Letters to the Editor 

Party wreckers

Thanks to Jack Lessenberry for his review of the follies of Michigan's political class of 2007 ("System Failure," Metro Times, Jan. 2). His work for 2008, however, should be easy, given the farce of a presidential primary that has been engineered by both of this state's political parties. Told they would be punished if they moved up the date of the primary, party officials persevered. Now, having effectively disenfranchised thousands of voters, many of whom are being urged to vote "uncommitted," our party leaders either blame the national party for this fiasco or insist that the punishment won't really be meted out.

When I tell my small children not to do something and they do it anyway, they are deserving of punishment. It is not my fault that they are punished. In Michigan's case, the people of Michigan have been punished by the foolhardy actions of Michigan party officials, who had multiple opportunities to change course and thereby conduct a legitimate presidential primary.

I appreciate Mr. Lessenberry's sense of outrage over this mess, but why doesn't it extend further? Shouldn't party officials be held accountable for this fiasco? Aren't voters entitled to an apology, or, even better, the resignation of the heads of the Michigan Democratic and Republican parties, Mark Brewer and Sal Anuzis, who engineered this mess? —Paul Kubicek, Royal Oak

Thanks for support

I read Jack Lessenberry's article, "Stemming the tide" (Metro Times, Dec. 26), and wanted to say thank you for your support for House Bills 4616, 4617 and 4618 regarding embryonic stem cell research in Michigan. I am Laura Jackson's mother and am so happy that you have shared Laura's story with so many of your readers. You are so well respected by so many here in Michigan, I am encouraged that your message will help some uneducated and misinformed voters. It is a big job — and we need all the help we can get. —Melody Jackson, Livonia

Taking a personal toll

Thanks for Curt Guyette's two-part story, "Nightmare on Highbury Court" (Metro Times, Dec. 12 and Dec. 26, 2007). His reporting is objective and thorough, something we don't always see, and I've known of good reporters who were fired for telling the truth when it offended a particularly well-funded and -connected industry like construction. Your publication should be proud to have this kind of reporter, and this kind of reporting.

It's not at all unusual for people faced with construction nightmares to experience rage, depression, etc., like the story's Marie did. Stress affects everyone differently. Any big legal or financial problem can bring out these problems, and anyone who thinks it wouldn't affect them that way is naive. I help answer complaints for a consumer organization, and nearly everyone with a serious builder complaint experiences anger that is so strong it takes them by surprise.

We assume that something as expensive as a house must have good consumer protection behind it, but it doesn't. It comes as a shock and an outrage to consumers to find out that many builders or contractors have figured out how to game the system or outright run it, and that there is almost no real legal recourse for most people. Arbitration clauses take away one's right to file a lawsuit, and, even absent that, suing can be a joke, particularly if the homeowner doesn't have access to top lawyers.

Construction-defect-type disputes are a major legal and financial problem causing emotional damage that the homeowner can't be compensated for because that type of "damage" isn't recoverable, in most if not all states. The homeowner who manages, after years of struggling, to win and actually collect may only get pennies on the dollar of their repair costs. They may or may not recover legal fees or other damages, but we're not aware of anyone who ever got compensated for the time and suffering the case put them through. —Cindy Schnackel, Norman, Okla.

Rebuild the system

Curt Guyette did an outstanding report on the horror that some people endure simply because they wanted a part of the American Dream, a newly built home.

For 15 years I have been advocating for the safe and sound construction of new homes through our nonprofit (www.hadd.com). All homebuyers want is what they paid for. Unfortunately too many in the industry care only about their bottom line and have no qualms about destroying a family.

It is way past time for elected officials in every state to say "no thanks" to builder PAC and campaign money, and instead pass laws to protect families making the most expensive purchase they will ever make, a home. —Nancy Seats, president, Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings (HADD), Kirkwood, Mo.

Debutante improper

I learned English as a second language and have become obsessed with the use of proper terms. In his review, Jeff Meyers refers to the character in Charlie Wilson's War (Cinema, Metro Times, Dec. 26) played by Julia Roberts as a "debutante."

According to Webster's dictionary, a debutante is "a young woman making her formal entrance in society." I certainly do not want to offend Roberts, but she is certainly past the age of portraying a debutante. Besides it seems very unlikely that a "debutante" would have been — as you mention — "bedded" by Wilson in the past. I believe that the word you meant to use was "socialite."

Forgive me for being so finicky. I did enjoy your review and completely share your opinion on the shallowness of that movie, otherwise very entertaining. —Jean-Marie Allion, Detroit

Erratum: In "Nightmare on Highbury Court, Part 2" (Metro Times, Dec. 26, 2007), we misspelled the name of the attorney who heads the consumer fraud division of the Macomb County Prosecutor's Office. Her name is Margaret DeMuynck.

Send letters (250 words or less, please) to 733 St. Antoine, Detroit, MI 48226; faxes to 313-961-6598; e-mail to letters@metrotimes.com. Please include your telephone number for verification. We reserve the right to edit for length, clarity and libel.

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