Reader letters July 9

Jul 08, 2014

Be considerate in where to park

To the editor:

People of Canton or elsewhere, when you attend the Canton get together of the 5th of July, don’t park in open business parking lots. It’s really easy to park somewhere else in town. You may have to walk a few.

Janet Pressley



JLF education ideas are off-base

To the editor:

I cannot agree with John Locke Foundation President John Hood that the North Carolina governor and state legislature is correct that they are promoting growth and opportunity by improving public education and infrastructure.

The state cannot improve education by cutting funding for public schools and promoting charter schools.  They are destroying the schools for which North Carolina has worked for over 50 years.

The justification our founding fathers gave for education was an informed citizenry who would be able to be knowledgeable voters

Thomas Jefferson said: “An enlightened citizenry is indispensable for the proper functioning of a republic. Self-government is not possible unless the citizens are educated sufficiently to enable them to exercise oversight. It is therefore imperative that the nation see to it that a suitable education be provided for all its citizens.”

If we believe this and if we wish our republic to function at a high level, public schools are the foundation.  To keep this trust, we are obligated to provide the best education for our children in public schools.  We cannot provide this capability by cutting funding and establishing charter schools.

Doris Hammett



Follow the rules

To the editor:

As a sometime baseball fan, I was amazed to see that celebrating a Canton boys championship took second place to your publishing an editorial rant regarding a perceived wrong concerning an American Legion Post in the Sports Section of July 4. Congratulations to the D5 winners.

As to the editorial rant, allow me some observations:

As we all know, there is no crying in baseball. Apparently, that escapes your commentator. Based upon his diatribe, we don’t cry: we sob, we whine, we plead ignorance of the rules and mastery of the English language (amply displayed by the lack of grammar evidenced in the article), we claim victimhood, we vow vengeance, we call names, and despicably use the names of minors to evoke sympathy for our cause. And you published that. Question for the sergeant: If you are in charge, why don’t you know the rules? That’s part of your job.

Question for the Mountaineer staff: How on earth did you agree to publish the names of minor children in an op ed?

Further, your copywriters allowed profanity and thinly disguised threats  to be presented as fact. One presumes that your staff contacted the sources who were quoted to solicit their actual quotations, to affirm their statements. It would be very helpful if that information was available.

Personally, it is abundantly clear that the cheating bully who wrote the article should not be allowed near impressionable children.

Robert I. Recker Jr.

Colonel USAFR (ret)

Travelers Rest, South Carolina


Dragoons denied playoff spot

To the editor:

Normally I will not respond to an article written in the news, but the column written by The Mountaineer sports editor included my friends and myself and was somewhat distorted.

The American Legion is made up of veterans with war time eligibility and support many youth programs of which one is American Legion Baseball.

The local American Legion Post, Haywood Post 47, dropped baseball around 1952 and did not return until the 2013 season.

We felt this was a great opportunity to support the youth of Haywood County that loved the sport of baseball.

Now all sports have many rules and regulations that we must follow to participate. Our senior team (the Dragoons) for the second time in as many years, was ruled ineligible for a playoff spot for a rule infraction. Last year we were lucky and got into the playoffs as another team canceled out.

This year, we were not so lucky as we were ruled ineligible, period.

Let me briefly state what transpired.

The national rule book has an option rule that allows the player the option of playing for the team nearest the high school he attends or playing for the team nearest the parent’s domicile. The North Carolina rule book only allows the latter. We broke the rule.

I was called upon to see what could be done, if anything, in the American Legion channels to stop the possibility of an elimination of a super year of play. I called upon friends in high places and they got involved, but when all the cards were on the table, the fact remained that a rule was broken.

Now the sports editor got mad and a lot of harsh words were spoken to and about the very people what had spent a lot of time trying to help in some way to get relief so the Haywood tem could continue to play ball.

Rule books? Second year in play and did not know there was a rule book? Someone needs to attend meetings.

