Cadillac jack: Regarding Jared Jacang Maher's "Catch and Release," in the September 16 issue:
We purchased a Cadillac Escalade EXT truck for our son back in May 2002. Between then and this July, he was stopped by Colorado police agencies -- Denver, Commerce City, Thornton, Adams County sheriffs and Federal Heights (mostly Federal Heights) 24 times. The police would ask him: Is this your vehicle? Is this vehicle stolen? Are you working?
As parents, we should have made a sign for the back window stating "We bought this vehicle for our son." Once I was driving the Escalade, coming back from the gas station. An Adams County sheriff's deputy followed me to my front door and gave me a ticket. He said I didn't stop at a stop sign.
The tickets ended up being paid, and my son's driving record was tagged with operating a defective vehicle. His license was suspended for six months. We feel that he was harassed by those police agencies. We finally got rid of the truck. It's just a crying shame that we couldn't buy our son a safe vehicle to ride in.
Dave Gallegos Sr.
There blows the neighborhood: When the mayor of Erie ordered residents to clean up, he apparently also removed their sense of humor. Kenny Be's "Erie, But True" Worst-Case Scenario, in the September 9 issue, was hilarious. And even funnier, it was true! I have friends who live in Erie and are still laughing over how the mayor had to backtrack on code enforcement.
Backyard barbecued: So much for alternative journalism. Kenny Be's September 9 Worst-Case Scenario was a tasteless and pathetic reflection of the depths to which your paper has sunk. Yes, Erie is proud that its Vista Ridge neighborhood was selected for the Parade of Homes. Yes, Erie is proud that it received an award for an exemplary budget. Why shouldn't we be? Why would you slam our town for these accomplishments and for having a section of town that needs some clean-up? Is there any town or city in this country that does not have a section that could use some improvement? Is there any town or city in this country that has not had to make tough budget choices in these economic times? There is great support for our new mayor, Andrew Moore, and his open communication style and efforts at making Erie an even better place to live. Those of us who live in Old Town consciously chose to live where there is a sense of community, history and socioeconomic diversity. We intentionally choose not to live in a neighborhood where homeowners' associations tell you how to live and every house looks like the next in a sea of beige.
And a note to Kenny Be: Next time, before you decide to judge a book by its cover, why don't you take some time out of your busy cartoon-drawing schedule to become better informed, get the full story, and get to know the people of Erie instead of perpetuating stereotypes and making shallow, ignorant and offensive insults? Old Town Erie is full of beautiful, historic homes with attractive landscaping and gardens. Why don't you come back to Erie and I'll show you the rest of town, which you obviously didn't see?
Legal restraints: After reading David Holthouse's "License to Kill" in the September 9 issue, the heartbreaking story about Sonja DeVries and the nine-time (!) drunk driver who killed her, I propose that our Colorado Legislature immediately pass a "Sonja's Law" that severely stiffens the penalties for those who are busted for multiple drunk-driving convictions. I can't think of a better way to honor her life than to have a law named after her that may save other innocent lives in the future.
Struggling to understand: I just want to thank you for David Holthouse's "License to Kill." Sonja DeVries will be missed. I live in New Mexico and met her the same day that Noah met her. She was beautiful, fun and warm. I, too, felt an instant connection. She attended my wedding in October. Just her presence there was wonderful -- her smile, her love, her compassion. Many of us seem to be struggling with the concept that "there are no accidents" and then finding fault with this man and his drunk driving and obvious murder. We realize that she would still be alive had he not been so careless. However, we have compassion and love for this man. It is difficult to find fault and blame and yet love unconditionally at the same time. It is a struggle.
