Roanoke speaks up: Letters to the editor for the week of Aug. 26, 2022 (2023)

Our weekly round-up of letters published in the Roanoke Times.

1 of 20

1

Letter: Discipline for students must begin at home

Kate Cassada's guest column Aug. 17 ("Teacher vacancy crisis demands real fixes") was excellent, but I'd like to add one thing.

Teachers are not inclined to stay in the profession when students' behavior is constantly poor and disrespectful. In days gone by, unruly students were required to meet with the "Board of Education" (aka the paddle).

The mere presence of the paddle hanging there told you all you needed to know. Misbehavior could also result in the student being kept after school— what a concept! Somewhere along the line, people (I'm not going into political parties) took discipline out of the schools, and the results are ugly.

I have substitute-taught at public schools and at Roanoke Catholic School. I noticed immediately how much better behaved the students are at RCS. They had much more respect for you, and for each other. In my judgment, this proves that discipline starts at home. If the parent (or, occasionally, parents) don't instill discipline and respect in their children, there is little chance the school will be able to.

Joe Black, Hardy

2

Letter: Our foreign policy is putting us in peril

The United States is treading perilously close to open and violent confrontation with Russia and China.

As Russia and China are two nuclear superpowers, the consequences of the United States’ confrontation with those two countries will have damaging consequences for the rest of the world — indeed a majority of the world’s population.

We should be appalled and angry that our country’s leaders are putting our survival — and the survival of other living things on our planet — in serious jeopardy. Where are the leaders who are calling for de-escalation with Russia and China?

Foreign policy should be a more important issue for us Americans. The United States’ impact on the world is unbalanced and poses great dangers for us here and all life on our planet. Moreover, the United States’ foreign policy decisions impose grave financial costs on us at home. Why can’t we properly fund our schools and public works projects and have universal programs? The answer is, in large part, because we’re funding disastrous foreign policies and horrendous military interventions abroad.

When is all of this going to stop so we cannot only survive but flourish, in peace?

Melanie Munier, Harrisonburg

3

Letter: Legislature must do more to bolster direct care workers

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light the crisis in care in this country, but for people with disabilities, this crisis was decades in the making.

Before the pandemic, there was a nationwide shortage of direct care workers, those who support people with disabilities in their homes and communities with employment, community access, health and safety, and much more. For people with disabilities, these direct care workers make all the difference between a life in the community and a life without opportunity. Despite this work, their value is not reflected in wages, forcing them to work long hours and multiple jobs just to try to get by. The pandemic and associated inflation have made this crisis even worse!

The Virginia legislature recently approved a measly 7.5% raise as part of the state budget passed in June, a far cry from the $16.29 that the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Services requested for consumer-directed direct support attendants. The current pay rate following the dismal pay increase is only $12.70, which is barely above the upcoming state minimum wage increase that goes into effect in January 2023. A sizable raise for direct care workers is long overdue. Their job is critical and they deserve a pay rate that reflects their value. Anything less is a disgrace.

I have depended on consumer-directed personal assistance services for more than 20 years. I require direct care workers to be able to work, pursue social interests, engage in my community, attend appointments, etc. I never would have been able to attend college and graduate school without direct care workers.

This critical workforce does vital tasks to support people with disabilities in their communities. We need the Virginia legislature to support a historic investment in the Medicaid home and community-based system to create more direct care jobs to meet the growing need and increase wages for the current workforce. Without this investment, people with disabilities and their direct care workers will fall further behind.

Jessica Swanson, Roanoke

4

Letter: Not buying Robertson's excuses

I find the explanation given in court papers by ex-Rocky Mount policeman T.J. Robertson about his participation in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol— that his actions were due to "stress and alcohol abuse"— to be disingenuous.

That he entered the Capitol to find his colleague, Jacob Fracker, is hardly believable. Evidence clearly reveals Robertson's true motives, as posted on social media, that he would willingly join "an open armed rebellion." And after the event of the insurrection, he further states, "CNN and the Left are just mad because we actually attacked the government ..."

