Letters to the Editor - Shark! December 18 2003

Thank you for your article condemning the practice of the payday lending business (Fishwrapper, "Time to pull the sharks' teeth," Dec. 11). Hopefully, it will make a difference and Georgia will strengthen its consumer protection laws. Your analogy of overdraft protection, unavailable for the poor, was perfect.

One correction: 20 percent interest on maxed-out credit cards is not one of the worst rates today. Rates upward toward 30 percent (27.99 and 29.99) are not uncommon.

Thank you for your call to the religious community to speak out on this issue.

-- Peggy Davis, Atlanta

br>?House music
(In response to Headcase, "Yuletide strangulation," Dec. 11): Regarding your statement that what this city needs is a coffeehouse that plays Radiohead, Sigur Ros, Bjork and the Notwist ... I definitely agree.

Or ... can you imagine ... a gay bar that featured those same selections?

The mind reels.

-- Casey Dryden, Atlanta

br>?Reassuring stories
I just wanted to say thank you for your excellent story and coverage of the recent FTAA protest in Miami ("Police state," Nov. 27). It is reassuring that there are still some news sources out there who are trying to look at things from all sides of the story. Thank you for giving the non-police "claptrap" a chance to be heard!

-- Beth Orcutt, Athens

br>?Just the facts, please
The one thing I can and must take exception to in your slam on Mary Norwood is your statement: "Norwood helped derail the city's Utoy tunnel plan that could have spared Atlanta from much of its current sewer predicament" (The Weekly Scalawag, Dec. 4).

I borrow your attack phrase, "They don't know what they're talking about," to describe your efforts to sound knowledgeable on a subject that 99.99 percent of the CL readership hasn't a clue about. That's partly CL's fault for mostly ignoring the issue for the last several years. I can count the articles you've had on one hand.

The proposed R.M.-Clayton-to-Utoy tunnel was merely a conveyance of sanitary sewage to the Utoy area to ensure future growth in north DeKalb, Atlanta (west side) and the Sandy Springs areas, and had nothing to do with the Combined Sewage Overflow issue. The tunnel was proposed to reduce expansion impacts on the R.M. Clayton area and put it down in the Utoy Creek area. The combined CSO yuck still had to get to R.M. Clayton somehow. That proposed tunnel would not even fix the Sanitary Sewage Overflow problems of aging infrastructure that Atlanta faces under the consent decree.

As far as Herroner is concerned, she ran on her eight years of experience of running the city for Young, and allowed the march of construction through Midtown and Buckhead without doing a thing to improve any plumbing. (My research turned up one infrastructure bond proposal for sewer work of $158,000,000 during 1987, which went nowhere.) She admitted during a mayoral debate at Inman Middle School that she wished she had done something then to address the CSO problem.

I cannot comprehend all the media in Atlanta (except for the astute John Schaffner with The Story) heaping praise on this mayor for tackling this issue that her predecessors left her. She was there with her buddies Jackson and Young as this thing was ignored and she is in office when the consent decree is coming to a head. She has no choice but to face it.

Get the facts if you're going to write.

-- Bob Woodall, Earlysville, Va.

Editor's note: In the last three years, CL has published 34 articles, including two cover stories, on sewage issues, including the environmental effects of spills, the political wrangling over proposed fixes and alternative fixes that have been pushed aside. Go to atlanta.creativeloafing. com to search our archives.

br>?We want to hear it!
Talk radio in Atlanta is disappointing. This brand of programming is more about bluster, blather and gossip than a real exchange of ideas. Unfortunately, in Atlanta, our AM airwaves are saturated with these shows. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and other principally conservative hosts insult politicians, callers, experts and celebrities. On any particular topic, there is little consideration given to providing information or tolerance for dissenting opinion. For example, on Dec. 8, Limbaugh pronounced, "I am the host and I am right," when a caller confronted him with labor statistics that did not concur with his.

These hosts carefully choose selective stances on issues in an effort to advocate generalizations about liberals and/or to incite indignation among listeners. To achieve this, sometimes these hosts resort to misrepresentations. On Friday, Dec. 5, Joe Lieberman was a guest on Hannity's show. Surprisingly, they both claimed that Iraq's pursuit of nuclear weapons was a vital reason to warrant war. What were these two men talking about? They were almost certainly referring to the discredited claim that Iraq had tried to obtain Uranium from Niger. The International Atomic Energy Agency stated on March 7, 2003, that these specific allegations were unfounded. Even Condoleezza Rice admitted, "We wouldn't have put it in the speech if we had known what we know now," when asked about the infamous 16 words from the president's State of the Union Address. Many talk shows — not just Hannity's — apparently hold themselves to no particular standards of accuracy or truth. Instead, it is good ratings that are the primary concern.

Atlanta is a diverse community, and it seems illogical that only one political stance can be commercially viable on the radio. However, rather than seeking to replace some of these conservatives with liberals, we should ask for better. What is really needed in Atlanta is talk radio that is more information-based rather than opinion-based.

The FM spectrum — and in particular, the college and public radio stations that reside there — are the most likely to succeed at providing quality talk radio. Without the constant interruptions of commercial breaks, these venues are able to spend the time necessary to more thoroughly explore a topic. The great news is, programs of this type already exist. "Talk of the Nation," "The Diane Rehm Show" and "The Connection" are just some of the programs available now. Rather than rely solely upon the opinion of the host, these shows depend upon one or more experts to explain and discuss the issue.

Many listeners had hoped that WABE (one of our local public radio stations) would respond to the need for intelligent talk radio. However, so far they have not. Some protesters have even banded together in an effort to sway WABE's programming staff. "Atlanta Public Radio Initiative" has at least helped to persuade WABE's leaders to discuss adding more National Public Radio programming to their daily lineup. Perhaps one of the local college stations or other public radio stations will take the lead in this matter.

One last criticism of Atlanta talk radio: Almost none of the current shows delve into local issues. As a large metropolitan area, we have the great fortune to be the home of many nationally renowned individuals from fields including business, science, the arts, medicine, politics and theology. One program idea would be to feature local experts speaking on the local concerns of the day.

There is a glut of conservative opinion programs jamming our airwaves. This situation has created a great opportunity for a station to pick up new listeners, to provide a service to the community, and to showcase the best and brightest Atlanta has to offer. Anyone who wants better talk radio choices should contact our local stations and ask for better.

-- Don McAdam, Atlanta??