Letters to the Editor

From the week of 4/5/07

I vote for a change in the Ask a Mexican logo simply to bring more readers to this informative, articulate and appropriately irreverent column. It is the most important avenue I have seen in Denver to put out the Latino/Hispanic viewpoint succinctly, intelligently and with balanced humor to all sectors of Latino/non-Latino cultures. This column is essential, and a more sardonic logo would be appropriate -- with all due respect to all the reasons/arguments for Papi.
Jude De Lorca

Why are you wasting space on Ask a Mexican? I know Westword is an open-minded paper, but this is ridiculous with the illegal immigration issue. You need to Ask an American how we feel about the illegal Mexicans from Mexico stealing our IDs so they can work here.
Dave Gallegos

"Swift Gloating," Michael Paglia, March 22

And the Rest Is History

Bravo, Michael Paglia, for putting your finger in the eye of the anti-historic preservation bloc in this town. Those who love the old Denver neighborhoods, beware: Developers have the big $ it takes to spread their propaganda abroad. As far as Denver's dailies go, remember that they keep cutting staff at the newspapers, and a story that steps on the toes of moneyed interests could put a reporter in line to lose his/her job. Gone is the battle cry "Publish and be damned," present company excepted. Besides, it's so much easier to take your story from those nice, glossy presentation packages produced by -- you got it - real-estate development interests.
S. Williams

Michael Paglia's article was right on target. The media message of the anti-DeBoer forces was as simple and misleading as possible, and now that you've exposed their ruse, you'll probably be attacked in exactly the same way. You should expect these avenues of attack:

1) "Lies, lies, lies." The opponents of historic preservation don't need to prove anything; they simply insinuate falsity. Since most folks won't do any further reading or investigation, they'll accept the attack without any substantiation. A victory for ignorance!

2) "I'm a victim." Opponents will bemoan their supposed poverty and shed a tear at every public hearing. They will repeat the phrase "property rights" as often as possible. So what if historic designation places no restrictions on the sale of a property, allows enormous development potential on landmark districts (see the planned 300-foot skyscrapers at Country Club Gardens) and actually increases the value of the land? Sob stories are touching. They're victims.

3) "You're a jerk." Personal attacks are intimidating, place personalities on trial, and get the subject off the communal and historical questions at hand.

Of course, if folks focused instead on the historical facts, the DeBoer matter would have been a lot clearer. The 1876 farmhouse was one of the fifteen oldest structures in Denver, as listed by the Assessor's Office. The 1931 Tudor office was the very picture of DeBoer's pioneering work in landscape and city design, imprinted on all DeBoer's stationery and many of his printed works. And the 1930 mural art studio was designed for DeBoer's great friend John Thompson, called the "dean of Colorado painters" and "the father of modern art in Denver." DeBoer lived on this site for more than fifty years and did most of his work here.

Yes, this was a historic landmark, and obviously so. The compromise agreement cut out more than half of the landscape that DeBoer himself designed, exposing most of the trees (including the only Mongolian oak in the entire Rocky Mountains) to likely destruction. Also subject to demolition is the 1955 mid-century ranch built for DeBoer's daughter, the tiny cottage built to house DeBoer's artistic friends in the 1930s, and the landscape integrity of DeBoer's complete park estate.

But don't forget: They're all lies, you're a jerk, and the opponents were victims. You can't prove otherwise. Unless you know better.
Dave Burrell

Michael Paglia's "Swift Gloating" column needs a reality check. Setting aside for the moment his ill-tempered rant against Councilman Brown and Councilwoman Faatz:

He imagines a cabal of co-conspirators (the Post, the Rocky, Denver City Council, the Planning Board, assorted lawyers, etc.) dreaming up "phony talking points...to undermine the city's landmark protection process." Having unearthed this plot, he brands the first "talking point" he spots as "clearly false," then insinuates that, being false, it shouldn't be mentioned in editorials or news articles. Apparently the notion of a free press, in which ideas that he disagrees with might be discussed, is foreign to Mr. Paglia.

He mentions "sites of historic value that are endangered by insensitive owners." How are the DeBoer property owners "insensitive"? (Disclosure: I'm married to a DeBoer owner.) We tried to communicate with our property's neighbors, including the applicants for historic designation; they ignored us. Later, we tried mediation; they stonewalled us there, too.

Contrary to their accusations, we: 1) never intended to "clear-cut" the property; 2) never planned to demolish any historic structures (nor did our contractor, McStain); 3) never planned to build a high-density or unattractive "condo" or "row-house" development; 4) never tried to sell the property "in secret" -- before retaining a realtor, we advertised it on Craigslist and in a Denver Post classified ad; 5) never planned on putting any neighborhood-destroying "through" streets in. Where's the insensitivity?

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