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Letters to the Editor

From the week of March 17, 2005

Course correction:In her March 3 "Collision Course," Patricia Calhoun neatly skewers the University of Colorado from all directions, and rightly so, I suppose. But at a certain point, I guess I start to feel a little sympathy for my poor beleaguered alma mater. Okay, I admit it: I have a BFA from CU and spent some of my hippiest years there. But doesn't my MS from CSU make me a fair and balanced person?

Anyway, I can't help but be reminded that while the media chews on CU's naked ankles, tens of thousands of students, thousands of instructors and unknown hundreds of administrators and workers are going about their business of higher education in dozens of departments. I keep hearing outcries like "What the hell is going on up there?" and "CU is going off the rails!" and "CU is going to hell in a handbasket!" and "What do you expect from a town like Boulder?" I don't doubt there are those who would like to take advantage of these various crises to advance their agendas.

The situation reminds me of those who perceive Iraq today as coming apart at the seams and on the verge of civil war versus those who perceive that country to be 95 percent peaceful and well on the road toward freedom and prosperity. I don't know what Iraq will look like in five years, but I have a pretty good hunch that in five years, CU will still have Nobel laureates on the faculty, still have many truly fine programs spanning the spectrum, still be cranking out graduates by the thousands and still be the beautiful campus that it has always been. (UCD, the Health Sciences Center and UCCS aren't half bad, either.)

Having offered this brief interlude of nostalgic appreciation, I now return you to the media frenzy already in progress.

Franklin Boyd
Englewood

The goodbye girl: Regarding Elizabeth Hoffman, is "See ya, cunt" a term of endearment?

Bill Mills
Evergreen

Bolder in Boulder: Here are twenty more reasons you might be a left-wing redneck:

1) Your mom's hippie poetry made you a centi-millionaire.

2) Your ethnic-studies professor and you both hate white people -- and you're both white.

3) You're fasting in solidarity with the circus animals.

4) Your dreadlocks fall in your Cap'n Crunch.

5) Your poli-sci teacher pours fake blood on stuff. You weep theatrically.

6) You march in the MLK parade. You agree: White people are evil. Your name is Hickenlooper.

7) You know someone who dated the Cowsills.

8) Your nipple ring got caught on your dog.

9) You know "Why the Caged Bird Sings."

10) You read Maya Angelou. You do not projectile vomit.

11) You're sure the Buddhist Poetics degree got you the barista job.

12) Your clothes don't come from Thailand. Your "boyfriends" do.

13) Seventeen-thousand traffic cameras don't harm your civil liberties. One word -- God -- does.

14) Somehow, you always blame the Jews.

15) Yasir Arafat is still on your speed-dial.

16) You cut your penis off, just to spite the White Male Hegemony.

17) Your mom addresses you as Flower-Child Nuclear-War-Victim.

18) You can hear the yeast die in your croissant.

19) Your SUV is not hypocritical. It's Not!

20)Your children vote Republican -- and don't really know why.

D. Townsell
Denver

U be the judge: There is no question in this reader's mind that the news coming out of the University of Colorado this past year has been both absurd and damaging to the university. Patricia Calhoun, with characteristic wit and cynicism, has made this clear for weeks.

It should therefore be equally clear that this horse has now been flogged thoroughly; what Calhoun has failed to propose with any clarity is how the state's flagship university should go about righting itself. This is all the more apparent given President Betsy Hoffman's resignation. One wonders whether that will solve any problems at all; it certainly will not solve the state's fiscal crisis, which has been damaging to higher education from Boulder to Alamosa. It also doesn't help at a time when the leadership is uncertain at all but one of CU's campuses, including Boulder, and when the CEO of University Hospital is in transition.

With John Andrews calling for privatization of all higher education on the editorial page of the Denver Post and the Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph editorial page suggesting that the real problem in higher education is the availability of student-aid money, Westword would do well to provide some solutions of its own.

Jonathan Kurche
Denver


Crossed Wires

Border patrol:Regarding Luke Turf's "Trial by Wire," in the March 3 issue:

The altercation between Terry Graham and Julissa Molina reminded me of an incident a few years ago at the Cinco de Mayo celebration in Denver. While drinking water, my wife -- who is not only Israeli, but Sephardic and can pass for either a Mexican or an Arab -- was verbally and physically assaulted by a young Mexican woman, who kept saying over and over, "This is not your celebration...go back to where you came from." Mind you, my wife is a citizen of the U.S. as well. I stepped in, and the woman said the same to me. I'm a Denver native, and found her comment both strange and irritating. The woman attempted to strike my wife but failed. Finally, someone intervened (not the police, who were absent and near the food vendors), spoke Spanish to the woman and took her away. My wife and I both left and have never attended Cinco de Mayo since.

Graham and Tancredo are right: We are losing this country to people who are not citizens or legal residents. I am still in shock over being told that we do not belong here.

