A Safer Bet

Letters published March 3, 2004

Against the Ropes
A Safer Bet
To wipe out crooks, just legalize poker: "The House Folds," by Thomas Francis, regarding crooked Las Vegas Night operators, is misleading [February 11].

If Ohio legalized poker, these operators would all be out of business within a week. I'm not talking about allowing full-fledged casinos -- I just mean legalizing poker, as Indiana, Michigan, and dozens of other states have already done. Poker requires more skill than betting on horse races and is less of a gamble than bingo or the lottery.

The people who play are not degenerate gamblers. They include doctors, lawyers, business owners, retired people, and dozens of other professionals. They also include some low-life types and a few problem gamblers. In short, it's the same mix of people you'd find at any public golf course.

These players do not enjoy playing in smoke-filled VFWs with lousy heating and no air conditioning. They play because there is no other legal place to play in Ohio. Many of these players regularly drive to Indiana, Michigan, and Mississippi, or fly to Atlantic City or Las Vegas. This is money that could have stayed in Ohio.

I don't defend the Las Vegas Night operators, but if they give a charity $7,500 and pocket the rest, it's still money the charity wouldn't have received without them. It's way past time for Ohio to stop treating poker players like criminals.

Mike O'Sullivan

Truth to Tell
Repetition breeds contempt:
In "The Ticket" [February 18], Jimi Izrael quoted wannabe-lottery-winner Elecia Battle as saying that Plain Dealer reporter Lila Mills "slandered" Ms. Battle.

First, slander is speech. Ms. Battle probably meant to accuse Lila of libel, which is the publication of false or malicious information about someone. Regardless, neither The Plain Dealer nor Lila Mills harmed Ms. Battle's reputation in any way during our reporting of the story. Lila handled the reporting professionally. Her work was accurate and fair. Our stories reflected badly on Ms. Battle only because they contained the truth about her behavior in the lottery fiasco.

Tom O'Hara
Managing Editor

The Plain Dealer

Sharing the Starke story: I just want to thank Jimi Izrael for the exciting story he told about Sheldon Starke and the lottery ticket. Sheldon is my wife's boss. He's a great guy, who cares about his friends and clients. Izrael told the story like it is. Bravo, Jimi. The spineless bastards who hold the microphones are in it for show-and-tell. They should leave that to the school kids.

Van Stone
Broadview Heights

Just the facts: Not only did Jimi Izrael succeed in rehashing a story that was weeks old, but he managed to libel Plain Dealer reporter Lila Mills by presenting a quote by Elecia Battle that was patently false -- a conclusion that Mr. Izrael could have easily drawn, had he taken the time to obtain a response.

Just a hint: Before you commit your story to print, always ensure that you live up to your journalistic and legal obligation to ascertain the truth. It is a travesty that you believe that you can attack the integrity of a fellow reporter by printing a quote that had no basis in fact. The net result is that your integrity and credibility are now in question.

Mark R. Davis
Newspaper Guild, Local 1

Derfinitely want more comics:
I just wanted to drop a line and say how hilarious the "Derf" comics were in the February 4 issue. I was laughing my ass off (as I usually do when I read his comics), and I'm glad that you guys still have a few comics in there. It seems like the PD is trying to phase them out.

I think you need to bring back "Jesus of the Week." And "Super Douche." That would be sweet!

Jennifer Ridgway

Where's the Beef?
A prodigy of pointlessness:
I'm writing in response to Pete Kotz's column "Bob Taft's Hidden Desires," which refers to Taft's stance on homosexual marriages [February 11]. This is officially the most pointless collection of paragraphs that I have ever read.

I was prepared for a witty commentary of the sort that Scene writers usually fit together very nicely. Instead, it turned out reminiscent of little kids on the playground defending themselves from being called an [insert your insult] with the ever-so-witty comeback, "No, you're an [insert that same insult]."

My first instinct was to figure out whether Kotz is homosexual, so that maybe I could understand his point of view. Then I realized that it didn't matter, because the article is pointless from any angle. I actually feel dumber for having read it. (Just so it's clear, I'm not a homosexual. However, I accept it as an alternative lifestyle, whether it be a choice or a genetic disposition.)

I had hoped that Kotz wouldn't belittle one of our more important topics for improving tolerance within our society. It seems that he meant well in defending equal rights, but maybe next time he can use some tact, some facts, and some real literary satire, instead of the childish drivel he threw together. The only funny part is that someone thought it deserved to get published.

Brian Rubinski
Maple Heights

He's the Mann
Go enjoy the show:
I have seen B.E. Mann at bars in Lake County since the late '80s ["Roots Radical," February 4]. He is very talented and an extremely nice man. People need to relax and enjoy the talent and the super show B.E. puts on.

Vicki Zupancic

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