Letters to the editor
Posted: March 14, 2013
Deeper breath needed on Chavez
What anger in last week’s “Chavez: Death of a Lower-Echelon Despot” editorial. Such feelings often serve as ideological blinders.
Adding to the list of Chavez’s “sins,” the editor might have added that, according to World Bank studies, between 2003 and 2009 poverty in Venezuela dropped from 62 percent to 29 percent, that Chavez provided free heating oil to poor households in the northeastern United States, and helped end the civil war in Colombia for which Colombia’s president — a U.S. ally — thanked Venezuela.
Simon Bolívar, the late 18th-century Venezuelan political and independence leader, not Mao or Stalin, was Chavez’s hero. So what if Castro and Chavez were friends? Was that any worse than U.S. leaders cuddling up to Saddam Hussein?
Indeed, there were excesses in Chavez’s Venezuela — as there are in every country — but before the editor casts stones, living in a country where, according to the Urban Institute, 51.4 percent of Americans will live in poverty sometime before reaching age 65, where the Center for Disease Control estimates that 35.7 percent of Americans are obese but where almost 15 percent of U.S. households struggle to feed their families, and where our culture somehow allowed a deranged gunman to murder 20 elementary-age school children, he should have taken a deep breath, realized the Cold War ended years ago, and tried to understand the sociopolitical realities of Venezuela, in particular, and of Latin America generally.
Heavy congestion? Try Jefferson
Patrick Farris, loquacious (and photogenic!) as ever, dominated the School Board on Monday evening (see The Star, March 12).
Farris opined that to build a new John Kerr School near Amherst Street would “add to an already very busy, congestive and big trafficked area.” Now, when attempting to back out of my driveway onto Jefferson Street in the morning or in the evening, I know first-hand what a congested traffic area really is, and it makes anything out on Amherst seem positively quaint and small-townish.
Jefferson Street (only 30 feet wide) was never intended to handle school buses at all, and now it’s handling school buses for two schools, Handley and John Kerr. Other city schools have streets engineered to handle buses — those at Quarles Elementary are 34 feet wide and those at Virginia Avenue-Charlotte DeHart Elementary are a full 44 feet wide. It’s time that folks started looking at some hard facts (like street dimensions), rather than merely expressing random opinions about where they would like to see the new John Kerr School located.
Pushing Nester Street through from Seldon to Jefferson might alleviate, but would not solve the traffic problem, for Jefferson would continue to be used for ingress and egress, both to Handley and to John Kerr. Widening Jefferson would mess grievously with the most important National Register site in Winchester, viz. Handley High School and its campus. Jefferson Street could be widened, but there would be hell to pay, and it would be a sad day for the Preservation of Historic Winchester.
Carl J. Ekberg