Regarding your Watchdog story about my situation, "Defending Rights or Working the System?" (8/4/06): Every complaint I have brought to the Madison Equal Opportunities Commission has ended either with a settlement agreeable to me or a decision in my favor, with the exception of the one still pending against the Mental Health Center. Obviously the law has upheld my complaints.
James Dailey, the owner of Buck's, and his attorney tried just about every legal ploy available to them to dodge a judgment by the authorities charged with upholding the law in these matters. Was that good faith? Dailey's response to a settlement offer was, "It's only a fucking dog!"
Despite the statements of two eyewitnesses to Mr. Dailey's striking my service animals, the police have done nothing except to defend Mr. Dailey instead of arresting him. I think that's because Buck's is a "cop bar." A large part of his clientele are persons in the criminal justice field: police, FBI, sheriff's deputies, assistant district attorneys. Does this place Mr. Dailey above the law?
I am not the only person in Madison to have incurred problems going into businesses with a service animal. I am constantly met with hostility. Others who have encountered the same hostilities no longer leave their homes to go out in public over fear of the probable confrontation.
I, for one, will not tolerate being treated like a second-class citizen because I am disabled and have a service animal to assist me with everyday activities. People in business need to be aware of what the laws are regarding service animals. That is my mission.
Your article on Michael Nichols and his dogs presents some misconceptions and half-truths that must be addressed. According to the Madison Equal Opportunity Commission's findings, Nichols' dog Precious had behaved in a disruptive manner on a previous visit.
Any disruptive dog, even a service dog trained by a bona fide service dog training program, has no right being in a public place. And a handler of a disruptive dog does not have the right to bring such a dog into a place of public accommodation. When employed at UW-Madison, I personally ejected more than one program-trained service dog off campus when the dog became disruptive.
On the other hand, the Dane County sheriff's deputy showed an appalling lack of knowledge about dogs assisting people with disabilities other than blindness. In my opinion, the Sheriff's Department needs to set up training session for all of its staff to better understand assistance dogs.
The EOC's most notable finding was that Nichols' dog was not a service dog under [federal] law. That should have ended the matter then and there. The Americans With Disabilities Act gives those of us with disabilities the right to screw up just like everyone else, and the right to bear the consequences like everyone else.
Still, the EOC stated that Nichols was discriminated against due to his disability. I disagree. Nichols was clearly in the wrong to bring a pet into a public place and pass it off as a service dog. Nichols claimed to have papers showing his dogs were "certified service animals." There is no such thing as a certified service animal at either the federal or state level.
What is a business owner to do when a person enters with a dog? The business owner should ask what the dog does for the person. The answer should be a physical task of some sort. Under the law, the dog is not required to wear a cape or vest and the business owner cannot ask for identification or certification.
When in doubt, the best way to deal with the situation is to allow the dog in. However, if the dog is disruptive, the business owner has every right to kick the dog (and his human partner) out and to not allow the dog back in until the human partner can show the dog has received additional training and is no longer disruptive.
Business owners can find information on service animals at the following Web sites:
www.ada.gov; www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/animal.htm; www.ada.gov/svcanimb.htm; www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/qasrvc.htm.
People partnered with service dogs will find a huge amount of information from the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners, www.iaadp.org.
Thank you, Alexander Cockburn, for that very concise perspective from the Palestinian view. ("Israeli Aggression: A Primer," 7/28/06). Unfortunately there is more than one side to "historical context." The historical context I have goes back 10 years to 1996. From that time on it was the Israelis and not the Palestinians who have acted in the interest of peace. They pulled out of southern Lebanon, and they also gave up their occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. These were costly concessions.
Hardly the actions of a state "reserving the right to slaughter Palestinians whenever we want," and "reserving the right to assassinate their leaders, crush their homes, steal their water, etc." And what was the response? It was Hamas and Hezbollah who slaughtered innocent Israeli citizens by means of their cowardly suicide bombers.
Mr. Cockburn has taken a complicated, multifaceted situation and applied an intellectual meat cleaver to it. Hezbollah, in a pattern that is disturbingly consistent, is a state within a state ' an armed organization that has its own political agenda largely at odds with that of the nation it's in, and is funded by nations that are interested in a regional firestorm that would deflect international attention from their own affairs.
