I read with interest Cathy Anderson's defense of Jewish Vocational Service's record regarding refugee services. As one of the disgruntled former employees referenced in an earlier letter, I might be able to contribute to the discussion.
First of all, I have worked with several reporters on various issues over the years. Never have I met one who was more thorough, more judicious about accuracy and attribution, fairer or harder-working than Carolyn Szczepanski.
During the recent deep freeze, with a broken leg from a skiing accident, Szczepanski ventured out to speak to refugees who did not have heat or electricity. That is not the behavior of an amateur.
As for Anderson's snide suggestion that Pitch writers should "get some exercise" by walking the 1.5 blocks from their offices to JVS: Members of the Pitch staff have been to JVS numerous times. One of the newspaper's reporters interviewed me there on a different subject more than a year ago.
The Pitch offered JVS every opportunity to address each claim made in the article. The fact that JVS' administration chose to sequester its staff from the reporter is not the newspaper's fault.
Anderson wrote that JVS had 200 affiliates and partners. Was that a joke? Does that include Office Max, the schools that some of the children attend, and the police officers who respond to alarm calls?
Finally, looking to the Institute for Social and Economic Development as a source of independent information about JVS' problems might not be the most honest way to get the truth. ISED is, after all, an affiliate of JVS.
I enjoyed C.J. Janovy's column on frightened Democrats. Among the Democrats in Congress, courage is not common: Witness that 29 of the 50 Democratic senators voted in 2002 to authorize the war in Iraq. If they really had been misled into believing that the war was necessary, that would have been one thing, but the whole vote was a calculated ploy: Carville, Begala, et al., had told the Democratic leadership that they had to support the war to avoid the charge of being "soft" on terrorism. So they authorize a war, which has gotten hundreds of thousands of people killed, to protect their careers. I trust that none of these individuals are expecting a chapter about themselves in the next version of Profiles in Courage.
There is a very thin line between patron saint and culture vulture when it comes to the jazz community. David Martin's brilliant article on the Mutual Musicians Foundation is a 21st-century look at an age-old struggle that the geniuses of this music have endured since its origins in the cotton fields, smoky speakeasies and segregated musicians' unions.
There are those who extend their hands with respect, acknowledging the culture and its people, and then there are those who believe that in order to "sell" the music, it must appear nonthreatening, much like in the days when album covers would not show images of the black musicians they were promoting. It is always denied when confronted, but Martin presented the readers an opportunity to analyze the situation and take offense if they so chose. Reclamation within the black community is not meant to exclude the patron saint; it is meant to keep the culture vultures from obliterating our images. Good job.
Anita J. Dixon
Kansas City, Missouri
Correction: The February 11 review of the art exhibition Ripe incorrectly identified artist Joseph Hu. We regret the error.