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Letters to the Editor

Yeah, That's the Ticket

Lots of luck: After reading Patricia Calhoun's "Time's Up," in the December 19 issue, I don't feel so bad about recently receiving a parking ticket in Denver.

A resident of Colorado Springs, I visit Denver on a fairly regular basis. Last year, a friend of mine moved into a loft building on Champa Street. It has become a battle of wits to find a place to park other than the high-priced parking lots, and now that they are charging outrageous prices to park at the meters, I really try to avoid going downtown, even to see my friend. The thing that really galls me is that the private parking services limit their overnight parking times until 6 a.m., and the meters aren't available until 7 a.m. If you stay at the parking lot for the extra hour, you pay another $3 to $5. If you move your car to a meter before 7 a.m., you risk getting a ticket. So you end up dashing around like a junkie needing a fix. Are the parking guys and city in cahoots?

Last month, after moving my car from a private lot to the meters at 7:30 a.m., I was really pissed off to find that despite parking at the correct time, I was given a $30 ticket for having no front license plate. I didn't know it was illegal to not have a plate on the front of my car, since it was never brought to my attention in Colorado Springs. (As you drive around both the Springs and Denver, you will see that approximately one-fourth of all drivers don't have a front license plate.) Now I am afraid to park my car anywhere in Denver for fear of getting a ticket for not having a front license plate.

It is bad enough that the city is "carjacking" the public with increased meter fees, crazy authorized times to park and limited times to park, but now it appears it is looking for any "ordinance violation" to increase city revenue.

Although I like visiting Denver and spending my hard-earned money there legitimately, I am really feeling like the victim of a crime perpetuated against drivers. Calhoun's article was dead on target. With my $30 and her $40, the city has added to its ever-increasing windfall. Maybe I'll just avoid going to Denver and save a lot more than the cost of a good time.

Larry Young
Colorado Springs

Violators will be persecuted: Is it just me, or is the City of Denver really hurting for revenue?

On Monday, January 6, I woke up to the pleasant surprise of my car being booted in Capitol Hill due to unpaid parking tickets. I didn't know I had them because of misinformation from representatives of the Parking Violations Bureau and postal errors. As a friend was driving me to the light-rail stop so I could begin to take care of these problems, I saw two Denver police officers within a block of the Capitol pulling motorists over and writing tickets, presumably for speeding. As I got on the light rail, there were two more agents from RTD ticketing passengers for not having paid for the light rail.

On January 9, while driving up Santa Fe, I neglected to notice that my speedometer had inched up slightly past the legal limit. I was promptly pulled over by one of Denver's finest and given a $100-plus ticket.

Currently I am unemployed, and I have been for the majority of 2002. During this latest incident, I was on my way to the public library to use the Internet for job-hunting reasons. If I want to continue to use my car, I have no choice but to drive myself into further credit-card debt in order to pay this latest fine from my beloved city.

I wish I had crime statistics in front of me. I am sure that every few minutes, someone in this city is getting murdered, raped, attacked, mugged or burglarized, and another illegal meth lab is producing drugs that will be offered to young schoolchildren. I find it hard to believe that these problems are being appropriately addressed with so many of our police officers spending their valuable time ticketing our fine citizens left and right for the most minor of offenses. Is this how cadets graduating from the academy dream of passing their days as uniformed officers?

Give us a break, Denver. Many of your citizens are struggling to make ends meet during these tough economic times. If you need revenue, get creative and find some other way to do it. Every time I witness another of these incidents, I feel a little more like Dirty Harry, just waiting for someone to "make my day."

Name withheld on request

His word is his Bond: Sorry, chaps. No matter if the martinis are perfect, Adega's days are numbered ("In Vino Veritas," January 2). I, for one, definitely will not carry enough quarters to feed His Cronyness's meters; it deforms the drape of my suit, which is already specially cut to accommodate the Walther. As for valet parking, do you really think I would turn over the keys to the Aston Martin to that crew? Besides, they might accidentally set off a missile launcher and take out Union Station. -- Bond, J.

