Best intentions: Just about my favorite part of your Best of Denver issue is reading all the letters of response from people complaining about how lame Denver is. What a bunch of whiners and babies and people whose self-esteem is way too high: "Denver is still a backwater cowtown"; "This isn't a city -- this is Hicksville with professional sports."
Boo hoo. Why are they here? Couldn't get a job at the Trib? They should go back to Chicago or whatever sophisticated hotspot they've moved here from. They're polluting my air and water and cramping my style.
Third-generation native of Hicksville
The hole truth: After being inundated with Columbine stories during the past two years, I was surprised that I was unable to put down Alan Prendergast's "Lights, Camera...No Comment," his account of "60 Minutes and me" in the April 12 issue. It was extremely well-written.
Thanks for poking some new holes in the flimsy facade that "everyone and everything is okay." It takes longer than two years to recover from such a tragedy. Obviously, there is more healing and an enormous amount of unanswered questions that still need to be dealt with.
First things first: The Columbine story is exactly why the First Amendment was created. The British in 1776 could not have done a better job to justify the First Amendment than have Jeffco officials.
The press has to be unrestrained -- not to harass families or dig up titillating subjects, but to keep governments from hiding.
Keep up the good work.
Dirty tricks: Eileen Welsome's April 12 "The Lowdown on Lowry," the first in the "Dirty Secrets" series on the Lowry debacle and the insane policy to transfer the radioactive waste to the unwilling citizens of Deer Trail, was superb!
Her incredible fact-gathering on this sordid tale is to be commended. Finally, a Denver media outlet tells the truth about the Colorado conspiracy to poison our food supply so that polluters can save money. As a former Arapahoe County Planning Commissioner who was relieved of her duties for opposing this madness, I couldn't be more pleased to see that the truth will out, in spite of those who have defamed our efforts to educate the public.
Thanks for a balanced view of Adrienne Anderson's valiant battle against the Goliath of Colorado corruption.
A healthy regard for the truth: The article by Eileen Welsome concerning the pollution generated at the Lowry Landfill is a masterful bit of investigative reporting. She has exposed an attempt by the EPA to cover up a hazardous and life-threatening process that could lead to dire consequences. Moreover, Westword's choice to print this article shows your concern for the health and welfare of the people of Colorado.
Professor Adrienne Anderson's work to end this atrocity is another example of someone displaying an attitude of "We are not going to take it any longer." She has been a leader in trying to get the spreading of contaminated sludge stopped.
Both of these ladies, as well as your publication, deserve a pat on the back. Without the fortitude, leadership and assertiveness of people like this, where would this country be headed in the future?
Gary O. Schaefer
Grand Bay, AL
The sludge report: Thank you for your comprehensive and courageous report about the discharge of toxic and radioactive wastes from the Lowry Landfill Superfund site to the Denver metro sewage plant, where they are reconcentrated in the sewage sludge being spread on homeowners' gardens and Colorado's cropland.
The corruption of the EPA and state and city officials on this issue is simply breathtaking.
Train robbers: Stuart Steers's April 5 history lesson on Union Station, "Trouble Ahead, Trouble Behind," is so packed with irony, I wonder how the promoters of the latest scheme to defraud area taxpayers can keep a straight face.
Start with the zoning agreement Denver made with the station's owners in 1988. It may not have been the first time a property was held hostage for in-kind ransom paid by the city, but it ranks with Omaha's stockyards as one of the most outdated. The Moffat Mansion, the Tabor Grand and numerous other pieces of Denver's illustrious past at least had potential for conversion into residential or commercial properties. Why there was an overriding need to preserve Union Station for another fifty years can only be attributed to edifice complex.
Then there's the Trillium Corporation, which owns 50 percent of the Denver Union Terminal and stands to make a bundle on the eventual sale, even more from property across the street that could be turned into office space. Nobody should be surprised that the company is pushing RTD's plans to run trains to DIA, Boulder and who knows where else.
The enviros who would have us all riding bikes and light rail instead of driving our SUVs must be suppressing a gag, though, knowing Trillium's clear-cutting past in the Northwest and its heavy investment in South American rainforests. But that's okay. Just as long as they like trains and trolleys, they have the right attitude.
Finally, we have RTD. RTD needs Union Station like Tiger Woods needs golf lessons. Even more.
