The Case for Kucinich

Letters published May 17, 2001

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Angel Eyes
Dennis is a steelworker's friend:

There were serious factual inaccuracies in a letter to the editor, "Bill and Dennis Killed LTV" [April 26]. The writer is dead wrong about Congressman Kucinich's record on steel.

Kucinich was the first member of Congress to challenge the Clinton Administration on the Asian financial crisis's effects on the steel industry. He pushed the administration to abandon its "come hell or high water" commitment to the WTO and international trade agreements, and instead resume restrictions on steel imports.

Kucinich was the lead sponsor of the steel quota bill. The bill passed the House with a vote of 289-141 in 1999.

He led the successful fight against "fast track" procedures that President Clinton needed to rush through an expansion of NAFTA. As a first-year member of Congress, Kucinich was instrumental in leading a majority of Democrats against the President's policy. He also reached out to Republicans and helped bring enough of them into the coalition to defeat fast track.

In 2001, Kucinich has been one of the lead sponsors of the Steel Revitalization Act, and he is drafting a bill to reauthorize the Defense Production Act, with expanded strategic lending authority for the steel industry. As all of Cleveland knows, he has effectively intervened in the bankruptcy proceedings of LTV, and he convened a Northeast Ohio Steel working group of elected officials at local, state, and federal levels of government.

Congressman Kucinich's record as a protector of steelworkers and the steel industry is long, accomplished, and unassailable. He is so well respected in Congress that Republican and Democratic members alike elected him vice chairman of the Steel Caucus's executive committee. The Cleveland AFL-CIO last week cited him for "his outstanding work to save steelworkers' jobs and his lifelong commitment to labor." Only someone with an ax to grind could deny that.

Jaron Bourke
Legislative director for Congressman Dennis Kucinich

Sympathy for a broken spirit:

I just finished your article ["Casualty of the State," May 3], and I have tears in my eyes. It seems so clear that this young woman has a broken spirit, that the abuse she suffered was simply too much to bear. To place her somewhere where she is further abused seems inhumane.

Surviving abuse is much like being an addict: one day at a time. You never know what will spark a memory.

I often wonder why people don't march in the streets when our little ones are abused. Why don't we get angry enough? Until we get angry and do something, we will continue to lose our most valuable resource. I want so badly to hold Rainey and tell her that it's OK, that the abuse she suffered is not her fault. The worst part about abuse is that, while the physical scars heal, there is forever a gash in your heart.

Tamara Rowe

Who will heal the wounds of our children?

Jacqueline Marino's piece about Rainey Watkins was very moving and very important. This is simply one story of hundreds involving local adolescents who are in extreme emotional distress. We simply don't know what to do with them. The juvenile detention system is inadequate to serve them, and it shouldn't be expected to. Unfortunately, our mental health system is ill equipped to help; it doesn't have the facilities.

That's not the only issue. As a psychologist in private practice, I have seen far too many clients in their 20s, 30s, and 40s who entered the mental health system as teenagers. They were incorrectly diagnosed as schizophrenic, medicated, and then medicated more when they acted out. In almost all of these cases, the people were suffering from varying reactions to profound trauma (usually, childhood sexual and physical abuse) and were acting out because the wounds were so deep. In the meantime, they never got the help they needed, because the wounds weren't acknowledged as the source of their distress.

Before Freud betrayed women and children 100 years ago by creating penis envy and the Oedipal complex, he reported that as many as one-half of the households in Europe had sex abuse in them. We can't confirm his numbers, but we now know that such childhood abuse is a major problem. However, instead of recognizing that this has a profound impact on mental health, our mental health system continues to focus on clinical diagnoses and the need to control the adolescent's behavior. The current mental health system is simply on the wrong channel when it comes to responding to children's trauma.

Forget about "treatment programs." Where are the healing houses we need? The last few years, we've gotten onto holding the abusers more responsible. We've spent lots of money doing special prosecutions. Where's the public effort, where's the money, where's the commitment to heal the wounds of our children? Who will speak for those who cannot?

We should do this for Rainey, and we should do this for the rest of our children.

River Smith

Pippin production was worth the journey:

Thanks to Laura Putre's excellent article on the Near West Theatre ["Once More, With Feeling," April 26], I went to see their current production of the musical comedy Pippin. Yes, I crossed the bridge for an evening of entertainment in Ohio City.

The show is one of my favorites, and years ago I had seen a production of it on Broadway, with a professional cast that included Ben Vereen and Irene Ryan. The Near West Theatre presentation was right up there with it -- and in some respects surpassed the Big Apple production with raw energy and enthusiasm.

During the intermission, I spoke with two ladies: one from Shaker Heights and one who had driven from Solon. It seems we had all been drawn to Ohio City by Laura's article. We, and hundreds of others in the audience, were not disappointed. The well-deserved standing ovation said it all.

Stephanie Hrbek and Bob Navis are to be saluted. These two educators and directors have taught these young adults some very exciting things about theater, creativity, and expressing what's deep inside, and some very valuable lessons about life.

Jim Nagle

The unnatural pinch of natural gas hikes:

In regard to "Gas Pains" [The Edge, April 19]: What is a natural gas customer to do in this time of de-fuck-you-lation (I mean deregulation)? My opportunity to move into a grand old house turned into hell once the gas bills started rolling in. I could be paying on these for many months. I tried budget payments, only to have Dominion continually up the budget. Doesn't that defeat the purpose? Further, the customer service sucks: I wasted 90 minutes waiting on the phone for help, only to have them hang up on me four times. If the government can't help, I say revolt.

Randy Jasinski

Local bands get their due:

Kudos to you for covering a Cleveland band (Uptown Sinclair) with the same depth and viewpoint as you do national acts ["A Jungle Out There," May 3]. No cheesy or negative "local" connotations in sight. In the past few issues, there seems to be a trend developing at Scene to take Cleveland musicians as seriously as their out-of-town counterparts. It is much appreciated, and I hope it continues.

Mike McDonald

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