Another cruise ship was in town recently tying up traffic on the East Side, blocking the view of the harbor, spewing its fumes into the air and making its annoying PA broadcasts, which can be heard from Waterfront Park to Calhoun Street.

When reasonable, rational, independent reports recommend that the City of Charleston proceed with all possible caution into the quicksand of dealing with the cruise industry, why does the city refuse to listen?

Anyone who dares to go to the East Side of the city on cruise days faces a monolith at the end of Market Street blocking the view of the water, traffic jams caused by public streets being limited to cruise traffic and incessant noise pollution from the shipboard announcements.

Preserving Charleston’s unique charm and beauty has been undertaken at great effort for several decades. I fail to understand the reluctance of the mayor to continue those efforts to ensure the quality of life for citizens who elected him. I strongly urge that the mayor immediately:

— Embrace at least some of the suggestions in the study submitted by the Historic Charleston Foundation.

— Use the city’s power to protect its downtown tax-paying residents.

— Create a separate citizens monitoring board to oversee and provide advice to the City Council on issues related to the cruise industry as recommended in the recent report by Miley & Associates, and commissioned by the Historic Charleston Foundation.

Please, we’ve all worked hard to become a destination of choice for tourists worldwide. We must protect our assets.

Ann Holland Rutledge Avenue Charleston

Hilliary Clinton believes it takes a village to raise a child. She may be right since all traditional role models are gone.

But who are these village people? Are they the same individuals who hold the life of an animal or tree above those of humans?

With the institution of marriage being downgraded to an insignificant state, family and community values have been pushed to the left of what was recognized as the norm.

Formerly accepted social corrective measures are now considered criticism too harsh for individuals who fail to develop a backbone or thick skin. Any show of authority is labeled as insensitive. Society is asked to be more understanding of those who neglect or even murder their children.

We wonder why marriages are failing, children are abused and the country is in a leaderless downward spiral.

Institutions such as the Catholic Church, Boy Scouts, Penn State and The Citadel can keep their secrets no longer. We do not even have Superman to turn to anymore.

Healthy competition in education, the sciences, business, sports or even politics is frowned upon. Children are being taught that keeping score is not necessary since the losers’ psyches may be damaged. Superlatives are being replaced with an equal sign for all.

Occupy Wall Streeters are a prime example of this new religion. Amercans are more for self than banding together to fortify our country’s greatness. The country was ripe for “hope and change,” but now even the world-wide economy is falling apart. Despite all this, some Americans are waking up to the reality that our failing economy is not just a bad dream.

The president, still believing in these ideals, is asleep at the wheel. All he has to do is give the word to open all U.S. oil fields for drilling until green energy can be made affordable and available to the masses, thereby making him the Superman of this century.

Dwight S. Ives Pressley Drive

Summerville

Do you wonder how to help pay for your children’s and grandchildren’s college education? The treasurer’s office administers the Future Scholar 529 College Savings Account, South Carolina’s only state-sponsored college savings plan.

You have until the tax deadline of April 17 to open an account and take advantage of a state income tax deduction for the 2011 tax year.

How much of your tax burden can you trim? A $5,000 deposit may be eligible for a 7 percent state income tax deduction of $350. Over 15 years, $5,000 a year adds up to $75,000 and you’d rack up $5,250 in tax savings.

Unlike a typical savings, stock or mutual fund account, you don’t have to pay taxes on any interest or earnings in a Future Scholar 529 account, as long as it is used for an allowable education expense.

I attended USC in the early ’80s. Back then, tuition was $366 a semester, or less than $800 a year. Today, in-state tuition at USC is nearly $10,000, which doesn’t include room and board and books, which can add up to $8,000 a year.

That’s why it’s important to start saving no matter the age of your future scholar. A recent national survey showed nearly half of parents across the country will be relying on loans to pay for college. Many of those loans get signed over to children and can take five to 20 years to pay off.

South Carolina’s Future Scholar 529 plan has been consistently rated as one of the top college savings plans in the nation, receiving the highest Five-Cap Rating by the savingforcollege.com website.

A Future Scholar account can be given as a gift to friends or family members, and the gift giver is eligible for the tax deduction. Accounts are easily transferrable, so if a child decides not to go to college, another family member can benefit. Future Scholar accounts can be used for educational expenses at any public or private two- or four-year institution eligible for federal student loans.

Starting a Future Scholar account can be as simple as a monthly $50 minimum contribution; it would equal $600 a year. Now take $600 and multiply that by 18 years — you get $10,800.

So why not keep more of your money and put it to use by helping out your future scholar? For internet users, go to www.futurescholar.com or call 888-244-5674.

Curtis M. Loftis Jr. State Treasurer

Senate Street Columbia

The second annual “Dancing With The ARK’s Stars” on March 10 was a resounding success. Over 300 people watched our terrific “celebrity dancers” compete for the “mirror ball” trophy by raising the most money for Ahe ARK. Not only did they provide an evening of great entertainment, they helped The ARK raise almost $28,000 — twice what we raised last year.

We want to thank our celebrity dancers for the time, effort and enthusiasm they brought to the event. The celebrity judges’ comments and scores added excitement and fun to the overall fundraising event.

Dr. Bob Randall took the Mirror Ball for raising the most money. Carolina Dancesport and Brad Moranz provided exceptional professional entertainment.

Our sponsors really came through for us this year.

We are thrilled that the Summerville community and beyond believe in what we do at The ARK, and they show it. For 16 years, The ARK has provided hope and relief to families dealing with Alzheimer’s and related dementia. We look forward to next year’s Dancing With The ARK’s Stars being even better.

Peg Lahmeyer Executive Director

The ARK, Alzheimer’s Family Support Services

Central Avenue Summerville

After the latest newspaper article regarding paper vs. plastic leaf bags, I feel compelled to write about a rarely mentioned option for those pesky leaves.

Why not consider simply relocating gathered leaves into planting beds or mulched areas within our own yards and gardens instead of into disposable bags to be discarded and hauled off?

Over the last 23 years that we have taken care of our yard with many trees, I have yet to put a single leaf bag by the curb.

It is easy to gather the fallen leaves and spread them neatly around planting beds. In small beds some use leaves shredded with a lawn mower or mixed with purchased mulch, but most are just put down, as they have been gathered. Tourists often take photos of the yard and make nice comments. Leaf mulch peeking out from under the plants above must not look too shabby.

It would be ideal if the general population would begin to appreciate that natural leaf mulch is a viable alternate to store bought and has a nice appearance for formal and informal gardens alike.

In addition, they would save themselves costs and effort. Leaf mulch is free and redistributing it much easier than filling those messy bags.

There are also environmental benefits: fewer leaf bags needed by the population, less hauling of bags, less waste from used mulch bags.

As not only a homeowner, but as a registered landscape architect, I encourage others to consider home leaf redistribution.

Paper vs. plastic? There are other choices.

CYNTHIA MONTAGUE Rutledge Avenue

Charleston