Who needs California?

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Who needs California?

J. Tobias Beard’s piece on wineries using California grapes [“Shallow ground,” The Working Pour, September 16, 2008] is long overdue and many people have never really looked at the labels to realize when non-Virginia grapes are used. In my opinion, all of our wineries should only use grapes grown here.

Felicia Warburg Rogan
founder, Oakencroft Vineyard & Winery

Desperation time

Cathy Harding: Your blurb of September 16, 2008 [Read This First], reached a new low in journalism, even for you. McCain’s selection of Governor Palin has really UNHINGED you liberals, to the point where you have resorted to JUVENILE name calling in your desperate efforts to discredit her.

I’ve got news for you; it won’t work.

Frederick W. Kahler
Earlysville

Risk management

I enjoyed Chiara Canzi’s story, “Pedal vs. Metal: Why’s it so hard to be a cyclist in this town?” [September 9, 2008] but I disagree that one cannot commute safely in Charlottesville. I commute by bike across town five days a week, and in five years, I have had just one near miss (which is less than in my car). The key to a safe, enjoyable bike commute—as in driving—is proper preparation, and proper, law-abiding vehicular behavior. In other words, be visible, and follow the law. Wear a helmet and a reflective vest, equip your bikes with lights and consider using them even during the day when it is overcast. Above all, though, follow the law. Act like a car in slow moving city traffic. Don’t run lights. Don’t rush, and look ahead for possible turning vehicles, car doors opening, etc. Signal your intentions to drivers, both with a head turn and a hand signal. In slow-moving traffic on narrow streets, maintain lane position as you would in a car, to ensure that cars pass you only when it is safe to do so. Stay right, but don’t hug the curb so tight that you have no room to maneuver if something unexpected happens. Behave in a predictable manner, and drivers will treat you like a vehicle operator instead of a confused child in traffic. Focus on what you are doing, not on your iPod, phone or anything else. And unless you are biking at very low traffic times or are very skilled, stay on streets in which the speed limit is 45mph or less—the closer your speed matches that of traffic, the safer you are going to be.

I love my bike, and riding it puts me a great mood every morning and evening. I find that I have a chance to say good morning to people along the way, hear birds, smell some great cooking wafting my way, and in general, get a transition between home and work. The money is saves is pretty nice too. Yes, biking can be risky, but as in most things (including driving), that risk can be managed by sensible precaution, skill-building, and practice, practice, practice. So, c’mon Charlottesville—let’s bike!

Margaret Edwards
Charlottesville

Firm accounting

I applaud the efforts of Mr. Mason pointing out what is obviously a major problem in our All-American city [“Did citizen activist spur Westhaven clean-up?” Government News, September 23, 2008]. In reading the article, I also came away with the sense of it not being about service to the residents as much as it was about justifying and driving one’s point home—feels very political at the least. Let’s hold folks accountable, be receptive and serve better.
 
Eddie Harris
Charlottesville

The importance of being more than earnest

Given C-VILLE’s consistently earnest attempts to cover the complex story of potential development at the intersection of Ridge Street and Cherry Avenue, I wish I could applaud your latest effort, “No-show residents delay city lots decision” [Development News, September 23, 2008]. But several assertions in the item prevent me, most notably the one that councilors “solicited proposals from developers in February to honor residents’ concerns…”

Nooooo. Issuing a Request For Proposal was the opposite of what my neighbors and I called for via our 100-signature petition. That’s why I registered strong objection with councilors the moment the RFP went out. That’s why Susan Lanterman, the petition’s initiator, did the same.

As noted here before, the petition’s message was simple. We called on councilors to follow existing city policy for the sale of public property when a purchase request is on the table, as was the case then. We also called for a thorough traffic study “prior to making any decision…” Councilors did not follow city policy or conduct a traffic study. Instead, they decided to issue an RFP and thereby make a stunningly cynical end run around both policy and the public.

So the RFP blatantly DIS-honored residents’ concerns.

