LETTERS

LoDo Lowdown
Regarding Patricia Calhoun's September 6 column, "It's Not Over Till It's Over," I submit the following comments:

It's not over, Patricia...it's just under way.
Your depiction of LoDo development is unbalanced and over-emotional, because it details symptoms rather than true, underlying problems caused by LoDo development. Consider the following:

You note uncontrolled, late-night revelers drinking and vomiting and your preference for pre-development LoDo bums who "confined their Technicolor yawns to the alleys..." Regarding late-night revelers, the issue is bar owners and patrons refusing to serve/drink responsibly and safeguard each other, as well as society and/or insufficient policework. Regarding your preference to view homeless, drug-addicted and/or mentally tormented alcoholics vomiting in a dark alley, how could you wish that misfortune on anyone to preserve a "historic district"? Tax dollars created by LoDo development support the homeless in Denver. In any case, the issues above are not caused by LoDo development!

You subordinate a homeowner's high-priced lofts to turn-of-the-century warehouses used by urban pioneers? High-priced lofts were built as a result of market demand, not in spite of it! Patricia, your essay reflects the minority view; hence, you must respect an individual's right to purchase and own his home--where, when and how he wishes. If you want to reside within a historic district, move to Leadville! You'll find the infrastructure and public services there pretty much turn-of-the-century! Like LoDo development, the towns of Cripple Creek, Black Hawk, Central City and most ski towns (which were once mining towns) had their decaying, economic infrastructures completely rebuilt due to commercialization. When required, development was voted on and approved. Voters knowingly traded off some "historic" form for modern-day "function." In doing so, these towns became sound municipalities contributing revenue, jobs and economic infrastructure to Colorado. Now these towns hustle and bustle, allowing fun times and future memories for all rather than just preserving historic memories for some.

Humans are the sum of their experiences and memories. From birth, we confuse comfort with conformity, familiarity with repetition and change with loss. Childhood pictures, high school yearbooks, diaries, wedding albums and family reunions rekindle fond memories of how things used to be when things were good. Unfortunately, some refuse to let go of the past and preserve nostalgic memories and history as an emotional foundation for narcissism and retreat. Society finds its own balance when trading form for function or historical preservation for growth. With enlightened concern, balanced support and managed growth, when the dusts settles, LoDo will be a better place for all Denverites to enjoy both now and in the future.

Timothy L. Muller
Denver

China Crisis
Patricia Calhoun: From your column on James Dobson and the current conference on women in China ("Girl Crazy," July 26), I assume you read the entire August newsletter and not just the partial quotes used in your article. It puzzles me why his statements provoked such virulent anger.

Dobson clearly, with documentation, addressed the mockery of a conference on women in China--a country with a history of oppression. China is now a nation with even less respect for women.

The conference has as its agenda the promotion of activities that degrade women, that degrade men in the family unit, that degrade the family. Instead, they should be promoting the value of women, of male/female relationships and the value of family as a unit of stability and character development. True "gender equality" respects the strengths and weaknesses of each individual and each gender, and it seeks to strengthen each.

Our nation was based on principles that recognized the value of the individual in a productive, growing society--Christian principles. I hope that we as a nation can remember this. Then, as we continue our struggle for truth and understanding, we may help others break free of the lies that bind them.

Libbie Speer
Denver

Here's to You, Mrs. Robinson
Regarding Steve Jackson's "By the Book," in the September 6 issue:
I've never written to a newspaper before, but the story of Pauline Robinson's life prompted me to do so now. It is a real page-turner, and it brought tears to my eyes, a smile to my lips and gladness to my heart. If anything can foster a more together, nonracist world, Pauline Robinson's story is my choice to do so. Thank you, Mrs. Robinson. The world needs fewer lawyers and more librarians like yourself.

Maria Matthews
Denver

More Cross Words
I read with great interest Ward Harkavy's cover story detailing the financial resources behind Marilyn Hickey, Marilyn Hickey Ministries and the Happy Church ("Let Us Pay," August 30). During the summer of 1994 I spent two weeks as a temporary employee in the data-entry section of Marilyn Hickey Ministries. Although my tenure was mercifully brief, I noticed several practices I considered highly irregular, especially for a business that considers itself a Christian ministry. First, there was the brand-new (it still had its temporary license plates) forest-green Range Rover that was always parked in the areas reserved for upper-level staff and ministers. Next, I noticed the other employees who shared work space with those of us in data entry were considered the "customer service" department, an appellation I thought odd in light of Marilyn Hickey Ministries' supposedly evangelical mission. However, after reading Harkavy's article, I am convinced this designation was apt, for the people at Marilyn Hickey Ministries do regard those who call the prayer lines, order the products and send in contributions to be "customers"--individuals to be exploited for profit.

