Letters from the week of June 8, 2000

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Letters from the week of June 8, 2000

They killed film! You bastards!
I just sent you an e-mail a few days ago, praising your local movie reviewers, and this morning I opened up The Star to discover that you've fired all of them.

Loey Lockerby, Dan Lybarger, and Melina Neet have proved to be the best film critics in town on a consistent basis. All three of them seem to always put forth a big extra effort to not only watch the movie but to research it thoroughly and report on it objectively.

So you fire them.

I know, it's a corporate decision made by your slavemasters in Phoenix. I hope you forward this to them, not that it will make a bit of difference.

When the focus of an endeavor becomes solely to make a profit, as opposed to put out a good product or service, then everyone suffers. The Pitch was founded as an attempt to provide in-depth coverage of local happenings, mainly in the music scene. It evolved into an excellent alternative newspaper. Too excellent, I guess, since it was sold and has become one more corporate clone planted in our branch-office town for the sole purpose of sending the profits from here to somewhere else.

On a positive note, I see that C.J. Janovy is coming back. I consider her an excellent writer and editor and someone Kansas City can be proud of. It will be good to have her back in town -- yet I fear that in true Korporate-Amerika fashion, her job will be no more significant than that of a manager for a McDonald's franchise. The Pitch, McDonald's, Starbucks, Dillard's, Chili's, and soon Sprint -- what's the difference? All owned by outside corporations, all sucking profits out of Kansas City. Increase profits by cutting costs, crank out the crap, screw the once-lofty ideals.

Y'know ... it wouldn't have been so bad if you hadn't run a big article trashing Sun Newspapers only a couple of weeks or so ago (not that it didn't deserve it) for being an out-of-town corporation that laid off its employees after it sold out ("Total Eclipse of the Sun," April 20-26). Now you do the same damn thing.

You bastards. You hypocritical bastards!-- Bill Pryor

Overland Park, Kan.

The big picture
I cannot believe what I am reading. Military professionals personally attacking a high school student for voicing an opinion and then acting lawfully on it. I did not read the article concerning the subject ("Opponents of ROTC Up in Arms About Military Presence in Schools," April 13-19), but I have read every letter concerning the JROTC debate. Let me remind all those military professionals, and I use the word "professionals" loosely in this case, that they are fighting against the freedoms they fought to preserve. How dishonorable.

Let me explain that I am a veteran of two services, as well as a former ROTC cadet. I spent my whole career being the model military man. I am proud of that. My experiences created who I am today and made me into an outstanding employee, model citizen, and loving expectant father and fiancé. I owe everything I have to the military and ROTC.

I am also now a civilian, and I see things from another angle. I treasure my freedoms, and I see things that I didn't see in my military world. Therefore, I am living both sides of the spectrum.

I don't agree with what I understand to be the young man's attack on the JROTC program. Although I understand his concern, it is good to point out that it is a voluntary program and that proper procedures are used in weapons storage. There is no more threat from JROTC students than there are from chess club members. The lessons span a variety of subjects, such as leadership, problem-solving, and discipline. These subjects are useful not only in the military but also in life itself. ROTC is an invaluable tool for those who choose to use it.

As far as ROTC's being a recruiting tool, well, it is. Probably the best the military has. There is nothing wrong with this, and no one is forcing students to sign anything. They make their choice themselves. ROTC simply gives them more knowledge with which to make that choice. While commenting on this subject, I must address a letter directly. I don't know what school Brenda Funk is speaking of (Mail, May 25-31), but please let my teachers and counselors know, because they have never gotten a (free) trip anywhere. I have helped in the recruiting effort, and I have never heard of any of this. I assure you that if it is happening, it shouldn't be, and someone should discuss this problem with the Recruiter's Commanding Officer or First Sergeant.

Finally, I would like to say that I am concerned with the personal attacks from both sides of this issue. Have we forgotten what the military is all about? Are we going to degrade the blood, sweat, and tears of all who have fallen in battle to preserve freedom by viciously attacking one another for exercising those freedoms? I think not.

Mr. Emiliano Huet-Vaughn, I do not agree with your position, but God bless you for exercising the freedoms that I, and many others, have protected. I am proud to know that it wasn't all for nothing. For the rest of you, I would suggest that you quit worrying about this outstanding young man's mother and start thinking about how important the big picture is.

Semper fidelis.-- Timothy Young

USMC/USA

Kansas City, Mo.

The saga continues ...
I am writing this response to your follow-up article about our rescue group's continuing soap opera with the State of Kansas ("On His Case," May 25-31). First, let me thank Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell for her efforts to get to the bottom of this. Second, let me correct some misunderstandings.

