The Blackboard Bungle
Kudos to Eric Dexheimer for his story on the plight of John Hart, recently canned part-time faculty teacher at Aurora Community College ("Teacher's Fret," August 29). The article revealed not just a personal story but the workings of a whole system run with an iron hand by Jerry Wartgow and his coterie of handpicked bureaucratic clones and yes-men (and, indeed, yes-women, too!)--otherwise known as college presidents--in conjunction with one of the most inept state boards in Colorado history. And given the low level of these state boards in general, that is saying something. That enrollment in the community colleges is on the rise has nothing to do with their non-leadership and everything to do with folks like John Hart and the demographic invasion of the Denver metro area. Talk about an entrenched bureaucracy that needs a bit of goosing (to put it mildly). Let's hire John Hart on as a full-time union organizer of part-time college teachers.
Eric, there's gold in them there hills! Hopefully this is the first in a series of stories.
I'm amazed at the continuing high quality of Westword's reportage. Examples in the August 8 issue: Patricia Calhoun's "Grand Illusions," a much-needed roundup and update; Michael Roberts's "Dead, Schmed," weird but amusing; and Steve Jackson's "Home Boys," a heartbreaking history.
Harass Is on the Line
Regarding Michelle Dally Johnston's "Educating Karen," in the August 15 issue:
I can certainly sympathize with Karen Shain. I am also a victim of sexual harassment; however, my perpetrator is a woman, and so am I. I, too, have had difficulty finding a job, and I have been blamed for my victimization. I worked for a nonprofit organization, and I was harassed along with two other women; we have found an attorney and now are in the middle of a lawsuit. Our harasser was promoted to director after we left. She was rewarded by the board of directors for her harassing behavior!
Sexual harassment is a crime, and the perpetrators (no matter who they are) need to be held accountable. Hopefully Karen and I will receive justice in the end, as will other victims. Our scars do not go away.
Name withheld on request
I read your article on Judge Bayless with interest. I have spent the last year engaged in a custody battle for my young children, and most of my experience happened within Judge Bayless's courtroom.
A woman with few resources is no match for highly competitive legal maneuvers. Men, and money, win in this environment. There are few options for those of us who cannot afford high-priced lawyers, and the options that do exist are often second-rate. A court system that encourages litigation and competition in custody matters only intensifies the sometimes out-of-control emotions already involved in any divorce. This focus takes the energy away from where it needs to be: the children.
Name withheld on request
That Giant Sucking Sound
I don't know how Michael Roberts got the impression that Paul Westerberg succumbed to some sort of suck-up behavior in his appearance at the A3 Summit (Feedback, August 29). I know I certainly enjoyed his opening remarks directed to the radio-industry suck-ups in the audience: "I'm so sick of all of you people coming up and talking to me. I don't have a fucking thing to say to any of you." Maybe Roberts was among those same suck-ups who were busy outside during the show selling off their free tickets to the public, because he missed it when Westerberg sneered, "What the fuck are you doing over there?" to the goon gesturing to him to end his set. Was Westerberg hustled off by security for going over his allotted time? I saw him flip off the goon, tear into the intro to "Alex Chilton" and abruptly disappear, correctly anticipating the loud disappointment that his paying fans voiced at his being limited to a 45-minute set.
The reason that Patti Rothberg, Keb' Mo' and Westerberg were ramrodded through the show was not--according to show managers--that Patti Smith was rarin' to put on a visionary performance. No, it was her insistence that these performers be off the stage by 11 p.m. because she had to get out of bed at 7 a.m. with her three kids.
Within this context, then, Roberts's observation that "Smith gave not a fig that she was in the presence of people who would determine whether or not she got radio airplay" certainly seems true. I don't think Smith or the producers of this show gave a fig or a fuck about the other performers and the paying audience. When the facts are told, I think it is Smith, not Westerberg, who is coasting on a middle ground between a raucous musical past and a cautious present. Unfortunately for your readers, some critics don't let facts get in the way of supercilious commentary.
Real Life, Reel Questions
Regarding James C. Hess's letter in the August 22 issue: Mr. Hess takes Bill Gallo to task for having the gall to fulfill his duties as a film critic and actually review a film. I, like Mr. Hess before me, am compelled to ask a question or two.
How many awards has Mr. Hess won for film criticism?
How many articles on film has Mr. Hess had published, and in what publications?
How many books of film criticism has Mr. Hess written? Are there any books that we, the great unwashed masses, might have read that bear witness to Mr. Hess's apparent cineliterary genius?
What are Mr. Hess's credentials that allow him to nitpick at a talent such as Gallo? Surely they must rank among the likes of Kael and Maslin.
As I said, a question or two directed at the ever-so-important James C. Hess, who probably even now is doing something really important.
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