Singing a Different Tune
Regarding the "outrage" that John Denver "fans" expressed in the October 23 issue:

C'mon, people, you are being silly! How many people made fun of ol' John before he died? MANY! How many people bought his music before he died? NOT MANY! Why does someone have to die to get the attention that you are giving him? Let's all jump on the bandwagon!

Sure, John was a nice guy, and some of his music was okay. I remember seeing him with the Muppets. You people were talking about Kenny Be as insensitive--and what names were you calling him?

Really, lots of people--including me--thought that cartoon was very funny! I have seen it pinned up in many places. Kenny was doing his job, and a fine job he did.

You people need to calm down and put that energy into some real causes. Get a life.

And remember that old saying: "If you do not like it, you do not have to read it."

Dana Stauffacher
via the Internet

I'm just writing a brief note for both Westword cartoonist Kenny Be and music critic Michael Roberts in regard to all of the negative reactions over their recent pieces on the late John Denver. Gentlemen: Bravo! I'm so glad that Westword had the nerve to actually print what many people really thought. John Denver was not a very talented writer or singer, and his egomaniacal efforts to portray himself as some sort of an Eco-Hero were rather pathetic, given his own not-very-planet-friendly shenanigans, as Westword had in the past pointed out!

Thank you again for being "politically incorrect" but nevertheless truthful!
(P.S.: I loved Kenny Be's piece on Princess Diana's designer coffin. Brilliant!)

Joanna Hautin-Mayer

All of the letters regarding John Denver and the underhanded, tasteless way your writers and "cartoonist" tried to create controversy were on point. What they failed to point out is the implicit approval of the editor in this bashing process. Ms. Calhoun, you bear equal responsibility, and everything that was said about Kenny Jerk and Cheap Shot Roberts applies to you in spades.

But then, this paper has never been one of the leaders in ethics, has it?
T.W. Norman

Thank you for identifying Best of Denver establishments around Denver--I use your list as the final word for places to avoid. Clearly, those Westword staffers whose assignment it is to select the BEST--repeat, the BEST--of the city are an undiscriminating lot with low expectations, marginal analytical skills and no apparent sophistication. Together with several of your reporters/ editorialists (recently and most notably, the cretins who tastelessly trash-mouthed John Denver), I would say you boys are dilettantes, pretenders with a long, long way to go. I read the rag for the advertisements.

Stephen Martin

A Capital Offense
Reading Patricia Calhoun's "Murder Ink," in the October 23 issue, I was reminded again of the futility of the death penalty--and so soon after the execution of Gary Davis. If Morris were not facing a death sentence, he would probably already be in jail. Instead, we are paying for a trial that wastes everyone's time--and will result in appeals that continue to waste time and money for years to come. Thanks to Calhoun for keeping an eye on this ball.

Steve Conners

If people in your profession insist on trying cases in the media in order to increase ratings and sell publications, it makes it more difficult for prosecutors to win capital cases.

You were extremely graphic in your description of Ashley Gray's ordeal. How do you think that might influence a prospective jury pool? Are you part of the solution or part of the problem? "Increase circulation and ratings at any cost" seems to be the media marching orders.

I'm finished with Westword.
Name withheld on request

Stop defending the bad guys. It was an accident! He didn't mean it! She just snapped! He would never do that! She was under a lot of strain! He loved her too much! She had a hard life! He was abused as a child!

Hello out there! Who are we, anyway, to allow this? We all do it to some extent. We protect our children, our spouses, our family. We mind our own business. We don't get involved. We make excuses. Why? Because we can't believe that anyone could commit such gruesome acts. Because it hurts us to believe that one of us could hurt another one of us.

So we hide it, hide our bad thoughts. We deny the truth. We avoid the facts. We ignore the evidence. We soften reality. We turn away and pretend it never happened.

When are we going to open our eyes and face our reality, the reality that we, as humans, have created? Continued tolerance of violence breeds more violence. Can't we see this?

