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Hidden Village Agenda

Letters published August 8, 2007

Reading bias in writer's angle: It is startling to see Scene blaming Lakewood's rising crime problem on 28 youths who are trying to make it out of the foster system and into the adult world ["Real World Lakewood," July 18]. Blaming a crime problem on a group of young people and their mentors is nonsense. The writer states "evidence of real criminal activity caused by the program is scant," but we get this after 18 paragraphs of fear-mongering.

I recently moved into Hidden Village Apartments and haven't noticed any trouble. Rising crime is indeed a problem in Lakewood, but I do not believe it has anything to do with the program. Programs to give hope to young people are a solution, not a cause, of our crime problem.

What do these young people have to do with the pedophiles mentioned? Does the writer really mean to compare the youths to refugees? Most revealing is the article's treatment of race. Pulling the sentiment "the more blacks that move in, the worse the neighborhood becomes" into the article -- along with several other references to race -- says much about the real issue being discussed here. The tone of this article causes me to wonder if what is being questioned is not the virtue of the youths, but rather their skin color and ethnicity.

Paul Skoch

YRP Directors serve up thoughtful cautions: Thanks to Lisa Rab and Scene for "Real World Lakewood." It is important to raise the issues confronting older teens who are transitioning to independent living, and how communities relate to teens in general. We would offer some clarifications.

The article might have given the impression that Youth Re-Entry Program participants have a criminal history. This is not the case. About 70 percent are referred from the Cuyahoga County Department of Children & Family Services prior to "aging out" of foster care. Many are employed or in school at Lakewood High, Life Skills, or Tri-C.

Second, our program provides 24-hour supervision, so it is extremely unlikely that they'd be yelling on street corners at 5 a.m.

Third, YRP youth occupy only a third of the Hidden Village Apartments, so it is inaccurate to attribute 160 calls to the apartments as calls involving YRP. Staff are required to log all interactions with police, and while a few police response calls might have gone unrecorded, YRP records indicate fewer than one-fifth this number.

Fourth, aside from the one unfortunate encounter between a staff person and a Lakewood police officer, we maintain a supportive, cooperative relationship with officers.

Finally, one unwarranted assumption could be about the nature or proclivities of black teenagers. If we expect that certain teens will act inappropriately and we don't support and encourage them otherwise, they will likely not be assets to the community.

Carol Fredrich, Executive Director
Mark Brauer, Associate Director
Lutheran Metropolitan Ministries

Superiority Complex(ion)
Who are we to rankle the races?
Congratulations on your cover story, "The Superior Americans" [July 18], in which you blame Painesville's problems on whites and credit Mexican illegal immigrants for solving them. The only problem is, it's not whites who are being replaced in Painesville -- it's blacks.

So are you saying that Mexicans are superior to blacks too, or are they better than whites, but worse than blacks? What if a guy was half-Mexican and half-white -- would he be as good as one black guy?

Maybe you could set up some kind of point system to rank people. Actually, I think they had a system like that in South Africa, but it didn't work out. Perhaps the best solution is just to stop publishing racial flame bait.

Grant Henson

No Cowardly Lyin'
In D.C., it's not brick roads that are yellow:
Writing from the perspective of a Vietnam veteran who lost a lieutenant during the Tet Offensive, I must say veteran Ron Fergeson is a disgrace and embarrassment to this country and its military for describing fellow Desert Storm veteran Timothy Coil as a "coward" [Letters, July 25].

That Coil served in a war zone without front lines, as was the case in Vietnam, is proof enough he is no coward. He put his life on the line during his tenure in Iraq, as did Fergeson.

If Fergeson is looking for examples of cowardice, he need look no further than our commander in chief, who dodged the draft during the Vietnam War, hiding out in the Texas Air National Guard.

Vice President Dick Cheney, who secured five deferments during the Vietnam War, is another coward who excels at talking the talk, but not walking the walk. Ditto for presidential adviser Karl Rove, who also won student deferments.

Coil is not a coward, period. He talked the talk and walked the walk, learning through painful experience how wrong this unjustified, wasteful, and ignoble war in Iraq is.

Louis H. Pumphrey
Shaker Heights

His Bad
Good boys don't bludgeon:
What the parents of Brandon McCloud [First Punch, July 25] failed to tell the media is that a lot of his robberies happened while he was on house arrest. Two weeks before he was shot, he also beat up and robbed a 75-year-old businessman. When the police went to arrest him, his parents told the officer that he wasn't home and they didn't know where he was.

These thugs run Slavic Village. Everyone wants to complain, but they don't want to take a stand. Cops have their hands tied, because they're minors -- all they can do is send them to their parents, and all the parents say is that their child is trying to straighten his life out. Meanwhile, he robs and beats to death a 90-year-old woman.

Kayte Bookbinder

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