Letters

From the week of January 10, 2001

On the Record
As attorney general, Ashcroft helped UE: I had to laugh, hearing John Ashcroft repeatedly use the word "integrity" [Ray Hartmann, "Justice for John Ashcroft?" RFT, Dec. 27]. Anyone who remembers his handling of Proposition B, concerning the Union Electric nuclear reactor in Callaway County, knows that as Missouri's attorney general he displayed a singular lack of integrity.

Callaway was more than a billion dollars over budget, and the increased capacity wasn't even needed. Not wanting its shareholders to get stuck with its bad decision, UE applied for a rate hike to pay for this fiasco.

A grassroots campaign to prevent this was organized, and Prop B was the result. UE lined up its big guns in opposition, but on voting day the polls showed decisive numbers in favor of Prop B. What the Prop B organizers didn't count on was UE's secret weapon: Mr. Ashcroft. It was his job as attorney general to write the summary of Prop B voters read in the voting booth, and he did so in an intentionally misleading manner: The summary's first line read: "Allows Union Electric to raise rates under certain conditions."

I am one of thousands of voters who had difficulty figuring out whether a yes vote was a vote in favor of Proposition B or against it. The secret weapon worked: Prop B failed.

Mr. Ashcroft was rewarded by generous contributions from UE in support of his subsequent campaigns, and the rest is history.

Now comes George W. Bush to pull him out of the electoral rejection bin and name him U.S. attorney general ahead of John Danforth, a man of true integrity. If Mr. Danforth had written the Prop B summary, it would have honestly begun: "Prevents Union Electric from raising rates to pay for the Callaway County nuclear reactor." Mr. Ashcroft may have been Mr. Danforth's protégé, but he definitely wasn't his disciple. We have much to fear with Mr. Ashcroft at the helm of the Justice Department.
Phillip Brewer
Cheshire, Conn.

Local Time
Build 'em up, tear 'em down: "Radar Station" seems to love building bands up, then tearing them apart [Randall Roberts, RFT, Jan. 3]. The latest example is its look back at the year in music. Sullen, the Star Death and Sexicolor are among those praised just months ago in this column. Now they are criticized in this latest issue for thinking "local" instead of "national" and doomed to fizzle out.

Point 1: Randall Roberts has not done his research. The Star Death has toured both coasts. Sullen has toured extensively. Point 2: I feel I can say that the Star Death care [for], believe [in] and are proud of this city. Perhaps more bands should think local, rather than trying to get out as soon as they can. Point 3: Preferring to play the Hi-Pointe rather than signing to Universal (only to be manipulated, pimped and dropped) has little to do with ambition.

The Hi-Pointe and Way Out Club are the best venues in this city! They nurture artists in St. Louis that play for the love of music. What an idea.
Amy Whited
Guitarist, Idgie
St. Louis

Our 15 Minutes
It's about time: Finally, the Riverfront Times acknowledges the existence of a true alternative paper by publishing its name [Randall Roberts, "Radar Station," RFT, Jan. 3].

NoisyPaper has been covering the local music scene for well over a year, so it's extremely gratifying for us to finally gain some recognition from a paper that in and of itself is severely lacking in said coverage.
Carrie Lindsey
Publisher, NoisyPaper
St. Louis

Landlord's Lament
Good tenants are hard to find: The Forest Park Southeast area had a rough reputation years before Jack Krause bought property there [D.J. Wilson, "The Homes Jack Destroyed," RFT, Dec. 27]. Not knowing the details, part of Mr. Krause's motivation may have been to provide affordable housing close to work for some of his employees.

However, as affordable housing disappears in other neighborhoods, the most desperate and risky potential tenants are the ones you see first when you advertise. You can hold out a long time and find good potential tenants are scared away. Even when you use a screening service, you find out later that your new tenants used different names and Social Security numbers to obscure the truth.

I recently had to evict a tenant who started out as good before substance-abuse and behavior problems surfaced. The eviction, which should have taken two weeks, took three months and only succeeded after I went to the sheriff's office.

The city seems to spend too much effort trying to make parts of downtown yuppie residential heaven. Soulard, the CWE, Lafayette Square, Compton Heights and Skinker-DeBaliviere at least hold their own, but some areas, like mine, struggle, and others slip.

I didn't vote for Mel Carnahan to give John Ashcroft a promotion, but if Ashcroft gets the job of attorney general, let's hope for better policies aimed at character rehabilitation of those in the legal system and more punishment for demonstrably bad landlords.
Mark Carlson
St. Louis

 
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