Letters to the Editor

Life Savers

Family ties: I was sickened, but not surprised, to read Stuart Steers's "Broken Trust" in the August 31 issue, about the women with disabilities who were yanked away from their makeshift family. Unless a glaring fact was omitted, the caregiver appeared to genuinely love the women in her home. This kind of dedication and love is all too unusual for many people with disabilities, especially those dependent upon state-funded and state-managed care. Too often even group homes or host homes turn into mini-institutions, with caregivers more focused on rules and regulations than on life. Too often human-services professionals use the guise of safety to take unreasonable control over our lives. History will show that many of the "safety" rules are provider- and industry-driven. They tend to raise costs but not quality. I cannot believe that a family was broken up by the system for the crime of taking a vacation and leaving an adult in a van that the caregiver could see. Many people with developmental disabilities never get a vacation. Many never get their hair done at the beauty parlor. Many never experience non-regulated family life. Ms. Omedelena provided the gift of real life to these two women. She should be held out as a model for other providers, not punished in the name of "safety."

Julie Reiskin, executive director
Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition

A House Divided

Go East, old mayor: T.R. Witcher's comprehensive review of the East Village dilemma, "This Old Housing Project" in the August 31 issue, is Westword at its best: sorting out and reporting the facts of thorny issues that others choose to sensationalize. Most long-term residents of the surrounding area are energized by diversity in the neighborhood. We have been continually saddled with the moniker "unsympathetic to the poor," and yet for the most part prevented by government agencies from participating in solutions to ameliorate such problems.

The most outstanding characteristic of our area is the breadth of its population and willingness of most to roll up their sleeves for the common good regardless of the circumstances. Almost ten years ago, when I served as zoning representative to Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods, one of our delegates was the manager of East Village, and we jointly dealt with the crime overwhelming the neighborhood. As late as several months ago, another Village resident, an articulate voice on the issues, served on the CHUN board. Veteran neighborhood advocate Charles Brantigan has received more than his fair share of abuse, despite being one of the few physicians who doesn't flee to the suburbs and volunteers his time freely to the community.

Living so close to the Village, watching it unravel day by day, forces me to ponder the dilemma. With so many neighborhood players, including Councilwoman Elbra Wedgworth and multimillion-dollar REIT Post, ready to participate, why is the city insisting on a solution 100 percent on its terms?

Searching for an answer on purely political motives, an unseemly possibility comes to mind: With the Webb administration completing its third term and clearly angling for a federal position, the mayor needs a domestic-policy victory, possibly in housing. Taking over the entire East Village would provide credentials similar in fashion to those of building DIA, which made Federico Peña an aviation expert. The ultimate result of this escapade for the neighborhood is totally unknown and unpredictable. Meanwhile, East Village residents are left with uncertainty. The dilapidated state of their housing also threatens the surrounding neighborhoods of Clements, San Rafael and my own Park Avenue Addition with the common health and safety problems related to substandard housing. Is all of this worth the possible appointment to a federal post in Washington?

Stephen B. Gale

Painting the Town

Slime and again: I enjoyed Justin Berton's article on Mr. Robert Iron and his cronies in the vandalism business ("Up Against the Wall," September 7). I lived in the southwest area until about six years ago. I got tired of painting dumpsters and my garage wall to remove the filth that Mr. Iron and his ilk saw fit to excrete there.

Make no mistake: There are no "legitimate" taggers. Unless these people own the wall they are painting, it is criminal behavior and must be dealt with as such. These people are doing what cats do in a litter box. Some of us do not want Denver to become an urban toilet like New York or Los Angeles. It is bad enough that the new walls along the Boulder turnpike are already covered with this crap. The worst for me was when the beautiful mural at Planned Parenthood Plus in northwest Denver was slimed by one of these punks.

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