Letters to the Editor

From the week of October 3, 2002

Cell Hell

He's got our number: I'm here to say thank you for Patricia Calhoun's "A Hard Cell" observations in the September 26 issue.

I, too, believe cell phones are a menace to our societal well-being. Bravo to Calhoun for putting her beliefs in print and on the air via Channel 12's Colorado Inside Out.

Oh, and for employing the mirth of Kenny Be.

Joseph B. Green
Denver

It's a lock: At the World Affairs Conference at the University of Colorado this spring, the topic was robber-baron CEOs. I got a good hand when I mentioned Joe Nacchio and his $100 million retirement package and referred to Qwest as "the company that made a science out of antagonizing its customers."

In Patricia Calhoun's "A Hard Cell," a former Qwest employee refers to Nacchio's "earning $100 million." He might have made off with, taken, grabbed, etc., but he sure didn't "earn" it. Amazing how somebody can come in, take over a good company, drive it on the rocks in no time and walk away with a big fortune.

The whole bunch, including the boardmembers, should be locked up for a long time.

Frederick C. Sage
Boulder


Blinded by Science

Pearls before swine: Julie Jargon's "A Spaced Odyssey," in the September 19 issue, was excellent, albeit sad. Christ said, "Do not cast your pearls before swine, lest they be trampled underfoot." Handing our city and nationally acclaimed Museum of Nature & Science to the likes of Raylene Decatur is doing precisely that. Like so many current CEOs, she will bring that which she should handle most responsibly to utter ruin.

I have lived in Denver for over 51 years and have enjoyed going to our esteemed museum, often taking friends. I will never set foot in it again as long as she is allowed to put her staining imprint upon it.

How could anyone hire someone who is proud to boast: "My philosophy is: If it ain't broke, break it." Iconoclasts should not be put in charge of museums. Those who put her in charge of our treasure remind me of this line from the Wizard of Oz: "If I only had a brain."

Francis J. Galmish
Denver

Space case: I just celebrated my one-year anniversary at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. I learned much more about the Space Odyssey project through reading Julie Jargon's "A Spaced Odyssey" than I have by working here during this past year. We aren't really involved or informed concerning those major changing issues, unless you're someone in the top circle. Thank you for the insight of our past and voicing concerns of our future here at the museum.

Name withheld on request

Funny business: What are they doing to our museum? Focus groups? Interactivity? All the latest buzzwords, huh? It seems that president Raylene Decatur is just another lemming quoting modern business babble. (If it ain't broke, then break it? Ugh!) Our Museum of Nature & Science is a grand legacy and should be entrusted to venerable hands. It should be directed like a museum, not a hamburger chain.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines a museum as an "institution devoted to the acquisition, conservation, study, exhibition, and educational interpretation of objects having scientific, historical or artistic value." Quite a noble thing, I'd say. Nothing is mentioned about a museum being a faddish funhouse competing for the greatest number of dollars. (After all, one can experience G-forces at Elitch's.)

I have to say I'm curious now and want to know more about the background of our -- and I do mean our -- trustees, as their oversight appears not unlike that of Enron.

Jo Deringer
via the Internet

Up the organization: I thoroughly enjoyed the article on the Denver Museum of Nature & Science's current plight. As a former employee in the anthropology department (working for Bob Pickering), I am aware of the vast frustrations caused by the entrance of Ms. Decatur. Since making the switch from the scientific community to the corporate world, I can understand the need for reinventing one's organization in order to maintain a viable product. But even in the perceived "coldness" of the corporate world, "reinventing" is rarely done without significant input from various department managers and often has widespread employee support (or at least knowledge) -- which apparently was not the case with Space Odyssey.

This is in stark contrast to the Prehistoric Journey project (whose origins pre-date Ms. Decatur), in which several departments had significant roles to play and employees were given regular updates of progress on the project. At the time of my employment (1994-'96), the museum was considered one of the preeminent scientific institutions west of the Mississippi. I believe that many people saw the preeminence start to fade with the change in leadership. They began to realize that the demands for accountability and reproducibility in results and decisions were destroying the benefits of their expertise, and as a result, many left for better places.

When this happens, the final product suffers. While Ms. Decatur may be an expert in organization fundraising, she is certainly not an expert (and needs help) in organizational behavior.

Aaron K. Lechner
Broomfield

Goodwill hunting: As a contemporary hire of Alan Espenlaub -- we worked on many of the diorama exhibits now in question as to their continued existence and current "value to present board and administration" -- I have seen much change in the museum field on international, national and local levels. Change is necessary and unavoidable. However, communication of these changes and good people-management skills have not been high on the rating scales of past and current employees of the Colorado Museum of Natural History, the Denver Museum of Natural History or the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

Frankly, when I go in to teach, I really do not feel that the majority of museum staff -- including and especially the administration -- understand what this department is and what the museum does for public relations and goodwill, as well as for future constituents of the museum (children growing up to become members, boardmembers, patrons and maybe staff of this, or some other, museum). I teach at the museum because I love teaching the kids -- certainly not because I feel valued. Teachers as a whole need to be very autonomous, self-directed and motivated. Many others are taught this or somehow learn this -- but most of us still really do enjoy working in a supportive and positive environment. When work environments no longer fulfill our personal needs, we move on.

When we were working on so many of the dioramas, at any one time we had an incredible, unpaid staff of volunteers, and we made great efforts to let them know they were valued. We tried to make a pretty boring job interesting and make the work environment positive and one they would want to continue to be a part of. We seemed to succeed in our goal, and we had very little turnover, all of which helped us to be more productive, as we had people we could count on to do a quality job with minimal training time of new unpaid staff/volunteers. Thus it can and does happen, but it takes a concerted desire and effort to achieve that end.

