Letters to the Editor 

Correctional comments

Re: “Hard Time” (Metro Times, March 2), I believe that the Michigan Department of Corrections or the corrections officials should have decided to move the female prisoners from the Western Wayne Correctional Facility in Plymouth to Huron Valley at a later date. I feel this way because Huron Valley may have not been thoroughly inspected and repairs inside of the building structure were not done in time for the female prisoners to make their transition. When female prisoners move into a correctional facility that is in worse condition than where they were placed before, this causes them to go through emotional distress. It is hard enough to move from one facility to the next, but when there are inconsistencies in routine and structure, it causes the female prisoners to become disgruntled. When the female prisoners have to deal with being in a strange environment, along with dealing with unbearable conditions of the building structure, it shows a sign of very poor and sloppy work on the correctional officials’ part. —Tanisha Murray, Detroit, TanishaSongBird@aol.com


The horror of fur

Re: “Cruel couture” (Metro Times, March 16), I got my first fur coat — a Ginger Rogers-style box shoulder three-quarter length made of about 100 squirrel bodies — when I was 19, and a silver fox collared jacket just before that. I loved animals but there were no animal rights activists then to hand me a card with a gory picture on it or whisper, “Think!” at me, so I hadn’t made the connection. It wasn’t until I was a humane officer in Montgomery County, Md., and found, beyond ironically, a fox and a squirrel in steel traps, the squirrel dead, the fox alive and petrified, that I realized I had contributed to cruelty to animals by paying for those furs and parading about in them. The horror of fur should shame anyone with a conscience. You have helped. Thank you so much. —Ingrid Newkirk, president, PETA, Norfolk, Va., info@peta.org


OK-ness in question

Thank you so much for alerting us to this alarming resurgence in the “OK-ness” of fur. Your summary of the horrifying video footage of foxes being flayed caused me, a usually stoic person, to burst into tears.

It took me 10 shaky minutes to regain sufficient composure to finish reading the column. I have always had a profound empathy for animals, which resulted in my becoming a vegetarian 11 years ago. When I’m asked about it, I explain that vegetarianism isn’t about diet; it’s about life philosophy. I don’t think of other living things, including other humans, as commodities with which I may do whatever I please. I find it incessantly disturbing that I belong to the same species as people that do think this way.

Hopefully, your column will help at least some of them rethink their ethics. —Tamara Constantyn, Warren, tamaraconstantyn@hotmail.com


Those activist judges

Re: “Condemned to a living hell,” (Metro Times, March 23), what I find sadly amusing, also, in this case is another hypocrisy; isn’t President Bush the same man who is crying left and right about how judges should be “constructionists,” not “activists?”

Yet what is he and the bipartisan Congress (yes, both GOP and DNC) looking for in the Schiavo case — an activist judge, to ignore the law and vote in their favor!

Very sad.

Good point, also, on recognizing that her parents are not the villains in this, either. (I presume that’s what was meant by the phrase, “Unfortunately, her parents have no grasp on reality.”) Too many people on the right-to-die side are accusing Terry’s mom and dad of selfishness, ignorance of the law, etc.

I don’t see that.

I only see caring parents who love their daughter dearly, and are so hopeful she might one day recover that they’re not seeing how life has really stopped for their child. I can also only imagine how horrified they are thinking about the terrifying death Terry will suffer. (Brain damaged or not, dying from starvation and dehydration isn’t the best way to exit stage left.)

All I know is, I’m drafting my living will sooner than later. —Jonathon Kecskes, St Clair Shores, jonathonkecskes@yahoo.com


That DAM decision

Regarding the March 16 Art Bar, I am a Detroiter who has kept an eye on cultural developments and artistic exhibition in the city for more than 10 years. Before Aaron Timlin came in at the Detroit Artists Market I was unfamiliar with the organization. He created interest from a cross-demographic and pulled a cohesive Detroit cultural community into DAM programming and exhibitions.

At the same time content at the gallery maintained a standard that all art establishments could aspire to model from. It is a shame that politics have overshadowed these accomplishments. I am afraid that the DAM took a big step backward with their recent decisions and feel that this action will have a significant impact on our Detroit arts and culture community. —Rich Rice, Woodbridge Creative Coalition, wccdetroit@hotmail.com


Good questions all

Re: “Striking out” (Metro Times, March 16), after reading this article about continued city mismanagement and favoritism by city officials, I am so angry. As a lifelong resident I have never felt this disgusted with city politics. The buck stops at the mayor but City Council does not have clean hands either. What can be done about such overt disregard of the citizens? How can we get past the nepotism and apathy? —Patricia Ann Curry, Detroit


You don’t know, Jack

We are outraged by Jack Lessenberry’s article on the Belle Isle Aquarium (Metro Times, March 9). Previously we had trusted his reporting to be well-researched, but not anymore. It seems that Mr. Lessenberry talked only to Ron Kagan, the zoo director, but never checked out any of his claims, one being the $500,000 in savings to the city per year by closing the aquarium. But he fails to mention the $145,000 in revenue. The revenue rose 6 percent in 2004 and is up 9 percent so far in 2005, reported by the Friends of Belle Isle. The attendance is also down at the Belle Isle Conservatory due to Mr. Kagan’s pursuit of closing all of the Detroit treasures in favor of the city’s financed support of the zoo in Royal Oak. Jack does seem to understand that the Aquarium attendance is probably related to the closing of the Belle Isle Zoo in 2001, when Kagan went against the City Council’s wishes, and the now-closed Nature Center. As school districts have had to cut their budgets there has been less funding for field trips. The Aquarium marketing has been minimal. An example is, five years ago the staff was given notice that there would be no more private parties held at the facility. Many people have asked to rent the Aquarium for events, weddings, etc., that would have raised money but were not allowed. The Detroit Zoological Society, while under Ron Kagan’s direction, raised close to $40 million, all of it going to the Royal Oak Zoo, while the aquarium kept its faded elegance. How can Detroit possibly benefit by this blatant misuse of dwindling resources by supporting a suburban operation in favor of city institutions? Where is our cash-strapped city going to get this $100 million to build a new aquarium?

If Mr. Lessenberry had done his homework, he would have discovered something about the older and new super aquariums across the United States. He would have learned that the only two aquariums making money are in Monterey and New Orleans. Detroit is not yet a big tourist destination. We would love to see a new aquarium on the river, but why close the oldest one in North America (and the only one we currently have) while holding our breath for the funding to appear? Mr. Lessenberry mentions the hidden agenda the city has with Ilitch over Tiger Stadium. Why isn’t he questioning the agenda with Mr. Kagan? —Regina & Craig Kuper, Detroit, cpkuper@comcast.net


Optimism perhaps unguarded

Having just got back from a brief return visit to Detroit, I was saddened but not altogether surprised to hear that the Belle Isle Zoo had closed and that its aquarium was about to follow. We visited these wonderful facilities on a couple of occasions when we lived in the Detroit area; but I could see even then that we had probably got in just in time. I must confess that I had high hopes that the new mayor (elected as we were heading back home) would halt the decline. My impression, however, is that things have gotten worse and that the city’s problems have yet to “bottom out.” Perhaps my initial optimism was too unguarded and that the city’s problems are so deep seated that only radical intervention will make any lasting impression. —David Miller, Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK

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