Week of January 12, 2006 

The gay community is very critical, especially of our own kind.

Compass Points
Mistakes were made: There is an error in your year-end quiz ["Unreal News Challenge 2005," December 29]. Question 36 says MidAmerica Airport is in O'Fallon, Illinois. MidAmerica Airport is in Mascoutah. This may not seem like an important distinction to those readers and writers on this side of the river, but for those of us who grew up at Scott Air Force Base or in Mascoutah, it's a pretty big deal. I went to high school in Mascoutah when certain people's pockets were being lined and agricultural lands destroyed for an airport that everyone knew was useless. I only wish we hadn't been right. It's a shame.

O'Fallon was our biggest rival, so any confusion strikes a chord with us because, just like in St. Louis, people identify strongly with their high schools. I live on the Missouri side now and still have friends who are afraid to cross the river. It's like people on both sides think the other side is a whole other world. But I digress; just wanted to point out the error.
Crystal Lovett-Tibbs
St. Louis

Points of Pride
Let the healing begin: I was very interested to see Malcolm Gay's article on Pride St. Louis ["Wounded Pride," December 15]. I've been lucky enough to be in the Pride parade twice. I'm not sure I really understood what it meant though, until more recently, to be a part of it. To have 20,000-plus people like myself screaming and yelling and have a great time dancing and celebrating up and down Grand. I don't think words can really describe the experience, but I know it will be a feeling I will never forget.

I've heard people talk about Chad Saenz's past in chat rooms and in friendly gatherings. Here is what is interesting to me. The gay community is very critical, especially of our own kind. At the same time, none of the people being critical want the responsibility that goes along with being involved with Pride.

As for Jeff Balk, I believe he likes to point out other people's faults to distract people from his own. Such is gay life. Point the finger at others so no one points at you. It takes pretty thick skin to stand up and be in the gay spotlight. It takes thick skin to be gay, for that matter. So why are we always so quick to point out faults of someone who stands up and takes a position in Pride? Is it for self-gratification? Is it so we have something to talk about? Granted this isn't karaoke at Novak's and we are talking about an elected office on the Pride committee, but shouldn't we know where to draw the line as a community? Why would we bring up something like this and make a huge deal about it, when it makes the community as a whole look bad?

Vital Voice and EXP have a relatively small readership. The RFT, on the other hand, is everywhere. So now this is turned into gay drama at its finest. But what are the side effects? Jeff Balk gets his five minutes of fame for publishing the article in the first place. Chad is getting better known for being convicted of his past crimes than whatever great things he may do for Pride, and the community as a whole is looked down upon by all the law-abiding heteros reading the RFT.

Pride is a major event for our community. It doesn't happen every weekend. It does take a lot of planning. But how does what Chad did in the past affect his ability to fulfill his commitment to Pride? That should be the question to focus on. We all make bad choices at times, but as a community we need to focus on the good ones. We need to look at what Pride means and how the people elected to office convey that message.
Andy Garrett
St. Louis

Tipping Pointer
Why'd you have to go and slag on JeffCo? While the good professor is correct in his assessment of gradient tipping, we must not forget, and sometimes I think it is not common knowledge, that most servers are paid a pittance of around $2 per hour by their employer [Unreal, December 15]. They rely on the goodwill of their guests and all too often come up short.

To all you folks out there: Just for your information, 10 percent tips are no longer acceptable for good service. Hell, the way this economy is, 15 percent is cutting it close. And to all you senior citizens: I can't go out and buy a pair of Brogans with the $1.50 you left me on a $30 tab; it's not 1945 anymore. Jefferson County folks: Stay out if you don't have enough money to tip after paying the bill.

Treat your waiters and waitresses right!
Tim Wilson
St. Louis

Point of Departure
MetroBlink and you miss it: I had to smile when I read Tyson Blanquart's December 15 letter about MetroBlink trains not operating at Laclede's Landing past midnight. The reason is that Respondek Rail Services has right-of-way permission over MetroLink tracks just west of Grand Boulevard along Scott Street from 1 a.m. to about 3 a.m.

When the Norfolk & Western Railway bought out the Illinois Terminal Railway, which MetroLink now owns over Eads Bridge to Union Station, and also bought out the Wabash Railway, which MetroLink now owns from the UPS facility near Union Station to the UMSL South station, the N&W only wanted those two lines to eliminate competitive routes. Very viciously, the N&W mistreated their customers to "run them off" to obtain permission for abandonment, and the result is the "island line" running along the north side of the MetroLink main line. If not for Terry Respondek and his associates, the employees of the grain elevator and US Steel would be living in a homeless shelter or on welfare, as Respondek operates for the businesses — not for MetroLink — but the foundry was so mistreated by N&W's corporate communism that they vow to never again ship by rail, and they have pulled out all of their track. That is why MetroLink ceases operations just before midnight.
Ronald Kinum
St. Louis

Errata
As Crystal Lovett-Tibbs correctly points out, we failed to properly locate MidAmerica Airport in Mascoutah, Illinois. While we're righting wrongs, in our January 5 issue, Timothy Lane's "You Are Here" installment should have noted that Mike & Min's is now closed.

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