A Firehouse Divided

Letters published May 19, 2004

This Moment in Black History, with the Locust and Lives of the Saints The Grog Shop Sunday, May 16
A Firehouse Divided
Fitting quality and equality under one roof:
Regarding the article "Burning Down the House" [May 5], I would like to clarify a quote attributed to me. My statement that between 5 and 10 black guys had to bust their balls to get this job is in reference to entrance exams. Every time an entrance test is given, there are always some African Americans who dedicate themselves and earn the job legitimately, proving that it can be done if you put forth the effort.

While I applaud Kevin Hoffman's article for trying to portray the opinions of both sides, I do feel that it was skewed to portray African Americans as victims. The guys who are complaining have all been given a free job with free seniority, and many have also received free promotions, yet they still complain.

I would like to ask the citizens of Cleveland: What is more important, diversity or quality? Is it OK to have decisions that affect your life, health, and property made on the basis of color of skin? Or is it better for those decisions to be made by the most knowledgeable, most qualified person, without regard to race? Do the residents of Cleveland really want rescues, firefighting, and medical care to be provided by persons who performed poorly on exams and were placed in positions above more qualified individuals?

Anthony Luke and Daryl McGinnis should quit complaining, stop playing the race card, and put forth the effort and dedication required to be successful, like everyone else.

Phil Pusateri
Cleveland Fire Department

Readers got the wrong impression: The section of Kevin Hoffman's "Burning Down the House" dealing with Emmett Jordan's dilemma lacked clarity concerning the dispute he had with "a lieutenant." A number of people contacted me after reading the article and had the impression that I was the officer involved. I can see how they came away with that impression. In a quote of mine at the end of the Jordan story, I was referred to as "the white lieutenant," implying that I was involved. Since the actual officer was unnamed and not interviewed for the story, I would appreciate some clarification. Otherwise, Hoffman did a decent job on the accuracy of the quotes. Thank you.

Lieutenant Chris Keener
Cleveland Fire Department

Point taken: Kevin Hoffman's "Burning Down the House" was a good story. As to why white firefighters don't get along with black firefighters: White firefighters are either jocks, white trash, or ethnic (i.e., Irish, Italian, etc.). And we all know that jocks, white trash, and ethnic people are dumb. And dumb people are usually racist. Sorry I had to stereotype people in this letter, but I had to break it down for everyone.

Eric Anderson

There's a hot one: In response to "Burning Down the House" [May 5]: As a 19-year Caucasian veteran of the Cleveland Fire Department, I find it amazing that black firefighters are suing over the last promotional exam. Scene writer Kevin Hoffman failed to mention that their union, the Vanguards, approved the exam and the company that created it before it was given.

As a single parent with two boys, I managed to work study time into an incredibly busy schedule. Now I hear that a disgruntled black former firefighter, who milked the city for an undeserved disability along with a huge cash settlement, claims that he found the answers to the promotional exam hidden in the basement of Fire HQ. I feel that I've also suffered an injustice -- if applicants had answers to the exam, why didn't anyone provide them to me? Maybe it's because I'm a Polack. Anyway, I did score high enough to become a captain, and I did it the way many others didn't want to try -- by studying!

Captain Gerald J. Gonsor

The Right Stuff
Stand up to boobs and bullies:
In response to "Star Struck," May 5: After 25 years of practicing law, I firmly believe that Edmund Burke was right when he said evil triumphs when good men do nothing. I am always glad to hear of someone speaking out for what is right. Twenty-five years from now, Ms. Crawford will feel good about standing up for herself and her co-workers, while all her co-workers will remember is that it was a bad time.

Kayo Mullins
Dallas, TX

Two more e-mails and it's a movement: Saw Pete Kotz's Starbucks sexual harassment article. Way to go! I hope you'll write a follow-up and let us know if Meghan Crawford gets her job back and if Starbucks responds. I've already written them an e-mail, letting them know I will boycott their stores until Meghan gets some satisfaction.

Andrew Griffin
Alexandria, LA

Let Leon In
Loyal lifers lift their voices:
Thank you, Scene, for the Leon Russell article in Nightwatch [April 21] supporting the view of about 100 of my closest friends. We call ourselves "Lifers for Leon" and feel that his talents have gone unrecognized for far too long. Wake up, Rock Hall execs! Leon should have been inducted years ago!

