Regarding “Always Billy, ‘America’s pastor’ is dead at 99” (Feb. 22): As a reporter in the early 1970s for the old Charlotte News, I covered Billy Graham on several occasions, including during a week-long crusade he conducted in Charlotte. A year or two later, The News sent me up to Raleigh to cover one night of a crusade Graham was holding up here.
I arranged in advance with his staff to have an interview with him. When I was ushered into the room where he was preparing for that night’s event, he greeted me warmly. Graham had met me during that earlier crusade in Charlotte and had even sent me a note of thanks after the crusade had ended.
Of course, he had certainly known plenty of reporters during his career and I had no reason to feel extra special as I began the Raleigh interview. Even so, during my time with him, he made me feel as if I were the most important person in his universe. The interview probably lasted no more than 15 minutes, but at no time did I feel as if we were rushed. Despite his busy schedule, he had all the time in the world for one more reporter, even one from his hometown of Charlotte.
Frankly, he stands among the most impressive individuals that I have met in my career. He surprised me at the end by presenting me with an inscribed bible. I still have it today.
Regarding “NC lawmakers will consider arming teachers following school shootings” (Feb. 20): Our teachers have enough responsibilities already taking care and teaching our kids. They don’t need the additional very large responsibility of training to be proficient at handling a gun in a stressful situation and to stay proficient at over time.
This is a really stupid idea.
Fix district maps
Regarding “The gerrymander king condemns partisanship” (Feb. 16): It’s basically an accepted fact that NC legislative districts are wildly unrepresentative and gerrymandered beyond reasonable definitions of “democracy.” Despite this, most of our political organizations and leaders of resistance seem to be responding to it with politics-as-usual: donate money and go vote. How will this help?
Whether we vote or not, state Republicans will likely maintain a stranglehold on our state’s politics that the few Democrats we do elect are afraid to take even symbolic stands against (looking at you, Roy Cooper). Now, I’m not saying “don’t vote,” because that would be heresy. Apathy gets us nowhere.
But since voting is unlikely to be any more productive, and if we want to fix the problem we will need mass organization and mobilization that cannot be achieved through mere electoral campaigning, we need to consider how best to use our political resources to build this movement. If our leaders were serious, both about how broken our system is and what is needed to fix it, they would call for and organize an electoral boycott of any elections held with the current anti-democratic electoral districts. We should not be content to rubber stamp an authoritarian NC General Assembly.
Once again a front page article, “Lawmakers urge Gov. Cooper to consider deploying NationalGuard at NC prisons” (Feb. 20), reminds us of understaffing at our state correctional facilities and the deadly results that brings. Our General Assembly, which controls the NC budget, must allocate more money to properly attract and compensate prison staff.
Though the majority on the House Budget Committee wants to show how stringent it is regarding spending state revenue, what it also demonstrates is how incorrect it is regarding the dangerous environment in our prisons and the proper spending that dangerous environment requires. Our governor is not to blame if he is not given a realistic budget for this unavoidable spending requirement.
How often must these deadly results occur for the state House to learn a lesson that many of us citizens already recognize? Saving money just to show that it can be saved is an ill-considered action, especially after these numerous deadly incidences. If the House requires more tax dollars, then tax us further. Allowing the occurrence of prisoner and guard deaths just because legislators want to please their constituencies is unacceptable.