The Meter's Running
Regarding Patricia Calhoun's "Call Me a Cab," in the January 31 issue:
What's next for the publicity wizards in our fair city? Monitoring playground talk to make sure that no kids criticize Denver Public Schools? Spying on fans at Coors Field so that no one boos when Galarraga strikes out of the playoffs? At least no Denver cab has ever lost my luggage, which is more than I can say for the airlines.

Joel Harris

I just read Patricia Calhoun's "Call Me a Cab," and it reminded me of a question I thought of earlier: Why do we have to have the Conoco station inside the parking-garage toll gates? This way, no matter which way you're going, you've got to pay extra on your parking if you're not within the grace period to stop and fill up on gas.

And, of course, you'll need that gas, because you've just driven all that way in the vast wasteland with no gas station in sight.

Bob Nelson

Kempe Followers
In the January 31 issue of Westword, the letter by Susan W. Hiatt, director of the Kempe Center, serves to demonstrate why this state agency requires further scrutiny by the state legislature. Mental-health professionals, who work on the very same issues as the Kempe Center does, must be licensed, submit to the authority of the state's Mental Health Occupational Grievance Board and risk being sued for malpractice. The fact that none of this applies to those employed at the Kempe Center is an insult to the profession.

This combination of confidentiality, sovereign immunity and lack of licensure has turned the Kempe Center into a sanctuary for the unqualified, the incompetent and the unethical. The system is not protecting abused children. It is shielding gross negligence, by state employees, that no private organization would ever tolerate.

It is indeed sad that Hiatt rallies to support Clare Haynes-Seman but is unable to refute any of the criticism that professionals across the nation have leveled against the Kempe Center's former director of its Family Evaluation Team. Hiatt berates Westword for "denigrating" Haynes-Seman, but no one has denied any of the wrongdoings this publication has detailed. Is it any wonder that no responsible source would want to fund the "crystal ball psychology" practiced by Haynes-Seman? This is clearly a governmental entity in denial of its cloudy past.

Child abuse is a horrible plague in our society. But if past practices of the Kempe Center are any example of the state's effort to combat this evil, then the cure is as bad as the disease. Unless the legislature and the governor make some long overdue changes, Colorado will never be "the best place to raise a child."

Drew Kerin
Commerce City

The departure of Haynes-Seman from the Kempe Center--for whatever reasons--came far too late for the many innocent families harmed by her "assessments." These "assessments" were not based on facts, evidence or investigation. Just pure hype, hysteria and false allegations.

An additional lawsuit was filed in Boulder District Court within the past thirty days by another innocent Kempe victim. The "assessment" led to great tragedy for the family. More lawsuits against the governmental "program" are expected to follow. The defendants are the Kempe Center, University of Colorado Health Sciences and the Board of Regents at the University of Colorado. All of these are supported by taxpayer dollars.

The support group Victims and Survivors of the Kempe...Abuse Center testified before the Joint Budget Committee on February 1, 1996, urging the JBC to defund the Kempe. The hearing was attended by a Kempe attorney, Kempe employees and two lobbyists for the University of Colorado and UCHS. All paid by your tax dollars.

Legislators, please give innocent families and Colorado taxpayers a break. Do the right thing: Defund the Kempe.

A.J. Byrnes

More balderdash to placate and ameliorate the harm done by Kempe evaluators--no facts, no evidence, no investigations...just speculation, confabulation and opinions.

In my opinion, these Kempe assessments seem to fit the statutory definition of fraud, fraud in the court and fraudulent misrepresentations. This should be a wake-up call to the Consumer Fraud Division of the Attorney General's office.

Irresponsible psychologists and psychiatrists caused this facetious amendment to New Mexico's HB 95-459 to pass third reading in the New Mexico Legislature: "...When a psychologist or psychiatrist testifies during a defendant's competency hearing, the psychologist or psychiatrist shall wear a cone-shaped hat that is not less than two feet tall. The surface of the hat shall be imprinted with stars and lightning bolts. Additionally, a psychologist or psychiatrist shall be required to don a white beard that is not less than eighteen inches in length, and shall punctuate crucial elements of his testimony by stabbing the air with a wand. Whenever a psychologist or psychiatrist provides expert testimony regarding the defendant's competency, the bailiff shall contemporaneously dim the courtroom lights and administer two strikes to a Chinese gong..."

