Vice Grip

Cop to it: Regarding Kendrick Blackwood’s “Where Is the Love?” (September 18): Thank you for writing about the vice operation conducted by the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department. Please feel free to write as many articles as you want about what a worthless endeavor it was. Each story reinforces to those that read your publication that the police are very much aware of its content. That is some of the best “free” publicity the vice section could possibly desire.

Your blasting of the other news organizations for their reporting on the arrest figures is laughable. The number of arrests, which I believe totaled 94, is accurate. Not all of those arrests are documented so as to coincide with the date of arrest from the sting! These other arrests included state arrests, municipal-level arrests, outstanding felony-warrant arrests, misdemeanor-warrant arrests, municipal-warrant arrests and traffic-warrant arrests. Not to mention recovered contraband or the information that was or will be obtained from people that were arrested that will lead to arrests of others involved in unrelated crimes.

As for defense attorney Cardarella’s statement that the police should concentrate on violent crimes when spending taxpayers’ money: Do you propose doing away with all traffic enforcement, DARE, Great, ASAP, CAT/CAN, burglary, fraud, forgery and auto-theft units, which are basically nonviolent police functions?

It’s funny how your sword only cuts one way. The Pitch seems to have granted itself the mantle of champion of the people and their rights by pointing out wrongdoings by the establishment. Yet you support yourself by taking blood money from many of those that prey on the weak and naïve.

I have more than 26 years on the department, with the last 8 in the vice section. Before I was assigned here I, too, thought prostitution was a victimless crime and should be legalized. When you have seen what I have seen, anyone would change their opinion, too.

Victor Zinn


Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department

Kash Out

Carp shark: Allie Johnson seems to have an insight into pointing out the scum of Kansas City through her articles on Shawnee Mission Ford (“Hell on Wheels,” September 5, 2002), Neil’s Finance Plaza (you know, the one who uses his kids to sell his cars) (“Repo Men,” July 3), and now the “King of Pain,” Paul Silverman, about him ripping off desperate people (September 18).

Allie Johnson needs to keep uncovering these bottom-of-the-barrel carp people, and hopefully somebody will have the ba**s to do something about them. Mark my word, someday one of these people will receive their just reward from a relative or someone close to one of the victims.

Keep uncovering these carp — it’s good journalism.

Name Withheld Upon Request

Loan arranger: If I need a loan, I go to the bank. I have good credit and have taken years to build it and take care of it. If I do not like what they offer me, I do not accept the loan.

It seems like a lot of people look for others to blame their debt problems on. If I were to borrow money from a payday-loan business, I would expect them to charge me the maximum the law would allow them to; they are taking a very high risk. Payday loans are given to people who have nowhere else to go because of their past business handlings, and it is very risky to loan money to someone with bad credit and no collateral.

Paul Silverman is a businessman and seems to be running his businesses within the limits of the law. Does it really matter how he chooses to spend his advertising dollar, what he drives or looks like or how he decorates his offices? The article keeps mentioning his elderly customers — hey, last time I checked the elderly were perfectly capable of borrowing high-risk money as anyone else.

I’m sure most of Paul Silverman’s customers know just what they are getting into; if not, they are adults who can read the fine print and take responsibility for their own financial obligations. No one is forcing them to return to the well for more cash.

Leslie Phinney

Kansas City, Missouri

Clarification: Johnson’s article noted that Paul Silverman registered his first business, A-1 Insurance Agency Inc., at the corner of 72nd Street and Wornall Road, in 1978. However, Silverman sold A-1 Insurance to the Wrenn Insurance Group in April 1990; A-1 Insurance is no longer affiliated with Silverman.

Love Glove

Ray of hope: Regarding Joe Miller’s “Kid Gloves” (September 11): I grew up in the Northeast, and even twenty or so years ago, the Latino boys in my neighborhood got a bad rap. Whatsoever was a great place for troubled kids to go to back then, and I am glad to see that it is still active for urban youth.