If the U.S. was really serious about border control, we could do it very easily. Ted Rall, a columnist and political cartoonist, tells of crossing the border from China to one of the former Soviet republics and describes not only how difficult it was to cross legally, but also how well guarded the border was on both sides (fences, the works). These two countries have fewer resources to do it over a much longer and wilder terrain, but they also have the will to do it. First Data and the U.S. do not do this, and it's because of money and a cheap labor source, nothing more. It is exploitation of people, and what is even sadder is that the Spanish-speaking community lets it happen.

I looked at www.vdare.com and saw the comic-style book available to people trying to cross the border. In any other country, such an act would be tantamount to war. But in the U.S., everyone has their hands in each other's pockets.

Yakov Azriel Ben Avraham
via the Internet

Foreign affairs: I have heard Terry Graham on the radio. She is intelligent, levelheaded and well-spoken. It is an outrage that she was beaten up on U.S. soil by a foreign national in view of the police! I think it may demonstrate how foreign nationals view our laws; they feel when they wish to break a law, it is their right to do as they please. I hope Graham is vindicated in her lawsuit.

Robin Hvidston
Upland, California


Working the System

Earn and learn:Regarding Luke Turf's "Payday," in the February 24 issue:

Thank goodness we have organizations like El Centro Humanitario, which provide a much-needed service for our community. They help people who want to work find work, so that they and their families are fed. It saddens me to read letters like the one published in the March 3 issue, evidently from someone in a cave somewhere who favors people working without payment, while their children go uneducated.

We used to have that system in the U.S.: It's called slavery.

Michael Worrall
Denver

Waging war:Interesting that law student Coleen Breslin champions, advocates for and teaches illegals -- who are law-breakers by virtue of being undocumented -- how to rip off the very system that they claim is ripping them off! How can El Centro Humanitario, in good conscience, promote an employment system that cheats the federal and state governments out of tax dollars due them? These workers have no Social Security numbers and are stealing dollars out of the Social Security system by being paid under the table. Centro is encouraging undocumented workers to access Colorado Department of Labor and Employment services when they have not paid their dues to receive any services.

Essentially, Centro is promoting criminal activity and is an accessory to crime. While Breslin bangs her fist on the table in response to alleged injustices against the undocumented workers, is she equally outraged and willing to help U.S. citizens with unemployment, affordable health care for the elderly, education, the environment and the state of the economy? Apparently not. Never mind immigration quotas, visas and international law.

The article says that Breslin doesn't think the labor department is doing enough to aid these workers, and what the department is doing is a "waste of state money." Since when is the state required or obligated to provide interpreters and translations in Spanish for undocumented people? Also, it is interesting that these workers demand $8 per hour. Perhaps part of that $8 needs to go for federal and state taxes and FICA. Centro knows that promoting and enlisting prospective employers who pay under the table and cheat the government is illegal. By doing so, they are eroding, undermining and hurting the stability and very fabric of our society. This is unconscionable, unethical and immoral. Why haven't they been shut down?

Shame on Breslin. Which side of the law is she on? Is it any wonder there are so many lawyer jokes?

Artha Ortiz
via the Internet

Right and day: Views against day laborers are mostly driven by ignorance or by the distorted "knowledge" that is attained through sensationalist media and fraudulent statistics. Day laborers are not robbing and stealing from our system. The unpleasant truth about day labor is that big growers and many business lobbyists want the illegal workers here because they are easy to exploit. Otherwise, Congress would have passed a law addressing and penalizing the issue by now. The U.S. economic system needs migrant workers to do jobs that Americans are no longer willing to do. Despite arguments to the contrary, day labor is an essential component of the American economy.

Day laborers come to this country to lead an honest life, and what drives them to accept jobs that are dangerous, violate human-rights standards and are unfairly compensated (or not compensated at all, in many instances) is the need to provide for the families they left behind in their home countries.

Governmental reports and other reliable sources of information on day laborers are available ubiquitously. For letter-writer Mike Thomas or anyone else interested in learning more about day labor or the work of El Centro and other centers like it around the country, we will gladly provide more information.

Tania Silva, Claude Jackson and Joshua Rael
University of Denver Sturm College of Law


The Lost Boy

A wild story: In regard to Laura Bond's March 3 followup on "Wild Child," I find it sad the way David Mallamo is bounced around, from center to center, while officials dispute serious mental-illness diagnoses made by licensed workers. What does that say about our opinion on the integrity of these workers? These people have some of the toughest jobs there are. Why is there so much fear and denial over their findings in this day and age? What will it take to convince judges, etc., of their validity? Is it all about funding and money?

We need to wake up in regards to our health-care system -- or obvious lack of it. I don't claim to know what the answer is, yet I do feel that we need to support and encourage our psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, therapists, etc. In his repeated behaviors, David speaks loudly and clearly to that issue. I also want to thank Paul and Susan Mallamo for obviously giving their all in an extremely difficult situation. Good luck in Kansas!

Ruth Urman
Denver

Breaking the code:This story is one of many. The Department of Social Services continues to use the code of silence to protect itself when kids fall through the cracks in the system. I know parents who actually were denied the legal right and due process of law to defend themselves after social services didn't do its job. They will silence the parents by keeping their children and actually brainwashing them. The children later slip through the cracks and are the ones who are hurt and continue to look for answers.

