The Opinion Shop

Bonus letters on teachers, bees, baseball, gun control and traffic

Letters that got overrun by other issues before they could see print:


I was unable to attend church recently because traffic was stopped at the intersection of Sunset Lake and Bass Lake Roads so Ironman bicycle riders could pass through the light. Signs had been up for over a week warning of delays.

However, this was not a delay. Traffic was stopped, and from what I witnessed after waiting 10 minutes, the traffic could have been stopped for up to 45 minutes to allow all of the hundreds of bicyclers to pass.

I finally turned around, along with dozens of other frustrated drivers, and returned home.

I wondered what could cause city government officials to allow this to happen. Why would city officials deny access to public roads on a Sunday morning?

I checked the Ironman website and realized people come from all over the United States, and even all over the world, to participate. This must mean a lot of money for businesses in the Raleigh area.

Money is not evil. However, the love of money is the root of all evil. Apparently, city organizers love money more than they do the residents they serve.

These are public roads, paid for by taxpayer dollars. They should be open at all times so that everyone can get from place to place as desired.

Sandy Bartlett



The May 22 cartoon offered a false choice. If we are going to save mankind then we also need to save bees and the rest of our habitat.

I suppose we can live on some Solyent Green-like kibble, but pollination-based food would be more satisfying. Conservation comes down to quality of life.

We could decimate our planet and survive, or we can fight for a lifstyle that is more than survival.

Maybe environmentalism would be more successful if we appealed to people’s selfishness instead of the crunchy Earth Mother approach.

Steve Coombs



Regarding the May 23 Backyard Wildlife column “ What you can do to protect bees”: Significant research links poor bee health and their drastic decline to neonicotinoids in pesticides, a billion-dollar global industry.

When I visited the Bayer CropScience Bee Care Center in Research Triangle Park last spring, data presented included a “cascade of factors,” varoa mites touted as primary culprit; no mention that the “neonics” it markets might be a leading factor.

Supporting bee health comprehensive approach, the Obama administration is seeking new funding for bee colony collapse studies. The European Union banned neonicotinoids years ago; Lowe’s home improvement stores have recently followed suit.

Bayer would have us believe that pesticide misuse is the danger, not “proper” application of neonics. Biodiversity needs protective measures when the central nervous system of bees is threatened in cumulative, irreversible ways. How much toxic chemical onslaught can bee immune systems take?

A moratorium on neonicontinoids would benefit the search for sustained healing of this vital and precious ecosystem link. Will environmental protection trump grasping mega-profits?

Let us pay attention and resist swallowing any fiercely lobbied spoonfuls of honeyed propaganda. Widespread use of highly questionable pesticides is cause for alarm. Bad medicine never needs to go down.

Linda Fuller



I wholeheartedly agree with the May 10 letter “ Batter up, Raleigh” written in support of bringing back baseball to downtown Raleigh.

A Raleigh team with a downtown park would be a big attraction for people of all ages to come downtown for reasons other than to drink and eat, though it certainly would be a boon for restaurants, bars and other retail.

A team would help to strengthen the sense of community, and it would be a great reason to improve existing transit, as well as create new and better transit. If we had a Triple-A team like Durham, the rivalry between the two teams would benefit both.

Raleigh will always be a second-class city without baseball. It’s that important.

Richard Garrison



The June 2 column “ Why woo the Duggars at all?” certainly makes some noteworthy points, but it missed one important item.

Considering the negative aspect of an ever-growing world population, TLC should be ashamed for running the series “19 Kids and Counting.” Imagine what would happen in the United States if every couple had 19 children? The population of the United States would explode from 320 million to about 900 million in just one generation.

Then imagine how all these people would be fed and housed, and further consider the natural resources and infrastructure required to sustain our standard of living. All of these necessities would result in environmental destruction of an unpresented magnitude along with the loss of our quality of life.

What all the “family values” politicians that wooed the Duggars should be doing is passing legislation that protects responsible-sized families from outliers like the Duggars.

A good legislative beginning would be to pass a law restricting tax deductions for dependent children to no more than two per family while allowing for special situations like multiple births, adoptions and combined families. We should not be required to subsidize the Duggars for their irresponsible ways.

Bill Jensen



Who will protect me in city parks, bars and restaurants and on busy highways from the people who have such poor judgment that they take a gun to a city park, a bar or on their daily commute?

Where am I safe from people who feel so small and impotent that they have a need to arm themselves in order to move among their fellow residents, people who will use violence to protect their “rights,” at the expense of the rights of others? These are the very people who cannot be trusted with guns.

Let’s outlaw all concealed weapons. If someone has so many unresolved issues that he’s inclined to bring a weapon to daily interactions or his Second Amendment rights are threatened unless he has the ability to kill fellow residents on a whim, then he should have both the spine and the obligation to carry his gun proudly so that everyone can see it, preferably while wearing a sandwich-board sign proclaiming “I am willing to shoot you.”

