The EPA should be making a stink, too:
Maybe Nylonge isn't exceeding the limit for hydrogen disulfide ["Big Wall of Stink," March 28]. But the name "Nylonge" definitely suggests the company processes nylon. When heated to the melting point, nylon produces significant amounts of formaldehyde gas. Formaldehyde produces a peppery smell and burns the nose, eyes, and throat. I know. We ran nylon where I worked for about five years. Even the small amounts produced significant amounts of formaldehyde. It really frosts me, though, to see how the EPA issues permits to factories, knowing they'll never meet their standards.
The energy gamble:
Sarah Fenske's "Big Wall of Stink" was excellent. It clearly shows that polluters will continue to attack our environment and communities unless strong action is taken. The oil and gas industries have recently opened a similar attack on Lake Erie. Many companies have taken advantage of last year's energy crisis by pushing to open Lake Erie for drilling. This would pose unacceptable risks to the public health and to Ohio's economy and greatest natural resource.
Lake Erie provides three million Ohioans with drinking water. A single liter of spilled oil would spread across the lake, creating a two-acre oil slick, and could contaminate up to two million gallons of drinking water. As a resident of Ohio for most of the year, I find the prospect of oil dripping from my water faucet alarming. The risk of a spill is very real and high: Between 1997 and 2001, drillers on the Canadian side of the lake averaged a spill a month. Clearly, we can't gamble for energy in a game with such high stakes and poor odds.
It's time to start health tracking:
As your article ["Big Wall of Stink"] indicates, the relationship between disease in citizens and environmental hazards is a serious issue. Currently, 100 million Americans live with some variety of chronic disease, and these diseases account for three out of four deaths each year. Polluters release billions of pounds of toxic waste every year, and studies have indicated a connection between toxic air pollutants and chronic diseases.
Unfortunately, there is no national network set up to track chronic diseases and their possible links to environmental exposure. Our public health system is simply not up to the task of tracking and preventing chronic diseases. As a result, many communities that have high concentrations of sickness that may be due to nearby toxic substances, like the neighborhood in Elyria, are left with questions and grievances, but no solutions.
Ohio Public Interest Research Group, along with the Trust for America's Health, has called for the creation of a nationwide health-tracking network that would address these problems. Located at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), it would allow local, state, and national officials to identify places where there is increased incidence of chronic disease, to take steps to protect the health of those communities, and to use what they learn to prevent chronic diseases across the country.
In order for such a network to be created, it must be funded by Congress. U.S. Representative Sherrod Brown has indicated his strong support for health tracking. Senator Mike DeWine and Representative Ralph Regula are also in key positions to make health tracking a reality. All Ohioans should encourage them to support the call to increase funding for health tracking to $100 million.
It's time for these legislators to take real steps to prevent chronic diseases and to protect the health of Ohio's communities.
Good luck with the union drive:
I read Laura Putre's article about bicycle couriers ["Brotherhood of Wheels," March 7] with great interest. I was part of the movement to help organize couriers in San Francisco, and I helped organize the Philadelphia Bike Messenger Association. I am no longer a courier, but I find their struggle important. Couriers are underpaid for the services they provide, but more important, in markets like Cleveland, they do a difficult, dangerous job with no health insurance, access to disability, workers' compensation, unemployment compensation, or job security.
Employers hire couriers as independent contractors as a way to get around paying taxes, workers' compensation, and benefits like health insurance. On their own, company owners will not change their hiring practices. The unionizing effort will be hard. People will get fired and be labeled as troublemakers. I applaud Cleveland's courier effort, and I applaud your paper for bringing this issue to the attention of your readers.
We should all be Britney for a day:
Good for Britney Spears ["Slave 4 Britney," March 28]. She lucked out, got the big break. She has someone who writes her songs, someone to play the instruments, someone to alter her voice, and someone to rebuild her body. So she sings and dances all day long. Nice. What I would give to do that and get paid more that day than I make on my job all year. I just hope she appreciates it.
I'm not buying the whole "innocent virgin" act, either. The girl has sex written all over her. I don't know how many people were at a now-closed club a few years back when Britney made her appearance there, but I can clearly remember the euphoric state she seemed to be in. Good role model for these young girls, eh?
Cleveland could kick Cowtown's ass:
I wanted to congratulate letter-writer Vince Reddy ["Bulletin: Cowtown Sucks," April 4] and the other Clevelanders who managed to muster a little pride. While never so boosterish as to gloss over Cleveland's problems, Reddy and a growing contingent of others are at least willing to stop taking the Columbus superiority drivel without so much as a whimper.
Columbus, whose gargantuan university has always provided cachet, has grown a lot in the last two decades. But let's face it: Its main claims to fame are some fancy strip malls, nearby cow pastures, and ultra-right churches. Columbus has no full-time professional theater in the league of Cleveland Play House or the Great Lakes Theater Festival. It has no ranking art museum (Cleveland's is among the top 10 in the country). It has no orchestra (Cleveland's is among the top five in the world). It has no theater district, no Little Italy (that retail-free cluster of old homes in Columbus does not count), no Chinatown (Cleveland's is not great, but at least Cleveland has one), no rail transit, no major league football, baseball, or basketball, and little discernible downtown residential development. Its Short North area is nice and walkable, and it serves the university denizens well. But I would never take it over Coventry, Shaker Square, Madison Avenue, the Warehouse District, and the water taxis that go to all the bars in the Flats.
As long as Columbus insists on playing around with population figures, we should remember that Greater Cleveland, with a population of nearly 2.8 million, is still nearly twice the size of Greater Columbus. Nevertheless, I'm quite comfortable appreciating Columbus. I just wish Columbus would be more comfortable with itself and shut up about being bigger and better.
Denver's women exhibit unquestionable virtue:
I enjoyed Pete Kotz's "Open Letter to Maxim" [March 28] and agree that Midwestern women are preferable to supermodels any day. But I must take exception to your lack of knowledge when it comes to women of Denver.
Where else can you find a woman who can climb a fourteener, battle the rush-hour insanity and road rage of Denver highways, make it home in time to pick up the kids from soccer, basketball, and the orthodontist, uncork a freshly fermented home-brew batch that she has lovingly prepared while the organic chicken is baking, check on the status of her computerized home business, and take 15 minutes to soak in a hot tub so she will be relaxed for the evening -- and look delicious in her Avalanche jersey. Please come and check out this phenomenon for yourself.
Bellamy toils for the county system:
In "Blood on the Trolley" [March 21], Michael Gallucci writes that John Stark Bellamy II, author of three books on Cleveland crime, is the "history specialist for the Cleveland Public Library." Bellamy is actually the history specialist for the Cuyahoga County Public Library system.
Cleveland Public Library