Robertson and many others were duped into believing the words of our rogue past president that the election had been "stolen." It is a sad day when our countrymen cannot detect false claims made by a charismatic but inept man who was elected as our president, a man elected not by the people's vote, but by the Electoral College's vote. I have lost faith in the Electoral College.

M.L. Collier, Blacksburg

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5

Letter: New election law muddies the waters

Sometimes, legislation passed by the Virginia General Assembly can lead to unintended consequences. That’s the case with a new election law, introduced by GOP Sen. Bill Stanley of Franklin County, and signed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin in April.

Senate Bill 80 took effect in July. It prohibits state and local elections officials from accepting certain gifts, services and funding from nongovernmental groups and individuals for voter outreach and education. Sounds uncontroversial right? Not so. Unfortunately, good intentions can be bad for transparency and bad for our democracy.

Because of SB 80, voters in central Virginia could not hear from elections officials in Albemarle and Charlottesville recently about preparations for November congressional elections. Are there new precincts? When can you vote early and how? Are there new rules for absentee ballots? All good questions. However, both city and county registrars, unsure about the intent of the new law, declined invitations from the Senior Statesmen of Virginia to speak without any fee or compensation to our August forum.

Seems that commonwealth's attorneys are keeping the people that run our elections from making any public comment about those elections, while they await an opinion from Attorney General Jason Miyares. We are perplexed about how this new law could be interpreted to prevent public employees from providing educational information to Virginia citizens. We hope that SB 80 can be clarified soon to allow for outreach before private groups (nonprofit and community service groups such as the League of Women Voters, the NAACP and Senior Statesmen of Virginia) about the cornerstone of democracy: the vote. Muzzling elections registrars is not going to solve whatever problem Sen. Stanley and Gov. Glenn Youngkin sought to fix with this drastic change in voter education.

Susan Bell Friedman, Charlottesville

6

Letter: Ben Cline is wrong on economy

Ben Cline's latest effort to discredit the increasingly popular Inflation Reduction Act ("Inflation — Worst is yet to come," Aug. 12) is doomed to fail. But it demonstrates how far he is willing to bend the truth to rally his most loyal followers.

We should appreciate that the Inflation Reduction Act is a bipartisan effort where both sides have already agreed to compromise to do what is best for the country.

All Americans know that our middle-class working families are the backbone of our economy. We must make them strong and keep them strong.

Ben Cline's reactionary anti-government diatribes have caused great damage in recent years. But fortunately he has lost credibility with most voters— Republicans, Democrats and independents.

We can be sure that he will once again be able to raise huge amount of money from some banks and large corporations. But let's hope that this time it will not be enough. Let's hope we can once again save our democracy.

His statement that "economists agree the bill will do nothing to tame inflation and may make it worse" is untrue. The great majority of economists disagree with every statement that Ben Cline has made about our economy. I certainly hope that voters will soon reject Ben Cline's lies and vote him out of office once and for all.

John Winfrey, Lexington

7

Submission Guidelines

Dear readers, please find below our most up-to-date guidelines for submitting letters to the editor and commentaries to our Opinion pages. We are open to and encourage submissions from people of all backgrounds. Our goal is to offer clarity as to the type of content we seek and make the submission process more efficient. We will only publish one commentary or letter by a single author within a 30-day period.

LETTERS

Letters to the Editor should be 350 words or fewer, and in addition to the writer’s real name, all submissions must include the writer’s complete home mailing address, email and phone number should we need to reach you (this information is not published). We will give preference to letters that thoughtfully respond to or offer perspective on content published in The Roanoke Times and on local or state issues. Writers should include attribution for statements of fact or context they use to support their positions. We will not give priority to letters that primarily are broad endorsements or attacks on political figures or parties. We do not run photos or graphics with Letters to the Editor.

Submissions will usually receive a form response requesting authentication of authorship. However, having a letter authenticated is not a guarantee of publication.

Because of the volume of letters received, we will not answer inquiries about the status of submissions or about publication decisions, for which many factors are considered — including previous letters by others on the same topic. Submissions may take some time to publish. We rarely publish letters from out-of-state residents unless a local tie is made clear. Submissions we choose to publish are subject to editing for length, accuracy, clarity, tone, style and other considerations.

