Letters to the Editor

Published the week of Aug. 30-Sept. 5, 2000

 NO DICE
Thank you, Ray Hartmann, for your accurate and brutally honest story regarding the proposed Kimmswick/Imperial-area gambling facility ("Unlucky Town," RFT, Aug. 23). After meeting with some members of the Missouri Gaming Commission this week, I was told the inconvenience of a casino in my backyard and the devaluation of property values must be sacrificed for the "good of the state." After all, it is how our roads will be improved and our schools will get money. If this is the case, I say it's time the state of Missouri found a new way to generate revenue instead of whoring themselves out to casino companies.

The Kimmswick/Imperial area has many sympathizers throughout the state of Missouri. Coincidentally enough, many of those are folks who have gone through this and regret the decision that was made for their community. For those of you who think we are "whining," I ask you to visit the area and see how residential properties will be abused and destroyed. If it affected you in the same manner, I can assure you that you would be changing your tune. Regardless of the outcome of the casino in this area being built or not, the Missouri statute regarding gaming must change. First and foremost, the residents of the specific area "deemed appropriate" for the site should agree to the decision.
Valerie Badgley

EXTREME TALENT
Congratulations to Melinda Roth for her excellent exposé of Sen. John Ashcroft's consistent opposition to a meaningful Patients' Bill of Rights and Medicare prescription-drug coverage ("Will the Real John Ashcroft Please Stand Up?" RFT, Aug. 23). Her careful research of drug-industry contributions, her explanation of the legislative process and her wide use of health-care experts added up to make a powerful case that Ashcroft is selling out Missouri's citizens.

Jim Talent, the Republican nominee for governor, is doing the very same thing, even though he was not mentioned in the article. Roth did cite a key Oct. 7, 1999, House vote on the Norwood-Dingell bipartisan Patients' Bill of Rights, which passed 275-151. She does not mention that Jim Talent was one of the 151 "no" votes.

Talent is an extremist, just like Ashcroft. Talent is trying to portray himself as a moderate, but his voting record and campaign donors tell a different story. I urge all Missouri voters to take the time to get the facts on Talent -- he is too extreme for Missouri.
John Hickey

PEDAL POWER
It is an abomination the way so many in Monroe County, Ill., view and treat cyclists ("Road Warriors," RFT, Aug. 23). They have as much right to the road as motorists, much less farm equipment (which I am sure does way more damage to the road). We all pay taxes, right? And I don't think cyclists get subsidies.

I am nauseated at the sheriff not arresting James Dillenberger. He should have been arrested on the spot, and a Breathalyzer should have been administered. His "sentence" was a shocking miscarriage of justice. I wonder if it would have been the same if he had hit a child on a bicycle? I guess this means that if I hit the local brats who incessantly swerve onto the road in front of me, it is OK? Not likely.

It is a shame that those foolish people have mouths and trucks the size of their antisocial attitudes. I'm sure there are many lovely people who do live in Monroe County, who look bad because of this foolishness. And it is probably the decent people who will be hit economically by those who are appalled by this mess. As Susan Hendershot said, people might not buy when on their bikes, but they will come back and spend money. Now, perhaps, they will be less willing to. I know that despite being a person who prefers her vehicles motorized, I have not spent one penny in Monroe County since I first heard this story, and I will continue my private boycott until attitudes change.
Deborah Asberry-Chua

Your recent article entitled "Road Warriors" is generally correct, but you left out some important information. You quote Tom Yarbrough frequently, but you fail to mention that Tom organizes rides for profit, not charity. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but I would think it's important for your readers to know why he may not be happy with the 300-rider limit imposed by Monroe County officials. It's also important to note that large rides, such as those put on by Tom Yarbrough's Bicycle Fun Club and Hostelling International's fundraisers, attract more of the type of rider likely to exhibit the behavior Monroe County residents complain about. You also attribute to Tom a statement that "television and newspaper reports on the Dillenberger episode prompted commissioners to change the ordinance" limiting groups of riders to five or less. That is not true. A few cyclists got involved with the issue when the Monroe County commissioners and the sheriff's department started enforcing the five-rider limit and threatened to outlaw cycling in Monroe County altogether. Those few cyclists, by attending County Board meetings, meeting with the sheriff, organizing the Harmony Ride (by the way, Tom Yarbrough was vehemently opposed to the Harmony Ride) and generally (but politely) making a nuisance of themselves, succeeded in convincing the board to change its ordinance.

I believe the change benefits all cyclists -- rarely does any group meeting in Columbia or Waterloo, Ill., exceed 50 persons. The only groups that exceed 50 cyclists are usually rides organized by folks like Tom Yarbrough and Hostelling International, which cause traffic problems wherever they take place. You only need to look at the photograph at the top of the "Road Warriors" article to see the problem with large groups of bike riders. See the group of riders just about to crest the hill? They cover the road completely. What happens when a car comes over the hill from the other direction? It's understandable why some people are upset.
Charlie Warner

NIX ON NIXON
Eight years ago, Bally Health Clubs used bait-and-switch techniques to talk me into an expensive long-term contract. I wrote Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon's office a letter of complaint, and Bally promptly let me out of my contract at no charge. Nixon remains my one and only example of a politician who has done something directly on my behalf. I have supported him ever since.

It saddens me to hear that Nixon is suing Benetton because of their "We, on Death Row" campaign ("Killer Campaign," RFT, Aug. 16). I feel this to be groundless, politically motivated and a waste of taxpayers' money. I feel that he is letting his own views on the death penalty come between him and the public's best interests. As death-penalty opponent and free-speech advocate, I cannot support Nixon in the coming election. Unless he withdraws his lawsuit, this will be the first time in my voting life that I have not voted for him.
David Noble Dandridge

EVERYONE'S A CRITIC
I am responding to Sally Cragin's hatchet job of a review of Jim Danek's new play, Kitchy Kitchy Koo ("Stage Fright," RFT, Aug. 16). Now, as of this writing I have not seen the play, and that's intentional. My response is to Cragin's style of criticism, not to Danek's play. Kitchy Kitchy Koo may be good or bad, I don't know. My point is, there's a way to say something and a way to cushion your negativity. Bob Wilcox was a master at that. Once again, ol' gray-haired Sally Cragin is up to her nasty, catty, bitchy and cruel self, slicing and dicing poor Danek's play with phrases like "a leaden evening of unrelieved, cringe-making tedium" and something that happened in the lobby after the play that "only (made) the painful duty of reporting this worse." Then guess what you should do, Ms. Cragin? Put yourself out of your misery and don't go next time! Do us all a favor and spare us another spewing of your poorly written put-downs. Cragin has attacked one of my plays before, but I've got a thick skin and I can take it -- hell, I don't think a Sherman tank would stop me from getting one of my shows on. I do worry, though, about a more sensitive writer. A blast like that from a hack like Cragin might stop a budding Tennessee Williams in his tracks. Cragin is doing the aspiring playwrights in this town a great disservice with her venomous type.
Christopher Jackson

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