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Week of December 20, 2000

Rebels Without a Clue
Somebody's going to get killed: I just read the article "Speed Demons" [Bruce Rushton, RFT, Dec. 13] and felt I had to write about it.

First, let me say that, yes, their skills are awesome and they should be proud of themselves for obtaining those skills. However, they must find a different place to ride. I have seen them in action and have witnessed their skills. I have also seen them almost cause at least three accidents. These "cool guys" simply have no regard for other people's safety. One of these days, somebody will get killed because of their "radness." The problem is that life is not fair. The people who will be killed will, unfortunately, be innocent motorists, on their way home from work. The first rule in life is to not harm others in any way.

To the Streetfighterz: What is wrong with renting Gateway International Speedway's track or dragstrip? What is wrong with finding somewhere farther away from home to ride? Or are you too "cool" to be inconvenienced? Go somewhere where you don't have a chance of injuring innocent people. Arizona has plenty of open and flat highways for you -- go there.

To the lawkeepers, if the Streetfighterz continue to show off in the way they are currently doing, someone, probably a law-abiding citizen, will be killed. It is your duty to see this does not happen. The Streetfighterz must be stopped. Period.

To the families and friends of the Streetfighterz, please talk to them about what is right and wrong, and convince them that endangering innocent people for fun is wrong.
Jim Sullivan
St. Louis

Most people would refer to them as idiots: What could Bruce Rushton have possibly been thinking -- "I think I'll find three morons with a death wish and make them folk heroes"? Was that it, Bruce?

I ride a motorcycle. I put over 10,000 miles on it this summer. I think I qualify as part of the "motorcycling community." I have never referred to or heard anyone that rides refer to any person as a "hooligan." Who was your source for that, Bruce, someone at the Old Bikers' Home? Most people who ride would refer to the Streetfighterz as idiots. They are not daredevils or "crotch-rocket aficionados." By the way, how does one become a "crotch-rocket aficionado"? These are dangerous little boys with very little experience. They are riding well beyond their skill level, and someone is going to get hurt. A 400-pound bike with a 100-pound rider is a quarter-ton projectile. What do you think is going to happen when one of your heroes hits a subcompact car at 174 mph? Someone is going to die.

These three miscreants are not motorcyclists; they are a burden to society. Forged insurance cards, evading the police, riding without tags, "borrowing" gas (yeah, right, he came back and paid for it). Just how many bikes have the Streetfighterz wrecked and charged off to the insurance companies? I hope their insurance agents read the RFT. I hope the police read the RFT. And I hope these morons get busted and taken off the streets.

There are a lot of good things that bikers in the St. Louis area do for the community. Bikers for Babies, benefit poker runs and MDA fundraisers are just a few. It amazes me: The only thing that you find worthy of your pen, Bruce, is a club that consists of three irresponsible boys whose only purpose is to have very dangerous fun at other people's expense? The cost of the police pursuits, accidents and new bikes has got to be staggering. I really prefer for my tax and insurance dollars not to fund these illegal acts.

Next time you write on the subject of motorcycling, find something worthy of the ink.
Name withheld on request
Columbia, Ill.

For the Birds
Cardinals should pay for their own stadium: Thank you for using the word I've wanted to use ever since the story on the Cardinals' Illinois angle broke -- extortion [Ray Hartmann, "Give Us Our Stadium and No One Gets Hurt," RFT, Dec. 6]. What is it with the city of St. Louis? First the highway shutdowns, and now this?

OK, I live in the county. But I am concerned about the decline of the city, as any county-dweller should be, and I have thought for years that the way to revitalize the city was through, at least in part, the schools. People haven't moved out of the city because we don't have state-of-the-art sports facilities. They have evacuated in hordes mostly because the current generation grew up to be heads of families who needed to educate their children adequately. And new people (like myself, in 1988, when I came here) have not considered the city an option because of the schools (even if they lived in and enjoyed urban life in another city before coming here). If the schools were better, I would move there. And a lot of other people might move back.

My grandfather was a "horse trader." His philosophy of bargaining and negotiation might aptly apply here: If the city and state decision-makers had an ounce of common sense and half a pound of, er, "guts," [they would] put the money where it will improve the livability of the city -- the schools, emergency services and neighborhood revitalization -- and court real industry that would create something more than minimum-wage concession jobs. Make the city (already ranked a great place for a sports team to live) vital in ways that don't depend on win-loss records. In other words, serve the people, and at the same time make the city a vital place where the sports teams want and need to be.

And call the Cardinals' bluff. We know and they know that only the most passionate diehard fan will cross that river and buy a ticket, especially if we hit another losing season. My bet is if the city says no, the owners would find a way to dig into their own deep pockets and build their new stadium themselves.
Peggy Goddard

Bank Heist
Many banks are unwilling to police unscrupulous merchant activity: I read with great interest your article about Heartland Payment Systems and Internet processing [Bruce Rushton, "Porn in the USA," RFT, Nov. 29]. As a provider of merchant processing services, I thought the article was well written and easily understood by people with little or no understanding of our specific industry. I applaud your diligence in pursuing the story and think you provide a valuable service to the public by educating them about the danger of visiting Internet sites, especially those with adult themes.

It is apparent that Visa, MasterCard and many "member banks" are unwilling to police unscrupulous merchant activity until the public has been bilked out of literally millions of dollars. My company does not and will never allow "adult content" Internet sites to operate, but there are still many who will and, in fact, encourage such sites.
Name withheld on request
Germantown, Tenn.

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