Week of April 25, 2001

Yellow Stain
A man of integrity and honor: Gary Stevenson, of the Central Visual and Performing Arts High School staff, is a man of integrity and honor [Jeannette Batz, "The Jerk," RFT, April 18]. He has a wonderful family as has been my privilege to be connected to. The libelous, biased nature of your writer's article is, I find, extremely disturbing. I, for one, do not find any fault in the man whose character was painted as "a bald motherf--" who "patrols the halls" and "bothers 14-year-old girls."

I find it presumptuous and jejune of your paper to so vividly paint him in such a manner and strongly regret your having stained his reputation in what is reminiscent of the "yellow journalism" days. You must, presumably, not have anything better to write about.
L. Fick
via the Internet

Your article caused alarm: Thank you for printing such a great article. I happen to attend Central, and I found the letter to be quite an intriguing look into school politics. Speaking as a student, I haven't had any problems with Mr. Stevenson personally.... Perhaps you should delve deeper into the school itself; I'm sure you may find some interesting things in it. On a side note, your article must have caused quite an alarm at the school; they were confiscating copies of the RFT after lunch.
Name withheld by request
via the Internet

The school board won't do anything: It's about time! Teachers have written formal complaints and grievances, only to have them stuffed into a file cabinet. The union has never filed one of these reports with the St. Louis Public Schools! They have left their teachers hung out to dry. Let's see if the school board will do anything now. My guess is they will not.
Name withheld by request
via the Internet

That Girl
I'll take Bridget Jones just the way she is: Renée Zellweger "unlikable" as Bridget Jones [Gregory Weinkauf, "Girl, Afraid," RFT, April 11]? Mr. Weinkauf, nothing personal, but you have got to be one of the world's greatest sourpusses. Renée played a sweet, charming and, yes, very lonely girl (not "mopey," as you've so unfairly described her), and her kindness was nuanced and special. Spunky, though: She stood up for herself.

After all, does a "mopey, boring character" really tell a creep who's been cruel she'd rather get a job "wiping Saddam Hussein's ass" than be with him? And who would your great heroine be? A smiling Julia Roberts, just oozing contempt for her audience? Or how about a typically glowing Gwyneth Paltrow, in a typically vacuous "club" comedy -- only let's call it Shakespeare in Love? No thanks, all you Sandra Bullock-kissing critics. I'll take Bridget Jones, just the way she is.
David Bolfing
St. Louis

Flipping the Bird
I thought Republicans had a policy of not negotiating with hostage-takers: I heartily agree with your editorials regarding public moneys' being used to finance Bill DeWitt's baseball team [Ray Hartmann, "Ballpark Village Idiots," RFT, April 18]. The fact that this Cincinnati organization has the audacity to ask for the money is upstaged only by our public officials, falling all over themselves to give it to them.

We should be falling all over ourselves laughing at these cretins, like we did when we were kids and these spoiled brats drove by in their sports cars (how else could these dorks get laid?).

These Republican weasels are feasting on our money. I thought Republicans had a policy of not negotiating with terrorists and hostage-takers. I guess that only applies when they're not the hostage-takers.

Anheuser-Busch understood civic pride and responsibility. They demonstrated a love and respect of the community throughout their ownership of the team. They demonstrated this same love of the community when they sold it. The terms were so favorable to the new owners, the deal was a can't-miss opportunity. They didn't try to get every last penny they could, they didn't threaten to move, etc. These new owners are exploiting the good reputation earned by the Busches.

Screw the Cardinals. Screw DeWitt. Screw the clueless players (who repeatedly say how much they love playing here and want to play on a championship team but gouge the organization for every cent they can get). Screw the idiotic politicians giving in to these terrorists. Screw the suckers who patronize this business that holds us in such contempt.
Marty Woods
Bethalto, Ill.

Couldn't have said it better myself: A former St. Louisan (and still a St. Louisan at heart), I now find myself living in the baseball lover's hell, sometimes also known as Kansas City. I am a die-hard Cardinals fan and always will be -- despite the idiocy and greed of the current owners. I spend hours here in debate with the few actual Royals fans in existence; however, lately the debates have turned from the sport to the stadium issue. I find it very difficult to argue with Kansas City residents about a tax hike for a stadium they will likely never see or use. I find it impossible to argue with them that Busch Stadium needs to be replaced at all, much less by a publicly financed "Ballpark Village," because all of us possessing "common sense," as Mr. Hartmann put it, know that is not realistic in the city of St. Louis. As much as I hate to, I'm afraid I'm going to have to agree with the Kansas Citians on this one. If the owners aren't careful, this could have a worse effect on baseball (Cardinals fans in particular) than the last strike. They have proven that they have no respect for the undisputed "best fans in baseball." We deserve better. And, by the way, shame on the Post-Dispatch!
Gina Marie Wake
Kansas City

