Space case: Regarding Stuart Steers's "Park Place," in the August 15 issue:
What makes Denver special for so many of us who can only visit occasionally are the parks, boulevards and leafy streetscapes. By contrast, a city like Phoenix, a mecca of libertarian know-nothingism, has very little of this. Streets here are merely adjuncts to freeways, and the parks are utilitarian afterthoughts. Denver's glory isn't the Broncos, the widening of I-25 or the disproportionate number of LoDo sports bars. It's the parks. They soothe the frayed nerves of a car-choked city. They make life in Denver much better than it otherwise would be.
A bridge too far: Thanks for the article on Denver parks. Stuart Steers is correct: The community does not want a pedestrian bridge installed over the wetlands in Hutchinson Park. Nor does the community want the only boardwalk in Denver removed. The bridge would span the wetlands and would have a negative impact on the wildlife and birds that live at that end. It is a center-support bridge, and a pylon would have to be sunk into the channel in order to install it. This will cause severe erosion. It is well-known that any encroachment into a wetland environment is not beneficial.
The community told the Denver Department of Parks and Recreation that the bridge was not wanted. It is an unnecessary expenditure. Budgets are being cut throughout the city. The cost of this bridge should also be cut. Why is it being crammed down the community's throat? It is going to increase maintenance costs in the future and is going to increase the cost of the project substantially. The community deserves it eliminated from the plan. The boardwalk is more compatible with a wetland environment. When it floods, the boardwalk floats out of place. It is easy to reinstall. A gravel trail would wash out and have to be replaced at a continued additional cost. A community petition also addressed the desire to keep the boardwalk in place; copies of the signed petitions were given to Denver City Council member Joyce Foster and to James Mejia, head of the parks department.
It is important to make the local environment a focus in our own lives. The small measures we can take to help the environment will add up in the long run. We have a unique park, and we have an opportunity to do a tremendous job managing an important resource. In this instance, doing the least amount of work will not only benefit the wetlands, but it will keep costs down. As we are all very cost-conscious these days, this is an added benefit.
Parking pass: Stuart Steers's "Park Place" ought to be required reading for every present and future Denver officeholder. He eloquently and comprehensively describes the nexus of politics and the public realm. By thoroughly tracing the history of Denver's parks and parkways and the legendary designers and politicians whose visions were realized, he provides the necessary context for the challenges and opportunities ahead.
Denver is fortunate to have a reporter with such a keen regard for our history and our built environment. We are also very lucky to have talented and thoughtful landscape architects like Susan Baird working on behalf of Denver's past, present and future citizens.
Denver City Council
Not smart: As someone who appreciates Patricia Calhoun's columns, I now conclude her August 22 "Smart Bombs" column went further astray than those dropped in Afghanistan.
To the little extent that Intelligence Bureau targets have been described, the number of subjects who were violators of state and federal laws was around 300, an ominous total indeed! My notoriously poor math indicates the other 3,100-plus subjects were not investigated for anything justified in criminal investigation. That the venerable American Friends Service Committee is branded a "criminal extremist" group should be food for serious thought rather than tittering and tongue-clucking by numerous middle-class liberals (with political aspirations) cited in the column, nice folk who read the headlines and then go about their comfortable routines. The AFSC has long opposed racism, police brutality, domestic spying, genocide, imperial interventions and militarism, putting them on J. Edgar Hoover's blacklists in the old days and keeping them in police files today. Such stands counter everyday policy emanating from a White House occupied by someone who was not elected.
To the extent that I know John Hickenlooper or am familiar with Penfield Tate, I know they are decent folk. Ditto for Wellington Webb and Federico Peña, who both were on the sidelines, sometimes in the headlines, over police killings or misconduct in the 1970s. As mayors, they proved completely ineffectual in reining in police violence and criminality as they "imagined a great city," or, as term limits neared, promoted booster videos of Denver as a "world-class city" (whatever that feel-good term means). Don't believe me about being ineffectual; read the headlines throughout their tenures.
Since the Intelligence Burro spied continuously since 1954, I was incredulous to read Ms. Calhoun's words about Ari Zavaras, Webb's annointed boy to be Webb's successor, as Ari tut-tutted about the matter. Zavaras was Denver's police chief in the '80s, and spying went on in his reign, as well. Gee, why has no one snapped to that juicy item? Is it possible the fearsome crew of mayoral contenders will have at it over this issue -- or any other issue of substance? Naw.
