Week of April 25, 2001

Ray, take us to back to the good ol' days: I always enjoy the commentaries -- thanks for the only outlet that tells it like it is! If possible, in the future, I would like to relive those glorious days of the 1960s, when Busch Stadium was being built, the Arch was going up and all the junk downtown was being torn down and hauled away. In those days, I paid no attention at all as to who was footing the bill, whose idea the whole thing was, and so on. Please, Ray, a commentary on "those thrilling days of yesterday" as the Lone Ranger might say. How did it all start?
Richard Churan
Park Hills, Mo.

Perception Is Reality
Shoot first, ask questions later: In response to Ray Hartmann's recent column, the word "perception" is a misnomer ["Injustice for All," RFT, April 11]. It is no "perception" on the part of African-American males that we live in fear of police officers across this nation. History shows that it is, and always has been, African-American males who have been stopped, hassled and arrested more frequently. They are also the ones who are more frequently beaten, shot and killed by police.

We live in fear that a glance may be mistaken for some sort of guilt, provoking a police officer to action that he or she may rationalize as necessary but may in fact may be unwarranted and illegal. We have experienced this type of treatment for far too many years to count. It not only continues but seems to have reached a new plateau.

For reasons still unexplained, the course of action has shifted to shooting unarmed African-Americans. This is something that we have often experienced, but the last few years have been particularly brutal.

I will be the first to admit that police are a necessary part of our lives. For the most part, the majority of officers are well intentioned and do serve the public appropriately. But it has become apparent that something has happened nationwide, as if a decision was made unilaterally to use deadly force at every opportunity, without any regard for the person or consequences. "Shoot first, ask questions later -- and by all means don't let it bother you" seems to be the order of the day. It makes sense, too. No matter how blatant the force is, the policeman is always exonerated.
Leander McRae
St. Louis

Days of Future Past
Most heartfelt thanks: Don't ask me to explain it, but when I read the story "Girl, Interrupted" [Elizabeth Vega, RFT, Feb. 28], I somehow felt drawn to the author, and I sensed that in time a connection would unfold ["The Fire Down Below," RFT, April 18].

Bearing in mind the adage that less is more, let me simply say in my most heartfelt way, "Thank you."
Eric Vickers
University City

Water Works
The city is a facilitator, not an obstacle: In your recent article concerning the proposed bike path in the vicinity of the Chain of Rocks Bridge, several important issues were not addressed [D.J. Wilson, "Water Hazard," RFT, April 4]. A more thorough investigation might have revealed additional facts: There are several advantages to running the path on the west side of Riverview, which is also Water Division property. That route would be far more scenic and interesting than the route on the east side. The use of existing paved routes in that area would save costs for grading, paving and fence relocations compared to a location on the east side.

Costs to secure, abandon and/or relocate the tunnels in the plant grounds could alone run as much as two to four times the cost of constructing the path on the west side of Riverview. The problem with these tunnels not only would exist during construction of the path but also afterward, from difficulty in keeping maintenance vehicles, heavy trucks and other unauthorized vehicles off a nicely paved route which can be readily accessed. Routing on the west side of Riverview would allow for increased opportunities for interconnection to residential areas to the west. It would also allow closed roads to be utilized as connecting mountain-bike paths.

Finally, you quote Mr. Cassilly that his "cement plant" fencing has been run into four or five times this winter. The Water Division fence along the plant grounds also gets run into several times a year by wayward vehicles. As much as 200 feet of fencing has needed to be repaired at one time. Because such a similar incident could eliminate 200 feet of bikers, it was felt that a routing on the west side of Riverview would allow the path to be situated uphill and further away from the Riverview trucks and high-speed traffic, possibly saving lives.

You presented the Water Division as an obstacle rather than as the facilitator it has been. These implications on your part are unfounded.
David A. Visintainer
Director of Public Utilities
City of St. Louis

Dogged Purpose
Give credit where credit is doo-doo: I am very glad that there is an event like [Adopt a Stray on] Bunny Day to help all the poor dogs [Byron Kerman, "Dog Day Afternoon," RFT, April 11]. But I also believe that honesty is an important virtue. Richard Camp didn't save Trent; Stray Rescue did, with their volunteers Janet Carp, Mindy Bier, Ellie Harris and five other wonderful people, including my son, Randy Grim.

Randy is the one who slept with Trent all night in his cage after they saved him and found him a home, not Richard Camp. I just want to set the record straight.
Mary Grim
St. Louis

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