Charles A. Kohlhaas
via the Internet


State Pen and Ink

Limon aid: Regarding Alan Prendergast's "Locked and Loaded," in the January 2 issue:

Alan Prendergast has skewed some facts and opinions in an attempt to do who knows what. But whatever the reason, it was irresponsible and just wrong. Limon is a dangerous prison. An educated argument could be made that it is one of the most dangerous prisons in the state, if not the most dangerous prison. Staff members -- the good ones who are not supplying him with biased ammunition to use against us -- are proud of the jobs they have done, not only over this past year, but for the almost twelve years we have been open.

Prendergast says "stabbings and beatings are common," "drugs are plentiful." Compared to where? The streets of Denver or Colorado Springs? Other prisons? Did he conduct a comparison? Did he investigate the number of "stabbings," "beatings," "disruptions," "gang conflicts," "assaults on staff" and "other violent incidents" that were thwarted by professional and diligent staff members, as well as management, over the same time period? Did he investigate the number of times staff members stopped narcotics from coming into the facility, or were able to find them after they were brought in? How about how many times staffers, using their training and communications skills, were able to talk to a distraught inmate and quell an otherwise dangerous situation?

The fact that Prendergast keeps using the murder of our brother, Eric Autobee, in order to spice up his stories is beginning to get old as well. Violent incidents occurred before a convicted felon killed a law enforcement officer. This, to him, was a warning? Violent incidents have occurred since that tragic day. What should prison staffers take this warning as? That possibly, just maybe, violent inmates might be violent? Thanks for the insight.

Charles
Limon Correctional Facility

The evil that men do: Critics of Alan Prendergast's "Death on the Installment Plan," in the December 19 issue, missed the point of his excellent piece.

We can take care of prisoners now, or we can pay more -- much more -- to take care of them later. In a civilized society, civilized treatment of prisoners is a necessary evil.

T. Smith-Lytle
Boulder County

Capitalizing punishment: I am the former medical director of a state penitentiary in a state other than Colorado. I no longer work in prison medicine, but it was an assignment that ranked among my favorites in my career. Alan Prendergast's "Death on the Installment Plan" reminds me of yellow journalism, in a sense. Many of the things he decries are certainly not limited to correctional medicine, and the achievement of the standard he seems to support is simply not reasonably achievable, either in the prison setting or in "the world." Do not misunderstand me: I do not think that convicts deserve a lower standard of care than I myself should receive. But if I get hepatitis C, I imagine (without researching it) that my chances of dying of a complication of that disease are just about equal to that of a convict. Having some training in and teaching a graduate-level course in epidemiology, I can assure you that there are a number of confounders that apply to convicts in their personal behavior that would preclude a legitimate comparison of simple raw data.

Prendergast largely avoids discussion of personal responsibility. Other than those who contracted hepatitis C through contaminated transfusions in the past, like HIV in the United States, that disease is largely one of choice. At one point, Prendergast discussed a person who assaulted his girlfriend and later mentioned that the woman unfortunately happened to die, almost consciously disconnecting his act from the final result. I believe this is the sort of thinking that disconnects hepatitis C from the behaviors that generally cause it.

Prendergast did mention, and I will guarantee, that the majority of convicts in state institutions receive medical care that is superior to what they would receive on the outside. This does not -- and is not meant to -- excuse those exceptions that constitute substandard care. I have worked in many "indigent" clinics. I have often wished I could access the standard of care for my patients in those clinics that I enjoyed for my patients in penitentiaries.

Prendergast's article struck me as capitalizing on sensationalism as opposed to unbiased reporting on health care in correctional institutions.

Tim Brady
via the Internet

Have patients: Letter writer Karin Swanson is glad I'm no longer in the Department of Corrections' employ. Well, so am I. Please don't try to confuse the issue with rhetoric that libels my professional integrity. I stated facts as I knew them; based on autopsy evidence, the coroner's office did the same. I have been outspoken oftentimes with regard to unpopular subjects, but I remain a professional nurse, and that means I am the patient advocate always.