While I myself am critical of Israel's policies, I am deeply disturbed by the view Mr. Cockburn is espousing. There is a line between a polemic and a piece of propaganda, and Mr. Cockburn has crossed it.
Rape and public radio
While Steve Braunginn was relaxing with his wife in their North Woods cottage, sipping wine and looking forward to an evening of tax-funded blues on public radio ("Keeping the Public in Radio," 7/21/06), I was working ' and what Braunginn doesn't seem to grasp is that a working person such as myself has his own plans for the use of his hard-earned money.
Why in the world should my earnings be swiped by politicians to fund Braunginn's evening of music? He's clearly more well-to-do than me. He's evidently able to afford a country cottage in addition to his primary residence, yet for some reason he apparently can't afford to shell out a few bucks for some blues CDs to listen to while he's at that cottage. He thinks I should be taxed to pay for his entertainment.
I have a question for him. Like music, sex is a wonderful and important part of life, but do you think it's morally all right to threaten a woman with a knifing just because she doesn't want to provide you with sexual services?
If you don't think that's all right, then what makes you think it's morally allright to threaten a working person with incarceration for tax-evasion just because he has other things he'd rather do with his earnings than fund your favorite blues program?
If I had a dime for every piece of misinformation about me published in recent months, I'd be a rich man. And since my libel lawyers seem to think a quarter would not be unreasonable, things are looking pretty good.
Meanwhile...Nathan Comp's reply to my letter (8/4/06) fails to inform Isthmus readers that in our interview, it was he who kept hammering away at the idea of "the Illuminati," something I know nothing about and distanced myself from, until I finally humored him with the quotes he takes out of context as evidence that I believe in this idea ' which I don't.
Allen Ruff libels me by saying I hold "anti-Semitic views," which will be news to my many Jewish friends. He claims I believe in "Jewish control of the media," which I don't. (I do think we need to know the biases of those who own and run the media, including any pro-Zionist biases, so we can properly evaluate the information we're getting.) He makes the laughable charge that I think he is a deep-cover Mossad agent ' something that has been suggested by a couple of overly imaginative types in the pro-Palestinian community, and which I have always found humorous.
His charge that I believe WORT and Democracy Now are "part of the 'Jewish plot' to conceal the 'truth' about 9/11" is false, libelous and ridiculous. My many Jewish friends in the 9/11 truth movement, including Jon Gold, Jeff Wollock and Steve Bhaerman, will be happy to point out that I have been in the forefront of the fight against anti-Semitism in the 9/11 truth movement ' especially the struggle to stop Muslims from "blaming the Jews" for the horrific anti-Muslim persecutions unleashed by the 9/11 Reichstag Fire.
Jeff Wollock, a Jewish English professor, and I are working on a research and writing project that will put the idiotic "no Jews died on 9/11" rumors to bed once and for all. And I recently stepped in to dis-invite a high-ranking former military officer whom others wanted to bring to the June 9/11 conference in Chicago, based on anti-Jewish statements the man had reportedly made.
As a Muslim who has been reaching out to the Jewish community through the Muslim-Jewish-Christian Alliance for 9/11 Truth (mujca.com) and fighting anti-Semitism at every opportunity, I am puzzled by Ruff's obsession with me ' which dates back many years, and goes far beyond Steve Nass' obsession in mindless, virulent, unrelenting hatred.
Those who know him say it's Ruff's ego ' he can't stand sharing the town with more successful activists than himself.
His hateful remarks to me about my religion suggest Islamophobia may have something to do with it. (Do you have a single Muslim friend, Al?) Whatever the reason, Ruff's vendetta against one of the leading Muslim activists working to put a lid on anti-Semitism in our community is proof of the old adage: No good deed goes unpunished.
Kevin Barrett coordinator, Muslim-Jewish-Christian Alliance for 9/11 Truth
Count me as one pro bono attorney not lining up to assist Kevin Barrett with his libel claims. In his quest for those who dare fire a torpedo at his ability to earn a living at his chosen profession, Mr. Barrett can simplify his search by not looking much further than his own doorstep.
It does not, however, take much legal acumen to make the following observation. The cool thing about free speech is at least twofold: One can pretty much say what he or she wants; and one can ignore those with whom he or she disagrees. The second works particularly well for me. Mr. Barrett may wish to give it a go.
