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Letters to the Editor

From the week of July 31, 2003

Horsing Around

Left in the dust:Regarding Bill Gallo's "End Run," in the July 24 issue:

Is this the best dirt you can dig up?

The local management has done everything it can to chase horseplayers -- the comment from Arapahoe Park manager Bruce Seymore about people thinking "takeout" is what they're having for dinner is typical. Arapahoe has generated pathetic mutuel handles because almost everyone understands what takeout is. Simulcasting began because tracks saw it as "free" money -- how else would a SoCal track get anything from Colorado? So the simulcast facility could net two-thirds or more of the takeout, without any of the track's expenses (like purses, maintenance, staff, starters, stewards, etc.). Wembley's has been a huge beneficiary of this, but they've milked it to the bone.

Gallo's report had some nice color -- he writes well -- but he missed the story: Wembley's represents the absolute worst in racing or simulcast management. Incidentally, the weirdly named second-floor "Turf Club" arises from the closing of the former "Turf Club" facility that once existed next door to Mile Hi. That place was managed poorly, to the extent that it was nearly bankrupted by "friends" of management writing bad checks, and they finally decided they just couldn't afford to operate the facility.

Name withheld on request

The fat lady sings: Arp Park will succeed the year a three-legged burro wins the Triple Crown. Need proof? Look no further than Ak-Sar-Ben (Omaha, Nebraska). In the 1950s and '60s it was one of the premier tracks between Chi-town and the Left Coast. Million-dollar purses, lavish structures, respected owners/trainers/horses, etc. -- all gone.

Why? Basically, cultural changes: You know, the Now/Instant Gratification Generation. You don't have to study the Daily Racing Form to buy a lottery ticket. When dog racing (no jockeys and a fifteen-minute post time -- horses are thirty minutes apart) was legalized in Iowa, the ponies were soon doomed.

I worked at Centennial in the mid-'60s as a "call-taker" for the Form and am quite familiar with the "pari-mutuel" set. My late father was a member of the state-appointed hierarchy that controlled horse racing in the past in Nebraska. He was active for forty years, and every family member was somehow involved during his tenure.

His one-time prediction, "They'll bury us in dog shit," was truly prophetic.

Societies and cultures are changing, and if I'm allowed a guess, I'll say that in a couple more generations, horse racing will be discussed in the past tense.

Steve Fickler
Wheat Ridge


I Am Furious, Yellow

Ready for takeoff:The coverage of the scandals at the Air Force Academy by this newspaper, and by many other news services nationwide, has been woefully one-sided. I thought yellow journalism died out a century ago. I wish for once that instead of people trying to tear apart the academy with all the popular slander you see in the news, there was someone who could stand up and actually provide an objective view of both sides...and you know what, even stick up for the academy cadets a little bit.

Regarding Julie Jargon's "Honor Rolled," in the July 17 issue, from someone who was there, people like Josh Moynihan and Andrea Prasse have divisive and venomous agendas that are all too easy to ride along with and write about. Whether it's truthful or not, it makes a good story because it attracts attention. Their stories get notice because it must be clear to everyone that they're the victims, right? Well, the 99.9 percent of us who went to the Air Force Academy and didn't assault anyone or do drugs, who didn't break the honor code, who are proud to have gone there and looked forward to serving our country, who are dismayed at the effusive negative partisan attention, who are grouped together and labeled as rapists and bigots...we're victims, too. Who's going to stand up for us?

Name withheld on request


A Glass Act

Bottle of the bands:I read David Holthouse's "Beer Bash" article in the July 17 issue and was dismayed. The empty recycling bins are used for hiding behind, while all that glass and plastic goes in the trash instead. Wouldn't it be nice if something could be worked out whereby Bear and his crew could be given the dregs in exchange for their placing the containers in the recycling bins and setting them out for collection? They could also empty and stack up the used cups before they are tossed in the dumpsters, which would likely result in fewer pickups being needed. Everyone would come out ahead.

Naaaah.

Dolly Zander
Denver


Shame on Sheehan

Mean achers: Jason Sheehan "doth protest too much" when he mean-spiritedly and defensively slams vegetarians and vegetarianism, as he did in the July 24 "Good and Good for You," his review of Boulder's Sunflower restaurant.

Why does he really object so vehemently to people who openly protest the abusive treatment of animals in today's incredibly inhumane factory farms? Does he, perhaps, feel a bit guilty about contributing to such cruelty? I suspect that's the case when he (and others like him) can't contain their anger at the animal-rights movement.

Conditions on factory farms are a disgrace, and everyone who eats animal flesh should know exactly how their plates are being filled. Jason disingenuously tries to compare the "killing" of, for example, a broccoli stalk or a carrot with the torturous raising and slaughter of pigs, cows and chickens.

You don't have to crusade your right to eat meat, Jason, because most people are on your side. But stop getting in a twit about those of us who know humans have a long way to go in being careful and humane stewards of the animals with whom we share this planet.

Carol Carpenter
Denver

Catechism:Jason Sheehan notes in his July 24 Bite Me that that he hates "vegetarianism -- like Catholicism or Republicanism." This is not only gratuitous, it is shameful. And it would not have been printed had he said it of Islam or Judaism (and rightly so).

Sheehan says that at the dinner table it's best to "check your philosophy at the door." Then why doesn't he?

