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Getting cops on top
I grew up in and around Philadelphia during the times of tough top-cop-turned-mayor Frank Rizzo. Being then a naïve novitiate about what I saw as civil rights apostasies, David Fellerath's concerns ["Why Can't Durham Cops Solve Crimes," July 31] could be effectively addressed if a number of Rizzo-type measures were in place. Allow me:

1. Keep judges on call 24/7/365 to issue nebulous search warrants to be acted upon promptly. This would have come in handy at my wife's old office where she and I discovered that it had been burglarized. Within 90 seconds we named the perp, the M.O., the approximate time and the clear motive. We told a Durham police detective who arrived after we called, and we gave him the information. Under Rizzo, the suspect would have either answered his door within 10 minutes or had both front and back doors busted off their hinges, both sets of police with duplicates of the search warrant. But in Durham, it all went to the Dead Letter Box at HQ.

2. A lazy Southern Truman Capote script, the essence of which is "Well, what can you expect anyway?" seems to be sum and substance of the detectives' creed.

3. Rizzo did not pay by the hour. He not only did not pay for lack of performance, but also fired freely for it. But in all fairness, assists got as much credit as did a slam-dunk arrest.

4. Everyone is guilty until proven otherwise at arraignment.

5. If the top cop can't get 101 percent cooperation from the sheriff, the sheriff must go. Likewise for the local FBI SAC (Special Agent in Charge), the area federal marshal and the DA. He/she is accountable to his/her local constituency and if it means twisting the arms of other law enforcement agencies to materialize that accountability then let him or her twist arms.

6. The top cop needs to be free of fear from Durham's top four political action groups. They are political. The police department must be divorced from party politics.

7. I'm not into Gestapo tactics. I think movements toward so-called "victims rights" are constitutionally absurd. I, like David Fellerath and an increasing number of those who like calling Durham home, just want to he police "to serve and to protect."

Currency exchange
On behalf of the trustees of NCPlenty Inc., I write in response to David Potorti's July 31 article, "Plenty of Something," about our efforts to implement a local currency. We are grateful for the attention generated by an article in The Independent, and particularly for Mr. Potorti's interest in our project. We nonetheless think it critical to our mission as the support group for the PLENTY to correct several factual errors found in the article.

In the article, Potorti states that local currency "is purchased with real dollars and circulated ... among participating users." Unfortunately, this statement misrepresents how our system works. Our members do not "buy" the currency. Members of NCPlenty agree to accept the PLENTY as full or partial payment for their goods or services, or as partial wages. In exchange, each member receives an issuance of PLENTYs.

Potorti further misstates that "each participant trades in $50 in cash for $50 in local currency until the initial $5,000 offering is used up." The $50 figure to which he refers is simply the U.S. dollar equivalent of the five PLENTYs members are issued as a benefit of membership. I believe that the $5,000 figure comes from our early projection that we would have 100 initial members (we now expect far more), which would result in $5,000 U.S. dollars worth of PLENTYs being released (100 members x 5 PLENTYs per member = 500 PLENTYs = $5,000 U.S.). There is no way for this "offering" to be "used up." This is merely the amount of PLENTY currency that would initially circulate among 100 members.

This is not to say that it is impossible to exchange U.S. dollars for PLENTYs. Both members and nonmembers are welcome to ask for change in PLENTYs when they make U.S. dollar purchases at local stores that accept the PLENTY. There will likely be at least one location that will serve as a PLENTY "bank," where members and nonmembers can go to exchange U.S. dollars for PLENTYs at face value. However, this is the equivalent of getting quarters for laundry--one is not "buying" the quarters, but instead trading one form of currency for another.

I realize that these are relatively fine points in understanding the PLENTY system. Our methods closely resemble those of other successful local currencies in which direct issuance to members is the primary means of disbursing the currency. I would like to add that, contrary to another of Potorti's assertions, we are indeed inventing more money--new, local money that stays in our community. What we are not inventing is our community's wealth. That wealth is already here, in the form of local producers and service providers. The function of the PLENTY is to safeguard and expand that wealth.

Talk Back
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