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Letters to the Editor

From the week of August 21, 2003

Last Writes

Innocence lost:Thank you for printing Alan Prendergast's "The Death of Innocence" in the July 31 issue. It was very well written, very well researched, and I'm so glad I had the chance to read it. I hope your action in increasing public awareness has a positive outcome on the case.

Kevin Orlowski
Golden

Sleazy does it:Alan Prendergast: You should check facts with all parties before printing accusations. Do some character checks on Patrick Ramirez. Patrick is my cousin, and we have been close throughout our lives. I have seen Patrick with many babies, and under no circumstances would he ever hurt a child. You could check that with anybody who truly knows Patrick. He was attempting to keep a friend out of trouble -- a woman who murdered her own child! Possibly you should check the mental-health status of people providing information.

You are a disgrace to your profession and to all human beings. I thought that only the cheap, sleazy rags were into yellow journalism. It will be my family's great pleasure to assist our cousin in suing you personally, as well as the supposed newspaper you work for.

Kasey Mullins
via the Internet

Alan Prendergast replies: I would have been happy to "check my facts" with Patrick Ramirez, but as I noted in the article, both he and his attorney declined to comment on the case. I stand by my story about the death of Kyran Gaston-Voss, which draws on numerous interviews with witnesses, court and police records, Ramirez's lengthy statements to authorities, and consultations with nationally known medical experts. If that's yellow journalism, color me lemon-butter.

ThatWestword dared to print facts about the case also shook up Alamosa District Attorney Pete Comar, who filed a motion on August 4 seeking sanctions against Krystal Voss for talking to me. "It is apparent that the reporter obtained numerous confidential police reports and more significantly autopsy reports that would only have been disseminated to the defendant by and through her attorney," the DA complained to the judge. Somebody should tell Mr. Comar another useful fact: Autopsy reports are public records in Colorado and obtainable by anyone. I got Kyran's report from the county coroner.


Check This Out

Dumb and dumber:Regarding Stuart Steers's "Checked Out," in the August 7 issue:

Kudos for having the courage to scrutinize the Denver Public Library. As a retired librarian (university and public), I've been appalled at the "dumbing down" that has occurred at the library over the last few years. The library appeals to the lowest-common denominator and ignores citizens who want more solid fare. I find three to five copies of fiction by unknown authors gathering dust but am unable to find books reviewed in local or national papers. Rick Ashton trumpets customer service, but why did he never reopen the Field branch on Wednesday during the flush economic years?

Higher taxes for a library district? No way.

Nancy Graham
Denver

Are we having funds yet?Let me see if I get this. Under Rick Ashton's leadership, the Denver Public Library has been declared the best public library in the country. And in the midst of a staggering citywide deficit, the chief executive of the library has expressed concern about the basic business issue of whether fundraising costs more than it raises? That doesn't seem like such an outrageous thing to wonder about. Despite a lot of sometimes entertaining innuendo, by the way, Steers's article never did deny the claim.

Denver Public is still a great library. Kudos to a director, a staff and the many remaining volunteers who make it so, even when times are tough.

James LaRue, director
Douglas County Libraries

Closing the book:The bookstore has been closed for nearly six weeks now. Another piece of the library has died.

I suppose your average observer would miss the relevance of such a closing. After all, it was such a small place, and easily missed as you enter the all-encompassing grandeur of the Denver Public Library, voted the number-one library in the nation two years running. Just a simple gift shop, a knicknack store with used books, magazines and greeting cards. You probably could purchase most of the items at a neighborhood garage sale, flea market, Wal-Mart.

Why, then, would people come from all over the state to visit this little hole in the wall? Why would tourists from Japan to Scotland be so fascinated with such a common array of shelf items? Even residents of our own beloved city would bring their aunts, uncles, cousins visiting from New York or California just to rummage through this cornucopia of gifts.

As a humble servant of the city and an employee of the library, I've witnessed firsthand hundreds of dejected folks as they wander through the west entrance and look inside the glass doors, only to discover that their favorite little gift shop in all the world has been dismantled due to budget constraints.

This is a sad testimonial to the overall issue of budget problems facing the city today. What is even more disturbing is the strong possibility that this favorite little knicknack store will be converted into a media extravaganza, complete with DVDs, CDs and videos -- a Media Play #2, if you will. Although the sign will not say Blockbuster, it will, in effect, be the same thing. Books and information have taken a back seat to computers, video games and music CDs, all of which can be checked out and rented at the library.

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