The Opinion Shop

Bonus letters on roadside flowers, renewable energy, immigration, religious freedom, women’s health, Medicaid

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


The birth of roadside flowers

Regarding Bruce Siceloff’s Sept. 8 column “ NCDOT pollinates with roadside flowerbeds” on North Carolina’s roadside flower program celebrating its 30th year: That inaugural year, 1985, the Triangle was organizing what was to become our state’s largest-ever event, the 1987 U.S. Olympic Festival.

When another board member and I traveled to Kobe, Japan, for the 1985 World University Games, we noted the extensive and attractive flowers at key intersections and near venues of the Games, with blooms in the colors of the Games.

We brought the idea home and gathered a coalition of N.C. Amateur Sports, the festival host organization; N.C. Beautiful; local garden clubs; corporate contributors; NCDOT; and the governor’s office. NCDOT handled the planting, and beginning in 1986 roadsides from east of Raleigh to Greensboro were planted with thousands of annuals.

Then in spring 1987, residents and the almost 500,000 visitors attending the Olympic Festival were treated to striking red, white and blue blooms along major highways and byways leading to festival events.

When residents from the rest of North Carolina saw the beautiful plantings, they successfully lobbied the state to extend the program across the state. To sustain the program for the long term, plantings were changed to wildflowers, and the statewide program was born.

Hill Carrow



REPS facts not considered

Regarding the Sept. 15 Point of View “ Flaws from fossil fuel front groups”: I was grateful for Gabe Elsner’s exposé of the mistakes in the American Energy Alliance’s Strata report.

Although I am appalled to hear that the N.C. General Assembly’s information on the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard is flawed, most likely for political reasons, I am glad that Elsner chose to talk about it.

Fallacious claims about climate change and its solutions have impeded necessary reform for too long. Already, scientists have documented climate change consequences such as glacial melt, rising seas, unstable weather patterns, growing extinctions and reduced crop yields, many of which disproportionately affect the world’s poorest.

We should have begun responding to these problems years ago, but we will have to make do with starting now. As legislators vote on energy policy, they need accurate, reliable information on which to base their decisions .

Elizabeth Chase

Chapel Hill


A break in cynicism

Cynicism took a vacation this week. As a Catholic and compassionate liberal, I have struggled as of late. The fallout remains from the vile betrayal by the priests who abused children and the hierarchy who chose not to address it.

The pope commented when he met with victims in Philadelphia that he was “overwhelmed by shame” at the sexual violation of children by his clergy.

The Republican front-runner’s stance on immigration (as stated on his website) is, “There must be a wall across the Southern border” (and make Mexico pay for it!).

Emma Lazarus penned “The New Colossus” 36 years before my grandparents emigrated from Ireland. I am the benefactor of “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” where my family found safe harbor and opportunity.

Xenophobia was challenged and ills were committed to accountability this week. For a few days, love, humility and grace ruled the day. Cynicism had to take a vacation, there was simply no place for it here.

Sean Gargan



Belief, not coercion

In the name of religious freedom it appears that some are trying to force their beliefs and behaviors on others. Some try to use the government to coerce those who are not of “like mind” to conform to their attitudes, actions and readings of the Bible.

A good number of residents believe that the government must stay out of religious affairs. Others see government interference as necessary.

There is a great tangential debate on how far one’s religious freedom should extend that currently concerns marriage, abortion and expression of individual rights.

What is happening today is no different than what caused many of our ancestors to flee from the Old World to escape to America. The established churches in England, Central and the Mediterranean Europe, France and Russia used the government to force religious conformity and compliance and even in some instances used government funds and forces to control their citizen’s religious beliefs and behaviors.

We all must be on guard for the wheel of history soon turns, and views once held as paramount could be reversed over time, and the dominant oppressor may well become the vulnerable oppressed.

Religious freedom extends to belief and worship not coercion of others.

Bill Krupp



Women’s health screenings

Regarding Catherine Rampell’s Sept. 16 column “ More GOP attacks on women’s health”: She said that some women would not be able to obtain breast, cervical cancer and STD screenings without Planned Parenthood. She is either woefully misinformed or was trying to purposely mislead.

Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms, breast MRIs or any other types of medical screening. It does provide manual breast exams, which any women can do herself. Manual screenings are virtually useless for early breast cancer detection.

Planned Parenthood provides referrals to actual medical facilities that perform mammograms and other medical screening that women need. Any woman with a smart device can obtain these referrals herself.

What Planned Parenthood does provide is abortions and contraception and counseling for these services. Wouldn’t poor women, and everyone for that matter, be better served if the half a billion dollars that we taxpayers provided to Planned Parenthood went to clinics that provide the real medical screenings that women need?

Michael Maloney



Immigrants must follow laws

Certainly, we should love our neighbors as ourselves. That goes without saying. The question is how best do we love our neighbor?

Do we love him/her by granting him/her amnesty when he/she breaks our laws and enters into our country illegally? Don’t think so.

Do we love our neighbor by allowing that neighbor to escape prosecution when that neighbor overstays his/her visa and breaks our laws? Don’t think so.

We can’t advertise ourself as a country of laws and then ignore those laws because it’s inconvenient for some. We are a nation of immigrants, but that doesn’t mean that we can take in all the world’s homeless and disaffected people.

We should be selective in our immigration policies instead of taking in any and everybody. We are already the most diverse country in the world. There is little argument in that regard.

We are the melting pot and yet we are having trouble getting those already here to assimilate! No, everybody is not as fortunate as are we here in the land of opportunity. But here’s the thing. America won’t be America always and maybe not even for much longer if we don’t observe our laws.

Robert Peele

Rocky Mount


Bad leadership

Two Sept. 3 items on the oped page caught my eye: the Point of View “ Medicaid change endangers doctor training” and the reprinted Charlotte editorial “ Defiance with a familiar ring.”

I have always felt that the argument for Medicaid expansion is greatly weakened when it tries to support expansion on the basis of more jobs and, in this case, greater support for graduate medical school programs. Wrong causes! The issue is better, or more, medical care.

I also feel that when people do not like the rules or description for a job, they should find a new job rather than not perform the one they have.

It is, however, unfortunate that our leader and his minions give us bad examples when they either refuse to enforce the laws of the land or themselves write their own through executive orders or published regulations.

Doug Richmond