Week of November 22, 2000

Electile Dysfunction
When we can't all vote, everyone loses: I am writing in response to Safir Ahmed's article on the problems voters encountered in St. Louis city ["Slimin' the City,"RFT, Nov. 15]. Because of the problems I experienced, I ended up providing testimony at the hearing that resulted in the ruling to keep the polls open later. I was not part of any preplanned plot to subvert the democratic process, as many Republicans are suggesting. I simply went to my polling place of 20 years at 10:30 a.m., only to find I was not on the registration roll. Then, contrary to the dictates of the board of elections, the elections judges did not have phones so that they could clear up the discrepancies, and when I tried to reach the Board of Election Commissioners, the line was busy for over an hour. I did reach my alderman, Steve Conway, who told me to go downtown to the board of elections and insist that they remedy the mistake. I arrived at 12:30 p.m., and because hundreds of other frustrated voters in line, my problem was finally processed at 3 o'clock. Not everyone who went to the board of elections was able to remain the two-and-a-half hours it took to secure their constitutional right to vote. I heard many would-be voters express frustration and outrage that, after more than an hour of waiting, they had to return to work without resolving the problem and thus would not be able to vote.

Fortunately, as there are often voting irregularities and problems with registration in city elections, there were lawyers on site, observing the problems (yes, they may have planned in advance to have observers there). A number of us were chosen at random and asked to sign affidavits about our experience of discrepancies and delays so that attorneys could use them as evidence in their request for a court order to keep the polls open later.

It infuriates me that so many people have predetermined that the testimony at the hearing was political maneuvering to subvert a fair election and give Democrats the edge. While I am a Democrat, I gave my testimony as a resident of the city who directly experienced problems that affected diverse residents, regardless of political affiliation. If 33,000 people were purged from the voting rolls before this election and, because of ineffective systems at the board of elections, were impeded in their efforts to exercise their constitutional franchise, then it is a bipartisan problem. It is irrelevant which party benefits in any given election. E pluribus unum is what makes representational democracy work, but only if we let all the people speak.
Mahina Nightsage
St. Louis

Artistic Tunnel Vision
Bob, you are not all that: I read the article about the turtle sculptures on Oakland [Eddie Silva, "Shell-shocked," RFT, Nov. 8]. I think they are great fun!

Sonya Glassberg, thank you for your extraordinary generosity to St. Louis. Bob Cassilly, get over yourself. Your actions speak louder than your ranting and raving about artistic vision. I think you treated Ms. Glassberg abominably.
Cathy E. Sloan
St. Louis

Sonya Glassberg deserves thanks: The shell wasn't the only thing shocked when I read your column. What exactly was your point?

The first point I want to make is to offer a great big thank-you to Mrs. Glassberg. How refreshing that someone loves her city the way she does St. Louis. Thanks for all she has done and continues to do for our city. Were only there were more St. Louis patriots like her.

It is probably not your job to take sides in a story, and you seemed to be successful, because I could not figure out which side you were on. This is remarkable for the RFT, because the author's bias shows in almost every story in the paper.

The motive for the story appeared to me to be about embarrassing everyone concerned. Mr. Cassilly should be embarrassed for acting like such a baby in this matter. When you sell something to somebody else, it is theirs to do with as they see fit. When a person has a beneficiary like Mrs. Glassberg, he should totally clear his calendar when she wants to meet with him. Avoiding her couldn't have been more rude or boorish.
Keith R. Wilhelm

Leveeing a Tax
The James Gang would be impressed: The guys who put together the Chesterfield Valley floodplain-development project could sell rattlesnake venom to water moccasins [C.D. Stelzer, "After the Deluge," RFT, Nov. 15].

There's also a rumor out there that upon hearing about this deal, the James boys, Frank and Jesse, sat up in their graves, muttering in admiration: "Now, why didn't we think of that?"

No matter the musings of the James, of FEMA, of the Corps of Engineers, when the flood that is sure to come trashes the "new and improved" Chesterfield Valley, the federal government will bail out all the apparent losers, including the developers, with our tax dollars. You see, it's you and me who are really the dumb water moccasins.
Fred Boeneker


The city masked its true intent: D.J. Wilson exposes W-1W for what it really is, a land grab at the expense of Bridgeton [Wilson, "Losing Altitude," RFT, Nov. 8]. Kinloch and other communities around Lambert know the story well.

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