Micky Hannah

Look who made it: We Leon Lifers have been asking ourselves this very question for years now. I think what did us in was when Prince was inducted -- and still no Leon. This man has contributed to what music is today. Just because he does what he wants should be no reason for him to be shunned by the Rock Hall.

Nita Sissell
Houston, TX

Shootin' and Groovin'
At least they're not gunning for each other:
Really loved the "Pink Pistols" piece [April 28], even though I disapprove of gun ownership for "protection." As a gay male, I've been bashed and threatened a couple of times, but I'm glad I wasn't packing, because some ignorant bigots might be dead right now, and that would haunt me a bit (I think).

Robbery and home invasion are the gray areas that invite speculation. And I can't pretend to know the fear of a lesbian who is about to be attacked. All in all, it's not remarkable that a minority of gays are packing heat. The most wonderful aspect of this news piece is Mr. Sahady, the redneck straight guy, and his pals, who have linked up with the Pink Pistols to pursue their mutual interests.

Once again, we have a story where sexual orientation matters not a bit when it comes to pursuing common interests. Ultimately, this article was not about guns per se. It's about out-and-proud gays and lesbians working with straight, secure, proud heterosexuals to effect their mutual goals. The common ingredients here are self-pride, mutual respect, and a dedicated focus. Jimi Izrael deserves kudos for discerning that and delivering that bit of good news to Scene's readership.

James L. Bloor
Oakland Park, FL

Better hope Granny's wearing her specs: The bottom line of "Armed and Fabulous" is that this is one area where straights and gays have common ground. Both believe that one of our basic freedoms is the ability to protect oneself. Our law enforcement is reactive, and we need to be proactive.

We in Michigan have had concealed carry for almost three years now, and the bloodbath that naysayers predicted has never come. If you are a bad guy looking for a target, you have to look twice now. Does that little old lady have a .38 in her purse? 'Cause if she does, she knows how to use it.

George Zigoris
Midland, MI

O Dude
Ten of them told the truth, anyway:
I am 32 years old, and what "Steve" said in the article "Missing in Action" [April 21] is true. We men have to stop being so selfish. I have friends who are just like the guys writer June Scharf talked to. I have been with more than 50 women, and 10 have not had an orgasm. This is something that offends me. Sometimes women can't have orgasms because of stress or the other reasons Scharf mentioned. The key is to ask her what she wants, and if she wants to masturbate, then be a part of it and don't let your ego get in the way. Scharf's article just reassured me that it is OK for women not to have an orgasm and that us guys still have a lot to learn.

Scott Krakau

Keyword "Mock"
Gulllibility is the hobgobin of literal minds:
In response to the "I Won American Idol" mock ad in First Punch, April 21: Like many Clevelanders, I look forward to reading Scene every week. I realize that a paper that is available for free must be flexible with its advertising. But I was saddened to see that a call to rid society of drugs was advocating the diseases of bigotry.

I hope in the future that both Scene and this advertiser will pause before using a similar strategy.

Donna L. Seemuth

Told Ya So
A farsighted few foresaw fiasco:
Looking back to your July 12, 2001 article "The Mistake in Eastlake?", I had to laugh. Steve Komarjanski was about the only person in City Hall who had enough vision to see where that stadium was going to take Eastlake [see "City on the Brink," December 17, 2003]. I was talking to a neighbor, who told me that former mayor Becker said that the city would be bankrupt five to six years after Dan DiLiberto took office. Boy, was he right. Steve was also right, when he said that the stadium would be a bust and the mayor would retire to Florida (well, he got one part right).

Ronald Telban

Moneen's Keen
Emo burnouts get a boost:
I liked Annie Zaleski's review of Moneen in Nightwatch in the April 21 issue. Personally, I think that Moneen is the best band for their age in years. To be that musically talented and so young . . . I've been playing for years, and I couldn't do that. I really liked the part about "converting jaded emo fans." She couldn't have been more correct.

Tyson Sutherland

Sign on the Line
Billboards as visual aids for true believers:
I live in Orlando, and I wish there were a conservative Catholic Church here that would advertise ["Selling Jesus," April 7]. We are not as avant-garde as in many areas, but we are certainly borderline, which is heartbreaking to any true Catholic.

In this age of visual aids -- a proven educational tool -- we were the original church of visual aids, and we still need them. Statues, incense, holy water, etc., all gave substance to so many mysteries and help us better understand the symbolism of faith's realities.

Anne Archer
Fern Park, FL

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