Johanna Trimble
Pueblo


Rock and Rollins

Muscular prose: Envy is an ugly shade of green. John La Briola shocked me with his complete dis of Henry Rollins in "Chin Music," in the January 9 issue, leaving me to question the purpose of the article. La Briola's irritating editorial disguised as promotion was heavily laden with loose contempt and transparent envy, only to be undermined by his own inept researching skills. What's this guy's beef with Hank, anyway?

First, Free the West Memphis Three refers to a 1993 Arkansas case that convicted three teenagers of brutally murdering three young boys (not one, as La Briola unforgivably blundered). Two of the teenagers, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, received life sentences, as La Briola reported. However, Damien Echols, the third teen who was believed to be the ringleader, received a sentence of death by lethal injection. The lack of due process, compounded by a complete void of evidence and the resulting death sentence, has thrust the controversial case into public awareness with a lot of help from Rollins. Henry is surrounded by a long list of committed supporters, such as Pearl Jam, Motörhead, Slipknot, the late Joe Strummer, Ice T, Iggy Pop and even our (once) very own Trey Parker. Rise Above: 24 Songs to Benefit the West Memphis Three is a collaboration of many of these musicians, paid for and produced by Rollins. The CD was released this past October (not "over a year ago," as La Briola once again erred) with the intention of raising enough cash to hire proper defense attorneys.

I had not heard of Rollins suggesting that if world leaders engaged in a bit of spanking the monkey that we would achieve world peace. I did hear him propose less graphically (at Auraria last April) that we could diffuse war conflicts by bombing opposing sides with Ramones records on the theory (and simple truth) that Ramones fans can't hate other Ramones fans. Rollins's "vanity publishing company" 2.13.61 is the source of most of his material. However, 2.13.61 also publishes music and novels by lesser-known artists/authors of all genres, who may have otherwise had to sell out to grab a publishing deal.

And since La Briola brought it up, let's talk about selling out, shall we?

Is standing up for what you believe in selling out? Is touring college campuses in an attempt to expose more minds to some of the serious issues surrounding us in an entertaining way selling out? Is making public appearances on television, acting in movies with Al Pacino, or being paid insane amounts of money to do voiceovers (so you can fund your underground-driven publishing company) selling out? Or is it simply living a good, productive, fruitful life -- one that perhaps the author wishes for himself, hmmm?

C'mon, it's not like Hank's on Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire or doing any duets with J Lo, and he sure as hell knows how to pronounce David Bowie's last name.

Hey, La Briola, just because he's got big muscles, you didn't need to make him look like a boob.

Kity Ironton
Denver


What the Dickens?

The Center will not hold: Why do you review the Denver Center Theatre Company's A Christmas Carol every year? What's to review? Every year it's the same script, the same set, pretty much the same actors, the same audiences -- and each year, the same review: "A ripping good show! Bring the children. Denver Center does it again!" And again...and again...and again.

In "A Christmas Carol Glows," in the December 19 issue, Juliet Wittman devoted more space to Mr. Dickens's text than the DCTC's production did. There was A Christmas Carol at the Aurora Fox (a rather ambitious production), and Scrooge at the Jester's Dinner Theatre in Longmont. Who reviewed those efforts? Give someone else a break; the DCTC has tons of coverage. For my part, I'm a bit weary (and more than a bit wary) of Radio City Music Hall productions of that wonderful story. Too much "art," not enough heart. Why does every adapter, director and costumer feel the need to improve, explain or tweak that story?

Well, let's see what happens next year. But please -- please -- no more reviews of the DCTC's production. We know it's "sparkling, shimmering, visually stunning, with dozens of actors." Give me Alistair Sims in black and white any day.

Sharpen your focus, m'dear, and don't be led with the rest of the sheep. Is seeing a show at the Denver Center really like going to church?

Charles Berendt
Denver