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Letters to the Editor


Failure to report

In your July 19 article, "Can a Pope sin?," you asked about my company's support for the Republican Legislative Majority's issue advocacy: "Would any of this be illegal? We shall see." But no, your readers will not see, at least not in the politically correct Independent, where news that does not fit the left-wing progressive party line, such as the vindication that RLM fully complied with the law, simply does not get printed.

There is only silence from the Independent after your big build-up in the July 19 article, followed by the Aug. 16 cover story, "The vanishing voter: The real elections scandal isn't Jim Black (or Art Pope)," with the sidebar "Art Pope's purge." The State Board of Elections answered your questions, with a 5-0 decision that Variety and RLM did not coordinate with any candidates; by a 5-0 decision that none of the mailers were "electioneering communications"; and a 4-1 decision that none of the mailers were "express advocacy" to support or defeat a candidate for office.

In short, your question has been answered: There was nothing illegal. But since the answer did not fit your party line, you never reported it in print, on your Web site or on your blog.

You were dismissive about my complaint that your July 19 article was erroneous and biased, when it stated, "Possible fines if Pope's found guilty of election law violations?" when even Richard Morgan had not accused me of any election law violations. Now, the bias in what you omit to print is even more blatant.

While conservatives and I are your target, your bias hurts the efforts for broad-based, left-right coalitions for open and good government, on such issues as lobbying reform and for an independent redistricting commission. Your "Vanishing voter" article focused in part on the problems of legislative gerrymandering. I not only agree with you on that issue, but, in fact, have a long history of action for this much-needed reform. I co-sponsored legislation for an independent redistricting commission as far back as 1989, and again for the 2000 census and redistricting. I was a pro bono attorney and successful plaintiff-intervenor in Shaw v. Reno and plaintiff in the Stephenson litigation, both of which placed constitutional limits on gerrymandering. And yes, as a legislator, I have been on the inside of the sausage factory as a hands-on drawer of congressional and legislative maps, working within the GOP caucus and with Democratic allies, during both the 1991 and 2001 redistricting sessions. I know the problems and challenges first-hand, and why we need reform.

But rather than showing broad-based, bipartisan support for redistricting reform and drawing on my experience for your article, you would rather propagate the left-wing line that I and those I work with are part of the scandal and problem, rather than allies on at least some issues.

And when the facts and the State Board of Elections decision do not support your party line, you simply do not report the facts.

Art Pope

Editor's note: The length limit on letters was waived. For more on Pope, see this week's Citizen column.

Ed Rickards is all wet

Ed Rickards' attempt to paint Duke as a racist institution was unfair and intellectually dishonest ("Beyond Buchanan Boulevard," Sept. 6). Duke is not pure, but in the last major study of universities and racial diversity among major U.S. universities, published by The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education in 2002, guess which university was rated the best? Yes, that's right, Duke--five slots above UNC-Chapel Hill and 10 slots above Columbia University. (Rickards lives in Manhattan.)

There are many examples of unfair innuendo in the article, but space limits preclude addressing more than one. Rickards attacks Duke faculty for owning houses with racially restrictive covenants in their deed histories. Such covenants were fairly common throughout the South 60 to 70 years ago. The fact that racial covenants are not enforceable in the courts, as Rickards notes, means that they are not enforceable at all. Contrary to his assertion, they do not bind sellers in any way. No one can stop someone from selling their property to a black person, no matter what restrictive covenant exists in the deeds in the chain of title. Rickards, with his law degree, should know that. The U.S. Supreme Court established the unenforceability of such covenants in state courts in 1948 in Shelley v. Kraemer. Since Rickards went to law school in the mid-'60s, he can hardly claim this development occurred after his training. Perhaps the later case of Jones v. Mayer in 1968--which outlawed private racial discrimination in the sale of real estate--escaped his attention.

The existence of a racially restrictive covenant in the chain of deeds to a house owned by a Duke faculty member says absolutely nothing about whether that faculty member or the university is racist. Those covenants have been meaningless for 58 years.

Randolph Perry
Vienna, VA.

Bravo, Godfrey Cheshire

Brilliant observations on the fifth anniversary of the event that marked the beginning of how we (the United States) proved ourselves "ugly Americans" to the world ("We're defeating ourselves," cover story, Sept. 6). Although I've despised our current generalissimo and his wannabe junta since their infancy in the Reagan administration, I am still deeply ashamed of my nation's response to 9/11. Apparently, we citizens can't see past catchphrases and slogans that hide criminal incompetence and/or a truly evil and self-serving agenda. Although it's painful, thanks for shining the spotlight on just how horribly incompetent our government has been in its response to that bright blue day in September.

Ian Schreier

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