Identity crisis: Regarding Helen Thorpe's "Head of the Class," in the December 2 issue:
Thank you for highlighting the plight of undocumented students like Pablo. In my opinion, this issue must remain on one of the front burners, especially with the new makeup of the legislature, and this article helps keep the issue hot.
Still, I am worried about your decision to identify Pablo by using his real first name and other obvious clues. Yes, the author asked his father, and he said that it was up to his son. No, you didn't use Pablo's last name. But with all of the other obvious clues in the article, it would not be very difficult to deduce his identity. I understand that you were probably trying to honor the wishes of the student, but I fear that there may be some serious repercussions for Pablo and his family.
As a journalist, caring adult and individual who obviously cares about the plight of undocumented students like Pablo, I believe that Thorpe should have strongly advised, or even insisted, that his identity be protected. As you are aware, we are living in a very hostile environment toward immigrants, especially Mexican immigrants. Is the hostility widespread? Perhaps not. But I would argue that there are some very high-ranking officials (Tancredo) who have influence and power and are not afraid to openly attack undocumented immigrants as a group of particular individuals. As Thorpe pointed out in the article, look what happened to the other student who was identified. Essentially, he and his family were forced to go into hiding.
Again, thank you for "Head of the Class." However, I am disappointed that you chose to identify the student in the way that you have.
Miguel In Suk Lovato
Border patrol: Just a few words about your article about Pablo, the illegal immigrant from Mexico. First of all, you wasted seven good pages of paper. I have not seen seven pages on an American story.
These people are being catered to by Colorado and the U.S. because of Clinton's and Bush's agreement with Mexico president Fox. They are coming here from Mexico and creating havoc: taking jobs, buying homes and cars; gathering at Wal-Mart, flea markets, car washes and casinos; and getting free health and food services from the state. They even have their own health clinic catering to mostly illegal immigrants from Mexico.
In order for Americans to work in the social-services field, they must speak Spanish. I thought this was America. I thought we were supposed to all speak English only. Apparently, we are in Mexico! And these people are rude, they do crime here, and then they run to Mexico.
Dave Gallegos Sr.
Practice what you teach: My heart breaks for this intelligent, highly motivated and capable young man. I teach at George Washington High School, and work -- as do many DPS educators who hope for the availability of opportunities -- for all graduating seniors to become successful in their lives. I am praying that Pablo has the chance; he earned that opportunity during his personal educational history. We tell young people, "Your job is to work at learning. Your compensation is higher education. During academia, your job continues to be to earn the highest level of competency you are capable of achieving, and following that process is rewarded with a degree. At that point, your job is to work at a career." It's one of those American philosophies, isn't it? Please do not tell me that this young man with plans to become a surgeon is now working beside his father. This boy's young mind -- "what a terrible thing to waste."
State senator John Andrews stated, "At eighteen, a young person is hardly too young to receive the clear message that the law is to be taken seriously." Pablo is a very intelligent young man who does understand this law. In fact, he is living it. Senator Andrews mentioned "private benefactors" without knowing who they are. In doing his homework, wouldn't that have been a helpful "clear message" to include in his speech for students in Pablo's situation? Unfortunately, Westword only located two such benefactors. Is there a place to contribute to some type of scholarship fund for Pablo?
Extra credit: I was quite motivated by "Head of the Class." I want to take some sort of action, although I'm uncertain of which direction. I want my voice to be heard in support of undocumented students having reasonable access to higher education. Thank you for publishing this story. I'm interested in hearing more about this issue -- not just the rest of Pablo's story, but how to help the many other students who may not be as fortunate as he is.
Food for thought: I smell a rat, Westword. Not just the usual rat of cloying prose and smarmy liberal self-congratulation, but a much larger, stinkier rat: backhanded influence peddling.
I got a whiff of said rodent when I noticed that the author of last week's heartstring-tugger, Helen Thorpe, is married to our illustrious mayor, John Hickenlooper. It took one utterance of "cui bono" and about a minute of playing "follow the money" on the Internet to track down the rotting carcass I was looking for. Consider the following taken from your very own newspaper, in a story published February 27, 2003: "The Colorado Restaurant Association has contributed to the campaigns of both brewer Hickenlooper and Zavaras, whose brother-in-law, Pete Contos, owns a number of restaurants, including Pete's Kitchen. 'They could be from the Communist Party, and if they owned a restaurant, we'd support them,' says association president Pete Meersman."
