Letters to the Editor - Forgot one April 29 2004

Your profile on the Southern Environmental Law Center, and the successful litigation against the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to enforce clean air laws, does not mention the leadership of former SELC attorney Wesley Woolf ("Green team," April 22). Woolf's expertise on clean air and transportation conformity laws was instrumental to the success of this groundbreaking case. We have a fighting chance of a decent regional transportation plan because Woolf and several other environmental leaders committed themselves wholeheartedly to winning the litigation and making it stick.

-- Douglas Stewart,

director of program communications, Pedestrians Educating Drivers about Safety

br>?What you wanted to see
Felicia Feaster: I read with great distress your review of the new Palestinian film Rana's Wedding (Flicks, "World gone mad," April 22). I find your take on the movie superficial, your knowledge on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that backgrounds but also shapes the film's drama highly misinformed, and — in general — your comments deeply slighting of the struggle of a people for self-determination.

I'm sorry to tell you that your understanding of the film is much influenced by Hollywood. What comes across in your review is a stupid love tale where it is — simply — a messy world where only love aces all and fixes everything. Is it really "melodramatic" to empathize with Palestinian grief — especially when you are Palestinian yourself? Does this mean that the tale is only acceptable if it distances itself from social issues? From conceptions of justice? Only if it is sanitized?

So, Palestinian women are to be excluded from their community's struggle. In fact, you seem to suggest that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is nothing but a bunch of boys roughhousing. Palestinian women do not agree with this diagnosis: They see themselves as part of the struggle next to Palestinian men, Muslim and Christian (not to mention the many Jews, Arabs and people worldwide who stand in solidarity with the Palestinian cause).

You didn't really see the movie. You saw what you wanted in it.

-- Hazem Ziada, Atlanta

?Check your facts
I was enjoying your article last week until I realized that you were writing about me (News & Views, Weekly Scalawag, April 15). I might have recognized it sooner if more of your facts had been correct! Knowing how careful Creative Loafing always is to get the story right, I want to assist you with this article.

The Department of Human Resources, in response to a major budget crisis, had to cut over $100 million out of an already tight budget. We evaluated over 80 programs before making the difficult decisions about where to make reductions. Unfortunately, the teen centers were among the programs that had not proven to be effective, given the facts. The research showed that over the last three years of data in counties where there ARE teen centers, the teen pregnancy rate among 15- to 17-year-olds dropped 8.3 percent. However, in counties where there are NO teen centers, the decrease in teen pregnancies was 15.9 percent — almost double.

Contrary to your assertion that closing these 34 teen centers was an ideological issue, the closures were about money and program effectiveness. We actually saved Georgia taxpayers $2.1 million of state money in this one program reduction alone.

In order not to abandon the program completely — in spite of evidence suggesting we should — we are keeping five teen centers open. We will continue to evaluate the results of these centers, and if appropriate, will consider opening more centers in the future. Our goal remains unchanged: to provide programs that work in reducing teen pregnancies.

FYI, Scott — my company's contract with the Department of Education ended over a year before Gov. Perdue appointed me to the DHR board. Conflict of interest? Hardly! Check the facts.

-- Bruce Cook, DHR board chairman

Scott Henry replies: We used Cook's Department of Education contract as an example of the blurry ethical lines that are crossed when CEOs of companies that contract with the state are handed state posts. Cook is correct in pointing out that this particular contract ended before he was appointed chairman of the state Department of Human Resources. But Cook also admits his business — Choosing the Best, which sells abstinence-only education curricula — continues to sell products to organizations that use DHR grants to buy them.

br>?Lesser of two evils
I have to disagree with the conclusion of Kevin Griffis' recent article "Ralph Nader tried to steal my baby" (News & Views, April 15).

Nader's legacy, whether he mounts an effective campaign or not this time around, will be putting the issue of a third party on the table.

Kevin essentially tells us this when he says Nader "points out the painfully obvious fact that the Democrats haven't done much to endear themselves to U.S. voters in the last 30 years," and, "what voters hear coming from Dems aren't visionary new programs, but rather, arguments over who should get the lion's share of tax cuts." Knowing that, why the hell would anyone vote for them?

The Dems are clearly competing with the Republicans to win over moderates. They have taken their working class, poor and minority votes for granted and abandoned their causes long ago.

Sadly for Nader, he has also abandoned or toned down some of the principled stands he took four years ago, like working with organized activists, calling for a $10 minimum wage, and most especially, speaking out against the Democrats' "lesser-evilism." He has also courted anti-immigration, pro-war Republicans to his side, trying to form a sort of Anybody But Bush catchall that would support him. However, his alliances with anybody have turned off many of his ardent supporters of 2000, me being one of them.

The problem is not that Nader is too radical — it's that he's eating his message by flirting with right-wingers and talking about colluding with the Dems. We need an independent third party.

Nader is not an "unrealistic choice" as Kevin says. Sure, he ain't gonna win. He probably won't get 5 percent. He's not even close, in my opinion, to the perfect candidate. This government stinks, and we aren't anywhere close to a democracy. If you agree with that, your vote for Nader is not a vote for Bush. It's a (potential) vote for change. If you vote for the lesser of two evils, you still get evil.

-- Jon Wexler,

International Socialist Organization,


?It'll be our fault
If the margin of defeat for Al Gore or John Kerry was/is less than 2 percent, the fault lies with the Democratic National Convention (News & Views, "Ralph Nader tried to steal my baby," April 15). In 2000 (and in 2004), there were Democratic candidates who would have appealed to a substantial majority of U.S. voters, but we let our party's left wing hijack the nomination process. If George Bush is re-elected, shame on us, not Ralph Nader.

-- M. Ralston, Lawrenceville