Poem on the Range
Regarding the September 13 Off Limits:
Legal lyrics not done solo
News for some within Westword
Prosecution prose pro bono
But not without some effort.
Verse is not an easy art
As anyone can see
Rhyming is the biggest part
At least it is for me.
So when I see a poet
Whose verse is free or blank
I try hard not to show it
But I really don't like that style very much.
Craig Silverman
Chief Deputy DA, Denver

When Worse Comes to Ursa
I am writing to tell you how disappointed I am with Westword and Robin Chotzinoff for siding with the Denver Zoo in the September 13 article titled "We're Loaded for Bear." The issue about Snow and Klondike moving to Florida involves a lot more than where the two bears will spend the rest of their lives. If the bears go, it won't make a lot of difference, but if they stay here, they will continue to educate and entertain generations of Colorado's children.

This is an issue about a government entity taking our tax dollars and donations without being accountable to the people for their actions. The Denver Zoological Foundation operates on a 1956 agreement that allows them to do whatever they want with almost no accountability to anyone.

Ms. Chotzinoff said that the Zoo Two-Save Our Bears Foundation was proposing building something at the Stapleton site just to house the bears. This is crazy! The Save Our Bears Foundation suggested building something like San Diego's successful Wild Animal Park. This second facility would help all the animals, not just Snow and Klondike. It would also free up room at the present zoo for more improvements there. Why help Florida? Can't we have it all here?

The zoo has stated that there isn't room for the bears here. That simply isn't true. Northern Shores used to have eight bears. With Snow and Klondike we now have only seven bears. We also have enough genetic diversity to breed them here. We have two females and one male that are not related to Snow and Klondike! When Klondike and Snow are adults (in two to four years), they could be introduced to those bears for breeding.

In the article, the zoo's Angela Baier said, "It's time for them to go. We're maxed out on polar bears." I don't think this sounds like someone who wants to do "what is best for the bears." The zoo is hiding a lot of information from the public, and Westword got sucked into their lies. I think someone at the zoo is getting something under the table! The facts just don't add up.

I wish I could draw. I would love to update your cartoon on the cover to show Clayton Freiheit and Angela Baier's faces in place of Klondike and Snow's. "Clayton and Angela MUST GO!" The zoo director's comments about "SOBs" and Kinsey's past careers say a lot about the quality of people we have in the top ranks at the zoo. Thank goodness they don't care for the animals!

Alan Davis

I have to agree with Robin Chotzinoff about Klondike and Snow. Sure, they were cute, but hey, they're not exactly babies anymore. There are much better things to see at the zoo. Like my favorite, the red panda. I also agree that the gift shops are overcrowded with these two nuisances. Last time I went, the only other thing in the store were some stuffed dolphins. The zoo needs to hurry up and ship those bears to Florida so people can enjoy the zoo again.

Gena Lasater

Just finished reading Robin Chotzinoff's "We're Loaded for Bear," and it did make me laugh.

But being humorous is no excuse for inaccuracy. Don't know which novel the writer read about polar bears in Churchill, Alaska (reportedly based on true accounts), but her geography is way off. Churchill is on the migratory route for polar bears, true enough, but the town is located on Hudson Bay in northern Manitoba, in Canada. Alaska is thousands of miles west and a part of the United States.

Just wanted to clarify that one point.
Gloria Zakus

Way to go, Chotzinoff! I thought I was the only one who was tired of those damn bears. If only the TV stations paid as much attention to real issues instead of to furry media stars.

Jay Frank
Denver Hit the Bricks
In Stuart Steers's "Tricky Bricks," in the September 13 issue, Sue O'Brien is quoted as believing "the infield was for folks with pull." My brick is in center field with the Mick, Mays and DiMaggio. Infield pull, my backside!

Tom Van Arsdale

Rust in Peace
Regarding Michael Roberts's "Ohio or Bust," in the September 13 issue:
As a native of Akron/Kent, Ohio, I was not at all surprised by M. Roberts's carp coverage of Cleveland, under the guise of a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame bit. Mike mentioned the Cuyahoga burning. Been swimming in the self-heating ponds at Rocky Flats lately, Mike? We Rust-Belters are human beings; the U.S. war machine sucked us dry. Where do we turn for opportunity? Denver's open arms, nuclear arms?

Admiral Morrison and I met in Vietnam in 1968. We were burning North Vietnam while the Cuyahoga burned. So you see, Mike, war depletes a nation's financial, natural and human resources. Denver is being overrun with war refugees; the U.S. crumbles from within.

Castigating Cleveland does not reduce Denver's drive-by killings or "battered Bronco fans' wives." Thanks, Mike, for the rock-and-roll trivia. Stick to it; leave politics to the Pentagon. Why put people down with words when bullets are available?

Stephen Stills: "Think I'll go back home, back where I belong."
John P. Kusnir

Suit Yourself
Regarding Off Limits in the July 19 issue:
Dressing down on Fridays is appropriate in and out of the office. I would trust a lawyer, business executive or government official more in shorts and a polo shirt than a business suit. Dressing casual puts you and the client more at ease. Allowing people to be themselves and dress in their own unique styles at least one day a week is important. People in offices on dress-down days always seem more relaxed, friendly and cooperative. Freedom to dress the way you want allows employees and visiting clients to work in a fun, lively environment.

Grace Saunders

Read It and Reap
Referring to your recent article about Earning by Learning ("Getting a Read on Newt," August 30), I was disappointed that the article ignored the tremendous successes the project had this summer in Denver. It is true that the concept was originated by Representative Newt Gingrich. Since he seems to be someone newspaper reporters "love to hate," writer Michelle Dally Johnston used the opportunity to criticize a politician. I personally do not care who came up with this idea for motivating kids to spend time reading; it's a good idea, even if you don't like the politician who started it. The important thing is the benefit to kids who need help, like the little boy at EBL who told us he hates to read and isn't very good at it--and after six weeks decided that he wants to be a writer! Earning by Learning is concerned with opportunity--giving kids improved reading skills in order to improve their chances to become good students and get good jobs. They have the ability to succeed; they just need to be motivated. I would like to see a Westword article about Earning by Learning and the children--leaving out politics!

Andy McKean

As the director of Earning by Learning in Colorado, I was surprised that Michelle Johnston did not contact me about the program (although I was available) but quoted extensively from one of the male volunteers--which resulted in many inaccuracies. I suppose that she simply assumes that the man must be the director, which is not true in this case.

The article focused on the fact that a purely volunteer effort may, in the future, have a part-time paid employee. In the course of applying for a $25,000 grant, I added a $10,000 salary to the amount going to the kids (in order to have a total budget over $25,000). It is highly unlikely that anyone will donate $25,000 to a project that has raised only $1,400 toward next year's effort, and I fully expect that Earning by Learning will continue to be a volunteer project. The fundamental distinction between Earning by Learning and other efforts is that EBL is privately funded--absolutely no taxpayer money is sought or accepted. We have an inner-city literacy problem; let's see what we can do about it together, without begging for taxpayer money.

Kathy Griswold
Director, Earning by Learning

Editor's note: When Michelle Dally Johnston contacted Earning by Learning, she first reached Andy McKean, a "male volunteer" who just happens to be the program's founder. But Johnston also spoke with Kathy Griswold, who subsequently mailed Westword information that was used in the article--including a two-page description of McKean's founding role.