We use cattle panels in the construction of kennel runs because they are rigid and much stronger than chain link and most other types of fencing. Akitas are very powerful dogs, and they can easily manipulate and chew chain link until it is no longer secure. On any run that is in close proximity to another dog that might be aggressive, there is and always has been double-fencing.

Runs with neighboring dogs who are friendly with one another are not double-fenced. Areas where humans come in contact with them are not double-fenced. This allows interaction and pats without entering each and every run. All of this was accomplished long before the first inspection.

Ms. Duncan had originally indicated to us that such panels could catch the heads of dogs and injure them if they poked through. This is incorrect, and when asked to produce any evidence of this assertion, she said, "Just because it hasn't happened doesn't mean it won't!" I suppose that could be said about the sky falling in too, but I'll take my chances!

In November of 1999, we had a telephone conversation to address a "letter of violation" with numerous erroneous citations and inspection dates. Duncan admitted much of the letter was incorrect, including even the year of the first inspection. She also agreed to waive her edict about double fencing of cattle panels.

She further stated that there would be a corrected letter sent to us and that the follow-up inspection wouldn't be until at least 30 days after our receipt of said letter. Instead, I was unceremoniously handed the letter at the last inspection, because Duncan sent it to the wrong address.

I asked the inspectors to leave after they refused to honor Duncan's waiver of our having to double-fence all cattle panels. I didn't have a chance to read the new letter until Duncan's change of heart was pointed out to me by Inspector Simon. I indicated that Duncan's word was meaningless if she would so easily flip-flop, and I instructed them to vacate my property.

My phone conversation with Duncan before the inspection began consisted of her apologizing for the letter going to the wrong address and venting her anger over the perceived inaccuracies in the "Disposable Pets" (March 2-8) article regarding the Nielsen puppy mill. She said Nielsen always passed inspection and was simply "misunderstood." I said I found it unseemly for the state officer responsible for regulating such places to be defending them to me.

There is nothing in the Kansas Animal Welfare Act about cattle panels, or most of the other "violations" we have been cited for! Ms. Duncan has instructed her inspectors to follow her interpretations of said statutes -- not the statutes themselves. Her interpretations are specious at best!

We bought this place May 11, 1998. We had electricity installed immediately and spent the next five weeks building runs, doghouses, etc. Before any dog was present we had our own electricity on site. We are privileged to have both a pond and a creek on the property as well. That first summer we pumped water for the dogs as well as for ourselves. This water was stored in a 325-gallon tank in the back of a pickup.

In winter, we trucked in water from a nearby town. We installed a 2,200-gallon cistern for water storage the beginning of this year. Presently, all runs have gravel, wood chips, and/or grass for ground cover. During the first inspection in January 1999, I was told I would need a little more shade by summer. I was NOT written up for a violation! The shade was all in place long before the next inspection.

The two dogs that were tethered part of the time were escape artists. For their own safety they were tethered, not chained. They had shade and dog houses. Spezia indicated during the first inspection that they were trying to change the law to ban tethering but had not accomplished this yet. These dogs were tethered on lines, not chains, and each had 25 feet in every direction. How then does this constitute a violation? (No dogs are now tethered here.)

Despite her machinations against us, Duncan vociferously defended Amy Nielsen and her abysmal puppy mill, indicating that she passed her inspections and was in good standing with the state until the USDA shut her down! This was despite the viewing of the undercover video Dateline later aired about the horrid conditions. Apparently, she saw nothing wrong in that video!

This is not about this fat, bald guy saving Akitas and scrapping with clerks for the state! This is about double-dealing and a pernicious double standard perpetuated by the Kansas State Agriculture Department in regard to commercial breeding operations and rescue groups. This is about the fact that companion animals are not livestock and should not be regulated as such in Kansas or anywhere!

Enough public uproar over the malfeasance of the USDA and state livestock departments in this area, and maybe instead we can have government-sanctioned humane commissions to oversee the care and treatment of companion animals. Good pets are loved and socialized as young pups. This NEVER occurs in a puppy mill! Good breeders NEVER breed bitches every heat cycle! This always occurs in puppy mills! Healthy animals have room to move around and have positive human contact. Puppy mills would go broke if they did this!

I implore like-minded citizens to write the governor and the livestock commissioner, as well as their state and federal representatives, about correcting this long-standing livestock mentality regarding companion animals. By the way, if puppy mills were required to jump through all the hoops presented for me, I would be happy to comply with even the silliest edict from the livestock department!-- Randall Long

Akita Adoption and Rescue of Mid America

Williamsburg, Kan.

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