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Keep the edge

To the Editor:

We'd like to thank you for the excellent article by Kathryn Eastburn and photos by Sean Cayton in the article Viva la Salsa [Independent, May 2].

Kathryn was very colorful in describing the dance culture and kind in her words. Sean was very methodical and artistic in photography. It's the kind of attention that gives the dance scene much to be proud of. It's been a long goal of ours to increase the community awareness of this music.

I have to say I've tried venues at the Colorado Springs Gazette, but they always seem to fall on deaf ears or ignorance. They just don't have the heart to cover the ethnic beauty in culture that the Independent captures.

Please give kudos to the whole staff at the Independent involved in the layout. We know it takes a lot to put a newsworthy periodical together. And we know it's always a challenge to be cutting edge. Keep the edge. We need balance in the community.

Please, also give Malcolm Howard thanks for covering the birth of the band, Sabroso, almost three years ago. Due to the appreciation in his article, he helped give the band the stay to continue.

-- Dennis Bueno

Co-leader and producer, Sabroso

Colorado Springs

Isn't this severe?

To the Editor:

Where is Tom Ridge? Someone is putting bombs in mailboxes (including the discovery of one in Salida, Colo. on Monday), yet where are the warnings and advisories from the Office of Homeland Security?

If you checked the Homeland Security Web site on Tuesday (, you'd have seen that there wasn't a mention of the mailbox bomber. Nothing on how we should respond to the risk of random mail bombs, much less news advisories and press conferences to educate us on this terrorist risk -- and what is being done in response.

The ballyhooed "Homeland Security Advisory System" rated Tuesday's terrorism risk as "Elevated: Significant Risk of Terrorist Attacks." It seems to me, the terrifying possibility of losing my life when I retrieve my mail should rate "severe" on the scale, or at least "high," not simply "elevated."

Perhaps because the bomber is presumed to be a middle-aged white male (and presumably, a right-wing crazy), rather than a Muslim extremist, we should feel less threatened. Whatever the case, Ridge and his Homeland Security Office have once again proven themselves a badly bungled public relations mistake for the Bush administration.

-- Gavin Ehringer

Colorado Springs

Stop the madness

To the Editor:

Legislation to reform Colorado's asset forfeiture statutes is nearing the completion of its slow process through the House of Representatives and Senate chambers. Prosecutors will soon be required to gain a criminal conviction by clear and convincing evidence prior to seizing a person's property. The proceeds from forfeitures will be used to fund substance abuse treatment and public safety programs.

Most importantly, all law enforcement agencies will be required to report what they have seized and document the disposition of the proceeds.

The legislation should reach Gov. Owens by the end of this week and will become law upon his signature. Support from the El Paso County delegation was nearly unanimous with only one dissenting legislator.

Please take a moment and call Gov. Owens at 303/866-2471 and ask him to sign this legislation.

-- Robert A. Wiley

Colorado Springs

Editor's note: To learn more about the forfeiture reform proposal, read this week's cover story, "Prosecutors or Pirates?," which begins on page 15.

John Reed was a commie

To the Editor:

The Wyeth exhibit, An American Story: The Wyeth Family Tradition of Painting, currently on view at the Fine Arts Center, features some exquisite pieces, finely painted scenes real and imagined.

Unfortunately, your reviewer, John Hazlehurst, didn't review this exhibit, using it instead as a point of departure for an exhibition of his own ignorance and prejudice [Independent, "An Impotent Dynasty," April 25]. He labels N.C. Wyeth's "The Victorious Allies" as "crude, saccharine propaganda ... beautiful, pleasing and empty." Propaganda, by definition is not empty, but laden with persuasive meaning. What is it, Mr. Hazlehurst -- "propaganda" or "empty"? By definition, it can't be both.

Mr. Hazlehurst brings in propaganda of his own, name-dropping Boardman Robinson and John Reed as true "artists," e.g., those whose politics he approves. Is he aware that John Reed, whose story was told in the movie Reds, was a communist apologist of the first water, whose work is as maudlin and one-sided as the N.C. Wyeth work Hazlehurst decries?