Psychologists and mental-health workers, clean up your act. Legislators, defund the Kempe.

S. Levy

Last week I testified before the Joint Budget Committee concerning the dangerous and reckless work conducted by the Kempe Center. It's a scam at the expense of innocent families. The state is abusing children, and the governor should take notice.

Colorado representative Doug Friednash and Senator Tom Blickensderfer have taken notice. They are sponsoring HB 96-1208, concerning reports of suspected child abuse. The bill also amends the central registry of child abuse maintained by the state for a hearing prior to the listing. There are currently 80,000 people on this witch-hunt list. I'm not on it. The registry is maintained by a former Kempe Center director, David Denson. Gee, it's such a small world.

James Plunkett

When the Shark Bites...
I was really not surprised to read the little morsel in Kyle Wagner's January 31 Mouthing Off about Barricuda's, formerly the Ogden Cafe. I live half a block from this eatery, and, yes, I did enjoy the burritos and the $3 meals. And I was a good tipper, too. I was quite disappointed when my neighborhood hangout changed names and started serving grand piano and champagne with Sunday morning biscuits and gravy. Just who were the unsavory characters that turned off the regulars? I am now turned off by the restaurant owners' attention to a tasty pocketbook rather than a savory menu and homey atmosphere for the neighbors. I predict that by their tasteless and thoughtless attempts to "upscale," these owners will find themselves sitting on the curb with those unsavory characters, wishing that they had done things differently. Meanwhile, my friends and I are enjoying our burritos at a tasty and friendly Mexican bar and restaurant on Colfax. Would anyone else care to indulge in a little satire about eateries?

Christina Panczyk

The White Stuff
In the rambling preamble to his review of Pirate ("Drawn to It," January 24), Michael Paglia reveals his misunderstanding of the nature of the Alternative-art question. If the answers have been ill-defined, it is because artists have been cautious not to jump to conclusions or produce manifestos. However, it can be seen that the question of "space" is central to the idea of an Alternative paradigm.

Mr. Paglia praises "Sounding" artist William Stockman for repainting the interior of Pirate "dazzling white," with shiny floors. While I'm sure it must look very nice, I must remind Mr. Paglia that in the early 1970s the "white cube" of the gallery space came to be seen as a problem. The pristine sterility of the white walls had a decided effect; to the delight of the Conceptualists, it was discovered that even a wheelbarrow of dirt looked like art under these conditions. If the white gallery is the definitive Modernist device, I would venture to suggest that the earliest example of Alternative space was Andy Warhol's Factory.

And opposite to late Modernism, the Alternative question of function is to be emphasized over that of form or style. After the show is down, are William Stockman's large drawings to go into a bank, a church, a home? Is the imagery suitable for these situations? Their large scale indicates that it would be difficult to move one even with a car.

All media, all art forms are valid, not necessarily equal. The critic is free to make a judgment as to whether the work is fine or shoddy, whether the work is culturally functional.

Harry Lyrico

Future Shlock
Thank you, Kenny Be, for the "Patsy DeCline" billboard-marquee in your dish of downtown Denver's future ("Downtown Downsizing," November 29). Gasp!

I consider being dished by Kenny Be to be the ultimate honor. In past dishes, he's had me poised over a dunk tank, squawking out notes as Denco's L'Animal Garrett (with a beak and tail feathers!) and now this: My alter ego, Ms. Patsy DeCline, is starring in the show Lannie Get Your Gun in some projection into Denver's crowded, traffic-ridden and overbuilt future. "Geez, she's STILL here!"

Thank God he has me still working and didn't draw me as my own projection of my future--as a bag lady in a babushka, rolled-down stockings and sensible shoes, mumbling about "the good ole days" and handing out old headshots of myself a la 1982, hoping someone will remember.

Lannie Garrett

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