Letters for August 8, 2002

A dancing dilemma

Please don't shake the booty:Is Ashley Fantz kidding us? I believe the quote from her July 25 story,"Caged Swelter," was: "We are real dancers. We put on a real show. Anyone who sees us knows that." I've seen these girls perform. I may be an out-of-towner, but I didn't see dancing or a show. I saw trashy girls in trashy clothing shaking tits and ass. They have no idea what real dancing is.

As a classical dancer of 17 years I am offended at the thought of being put in the same category as these quasi-strippers.

Tonya C. Davis

Lorain, Ohio

Do, however, move that writing instrument:I never feel the need to respond to a story, but "Caged Swelter" made a huge impression on me. Ashley Fantz wrote beautifully and with an honesty that is rare in journalism. I kept thinking as I read that it would make a powerful docudrama, or novel, or movie, and that with her ability to touch the heart of the story, she could do it well. But in the end... I just wanted to say well done.

John Newnham

via the Internet

The IRS is on top o' this scam:Susan Eastman's July 25 article, "The Wheel Deal," was right on. The car donation business is expanding like crazy and getting much more aggressive. To get these donations, the agencies feed donors misinformation about their responsibilities to the IRS.

As you can imagine, with anything involving the IRS, there are very specific regulations concerning these car donations. The person donating the car is responsible for any failure to comply. Basically, any car worth over $5000 has to have an independent appraisal. You cannot value these cars using eBay, blue books or Miss Cleo.

In addition, the "charity" cannot issue or pay for the appraisal.

John Delaney

Fort Lauderdale

And little ornithological know-how:Mike Clary's July 18 article, "For the Birds" and the sub-headline: "Should 2700 little sparrows be allowed to hold up the reclaiming of the Everglades?" is a title in search of a story. Mr. Clary offers no proof for this proposition.

Indeed, a far more accurate, if less controversial article would have highlighted how the crisis over the highly-endangered Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow has jump-started long-dormant restoration projects, stopped harmful flooding, and torn down canals blocking free flow of water in the Everglades. After all, the sparrow is recognized as an "indicator species" for the health of the larger Everglades ecosystem.

The reason that far more has not been done to help the sparrow and restore the Everglades to date -- and why flooding continues in the water conservation areas -- has nothing to do with the sparrow. Rather, the drainage needs of a small enclave in the Everglades known as the 8.5 square mile area, along with agribusinesses, have stopped flows into the east Everglades, where water used to flow. As for the link between the sparrow and management of Lake Okeechobee mentioned in the article, it is a myth not confirmed by any agency on any side of the issue for two years now. Mr. Clary does the public a disservice by his inaccurate and irresponsible reporting.

Bradford H. Sewell, senior attorney

Natural Resources Defense Council

New York City Pledge... to face the weirdness:I found Bob Norman's July 11 article on Michael Newdow ("First Pledge") very interesting. I have a bachelor's degree in mathematics. I'm also an agnostic who enjoys spiritual/religious philosophizing. I would be very interested to read the so-called "A Mathematical Proof of the Non-Existence of God."

Jason D. Knight

Fort Lauderdale

To face the weirdoes:Mr. Norman's article on Mr. Newdow vis-à-vis hate mail and threats has been going the rounds of cyber space. I am a retired lawyer, grandfather, a World War II combat vet who was an atheist in a foxhole and still is an atheist. I'm not afraid of the label.

Norman's bravery in facing up to the wackos is admirable. America needs more reporters with your courage.

Rationally yours,

Jerry Billings

Portland, Oregon

To face the facts:I just read a forwarded copy of "First Pledge." Those were definitely some very funny replies. I know the authors were serious, but they were still funny. Thanks for reporting the facts. Please keep doing it.

Charles K. Clarkson

Stephenville, Texas

Kick 'em in the press... or maybe paddle them:I read with interest Chuck Strouse's July 11 column, "Pinged," on the total neglect of the U.S. Open (table tennis tournament) held recently in Fort Lauderdale. I found unbelievable the lack of pre-tournament press and zero coverage. I can name at least ten people who wanted to see top-quality table tennis and who would have gone every day if they had been informed.

This is a continuation of the lack of foresight of the news media. There is a substantial immigrant population who are tuned to a wider variety of games than is the American public. They were done a disservice. I am a believer that the media is in conspiracy with the four major American sports to virtually lock out every other game. Think World Cup football -- and the game is football, not soccer. Pity the press.

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