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Is Tara going Tidytown?

I have long enjoyed the writing of Tara Servatius. I love the way she rips the scabs off the Charlotte uptown crowd. However, her article "Where Have All the Ghettos Gone?" (Feb. 1), makes me fear that she has finally succumbed and surrendered to the Tidytown mentality.

The most egregious statement is her assertion that "the city will have to shoulder this financial burden alone." Really? Has the city government suddenly started producing legitimate income? Of course not. While the federal, state and local governments argue over turf, it is one set of taxpayers that shoulder the financial burden for all three.

Then Ms. Servatius asserts that "the private market can't profitably produce housing" for the low-income subjects of her article. Again, really? When was such an opportunity provided? I am sure that the same private market that found a profitable use for chicken droppings could also provide housing for any income level.

Which brings me to the one glaring absence from the article: the role of government in making housing unaffordable. Nowhere is Pat Mumford quoted bemoaning minimum housing standards, which make housing more expensive, or zoning rules that shut out mobile homes. In other words, government officials prefer that the poor have no housing at all, rather than to have housing appropriate to their income. Those homeless folks that had their camp burn down last month were merely the subjects of government compassion. After all, they were protected from the flimsy apartments that might have been their plight, if not for the tender mercies of government officials.

Government rules have consequences. Homelessness is one of those consequences. And that won't change until some of us stop believing that government can abolish economic laws, such as supply and demand.

-- Christopher Cole, Huntersville

The real problem in schools

The Rick Fera letter ("Bombs Smarter than Students?") in your Jan. 25 edition states: "Traditional education programs do not prepare new teachers for this environment."

It doesn't matter how many teachers CMS attempts to prepare for this environment, it will make little difference. The problem is not the teachers' lack of special credentials, the problem is the volatile environment in which teachers must attempt to function effectively.

Of course quality teachers are assets to any educational system, but their positive effectiveness is seriously diminished if they feel not only alienated but also in danger. Attempting to force highly qualified teachers into this volatile environment would be a criminal waste of a very valuable resource.

Therefore, concentrate on changing the educational environment, make it welcoming to all teachers. Start by immediately removing the troublemakers, taking steps to encourage stable home lives and safe neighborhoods. Create and enforce maintenance of discipline within CMS (active participation and responsibility for infractions).

Regretfully, it will take more than CMS alone to achieve a desirable educational/home environment metamorphosis, but with determination and dedication, CMS, in conjunction with the CMPD, juvenile authorities and social services can eventually clean up the present academic quagmire in which our school system is presently wallowing.

-- Jerry R. DeYoung, Charlotte

Angry Elvises

The article written by Jared Neumark about the Elvis Tribute Artists ("Elvis Is Everywhere," Urban Explorer, Jan. 18) was full of misinformation, and was considered rude and in poor taste by the guys that take this job seriously and their fans.

First of all, Neumark's Elvis facts were all untrue. Elvis did wear his jumpsuits more than once, and he never ate meatloaf, mashed potatoes and tomatoes for two straight years. That's absurd! Besides, Elvis was allergic to tomatoes.

Second, Marc Woodward's name is spelled with a "c" not a "k," and Donna Coxx's name is not Debbie.

Minnie Mae Hood was married to Jessie Presley, not James, and Jessie was born in Mississippi. The dropped "s" in the Presley name was done over 200 years ago by Elvis' ancestors. Minnie Mae was Tunis Hood's great, great, great granddaughter, not his great granddaughter.

Also, no one said anything about a kid breaking into a storage room to damage the TV at the restaurant. The TV always sat out in the open at the restaurant where children had access to it.

Chuck Ayers' eyes are indeed blue, but so was his jumpsuit, not aqua. And Chuck sounds more like Elvis than any ETA I have ever heard. Evidently, Neumark has never listened to Elvis' records. After all, he is pretty young, and certainly does not remember Elvis. He probably wasn't even born when Elvis died.

Neumark needs to get his facts straight before writing an article, and let someone who knows the facts proofread it. At least he could have called the people back that he talked to and confirmed his writing with the sources.

Making fun of people may be Neumark's idea of "being funny," but to the thousands of Elvis fans, this article is not funny. Elvis is serious business to us. This article was a big injustice to the Elvis Tribute Artists, and a disappointment to the fans of the King of Rock and Roll. I think Neumark owes us an apology.

-- Rustee Lane, Charlotte

Creative Loafing regrets any Elvis errors in the Jan. 18 Urban Explorer column, and we thank Ms. Lane for pointing them out. As for the tone of the piece, that's Neumark's style. When we get him working the fact-checking angle a little harder, we think he'll be pretty close to perfect.

News Brownout

I appreciated Tara Servatius's Jan. 18 piece ("Paper Tiger") noting the Charlotte Observer's reluctance to print information that reflects negatively on the community, or on any of the many sacred cows of the community. As an outside observer who lived some years in the region, I have noted this tendency in the Charlotte media for some time now. In fact, I am persuaded that the tendency of the Charlotte media to protect sacred cows extends to the region in general.

Case in point: A Google search I have just done returned four hits from South Carolina newspapers carrying a Jan. 24 story that Rev. Eugene Luke Condon, a Catholic priest of the diocese of Charleston, was charged Jan. 23 with molesting a boy in a Sullivan's Island parish more than three decades ago. The list of Google hits for this story includes an Alabama newspaper.

It is now Jan. 26, and I have yet to see any mention of this story in the Charlotte Observer -- though the Observer has recently carried stories about abuse by Catholic priests in Chicago and Wisconsin. Would it not seem that, if the Observer is interested in stories of clerical abuse of minors in those far-off places, it would be even more interested in reporting about abuse in its own back yard?

-- W.D. Lindsey, Little Rock, AR

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