Garden Party

Letters to the Editor

Things that go bumpkin in the night: As a native of LaSalle, another dusty little town on the way from Denver to Greeley, I appreciated Robin Chotzinoff's "The Plot Thickens," her February 8 article on Garden City and its infamous history. During my adolescent years in the area, I knew all about Greeley's past as a "dry town" and Garden City's role in keeping things lively. Still, I had no idea about A.F. Ray and the whiskey-riddled watermelons.

One thing Chotzinoff should know, however, is that JB's Drive-In still exists and thrives, even today. In fact, it does so well that it can afford to close down all winter while the staff heads to a warm vacation location, and anyone from the area will tell you that JB's is always closed on Monday. If Chotzinoff ever gets down that way again, I heartily recommend that she try the place out -- besides orange vinyl seats and paintings of the Broncos, it does have the best burgers and root beer in the state.

Mainly, I think her article does a good job of showing that there's more to be interested about in and around Greeley than the smell (which is not the stink of shit but the smell of money, as we like to think). While the article did sometimes waver on the edge of typical city condescension and attempted to "country-bumpkify" the area, all in all, Chotzinoff's heart was in the right place. The article was interesting and refreshing, as were the people in it. Keep it up -- that's why I keep reading.

Kelli Hulsey

I drink, therefore I am: I was thrilled to read the article about Garden City, especially since I was a bartender at Libation Station while attending college at UNC in 1997. It brought back some really wonderful memories of working in the craziest bar in town! My friends and I managed to survive the stink of Greeley by drowning our weekends (and most weeknights!) in many libations at the old Station. To anyone ever driving through Garden City, stop by Libation is a rare find!

Bonnie Reiss

A Bill of Goods

Showmen the money! After reading Patricia Calhoun's February 8 column, "What's in a Name?," here's the perfect solution for a stadium in a town so willing to sell out to big money: Let Pat Bowlen take his Broncos wherever he wants to, leaving behind the stadium that taxpayers are building anyway. Then we can bring the Buffalo Bills to play in Denver's new Mile High!

Randy Hansen
via the Internet

Pat answers: The Metropolitan Football Not-Stadium District can call its new not-stadium whatever it wants. I will forever call it "Pat's Pigskin Palace."

Jen Meyers

A penny for your thoughts: Nobody noticed when the penny-per-ten-dollar tax went into effect. And nobody will notice when it is gone.

Without the word "Stadium," Invesco Field at Mile High is a hybrid that isn't a hybrid. The "Mile High" part would soon atrophy and be dropped by everyone.

The Invesco Field proposal is a fiasco. And that's probably what most people will wind up calling it: Fiasco Field.

Lew Cady

No-Tell Hotel

Stink bomb: Thank God the unions are doing what Denver City Council didn't have the guts to do: recognize that the convention-center hotel deal stinks! And thanks to Westword, and Stuart Steers's February 8 "Check-out Time," for showing us the deal doesn't pass the smell test. Although the thought of a $64 million subsidy to the developer makes me want to gag, the fact that this generosity does not extend to the people who will work at his hotel is just plain putrid.

Joe Nathan
via the Internet

Keeping it in neutral: In "Check-out Time," Stuart Steers mentions union insistence on a so-called "neutrality agreement" on unionizing the employees of the new convention- center hotel.

Insisting on neutrality agreements shows just how low the unions have sunk and how little respect they have for the rights of working Americans. There are very few work-related decisions an employee can make that are as important as whether or not to be represented by a union.

There are two parties to an employment relationship: the employer and the employee. It is very likely that the employer will have information employees need in order to make a well-informed decision about whether to be represented by a union. Unions seek through neutrality agreements to prevent employers from providing this information to employees. What is it that unions fear about an employee being well-informed before making such an important decision?

The unions complain that without a neutrality agreement, the employer "could use veiled threats and intimidation to prevent its workers from unionizing." Their answer to this is to deny employees the right to a secret ballot vote on union representation and to instead insist on what is called a "card-check" election, where signed authorization cards are used to certify union representation. What this ignores is that unions frequently use subtle forms of moral suasion that are sometimes neither subtle nor moral to induce employees to sign authorization cards.

Unions fear giving employees the right to a well-informed, secret ballot election on the question of union representation because they know that they will probably lose. The vast majority of employees have decided against union representation. In 2000, only 9 percent of all private-sector employees were union members. The working people of America have rejected the unions' class-warfare, us-against-them approach to employer-employee relations. It is not surprising that they must now rely on their still-significant political power to attempt to induce elected officials to become partners in their efforts to impose unionism on employees.

David Denholm, president
Public Service Research Foundation

Vienna, VA

Clean Plate Club

There auto be a law: I regard the continued proliferation of "specialty" license plates -- as described in Jonathan Shikes's February 8 "License Revoked" -- as a state-sponsored exercise in creating another "special class of PC." Where will it stop? It's hard for me to conceive that the state actually profits from this activity (except maybe by creating several additional overpaid bureaucratic positions to administer this ever-expanding program); never mind those of us who may not recognize the plate color, pattern and so on when identifying the plates on a car that may be fleeing the scene of an accident, bank robbery or whatever.