We accept letters only electronically. Submissions may be sent via e-mail to letters@roanoke.com or submitted online at https://bit.ly/TRTLetters.

(For newspaper home delivery and subscription-related issues, call (540) 981-3211, email customer@roanoke.com, or visit https://bit.ly/TRTCustomers)

COMMENTARIES

Commentary submissions should fall within 450 to 750 words. We will give preference to columns that are analytical and solutions-oriented — ones that explore an issue and offer a path forward — as opposed to pieces that largely support or oppose a stance, or that broadly endorse or attack political figures or parties. Columns offered exclusively to The Roanoke Times will be given higher priority. We do sometimes run art or graphics with commentaries.

Submissions will usually receive a form response requesting authentication of authorship and standard required information. However, having a commentary authenticated is not a guarantee of publication.

We will not answer inquiries about the status of submissions or about publication decisions, for which many factors are considered — including previous columns by others on the same topic. Submissions we choose to publish are subject to editing for length, accuracy, clarity, tone, style and other considerations.

We accept commentaries only electronically. If you wish your commentary to include embedded links, please submit the piece in Word document format. Submissions may be sent via e-mail to opeds@roanoke.com or submitted online at https://bit.ly/TRTOpEds

8

(Video) CBC News: The National | Trump affidavit, Afghan arrivals, Fan Expo returns

Letter: Newspaper could take tougher look at technology

The Aug. 14 editorial ("What inflation act does for SW Va") touts CHIPS as a salvation for Southwest Virginia which sorely needs help. Yet on the same page Larry Howdyshell ("America’s polarization and depression") mentions "the breakdown of family togetherness with the advent of technology."

Is there any reason why corporations find solutions for problems such as energy needs, then settle for the first items out of Pandora's Box rather than weighing negative long-term effects and developing further, better solutions?

Example: environmentally harmful and unsustainable wind/solar "farms" destroy traditional farms and will, in the not-too-distant future, require an additional solution when large components are used up and need disposal. I'm disappointed your paper doesn't consider this when praising new technology.

Pernie Forehand, Vinton

9

Letter: Council candidate would offer fresh perspective

I want to encourage all of Roanoke to vote Nick Hagen to Roanoke City Council on Nov. 8.

Nick is a successful and driven attorney in Roanoke. Along with his work ethic, I have found Nick to be a genuinely kind person who is in this race for Roanoke’s best interest and not the other way around. Rather than seeking political office as a stepping stone to something larger, Nick wants to do the best he can for the place he has called home for more than 30 years. Every time I have spoken with him, he has impressed me with his ideas to bring businesses to Roanoke— a step, he emphasizes, that first begins with the absolutely critical reduction of crime that has taken over our streets and communities.

After years of like-minded leadership on our city council, I am tired of the same disappointing results. I think Nick offers the fresh perspective and new voice that Roanoke needs. He can count on my vote this November.

Shannon Lynn, Roanoke

10

Taysha DeVaughn is running for Congress. However, I have known her long before she decided to run as the Democratic challenger against Morgan Griffith.

Taysha is a regional organizer, mother and leader who uses her family values and expertise to take care of her neighbors. I met Taysha as the organizer in Big Stone Gap. In my home town, her work in several regional programs, including Lonesome Pine Mutual aid and Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards, to feed our community, guarantee access to clean water and air, and engage with local and national leaders on our behalf has me certain that she is the leader we need in this moment.

I do not know Griffith personally. It would be hard to, given his infrequent visits around his district. The bigger issue, however, is that I do not know anything he has accomplished for our region. He is known best for voting against certifying the 2020 election and his failed attempt to destroy the Affordable Care Act and strip thousands in our region of their health care. It is an easy choice this November. Griffith has got to go.

Dylan Mabe, Big Stone Gap

11

Letter: Cline's commentary contains contradictions

Rep. Ben Cline's doom and gloom message ("Inflation Reduction Act— the worst is yet to come," Roanoke Times, Aug. 12) appears with contradictions. He complains about both inflation and raising taxes.

Raising taxes is a way Congress and the president can fight inflation. In his subtle restatement of the Republican "tax and spend" mantra, the congressman omits an essential fact about the new tax laws: they increase taxes on incomes higher than $200,000 and will only impact the wealthiest 6.8% of American households.

