ABUSE OF OFFICE
As an activist for over 20 years who's uncovered many governmental scams, even going undercover as a battered woman to expose a crooked system under the Giuliani administration, I was aghast when I read Tom Robbins's account of how Russell Harding spent our tax dollars on his sprees ["The Lush Life of a Rudy Appointee," April 16]. Congratulations on such wonderful investigative reporting. Maybe now others will think twice about abusing their power after they take the oath. I hope the new commissioner of the Department of Investigation will do an in-depth probe of this scandalous situation.
President Citizens' Action Committee for Change
Bayside, New York
Tom Robbins's exposé of Russell Harding's wanton, arrogant, and highly prosecutable feeding at the taxpayer trough is an example of investigative reporting and writing at its very finest. It's impossible to believe that Rudy Giuliani hadn't heard of Harding's profligacy. Back when he was hacking his way up, Rudy put people in jail for less. But Russell is [Giuliani adviser and Liberal Party boss] Ray Harding's son. As Robbins notes, the agency that bought even his smokes and slices was considered politically "off-line," but it's also obvious it was off-limits to municipal investigators. They probably knew enough not even to ask whether they should take a look, but if they did and got winks, nods, shrugs, and whispers . . . hey, there could be a RICO in this.
Hong Kong, China
In a recent column by Michael Musto in which he discussed Michael Alig's "party daysthe mid '80s to mid '90s" [La Dolce Musto, April 2], reference was made to my wife, Julie Jewels, as a "wan teen with a fake Russian accent."
Once again Musto has become so overjoyed with his alleged ability to write about New York scenes he so greatly wishes he could have been part of, he has forgotten that as a columnist he is supposed to be writing the truth.
Number one, Julie was never wan. If you look it up in the dictionary, the definition of wan is "pale or sickly, suggestive of bad health." Julie is a tall, glamorous, curvaceous blond bombshell who would never properly be described as wan. Secondly, with respect to her "fake" Russian accent: Julie is from Russia. She came here when she was 10 years old. Twelve years ago, when she was going out to clubs, she still had a strong Russian accent.
Finally, Michael Alig did not make her an "it girl." From the first night that Julie began doing the doors at clubs like the World, Red Zone, and Limelight, her gorgeous looks and style of dress made her the talk of the nightclub world.
What distinguishes Julie most of all is that when the club kid scene started becoming messy, she stepped out of it and, with Michael Alig, created Project X Magazine. Once Project X became a nationally distributed chronicle of the club kids' world, what had been a relatively obscure scene among a few clubbers became a national phenomenon.
If Musto is going to write about the club kid scene, it is understandable he would want to incorporate Julie into such a column. We would greatly appreciate it, however, if he would write the truth.
I generally feel that Michael Musto is right on target. However, he has totally missed it with his rationale regarding the latest crisis in the Catholic Church [La Dolce Musto, April 16]. To say that a closeted homosexual would go so far as to "prey on the most vulnerable targets aroundaltar boysinstilling a fear of God in them to make sure they'd never tell" couldn't be more offensive or wrong. A rational human being (closeted or not) doesn't make the leap from pent-up sexual frustration to actions involving the violation of an innocent child. These most heinous crimes are done by individuals greatly in need of help. If anything, the Church is at fault for fostering an environment in which help for these troubled individuals is not an option.
Musto's rhetoric is exactly the type of crap that the right uses to justify the continued infringement of the rights of gays and lesbians in America. With this type of thinking, a gay Boy Scout will never have a chance in our lifetime.
KISS MY ASSETS
As a teacher in Williamsburg at one of the poor-performing schools that Mayor Bloomberg rants about, I have nothing but contempt for what comes out of his mouth ["Did the Mayor Make More 'Racist' School Remarks?" Chisun Lee, March 26]. Bloomberg's comments of late are only showing his ignorance as far as education is concerned.
The fact is, you are not going to improve the school system until you start giving the schools money for books, after-school tutoring, and better teachers. Our school lost three teachers in the middle of this year because they would rather commute two hours to the suburbswhere they would have the support a school needsthan spend another year in a system where everyone points fingers at what is wrong but no one wants to pay the money to fix them.
Yes, when inner-city schools are low-performing, you have to take into account the community you are in. However, you learn to find the assets. You do not attack the homes these students come from because their parents may not speak English. You understand that their parents work hard for their kids to have better lives. You don't put down their families because they may not be the nuclear model; you understand that the child needs extra support. Frankly, until Bloomberg starts talking to some people who actually deal with these kids on a daily basis, I think he should keep his mouth shut and stop hiding behind the "I delegate to my deputies" rhetoric. That's just my opinion, but what do I know? I'm just there every day.
