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Letters to the Editor

Delgado Responds

As a state-supported institution, Delgado Community College's mission is to provide academic access to everyone who enters our doors ('Falling on Deaf Ears?' July 20). In fall 2003, Delgado's enrollment reached an historic 16,501 students at our three campuses and five outreach locations in metro New Orleans, West Bank, Northshore, Kenner and New Orleans East. Our population of students with disabilities has increased as well to 432 students, and our level of care and service to this population is unparalleled. Assistance provided to these students is comprehensive, with a ratio of almost 1:1 -- during the spring semester, 36 deaf or hard-of-hearing students were served by 35 assistance providers.

To provide educational access for students with disabilities, Delgado dedicates a substantial amount of state-approved and self-generated funds (tuition and fees) and federal grant monies. During the 2003-2004 academic year, Delgado expenditures for deaf and hard-of-hearing assistance services for students totaled $450,215 and served 93 deaf or hard-of-hearing students. Of this amount, only 36 percent or $161,338 was covered by federal grant funding -- the rest was funded by self-generated funds and tuition.

Furthermore, regarding Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, Delgado disbursed $186,045 in 2003-2004 to modify our facilities, including improved parking, curbs, sidewalks, bathrooms, doors, fire alarms, elevators, signage, etc. This year, upgrades to fire alarms, elevators and bathrooms will continue at an estimated cost of $845,000. Delgado is ADA-compliant and ever-mindful of our responsibility to our students' unique needs.

Please be assured that we at Delgado remain engaged and committed to providing the best educational opportunity for each and every student, every day of every year, as resources allow.

Alex Johnson Chancellor,
Delgado Community College

Who Stopped Duke?

Lance Hill's acclaimed book ('The Education of Lance Hill,' July 6) on the civil rights movement, The Deacons for Defense: Armed Resistance and the Civil Rights Movement, finally brings recognition to the central role of the black, working class-led Deacons -- and of armed resistance more generally -- in ending the Jim Crow system in the United States. Hill's work challenges the mainstream historical orthodoxy that claims the liberal strategy of nonviolence and alliance with the federal government finally buried this particular system of racial oppression.

Yet Hill and writer Allen Johnson Jr. in their analysis of the anti-Duke campaigns of the late 1980s and early 1990s replicate the same biases of mainstream historians and interpretations that Hill had to fight to get his work on the Deacons published.

Hill and Johnson portray the mainstream Louisiana Coalition Against Racism and Nazism (LCARN), which was funded by wealthy individuals and large nonprofits, led by 'influentials,' and focused on a media campaign. They made no mention of the first grass-roots group that formed following Duke's primary victory for House District 81, Truth About Duke. This group, which formed in January 1989, well before LCARN, both exposed Duke's ties to the Nazis and mobilized street projects. This group was followed by two other grass-roots organizations, the Louisiana Mobilization to Stop David Duke (to oppose his Senate race in '90) and the People United Against Duke (for his '91 governor's race).

Like the Deacons, the anti-Duke grass-roots movement focused on organized people, rather than organized money. The large marches, direct action protests to confront Duke, and mass leafleting at plant gates, concerts and universities were an important part of the movement that turned public opinion against Duke.

Jay Arena

EDITOR'S NOTE: Jay Arena was a founding member of the Louisiana Mobilization to Stop David Duke and the People United Against David Duke.

The Art of Politics

As a plaintiff in the taxpayer lawsuit against the Ogden Museum and others, I take issue with your commentary on the recently concluded legislative session ('Da Winnas & Da Loozas,' Politics, June 29).

First, the attempt to characterize our lawsuit as a battle of egos between Pat Taylor and the defendants is misinformed. I joined this suit because I believe hard-earned tax dollars that should be going to schools, health care and other programs in need have instead been given over to a private museum that does not even own its own art.

Second, your observation that the museum's opponents were somehow failures in the session strikes me as odd, given the fact that Ogden proponents sought $6.9 million in taxpayer hand-outs and received only $250,000. Even that vastly smaller sum has strings attached.

Rev. W.L.T. Littleton

Making New Orleans Safer Your June 29 Commentary, 'Beyond the Normalcy of Death,' was a thorough examination of the various branches of the criminal justice system and their roles in addressing the alarmingly high murder rate in New Orleans. Your message that finger pointing is not part of the solution could not have been more correct. But, to best this challenge, we need to move from analysis and commentary to putting solutions in place to make New Orleans a safer city.

A significant element of the situation is the fact that the current number of commissioned NOPD officers on the street is less than it has been in the past and less than what New Orleans needs. Even after aggressive recruitment and retention efforts over the past several months, there is a severe lack of progress in building and retaining a substantial police force.

As the nonprofit organization dedicated to making New Orleans safe, the New Orleans Police Foundation (NOPF) has provided substantial analysis, counsel and support to the city, civic and business leaders struggling against our city's current crime and safety challenge. Business leaders and civic organizations across the board have stepped up to the plate to offer their time, passion and financial support to help the NOPF's efforts to effect real change.

A thorough review of the issues that research reveals to be at the heart of the situation -- the residency requirement and pay and promotions for police officers -- was the first step toward understanding the NOPD's staffing problems. The analysis and situation are clear and concerning.

What we need now are real solutions. And they may not be easy.

Robert Stellingworth
President and CEO, New Orleans Police Foundation

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