The bigger problem
Regarding Bill Lueders' TheDailyPage excerpt "Wanted: Global Warming Zealots" (7/28/06): If it is up to humankind to save the earth, one must wonder how it made it so long without us? Mr. Lueders cites the same concerns over warming that we often hear: rising seas, heat waves, droughts and, of course, famine and disease. These are issues of our ability to survive on earth, not earth's ability to exist for billions of years.
In my years as an environmental studies major, I met many more activists who saw global population as the biggest threat. Global warming is only one part of this, alongside deforestation, water pollution, habitat loss and the like.
Luckily, some of the best scientists and engineers in the world are trying to solve our energy and environmental problems from all directions every day. Perhaps they are the true zealots.
To learn more
Vikki Kratz's piece on streetcars outlined the range of options available for funding a starter system ("Paying for Mayor Dave's Streetcar Desire," 8/11/06). While funding has to be a major consideration, there are obviously many other issues to consider as well, including impacts on quality of life, economic development and the environment, as well as integration with other transportation modes.
I would like to let your readers know that a series of four "Let's Connect! Bringing Modern Transit to Madison" informational meetings will be held in September in each of the three corridors under consideration.
These meetings, hosted by the Madison Streetcar Campaign, will provide a fun opportunity to learn more about the Transport 2020 and streetcar feasibility studies and how cities across the country are improving their quality of life and economic vitality with streetcars. The meetings will also provide a chance for residents to comment on streetcars and see how they fit with our regional vision.
For more information, go to www.1kfriends.org or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ward Lyles Transportation policy director 1000 Friends of Wisconsin
Kent Williams: I was visiting a friend in Milwaukee, and while on a day trip to Madison came across your "Wanted: Dead or Alive" (7/28/06) article. I am so used to reading junk in so many papers that lack any journalistic integrity, not to mention writing ability. But your article blew me away. It was a pleasure to read, well researched, and well put together. You pulled off synthesizing our past values with regard to death with pop culture, history and our modern experience of losing a loved one. Thank you for raising the bar in a universe where the bar is set so low it can't even be tripped over anymore.
I read with interest David Torres-Rouff's column on bourbons ("Kentucky's Finest," 7/14/06). Very well researched and written. I do have a few questions, however. First, how can it be a "small" batch when mass produced? That is a marketing spin. Second, Mr. Torres-Rouff missed an entire category of bourbons called "super premium" bourbons. These bourbons are truly small batch and hand-bottled and hand-made. This category includes Van Winkle products, bourbons such as Noah's Mill, Rowan's Creek, and our product, Old Pogue Master's Select.
Peter Pogue president The Old Pogue Distillery Bardstown, Ky.
I'm ever so sorry that Richard Kuhnen (Letters, 8/11/06) is offended by the sight of the fire escapes on Fairchild Street, but nobody held a gun to anyone's head to put the Overture Center's main entrance on what has always been the back street to the Square.
Kuhnen thinks that the Overture Center would be greatly improved by tearing down of an entire block of historic buildings on State Street so that well-heeled theater patrons can look out the lobby windows at something pretty, while those walking on the Square can get a better view of the complex they can ill-afford to patronize. Don't hold your breath for this to happen, Richard; the block you want to tear down is full of real landmarks.
Gene R. Rankin
I must respond to Tom Fletemeyer's tirade about how the city destroyed Cesar Pelli's design for the Overture Center. It was neither the city nor the Common Council that made Pelli keep the Yost-Kessenich's building and the Capitol Theater tower. In fact, Mr. Frautschi and Mr. Pelli decided for themselves that they wanted to keep the Yost's faÃade and the Capitol Theater tower.
It was a citizens' effort, spearheaded by Sly, the local talk-radio guy, that persuaded Overture to renovate the Capitol Theater auditorium in addition to the tower. From the start, Mr. Pelli said he welcomed incorporating parts of historic buildings in his design. When the plans were first presented to the city, these issues were a fait accompli.
Mr. Fletemeyer: Before you get so worked up, save yourself some unnecessary high blood pressure and check your facts.
Kitty Rankin preservation planner Department of Planning and Development