Despite strides, Richmond

has more steps to take

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

The irony of some Richmonders being insulted by Kehinde Wiley’s “Rumors of War” is profound.

Insulted by a statue of a person on horseback? One person went so far as to bemoan the possibility that the shadow of this statue might fall on the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.

Let me assure that person that any such shadow will pale in comparison to the dark shadows cast by the institution of slavery, the Civil War, Jim Crow laws, Massive Resistance and a century and a half of racial intolerance.

I am proud to consider myself a Richmonder and I am proud to see the considerable strides this area has made in racial relations and in the acceptance of all forms of diversity. I suppose it helps to have reminders now and then that the task is not complete.

Certainly those who can look past Richmond’s Slave Trail and Slave Market and find fault with Wiley’s art provide that function.

Tom Lawrence.

Glen Allen.

Gas pipelines pose

threat to Virginia

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

Recent environmental news suggests that Virginia leaders are taking serious steps to address climate change and protect this coastal state from rapidly rising sea levels.

On Sept. 16, Gov. Ralph Northam issued an executive order calling for “the transition to cleaner sources of energy, like wind, solar, and energy efficiency” and carbon-free electricity by 2050.

Good news? Of course, but the devil’s in the details. In recent years, Virginia has invested in natural gas, a fossil fuel that emits methane during production. Methane emissions have 34 times the heat-trapping impact of carbon emissions over 100 years. Presently, 61% of Virginia’s electricity generation comes from natural gas; less than 6% comes from renewables.

Northam’s executive order is welcome news. But why has he promoted massive gas infrastructure projects like the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines?

Boosting gas pipelines encourages investment in gas plants, such as the two planned for rural Charles City County, slated to soon become home to one of the nation’s top concentrations of gas electricity generation and more than 10 million tons of carbon emissions annually.

The gas industry isn’t concerned if the state is left with stranded assets in 15 years, but citizens losing their land to eminent domain and seeing gas infrastructure wreck their communities have good reason to be.

The Roanoke Times recently reported that the Mountain Valley Pipeline already has been required to pay $27.5 million to mitigate environmental damage from the pipeline, money that affected communities in southwestern Virginia won’t even see.

For a project that promises to pump 2 million dekatherms of fracked gas daily to Mid- and Southern Atlantic markets, the environmental consequences are only going to grow for all Virginians. Policymakers must attend to the details and call for a halt to the pipelines.

Beth Kreydatus.

Henrico.

Human actions blamed

for many bird deaths

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

Rather than blame house cats for decimating the bird population, we should first look in a mirror. Humans likely cause way more damage to birds than do felines.

If we’re not razing the forests where birds live and replacing them with housing developments, then we’re draining wetlands, polluting waterways, spraying chemicals and insecticides into the environment and in general wreaking havoc on our avian friends.

Remember when the toxic pesticide Kepone nearly wiped out bald eagles around here? Have you ever driven over a long bridge and seen piles of dead birds lining the side of the road? Have you ever worked in a glass-plated skyscraper and heard the frequent “thump” of a bird slamming into what they perceive to be open sky?

Wind farms, electric/telephone wires and airplanes all take their toll.

Even other birds, such as falcons, hawks and raptors that rely on smaller birds for a primary food source, are to blame.

I have a hard time believing the USA Today statistic of 3.7 billion birds reportedly being killed by cats. For one thing, that is the top end of the estimate, and for another thing, it is well-known that all cats are liars. If a cat were to say he or she has snuffed 30 birds, the real total is likely much lower.

Howie Hall.

Richmond.

Backyard bird feeders

attract predators

Editor, Times Dispatch:

With reference to recent letters from Wayne Surles and Nicholas Spinelli regarding cats as bird predators, my observation is that bird feeders attract bird predators and a host of various overpopulated wildlife. Feeding wildlife is not permitted in sanctuaries because it is harmful to the balance of nature. God provides, not man.

Catherine T. Kavanagh.

Midlothian.

Predator act expensive,

won’t accomplish goal

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

I’m writing in response to Del. Patrick Hope’s op-ed concerning Virginia’s Sexually Violent Predators (SVP) Act.

The commonwealth and Attorney General Mark Herring’s office have certainly gone too far in prosecuting men after they have completed prison terms deemed appropriate by judges.

Whether we feel these terms are long enough or too long is another argument, but the point is these people have completed their sentences successfully, often obtaining job and life skills while incarcerated as well as some form of treatment.

Holding them for a crime they might commit in the future based on unreliable measurement tools and pseudo-science as well as the opinion of an evaluator is nothing short of unconstitutional.

In addition, the cost of this act is hurting our children and communities far more than it is protecting them.

The chance of a person convicted of a sexually based crime repeating a similar offense is markedly low (3% to 5%) and lower than the chance of an acquaintance or family member who has never been convicted committing such an offense (greater than 95%).

Yet the Department of Behavioral Health and Development Services is forced to give up more than $48 million a year of its budget to run the Virginia Center for Behavioral Rehabilitation, which is no more than a prison under the guise of a treatment facility.

And if we add the many additional costs to fund this act, it is costing Virginia more than $60 million a year.

How about we put that money into appropriate mental health services and education, which will do so much more to prevent crimes of this nature?

I am a retired teacher and I spent my life caring for children and my community, and my heart goes out to victims of sexual abuse.

However, this act does nothing to promote healing and keep us safe.

Let’s find more just and effective ways to protect people, especially children. Vengeance will never accomplish that, and vengeance is at the core of the SVP Act.

Kirsten Darby.

Thornburg.

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