Week of November 22, 2000

Electile Dysfunction
When we can't all vote, everyone loses: I am writing in response to Safir Ahmed's article on the problems voters encountered in St. Louis city ["Slimin' the City,"RFT, Nov. 15]. Because of the problems I experienced, I ended up providing testimony at the hearing that resulted in the ruling to keep the polls open later. I was not part of any preplanned plot to subvert the democratic process, as many Republicans are suggesting. I simply went to my polling place of 20 years at 10:30 a.m., only to find I was not on the registration roll. Then, contrary to the dictates of the board of elections, the elections judges did not have phones so that they could clear up the discrepancies, and when I tried to reach the Board of Election Commissioners, the line was busy for over an hour. I did reach my alderman, Steve Conway, who told me to go downtown to the board of elections and insist that they remedy the mistake. I arrived at 12:30 p.m., and because hundreds of other frustrated voters in line, my problem was finally processed at 3 o'clock. Not everyone who went to the board of elections was able to remain the two-and-a-half hours it took to secure their constitutional right to vote. I heard many would-be voters express frustration and outrage that, after more than an hour of waiting, they had to return to work without resolving the problem and thus would not be able to vote.

Fortunately, as there are often voting irregularities and problems with registration in city elections, there were lawyers on site, observing the problems (yes, they may have planned in advance to have observers there). A number of us were chosen at random and asked to sign affidavits about our experience of discrepancies and delays so that attorneys could use them as evidence in their request for a court order to keep the polls open later.

It infuriates me that so many people have predetermined that the testimony at the hearing was political maneuvering to subvert a fair election and give Democrats the edge. While I am a Democrat, I gave my testimony as a resident of the city who directly experienced problems that affected diverse residents, regardless of political affiliation. If 33,000 people were purged from the voting rolls before this election and, because of ineffective systems at the board of elections, were impeded in their efforts to exercise their constitutional franchise, then it is a bipartisan problem. It is irrelevant which party benefits in any given election. E pluribus unum is what makes representational democracy work, but only if we let all the people speak.
Mahina Nightsage
St. Louis

Artistic Tunnel Vision
Bob, you are not all that: I read the article about the turtle sculptures on Oakland [Eddie Silva, "Shell-shocked," RFT, Nov. 8]. I think they are great fun!

Sonya Glassberg, thank you for your extraordinary generosity to St. Louis. Bob Cassilly, get over yourself. Your actions speak louder than your ranting and raving about artistic vision. I think you treated Ms. Glassberg abominably.
Cathy E. Sloan
St. Louis

Sonya Glassberg deserves thanks: The shell wasn't the only thing shocked when I read your column. What exactly was your point?

The first point I want to make is to offer a great big thank-you to Mrs. Glassberg. How refreshing that someone loves her city the way she does St. Louis. Thanks for all she has done and continues to do for our city. Were only there were more St. Louis patriots like her.

It is probably not your job to take sides in a story, and you seemed to be successful, because I could not figure out which side you were on. This is remarkable for the RFT, because the author's bias shows in almost every story in the paper.

The motive for the story appeared to me to be about embarrassing everyone concerned. Mr. Cassilly should be embarrassed for acting like such a baby in this matter. When you sell something to somebody else, it is theirs to do with as they see fit. When a person has a beneficiary like Mrs. Glassberg, he should totally clear his calendar when she wants to meet with him. Avoiding her couldn't have been more rude or boorish.
Keith R. Wilhelm

Leveeing a Tax
The James Gang would be impressed: The guys who put together the Chesterfield Valley floodplain-development project could sell rattlesnake venom to water moccasins [C.D. Stelzer, "After the Deluge," RFT, Nov. 15].

There's also a rumor out there that upon hearing about this deal, the James boys, Frank and Jesse, sat up in their graves, muttering in admiration: "Now, why didn't we think of that?"

No matter the musings of the James, of FEMA, of the Corps of Engineers, when the flood that is sure to come trashes the "new and improved" Chesterfield Valley, the federal government will bail out all the apparent losers, including the developers, with our tax dollars. You see, it's you and me who are really the dumb water moccasins.
Fred Boeneker


The city masked its true intent: D.J. Wilson exposes W-1W for what it really is, a land grab at the expense of Bridgeton [Wilson, "Losing Altitude," RFT, Nov. 8]. Kinloch and other communities around Lambert know the story well.

The refusal to listen to the airline pilots and the air-traffic controllers, the refusal to do a real-time study and the refusal to discuss Lambert's second choice for expansion show the city of St. Louis' true intent: Grab up more property at taxpayer expense.

