Week of January 31, 2001

Judicial Rape
The judge should be punished for obstruction of justice: I read this article [Jeannette Batz, "Getting Off Easy," RFT, Jan. 24] over an hour ago, and I am still seething with anger over this. I am a single woman, and I am outraged that this rapist got off the hook so easily and for the judge to imply that this was somehow Anne's fault for being there! This is not a Third World country where the men can have their way with women whenever they feel like it! For this judge to condone what he feels "happens all the time in bars" is absolutely outrageous! I think the judge should be punished for obstruction of justice.

My heart goes out to Anne, and I pray this never happens to me or anyone else, but if it does, I will pray even harder that it does not end in up in the hands of this incompetent judge!
Nicole Futrell
St. Louis

Victimized again: As a woman who was raped two times and did not report it, I applaud Anne for her courage in fighting Matthew Wasiak. Franklin County should disbar Judge Schaeperkoetter for his righteous, holier-than-thou attitude toward the law. It is a disgrace that women still are victims not only of rape but of the legal system as well. When will this system start to honor and respect women?
Elise Brion

Sex and Sensibility
Arousal should be an annual event: Usually, when I return from traveling, I'm made all the more aware of how conservative and sometimes backward St. Louis can be. Luckily for me, when I returned from Los Angeles last month, I practically stepped off the plane and into the Arousal show, which was one of the best times I've had in this city.

As far as the sentiment that St. Louisans should learn to "act grown-up about sex," I think it goes double for sex offenders like Matthew Wasiak and sexist judges like Jeff Schaeperkoetter ["Getting Off Easy"]. I guess it takes more than consenting adults' getting naked and pleasuring themselves in a downtown art gallery [Eddie Silva, "Muse," RFT, Jan. 17] to cause a scandal when we have men drugging and raping women in Ladue and getting slapped on the wrist. How could Schaeperkoetter make such puritanical statements about why women shouldn't go to bars and in the same breath go so easy on a man who admits to drugging a woman to take sexual advantage of her?

I've worn black thong underwear, and I've gone to bars and occasionally had too many drinks. Does this mean I'm asking to get raped, too? Wasiak should be in jail, Schaeperkoetter should be removed from the bench and the Arousal show should become and annual event and tourist attraction on the level of San Francisco's Exotic Erotic Ball.
David Dandridge
St. Louis

I wanted controversy, not scandal: Thanks so much for the article about perhaps the best group art show since Venus Envy and, before that, the days of the 6th Floor Gallery ["Muse," Jan. 17]. Although any press is good press and I totally understand the problems associated with getting facts straight, a secondhand quote can be misleading! You said that Linda Horsley said that I said I "wanted to cause scandal." If you would have come straight to the horse's mouth, what I did say was that I "wanted to see controversy"!

And I guess that is just what has happened in part, thanks to you. I even got a call from my brother telling me that I was scandalous! And he knows nothing about the St. Louis art scene! And that's not even to mention the problem I had when I took the film from the Arousal photo shoot to a photo lab I have used for eight or nine years. The lab people told me my work was "obscene" and they were considering turning me in to the authorities! But sometimes one gets what he wishes for! But thanks anyway -- I do appreciate your words! The next time, come to me, and I will tell you the straight scoop.

Oh, by the way, the girls mentioned were not all that big-breasted.
Michael Draga
St. Louis

Dust in the Wind
Illinois also would feel impact of kiln: Your recent cover story "Cementing a Deal" [C.D. Stelzer, RFT, Jan. 17] reveals that what is proposed to be the largest cement kiln in the world is a bad deal for the region.

Although Holnam's proposed kiln and quarry in Ste. Genevieve County would be located some 30 miles south of St. Louis, your article shows how devastating such a facility could be to the St. Louis region in health, economic and environmental impacts. These impacts would also affect Illinois, where Monroe, St. Clair and Madison counties are part of the St. Louis metropolitan area.

The region already fails to meet federal clean-air standards, and your story discloses that the staggering amount of emissions from Holnam's proposed kiln would push the area further out of compliance. This harms not only public health but the economic climate, requiring stricter regulation of new businesses and the expansion of existing ones. In addition, the proposed facility, right on the Mississippi River, would devastate 4,000 acres of beautiful, unfragmented forest.

The American Bottom Conservancy appreciates your investigative coverage on issues that affect people on both sides of the river. Otherwise, the public would have to rely on press releases from the very industries that stand to profit from the destruction of our environment.
Kathleen O'Keefe
Board member, American Bottom Conservancy
East St. Louis, Ill.

