The last issue was a real keeper! Marty Jones's story on the Denver Turnverein ("Harmony, German Style") was an important counterpoint to the hate crimes in our city, and Eric Dexheimer's story on Dottie Grisby, "Dry Society," was the sort of story about the forgotten "little people" that I expect from Westword. And that cover photograph! But the story that I enjoyed the most was T.R. Witcher's "The Burning Boy." I can't stop wondering what would make a bunch of teenagers light a boy on fire.
This issue seems to me the perfect thing to use in a high-school English class--to encourage both reading and thinking about the world around us.
I would like to compliment T.R. Witcher on "The Burning Boy." With sixteen-plus years of experience in the fire service and five-plus in investigations, I can honestly say that incidents described in the article are an anomaly. What is not so uncommon is the rampant ignorance and apathy that covers this country in respect to kids and fire.
More than half of all arson arrests are juveniles. Eighty-five percent of all children who die in fire die as a result of a fire they started. It is estimated that 25 percent of every insurance-premium dollar goes to pay for arson and fraud fires. The United States leads the industrialized world in annual fire deaths, two to one. And, finally, 40 to 60 percent of all fires that require a response by firefighters are the result of juveniles playing with fire.
I believe the fire service needs to share some of the burden, also. It is well-documented that average fire-department budgets allocate less than 2 percent of their funds for prevention efforts. Efforts, I must say, that are funded more out of tradition than effectiveness. Some studies show that 85 percent of all fires started by juveniles are never reported. I am including a link to a program, the only one of its kind, that addresses this juvenile fascination with fire in a proactive manner. The program is called FLARE (Fire Loss Arson Reduction Education) and can be found at www.fire-investigators.org/Flare.
It is articles like these that start to bring the epidemic of juvenile fire-setting to the forefront. Thank you again, T.R. Witcher.
Lieutenant Robert K. Toth
via the Internet
The Bug Stops Here
After reading Alan Prendergast's "Bugging Out," in the November 20 issue, I felt ashamed that I patronized Mr. Dadiotis's restaurants. A "slumlord" would best describe him and his unethical behavior. He used the amount he charges for rent as an excuse for the living conditions, then turned around and blamed the tenants for his lack of scruples to clean up the apartments. Just because it's not "the Riviera," as he puts it, is no excuse for not hiring someone to exterminate the roaches.
Shame on you, Mr. Dadiotis! As many tenants as you have, along with the restaurants that I won't frequent anymore, you are more than capable of making your rent-paying tenants' lives a little more comfortable!
via the Internet
Steve Jackson's "The Talks Heat Up," in the November 20 issue, was a very good article, balanced and well-written. The big-time media could learn a lot from Jackson. It is nice to get the facts and not a sermon. Keep up the good work.
Todd L. Schuman
via the Internet
One the Ropes
Tony Perez-Giese could have had an accurate story about the lack of a boxing commission in Colorado with a little more research ("The Money Punch," November 13). The Colorado Boxing Alliance bill, HB 1121, carried by Representative Mike Salaz, R-Trinidad, in the 1997 legislature, violated Colorado law.
Under Colorado Revised Statute 24/34/104.1, any attempt to set up a regulatory licensing law--whether it is boxing, industrial hygienists, occupational therapists or whatever--goes through a process that begins with filing an application before July 1 of a particular year with the Department of Regulatory Agencies. The department reviews the proposal and provides a written report to the applicant and the legislature, explaining why the request should or should not be adopted by the legislature. That report is provided either that same year by October or by October of the following year.
This is the "Sunrise" law, designed to put some discipline on additional regulation by the state. The legislature allows itself to consider no more than five new licensing bills each year. The Colorado Boxing Alliance and Woody Kislowski (quoted profusely in the article) know about this application requirement. So does every lobbyist and every legislator.
Perhaps the reason the applicants didn't use the approach set out in law was because they were turned down the last time they tried, in 1991.