op frWhen terrorism strikes like it did this weekend in Paris, the first reaction to the horror is shock from the utter senselessness of intentional violence against innocent people. Most of us don’t understand how anyone could do something so innately evil.

But then, as the dozens of news reports and politicizing of the tragedy wash over me, I begin to worry. Not about further terrorist attacks — which we all know are coming and unfortunately are part of the world in which we live — but for the coming epidemic of ignorance, grandstanding and bellicose chest thumping.

op frHindsight is indeed 20-20, and this time Haywood County commissioners very likely saw things exactly as they should have.

The plan to sell 55 acres in Haywood County’s industrial park to a start-up recycling sorting company has been scuttled. A press release sent out by the county Monday, Nov. 10, said that the company had withdrawn its offer. With the decision made, it’s way too easy to sit comfortably at my desk with my laptop and write with confidence about why this wasn’t a good idea.

op frSomewhere at this very moment, a political science major is writing a dissertation on why young people these days are so apathetic with regard to politics and the issues. In the 2014 election, for example, slightly less than 20 percent of people between the ages of 18 to 29 cast a ballot. According to The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, that is the “lowest youth turnout rate ever recorded in a federal election.”

op dukeBy Avram Friedman • Guest Columnist

By proposing to replace its Lake Julian coal plant in Asheville with a new natural gas/fracking-fired mega power plant in Western North Carolina, Duke Energy is moving in an anachronistic direction that inhibits the transformation to energy efficiency and renewable energy needed to address rising energy costs and climate change.

op frJackson County commissioners are going to pass a smart steep slope ordinance that will help as this region shakes off the devastating effects of the recent recession.

Commissioners are expected to pass a revised steep slope ordinance that will weaken the threshold from 30 to a 35 percent slope for the ordinance to kick in. While this change essentially does indeed weaken the ordinance, things could have been much worse, so Jackson is to be commended for the stance it’s taking.

op coxWhen my daughter, who is a freshman this year at Tuscola High School, made the Color Guard this summer, the first thought I had was that I would soon be seeing high school football games again for the first time since the late 1980s, when I was a fledgling sports writer for the Watauga Democrat in Boone. My second thought was that I would finally get my first real taste of the vaunted Tuscola-Pisgah rivalry, an intense battle that has been going on for more than 50 years.

op frI sincerely hope Waynesville citizens support Mayor Gavin Brown for reelection.

Municipal elections carry more import than most people realize. The decisions made by mayors and aldermen do not have as direct — and large — of a bearing on your pocketbook as the decisions made at the county, state and federal level, but they do matter. Down at the municipal level, it’s really more about impacting our quality of life and putting in place the amenities we enjoy in small towns.

op lopezIn his Oct. 7 letter to the editor, Franklin political activist Dan Kowal cautioned readers not to “buy the corporate charm offensive” coming out of Western Carolina University’s Free Enterprise Speaker Series. As WCU’s BB&T Distinguished Professor of Capitalism, I oversee the Speaker Series and would like to correct the inaccuracies in Mr. Kowal’s account.

op fr“At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;

Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,

But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity, 

Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,

op frIf we are ever going to have any hope of stemming the bloody tide of mass shootings — which happens in our country with such depressing regularity that we might pause for a day to shake our heads before moving on with the awful knowledge that absolutely nothing will be done about it — then we must first agree with the all-powerful gun lobby that no single piece of gun legislation is going to make much of a difference in stopping the bloodshed. 

They are right — we do not need one piece of gun legislation. Or two. Or three. We need to change the entire gun culture, and not just the gun culture, but the “culture of me.”

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