Letters to the Editor

From the week of March 18, 2004

The Plot Sickens

Let's get reel: I cannot understand why all the movie deals about Rocky Flats have fallen through. From reading Patricia Calhoun's "Toxic Shocker!" in March 11 issue, it seems like this story has everything, from government villains to ordinary citizens as heroes (one a cowboy, even) to a polluted playground that will make Coloradans sick for generations to come.

On second thought, maybe that plot sounds too unbelievable even for Hollywood.

Jenny Tolland
Denver

Watching the wasteline: Bravo to Wes McKinley, Jacque Brever, Jon Lipsky and Caron Balkany for their exposé of "Justice" Department obstruction of the Rocky Flats Grand Jury! How despicable -- and predictable -- of "our" representatives to make the Flats a wildlife "refuge" and "recreation" area. Re-creation indeed: encouraging people to come and mutate the gene pool by inhaling plutonium dust! It's right down there with poisoning Iraq and Serbia and our own soldiers with "depleted" uranium munitions.

I have a perfect use for the Flats: permanent, mandatory, quarantined housing for the people responsible for the criminal violations there (the Department of Energy, Rockwell, EG&G, the EPA and Colorado Department of Health officials); the "Justice" people who protected them (U.S. Attorney Mike Norton, Judge Sherman Finesilver); and politicians along for the ride (Roy Romer, David Skaggs, Mark Udall). Let them and their descendants farm, hunt and fish on-site until they are gone from the gene pool.

Evan Ravitz
Boulder

What a waste! Next time you do a report on the astronomical lying, cheating and stealing at the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Mega-Site, you should start off with how you and your peers at Denver's other fourth-rate papers bolted out of Judge Matsch's courtroom at the close of Timothy McVeigh's trial, allowing a trial that was a hundred times as important to resume: Jim Stone vs. Rockwell International. Ditto for the New York Times, Washington Post, etc., which were also present.

If you and your peers didn't take a bribe, hush money or marching orders from the crooks in charge you allude to, then why haven't we seen any article on Rockwell's crimes in your back yard so clearly explained in that trial? The shocking facts were revealed from secret documents the perpetrators wrote at the time and thought would be protected forever. These are now in the public domain, and any student of journalism could take them, starting with closing arguments, and make a real shocking story. The crimes continue.

Greg K. Marsh, president
Rocky Flats Cleanup Commission

Editor's note: Whistleblower Jim Stone is a major character in The Ambushed Grand Jury, whose authors will be at the Tattered Cover on Tuesday, March 23 (for details, see Performance). Last Friday, Judge Richard Matsch finally ruled on a motion filed in August 1996 by other members of the grand jury, who'd asked to be released from their oath of confidentiality so that they could talk about the Justice Department's deal with Rockwell International. Although Matsch said he lacked the power to grant the jurors' request, he called their concerns "serious and substantial."


Big Daddy

Stand by your man: Julie Jargon's "Father Hood," in the March 11 issue, was such a tragic story. Isn't there anyone out there who can help this young man? Hello -- is anyone listening? With so many people throwing away and abusing their own flesh-and-blood children, this man is a hero. Please, somebody help him!

M. Gebron
via the Internet

Baby steps: Your article about Albert Galvan touched my heart so deeply. I believe that this man belongs with his daughter and his daughter belongs with him. There is nothing that would make it a bad thing for them to be reunited. He has worked hard to prove this, and I think that an appeal for this family reunion is important. Despite the statistics, I believe that it is possible. Anything that I can do to support this effort, I am available. I am a single mother with a six-year-old boy, and although I am 31, I have been in the midst of families with these problems and have seen people who don't care about their children get them back. I am not political, but I am completely supportive of him getting his baby.

Justice has not served this man.

Michelle L. Gonzales
via the Internet

Family ties: I just went through a long and heartbreaking case with the Weld County Department of Social Services. I lost my son in June 2003 and last saw him in July 2003; he will be two this coming May. I'm currently in the state appeals court trying to reunite the family. My son's name is Xavier, and he has two sisters and another brother who miss him very much and talk about him. What do I tell them about Xavier?

I did nothing wrong to keep my son away from me and his family. My son is just a reason to make the county money, and I guess that is more important than the whole purpose of social services to preserve the family. They obviously didn't have any intention of doing so.

Raul Luevano
Brighton

The parent trap: Thank you for Julie Jargon's excellent, well-researched "Father Hood." I want to commend her for her insightfulness and objectivity. A good journalist looks at all sides of an issue with a critical mind and presents them in a balanced way, allowing readers to draw their own conclusions. She has done her job well. The personal stories of Albert and Victoria, and Ponciano and "Rosa" reveal the downside of EPP that has begun to surface. Legislation can sometimes be a double-edged sword, bringing justice to one group while causing another group to suffer injustice.

I became aware of this last August after the removal of my godchild, Sunshine Gates. Her case inspired Senate Bill 117, currently under consideration in the state legislature. The fact is, sometimes social workers become overzealous in their attempt to protect children, and they remove newborns without justification. Because they work with complete autonomy under current Colorado law, their decisions are sometimes colored by cultural insensitivity, personal prejudice and confusion of poverty with neglect. Conspicuously absent in this scenario is due process for the voiceless new citizen of a nation that was founded on democratic principles. Even though a hearing is mandated within 72 hours, the reality is that the parents won't have their say in court for several months. Meanwhile, their baby is beginning to bond with his/her foster parents. Often, the birth parents lack the education, language skills and financial resources to negotiate the legal system effectively. When their case is finally heard, it rarely goes their way in this state, precisely because of the bonding argument.