Also, the RFP did not solicit “developers.” It solicited one developer by describing as what was wanted the project that Southern Development had put on the table in May 2007—a proposal that comprised all seven parcels at the corner (Southern Development’s five plus the City’s two). And the RFP required response within 30 days—a deadline that could have been met only by someone who already had a fully formed scheme for the property.

A history footnote: The Virginia Department of Transportation did not abandon a plan to widen Ridge Street in 1976. VDOT widened Ridge and created the Ridge-Cherry intersection. To do that it purchased two parcels and acquired two more by eminent domain, then demolished handsome 19th-century houses on all four. The residue of the two seized parcels subsequently reverted to the owner from whom they were taken. In 1999, those parcels were bought by Dr. Charles Hurt, Southern Development’s maker. Meanwhile, the residue of the purchased lots was deeded to the city. They are the parcels at issue now.

Other errors invite correction, most obviously the map that labeled Elliot Avenue as Cherry Avenue. But I’ll devote the little space left me to your headline. America’s political lexicon is rich because America’s options for public expression are so varied. You see “no-show,” a form of civic sloth. I see boycott, a time-honored form of activism. Councilors were not “disappointed” at neighbor absence because they wanted to hear what neighbors have to say. They’ve heard what neighbors have to say uncountable times over the last few years. Councilors were disappointed at neighbor absence because it denied them the appearance of legitimacy for a sham proceeding they set to seal a deal they decided to make a year ago.

Antoinette W. Roades
Charlottesville

 

The elephant in the column

Everyone has a favorite feature of the C-VILLE, but the coolest of us turn first to read what intrepid investigator, Ace Atkins, is up to each week. His articles are always full of info that enlightens.

That’s why we were sooo surprised when Ace missed a critical angle in “Ark de Triumph” [What’s Up With That, C-VILLE? August 19, 2008]. He’s usually so insightful and wise but, unfortunately, in his response to Zoe Keeper, the ship sailed without our Ace on board! This brilliant reporter didn’t mention one word about how creepy it is for human animals to cage up other animals and not let them run free; he never queried what crime the ferrets, boas, and alligators (oh, my!) had committed to deserve life sentences in solitary confinement, forever denied the right to be the scaly or furry selves Nature intends them to be.

That Noah dude might have put animals in the Ark two-by-two to save them, but we’ve multiplied our tortures against them exponentially ever since.

For some strange reason, we two-leggeds treat the other amazing critters with whom we share this paradise any way we darn well please—just because we can. We use them. We abuse them. We eat them. We conduct hideous experiments on them. We test our bleach, hair spray and razor blades on them. We have lost our enchantment and delight in them—and we are the poorer for it.

The “elephant in the room” here, pooping all over the carpet but being studiously ignored by most of us, is—hold on to your feathers—SPECIESISM. That’s right, folks —the last, terrible “–ism” to plague humankind carries the idea of human superiority to the extreme by elevating the most trivial human wish above the vital needs of other species.

Our trusty React-O-Meter totally went from surprised to shocked when zoos were mentioned—think “prisons with windows”. In addition to zoos, this “beastly” world view has also brought us rodeos, cock- and dogfighting, horse and greyhound racing, and circuses, to name just a few atrocities.

Here are some questions the archetype of admirable asking might have posed:

• When did we lose the wide-eyed fascination we had as children experiencing a giraffe or an elephant for the first time?

• Have you every thought that animals are fellow beings who move toward pleasure and away from pain just like we do?

• How did we get to the place where we see animals as commodities, objects and tools?

• Who really are the “animals” here?

Sorry, but Ace really missed the boat…oops!…Ark on this one. You feel us?

Signed, Ima Nanimaltoo and Hugh Mananimal

P.S. You can’t adopt an elephant, but you can sponsor one through the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee, a natural-habitat refuge where sick, old and needy elephants can walk the Earth in peace. Elephants.com, or call them at 931-796-6500.

Rebecca Faris
Keswick

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