Last Writes

Letters to the Editor

Innocence lost: Thank you for printing Alan Prendergast's "The Death of Innocence" in the July 31 issue. It was very well written, very well researched, and I'm so glad I had the chance to read it. I hope your action in increasing public awareness has a positive outcome on the case.

Kevin Orlowski

Sleazy does it: Alan Prendergast: You should check facts with all parties before printing accusations. Do some character checks on Patrick Ramirez. Patrick is my cousin, and we have been close throughout our lives. I have seen Patrick with many babies, and under no circumstances would he ever hurt a child. You could check that with anybody who truly knows Patrick. He was attempting to keep a friend out of trouble -- a woman who murdered her own child! Possibly you should check the mental-health status of people providing information.

You are a disgrace to your profession and to all human beings. I thought that only the cheap, sleazy rags were into yellow journalism. It will be my family's great pleasure to assist our cousin in suing you personally, as well as the supposed newspaper you work for.

Kasey Mullins
via the Internet

Alan Prendergast replies: I would have been happy to "check my facts" with Patrick Ramirez, but as I noted in the article, both he and his attorney declined to comment on the case. I stand by my story about the death of Kyran Gaston-Voss, which draws on numerous interviews with witnesses, court and police records, Ramirez's lengthy statements to authorities, and consultations with nationally known medical experts. If that's yellow journalism, color me lemon-butter.

That Westword dared to print facts about the case also shook up Alamosa District Attorney Pete Comar, who filed a motion on August 4 seeking sanctions against Krystal Voss for talking to me. "It is apparent that the reporter obtained numerous confidential police reports and more significantly autopsy reports that would only have been disseminated to the defendant by and through her attorney," the DA complained to the judge. Somebody should tell Mr. Comar another useful fact: Autopsy reports are public records in Colorado and obtainable by anyone. I got Kyran's report from the county coroner.

Check This Out

Dumb and dumber: Regarding Stuart Steers's "Checked Out," in the August 7 issue:

Kudos for having the courage to scrutinize the Denver Public Library. As a retired librarian (university and public), I've been appalled at the "dumbing down" that has occurred at the library over the last few years. The library appeals to the lowest-common denominator and ignores citizens who want more solid fare. I find three to five copies of fiction by unknown authors gathering dust but am unable to find books reviewed in local or national papers. Rick Ashton trumpets customer service, but why did he never reopen the Field branch on Wednesday during the flush economic years?

Higher taxes for a library district? No way.

Nancy Graham

Are we having funds yet? Let me see if I get this. Under Rick Ashton's leadership, the Denver Public Library has been declared the best public library in the country. And in the midst of a staggering citywide deficit, the chief executive of the library has expressed concern about the basic business issue of whether fundraising costs more than it raises? That doesn't seem like such an outrageous thing to wonder about. Despite a lot of sometimes entertaining innuendo, by the way, Steers's article never did deny the claim.

Denver Public is still a great library. Kudos to a director, a staff and the many remaining volunteers who make it so, even when times are tough.

James LaRue, director
Douglas County Libraries

Closing the book: The bookstore has been closed for nearly six weeks now. Another piece of the library has died.

I suppose your average observer would miss the relevance of such a closing. After all, it was such a small place, and easily missed as you enter the all-encompassing grandeur of the Denver Public Library, voted the number-one library in the nation two years running. Just a simple gift shop, a knicknack store with used books, magazines and greeting cards. You probably could purchase most of the items at a neighborhood garage sale, flea market, Wal-Mart.

Why, then, would people come from all over the state to visit this little hole in the wall? Why would tourists from Japan to Scotland be so fascinated with such a common array of shelf items? Even residents of our own beloved city would bring their aunts, uncles, cousins visiting from New York or California just to rummage through this cornucopia of gifts.

As a humble servant of the city and an employee of the library, I've witnessed firsthand hundreds of dejected folks as they wander through the west entrance and look inside the glass doors, only to discover that their favorite little gift shop in all the world has been dismantled due to budget constraints.

This is a sad testimonial to the overall issue of budget problems facing the city today. What is even more disturbing is the strong possibility that this favorite little knicknack store will be converted into a media extravaganza, complete with DVDs, CDs and videos -- a Media Play #2, if you will. Although the sign will not say Blockbuster, it will, in effect, be the same thing. Books and information have taken a back seat to computers, video games and music CDs, all of which can be checked out and rented at the library.

