Court and Spark
Karen Bowers's article on Peter Schmitz, "I Know Nothing," in the May 30 edition, gave fascinating insight into a world almost too bizarre to be true. Apparently, truth is really stranger than fiction. So Schmitz's grandfather, Otto KranzbYhler, who defended war criminals at Nuremberg, thought the trial was an "American farce"? Apparently a contempt for the American justice system runs in the family.
Judging from Schmitz's artwork shown with the story, he also has contempt for the art-buying public.
Your May 30 issue was incredible! Karen Bowers's work on Peter Schmitz was a good job of reporting, and Eric Dexheimer's story "Seeds of Discontent" made what could have been a dull topic--cloud seeding--fascinating. Good work by Michelle Dally Johnston on the Walker Miller appointment, too. This one's a keeper.
Eric Dexheimer's "Seeds of Discontent," the article about the farmers' battle over seeding clouds, is one of the best, if not the very best, Westword stories. Our roots go all the way back to the bonne terre (French for "good earth"). Dexheimer farmed those seeds until he had an excellent article.
Human-interest stories like this and others you have had in the past are all excellent!
Objection, Your Honor!
Regarding Michelle Dally Johnston's "The Senator's Son Was Indiscreet," in the May 30 issue:
In the interest of accuracy, I must point out that the reporter, by error, oversight or otherwise, did not include an important order in her reporting of the pleadings in the Harry Brown matter: By order dated February 10, 1992, Judge Behrman granted Mr. Brown's Motion to Strike (Blundell's) Affidavit and Other Matters.
Pursuant to the applicable procedural rule (Rule 12(f), C.R.C.P.), matters are to be stricken if they are "redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous."
Honkie If You Love DPS
Regarding Eric Dexheimer's "Calling All White People," in the June 6 issue:
Please give the honkies a break and look at the Denver Public Schools figures again. The proportion of white kids didn't start dropping until the late Eighties, when DPS started its anti-kid, anti-parent campaign. Same time the dropout rate went up and test scores started to go down. (And that's not when busing started.)
Ironically, the campaign was blatantly anti-minority. Funny how things work out sometimes.
Eric Dexheimer's sensationalized account of the five Denver Public Schools student profiles that appeared recently in the Rocky Mountain News was poorly researched and replete with reckless and irresponsible claims.
I did not tell Dexheimer that the profiles were part of a campaign by the district to target whites. A glance at the five students--only one featured in the profiles is white--would quickly discount such a claim. I informed Dexheimer that it was the district's intention to select five exceptional students who would reflect the high level of academic and personal success achieved by a good many of our students. Dexheimer's article, in concluding that the profiles were engineered by some diabolical district motive, managed to cast a pall over their efforts.
First, let's clear up one factual error reported in the article. Denver Public Schools' enrollment dropped dramatically from nearly 100,000 in the late 1960s to below 60,000 recently. This year we have 64,000 students. That's 40,000 or so over a thirty-year period, not 40,000 per year. And how did Dexheimer manage to conclude that all these students are white? I can only assume these observations were simply oversights.
But perhaps not. Dexheimer was obviously trying to prove a point that was already clear in his mind before he gathered some facts. His sole evidence for the motivation behind the student profiles was my alleged quote. As I indicated, I did not say what Dexheimer quoted me as saying.
But it is interesting that he did not cite another "administration official" to support his claim that DPS is interested in recruiting white students. In fact, the only other official he quoted was an elected boardmember, who was clearly surprised by the charge. One might wonder why Dexheimer didn't ask the superintendent or other district "officials" if this was indeed the administration's marketing strategy.
Dexheimer could not produce from his notes the quote he attributed to me regarding this strategy. He was, however, able to read from his notes a comment I did make to him in which I conceded that the profiles could be construed as an appeal to those south Denver parents who had moved their children out of the public schools during the busing era. But if that area of the city happens to be predominantly white, it's not clear to me why Dexheimer would presume that our appeal should mean that we are targeting the white residents only. In our conversation, I added that this appeal extended to all areas of the district. Still, Dexheimer was unable to find the gaping hole in his logic or understand why the racist extrapolation he attributed to me was causing me considerable personal anguish.
It also unfairly damaged the reputation of a district whose clientele is 70 percent minority.
For the record, DPS is here to provide outstanding learning opportunities for all its children. The rich diversity in the district is one of our greatest strengths, and the students who appeared in the Rocky Mountain News profiles are certainly indicative of this.
Assistant Director of Public Information
Denver Public Schools
Eric Dexheimer responds: Richard Frye misinterpreted my statistics. When I said 40,000 students per year left DPS, that does not mean 40,000 new students; if that were the case, the district would run out of kids in two years. Rather, it reflects the fact that the parents of those 40,000 students who reside in Denver but don't attend the city's schools make a decision each year not to send their children to DPS.
Secondly, other than hypersensitivity to racial matters, I don't understand Frye's position. If DPS has lost 40,000 students over the years, and if the vast majority of them are white (they are), and if the district wants to get those students back, why not say so?
Finally, I don't make up quotes. After my initial conversation with Frye, I called him back to make sure I'd understood what he said. I maintain that I got it right.
A Doggeral in the Manger
I just read with incredible disbelief the May 23 article "The Odd Couplet," praising the talents of "poets" Bob Dougherty and Jerry Sutliff, etc. Robin Chotzinoff might be better off writing about something other than poetry, something she obviously knows little about. The sing-songy, rhymey pap quoted in her article was an embarrassment to men and women who devote their lives to creating brilliant poetry. I've seen better rhyme and verse from a Hallmark fact-checker.
Thanks for another wonderful story from Robin Chotzinoff. It did my heart good to read about how devoted people are to poetry and expressing themselves creatively (even if they aren't very good poets, by most literary standards).
I think that I shall never see
A poet laureate as talented
As well, me.
Indeed, unless the elite
I'll never ever see my poems published
A Vote for Change
I want to thank you very much for Patricia Calhoun's column "Disturbing the Piss," in the May 9 issue.
Thanks also to Terry in Boulder for her success in getting the sex changed on her state ID. Like Terry, I am a transgendered female. I have been living the female role for nine years. When I get the money, I go for the final cut.
Thank you, girls, for making it possible for me to take one more step forward. I love ya for it.
Rose Ann Stenson
From Reggae to Riches
Every year, all of Denver waits for the Best of Denver poll, and then, with bated breath, for the Best of Denver edition. Every year, everyone votes for their favorite bands, restaurants and what-have-you's.
All except, of course, Denver's reggae fans, who year after year cannot vote for their favorite band. Why? Because reggae music is not a category. Reggae music does not exist, as far as Westword is concerned. I'm just curious: Is it racism, favoritism or just plain old-fashioned ignorance?
Editor's note: Hold your horses! The Best of Denver Readers' Poll contains only a fraction of the categories that will appear in the final issue. In previous years we've given numerous awards to reggae-related ventures, and we won't ignore them this year. In the meantime, though, reggae fans should check out page 80 of this issue.
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