News Real, September 21, 2006
Incomplete sentence: Thanks to Ben Westhoff for a well-written, concise piece on the killing of cyclist Michael Katz last year by a careless motorist. Westhoff got the details right, and he got reasonably accurate quotes from most of the appropriate people, including myself. However, the deck at the top of the page (for which presumably Westhoff is not responsible) was flat wrong on two critical points.
First, cyclists are not "bitter" about the "sentencing" of Robert Rush. He was given pretty much the maximum on the traffic violations to which he pleaded guilty in municipal court, including failure to keep a proper lookout. As I said to Westhoff in our telephone interview, Creve Coeur did what it was supposed to do. Our disappointment is with the county prosecutor, Robert McCulloch, who has declined to prosecute Rush for manslaughter, even though Rush admitted that he was not paying attention to the road when he killed Katz.
Russell A. Willis III, chair, policy committee, St. Louis Regional Bicycle Federation
Where's the accountability? I am grateful for the article Westhoff wrote about the lenient sentencing of the self-described inattentive driver who killed my cousin, Michael Katz. The article's tone was respectful of the family's tragedy and appropriately reported the disappointment of Michael's many friends and relatives of the meager sentence received. I can assure you this family is not vengeful. We've shown uncanny strength in this sad period. However, the loss can inadequately be described in a short article.
Michael was a very unassuming yet successful attorney, raising his children to be mensches with his wife, Susan. Michael loved life, and at family functions he was as alive as when riding his bike. Michael and several other family characters would hold court at one of the tables, reeling off joke after lousy joke. This case wasn't just about inattentive motorists and a biking accident. This was about how one person's irresponsibility can cause an irreplaceable loss for an immediate and extended family of relatives and friends.
Allan Smith, Chesterfield
News Real, September 14, 2006
Send him back to J-school: Why did Ben Westhoff report sensationalized hearsay in "Urban Legendary" as if it was professional journalism (reprinting an unfounded e-mail; smearing the reputations of innocent, respected businesses at Westport; advocating on the behalf of this story's most questionable sources)? Did he learn to report by writing on a blog or a tabloid? If the RFT needs something to titillate and to remind readers the difference between itself and the Post-Dispatch, save the salary on this putz and republish more stories from the [Kansas City] Pitch's Ben Paynter. His article "Party Cove Pimps" provides all the titillation you could want, and it goes after some undeniable dirt bags. And he actually took the time to do some thorough research. Paynter can do smut, defilement, advocacy and investigation ten times better than Westhoff.
Andy Hayes, St. Louis
News Real, September 7, 2006
Welcome to America: The type of thing in Kristen Hinman's "Summer Bummer" happens to foreign college students each year. I am so glad you brought this to the public's attention. The Government Accountability Office investigated the division of the Department of State that is supposed to oversee these programs. Basically, there is little to no oversight, repeated abuses, and the problems go on and on. Agencies like the Council on International Educational Exchange are making a bundle on these kids. They invite them to come over here to make good wages and learn what America is all about. I cringe when I think of the impressions these students are left with.
I work with the Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students. We focus on the high school students these same greedy agencies bring to the U.S. Thank you for writing about these exploited young people.
Jan M. Scherrer, Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students, Versailles, Kentucky