Letters to the Editor

From the week of 4/5/07

Worst-Case Scenario, Kenny Be, March 22



The Poison Pen

"Youth Crime (Prevention) Wave Hits Denver" is a sad commentary on Kenny Be. Denver has some very creative and successful alternative programs to crime for young people, including the people whom he attacks in his cartoon. Would Kenny rather that kids get locked up in prisons or disposed of on the streets?
Ben Fiedler
Denver

"Love the Sinner," Jared Jacang Maher, March 22



Sin No More

After reading Jared Jacang Maher's "Love the Sinner," I must wonder if this is an indictment of Regis University's Department of Campus Safety, or an allegation that a homophobic culture pervades an institution whose administration has created a facade of social tolerance. What a frightening experience for Alana McCoy. I wonder, however, if this is more symptomatic of a generally sluggish safety department than evidence of an administration tacitly condoning homophobic behavior.

The Jesuits are a highly intellectual community; some Catholics might accuse them of being overly receptive to the beliefs of others. Without compromising Catholic doctrine, the Jesuits have embraced the spirit of enlightenment for centuries. Personally, I believe that Regis has earnestly cultivated diversity. I bet this is one of the many reasons Alana McCoy chose Regis University. That said, it saddens me that this young woman has to think about anything more than what brings her joy, what is exciting in her future and when her taxes are due.

As a physician involved in the daily health of college students, I regularly see confusion and even fear as students grapple with their approaching future and adulthood. Throw into this mix the trepidation attendant to entering a largely straight world as a gay, and one realizes the courage of Alana McCoy. I'll bet she will be just fine. One might argue that the two perpetrators of her harassment may have a rougher go of it: Can one harboring such intolerance toward others truly be able to love oneself?
Jim Regan
Denver

Last spring, I graduated from Regis Jesuit High School, and I am now attending Regis University. The main thing that I don't think was stressed enough in "Love the Sinner" is the concept of the "Jesuit" mission. After five years of learning under Jesuit principles, I have become an advocate for the concept of being a man for others and living in service for the common good. Many people fail to realize the vast differences between a Catholic and a Jesuit institution. In my experience, it seems that Catholic institutions emphasize the importance of strict Christian doctrine, whereas Jesuit institutions focus on the foundation of Christian principles through love and service.

When reading "Love the Sinner" to two fellow Regis Jesuit High School graduates who also attend Regis University, I wasn't surprised to hear that they felt the article was accusing Regis students of being hate-filled lunatics. I admit that I initially felt the same way. I believe that Regis University and Regis Jesuit High School have the two strongest communities among all Colorado institutions. I am sympathetically saddened and embarrassed by the actions that the Regis University students took against Ms. McCoy. However, I also feel that it is necessary for people to understand all the great things that this Jesuit institution stands for. I refuse to let the actions of a few disrespectful students tarnish the reputation of the community that I am a part of.
Jonny Feiten
Denver

Letters, March 22



Bush League

I read Kevin Kelley's reaction to the March 8 review of 300with considerable amazement. I've been a student of military history for over forty years, and I've never noticed any particular connection between the Battle of Thermopylae and American patriotism. However, let's assume that Mr. Kelley is correct: 300 isn't a special-effects-laden action movie based on a comic book, but is instead some sort of allegory.

300 tells the story of a superpower (Persia) that invades a much smaller nation (Greece) because it considers the smaller country to be a threat to its security (the Greek support of the Ionian revolt in Asia Minor). The superpower's ruler (Xerxes) also has a personal reason for the invasion: the failure of his father (Darius I) to conquer the small country ten years earlier. The small country contains a number of mutually antagonistic factions (the Greek city-states), some of which support the invaders and some of which oppose them. Among the opposing factions is a group of fanatics (the Spartans -- and yes, the other Greek city-states of the time did consider the Spartans to be fanatics). The fanatics send 300 of their men to essentially commit suicide while killing as many of the superpower's soldiers as they can.

So, if 300 really is meant to be a parable about the current world situation, Mr. Kelley has just written a ringing endorsement of the fifth-century B.C. equivalent of Al-Qaeda.
Michael Lemick
Thornton

Ask a Mexican, Gustavo Arellano, March 22



Logo to Go

As a transplant from California looking for great journalism, wit and a bite in the ass of pap reporting/coverage, I found Westword. Now it's my main "take" on Denver; I prefer it to the mainstream papers. I read Gustavo Arellano and Jason Sheehan first -- then the featured articles -- and love Patricia Calhoun!

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
Denver

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
Thornton

"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
Lakewood

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
Denver

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?

Contrary to Mr. Paglia's claim, what he calls "the DeBoer property" (I assume he means the property currently owned by S.R. DeBoer's descendants) has only one structure deemed "historic" -- what Mr. Paglia calls "DeBoer's office, a rambling 1930s brick cottage with its signature bell tower...." Fact: It's not a cottage. It may or may not be "rambling," whatever that means. And the tower never had a bell in it.

He claims that "the landmark commission agreed that (the DeBoer property was good enough for landmark oversight)...." No, the Landmark Preservation Commission recommended that City Council approve historic designation for only the brick office building and a small area of land around it. No other structures on the DeBoer property were recommended. Nor was the former John Thompson studio or the former S.R. DeBoer residence (both owned by others).

He says that "the DeBoer heirs opposed preservation...." Wrong. We never opposed preservation of the brick office. We have opposed the back-door attempt to steal control of our property.
David Potts
Lakewood

Michael Paglia's "Swift Gloating" is brilliant and to the point regarding the problems that historic preservation is facing in the Denver area. The "talking points" are indeed at the crux of the issue, as ill-informed journalists and pompous elected officials continue to clothe their culturally naked bodies in a veil of property rights.

The quality of life in our neighborhoods is being raped and pillaged by developers who choose to exploit the ambience around their properties by destroying what makes them desirable in the first place. Such manifestations of blatant greed -- coupled with disrespect for the built environment -- are not urban progress. The unique is only homogenized, and these actions endanger proven high property values of designated or proposed historic districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places or the state register, or locally landmarked. That cuts into all of our pockets, including municipalities' property-tax bases. This saga is currently being played out in Englewood's Arapahoe Acres, where an owner proposes to expand and pop-top an 850-square-foot house in the middle of a row of similar houses in the historic district into an over-2,000-square-foot "McMod-mansion!"

Thank you, Westword and Michael Paglia, for telling it like it is. You have provided a timely and well-documented insight into one of the machinations of greed and those who support it without any view of the future.
Rodd L. Wheaton
Englewood

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