We've all seen old photos of GIs arriving on troop trains during World War II, flooding streets around Union Station. Well, I hate to say it, but those days are over. Nobody arrives by train anymore, and if some smartass believes they will when Denver builds an AirTrain to DIA, just check how many passengers take the SkyRide buses between downtown and the airport on a typical weekday. Multiply by ten and you still don't have a trainload. If preservationists want to raise private funds to save Union Station and the current owners want to sell it, that's all well and good. Maybe it could be turned into some kind of museum, or an indoor skating rink. What else can be done with a white elephant?
No doubt RTD has lots and lots of ideas, none of them economic. It's a cinch there will never be enough light-rail riders to fill even half the rows of benches in the station. Bike rentals? That's a real winner. RTD staff tried to bring in commercial development at the park-n-Rides several years ago, hoping to attract dry cleaners and the like so that bus riders would have one less stop on their commute. Besides doing things backward -- normally, the private sector takes the risk on such ventures -- RTD's proposal always seemed tilted toward "politically correct" businesses that would enhance its image as a caring, family-friendly government agency. If a liquor store and a bike shop were both hoping to build on the same pad, there was no question in my mind which one the board would approve. Steers's article only confirms what I had always thought: RTD could just as well change its initials to ABC -- Anything But Cars.
Lower downtown residents such as the Salzmans who hope no 25-story high-rise will block their mountain view after RTD acquires the station had better face reality. Just because it costs a lot more to build over active mainline tracks doesn't mean it won't happen.
RTD's headquarters are getting just a bit crowded, after all.
Dave Bishop, former RTD boardmember
Highway robbery: If the $200 million raised by the governor of Colorado for widening I-25 (which will take seven years) was used instead to build light rail to and from Union Station, not only would the question of saving that building be better answered, but so would helping save the environment.
The light stuff: How do you measure the effectiveness of a new transportation system? I would suggest that the best way is to perform before-and-after comparisons of the problems the new system was intended to solve. Please try to remember why RTD wanted to build the southwest light-rail line to Littleton: In 1994, RTD said that light rail would help solve the traffic congestion and air pollution problems in Denver. The line has now been open for nine months. Every expert agrees that traffic congestion along the southwest line is as bad as ever, and air pollution has not been impacted by the new rail line. Just because the parking lots are too small and the trolley cars are crowded at peak hour doesn't mean the project is successful. The HOV lanes on Santa Fe Drive have been much more effective at lessening traffic congestion -- and at a fraction of the cost of light rail.
Czar wreck: We purposely built a new airport to showcase our city in hopes of evolving into a world-class community, and we got just what we wanted. Unfortunately, the leaders of our city and current transportation officials failed to consider seamlessly connecting the airport to anything within any local community, which would allow the very people we invited the opportunity to come in and experience the DTC, Cherry Creek and the sports complexes. One elevated, medium-speed rail system could branch from DIA down Peña Boulevard to I-225 to the DTC and back to DIA; from the DTC, a connecting branch could run to Cherry Creek and LoDo. Another line would stem from DIA down Peña Boulevard to I-70 and directly into downtown. Passengers would simply transfer onto light rail and proceed to event complexes and business centers.
Remember, there is a difference between a city built around an existing transportation system and a transportation system built into an existing city. The light-rail system provides a good intra-city function, but we need to build the feeder system first in order to move people to and from primary locations throughout our business and entertainment communities faster and in greater mass. This function begins and ends at DIA, and it's high time we footprint this concept. Furthermore, this medium-speed rail can offer on-board workstations and tourism information areas, conference areas and wireless Web communication. Unfortunately, we're nickel-and-diming ourselves to death filling puddles when we should be filling a lake.
If we expect people who own automobiles to park them and utilize public transportation, they're going to need a good reason to do so. Therefore, public transportation must include door-to-door service. RTD must spread the wealth more productively throughout the private transportation provider, such as taxi, airporter services and limousine companies. We need better quality control. Taxpayers are simply not getting their money's worth: Denver needs a traffic czar.
The Platte thickens: Lest we forget, I would like to remind readers that it was the Gurtler family, longtime Denver natives and owners of Elitch Gardens, that forged the development of the Central Platte Valley. Without their vision and courage and commitment to this city, we all could still be looking at the eyesore this valley had become.
Catherine Gurtler Brown
Hope Springs eternal: I've recently read some articles by Michael Paglia, most recently his April 12 "Mind and Body," concerning the proposed additions to the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. I am utterly appalled by the lack of vision, not to mention the unforgivable deficiency of any historical awareness about this architectural jewel that the center's director and trustees seem to have. How can they even think to compromise and destroy the integrity of this building? I hesitate to even call it a "building," since it is indeed a work of art both inside and out; to think that they will "refurbish" the interior of the theater makes me shudder. This exquisitely designed moderne space does not need to be tampered with, to be replaced by shoddy, thoughtless and mundane ideas and materials.
