Editor's note: Last week, after 21 years as the lead columnist of the paper he founded, Ray Hartmann wrote his final column for the Riverfront Times. Rising from the days when he'd shove his own uncashed paychecks into a drawer so employees could get paid, Ray built the RFT into a strong, aggressive and lively paper that tells St. Louis the straight truth, unfiltered by the city's power brokers. Every week, Ray spoke to readers in a clear and passionate voice about wrongs that needed to be made right and deals that needed public airing. His column will be sorely missed. This is what readers had to say about his departure -- and his favorite target, the state-subsidized stadium proposal for the Cardinals that failed to pass the Legislature.
Hello, I Must Be Going
Shoeless Hartmann: Say it ain't so, Ray! First The X-Files and now this! Say it ain't so!
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Mature object of desire:What you have founded, created, hated, loved, cursed at and got off on has grown up. St. Louisans are smart and cherish value -- hence the success of your enterprise. I have been been a regular reader for over ten years. I think that you have been a tremendous asset to the city of St. Louis. I haven't always agreed with you, but I've always liked you -- and usually agreed with you.
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Voice coach: I've enjoyed reading your RFT column and hearing your perspectives on the Donnybrook show. You've added a great deal to the socio-cultural-political dialogue in St. Louis. Thanks.
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The spike: I wanted to say thank you for all of the hard work that you put into the Riverfront Times. I have been reading the paper since my freshman year at Fontbonne in 1985. I look forward to picking up the newest issue every Wednesday and reading your editorial. It just won't be the same without you. I wish you luck in whatever you choose to do. At least I'll still be able to get my "Ray fix" on Donnybrook! Take care and be happy!
Pick of the litter: First it's Joe Bonwich, now it's you. When will it end? The paper will never be the same without you two. I wrote Joe to tell him he always restored my appetite with his writing about food. I'm going to tell you that you always restored my faith in the fight for right, whatever the outcome. Hate to see you go. Good luck in any future endeavor. You're a real winner, pal!
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Fill 'er up -- high-test: With reference to your opening line, "I think we've all had enough of me," I haven't. I hate to see you go. You deserve all the good things that have happened to you.
Chairman, St. Louis County
Victory lap: Ray Hartmann's extraordinary effort in helping defeat the stadium-funding bill provides a high note for him to go out on. His many commentaries that railed against the attempt by the St. Louis Cardinals to extort more than $400 million from taxpayers were very effective. He both exposed the deception of the stadium proposal and the greed of Cardinals owners.
State Representative, 95th District
Where's my money? Ray Hartmann's logic is the most clarion thinking on the stadium topic that I have read ["The People's Stadium Bill," May 15]. The Joe Buck-aholics of St. Louis need to sit up and take notice. My company is in need of a new facility, and we're not getting state and federal subsidies to relocate. Neither should the Cardinals.
Muddy waters: So, in your words, the Cardinals will never leave downtown, huh? I believe Mark Lamping is a straight shooter and he means just what he says. The sad thing is that you and the welfare "leaders" you allied yourself with will probably just crawl into your holes when downtown really becomes dead every summer night. You, of course, will be relaxing on a beach somewhere with the big bucks you made on the sale of the RFT. Isn't it ironic how your former publication made its fortune promoting the "riverfront" and now ends up killing any of its future hopes?
One shoe, one sock: Good luck with the future. I will surely miss your pointed prose and unabashed wit. However, the selfish side of me says: "What's the big idea of leaving the RFT?!" I'm gonna miss the hell out of your column. Your predecessor [sic] has a helluva big shoe to fill. Thanks for the outstanding columns!
Team with no name: You tell 'em, Ray! I am soooooo glad there is at least one sane voice to be heard in the media. If they don't get their welfare check today from Jefferson City and they do sell out, I will be the first to walk around Busch Stadium with a "Go Cards!" sign. As in: "Get Out of Town Now!" One thing I truly wish the city or even the state would do: pass a law that would keep the Cards from being called the St. Louis Cardinals if they get a stadium in some other city. Even East St. Louis. I am really tired of all those St. Louis County and St. Charles County people and businesses hating St. Louis and yet using St. Louis addresses or calling themselves St. Louisans. There was the dedication of the newest stars in the Walk of Fame in the Loop. It is called the St. Louis Walk of Fame. It ain't in St. Louis -- it's in University City.
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Huzzah: Concerning your May 15 editorial ["The People's Stadium Bill"]: Ballpark amendments. If it could only be true! You are indeed a clear-thinking human. Ransom, indeed. Blackmail, for sure. Spoiled brats, definitely! If only you could be in charge, I would gladly donate to your cause, and I live across the river! I applaud thee! Bravo! Words any truer were never spoken!
Room for one more: I have one more teensy little amendment to the stadium bill -- Missouri taxpayers get free admission with a copy of a paid-property-tax receipt or state tax return. I think this is only fair, considering that the institutions supported by the zoo/art-museum tax offer free or reduced admission.
Special sauce: This is a masterpiece that you have put together here ["The People's Stadium Bill"]. I only wanted to congratulate you, Ray Hartmann, on coming up with these ten little (gems) conditions. Do you think Mr. DeWitt [Cardinals principal partner William O. DeWitt Jr.] will be able to agree to even one of these? Thanks again for being the key voice (in my humble opinion) speaking out for the vast majority against this giveaway, because we all know that most of the common-sense folks in Missouri are against this, but because of the fix being in with the [St. Louis Post-Dispatch], our desires are being suppressed! Do you agree?
Requiem from a rocker: I just wanted to tell you that you're losing one hell of a guy. Ray Hartmann is the reason I book bands for a living. His newspaper has given me ideas and a great way to learn about music. I hope the paper will keep going for years to come. I wish him the best. When it came to reading any paper that came out of St. Louis, I always chose the RFT. Ray, it was great to read all your commentaries over the past fifteen years I've read your paper. So good luck and God bless you. Even though I have disagreed many times with you, you're still OK by me.
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