Letters

Week of May 16, 2001

Mad About Maddie
They have something to hide: Thank you for your report on the Humane Society's refusal to support the proposal for Maddie's Fund [Laura Higgins, "Bully on the Block," RFT, May 2]. My friends and co-workers are all disappointed that an organization we supported with donations and adoptions is uncooperative in discussing a goal common to all "humane" persons and groups. Their attitude is annoying, their reasons are vague and we're all confused. It truly does appear that they have something to hide. I am anxious to see if your magazine digs up any further information. I have e-mailed my displeasure to the Humane Society and my kudos to Stray Rescue.
Kathy Stenberg
Warrenton, Mo.

This grant could do so much: Thank you, thank you, thank you -- for taking a stance on the Maddie's Fund grant proposal and the Humane Society's refusal to participate [Ray Hartmann, "Heavy-Pawed Politics," RFT, May 2]. This grant could do so much for so many animals. The Humane Society's posture is unbelievable and a shame. Please continue to pursue this issue.
Joann Stephan
via the Internet

I saw the horrors of their locked backrooms:I was pleased to see articles addressing problems with the Humane Society's practices. Although compelling and rightfully critical, the articles only began to scratch the surface of the real secrets the Humane Society is hiding. Not only do they wish to push all other rescue organizations out of business for fear of "competition," but, by supporting Maddie's Fund, the Humane Society would have to put to sleep their old and tired practice of killing all pit-bull-type dogs that come through their doors.

I know firsthand about the truth of this horror. After having my female American bulldog stolen out of my backyard one morning, I searched frantically through all the shelters to find her. When calling the Humane Society, I was told to visit the stray area every day, because if she came in, they would put her to sleep (after the initial forced holding time). Her crime? Being a type of pit bull. I visited the Humane Society daily and saw the horrors of their locked backrooms, the rooms no one is allowed to see. Winding corridor after corridor of dogs on death row. Their crimes? Being so-called pit bulls, most of them so badly tortured and abused, they were barely recognizable as dogs anymore. Some had ears amputated, one had two broken legs, one was badly burned by a chemical or gasoline -- but not one barked at me, and almost all offered a friendly wag or lick when I put my hand to the cage. They were the victims of horrendous abuse that happens every day in St. Louis, yet they were the ones being punished. [They're] hidden away like a big scary secret that the Humane Society and the media do not want us to see.

Fortunately, through efforts like Maddie's Fund, the city of San Francisco (where almost 50 percent of all strays are pit-bull-type dogs) has been progressive in rehabilitating and re-homing pit-bull-type dogs and educating the public on dogfighting and abuse.
Name withheld by request
St. Louis

Film McReview
Bring back local reviewers: So I turn to the review about One Night at McCool's[Gregory Weinkauf, "Termagant of Endearment," RFT, April 25] expecting to see some insightful comments about the movie's connections to St. Louis -- in particular, more about the supposed link to the club Humphrey's or the related experiences of screenwriter (and erstwhile St. Louisan) Stan Seidel.

How silly of me. I forgot that the RFT uses the equivalent of wire writers for movie reviews -- people who write generically for New Times and can't provide the local insight or color the RFT is known for.

Leave the wires to the major daily, and bring back some local movie reviewers.
Burt St. John
St. Louis

Plain Vanilla
It's a world of big corporations anyway:Eddie Silva must be commended for telling it like it is regarding the sad state of our built environment and the secret handshakes that control it ["HOK-Dokey," RFT, April 18]. It is hard not to question the inner workings of HOK when, almost every way you turn, they have a big project going on, and all out of the same lame Lego pieces, it seems. With their size and influence, they have certainly made it very difficult for smaller architectural and interior-design firms to get noticed. But it's a world of big corporations anyway, isn't it? With all the big buyouts and the big mergers, it's only natural that architecture -- or, at least, profit-oriented architectural firms -- would follow. Goodbye to all the Ben & Jerry's of the world; it's all plain vanilla from now on.

It is particularly offending to me the ethics within HOK, having worked for them a number of years ago. In the midst of the all-black male outfits and DKNY dresses, there is a strong sense of "We are it" among the young ranks, which effectively clouds their judgment and makes every design decision and whim feel worthy of an award -- which, by the way, they're sure to get through their PR and political ties. If you're fresh out of Washington University's architecture school and land a position at HOK, you have become an undisputed artiste. What a slap in the face for older generations of architects who only by the sweat and blood of their efforts and lifelong learning can attain levels of deserved recognition.

