Durham News: Opinion

The Conversation, Feb. 15: John Davis, Inge Simonsen and Bruce Westbrook

Getting the boot

I recently saw two tow trucks make upwards of $1,000 on a Wednesday night at the Brightleaf area of Main Street between Duke and Buchanan. This seems to be a relatively new activity there.

They are putting “boots” on people’s autos and trucks that are parked in the empty retail lots on that stretch of Main Street, and/or towing them away. Minimum charge for removing the “boot” (which immobilizes the vehicle) is $100. Minimum charge for towing is $200 (towing, boot removal, storage, etc.).

When I was there (with my bicycle thankfully) I saw a friend who was playing music at Skewers have to fork out a hundred bucks. And another person, who was having dinner with a friend at The Federal restaurant had to pay twice that much and found himself stranded without a vehicle to ride home in.

People have been parking in these lots at night for years, when they are largely empty, so this is relatively new. There are towing signs posted by these lots, but they are hard to notice or read at night.

I can't see how this practice is helping Main Street businesses at all – customers can easily take their money to downtown venues or to Rigsbee Street or American Tobacco instead. Perhaps they should!

You may be aware that the town of Chapel Hill has been dealing with predatory downtown towing issues for some time, without much success but, hey – this is Durham!

Bruce Westbrook


Let’s all chant

I propose a unifying solution to the discussion of the Muslim call-to-prayer chant from Duke University Chapel.

Christians used to have a similar tradition ringing church bells on Sunday mornings. The protest of nonreligious sleepers did away with this custom.

My proposal is that we should allow a chant from all steeples once a week, once a day: Fridays it would be the Muslim adhan, Saturdays a Jewish cantor and Sundays a Christian singer, all of a prescribed length and loudness and sung alternately by women and men.

The adhan already has a “melody.” Jewish cantors have theirs. Please, Christian musicians compose a lovely chant and priests/pastors should give us a few inspiring words to celebrate the greatness of our God. And sleepers: Awake!

Inge Simonsen


Grossly inappropriate

Some letter writers (Jan. 18, N&O) expressing their thoughts about the Duke Chapel tower controversy began “Duke’s decision to ... was wrong’” and then picked one side or the other of the issue to criticize.The correct opening should be “Duke’s decisions to ... were both wrong.”

Both the timing and substance of the initial decision to allow the use of the tower for this purpose when the victims of the “Allahu Akbar” shooting terrorists in Paris were barely in their graves were atrocious.

Subjecting all students to listen to the adhan prayer, whether they wanted to or not, was a grossly inappropriate imposition.

But having made this ill-advised decision, Duke then lost the courage of its convictions and backed down. What kind of message does this send to students, alumni and the world – “act/react before you think”? What a sad day for this once-proud institution.

John Davis


A total waste

It was hardly surprising to read the news article “SolarBees go rogue on Jordan Lake” (N&O, Feb. 10) This is exactly what the Haw River Assembly told the state and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would happen if they allowed SolarBees to be used in Jordan Lake.

There is no scientific rationale for putting these in such a huge, 14,000-acre reservoir and especially on the Haw River arm where water flows into the lake at over 1,000 cubic feet per second in regular winter rains (current flow recently was 1,550 CFS).

The SolarBees are a serious danger to boaters and a waste of taxpayer money. Worst of all, they are allowing polluters to avoid the only real way to clean up Jordan Lake – by reducing the pollution flowing in!

It’s time for the state and U.S. Army Corps to pull the plug on this rogue experiment.

Elaine Chiosso

Haw Riverkeeper