Regarding your July 10 editorial "The eminent-domain game": When the court allowed local municipalities to define the term "public purpose," it abdicated its responsibility to protect individual citizens against the tyranny of the majority. As a result, entire neighborhoods became targets for "urban renewal." City planning boards could declare an area blighted for any reason, however implausible. And by declaring blight, the board so devalued the land as to make a mockery of the "fair compensation" rule. In many cases, cities targeted the homes of poor minorities with no voice in the political process. Their rights were expendable in order to achieve any hazily conceived notion of public interest - including the racist preferences of public administrators. The proud era of slum clearance, public housing, and "Negro removal" began.
The current wave of seizures is no different. Small towns want more tax dollars to play with. But rather than asking all residents to pay higher taxes, they are trying to impose the costs on a few unlucky property owners. The injustice of this action - taking property from one private citizen to give to another - is patently obvious, despite the euphemistic language: "redevelopment" and "recycling."
Paul F. Niehaus
Housing Opportunities Program
Regarding your July 8 article "Fewer foster homes and a rising need": It seems to me that a large part of the problem lies within society itself. The general assumption is that services are failing. I contend that while there are some failures in the system, we, as a community of adults, need to turn the mirror of blame on ourselves. We need to ask ourselves why there are not more adults reaching out to these children.
I understand about the budget cuts, advocacy efforts, professional development, and monitoring. I also understand that a significant amount of time, effort, and money is expended on each child in the "system."
However, I believe that we, as a community, are glossing over the fact that we are passing the buck on to someone else. Our humanity and our ability to coalesce as a community are steadily eroding. Our passive protests of neutrality are harming children. Whether it be helping a child in foster care, volunteering with an after-school program, or mentoring children at neighborhood schools, we need to do something.
Regarding your July 11 article "US force nears limit of its global stretch": When reading the article about the US military stretched thin, I was amazed that the writer said the US could possibly call up some of the National Guard. Thousands of guardsmen are already deployed, putting a hardship on them and their families. My son has been deployed since February and overseas since May, with no idea when he will be coming home. Most guardsmen were told that they'd rarely leave the state, let alone go overseas. They deserve some recognition for their sacrifices, not a suggestion that they should help out.
Lisa A. Beall
Regarding your July 1 article "The case for single-sex schools": I think the ideal solution for all schools, elementary through high school, would be to have brother and sister schools. In two adjacent buildings, boys and girls would have separate lessons, with frequent get-togethers for debates, band, and sports.
Chapel Hill, N.C.
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