Coverage Coverup

Letters to the Editor

Premium gas: Let's see if I've got this right -- insurance companies are in the business to Wrong! They fight you every step of the way, whether it's medical insurance or auto insurance or legal insurance, as described in Patricia Calhoun's September 28 "Duty Calls." Although what the deputy sheriff did was wrong, he'd paid his premiums. What an outrage that Bruno, Bruno & Colin said they'd represent him -- if he paid thousands of dollars more! The law firm owed him a defense, but apparently it's too busy spending its time with Officer Joe Bini -- who only got a man killed instead of lying about a few receipts.

James Vigil
via the Internet

Put it on my tab: If Patricia Calhoun thinks it's no big deal when an employee falsifies an expense statement, I'd like to apply for the next job opening at Westword.

C.T. Riley

It's Off to Work We Glow

Danger! Danger! Each new story about Rocky Flats is more frightening than the last one. But Eileen Welsome's most recent article, "A Cure for the Common Cold Warrior," in the September 28 issue, was the very saddest. It is hard for us to imagine the dangers of plutonium 20,000 years into the future, even though those dangers will still exist. But we do not have to imagine the dangers when we hear from workers who are suffering horrible diseases after working at Rocky Flats. The least our government should do is pay their medical expenses -- they became ill working for our country!

Megan Grant
via the Internet

No clean sweep: The plan to clean the Rocky Flats site in six years is clean according to the government's definition, but it leaves tons of radioactive waste. The cleanup of Rocky Flats is like a sweeping of nuclear garbage under the rug of political corruption, at America's expense.

M.A. Eckels

House arrest: It is a very sad day for the workers made ill from their work at nuclear-weapons plants. The House has reached an impasse on passing legislation that would create fair compensation and medical benefits for workers who have become ill from beryllium and radioactive-element exposures.

What are they thinking? For fifty years, the Department of Energy has directed their contractors (and subsequently the contractors' insurance companies) to fight tooth and nail any worker's compensation claim filed against them if it related to beryllium or radioactive contamination. In the past year, President Clinton, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson and the U.S. Senate agreed that these workers should be treated fairly. Testimony was heard by the House Judiciary Committee two weeks ago, and yet the House refuses to pass this very important and needed legislation.

Do they not realize that people are sick from working at plants like Rocky Flats? Do they not realize that those same people are suffering immensely before they succumb to death? What more has to be done to have these ill workers receive the same compensation that a ditch digger would get if he were injured on the job?

Excuse the slang, but this sucks. These ill workers cannot breathe, are in constant pain -- some have died from cancers from their exposure to contaminants. And it boils down to money. The House's concern is that it may cost the government too much to fairly compensate these workers.

Didn't bother them to pass the legislation to make the bombs that made these people sick!

So maybe the legislation will be passed in the next Congress. How many people will have died by then, or their conditions deteriorated? Is this fair?

I thank Richardson and Congressman Udall immensely for their sincere efforts to pass this legislation. I just wish congressmen from other states were as enlightened.

Terrie Barrie
Craig, CO

Vroom Service

Get Bentley: Thank you for Alan Prendergast's extensive article on the new Bentley Arnage Red Label ("Big Wheels," September 28). It was rewarding to read in detail just how much Pat Bowlen will enjoy his new toy that I helped pay for with my tax dollars.

Jim Burness

Stream of consciousness: Wow, Cool River must really be cool to rate a mention in two different articles in the same issue of Westword. For my money (not that I have enough to buy his '93 Sable, much less a Bentley), Prendergast really captured the place. Tell Kyle Wagner to skip the food next time ("Not So Hot"), feast her eyes on the crowd, relax a little and just go with the flow, as they say.

Jayne Carpenter
via the Internet

Who's the dipstick? Alan Prendergast's article on the Bentley Arnage Red Label, though flawed, was an intriguing and informative insight into the world of luxury supercars and the types of people who drive them. As he is a "real journalist" and not a motoring aficionado, it is excusable that his data on the car contains glaring inaccuracies. The most powerful four-door sedan in the world is badged with a B, but it is not the Bentley. The Brabus E V12 Mercedes is listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the holder to that title, with 592 plus horsepower and 792 Nm torque, a figure achieved without turbocharging from a motor far ahead of its time, emission-wise. It also seems convenient that the author uses the generous Bentley brochure's 0-60 figures instead of those tested by the major motoring magazines, Top Gear and Car magazine, both of which produced noticeably slower figures. Of course, credit must be given to the author, who mocks the brochure and then proceeds to sound exactly like a PR kit when describing the acceleration, but not the boatlike handling tendencies that are appalling compared to anything in its price range. But alas, money is no object for the cigar-smoking, image-conscious superhero of the story.

The update on the recent takeover of Bentley by BMW is typical of the author's thorough research habits and does in part overshadow the automotive inaccuracies. The fact that Mr. Deep Pockets decided to purchase one of these overpriced British/German hybrid monstrosities as opposed to a Brabus Mercedes or a McLaren (the fastest production car in the world) shows that not only is he somewhat pompous, but he has no real affinity or knowledge of performance cars. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if his previous chariot of choice was some other sort of road-going 4WD behemoth. I mean, what type of grown man buys a certain vehicle because he always wanted to be like James Bond? Who knows -- maybe his fantasy of driving an SUV to be like G.I. Joe became commonplace.

It goes without saying that there are Hondas and Volkswagens around Denver that outperform the Red Label at a fraction of the price. These vehicles receive the same amount of attention from the pundits as the ostentatious gas-guzzling Bentley -- the difference being that they are owned, modified and usually run by owners who have a true passion for engines as opposed to ego.