A lot of teams in North Carolina only have about a mile radius to recruit from. Our Haywood team has from here to Murphy, so we ask, what is our problem?

Why do we need to go into Georgia to recruit? We are only allowed 18 players when playoffs start, so if we cannot find these 18 within a reasonable distance, then we need to get out of baseball.

We have a find, dedicated coaching staff, and we have the talent to win ball games as was proven this past weekend when our junior team won the Area IV playoffs with only their first year of playing Legion ball.

Let’s stop making excuses, learn the rules, let the coaches coach, spectators watch and the young people enjoy the game of baseball.

Roy Pressley, PDC, PDA

Tar Heel Boys State Director

Baseball gatekeeper

Comments (9)
Posted by: Scott Lilly | Jul 08, 2014 11:48

Dr. Hammett, once again The Mountaineer is blessed with your graceful opinion regarding education.  You have a wonderful ability to communicate ideas with dignity -- a societal talent that seems to be diminishing with time.


You do present a paradox in your logic.  I wholeheartedly agree with you that an informed citizenry is important for knowledgeable voters.  Smart and educated voters are necessary so that they are not dominated by an oppressive government.  (Able to exercise oversight as Mr. Jefferson describes.)


Stand at the ballot box during the next election and see how much or little our voters are educated and informed.  You can find all kinds of videos on YouTube that show how people are voting without knowing the basics like which party controls congress or even what the three branches of government are and why they are important.  The voters are products of the school system you suggest we ought to promote. 


My own daughter sailed through public school civics class with a good grade.  Yet she could not tell me the three branches of government when she was done!  That bothered me and we boarded Amtrak and spent a weekend in DC so that I could give her a crash course in civics.  Last weekend (10 years later), I asked her if she could name the three branches of government.  She could.  :-)


Using the need to produce informed voters as a justification for continuing support for public schools might be a flawed strategy for boosting support for public schools.  If public schools are to produce informed voters, by all measures, they have failed.  I offer a suggestion that we need to try something else.


The power of personal gain is the most effective way to motivate people in mass.  If educators were to be rewarded for the most effective education, and they were allowed to do that to the best of their abilities, education would noticeably improve.  It would be very difficult to inspire personal performance from educators from a system that cannot be called anything other than Socialism.  And Socialism's number one weakness is the lack of motivation of its subjects.  Isn't that more likely the root cause of our education system today? 


Could it be that we hire more expensive and trained educators and then subject them to a "system" that leaves little room for them to use their talent, experience, and training?  Could it be that we have a system that more embraces the lowest common denominator as things like Common Core and standardized testing promotes?  Could it be that challenges to public education (charter schools, private schools, and homeschools) are vehemently decried by those that have an interest in the big business of education and championed by those that they influence?


I don't think it's realistic to suggest every parent needs to take their child to DC to learn why there are three branches of government.  If the public school system gets that one simple part wrong, they are not doing what is required to produce that informed citizenry that you agree is important.


Posted by: Ron Rookstool | Jul 09, 2014 09:16

For the record, Art Pope (NC Budget Director) was co founder of the John Locke Foundation and has donated over $17M to that Foundation. One might surmise Art Pope may be influential in what that foundation prints?

Posted by: Scott Lilly | Jul 09, 2014 18:30

Mr. Rookstool, Mr. Pope also is reported to have donated as much to efforts that support higher education and the arts and charitable causes.  Is there some concern that Mr. Pope causes you?  Perhaps it is plausible that conservatives may be well-intending philanthropists -- and good ones too if they have enough financial success in life.

Posted by: John C Sanderson | Jul 10, 2014 01:26

"Mr. Pope also is reported to have donated as much to efforts that support higher education and the arts and charitable causes."


I have no idea how someone could honestly make a statement like that. As noted in the Wikipedia article for which Mr. Lilly provided the link:

"Over the last 25 years, half [i.e., 50%] of the Pope Foundation’s grants have gone to support public policy, conservative organizations and think tanks in North Carolina, with the largest single recipient being the John Locke Foundation .... Eighteen percent of the grants went to support higher education .... Seventeen percent has supported national conservative and libertarian public policy groups .... Ten percent of the Pope Foundation’s grants support community philanthropy."