When you buy 2,000 residential homes, displace 6,000 people and sell the land for commercial rates, you have got all kinds of reasons to refuse to listen to professionals, refuse to do a real-time study and refuse to discuss the northeast plan. It's time for the state to step in and stop this fraud.

Pat McDonnell
St. Charles

The folks who ran the election planned Lambert's expansion: I want to express my appreciation to the RFT for keeping our community's attention on the W-1W plan. It is a huge public-works project that will affect the region for decades.

I only wish to emphasize that the same government that planned and implemented the city's election is the same entity which will plan and implement the W-1W project. If one believes the election process was well done, then one may accept that W-1W will also be well done. If not ...
Tim Fuhrman

FAA statistics also undermine expansion case: Bridgeton Air Defense agrees with statistics that show declining takeoffs and landings at Lambert during the period 1994-July 2000. The numbers quoted in the article are attributed to the Lambert Web site. However, our organization prefers to track these statistics using official FAA data. The FAA's Web site, updated as of Oct. 31, shows that takeoffs and landings have now declined by 12,875 compared to the same period in 1999.

Actual statistics since 1994, and the forecasts in the Lambert master plan, substantiate contention of airline pilots and air-traffic controllers that airport officials deliberately understated the current capacity of Lambert and overstated the need to expand Lambert.

Keep up the good work in exposing the W-1W expansion plan for what it is -- airpork.
Rowan C. Raftery
Bridgeton Air Defense

Requiem for a Dream
A remembrance of things passed: The Riverfront Times has changed its face/Ray warned us to expect a change, but there was a catch/Just like the rabbit on a Playboy cover, some traditions are hard to replace/It may be a hint of disrespect, but I'm thinking about renewing my subscription to the Post-Dispatch.

You slowly weaned us off "News of the Weird"/But you managed to keep "Street Talk" alive/And then "Life in Hell" just disappeared/And you really believe the RFT will thrive.

More and more pages are being dedicated to sexual advertising/I realize that this is necessary for a "free" paper to exist/What I find so subliminally predicated and yet not too surprising/Is the amount of readers that seem genuinely pissed.

It seems that the original St. Louis grassroots newspaper has outgrown its own lawn/Could it be that our very own liberal icon has become one of the good ol' boys?/I hope that the RFT continues to publish its controversial social issues long after I'm gone/To me, the RFT has always been a newspaper where the voice of the people could be heard even through all of the commercial noise.
Curt Baoding
St. Charles

Book Smarts
An educated electorate could have avoided this mess: The question posed by Wm. Stage is interesting and is certainly on the minds and lips of citizens everywhere; however, I feel it is misdirected and places the onus on the wrong parties ["Is a Revote in Florida the Answer to the Election Fiasco?" "Street Talk," RFT, Nov. 15].

At the dawn of a new, technologically advanced millennium, it is somewhat disconcerting to realize that the leadership of the free world is hinging on the liver-spotted hands of a few thousand partisan retirees on both sides of the ideological spectrum. And this is all done against a backdrop of partisan bickering: Democrats blame the Republicans. Republicans blame the Democrats. In actuality, there is so little difference in their methods and motives we could simply rename both parties Democans and Republicrats. And, thanks to the antics of the last half-decade, all those in office, right or left, have now found themselves dead center in a maelstrom of ill will.

Why? Why do we find ourselves complaining about the choppy direction this ship of state has taken? Why do we denounce captain and crew as incompetents when we booked passage and secured their position at the helm? It could be plain and simple ignorance. Our society has, on many levels, become woefully unknowledgeable about things political. Politics is even a proud partner to religion on the short list of things about which we are told it is impolite to speak.

So how do we educate ourselves? How do we enlighten the entire Oprah-watching, Whopper-scarfing nation? The answer is quite simple, really: Read! Read something other than sports tickers, Nasdaq and the TV Guide critic's corner. Evaluate what is being said. Reevaluate by whom it is being said. Take into account that what you are hearing has been through the spin cycle more times than a sock in a Tide commercial. Then figure out how it affects you, your family, your friends and your world.

As a result, we may finally find ourselves living in a nation where kids depend a little less upon Carson Daly and a little more upon a variety of credible, literate sources. And maybe, just maybe, they will arm themselves and future generations with the navigational skill and moral compass to steer this great big Princess Cruise clear of the coral reef.
Bob Atchisson
via the Internet

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