Week of July 25, 2001

Gate Debate
Scatter the 'gates' throughout the park: I admire the proposed Forest Park gates [Ray Hartmann, "And Now, Gategate," RFT, July 18]. I believe Lawrence Halprin is an amazing sculptor who has made some amazing sculptures, but gates they are not! I think the designs would make a lovely addition to Forest Park, but not at the entrances. All of them would be nice, scattered throughout the park, but with a $1 million price tag attached to each and every one?

I believe in the original mission of the park: no gates, always open to all. I like the fact that I have to drive through one of the most beautiful urban parks in the country just to take my son to preschool. Some of my most traveled roads take me through the park.

Although they do not begin to resemble a gate in any way, why would we want to separate the very thing that makes Forest Park so unique? I would not be enraged if the "gates" were erected, because they are beautiful. But I would question whether the $6 million that was spent could have been used to recreate some of the park's lost history. The intention is good, and, however you look at it, whether you love 'em or hate 'em, Forest Park is receiving a much needed facelift. That, I believe, we can all agree with.
Joy Byrd
St. Louis

Terrifying: The gates scare me. They remind me of a giant insect [or] alien looking to feast on innocent parkgoers. Seems like it would terrify kids, too.
Ann Linhorst
via the Internet

In the Cards
Treat workers with respect: Thank you for telling the public about the situation at the Suburban Journals [Wm. Stage, "News Hole," RFT, July 18]. So many such struggles are never brought to our attention, much less so when the battle involves the parent company of two local newspapers!

It is too easy to be complacent, especially when you personally have enough to survive and you feel no imminent job loss. Still, I urge everyone, particularly union members, to pay attention. No one should ever have to work a full week only to come home without a living (and livable) wage. Each of us, individually and as a community, are vitally needed to show companies that workers must be treated with respect and decency.

Oh yeah, don't forget to sign those cards!
Cathy Schwegmann

Credit where credit is due: Thank you for running the story about the efforts of Suburban Journals employees' attempt to unionize. As an organizer in that campaign who was quoted in the article, I offer one clarification. To my knowledge, under Pulitzer ownership, the Journals do now pay employees for their overtime hours. It was under our previous owners, the Journal Register Co., that many employees had complained of not getting reimbursed for overtime hours worked.

Despite the number of concerns I have about the Journals' current treatment of its workers, I must give Pulitzer Inc. credit where it is due for paying overtime.
Julie Kelemen

St. Louis

Wack Job
Allow me to explain the facts of life to a leftist loon: In his sorry hatchet job, Ray Hartmann transparently deploys the timeworn tactic of the American political left ["Wacky Warriors," RFT, July 11]. Rather than relying on fact and reason to challenge the political philosophies of one's opponents (in this case, the "Freedom 21 National Conference" attendees), he blithely tars them as demented. Ergo, what reason could there be to even consider that these strange, twisted people might actually have something worth hearing, or that they might actually be right?

Having listened to James Carville, Hillary Clinton and Lanny Davis yammer about trailer parks and $20 bills, sinister right-wing "Bring Down Bill" tongs and crazy, sex-obsessed Republicans for the last eight years, it's fairly clear that Hartmann is only participating in what has become the Democratic Party's idea of "political discourse" -- a cowardly, lazy exercise akin to asking a public official: "So, sir, when did you stop beating your wife?"

There once existed in this country a forum that provided for civil disagreement between political opponents. As Hartmann's column starkly illustrates, this platform for respectful discourse has long since vanished. Thus I'll take the opportunity to dip a toe into the frothy ideological sewage and explain the facts of life to the loony left for whom Hartmann speaks: Although the Hartmanns of the world recoil in disgust at their very existence, an immense number of this country's citizens enthusiastically and often for excellent reasons despise the gun-grabbers, the sky-is-falling environmental nutjobs, diversity fetishists, Hate America Firsters, the government-school apologists, the U.N.-is-God crowd, the there-is-no-God crowd, the abortion-mill-on-every-street-corner loons and the man-eating (figurative speaking) radical feminists -- to name only a few of the Democratic Party's more reliable sources of income.

And while Hartmann may sneer at those folk who attended Freedom 21 and smear them as paranoid, rabid and hysterical, he misses the beautiful, hypocritical irony of his position, namely that the core elements of his own political party -- with their shrill alarums about burning churches, "big oil," Thomas Jefferson, the dangers of drinking milk, Christianity, the impending doom of the loach minnow, ad infinitum -- are far more unbalanced and subject to fits of emotional caterwauling than those evil right-wingers who dare disagree with Al Gore and their mutual god -- the state.
David Wrone
St. Louis

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