Family ties: I was sickened, but not surprised, to read Stuart Steers's "Broken Trust" in the August 31 issue, about the women with disabilities who were yanked away from their makeshift family. Unless a glaring fact was omitted, the caregiver appeared to genuinely love the women in her home. This kind of dedication and love is all too unusual for many people with disabilities, especially those dependent upon state-funded and state-managed care. Too often even group homes or host homes turn into mini-institutions, with caregivers more focused on rules and regulations than on life. Too often human-services professionals use the guise of safety to take unreasonable control over our lives. History will show that many of the "safety" rules are provider- and industry-driven. They tend to raise costs but not quality. I cannot believe that a family was broken up by the system for the crime of taking a vacation and leaving an adult in a van that the caregiver could see. Many people with developmental disabilities never get a vacation. Many never get their hair done at the beauty parlor. Many never experience non-regulated family life. Ms. Omedelena provided the gift of real life to these two women. She should be held out as a model for other providers, not punished in the name of "safety."
Julie Reiskin, executive director
Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition
Go East, old mayor: T.R. Witcher's comprehensive review of the East Village dilemma, "This Old Housing Project" in the August 31 issue, is Westword at its best: sorting out and reporting the facts of thorny issues that others choose to sensationalize. Most long-term residents of the surrounding area are energized by diversity in the neighborhood. We have been continually saddled with the moniker "unsympathetic to the poor," and yet for the most part prevented by government agencies from participating in solutions to ameliorate such problems.
The most outstanding characteristic of our area is the breadth of its population and willingness of most to roll up their sleeves for the common good regardless of the circumstances. Almost ten years ago, when I served as zoning representative to Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods, one of our delegates was the manager of East Village, and we jointly dealt with the crime overwhelming the neighborhood. As late as several months ago, another Village resident, an articulate voice on the issues, served on the CHUN board. Veteran neighborhood advocate Charles Brantigan has received more than his fair share of abuse, despite being one of the few physicians who doesn't flee to the suburbs and volunteers his time freely to the community.
Living so close to the Village, watching it unravel day by day, forces me to ponder the dilemma. With so many neighborhood players, including Councilwoman Elbra Wedgworth and multimillion-dollar REIT Post, ready to participate, why is the city insisting on a solution 100 percent on its terms?
Searching for an answer on purely political motives, an unseemly possibility comes to mind: With the Webb administration completing its third term and clearly angling for a federal position, the mayor needs a domestic-policy victory, possibly in housing. Taking over the entire East Village would provide credentials similar in fashion to those of building DIA, which made Federico Peña an aviation expert. The ultimate result of this escapade for the neighborhood is totally unknown and unpredictable. Meanwhile, East Village residents are left with uncertainty. The dilapidated state of their housing also threatens the surrounding neighborhoods of Clements, San Rafael and my own Park Avenue Addition with the common health and safety problems related to substandard housing. Is all of this worth the possible appointment to a federal post in Washington?
Stephen B. Gale
Slime and again: I enjoyed Justin Berton's article on Mr. Robert Iron and his cronies in the vandalism business ("Up Against the Wall," September 7). I lived in the southwest area until about six years ago. I got tired of painting dumpsters and my garage wall to remove the filth that Mr. Iron and his ilk saw fit to excrete there.
Make no mistake: There are no "legitimate" taggers. Unless these people own the wall they are painting, it is criminal behavior and must be dealt with as such. These people are doing what cats do in a litter box. Some of us do not want Denver to become an urban toilet like New York or Los Angeles. It is bad enough that the new walls along the Boulder turnpike are already covered with this crap. The worst for me was when the beautiful mural at Planned Parenthood Plus in northwest Denver was slimed by one of these punks.
I do not use the term "punk" lightly. Mr. Iron could not wait to roll over on his buddies when he was picked up. If and when he goes to the penitentiary, he will find out the true meaning of that word.
Tiger, burning bright: I enjoyed Bill Gallo's September 14 piece, "Giving Golf What Fore!" on Tiger, the "real deal" in sport. Having played golf for 36 of my 49 years and with a golf handicap (which at times feels like a personal impairment) of 9.6, I feel qualified to state that comparisons of Tiger to Nicklaus, et al., are not fair. Tiger has technology that is stratospherically superior, and he can pick and chose his tourneys, whereas Nicklaus and his contemporaries had to travel the weekly grind to make a living and achieve success. The eighteen majors (by Jack) will likely be surpassed -- if not by Tiger, then another "phenom" -- but it's like comparing avocados with steaks.
J. Matthew Dietz
Oh, brother! Aree Song Wongluekiet and her older sister, Naree Song Wongluekiet are two of the most promising female junior golfers. Perhaps they will meet Tiger in some Battle of the Sexes match, à la Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs.
For men only: Mr. Gallo's column about Tiger Woods is itself an example of the power that Tiger Woods has to draw the attention of people outside the world of golf. If Mr. Gallo was more familiar with the sport, he would know that the twins, Aree and Naree Wongluekiet, are in fact female. While they are prodigious talents, they will never challenge Tiger Woods's dominance of the men's game.
Bill Gallo replies: I beg the pardon of golf nuts who pointed out my egregious error regarding the gender of the Wongluekiet twins. It's only one of many double bogeys I've put on my card over the years. Long may Aree and Naree prosper, shooting under par.
Survey says: With regard to Michael Paglia's "You Go, Girls!," his September 14 review of the current show at Metro State Gallery, I have to agree with him about the omission of Mary Chenoweth from the exhibit. It simply isn't possible to overestimate her significant contributions to the visual arts in Colorado and the bridge she created between '50s and '60s aesthetic concerns, a period which seems to have been given short shrift in this show. However, Smith-Warren's choices here are often fascinating, particularly Eppie Archuleta. That in itself is a wonderful simultaneous praise of and sendup to the period. I admit to a certain weakness for those Magafan girls, whose work, much of which was created in New York, remains steeped in the flavor of this part of the world and thus is forever linked to Colorado. I often have occasion to look at Ethel Magafan's mural in the South Broadway post office, and it is a wonderful piece of work. In any case, a great, if small survey of Colorado women artists.
John T. Haeseler
Buffalo nickel and dimed: Kyle Wagner's August 31 Cafe review, "Where's the Bison?," was very enlightening. I never had been to the Denver Buffalo Company, because I could not afford the price of gourmet food. The article was very thorough in dealing with the culinary aspects of the Denver Buffalo Company, yet one important detail was missing.
Westword has always championed the common man over big business and always wanted fairness in the marketplace. The fact omitted was published several years ago: Ted Turner and the Denver Buffalo Company are two of America's growers of bison. The average person cannot afford bison meat at his local grocery store, so they have unsold bison meat which cannot be sold at the free market price. They get the Department of Agriculture to buy some of the excess bison meat, which is given to prisons and other public institutions that are in need. Who determines need?
So poor Ted Turner and the DBC are getting corporate welfare -- which means a tax subsidy from you and me -- and we cannot afford to eat there. The American Bison Association has been trying to curtail bison production, as demand does not meet meat supply, but to no avail.
Corporate welfare is really legalized plunder. When people cannot sell their goods in the free market, they get the federal or state government to purchase it or help with a subsidy or have a high tariff to protect it, as the sugar industry does.
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Why not try freedom in the marketplace and not rely on a taxpayer bailout? Capitalism for the poor, socialism for the rich.
David W. Hester
Editor's note: For an extensive look at the bison industry, see Jonathan Shikes's "Where the Buffalo Moan." Originally published in the January 6, 2000, issue.