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Letters to the Editor


To the Editor:
As a 10-year veteran of the public-radio "industry," I have to say that I believe everything I read in "Air Force" (RFT, June 23). Because of the low pay, government subsidies and less-than-professional oversight by university bureaucrats, working at many public-radio stations is like walking into an episode of WKRP in Cincinnati (except that everyone has a bachelor's or master's degree).

The result of these peculiar circumstances is that many public-radio stations are repositories for all of the following: megalomaniac Napoleons; drifting, unfocused slackers; and a few dedicated idealists. The fact that the University of Missouri allows the kind of psychological abuse meted out by KWMU's management is an outrage. I suspect that an even closer look at the station's financial management would reflect additional problems. (No one doubts that the station's profits are up, but how's that money being spent?) CEOs with severely overinflated egos seldom abuse only their staff.

Taxpayers and public-radio contributors should take a long look inside their hearts and ask themselves whether this state of affairs fits the "public-radio spirit" they think they've been supporting. I urge them to make a call and demand that the University of Missouri administration do an audit of KWMU's management practices. Isn't that what taxpayers pay them to do?

Vance Hiner

To the Editor:
All tyrants are alike. They will do anything to protect their base of power, no matter how reprehensible.

I worked at KWMU from 1978-1989, served on the search committee that hired Patty Bennett (my no vote, not the sole one, being overruled) and was the first resignation, six weeks after she started. Were one simply to list the other resignations and firings (a matter of public record) that have ensued since then, one would see clearly the human spirit's taste for being treated badly. There is no such thing as a Good Bitch, as she was fond of calling herself.

The success that has occurred at KWMU can certainly be measured in numbers. Evil has always had a high success rate.

Lorin Cuoco


To the Editor:
This is in response to a new column in your paper. It seems you have eliminated all of the worthy columns and replaced them with one known as "Hit Parade." Is this a joke? Are we as readers supposed to enjoy Mr. Crone's obvious lack of writing skills, ramblings about South City and feeble attempts to fill the shoes of columnists before him?

Reading this week's "Hit Parade," in which Mr. Crone mirrors his writing after other prominent columnists in town, I didn't understand his purpose in acknowledging he was using someone else's writing style. Why his sudden confession of a lack of character and originality? Since he's been bitten by the honesty bug, why not just admit every column is a ridiculous, blatant copycat of Rich Byrne's "Media" column?

I have a piece of advice for this struggling journalist. Quit ripping off other columnists, realize you have no future in journalism and run for office -- perhaps dogcatcher of South City.

Nadja A. Slivaka


To the Editor:
Ray Hartmann's "Commentary" ("Leonard Little: Justice Isn't an Option," RFT, June 23) made a little more sense than his essays usually do, but an aspect of it which he didn't give specifics on is this "community service" requirement. If we're talking manual labor (floor scrubbin', lawn-weeding, highway or road work, ditch diggin', etc.), fine. But if he's going to be dressed (tie and $800 suit) like a big-ego celebrity to go and speak to impressionable teenagers, becoming a bigger, more admired "role model," forget it. Keep all drunken-driving offenders away from audiences.

Bill Diffley

To the Editor:
I'm writing with disgust and frustration at the so-called punishment doled out to Leonard Little for killing Susan Gutweiler while he was driving drunk.

I agreed with Ray Hartmann's comments on Donnybrook (June 17). I think he could have stuck to those opinions and not backed away from them, as he did in his "Commentary." Ray, you were correct with your initial gut feeling, that Little's plea deal "just didn't feel right."

But in your column you wrote, "Then came the facts." You mentioned that you had spoken with numerous attorneys and that all had told you Little received no special treatment. That may have been correct for St. Louis city. However, an article in the June 26 Post-Dispatch detailed how cases similar to Little's are handled quite differently and much more severely outside the city, even including next-door St. Louis County.

Whatever the punishment meted out, why does our legal system coddle drunk drivers who kill? Why does our legal system say a drunk driver cannot be charged with homicide? Because the drunk driver did not have the legal intent to kill?

When did drunks receive such legal protection? From English common law? From statutes written by our own drunken lawyer/legislators? We have all seen the human misery and havoc caused by drunks who kill while driving. Isn't it common sense to make them as responsible for their killings as any other murderer who has the requisite legal intent?

All lawyers know the legal "but for" theory. Why not combine "but for" with "legal intent" and apply it to those who kill or maim while driving drunk?

A person intends to drink. But for drinking, that person would not have gotten drunk. That person then decides to get behind the wheel of a car and drive while drunk. It is foreseeable that a drunk, driving a vehicle, will be involved in an accident which may result in the death or maiming of an innocent person. Under this theory, drunken drivers who kill or maim can be charged with any intent crime the prosecution decides to levy.

Why is this not already the law of the land? Who are the legislators who choose to protect drunken drivers who kill?

Robert A. Frauenglas


To the Editor:
Just read Ray's "Commentary" on the latest MetroLink fiasco. When will metro St. Louisans get a clue?

Over Memorial Day, I spent three days without my car. My husband and I took an Amtrak train to Chicago, picked up a three-day visitor pass on the Chicago Transit Authority for $12 at the train station, walked a few blocks to our hotel and spent the next three days exploring Chicago from the bus system.

Now, neither one of us is a city dweller, familiar with the intricacies of public transit. When we got the visitor pass we were given copious amounts of bus schedules, which we pored over, but we soon found that the bus drivers and even the passengers were quite friendly -- seeing us with schedules in hand, they delighted in pointing out the best transfers to take. Most glorious of all, the buses ran on time. You could literally get off one bus, walk around the corner and pick up your next conveyance in five minutes. At 9:30 at night, the bus stops were well lit and populated with fellow travelers, most of whom were not tourists.

We did not use the El, the subway or the Metra, largely because the buses took us within a block or so of all our destinations. But all those alternatives existed as well. We used a magnetic card for travel -- no fumbling for money. And $4 a day beat the alternatives in a place where parking can go as high as $5 an hour. Believe it or not, all over the city, the downtown streets had people in them!

Upon arriving back in St. Louis via rail at 9:30 p.m., we drove home from downtown (no other transport exists to Pacific at that hour, and precious little any other time). We noticed how deserted Market Street was, and how small-town provincial St. Louis appeared. We've supported commuter rail to the suburbs for years, but nothing happens except excuses in this town where people and politicians seem genuinely afraid of actual functioning public-transportation systems.

Get with the program, people!
Jo Schaper


To the Editor:
Pasta House owner Kim Tucci says in the pages of the RFT ("The Sacred and the Profane," RFT, June 9) that St. Louis University's Father Lawrence Biondi's driving a Lexus is no big deal but allows that it would be different if Biondi drove a car "symbolic" of being rich (e.g., a Mercedes-Benz).

Reliable news reports indicate that Bill Gates drives a Lexus.
In other words, Father Biondi drives the same make of automobile as the richest man in the world.

What was that again about "symbolic," Mr. Tucci?
David K.M. Klaus

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