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I was very disappointed by the December 21 Green Living column, “When to discourage housecats’ hunting?” It’s totally inappropriate in a green column to support the unnecessary killing of wildlife to allow for the “emotional fulfillment of the pets.” Our wildlife is struggling enough to survive due to loss of habitat. Adding cats into the mix just adds insult to injury.

The impact upon wildlife that cats have in the United States is horrifying. There are more than 90 million pet cats in this country, only about a third of which are kept indoors, in addition to millions of stray and feral cats. These felines kill hundreds of millions of birds and more than a billion small mammals, such as rabbits, squirrels, and chipmunks each year.  This is not to mention the insects, reptiles, amphibians, etc., that cats also kill.

What people don’t seem to understand, because they usually don’t observe it for themselves, is that our wildlife keeps the environment functioning properly for us. For example, those moles in the garden that the writer doesn’t mind having her cat dispatch are there to help her plants to grow well.

(1) Moles aerate the ground so her plants do not struggle to grow in compacted soil.
(2) Moles feed on the critters underground to limit the numbers of grubs, such as Japanese Beetles, and other organisms that will be problematic for the gardener if their numbers are not kept in check. Kill moles and you destroy your natural insecticide which is far more safe, effective, and cheaper than any chemical pesticide on the market.
(3) It’s true that voles, which eat plants, make use of mole runways. However, those rodents exist to help limit plant overpopulations. Without them, you would have more “weeds” (I don’t like this word) to pull!

Lastly, it’s unspeakably appalling to read—in a “green” column—about letting pet cats roam because you can always bring your injured birds to the Wildlife Center of Virginia. For Ms. Howsare to make such a statement illustrates an incredible lack of empathy for the very real—and unnecessarily induced—suffering of creatures she professes to “love.”   
   
Marlene A. Condon
Crozet

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Creature discomfort

I like dogs and most other animals, but I don’t like cats. Nevertheless, my neighbors make sure that I don’t lack for cat company. I live in the city, and about 10 cats constantly patrol my neighborhood on the hunt for anything they can kill, not because they are hungry, but simply because they can. Your article [“Pet tricks,” Green Living, December 21] fails to note that your cat and all others that are allowed to run free kill not only on their owners’ property but also on their neighbors’ property. My neighbors, like you, seem to feel no responsibility to keep their cats indoors, which is the only way to control them. In my opinion, local government should require cat owners to keep their cats on their own property.

The main reason I don’t like cats is outlined above. My second top ten reason involves cat poop. I don’t know how many times I have found cat poop in my flower beds, especially when freshly mulched. It is decidedly not pleasant to reach to break up a clod and discover that it is cat crap. Be a good neighbor—keep your cats indoors and urge other cat owners to do the same.

Roger Adams

Charlottesville

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More money for nuthin’

A recent article suggested that UVA’s attendance should have rebounded within the first few months under a new coach and that fans are aloof for not showing up in larger numbers after the team has shown some level of respectability [“London rallies Hoos for diminished crowds,” UVA News, November 9]. In so doing, it misses the message that fans are sending entirely. A few years ago, UVA raised the threshold levels for donations that provided access to the same tickets and parking spaces people had held for years. They did so expecting the team to be good and the economy to be sound; both expectations turned out to be way, way wrong. Is it aloof not to be held hostage by a university that strong-arms its fans to make ever-larger contributions to its athletic foundation just to be eligible for season tickets?

 

Jim Cudahy

Charlottesville 

 

No free seats

Please note the number of former fans who refused to renew football (and basketball) season tickets because of the ticket and seating policies introduced three or four years ago by the Director of Athletics and the head of the Virginia Athletics Foundation. These apply to Scott Stadium and JPJ. I can vouch for several faculty members who rarely missed home football or basektball games since the late 1960s and early 1970s (my customer number is 85) through the introduction of the new policies, but who refused to accede to the new policies. Personally, I have refused offers of free seating for three home football games this fall and did the same for basketball games last winter. I continue to hold season baseball tickets but will drop those as well if the same policies are introduced for Davenport Field.

