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Week of February 14, 2001

Cards Shark
Better uses for tax money: I think that what Bill DeWitt Jr. is doing is evil [Bruce Rushton, "The Midas Touch," RFT, Feb. 7]. It makes me angry to know that this guy is going to get away with this scam. I would like to personally invite Mr. DeWitt to a guided tour of St. Louis and spotlight some buildings that truly need $290 million worth of tax money channeled into them. In fact, I know a really nice nightclub and restaurant over on Olive Boulevard he might be interested in.
Phil Browne
via the Internet

Down on the 'Hood
Blaming neighborhood for drug dealer's death isn't right: A 19-year-old drug courier from Jefferson County with a history of serious drug abuse transported LSD in a Chevy Beretta with $140 in his pocket and was shot and killed in a drug deal gone bad [Wm. Stage, "Death Trip," RFT, Jan. 31]. A human tragedy, particularly for the parents and loved ones. But is anyone surprised by this story?

What is surprising is that the RFT condones this behavior, playing on our sympathy by showing a grade-school picture of this young man on the front cover, not the LSD-toting figure he had become, trying to hook our youngsters on acid. He chased after and cornered a guy with a gun and was fatally shot. What's even more surprising is that the writer compounds the tragedy and blames the entire neighborhood where the drug deal went wrong. The writer notes, but discounts, such facts that got in the way as low crime rates, new housing and programs for employees to provide down-payment assistance for homebuyers in the area. As alderman and a resident of the area, and as a former president of the neighborhood organization, I was never contacted about the proposed story. The writer further ignored a $6 million renovation of a nearby school building, closed for 18 years, which now has new life; nuisance properties (noted and pictured as boarded) that had been closed by the police department and the city of St. Louis; and a nearby revitalized business area.

Maybe the abbreviated story of the event in the daily paper didn't do justice for the family grieving over the loss of their loved one shot in the drug deal. But six RFT pages that try to resurrect his reputation by blaming the neighborhood where he was dealing LSD isn't right, either. The RFT chose to believe that the neighborhood was "deceptively quiet" rather than that bad incidents could be the exception, rather than the rule.

What our city neighborhoods need is more positive investment, not drugs and drug money from Jefferson County or elsewhere. We should be fighting the drug scourge both on the supply and demand sides. Attacking our city neighbors and neighborhoods, which are working hard to revitalize and to improve the quality of life, is not the answer to the drug problem.
Craig Schmid
Alderman, 10th Ward

Den of Inequity
Cut Greg some slack: You criticize Greg Freeman for asking readers to send in their favorite things about St. Louis [D.J. Wilson, "Short Cuts," RFT, Feb. 7]. Your same issue includes the ballot for your 2001 restaurant poll: "Select your favorite restaurant in each category."

Freeman got a few columns out of his request. You get pages of copy and big bucks in advertising tie-ins. How about cutting Greg a little slack?
Esley Hamilton
University City

High in Plain Sight
Raves and drugs go hand in hand: I read the recent column about raves in St. Louis. A "rave," in my view, is a gathering of people for a great length of time where house or techno music is played and drugs are found [Randall Roberts, "Radar Station," RFT, Jan. 17]. "When you see a bunch of kids dancing to house or techno downtown, mesmerized by glowsticks and lifting their Vicks VapoRub-laden masks to guzzle water, chances are they're high on more than just life," can be compared to the cliché "If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's probably a duck."

Ecstasy, the drug used in a rave scene, gives a user an enhanced sensitivity that makes bright lights seem intense. Many "ravers" on ecstasy also wear masks with Vicks VapoRub or Icy Hot, which helps increase the effects of their "trip." They suck on pacifiers to keep from grinding their teeth. Ecstasy's most common side effect is dehydration.

You cannot tell me that someone who interacts in a rave scene by coincidence has the same symptoms as the ones who "go just for the music and to meet people." Both the police and the media could have depicted the "rave scene" more accurately.
Matthew R. Kramp
Carbondale, Ill.

Professional Tyrants
Paging Howard Beale: A question asked in a recent "Street Talk" was refreshing, as were the answers, especially John Luechtefeld's comment on lawyers [Wm. Stage, "Which Profession Do You Trust the Most? The Least?," RFT, Jan. 24]. There was a book called The Tyranny of the Professions, as well as similar books, but who really cares? Nothing changes! Even the ACLU's "Rights in the Workplace" task force seems helpless. What is needed is a grassroots "I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore" movement.
Steve Erdmann
St. Louis

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