To the Editor:
I appreciated your article “Meet the candidates: Who’s who in Waynesville’s race” (www.smokymountainnews.com/news/item/5412) regarding the upcoming elections, and I am particularly grateful for you drawing my notice to the Waynesville-Haywood Concerned Citizens (WHCC) political action committee — a group to which three candidates are aligned.
A visit to the WHCC website brought some amusement, such as the commentator who saw the sculpture next to the police station as a “progressive socialist statement.” In the 1950s the Brits were concerned about a Red under every bed, but at least ours are apparently in art studios, which must be less claustrophobic for them.
More seriously, the website also contains what I would term falsehoods and hypocrisies. In the former I would include that the street art was privately, not publicly, funded, something you referred to in your article, and also, the claim that Waynesville is $19 million in debt, a claim repeated in bold type in the WHCC advertisement on page 14 of The Smoky Mountain News.
However, from my layman’s reading of the town’s financial statement, (http://www.egovlink.com/public_documents300/waynesville/published_documents/Departments/Finance%20Department/2009-2010%20Audit%20Report.pdf) it has debts of $19 million, mostly liabilities for long-term loans for things like electric substations, which is a completely different thing, and similar to a homeowner having a mortgage. The WHCC’s claim therefore suggests either an inability to read simple accounts, a belief that most people with a mortgage are financially incompetent, or, an economy with the truth.
As for hypocrisy, saying, “most people don’t ride bikes or walk to shop” and therefore what’s the point of making streets “walking friendly,” smacks of an erosion of individual choice and an increase in governmental control, things that the group is supposed to be against.
Most disconcerting, however, is the portrait the group paints of Waynesville. It is certainly not the town I live in and am happy to call home. There’s no disputing that unemployment needs to be reduced, but is having a raft of franchised food outlets the answer? Maybe in the short term, but if they draw customers from locally owned restaurants and ultimately destroy the charm and uniqueness of Waynesville by turning it into Anywhere, USA, it would be a hollow victory.
We are blessed with more stores and restaurants, many of which have recently opened, than a town of 10,000 people would normally have because of visitors who come here because we don’t have a chain store on every corner. Jobs yes. At any price? No.
Finally, I would add that I am a registered independent, and proud of it, since independence is an important trait — after all, it’s the reason this country was created. The WHCC claim there is “no one elected or employed by the Town of Waynesville qualified to tell Walgreen’s, Cracker Barrel, Chili’s…how to do their business,” may or may not be true, but it’s irrelevant. What we need are people independent enough to tell Walgreens, etc., how Waynesville does its business, and to support local enterprise without being beholden to corporate America, a completely different skill set, and one not visible in the WHCC and, by extension, the candidates aligned to them.