Water Torture

Garden state: That old hag we have for a mayor needs to be gone — the sooner, the better. Now we are to catch rainwater so the city won’t have to spend the money that we pay on our water bills for sewers to upgrade them (Backwash, February 2).

I find it hard to take that the people here went for a downtown arena when the streets, bridges and curbs in this city are in disrepair. It is no wonder why this city will be a ghost town soon, especially downtown.

Russell Adair
Kansas City, Missouri

Screen Test

Cleaned record: Great job on “Spilled Blood” (Kansas City Strip, February 2). I love how Nadia Pflaum highlighted the great attention to detail on the part of the metro police departments. They are lacking clarity not only when it comes to solving murders but also when screening applicants that are to be considered our finest.

How is it that someone who is juvenile enough to make up drug claims about a former roommate is paid by the city of Olathe to carry a gun? If that doesn’t show a serious lack of judgment, I don’t know what does. It makes you wonder what else some of those officers, who have to make serious split-second decisions, have hiding behind their personnel files.

Bridgette Gray

Gardner, Kansas

Stone Wal

Blue money: When asked if there were a more progressive, more labor-friendly shopping alternative to Wal-Mart, Eric Barton quoted David Nassar of Wal-Mart Watch as not knowing of such an alternative (“Always Low, Always,” February 2). Costco is listed in www.buyblue.org as a labor- and employee-friendly company. And it has comparable prices and merchandise to Wal-Mart.

Buyblue.org, if you’re not familiar, is a great site for determining if companies exhibit progressive values — if their labor, environmental, corporate and social responsibility and industry practices are worth supporting by patronizing those companies. I’d urge you to let readers know about Costco and about buyblue.org as alternatives to Wal-Mart’s unfair labor practices.

Martha Roush

Via the Internet

Workers comp: A growing disgust filled me while reading the Wal-Mart article. The most blatant omission is an unasked question: Why are so many people working at Wal-Mart in the first place? For many, it replaces diminished income or a lost job. Rather than admit its failure to foster better jobs in America, this labor conference retaliates against Wal-Mart’s actions to discourage union organizing.

Labor leaders seem to want to grab new territory rather than fix causalities of their own poor negotiating. Black sheet-metal workers are suing unions for not keeping these dues-paying members in jobs. Nonunion labor displaces black construction workers, but the local labor leaders have no conferences about this. Playing white workers against black workers is low, always low.

This focus on foreign labor serves to detract from labor leaders’ inability to effectively organize American workers. I was a dues-paying member of the Communications Workers Union and couldn’t use the bathroom when I wanted to. This was in Kansas City, Missouri, not Manila.

With our educational system and means of production, America should be the fastest-growing labor market. Instead labor leaders choose to focus on perpetuating labor markets that are fast becoming obsolete. Leave clothing production for foreign workers to feed their families. If American workers had better high-tech jobs, they could afford to pay more for clothes.

Labor leaders should have been in the forefront of negotiating retraining for workers when they noticed that the auto market was being lost to more fuel-efficient cars. But they blew it and continue to blow it. This is not Wal-Mart’s fault. The loss of jobs overseas makes a lot of companies follow the same practices because many Americans have nowhere else to work.

Imani Malaika
Kansas City, Missouri

Plastics Surgery

Burp up: While I generally enjoy the snarky metrosexual attitude of the Pitch‘s writers (having written a few such pieces myself as an intern long, long ago), I found Gina Kaufmann’s