Mercer's Version of Family Values

George Mercer's letter ("Defending a Socialite: Family Feud Gets Ugly," Street Talk, July 12) was the best I have read in years. It is amazing that he could get his foot so completely in his mouth while his head was firmly implanted in another orifice.

That anatomical contortion aside, it is even more amazing that his outrage was provoked, not because his daughter was profiled as a worthless trust- fund baby/socialite but because he didn't get full credit for providing the means and upbringing for her to be such a productive member of New York society.

Perhaps Style can get an invite to the Mercer/Mortimer 2006 Thanksgiving family dinner; now that should be a story.

Scott Cardozo

RRHA Officers Are as Qualified as Police

Writer Amy Biegelsen chronicles the similarities and distinctions between the police officers of the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority and the city of Richmond ("Crossing the Line," News & Features, June 28).

Her focus appears to lean toward a conclusion that the RRHA public safety officers should take crime prevention and public safety less seriously than city police because the law doesn't require them to do so.

While current Virginia law allows housing authority public safety officers to have different qualifications than municipal officers, the law does not prevent housing authority public safety officers from being as qualified as city police. Nor does the law stop housing authority public safety officers from caring about crime prevention and public safety throughout the city or aggressively working to enforce the law.

The truth is that RRHA officers are as qualified as city police because they have prior municipal police department experience, either from Richmond or other jurisdictions. RRHA officers must meet hiring criteria that exceed the minimums allowed by state law, and to keep their jobs they must undergo demanding annual training that state law does not even address.

In fact the RRHA Public Safety department enjoys an extremely close and productive working relationship with the city of Richmond's Police Department, and both consider each other partners in working to keep the city safe.

Municipal authorities throughout the commonwealth and nation unanimously agree that public safety is managed by understaffed city police departments, and more help, not less, is needed and appreciated from within the communities they share.

Richmond police and RRHA public safety officers recognize each other's higher calling: They appreciate each other's dedication to mission and are very grateful for the partnership and bond they have forged throughout the years of working together for a common good.

While elected officials and journalists grapple with finding the right words to define special forces such as the RRHA Public Safety Unit, this agency and our public safety officers will continue their focus on and commitment to keeping our families and public housing communities safe and secure.

Anthony Scott
Interim Executive Director
Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority

In Defense of White Dog

My name is Meg Catlett and I am an avid reader of Style Weekly and regular customer of The White Dog restaurant. I have wondered for several years how The White Dog could have been overlooked in your "Top 50 Restaurants," considering that it has been showered with accolades by being named "Best Fan Restaurant" by Richmond magazine for the past few years.

The review by Joseph Cates ("Almost Fetching," Food & Drink, June 21) was appalling to me! It was unlike any other critique I have read. Mr. Cates was so busy explaining cooking technique and bashing owner Barry Pruitt that there was little said about the ambience, menu variety, artwork and general experience of dining there.

Mr. Cates seemed to enjoy the steak that was prepared perfectly, until the topping became too overpowering. What isn't mentioned is that the topping is an addition only by ordering it! It was also not mentioned that there is a very pleasant nonsmoking area in the back.

It seemed to me that this review was a very personal attack on the establishment and owner rather than an honest critique of the restaurant.

As for the final paragraph in the article, I saw nothing more than a frustrated attempt to turn a caring business owner into something else. How kind of Mr. Pruitt to sit out in front of his restaurant to alert patrons to the fact that there was no power, thus saving them from the effort of entering the building only to be disappointed.

The White Dog is a consistently outstanding restaurant with an excellent chef, Beverly Juniper, and a great staff, both kitchen and front of the house. The wonderful blend of personal artwork, consistently terrific food, a warm, inviting atmosphere and great staff makes The White Dog one of my top three restaurants in Richmond.

Margaret S. Catlett

The Public's Role in Protecting the Past

Are the statements from Brian Ohlinger supposed to make us feel better about the demise of the buildings in question ("Design Flaw?" News & Features, July 12)?

"VCU and state officials have pointed out that their plans have long been in the works. The plan to demolish the Nursing Education Building 'was originally addressed in the 1981 Master Site Plan for the MCV Campus and was restated and approved in the university's 1996 Master Site Plan,' Ohlinger says in one letter."

Because their plans have "been in the works" does not mean that the public has been given the opportunity to weigh in on how tax dollars are being spent; nor does it mean that Richmonders are given any chance to give input or consent to how their downtown is being manipulated.

Melinda Skinner

Mrs. Jennie Dotts questions the objectivity of members of the state Art and Architectural Review Board. The board meets in the Science Museum the first Friday of every month. Our meetings are open to the public. Members of the public are welcome to offer comments. I have been an ex officio member of the board for a year and a half. I have not missed a meeting. Mrs. Dotts has never attended a meeting during that time.

Calder Loth
Senior Architectural Historian
Virginia Department of Historic Resources

I wish to thank Melissa Sinclair for shining a light on the flawed process that fails to protect the state-owned landmarks that give our city its unique character.

I wish to make it clear that A.C.O.R.N. implies no impropriety or wrongdoing on the part of Art and Architectural Review Board members or the businesses or agencies they represent in connection with the projects discussed in the article. The process — not the people — is the issue here.

In order to resolve the conflicts of interests — whether real or perceived — that prevent effective protection for state-owned historic resources, the state will have to reconstitute the AARB (among other things) to ensure diversity of opinion. State-owned buildings belong to the citizens of Virginia, whose interests and tax dollars should be protected with vigorous independence.

Jennie Dotts,
Executive Director
Alliance to Conserve Old Richmond Neighborhoods


In a story on Richmond baseball history ("Before the Braves," Cover Story, July 19), we misidentified the man who suffered IRS troubles in the 1950s. The government repossessed cars from Harry Seibold, not Eddie Mooers.

A story about Tinsley Mercer Mortimer ("Defending a Socialite," Street Talk, July 12) should have identified Dale Mercer as George Mercer's ex-wife. Style regrets the errors.


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