OPEN MOUTH, INSERT FOOT
Chisun Lee's comments on the mayor's "billionaire's lifestyle" and description of him as an "Upper East Side townhouse owner" in her article "Did the Mayor Make More 'Racist' School Remarks?" were simply more polarized bashing.
Let's face it: Very few people have a truly diversified set of experiences. The perfect New York City mayor would need to be an insider in the financial industry, a live-alone urban single, married with children, a Russian immigrant, Jewish, and African American. Oh, and perhaps we should add that the mayor should be capable.
It appears to this non-New Yorker that Bloomberg wanted to hold the job of mayor to make a difference. This is not to assert that his agenda is perfect, or that his mission to wrest control of the school board will fix the problems. It is true, however, that he has the foot-in-mouth syndrome common to most new politicians.
I would ask: Do politicians really get more effective at solving the problems that they are elected to solve after they have gotten better at PR?
Grover P. Righter,
San Francisco, California
I could barely finish Candace Rondeaux's Title IX article for the incinerating lightning bolts streaking out of my eyes ["Going to the Mat," April 16]. It is obscene that the Bush administration is less interested in athletics among women than among men.
The U.S. owes much of its pride in the global athletic field to female athletes: the U.S. women's soccer team and the Women's United Soccer Association (all the more interesting considering that Major League Soccer had to cut two teams this year), Sarah Hughes, and the U.S. women's hockey team. And then there's our own New York Metro Women's Soccer League, of which I am a member.
In addition, Elle magazine reports this month that "81% of female business executives said they played organized team sports growing up, and two-thirds still play sports or exercise at least three times a week."
By now the studies conducted on women and sports are common knowledge: Those who belong to athletic teams have higher self-esteem and are less prone to remain involved in abusive relationships. If funding for athletic programs in schools is inadequate for both male and female teams, perhaps the Bushites should take a look at Tom Robbins's article "The Lush Life of a Rudy Appointee" in the same issue and consider appropriating funds from the budget that financed Russell Harding's expense account.
AGAINST THE TIDE
As a competitive swimmer whose politics lean to the left, I disagree with the claims by Candace Rondeaux that the fight against Title IX is a vast right-wing conspiracy.
Like wrestling, gymnastics, and other male athletic programs at many Division I schools, men's swimming has lost scholarships or been eliminated completely by traditional swimming powerhouses like UCLA, Miami, Kansas, Iowa State and Nebraska. Politics isn't driving these cuts; it's the misuse of money in college athletics.
Rondeaux fails to detail the outrageous salaries that are paid to Division I football and basketball coaches. The salary that Nebraska pays to head football coach Frank Solich could easily fund men's swimming scholarships for all of the athletesmale or femalewho need them. In short, we shouldn't pit male athletes against female athletes when it comes to university budgets.
It's not just a coincidence that as more colleges pour resources into men's football and basketball programs, the United States' dominance in international men's swimming has ended at the hands of the Australians and others.
Rahway, New Jersey
DOLLARS AND SENSE
I really enjoyed Alisa Solomon's article about women in sports ["Guys and Dollars," April 16], and I think it would be interesting to look at some college athletic programs in this regard. One successful example of the juxtaposition of men's and women's collegiate sports is my alma mater, Hobart and William Smith Colleges in upstate New York. Hobart (for men) and William Smith (for women) are both liberal arts colleges. They share a campus, but have separate dean's offices, admissions offices, student governments, and most importantly, athletic departments.
In the early 1990s, Hobart College wanted its dominant Division III lacrosse team to move up to Division I. Because of the separate athletic departments, the budget to support a Division I lacrosse team came from Hobart, while William Smith athletics was unaffected. William Smith has a very strong and competitive athletic reputation and has been successful because of the separation.
Although Tricia Romano's article on the the New York electro scene was keenly perceptive on many levels, there is one level that I feel was overlookedthe rich synthpop culture that has always percolated in the New York underground ["Trans-Decade Express," April 9].
Bands like New Clear Sky and Count to Infinity have been creating electronic music that looks forward rather than backward, abandoning the droning, repetitive samples for verses and rich choruses that one cannot stop singing. In listening to this genre of electronic music, it is obvious that it is less about fashion and nostalgia (although the suits these bands wear would say otherwise) and more about artistry and innovation.
TOMORROW WINS CONSCIENCE PRIZE
Tom Tomorrow has been awarded the 2001 Cartooning With a Conscience prize for his satire of the post-9-11 political environment. The prize is given under the auspices of the Hunter College Department of Film & Media Studies and the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism.
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