Letters to the Editor

From the week of April 22, 2004

A Tents Situation

Homeless is where the heart is:Amy Haimerl's "Pitching Tents," in the April 15 issue, was a thought-provoking, well-written article by a woman who chose not to make it an article about the politics of Denver's homeless population, but rather chose to put a human face on the problem. We will all be dealing with this very issue in the near future, and Haimerl's ability to give clear facts and still keep the human element was very comforting to me. I could see that these people are really trying to better themselves and are not necessarily looking for this as a permanent housing solution. Rather, they are using it as a transitional place to go.

Please give Amy Haimerl a pat on the back for being brave enough to go and seek this story out, and tell her "Well done!"

Cathy Campbell
via the Internet

Making camp:Becoming homeless is not a glamorous notion to be minimized by relating it to summer camp. Oregon is an anomaly because the society and culture there value people.

In Colorado, people are a disposable commodity, and homeless people are treated as fodder. The citizenry in Colorado needs to wake up and see that for the most part, we are all one paycheck away from homelessness.

There are men, women and children living in cars, shelters, under bridges, in alleyways, motels, etc., all around us -- and yet Denver continues to lollygag with a long-term solution.

Instead of building a convention-center expansion or the Wellington Webb memorial building, we should have been addressing building more low-income, subsidized housing.

I say that until the city of Denver wakes up, the Tent City should be set up and allowed to operate.

Brett Haselton
Thornton

Breaking camp:I find it deeply touching that our mayor, looking down from the heights of his LoDo loft, has decided to eliminate the homeless problem in Denver. I sincerely doubt, however, that he'll be willing to buy off on the idea of putting up a tent city anytime in the future. Like the rest of us, politicians prefer the homeless to be scattered about -- if for no other reason than when they're out of sight, they're out of mind, and while it's good to provide lip service about how much we care about the less fortunate, we really don't want to be constantly reminded that they're around. While Hickenlooper likes to claim he's a Democrat, and there might be a short-term publicity gain in having a modern-day Hooverville in George Bush's compassionate conservative America, the problem is that after the election is over, the poor, as St. Matthew wrote, will still be with us.

The conundrum that the mayor and Denver City Council have regarding this issue is that there just isn't enough money in the city's coffers to really deal with the problem. With the property taxes of working stiffs having gone up 27 percent in the past year, and the mayor and city council floating the idea of increasing property taxes again to build a new jail, it's doubtful the working-class wage slaves who are one or two paychecks away from homelessness themselves are going to be in a giving mood, considering the fact we already spend $379 million dollars a year on social service subsidies.

So where's the money going to come from? First and foremost, the Hotel and Restaurant Association's mayor and the Wal-Mart-loving city council have to come to grips with the fact that the majority of taxes that we spend on the poor presently is spent on the working poor. If we raise the minimum wage in Denver, those social costs will be decreased. When the lower class are paid a decent wage, they can afford affordable housing on their own. If we continue to ignore this fact, we will continue to be burdened with increased property taxes to subsidize the downtown blind-trust restaurant-bar owners who pay their employees a shitty wage.

Hickenlooper might consider doing this after an intervention of consciousness-raising on Westword's part if you turned him on to a copy of Neal Cassady's The First Third. Aside from being one of the best pieces of literature to come out of the Beat movement, the book is set in Denver and tells about the first third of the author's life living down on skid row with his dad. While having Hickenlooper read it might not change his perspective on the homeless, it could only help the guy understand what real literature is, and in a moment of self-realization, he may take his personal copy of Peace Like a River and give it to some shelter.I hear they're always looking for donations of extra ass-wipe they can use.

Jeremiah M. Attridge
Denver

The light stuff:I thought "Pitching Tents" was a wonderfully written article about a part of our society that is often overlooked or associated with mental illness. Amy Haimerl was able to go beyond the stereotypes and portray these homeless communities in a clear, honest light that was refreshing and insightful.

Jami Howell
Greeley


Extra-Credit Coarse

Vidiot:Michael Roberts's "Kid Stuff," in the April 15 issue, reinforced my initial impression that Boulder High School teacher Jim Kavanagh is not so much a hero of free speech as a self-absorbed boob.