The article also mentioned briefly the low wages paid to church and ministry employees--but even more than the low wages, the entire work environment could hardly be called Christian (or even tolerable). In data entry, questions could only be asked of one's immediate supervisor, any conversation among co-workers was resolutely discouraged, and our rate of work was timed to the nearest minute. A definite hierarchy existed, with those workers who were also Happy Church members on top and the rest of us "heathens" on the bottom. From a business standpoint, I thought the oddest practice was that everything produced or handled in data entry had to be shredded; nothing was to be thrown away. I later found out that there were full-time employees who did nothing but shred the immense amount of paperwork generated by Marilyn Hickey's "Christian" enterprises. In fact, I am surprised Harkavy was able to obtain the information presented in his article.

Mostly, I would like to compliment Westword and Harkavy on the story exposing the Happy Church, and I just want to add, based on my own experiences there, that I hardly consider the Happy Church or Marilyn Hickey Ministries to be truly Christian organizations. Rather, I think they are both enterprises whose primary purpose is to generate profit by exploiting the tax-exempt status granted to religious organizations and by preying on the faith and trust of the thousands who send in millions each year as Marilyn's "customers."

Jessica R. Schneider
Denver

Let me say first off that I don't go to the Happy Church and I don't give to Marilyn Hickey's ministry. Now, having said that, two things came to mind as I read Ward Harkavy's article. One is, couldn't he make his bias and slanted view a little less obvious? I hope this was not supposed to be an objective outsider's view of a national ministry. I know, Westword is coming to the defense of the elderly from another one of the money-grabbing televangelists, right? How noble.

The second question is, what is the point? From what I read, there is no major scandal here, and all this long, drawn-out article did was try to drum up something that is not there. So what if the ministry makes $17 million a year? Is it me? I just don't get it. She gave $175,000 to overseas missions. How much did Westword give?

I know slamming Christians may be good for circulation, but some of us see through weak reporting like this.

Mike Evans
Denver

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I have been anticipating that you would run a piece on Marilyn Hickey Ministries. In 1991 and 1992, I was there on the inside working as a temp. I was already a mainstream Protestant. During my time, they tried to convert me. I refused to be the kind of Christian they wanted me to be. Finally, I was fired for being "ungodly."

I completely agree that MHM is a fraudulent organization. There should be a special place in hell for religious organizations that con and fleece people out of outrageous sums of money.

Tracy Bechtel
Denver

I am a Christian and love the Lord Jesus Christ with all my heart. I say kudos for your exposŽ of Marilyn Hickey and her organized business of religion. There are many more here in Denver who, under the guise of love and humility, are bilking many out of their hard-earned money and pensions with the so-called fear of bad things happening unless you do as they say.

Name withheld on request

Guardian Angles
Regarding Michelle Dally Johnston's "The Clients," in the August 23 issue:
Your article on GALs was excellent. Michelle Johnston did a wonderful job of investigation into guardian ad litems' tragic neglect of foster-children clients. It should be astounding to taxpayers that we pay $4.6 million a year for this representation, and yet some attorneys we hire to protect children would not recognize their child clients if they saw them on the street!

During my eight years as a volunteer child advocate, I have known, and known about, hundreds of GALs. There are a few marvelous GALs, including those at the Children's Legal Clinic. I have seen one of the best GALs retaliated against because she fought Social Services' dangerous "plan" for three small children. This is the type of attorney our abused and neglected children must have.

Alan Alderman says that he thinks (but is not sure!) that maybe one or two children that he represented died, and "maybe" he could have done better!? Taxpayers should be asking how he can sleep at night. We should be asking about many other GALs whose practices seem to be similarly neglectful--how can any of them sleep at night, when they agree to terribly dangerous decision-making concerning vulnerable child clients they may never have seen? Colorado law does not specify that the abused child's voice be heard in court (they cannot hire their own counsel). The GAL (appointed by the court; paid for by us!) may be the child's only chance for protection. We must insist upon accountability, for our most vulnerable children's sakes.

