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Letters to the editor

Chief Needs A New Neighborhood

To The Editors:

Tara Servatius may be a brilliant reporter, but she would solve a lot of the problems she poses if her left brain (Metrobeat) could talk to her right brain (Citizen Servatius). In the latter, Ms. Servatius asks the police chief why he is writing off the high crime, low income sections of Charlotte. In the former, she reports about a city program to subsidize housing for police officers in these same high crime areas. Why not make it a condition of employment that Charlotte's police chief live in a city-owned house in the precinct with the highest number of reported crimes? If so, I guarantee that the police presence would dramatically increase -- all without need of computer allocation. The police chief will quickly discover that what are annoyances in another's neighborhood are a crisis in his own.

W.D. Johnson

Fort Mill, SC

It's All About the Real Estate

To The Editors:

I have been married to a Police Officer in Charlotte since the early 90s and read Tara Servatius' open letter to the Chief with glee (Dear Police Chief Stephens, April 18). She hit on one of the dirty little secrets that everyone has kept hidden for a long time, they police by zip code. Thank you for the attention you bring to this, however, I think you are missing the other little secret that has been kept for quite awhile. Community Policing as practiced in Charlotte is not about crime prevention but rather is about real estate. Look around you. What happened to all the disadvantaged people in Earle Village? What is happening to the traditional makeup of urban Charlotte in general can be caught in a snapshot of the Wilmore Community. BoFA, FUNB, and Johnny Harris, with the open and willing assistance of the City Manager and Council, transformed the Police Department into a real estate redevelopment arm of the affluent. They have done very little for the people who for decades thrived in neighborhoods around the center city. Instead they cleaned up their communities by relocation of the have-nots so that the haves could profit, then take over. Funny thing is that it was done so subtly that very few people have noticed. The cycle is easy to see in Wilmore right now. Clean up the area. Drive up real estate values, (i.e., property taxes). Those on the lower end of the economic scale no longer can afford the taxes or the opportunity costs of holding the real estate. They sell and move. With regards to Public Housing, it is more blatant and obvious. Tear it down and replace it with Yuppie condos. The end result, no matter the method, is a monochrome, uniform economic standard for those within view of the tall buildings in downtown Charlotte. Look at the quality of life around the Eastland Mall area since 1994 which is roughly when Community Policing began. Show me how the quality of life has been improved there. Examine the demographics of the Uptown area. What is the racial mix now compared to 1994? What is the economic standing of residents now compared to 1994? Have they served the community or have they served the real estate industry? How many residents from Uptown Charlotte remain today that lived there in 1994? Look beyond simple crime statistics and see what has really happened in Urban Charlotte. The rest of the citizens should be wary until they know if their community is on the right list or not. For now Charlotte will continue to have police based on current zip code, and what the future zip codes merit, as determined by a few.

Name Withheld By Request

Research the Studies

To The Editors:

Tara Servatius articulates perfectly in Death In Black and White (CL, April 25) how groups twist (now known as spin) the facts or exclude details to benefit their beliefs. The goal of any research should be to gather facts and then come to a conclusion. The scaremongers on both the right and left have already come to a conclusion before any research is done; regardless of what facts may come to light. A perfect example is Jerry Klein in his commentary Dreary Road Ahead (April 25). He claims that Bush increased the allowable amount of arsenic in the drinking water. While this statement is not technically a lie, it comes close. The arsenic regulations that Bush cancelled were put in place by Clinton three days before he left office. The standard Clinton signed would have been of little value, would cost a fortune to implement, and was impossible to enforce. Bush is currently looking at what standard is realistic and will give the American people the most for their tax dollar. Why was the current standard acceptable with Clinton as President but is going to poison all of us while Bush is President?

M. Aspland


Horse Sense for NASCAR

To The Editors:

In reference to several letters touting stock car drivers' athleticism: To put the athleticism of NASCAR drivers into proper prospective, a discussion of another type of racing may be in order. If NASCAR drivers are such amazing athletes, then what would you call horse racing jockeys? After all, it is considerably easier to control a carefully designed and crafted machine than a living, breathing creature. A race car will not shy from birds flying overhead, or jump shadows on the track, or run sideways when being struck by a whip. A horse jockey must face the unreliability of the living form, a thousand pound living form that has off-days, moods, and aches and pains that compromise ability. Compared to jockeys, NASCAR drivers are rocking-chair athletes, one level below golfers and barely above marble-shooters.

Dennis Kaplan


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