 

R. G. Dimberg

Charlottesville

 

Shine a little light

Thank you for publishing Will Goldsmith’s piece on the electoral defeat of Rep. Tom Perriello [“Losing the Fifth,” November 9]. It was illuminating, if discouraging for its realistic portrait of Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District.

 

Gary Westmoreland

Charlottesville

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Goal: no coal

So at the cutting edge charging stations of the future, the driver will be able to re-charge their electric car in about a half-hour, that is, if no one were ahead of them in line [“Charge it,” November 16]. But, if it takes about a half hour to refuel, wouldn’t that mean that there would be an awful lot of other people waiting their turn? Instead of recharging at lunchtime, wouldn’t it be likely that people would try to fuel up in the middle of the night to avoid impossibly long lines?

Since the source of the electricity is ultimately coal power, would it be fair to call these electric cars coal-powered cars? That’s really what they are now.

In 1900, the race was on to replace horse powered buggies with cutting edge technologies such as steam powered cars, electric cars, and a few “explosive” gasoline powered cars. The steamers were in the majority but electric cars made up about 1/3 of the new cars in the first real auto show of that year. In the following years of free competition, the gasoline engine proved superior; this is why you rarely see a Steamer on the roads of Charlottesville. Incidentally, in 1898 you could buy an electric horseless carriage sans battery through the Montgomery Ward catalogue for $3,000; a few years later you could buy a new gas powered Model T for $400. Even then, electric cars were unaffordable at their actual cost. 

There is a reason why windmills and electric cars disappeared from common usage: They could not compete with better alternatives. At the very least, how about trying nuclear powered cars instead of currently obsolete coal-powered cars?

 

Phil McDonald

Charlottesville

 

Dusty trails

Please pave the lot! It’s an embarrassment to me when I pick up visitors and the dust problem has been recorded [“West Main parking lot lawsuit shelved, for now,” Development News, November 2]. And we need parking there for rail riders as they increase! What is so difficult about it?

 

Judith Pateman

Lake Monticello  

 

CORRECTION

Due to an editorial formatting error, last week’s horoscope for Scorpio was omitted from the paper. Many apologies to directionless Scorpios and to Rob Brezsny. Here it is:

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): An African proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” I think that sums up the choice you have before you. There is something to be said for going fast; it may be that you can get as far as you need to go by starting immediately and speeding along by yourself. On the other hand, the distance you have to cover may be beyond your ability to estimate in the early days. If you think that’s the case, you might want to opt for the slower-paced power of a joint operation. 

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Money doesn’t grow on trees

Regarding your article on Biscuit Run State Park [“Taxpayer State Park,” October 26], I read it once, skimmed it again and the only thing it seemed to be concerned with is MONEY. Almost every paragraph had dollars and math and all in a negative way.

Let’s talk about what a glorious wonderful piece of property this is, a real treasure for the Albemarle/Charlottesville Area! This park has great diversity of habitat and can offer much to local residents, who I feel appreciate outdoor spaces far more than other places I have lived. 

Being a member of the Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards, we were given a great opportunity to tour Biscuit Run property recently, arranged by State Parks Director Joe Elton and many others within the state park system. They made us feel very welcome and value our input, and we hope to continue our relationship with them in helping to develop this park, no matter how long it takes.

Thomas Jefferson said, “Too old to plant trees for my own gratification, I shall do it for posterity.”  He was 83 years old, two months before his death, planning the arboreteum at the University of Virginia.

We also need to take that attitude and think ahead and be positive.

Janet Eden

Certified Arborist, International Society of Arborculture

Charlottesville 

 

Health care reform?

In her September 28 letter to the editor, “Abortion is risky,” Kelsey Hazzard argues that abortion poses risks that merit targeted regulation. I trust, therefore, that Hazzard will also call for further regulation of colonoscopies (risks include intestinal perforation and bowel infection), tonsillectomies (bleeding, infection, dehydration, permanent change in voice), appendectomy (nosocomial infection), and, for that matter, electing to carry a pregnancy to term (domestic violence, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, postpartum depression, postpartum hemorrhaging, obstetric fistula, difficulty urinating, constipation, and possible harm to the baby).