To be fair, Mr. Deep Pockets sounds like a man who has worked hard to get where he is. The fact that he donates to many charities (meals on wheels, Bentley mechanics?) is an interesting dichotomy, to say the least, and probably says the most about the nouveau riche lurking about our growing city. After all, why expand your horizons, fly to Essen and buy a Brabus when, for more money, you can strut your stuff around a restaurant in a strip mall in the Denver Tech Center, light cigars with $10 bills and convince a reporter that your Bentley is not a phallic replacement, but the fastest four-door sedan in the world?Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to the foothills for a jaunt on my FZR600. And though I may not be gobbling up petroleum like a Desert Storm oil fire or parking next to another cognoscenti's Porsche to show who has the bigger dipstick, I will be outperforming Mr. Deep Pockets and his roach coach in all areas, except arrogance, for about $242,000 less.

Isaac Mion
via the Internet

Alan Prendergast replies: As a motoring aficionado (and a former journalism student of my acquaintance), Mr. Mion shouldn't confuse horsepower and torque. The article doesn't claim that the Bentley Arnage has more horsepower than the Mercedes, nor that it's the fastest four-door sedan in the world, but it does correctly state that the Bentley has more torque (835 Nm vs. 792 Nm for the Brabus). The rest of his tirade deals with matters of opinion rather than any alleged factual inaccuracies - and, alas, exhibits a painful inability to distinguish satire from hype.

Give Them Grief

Loss horizons: Michael Roberts's sensitive and insightful "The Wide World of Grief," in the September 21 issue, was well done. It acted as a good public-service announcement about a disorder we are all confronted with (and stigmatized by) some time in our life, and we need to go through its multiple stages. Otherwise, we are nothing but cold fish.

Wolfelt's philosophy that "oozes benevolence" through natural soul-searching, memory-purging and moments of solitude and reflection are all reasonable tools to use as we go through the inevitable stages of grief, so well set forth by Dr. Elizabeth Kübler-Ross many years ago. However, I would like to add two important points. First and foremost, grief doesn't have a threshold or a barometer as to the intensity of one's experience. Whether you witnessed the cruel murder of your child or suffered the cruel rejection of your lover, grief is grief, and the process remains the same. Second, no matter what the intervention, there comes a point when one is "ready" (it can take years) and must make a courageous commitment to change a pattern of behavior. Without that change, grief gets lost in the bewilderment of it all -- a place that befuddles the mind incessantly.

Also, regarding Stuart Steers's September 14 "A Badly Altered State," I share these observations: First, I concur that these services globally (for the indigent and non-indigent) are relatively abysmal, likely due to "mangled" health care, the ongoing archaic stigmatization of mental-health issues and the lack of insurance coverage.

Regardless, what I find most disconcerting about my interactions with those in need of these services is that the prospective recipients are not very attuned to their most profound impairments, i.e., psychiatric vs. "bad back." So when Steers notes that "every resident is assigned a case manager...[given an] individual plan," I implore all providers to screen well for psychiatric impairments regardless of the client's perceived "disability" on his application form.

J. Matthew Dietz

State of the state: I am an experienced case manager with well over three years' experience with the Mental Health Corporation of Denver. I am hoping to reveal some facts about certain "proponents" in the struggle to improve mental-health services in Denver County that were obviously overlooked in your article detailing the current situation facing our city.

Let's start with the statements made by Kathleen Mullen that mislead the reader to believe that all mentally ill homeless people are still homeless because of a lack of consistent services available to them. I can inform you from direct and personal conversations I have had with approximately fifty MHCD consumers that a majority of the ones that have continued difficulty remaining in stable housing readily admit to their own propensity to "burn their bridges" when they have been given access to these services. This majority does typically struggle with substance abuse and societal problems from a marked lack of impulse control, both of which can be at least somewhat attributed to their mental illness. But if you are thinking right now that these are only a portion of the homeless mentally ill on Denver's streets, you are correct. It is only a portion of the population that continually gets evicted from apartments that MHCD has set up for them, that get kicked out of shelters due to behavioral problems, that refuse to participate in treatment.

There are many, many other consumers of MHCD who do not exhibit these incompatible behaviors, despite being diagnosed with similar, if not the very same, diagnoses as those mentioned above. These consumers are also in desperate need of MHCD's services and assistance in obtaining housing. In order to make room for the treatment-resistant population living on the streets, MHCD would have to move out those who are truly utilizing MHCD services.

It is important to remember that the state and MHCD do not have a limitless pool of money. They also have what can definitely be called an extremely low tolerance from apartment managers and other community resources when it comes to housing mental-health consumers. Our community is just as quick to give up on the mentally ill and throw them back out on the streets as it is to help them in the beginning. This is propagated by fear -- fear of what they do not know. It is much easier for Mullen to focus solely on the state and MHCD and make accusations of "inadequate" services than it is for her to admit to the judge the truth: that MHCD's hands are often tied by the overall lack of support from community and legal resources. There is no opponent for her there. She can't take the community of Denver to court, even though the true blame lies there.

I am going to close by telling you that I am no longer a case manager with MHCD. I burned out on the high stress level, the impossible demands and the conflicting powers that be who are the true governors of mental-health care in Denver. In fact, I agree that MHCD needs to do something differently in order to provide improved services. But focusing on MHCD's so-called negligence of its consumers is faulty, to say the least. Without public support, we are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to providing "adequate services" to the mentally ill population. In fact, I think "Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place" would be a nice title for a follow-up story you could do on the real situation.

Name withheld on request


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