Unless my math fails me, fifty percent plus seventeen percent (i.e., 67%) is significantly greater than eighteen percent plus ten percent (i.e., 28%). That leaves about 5% of the foundation's funding for operating expenses and support of the arts (which evidently Mr. Pope does, in fact, do - but not to the tune of millions of dollars in support).

Good for Mr. Pope on his "philanthropic efforts," by the way, but please, Mr. Lilly, don't misrepresent the fact that Art Pope's family foundation primarily focuses on providing funding for conservative think tanks and national conservative and libertarian public policy groups.


I wouldn't presume to speak for Mr. Rookstool, but I will speak for myself when I say that Mr. Art Pope "causes" me very great concern. He was the driving force behind the effort to dismantle the N.C. Public Campaign Fund program that had been in effect since 2003 - a successful program that had the support of many "liberals" and "conservatives" alike, because it was aimed at taking the potentially corrupting influence of BIG MONEY out of judicial elections in the state. Mr. Pope, however, has had his way, and judicial elections in NC are now open to be influenced by nasty and untruthful campaign ads (much like the 2010 state senate campaign referenced below). I can't help but think that maybe - just maybe - Mr. Pope and his like-minded "philanthropic types" see great value in being able to affect elections in order to have "sympathetic" judicial ears hearing cases affecting their business interests in the coming years.

I also harbor an abiding disrespect and distaste for Mr. Pope related to his involvement in what was nothing less than a scurrilous attack ad campaign against retired judge and 3-term state senator, John Snow, in 2010. Perhaps our current senator, Mr. Davis, would have won the election on his own merits, and if he had, then fine. I seriously doubt he would have won without the "boost" provided by Pope-backed attack ads, however, because Judge Snow is a good man of unquestionable character, and someone with an impeccable record of public service. But he was smeared with unfair and inaccurate campaign ads, and he lost in a very close election, thanks primarily to Mr. Art Pope and his affiliates. Here's a link to a 2011 New Yorker piece on that election:


Yes, Mr. Lilly, it is plausible that conservatives...AND liberals...may be well-intending philanthropists. But it is also plausible that the individual in question, Mr. Art Pope, is a quasi-philanthropist at best, and that he has used a significant amount of his family's massive wealth to support efforts that are NOT in the best interests of the vast majority of the citizens of this state, but rather in the self- interest of a very limited segment of this state's population. Maybe Art Pope represents your interests, Mr. Lilly, so you feel comfortable supporting him. But he sure doesn't represent mine.

Posted by: Scott Lilly | Jul 10, 2014 06:13

"Art Pope's family foundation primarily focuses on providing funding for conservative think tanks and national conservative and libertarian public policy groups" -- Point taken.  But 18% of $89M is about $16M that he donated to higher education.  That's just about the same as he donated to the JLF that Mr. Rookstool mentions.  I'd be lucky to just make that kind of money in my lifetime -- much less give that much away!


You know, regardless of political views, I would suggest you look at the person before judging them.  Mr. Warren Buffett has a lot of wealth and supported president Obama -- As a right-wing conservative Republican, I wouldn't presume Mr. Buffett to be disrespectable or distasteful for using his influence for political views that he has.  He's obviously a good human being with his philanthropy as an indicator.


I've once worked closely with Mr. Rupert Murdoch - someone else who has great resources and a right-wing ideology.  Sitting at his breakfast table in the mornings listening to him plan out his day and provide direction to his inner circle, I noticed his decision-making starts with "what is the right thing to do" before he considers any action.  Yet he too is demonized by the Left.  I would bet even you, Mr. Sanderson, if given the opportunity that I had to watch this man in action firsthand, you would have a different perspective of those that have money and practice philanthropy -- even if it doesn't agree with your personal politics.


