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 V.13 No.24 | June 10 - 16, 2004 

Letters

Failing Grades

Dear Alibi,

[RE: Letters, "Funny Math," May 27-June 2] Kudos to Richard Krukar for doing what countless APS administrators and educators have been unable to do over the years. He has lowered the dropout rate.

But seriously Richard, go easy on Jerry. He's obviously a product of the Albuquerque Public School system, a world in which historgrams are "line plots," radioactivity is measured in grams and probability problems don't require all possible combinations to be taken into account.

Liz Frank
Albuquerque

Shout Out from the Huning Highlands

Dear Alibi,

[RE: "Urban Evolution," June 3-9] Jerry Ortiz y Pino, in his column on Downtown gentrification, once again does what all proponents of unexamined development routinely do: He dismisses the objections of opponents by oversimplifying and trivializing them (see Greg Payne's similar column a couple of months ago). A neighborhood activist (developer code for radical troublemaker, i.e., a resident who raises uncomfortable issues) is said to have critiqued what were ’major problems' with EDO: its density; its lack of adequate parking; and its sale of liquor," the last elucidated in a later paragraph as "the availability of liquor in restaurants."

Now, how can I make this clear enough to correct Ortiz y Pino's pro-EDO baloney? I'll try. First, what residents object to is not density per se. It's density of cars, both as traffic and (more importantly) as parking. My husband and I (like many of the "gentry" described in the column as agents of positive change) grew up in big cities; we like density of people (that's one reason people like us move into neighborhoods like these). Lots of foot traffic, a busy buzz and hum of human activity in the streets, means residential vitality and healthy commerce to us. But in a city built as car-friendly sprawl and still without effective public transport, almost every visitor to Downtown comes by car, which means another car to be parked, another curbside spot taken, another parking problem for the folks who live here.

It's not "lack of street level parking" that's the problem; it's suddenly doubling the use-demand for the street parking that exists now and serves (for the most part adequately) the local residents. EDO's main "answer" is to press the city to loosen the rules on how much parking a business is required to provide on site (rather than curbside) for its customers. Those rules were established precisely to protect residents' access to curbside parking in their own neighborhoods. Hmm . . .

The liquor problem is not about restaurants (residents cheerfully go for a meal, with wine, at the Artichoke Café, for example). The fight is about EDO's absolute insistence on opening up package liquor sales for off-premises consumption (think ragged drunk slugging from bottle in brown paper bag as he reels down the street—just what keeps people out of Downtown in the first place). These neighborhoods have become attractive to the "gentry"—and to the EDO developers—in large part because the residents fought (with no help from any developers that I know of) to close local bars and liquor stores, thus dispersing the drunks, pimps, addicts, gang kids anddealers who tend to congregate around such establishments in vulnerable neighborhoods. Why be surprised that residents oppose EDO's efforts to overturn their hard-won gains just to add to developers' profits?

These are the "major issues," and they are major to many more of us than what Ortiz y Pino sneeringly dismisses as "a handful of self-proclaimed ’historic neighborhood leaders.'" This colum shows Ortiz y Pino to be a mouthpiece for development freebooters. Please take his distortions with a shakerful of salt, and do your neighbors Downtown the courtesy of looking deeper than the surface for the real story.

Suzy Charnas
Albuquerque

Mixed Media

Dear Alibi,

I've read with interest the litany of criticism over Journal Pavilion and Clear Channel Entertainment. I won't argue about the parking hassles or the sound system nor am I in a position to judge the terms of their lease. I know from first hand experience, however, that at least on the local level, Clear Channel is an outstanding corporate citizen. For the past three years, Journal Pavilion, Clear Channel Radio and Clear Channel Outdoors staff members have donated time, energy and resources to helping Working Classroom survive in a difficult economy.

They have organized charity benefit events, publicized our theater and arts productions, put our students' work on billboards and given us a putt putt concession at the Pavilion. These efforts have raised our visibility in the community, attracted new audiences, provided college scholarships for deserving students and kept an important community organization from bankruptcy.

On top of that, they show up. Journal Pavilion and other Clear Channel staff attend our performances, meet our students and assist us in networking with government and other business officials. During Working Classroom's financial crisis last year, we approached Clear Channel repeatedly; each time, the staff found ways to support us. Thanks to them, we are here today, operating a nationally acclaimed arts program.

The fact is we live in a global economy dominated by large corporations, many of whom exploit low-income wage earners, pollute the environment and manufacture weapons of mass destruction. Whatever its shortcomings, Clear Channel doesn't operate sweatshops, create nuclear waste or poison our environment. We applaud Clear Channel for supporting the arts and thank its staff for investing personally in the future of Albuquerque's youth.

Nan Elsasser
executive director, Working Classroom Inc.
Albuquerque

Letters should be sent with the writer's name, address and daytime phone number via e-mail to letters@alibi.com. They can also be faxed to (505) 256-9651. Letters may be edited for length and clarity, and may be published in any medium; we regret that owing to the volume of correspondence we cannot reply to every letter.

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