Localities should have authority over monuments

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

When I graduated from W.T. Woodson High School in Fairfax in 1969, I had learned nothing of Virginia’s racist 1902 Constitution that disenfranchised African Americans. Since then Virginians have made slow, painful progress in overturning the legacies of that constitution and the laws that enshrined it, even in the face of continuing resistance.

However, there remains one significant law from that era that is still on the books today: the law that prevents Virginia localities from removing Confederate war memorials. Make no mistake, while the law has been amended to include memorials from other wars, the original 1904 law spoke only of Confederate memorials. That law was part of the massive movement to institutionalize white supremacy throughout the commonwealth.

Lawmakers in Virginia’s Senate and House of Delegates have an opportunity to overturn that remnant of Jim Crow and return local control over war memorials to cities and counties that are forced to display them in front of courthouses, in public parks and other spaces where defenders of the Lost Cause erected them.

Opponents have spoken of a slippery slope by which other war memorials, such as those honoring Vietnam veterans, will be removed if localities gain control. Do they really fear democracy so much? As one who took the Air Force oath of allegiance a few weeks after that high school graduation during the height of the Vietnam War, I have no concern that anyone will be removing other memorials. Indeed, in Charlottesville, the debate about our community’s memorial to Vietnam veterans is over how much to spend to make it more accessible.

All Virginians should work to make our commonwealth more welcoming for all our citizens, guests and visitors. Support local control and return democratic decision-making about Confederate statues to the people who have to live with them.

Frank Dukes.


Reduce menhaden harvest to protect bay health

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

The taking of excessive tonnage on menhaden out of the Chesapeake Bay has a very negative effect on the entire ecosystem. Menhaden are filter feeders, cleaning more water than oysters. They are at the bottom of the food chain for all wildlife in the bay. The drastic decrease in the level of menhaden has led to more predation of young crabs, spot, blowtoads and eels. These fish have mostly vanished from the upper parts of the bay; there are no more big bluefish. Rockfish or striped bass fishery is in decline. Schools of dolphin now are regularly seen in our rivers looking for food because they are not finding enough in the bay.

This whole industry started after man nearly depleted the Atlantic and then the Pacific oceans of whales for lamp oil. History has a way of repeating itself, with the mismanagement of our menhaden. All we have to do is see the signs. Menhaden belong to Virginians, not a for-profit corporation.

I hope the people’s legislative body, the General Assembly, will make the right decisions to reduce harvest and not be influence by lobbyists for Omega Protein Corp.

Tscharner D. Watkins III.

Chairman, Virginia Agriculture Council.


Eliminate sex bias for small businesses

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

Now that the Virginia legislature has passed the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, it seems appropriate that the legislature change our laws to eliminate the commonwealth’s bias based on sex. A good place to start is by eliminating the discrimination against men in the definition of a SWaM business — Small, Woman-owned, and Minority-owned business. The purpose of the commonwealth’s SWaM program is to enhance procurement opportunities for SWaM businesses participating in state-funded projects. If a male owns a business, it qualifies as a SWaM if it is small with less than $10 million in revenue and fewer than 250 employees. A woman-owned business has no limits on size or employees. I recommend changing the definition to SaM, a small- or minority-owned business and eliminate the special consideration based on sex.

Jim Sowers.


Unexpected travel woes for well-prepared flyer

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

When I got to the front of the TSA PreCheck line prior to a recent airline flight, I had my Global Entry card and passport at the ready. I was asked if I had any metal in my body. I answered I had a knee replacement, and was sent to the full body scan line. After going through that scan, I was taken to a side room, had to remove my shoes, my purse was inspected, my shoes were inspected and my carry-on bag was almost torn apart. I am a grandmother in my 80s and I feel the TSA agents discriminated against me because I am older.

Almost everyone I know who is older than 70 has had a knee, hip or another joint replaced. I followed all the rules to go through the PreCheck line, with my Global Entry card, my passport and a military ID. What happened to me was very wrong.

Molly Wroth.

White Stone.

Rude audience behavior spoiled show’s ending

Editor, times-Dispatch:

I have always been amazed at how polite Richmonders are, but sadly, at a recent Saturday matinee performance of “Cats” at the Altria Theater, this was not the case.

Many people thought it was more important to leave the theater first than to wait until the performance had ended. This caused congestion in the aisles, and when the performers came down from the stage to dance in the aisles, they could barely move.

In addition, there was a final number followed by the performers taking their bows. All of this was blocked by the people trying to leave. It also cheated the performers of a standing ovation, which they had justly earned.

Lois Castillo.


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