2/11 Letters: Does the punishment really fit the crime for VA elected officials?

Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, Attorney General Mark Herring and Gov. Ralph Northam in Richmond on Dec. 18, 2017.
Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, Attorney General Mark Herring and Gov. Ralph Northam in Richmond on Dec. 18, 2017.

Observing the situation in Virginia, where the top three government officials face demands that they resign, I was reminded of a maxim from the 19th century philosopher W.S. Gilbert (Sullivan’s partner): “Let the punishment fit the crime.”

None of the three are accused of misconduct in office. One is accused of sexual assault 15 years ago; he denies the charge. The other two did things their youth that (by today’s standards) represent racial insensitivity; they have apologized. But, goes the argument, they are damaged goods and should step aside.

The public has a right to be concerned, even outraged, but the public also has remedies: vote them out at the next opportunity, or mount a recall effort. An election should not be voided just because it was found much later that the winner did something regrettable in the past.

The punishment does not fit the crimes. In two of the cases the appropriate punishment has already been delivered: they were forced to apologize. Sexual assault is clearly more serious, but after 15 years it is unlikely to be resolved. All three were duly elected and have every right to serve out their terms. I hope they do.

Lawrence Evans


Land and leadership

Kudos to Raleigh city leaders for the vision and imagination that led to the purchase of the Dorothea Dix property for use as a city park. Their impressive master plan to create a premier city park was presented to the public this week. Kudos to the Town of Garner for the recent purchase of 72 acres for $2.4 million for use as park land for the town.

Contrast this visionary leadership in the preservation of essential open space for the enjoyment of area citizens to the blatant lack of such leadership by four of seven Wake County Commissioners. On Jan. 7, Commissioner Ford led a vote that included Commissioner Holmes, Commissioner West and Commissioner Adamson to declare 143 acres of potential park land near Fuquay Varina as surplus and ordered county staff to sell the property. This is land that the 2018 Board of Commissioners had voted to purchase for $4 million, land that already possesses the topography and infrastructure and facilities that are ideally suited for a park.

This unprecedented and horrendously wayward decision brings shame on Wake County’s Board of Commissioners, and communicates to every resident of southern Wake County that their needs and desires and support for parks and open space in their corner of the County don’t really matter.

Robert M. Austin


NC utility hearing

On Monday, I had the privilege of being the second to testify before the North Carolina Utilities Commission during a hearing that was largely under-the-radar but, by many definitions, the most important in the history of this state. The NCUC is in the process of approving an Integrated Resource Plan that requires Duke to produce only 8 percent renewable energy by 2033 (and this plan ups spending on natural gases).

It is pretty much unanimously agreed upon in the scientific community that if we do not cut our carbon emissions in half by 2025 (meaning at least 50 percent renewable energy), our civilization is doomed. Duke’s plan doesn’t even come close; it is a proposed atomic bomb to be dropped on the state. Plus, these environmental impacts will — as always — disproportionately affect vulnerable communities that have contributed least to this crisis.

Duke is the largest utility provider in the nation. This decision is monumental. I’m 17 years old. The first person to testify to the NCUC was 2 years younger. We may live to see the end of the planet. Where is the outrage?

Lily Eliana Levin


Signs of progress

My husband and I just spent a week in Raleigh to get married and stayed with my family in Wendell. The last time I spent time in the south was 50 years ago, and I remember the tensions and disharmony that were a part of the evolving South. This trip was wonderful. Where there had been a division between black and white, there now was not. People were just people. In stores, at the county courthouse, in restaurants walking around, people were just people. I know there are places where racism still exists but I didn’t see it in Raleigh. Your city makes me feel good about our country. Thank you.

Teresa Durrant

Cuenca, Ecuador