But why should HOK even care about this? They "are it" anyway -- at least in their minds and in the minds of the neophytes they so altruistically "educate."
Name withheld by request
St. Louis

Savage Attack
Column stereotyped gays:Is anybody out there in favor of continuing "Savage Love"? Are there any gay people out there who like being stereotyped so negatively [Dan Savage, "Le Freak, C'est Chic," RFT, April 25]?

Can anyone point out any merit in the writings? Does anyone think the images conjured up by the recent "Savage Love" should be implanted in any minds, especially those of children? Am I the only one who is going to talk with my librarian about not allowing that trash to be left where kids can find it so easily?
Name withheld by request
via the Internet

BentOut of Shape
Review ignored smaller actors, production crew:As a member of the ensemble cast of Bent, I found it amazing that Brian Hohlfeld failed to mention the strong support of other players in smaller roles and that there was no acknowledgment of the achievements of the production crew ["Raw Deal," RFT, April 25]. Did he not notice the touching instrumental music that was composed especially for the show by David Toretta? What about the tightly designed and fascinating set with its army-green apron of found objects by Patrick Huber? Didn't the lighting of the show by Mark Wilson clearly and sensitively support the story and catch the critic's imagination? Wasn't Greta's gown, designed by Sharon West, elegant in its period appeal?

Mr. Hohlfeld's oversight angered me and led me to wonder whether his review had been constrained by space so as to have been edited severely. Barring that explanation, the title of the review "Raw Deal" might also refer to what those cast and crew members received whom Mr. Hohlfeld ignored.
Mark Maloney
via the Internet

Sex and the City
Get a life, get a clue:Thank goodness I got the hell out of St. Charles when I did [D.J. Wilson, "Media Whores," RFT, April 25]. I'm embarrassed to say I grew up in a town that may now be best known for its small-minded, Big Brotherish prosecution of clearly protected First (and other) Amendment rights. This is how you want to spend tax dollars? Get a clue. Maybe your "lawyers" need to read a book or two on the Constitution. They have more freedom in Eastern Europe! A decade after they take down the Wall, we continue to build ours higher. Where does it end?
Cary Anthes
St. Louis

It's Not Easy Being Green
Certify with rigor: Sounds like a move's afoot to have a fox guard the henhouse [Peter Downs, "Certifiably Mad," RFT, April 25]. Either affirmative-action certification is employed with rigor, or it is complete boilerplate. The investigation process should be kept tight, although, in my opinion, most of the required paperwork should go to the shredder. I see them as two different issues.
Sheila Michaels
St. Louis

Percy Green should be applauded: It was refreshing to read about a city program that works -- that is, a program that insures that recipients qualify for whatever benefits are bestowed. All too often, we read of the waste and squandering of public funds. These stories lead us to wonder why someone didn't do something to stop the dishonesty.

Apparently SLDC's minority-certification office has created criteria and investigative methods that can scale the walls of deceit built around some privately held small businesses. SLDC's work should be applauded, not condemned. False management practices are hard to unveil. I am aware of a so-called minority-woman-owned business that has both federal and state minority certification but is a front for the woman's white husband. Perhaps the state and federal government should adopt SLDC's criteria and Green's staff's thoroughness to ensure the fair and proper distribution of certification.
Paulette Salfen
University City

This Isn't Journalism
The front of theRFT is starting to look like the back:I'm not sure what angers me most about this article [Jeannette Batz, "The Jerk," RFT, April 18]. The tabloidlike reporting? Maybe it's the poor judgment the Riverfront Times used in printing a story full of conjecture that borders on stupidity. I could be disgusted with myself for my past thinking that occasionally the RFT had an intelligent article. My anger might come from thinking that a bunch of my own gender went on a witch hunt just to get attention.

If good teachers have been leaving the St. Louis schools for years, how is it that Gary Stevenson suddenly shows up in the RFT as the reason? Anyone who has lived here for any length of time knows what happened to the St. Louis Public Schools. However, that's another story. Our concern now is about this man who has been driving away good teachers -- how good they are is debatable -- out of our school system. We're expected to believe that one man is responsible for this. Never mind that this talented man was made head of all arts departments and previously taught in the district. He lasted for more than 10 years in a system plagued with problems for decades. This isn't journalism. It's a slap in the face to anyone with an education.

Because Stevenson is in an administrative position, he most likely can't defend himself, and I'm sure the RFT realized this when they allegedly tried to contact him. Because Stevenson was described as a bald middle-aged man, he probably has a family. I am sure they are intelligent enough to see this kind of trash for what it is, and they can be proud of the fact that he was working and paying taxes.

Ray Hartmann, we don't see you on the local talk or radio shows much anymore. Is this kind of journalism the reason? Thanks for some good years of reading, but the front of your paper is starting to look like the back.
Candice Patrick
St. Louis

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