Your letters, July 10

July 9, 2013 

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Fluoride anecdote

Our granddaughter lived for less than a year in Portland, Ore., in 2011-12, when her father was on special assignment there. As readers may know, but we did not, Portland is one of the few large municipalities which does not fluoridate its water.

Recently her dental X-rays revealed multiple instances of severe tooth decay, requiring not just fillings, but several root canals and caps, and in one case, removal of the tooth.

I don’t claim this is any more than an anecdote, but this kind of dental crisis in a 5-year-old was shocking to us, to say the least.

Michael P. Smith

Chapel Hill

Derelict in duty?

Has the town of Chapel Hill’s storm water management office been derelict in duty?

The town of Chapel Hill allowed commercial and residential development on the known 100-year flood plain. University Mall, Eastgate Shopping Center and a number of apartment complexes and private homes were built on what once was marsh land.

Hundred-year floods? I’ve only lived here 20 years, but I’ve seen the same areas flood over and over again. There’s no doubt at all where the next flood will occur; the only question is when. The floods occur at least every 10 years, and certain areas every three to five years. So it’s time for the town to face the facts. The storm water drainage system does not work, and it needs substantial improvement.

Chapel Hill’s system is really nothing more than the creeks that all flow to Jordan Lake via gravity. Can these creeks be deepened or widened? What is the engineering solution to move the water more quickly away from developed areas? Will the town take action? When?

David Gellatly

Chapel Hill

Suspending reality

In response to the article about school suspensions in CHCCS (CHN, June 26,, it’s important to note that public schools generally deliver discipline in a punitive versus redemptive manner making expulsion and suspension rates higher than need be.

As a longtime educator, I’ve seen schools, especially on the high school level, show very little creativity in how they handle behavior problems. To quote a school principal in response to his priorities in a particular situation, “I have to answer to the School Board..” Another said, when asked how the school counselor would be involved, “Counselors are not involved when the incident fits a suspension category.”

How can these students learn from the situation? How can they be better people with this type of discipline? As well, they are allowed to come back to school without tools or guidance in how to handle themselves or the situation better in the future. And, to say the parents can handle it is not the answer when the context is the school environment. To quote one principal, when asked, “What do you want the parents to say?” they had no response, as if their hands were clean because they had followed procedures in handing out the suspension. No wonder kids come back to school and repeat the same behaviors or have difficulty navigating the school environment.

Also, not all suspended students come from troubled homes as the article suggests; rather much misbehavior is the result of misunderstandings and communication problems.

Mary Ann Barnett

Orange County

Pinzolo’s and the prize pizza

My life-long friend, Pinzolo (I have always referred to him by his last name) recently relocated here from New York and is now a resident in Chapel Hill. While we sipped $17 worth of coffee in Starbucks several weeks ago, he said to me: “It has been my dream to make the most fabulous pizza in the world. I’m going to open a pizza place here in Chapel Hill that will make all other pizza outlets obsolete. I will become a living legend!”

Pinzolo, who is a replica of a somewhat younger Luciano Pavarotti grew a very proud grin on his face. “Pinzolo,” I snapped, “what Chapel Hill does not need is another pizza joint. We are knee-deep in mozzarella! Besides, mozzarella is very constipating.”

“Nothing to do with mozzarella,” he returned. “The secret is in the water you use to mix the dough. Several months ago, I took my wife and kids to Sicily, and visited my cousin, Andrea, who is a double for Sophia Loren. I always had the hearts for her, but if you even look at a female cousin in Sicily, you’re looking at your own funeral. She served us pizza one night, and when I nearly fell off the chair with delight, she explained that she uses water from a well behind her farm house to start the dough.

“I tasted that water; nectar from the gods!” Pinzolo continued. “So here’s the deal: Andrea is going to ship containers of this water – in the form of those big containers you get at Whole Foods, and I’ll pay her a liberal monthly payment for her trouble. We’re in business, my boy! People will flock from Nebraska to Florida to taste my prize pizza. And when Andrea visits here to open the place, every guy from Raleigh to the Blue Ridge Mountains will drop by just to look at her gorgeous dark brown eyes, as well as her other physical attributes.”

“Well, Pinzolo,” I exclaimed, as he added a dash of brandy from his silver flask to his coffee and mine, “you have all the bases covered, and you will certainly become a legend of pizzadom.”

Vincent Daddiego

Chapel Hill

Big beneficiaries

Who wins if we raise the speed limit? Hospital workers, auto-repair shops, undertakers, grave diggers, insurance companies, and lawyers. Who else? Big Oil: the faster we drive, the worse our gas mileage, and the more we spend at the gas stations.

And who benefits by extracting natural gas from the banks of the Rocky River? A few hundred workers from out of state will come to live among us, and they will pay for rent, groceries, maybe taxes (unlikely). North Carolinians will not actually use the natural gas. We have already so much gas that we sell half of it to China and Japan: so Big Gas gets the money. We won’t see it.

Clearly certain of our elected state senators and representatives will benefit when Big Oil and Big Gas make substantial donations to assure that we burn as much gasoline as possible and that natural gas is extracted without expensive regulation.

I invite the News and Observer to discover the identities of these officials. We deserve to know their names and how much money (bribes) they receive from these vast corporations.

George Horwitz

Bynum Beach

Sour partisan grapes

A friend forwards to me state Rep. Verla Insko's weekly email legislative rants. With mean old Republicans controlling the General Assembly for the first time in 120 years, she has been particularly flummoxed.

Seems she thinks Republicans are excluding Democrats from legislative decision making. This, she nobly concludes, is simply “undemocratic.”

I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt, assuming her rants aren’t driven by her own partisanship, intended to mislead constituents willing to believe such twaddle. Instead, I’ll assume she suffers from memory loss, both short- and long-term.

That memory loss, of course, is that the “undemocratic” practices about which she now complains were systematically inflicted upon Republicans for the preceding 120 years, when Democrats controlled both legislative houses and, with rare exception, the governorship.

Evidencing the mentality of some Democrats is her embrace of “Moral Mondays,” where likewise disgruntled “sour grapes” partisan types, disrupt legislative sessions, disagreeing with virtually any Republican idea. Republicans engaged in no similar disruptive behaviors during their 120 years of minority status.

If Rep. Insko is truly concerned about inclusive legislative practices, one can’t help but wonder why she was silent during all those years as part of Democrat majority status, “undemocratically” excluding Republicans from virtually every part of legislative process. Unless, of course, her indignation isn't intellectually honest.

Thomas Offutt

Chapel Hill

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