Week of January 17, 2001

Ten Years After
I survived the nightmare in the 17th Ward: Imagine my surprise when I opened the Riverfront Times to find a picture of the burned-out shell of my home on Vista Avenue [D.J. Wilson, "The Homes Jack Destroyed," RFT, Dec. 27]. As a preschool teacher, my husband and I could not afford the high premiums insurance companies demanded for our neighborhood. Our home was a total loss. We had to donate the property to the city. We had no money to repair the extensive damage caused by the fire. Several witnesses told me some of Jack Krause's tenants were responsible for the arson, yet they are fearful to testify in court.

Your article, while appreciated, was 10 years too late. For a decade, we have fought the invasions of drug dealers, child abusers, thieves, vandals and gangs. Kim [Jayne] and Tom [Blackwell] have fought longer and harder than we could. I pray for their success. When Mrs. [Gloria] Panchot leaves, the destruction of Vista will be complete. She worked endlessly to save her home and those of her neighbors.

Jack Krause's insidious destruction of our neighborhood could not have happened without some help of those we elected to serve us. I naïvely believed they would work with us to save the neighborhood. Initially, Ald. [Joe] Roddy denied knowing Jack Krause when my husband first contacted him about our mounting problems with Jack. He gave us a couple of numbers to call, but that was the extent of his help. I have attended countless planning and security meetings. I spoke with law-enforcement officers, and I've been to court on these matters. Not one person felt Roddy would help us. When a drug dealer threatened my husband with a gun, we realized we could not stay.

I have no more tears to cry. I feel bitter about the whole experience. If this had happened in Ald. Roddy's neighborhood, he would not have tolerated it.

My husband and I moved to Maplewood. The contrast has been startling. Our councilman is a frequent visitor to our home. His progressive vision for Maplewood will benefit business without sacrificing the well-being of the families who make their homes there.

So, I guess I'm lucky. I survived the nightmare in the 17th Ward. May heaven help those who remain.
Linda Cope

Enemy Alert
"Weird"-less, yet oddly satisfied: Since you stopped publishing "News of the Weird," my biggest reason for reading the Riverfront Times is to keep abreast of what the enemy is up to. However, I think Bruce Rushton's article "The Buck Stops Here" [RFT, Dec. 27] was one of the most balanced, informative and worthwhile things I've ever seen in your paper. Completely unexpected! Many thanks.
Leo Radovich
via the Internet

Culture Shock
Your reviewer obviously doesn't know Nigerian cuisine: I was very angered when I read the review of Fatima's [Melissa Martin, "Market Research," RFT, Jan. 3]. After seeing the writer's name, I automatically realized that someone out of pure ignorance wrote this poor article.

How dare she write about something that she knows nothing about? She tries to discredit the restaurant by describing the surroundings as a "wretched place to have a meal." She has to consider the fact that the St. Louis Bread Co. used to, and other restaurants still do, exist at this location. The place looked like that before this restaurant opened there and will probably look like that for years to come. It seems to me that she wrote this article as if she were doing a research project, but she did very poor research. I am from Nigeria and can appreciate the quality of good Nigerian cuisine when I taste it, and Fatima's is definitely excellent Nigerian food. As future advice for the writer, she shouldn't write an article on the food of a culture she knows nothing about.
Nikki A.
St. Louis

God's A.G.
As Missouri attorney general, Ashcroft encouraged church involvement in politics: To ask former U.S. Sen. John Ashcroft to be the top law officer in the United States is to invite the fox to guard the henhouse.

Mr. Ashcroft is a zealot who would use the powers of government to advance a sectarian agenda. Those whom he cannot convert, he would subvert. Our nation should prepare itself for ecclesiastical McCarthyism.

We protect religion (as well as minority opinion) in this country through separation of church and state, a concept which both Ashcroft and President-elect Bush abhor. Missouri's Constitution contains strong language upholding this concept, yet Mr. Ashcroft, first when he was Missouri's attorney general and later when he was governor, fostered a coalition of fundamentalist Christian churches, Catholic churches, Mormon churches and Lutheran (Missouri Synod) churches in support of specific political candidates, especially for local school boards.

Such illegal political activity continues to this day, in direct violation of the tax-exempt status of these institutions. That they have succeeded in this endeavor is testimony to their political and economic clout, for, while they control the Republican party in Missouri, they also support some Democrats. Anyone who disagrees with their leaders is branded not only wrong but immoral. For fundamentalist Christians like Mr. Ashcroft to do otherwise is to disobey God. In their eyes, the end justifies the means.

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