Pleas and Protests

Letters from the week of February 27, 2003

The whole thing was like one big, long whine. Bad form, New Times. The kid was 17, not 7.

Susan MacLaren

Security counsel: The problem of keeping students at school is a very tricky one to enforce. I worked as a school security guard for two years. Parents and kids make it difficult to enforce; often it is the parents more so than their kids.

One of the ways we made it easier to keep the kids on campus was to get rid of golf carts for security guards. Guards on a cart tend to stay on the cart. By making us get off the cart, we were forced to interact with the kids, before they left campus. This made it far easier to stop them from sneaking out.

Not all school districts are willing right now to invest in large enough security forces to seriously keep the schools impervious. We did accomplish that one time we had 10 guards around a campus with 1,300 students. Ten guards are more than any school will pay for, at least for an entire day.

William T. Terrance

Closed-door policy: Interesting article, and I agree that it is tragic that so many have encountered so much pain. However, you're pointing your finger in the wrong direction. Where does it say that teenagers must leave school at lunch? The focus should be on why teens so often drive recklessly, as the fault does not, nor should, lie with the school.

Perhaps a better question to ask is "should the legal driving age be raised" as your article provides ample evidence supporting such.

Michael Diaz
Via e-mail

White Collar Crime

A role he couldn't refuse: Thanks for a fascinating column. I had no idea such a notorious figure was living in our area ("God's Banker," Robert Nelson, February 13).

I am a frequent traveler to Italy, and I was there in 1982 when the Vatican Bank scandal was exploding. Being just shy of 18 years old at the time, I didn't really understand too well what it was all about (Italy's World Cup victory that year made a greater impression on me!). I do remember well the report on "Telegiornale" when they found the body of Roberto Calvi under Blackfriars Bridge in London.

I'm surprised you didn't mention one of the subplots of The Godfather Part III, which was based in no small part on the Vatican Bank affair. Archbishop Marcinkus gained a bit of film immortality when his real-world role was played by Donal Donnelly as Archbishop Gilday, president of the Vatican Bank, who asks Michael Corleone for several hundred million dollars to bail out the bank. There's some resemblance between Mr. Donnelly and Marcinkus.

Michael Sigmon

Lost in Space

Mission statement: I sincerely appreciated Robert Nelson's column "Flame-out" (February 6). I have been muttering many of the same sentiments in dark corners and in whispers for fear of looking like a Bad American. But, truth be told, most of the people that I spoke to felt the exact same way as Robert Nelson and I do. I think that the column states simple common sense yet it took guts to say it, write it and publish it.

I, too, feel sorry for the victims of the flight, but no more than seven other people who died on the job recently. These people were fulfilling their dreams, flying the skies with our billions. They knew the risks, and many of us gladly would have stood in line to take their place or fly with them.

The real national tragedy is that NASA is given so much money for "wants" (space exploration, advancement of science, etc.) as opposed to the many "needs" we have for our nation (crime, health-care system, education, economy, etc.).

This is a crucial time for NASA. Since it is not part of the free-enterprise system, it will need to rely on some heavy funding. And for what? What great progress has been made in the last 20 years? What kind of progress is NASA hoping for a future commercial flight to the moon? More human space travel? All at the cost of all the home fires still burning in the USA?

I know how the system works. The president loves a tragedy for approval points, so he drums it up. NASA must gain an enormous amount of empathy, sympathy and patriotism to push for its next budget hike. Finally, the media live for an emotional story line. If there is real, genuine, heartfelt loss over these astronauts by these three sources, then why not for the common man? Why do you think they have so many human flights as it is? For funding! Do you think funding would be so high for non-human travel?

There isn't a space race anymore. Can't we have a conglomerate of nations with some commercial interests working together in the interest of space travel in science?

It's sad that one feels like a Bad American to say that the seven people who died in this flight are similar to those who died in the small plane that crashed over Alberta, and that we should take care of things so close to the ground (economy, health care, etc.) and our hearts (children, the elderly, the abused, etc.) before we reach for the skies.

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