Letters to the Editor

From the week of May 3, 2001

Jonathan Armstrong
via the Internet

A Bitter Pill

Bad drug reaction: I want to commend Westword and Laura Bond for the continuing coverage (including the April 26 Backwash) of the city's crackdown on raves and all-ages clubs. Denver's overreaction to a few random incidents and a mountain of media hype is pathetic. Unfortunately, music lovers are the people who will wind up paying the price.

Jay Ridder

A real pain: I have never seen a statistically meaningful comparison between a "medical" drug (such as Tylenol) and a "recreational" drug (such as Ecstasy). What are the numbers? If you compare how many people use the substance to how many specimens are harmed, which is the more dangerous substance? We all know that Tylenol can cause liver failure and even death; however, it is sold over the counter and prescribed by doctors in hospitals. What is the true statistical comparison for lethality between Tylenol and Ecstasy? If there is something resembling parity, or statistical similarity, why does the law jump on Ecstasy and not on Tylenol? What is the rationale behind frightened, almost hysterical attempts to control or prevent the use of recreational drugs? In fact, what is the war on drugs?

Harold Macdonald

This Place Is a Dump!

Law and odor: Congratulations on "Dirty Secrets," the well-written and important articles about the Lowry Landfill that ran in the last three April issues. If you do a postscript, you might mention two heroines who probably were responsible for the federal government actions in 1984.

They are Bonnie Exner and Maryann Raines. Both were alerted to what was happening at the landfill by a full-page column I wrote in the Rocky Mountain News in 1980, and they formed Citizens Against Lowry Landfill in response. I made Lowry an issue in the 1980 legislative campaign, and Colorado did pass two hazardous-waste laws in 1981: SB 519, by Senator Ralph Cole, who represented Arapahoe County, was the major bill; the second bill was HB 1558, by Representative Greg Rogers, who represented southeast Denver. Bonnie and Maryann played important roles in the passage of the bills.

Jerry Kopel, former state legislator

The plot sickens:In the Master Composter class offered last year through the City and County of Denver, they took us on a field trip to Metro Wastewater, where the class was told that "nothing bad ever goes into the sewer." It later turned out that there is a watchdog group that says radioactive material has gone into the sewers; it calls the sludge-composting program Metro Glo instead of Metro Gro.

The class was also taken on a field trip to A-1 Organics' "Lost Antlers" composting facility in Golden. This facility's representative told the class that they use sludge from the Metro Wastewater plant as an ingredient in their compost. So it isn't just fields in eastern Colorado that Metro Wastewater's sludge ends up on, but also on suburban lawns and gardens all over the metro area.

The class and the public are and were being lied to about these things by Metro Wastewater and Denver Urban Gardens and Denver Recycles, the two agencies that run the Master Composter class.

Burton Wheeler
via the Internet

Boys' town: Eileen Welsome's three-part series on the Lowry Landfill is an impressive job. And the public owes a deep debt of gratitude to Adrienne Anderson -- truly a heroine in this dirty war, a war that, shockingly, is primarily between government officials and the very public whose health they are supposed to protect. I have had it with officials who think their job is to hide the truth from the public and endanger its health, and their duty is to protect the pocketbooks of private corporations -- especially real-estate developers.

On that note, I have my own snippets of information about the functioning of the Metro Wastewater Reclamation District -- which used to be called Metro Denver Sewage Disposal District #1 -- since I, too, was on the board of directors, as an appointee of then-mayor Federico Peña, from 1984 to 1988. There was a small knot of Peña appointees concerned about the activities of the district but, with a fifty-member board, we didn't stand a chance. We were routinely ignored. All information about the Superfund lawsuit, for instance, was kept under wraps by the powerful executive committee, which included not only Ted Hackworth and Bob Hite -- who later engineered the removal of the manager, in order that he could take that job -- but also the president of the Colorado Homebuilders' Association and a bank president.

Like Adrienne, I, too, was censured by this board, for having the audacity to question a conflict of interest of one Alan Canter, a former planning director for Denver. Canter chaired the district's Future Programs Committee, of which I was a member, when a contract for a $100,000 "change order" to a just-completed $100,000 contract with engineering company Camp, Dresser, McKee came up for approval. Canter worked for Camp, Dresser, McKee as a consultant; his role was to "develop work opportunities" for the company. When I questioned and criticized Canter's involvement in pushing this "change order" through for the benefit of his employer -- which had CDM redo the work it had just completed, but inputting new population projections -- he reacted not by quitting his $35/month Metro director position, but by quitting his employment with CDM! And the Metro District's executive committee then censured me for "making Alan have to quit his job"!

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