Cradle to Grave
Thank you for running Karen Bowers's August 22 article "Older but Bitter," about the shocking crimes of Wanda Crawford. My heart goes out to Troy, Selina and Stephanie De La Rosa. It is such a tragedy to have a healthy, happy baby hurt--especially by a caregiver.
The death penalty should be imposed. Wanda Crawford is a menace to society. The woman is a murderer: She has killed all chances of little Stephanie graduating from college, driving a car, going to a regular school, getting married, and having and caring for her own children.
I have two babies myself: one three months, the other 22 months. I love them so dearly I think I would kill anyone who hurt them. After reading this article I had tears pouring down my face. I felt so sad for the De La Rosas, but also so angry, too. How dare Wanda Crawford destroy a family, then plot to murder them, just so she could get out of jail to be with her husband? Hey, listen, Wanda honey: You do the crime, you do the time.
Troy, Selina and Stephanie, you will all be in my prayers. Good luck with your future plans. I hope you will still have more children; don't let this mar your view of the world.
Wow! Karen Bowers's latest story gave me the chills. Who could imagine there was such evil in the world?
Weed It and Weep
Although I have some very serious concerns on the design of the Weed and Seed/Neighbor to Neighbor model, I am perplexed by Todd Witcher's August 22 story, "Sowing Discontent." I grant you that the model of the program--creating grassroots action through a federal grant administered by the City of Denver--has plenty of flaws.
I am not familiar with some of the conflicts in four of the Weed and Seed neighborhoods, so I cannot comment on their validity (except to say that they are best kept and resolved in a meeting room rather than in the media). However, I am of the mind that Westword could pick on any one of hundreds of neighborhood programs or projects and find a similiar story. By nature, citizen and neighborhood projects create much conflict, as a divergence of opinions and personalities creates dissension.
There are almost always people willing to speak negatively of a particular program, and you will double their comments if you place a microphone in front of their faces. I fear that Westword's reporters, although sometimes latching onto important stories, are not out in the real world, but sitting at keyboards looking for dissenters.
Here in Capitol Hill, the problem in my estimation is not city or federal government, it is apathy of neighborhood residents. I challenge Westword to devote a section of the newspaper to highlighting positive community projects and volunteer opportunities.
Why don't you start by printing the phone number of the Capitol Hill Weed and Seed project (839-4859) for people who wish to get involved in volunteer efforts? Those include expansion of a community recreation center at Morey Middle School, citizen-led anti-crime efforts, and a push to establish a mobile health clinic in the neighborhood.
For if you are going to tear down some organizations, you are certainly responsible for building up others.
Jay Katz, past president
Neighborhood Partnership Team
Capitol Hill Weed and Seed/
Neighbor to Neighbor
Who's on First?
I hardly ever agree with a member of the numerous Webb family, whatever his/her office, but I have to side with First Lady Wilma Webb in her flap with KTLK talker Peter Boyles (Off Limits, August 8). Comparing Mrs. W to Mr. T was humorless and insulting. Her Ladyship looks no more like Mr. T than Westword editor Patty Calhoun looks like Ulu the polar bear.
That said, I would have advised Mrs. W to let the barb pass. We once had a governor who spoke many wise words, but the words that will be his epitaph are these: "It is your duty to stand up, dammit." Or something like that.
Seriously, Wilma, reverence for public servants is not a pillar of the republic. Americans love to stick pins in the ballooning egos of their leaders. "Besmirch the Queen and the horse she rode in on" is our motto. If you can't take the heat, stay in the kitchen.
As for the kneejerk charge of "racism and sexism," that is a far reach. The gibe was neither sexist or racist, but merely witless.
Nolan L. Nix
Are You on the Bus?
Regarding the August 22 Off Limits:
Jack McCroskey isn't leading anyone, as far as I know.
What many light-rail supporters don't seem to understand is that the federal government is broke, it doesn't have any money, and it can't keep running down to Kinko's to print more. One reason RTD has to go begging to the federal government for money to build light rail is because RTD's budgeting policies and procedures are so primitive that they waste at least $20 million every year. Had RTD saved that each year for the last six or eight years, it would have plenty to build light rail. (Money to operate it is another story.) The party's over, folks. There's no more free lunch. If you want a drink, you'll have to belly up to the bar and pay for it yourself.
The whole problem with our transportation system is subsidies. Subsidies distort the marketplace, harm our transportation ecosystem, and hide the true costs of providing service. They eliminate innovation and prevent removal of unproductive and inefficient service providers. Subsidies also lock us into technologies that become obsolete and harmful to the environment (like the automobile is now and like light rail will be in thirty years). Subsidies prevent effective utilization of newer technologies.
Once we get rid of subsidies, we will be able to make rational decisions based on facts, not politics, and light rail may stand on its own two feet without any posturing or insults from either side.
RTD District A Candidate
Westword has the right cast of characters but the wrong plot regarding our union's intentions in the RTD board races. We sent surveys to all RTD candidates, including Jack McCroskey.
