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Commissioners' Brown Noses

To The Editors:

Re: "Lake Warriors," by Sam Boykin (November 21). In the Palisades development question, the county commissioners had an opportunity to break from their traditional pattern. They could have made a courageous decision based on intelligence and foresight that actually looked beyond their brown noses and the next election. Instead, they followed the usual pattern of basically giving the developers what they want. They try to cover their duplicity by talk of the "toughest water quality standards ever imposed" in a comic attempt to look like leaders.

When Lake Wylie was first established, the promise was that it would provide inexpensive power, drinking water and recreational opportunities for all the citizens of the area. The lake is now surrounded by exclusive communities for the wealthy, like the planned Palisades, with true public access becoming more and more limited. The bottom line is the driving force behind these developments is not the integrity of the land and the effects on the quality of the water and the natural environment. Decisions like this have far reaching, long-term consequences. They should be arrived at only after exhaustive research and thorough investigation into all sides of the issue. Unfortunately, this type of wisdom, patience and openness is not often found in politicians. The people of this area, our grandchildren and their children deserve better.

Clarence Boshamer
Charlotte

Red Cross Gets Cross

To The Editors:

In response to Lucy Perkins' recent commentary "The Red (Double) Cross" (CL, November 21): Apparently, Ms. Perkins is under the misguided impression that the American Red Cross did not begin helping people affected by the tragic events of September 11 until we announced the refocusing of the Liberty Fund on November 14. Actually, Red Cross workers were on the ground immediately responding to the World Trade Center and Pentagon disasters as well as the crash of Flight 93 in Pennsylvania, and many are still in New York City.

Despite Ms. Perkins' assertion, pressure did not force the Red Cross to serve over 11 million meals, write checks totaling over $59 million to 3,053 families, provide over 188,000 one-on-one crisis counseling sessions and help 32,000 other families with financial assistance, shelter, clothing and other basic needs. The Red Cross provided the majority of this assistance prior to the November 14 policy change. Pressure did not cause the Red Cross to send 29 volunteers from Mecklenburg and Iredell counties to Washington, DC, and New York to serve food, do casework and offer professional counseling to those whose lives were ripped apart. It was not pressure that required this of the American Red Cross -- rather, it was our mission. And as should be expected of us, the Red Cross has provided more humanitarian aid than all other agencies combined in response to this disaster.

Ms. Perkins also misunderstands how the American Red Cross used the donated blood. Within hours of the disaster, we were offering the long lines of people who showed up to give blood options to wait and give blood in the future and explaining that we were not sure if the donated blood would be needed for survivors of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks or whether it would be used for patients in our area. Even given those options, many people insisted on standing in line to give blood.

Some component of every unit of blood that was collected in the aftermath of September 11 (and that met quality and safety requirements) was used or is being used to help patients in need. Platelets are being used to treat cancer patients. Plasma is being used to create factors needed by those with hemophilia and other rare blood diseases, and red cells have been used to treat trauma and surgical patients and those who suffer anemia. A small percentage (around 3 percent) of the red cells that were collected in September were discarded because they had exceeded their 42-day shelf life, but considering the industry standard for blood banking is 2 percent, we barely exceeded the amount that is typically outdated during a normal time period.

Yes, the American Red Cross was dealing with an unprecedented situation, and like many of the organizations that were trying to help, we stumbled at times. The Red Cross is so accustomed to helping our community and our country be prepared for disasters, that even as we were assisting people affected by September 11, we were also planning to utilize some of the funds that were donated to bolster projects that would help our country deal more effectively with the next potential attack. But the American people spoke loudly and clearly saying that wanted all the money donated to support response to the September 11 tragedy to go to individuals and families who have been directly impacted. We listened and changed course. As Ms. Perkins pointed out, all the money donated to the American Red Cross Liberty Fund will go to victims and their families -- to the tune of an additional $11 million for victims' families over the next several weeks' time.

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