D. Pizzino
Hanover, Virginia


Aches and Pains

Broken promises: Regarding Michael Roberts's "The Pain," in the March 10 issue:

Yes, Michael Roberts, my leg is broken, but more important is what else in this town has been broken -- like our state's environmental laws, journalistic integrity and the public trust -- that warrant credible journalists' scrutiny. At issue is why the Rocky Mountain Newsand Denver Post have kept mum about a hot story, why Lowry Landfill southeast of Denver is loaded with plutonium, as records in a federal whistleblower case I won in 2001 reveal, and how the deadly bomb material with a radioactive half-life of over 24,000 years seems to have magically "disappeared" in only six short years.

Michael Roberts just doesn't seem to get it, why Dean Singleton's Post and Scripps Howard's News have attempted to sanitize what they don't want their readers to know about -- their own liability laundering and a libel campaign being waged against me to blunt public knowledge over the dirty deals at Lowry Landfill, where the newspapers dumped their own toxic printing inks and solvents among poisons dumped by Rocky Flats, Coors, Lockheed Martin, Shell, Metro Wastewater and other polluters, now commingled in a 38-million-gallon radioactive mess.

Is Roberts just too cozy with media moguls at Denver's dailies who are partners to a pollution scandal they'd rather deny than fix? In a letter published last week, Troubleshooter Tom Martino (Roberts's last target) revealed that local media know how to keep quiet what they don't want known: If "reporters came back with facts that did not support the angle, the stories were often dropped. In other words, media enterprises often'censor' by 'exclusion.'"

Yet while Roberts appears befuddled, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Eileen Welsome gets it (as chronicled in "Dirty Secrets," her series in Westword's own pages), as did the judge who ruled in my favor in my whistleblower case, ordering whopping punitive damages in no small part for Denver's dailies' willing part in a defamation campaign designed to shut me up after a secret deal was cut to foist polluters' poisons and future pollution liabilities onto the public, without our knowledge or consent, and all at our expense. To keep the lid on the boiling pot at Lowry, Scripps-Howard promotes polluters' paid patsies like Kyla Thompson, while publishing anything she'll say to damage my professional credibility and threaten my position at CU-Boulder on behalf of her polluting clients.

So let's keep the focus on my fallopian tubes, and perhaps no one will notice the facts regarding some of the worst pollution crimes in the country, like how this is the only place in America where wastes from a plutonium-saturated Superfund site are being routed back into the public domain, mixed with sewage sludge being dumped by the tons each day as "fertilizer" on eastern Colorado farms, where crops are grown for America's dinner tables, and toxic water is "recycled" onto Denver parks and schoolyards, or flushed to the South Platte River, where deformed fish are -- not surprisingly -- turning up downstream.

Adrienne Anderson
Instructor, Environmental Studies Program
University of Colorado at Boulder


Center of the Storm

The soft cell:Michael Paglia, as people who frequently read and very much enjoy your columns (although we may not always agree with you), there was something almost vitriolic about your March 3 "Blind Justice" piece concerning the proposed jail/Justice Center. You sounded unreasonably angry.

As boardmembers of the Golden Triangle Association and members of the Justice Center Task Force, we were intensely involved in the mayor's decision-making process. We respectfully disagree with your analysis of the process. We live in the neighborhood and walk the streets every day. The reason so many people and groups came out in support of the process was because it was ably conducted by James Mejia and the mayor's staff in an open, transparent fashion, with everyone's ideas given careful consideration. Nobody wants a jail in their neighborhood, but a jail and new courtrooms are desperately needed. One logical place is the Civic Center -- in keeping with an old American tradition of courthouses, and even jails, downtown.

I don't know if you're aware that the Golden Triangle Association: 1) submitted 22 design guidelines for the facility to assure that it would be a quality addition to the Civic Center, and all were accepted; 2) requested that a Civic Center master plan be prepared in advance of any decisions, and it was, with major input from our neighborhood; and 3) worked out an agreement that no new criminal-justice facilities be constructed south of 14th Avenue and no additions be made to the prisoner beds in the future (this will be assured through Planned Unit Development zoning).

Can you be serious about "new/old urbanism"? We don't think that's the issue here. The city needs the facility, and it can be built at this location, creating a better situation for the Golden Triangle than present conditions; each morning as we walk to work or to activities downtown, sheriff's officers with guns poised stand by while shackled prisoners shuffle across our sidewalks. Not good -- for us or the sheriffs or the prisoners!

We believe the proposed Justice Center can be a facility the city can be proud of; it can offer a safer environment for the prisoners, the sheriffs, the attorneys, the witnesses, the judges and the neighbors. Thank you to the mayor's staff for a thoughtful, inclusive process to arrive at this solution.

Billie Bramhall, Eric Boyd and Dennis Humphries
Denver

Michael Paglia responds: Guidelines can be dispensed with at will, because they're only suggestions. I do not believe that an enormous jail should be built at the Civic Center, even if the people who thought it up -- including the authors of the letter above -- do.

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