Health-care insurance, another horror story
I completely commiserate with Fran Zell in her adventures in the individual health insurance market ("Out of the Pool," 11/19/10). A few years ago, after exhausting 18 months of group insurance provided to me under COBRA (at $500 a month, with deductibles, copays, etc.), I went in search of coverage in the individual market. I applied to three different insurers - one local and two "national" - and could not buy a plan at any price.
I'm pretty fit for my age, and my "preexisting conditions" (like elevated cholesterol) are pretty standard. I looked into Wisconsin's Health Insurance Risk Savings Plan, but the plan I was eligible for at the time was unaffordable for me - $500/month with a $2,500 annual deductible.
Last year, after being without insurance for two years, I qualified for the state's BadgerCare Plus Core plan, for individuals without dependents. That plan covers over 60,000 Wisconsinites, but after only a few months, enrollment was capped; currently about 30,000 people remain on a waiting list.
I was shoveling my driveway after the snow when I realized that, except for my plastic snow shovel, I had no weapon within reach. Recalling your cover story on Auric Gold, "Locked and Loaded" (12/3/10), who "sometimes cuts his lawn while armed," I suddenly felt completely defenseless, though I wasn't sure against what.
I tried and failed to concoct a scenario in which a loaded gun would make me safer, especially given the constant threat that a loaded gun in my house would pose to myself and my family.
Nor can I imagine how possessing a loaded gun would have made Mr. Gold safer in the three episodes that, he told reporter Joe Tarr, made him never want "to be defenseless ever again." So I suspect it is not his safety so much as his dignity that concerns Mr. Gold. He doesn't want to be the one to back down, even if his backing down would resolve the situation with no one getting killed.
With the likely legalization of concealed carry, there may be many Auric Golds on Madison streets, with insufficient trust in their ability to avoid or defuse dangerous situations without deadly force. The rest of us can only hope we aren't in the line of fire when one of these cowards puts our lives at risk to preserve his dignity.
Peter G. Sobol, McFarland
Neighborhood groups have too much power
For decades I've been deeply disturbed by how the city of Madison has increasingly granted power and influence to neighborhood associations ("Do Neighborhoods Still Matter?," 11/19/10). These groups are not elected representatives and yet hold much more sway than equal numbers of individual citizens. They want (and are granted) too much control over others' lives and actions, completely outside of our process of representative government.
Neighborhood association membership typically consists of a tiny fraction of the population within their boundaries. There are no legal requirements for notifications, access or dissent. They provide a cover of legitimacy for vigilantism and harassment against individuals, groups and businesses.
Advisory? Fine. Social functions? Fine. Governing authority? Not on your life! It's past time for the city to rein in these out-of-control groups.
Band more than frontman
Jessica Steinhoff's article "Jose R. Morales Serves a Mariachi Feast," (11/19/10) is not fair in how our band is portrayed. It is not about an individual; it is about the band, and its name is Los Gavilanes. So the article should say "Los Gavilanes Serves a Mariachi Feast."
Mr. Morales is just one member of the band. I regret seeing my associates' names and mine shadowed by the way Ricardo appears in the article. We are not his musicians, as he always wants to give that impression. I helped Mr. Morales to found the band.
Mr. Morales is a dedicated person. He is very talented for business and public relations. But the other members of the band have our own voice. So on behalf of Noel Barrera, Tino Martinez and myself, we prefer to be identified as Los Gavilanes.
Hector Rubalcava, of Los Gavilanes
Getting our statues straight
A recent "Off the Square" political cartoon ("Everything Must Go Downhill," 11/26/10) propagated the erroneous belief that the statue atop the Capitol is called "Lady Forward," when her proper name is actually "Wisconsin." This recurring error could be excused as a nickname were there not already a statue, named "Forward," now displayed in the lobby of the Wisconsin Historical Society.
Doesn't like the new cartoon
I must say that I'm not a fan of the new "Off the Square" cartoon. It's poorly drawn, sometimes bordering on grotesque, and it's really not very funny. I think you could find something better.