Republican Rift: The Domino Effect

I found your "Fight for the Right" article interesting (Cover Story, March 15). What you didn't pull together was that the Republican senators who went along with Gov. Mark Warner did immeasurably more damage to the party as a whole than simply repudiating the message of their party.

In handing Gov. Warner the budget victory, they made him look to the rest of the country like an effective Democrat who could get things done with a Republican majority. This helped boost his successor, Tim Kaine, who benefited greatly by wrapping himself in Warner's success. This, combined with a bungled Kilgore campaign, led to another loss of the Executive Mansion by Republicans. Now we see Mark Warner touted as presidential material. Actions have consequences … and these consequences are good for neither the commonwealth nor the country.

Many of the taxing senators are relics of the time when they had to bend to the will of the majority Democrats. Old habits are hard to break. I guess the old quotation, "You have to go along to get along," is just another way of saying, "You have to stand for something or you will fall for anything."

Republicans only thought we had a majority. That will have to wait until either time or the electoral process removes these gentlemen from office and replaces them with senators who realize we don't have a revenue problem … we have a spending problem.

Larry Miller
Past Chairman
Chesterfield County
Republican Committee

Hey, ACLU, at Least Wilder Has Guts

Kent Willis' attack on Mayor Doug Wilder is the difference between a lackey and a leader ("Mayor to Homeless: 'Out!' of City Libraries," Street Talk, March 8).

Willis, as executive director of the ACLU of Virginia, is strangely silent on many hot-button issues that affect the state. Where was Willis when (now former) Attorney General Jerry Kilgore was converting Class 1 misdemeanors to Class 6 felonies? The only thing missing was a mustache and an arm band, and yet Kent Willis wasn't there for the people. Kent Willis, there still is an Eighth Amendment.

Rather, Willis chooses to war against the middle class (again) who may need to use libraries and cares nothing of kids having difficulty using the libraries to study. But here's the kicker: Willis attacks Wilder's leadership with, "Of course, the mayor lacks subtlety, as he often does," but then concedes "It might be possible" to do as Wilder has proposed.

While Willis cites the 14th Amendment, anyone can cite the Constitution, but it takes guts and leadership to transform law into action and to promote the common good. Wilder continues to do his job, for which he was elected, and does it well. The legal industry demands proactive leadership and a fight-to-win mentality, not just table-talk discourse on issues that screw the public.

Wilder continues to show leadership because he is a leader. Even on the Maymont bears fiasco ("Goodnight Bears," News & Features, March 8), Wilder dismisses criticism that bears count more than those who chose to live a life of cultural risk, with the bears' lesson in human care of wildlife and nature. However, the real issue is why Style Weekly never filed a Freedom of Information Act request to get and publish the names of the mother and child who caused the whole thing. This is the public's right to know and an obligation of a free press. Dumb parents raising dumb kids is one thing. But the magnitude and scope of this tragedy demands the public's watchful eye and the closure of knowing the public cost of failed accountability of this woman, as mother and citizen.

Ronald Amon

Jazz Club's Closure Highlights Problems in Law

As a local jazz DJ and jazz advocate, I was certainly disappointed to read about the demise of the jazz club Fusion ("Fusion Closes, Continues Trend of Jazz Club Blues," Street Talk, March 15).

I enjoyed several great shows there, as I did at the late Upper East Side Jazz Lounge. The recent Rex Richardson Rextet show at Fusion was exactly the kind of hip, live music experience that Richmond deserves. That show attracted a packed house and even featured a talented local Mac artist projecting jazz-themed artwork upon a wall adjacent to the bandstand. Very hip, indeed.

That being said, your readers should know that one of the biggest impediments to jazz clubs — or any club — surviving in Richmond is the antiquated food requirement law imposed by the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. This ABC law stipulates that any establishment serving alcohol must also serve food and even reach minimum food-sales levels each month. While this might not appear to be a big deal, it is in fact a great cost outlay for the club owners.

Serving food requires a fully operative and up-to-code kitchen facility, contracts with food distributors, wages for the employees who cook and serve the food, and a host of other headache-inducing costs. So the reality is that any music-loving entrepreneur hoping to bring live music to Richmond must also, by rote, assume the role of restaurateur and be willing to shoulder all the costs associated with it.

I have spent a great deal of time in bigger markets like Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., and I can state for a fact that Richmond's wealth of jazz talent and passion for the music easily surpasses those markets. But those jazz markets do not have to contend with the yoke of a state mandated food requirement. One smart step to ensure that our jazz performers have cool venues to play in would be the elimination of the ABC food requirement so that club owners can spend more money promoting their music and less money cooking food.

Ken Hohman
Freedom Jazz Dance Host
WRIR-FM 97.3, WDCE-FM 90.1

Inner-City Hospital Needs Help, Not Criticism

I want to take very strong exception to the Back Page essay by Lizzy Spero ("Insult to Injury," March 29) about the care and treatment available at MCV Hospital.

First, emergency rooms are no fun. As the mother of four sons, I have visited my share of them. When an injury is involved, the doctors and nurses have to make split-second decisions about which patient is in the most danger and treat them first. If you are not seriously injured and happen to arrive soon after victims of multiple accidents, yes, you can wait quite a while.

Second, I have been a patient at MCV a number of times starting in 1942. Our four sons were all born there. I have had several surgeries both as an inpatient and as an outpatient. I have received excellent care in all cases. I unfortunately had surgery at a suburban hospital one time. I would not treat a sick dog the way I was treated there and would never go back. It was the only time in my life I fainted because the nurses would not listen to me.

Third, MCV is a teaching hospital and does a wonderful job. I will not go to doctors who do not practice at MCV. It also has more than its share of poor patients who cannot get treatment elsewhere.

Perhaps Ms. Spero could better spend her energies trying to persuade the General Assembly to fund care for needy patients. I don't believe medical care should be rationed by wealth. Especially since we call ourselves such a "great Christian nation."

Alice Clarke Lynch



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