Thank you, Patricia Calhoun, for your two wonderful columns on Greg Lopez. They said things that badly needed saying. In the first, "Good People" (March 21), you made an eloquent case for what an extraordinary writer he was and what a loss his death will be for us all. And in the most recent piece, "Life in the Fast Lane" (April 4), the ironies indeed "piled up." Compare the life Lopez lived so well with that of Spicer Breeden, and you cannot help but share the sadness.
Truth is surely stranger than fiction.
We had only known Greg Lopez for two weeks; during that time, Greg spent two hours with us in our townhome and two very enjoyable hours walking with us. It certainly did not take that long for both of us to fully appreciate and fall in love with him. Greg gave us, and the entire brain-injury community, two enormous gifts: public recognition of brain injury and lifelong remembrance of a beautiful man.
Patricia Calhoun, your words are appreciated because you not only captured Greg's essence, but you also gave your readers some insights into the brain-injured world.
Barbara J. Butler and Ted Lesser
I don't care what Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter says: I don't believe that his office would take an ordinary hit-and-run case to a grand jury. That said, I hope they get to the bottom of this story.
The Spicer Breeden/Greg Lopez story is a real tragedy. If Breeden had taken responsibility like an adult, not an overindulged teenager, perhaps this whole senseless tragedy never would have occurred.
Even worse than the Lopez case, though, is what happened to Jeffrey Truax. There are more unanswered questions concerning the Truax case than in the Lopez case. Jeffrey Truax's blood-alcohol content, as well as Greg Lopez's and Spicer Breeden's, were made public; what about the officers who shot Truax? Were they even tested? I don't believe the officers set out to kill Jeffrey Truax that night, but I do believe they totally misread the situation and used deadly force when it was not close to being warranted--and that's what they must be held accountable for.
Jeffrey Truax was shot in the back. How much courage does it take for two cops to shoot an unarmed man in the back?
Body of Evidence
Thanks for Steve Jackson's articles on Thomas Luther, who was recently found guilty of murder in one case, but suspected in several. It was excellent reporting. It reminded me to remind women (especially young women) to be aware out there.
Editor's note: For the most recent installment in the Luther saga, see page 10.
Karen Bowers's March 28 article, "Social Insecurity," on discrimination complaints against the Social Security Administration (where I work in the Denver regional office), was a timely expose of political turmoil in the eight-state Denver region. Because of continuing media coverage, SSA headquarters immediately dispatched an executive-level fact-gathering team to investigate the following issues:
In the Denver regional and field offices, for example, instead of teamwork and cooperation we find morale severely damaged. We're experiencing an explosion of union grievances, of favoritism, nepotism and hostile work environments. Many employees believe it's largely because SSA executives refuse to practice what they preach.
Lupe Salinas, our regional commissioner, began his tenure with the philosophy of "dignity, excellence and service." But he brought along a rumor mill in overdrive with speculation of numerous romantic involvements with subordinates over the years.
Mr. Salinas has removed field officer managers recently--male and female--who allegedly made unwanted sexual advances toward their subordinates. Yet he himself has been cavalier about avoiding the appearance of sexual impropriety and preferential treatment. The result: lawsuits from supervisors and employees alike charging him with illegal employment discrimination.
Mr. Salinas is obliged to support the concept of partnership with the employees' union, yet his closest advisers and negotiators have vowed to bury the union leadership in this region. Dignity indeed!
The Denver regional office has spent close to $50,000 on cultural-change training based on Steven Covey's best-selling book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. "Seek first to understand before being understood," a Covey principle, is the basis for effective listening. But then SSA carries this idea a little too far by eavesdropping on the personal calls of at least one of its service representatives, resulting in still another suit against the agency!
And after an anonymous survey of SSA leadership sponsored by Covey, certain managers were appalled at low ratings that were assigned. They finagled the Covey Institute into cooperating to match ratings with unsigned comments these managers might reasonably associate with certain employees--a blatant attempt to breach confidentiality!