I am a big fan of the Second Amendment, and I believe high school students should be encouraged to express themselves, but there is a point at which a reasonably intelligent teacher has to draw lines and make judgments. What the hell was Kavanagh thinking? Is it not possible to help students create provocative art without engaging in lowest-common-denominator violent crap that simply serves to demean and coarsen?

I am not surprised that audiences have laughed and tittered at Kavanagh's video and his remarks about it. What did he expect? Adoration? A complimentary membership in the ACLU? This project was not a bold expression of free speech. I would say it was more along the lines of a bad poo-poo-pee-pee adolescent joke. On top of it all, apparently the production quality was also shoddy.

Hey, Kavanagh, don't we have enough trouble convincing home-school wackos that public education is viable? Grow up. In the process, you might help your students grow up.

Jack Farrar
Denver


Love It or Leave It

Hopping on the ban wagon:Regarding Stuart Steers's "Fire Sale," in the April 15 issue:

Another reason I left that Yuppie Bastion of Moronic Safety-Crats! It started with Boulder writing tickets for people smoking in their cars! Then another set of morons said I can't smoke while I watch the Raiders stomp the Buncos. And now you have assorted shmucks taxing a legal substance into oblivion?

Thank God you idiots are left behind and Vegas still lets us do those legal things we want without all the secondhand hysteria of Colorado. Goodbye and good riddance to what was a wonderful place to live. Vegas is better by far. Keep the morons there; they would be beaten severely here.

Anthony Funches
North Las Vegas, Nevada


A bumper crop:Kenny Be's "Why DU Students Didn't Riot," in the April 15 issue, was painful -- but perhaps more applicable to the University of Denver business school. Social workers drive Toyota station wagons with "Celebrate Diversity" bumper stickers.

Patricia Steffes
Denver


Leggo My Logo

Litter plug:I must strongly disagree with J. Chris's letter in the last issue! Kenny Be's April 8 "Pick of the Litter" really captured Denver. I, for one, would be proud to wear a T-shirt that showed a boot on the name of this fair city -- or that picture of the happy panhandler smiling because Denver is the biggest city for beggars this side of Calcutta!

Randy Cramer
Denver

Read alert: The City of Denver will close its doors and suspend city services for six more days this year. Our mayor wants us to Pick a Logo and Read a Book.

Potholes are growing larger and streets are deteriorating -- if not blocked by road construction -- and our Mayor wants us to Pick a Logo and Read a Book.

Tourism is lacking and hotel occupancy is high, but at least we're building a new hotel to fix that, so Pick a Logo and Read a Book.

Denver City Council is meeting weekly and spending millions of tax dollars on the prospect of building more public transportation, yet none of the councilmembers take public transportation to the meetings.

In May, the City of Denver is celebrating National Tourism Week -- but we are not telling any of our neighboring states about it. Instead, we are only promoting the event to statewide chambers of commerce. The bad news is, none of the chambers contacted seem to be interested in participating in this historic event.

Our governor is warning us about the necessity of taking drastic measures to reduce water consumption during our record-setting drought, but at least the City of Denver sees fit to market a line of bottled water (with our new city logo on the label) to tourists who visit our community.

The job-loss ratio in Denver is second only to that of our sister city (Detroit, Michigan) -- and what else can one say about that?

This letter was written in part while sitting in traffic on I-25, Route 36 and I-70.

You simply can't make this stuff up!

Name withheld on request

Editor's note: While the city had yet to decide Denver's official logo, last week city marketing director Angela Baier shared with us the tallies for Kenny Be's "Pick of the Litter" proposal. Official suggestion C, the Sunny D-light version, got three votes on the Worst-Case Scenario fax-in ballot; Kenny's baseball-style Capitol building and the "towering tree" -- "my personal favorite," said Baier -- each got one.


Beatdown and Out

Testing his metal: Wow, Dave Herrera's April 8 Beatdown was the first time since his introductory article as the music editor that I thought he had something worth reading. (He's dead-on about Metallica, obviously.) Thanks to Herrera for finally writing about the music and important stuff going on instead of his usual fare. It was honestly a pleasure to read.

If he keeps up this kind of good work, his column won't draw the kind of criticism it has in recent months.

Tom Murphy
via the Internet

Redemption exemption:A few weeks back, I sent Dave Herrera a rather scathing message regarding his article about Rogue. But he has fully redeemed himself with the April 8 Beatdown. Let me just say thank you, thank you, thank you!

John Brice
Denver

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