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Letters

Letters for the week of July 27, 2000

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The Naked and the Dead
In your article about Webb Garlinghouse and Lake Edun ("The Naked Truth," July 6), reporter Mary Spiro Levin referred to Lake Edun's annual outreach activity as "Back to Edun." Actually it's "Return to Edun." This is trivial and picky, but Lake Edun's flier is quite clear about the name.

A more significant gaffe is Topeka Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Merle Blair's comment that "What Mr. Garlinghouse likes to do in his spare time is his business, but it is illegal in public." Kansas does have a misdemeanor statute relating to lewd and lascivious behavior. The portion of this law that most closely relates to nudity deals with "publicly exposing a sex organ or exposing a sex organ in the presence of a person who is not the spouse of the offender and who has not consented thereto, with intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desires of the offender or another."

In other words, as long as it doesn't involve sexual gratification, nudity is legal in Kansas. (There's an exception: A decade ago, Douglas County Sheriff Loren Anderson, with the support of Clinton Lake manager David Rhoades, got the county commission to adopt HR 90-4-1. This made nudity illegal in unincorporated Douglas County. If you get caught skinny-dipping at Clinton Lake you risk a $50 fine.)

In January, first-term Representative Cindy Hermes (R-Topeka) introduced a bill that would have declared nudist parks in the state to be nuisances, forcing them to shut down and exposing their owners and operators to steep fines and forfeitures. But the bill was so poorly worded that it also would have made it illegal for unmarried people of the opposite sex to see each other nude, and members of the committee on local government let it die.

July 10 through 16 was Nude Recreation Week. Nude recreation is one of the fastest-growing segments of the recreation and tourist industry. Cities such as Miami actively support clothing-optional venues, such as Haulover Beach, which annually generates over $1 million in parking revenues for the city.

Last time I looked, Kansas ranked 50th in the nation in tourism. Maybe there's a reason.-- David L. Bitters

Mission Hills

Recently, the Topeka Chamber of Commerce decided to no longer permit one of its members, Lake Edun Foundation, to hold a mixer that had been scheduled by the Chamber for over two years. The member is a not-for-profit educational foundation that promotes the benefits of living a clothing-free lifestyle. After having this event scheduled for years, the Chamber decided it didn't like the Foundation's message.

The ethical issues alone are fascinating. (How can a business group take a member's money for three years then deny them a promised service?) But what I find particularly interesting is that the Chamber's chairman of the board is also general manager of the ABC affiliate in Topeka, Kansas. I expect he would demand freedom of speech and freedom of the press when he wants to get his message out, but he evidently has no problem when his organization denies it to another member.

The brief Gettysburg address is perhaps the most quoted speech of all time, including, among many memorable phrases, the idea that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth. After all this I hope we still have some Constitutional rights here in Kansas. -- Lawrence E. Forbach

Kansas City, Missouri

Stalk Answers
I just wanted the Pitch and Allie Johnson to know how much I appreciate how seriously they are taking Tisha Jackson's story ("Nowhere to Hide," July 13). I am writing not just as a concerned reader but also as Tisha's cousin. Tisha has shared with me some of the hell she has experienced by the actions of this man over the past five years. It was only recently, though, that she really opened up about everything she has experienced.

Here in California, there is a very strong antistalking law. I wish that other states and their governments understood how terrifying and detrimental stalking is to the person who is being stalked. I love my cousin with all my heart and fear for her life. She is a precious person who deserves to live her life and be happy. These things will not happen until something is done to prevent this man from having any more contact with her. The law needs to take care of him and other stalkers so that their victims can live in peace.-- Wendy Mills

Modesto, California

Tunnel Vision
I recall some longtime Kansas Citians talking about the convenience and efficiency of the extensive trolley system that the city abandoned in the 1950s. Having lived on the West Coast for the past 27 years, I have observed clean, reliable, and popular light rail systems in San Francisco, Portland, San Diego, and Sacramento.

I don't know the details of financing for Clay Chastain's latest light rail petition (Patrick Dobson's "Clipboard in Hand ... Again," June 15), but it is difficult to argue against a proposal for using swift, clean, efficient light rail to connect the airport with downtown, the Plaza, Brookside, and Waldo.

I noted that public transportation improvements were not included in the 10 Giant Steps for the Future of Kansas City that were announced during the celebration of Kansas City's sesquicentennial. Despite all of the rhetoric from civic leaders about unifying Kansas City in the 21st century, there is very little evidence that they take creation of a light rail system seriously. I have even heard some business leaders complain that plans for a line running from the airport to Waldo are too ambitious. What happened to the entrepreneurial spirit that created such civic jewels as the Nelson gallery, the stadiums, and the airport? It's time for Kansas Citians to ask whether many of the business leaders really have their best interests at heart.

PitchWeekly readers are now criticizing Clay Chastain's group for not holding open meetings (Letters, July 6). But do any Kansas Citians really know what kind of deliberations are going on in the group of 135 experts working on a light rail plan with Kansas City's Planning and Development Department? The only way Kansas Citians can have a voice in developing a viable light rail system is to support an initiative such as Chastain's or to demand more accountability from their elected leaders on this important issue.-- Michael Wimer

San Francisco

Philler Up
No more "Phillers," eh? Have you no shame? Phil Diebler has been illustrating that cartoon for the Pitch for over EIGHT YEARS and then BOOM! Outta nowhere you bastards just drop him?

Would it have killed you to allow him to do a final goodbye, a "thanks to my fans who have enjoyed this as much as I have" type of signing off? The way you guys are treating your staff is beyond sad.

It's all about the final dollar with you now, isn't it? You can afford to let staffers go because you're making more money now and it's cheaper to go with people who work in your other papers as well. And who's going to notice the difference anyway? Well, I notice, and plenty of other people do too.

Look at the rest of the letters you get. Week after week it's people complaining that the Pitch is crap now.

You've gone the way of The Lazer, fellas (which you morons in Denver probably have no idea what that means). People used to read the Pitch because it was something different. Now it's just the same as everything else.-- Travis Fox

Warrensburg, Missouri

I resent the fact that the Pitch has blanketed the Plaza and Westport with dozens of new stand-alone dispensers. They are ugly, obtrusive, and show flagrant disregard on the part of the Pitch for these parts of town. My hope is that these aggressive marketing tactics backfire right in your face. Score yet another mistake for the "new" -- but not improved -- PitchWeekly. -- Randall Griffey

Kansas City, Kansas

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