McAulay should resign from MUMPO
The following is an open letter to Huntersville Commissioner Sarah McAulay, the chairperson of the Mecklenburg-Union Metropolitan Planning Organization.
Dear Commissioner McAulay,
The Mecklenburg Union Metropolitan Planning Organization's (MUMPO) Public Involvement Plan states that MUMPO is "committed to meaningful public involvement in the regional transportation planning process. MUMPO believes public participation is not a simple 'add on' or 'after thought,' but a method that guarantees high quality transportation planning."
When nearly 50 citizens made the drive to downtown Charlotte on May 22 to address MUMPO on the subject of I-77 toll lanes, your job as chairwoman was to ensure the integrity of that commitment. Of those 50, 18 wanted to speak during the public comment period and followed MUMPO's procedure to do so. You said only one could speak because you assumed these citizens — your neighbors and constituents — were all part of the same group. When I tried to explain that I did not recognize most of them, and that they came as individuals, you eliminated the public comment period altogether.
Eighteen citizens came to exercise their right to petition their government. None did. You denied those citizens their First Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution and the right to assemble and petition under the North Carolina Constitution. I addressed you respectfully, yet you ordered me to the podium and then ordered me to sit. You addressed me not as a citizen peacefully pursuing his right to petition his government, but rather as a serf in your private kingdom.
Of course, this is not the first time you have done so. You put citizens on a timer and rudely cut them off the second their time is up. Instead of respecting the effort citizens make to attend and speak at a MUMPO meeting, you treat them as if you were poaching an egg. You have made a mockery of MUMPO's public comment period and public involvement requirements.
I am especially conflicted as I write this on Memorial Day, a time when we pause to remember those who gave their lives to defend the very freedoms you so cavalierly trample. I can only wonder what they would say if they were alive to witness your actions.
Regarding the behavior of others at the meeting, I cannot condemn nor support their actions (they came as individuals) except to say when a government official denies citizens their constitutional rights, one should expect outrage. Whether that outrage was constructively directed, those individuals will have to answer in their own time and manner.
I realize you have served many years as mayor and commissioner of Huntersville. But no government official, no matter how long or distinguished their record, should continue to serve when they abuse their authority to deny citizens their rights.
You have done so in the most brazen, egregious manner I have ever witnessed. You dishonor the office you hold, the Town of Huntersville, and the people you took an oath to serve. You do not deserve to be a commissioner much less the chair of a powerful organization.
You should resign.
With all due respect,
— Kurt Naas, Cornelius
GP lanes explained in linear fashion
In response to "Whoever pays to drive on I-77 means more lanes for me" ( May 16, Lake Norman Citizen), allow me to use a simplistic (linear) illustration. We start with rush hour and the current two general purpose lanes moving 20 miles per hour. Let's assume 40 feet of space per car. In every mile there would be 132 cars for a total of 264 cars in both lanes. What would happen with the same 264 cars in every mile in two possible alternatives?
First, with four general purpose lanes, in every mile there would be 66 cars in each lane. The spacing would double to 80 feet per car and the speed would double to 40 miles per hour.
Second, change two of the lanes to toll lanes. The 50-year contract requires a minimum speed. If the average speed in the toll lanes is 60 miles per hour, a linear calculation means the average spacing will increase to 120 feet per car (40 feet = 20 m.p.h., 80 feet = 40 m.p.h., then 60 m.p.h. = 120 feet). That translates to 44 cars per mile per lane or 88 cars per mile in both toll lanes. There are still a total of 264 cars per mile, so if 88 are in the toll lanes; there are 176 cars in the general purpose lanes, or 88 in each lane.
That would allow 60 feet for each car. Continuing with the linear calculation yields an average speed of 30 m.p.h. (40 feet = 20 m.p.h., 80 feet = 40 m.p.h., then 60 feet = 30 m.p.h.). Clearly not more lanes for you; in reality, lower speed (30 m.p.h.) and longer travel time for the general purpose lanes when compared to four general purpose lanes (40 m.p.h.)!
By the way, the current specifications say there will be only two areas where drivers can move from the toll lanes into the general purpose lanes. And since the general purpose lanes will be very congested, drivers in the toll lanes will have to leave the toll lanes miles before their exit or their path will be blocked.
There could be three possible outcomes:
1. The bidders will not submit a bid because they will see the futility of the project.
2. The bidders will bid, but the proposed bids will be three times the estimated cost of $550 million and will be rejected. (This may be the best outcome since it will allow time for implementation of the new NCDOT data-driven highway funding allocation plan later this year.)
