Your letters, June 8

June 6, 2014 

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    Send letters up to 300 words and guest columns up to 600 words (longer wait) to editor@newsobserver.com or comment on our online stories using a Facebook account. All submissions may be edited for space and clarity.

Save the historic tax credit

The historic tax credit has been an invaluable tool for attracting private investment to downtown Durham, and the state Senate’s budget would take this tool away from us; Gov. McCrory’s budget would at least approve a variation of it. The state House of Representatives must include the historic tax credit in its budget.

Without the historic tax credit, downtown Durham’s nationally recognized renaissance would not be happening. The tax credit was necessary to finance the rehab of many buildings downtown, including the transformative projects of West Village, the American Tobacco Campus, Golden Belt, Brightleaf Square and the Hill Building; additionally the reinvestment in downtown neighborhoods like Trinity Park, Old North Durham, Cleveland-Holloway and Golden Belt could not have happened without it.

According to a draft report from the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, the historic tax credit created $1.7 billion of private investment and 23,000 jobs in North Carolina; since 2000 downtown Durham has seen over $1.2 billion invested because of the growth and opportunity here. The Golden Belt project alone increased that property’s value by 2,000 percent to $15.9 million. These projects create local construction jobs, improve communities and build an environment for further private development.

Please call your state representative and senator to include the historic tax credit in the budget.

Geoff Durham

Downtown Durham, Inc.

Snake in the editorial grass

Re “Police bias report should FADE away,” DN, June 1, bit.ly/1x2lI6T

Readers should not attach a great deal of significance to what Bob Wilson has to say. He occasionally crawls out of the tall grass, cobbles together expository statements and statistics that support his extreme, conservative positions and then crawls back into his lair to await his next target.

I applaud the hard work and tireless efforts of both the Durham Human Relations Commission and FADE (Fostering Alternative Drug Enforcement) over the last seven months.

They studied, discussed, held public hearings and came up with a set of the recommendations regarding this issue. Where was Wilson during the hearings, did anyone hear him submit comments during these activities?

I am appalled that anyone would attempt to trivialize what has been accomplished by these deliberations, and I congratulate the mayor, council, and public for having the wisdom and fortitude to initiate them.

Jesse Gibson

Durham

A sensible bill

Finally! A significant piece of legislation with a bipartisan vote!

Although such an event is increasingly rare in this legislative session, such a vote did occur in the House recently and our state would be the beneficiary if the Senate follows their lead.

The House voted 77-39 on HB725 to Raise the Age of juvenile jurisdiction so that most 16- and 17-year old kids who commit a misdemeanor will be addressed in the juvenile system rather than the adult criminal system. Backing this bill was a diverse team of groups – Justice Fellowship, the N.C. Faith and Freedom Coalition, and N.C. Child – who joined forces to encourage legislators of both parties to back the bill.

The result of this bill could be a common-sense reform that we can all be proud of. We are one of only two states in the nation to rigidly require all 16- and 17-year olds who commit any criminal offense to be handled in the adult criminal justice system. Most youth who commit an offense are misdemeanants. Even they must be treated as adults, however. This is bad policy.

Kids prosecuted as adults for low-level offenses have trouble finding jobs, getting into college, and obtaining financial aid. They are more likely to get into trouble again. The success rate is much better in states where they remain in the juvenile system – the system that is more attuned to firmly teaching kids a lesson and to getting them back on track. Let’s hope that we see such a demonstration of bipartisanship in the Senate when they consider the bill.

Alice L. Bordsen

Chapel Hill

Editor’s note: The writer is a former state representative for Alamance County, District 63, 2003-2013.

Farmer’s column appreciated

We wish to thank you for running the occasional column written by George O'Neal of Lil’ Farm in Timberlake in The Durham News.

George’s writing is often thought provoking without preaching and is always informative. He adds vital substance to your publication, and we look forward to seeing more from him in the future.

Beth Schultz

Paul Popish

Hillsborough

Don’t cut waste positions

An open letter to City Manager Tom Bonfield and Solid Waste Management Director Donald Long,

We were shocked and dismayed to learn that the Waste Reduction Coordinator position and Code Enforcement Officer positions will be eliminated from the City of Durham. We believe the loss of these positions will have a severe and detrimental effect on the Bull City’s environmental health, economy, and long-term sustainability.

First, it wipes out a vital coordination role for the local government agencies and community groups who are working on positive-impact, waste-reduction initiatives in Durham. The Waste Reduction Coordinator has been the nerve center across all of these projects – ensuring clear, consistent, and accurate communications, preventing duplication of effort, and connecting the appropriate players and resources together. Without such coordination, efforts to improve the environmental health and well-being of our community will suffer from reduced efficiency and effectiveness, and the City of Durham will lose key opportunities to be a leader in the area of environmental stewardship.

Secondly, elimination of the Waste Reduction Coordinator position is in direct opposition to the City of Durham’s strategic plan. As a case in point, the coordination of waste reduction is integral to Goal 3 (Environmental Stewardship), which states that:

“Plans will include coordinating environmental awareness efforts among City departments, the County, and other Durham organizations, and increasing overall efforts to educate the public, and track progress.”

Finally, your actions contradict the environmental-economic evidence base which demonstrates that waste reduction pays for itself. Removing the Waste Reduction Coordinator role from City staff is a dangerously short-sighted and ill-advised move that will end up costing the City of Durham financially in the long run.

We strongly support progress in the areas of waste reduction, resource recovery,and environmental stewardship. We are proud, for example, of the recent awards the City of Durham has received for its waste reduction efforts. We wholeheartedly oppose moves like yours which would counteract our city’s progress and represent huge steps backwards.

Don't Waste Durham asks that you provide much-needed answers to us and to the wider Durham community by addressing the points we make above and justifying the elimination of a coordination position so vital to our city’s environmental stewardship, health and economy.

Crystal Dreisbach

Chair

Don’t Waste Durham

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