COFFEE AND SYMPATHY
Please thank Jeannette Batz and Jennifer Silverberg for a kind story. I lit a candle and read the "Plight of the Gypsies" (RFT, April 26) while sipping coffee. The only better way to have spent an evening would have been with a "real" date.
Debra Smith-de Jesus
I have always enjoyed your well-written and insightful editorials. This one ("Commentary," "Just Another Episode in the Elián Show," RFT, April 26) was perhaps the most insightful and best-argued ever.
My kudos to Ray Hartmann on his "Commentary" on Elián. Poor little Elián is a lot like the football at a Super Bowl game. His plight seems to have created a whole new cottage industry of exploitation.
WHAT'S IN A NUMBER?
Kudos to you on your insightful Mike Peters editorial comic concerning firearms from page two of the April 26 issue.
In 1997 alone, 32,436 Americans were killed in firearm-related injuries. We'll conveniently leave out that 17,566 of those were suicides (constituting over 50 percent of these deaths) and that over 6.6 million Americans have used firearms for defense (some criminologists have stated it as high as 2.5 million times a year). Who cares if 99.8 percent of firearms will never be used in a violent crime? Let's face it -- the NRA and its infernal firearms are clearly menaces.
But they are not alone. What of those killers in the automotive industry who helped to slaughter 43,591 Americans in 1997 in motor-vehicle-related injuries. It's high time we got rid of automobiles.
Then too, there is the abominable chemical industry, accomplices in the senseless deaths of 10,163 Americans in 1997 from unintentional poisoning. Is Mr. Clean more important than the life of one child? I think not.
And what of the rapscallions in the stair and high-heeled-shoe businesses? In 1997, 11,858 Americans died in unintentional falls. Do we really need multistory buildings or taller women?
Who can forgive the murderous bastards peddling pillows and plastic bags to the 10,650 Americans who were suffocated in 1997? I'll take paper and a sore neck, thank you.
I think, by now, the point should be obvious. People are not killed by guns any more than they are killed by cars, chemicals, stairs, pillows, etc. All of those items are simply tools. People die because these tools are misused or misunderstood. If you really want to save lives, work to make people smarter; work to alleviate the fear in men's hearts that makes them hate; work to see that all people are loved and cared for; work to see that people are not put in dangerous situations because of age, sex, lack of sleep, chemical addictions, financial status, lack of education, occupational hazards or physical disability. Then, my friends, you'll have something to crow about.
John R. Seiler
BILL'S IN THE MAIL
As a candidate for St. Louis mayor (2001) (and Congress, 1st District, this year), I have the following comments on the proposed stadium "deal":
1. The owners want $10 million a year, for the next 20 years, from money the city is currently spending, with no guarantee of anything in return. As Dean Martin used to say to the bear who wanted to sing on his show: Not now, not ever, never!
2. We have no idea how much money the owners make or their projections of how much money this development will generate. If they seek public money, perhaps they should open their books.
3. They want the public to own the stadium. Of course they do! When it's obsolete in 20 years, we're stuck with it! It's a trick! Let them own it!
4. It is unconscionable for a private enterprise to blackmail a city or state by saying, "Give me money or I'll move somewhere else." I refuse to play that game, and as a congressperson I will introduce legislation to make that illegal.
5. No one wants to lose the Cardinals, so I would be willing to put a referendum on the issue to a vote of the people. The trick is to work with the Cardinals to develop a deal we can support instead of oppose:
(a) Define a percentage of future tax increases that they can have to make the deal viable (or just raise ticket prices an average of $3.33 each).
(b) If they want to raise money from the public, they should consider selling shares in the team to the public.
(c) My favorite idea: If the plans for the stadium development included facilities for daycare and senior care for the people who work downtown, it would be a dramatic boost for downtown, increase support of the public for the deal, make it easier to justify public assistance, help pay for the stadium and neutralize the criticism of the city's payroll tax.
BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY
The Planning and Urban Design Agency is under pressure from the city's treasurer, Larry Williams, who is going to sue the Preservation Board, which, he claims, has no power to rule in any aspects of "his" Argyle garage being built on the corner of Euclid and Lindell in the Central West End.
Mr. Williams has repeatedly refused to consider the wishes of the Central West End Association regarding their requests for changes that would enhance the aesthetics of the garage and is insisting on placing a 15-foot vertical neon sign, hanging perpendicular to the garage on Lindell.
As a resident of the St. Regis Apartments who would be facing this "neon advert," I consider it detrimental to the appearance of the neighborhood and a $70,000 expense that could be better spent on other city needs.
When you consider that the users of the garage will be those using the facilities of the Chase library, they don't need a large neon sign to tell them where to park.
I'm reminded of the movies of the '40 and '50s showing an apartment alongside an elevated-railroad flat where the neon signs from the neighborhood shine through the front windows. I wonder if Mr. Williams would like to have that in his "frontyard."
Mr. Williams has a fine past record of achievements for the city, but this is one that needs his review and change. Why not accede to the wishes of those of us most affected by the sign and figure out a better way to advertise the parking facility?