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Letters to the Editor

They Sought the Sheriff

Regarding Alan Prendergast's " Stonewalled ," in the April 13 issue:

Kudos to Westword for a story that finally puts Columbine in perspective. While the rest of the media continues to tell us everything we do not want to know, Westword and Alan Prendergast ask some hard questions about the sheriff's office and what really happened last April 20.

In a perfect world, one day we'll know. But if this were a perfect world, Columbine would never have happened, would it?

Roy Davis
via the Internet

In Prendergast's cover story, three different witnesses deliver two different quotes about the heroism of a pair of janitors at Columbine. Don't you think such courage might enable them to have their names in print?

Junior Burke
via the Internet

Once again, your publication has slandered a good man. This time you have proven that people with vendettas, like the Browns and the Goods, can get away with spreading lies and stepping on the graves of the Columbine victims.

Sheriff Stone has served our community for over twenty years as a law enforcement officer, commissioner and now sheriff. He is not a publicity hound or someone who has an ego. He simply is doing what we hired him to do: protect our community.

All of the Browns' claims have been proven to be false. The Columbine report will prove them wrong. The stories about a morale problem are false. The sheriff's office is running at peak efficiency; all three of the command positions created were with people already in high command.

The Browns, Goods, Rohrboughs and other critics are not qualified to discuss or critique law enforcement operations or a homicide investigation. This was a textbook operation from the get-go. You criticize the LAPD chief and Captain Vince DiManna, yet these people are more qualified than you to discuss this topic.

Our committee will prevail, as we have told the Browns. We are fully prepared to outspend them and outwork them. They know that. They have an obligation if they are going to continue this bullshit to do so in an ethical manner. We believe they will not.

My advice to Westword and the Brown family is to leave a good man alone. Get a life, Randy Brown!

Nate Marshall
Save Our Sheriff, Jefferson County

Thank you for Alan Prendergast's article on Columbine. It seems that most of the Denver media is still unable to ask the really hard questions about the dismal police performance on that terrible day last year. I have several questions that were not covered in your article or by any of the other Denver media.

1. There was a policeman in the building who, according to reports, "traded shots" with the killers. Did he try to pursue them into the lunchroom or the library? Did he run out of ammunition? If so, did he have extra ammo for his pistol? If not, why not?

2. A motorcycle patrolman arrived within minutes of the shootings. Did he enter the school? Did he also trade shots with the killers or attempt to follow them? If not, why not?

3. What time did the first SWAT team arrive at the school? According to reports, a teacher in the library had phoned the police dispatcher that the killers were breaking into the library. Did SWAT members immediately head for the library? If not, why not?

Of all the horror concerning Columbine, the one dread I cannot shake is this: If armed, trained men cannot defend a group of helpless schoolchildren, then what can any of us expect?

I hope Westword will honor its reputation for gutsy and honest reporting and keep after this tragic story until the public gets the answers it is entitled to.

Doug Faughnan
via the Internet


The Sounds of Silence

What do the Denver Post , Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold have in common? Essentially, all three were told by the Columbine community that if they could not agree and conform, they were not welcome. The only difference is, the Post didn't kill anyone -- it was just exercising free speech.

Michael Roberts reported in his April 13 Message that the Post was blocked from covering a meeting between the media and the parents of those students who were slain at Columbine. It's obvious that Westword was wrong about one thing: that the meeting was with the media. The meeting was really only with those shills who chose to cover the ongoing events without criticism. The families of the victims just don't get it. It is exactly this notion of self-importance that was at the root of the community's then-invisible problems.

The idea that money can somehow salve their grief is appalling. First they appeal for funds in the shootings' aftermath. Two million and change. Then a perfectly good library must be taken down. A group of renegade citizens usurps governmental power and solicits donations from anyone who will listen, despite the homeless and the schools throughout metro Denver that are in much greater need. All this is done while reminding everyone that this tragedy belongs solely to the Columbine/Littleton community and that all others should butt out, including all those who dare to defend the public's right to know.

Then there's the ridiculous notion that the federal government should pony up $50 million in "disaster relief" aid, mostly to assist those survivors who might be overwhelmed by their good fortune to have lived.

What's the magic number here? Obviously, the number of homeless men murdered in Denver a few months back isn't enough, but the thirteen at Columbine is.