3. The bidders will bid, the project will be built, the toll lanes will have back-ups behind vehicles slowing down to merge with the very slow traffic in the general purpose lanes, the owners will not spend more capital and will be in default, and the state will take ownership of the failed system.
— Bruce Andersen, Huntersville
We're aiming for 100 percent vote
The writer represents District 104 in the North Carolina House of Representatives, where she serves as Republican Conference Leader.
In these days of deep political division, there aren't too many issues on which more than 75 percent of the electorate agrees. Requiring voters to show photo identification at the polling place is one of them.
A voter ID bill filed this past week by me and three of my House colleagues supports the will of the vast majority of North Carolina citizens, who want to have more confidence in the fairness and integrity of our elections. At the same time, it addresses the reasonable concerns of the 25 percent who oppose a voter ID requirement.
Under the bill, a wide variety of photo IDs would be accepted, including those up to 10 years past their expiration date. A senior with a valid ID card at age 70 would be able to use that ID card indefinitely, regardless of expiration date. The bill exempts disabled people from the ID requirements, and it provides a means for those who can't afford a photo ID to get one for free.
Voters who come to the polls on Election Day without an ID would cast provisional ballots. They'd then have to return to their local elections board office and show proof of their identity to have their provisional ballot counted.
Under the terms of the bill, the ID requirement would not take full effect until January 2016, but efforts to get the word out about it will begin immediately. The State Board of Elections would appoint up to five citizens to serve on a non-partisan Voter Information Verification Advisory Board. The VIVA board would be supported by up to 14 new state elections board employees whose job through Dec. 31, 2016, would be to identify voters without a proper ID and help them get one.
Through weeks of public hearings and committee meetings, we believe we've crafted a bill that strikes the right balance between the public's interest in ensuring the integrity of our elections and in limiting barriers to voting.
But there's still time for input. On Wednesday, April 10, we were scheduled to hold another public hearing in Raleigh at the Legislative Office Building. I was especially interested in hearing about how we can make it as easy as possible for voters who don't have photo IDs to get them. If you were not able to be there, please contact me or your own state House representative with your thoughts on the issue.
Through this process, I'm not sure if we'll change the minds of any of the 25 percent who have opposed voter ID. But I am confident that when this bill goes into effect, 100 percent of the people who want to vote will be able to cast a ballot.
— Ruth Samuelson, Charlotte
Our kids aren't only North Meck successes
While a little self-conscious about the spotlight, we thank John Deem so much for his heartfelt writing and compliments of our family ("Benshoofs are back, and couldn't be happier," the Citizen, April 4). What we love so much about the Citizen is how you genuinely showcase the hometown spirit we have in our community.
There are so many awesome young adults living and working in Huntersville, and I hope you can turn this into a series where you feature others. North Meck High School has turned out some incredible success stories.
— Tammy Benshoof, Huntersville
From the website
Following are comments left on www.lakenormancitizen.com.
We are extremely proud of Ben and Stephanie Benshoof. Since we are their grandparents living in western Wyoming we've been bragging on these two ever since they were born.
— Darrell Jean Benshoof
I think this community is so lucky to have outstanding young professionals such as Stephy and Ben (Benshoof) serving our community!
I appreciate this (Safe Alliance) lock-up to lock out domestic violence because I myself was in a horrible situation. Thank God for helping me to escape. I served time with this guy for a little bit and did not realize his story. ... Thank God I had a mom that came to my rescue and a wonderful God that saw us through it. Thank you all who participated in this event.
— Alisa Moose
You got me with April Fool
The writer is owner of Ferrucci's Italian Market in Shoppes On The Green in Cornelius.
You got me.
I came home and unwrapped the paper and laid it down on the counter. While I was warming my supper, I glanced at the front page and saw the headline about the toll on West Catawba Avenue. I started talking out loud to no one in the kitchen about how the businesses would never put up with it.
I sat down to eat, and read the whole article wondering who came up with this brilliant idea. Then I tried to go to page 73. Well done.
— Tony Stafford, Cornelius
How did I miss Catawba toll talk?
The writer is the new Cornelius Town Planner.
Being new to Cornelius, I was not aware of your annual fake/April Fool's edition. As I purchased gas and a soda at Cashion's today, I saw the headline, "Cornelius may toll West Catawba."
I immediately asked myself, how did I miss that? Did I fall asleep at the retreat? I actually left my soda, grabbed the paper and hurried to my car to read the article, only to learn of the great hoax. Well done!!!
