Letters to the Editor

From the week of August 8, 2002

Time's Up

Violators will be towed:I was amused by Julie Jargon's "Yeah, That's the Ticket," in the July 25 issue, and appalled when I read at the end of her parking-division timeline that John Oglesby is still on leave -- and still getting a paycheck. Denver should give that guy the boot!

Susan Frankel
Denver

Return to sender:When I lived and went to college in Denver, I worked for an armored-car company that picked up deposits from the parking-ticket bureau. I once noticed an envelope on a desk that was addressed simply "To the Sons of Bitches at City and County of Denver."

I asked how the mail carrier knew to deliver it to the parking-ticket bureau. The lady replied, "That address, or anything similar, is automatically routed to us."

I found that highly amusing, although she did not.

Dan Davis
Oronoco, Minnesota

Here comes the judge:After a parking-sign misunderstanding a couple of years back, I faced the referee. Snapping at her that I wanted my case heard by a "real" judge, I headed to court. It was a smart move, since by law you are allowed to face your accuser. When the officer who wrote my ticket failed to show up in court, the case and the court fees were altogether dismissed.

Laurie Cicotello
via the Internet


No Home Run

Striking out:I enjoy your cynical and often irreverent viewpoint, particularly as it is expressed in your cartoons. However, The City's lampooning of the Ted Williams cryogenic "controversy" in the July 25 issue is not only an egregious error in good taste, but also deplorable in that the artist stoops to catering to the lowest common denominator in an attempt to be "au courant" in his/her commentary. Whether you endorse Mr. Williams's iconic status or not, the caricature is a shameful misuse of his image and is not amusing in any sense.

Ric Tanner
Denver


Blowing Smoke

Puff piece:In his July 25 "Pack Mentality," Michael Roberts writes of Dave Kopel's "hidden" connections: "News readers who'd like to scrutinize Kopel's public positions face a key obstacle: The tag at the end of his columns doesn't even mention his affiliation with the Independence Institute."

How is this an obstacle? How is a reader -- even of the print version -- going to scrutinize Kopel's public positions? They're going to try to find other things he's written, either from their own computer or at the library. A Google search immediately brings up his home page and his archive of writings at the National Review Online. There's nothing hidden -- it isn't like he's getting $50,000 checks from Enron and keeping that from his readers.

Dave Bakin
via the Internet

Where there's smoke, there's ire: Rocky Mountain Newsmedia critic Dave Kopel likes to hold other writers to exacting standards but rolls out the tired accusation of "personal attacks" when legitimate questions are raised about his work. Michael Roberts's Message does a good job of touching on documents outlining Big Tobacco's financial support of Kopel's employer, the Independence Institute. But the article doesn't reference the "smoking gun" -- the document that shows what the tobacco industry expected to get from the Independence Institute.

Type "Independence Institute" into the search engine of the online archive of once-secret tobacco-industry papers that Roberts references (www.tobaccodocuments.org) and you'll find a memo from Denver public-relations agency Russell, Karsh and Hagan, which worked for Philip Morris on tobacco issues (as documented extensively by David Olinger of the Denver Post).

The 1995 memo proposes research into tobacco prevention organizations and suggests that the research could be done "by a third-party group (possibly the Independence Institute)."

Christopher Sherwin, executive director
Colorado Tobacco Education and Prevention Alliance

Petty is as petty does: Dave Kopel is under fire because the tagline at the end of his Rocky Mountain Newsmedia-criticism column doesn't mention that he works for the Independence Institute, which receives tobacco money.

Ho hum. Paul Krugman's tagline doesn't mention that he got Enron money, and the media-ethics watchdogs haven't been too hot on that. These sorts of charges are what Peter Morgan and I called "Petty Blifil" in our book The Appearance of Impropriety: How the Ethics Wars Have Undermined American Government, Business and Society -- the use of trivial ethics charges as a means of discrediting someone whose real crime is disagreement with the maker of the charges. (The "Blifil" part is from Henry Fielding's novel Tom Jones, which has striking resonances for today's political environment.)

In the interest of full disclosure, though I've never met Kopel, he and I have co-authored op-eds and law-review articles together in the past. And though I don't actually know of any, my law school probably got tobacco money from someone, sometime. If nothing else, it's getting it through the State of Tennessee - which, like most states, has been raiding the tobacco settlement money that it promised to apply to anti-smoking initiatives to meet budget shortfalls. So in a sense, we're all in Kopel's shoes.

Glenn Harlan Reynolds, professor of law
University of Tennessee


G Whiz

State of emergency: Thank you for David Holthouse's July 18 "Sip of Fools," on the prevalence and dangers of GHB. I can't help thinking how misguided the users are who write "G" on the backs of their hands so no one will call for help if they pass out. Just recently, I was reminded again of the dangers of GHB. I saw patients from the Big Head Todd concert at Red Rocks who were given GHB without their knowledge. One stopped breathing for a minute and a half en route to the hospital; another somehow sustained serious injuries that were only apparent after the drug wore off.

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