Linda Eigner

X Marks the Spat
T.R. Witcher's October 23 article on Jamal Muhummad, "The X Files," was quite enlightening. To hear a "Nation" member speak openly gave me a greater insight as to where they (the Nation) are coming from. Westword, don't stop doing it the way you all do it.

Todd Gipson

Board Games
No one claims that the RTD board of directors is congenial (neither was the Continental Congress of 1776), but this does not make it dysfunctional.

But then you already knew that, didn't you? Alan Prendergast simply let his October 23 "Rabid Transit" get carried away on a flow of literary allusion.

No problem. You don't buy into your own overstated story; we don't fall for our own press clippings.

P.S. The sidebar was actually pretty good.
Jack McCroskey, Director
RTD District A

Alan Prendergast revealed more about the mentality of RTD's apologists in a single feature than all the stories published to date in Denver's mainstream dailies. Thanks to him and Westword for giving readers a peek into the circus tent.

Efforts by Transit '97 functionaries to keep Ben Klein and his baggage out of their campaign may have backfired. The proponents, who knew that votes from the suburbs would be needed to carry their 67 percent RTD sales-tax increase, were no doubt fearful that Klein might scare off some of the "country-club" Republicans who generally support public transit with his pro-union, anti-privatization rhetoric. While they'd like to keep the public's attention on traffic and air quality--the only issues their pollsters say are important--Klein won't drop those other topics near and dear to his heart, like affirmative action and spousal benefits for unmarried RTD employees.

Whether Guide the Ride costs $2.2 billion, $5.9 billion or $16 billion, we can be confident that all the money will be spent, and in the most political way possible. Alleviating Denver's traffic problems is not and never will be a priority for those in charge of RTD. Their purpose is to build an empire; their method is running more buses and trains; their measure of success is how many more tax dollars are collected to expand their empire.

Twenty years from now, people will wonder what all the fuss was about. Just as the 55 mph speed limit and the Berlin Wall fell, so, eventually, will dinosaurs like government-run railroads and bus systems whose very existence is contrary to American ideals of free competition.

If the politicians can't get the streets cleared after a snowstorm, is there any reason to think they would do better running a railroad?

Dave Bishop, former RTD director

Kudos to Alan Prendergast! His article was factual and thorough. He characterized the personalities involved in the Guide the Ride proposal and the election extremely well.

The Guide the Ride election and the controversy on the RTD board provide a case study in local politics. One or two members of the board have succeeded in redirecting voter attention through deception, fear and the planting of a few seeds of suspicion and innuendo. In your July 24 issue, Guide the Ride's primary nemesis was quoted as saying "We need to plant the fear..."

Despite disruptive speculation over costs and the politics of egos between certain members of the board and Transit '97, the facts still remain: Denver needs a better transportation system, and no one has proposed a solution other than Guide the Ride. As voters, we must lift our sights to issues far more important than the sensational sideshows being played out.

Rail systems are not the only solution to any community's problems, but they are playing essential roles in offsetting congestion and pollution. The point of Guide the Ride is the value of integrating several transportation modes and operating them jointly as a system, synchronizing the elements for a people- and community-friendly system. We have the opportunity to build a model system that can last a hundred years. During that time, technology will likely provide additional modes that would also be compatible.

The board is temporary! Like other governmental bodies, these folks have been empowered through public election by all of us, whether by our conscientious choice or apathy. It is our duty as citizens to take interest in the candidates--in the past, many of those elected ran unopposed! We can't let that happen in the future. We can build a system that will last a hundred years. The rancor of this temporal body is insignificant in consideration of the value this decision holds for our metropolitan area.

RTD is staffed by competent professionals who now administer a highly successful public transportation system. If you think rail cannot succeed or will not be popular, ask the 15,000 riders per day who use the existing Central Line. During last weekend's snowstorm, the light-rail line was the only form of transportation in the area that operated on schedule. That is a significant fact to consider for future emergencies.

If we vote for it, the RTD board and employees have to build it. It's the law. Your positive vote will speak loudly and send the board a convincing message.