Which brings me back to the little bookshop -- or should I say the little fish in the big pond that was unceremoniously eaten by commercialization, political pressures, sophisticated demographic analysis and headstrong leadership? Tell that to the hundreds of people who flock in every day. The grandmothers, the grandsons, the couple from Austria who speak perfect English. Tell them why the bookstore, their favorite little shop in all the world, has been shut down and barricaded, just waiting for that first shipment of DVDs to arrive.

Oh, what an unglorious day that will be.

Name withheld on request

Trash landing: Last week, a friend told me a story about dumpster diving at the main branch of the Denver Public Library. It seems the night custodial staff has access to the closely guarded trash, and among boxes and boxes of unopened used books, this person found a Harry Potter DVD in perfectly good condition. I told this to someone who was a library volunteer for a number of years, and she told me about a local collector of Colorado history books who contributed a sizable and impressive library to the DPL, only to learn that the whole collection was trashed because the DPL "didn't have the staff to process it."

I realize the library may get boxloads of old National Geographic magazines that are worthless (every collector thinks these are valuable) -- but the DPL violates the public trust when it accepts valuable donations and trashes them without evaluating. Wouldn't it make more sense to give the books away to Goodwill, ARC, etc., instead of sending them to a landfill? Thanks for your in-depth report.

John Sturtz

Let's Make a Deal

Crack reporting: Thank you so much for Julie Jargon's "Capitol Ill," in the August 7 issue, and for bringing more awareness to our neighborhood. I moved to Denver a year ago from Washington, D.C. The first thing I noticed about Denver was that the socioeconomic lines are really fine. The good and the bad mesh with one another here, while there are certain areas in D.C where a single white female or male just knows they should not go after 7 p.m.

In Capitol Hill, my neighbors and I sit on our stoop and watch the "crackies" walk up and down the street. On the sidewalk is spray-painted "Crack Street." We are disgusted seeing the zombies selling their rocks and coming up to us, asking us for "baby food" money. Capitol Hill is a beautiful area with much flavor. We wish, however, that there was not so much negative energy around, brought in by the dealers. We are tired of seeing them do their deeds in our neighborhood. Some of us have written letters to Colorado political figures; more publicity may help clean up our neighborhood.

Michelle Lea

All Kobe, All the Time

Fault lines: For Richard Scott (Letters, August 7) to say that Kobe Bryant can't get a fair trial in Colorado, and then to compare all Colorado residents to Chivington or Alfred Packer, is about as asinine as saying he can't get a fair trial in California because all California residents are like Charles Manson or Scott Peterson.

Keith Espinoza

All's fair: I can't help but wonder what Richard Scott did to tick off his neighbors enough for them to report him for breaking the law. Aw, gee whiz.

My husband and I just returned from a visit to the "fair" state of California. Obviously, they don't care about the law there, since the majority of freeway drivers were spinning along at 90 mph. If I had reported them (which was impossible, since they were going too fast for me to read their plates), I probably would have been laughed off the road. As the car-rental agent said, "California drivers go as fast as they can till they think they'll tip over."

Scott obviously belongs in his "fair" state, and I join his ex-Longmont neighbors who are probably saying "Good riddance!"

Joanne Telea

From Rag to Retches

This is sick! I am a casual Westword reader who usually looks through the paper for show listings and reviews. I do not read Dan Savage's section usually, but since the July 31 issue was the only current reading material at my place, I was flipping through and came across Savage Love.

I really wish I hadn't.

Let me start by saying that I am by no means easily shocked. But when I read the letter from Sick in Nashville and Dan Savage's response, I was almost nauseated. I was sickened at the decision of Westword to print something like this, and further sickened at Savage's response. Maybe he could tell everyone about his "qualifications" for addressing "problems" such as this. Or does he have any?

Let me clue you in to something: Sick in Nashville has more than a fetish. The man is truly sick and needs serious professional help, and if Dan Savage had even an ounce of common sense and or/professional training, he would know this. Or was he especially forgiving because Sick in Nashville's fetish happens to involve homosexuality? (Not that I care; it's disgusting either way.) What was Savage thinking when he decided to print this? Wow, he and Westword are really on the cutting edge -- you're shocking people!

Perhaps Westword just isn't the kind of publication that a straight, responsible, relatively "normal" white male should be reading, and with that said, I'll tell you that I won't be reading it any longer. I suppose I won't get to read the valuable "alternative" articles about junkies sticking nails up their noses and the etiquette of homeless alcoholics and their swill cups. Oh, well.

Brian Rattigan Jr.


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