Dollars and Sense 

Letters published February 18, 2004

Dollars and Sense
Cause for HOPE: In response to Chris Maag's article "Schoolyard Fight" [January 28], I find it sad that politics play a part in all areas of Cleveland life. As a parent of a HOPE Academy student, I believe the attacks of Rich DeColibus are unfair and motivated by something less than an interest in supplying children with the best education possible.

We chose the HOPE Academy-Lincoln Park campus as an alternative to Cleveland schools. While the district may be improving, there are just too many problems associated with it and its long history of failure for us to entrust our child to it. HOPE offers an alternative to parochial schools, which are rapidly closing in urban areas and have a religious influence some families might object to.

Yes, HOPE Academy is a work in progress. It takes more than a year or two to undo years of inadequate education. Time is needed to judge whether charter schools will be more or less successful than public schools.

It is one thing to be critical of charter schools, but it is entirely different to try and sabotage them. DeColibus and the union are motivated by the $5,000 they lose per child who goes to HOPE. If the union leaders, the district, and the teachers had worried more about the students in the first place, maybe charter schools would not be an attractive alternative.

Brian M. Anderson

Union leader tells it like it is: I want to thank Scene for giving Richard DeColibus a forum to finally show how lousy the HOPE Academies are. As a retired Cleveland teacher, I have known him since 1994. Contrary to what the Challenger said, this is a man who has the greatest compassion for all students. To say he is a racist is beyond the pale. If he were racist, why would a union that is nearly half African-American have kept him as president for 16 years?

Also, unlike the typical union leader who promises pie in the sky, DeColibus tells it like it is. He never promises anything he can't deliver and presents each option with its particular chance of success. In my 60 years, there have been a handful of people that I considered it a privilege to know, and DeColibus is truly one of them.

Sarah Gilcrest Sidik

The Press Selects
No glory in Fido's story: After Scene's report on animal cruelty in Summit County ["House of Horrors," October 22], a reader wrote: "I'm very surprised that article didn't make it to The Plain Dealer or even The Akron Beacon Journal." I'm not. Animal abuse is one of the traditionally underreported stories. How else do these degenerate bastards get by as long as they do?

I suspect that part of the silence is because some so-called liberal writers see mere animal suffering as unworthy of their vast intellectual powers. Child abuse by priests was another underreported story until legal challenges mounted across the country, and the establishment press suddenly discovered a story that hadn't been all that hidden for decades.

Cleve Canham

Steamed at Byrne
Recipe for a rant: Steve Byrne's review of Southern Culture on the Skids' Mojo Box was not a review at all [Playback, January 28]. It was a rant against a band he obviously knows very little about. The recipes at their website are submitted by fans, not the band. And the bulk of them are submitted by Southerners.

I grew up poor and white in the rural South, as did the members of the band. They're commenting on themselves and their heritage -- in a much less controversial way than the bulk of hip-hop or rap artists. The music on the CD is top-notch. All recorded with vintage equipment -- organically grown, if you will.

But I wouldn't expect Byrne to get the music. He lacks the ability to see the tongue-in-cheek, self-reflective humor or the post-modern aspects of SCOTS.

Troy Martin
Greensboro, NC

Stay Away From Clay
Please stalk: I just read Jason Bracelin's [Soundbites, January 28] Clay Aiken article. LOL! It was hysterical -- "Invisible" as a stalker song. If it's a stalker song, could you please give Clay my address? I want to be stalked by him. I love those eyes. OMG! They could watch me in my room any day. And here I thought it was a song about a dude who really likes a girl who doesn't even know he's alive. Invisible, you might say.

Please don't have Fountains of Wayne come to my home. But Clay any day! Now, go into the archives and pull out "Angie Baby" by Helen Reddy, if you want to talk about twisted songs.

Christa O'Whalley

Go pick on Darkside: I don't know why people like Jason Bracelin have disparaging things to say about Clay Aiken. A group called Darkside released "Invisible" before Clay did, and no one accused them of voyeurism.

My family loves Clay Aiken because of his voice, his character, and his dedication to special-needs children. I'm a special-education teacher, and some of the ideas from the Bubel/Aiken Foundation have been a tremendous help to me.

Just because "Invisible" is a song about someone watching the one he loves from afar doesn't mean it's a stalker song.

Madeline Longenecker
Forest City, NC

If only that power could be used for good: Jason Bracelin has a lot of time on his hands, doesn't he? It would be to your benefit to get a real job, Mr. Bracelin, and leave Mr. Aiken alone. You sound like you might need some therapy. Then again, this could have been a tongue-in-cheek satire for the Clay Nation's benefit. If only that energy were used in helping others, the way Mr. Aiken does, all of us would be the better for it.

Reene Lewis
Morehead City, NC

Reality check: This article really upset me. It's a song! It's not a song about Clay's life. Oh, my God, are you that stupid that you think that artists are singing about themselves in every song? This was a pathetic attempt at writing. You really embarrassed yourself.

Cindy Goodwin
Andover, MN

Bracelin's no Clay Aiken: Typical guy response. But hey, at least Jason Bracelin was trying to be funny in his lame critique. This gal loves Clay's "lame-ass" pop. I'm looking forward to his tour. Bracelin should broaden his horizons. He just may meet the girl of his dreams there. Oh, and she will be screaming for Clay.

Terri Sanderson
Charlotte, NC

Homosexual insect on excrement: To quote you: "But in reality, it's a chilling stalker anthem that should have you looking over your shoulder for leering redheads humming Neil Sedaka tunes." It'd be great if that happened to me! I wish he would! But how would you, a mere fly on a turd, know any better about what women like? Guess you must be gay.

Jane Fisher
Fairfax, VA

Clay would never . . . : Jason Bracelin, it looks like you need some personal attention, and picking on Clay Aiken will get you lots. As fans, we love and respect him and do not see any "stalker" intentions in the song. You know enough about this nice young man to know that he would not be a part of anything like you imply in your article.

Linda Bottorf
Torrance, CA

Beat That Drum
Praise for hometown props: Thanks for recognizing the achievements of Brandtson, who have been overlooked by local media the past seven years ["Around Hear," January 28]. They've accomplished a lot in their time together: traveling to Europe and Asia, releasing five albums, and working on their sixth one. It's just really nice to see them getting local attention finally. Thank you.

Clara Sayre

Dug the digs: I don't write much fan mail, but Elaine Cicora's review of Mitchell's leaves me no recourse ["Casting About," January 28]. Very funny, very good, and very well-deserved digs at that joint-that-thinks-it's-in-Central-Park! Ever since Free Times let Eric Broder go, I've been glum. Thanks for cheering me up!

Barb Mooney


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