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Week of June 6, 2001

Take a Number
She should have obeyed the officers' commands: I'm very, very sorry that Annette Green was killed during the recent raid at her home and am also terribly saddened that her children will have to grow up motherless and that her other family members must now mourn the loss of their loved one [Bruce Rushton, "Who's Next?" RFT, May 23]. I can't help but wonder, though, about a few things.

First, she was engaging in selling drugs. She knew it was illegal and that it carried serious risks. She herself exposed herself and her children to the risk that she might wind up dead because of this illegal activity. Second, she saw the police arrive at her house. She had time to prepare herself to behave properly during the raid. Third, she had previous dealings with police. She should have known how to conduct herself with police. She should have known that police have one main goal when they come to work. That goal is to go home alive.

The worst possible thing anyone can do with an officer is make the officer feel scared. Trigger fingers tend to get mighty itchy when officers are scared. Do not scare the police -- Annette had to have known that. She should have instantly obeyed the officers' commands to put down whatever was in her hands and to do whatever else they ordered her to do.

I do question the use of this paramilitary tactic that the police employed, especially with children in the house. I also wonder about racial profiling and its role in this situation. But most of all I am skeptical about the attack on low-level dealers like Annette. We all pretty much know that drugs come into this country mostly by way of government officials and big, big-time dealers who have carte blanche with the powers that be.
Charlotte Sagi
St. Louis

Crack that head: Who's next? Try this for an answer: the next crackhead that does not stop when a police officer says, "Stop!"
Jeffrey L. Suits
via the Internet

Animals Don't Vote
Common sense eludes lawmakers: As the president of a nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention of animal sexual abuse, I would like to express my disappointment with some Missouri legislators [D.J. Wilson, "Critter Lovers," RFT, May 30].

How can a such a deviant and horrid act remain legal after two tries though our legislative process to criminalize it? Last year, newspaper articles statewide expressed shock that this was a legal activity. Studies have shown significant relationships between previous sexual abusers of animals and domestic violence and sexual abuse of humans. A sexual offender of animals is dangerous to the children and people of our society and imposes a threat of sexual and other forms of abuse beyond the animal kingdom and into our own homes.

Criminalizing bestiality would seem to one as a common-sense law that would help protect the animal victims, along with the children and others in society. Apparently some legislators lack such common sense .
Greg Myers
President, ASAIRS Inc.

Telling it like it is: Thank you for such a brilliant article! Absolutely fabulous! It is about time someone has "said it like it is." I hope that your article will shed a new light on such a horrendous subject, making it impossible for society to turn a blind eye.
Kim Cooper
via the Internet

My Kind of Villain
He's the visionary who's kept us on Washington: Tim Boyle, a villain? [Jason Toon, "Grand Funk," RFT, May 23]. Just so that you are aware that there are two sides to every story, my tenant relationship with Tim Boyle has been very good. He has been instrumental in the survival of HotHouse Theatre. Without Tim Boyle's philanthropic side, there would be no theater downtown (as it is, there's only one), and many companies, like HotHouse, New Line and Magic Smoking Monkey, would be without a home.

Is Tim a real-estate developer? Yes. Are developers in business to make money? Aren't we all? Do developers sometimes piss off those in the area they're developing? Well, yes. Everybody has different ideas about what works. The problem is, the artsy, hip crowd that makes the South Grand district and the Washington Avenue district fun don't have the bucks or interest to renovate the area themselves. So it's left to (gasp) developers. It's a hard truth we're learning down on Washington, too. The fun people come in and make the area "happening." Then the area gets developed to the point where the "fun" people can't afford to live there anymore. Well, Washington isn't there yet, but it's getting there.

And Tim Boyle has been the visionary who has kept us there. His business may be developing properties, but he also has a big picture of what will work for the city.
Donna M. Parroné
Managing Director, HotHouse
Theatre Co.

Reporting was disingenuous: It was very easy for Jason Toon to be critical of City Property Co.'s development record, since he was playing fast and loose with the facts. Conveniently omitting the fact that all of our proposals for improving businesses in the district have had the required approvals, support and permits from aldermen, neighborhood groups and/or city agencies is just one of the numerous important facts either misquoted, omitted or outright wrong. If these attacks by the vocal few through the RFT were not so destructive, disruptive and divisive, the article would have been humorous. However, the criticism by a vocal few who cannot respect the decisions of the majority has once again backfired. As a direct result of this absurd article, the significant amount of support, encouragement and appreciation from neighborhood homeowners, business owners and city officials to this office has been most heartening and energizing. With many significant projects planned for the South Grand area, improving it as a place to work, live, and play, we will leverage the support received in the wake of the RFT's disparaging article to keep moving toward our goals.

