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Letters to the Editor

From the week of December 18, 2003

The Lost Boy

Tales from the dark side:Regarding Laura Bond's "Nowhere Boy," in the December 4 issue:

My wife and I were foster parents for three years; coincidentally, it was for Lost and Found Inc. Although we had three teenage boys, all dealing with difficult issues that had landed them at Lost and Found, none were of the profound level of the boy in Laura Bond's story. I used that story in class (I'm a teacher, middle school), and after we read it, I asked the kids to write a one-page reaction. It'll be interesting to see what they saw.

I believe Bond dealt with this issue fairly, stating the obvious problems of shortage of funds, services and people who are willing to open their homes against the increasing numbers of kids in need. We live in uncertain times, and kids are reaping the results of our limited resources. I teach in an alternative school where most of the kids have experienced the darker side of life. We are here to teach them because somebody has to. I only wish we had more resources to open our doors wide and invite in those kids, like David, who have nowhere else to go. I wish we could help all of the Davids out there, but I take solace in the fact that in my class, I am able to teach at least three kids who, without this school, might not have a fighting chance in the face of the struggles of this world.

Thanks for the article.

Dane Haaf
Littleton

Iraq and ruin:"Nowhere Boy" was a good article, but very sad. Apparently, these kind of situations are increasing rather than decreasing. Sadly, Laura Bond's story demonstrates the frustration experienced by all concerned, and also shows the inability of the state to genuinely care. We can spend billions and billions in Iraq, but these problems are now, and always have been, on "ignore."

Frank Zaveral
Denver

Let's hear it for the boy:I read "Nowhere Boy," and I have to say, it was amazing. It was nice to read an article that lets people know what children go through in the system, and it gave some insight into a poorly constructed child-care system. I grew up in a foster home and was diagnosed with some of the same symptoms as David, but I was fortunate to be placed in a wonderful foster home with great parents who helped me grow into a strong young man. When I read this story, it reminded me a lot of my childhood. I couldn't help but feel the need to reach out and let someone know there is hope! I realize that my case is different from David's, but they have a lot of similarities, and I hope that by sharing my story, it might help the Mallamos in some way!

Tell David's parents not to get too discouraged and to never give up and always try to be there for him. Let them know that I was abused as a child, both physically and psychologically. Both of my parents drank and smoked marijuana before and after I was born. I used to pretend that I was a comic-book character, usually Wolverine from the X-Men; I did that until I was a sophomore in high school. All through school, from kindergarten to my senior year in high school, my friends were comic books and video games. I had a real hard time trusting people and an even harder time opening up to people and letting them get close to me. I was afraid they would hurt me.

Now I am attending the Colorado School of Mines, and I'm studying to be a mechanical engineer. My social skills have also improved immensely. I live with five friends I met in college, and we have great relationships and have lived to together for three years now. I have also been in and out of your typical college dating games, including a relationship that lasted a little over a year. I have a steady job. I sell computers for a living, and I do quite well.

I don't want to sound vain or conceited, and I don't know that this is even helpful, but I feel that if my story can help in any way, then I am obligated to share it. I also know that my foster parents had a lot of the same concerns about me that the Mallamos expressed about David, and with time and love, things worked out for me. I hope that they will do the same for David!

Kris Mapes
Golden

At your service:I just finished reading "Nowhere Boy" for the second time. As a former child-protection worker, I applaud your objectivity in presenting this story. In my comments, I cannot be so objective. Unfortunately, David's story is like many I became familiar with while working with children. To this day, it continues to amaze me that children such as this are not recognized as abused or neglected until a few years into their young lives.

Mr. and Mrs. Mallamo should receive a medal for all the inept treatment they received from social services and mental health. I find it laughable that Pueblo County placed David with a potential adoptive family and did not reveal or volunteer his prior behavioral and life history. This information should have been thoroughly examined and discussed with the Mallamos in order to see if their home would meet David's needs. It is also very important in establishing what services, if any, will be needed for the child while in the home and/or if an adoption takes place.

To add insult to injury, now Jefferson Center for Mental Health wants to limit its involvement with David and the Mallamos. I am well aware of budget constraints within county and government agencies. This especially goes for the child-welfare and mental-health divisions that are likely to get one of the first cuts during budget-crunch time. This reasoning, however, is no excuse to let a child who is becoming more dangerous to self and community terrorize his family and friends. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this child and children like him are dangerous. Dangerous to themselves and everyone around them. In the best-case scenario, they will receive treatment, respond and become functional within society. In the worst-case scenario, they will receive treatment, not respond and be released into society when they turn eighteen -- dangerous to themselves and others.