The KISS system of [state] organization is most effective for things that are supposed to be clearly legible and distinguishable from an "alien" plate. We presently have adequate levels of state-sponsored confusion. Enough is enough.

Roger J. Day

A Sporting Chance

School flunkies: I think Julie Jargon's February 1 story about Thomas Jefferson High School, "Faking the Grade," is very important, and it really disgusts me. I am so sick of how much emphasis and importance society puts on athletics. It's great to be involved in sports, but for an education "professional" to put his students' ability to play for their team over his students' education (not to mention lessons of responsibility, accountability and ethics) is appalling!

I am horrified that people in these high positions of children's education can be so self-serving at the expense of their students' personal growth and development -- and get away with it scot-free!

I admire Joy Kay for standing up for what she knows to be right. I feel sad for the parents who either accept these practices or simply have no other alternatives for their children.

Crystal L. Marie

Quilty As Charged

Character counts: I have known Jackie Tobin, author of the book described in T.R. Witcher's "A Fraying Yarn," in the February 8 issue. I know her as a close friend, a dedicated mother, a leader, an outstanding lecturer, professor and author, but most of all I know her as a longtime advocate of civil rights for everyone. With that in mind, I would say that Oprah missed out more than Jackie did. What a shame: Oprah would have really liked Jackie. Perhaps someone should take a longer look at the fact that a white woman was interested enough in another culture that she invested years doing research, writing a book, and sharing with others what she learned. I don't know, maybe diversity, education and value of self mean different things to different people. One thing is certain: Jackie is someone who can be judged by her character, and this experience will simply enhance that character.

Some people, regardless of color, choose growth, and others just stay the same. Genuine diversity, value of self and educating others when you learn something require growth and maturity, so my guess is that Jackie Tobin will receive the credit which she is due -- and then some.

Julia L. Horn

Taking Up a Collection

Dialing for dolors: After reading T.R. Witcher's story on the Black American West Museum ("Month to Month," February 1), I got very angry. If the black community itself does not care about what happens to the museum, why should anybody else?

If the African-American mayor and other black city and state so-called leaders won't pull together to save the museum, that should tell us something. When it takes only ten black people to give $1,000 each to save the museum in a city like Denver and you can't find them, you don't deserve the museum. I say pack everything up and ship it off to a city that would cherish having such an important historical institution. Ship the priceless artifacts to other black museums around the country that honor and uphold the historical value of such items. Better yet, give everything to a white museum that would make sure people could see them during Black History Month, at least.

What is it going to take for the black community to stand up and do the right thing? To have your black theater group and the museum struggling like this is a disgrace.

The bottom line is this: If the black community does not care enough to preserve its own history, then that's the community's loss. Stop complaining about your history not being remembered, written about and honored -- your non-action speaks louder than words. If you don't care about your own community, why should we? You give the first dollar, and then we'll come forth and give ours.

Stop complaining and do something for a change!

Susan Smith

The rest is history: Has the Black American West Museum considered partnering with other historical organizations? I believe that Historic Denver helped to obtain and move the Justina Ford house to its current location to use as their museum site. Perhaps a partnership similar to the Molly Brown and Four Mile House would help?

Robert B. Renfro

Give Them a Hand

Pasture point of no return: Congratulations on a first-rate piece of reporting with Stuart Steers's "Meaner Pastures," in the February 1 issue. I used to be a volunteer literacy tutor, and I worked with a Mexican ranch hand (yes, he was a legal resident) who was trying to improve his English. This man worked six days a week, as much as eighteen hours a day, at a horse ranch in Douglas County. His experiences were nowhere near as harrowing as those of the sheepherders, but still attest to the need for more legal protection for this most vulnerable section of the labor force.

Keep up the good work.

Mary Helen Spooner
via the Internet

Counting sheep: I am a sheep producer in southern Wyoming/northwestern Colorado. While the conditions for sheepherders are not ones that most Americans will work under, these jobs are very much sought after by foreign employees. The income they earn in the United States represents a great deal of money in Peru or Chile; it commonly means the difference between abject poverty and providing their families with a decent standard of living. Once I was teasing a herder about fixing up another young, single herder with his sister in Peru, and he drew himself up and said, "My sister is in medical school." Remember, the herders are also provided room and board (ample in virtually all cases). Most of our herders improve their health and gain weight while in our employ.

I want to emphasize that the vast majority of herders are well-treated, as well as hardworking and valuable to employers. The comments from labor groups do not reflect reality. Sheep producers are hardly "vastly powerful" (would that we were!). Our industry is barely hanging on. If we lose the H2A program, or are compelled to pay significantly higher wages, the entire range-sheep industry will be lost.

It may be, anyway: Labor is just one card in the house of cards that is our business. Eliminating legal jobs will not benefit these workers either, because they commonly work ten years or so, then return home with money to start a business.

Sharon S. O'Toole
via the Internet


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