Inner compass

The writer of a June 17 letter to the editor states quite firmly that there can be no common ground between the devoutly religious and the devil.

I suggest the existence of a vast swathe of people who are not devoutly religious, but lead blameless lives of sacrifice, service and altruism because of their own inner compass.

There is perhaps a higher morality in a person who does the right thing not because of the hope of some reward in Heaven, or the fear of eternal punishment in hell.

If the writer had added the letter “o” to God (good) and dropped the “D’ in devil (evil) I would be inclined to agree with him. As it stands, it is the very opposite of “religious tolerance” and the primary source, historically, of most of the trouble in the world. Surely, this cannot be the purpose of good’s existence in our lives.

Debby McGregor

Acacia Street

Charleston

Syrian crisis

President Obama recently said that we should “go slow” regarding getting involved in the Syrian civil war. However, I don’t see any movement at all. We have procrastinated far too long while 90,000 people have been killed.

We don’t need to get involved militarily. In keeping with our principles and avoiding another Mideast war, let’s send humanitarian aid to the displaced refugees who fled the country and are overwhelming Turkey and Jordan.

Philip Siegrist Jr.

Plantation Lane

Mount Pleasant

Sinking ship

The rift between the national Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina (PECDSC) is now in the court of law. So much for separation of church and state. The issue is pretty well defined.

TEC resents the departure of one of its constituent parts (diocese) and wants its assets, church real property and monetary possessions.

TEC, through its local representative, has requested an accounting of all these assets, both diocesan and parish alike.

TEC does not like the unwillingness of PECDSC to go along with its member majority opinion regarding gay-lesbian-transexual matters, and yet TEC is unwilling to go along with the wider opinion of the worldwide Anglican Communion on this issue.

It is also true that TEC’s new local diocese is unwilling to go along with the majority opinion of its previous diocesan authority, PECDSC.

And from the other side of the battlefield, PECDSC resents the departure of its leader organization, TEC, from the traditional, scriptural position on the gay-lesbian-transexual issue. PECDSC also does not agree to TEC’s claim on its private property.

But let’s go to the point. TEC is not going to win back the hearts and minds of the people of PECDSC, the main protagonist of this rift. It is not willing to go along with the new canons, new opinions, new rules of TEC; so replacing our bishop, our priests is not going to solve the problem. TEC will have to be satisfied with attempting to get the money.

Now what would TEC do with my church, St. Michael’s (or St. Philip’s, or St. Helena’s in Beaufort, or St. Paul’s in Summerville)? It could offer it back to our congregation for a price, which I hope we would decline.

It might assign a new priest to the church and hope for a new congregation — from where? Of whom? It could sell off the buildings separately, for development of some sort. I doubt if the City of Charleston would allow a total break-up of the church (buildings) as they are part of the fabric of our Holy City.

If St. Michael’s ceases to function as a church, I would think the county might decide to change its tax-exempt status and perhaps levy a property tax. What about utilities, maintenance, insurance, etc.? These items cost money even if the lights are not on all the time.

This is an over-simplified analysis, and it leaves much unsaid; but the bottom line is clear — what’s the point in TEC trying to acquire what will be so problematic for it? And it is a church, for Christ’s sake.

I do not claim to be a legal expert. However, I am convinced that common sense would seem to say (to TEC), “Let them go. We do not like them, and they do not like us. It’s a can of worms.” But I think TEC wants and needs the money and it will keep after it.

It needs to be reiterated that TEC has lost approximately 20 percent of its membership in the last decade whereas membership in PECDSC is up 10 percent.

Talk about a sinking ship wanting to take down everyone around. Lord, help us all to maintain some sense of dignity.

W.C. Wilson, M.D.

Church Street

Charleston

Parking rates

Those of us who have to drive into the city for work each day — because there is no public transit from the outlying islands — are forced to park in the various garages around the downtown area.

Many of us are in the hospitality/service industry, making close to minimum wages. Parking rates have doubled in the past week to $2 an hour. What a waste of our hard- earned money. And monthly passes are hard if not nearly impossible to buy.

How could Mayor Joe Riley and the City Council let this happen to the working people of Charleston?

L. Victoria de L’Arbre

Silverbell Lane

Johns Island

Tree removal

The many articles and letters about the SCDOT proposal to remove the trees from the I-26 median west of Summerville have never begun with the basic design of the highway.

I-26 from Summerville to I-95 is mostly a narrow, elevated causeway with its lanes atop a narrow roadbed.

To control costs when the road was built, the minimum dirt fill created a roadbed that is three to eight feet above the surrounding land. It has steep slopes on both sides. There is no inside shoulder and only a narrow outside shoulder.

The highway wasn’t designed for vehicles that routinely travel at 70 to 80 mph. Any vehicle that suddenly leaves the road at high speed from the inside lane is forced by gravity into a fast plunge inward. Any effort to correct tends to result in a high-speed rollover.

