even if there aren’t any cute pink ribbons involved.

Peter Aitken

Chapel Hill

Blaming bicyclists

A bicyclist dies, and Bonnie Hauser responds with an accusatory piece implying that bicyclists must share the blame for accidents on the road (CHN,

She paints a lurid picture of roving packs of cyclists “impeding traffic,” “ignoring basic laws,” and even failing to pull over for fire trucks and ambulances. Talk about blaming the victim.

Seriously, how often are cars and trucks endangered, or for that matter even inconvenienced, by bicyclists, compared to the other way around? Does Hauser have some statistics to back up her apportioning of blame, or is she just stewing about that one time when she was “in a rush” on some rural road, and was momentarily delayed by a bunch of inconsiderate bikers?

Dave Pier

Chapel Hill

Look both ways

So the driver who fatally struck a cyclist in Chapel Hill Oct. 3 won’t be charged (CHN, I have been in a similar situation, although while walking. A motorist looks one way, not both, and starts up. Yes, I’m the one who pounded on your fender when you were starting to run me down, although I was on the sidewalk and had the right of way. Look both ways before you start up!

Dana Mochel


Charlottesville’s example

As a long-time fan of Chapel Hill (my family moved to Chapel Hill in 1971 when my father accepted a position at UNC; I work in Chapel Hill; our two sons are graduates of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools; I am a member of the Board of Directors of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce), I wanted to let you know how pleased I am to hear about additional commercial development in Chapel Hill.

Additional developments such as Obey Creek, the redevelopment of Glen Lennox and developments within the Ephesus-Fordham redevelopment area, will help increase our commercial tax base and will hopefully decrease the property tax burden on Chapel Hill property owners. Perhaps this will help slow down the number of couples we know who move out of Chapel Hill and Carrboro once their youngest child graduates from high school.

Earlier this month, my wife and I went to Charlottesville, Va., to celebrate our anniversary. Charlottesville has three distinct business districts that all seem to be doing very well – The Corner, right next to the UVA campus; the Downtown Mall (a walking mall); and the Route 29 North Corridor. While The Corner and the Downtown Mall are dominated by locally-owned businesses, the 29 North Corridor is filed with many nationally recognized retailers, movie theaters, car dealers, etc. Each of these business districts appeared to be thriving – indicating that locally-owned business and nationally owned or franchised business can both succeed in the same town.

This allows the citizens of Charlottesville to shop in their hometown and keep their tax dollars local. Those of us living in Chapel Hill and Carrboro do a large portion of our shopping at establishments in other jurisdictions, such as in Durham (15-501 corridor, Costco, Sam’s Club and SouthPoint Mall), Mebane (Tanger Outlets) and Chatham County (new Wal-Mart). I would also like to point out that while the 29 North Corridor has grown dramatically since my wife and I lived there in the mid-1980’s, the Downtown Mall and The Corner have retained their charm and local feeling.

In quickly comparing property tax rates in Charlottesville and Chapel Hill, it appears that the Charlottesville rate is approximately 60 percent of the Chapel Hill rate. This is a significant difference and one that is likely taken into account when UVA tries to recruit faculty and staff from UNC. Chapel Hill and Charlottesville are, of course, different, but they are both well-known and well-liked university towns.

As Ellie Kinnaird said on WCHL last week, virtually all of us live in a “development,” so we should thank a developer.

John P. Anderson


Health and safety candidates

Obamacare does not put the government between you and your doctor. Your insurance company was already between you and your doctor. Now Obamacare limits the restrictions insurance companies can put on your health care, especially now “no pre-existing conditions” can prevent you from getting health insurance.

Obamacare is providing health insurance to many more Americans who could not afford to buy healthcare previously. The health-care costs rise is slowing since Obamacare is in effect. Now N.C. needs to take the federal money for Medicaid expansion for the very poor.

Vote for candidates who support your health and safety, not those who support only big corporations and who block even road and bridge reconstruction money in Congress.

Vote for U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, U.S. Rep.David Price, for Laura Fjeld, N.C. Sen., Valerie Foushee, N.C. Reps.Graig Meyer and Verla Insko, and Judges Alan Baddour, Carl Fox, Mark D. Martin, Robin Hudson, Sam Ervin IV, Cheri Beasley, Lucy Inman, Mark Davis, John Arrowood.

Lynne Kane

Chapel Hill