Design debate

Regarding the Gadsden Street townhouse project referenced by a local resident in a June 4 letter to the editor: We believe vigorous debate over new design is healthy for our city and a vital part of what makes Charleston a great place.

On Gadsden, our architectural and development team devised a plan that required no zoning variances whatsoever and replaced a most unsightly asphalt lot, utilizing extraordinarily costly and decorative exterior materials. It is 100 percent pervious in an area of poor drainage (holding our runoff). In the spirit of inclusion, we held a neighborhood meeting open to all about the design, consulted with the preservation and historical entities and city staff.

The author failed to mention that our plan was overwhelmingly embraced by the super majority of Harleston Village, and we respect the detractor's right at the public hearing to have called it a "ghastly blight." The rather diverse BAR, to the board member, had resounding praise for the design, which is proud to be from 2014, but is most harmonious to the neighborhood. Again, these debates are what makes our city great.

Jeff Roberts

Ecovest Development, LLC

Broad Street

Charleston

Over their heads

I have just read the graphic autobiographical novel "Fun Home" by Alison Bechdel. This is the book that caused our state Legislature so many fits of moral outrage and resulted in a budget fight that would punish state-funded colleges for books that our representatives deem inappropriate. This book is not the pornography that certain of these people decided it was.

Rather, it is a brilliant retelling of the author's conflicted family and her own struggle with her relationship with her father. Unlike the retelling by our legislators, people in this book are not simple or evil or simply sexual. Reducing it to homosexual pornography is not just inaccurate, it is obscene.

Besides the exploration of an adult looking back on her childhood and her family, this is a literary novel, and in it were many complex allusions. It would have been wise for our elected officials, before they made judgment, to have read the book with an open mind, and also to have recognized when they were in beyond their depth.

Too many of our legislators have appointed themselves experts in morality, not just in literature but science as well. This year they have weighed in on medical matters, particularly, preventing people from smoking marijuana to ease chronic pain, and forcing doctors to report to lawmakers specifics of a woman's pregnancy in order to prevent her from seeking an abortion that would be medically justified.

This is overreach by people unwilling to accept the limits of their knowledge. Our legislators should rely on experts and not opinions that merely support their own limited beliefs. Likewise, they should want our children to expand their understanding of the world and the people in it. Our children and young adults should be encouraged to consider alternate ideas and to think critically about the world we live in. If only our legislators would model that philosophy.

In "Fun Home" Bechdel creates dynamic parallels with James Joyce's "Ulysses." She says, "Ulysses, of course, was banned for many years by people who found its honesty obscene."

Isn't it ironic that those words today reflect the philosophy of those who would try to ban her book from being read by students seeking honest reflection?

Agnes F. Pomata, Ph.D.

Foxfire Road

Wadmalaw Island

VA misconduct

Action must be taken to correct the misconduct at Veterans Affairs hospitals. We must care for the wounded of these most recent wars coming home with horrific injuries. They will need care for years.

Originally, we began this effort in the colonies with laws "to support disabled soldiers," followed in 1930 by forming the VA, and then explosive growth of benefits, laws and beneficiaries in the next 50-60 years. As originally designed, it was a system to care for those with service-connected injuries, wounds in battle and battle disabilities.

Benefits and hospital beds are going to many with no service-connected injury. Many get benefits who served only a few months in uniform in the 1960s, had no service-connected injuries and spent the last 40-50 years in civilian life. They now want the VA to provide their health care.

President Obama set forth an initiative to eliminate homelessness for veterans. A noble goal, but not one for the VA. Why should the VA provide medical care for those who have spent the last 30-50 years in civilian life and had no service-connected injuries?

Why should the VA provide medical care to the wives of vets who are disabled?

Why should the VA attempt to work on drug and alcohol abuse of those who exited the military 20-40 years ago?

If we are to properly serve those we see asking for money for wounded warriors, the VA must be changed and this must be the focus of the VA. The insanity of welfare within the VA must go away and every serving congressman is responsible. Not the VA.

A. O'Niel Crocker

Colonel, U.S. Army (Retired)

Grand Pavilion Boulevard

Isle of Palms

Not that simple

A May 26 letter titled "What's the use?" gives us a simplistic analysis of sea level rise by only considering the average effects dictated by pure geometry. This is akin to inferring that because a river has an average depth of two feet, one can easily wade across it.

That 16-foot channel in the middle comes as a big surprise to the suddenly drowning wader. The letter ignores the most salient fact of sea level rise; like Tip O'Neill said of politics, it's all local. The amount of rise (or fall) depends not only on added volume but on temperature, local salinity, local seabed contour, rise and fall of land, and other more esoteric factors.

For example, water that is fresh and warm is less dense than saltier and colder water. A ton of the former takes up more space than a ton of the latter. A column of water a kilometer deep will rise about 1.5 centimeters with each 0.2 degree Centigrade increase in temperature.

To these effects must be added considerations of storm surge and tidal surge, two different phenomena that frequently occur at the same time. Relatively small increases in sea level rise can contribute to large increases in the heights of surges. That's why Florida and other low-lying regions like Charleston are in trouble.

For anyone serious about understanding sea level rise issues, I recommend "Rising Sea Levels: An Introduction to Cause and Impact" by Hunt Janin and Scott A. Mandia.

David D. Peterson

Mariners Court

Port Royal

C of C law school

It has been noted that the Charleston School of Law wants to change ownership, and InfiLaw is being considered. I have an idea that might be more beneficial. The law school should become part of the College of Charleston.

It could remain in the existing building and retain the existing faculty, curriculum and mode of operation, slightly modified. It would accept qualified people from anywhere, and would enable graduates of the College of Charleston to pursue a law degree. The Legislature is considering a bill to allow the C of C to offer more advanced degrees. A law degree could be one of them. This would be a win-win solution for both CSOL and the C of C. CSOL could keep its name.

My alma mater, Indiana Tech, started out as a small accelerated program for engineering in a single building in downtown Fort Wayne, Ind.

In the late 1950s it acquired the campus of Concordia College in Fort Wayne. Since then it has grown by leaps and bounds, has several extension campuses across Indiana, and offers a wide variety of degrees, including advanced degrees. In September 2013 it added a law school. It took many years from Indiana Tech's beginning in 1933 to offer law degrees.

I think the CSOL-C of C idea should be considered.

Peter Stabovitz

Teakwood Road

Charleston

Correction

Wednesday's editorial about the Charleston School of Law incorrectly identified lawyers Edward Westbrook and Ralph McCullough as judges.