Joseph De Feo, policy analyst
Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights

Show him the door: While I generally appreciate Jason Sheehan's columns for giving me ideas about where to eat in the Metro area, I find some of his points in his July 24 article "Green Achers" contradictory. "It's not vegetarians I hate," he claims, and yet the title of the article and comments such as "all that fun food will vanish. It's gonna be veggie loaf...for everyone...I'll be...selling grill-fired, high-fat, bloody-rare twelve-ounce cheeseburgers...to all those folks desperate enough to flee the country for some decent grub." To further prove his point, he contends that he gives a good review (which is, by the way, not on the designated page) to a vegetarian restaurant, Sunflower, that anyone who can afford to eat there would have a hard time finding anything to fault. He notes that any kind of cooking involves killing. Accidentally killing field mice is hardly comparable to raising and deliberately slaughtering animals in a way that many of us would find difficult to witness and that is environmentally difficult to sustain on a planet whose human population doubles every thirty to fifty years. Mr. Sheehan would have us check our philosophy at the door without having to check his own.

P.S. Some of my best friends are carnivores.
Colleen McGovern

Englewood


To Cur, With Love

No kidding: I was absolutely disgusted by what I read in Julie Dunn's "A Dog-Eat-Dog World," in the July 17 issue.

The economy is so bad that many parents cannot afford to get decent child care, and the government has cut back on almost all the help it gives the working poor. And here's an industry based on nothing more than babysitting for dogs! Don't these people have anything better to fight about? Don't they realize that other people are just scraping by?

Everyone who can afford to spend $20 a day on doggie daycare should send that money to their favorite charity instead -- and leave their pets at home.

Roxanna Harper
Denver

Pup talk:Thanks for Julie Dunn's "A Dog-Eat-Dog World." It is, however, only the tip of the iceberg. I hope it encourages former customers and (ex) employees of the Golden Bone to come forward and speak the truth. I pulled my dog out of that place for many reasons. I believe that the owner has made it a bit more difficult for other dog facilities' honest owners to conduct honest business. Hopefully, dog owners will investigate more carefully before making a choice. And they do have lots of choices.

Name withheld on request


Let's See What Develops

To serve and protest:I have to assume that Michael Paglia's July 24 "Summer Break" diatribe is residual anger at the quixotic idea of inscribing T.H. Ferril's poem on the blank eastern wall of Annex I. Otherwise, I don't believe we have been living in the same Denver, Colorado, for the past eight years.

I was actively involved in the final chapters of the Skyline Park saga. I served on the architectural selection committee, testified at the public hearing and -- because I was an aggressive advocate for preserving the choreography of Halprin's park -- was notinvited to participate in the design review committee (although I attended and spoke up when allowed). Acknowledging that the park's "problems" had to do with terrible city maintenance, poor sightlines, the absence of a sidewalk and lack of strong visual and actual connections, I advocated for the "mend it, don't end it" approach championed by Historic Denver, Colorado Preservation Inc. and other leaders. In fact, I worked hard -- behind the scenes -- to affect a compromise, work which angered the committee chairs and other civic powers.

As if misinterpreting my comments to New York Times writer Patricia Brown wasn't enough, Paglia also fails to acknowledge my advocacy (always in the minority of the Denver City Council) for the lost I.M. Pei parabola, Currigan Hall, the Denver Post Building and virtually every other shameful demolition Denver has approved in the name of progress.

Had I not fought for a design competition, the new city office building would have been designed according to a space planners' calculations -- without art or artifice -- and likely without Annex I. The podium of the new covention center hotel will be stone -- not cast concrete -- because I whined sufficiently. I was one of two votes opposed to rezoning the Post block, enabling developers to replace that wonderful Modernest building with surface parking.

I made many mistakes during my tenure on council: votes I wish I could reverse, comments I wish I could take back, issues I might have followed more closely. But to suggest I was not a fearless and constant advocate for the quality of the built environment -- public, private and civic -- is nonsense. Paglia's suggestion that I was in the pocket of developers or lobbyists or business interests belies my record of consistent -- sometimes strident --independence. Just check with the suits at City Hall.

Susan Barnes-Gelt
Denver

Michael Paglia responds: The idea of putting a poem on Annex I was not so much quixotic as idiotic -- but I never blamed Susan Barnes-Gelt for it (though I guess I should have). However, my column had nothing to do with poems, but with Skyline Park and Barnes-Gelt's prose on the subject, as quoted inThe New York Times. Barnes-Gelt's role in the sad saga of Skyline Park, one of the most contentious preservation battles of the last decade, was that of an enemy of preservation. Her views are best summed up by a rhetorical question she asked me back in June 2002, before the decision was made to wreck the Halprin masterpiece. After I appealed to her in person to do something to save Skyline, she responded, "How much longer can we afford to waste three blocks downtown?" Surely anything she did behind the scenes reflected this view.


Alien Nation

Return of the natives: Regarding all the letters responding to Michael Roberts's July 3 story on Tom Tancredo, "The Flag-Bearer":

Tom Tancredo's immigration policy proposals are a definite must if the United States is to survive economically. Last year $27 billion was spent on social services for illegal aliens, not to speak of legal immigrants and hundreds of billions in foreign aid to various countries. At the present rate of deliberate mismanagement, we will collapse -- which will precipitate a global economic collapse followed by World War III.

Being part-Hispanic and spending the first 29 years of life sixty miles north of the Mexican border, I have come to the conclusion that the most selfish people are those who bring children into the world not being able to financially support them. Consider posterity!

Both parties are despicable, but Tom Tancredo, along with a few others, are commendable, real patriots. The agricultural and construction interests, so-called (in general) conservative Republicans, are not conservative, but lovers of money. Yes, agricultural economics is complex, but the bottom line is what's more important, America. Democrats are good at making everyone equally poor.

Keep up the good work, Tom. Thank you.

Daniel D. Fosca
Denver

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