Adoree Blair
Denver

Government Work Is No Picnic
I am a loyal Westword reader and savor your attacks on people and institutions that richly deserve it, but I must take exception to an "inquiry" you made about the Denver Department of Social Services' tradition of an afternoon picnic for employees in your article "Afternoon Delight," by Karen Bowers, in the August 16 issue. In this case, I say butt out!!

Government employees are employees, just like everybody else. We are not elected officials. We don't get high salaries and lavish expense accounts, and we don't get to go on $30,000 retreats. Many of us exist at just above the poverty level, although some may work their way up to the middle class. The people who get out of work for an afternoon are not overpaid managers who spend half their week schmoozing with other overpaid managers. They are people who work hard five days a week, fifty weeks a year except for the major holidays.

The money you quoted being spent was the salaries that were paid to these people while they were picnicking. The money would've gone out anyway, and the departments remained open. The people paid for their own food through "a small cash contribution (to cover their food and drinks)." Tell me of any managers or government officials who would ever consider paying for their own food--and at such a pedestrian event as a picnic! So, as usual, the government makes a stand on the backs of those who can least afford it. Getting an afternoon off for a picnic is a pitifully small token of appreciation, and every employee everywhere deserves at least that.

While I completely applaud your looking into government waste, I think you're looking in the wrong place. Depriving hardworking people of one of their few breaks in the monotony of work will not save the country!

Eve Leedy
Berthoud

Another Dead-Letter Day
I am one of the millions who was deeply struck by the recent passing of Jerry Garcia. I am also one of the thousands who were somewhat dismayed by Michael Roberts's biting, sarcastic and insensitive Feedback column of August 16. I do not deny Roberts's right to his opinion (or ignorance), but I think it quite unfortunate that he (and Westword) made such a shallow effort at analyzing and discussing the phenomena that was, and always will be, Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead.

I have no pretensions that the music and movement of the Dead speak to all people, but I am confident that millions of people worldwide are better off thanks to their efforts, myself included. Jerry Garcia and the Dead did not just dispense music and merriment (though they were clearly in a class of their own at doing so); they also donated vast sums of money through a long series of benefit shows and organizations to such groups as the REX Foundation (developing modern classical artists), SEVA (for the blind worldwide), the rainforest, earthquake relief and countless others. Beyond that, though, they spoke to their listeners on a spiritual level, allowing us each to reflect on what it was to be a human in the "family of humanity." As Carlos Santana said at his Fiddler's Green show, "The Grateful Dead always played with an open heart, and we should always keep that."

We will miss Jerry Garcia and the good times that went along with the shows, but at least we have our memories (or what's left of them), the music and a better sense of how we all fit together on this earth, thanks to him and the Grateful Dead.

My only comment on the other letters printed is that, while heartfelt, they addressed the superficial implications of Garcia's demise without reflecting on the true nature of the voyage for which "Captain Trips" was the reluctant pilot. I have at least tried.

Jim Conway, M.D.
Denver

Never being much of a fan of critics or the Grateful Dead, I still respect both and have followed with interest the attention that has focused on Jerry Garcia, his demise and the subsequent uproar following Michael Roberts's "epitaph." Regardless of what I think of any critic's right to comment upon an artist's work (art being a courageous venture in any form that the critic is obviously incapable of, hence his or her job choice), it amazes me that the fans of the Grateful Dead are so vehement about Michael's opinion. I ask the fans: Did Jerry Garcia give a shit for any critic's opinion? Obviously not, or he would have given up thirty years ago. Should you give a shit? Maybe you could listen to music and opinion with some of the freedom he had. Maybe instead of writing useless letters that have the same negligible effect upon people's opinion of the music as Michael's, you could write a letter to your congressman or representative to let them know your opinion on the 104th's plan to drastically reduce environmental protection. Or maybe a letter to the government of Indonesia to help end human-rights abuses. These were issues Jerry Garcia cared deeply about. These letters, while their effect may be small, will impact directly on people with the power to change. Your letter to the local advertisers' rag does nothing but churn a useless tide.

Mark Glotfelty
Denver

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