The outside shoulder provides minimal space for a vehicle to suddenly leave the lane, and absent real precision (and luck) it produces a plunge to the right. Whether there are trees in the median or not, any high-speed plunge down the slope of the roadbed is going to produce a serious and probably fatal result.

Discussion of the current roadway shouldn’t be about trees. It should be about safety. As a Post and Courier editorial has noted, some parts of the road have a steel guardrail on the side of the interior and outside shoulder. The guard rails are not unattractive, and they serve to keep vehicles — cars at least — on the road and off of the dangerous downslopes.

There’s also discussion of converting I-526 to three lanes in each direction to accommodate expected future truck and car traffic. Realistically, that’s what is needed and it will require a wider elevated roadbed.

This shouldn’t be a myopic discussion about trees. It should be a discussion about how to engineer and build a safe, modern high-speed highway that will serve the needs of South Carolina for several future decades, just as the current I-26 met the needs of past decades with less traffic and lower speeds. Such a highway can be attractive and scenic and there are plenty of good examples.

South Carolina has huge road infrastructure needs, and the DOT and General Assembly need to address them realistically. They either cut corners and create dangerous future roads with unacceptable consequences, or they design safe, efficient roads that will enable South Carolina, its economy and citizens to flourish. That should be the focus of discussion.

R. Scott Wallinger

Hidden Oak Drive

Seabrook Island

Rowdy students

Andrew Knapp’s June 16 story on vandalism in downtown Charleston was spot on.

Many communicants of the Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul live in Radcliffeborough and endure noise, trash and rowdy behavior.

Why can’t the college students “raise hell” inside the bars then go home and go to bed? Upper King Street is a definite magnet for the college crowd. Some fine restaurants and bars are located where boarded-up buildings existed a few years ago.

All this activity on upper King Street has cut into the night life in the Market area. Several restaurants and bars report a drop in business these days.

But tourists still crowd the streets, and are jammed into horse carriages and other modes of transportation, giving the area a festive flavor through spring and summer.

When cruise ships are in town, traffic often backs up on East Bay from Broad Street to George Street making it difficult for local residents to do things such as going to Harris Teeter.

Bill Bryan

Joy Avenue

Charleston

At a snail’s pace

I’m just wondering what the Guinness world record is for just how slow a highway project can be.

I’m referring to the completion of the U.S. Highway 17 North project in Mount Pleasant. It seems as if a team works on something for about a week then nothing for a month or so.

The lights are just one example. Lights along the sides of the highway have been erected for months but not turned on. Light poles in the center median in a few sections have no tops, only bases in the next section and conduit still sticking out of the weeds in the following section. Zero work has been done in at least six weeks on the lights as far as the naked eye can see.

Then how about the miles of brand new roadway, most of two lanes from Long Point Road to the high school, that have recently been ground up and repaved? Not to mention the sections of brand new sidewalk that have recently been broken up and redone. What’s up with that, and who pays for it?

Dare I mention the landscaping? What a perfect time to have planted the medians, in the spring just after the center islands were completed. Recent months of rain would have jump started all the plantings without any watering. The weeds are loving it.

Just the other day a visitor asked me if my town ran out of money to finish the road.

Don’t get me wrong. When the job is completed it’ll be awesome, but hopefully it will be done in my lifetime.

Jerry Signorelli

Rosedown Point

Mount Pleasant

Fine urban farm

Here’s hoping the Charleston community realizes and appreciates the asset it has in its own back yard, or front yard — the MUSC Urban Farm.

Tucked behind a brick wall along Bee Street at President Street, the campus farm is celebrating its first anniversary. Appropriately, this half-acre gem right now is bursting with all sorts of vegetables, fruit, herbs and flowers.

The summer abundance is a breathtaking sight. More important, the farm is a valuable resource — a place of solace and relaxation for MUSC patients, employees, visitors and neighbors; a pioneering educational experience through workshops and presentations, school tours, volunteer opportunities and family learn-and-work days offered there; and a source of healthful, lovingly tended produce put to good use by MUSC kitchens and offered free to volunteers and local churches, shelters, charitable organizations and others in need.

Visit the MUSC Urban Farm. Walk through and admire it. Take in the scenery and scents. Lend a hand, and learn about gardening and wellness. See how it adds to the beauty and vitality of Charleston. It would be a worthy addition to any sightseeing tour of the city.

Congratulations and much gratitude to all those who contributed to the development of the farm, and to all who keep it going and growing.

Rick Malaspina

Old Bridgeview Lane

Charleston

No pay raises

I was quite surprised that The Post and Courier thought that the story “Alabama governor reinstating employee merit raises,” regarding Alabama state employees receiving their first raises in five years, was newsworthy.

Is The Post and Courier aware that South Carolina state employees have not received a merit raise in 12 years — since July 1, 2001? Twelve years without a pay raise is immoral.

Byron White

Mooring Drive

Charleston