The same scenario applies here in New York: I read "Cementing a Deal" by C.D. Stelzer with great interest and a feeling of déjà vu. It could have been written about the area where I live, Hudson, N.Y., a wonderful historic Hudson River city. Hudson is experiencing a revival -- recovery from depression brought on by the exit of cement and other industry in the last 30 years. In the past 10 years, it has become the antique mecca of New York State, with over 60 antique shops, new restaurants, gift shops, a restored hotel, etc.

That revival is threatened by St. Lawrence Cement, one of the Holnam companies, which is trying to build a gigantic cement plant here -- about a half-mile from Hudson.

The same scenario applies here as I read about in the article: They came in and bought a lot of land up before announcing (they first bought a closed cement plant and quarry and then a lot more land); they have the politicians on their side -- and, here, the established business leaders as well; they are leading a relentless advertising campaign of half-truths and hollow promises; "their people" are calling all the opponents "outsiders," as I just read in one of your letters.

We will get no new jobs, because they are closing a plant six miles away on the other side of the river. They're misrepresenting how much tax revenue the plant will generate. They are saying our air will be cleaner, when the numbers we've seen say it won't be.

These gigantic plants will do little or no good for the local area in which they are placed -- nothing that can possibly outweigh the damage to the land, the environment, the health of the local residents or the damage to their own investments and way of life. I hope that somehow reason can prevail and both of these monstrous plants can be defeated.
Elizabeth Nyland
Claverack, N.Y.

A real investigative reporter: As someone who is worried about our environment, I want to commend your article "Cementing a Deal." Not only did it bring us important news on a potential environmental disaster in Missouri, it listed all the important people who we can contact and let our protests be known. C.D. Stelzer did a great job, is to the point and writes very well.

I've read some his stuff before in the Riverfront Times, and he always seems to take on the toughest assignments. He's a real investigative reporter. You need a couple more like him. You must give him the meaty topics. Keep up the good work, and I'll keep looking for more like this.
David E. Cassens
Edwardsville, Ill.

Teaching Teachers
We offer resources to train teachers: Mr. Ahmed's article on Brother Mac [Safir Ahmed, "Off Beat," RFT, Jan. 17] affirms reasons why the St. Louis Regional Partnership for Excellence in Urban Teacher Preparation is needed and supported by the St. Louis Public Schools.

The Partnership, which was launched in January 2000, includes nine area colleges and universities with teacher-preparation programs, working in partnership with St. Louis Public Schools and East St. Louis District 189, as well as state education agencies and local organizations. The partnership is able to assist individuals who wish to obtain teacher certification in fields where certified teachers are in greatest need in high-need schools. This is possible through a limited pool of scholarship funds from the Title II Teacher Quality Enhancement program of the federal Higher Education Act. In addition to the Title II program, the Partnership welcomes additional scholarship donations from the community so that we can better help those who have the desire and capabilities to teach but who have not yet completed the training that leads to teacher certification.

Although an effort was made to get information to all St. Louis and East St. Louis school personnel about the scholarship program this fall, not all who could use our services have heard about this opportunity. The Partnership is working with the districts to drive a more concentrated effort to get information about the scholarships to substitute teachers. The scholarships are not limited to persons in the employ of these two districts.

The Partnership also strives to build better urban-teacher-preparation programs at institutions of higher education and more effective means of induction and support for new teachers so that skilled teachers can be retained.

Persons wishing to know more may call 314-345-2384 or check out the Web site: www.teachnow.umsl.edu.
Ric A. Hovda
E. Desmond Lee Professor of Urban Education
UM-St. Louis, St. Louis Public Schools
Marsha Clark
Project Director
St. Louis Regional Partnership for Excellence in Urban Teacher Preparation

Solid Songcraft
The Ken Kase Group isn't as inoffensive as you think: I had to laugh at your review of the Ken Kase Group's new CD, Stereophonic Nervous Breakdown [Randall Roberts, "Radar Station," RFT, Jan. 24].

If "solid songcraft" (I left out "middle-of-the-road"), "professional sound," "obvious talent," "tight" and "gloss and tone so clean and refined it barely seems real" is your charge, consider them guilty!

You're actually knocking a band for being accomplished musicians? You consider rehearsing a bad thing? Uh, sure. Whatever.

But if you'd attempted to dig a little deeper, you might have realized Kase isn't as inoffensive and sitcom-jingle-friendly as you thought. Here's a sampling from "Insincere Apology" on the new album: "I know this surly epitaph/will leave you far behind/Take it as a compliment/to you and all your kind/Your ignorance is beautiful/Your empty vacant smile/Confirm all my suspicions, please,/and make it all worthwhile."

Here's to everyone who believes art should contain effort, meaning and spirit.
Julia Gordon-Bramer
Maryland Heights

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