Week of December 3, 2003

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The Big Apple
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 and it's hard to begrudge him that, 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

It was all about Kiel: Shelley Smithson's history lesson is off the mark. She must be new. It was never Slay's slate. He was the front. It was/is Harvey Harris/Grand Center's slate to take over the school board to finish off Kiel Opera House. ([Former superintendent] Cleveland Hammonds Jr. and the sitting board wouldn't "play" and they had to go.)

Vince Schoemehl's role, Civic Regress' role, all the roles in the damage and waste of Kiel Opera House and the series of "gut it" plans are clear. The Black Leadership Council was a late entry, added to Harris' turn-it-into-a-school committee last year. They probably backed off when they thought they could all be indicted, prosecuted, tried and put in jail. That someone was tracking this closely.

The secret meetings in the park? Pre-Roberti? What do you think they were planning?

Could anything good come out of such a putrid and nefarious beginning? That bigger shit has since hit the fan means only that they have gone on to other abominations -- like closing a school to give Saint Louis University a cheaper location for its basketball arena. It's all about Grand Center, kiddies. All of it.

We almost get the history right but need to really nail it from time to time.
Ed L. Golterman
St. Louis

Guilt Tripping
And watch out for the neighborhood butcher: A couple of weeks ago Craig D. Lindsey wrote an article concerning the R. Kelly scandal ["That's Just Nasty," November 5]. In it he talked about how despite the acts Kelly is obviously guilty of, his legions of fans have no problem with this.

While I am not a diehard fan of Mr. R, I am guilty of loving a lot of his work. Does this mean that I would turn and look the other way if he were to urinate on my younger sister? Hell no! What is wrong with everyone who seems to be condoning this behavior? I have heard people blaming the fourteen-year-old. I have heard the parents of the child being blamed. Not once have I heard someone seriously blame R. Kelly for this criminal act. Do people think that if they honestly speak out about how disgusting his behavior was they can no longer enjoy his music? The two are separate. Just because this man does a good job at entertaining us and keeping us grooving to something nice on the dance floor doesn't give him the right to prey on underage females. If the local butcher always gave you a great cut of meat each and every time you went into his shop, would you let him have his way with your daughter or sister? I don't think so.
Wayne Pittman, Jr.
University City

Net Asset
Dribbling down the road to success at Sanford-Brown: This is an appreciation letter for the article and the front-page space [Mike Seely, "Underdogs," October 29]. Thank you for the boost of confidence. This makes my road to success much more relaxing.
Alexander Berryhill, point guard
Sanford-Brown Indians
St. Louis

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