Your letters, April 20

April 18, 2014 

Roses gone to the dogs

After 40 some years, Roses is leaving our mall and 30 to 40 employes will be laid off. More jobs lost and another choice spot for senior shopping and walking obliterated.

The vice president of marketing for mall owner Madison & Marquette declined to comment.

Businessman Warren Buffet has said, you can teach young dogs new tricks; but you can't teach young dogs old tricks, specifically, common sense and reason.

Susan G. Shevach

Chapel Hill

Inept and error prone

It’s the story that won't go away, like the unwanted gift that keeps on giving.

The story, of course, is the continuing public relations disaster surrounding UNC athletics. Making UNC the fodder of late-night television, it’s as if the administration hand-picked the “Three Stooges Agency” to salvage a once-pristine sports reputation.

It’s trying to salvage a war it long ago lost. Rather than rebounding from national coverage of its continuing missteps, its latest fumble is the contract termination of neuropsychologist Lyn Johnson for her collaboration with whistleblower Mary Willingham. It seems the university was otherwise satisfied with her 10 years of earlier performance until learning her work contributed to its ongoing scandal woes.

It is indisputable that there are many bright and capable student-athletes. But it is also a long-standing (though generally unspoken) belief that athletes in some sports are held to different academic standards than other students. Unpaid parking tickets, tutoring assistance and the African-American Studies department playground for football players may be examples.

The inept and error-prone UNC administration, rather than demonstrate national leadership in addressing this long-standing reality in collegiate athletics, has chosen a losing strategy of messenger killing. The longer such ineptitude continues, the longer this very public war it cannot win continues.

The mishandling of the athletics scandal has gone from embarrassing to the extremely absurd. It’s time to address the problem, not kill more messengers. Carpe Diem, UNC.

Thomas Offutt

Chapel Hill

Professor Godschalk’s take

David Godschalk’s letter in the Chapel Hill News (April 9) laments two proposed development projects that were not built because of citizen opposition. He sees what eventually got built on these sites as much worse than the initial plans. He concludes: “In Chapel Hill, it’s popular to sign petitions and speak against plans in public hearings. ... the down side is that the community misses good development opportunities, forcing us to live with second-rate places.”

Surely, citizen opposition to development can be mistaken, but Professor Godschalk implies that opposition is always mistaken. But there are obvious cases where citizen involvement has led to good outcomes in Chapel Hill – Glen Lennox, for example. Often, a development proposal can be improved by a critique from an outside perspective and from those with interests at stake.

If Professor Godschalk was moved to write by the Ephesus-Fordham debate, I wish that he had addressed that issue directly. As a respected member of the UNC City and Regional Planning Department and a former Town Council member, his views on that issue would be very valuable.

Town staff recommends form-based zoning for this key area, allowing no negotiation with developers about affordable housing, energy efficiency, and public open space – is that wise?

Town staff's proposal would allow a few landowners the right to build whatever they want as long as the buildings have a certain appearance – will that process produce the mix of those land uses most needed by the town? In any case, don’t we need to know what stormwater and transit plans we need to have – and their cost – to deal with an increase in impervious surfaces and potential gridlock from 3000-plus new residents?

Knowing Professor Godschalk’s take on these issues would be very interesting.

Martha Petty

Chapel Hill

Noise Free America

April 22 is Earth Day, a day to reflect on the wonders of nature and the need to protect the earth. Since the founding of Earth Day in 1970, the United States has greatly reduced air and water pollution. However, during this same period, noise pollution – another major threat to environmental well-being – has increased significantly.

Americans are constantly pounded by excessive noise from loud car stereos, blasting motorcycles, leaf blowers, airplanes, Muzak, barking dogs, car alarms, sports stadiums, nightclubs, car honking, and train horns. Our nation is getting louder all the time, with major consequences for public health. Excessive noise is related to hearing loss, sleep deprivation, aggravated behavior, chronic fatigue, tinnitus and heart problems. The EPA estimates that more than 130 million Americans live in areas with excessive noise levels.

Excessive noise is a violation of a person’s right to the peaceful enjoyment of their own home. It is time for the nation to take action to reduce the scourge of noise. Local governments should pass strong anti-noise ordinances, which the police should strictly enforce. Congress should reestablish the federal noise pollution control office.

I encourage all peace-loving individuals to join Noise Free America ( noisefree.org), a national nonprofit organization devoted to noise reduction. Working together, we can create a quieter, more peaceful world.

Ted Rueter

Chapel Hill

A new dietary leaf

After several months of crippling snowstorms and flooding, I really look forward to spring weather, green grass and flowers in bloom.

The advent of spring is also a great opportunity to turn over a new leaf on our dietary and exercise habits. In fact, I’ve been told that hundreds of communities celebrate the advent of spring with something called the Great American Meatout.

Local health advocates host educational events, where they ask visitors to get a fresh start this spring with a healthy diet of vegetables, fresh fruits, legumes, and whole grains. For those who need a little encouragement, their website provides useful information and a chance to pledge a healthy diet for one day or more.

Colin Barnett

Chapel Hill

Jacobs’ commitment

In my eight years serving on the Orange County Board of Education, I have been grateful for Commissioner Barry Jacobs’ unwavering support of education.

Commissioner Jacobs is committed to quality schools and understands their importance to our community. I have strong confidence each year thathe will work tirelessly to meet the financial needs of both school districts. I appreciate Mr. Jacob’s dedication and support his re-election as county commissioner.

Debbie Piscitelli

Hillsborough

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