Having to obtain a court order prior to such removals, as SB 117 would mandate (with certain exceptions), would be a step toward preventing grievous errors at the outset. A judge could ask pertinent questions that would ensure due process for the infant: Are you sure? How do you know? Is there another relative able and willing to care for the baby? Have you received input from other professionals and advocates for the family? Have you explored every alternative? Had these questions been asked in Sunshine's case, she might not have suffered the trauma of being removed from her mother, father and siblings while social services took the time to determine that her family was not actually homeless and that a mistake had been made. Such swift resolutions are highly unusual; in Sunshine's case, both the Indian Child Welfare Act and outraged members of her family's church who quickly mobilized to seek justice played critical roles.

Finally, I want to mention that I am so impressed with lawyer Jack Davis's integrity and his willingness to be true to his convictions despite the professional risk involved. What a good, brave and humble man he must be. God bless him for going out on a limb and taking a stand for justice. The world needs more attorneys like Jack Davis.

Karen Petersen
via the Internet

Rush to judgment: More than three years ago, Julie Jargon offered a 7,254-word paean to tearing poor people’s children from their parents and rushing them into middle-class adoptive homes in the name of “expedited permanency planning.” She accepted as fact the absurd claim that agencies really would try to keep the birth families together first.

In a letter to Westword at the time, I asked “who’s going to enforce that when all the praise from politicians and the press go to taking away more children and rushing to terminate parental rights? And when the services are not provided, won’t advocates of the new approach say: ‘Gee, that’s too bad, but now the child has bonded to the foster parents, so tough luck.’”

Now Jargon apparently is shocked -- shocked! -- when child protective services confiscate Albert Galvan’s daughter at birth because Albert had the temerity to be young, male and Mexican. It must have been even more shocking when, having done nothing to help Albert for nineteen months, everyone said, "Gee, that’s too bad, but now the child has bonded to the foster parents, so tough luck."

No wonder Jargon retreats behind the comforting myth that only parents are hurt in such cases. In fact, EPP and the 1997 Adoption and Safe Families Act do enormous harm to children. They encourage a take-the-child-and-run approach to child welfare, overloading the system with children who never needed to be removed from their parents -- many of whom will never be adopted at all. Nationwide, there are more children languishing in foster care today than on the day ASFA was passed. There have been 147,000 more terminations of parental rights than actual adoptions, creating a generation of legal orphans with no ties to birth parents and little hope of adoption, either.

For those still enamored of EPP and its theory of “bonding,” one question: If I kidnap a child at birth, take him to Mexico for nineteen months, take good care of him and then return, can I keep him?

Richard Wexler, executive director
National Coalition for Children Protection Reform


Adams Family Values

Law and ardor: Regarding David Holthouse's "Cruisin' for a Bustin'," in the February 26 issue:

Though he uses colorful language -- "brown, gurgling stream whose banks are lined with towering, prickly weeds" -- your writer fails to identify the stream as Clear Creek. Did David Holthouse ever go to court in Brighton? There he could have seen, on any given day, 39 gentlemen lined up, very ready to admit to a lesser charge of making a noise -- and paying $250 per man. You do the math.

Maybe people should start making noises about the sexual politics that allow the county of Adams to so demean justice by preying upon men in closets and lining its own pockets in the process. Maybe the sheriff's "illegal-sex issue" is really about the money. If your writer had been more interested in the causes and effects of sexual arrest, he would have done more than simply try to tantalize his readers. Then again, maybe tease was the object of the article. "Cruisin' for a Bustin'" appears on pages whose other newsprint half, in the advertising section, is all about sex in our city -- or so your paper would have us think.

You can do better.

Jeff Donaldson
Denver

Spokes man: As one of those "oblivious" bicyclists who blast through Lafayette Park once or twice a month, and although I am about as suburban, straight and Republican as you can get, you don't have to be Rosie or Cojo to figure out what all those lone guys are doing there. As long as they don't block the path, do I care?

Given the post-apocalyptic look of Lafayette Park, I only occasionally stop to answer the call of a different sort of nature. (Hey, you try humping a middle-aged bladder twenty miles on bumpy bike paths while sucking potassium and phosphorus-laden electrolytes from a Camelback without you gotta stop and pee.) Each time I've been "approached" during one of these pit stops, I figured it's because I am one sizzling-hot 45-year-old skinny white guy. Now I learn from Westword that anything with the right plumbing configuration will get hit on by mullet-headed closet gays from Commerce City?

Well, there go all my fantasies, but you gotta wonder at a subculture that advertises places to engage in public sex that lack a certain, I dunno, romance? It's one thing to join the Mile High Club over Paris, or to tee off on the fourth green at Pebble Beach. It's quite another to solicit a quick, anonymous Monica in a trash-choked vacant lot under a freeway overpass in Adams County.

Lafayette Park will never pass for the Denver Botanic Gardens, but it's still a place where old ladies walk their Pekingese, young parents push prams, and little boys turn the towering ragweed and impenetrable brambles into Tarzan's (or Aragorn and Gimli's) jungles. I'd like it if I didn't have to slow down for any of them, sure, but unlike the gays yowling about the cops rousting them out of the dusty weeds there, I know that I don't own the place. Regardless of gays' rapidly diminishing claims to victimhood, no one has (yet) granted them the special right to turn public parks into their private whorehouses. Shrieking that it's all about bigotry when the cops do their job just makes gays and their hysterical protective organizations look even more foolish and pathetic.

JM Schell
Arvada

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