Letters to the Editor

From the week of December 14, 2000

Complete coverage of the symbiosis and incestuous relationships between the Denver Urban Renewal Authority, the Downtown Partnership, the Denver Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Denver Community and Planning Department in this venture will eventually require a book. These "civic" agencies all deserve to be classified as arms of the Denver Chamber of Commerce. They have conspired to have us believe that we need a convention center hotel that we don't need. Studies by members of their fraternity purport to show that Hyatt cannot operate a first-class hotel -- in our red-hot Denver economy -- without a $60 million subsidy and that there is only one spot in all of downtown (owned by Bruce Berger) to build this hotel, in order to justify the inside deal that was not a product of a competitive bid. Were it not for the inquisitiveness of responsible members of Denver City Council, this whole project would be flying below the radar screen toward easy passage. There are still many aspects of this plan and its financing that have not been disclosed.

All of this subsidized development could be swallowed if some major tangible benefits to Denver citizens resulted from the architectural and economic "cleansing" that is taking place in the convention center area. Instead, except for the few good middle-class construction jobs and some politically expedient subcontracts, the majority of jobs created by the Hyatt hotel will be the same low-wage, low-benefit, insecure hotel jobs that the industry is notorious for. The hotel project runs counter to a major portion of the Denver Comprehensive Plan: There is no affordable housing component, and the Hyatt refuses to commit to labor peace to help secure the economic viability of the project.

One item in Paglia's article contains an error that has been propagated by the downtown cabal to justify the $60 million givaway to the Hyatt -- that is, that there is a provision in the convention center bond initiative that prevents the construction of the convention center expansion until there's a hotel deal in place. No such provision was voted on by the citizens of Denver in the bond initiative! This hotel subsidy was never voted on.

Oh, did I forget to mention that the bonds that will secure the subsidy to the convention center hotel will be secured by the current Colorado Convention Center? How risky is that? And guess who is proposed to keep exclusive ownership of the parking garage? Bruce Berger (surprise!).

As I said, it will take a book to report the whole story.

Michael P. Cerbo
Secretary-Treasurer, HERE Local Union #14

Everyone's a Critic!

Rude, crude and unacceptable: Ah, so much to say, so little time. Let's just summarize things this way: Michael Roberts's recent review of the Wallflowers' (Breach) and the band's performance at the Fillmore ("Setting Son," November 30) is shallow, unjustifiably rude and says more about Roberts than it does about the band. I know that a music critic is supposed to be "critical" -- but the best ones use the secondary meaning of the term (to render insight) rather than the pedantic definition, "to berate." Perhaps some day Roberts's criticisms will be insightful. But for now I found them so laden with his own slanted and loaded language that his "review" was quite easy to dismiss.

My best summary would be to suggest that Roberts take off the aggressive armor and try listening. I know that it's a frightening thing to expose your ideas and emotions, but if Roberts gives it a try, he'll find a lot more substance in one chorus of any song on (Breach) than in all of the "weighty words" and "lofty critiques" offered in his "insightful review."

Nancy DiSanza
via the Internet

Running on empty: Michael Roberts accuses journalists of doting on Jakob Dylan with empty words of praise in the interest of taking it easy. Ironically, in his own critique, after calling for rock journalists to return to the noble craft of expressing "analytical expertise," he merely offers up a string of irrelevant insults. I'm going to assume that Roberts was too lazy to proofread his own writing for glaring flaws in logic.

Lela Haraway
via the Internet

Hacks and flacks: While I watch other, more talented folks slip by the wayside (Smog's Bill Callahan and Richard Buckner, to name just two), I watch yet another untalented hack rise to the top. I guess what I found refreshing about Roberts's article was the slam to other rock journalists who, these days, seem to be as boring as the acts they are writing about.

It wasn't so long ago that the concept of rock journalism was born and furthered by the likes of Lester Bangs, Peter Guralnick, Robert Palmer and others. As a teenager, I looked to these guys to form my idea of what made a great rock album or where rock came from in the first place. But nowadays I have no trust of the rock press outside of a few friends who write for such varied publications as No Depression and Esquire. If I didn't know them, I probably wouldn't read them. The fact that Rolling Stone is now a fashion magazine (think about it) says it all: It's all about image these days, and the people writing about the music are as caught up in that fact as the talentless pop stars whose careers they are furthering.

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