In your "Let's Get Buzzin'!" commentary (March 14), in which you are adding your voice to selling us citizens on the Hornets, you tell us that it is somehow OK that money for "the 10 year lease with the team can be secured by shifting money from the hotel motel tax without tapping state revenue sources." Might it not be a better idea to have the Hornets pay their own lease and "redirect" the money from the hotel motel tax to something that would more directly benefit the citizens, like significantly upgrading the city's playgrounds and recreational programs? This arrangement has the smell of taking public moneys to indirectly enrich some folks who should be able to pay their own way. And would you some time in the future run a more in depth analysis of how UNO's Dr. Tim Ryan comes up with all this economic impact. Did he produce a similar analysis for Jazzland?
And regarding your encouraging us to imagine a "symphony performance at halftime," just two words: oh please. You need to get a grip. I have no objection to the Hornets moving to town if they move and operate on their own nickel. Otherwise, it looks like just another scheme to add some more private feeders at the public trough.
read with considerable concern the poignant story of Ruthie in Gambit Weekly ("Who Speaks for the Duck Lady?", March 5) since I have been missing my frequent encounters with this unique and marvelous character on the streets of the Quarter. Little did I dream, however, to what extent she is now suffering at the hands of bureaucracy. The nursing home is, alas, the fate of a growing number of elders in our society and often the treatment they receive is far from being above reproach. How much more painful must all of this be for a free spirit such as Ruthie, unaccustomed to such a regimented existence, missing her encounters with her numerous friends on the street.
Author Don Lee Keith shared with me a few years ago what Tennessee Williams in the 1970s said about Ruthie and the significance to the French Quarter, this city and those of us who reside here. Tennessee, who always loved that potpourri of types that was and to some extent still is the population of the Vieux Carre -- people from a variety of ethnic groups, social classes and occupations living closely together in harmony -- saw Ruthie as exemplary of what set the Quarter apart and made it special. Tennessee recalled to Keith that once he and a friend met Ruthie coming out of Jackson Square and she asked them for two cigarettes, "one for now, one for later." Of that scene, Tennessee observed that "in New York, eccentrics, authentic ones, are ignored. In Los Angeles, they're arrested. Only in New Orleans are they permitted to develop their eccentricities into art."
Has the French Quarter now become Los Angeles because of the influx of Hollywood types buying houses there, and will such delightful eccentrics as Ruthie no longer be tolerated? How sad if this is true. We have lost so much of the Quarter some of us remember from decades ago. Will the streets be swept clean of those who do not measure up to some pattern of "normality" set up by sociologists and psychologists -- and Los Angelenos?
A Statue for Ruthie
Several years ago, I secured a grant application from the Arts Council and with the support umbrella of the Park and Parkways Commission, applied for a grant to have a life-sized bronze of Ruthie and her ducks cast and placed in the Quarter. I sat in on the deliberations of the volunteer panel that reviews the grant applications and was appalled to discover that we were being turned down because (1) Ruthie was still alive and statues were usually done after someone dies and (2) Ruthie was controversial and some people didn't like her. No one on the panel had ever met or talked to Ruthie.
While I agree that Ruthie needs some supervision, I do believe that both she and the Quarter would be better off if she still lived there. Also, I would be happy to share some responsibility for her continued welfare should she return there. I would also like to work with anyone who would like to see a statue of Ruthie erected in the Quarter, before she passes on.
Jousting With Jefferson
In response to William Jefferson's letter to the editor ("Jefferson Responds," Feb. 26), I would like to point out that there is a big difference between the Democratic Parish Executive Committee, an official arm of the Democratic Party, which put out an attack radio spot on Ray Nagin, and individual Republicans who join together to send out a direct mail piece for Nagin.
The direct mail, which was sent out by Ben Baggert, Jim O'Connor, Rob Couhig and myself, was an attempt to offset the support of high-profile Republicans including Sen. John Hainkel, Rep. Peppi Bruneau and former City Councilmember Peggy Wilson, who were endorsing Paulette Irons. We also expected that the Pennington campaign would be using a similar method of communication featuring its high profile Republican supporters such as Pat Taylor and William Nungesser. To our surprise, we don't know of any Republican effort from the Pennington campaign in the primary. Apparently, someone running the campaign made the decision that Pennington needed Republican money but not Republican public support.