Larry Schulz, TransitWest chair

We have been watching the simmering debate over RTD's Guide the Ride plan over the past few weeks. Somebody once said that to understand politics, one should follow the money trail. We would like to know why so many financial interests (banks and bond companies) are donating so heavily to promote the passage of this huge tax increase. We hate to sound cynical, but could their interest in passing this ballot issue have more to do with lining their pockets than with helping Coloradans fix their transit system? We urge our fellow citizens to take a careful look at RTD's latest request for additional tax dollars, as well as give careful consideration of the financial backers of this ballot issue. Let's not rush into handing over our hard-earned money to RTD so that they can rush it into big-business hands.

Jack and Marea Kettler

I chose to move to Colorado in order to gain a higher environmental standard of living, as well as for the spectacular scenery. Upon my arrival in Denver (I drove in from the East), the first thing I noticed about the area was a dark haze that clouded the skies--and what I did not notice were the mountains. I soon learned that the haze was referred to as Denver's "brown cloud." Cars are responsible for this brown cloud, which pollutes the air of Denver as well as our lungs.

In order to combat the growing problem of air pollution, traffic needs to be reduced and alternate transportation options need to be developed. Guide the Ride is the answer to this dilemma. The fact is that the population of Colorado is going to continue to increase in the future, and if something is not done now to accommodate the influx of new residents, the situation is only going to become more grave and more costly to rectify. Therefore, I urge all concerned citizens to vote yes on 4A.

Hillary Collyer

Some claim that significant portions of the $125 million-per-year RTD sales-tax increase (a 67 percent increase) would be paid by tourists and other outsiders. Even if this were true, wouldn't we use the money where it would add the most value? Is RTD our highest priority and need? Is a bigger RTD more important than improved schooling, better police protection, more parks and open space or fixing roads?

Currently, few of us derive benefits from RTD. In fact, RTD's contribution to air pollution, traffic congestion and road damage is not insignificant. So in addition to the giant tax burden that RTD puts on all citizens, RTD is actually making problems worse. How likely is it that a larger RTD will suddenly become focused and efficient?

Finally, there are no ratings of governmental effectiveness. However, if such an evaluation system existed, it is unlikely that RTD would receive a high rating in comparison with other Colorado governments. How much more of your hard-earned dollars are you willing to entrust to RTD's stewardship?

RTD is not among the tax increases that I am willing to consider voting for. Vote no on 4A.

Dennis Polhill

Flights are canceled at DIA due to the blizzard. The TV news shows people who drove out to the airport and found their flights canceled being told not to try to go home. I think back to the promises made before the airport was approved that it would be an all-weather and accessible airport. Can I sell you a light rail? I promise it will get people off the roads so that you and I can drive our cars unimpeded.

Mark W. Milburn

Blame Is the Name of the Game
Regarding Stuart Steers's "Out of Focus," in the October 9 issue:
Your reporter, in an attempt to blame everyone for Kerry Dore's problem except Dore himself, failed to ask a few crucial questions. First and foremost, why was Kerry Dore working for a non-union contractor? Second, why did he flout clearly stated rules, never mind common sense, that sliding down girders was forbidden?

He seems to think Focus on the Family owes him something, particularly money, yet his beef is with his employer, the building contractor. Focus does not, and cannot, give money to anyone who asks, no matter how compelling his case. A $108 million budget sounds impressive, but imagine how quickly it would be exhausted if everyone with a compelling story were given monetary help. Focus did send a counselor. Did Dore follow up on the counseling? Sounds like he didn't. In short, in an attempt to paint everyone as being at fault, your reporter played right into Dore's hand of not seeing blame where it belongs--with Dore.

Tom Neven
Colorado Springs

Mr. Monical's October 16 letter illustrates perfectly the malignant, so-called "born again" attitude that sadly permeates our society today. Conservative "Christians" seeking enlightenment and atonement standing in judgment, proudly spewing from hypocritical lips--at one moment proclaiming their religious righteousness, the next offering up their services as judge, jury and hangman, and all the while never feeling the cold steel rod rammed up some other person's ass.

Is it possible to straddle the fence to make sure you're following the "correct" religion without occasionally falling on your face on one side or another? I don't think so.

