Leader of the Pack
Regarding Patricia Calhoun's January 10 column, "Who's Holding the Bag?"
The answer to Calhoun's headline is simply this: The taxpayers are left holding the bag. And Denver officials don't even have the guts to tell us what's in it.

Leland Simmons

The true meaning of the term DIA: Despair, Ineptitude, Anguish.
Walter Jankowski

Snits and Misses
Regarding your January 3 issue:
Eric Dexheimer, you can't say that Pat Schroeder didn't take an active and intelligent interest in all affairs ("The Snit Hits the Fan"), whether or not she could "do something." No! But she could call attention to carelessness, ignorance and wrongdoing.

And Steve Jackson's piece on Ken Scott, "Suffer the Children," is a profile of 95 percent of the "sidewalk Goddies" who occupy 20th and Vine.

Thank you, Westword.
B. Walsh

Short but sweet. Regarding Ken Scott, deadbeat dad: Deport that pinhead! I'm all for the First Amendment and a woman's (and man's) right to do with their bodies as they see fit, but I truly think this guy's lost it. Hasn't this jerk and his flock of lobotomized lambs "herd" of the words "condom" and "birth control"? That might be against Scott's religion, but putting up with a wannabe savior (all for his own ego's sake) is against my religion! As for his ex-wife--poor judgment! Next time, keep your legs closed! It takes two to make a baby. What an example of "proper living" this guy is! Methinks he should be castrated with his own picket sign! I myself am single, have no children and still enjoy a very active sex life (condom!). But if something were to happen, I would make damn sure, above everything else, my kid would have a fighting chance. This Scott guy don't give a crap about nothing but stroking his own ego!

And regarding Michelle Dally Johnston's "Critical Condition," in the same issue: To the suits and ties of the insurance industry, I truly hope that what goes around comes around! May all involved get a catastrophic illness and may they get the shaft! A few weeks ago I met a woman from Australia who was appalled at this country's homeless and medical-care problems--"nation of savages." I agree! As for Megan, best wishes, and for the second time in a few weeks, I apologize for some of my countrymen's behavior. Best of luck.

Name withheld on request

Terms of Endurance
Michelle Dally Johnson's "Critical Conditions" should be commended for revealing a gross injustice. It is very difficult to understand how Megan Jones's health insurance could not be responsible for covering her cancer treatments, including the surgery.

I deplore such manipulation of our legal system by an insurance company and hope your article can bring some sort of pressure on them to change their mode of operation, hopefully to even reconsider the Jones situation.

Phyllis Dougherty

Your article about Megan Jones's insurance problems was very interesting to me. My husband and I have both had difficulty getting health insurance as individuals. My husband was a diabetic and I am a breast-cancer survivor. We finally got coverage for each of us; we could not get any company to take us both. My husband's coverage was very poor, and we had great difficulty in getting the company to cover his costs in the two months that he was ill before Medicare took effect.

But our problems pale compared to Megan's problems. Not having been at the trial or in on the jury deliberations, it is not possible to understand the verdict. The insurance company had no right to cancel her just when she began to need its coverage. When we were trying to buy insurance, the agents were full of wonderful stories about how prompt their company was to pay claims and how important it is to be covered. It appears the insurance companies want to sell insurance and be paid monthly premiums but not be responsible when their customers need the very coverage they are promising.

Patricia Sumter
Highlands Ranch

What an injustice for Megan Jones. Hopefully, there will be another trial for her--this time a fair trial, not a comedy of errors.

M. Smith

Where There's Smoke, There's Ire
Regarding T.R. Witcher's "Firemen, Save My Department!" in the January 10 issue:

I am a Denver General paramedic and have witnessed the growing distrust develop over the years between the field paramedics and the administrative staff. Stephanie Thomas showed this when, speaking about the paramedics, she commented, "You know how people won't sometimes get to the real issues." It has been this type of continuous indifference and suspicion that drove us to unionize in order to combat such a defeatist attitude toward our division.

It appears that Mr. Witcher did his homework, and he should be applauded for his efforts to cover all sides of the story. Yet I found it discouraging that he suggests the paramedics are attempting to "bail out of the city's health agency." On the contrary, the paramedics are desperately trying to improve a system that has remained stagnant for years while the demand for ambulances has increased. This is difficult to do when, as one member said, the fact-finding mission of the mayor's task force was "slanted" against the paramedics to begin with. It has been this unwillingness to be honest that has made it very difficult for the paramedics to improve not only their working conditions but also their ability to serve the people of Denver. We are not looking for a battle; we simply want to guarantee everyone who lives in Denver that they will not have to wait an unreasonable amount of time for a paramedic when they call 911.

Patrick Quinn

Keep on Truckin'
I read with interest Elana Ashanti Jefferson's "Everybody's Fuming," in the January 10 issue. The article raises some questions in my mind. It is clear that breathing diesel exhaust is undesirable. Motorists (at least in metro areas) are obliged to keep their emissions within certain bounds. We have to undergo inspections designed to keep cars that don't meet certain minimal standards off the road. I believe a car emitting "visible smoke" can be ticketed. (Check me on this--I have never heard of it being enforced in Colorado.)

So what about commercial trucks? What are the emissions standards that they have to attain? If they are exempt from such standards, what are the political dealings that lead to such an exemption?

What I'm getting at here is that there is a solution to those Vail folks' problem that was not pursued. Instead of moving the problem to some other spot up the road, limit the emissions. (Of course, you still would want to keep the trucks from parking there. Just let 'em stop long enough to chain up.)

With the spurt of growth we are seeing along the Front Range, rare is the drive where I don't find myself behind a dump truck, cement mixer or whatever that is blatantly out of tune, continuously spewing black smoke. I've discussed this with diesel mechanics. The consensus is that there is not an inherent problem with diesel technology. It is certainly possible to run them clean. But the operators don't have to. Or do they?

I wonder if Westword would be interested in pursuing this a bit. Something along the lines of "Citizens bend over to clear the air while big money enjoys a cigar." Thanks for an interesting and thought-provoking weekly.

Glenn P. Davis

Two years ago the Colorado Department of Transportation constructed a chain-up area for large trucks at the 179-mile marker on eastbound I-70. Last summer Vail had this safe haven for trucks removed, without regard for the safety of the truck drivers. Truckers are being forced to chain on the shoulder, sometimes protruding into the roadway. Instead of having trucks at the chain-up area, we now have trucks scattered from the 170- to 180-mile markers on some of the most dangerous spots in the area (e.g., the Minturn curve).

Parking on the roadway is prohibited by Federal Motor Carrier regulations. In what can only be described as vindictive and ignorant acts, Colorado is requiring truckers to risk their lives, violate federal law and destroy expensive equipment so that the state can appear in control of what amounts to a situation of too many vehicles and not enough roadway. Automobile users on I-70 are not the only ones perturbed by the lack of solutions to our traffic problems. I personally travel over 90,000 miles on Colorado I-70 per year, and there are many other professional drivers who log the same amount or more. It is nothing less than criminal to allow a town such as Vail to so misinform the public, blame the trucking industry and aggressively enforce practices that are unsafe to all.

Ironic behavior, I should think, for a city that is completely dependent on daily deliveries from semis.

Michael Collins

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