Michelle Dally Johnston's October 11 article on Tom Strickland's U.S. Senate candidacy, "Mr. Clean," was cheap and shoddy. If his father's sweeping the college library's floor wasn't janitorial, what the devil was it? If the writer wants to attack the law firm of Brownstein Hyatt, that is her privilege. However, I couldn't detect any involvement by Strickland in any case cited by the writer, just guilt by association or employment. Finally, in the last 10 percent of the article, the writer finally talks about Strickland and his issues, and we discover that major environmental leaders support Strickland despite his working for a law firm that represents developers.
Perhaps cheap and shoddy is an understatement.
If the Colorado Democratic Party thinks that all the state needs is yet another big-money, big-business political insider like Tom Strickland, the party can expect to kiss goodbye any hopes of recapturing this U.S. Senate seat (or the U.S. Senate itself, for that matter).
It's no surprise that voters are tired of big-money candidates and the cynical media campaigns that they run. In fact, the only Democrats to win U.S. Senate races nationally in recent years have been anti-political establishment, anti-special interest and pro-government for the average citizens. These senators, Wellstone of Minnesota and Feingold of Wisconsin, won in spite of conventional "wisdom" from Democratic party higher-ups that they lacked access to deep-pocketed big-business donors. These candidates won, in short, because they placed real people over money and connections, a refreshing (and rare) concept these days.
Tom Strickland may look good out of the gate to Colorado Democratic party activists, too, but come November 1996, the voters, including many fellow Dems like me, won't be joining them in voting for just another big-money attorney for U.S. Senate.
Breakfast of Champions
Thanks for Patricia Calhoun's "Local Color," in the October 11 issue. It looks like all those stories last March were "much ado about nothing." And the city would have been wise to do just that--"nothing." Instead, it charged those women and then couldn't make the case stick. Too bad the rest of the media didn't hang around to see how things turned out.
I spend lots of time and money in the Monaco and Leetsdale Denny's and am there every Saturday night. The people who work there try very hard to keep the peace, especially during bar rush. The Rocky Horror cast comes in around 2 a.m. No, we don't have to wait to be seated, since we are always in the back room, but we do always have to wait for the rush to settle before we are waited on, and we never complain. We did, however, complain because "our" Denny's was closed for several weeks after this incident. We were compelled to go to a different Denny's. We had to wait while other people were seated before us, as we are a big group and it is much easier to seat two people over groups of four or more.
I do not believe that Denny's is at fault in any of this. I've watched groups of African-American kids treat the staff of the Monaco and Leetsdale Denny's like dirt. It was not the staff who started the situation; it was their customers. I think people need to take responsibility for their actions and words rather than blaming a third party. I wish I could take the stand in court and tell the judge that Denny's is no more responsible for any of this than Mark Fuhrman was for Nicole and Ron's murders. They were just a small part of a bigger problem.
I'm almost afraid to write concerning Ward Harkavy's October 11 piece, "To Cur With Love." What if these poodle moonies find out where I live? They'll give up picketing the puppy-butchering vet and come picket me!
It's pretty sad when a guy writes odes to his dead dog's turds ("We smell your unique little doggy scent--even your poop de poo..."). Roll over, Maya Angelou!
Westword should not have run this story. Look at these people's eyes. They are obviously Scientologists, and they will get a judge to grab all your little Westword files, and that will show you!
Seriously, when I think of all those sick children with cancer at the Ronald McDonald house, battered women, Bosnians and all the victims of crime, etc., I get pretty enraged at people like the Franciscos, who want the world to cry for them because their dog died. I say disinter Cuddles from his piney grave by North Turkey Creek and slap their inbred faces with the moldy carcass until they shut up. Some of us are grieving over real tragedies.
So "Cuddles" is dead. Hey, tough luck, Mr. and Mrs. Francisco, but how many of us do you think there are who've had a pet die--two? Face the music; your dog was defective. God messed up and made a bum dog. You got it and it died. Quit harassing the veterinarians who tried to save the sorry-assed thing. Move on. Preferably back to West Virginia, so you can vote for Senator Byrd again. Or increase the bourbon ration and go meet Cuddles real soon.
I can sympathize with loving one's pet beyond what most consider ordinary, but halfway through the article chronicling the Franciscos' tribulation, I was stunned that the object of their ire was Carroll Loyer. The same January that Cuddles died, I landed at the South Downing clinic with my cat, who was in the advanced stages of a chest infection. Carroll Loyer oversaw my case and, for the record, was one of the most compassionate, attentive and professional vets I have ever dealt with. Animal companions are hard to let go of, even when their bodies are ravaged, and it requires courage to deal with the emotional tumult that surrounds their death.
Dr. Loyer could not have been more sensitive, start to finish.