Ernesto B. Vigil
Sneak attack: I don't know which is worse: the Denver Police Department being competently sneaky, or the DPD being incompetently sneaky when it spies on citizens. I hope Patricia Calhoun will continue to report on the spy files -- and let us know if the police kept one on her!
Vroom with a view: Thank you for Robin Chotzinoff's August 15 "Auto Motives," on the Denver Water folks and their fine cars. I go to car shows on a regular basis, and the owners are invariably friendly and willing to talk about our favorite hobby.
Old cars help keep a lot of us sane and centered in these troubled times. I own a 1953 Plymouth coupe that is a work in progress. The cares of the world go away when I work on or drive old Gramps. I was into old cars as a youth, got into Harleys for around fifteen years ( I bought an engine from Jerry Honebein's brother ) and came full circle back into the cars.
Working on cars with one's offspring is the best way to get some bonding going and get the kids away from the TV. My wife and I are childless, but friends of ours find that cars and the whole car culture help to keep the kids away from the bad stuff.
via the Internet
Green belly-achers: After reading Michael Roberts's August 22 "Minor Threat, covering the shenanigans surrounding Libertarian gubernatorial hopeful Ralph Shnelvar and topless dancer Koleen Brooks, it seems that even Westword kowtows to the same sensationalism that the more mainstream print and television media do. What about fair mention of other third-party candidates seeking similar office? Though Bruce Meyer, co-chair of the Green Party in Denver, was briefly quoted, there was no mention of Ron Forthofer, the Green Party candidate for Colorado governor, who is challenging not only Owens and Health at the polls, but Shnelvar, as well.
Why can't we see more reporting on the critical issues facing our localities and our state, and on the candidates who are willing to speak out on them and stand behind their platforms, rather than standing behind multimillion-dollar campaign war chests? Let's see more coverage of the candidates who have something intelligent to say, not about their publicity stunts surrounding the exposure of "boobs."
via the Internet
Give me Libertarians: As co-founder of the National Libertarian Party (the only founder who never suffered from the malady of having been a member of the Republican Party) and known as a "Libertarian folk hero" long before the other founders even knew what the words meant, I was on the ballot of the first slate of candidates under the banner of the Libertarian Party vying for the state legislative seat for District 11 that then covered Denver's Capitol Hill district. As far as I know, I am the only co-founder to ever run for public office. I have since run for several county offiices as a Libertarian, and although I did not "win," I shifted or siphoned enough votes to change the outcome of most of these elections. And as far as I know, I was the first person in the U.S. to register as a Libertarian: in Park County, Colorado, in October 1974.
In the late '80s, the Libertarian Party in Colorado began to be taken over by those less astute and less educated in the history of and application of libertarian ideas and principles. I still remained a faithful but less enthusiastic and less active Libertarian, until finally I became so disappointed with the way the Party was being run and the quality of people the CLP was putting forth that I changed my registration to Liberty and Justice Independent.
Recent events -- including the nomination of this Stanley character and the fiasco with Ms. Boob Brain -- made me realize that I should have no regrets.
At this point, the Green Party candidates may be a better alternative to the incorporated crooks: Republicans and Democrats. Better yet would be for a Liberty and Justice Independent to step forward and point out that corporations are not free-market institutions and that a process is needed to take away the special power, privileges and perks that they receive from and give to the goverment.
Declaration of independents: Support the Colorado Coalition of Independent Political Parties! People with different backgrounds, different ideologies, different beliefs in how things should work, working together to allow people to decide for themselves who and what to support. This spirit of cooperation is wonderful to see. It is inspiring to see these diverse groups of people working together to promote third-party ideas, to promote alternative voices, to promote new choices for November. Perhaps now the media will start to take notice. Perhaps now the media will start to see just how much support there really is out there for new ideas. Perhaps now the Democrats and Republicans will start to take notice of the different ideas these different groups bring to the table and will allow them to bring them to the table. Perhaps now we will see all candidates in the debates, all candidates in the news, all candidates in the media, and not just the same old two parties. If you haven't already, check out www.coloradovoices.org.
I am woman: I would like to respond to a few comments made by Juliet Wittman in her review of The Vagina Monologues ("Clit Lit," August 8). I regret having missed the production, as I have heard so many tremendous things about it.
I also will say that I am not sorry to have been a walker in the recent Avon 3 Day Breast Cancer Walk. I am a survivor of six years now and am damn proud to say I am one. I'm equally as proud to wear a pink hat, to let other people know and see that you can survive if you take care of, and are aware of, your body and your health. The other option usually is not being here to talk about it or to take an interest in it. So let's take breast cancer -- as Juliet says, 'Yeah, please!' But unless you have lost someone to it, I truly feel you have no right to talk about it as if you do have knowledge about the subject.