It is shameful that the RFT editorial staff had to persuade the writer of the article to rewrite the article on three separate occasions in order that the article would reflect the critical predetermined agenda demanded by the editor and his cronies. Eventually, perhaps the RFT will come to realize that no minds will be changed when the "reporting" is done in such a disingenuous way.

Urban real-estate development is usually a pretty thankless job, with far more financial risk than reward. However, your article provided a stimulus for City Property Co. to receive some thanks. So thank you, RFT, for providing the stimulus. Hopefully, sometime soon, those vocal few will try their hand at redevelopment; then we will see how anxious they will be to criticize others.
Tim Boyle
President, City Property Co.

Grading Ray
Still hope for Hartmann: Your article [Ray Hartmann, "The Parent Trap," RFT, May 23] seems dangerously close to a conservative viewpoint. You think that parents should be accountable for their own children? How can that be? I thought it takes a village of government officials and red tape to do that. Perhaps we can go back a few decades when parents didn't expect schools to raise their children for them. There's hope for you yet.
Pam Batchelor
St. Louis

Look beyond educators' clichés: Please allow me to interject some balance into your train of thought concerning parental involvement and standardized testing.

I do agree with you when you suggest the key to a child's success in school is largely the involvement of his parents in his day-to-day education. I also think you have completely missed the point that parents/taxpayers are the owners of public education and not only should monitor the progress of daily classroom activities but should also largely hold accountable the professionals we hire to educate our children. How do we monitor the success of students and project their ability to compete in the highly competitive world in which we are grooming them manage for generations to come? Standardized testing.

These tests offer great opportunities for educators and parents to identify problems at an early stage or guide the accelerated into academic programs best suited to enhance their abilities. Those professionals who are not afraid of measuring up in the classroom see standardized testing as such and are not defensive about exposing themselves to performance criteria.

Standardized testing is also an important tool for parents who, in my opinion, need to closely scrutinize the results of their students as well as the professionals in the classroom. Not only does it offer them a good road map of their child's progress, it offers a great overall view of school districts.

It has also been my experience that public schools would rather swirl down the drain than give up control and educate parents on the fine points of curriculum and administrative decisions. Perhaps if the public-school systems did a better job of including parents, parents would do a better job of holding public-school systems accountable.
Lisa E. Payne-Naeger
Francis Howell Board of Education

Truth in Small Doses
Remember me? If Ray Hartmann were really so concerned about the gross injustice of marijuana laws in this country, he wouldn't have ignored the documentary I sent him a year ago, "Emperor of Hemp," the story of one man's fight for truth, justice and a plant ["The Media Go to Pot," RFT, May 16]. It explains the real reasons behind hemp and marijuana prohibition and has aired on PBS stations in several major cities, but not in St. Louis, of course. Ever a conservative stronghold, St. Louis can handle the truth only when administered in small doses by "alternative" media like the RFT, and only then if the subject has popular support like medical marijuana.
Jeff Meyers
Oak View, Calif.

Investigate This
Jeannette's a gem, but ... Jeannette Batz is a superb writer, and everything she writes is well worth reading. She is a gem, and I look forward to her contributions to the RFT. But do we really need to revisit proms and prom dresses each year ["The Last Dance," RFT, May 30]? I think of the RFT as a paper that gives articles on topics that need some good investigative reporting -- a slant or some information that you would not get from the mainstream paper. It looks to me like the RFT is just becoming a vehicle to support all the 900 numbers and other adult-oriented material which has sprouted up in the paper over the past year or so.
Dawn Vohsen
Maryland Heights

Princess René
Her promotion has gone to her head: Please, do tell: Will René Spencer Saller continue to use the royal "we" in every "Radar Station" piece [RFT, May 30]? Has her promotion gone to her head? "Radar Station" is really just a down-to-earth, easy-to-love St. Louis music column, after all, not a review of opera or some tired Masterpiece Theater. Why not send her to review the Shakespeare in the park? Wherefore art thou not Randy?
Alice Loucks
St. Louis

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