Open to Question
As a parent of a student at Jefferson County Open School, I know how wonderful and progressive the school really is. As a result, I was nauseated by Steve Jackson's article, "Closed Encounters," in the September 27 issue. Not only was the piece poorly written, but it was further evidence of your devolution from a credible news publication to a silly mainstream rag. Soon you will end up with the readers you probably respect the least--the religious rednecks and the nasty neo-conservatives. Like the tired old conventional schools that deliver the curriculum the same way they did 120 years ago, we also seem to have a glut of shallow, mindless scandal sheets like Westword. What a waste of paper!
Reading the letters about Steve Jackson's "Closed Encounters" in the last issue, I had to wonder if the two Open School students read the same story that I did. I found Jackson's article to be a moving, fair account of how an excellent principal lost her job because of a closed-minded, possibly homophobic Jeffco school board.
If people at the Open School are protesting loudly now, perhaps it is because they stayed silent when they could really have made a difference for Karla Myles by speaking out.
As a member of the Jeffco Open School leadership circle, I was part of the discussion of how or whether to respond to your article. Many of us have long felt that the antiseptic of open air and a chance to address the societal issues raised in the failure to renew Karla Myles's contract might be a good thing. Unfortunately, your coverage did nothing to form the issues of how leadership in our schools is allowed but not encouraged; the role of parents versus the interests of the school district; or the protections we should provide "avowed homosexuals" in our society. Since your article merely concentrated on the microscopic frailties of the individuals who have given life and blood to our school, we felt there could be no response. The facts as presented must be acknowledged, and as often happens in life or self-defined communities, we have survived what was a very ugly event. It was an event that took on a life of its own, and one for which many, many of us have suffered, Karla Myles far beyond whatever her sin might have been.
And so we reluctantly decided not to respond. What could we say? Perhaps, we decided, we should be grateful that you did not expose the secrets of our school: its successes. We have more than our share of National Merit Scholars; we have swept the district-wide PTSA poetry contest in the middle school; we had district finalists to the Odyssey of Mind teams; we have a graduation rate equal to most Jeffco high schools, with placements in all the prestigious colleges in the country, even graduates who complete their college programs magna cum laude. Individual students have had their own recognition, and among our graduates we count, yes, doctors and lawyers and artists. We also have students who have won no awards but who know what their passion in life is and have explored many avenues to fulfillment. All of these accomplishments have happened in the past two years while we were supposed to be "paralyzed" by the dysfunction described in your superficial account. This year we will celebrate 25 years as an option school in Jefferson County, daring our students to be all they can be.
No, there is little to add to your reporting on a narrowly defined topic. However, I feel I must respond to the October 4 letter signed by Bob Hablutzel of Castle Rock, because the debate surrounding educational objectives in our public schools is very important. I cannot imagine what prompted him to write with no knowledge of our students, their accomplishments or our school philosophy. It is true that we do not hope to educate our students for the workaday life he currently experiences; we educate for the future and hold them to the higher standard of self-fulfillment. It is true that we do not require our students to attend school as he attends work; children should be expected to be children and learn as children, not small adults. It is true that we do not presume to present our children with all the facts of the known world to date; to do so would be impossible or biased. It is much more important to us that each student develops critical-thinking abilities, curiosity, compassion, confidence, cooperation and even competence. JCOS is a magical place inhabited by mere humans. Your reporter, Mr. Hablutzel and anyone else who wants to observe the joy of learning should visit.
Rebecka Snell Labson
Regarding Eric Dexheimer's "Statue of Limitations," in the September 27 issue:
"Comic" is not the word. "Despicable" is closer.
Bigotry: Calling Jon Dickerson "curly"; rubbing the top of his head; saying "Do your black thing" and "black men [are] better hung"; giving an ape statue; withholding leads. They say he "didn't have a very good sense of humor," but these things are not funny and do not create an atmosphere of humor. They are cruel, cutting and inexcusable; a sleazy attempt at covering up underhanded, defensive weakness.
"A team-oriented and laughter-filled environment"? Not when the staff was not supportive, not if "the whole place went silent" and "several employees came up and apologized." A joke is only funny if both people are laughing. If only one person is laughing, it is ridicule.
Ridicule is vicious.
The Tie That Binds
You know, I was reading along, enjoying Bill Gallo's "Jerry's Kids," his September 27 review of Tie-Died: Rock 'n Roll's Most Deadicated Fans. He had me smiling and chuckling as I was relating to his descriptions. But then the last two lines came along--bummer; crash and burn. Bill writes: "Now that it's over, what Tie-Died really shows us is a lost tribe in the making. By most standards, that's also a tragedy in the making."
Oh, Bill, the dreariness! Don't be pasting your own negativism onto the happening.
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Jerry and company founded a new tribe in this society. He may have been a main catalyst and a major center of gravity, but there is so much more. Jerry has passed on, but the people, the spirit and the music have a life of their own. The tribe will continue, the music will continue, and the faith in something better than this self-obsessed earth-battering materialistic paradigm we're trapped in will also continue.
Skeptics will never see it. So what--it's still out here. Like the song says, "Keep Truckin'."