Then the rest of us can know who we’re dealing with, avoid them like the plague and choose to hang with sensible people who place a higher premium on public safety.

Rob Lewis



Regarding the June 26 news article “ Court swats health law challenge”: William Shakespeare: “Hell is empty and all the devils are here.”

For the ones fiendishly desiring to rip health coverage from 6.4 million Americans without offering a truly viable replacement, the Supreme Court’s 6-3 ruling upholding the ACA subsidies nationwide just wiped that silly grin off their faces.

Now they can go back to preaching their high and mighty love for the unborn, conveniently enough, until these poor souls are actually born. Then it’s a swift kick to the head. Score one for humanity.

Lou Meyers



Regarding the June 3 news article “ Appeals court backs teachers”: While I deeply respect and support the profession of teaching, I disagree with the slogan in the article’s accompanying picture stating, “A child’s future begins in the classroom.” It does not.

In the past 50 years scientific research clearly has demonstrated that the future of a child begins in utero. The nine months of fetal life, between conception and birth, are most important in proper development of organ systems, especially the delicate stem cells that become the baby’s future brain and other organs.

Swedish researchers in Karolinska Institute have established that fetus’ exposure to excess maternal circulating catecholamine, adrenalin-like chemicals, produced by anxiety, insecurity and worries, damages the formation of the fetal brain. This leads to the birth of a baby already compromised.

This is most likely the reason for notable increases in children with attention deficit disorder, autism and other brain-related disorders.

We offer thanks to the teaching profession and to the dedicated teachers, important agents of that holy mission, who give and sacrifice. But to be more accurate, with respect and love, allow me to modify the slogan, “The child’s future begins in mother’s uterus.”

Assad Meymandi

Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry, UNC School of Medicine at Chapel Hill



Regarding the May 17 editorial “ Coast watch”: Kudos for highlighting the North Carolina Wildlife Federation’s concerns regarding our dwindling coastal fisheries.

Perhaps you can give voice to those who for years have pleaded for regulators to make some hard, short-term choices to preserve our fisheries for our grandchildren.

Help shed light in the dark corners of fisheries, where for so long status quo has been the way to go. Our regulators applied for and received a permit from the feds to allow our gill net fishery to continue killing endangered sea turtles.

To do this, we are paying observers $1 million yearly for a fishery that is barely worth that and is continuing to take an overfished species. When fishery issues reach Jones Steet, legislators become weak-kneed in the face of a commercial lobby, funded by large trawler and fish house owners that accuse them of “putting people out of business.”

In fact, poor management has led to across the board declines and has put many out of business. Revitalizing our fisheries would be a needed boon to Eastern North Carolina’s economy – an area that sorely needs it.

Bert Owens



I am very concerned about North Carolina’s “one size fits all” high school graduation requirements. I agree with the goal of having students graduate “career or college ready,” but we are failing miserably on both counts.

As a realistic high school math teacher with 28 years of experience, I know there is no way that every student can be expected to complete four math classes, which would include at least one course beyond the traditional Algebra II content. The only way to do this would be by “dumbing down” the content (not good for college-bound students!) and structuring the scoring on End of Course tests to a ridiculously low passing level.

Is it any wonder that some students give up and drop out? And teachers who insist on maintaining high academic standards and expectations are going to face incredible challenges that could cause them to leave the profession.

What has happened to vocational education to get students career ready? We need programs in carpentry, auto mechanics, masonry, child care and child development, cosmetology and agriculture.

When I was studying to become a teacher, the “buzz” phrase was that a student’s education needed to be relevant to him or her. Our current system is about as far away from that as possible. We are one of the few countries in the world that expect students to attend a minimum of 13 years of instruction and expect all students to successfully study the same thing; that is beyond ridiculous.

Barbara Snyder



Since 2009, Wake County schools have grown by 19,000 students. We educate approximately 10 percent of our state’s public school students. More students with the same resources means that our class sizes are growing and classroom and other instructional resources are scarce. We must fund additional teachers, teacher assistants, technology and other innovative programs.

We must fund additional pre-kindergarten seats so more children come to school “kindergarten ready.”

We must fully fund the school board’s request for $48 million for 2015-16. The funding request is not folly. It is based on a thoughtful, ambitious strategic plan developed by the school board and Superintendent Jim Merrill, a plan shaped by a great deal of community input.

Their vision is that by 2020, on an annual basis, at least 95 percent of Wake County public school students will graduate from high school ready for productive citizenship as well as for higher education or a career.

Please don’t let anyone convince us that we should compromise on our children and fund anything less than the full amount requested. When we compromise this request, we not only compromise the quality of our children’s education, we compromise the economic future of our county.

Patty Williams