Commentary

Letters to the Editor

Page 2 of 3

Ricco Heatherly
Renton, Washington


No-Tell Hotel

A tangled Webb: Regarding Stuart Steers's "Lights On," in the October 31 issue: Once again, our bull-market-trained mayor rushes in where financially prudent private interests fear to tread. The analysis behind this hotel scheme is flawed. And the mayor's office is misrepresenting the level of public risk in order to build yet another monument to the Webb administration.

The hotel industry in general has been showing signs of being overbuilt for years. Occupancy rates, room prices and hotel-company stock prices are falling. Only governments are foolish enough to create more supply in the face of stagnant demand. Cities all over the country are scrambling to build more convention capacity and hotel space. What happens when supply increases faster than demand? Prices fall and will make it impossible for Denver to collect the exorbitant $162-a-night room rate needed to make a $350 million hotel boondoggle pay off. Then, when the hotel fails to meet financial expectations, taxpayers will be left holding the bag. The mayor's office claims bondholders will assume all the risk. This is simply inaccurate. Bond investors buy city debt at a reduced interest rate precisely because there is less risk than in a private deal. If the hotel fails, the city could be forced to choose between paying off wealthy investment interests and (for example) fixing streets in poor neighborhoods. I have some swamp land to sell anyone who believes the city will choose in favor of taxpaying citizens.

The mayor's office needs to learn that the '90s are over. Are there not already enough monuments to this administration? If the economy turns around and the convention-center expansion is a success, private companies will be eager to build a hotel. There is absolutely no reason to rush this project just so it can be done before Webb leaves office.

Tom Reilly
Denver


Have a Ball!

Here's the pitch: Thanks, Bill Gallo, for your classy and classic baseball story (" Baseball's Treasured Orb," October 31). It was a fascinating and unpredictable World Series, though you couldn't have gathered that from the sports columnists in the daily I read. Postmodern cynics who shouldn't be allowed to cover any sport that's not timed, their playoff reports said little about the game and volumes about their disinclination to cover it -- especially with Broncos and Avalanches to rhapsodize about.

I was recently meditating on my childhood heroes after the passing of one of them, Johnny U. The other biggies being Snider and Killebrew (and Billy Vukovich -- I was born in Indy). I find that even with the greed and drugs and glory-hogging, there are still plenty of ballplayers who are worthy of praise and, hopefully, wonderful memories for today's kids...

Jim Bernath
Denver


Prepare to Eat Your Words

Fanning the flames: I picked up the October 31 Westword at school. Reading the letters, I came across the responses to Jason Sheehan's "Burning Passion," his review of Vesta Dipping Grill in the October 24 issue. I had to chuckle over each response, as Jason obviously struck a raw nerve with these people, who were being just a tad high-strung. But I thought that I should be fair, and so I read his review. Having done so, I can say for a fact that the poor people who responded so negatively have zero sense of humor. Not only that, they have a disturbing lack of appreciation for literary skills.

Jason's review was so well-written that I must give Westword a standing ovation for hiring him. Not only is he a talented and fair-minded food critic, but he writes with a finely honed literary skill that is quite refreshing. Putting both of those strengths together makes for an excellent piece. If Julia Child, Bill St. John, David Sedaris and Dan Savage had a child (hey -- it's the 21st century), Jason Sheehan would be it. Thank you, Jason, for writing not only an educated and well-informed review, but for making it solidly entertaining as well.

And for everyone who had a problem with it: Lighten up and get a "friggin" grip! It's just food.

Scott Rosenberg
Denver

Fishing for compliments: Kudos to Jason Sheehan for exemplifying the unique aura that one discovers at Vesta Dipping Grill. Unlike the letter writers in your October 31 issue, I was as captivated by the article as if I had been engrossed in a great mystery novel. Four of us had recently gone to Vesta for the first time, and I could relate to his culinary and sensory descriptions of the restaurant, its staff and the menu items. So he criticized a fish dish (but he couldn't put his fork down!). I certainly didn't interpret that or the entire review as a put-down of Vesta. On the contrary, if I hadn't had the pleasure of dining there already, I would have wanted to hotfoot it down there. Anyone can write a boring, innocuous restaurant review, and they do...in other publications.

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