Letters to the Editor

This blows

Federal workers who make charges of waste, fraud, or abuse can be subject to severe reprisal and recrimination for their efforts. I am a federal government employee and a union officer. I want to point out some pitfalls in Mr. Schutze's comments about whistle-blowing in the federal sector ("Whoa, Noah," March 9) and the lack of protection for federal employees.

The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) is the agency charged with protecting employees who expose waste, fraud, or abuse. The OSC is not held in high regard by federal employees or by Congress. House Report 103-769 of September 30, 1994, summarized the situation as follows: "...the consensus among federal workers, unions, and outside commentators is that the OSC remains a barrier to achieving merit system principles in general, and whistle-blower protections in particular."

Not much has changed since that report as far as federal workers are concerned. We consider the OSC to be weak and ineffective. No federal employee would rely upon the OSC as a shield unless the employee is desperate. In fact, employees won't even make anonymous charges of waste, fraud, or abuse for fear of retaliation. Mr. Schutze comments that Corps of Engineers employees "...can go to the special counsel, blow the whistle, and be a hero instead of a defendant." Unfortunately the choice is not between being a hero or a defendant. The choice is often between being a "hero" or keeping your job. The employee has the burden of proof of showing that in fact he or she is "whistle-blowing." Regulations and recent administrative law cases have made it very hard to show that disclosures meet the technical requirements of the Whistle-blower Protection Act. Then the employee has to show some nexus between any adverse action that an agency may impart to an employee and the whistle-blowing activity. What would seem to be obvious whistle-blowing to the average American is often not so according to administrative law courts. Anybody who does blow the whistle is truly a hero since they are putting their livelihood at risk.

Name withheld on request

Via e-mail

Hellhounds R Us

After reading your article on KRNB-FM's Rudy V, I was saddened ("Love unlimited," March 2). I was disappointed to learn that Rudy had allegedly abandoned his 2-year-old daughter and had two failed marriages in his past. I was also disappointed at your paper's portrayal of Rudy as a hypocrite. I personally am not a fan of Rudy's, but I have on occasion heard his show. He has offered his listeners sound advice, which I assume has come from his bad experiences. Rudy should have known that when one speaks of being virtuous and moral, the hellhounds come out. Every morning I listen to radio stations making fun of infidelity, promiscuity, and violence, and these disc jockeys are touted. Would Rudy ever have gotten into your paper if he had a spotless past? All I hope is that Rudy V. will heed his own advice and continue to encourage people to do the right and honorable thing, like honoring their marriage vows and raising their children.

Anonymous

Via e-mail

Buzzed

It was interesting to see your brief piece on the "Legalize Drugs" billboard (Buzz, March 9). What was especially interesting was that Eller Media, a large outdoor-advertising company, chose to stand firm on our country's First Amendment pillar of free speech. We are all better off with open discussion of these important issues, and Eller should be congratulated for its courage and leadership.

Our organization, Change the Climate Inc. (www.changetheclimate.org) is a group of parents and marketing professionals who are using advertising to "change the climate" around marijuana. We are disturbed that taxpayer-funded ads deceive our children about marijuana by linking it to heroin. We are equally concerned that baby-boomer politicians are arresting and jailing our children in record numbers for experimenting with marijuana -- what a waste of resources, not to mention the huge danger to kids who end up in jail. As parents, we want our children to be safe, and as businesspeople we want to stop paying for government invasion in people's personal lives. As for the Dallas billboard -- it would not be the message we would choose, but it is among the first of many outdoor and public-transportation ads to come.

Joseph White

Change the Climate Inc.

Via e-mail

Cold comfort

Thanks to your terrific review of the Dallas Theater Center's Inexpressible Island ("Chill burns," March 2), I spent a remarkable evening with six Antarctic explorers in desperate circumstances: suffering frigid temperatures, frostbitten limbs, meager food supplies, and the corresponding psychological meltdown, triumphs, and later-life contemplation. The play and set were beautifully executed, and I am grateful to have experienced this production. By the way, I would gladly warm the chilled body of "Priestly" (Adrian La Tourelle) any time.

J. Harrison

Via e-mail

Taken to tASKA

If nothing else, let me start by giving credit where it's due: Robert Wilonsky certainly has flair when it comes to writing, as is evidenced by the review he gave our latest CD release Avenger (Out Here, February 24). Robert, let me come right out and say this. We find you equally hilarious! "Seriously brilliant, dude." Your writing is witty and funny as hell.

Here's my only gripe: You are by no means an impartial critic. You don't have an unbiased bone in your body. You admit in the very column you wrote about our CD that you don't "have much interest in or tolerance for" the genre. So why the hell do you review it? Pass it on to anyone else who isn't as jaded as you! That can't be hard to find! I look at it this way: When I watch Mr. Ebert on TV to see what he thinks of the latest sci-fi flick, I don't expect him to have already dismissed the movie because he hates the genre! I want to know what he thought of that movie based on its own merit -- not his bias against all other movies of its kind!

Trust me, I could argue that all music is inspired or influenced by past works, no matter who the artist, but I don't believe that matters. What matters is this: Is the work being critiqued any good? Does it stack up in its genre? Is it something worth checking out for fans of the musical style in question? (Who gives three f*%#s if you think an artist is "stuck in 1982"?)

It's funny (and a little sad) that you, sir, with such an extensive vocabulary at your command, still manage week after week to convey to your readership what a complete imbecile you are when it comes to giving a useful or substantial music review. The point is this: Variety is the spice of life. Don't try to tell us how bad Cajun cooking is because you can't handle spicy food! By the way, you are officially the only critic (from a list of hundreds worldwide) that doesn't like Avenger.

Darren Knapp

ASKA

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