Week of September 29, 2004

That'll Learn Ya
It was all about Bill: I can't say enough good things about Shelley Smithson's article on the St. Louis Public Schools ["Knockin' 'Em Dead," November 26]. It was like a Monet painting or a Giorgio Moroder dance tune: nice melody, detail and specifics in a strong romantic impressionist context of color, tone and atmosphere. It's a very tough, complex dynamic to get right, and she did.

A couple specific points if I can (you expect less from me?):

1. Regarding Smithson's comment that my role as peacemaker is "a hat that seems ill-fitting on his head": I forgive her perhaps natural impression, being relatively newish to the subject, but I like to think that those who have watched me on the board over the years agree that in between my righteous rants and raves I do try to give credit even to those I don't normally agree with, keep it business not personal (I sometimes fail), back off when I think I've gone too far and carve out common ground between diverse opinions in order to build consensus so that all feel fairly heard and treated. Good leaders do that, and I like to consider myself one. Of course if I'm almost the only board member doing that, it doesn't work very well.

2. I have recently apologized to Bill Roberti for the e-mail and that I copied others on it. Whether the apology meant I regret sending it, or that I regret feeling it necessary, or that there might have been a better way to make the points, I'm not sure. But the apology was sincere, and I know Bill knows it. I have a lot of respect for him, he's awfully smart, it's a difficult, almost thankless job, he's doing pretty much what those in control of the board expect him to. I like him and have come to consider him a friend. I like to think he feels the same way.

3. Finally, the only thing I really object to about the article is that it wasn't all about me and that I wasn't on the cover. After all, it's really all about me, isn't it, and anyone who doesn't agree with me can, uh, you know, that kiss thing. Kissing is a good thing. Kissing is your friend. Anywhere, anytime, and, uh, anywhere, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.
Bill Haas, board member
St. Louis Public Schools

Hair Today
Heart pelt: I've reached that age when I find myself asking, "What's wrong with today's youth?"

While reading the transcript of the conversation with Miss Missouri USA, 25-year-old Shandi Finnessey, it became clear: Their spoken "beliefs" don't match their "actions" [Unreal, "Shandi in Furs," December 10].

Since when is it more offensive to turn down a gift of dead animals than it is to stand up for your love of animals and refuse to accept the raccoon fur coat from the Missouri Trappers Association? Would Finnessey also have accepted a nice pair of camouflage pants from the Rwandan Armed Forces, who went house-to-house, killing thousands, as camouflage pants are coming back in style?

Indeed, if Finnessey really believed that beauty is more than skin deep, she would know that animals need their skin more than she needs a fur coat.
Sharie Lesniak, program coordinator
Animal Protection Institute
Sacramento, California

Wish Granted
Enough about Bob: I have been a faithful reader of the Riverfront Times for many years, but never was I more appalled than when I saw the cover for the December 31 edition. Baton Bob? I am sick of the glorification the media has given this clown.

I work in the Central West End and have seen Bob more times than one person should ever have to in their lifetime. He has every right to walk where he wants to and dress the way he wants to. And the color of his skin and what he does behind closed doors make no difference to me.

I have seen Baton Bob giving people the finger. Just last year he hit someone with his baton. I have been at a stoplight with clients when he has been next to the car slapping his ever-growing butt. I have been sitting at a restaurant when he has stopped in front of the window and gyrated his pelvis almost on the window glass. I have driven through intersections where he is in the street dancing and almost got hit.

Yet all the smaller press loves him. And is quick to jump behind him when he manipulates them. Anyone that doesn't like him is "anti-black" or "anti-gay." I am neither but I do know that I am sick of him and I know that there are others like me that wish I would never see or hear about him again.
Mike Sniegocki

Douchebag of the Week
Jimmy D. Fuller -- Canadian through and through: I ran across the April 28 Unreal item about Shandi Finnessey and was struck with a brilliant idea: The Riverfront Times should start doing a Douchebag of the Week spotlight. My nomination for the first featured douchebag would be Rodney M. Norman.

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