Even after all this time, when I saw the cover of the Pitch, I had to read it as soon as I got home. Because several years ago (about seventeen), I dated a guy that sparred at Whatsoever and boxed in the Golden Gloves. I was hoping to read or see a little something that related to him. I was excited to read the story, and lo and behold, there he was — Ray Rivera. I was so proud to see that Ray had changed his life and is now an important part of raising sometimes-displaced youth in the Northeast.

It sounds like he is leading an admirable life now, and he also should be very proud. I saw him during his darker times. Being young, dumb and really in love with him, I held guns for him. I went to his gang-ridden neighborhood in Chicago with him and saw the dangerous and scary life that he lived. Yet, through all that, I knew he had something special in him, and it is such a relief to see that he is not in prison or even dead, like I expected. I still think of him often and have always wondered where and how he was doing. I am so happy he is doing well.

I am now long-married, have my own kids and live in the Northland, but am still partial to the Northeast. Thanks for a positive story about my old neighborhood and putting my mind at ease about Ray, who still holds a small part in my heart.

Name Withheld Upon Request

Dress Down

Fashion police: I am currently a manager at an Abercrombie & Fitch in St. Louis. I read Ben Paynter’s “Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful” (September 4), and it shocked me how dead-on everything was.

Not only are we forced to discriminate against the not-so-good-looking folks out there, but this job has a way of becoming your life. To become a manager, you must have a four-year degree … for what? We get paid like shit and work ourselves into the ground. The job is better for someone without an education, because maybe they won’t know when they’re being bent over.

I am so glad that you printed what you did. It’s about time someone had the balls to speak up about the shady operations that happen in A&F stores. These are the type of companies that keep our society from moving forward, and I take a lot of blame as well for staying with the job, knowing what goes on. But that is another situation of its own. Keep on the story. I’m sure there will be more to come, and the company deserves anything they get.

Name Withheld Upon Request

Skirting the issue: I’m a recent journalism grad who got duped into being a manager at Abercrombie, quit and then returned months later when I couldn’t find a job. It’s been almost a year since I returned, and I’ve hated almost every day since. I recently relocated to be a store manager, and it was probably the worst decision of my life. I had planned to write an article exactly like this. You beat me to it. Congratulations.

Ironically, I was looking for jobs on the Riverfront Times Web site when I found it. I immediately called another manager from my old store and read an excerpt, but we didn’t talk long. She and the less-desirable people had to close the store for the next two to three hours. And now I’m even more depressed.

Thanks for writing this so I didn’t have to. I would have missed too many of my late nights practicing social Darwinism.

Name Withheld Upon Request

Play Time

Staged right: Regarding Steve Walker’s “Made of Honor” (September 4): I don’t know Peter Altman, and I didn’t know George Keathley, so I don’t have a personal ax to grind as far as who was or is better. I was a season-ticket holder through the first year of Peter Altman’s stint, and the only good thing I can say is the set designs appear to be better under Mr. Altman.

Unfortunately, I go to theater to see interesting plays and good acting, not set design, and the plays that have been presented lately just don’t interest me as much as those George Keathley used to offer. I can remember the excellent productions of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Three Tall Women, The Last Night of Ballyhoo, Company, etc. I look at what’s on for next season, and I can’t help but wonder if Mr. Altman thinks we in the Midwest have an aversion to thought-provoking material. I was so underwhelmed with the first Altman A Christmas Carol that going to the Rep is no longer part of that season for me.

I must admit I was more than a little put off by the publicity surrounding Mr. Altman’s taking over the Rep. So much was said about how much better the Rep would now be. I didn’t think it needed to be better. It needed to be more of the same. The Rep is not better; it’s changed. And change is not always good or necessary.

Finally, I think the community needs to ask: What is the purpose of the Rep? Is it to bring out-of-town actors to the stage, or is it to showcase local talent (of which we have plenty)? If the purpose is the former, why support the Rep over any other theater in town, including dinner theaters? Let’s get the Rep back to basics. If we can do that with Mr. Altman, fine. If not, let’s get someone else to do the job.

Larry Roth

Kansas City, Missouri