Surely with the director's sensitive eye and dedication to art, he and the trustees can arrive at a much better solution to this need for more space -- without sacrificing a masterpiece of twentieth-century architecture.
The show must go on: I enjoyed Laura Bond's April 5 Backwash about the upcoming "enforcement" of the already-existing law regarding all-ages shows and the serving of alcohol.
I agree that this law attacks an innocent victim: the people of Denver! It simply frightens me to think of the possible effects down the road: frustrated teens with nowhere to go (come on, all of us have been or will be teenagers, and this basically means exploring what's available), and frustrated "adults" (over 21) who find out that bands such as Blonde Redhead will not be hitting Denver simply because of economics. In my opinion, Denver is truly establishing itself as a music mecca with the Fillmore, Bluebird, Gothic, etc. One recent weekend alone, I caught shows by MMW/Karl Denison, LTJ Bukem/ MC Conrad and Low/Czars, two of which were all-ages. How will venues that offer wristbands to eligible drinkers be affected? I wonder if the recent cancellation of the At the Drive-In show had anything to do with this.
Denver radio (with the exception of 1190 and 88.5) is already homogenized enough. Although the music scene isn't yet, I think it will be if this law is enforced. Can you imagine clubs like the Bluebird closing? I can't.
via the Internet
The agony and the Ecstasy: The Denver media has waged an overly hysterical campaign against Ecstasy use, going so far as to heavily imply that Ecstasy was at fault in a man's hit-and-run death days before it was even known that the drug was in his system. Immediately after this hysteria, the city announced a new policy banning all music shows and other get-togethers (even if for charity) where under-21ers are included in the audience if alcohol is served. This was to help fight the perceived Ecstasy problem, although the policy deals only with alcohol. Because promoters make the most money at shows where alcohol is served, we've been warned of a great reduction in all-ages shows -- thus preventing many people from being able to see their favorite bands just because they're under 21. I've heard it said that this will actually increase the number of young people using Ecstasy, because many people use music as a positive outlet and an alternative to drugs.
If what we want is a world-class city, the last thing the city should do is initiate a policy that hurts the local music scene. What angers me most is that the city's actions are a result of media hype. Media hype leads to a new law that leads to clubs closing that leads to the very thing that the media hype was protesting against!
The truth is out there: Laura Bond's Backwash last week affected me and many people I know very personally. As a student under 21 with a love for punk music and especially for seeing it live, it's pretty degrading to see what the public and Denver officials think of people like me. It has now been made more evident to me how incredibly detached our local government officials are from what's really going on.
"Ecstacy," "punk" and "rock" do not belong in the same sentence. If some kids showed up high on Ecstasy at a punk show, they would most likely be beaten up or kicked out for one reason or another. Ecstasy and techno, however, go together well. But just because a venue puts on a punk show one night and a rave the next doesn't mean the same people are at both events -- along with the same illegal activities.
Concert settings are notorious for giving people of all ages, creeds, etc., an excuse to let loose and do whatever the hell they please while enjoying their favorite bands playing their music live. But isn't that the whole point? Just because a person is at a show, it doesn't mean he's going to get high -- in any fashion. I know many people who don't, myself included.
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Yet somehow, Denver seems to think that because a few kids had fatal incidents with Ecstasy, that must mean that all kids who spend any time in any club-type setting must be using this and other drugs, too. And because the attempt to shut down the rave scene has gotten Denver officials nowhere, they're now trying to shut down all live musical experiences for anyone under 21! I cannot grasp the reason that alcohol, the number-one cause of death in America, is still legal -- while everything else is not. And it seems to me like they ignore every fool over 21 who screws up one night and ends up dead, whether the cause is alcohol or Ecstasy.
Here's another aspect they don't understand: About 50 percent of the profit at these venues comes from teenagers who spend every paycheck just to see their favorite bands live; the other 50 percent comes from the sale of alcohol to those of age who attend shows. Going to shows is what kids do today, and it's harmless as long as it's controlled. But this new law is not control; it's oppression.
I'm sorry to say this, but Denver officials need to wake up and realize that this "solution" is merely a way to put the problem on a shelf and pretend that everything is solved. I know that they know it's not going to stop the use of Ecstasy and other club drugs -- just like shutting down raves won't stop it. It's hard to say it, much less admit it, but nothing will stop this trend -- except maybe time.