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Letters Column 

Week of May 24, 2006


Former Riverfront Times staff writer Mike Seely (now on staff at our sister paper the Seattle Weekly) has won a 2006 Unity Award for his March 2005 story "The Resurrection of Carl Officer," which profiled East St. Louis' prodigal whiz kid as the once-and-current mayor labored to revitalize his hometown and his own political career.

Sponsored by Lincoln University in Missouri, the Unity Awards in Media recognize journalism that exposes issues affecting minorities and the disabled. In this competition, the Riverfront Times competes against all major print publications nationwide. Other winners this year include Newsweek and the Associated Press, as well as Patty Calhoun, editor of Westword, RFT's Denver sibling.

Issue of May 11, 2006

Critical Mass Almost resembles an actual compliment: Well, OK, finally a not terrible issue of the paper. A cover story on who exactly it is who drives all those trucks we depend on to deliver the consumer culture to our doorsteps; a piece on censorship in what amounts to the public square, WiFi networks; an interview with a band that includes at least one musician who speaks intelligently about punk music; and a calendar item on the emerging arts district on Cherokee. Almost resembles actual journalism.

I don't think anyone really needs to read about Ruth's Chris, but hey, let Rose misfire every once in a while. Why can't a larger part of the paper be like this more often?
R. Willis, St. Louis

Feature, May 11, 2006

Truckin' Westhoff hits nail on head: Great article["Let's Roll!]! Thanks to Ben Westhoff for taking the time to research the topic. I am the director of a truck driver-training program in Quincy, Illinois. Our courses are certified by the Professional Truck Driver Institute, of which I am also a board member and evaluation team member. In certification visits to dozens of schools all over the United States, I have seen very bad training, very good training and everything in between.

I would like to invite your readers to visit us. We would love to show you how quality training works and even put you behind the wheel on the training range and on our $100,000 simulator. We would like to show what a difference proper training makes. We understand that training someone simply on how to pass the CDL test is not only wrong, it's dangerous and puts public safety at immense risk.

Schools offering courses certified by the Professional Truck Driver Institute understand the importance of providing the industry with properly trained entry-level drivers who are extremely safety conscious. Come on up and give us a test drive, we would love to show you the difference! You can also visit our Web site at
Don Hess, director, Transportation & Public Safety Programs, John Wood Community College, Quincy, Illinois

Westhoff picks on homeless: Shame on Ben Westhoff for picking on homeless people in his article on trucker training. The St. Patrick Center does a great job helping get these folks back on their feet. His repeated insinuation that the homeless are incorrigible criminals only reinforces the public attitude that once a person hits bottom, he should stay there forever.

The St. Patrick Center offers a comprehensive program to deal not only with lack of housing, but with the problems that landed a person there in the first place. This leaves their graduates in good shape for employment and life.

Perhaps Westhoff believes the homeless should spend the rest of their life panhandling and bunking at Larry Rice. Thank God that Dan Buck, executive director of the St. Patrick Center, has a better idea.
Nick Kasoff, Ferguson

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