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From the week of April 24, 2003

A Peña for Your Thoughts

The greats of wrath:I just finished reading Patricia Calhoun's " The 7 Percent Solution," in the April 17 issue. I would like to say that I respect her and her writing and that I have been a Westwordfan since its birth. This is my first time writing in, though, and I'm doing so because I felt discomfort regarding this comment: "And today, no one wants to remember that Denver had enjoyed a big, fat, happy economy right before Federico Pena was elected mayor, until all the oil money evaporated seemingly overnight."

This comment, I feel, was a kind of slap at Federico. I have lived in this city all my life, and I remember why oil money "evaporated." It was because the citizens of this state would not line the pockets of big oil with millions of dollars for "improvements" to our mountain resorts so that we might be blessed with the Winter Olympics. I remember the "fake" oil crisis that affected our state as a result of us not wanting corporate America to climb on and defile our mountains with roads and structures that would surely have damaged wilderness areas and our natural way of life. Peña was forced to go it alone, to find ways of recovering a city that had been much too dependent on big oil handouts. He was a visionary who could see solutions amid problems while being criticized at every turn. And, oh, how those oil men and the yuppie crowd would have chastised him had he failed.

Instead, he went to Washington and got money from the feds to build an airport and put in place a plan for rebuilding a dying inner city. He realized the crumbling roads and bridges would need to be replaced, and quickly. He was under stress to eliminate the "brown cloud" that hovered over Denver and faced fines from the government. He pumped money into local projects and saw jobs (and not just for his immediate family) as the key to economic growth. I remember all too well the inflation-ridden early '80s, and I saw a "great city" emerge from Peña's efforts.

I look around at the candidates who are running for mayor and I see no Federico Peñas. I see no visionaries who can think their way out of a $50 million jam, and frankly, I wish I did. However, I no longer have to be concerned about Denver, as I am now a happy resident of Thornton. Peña's economic strategies enabled formerly economically stressed people like myself to prosper and move to the suburbs.

R. J. Romero
Thornton

The best is yet to come:"Thriving in 2004" should be retitled "Too Little, Too Late." Why is the Webb administration doing this now, when it had twelve years to not only find the city's "best practices," but to share them with other departments to improve overall efficiency? It's too late to fix things now.

Jill Parks
Denver

Spare change:I appreciate the attention Ms. Calhoun gives to the nonsense in the city of Denver. As she pointed out with the parking manager, he had a consulting contract -- a longtime business. And why don't we know more about the suspension of Jim Yearby? Why is he protected? Why didn't he get fired?

If we got forty hours a week from the people we pay now, we might not need to hire anyone else. I'd like to see "a day in the life of a 'Change Manager.'"

Name withheld on request


For Whom the Dinner Bell Tolls

The meal thing:Kudos to Marty Jones for "The Last Supper," in the April 10 issue. As he pointed out, the Grant Avenue Street Reach serves senior citizens, day laborers, all kinds of people. Hunger is a real concern, especially in the soft economy we are now experiencing. Perhaps a corporation or a non-profit group could donate a space for the Street Reach. Since it is warmer weather, the meals could be served outdoors temporarily until a permanent location is found. This is a project needed by Denver, especially now!

Fran Washko
Denver


Let's Get Ready to Rhumba

Reviewing the reviewer:Jason Sheehan is a dangerous man. He has the power of the pen, the First Amendment and a decent knowledge of food working in his favor. He's witty, edgy and covers a lot of ground in his reviews.

But what he does not possess is a clue of what it means to be a restaurant critic. It is an enormous responsibility. No one wants to get a bad review; it hurts to your core. We work incredibly hard every day to attempt to make our customers truly happy on many levels. And when we have to, we take a bad review, learn from it and make adjustments. In the end, we become a better restaurant, and no one benefits more from that than the customer. That is the gut check that a good reviewer provides: constantly telling you you're not as good as you think you are, requiring you to continually raise the bar.

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