Your letters, Dec. 1

November 29, 2013 

Governance in action

Sarah McIntee was agitated by local governance in action. It seems she supports the light rail concept, but council member Matt Czajkowski expressed opinions contrary to her own at a recent meeting. Adding to her consternation, she describes his “selfish outburst” comments as so shameful and inappropriate that “all beauty, commitment, and honor (of Veterans Day) were dissolved.”

This is not intended as an endorsement of Czajkowski nor a criticism of the light rail concept she embraces. Instead, as a veteran, it’s a suggestion she doesn’t fully understand the meaning of Veterans Day or free speech.

We are a nation that embraces free speech, while recognizing virtually any word uttered will be found objectionable to some. McIntee is free to strongly express her views about Czajkowski. Unfortunately, she seems not to support his right to express views differing from her own.

If you really want to honor a veteran, recognize the true meaning of their sacrifices. If you love the freedoms we enjoy as a nation, thank a veteran.

Patrick Henry said, “I may not agree with what you say, but I shall defend to my death your right to say it.”

As for our nation’s veterans, the beauty day was not “dissolved” by whatever Czajkowski said, it was honored.

Thomas Offutt

Chapel Hill

A rank alternative

Chapel Hill schools are pursuing legislation to make class rank an option on school transcripts. Class rankings can be helpful to educators tasked with advising students on classroom placement. They can serve as a goal for motivated students to maintain good grades and improve their prospects for college admissions.

Unfortunately many high-achieving students become obsessed with increasing their ranking by small increments that have almost no bearing on course placement or college admissions. One way to keep the benefits of class rankings (the incentive to improve ones grades), while diminishing the negatives, is to replace the class rank with a decile rank system. If high-achieving students know they are already in the top tier they may be less stressed and more adventurous in choosing courses outside their comfort zone.

Henrik G. Dohlman

Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics

University of North Carolina

Required reading

Ellie Kinnaird’s column “The big-box connection” should be required reading for every resident – especially every elected official – in Chapel Hill and Orange County. She takes to task those who fail to internalize the unintended consequences of their anti-business positions. It is ironic, if not comical, that the residents who have stifled our tax base, made the community unaffordable and driven out the middle class are many of the same ones lobbying for more affordable housing.

From 1992-2010 the annual wealth of of Wake and Chatham counties grew by over $5 billion. The wealth of Orange County shrunk. Over $400 million in annual wealth relocated from Orange to Wake, Chatham, Alamance and Durham counties, as residents fled our excessive taxes, which are the self-inflicted consequences of our policies. Since less than half the voters of Chapel Hill and Carrboro actually pay property taxes, our community will continue down the track toward a fiscal train wreck unless our leaders take action and stop abdicating so many decisions to committees filled with citizens who are free riders.

Now that she has some free time, maybe Ellie would consider running for mayor?

Michael Jacobs

Professor of the Practice of Finance

Kenan-Flagler Business School

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