Thank you for this piece. Hopefully, it will open eyes to that dirty little secret called "child welfare." Those who read the article should understand that while they may not have involvement with child-protection or mental-health services, they may be indirectly affected by individuals who have. Personally, I would rather my tax money went to provide care for a child like David, to assist him in becoming a productive citizen within our community, than go to re-waxing the gym floor at the multimillion-dollar high school down the street.

Name withheld on request

Past imperfect:As I read "Nowhere Boy," I was struck by a profound sense of anger, as I saw similarities between David's and my own life. He was born in 1988 and as of 2003 had been in ten homes. The impermanence of the human bond will lead to more antisocial behavior from David.

David, wherever you are: You are wanted, needed, important and worth caring about! Find a medication that helps you! Get pissed. If you need to, please talk with a therapist. See, my mom did the same things to me as yours did to you. I understand your anger and pain. Don't turn it inside out. Express all you feel. If all else fails, trash the past. Make today a good experience for you.

Bryan Wills
Denver

Who's the abuser?As the executive director of a statewide disability-rights advocacy organization, I found "Nowhere Boy" to be a very accurate portrayal of the abuse that families of kids with severe needs face by the system that is paid to serve these children. We have taken many calls from other families that have faced the same situation, particularly with Jefferson Center for Mental Health. Unfortunately, other families retreated and were afraid to speak out or challenge the system due to retaliation by JCMH. The intent of HB 1116 was not to expand Medicaid, but to prevent mental-health providers and county social-service agencies from charging innocent parents with dependency and neglect. Of course, the mental-health industry chose to use it to obtain more funding for themselves. As human beings and taxpayers, we need to demand accountability.

Thank you, Laura Bond, for exposing this problem.

Julie Reiskin, executive director
Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition

A complex situation:I am most impressed by Laura Bond's "Nowhere Boy." I was fascinated and read the whole thing in one fell swoop. I know how complex this issue is, and she captured the essence of the problems faced by all concerned and the difficulties in trying to deal with this youngster and children like him. Thanks for your interest, care of research and clarity of presentation.

Moe Keller
Colorado Senate

A friend in deed:I am a friend of this family and was trusted to care for David and his younger sister once when Sue and Paul Mallamo went to visit the older girls. I had to go to the school once to get David after he was disruptive.

I just wanted to tell you that Laura Bond did a wonderful job with this story, and I hope that it helps others, as Sue and Paul want it to do. Thanks for the way in which she told their story. These are beautiful, loving parents, and she let that fact shine through. David is a loving boy, and I hope that he gets the help he needs. We love him very much.

Juanita Bolton
Lakewood


Power Failures

Windy city: Regarding Stuart Steers's "Power to the People," in the December 11 issue:

You gotta love striving ideologues -- er, that is, idealists like Stephanie Bonin and other enviros who want to force free markets into compliance with their politicized, inaccurate fear-mongering of "global warming." Yes, it would be nice if we could wave a magic wand and eliminate our dependence on fossil fuels. Say, while we're waving that thing around, could I get a new H2? And more hair? Thick, wavy, windblown locks? No sense driving an H2 three blocks to Starbucks if I don't look like those guys in the ads.

Markets, not Greenies, should set energy prices. Economics 101 tells us that. Power prices are up this year because supplies are low. Soon supplies will increase and prices will drop. When wind-generated electricity can be had as cheaply and reliably as electricity from coal, natural gas or (gasp!) nuclear power, then power companies will clamor to convert. PORA (People Opposed to Road Apples) didn't get the government to force Henry Ford to set up his assembly lines "for the people!" Rather, when cars became more economical and reliable than horses, horsepower was knocked off the hoof and put under the hood.

Forcing power companies to build alternative power systems before the technology is ready is foolish. Forcing them to do so before the market is ready is stupid, comrade. But then, socialists -- er, that is to say, environmentalists -- don't really care about that, do they?

JM Schell
Arvada

The coal, hard facts:Thanks for the great article on wind power. I wish renewable energy were at the forefront of America's consciousness. Of all the issues we face, energy will probably be the one that can solve a host of interconnected problems.

A whole article could be written about the ramifications of coal-fired energy -- not just "dirty air," but what, exactly, the pollutants are from burning coal. Mercury is chief among several metals released; mercury is a known cause of autism and other learning disabilities. Mining regulations for coal have been drastically reduced. Entire streams in the West will disappear as coal-mining companies strip mine to their profits' content. Water, too, will disappear; coal mining uses a mind-boggling amount of water just to slurry the coal to a central location to be loaded onto railroad cars, and it cannot be reused.

"Coal is still the most cost-effective and reliable energy source," they say. That's patently false. It's an extremely heavily subsidized industry. We pay for coal mining with our taxes. We, the people, pay companies to mine for coal and sell back to us what we already paid for. Any cost comparisons between coal, wind, solar and biomass musttake into account the amount of money each energy industry receives in the form of government subsidies. In lieu of hard data, I'm willing to bet coal would be at least 25 times more expensive than any other kind of energy. The current subsidy structure completely hides the true cost of coal and artificially inflates the cost of renewables.

