I feel compelled to respond to Pete MacDowell's claim in a recent Indy article ("Four Democrats line up for lieutenant governor bid," Nov. 28) that I have not been as out there on the tough issues as his candidate, Dan Besse.
When I stood up to Blue Cross/Blue Shield when it sought to become for-profit, I was "out there on a tough issue." So too, when I challenged agribusinesses denying migrant workers' fundamental protections, fought banks ready to foreclose on textile mills and creditors willing to bankrupt the NACCP. I took on the management company that refused to treat public transit workers fairly, opposed slaughterhouses and manufacturers polluting our air and water. I criticized one state agency that sought to permit a rock quarry adjacent to the Appalachian Trail and sued another poised to waste millions of taxpayer dollars. I've called for compensation for the victims of forced sterilizations and proposed a plan for seniors lauded by the Wilmington Star-News as "attractive," sensible" and "admirably specific." I am pro-choice and have made greater racial justice a centerpiece of my campaign.
Candidates absolutely should be judged by where they have been as well as where they are headed. I believe that those who take the time to review my record, and do so with an open mind, will conclude that I've excelled on the "out there on the tough issues" test.
The writer is a Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor.
Don't leave it to the professionals
ACORN comes in and instead of working with and supporting our local group, provides professionals to nag people in Washington Terrace apartments to attend the initial meeting, which I did (Q&A, Dec. 12). It was scripted and choreographed just as the Tarboro Road demonstration was—by professionals.
The College Park neighborhood and Washington Terrace apartments were targeted because we have no community watch signs. The $10 monthly fee for an ACORN membership leaves the group in control of a national, professional group—not residents. We can't pay $10 a month to vote for improvements in our neighborhood.
I am a mere beginner in community activities, nothing more than a foot soldier to pass out leaflets. Any community has indifferent or jaded residents, but College Park has an active, vital and productive Community Action Committee. We are, and have been, working on the problems that ACORN notes—and more. It's not an overnight fix, however.
I think, no, I know that writing "The gun club" (Upfront, Dec. 12) was very, very difficult. In a sense, you outed your family, and by extension yourself. I wrote a piece for the Miami Herald about my mother's alcoholism and its effect on me and my sister. It was a deep and soul-searching piece, yet I insisted that it be without attribution. The paper allowed it because they knew my writing. My mother was still alive and I didn't want to hurt her. Your piece was much more courageous because you let your secrets be known to all your readers. I acknowledge your achievement and courage. And deeply admire your skill.
Kids with guns not family fun
First there was the 4-year-old from North Carolina who shot and killed a deer. Then, just last week, a 5-year-old Arkansas boy bagged a 400-pound black bear. Both of these disturbing stories beg the question: What kind of parents would encourage their pre-schooler to pick up a gun and plug animals full of holes? Instead of hunting for bears and bucks, these families should be hunting for a good therapist.
Stalking and killing an animal is a violent form of recreation, not family-oriented fun. In this culture of escalating youth violence, it is irresponsible and downright dangerous to teach our children how to kill. Decades of evidence show that a child's attitude toward animals can predict future behavior. From Columbine High School to Jonesboro, Ark., many of the kids involved in schoolyard shootings first "practiced" on animals before they turned their guns on their classmates.
Experts agree that young people hurt and kill because they have never learned to "put themselves in someone else's shoes." Teaching children empathy for animals is the first step in teaching children empathy for everyone. For the sake of these and other half-pint hunters everywhere, here's hoping that parents will unarm their kids and take aim at other activities that don't involve bullets, bloodshed and bad judgment. For more information, please visit www.HelpingAnimals.com.
Amy Skylark Elizabeth
The writer is a wildlife correspondent for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).