Proponents of abortion rights support the highest standards of abortion care, and as such, condemn the gross negligence of Dr. Rapin Osathanondh. Nevertheless, abortion is already well regulated by the Virginia Board of Health, the Virginia Board of Medicine, and OSHA, among others. The further regulations proposed by Attorney General Cuccinelli do not address isolated tragedies like that of Laura Smith. They only limit women’s access to safe, competent and skilled abortion providers. 

Delilah Gilliam

Charlottesville 

 

Shop right!

You ask, does Downtown Charlottesville need a larger grocery store [“City seeks site for Downtown grocery,” Development News, November 2]? 

No!!! There are splendid grocery stores downtown: Market Street Market, Market Street Wineshop (which sells many fine groceries and fruits, etc.), The Country store (ditto) and CVS. They satisfy many needs in many ways.

When we had to give up our auto—my husband is now almost 93 and I am on my way to being 90—we settled down and found all our needs were taken care of. Why, in last year’s snowstorms the Market Street Wineshop and Market Street Market delivered provisions to us!

We enjoy the C-VILLE newspaper and send you our best wishes.

Easter Mary Martin

Charlottesville 

 

Begging, the question

I have closely followed the reporting on the homeless in the C-VILLE. As an attorney who specializes in civil rights litigation, I was particularly interested in the proposal, aggressively pursued by the Downtown Business Association, to further restrict the right of poor people to beg on the Downtown Mall. I was impressed by Cathy Harding’s analysis of the situation and opposition to further restrictions [Read This First, August 10]. Nonetheless, amendments to the panhandling ordinance, now known as the solicitation ordinance, were passed unanimously by the City Council with little opposition.

Following the passage of the amended ordinance, the DBA sought to engage the Thomas Jefferson Area Coalition for the Homeless (TJACH) in its campaign to rid the area of homeless by convincing visitors to the Mall not to give money to beggars. At a meeting of the Board of TJACH, the DBA went so far as to offer financial incentives (urging patrons to give to TJACH and not to “panhandlers” and offering space for a fundraiser) to TJACH if it joined its campaign. I believe that a reporter for C-VILLE was present but unfortunately did not report on the meeting.

Several of us are starting a campaign to convince the City Council to revisit and significantly revise its “anti-solicitation” ordinance and are working with the ACLU of Virginia on a constitutional challenge if that approach proves fruitless. We hope that future issues of C-VILLE will continue to report on this important human rights issue.

Jeffrey E. Fogel

Charlottesville

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As a 47 plus year veteran of the Alcoholic Beverage Industry, I strongly believe the best direction for the State of Virginia and the consumer is privatization [“Absolute profit?” August 24]. However, the plan put forth by the Governor is a poor one.

The alcoholic beverage industry works best in an open competitive market. For those who think it is full of corruption, for every two incidents in an open market, I can show you one in a control market. The core of the industry is professional retailers who specialize in the sale of all types of alcoholic beverages and derive 70 percent or more of the revenue from those items. They are well versed on the law, realize the value of their license, so are generally very cautious in not selling to an under-aged or inebriated patron. They are also well versed in their products and can offer the consumer good product information. Rarely is that the case with chain store or State ABC employees. And most states limit the number of licenses to an individual or corporate entity to keep the playing field level.

In an open state with the population of Virginia, you would find about 2200 “off-premise” licenses to sell alcoholic beverages. The Governor’s proposal of 1,000 is ridiculous! 1,500 to 1,800 should be the starting number of licenses issued. If he fears a back lash from the “anti’s,” I am at a total loss why he would market this plan with the concept of building roads. We in the industry well know alcohol and moving vehicles do not mix. Roads should be built with taxes on gasoline, not liquor, especially in a state that hasn’t seen a gas tax increase in 24 years.

And speaking of taxes, what does the Governor think of a 70 percent mark-up on spirits is? It is a tax! He is going to replace it with a $17.50 per gallon tax, that is, $3.50 per 750 bottle. If the state is buying a bottle of X for $10, they now sell it for $17. Under his proposal, X becomes $13.50, but the distributor will mark up the tax, so it goes to the retailer at $14.50, who will sell it for $18.99. There is no advantage to the consumer under his plan.

If Virginia wants to stay in the liquor business, there are control states they should model after. Take the time to really research the industry and do it right the first time.

Stanley R. Rose

Albemarle County

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