Kerry Dore
Federal Heights

Stuart Steers's article contained several inaccuracies about the Colorado workers' compensation system.

First, the 1991 overhaul of the workers' compensation system did not make it more difficult for injured workers to collect benefits. The intent of the legislation was to transform the workers' compensation system from a litigious system to one with administrative oversight. The reason insurance premiums have stabilized and even declined in recent years is because the legislation has ensured a reasonable predictability of delivery of benefits, and a reasonable predictability of costs by providing alternatives to litigation for disputed claims.

Also, the intent of workers' compensation since its inception in Colorado in 1915 has been to provide benefits to insured workers without having their cases tied up in civil litigation for several years. Consequently, there is a mutual renunciation of common-law rights by both the employer and the employee. Your article suggested that only the injured worker relinquished some common-law rights and that the "no fault" aspect of the system was relatively new. This is not the case.

Finally, Mr. Steers neglected to mention that the 1991 legislation increased the maximum award for permanent partial disability from $37,560 to a maximum of $120,000, less monies paid for temporary disability. While the new law may in fact make it more difficult to prove permanent total disability, the fact that Mr. Dore was able to perform light maintenance and other volunteer work might indicate that he is not totally disabled as defined by either the new or the old law.

Mike Worley

Stuart Steers responds: Mr. Worley would have us believe that Colorado employers could save more than $2 billion on workers' comp costs over the past six years with no impact on employees. But while businesses have enjoyed far lower workers' comp premiums since the law was "reformed' in 1991, there are now numerous cases of people in Colorado who were severely injured at work and are left with few, if any, benefits. Anyone who's met Kerry Dore can tell immediately that he has serious physical and psychological problems that would interfere with his taking a job. But because he's still able to walk, under Colorado law he wasn't found to be permanently disabled.

His trial is scheduled to begin November 3.

The Skyline's the Limit
Kyle Wagner's "Hanging Out to Dry," in the October 16 issue, reeks of a double standard. During a visit to Denver's City Park this summer, I was met with barricades at every entrance. I also had to suffer the humiliation of no doors on the women's bathroom stalls. Barricades were in place and bathroom doors removed to cut down on gang activity. By the way, teenagers hangin' out in my neighborhood are referred to as gangs, whether they are or not. I wrote a letter to Mayor Webb on the subject and received a response that supported the park department's efforts to keep the community safe.

Now I read that these poor kids at Skyline Park may be asked to vacate the premises when an upscale restaurant opens. Where will they go? What will the city (Webb and company) do to ensure that they have a place to go? May I suggest that they implement the same policy that has been implemented in City Park? Block accessibility or uphold the no-loitering rule by any means necessary. As for a place for this "gang" of kids to go, how about school, work or home?

Cheryl King-Simmons
Once again, the logic escapes me as I read of all the concern about the possible eviction of the street kids from Skyline Park, yet hardly a whisper was heard when City Park was barricaded for similar reasons. Could color have anything to do with it? Naw. This is a color-blind society. Right? Yeah. That's it.

Alice Holman

Playing Post Office
Regarding Eric Dexheimer's "The Males Get Delivered," in the October 16 issue:

A: Losers.
B: Victims.
A: What Billy Mullins and Garland Lewis and their ilk are.
B: What these losers see themselves as.
And what will these good old boys always be? (See A.)
Hey, losers, get a job--don't buy one.
John McMahon

Read your article about the postal employees. You don't know the real truth. Those guys are troublemakers. How dare you print stuff like that?

Name withheld on request

Letters policy: Westword wants to hear from you, whether you have a complaint or compliment about what we write from week to week. Letters should be no more than 200 words; we reserve the right to edit for libel, length and clarity. Although we'll occasionally withhold an author's name on request, all letters must include your name, address and telephone number. Write to:

Letters Editor
PO Box 5970
Denver, CO 80217
or e-mail (include your full name and hometown) to: editorial@westword.com

Missed a story? The entire editorial contents of Westword, dating back to July 1, 1996, are available online at www.westword.com/archive/index.html


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