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Letters to the Editor 

Letters published October 1, 2003

Got Grit
Best break on the lake: In reference to "Strange Love," September 17: Great work. And right on target.

I am a native New Yorker (Long Island). My wife is a native Baltimoran. I joke with her that Cleveland is the Baltimore of the Great Lakes, which is kinda true -- I imagine John Waters would love this town as much as he loves Bal'mer for its sheer, unabashed quirkiness and grittiness.

We moved here four years ago, when one of those so-hard-to-find academic positions opened up here. There isn't a week that goes by that we don't shake our heads and laugh at our incredible good fortune.

A friend from San Francisco visited us a month ago. He left jealous. See, in SF, everything is old hat -- there is no camp that isn't blasé, no irony that isn't passé, no weird personality that isn't already mapped onto a fashion micro-trend on sale at some played-out boutique in one of the far-too-many "characterful neighborhoods" that suffer from a surplus of posed moxie and not nearly enough real guts.

He's considering moving to Cleveland, to get away from the "boredom." His words.

I tell my friends in New York how easy it is to get to the museums, the clubs, the orchestra. I tell them the size of Severance Hall, the size of my house and what I paid for it, the size of the "dives" I go to for dinner and drinks, and the size of the bill. They drool.

You guys got it so right. I'm clipping the article and sending it out to my friends --more salt in the wound.

Paul Canis
Old Brooklyn

Do the Numbers
Charter schools make Cleveland schools look good: Congratulations on a fine article ["Bad Apples," September 3] on the pitfalls of the charter school system. Not only are these schools unsuccessful; they can sidestep many laws to which public schools are accountable.

While the media enjoys touting the supposed "failure" of the Cleveland Municipal School District, the school where I teach, Denison Elementary, has a 91 percent poverty rate, yet we consistently outperform many schools in the suburbs. We surpassed the fourth-grade scores of North Olmsted Schools in all tests except citizenship. Seventy-six percent of Denison's fourth-graders passed the math test, 76 percent passed the reading test, 89 percent passed the writing test, 60 percent passed the citizenship test, and 80 percent passed the science test. In addition, we have repeatedly met or exceeded the yearly progress goals for the No Child Left Behind Act.

Citywide, 60 percent of CMSD students pass the fourth-grade reading test, while 19 percent of the Hope Academy's fourth-grade students do. These charter schools can choose whom to admit, yet they still are unable to help more than 17 percent of their fourth-graders pass the math proficiency.

David Brennan should stick to the steel mills. Now that he's destroyed steelworkers' lives, he wants to move on to children's and teachers' lives. We excel because we work together as a team, for the children -- not for profit. We can create a public school system that can be more successful than these for-profit carpetbaggers. Don't "Hope" for a better education -- get one in the Cleveland Municipal School District.

Christian Osterland

Land-Tax Logic
Support your local developer: In reference to David Martin's article, "Soil Rights" [September 10], I note that my father founded the Center for the Study of Economics.

Since moving to Cleveland from Manhattan, I have become aware of how intensely the city and surrounding region seek to develop their economies. While property taxes are not the only factor a developer may consider, they certainly can be substantial. Why not have all possible factors favor development over parking lots?

In Martin's article, a developers' representative cites weak demand as a more important limiting factor than property taxes. If we lower taxes on development and raise taxes on undeveloped land, less demand is necessary for a development project to yield a worthwhile return.

Daniel A. Cord
Shaker Heights

Crime and Punishment
Justice has been served: I am writing in regard to the story "Brother's Keeper" [September 10]. I am writing not so much to address why Michael did what he did, but to express my concern that he's still incarcerated.

Michael has now been in prison for 14 years, longer than some Ohio inmates have served for voluntary manslaughter. It is very understandable that the Pratt family opposes the release of Michael Swiger. Michael was involved in a situation that took the life of their loved one. My heart goes out to the Pratt family, but I believe that they will oppose Michael's release even after 20 years. It is only natural; there are a lot of emotions involved there.

I believe that when Michael was sent to prison, justice was served. But now it is time to see justice served again and give Michael the chance at becoming a productive person in society. Since being incarcerated, Michael has earned his degree, written two novels with definitive Christian messages, done thousands of hours of volunteer work, etc. There is not one black mark against him in 14 years. It is time to give Michael his freedom.

David Hacker
Creedmoor, NC

In last week's story about Plain Dealer columnist Connie Schultz ("Liberal Pukes Like You," September 24), writer Frank Lewis took the liberty of changing the name of her editor, Stuart Warner, to Stuart Wilson. Lewis regrets the error, and would explain it if he could.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

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