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Letters to the Editor, April 23, 2018: Historical amnesia doesn't honor Virginia's past

Letters to the Editor, April 23, 2018: Historical amnesia doesn't honor Virginia's past

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Historical amnesia doesn’t honor Virginia’s past

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

The Rockbridge Historical Society recently held an event outside of Lexington featuring speaker Gene Sullivan. I looked forward to his presentation on local community life in the South Buffalo region during the mid-1800s.

Showing memorabilia of the barns, mills, cannery, and local church cemetery, Sullivan detailed folks’ lives and their experiences during the Civil War. The predominantly white audience chuckled to the news that Abraham Lincoln received no votes in the area in the 1860 presidential election because his name wasn’t on the ballot.

Sullivan spoke of rich harvests and hardships that were endured because most of the men were off fighting for the cause. What he did not mention was the lives of local slaves or the fact that the harvest bounty could not be fully collected because many slaves had run away after the conflict began.

One picture in particular stood out from his slideshow. The photo depicted a white man with a long gray beard genially holding the hand of a small, black slave child. No further reference was made to the child or to the fact that the blacks buried at Rapps village were granted no tombstone markings and were not interred among the whites.

The photo highlighted what was missing from the lecture: Anonymous, nameless, and lost in time, the little boy stood painfully out as the lone reminder of what transpired here not so long ago. More than 4,000 black men, women, and children died at the hands of white mobs between 1877 and 1950. Can you name any of them? These alarming omissions are particularly disturbing in light of the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination by a white man.

Revisionist history and historical amnesia do not do honor to the Virginia we live in today.

Lee Shepherd.


Expansion may help the addiction crisis — at a cost

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

I’m sure Medicaid expansion is overall a good move for Virginia. It will certainly enlarge the government, create lots of jobs, and probably save a few lives. Expansion will also mean a healthier community, especially for poor folks.

There is some talk about whether this move will help or hurt the addiction crisis. The short answer is that it will help, but not by much. One of the biggest problems is that Virginia’s tax-funded delivery system for substance-use disorders is obsolete and antiquated. There are much better systems that produce three times the outcomes for half the funds.

Another nightmare is the prospect of putting 200,000 opiate addicts on Suboxone and/or methadone. This may look good as a harm reduction operation but without authentic recovery-support providers handling the recovery process, this will certainly be a major problem.

The final potential outcome is that there will continue to be a major shift in treatment of substance-use disorders by the criminal justice system at a much higher cost to taxpayers. The only bright spot is that Virginia’s criminal justice system has done a good job adapting to the burden.

Once again, another governor drank from the cup of bad advice. A common theme among past presidents, governors, and attorneys general is their handling of our national addiction tragedy. This trend does not have to continue.

John Shinholser,

President, McShin Foundation.Richmond.

It’s time to reclaim American democracy

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

Let’s make supporting a 28th amendment to the Constitution a Virginia campaign issue in 2019.

The concentrated financial influence of special interests in politics is the No. 1 problem our nation faces and the survival of American democracy is on the line.

A majority of Americans — Democratic, Republican, and independent — are tired of unlimited spending from corporations and special interests in our elections: 80 percent of citizens support initiatives to limit campaign finance and 19 states have already won ballot initiatives or resolutions calling on Congress to take action.

In the upcoming election, let’s get Virginia candidates to sign a pledge supporting a 28th amendment that (1) secures fair, free elections by limiting the undue influence of money in politics; (2) protects the rights of all Americans to equal participation and representation, rather than overrepresentation of donors and special interests; and (3) protects the unalienable liberty of people rather than new privileges for the largest corporations, unions, and special interests.

We the people — not money, not super PACs, not corporations — govern the United States. Will political candidates in the Richmond area — in particular Reps. Donald McEachin, Robert Wittman, and David Brat — agree to support campaign finance limitations?

Nancy Morgan.

Alexandria.Tori Purdy.


Treatment of VCU dean

is a failure of leadership

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

I am writing to express my disappointment in the process that led to John Accordino, dean of the Wilder School at VCU, being placed on “study-research leave.” The process, as reported, indicates a tragic loss of collegiality and a failure of university leadership.

Accordino is a colleague of more than 30 years and a fine man. He has collaborated with his colleagues to transform the Department of Urban and Regional Planning into a well-respected, nationally recognized program. He provided strong leadership as dean.

He is honest, wise, and just. He’s an excellent role model for faculty and students. His rise to dean of the Wilder School was a progression over time that speaks to his sustained efforts on behalf of his department, his school, and VCU.

VCU offers resources that would have allowed former Gov. Doug Wilder to resolve his dispute in a less volatile manner. A grievance process is available to all staff and faculty that allows people to resolve disputes and avoid litigation. Mediation also allows conflicting parties to work their way back into a constructive, healthy working environment. I am saddened and disappointed that the administration did not address this conflict with a constructive means of dispute resolution.

Accordino’s career is damaged, the morale of his faculty and students is lowered, and the Wilder School is adrift.

Camden Whitehead.


The Russia investigation has gone Hollywood

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

How did the Mueller investigation go from Russian collusion (of which there is no evidence) to Access Hollywood?

Michael Werner.



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