Stuart Steers quoted Senator Steve Johnson saying, "As technology lowers the cost, I think renewable energy will be able to stand on its own merits. Renewable energy should be a choice for people, not a mandate." I would ask Senator Johnson why there is an artificial mandate nationwide that lowers the monetary costs for the coal and oil industry, but not renewables! He cleverly omits or just doesn't understand at all that there is an explicit mandate handed down by federal government that the chief use of all federal public lands is for oil and coal first.

Government itself exists to serve the will of the people; therefore, the government should reflect the will of people. I'm glad I left Colorado. I grew up there. The laws are ass-backwards. There are just too many obstacles, mostly due to, what, altitude? But that wouldn't explain the rural co-ops' attitude toward wind turbine. At any rate, Colorado and its citizens seem to specialize in needless obstacles, while Texas, Iowa and California have clear paths, as mandated by their citizens.

Peter Bockenthien
Tucson, Arizona


Income Tactics

Role play:Regarding Stuart Steers's "It Takes a Village," in the December 11 issue:

You say that mixing low-income residents with residents who are expected to pay full price to live in the same building sets up a role-model system. Who is the role model for? I would imagine the guy who works all day for 200 hours a month is probably pretty envious of the guy who can sit at home all day, end up with more actual spending money, and never have to work a day in his life.

Chuck Norris
via the Internet

Clear Thinking

Hate radio:Regarding Michael Roberts's "Little Big Man," in the December 11 issue:

I read with interest the story about Tim Brown's struggle to compete with the Clear Channel monstrosity. I know what's at stake here, since Klear Khannel Kowards are heard very clearly in Pueblo, and I would like to add my two cents' worth.

Is anyone listening to the vile stream of hate pouring out of KOA radio, the 50,000-watt burning cross of the Rockies? If so, why aren't they fighting back? In just the last few weeks, I've heard KOA defending rogue cops who beat and kill African-Americans; attack Mexicans as somehow being responsible for the terrorist threat to the U.S. and therefore deserving of inhumane treatment because they're part and parcel of the dark-skinned invasion threatening American values; and clamoring for the rapid transformation of our country into a police state.

As the 2004 elections loom, I expect the raw sewage pouring from KOA to grow shriller in tone and even more divisive in its impact on America. We are being goaded to fight one another over issues like gay marriage, immigration and race relations, all so that KOA and its ilk can advance the Republican agenda of unbridled corporate profit-taking. It's all about money, folks.

I left Denver six years ago partly because a new, rude class of people was arriving, hell-bent on ruining both the city and the state. Can it be that KOA's message is what the new Denver wants to hear?

Pablo Mora
Pueblo

Talk is cheap: Tim Brown is talking out of both sides of his mouth when he touts KNRC presenting both sides of the arguments that propel talk radio. Both sides is double-talk for the conservative and liberal viewpoints of white guys. Don't take my bitter opinion as the burning-bush truth, just listen to KNRC, his so-called Psychedelic Shack, and you'll discover that ain't where diversity's at.

Please...allow me to slit my own throat.

Tim Brown and KNRC were supposed to be that little light that shines, pumping out a few watts of opposition to Mike Rosen-like redneck radio. Instead, I see very little and hear even less that reflects the views of hundreds of thousands of black and brown citizens.Apparently, KNRC believes that liberal cheerleaders like Enid Goldstein and artistic happy fellers like Dominic Barash will suffice in pacifying the social left, representing groups white men have historically excluded in civic debate. Nevertheless, both are incapable of articulating the perspective of Afro-Americans and Latinos. Sadly, that's okay -- the demographics behind who's tuning in indicate that those listening, Democrat or GOP, don't give a damn what people of color think.

I know this will hit white folks like a night train, since, true to form, you're the only folks in America who say race doesn't matter. But colored folks' experiences and the resulting outlook -- on, and for, this nation -- differ drastically from mainstream suburbia. Matter of fact, our opposition to the Angry White Male movement that dominates the local/national headlines every day, our disagreement with this backlash, creates the controversy and drives the debate. Yet there's no clamor for authentic genuine minority participation. Flower children and hippies can't speak for Cesar Chavez or Huey P. Newton. Landlords can't speak for the landless. Up ain't down, and black ain't white.

Adding insult to injustice, Tim Brown silenced the only black-owned R&B station in the Rockies, KDKO, only to replace it with fair and balanced infotainment devoid of black input. Brown is presenting both sides -- of the same side.

Desi Cortez
Denver

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