Ray, take us to back to the good ol' days: I always enjoy the commentaries -- thanks for the only outlet that tells it like it is! If possible, in the future, I would like to relive those glorious days of the 1960s, when Busch Stadium was being built, the Arch was going up and all the junk downtown was being torn down and hauled away. In those days, I paid no attention at all as to who was footing the bill, whose idea the whole thing was, and so on. Please, Ray, a commentary on "those thrilling days of yesterday" as the Lone Ranger might say. How did it all start?
Richard Churan
Park Hills, Mo.

Perception Is Reality
Shoot first, ask questions later: In response to Ray Hartmann's recent column, the word "perception" is a misnomer ["Injustice for All," RFT, April 11]. It is no "perception" on the part of African-American males that we live in fear of police officers across this nation. History shows that it is, and always has been, African-American males who have been stopped, hassled and arrested more frequently. They are also the ones who are more frequently beaten, shot and killed by police.

We live in fear that a glance may be mistaken for some sort of guilt, provoking a police officer to action that he or she may rationalize as necessary but may in fact may be unwarranted and illegal. We have experienced this type of treatment for far too many years to count. It not only continues but seems to have reached a new plateau.

For reasons still unexplained, the course of action has shifted to shooting unarmed African-Americans. This is something that we have often experienced, but the last few years have been particularly brutal.

I will be the first to admit that police are a necessary part of our lives. For the most part, the majority of officers are well intentioned and do serve the public appropriately. But it has become apparent that something has happened nationwide, as if a decision was made unilaterally to use deadly force at every opportunity, without any regard for the person or consequences. "Shoot first, ask questions later -- and by all means don't let it bother you" seems to be the order of the day. It makes sense, too. No matter how blatant the force is, the policeman is always exonerated.
Leander McRae
St. Louis

Days of Future Past
Most heartfelt thanks: Don't ask me to explain it, but when I read the story "Girl, Interrupted" [Elizabeth Vega, RFT, Feb. 28], I somehow felt drawn to the author, and I sensed that in time a connection would unfold ["The Fire Down Below," RFT, April 18].

Bearing in mind the adage that less is more, let me simply say in my most heartfelt way, "Thank you."
Eric Vickers
University City

Water Works
The city is a facilitator, not an obstacle: In your recent article concerning the proposed bike path in the vicinity of the Chain of Rocks Bridge, several important issues were not addressed [D.J. Wilson, "Water Hazard," RFT, April 4]. A more thorough investigation might have revealed additional facts: There are several advantages to running the path on the west side of Riverview, which is also Water Division property. That route would be far more scenic and interesting than the route on the east side. The use of existing paved routes in that area would save costs for grading, paving and fence relocations compared to a location on the east side.

Costs to secure, abandon and/or relocate the tunnels in the plant grounds could alone run as much as two to four times the cost of constructing the path on the west side of Riverview. The problem with these tunnels not only would exist during construction of the path but also afterward, from difficulty in keeping maintenance vehicles, heavy trucks and other unauthorized vehicles off a nicely paved route which can be readily accessed. Routing on the west side of Riverview would allow for increased opportunities for interconnection to residential areas to the west. It would also allow closed roads to be utilized as connecting mountain-bike paths.

Finally, you quote Mr. Cassilly that his "cement plant" fencing has been run into four or five times this winter. The Water Division fence along the plant grounds also gets run into several times a year by wayward vehicles. As much as 200 feet of fencing has needed to be repaired at one time. Because such a similar incident could eliminate 200 feet of bikers, it was felt that a routing on the west side of Riverview would allow the path to be situated uphill and further away from the Riverview trucks and high-speed traffic, possibly saving lives.

You presented the Water Division as an obstacle rather than as the facilitator it has been. These implications on your part are unfounded.
David A. Visintainer
Director of Public Utilities
City of St. Louis

Dogged Purpose
Give credit where credit is doo-doo: I am very glad that there is an event like [Adopt a Stray on] Bunny Day to help all the poor dogs [Byron Kerman, "Dog Day Afternoon," RFT, April 11]. But I also believe that honesty is an important virtue. Richard Camp didn't save Trent; Stray Rescue did, with their volunteers Janet Carp, Mindy Bier, Ellie Harris and five other wonderful people, including my son, Randy Grim.

Randy is the one who slept with Trent all night in his cage after they saved him and found him a home, not Richard Camp. I just want to set the record straight.
Mary Grim
St. Louis

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