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Letters to the editor 

Buckhead is back!

I'm excited about the Buckhead Village's makeover (Fallout, "Prime time," Nov. 23). It's about time! The neighborhood used to be such a prestigious area. Because of its current negative image from the run-down buildings to the trashy clubs, I often find myself telling out-of-towners to stay away from the area. Now, don't get me wrong, I've danced the night away in many of those clubs. However, in its current state, it's not the lasting, memorable image I'd like out-of-towners to take with them of our city. Kudos to Ben Carter and the city for returning Buckhead to its upscale image.

-- Keisha Curtis, Atlanta

Article-wrecker

I take issue with much of the premise of your article (cover story, "Homewreckers," Nov. 23). The topic of your article is certainly relevant, as you noted that Georgia is ranked fifth nationally in foreclosures. However, the content is more suited to Parade magazine than to a serious outlet of alternative journalism.

While I agree that it is tragic that Ms. Martin may lose her home and that Fremont probably should have been barred from lending her the money she used to finance her father's funeral, I would bet that most of the 4,300 properties up for sale at the November auction are not little old ladies confused by the fine print (and yet savvy enough to locate Legal Aid and get CL to publicize their case).

In your second paragraph, you said "all of [the foreclosed properties] are tragic reminders of people who lost their homes because they couldn't pay." This is fallacious. There are several new homes in my neighborhood that were built, sold fraudulently and foreclosed upon, all without anyone ever living there. How many of the 4,300 fell into this category? How about all the houses that "investors" have purchased and sold to straw buyers with no intention of paying the note or occupying the property? With DeKalb and Fulton counties near the top nationally in mortgage fraud, according to the National Mortgage Association, I think a little more prodding in this direction would have produced a much more accurate picture of a problem in our community.

You also stated that "few individuals realized" their payments could increase with an ARM loan. That's ridiculous. Almost everyone understands this. That is the very definition of this type of loan.

You also said that foreclosure can take place in Georgia in as little as two months. For individuals attempting to make payments, however, I am sure this is nowhere near the truth. For example, the unfortunate Ms. Martin in your article is at least six months behind in payments, and still negotiating to stay in her home.

It is undeniably true that we need stronger consumer protection to prevent unscrupulous companies such as Fremont from making loans with the intent of taking people's property. Even more, however, we need protection from mortgage fraudsters who ravish our communities and leave empty, crime-ridden homes in their wake. Your outpouring of misguided liberal guilt does not get us any closer to addressing this much bigger problem.

-- JP Chandonia, Atlanta

They're not fooling anyone

I really appreciate Mr. Harrison's article (Going Postal, "Coke's gift not the real thing," Nov. 16) regarding Coke's "gift" of land for the Civil Rights museum. When I first heard about this "gift," I wondered what the catch was, and I believe Mr. Harrison was on target: anticipated increased profits.

A Civil Rights museum deserves a special place of its own, not stuffed among frivolous tourist sites like an afterthought. And at the back door of those sites?! You have got to be kidding. People of color in this country go through enough discrimination as it is. Putting a museum that celebrates their victories over oppression at the back door is adding insult to injury.

-- Amy Hastey, Atlanta

When will they learn?

With the return to congressional power of the Democrats, (cover story, "The party's over," Nov. 16) the National Education Association and other teachers' unions hope to neuter the landmark No Child Left Behind legislation Congress passed in a bipartisan moment of 2001.

Reform will never suit the unions, and the no-nonsense approach of NCLB particularly rankles them. Frankly, I've always been amused by their claims that NCLB results in "unfunded" mandates and something called "teaching to the test": am I the only one to wonder why, if the latter were even remotely possible, it wouldn't already be used to raise lagging SAT scores?

Union bosses chafe at NCLB's insistence on introducing competition to education in the form of charter schools, because such schools often free teachers to opt out of union membership. Choice means reduced union revenues; less union lucre means less Democratic Party funding. Get the connection? An even more jarring future for both would be one in which parents are as free to choose our children's schools as we now are their colleges.

Legions of parents and taxpayers with a vested interest in meaningful education reform should not let the unions scuttle it.

-- Ron Goodden, Atlanta

multiple meanings

John Sugg's excellent article on the Aryan Nations congress (cover story, "Inside the secret world of white supremacy," Oct. 19) included a quote from one of the attendees saying that the swastika was "just a good luck sign". If the word "just" was removed from his quote he'd be correct, at least historically. The swastika is an ancient symbol of the Aryan tribes that originated near Eurasia. Those tribes migrated in two directions, one to Europe and the other to northern India. The invading Aryans marched into their new lands carrying banners with swastikas on them -- as good luck symbols.

-- Mike Carey, Atlanta

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