Durham food tax would fund city history museum

We greatly appreciate the Indy‘s endorsement of the Durham prepared food tax (Oct. 15) and would like to add one item to that elegant piece. The prepared food tax will spur the creation of the Museum of Durham History, which has been on the drawing boards for many years.

The new museum will use programs and exhibits to share the stories of Durham’s past. Durham has grown and changed so much through the years, yet it is one of the very few cities in North Carolina without an institution to celebrate its history. In 2009, the prepared food tax will provide planning funds, and in 2017, it will provide some construction money.

The Durham History Museum planning group envisions using carefully chosen artifacts, interpretive text, multimedia presentations, programs, a museum Web site and guided tours to tell Durham’s stories. Myriad fascinating subjects are available for interpretation: tobacco, textile mills, civil rights, sports, architecture, the blues, early settlers and Native Americans. These are just the beginning.

A yes vote on Nov. 4 in support of the prepared food tax referendum will provide so much to the community and take the pressure off property taxes. Isn’t this a good time to invest a little to achieve so much for the future?

Barker French, Durham Cultural Master Plan
Jane Goodridge, Chairman Durham History Museum Planning Committee
Tom Krakauer, President Emeritus N.C. Museum of Life and Science

Say no to prepared food tax

I am writing in regards to the Independent‘s endorsement of Durham’s proposed prepared foods tax. After reading the Oct. 15 endorsement, I felt confused and in fact had to read it several times to make sure that I had understood it correctly. How could the Independent support a regressive tax of this nature, when it prides itself as a progressive news source?

What is even more outrageous is how the Independent wrote in support of providing recreational venues and parks to all members of the Durham community and not just the most affluent members. Do you not realize that, indeed, we all want cultural and recreational places for all members of the community? Using funds from a prepared food tax is not the way to fund these projects.

Shame on you, Independent. For a progressive, social justice-oriented newspaper, your support of the prepared foods tax is not fitting with your character. The Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People has publicly opposed the tax, arguing that the burden will fall on Durham’s poorest families. Likewise, a nonpartisan group, Durham Citizens Against the Food Tax, has organized in opposition.

To the socially responsible and caring citizens of Durham: Vote no to Durham’s prepared food tax. It is our personal and public responsibility to take care of the most vulnerable members of the community. Implementing a tax of this nature will only exacerbate the hardships of Durham’s poorest families. I implore you to act on good conscience Nov. 4 and vote no.

Leah Sage Atwell
Chapel Hill

Who’s progressive?

David Price is an effective and progressive member of Congress. Lisa Sorg’s Oct. 15 piece on the Fourth Congressional District race unquestioningly portrays B.J. Lawson as a Republican maverick with appeal to progressives (“B.J. Lawson, the hybrid candidate,” Oct. 15). We’ve heard this foolishness beforerecently. Sorg paints Price as a centrist.

Price has a 95 percent rating from the Americans for Democratic Action over the past five years. This is similar to, or higher than, Barack Obama’s. Further, he is ranked in the top 20 percent in the Roll Call power rankings of House members.

Price is a leader on education, campaign reform, housing and homeland security. He has supported raising the minimum wage, extending children’s health insurance and co-sponsored legislation to close the School of the Americas. Price opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning and fought cuts to Medicaid. How do you suppose the Right-to-Life Libertarian/ Republican Lawson would vote on these issues? (Sorg doesn’t ask.) He’s not interested in universal health care. (Yeah, health savings accounts: Tell someone who doesn’t make a living wage to get a health savings account. Maybe we could chop up those accounts like mortgages and sell them on the “free” market.)

Perhaps some would like to have a Dennis Kucinich as their congressman. Kucinich is probably somewhat left of Price. But he has nowhere near the ability to shape policy that Price has.

Our prospects for a Democratic president and Congress are great. Price will be a valuable leader in the U.S. House on a range of issues. Times are changing. We need progressive leaders who can get things done.

Andrew Short
Chapel Hill

Price: More context

In Lisa Sorg’s interesting piece, “B.J. Lawson, the hybrid candidate” (Oct. 15), I fear a comment I made may be taken out of context. What I actually I said was I would vote the straight Democratic ticket, while holding my nose for those at the top: the presidential candidate for his stance on the Middle East and both the gubernatorial and senatorial candidates for their positions on immigrants.

Also, I did say I had been disappointed with some of U.S. Rep. David Price’s positions. However, I made a point that the Orange County Bill of Rights Defense Committee was pleased that on Sept. 24, Mr. Price introduced HR 7056: “To improve United States capabilities for gathering human intelligence through the effective interrogation and detention of terrorist suspects and for bringing terrorists to justice through effective prosecution in accordance with the principles and values set forth in the Constitution and other laws.”

In addition, Price is aware of the need for reform of U.S. immigration law, and we hope he will consider supporting HR 7255, “To reform immigration detention procedures, and other purposes.”

Thanks to Sorg for her essay.

Margaret Misch

Thanks for Petrow piece

I have been reading everything about this election. I eat, sleep and breathe this stuff, but Steven Petrow’s piece about Joe Biden had tears running down my face (“Joe Biden’s tears remembered,” Opinion, Oct. 15). I don’t think I’ve read a truer account of character. Biden is the truest example of a man’s love for his family and commitment to service. His mention of these painful times are few, which underscore the magnitude of his respect for his wife and lost child.

While I honor the sacrifice John McCain made 40 years ago, he and his constituents constantly alluding to his captivity has sadly become “schtick.”

Biden once joked that every Rudy Giuliani sentence had a noun, a verb and 9/11. McCain has done the same thing with his Vietnam experience. At some point, regardless how profound an experience, turning it into a political asset diminishes it.

Monika Mitchell Randall
Colorado Springs, Colo.

How many parties, again?

Thanks for your article about minority political parties in the Oct. 8 issue. Unfortunately, there was a major editorial error in the feature, namely its headline: “A guide to third parties.”

In view of the fact that the Democrats and Republicans agreed to wage the Iraq war and agreed to finance it entirely with debt; agreed on the current “top down” bailout program which focuses on rescuing banks rather than economically troubled individuals and families; agreed on the “free” trade treaties which have allowed American corporations to fire droves of well-paid workers and move most of the nation’s manufacturing sector overseas; agreed that it’s right and proper that America should play world policeman and spend more on war making and war readiness than all the world’s other nations combined; agreed that despite declining supplies of oil the nation’s transportation system should continue to be based on highways and 200 million private vehicles; agreed not to do anything inconvenient about global warming; agreed not to have a single-payer medical care system like the one Congress and the president provide for themselves; agreed not to get the corporate money out of election campaigns; agreed to let lobbyists roam the back rooms of Congress where ordinary citizens cannot go and to influence legislation in ways that ordinary citizens cannot; agreed to make it as difficult as possible for minority parties to get on many state ballots; agreed to exclude minority party candidates from presidential and vice presidential debates; and so on in a hundred other ways where Democrats and Republicans essentially agree on how our government and economic systems should operate and who should reap the rewardswell, surely you meant that headline to read “A guide to second parties.”

Marc Brandeis