Given that the median income in the 6th District is about $60,000, the congressman is telling his constituents that the Democrats are raising their taxes when they aren't. One would think extracting some wealth from super-rich city folks to provide jobs building roads and bridges in rural areas would appeal to many 6th District residents.

The new law also will raise taxes on oil companies that ratcheted up the gas prices this year and raked in billions of dollars in profits. Let's face it, fossil fuels are finite, and the country will gain about 12.5 million new drivers over the next five years. So, it makes sense to extract some of that questionably gotten gain and apply it to alternative energy like electric cars.

The other contradiction in the congressman's ominous missive concerns a potential recession. Yes, we have had two quarters in a row of negative GDP, but the economy can contract without going into recession. The unemployment rates of 3.5% in the United States and 2.85% in Virginia are lower than those at the end of the first two years of Donald Trump's presidency. Then the national unemployment rate was 3.9% and the state's 3%.

To fight a recession, the government can spend more, something President Joe Biden's bills deliver. Unfortunately, Cline voted against both. Incidentally, that infrastructure bill provided funds to bring high-speed broadband internet to Franklin County.

So, Mr. Cline's essay expresses concern for our economic well-being, but his record indicates otherwise, making that article nothing more than election year hogwash.

Steve Bailey, Richmond

12

Letter: Deny Manchin his 'wish list'

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The recently passed Inflation Reduction Act promises investments in climate justice efforts, such as improving climate resilience (helping communities endure the effects of climate change), energy and water efficiency, and remediation of contaminated sites.

These climate justice measures are necessary because of our reliance on fossil fuels and our pattern of sacrificing whole communities, traditionally communities of color, Indigenous peoples and those in poverty.

In exchange for his support of this act, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin laid out a list of “energy permitting provisions.” This wish-list includes fast-tracking fossil fuel infrastructure projects (such as the notorious Mountain Valley Pipeline) and limiting the regulatory authority of federal agencies and environmental laws by reducing the amount of time allotted to conduct reviews and narrowing their scope. Continuing such investments in fossil fuels (which includes natural gas) only exacerbates the problems that theInflation Reduction Actis being praised for addressing.

The draft for Manchin's "energy permitting" bill is written with the watermark of the American Petroleum Institute. It is no surprise that Manchin has received $331,000 from the natural gas industry during this election cycle, an amount that is 7.5 times the median household income of his home state. His influence has been purchased by the very industry that has left his state suffering more than almost any others from poverty, illness and environmental degradation.

I acknowledge that in matters of public policy, we must cooperate with others. However, submitting to Manchin's demands is not cooperation, but coercion. To any of you who breathe, drink water, have children, or hope for something better, please urge those in Congress, whether in-state or outside, to deny Manchin his wish-list this September.

Gwyneth Homer, Blacksburg

13

Letter: Hale's recognition well-deserved

Thank you, Dan Casey, for writing the article on the Kiwanis recognition of Brenda Hale at the Mill Mountain Star ("More than one star on Mill Mountain," Aug. 12).

Brenda Hale deserves, and has earned, all the recognition Roanoke and the Commonwealth of Virginia can bestow.

Pauline Piotrowski, Roanoke

14

Letter: Appreciating fellow letter writer

Just read "Biden has accomplished plenty" (Aug. 15) written by S.A. Miller of Hardy.

Great job in telling what a president should do.

Glad to know there are like-minded people.

Anne Poindexter, Roanoke

15

Letter: Cline's commentary leaves out a lot

Folks, when you read Rep. Ben Cline's commentary on the Inflation Reduction Act ("Inflation Reduction Act— the worst is yet to come," Aug. 12), remember in November that he voted against allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, capping insulin charges for Medicare recipients, and protecting health care costs for 13 million Americans. He didn't tell you about this in his commentary.

Daniel Callaghan, Roanoke

16

Letter: Your tax dollars at work

The Good Lord, I’m sure, is well pleased that our space program has successfully helped put a $10 billion robotic camera into the deep recesses of the universe. How can He not be? Who wouldn’t be? It’s not every day that humans get a chance to see where time began.