I do think that Colorado's laws need to change. And I do think this man now realizes the consequences of his actions. Unfortunately, he will have to deal with this being on his shoulders. Again, thank you. David Holthouse is an incredible writer with wonderful artistic ability and compassion. He is appreciated.
via the Internet
It's an ad, ad, ad, ad world: While reading "License to Kill, I couldn't help noticing that less than an inch from the photos of once-living vehicular-homicide victim Sonja DeVries was an advertisement for a self-proclaimed "DUI lawyer." I've noticed many of this lawyer's ads in Westword over the years, and why not? His business, which consists primarily of getting demonstrably drunk drivers like Ramon Romero behind the wheel of a car as quickly as possible, is undoubtedly assisted by the advertising you sell him. In return, the money he gives Westword helps you publish articles decrying the horror of repeat DUI offenders slaughtering innocents. I wonder, does anyone at your publication understand the word "irony"? How about "hypocrisy"?
via the Internet
Strike while the irony's hot: I read David Holthouse's poignant "License to Kill," and it had a tremendous impact on my desire to do something about this. The urgency has been stepped up. At first I felt it was totally heartless on Westword's part to place a DUI lawyer's advertisement opposite the heartwrenching photos of Sonja DeVries. But when I turned the page and saw the ".08: This Is Hardball" advertisement, I knew that Westword was working to infuriate people like me to the point of doing something to improve how we handle drunken driving. For that contrast and carefully chosen placement, I say thank you.
Run for your lives: Untimely death is a tragic thing. Few things are sadder than a parent outliving a child. This having been said, I do hope that people think twice before rushing to contact MADD or their legislators to stiffen yet further Colorado's already draconian general drunk-driving laws.
It is clear from the story that no amount of general legislation could have persuaded Ramon Romero to not drive drunk. Special cases need special attention, not greater restrictions and policing of the majority of the population that doesn't have the same problems that Mr. Romero does.
We must face the fact that the only thing that will make us completely safe is to stay at home with the doors barred and the (steel-reinforced) curtains drawn. There has to be some sane trade-off between the rampant, creeping over-regulation of life that is embracing us daily and genuine concern for public safety. While I don't claim to know what this trade-off is, it most emphatically isn't increasing the state's ability to pick our pockets and run our lives.
Peter F. Johnson
Blair bitch project: Regarding Michael Roberts's "Checks and Balances," in the September 16 issue:
It's tempting to attach every development to the Jayson Blair affair. But as it happens, the New York Times's printed handbook on ethical journalism, including the rule against campaign contributions, appeared in January 2003, almost half a year before any of Blair's problems came to light.
Allan M. Siegal, assistant managing editor The New York Times
Armies of the write: How could Michael Roberts write such a beautiful article about Steve Cyphers and then ruin it all with a low-level paragraph at the end of his September 9 column about the Rocky Mountain News printing a favorable picture of President Bush? It turns out you are just another part of the media that's too ignorant to realize we are involved in World War III, fighting for our survival. Our commander-in-chief must have our support. What a shame that Roberts writes so well, then ruins it all at the end with a stupid statement.
via the Internet
Alma mutter: Just a note to thank you for Michael Paglia's September 16 review, "Rotogravure," prominently featuring Ron Wohlauer's fine exhibit at CPAC. I had the pleasure of teaching with Ron for the last 25 years at the Community College of Denver, where we worked hard and often struggled to create an outstanding program for what must be thousands of photography students. That program still is thriving under the leadership of Lincoln Phillips. I retired from duty in 2001, but Ron, because he loved teaching, found it difficult to give up until he fell so ill. I am deeply saddened by his loss and was puzzled to find no mention of where he spent almost half of his life as an educator in Paglia's article. I was really confounded by this glaring omission. I am sure there are lots of former students out there (many of whom attended the CPAC opening) who would like to read that Ron had a distinguished career as an educator at the college they attended.
Thanks again for following Ron's career and your obvious interest in photography.
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Crossing Jordano: Since I began making regular visits to Denver over two years ago, I've never missed an opportunity to enjoy an evening of superb dining at Cafe Jordano. Therefore, I can find no fault with Jason Sheehan's excellent and entertaining review, "The Simple Life," in the September 9 issue. However, I will add that we have one simple rule: You can take friends there, but you can't tell anyone about it! I fear Jason's review will make it harder than ever to get a table there. Can't wait to get back to Colorado!
You are what you eat: Memo to Jason Sheehan critics -- food is life and life is food. The two are inextricably linked, and a good food writer such as Mr. Sheehan recognizes this fact. It is what makes him an engaging writer. If you want a list of restaurant names followed by an "A" or "three stars" or "47 whisks," then buy a Zagat Guide. I look forward to Sheehan's column all week. Keep up the good work!