Frankly, we expected Jack to mail his back in tiny pieces, but instead he brought it to you. Westword bought McCroskey's theory (without confirmation) that RTD's labor union is "running scared" from light-rail opponents for having asked candidates about the Independence Institute in our questionnaire.
Wrong. The ATU supports light rail as just one facet of a multi-modal transit system. Buses, as a matter of fact, create more union jobs. We do oppose the Independence Institute, but for its anti-union, pro-privatization stands. These right-wing ideologues would like to run the world but have more modestly targeted the RTD board instead. Rather than beat around the bush, we asked candidates directly what they think of this group.
We despise McCroskey, on the other hand, simply because he is a hypocrite. Jack was the proud father of RTD's light rail until he lost his re-election bid to the board in 1992. Since then, he has become the Sour Grapes Poster Child, winning a position as "Senior Fellow" at the Independence Institute and spewing anti-union, anti-RTD venom. A former Democratic legislator, Jack downplays those connections at party functions, preferring not to admit his current ties to former "House Crazy" Tom Tancredo.
If Westword--or anyone--chooses to take McCroskey at face value, you'd be well-advised to at least check which face he's using at the time.
William B. Jones, political director
Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 1001
Editor's note: Neither the union questionnaire nor the "theory" came from Jack McCroskey--who, for the record, says he would strongly support the extension of light rail from I-25 and Broadway along Buchtel to Evans and Colorado (if not the southwest corridor).
With Pen in Hand...
I'm in complete agreement with Linda Wallach's August 8 letter about your prison series. I'm just as "outraged" as she is over the special treatment that criminals are getting. Adding to my anger is this statistic I just read in the September issue of Harper's: For every two dollars in tax money spent on public school students in this country, seven dollars is spent on prisoners!
Why don't we cut out the special attention and services for prisoners, and keep worthwhile welfare programs? Or even better, why don't we spend the money on educating kids so that they don't grow up to be criminals?
I wish to thank Alan Prendergast for his August 8 article, "Lone Stir State." It is important that citizens know what really goes on in the Colorado Department of Corrections and how this system "rewards" inmates for good behavior, cooperation and having supportive families by transferring them out of state.
My husband is one of the 106 prisoners just arriving in Texas who were mentioned at the end of the article. Early on the morning of July 15, five corrections officers came to his cell and rousted him awake, telling him to pack his belongings. He was not told what was happening until he was later processed and loaded on a bus for transport to the airport. Less than twelve hours prior to this, we had visited together in the DOC facility in which he was incarcerated. Neither of us had any indication at that time of the change to come.
I concur with Gary Izor when he states that "these people [Colorado DOC] are human meat brokers." While this probably doesn't shock anyone, it should. These men are still human beings with wives, children, mothers and other relatives who are concerned about them. Incarceration in a DOC facility does not negate being treated with some basic level of human respect, such as knowing and being able to notify family members that they are being transferred out of state. I find it shocking that prison officials could not tell these men they were going to Texas until the moment they were shackled and ready to leave the facility.
Mr. Prendergast was rather mild when describing the treatment of inmates in these Texas facilities. Inmates are continually harassed and intimidated by "goon squads" of guards who have let it be known they are "going to get all these Colorado inmates." My husband has yet to be allowed time outside and the only exercise he is allowed is what he can do in the five-by-ten-foot cell he shares with another inmate. He is locked down most of the time, being told this is necessary due to the large number of fights that break out in this facility. In Colorado he had a job, could spend time in the facility's hobby shop and gymnasium, and could exercise his religious freedoms. None of these opportunities exist in this Texas facility. He was told, however, that one of the reasons he was transferred to Texas was that he was the best at his particular profession and that Texas officials had requested someone with his job skills. This job has yet to surface.
My husband is serving 68 years on a robbery conviction. The terms of his sentencing state that he is to be confined to a state penitentiary. He is currently housed in a Texas county jail with a cellmate serving three months on a failure-to-appear charge. You can do three months locked down, without fresh air, exercise and opportunities to exercise your mind. It is cruel and unusual punishment to do years locked down the way these Colorado inmates currently are in Texas.
Advocating for prisoners is not a popular position in today's society. However, it is time to rein in our correction system before this system runs completely amok. It is time to challenge a radical review of how "business" is being conducted in the DOC. Prisoners are not slaves. Selling their lives to these Texas facilities is only a stopgap measure--and one guaranteed to backfire at any moment if tensions inside these facilities are any indication.
Maria A. Thick Shirt
The series of articles about prison issues in Colorado was enlightening and well-researched! We at Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants thank Alan Prendergast, Karen Bowers and the Westword staff for a thorough and much-needed look at the problems and concerns plaguing the burgeoning prison system in Colorado. When can we expect the next series of articles?
Dianne Tramutola-Lawson, chair
Editor's note: The series is over--for now, at least. The four articles--Alan Prendergast's "The Young and the Reckless" (July 18), Karen Bowers's "I'm a Con, You're a Con" (July 25), Bowers's "Bad Ol' Boys" (August 1) and Prendergast's "Lone Stir State" (August 8)--are posted on the Westword web site at www.westword.com; reprints are also available at the office by calling 296-7744.
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