Look at our own politicians.  I know little of Rep. Joe Sam Queen - but he is a Democrat and likely uses his resources to promote his left-leaning political beliefs and agendas.  But I've seen him call a square dance and walk in parades and I've heard about his reputation to just love people.  I wouldn't call him disrespectful or distasteful just for having an opposing political belief.


"Mr. Art Pope, is a quasi-philanthropist at best" -- Philanthropist is defined as "

a person who seeks to promote the welfare of others, especially by the generous donation of money to good causes."  With $89 million donated, I cannot understand your point of view, Mr. Sanderson.  That's certainly more money given away than you or I put together will ever donate.


As some of the "hip kids" say, "Don't hate, don't hate!"  (I guess even hip kids recognize what's wrong with this world.)


Posted by: John C Sanderson | Jul 10, 2014 13:22

Mr. Lilly, first of all, I want to say that I do appreciate the fact that you generally offer your views in a dignified and rational manner. I take issue with quite a few of them, and I think that is my prerogative, just as it is yours to take issue with anything I might say. I have encountered commentary in other venues that is downright distasteful, and I've never particularly understood the point of blindly confrontational argumentation. So, thank you for being civil in your commentary, and I'll try to do the same.


That said, I'll just repeat that I have no problem with Mr. Pope's philanthropy. That's a good thing. Community organizations, educational institutions, and arts programs are great to support, and yes, someone like me is never going to be able to provide the support that someone as wealthy as Mr. Pope can. But I do not characterize donations to political/ideological organizations as "philanthropy" (and "$89 million donated" includes all of that). Those kinds of donations are intended to help further a particular political/ideological agenda that may work against what I see as the best interests of the general public. I will reiterate that a significant majority of the money that flows through the Pope family foundation (67%) goes to support political agendas that are accurately characterized as either "conservative" or "libertarian," and I find some of those positions troublesome (e.g., the JLF position on public education). Again, if those are the political agendas you support, then I can understand why you would support Mr. Pope in that regard. But I don't.


I will say again, however, that Mr. Pope's role in defeating Judge Snow is something I find inexcusable. I don't "hate" Mr. Pope, but I question his motivations in much of what he does (e.g., his strong effort to dismantle the NC Public Campaign Fund), and I despise his actions as a primary contributor in the concerted attack ad campaign on Judge Snow in 2010. I don't see how you or anyone else could say in good conscience that enabling and encouraging smear tactics are good for our political process, no matter who or what is engaged in that process.

Posted by: Scott Lilly | Jul 10, 2014 15:08

Mr. Sanderson, we likely agree to disagree on some points.  And as far as any smear campaign, I'll join your opinion that it is disgraceful any time it's employed.


I enjoy a good and respectful debate.  I believe if more in politics could do that in good faith, we'll always get better results from politicians.  Someday, if sitting next to you in a bar, I'll buy you a beverage and we can converse about some of those issues that you find troubling about conservatives.


I once hoped that the Haywood County Republican and Democratic Parties would host some kind of "hoity toity" debate in a coffee house or wine cellar.  Those on both sides of the isle seem to look at the other side more often like there are monsters over there.  Dr. Hammett would be a great mentor in which to model that kind of debate.  Such class, dignity, and respect while making her point clear.  A refreshing perspective from the flame-throwers we see on FoxNews and MSNBC.  We're all neighbors -- some just live a few more blocks away than others.

Posted by: John C Sanderson | Jul 10, 2014 18:28

As someone once said, it is possible to disagree without being disagreeable. I support that kind of thinking.

Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Jul 11, 2014 08:52

       As has been quite well documented by his own speech and actions, art pope has been supporting the ideology of what the John Burch Society embraced years ago. Privatize public schools and make them teach Christian(trinitarrian) philosophy. Privatize any and all government actions. And just who benefits from privatization? Follow the money folks. Just that simple.

           Papa koch helped form the John Birch Society.



If you wish to comment, please login.