Although Juliet thinks the walk has become a "kitschy, sentimental and self-congratulatory" event (and it may be for some), the majority of people are still there for mutual strength and comfort, to share stories and raise money for early detection to save the lives of women who cannot afford treatment on their own.
It is wonderful that Juliet supports The Vagina Monologues "after seeing it," as she stated she had her doubts before that. She said women really do have things to say about their vaginas. She was feeling good about her woman-ness, sensing a kinship with the other people there, and feeling good about the fact that this show travels from town to town to raise money to prevent violence against women.
Interesting...it sounds very much like the walk! Except Juliet didn't walk sixty miles with thousands of women who also had things to say about another part of their bodies: their breasts. She missed out on the kinship between all of us, the feeling good about our woman-ness, about being alive, about raising money so we can stop having these body parts cut off.
Maybe the next time the walk comes to town, Juliet might want to sign up to walk it or be a crew member, to go out there and raise money to help us fight something that may affect her or someone she loves. Then she can come back and write an article on how she actually experienced it, how she experienced all of us who are wearing those pink hats, and all our stories of loss and survival. If she has no interest in the issues of breast cancer or actually experiencing an event that supports it, then she shouldn't write about it, or about the rest of us who do have the right to write about it, talk about it, walk about it and congratulate about it, as we are very happy to be here to do all of those things.
Editor's note: Juliet Wittman wrote about her own battles with breast cancer in her award-winning book, Breast Cancer Journal.
Get a 'cue: Jason Sheehan's reviews, while long on biography, are wonderfully descriptive and put into terms that I can relate to. Just reading "Almost Heaven," his August 22 review of Shead's Fish and BBQ Heaven, produced fits of mouth-watering lust for some 'cue. Although I think he should stick to the subject and trim some of his personal history, I'll look forward to his reviews in the future.
Plots and pans: The reasons for my plea would take too much time to write, and too much time for you to read, so I will state it simply:
Please, please, if you have any kindness, get rid of that cocky dipshit you hired as a restaurant "reviewer." He clearly knows little about food and less about writing.
He thinks we want to read about him and his opinions instead of the food. He's wrong. Cafe is what we pick up Westword to read. After five weeks of this guy, we won't be picking it up again. There's no reason to piss myself off, is there?
via the Internet
Pots and plans: I read some letters recently bashing the food reviews in Westword. Well, this reader thinks they are highly entertaining and informative. The July 25 chile verde piece, "On the Road," was fabulous! Keep 'em coming.
Jason Sheehan rocks! He's the best food reviewer in the land. Thanks.
via the Internet
Can Sheehan: What? I have lived here for 35 years, and Jason Sheehan has been here how many weeks? His job should be to inform and then entertain. So far, he does neither. I do not need him to "teach" me. He should get a job cooking and practice his writing on someone else. He does not endear himself by insulting.
To the management: If you're going to import a writer, shouldn't he be able to do the job? Get rid of this wannabe before he thinks he has "tenure."
Cool aid: Remember when the restaurant critic used to critique restaurants? Wasn't that cool?
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The English are coming: In his August 15 letter, Kevin Kelley criticizes Westword for making an unfair attack on the English-only movement (Julie Dunn's August 1 "What's in a Name?"), but then he turns around and makes his own unfair attack on the bilingual-education movement. This movement is hardly a conspiracy by the much-maligned teacher unions. Unions do protect some inflated salaries and unnecessary jobs, but mainly those of white, liberal-arts teachers with years of teaching experience and no marketable skills. On the other hand, there is such a high demand for and low supply of bilingual educators in the U.S. that these educators would actually make more money and have more jobs if they weren't restricted by the unions' collective bargaining and teacher-licensure requirements.
The demand for bilingual education originates not from the unions or the Democratic Party, but from millions of Hispanic parents. Conservatives in California a few years ago supported a number of English-only and anti-bilingual education laws and, as a result, the xenophobic California Republican Party may never win another general election in this heavily Hispanic state. To say all this support is simply because the Hispanic community has somehow been fooled by the white, liberal teacher unions is not just wrong; it's borderline racist.
The real issue is whether bilingual or English-only education is better for children. The research on this is still unclear, unfortunately. So in the meantime, maybe we should defer to the opinion of the vast majority of Hispanic parents rather than the xenophobic reactionaries.