For me, I’m just thrilled that we didn’t waste all that money on foolish things — like food, housing and health care for the poor. Or maybe squandering millions on medical research to prevent the next pandemic, cure cancer and Alzheimer’s, or on our deteriorating infrastructure, or fragile power grid or throwing money away on trying to do something to stop crime and gun violence.

How ridiculous!

Now, as work on getting a human on Mars and back on the moon continues, I just hope NASA spends wisely.

Marty Horne, Roanoke

17

Letter: Wisdom from Rushdie

The recent terrible death-attempt on writer Salman Rushdie and the approach of our "silly" (election) season naturally brought to mind something I wrote down, and filed, from his great book "Imaginary Homelands" too many years ago. I remember nothing of the book, but I cold not pass up these words of wisdom, always needed by humankind:

"Meaning is a shaky edifice we build out of scraps: dogma, childhood injuries, newspaper articles, chance remarks, old films, small victories, people hated, people loved; perhaps it is because our sense of what is the case, is constructed from such inadequate materials that we defend it so fiercely, even to the death!"

A weekly reading of this wisdom might go a long way during a political season.

F.D. Williamson, Covington

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18

Letter: Benefits of wind justify short-term impacts

Stephen Neas’s recent letter ("Wind project not worth the collateral damage," Aug. 15) regarding Rocky Forge Wind is a sound reminder of the difficult choices before us.

With the disturbing rate of increase in record-breaking extreme weather events around the globe, the need for renewables grows more compelling by the day, making the use of wind power in our mountains an easy choice for me.

Yes, sites and plans must be thoroughly vetted, and Rocky Forge has been subjected to intense scrutiny. Our time has come, Virginia.

After all, West Virginia has seven wind farms, with number eight in "the oven,” and some turbines are visible from Virginia. Most of these have been producing clean energy at competitive rates for more than a decade, leaving the claim that wind doesn’t produce significant power inaccurate, at best. Expensive? The recent Smithsonian article tells us the unit price for nuclear is $167, coal $108, natural gas $60, wind $43 and solar $36.

The long-term gains of wind farms in our mountains make the short-term adverse impacts of construction justifiable.

Dan Crawford, Roanoke

19

Letter: U.S. foreign policy endangering us all

The United States is treading perilously close to open and violent confrontation with Russia and China. As Russia and China are two nuclear superpowers, the consequences of the United States’ confrontation with those two countries will have damaging consequences for the rest of the world — indeed a majority of the world’s population.

We should be appalled and angry that our country’s leaders are putting our survival — and the survival of other living things on our planet — in serious jeopardy. Where are the leaders who are calling for de-escalation with Russia and China?

Foreign policy should be a more important issue for us Americans. The United States’ impact on the world is unbalanced and poses great dangers for us here and all life on our planet. Moreover, the United States’ foreign policy decisions impose grave financial costs on us at home. Why can’t we properly fund our schools and public works projects and have universal programs? The answer is, in large part, because we’re funding disastrous foreign policies and horrendous military interventions abroad.

When is all of this going to stop so we cannot only survive but flourish, in peace?

Mary Desmond, Blacksburg, Experiential Peace Organizing Committee

20

Letter: It's OK to improve Williamson Road

The Williamson Road area has been a huge part of the soul of Roanoke for the last several decades. All neighborhoods and businesses along Williamson Road need to understand that it is past time that all portions of Williamson Road are allowed to be improved. The proposed improvements are not even supposed to begin until 2030. Do the citizens of Roanoke need to discuss this topic as long as the discussion lasted about demolishing Victory Stadium?

Tina Hendrick, Roanoke

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Name: Ms. Lucile Johns

Birthday: 1999-11-16

Address: Suite 237 56046 Walsh Coves, West Enid, VT 46557

Phone: +59115435987187

Job: Education Supervisor

Hobby: Genealogy, Stone skipping, Skydiving, Nordic skating, Couponing, Coloring, Gardening

Introduction: My name is Ms. Lucile Johns, I am a successful, friendly, friendly, homely, adventurous, handsome, delightful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.