Addicted to Love
Regarding Steve Jackson's story on Debrah Snider and Tom Luther, "A Wanted Man," in the January 24 issue: What an excellent yet sad example of what happens to some adults who were abused as children. Maybe a quarter of what they shared was love; most of it was addiction. Debrah, looking to save someone, needed to be saved herself. To some degree, she is truly just as responsible for the murders of these women. And though I'm sure Tom probably does have some good side to him, the reality of him healing in this lifetime seems remote.

Having been a victim of child abuse and a teenager becoming an abuser, I understand the dynamics too well. It has taken me fifteen years of intense therapy and work to end the cycle. It took the birth of my daughter fifteen years ago for me to want to change. Was I capable of beating her? Yes. But I made one promise to her and myself: Never again would I hurt someone--and if I came close, I would kill myself first.

If we as a society want to end the violence, we must put an end to child abuse.
K. Williamson

Out at Home
Thanks for Alan Prendergast's insightful article "Out of Sight, Out of Mind," concerning the plight of the former Highlands residents, in the January 17 issue.

My late brother Pete was one of the Highlands 100, and he recently passed away due to bronchial complications. He liked Highlands; it offered him a stable and healthful environment compared to the alternatives he had. It offered a caring staff and privacy, as well as interaction with others in the same boat.

After Highlands closed, Pete moved into a smaller facility and, for many of the reasons mentioned in Prendergast's article, eventually moved into an apartment. One cannot guess fate nor easily lay blame, but I cannot help but think that if Highlands had stayed open, my brother might be alive today.

Name withheld on request
Denver has daycare centers for the young, elderly and mentally retarded. Wonder drugs have been able to silence the voices inside the heads of paranoid schizophrenics and reduce the manic depressive's emotional highs and lows. I refuse to think that the City of Denver cannot do better for the Highlands 100.

If we Americans can put a man on the moon and Marilyn Hickey on television, we can mainstream our mentally ill. We forget that Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Thomas Eagleton and author Steve Allen were/are manic depressive. Many schizophrenics function well as actresses/actors or authors. Marilyn Monroe was said to be a schizophrenic. What Denver needs to do is provide a job-placement and training agency for these mentally ill and then provide low-income housing and social services as needed. The only difference between an Abraham Lincoln and a Highlands 100 resident is money. If a mentally ill person has money, he is an eccentric. If not, then he is a non-person.

More mentally ill people could be put to work in gainful employment if they had the same civil rights and legal protection as the physically disabled. I have every confidence in the world that what Goodwill Industries has done for the physically disabled, a nonprofit organization can do for the mentally ill. I truly believe that society's perception will change if the mentally disabled could get work.

Why can't the state start a temporary-job computer bulletin board for such people? I think even a small paycheck would do wonders for a patient's self-esteem. Is one human life as important as one Yankee dollar?

Margaret Okagawa

Alan Prendergast did a great job writing about very difficult, complex issues. I know many consumers with mental illness and many mental-health workers, advocates, friends, neighbors and owners who try so very hard to do the right thing. There are just no easy answers. No comfortable solutions. But much good is being done, although much sadness still exists. I fear it will always be so.

Your article was well-researched, fair and balanced. And though I'd love to sign my name for publication, I'll just say thanks for bringing this information and the stories of so many other persons with mental illness to light. Perhaps it will help in some small way to enlighten all of us and make us more understanding.

Name withheld on request

The Other Side of the Tax
When I saw your January 3 "To Bee or Not to Bee" cover, I thought it might be another piece on the federal subsidy to beekeepers, which splashed for a while in the media a year or so ago. I was surprised but not dismayed when it turned out to be about state property taxes.

Although the article was well-written and informative, I was disappointed that Eric Dexheimer addressed the tax-fairness issues he raised no better than any establishment politician. By that I mean, for all his data, he ends up calling for higher taxes for whichever group is currently getting a relative break. No consideration at all is given to lowering the tax bills of those suffering the relative detriment.

This comes from regarding the government's current level of funding as unquestionable. Inequities in tax rates like those detailed in the article only show, in reality, the inherent foolishness, unfairness and moral wrongness of the whole idea of property taxation. The correct response is not to raise the taxes of those who, for whatever reason, have thus far escaped some or all of the taxation aimed at them. Instead, the amount of money that the government is allowed to "need" should be steadily chopped (not whittled) away, and every case of tax-rate inequality that comes to light should be addressed by lowering the tax rates of everyone affected to the lowest rate then being paid by anyone.

That will do a more thorough and reliable job of eliminating any perceived need for assessors than anything else of which I can think. Don't you think so, Eric?

Patrick Lilly
Colorado Springs

Doctored Watson
In the January 24 Off Limits, I noticed that Clarke Watson was expunged from further consideration as an appointee to two city committees. Apparently, Watson stridently blames the stupid Jews on Denver City Council and the stupid Post and News journalists. In no way does he blame his past of less-than-civic excellence or the mayor for his being removed. Since he is a whiner who does not accept responsibility for his decisions, it is best that he inflict himself upon those who, with a sympathetic ear, continue to fault others for their problems. Perhaps the Black Ministerial Alliance's Body of Christ News, which published Watson's anti-Semitic tirade, would like to contract for his services.

M. Black

One Word: Plastics
I have followed with interest your stories of the automated baggage system at Denver International Airport, most recently Stuart Steers's "The DIA Underground," in the January 17 issue. BAE's plastic tubs remind me of a system JC Penney installed in its warehouse to fill catalogue orders; I worked on a small part of it in 1980.

JC Penney's system worked. I would like to know why BAE's doesn't.
David Olson

Dearth of a Salesman
Regarding Eric Dexheimer's January 24 article on automotive brokers, "Going for Brokers," you should be aware that the vast majority of car dealers and salespeople in Colorado are both hardworking and honest. It is the small few, whose caricature has been perpetuated for entertainment value, who have become, unfortunately, the stereotype for the industry.

The Colorado Motor Vehicle Dealer Board, as well as the responsible members of this vital industry, continually strive to improve the performance and accountability of the profession. The quoted salesperson image in the story unfortunately taints the many fine dealers and salespeople I have come to know over the past several years.

James Clark, Executive Secretary
Colorado Motor Vehicle Dealer Board

Kempe Counselor
Michelle Dally Johnston's January 17 article on Dr. Clare Haynes-Seman, "End of an Error," infers that the conclusion of her university contract was a swift response to an August article critical of her assessment procedures. Here are the facts:

Five years ago all faculty at the Kempe Center were informed that they needed to begin to secure external funding to support their positions. Almost all faculty members in the School of Medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center rely on extramural funding. State funding for faculty salaries is well below 15 percent. Two years ago Dr. Haynes-Seman was told by the Department of Pediatrics chairman that she needed to obtain funding in order to perform research related to her program. Because she has been unsuccessful in securing external funding, her contract was not renewed.

While continuing to focus attention and energy on preventing and treating child abuse and neglect through a variety of means, the Kempe Center, as it has for the last twenty years, continues to aggressively pursue a strong research agenda. Two years ago we hired a research director to work with all program directors to assure that assessment procedures and protocols are valid and reliable. Each year thousands of clients are served and consultations provided around the world. The Kempe Center remains on the cutting edge of research and treatments aimed at making life better for abused and neglected children and their families.

Dr. Haynes-Seman will be missed by all of us at the C. Henry Kempe National Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect. She has been unflaggingly committed to serving the interests of abused children and their families. It is unfortunate that Westword has chosen to denigrate the devoted career of a valued colleague.

Susan W. Hiatt, Director
Kempe Center


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