The restaurant industry is probably the largest beneficiary of illegal immigration in the United States. Could it be that this industry -- Hickenlooper's own -- might have a vested interest in keeping the American public enamored with the idea of unlimited, lawless immigration? FDR once quipped that "in politics, nothing happens by accident." (But he was a commie, anyway. Why believe him?) Oh, but it's really all about the kids, right?
Which brings me to the actual subject matter at hand. "Pablo" -- I feel for you, so take comfort in the fact that our Glorious Imperial Legions are in dire need of more cannon fodder to keep the world safe for maquiladoras and McDonald's. "The nation-state is finished," as they like to say at the Wall Street Journal. All hail the New World Order!
Welcome mat: Dave Herrera, in regard to your December 2 Beatdown about Melo rappin' at the club, did it occur to you that maybe he was just making the guests feel welcome? It was after 1 a.m., and I did not see an American Idol truck out front.
Why not put some of those three-chord, three-piece bands from New York that you love so much under the microscope and see how they hold up?
Slim chance: Yo, Dave, I read your December 2 Beatdown, and I just wanted to let you know that I still got my ears to the streets in Denver. Let's not forget who changed the game as far as hip-hop parties go in your city. In an article I read in the paper earlier this year, you guys said it yourselves, and there still hasn't been anyone to bring as many celebrities to the club in one night as me. So let's not let this little bag of weed mess with your memory -- but if it has, I will be back All-Star weekend to remind you that I'm number one. I'm the Hip-Hop King of LoDo, and I don't even live there.
James "Slim" Cunningham
via the Internet
Son set: "Shades of Guilt," in the November 25 issue, was as thrilling as any episode of Law & Order. How horrible that it was a true story! I grieve for Kyran Voss, and for Krystal. I cannot imagine how she lived through the loss of her son -- and then to be convicted of killing him must be more than she can bear.
Thanks to Alan Prendergast for his excellent work.
To tell the truth: I am outraged by Alan Prendergast's "Shades of Guilt" and his description of the investigation done in this case. This is not justice. From what I have learned, in many other counties -- including Arapahoe County -- investigators are the criminals when it comes to creating stories to make their investigation more than it is. Too many people are going to prison because of bad investigating. Who is really searching for the truth anymore? It's who can twist the story, poke holes and help their team win "truth."
In my opinion, there is no justice in the criminal-justice system. I fear for those innocent people who have to defend themselves in any courtroom. I know that there are people out there who have committed crimes and deserve what they get, but please, jurors, find them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. What if that person was you?
Parent trap: My heart goes out to the father of Kyran Voss. A parent should never have to bury his or her child. I do feel, however, that Krystal and Patrick are both responsible for the child's death. Because with Krystal's "keen interest in natural healing and herbalism," it would seem that she would have a way to calm herself down naturally, and if the child had the injuries when Patrick arrived, wouldn't the responsible adult alert the authorities? Or was he still pussy-whipped? When did the love of a woman take precedence over the safety of a child?
If it takes a village to raise a child, are Krystal and Patrick the village idiots?
Name withheld on request
Subpoena envy: I really liked Michael Roberts's "Fighting the Chills," his December 2 column about reporters being taken to court.
I'm a reporter for a regional newspaper in Eastern Kentucky that covers five counties, a new concept here. We come out twice weekly. In the county I cover, Floyd, there have been some major and disturbing issues emerging from family-court and social-worker cases.
In one case I have covered, a couple are trying to get back their seven children. It's a long story I won't get into, but they wanted us to print their children's names, and we have. They said that if they lose their children, they want them to know they fought for them. Well, the judge has issued a gag order in the case, which of course we reported. The attorney appointed by the state for the children's interests (whose wife is a state social worker) asked that we be held in contempt for naming the children (the story was published before the gag order) and asked the county attorney to investigate me and my editor and charge us with a crime.
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Thank goodness the county attorney knew better; I was "cleared" after one question.
Nothing like that had ever happened to me, and I've been reporting for about twenty years now.
I agree that some type of Supreme Court ruling is going to be needed to stop this wave of trampling the First Amendment and sending reporters to jail. Thanks again for writing a column that a reporter can really relate to and understand. There are so few in the media who can really do that, despite their own claims.
The Big Sandy News