Thanks once again for Julie Jargon's long-overdue story. She said a lot, and, I think, in a well-balanced manner.

Name withheld on request

Call me Bwana: As with any human process, those who benefit from the outcome of a decision-maker's labors think benevolent thoughts about the process, while those who suffer do not. That's the way of the world.

What's not made transparent in Jargon's article is the exclusionary nature of the decision-making process at the museum under the current regime. I believe in my heart of hearts that, especially in publicly funded institutions, a healthy exchange of ideas and a tolerance for opposing values is critical to achieving excellence. And I believe the users of such educational institutions do not appreciate being patronized or Disney-ized.

Unfortunately, these qualities of tolerance and critical thinking have been "collected" like trophy-mounted heads of endangered species that once thrived at the museum. And the hunting down of opposing voices is not over. Jargon failed to answer this question: "Who's minding the bwana?"

Alan Espenlaub
Denver


Take a Hike

Dear God! Please tell Jamie Korngold -- profiled by Eric Dexheimer in the September 26 "The Spirit Moves Her" -- that the God concept was invented by ancient ruling elites in order to keep the masses passive, obedient and under control. It is the most powerful piece of propaganda ever recorded in human history. Billions have been fooled and manipulated. All of us have been brainwashed into accepting it as "normal." Fear holds it in place in the brain.

To break free from such powerful propaganda is the most difficult inward process any human can ever accomplish.

Patience and tolerance are required from all of us during this transition to the new secular order. Novus Ordo Seclorum -- it's printed on every dollar bill. And don't forget the Godless Americans' March on Washington, D.C., on November 2 (www.godlessamericans.org).

John Cassella
Denver


Mail Call

Get a job: What is Michael Roberts's absolutely perverse -- almost gleeful -- fixation with the Denver Post? Yes, it has problems and some employees who don't always make the most informed choices (especially those moles in the newsroom who scurry around dredging up Roberts's material), but it's no worse than any other company. And it's certainly a lot better than a lot of newspapers out there. But maybe Roberts hasn't worked at any major dailies to realize that fact.

It was definitely a major gaffe that personnel e-mail was sent out. But it was the height of irresponsibility for Roberts to republish it in Westword ("Getting Racked," September 12). The first scenario was a mistake. Using the Message column to apparently fulfill Roberts's agenda of besmirching the Post is the very definition of poor taste. He's crossed the line in his quest for...hmmm. Just what is it he is trying to accomplish with his venom? It's not as though his column in Westword is ever criticized or taken to task in the Post or the Rocky Mountain News. Perhaps he fancies himself something of a watchdog? But for whom? After all, if the Post really is that awful, how come his Westword co-workers keep coming to work here when they get the opportunity?

A Denver Post employee

Slimed:What Evan Dreyer did was an unfortunate accident. How about a little scorn for the people who deliberately and gleefully disseminated that most private and embarrassing document to all takers?

Oh, I forgot. Slime like that is your bread and butter.

Victor Rojo
via the Internet


The I of the Storm

My bad: As an addendum to several of the recent letters regarding Jason Sheehan's propensity to write restaurant reviews as autobiography, I offer the following observation:

In the September 12 "Singapore for your Supper," he uses forms of the words I/me/my 75 times. Please, do what you can to get his ego out of the review. It's not appetizing.

Fred Kurtz
Denver

Good reading and eating: Damn you, Jason Sheehan. Why did you have to be so damn good? I wanted so badly for you to suck! I've been reading the Cafe column weekly since arriving in Denver in 1994. When I heard that Kyle Wagner was moving on, I was disappointed. However, I've been a fan from your very first column and now look forward to reading your reviews every week. You are an excellent writer, and I actually laugh out loud at least twice per review. My boyfriend always asks, "What? What?" He doesn't necessarily appreciate how witty your writing is, but I, along with the small but growing legion of true foodies in this town, certainly do.

I still read Kyle every week in the Post -- but your column is the one I look forward to now. I just wanted to give you your due props for that.

P.S.: I love that you changed "The Bite" to "Bite Me."

K. Fuqua
Lakewood


Taco the Town

The relleno thing: Jason Sheehan did a great review of El Taco de México ("The Brains of the Operation," September 26). But, dude -- you missed the best dish, a chile relleno burrito. Go back, have one and enjoy!

Ruth Chaikin
via the Internet

Sonic boom: Ah, yes, El Taco de México. I paid a visit once to the old establishment on Sheridan across from Sloan's Lake, now mercifully replaced by a Sonic drive-in. I think I had tacos, but the food was pretty forgettable.

What I will remember is this: After I ordered and paid for my food, I noticed a little puddle of water formed by a leak in one of the soda machines. Three or four cockroaches frolicked in the water, perhaps washing up for a go at the remainders of my lunch, of which there was plenty. Bleah.

Ron Sering
Denver


Their Kind of Town

On the move: I moved from Northglenn to Georgia nine months ago. I look forward to my weekly USPS delivery of Westword. Kenny Be is right on track (as usual), as is the rest of the crew. And Jason Sheehan is doing a marvelous job.

Kevin Holmby
via the Internet

Bright lights, medium-sized city: Wow. Recently, I ventured to your wonderful city for a month, and I would have to say that I had a great time. I would also like to thank your magazine. I remember getting really excited every Wednesday night at about 9:30 p.m. because I knew that the new Westword would be out.

Denver is so interesting. I'm sure I'll be back.

Brandon Baraconi
Rockford, Illinois

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