Letters to the Editor 

NORTH BY NORTHWEST To the Editor:
... and Thomas Crone. Consider yourselves invited to my home in "tony" U. City for a tour of U. City and the western portions of St. Louis city, and to discuss how parochial and selfish so many of us are in demanding a cut-and-cover extension for MetroLink ("Hit Parade," RFT, May 5). I would prefer to have Ms. Batz and Mr. Hartmann as well, since I respect the thought they put into their writing, but as Mr. Crone has sacrificed in-depth analysis for politically loaded words and cute jabs at issues and people, I will ask that at least he attend. Our objections are not, as Mr. Crone and the Post-Dispatch would like to think, racial, economic, cultural or social. Our concerns for safety, traffic congestion, etc., are based on our knowledge of the area, common sense and studies of other mass-transit systems. I am offended and disgusted by Mr. Crone's assumptions.

Mr. Crone, do you have any idea why the "tony" part of U. City even exists? It's because the people here wanted to live in an area different from most of metro St. Louis -- racially, ethnically, religiously, culturally and economically diverse (that stupid argument you advance doesn't stand up to scrutiny, if you know the area in question). None of us are allowed to have money or nice homes, or our motives are suspect. We, and those in the neighborhoods on the city side (don't forget, there is a north side of the Parkway, struggling to come back), are the last people you should be asking to sacrifice for the rest. You should be asking why this is the only extension that East-West Gateway decided against applying for federal funds to build, and why we should pay for their mistake. Who owns the property along the proposed routes -- not just the extension from Clayton to Shrewsbury (I-170 ends at 64/40 because those cities demanding we sacrifice now were unwilling to do so earlier) but, for instance, the proposed (and rarely mentioned) route down Olive?

There is nowhere on the existing MetroLink route that is comparable to this proposed site. Shall we run the line down Park through Lafayette Square, or through downtown Maplewood on Manchester? As for those other transit systems Mr. Crone so blithely mentions, he forgets the discussion concerns a residential neighborhood. See what it has done for the homes along the el in Chicago? It didn't exactly improve their neighborhoods.

Mr. Crone, the P-D and others expect us to sacrifice our children, homes and neighborhoods for the good of other areas of the community. Gee, I should have remembered that when opposing the Page Avenue extension or the destruction of the Arena. Or that we think our historic apartments and homes (even if some were lower- and middle-class, God forbid) are at least as important as the Arena.

Barbara Lea

MERCY, MERCY

To the Editor:
I read with interest and delight your April 28 cover article, "Internal Bleeding." Kudos to Jeannette Batz and the RFT for the accurate and thorough portrayal of the situation at St. John's Mercy Medical Center, which is so deserving of recognition and resolution.

I worked with St. John's nurses, as well as many RNs from other St. Louis hospitals, who were interested in having the Missouri Nurses Association help them organize during 1996. I marvel at the stamina and resolve of these professional women and men who, day in and day out, continue to endure the arduous, demoralizing and unsafe conditions that were so superbly described in the article -- all for the sake of their patients.

St. Louis has much to be proud of, including the registered professional nurses you rely on to care for you and your loved ones when you need it most. I hope you will support them and their continued efforts to create a work environment that makes that possible.

To my nursing colleagues at St. John's, I say, hang in there! Recently the nurses of Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas organized with the assistance of the Service Employees International Union. This was accomplished in the largest hospital in the Columbia/HCA chain and the largest hospital in Nevada -- and, as in St. Louis, after a three-year struggle! So keep the faith, my friends. You can be successful in your efforts to safeguard your patients and your profession.

Deborah Huber, RN
Henderson, Nev.

To the Editor:
In regard to Jeannette Batz's story "Internal Bleeding," I agree with these RNs' feelings about St. John's administration. As a longtime employee (24 years), I have seen the good and the bad times. The worst was mentioned in the story, when "patient-focused care" was started. A lot more employees were forced to reapply for their jobs than were mentioned in the story. I was working as a supply tech in labor and delivery when this happened. My job was restructured, and I was made to clean rooms as I stocked (an impossible task that has since gone back to the way it was originally). I was told I did not interview well. What a degrading experience to have to apply for a job you have done well for 20 years. Many people had to find different jobs because their jobs were eliminated, only to be refilled by new people. Friends of mine who had been at St. John's longer than I just quit rather than put themselves through such an ordeal. It was during this time that I attended union meetings myself. The union I am referring to would have included all echelons of the hospital -- from RNs on down. This effort has since been abandoned.

I guess the point I want to make is that the women in the story have not been fair in their generalized statements that St. John's PCAs lack humanity and that they are useless. It seems that the St. John's administration has accomplished what they hoped -- divide and conquer.

It would be so much easier for nurses to negotiate with administration if all employees were involved. When sick days and holidays were redefined, all long-term employees (not just nurses) were affected.

About a year-and-a-half ago I went through the PCA training program and transferred to the Women and Newborn Care Center as a PCA. I am proud of the job my co-workers and I do, in spite of everything. We all appreciate each other. The "mercy values" (renamed "corporate values") are quite evident, and our patients receive the best of care. I could not let this go unsaid.

Faye Cohen

HISTORICAL PRESENT

To the Editor:
Ray Hartmann's "Revelations on Tragedy and the Young" essay ("Commentary," RFT, April 28) was remarkably well written and jolting. How clever of him to snap us out of our narrow historical view and remind us that most of what we face is timeless; whether it's good stuff or bad stuff, there's really nothing new under the sun. I appreciate his writing style and his thoughts in this essay.

Dianne Webb

STAGGERING IMPORTANCE

To the Editor:
Randall Roberts' analysis of the Stagger Lee tale ("Original Gangsta," RFT, May 5) is a metaphoric account of the psyche of the black community at the time and to a large degree today. We are indeed griots; we do survive as a culture through the actions of certain individuals in our race because so many were subjugated. Our storytelling addresses our sentiment, and this story is no different.

Because we were stripped of our basic human rights as a whole it made it that much more important for the black national community to vicariously identify with the transportation of stories about individual strength and brawn (I would define it as a realization of power and freedom) through the spoken word.

The weaving of this incident into the fabric of 20th-century music is incredible and should be looked at further by the casual historian. People of all cultures of musical expression felt an affinity to a brash young black man who had nothing but his image and his pride to defend. That human reaction is something we can all relate to. And since music is the "freedom of expression," it makes perfect sense that this story transcends time and space.

Ironically, Stagger Lee, a Negro with very few constitutional rights at the turn of the century, still had his dignity to defend. I will never justify murder, but I believe the tale survived because it was the epitome of self-reliance and bravado. It was proof that freedom was an individual right, not a privilege.

Chris Bowers

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