Letters to the Editor - Did my part May 06 2004

I think it is amazing that $15.5 billion dollars can be outlined to improve transportation but almost none of that money is earmarked for the one thing we have that is supposed to do just that (“MARTA’s fallen and it can’t get up,” April 29). Of course MARTA ridership is down. That happens when you reduce routes and increase fares. Decreased service always means decreased revenue. A round-trip fare on MARTA costs nearly $4. Why take MARTA to a ball game or concert when you could save money by paying $10 to park. I wish I knew what could save MARTA (subsidized reduced fares?), or even relieve congestion. I know what won’t help Atlanta traffic — $15.5 billion spent on building more roads designed like the ones we have. Here’s a little hint for Georgia Tech’s urban engineering professors — put freeway exits before the entrances! This will help avoid congestion instead of causing it. There, I did my part, so how much of that $15.5 billion do I get?

-- Jason McCarthy, Atlanta

br>?It’s not what they think
As a “true conservative” (or at least a classical liberal with some neoconservative leanings), I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment of Georgians for “Better” Transportation and its work (News & Views, “Road rage,” April 29). What Mike Kenn, Susan Laccetti Meyers and company are peddling ought not to be connected with free-market conservatism in anyone’s mind. In fact, many conservatives have taken serious issue with the groups that take the “research” of Wendell Cox as their basis for operating.

As you mentioned, the GBT’s claims of “social engineering” are especially dubious, given that the present situation — with its mandated automobile use by virtue of the imbalance in funding for roads, superhighways carving up the interior of cities, and single-use and low-density zoning — is as socially engineered as anything I can imagine. Lobbying for density corridors, more transportation choices and a true free market in housing choices is as conservative as anything I can imagine.

By contrast, the GBT may truly think it is advocating the “American way of life,” but the result is the worst, heavy-handed statism I can possibly imagine.

-- Reid Davis, East Atlanta

br>?Lordy mercy
Wow! I’m somewhat taken aback that the idea of recycling books could elicit such a disdainful reaction — so much so that you felt obliged to take pen in hoof and cook up such the scathing indictment of those participating (Arts, “All the world’s a library,” April 29). I suppose it would be beneath your vaunted scruples to admit that it’s OK for people to have a little fun, and if expanded literacy happens to be a side effect, so much the better. I caught my first book on a downtown street corner in Everett, Wash., and it made my day. I’ll be releasing it soon in Seattle, along with several others I plan to purchase. As a Southerner originally from Arkansas, and having spent a portion of my life in Texas, your lack of graciousness makes me ashamed for you and the fact you hail from Atlanta. Miss Melly Hamilton Wilkes (my namesake) would not approve.

-- Melanie T. Lane, Seattle

br>?Learning to share
I wanted to drop you a quick e-mail regarding your recent article “All the world’s a library” (Arts, April 29). I am sure you have gotten a plethora of outraged mail and I hope this one will be slightly more balanced.

I joined BookCrossing a good while ago with the best intentions. I had fully intended to register books and release them. I had also, like you, hoped to find a connection to other BookCrossers through the discussion of good literature. Instead, what I found was less than intellectually fulfilling chatter about things not remotely connected to books, and a horde of people who read the latest trash offered up by less than inspired authors. Thus, I never took part in the online community or registered and released the first book.

But then I got to thinking. Was I not being just a bit of an intellectual snob? I asked myself why I read. The clear-cut answer? Because it is how I relax. So if we read for enjoyment and relaxation, would we not gravitate toward those books that are easy for us to read and give us a sense of satisfaction when we are done? I am sure you would agree the answer to that question is a resounding yes.

I then applied this epiphany of mine to BookCrossing. People are reading and releasing books that have given them pleasure. When they participate in the online community, they are simply there to relax and enjoy the company of others. Unlike myself, not everyone revels in a friendly debate of the underlying themes of The Grapes of Wrath or Catcher in the Rye.

So I’ve been forced to view BookCrossing with a more universal eye. I’ve had to step away from my self-centered way of looking at BookCrossing and how it wasn’t living up to my standards and embrace a more accepting, albeit more mainstream, view of the whole issue. In doing so, I’ve come to appreciate BookCrossing for exactly what it is: a way to anonymously share the books you have enjoyed with someone you would never have been able to meet in your daily life.

-- Rebecca A. Niepert Brinkley, Ocala, Fla.

br>?Both sides seen
I was overjoyed to see the extensive Earth Day coverage (“Green Team ... along with this year’s Dirty Dozen,” April 22). Although the environment is always on the political table and sometimes on the news desk, it rarely seems to be given the consideration it deserves. As a result, many people simply don’t know much about environmental issues like mercury pollution, Superfund toxic waste sites and U.S. Forest Service-sanctioned logging in national forests.

Michael Wall’s article provided the people of Atlanta with an easy reference to environmental issues and the people fighting on either side of them. Those who work in the trenches to save our environment — often fighting a battle that few people ever hear about — deserve our thanks, and those doing their best to destroy the environment piece by piece need to be exposed and stopped. People who are educated can exercise their democratic rights and let the Bush administration know they want clean and healthy air, water and forests for themselves and their children.

-- Josh Edwin, Atlanta

?Why didn’t you say so?
After press time last week, Susan Laccetti Meyers of Georgians for Better Transportation responded to questions posed by CL about a spat between Atlanta business leaders and the GBT. The questions sought the GBT staff’s side of the dispute, in which business leaders were critical of the GBT’s narrow emphasis on roads, a subject Meyers chose not to address directly:

GBT promotes cost-effective solutions to the state’s transportation needs. When it comes to congestion in metro Atlanta, we focus on mobility and how to best promote mobility. We have no bias toward any particular mode. The mode that moves the most people in the most cost-effective manner should be the public policy choice of our political leaders. The efficient movement of people and products through Georgia is the economic lifeblood of this state’s economy.