— Wayne Herron, Indian Trail
Fire dept. needs aren't arbitrary
Thank you for reporting about budget requests made by Cornelius-Lemley Fire Department as presented by Chief Jim Barbee and Deputy Chief Guerry Barbee ("CLVFR makes first budget season requests," the Citizen, March 21). As a career firefighter (not in Cornelius) and resident of Cornelius, I am a little disappointed, however, with how the information was presented.
The headline teaser on the front page shows a fire truck with no resemblance in appearance or function to the one requested, and to me the content of the article portrays CLFD as an organization with over-reaching needs. The big-ticket item, the tiller ladder truck, is a need not borne by the fire department, but rather by town planners and developers who allowed narrowed streets and alleyways, making it nearly impossible in some areas for an emergency vehicle to pass. Additionally, the other items requested by CLFD do not appear to be extraordinary either: updated breathing equipment to allow firefighters to enter a hazardous atmosphere, staffing to put four firefighters at one station (industry standard requires four firefighters per apparatus responding), training equipment, uniforms, etc.
This article is the first I've responded to about our fire department and as I read the articles published over the past year I get frustrated to see what appears to be a gotcha point of view from how CLFD conduct themselves to the costs of their operational needs. Not once have I seen an instance where the perspective of protected property value versus cost of fire/EMS/rescue service is presented. I'm confident that it can be shown that the cost of CLFD operation versus value of property protected is low compared to other similar municipalities.
We live in a town with many areas of potential fire/EMS/rescue needs, including neighborhoods full of 4,000- to over 10,000-square-foot homes built using lightweight construction methods (translation: structures that burn quickly), miles of residential waterfront, an interstate that carries untold amounts of hazardous and dangerous cargo. We need to understand the resources required to address an emergency in any of these areas. It would be refreshing to see reporting on what goes into fighting a fire at a home in The Peninsula or to mitigate a HAZMAT incident on I-77, and then I think we would better understand the basis for these requests.
I know I strayed from the main point of your article and I am in no way intending to criticize you personally, but the recent pattern of gotcha commentary and presenting budget requests as arbitrary wants with little perspective on the service returned skews the information about our fire department toward the negative.
— Andy Baudo, Cornelius
Minimum wage hike is just a 'face wash'
If anyone in the Charlotte area has a TV, you probably heard the story about "raising the minimum wage." Which is a joke. Let's look at the reason why this is going to be proposed. It is because people can't afford the basic living necessities that is currently upon us. The cost would be raised to $9 per hour.
If a person works 48 hours a week, with taxes (he or she) would be lucky to bring home $14,000 a year. That doesn't include the money they have to spend on gas, water, food, electric and clothing. Now look at the outcome it will have on small business. Fewer people will be hired because right now there aren't enough people out there spending. Or, the price of goods will go up even more to cover the cost to pay an employee. This is getting out of hand. This is nothing but a face wash offered from washed-up political hacks to get people to feel good and think they are getting something.
In turn these people will vote these hacks back in office. We need to look at history, when the price of basic necessities were at the low point business couldn't keep up with supply and demand. You want to fix a broken economy, do it by cutting the fraud, waste and abuse. Start giving more people breathing room so they can save, spend and invest. Stop buying into the face wash programs
and demand more out of these political hacks. If not tell them to take a hike!
— Dominick Cianchetti Jr., Huntersville
Reval pressure must remain on county
The writer is a former Cornelius town commissioner and current property owner in Cornelius who now resides in Colorado, but remains active in the "Flawed Revaluation" group that is challenging the 2011 Mecklenburg County property tax revaluation.
I do not know when I have been as moved as I was when I read the exquisite words of Katelyn Tefteller in the most recent edition of the Lake Norman Citizen ("The endless pieces of an imperfect life," Nov. 1). I truly do not have words sufficient to thank you for allowing your readers to experience the beauty of her poetry-in-prose and to glimpse the tender beauty of the writer herself.
The article from Sept. 20 edition, "Huntersville Facility Faces Identity Crisis," fails to mention that many of the residents who call this facility and others like it home have tried many other options first. Most have lived with family, on their own or on the streets, and failed for a number of reasons.
I couldn't believe my eyes. Carol Quillen, president of Davidson College, is giving a talk on "In Defense of Tolerance" (the Citizen, Sept. 13). This just a couple of weeks after Davidson College decided to stop serving snacks from Chick-fil-A because of a statement made by Dan Cathy, CEO of Chick-fil-A.