Chapel Hill: Opinion

The Conversation: Amanda Ashley, Joe Capowski, Anne McNamara, Mona Couts, Louis Weinstein, Pat Thompson, Carol Reuss, Thomas Kelley, Flora O’Brien and Colin Barnett

To pay or not to pay

Editor’s note: Our story on Chapel Hill Transit needing $80 million in coming years to replace its aging fleet generated several emails and responses on editor Mark Schutz’s Facebook page.

Amanda Ashley: Please continue fare-free transit service. The positives are well known. Public officials should be knowledgeable and smart enough to create the funding through other methods other than imposing rider fees.

Joe Capowski: I remember when Chapel Hill Transit went fare-free first on ozone-alert days in the late ’90s, then fully fare-free later, and it was a success beyond belief. The drivers like it because they don't have to deal with cards, passes or money, and obviously the passengers do too. When then UNC vice chancellor for business and finance Nancy Suttenfield recognized that UNC could not survive without Chapel Hill Transit and backed up her words with big bucks, this was wonderful, and the students pitched in with their own transit assessment. To help decide what to do now, I would like to see the answers to two questions: What would a property tax increase be to continue the current operations? How would leasing instead of buying buses help? I ride the four routes that go up South Columbia Street and when I see the J bus chug up the hill, Standing Room Only, like the little engine that could, I realize how important this issue is. Finally, what are the lowest-ridership routes?

Anne McNamara: There is no mode of transportation that is free except for walking. And the user pays for the transportation! Whether it is a bike, a boat, a car, a train, a cab, a plane – it costs the rider to use it. Why should taxpayers pay for transportation of bus riders in Chapel Hill? Chapel Hill is a relatively small area and most of those who ride the buses could walk (free). And since Chapel Hill is a certified "Bicycle Friendly Community" biking is a very affordable option for just about anyone. Bus riders should pay to ride.

Mona Couts: Absolutely the towns and university should consider charging a fee to ride the bus. Need $80 million dollars? Already charging everyone EXCEPT the people who actually ride the bus?This seems a total no-brainer for me. Seems patently obvious that a free bus system is not sustainable. Yes, charge a fee to ride the bus,

Louis Weinstein: I think a fee should be paid to ride buses in Chapel Hill. We have some of the highest property taxes in the state, and the buses are a large part of that budget. The tax burden is forcing low income and senior citizens out of Chapel Hill. If UNC wishes to keep fare-free buses let the university pay a much larger share. They can afford it by using some of the big bucks they get from the NCAA. Parking lots around town are full of drivers parking their car and jumping a free bus into town, leaving no spaces.

Leash your dogs

Having hiked near Robbinsville last summer, I read with horror Kade Anderson’s letter about the attack upon him and his dogs in the Nantahalas (CHN,

On a more minor scale, a loose dog ran at me full tilt while I was hiking in Battle Park on Sunday. The owner, following the dog at a slow pace, said “Oh, he’s friendly,” when I shouted at her to leash her dog.

There are plenty of dog parks in Chapel Hill, where owners can let their dogs run freely. Why do they have to impose their pets on the walker/hiker who is looking for a little peace and quiet, not to mention safety? Love ’em?

Leash ’em!

Pat Thompson

Chapel Hill

Bookmark this

Thursday’s N&O once again carried a short piece on Rep. Skip Stam’s affinity for the Magna Carta.

Can’t someone convince him that the Bill of Rights is the document of import in the United States?

The ACLU has a neat bookmark with very brief notes on the contents of the Bill of Rights. Any chance the ACLU of NC can distribute the bookmark to legislators –and schools?

Carol Reuss

Chapel Hill

Lack of courage

Regarding the news article “ Duke reverses on Muslim prayer” (N&O, Jan. 16): Franklin Graham and his ilk are bullies, and Duke University lacks a spine.

Graham claims that permitting the Muslim call to prayer from Duke’s Chapel would be “wrong because it’s a different God.” Contrast that to the tolerance and respect shown by my West African Islamic friends who are fond of reminding me “there is only one God but many paths.”

Graham further characterizes followers of Islam as “raping, butchering, and beheading Christians.” Yet, in Rwanda, where I have spent time, Islamic imams risked death during that country’s genocide by offering asylum (often within the walls of mosques) to their Christian neighbors who were being systematically hunted and slaughtered by other Christians. Many of the mass killings during Rwanda’s genocide happened inside of churches, and many priests and nuns were complicit.

Is Christianity as a whole also a violent religion? Obviously not.

Duke’s decision to permit the prayer call was a symbolically important reminder that the vast majority of Muslims worldwide are peaceful and tolerant. Duke’s reversal shows that it lacks the institutional courage to stand up to bullying by narrow-minded extremists.

Thomas Kelley

Chapel Hill

Same God for all

Regarding the Jan. 16 news article “ Duke reverses on Muslim prayer”: May I be so bold as to correct the illustrious Franklin Graham regarding the proposed Muslim call to prayer from the Duke bell tower.

The Muslim God is not “a different god.” He is the God of Abraham, the same God worshiped by Jews and Christians.

During the 1990s, I was in Casablanca on a medical mission. There were windows in the operating room, and we could hear the adhan several times a day. It was beautiful, of course, but it served to remind us of our humanitarian purpose, that our one God commanded us to love Him by loving one another.

Flora O’Brien


Meat and madmen

We join the rest of the world in mourning the brave staff of the magazine Charlie Hebdo, gunned down by religious fanatics for defending freedom of the press.

Meat industry fanatics in the U.S. have devised a more subtle means of stifling freedom of the press. The states of Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and Utah have enacted “ag-gag“ laws that impose criminal penalties on investigators seeking to expose animal abuses and safety violations in factory farms.

According to an Associated Press report, four members of an animal protection organization were charged with violating Utah’s ag-gag law. They sought to document the daily transport of thousands of pigs from the infamous Circle Four factory farm in Cedar City (Utah) to the Farmer John slaughterhouse in Los Angeles.

Ag-gag laws are clearly unconstitutional and are being challenged in federal courts. Assaults on press freedom need to be confronted wherever they rear their ugly heads, even when they assume the legitimacy of a state law.

Colin Barnett

Chapel Hill