Mr. Renaldo's pop libertarianism misses the mark entirely. The role of public transit is not to turn a profit, any more than public libraries, public parks, public school systems and the police and fire departments are there to turn a profit. The role of public transportation is to provide a service to residents and visitors. Well-developed and vibrant cities have good comprehensive public transportation. It's one of the vital components of having a highly evolved civic realm.
Mr. Boggs seems to think that public transportation is a poverty program, "getting people who don't have cars to their jobs." While getting poor people to their jobs is part of MARTA's job, the role of public transit is much broader. It is to enable people to efficiently move around in the city. If this goal is met, the whole "poor people versus suburban commuters" blather would be irrelevant.
As for the original question of who runs MARTA, the neglect of public transit is a disgrace to both Georgia and the city of Atlanta. The leadership of both levels of government should be scrambling to make Atlanta a national model for smoothly functioning public transportation.
-- Larry Johnson, Atlanta
Seeing is believing
I'm writing in response to your Flipside article about the observation platforms at Ground Zero (Think Tank, "Are public observation platforms at Ground Zero a good idea?" Jan. 16). I just returned from New York and I was able to witness the remnants of Sept. 11. It was probably one of the coolest experiences for me in my 17-plus years of existence.
I was standing on the platforms peering into "Ground Zero." What I saw was not what I had expected. Yes, the visions from TV on that morning all came back, but they came back in a different way. Experiencing Sept. 11 from the site meant a lot more than it did coming from the TV. The platforms had been transformed into an area in which friends, family members and passersby could deal with the never-ending grief that they had encountered.
After seeing the effects of Sept. 11, I really believe the viewing platforms are an amazing way to make people understand the magnitude of what happened to our country. When I'm 70 years old and complaining about everything, I am assured that [Ground Zero] will still be bright in my mind.
-- Charlie Staats, Dunwoody
Top of the class
I know this isn't exactly kosher, but I just want to thank you for your insightful, tremendously sensitive review of "Senior Year" (Flicks, "Approaching adulthood," Jan. 9). We have gotten a lot of press nationally, but your review tops them all -- not just in your praise of the series, but the depth and seriousness of your analysis. It reminded me once again of why I miss Atlanta.
As you may know, our time slot at GPTV is 12:30 a.m. -- a tremendous disappointment, since the national schedule is 10 p.m. So it goes in the bizarre world of public television, but it is particularly painful to see us placed in such a difficult time in Atlanta, which is really my hometown as a filmmaker. We are campaigning to encourage stations like GPTV to either change their broadcast time in the course of the series, or do a re-broadcast in a better time -- and reviews like yours are a tremendous help in that effort.
-- David Zeiger, producer and director of "Senior Year," Los Angeles, Calif.
Stone's throw off
I read Cliff Bostock's column, "Sullivan's fundamentalism" (Think Tank, Jan. 9) and found it instructive as an example of how ideologues fail to pay attention to what they are talking about.
Bostock starts out by suggesting that if you're not gay, you probably are unfamiliar with Andrew Sullivan -- even though he mentions that Sullivan is a popular TV pundit and cites his credentials at The New Republic, The New York Times, and Salon. Does that sound obscure to you? Far more likely is that Bostock's hostility to Sullivan is precisely due to Sullivan's fame and influence as a pundit.
Typical of the hysterical left, Bostock refers to Sullivan as on the far right wing, and notices none of the considerable nuance and complexity in Sullivan's writing. Most strangely of all, he calls Sullivan a fundamentalist. While Sullivan is certainly colorful and provocative, I would like to ask Bostock how many fundamentalists he thinks are prominent advocates of gay marriage. Even Sullivan-haters should be embarrassed by the absurdity and incoherence of Bostock's assertions. Believe it or not, everyone to Bostock's right on the political spectrum is not a far-right-wing fundamentalist.
Bostock also claims credit for having tipped off Michelangelo Signorile to Sullivan's alleged sex scandal, while expressing unhappiness at how the press handled it; at least he acknowledges Sullivan's honesty about his HIV status, which is an example of responsible behavior that more gay men ought to follow.
Apparently, Bostock has no problem with moralizing, he just thinks the left should have a monopoly on it. Speaking of hypocrisy, Bostock ought to have a closer look at the Puritanism in his own house before throwing stones at others. I suspect that what really upsets Bostock is that his scandal-mongering failed. Give it up, guys. Move on.
The subtitle of Bostock's flight from reality prompts me to ask this question: Why is truth so unimportant to the far left? Substantive engagement of the issues is really a lot more interesting and useful than personal attacks and caricatures. Perhaps Bostock is not up to the challenge?
-- Rick Rosendall, Washington, D.C.
Predatory lenders beware
Kudos to John Sugg ("Feeding frenzy," Jan. 9) for exposing unscrupulous lenders as the predators they really are and for challenging the General Assembly to finally address the problem. Since 1999, AARP Georgia has been working with Sen. Fort, Bill Brennan and others to enact meaningful legislation that would protect homeowners from abusive and deceptive mortgage lending practices. "They didn't tell me I could lose my home" has become more than just a campaign theme for far too many Georgians.
Until the governor signs such legislation, however, homeowners of all ages are at risk of home improvement scams and other abuses aimed at stripping the equity from their homes. AARP provides a free consumer education and information package that will help consumers better understand predatory lending and how it can cause financial ruin. Call 1-800-424-3410 or visit www.aarp.org/homeloans.
-- Bill Brown, AARP Georgia
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