What are we left with? Nothing more than the strong-armed tactics usually employed by union busters.

John Maloney
Arvada


Practice What You Teach

This is in response to Julie Jargon's " Class Wars ," in the April 6 issue, which reported on parents who are fed up with the northeast Denver schools and the lack of better teachers who work at these schools. I am a teacher at Martin Luther King Jr. middle school, and every day I see the hard work and success of the teachers and students at our school. The parents who label our school as "failing" and "uncaring" likely haven't stepped one foot into our building.

They retain negative images of our school that have been fueled by a small minority of parents who are dissatisfied with their students' progress at MLK. It is irresponsible of you to quote parents from that close-minded minority. In addition, you quoted only one source from MLK, an individual who is not a teacher, and published that person's negative comments without testing their validity.

I personally am tired of our local newspapers reporting negative and unproductive "news" about our schools here in the Montbello-Green Valley Ranch communities without finding out the true climate and academic atmosphere of the schools we teach and learn in. Please be more responsible about your reporting, and actually visit a school here to find that we are working hard and succeeding more often than failing our students.

Sara Alkayali, eighth-grade teacher
Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School

I am a student who attends MLK Jr. Middle School. I am currently in the eighth grade. I am writing you regarding Julie Jargon's article, which was incorrect about my school and my neighborhood high school, Montbello High. In this article, there was a comment about how my school, MLK, is overcrowded and there are teachers who don't want to be there. If the comment about teachers not wanting to be there is true, then our school would probably not have the 21st Century High Technology Program, and I wouldn't be writing you this letter. Also, I am no journalist, but when you write an article, you are supposed to get many different sources of information, and it seems to me that the writer of this story used propaganda. To explain to you what I mean by this: Our school has 1,400 students in it rather than 1,600, like in your article. Montbello High School is also not full; Montbello's maximum capacity is about 2,000.

In conclusion, I would like to see a letter of apology to the students, teachers and administrators of the Montbello and Green Valley Ranch area.

Name withheld on request

Return to Sender

I'm rarely moved to comment on such things, but Bill Gallo's review of Return to Me (" A Bad Ticker ," April 6) was ridiculously mean-spirited. Perhaps he's been taking lessons in vitriolic, uninformed rants from Michael Roberts, or perhaps he just needs a vacation. I don't know. While the movie is definitely light fare, it is well-acted, well-directed and well-lit. Minnie Driver -- to quote a better-known and probably more qualified reviewer -- was "luminous" throughout, and David Duchovny displayed an emotional range and characterization completely beyond his Fox Mulder persona. Perhaps Gallo's love life (or lack thereof) makes it difficult for him to enjoy or even relate to a movie with romance in its heart. Perhaps Mr. Gallo should put his cinematic expertise on display by writing, directing or starring in his own production.

Oh, never mind. Such endeavors require actual talent, a trait he seems sadly without.

Bruce C. Hayden
via the Internet


Scorn to Run

Regarding Laura Bond's " Prove It All Night ," her review of the Springsteen show, in the April 6 issue:

Why do the music writers of your paper have such negative things to say about acts that come to town that are older than Live or Korn? Bond and Michael Roberts, the writer who critiqued Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, have the same problem. Quit digging so deep. Quit psychoanalyzing every damn thing. "Lost his human touch"? "Rare was the moment when the performance rattled the senses"? It's a rock-and-roll show, not a massage. Bond mentioned that Springsteen is "a commodity of interest to people who have little relation" to the things he sings about. The guy's in his fifties. The only people who can't relate are those who weren't around to appreciate it earlier. I don't think Springsteen's intentions are to win over some new generation. Of course, some of the things he wrote in the '70s aren't all that relevant today. Times have changed. And 30,000 fans didn't show up to learn new revelations -- they showed up to hear songs! Songs they like. Songs that molded their musical youth. Songs that make them want to stand up and raise their hands like "an Aryan youth rally." And when the set slowed down and it was time to grab a beer, they did! So what? It was a fantastic show, Springsteen-style.

Who? That's right. The guy who rocked our socks off in the '70s can still do it thirty years later. What's wrong with that? Talk to me in 2030. Let's see how many of today's bands will be in town that year.

Mark Sipich
Arvada


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