Great Day…another revelation of no planning leading to unintended consequences that cost the taxpayer in terms of things we must forego unless we are a developer [“Sewage holds back Albemarle Place,” Development News, April 24, 2007]. Albemarle Place follows a pattern where master planners, city planners and supervisors are play acting, showing their absence of know-how which we pay for.
Once again the template of decision-making is limited to the inputs of developers who lead the supervisors and their civil service minions around by the nose, and the only penalty is levied on the taxpayer who foots the bill—a mandated tax, bond, revenue enhancement etc., that takes away money without net benefits. Let’s call it the FOOLS TAX which pays for the fool-salaries.
If folks don’t think that these costs are real, look at your water bill, your trash bill, county taxes, tariffs and fees the locality puts on your utilities, on and on, all adding up to money spent which ruins household budgets and creates misery.
Let’s take the water bill as an example and look at the ACSA fee structure…if there are about 1.5 people in your household and you’re not watering your lawn, you are already being punished with a higher water/sewer usage fee. Why? The ACSA recital is that you are using too much water. The real answer is that the area water demand is stretching supply reserves, and anytime we have a tiny drought, the reservoirs get drained down quickly. Now isn’t that a sign that we are beyond supply limits? ACSA will tell the supervisors that the fee structure is only FAIR and that more reservoir capacity is needed. What they don’t tell you is that the supply to the reservoir is also limited.
It’s akin to a clear-cutting mindset that might wake up too late when the last tree is cut and the last drop of water is sucked out of the aquifers around Albemarle County. Connect the dots. The water demand which already exceeds supply is the result of development enabled by supervisors who don’t have a clue and are being fed incomplete data by their civil service minions—the city planners, the zoning folks etc. without the know-how to do city planning and zoning.
Some of the supervisors look to Richmond to solve our local problems. Bad idea! We know what our problems are and we made them by voting for incompetence.
Also think on this. Richmond needs water too and the front range Blue Ridge aquifers look pretty good to those Tidewater-folk. Think they won’t create canals from here to Richmond? O.K., look at Los Angeles fed by canals, hundreds of miles long, which have ruined the state of California, once known for its farmland now leached out into salt flats which grow nothing and lose top soil to wind erosion. Look at the once-great aquifers running along the front range of the Rockies feeding cities like Denver with its smog. It is happening here and nothing is done to stop it.
Sexual abuse sans sarcasm
The Advice Goddess’s recent column [“Diddle he or didn’t he?” April 24, 2007 (not on-line)] contains outrageous and dangerous misinformation. The letter-writer, “Uneasier,” states that “one in four women report having been raped or molested in childhood, and stepfathers play a prominent role in those statistics.” She is absolutely correct! Amy Alkon, “The Advice Goddess,” is sarcastically dismissive of this data and states that it is a “common misquote of a survey by radical feminist sociology professor Diana Russell.”
The truth is that at least one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before the age of 18, most often by a parent or step-parent. This is data that has been collected and verified in repeated studies over several decades.
In 2004, the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association and the Centers for Disease Control joined to present the First Congressional Briefing on the Epidemic of Child Sexual Abuse. These are not “radical feminist” organizations, using “substandard sampling techniques.” These prestigious medical and scientific professionals urged our Congress to study the long-term medical and mental health consequences of this serious problem and urged Congress to direct funding toward treatment and prevention.
Our own Virginia Department of Health did an extensive survey about the prevalence of child sexual abuse in our Commonwealth and found the same results.
The irony is that this column was published in April, “Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Month.” Your readers, many of whom are adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, deserve to know that they are believed and supported.
Amy Alkon replies: I have enormous sympathy for victims of child sexual abuse, but I don’t see how perpetuating an untruth helps them in any way. This “one in four” stat has been widely disseminated, and is repeated by some reputable organizations, but that doesn’t mean they checked out the methodology behind it. I did. I dismissed the data because it’s bad data—derived from biased questions and substandard methodology—as is that of others who came up with similar stats (Finkelhor, for example, whose work is used in the Virginia study Ms. Allan mentions). These researchers are respected mainly because nobody looks too hard at how they got their numbers, perhaps because the subject matter makes questioning their numbers taboo. To understand what, specifically, is wrong with their stats, read Welfare Justice by UC-Berkeley professor Neil Gilbert. Child sexual abuse is a terrible thing, but advocacy researchers like Russell trivialize real sexual abuse by giving the impression that nearly all women are victims—in turn, criminalizing being male and diverting funding and attention away from the real victims.
I know I speak for all of the staff of Counseling and Psychological Services at the University of Virginia Department of Student Health in saying thanks to C-VILLE and Meg McEvoy for the outstanding article on student mental health, [“The Life of the Mind,” May 1, 2007]. We greatly appreciate the attention brought to bear on the challenges of recent years.
I write to correct one small error and to reassure readers. The psychiatric staff do not use Thorazine or any of the older antipsychotic medications. Students thought to possibly need medications are evaluated by the psychiatric staff, and if indicated, treated with the latest psychotropic medications.
Thanks again for the detailed attention to the issues raised by the Virginia Tech tragedy.
J. Anderson Thomson, Jr., Staff Psychiatrist
Counseling and Psychological Services
University of Virginia Department of Student Health
I am becoming increasingly concerned about comments in the media that Virginia Tech did everything it could to prevent the tragedy that unfolded there recently [“7 Days of Tech News,” April 24, 2007]. The United States has never had a tragedy where more blatant warning signs were available. While the school has suffered an immense loss, it is time to objectively examine their actions. When a university cashes the tuition check for a student and welcomes them into their campus community, they accept responsibility for the safety of that student on its campus. Surely the discovery of two students shot to death in a university dorm would warrant an automatic closing of college campus. Police made a horrendous rush to judgment in deciding they already had the killer (something it takes juries weeks to decide).
Tech is a large and open campus, making communication with the entire student body a challenge. Since when is it acceptable to forego a responsibility simply because the task is difficult? Surely our institutions of higher learning are capable of finding a workable solution. Today’s college students are equipped with cell phones and computers making them instantly accessible. Had the Tech students and professors arrived at the Norris building to find the doors locked and a sign posted cancelling classes, they would still be alive today. Sure, Cho may have attempted a shooting elsewhere. But an appropriate presence of campus police with help from local authorities on campus would have headed off any number of Cho’s possibilities, and ensured that students got word of the danger. While hindsight is 20/20, so is common sense.
Lastly, upon hearing the highly disturbed writings of this troubled young man, the school failed to get him the help he needed. Yes, this is a moral and ethical obligation of a university to its students. Professors should have referred him for a psychiatric evaluation and counseling with required follow-up. Mental illness is a treatable condition, and Cho himself was a victim of a system that failed to see his need for help. Sure, he could have refused treatment, and that should have resulted in removal from a campus community.
Have we learned nothing from September 11? How many tragedies will America have to undergo before we realize that sitting back and doing nothing when the warning signs are there is not an acceptable way to handle things?
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