Letters to the Editor

Fishwrap blues

Re: Jack Lessenberry's "Media morons" (Metro Times, Aug. 23), I've been unhappy with the Gannett sale since the beginning. But what to do? Sure, I get the online New York Times and Washington Post and a few other cities' offerings. But there's nothing like a handheld newspaper and an easy chair for pure bliss. I also want local news.

So the Freep is sick; The Detroit News is doing better but doesn't lean the right way for me; and I live in Macomb County so I don't get the Oakland Press and, according to Jack, it's just as well.

I don't know what's up with all of the "tests" the Freep prints. Do they want to see if we've been paying attention or have they run out of things to write about? The "Life" section is an insult to women. Who needs page after page of silly suggestions on where to buy "fun" stuff? And who cares what some reader's "personal style" is? Or how some blissfully happy couple met and married? Ack. —Jean Barnard, Sterling Heights


Fie on Fieger

Jack Lessenberry's article criticizing the Michigan Supreme Court's opinion upholding Mr. Fieger's reprimand ("So much for free speech," Metro Times, Aug. 9) overlooked two important points, and may have left your readers with a false impression of what was actually decided.

First, the Attorney Grievance Commission itself did not reprimand Mr. Fieger. It only has the authority to prosecute attorney misconduct. Mr. Fieger was the one who proposed that he be reprimanded in return for being allowed to pursue an appeal of the constitutional issues. The Grievance Commission agreed to his proposal and it was formally approved by a hearing panel of the Attorney Discipline Board (a completely separate agency from the Grievance Commission).

Second, Mr. Fieger's remarks were made during a pending court case. The Michigan Supreme Court made clear in its opinion (footnote 15) that it was unnecessary to decide what limits, if any, could constitutionally be placed on an attorney's speech once a case was finished. The United States Supreme Court has never held that an attorney's freedom of speech is absolute.

By way of disclosure, and for what it is worth, I have worked at the Grievance Commission since 1996 as its deputy administrator. I handled the Fieger appeal. The Grievance Commission has no interest in protecting "precious little sensitive Michigan judges," as Mr. Lessenberry would have it. The Grievance Commission recognizes that attorneys have a constitutional right to criticize judges and their rulings, and we have never suggested otherwise. However, if an attorney chooses to do so while a case is pending, that criticism must not be undignified or discourteous. —Robert E. Edick, Dearborn


Firing back

In Professor Lessenberry's back-hand to the National Rifle Association regarding the recent child shooting in Detroit ("Giving up on democracy," Metro Times, Aug. 16), I agree with Daryl St. Arno (Letters to the editor, "Why, you're welcome," Metro Times, Aug. 23), obviously a proud member. Whatever the NRA's sins, the carelessness of an off-duty policeman is not one of them.

There the sympathy stops. The NRA is one of those only-in-America phenomena, although such an organization could probably be at home in Russia, Argentina or the Middle East. I own a modest collection of mostly useless firearms, but would never join. What I do not want is my dues assisting, directly or indirectly, Red State crypto-fascist congressmen — not to mention a couple of beauts around here.

Moreover, something in St. Arno's letter caught my basilisk eye, where he says that Lessenberry is a "culture of death trumpeter." Here is a man who boasts of his Glocks and an AK-47, real or imagined, weapons he and his bund members claim are an expression of "freedom" and "hunters' rights." It is the freedom to be a man-killer, or more than one in a go, cop or civilian. I would not go into combat with one of 10 of them. The right wing in this country is the real "culture of death." If there is any death warrant to be signed or a rice paddy to be bombed, they are the ones cheering. —G.M. Ross, Lowell


Deep thoughts

Re: "In too deep" (Metro Times, Aug. 9), thank you for bringing to light such an important story about what is happening to twenty- and thirtysomethings today. I am 35, working more than 10 hours a day in a non-career-track job and have a huge credit card debt — primarily from, as your story points out, "keeping the lights on" when I was unemployed for more than a year.

Now, as I am attempting to purchase my first house, I am struggling with the fact that I may wind up spending every last dollar of my take-home pay just to afford the mortgage. This wouldn't leave me any extra money to apply toward paying down my debt. It also means any extra purchases for pleasure, like a CD or even a modest vacation, have to go by the wayside. It also means that any "emergency" spending, as you outlined in your article, goes onto the credit cards. The sad thing is, buying a house now still puts me in a better situation vs. renting, where I'd be paying about the same per month but not getting the tax breaks that come with home ownership.

I'd like to get a better-paying job and stay in Detroit, where my family is and where I've lived most of my life — but because of my credit card debt, it may be impossible. —Alex J. Grossberg, Berkley


Rooting for rail

I read with interest the article "Rail is Right" (Metro Times, Aug. 16) and must say that I'm delighted by the fact that "light rail" transportation is (somewhat) seriously considered. But I'm looking at it from a different view. If you look at a map of Detroit, the lines, for a light rail system, are already there. You have Woodward running up all the way to Pontiac, Grand River running northwest past Wixom, Gratiot running northeast out to Port Huron, and Jefferson running east and west to the outlying suburbs. All of these streets run out of downtown Detroit and could be directly tied into the Downtown People Mover. The People Mover travels in a 2.9 mile circle, but I'm rather sure, in terms of vision, it was meant to do more than run around in that 2.9 mile circle — it was meant to have light rail running out to the outlying suburbs. —Thomas A. Wilson Jr., Detroit

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