And now, ars gratia artis: When Mr. Hazlehurst learns about watercolor as an art medium, perhaps he can revisit Andrew Wyeth's watercolors and appreciate them for the fine art that they are, examples of excellent technical control of a very difficult medium. Ignorance should not be the driving force for an art review.

-- Patricia Rektorik-Sprinkle

Denton, Texas

Petty and self-righteous

To the Editor,

This is an open letter to Tony Babin: Wake up and smell the roses, Tony. Your letter criticizing KRCC Station Manager Mario Valdes for his use of the term "first legit job" [Independent, May 2] to describe the position held by Jocelyn Sandberg only served to make you look petty, self-righteous and hopelessly P.C.

As someone who's made a living washing dishes, shoveling horse stalls, playing music on streets and subways, freelancing as a writer and, now, playing Mr. Dad, I know what it's like to work in jobs considered marginal by the larger economy.

The word "legit" in this context is just one of thousands of terms that reveal a bias in our culture toward "professional-class" jobs. (Oh no, does that statement imply that the rest of the working world is "unprofessional"? Horrors!) Of all the terms that are thrown about in this regard, the word "legit" is a relatively benign faux pas. Generally, it's just slang for a 9-to-5, salaried gig with benefits, some degree of managerial responsibility and, perhaps, some sort of corporate-style dress code.

I take absolutely no offense from Mario's use of the word legit in this case. Mario was using terminology that just about everybody (including those who aren't working "legit" jobs) uses on a regular basis.

What does offend me is that you would publicly quibble with the words of someone who was suddenly cast in the highly unfortunate position of having to speak to the press on the very day he learned that a close friend, colleague and valued staff member was brutally murdered. Ya think maybe you could cut the guy just a little slack, huh?

Consider also that Mario's remarks were uttered extemporaneously over the phone to a stranger; you had the luxury of writing and editing before sending off your ill-advised screed. Your letter is also laughable because Mario's one of the least pretentious people around this town.

To then say that you will no longer send money to KRCC during pledge drives tells me how petty your politics really are. Why punish the whole station over such a trivial misspeak? Is your personal agenda so overarching that even such a horrific tragedy becomes a platform? Are your politics so knee-jerk that you don't even know your foot is in your mouth?

I don't always agree with Mario, but I appreciate his candor and humor. Personally, I think he's handled the dual tragedy of Lyn Akers' death to cancer, and then only a year later, Jocelyn's death, with incredible class, poise -- even eloquence.

My guess is that most of KRCC's listenership is also just as moved as I have been by the professionalism and grace with which the entire station has handled this tragedy. My heart and my support (financial and otherwise) goes out to them.

Tony, I wouldn't want supporters of Upstart Performing Ensemble to withhold funds from the theater group just because of your insensitivity. Nor do I wish for your regular flower customers to pass you by. But if I were you, I'd be the one making apologies, not asking for contrition. I recommend sending KRCC a dozen roses. Just don't be too surprised if they come back marked "return to sender."

-- Malcolm Lucard

Colorado Springs

Use the phone

To the Editor:

This is in response to Tony Babin's letter regarding Mario Valdes' use of the word "legit" when describing Jocelyn Sandberg's employment at KRCC in comparison to some of the other jobs she's had.

What I really want to say is: Take it easy on Mario. I admit, when I read the article, the statement immediately got my attention too. But, you know what? This is a difficult time for the community and for anyone who cared about Jocelyn. Instead of reaming the dude in public, why couldn't you just call him and say, "Hey, you might want to be a little more discreet about what words you choose."

Anyone who was at Jocelyn's memorial knows one thing for certain: Mario loved Jocelyn, and in knowing that, it is fairly safe to assume that his heart is breaking right now. I'm sure there are times that he, like all of us, could use a real butt chewing for our indiscretions, but not now, not when the loss of someone you love is still so painful.

If we can learn anything, it's to stop being so mean to each other. Why, in the aftermath of such a tragic incident, do you have to pick up one word and be so damned mean?

-- Cami Benge

Legitimate former employee at Poor Richard's

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