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Kudos to Tara Servatius for her well-documented story ("Taken For A Ride?" January 29), about the unbelieveable deception of the consulting firm of Parsons Brinkerhoff Quade & Douglas. They seem to have left a scandalous trail across this country and yet still seem to sustain a thriving business.

She really did her homework. And to think this is the same firm that is advising Charlotte Area Transit officials on the proposed light rail system. True, most of the expose about the company's dirty dealings seems to have come after the firm was hired by local officials, but what excuse can they now use to justify retaining these masters of malevolence?

Servatius' article is a major exposition. Is anyone out there listening?

-- Joseph F. Thompson, Charlotte

Fighting Animal Abuse

Sam Boykin's carefully researched, informative article on the Charlotte Metro Zoo ("Animal House," January 22) was amazing. Captive exotic animals go insane from the lack of freedom, companionship, exercise, and stimulation. They are deprived of the ability to follow their natural instincts to hunt, roam, and socialize with other members of their species.

One of the most important goals in fighting animal abuse and exploitation at roadside zoos is educating the public about what the animals endure and how little protection they are afforded. Boykin's poignant article will go far in helping to accomplish that goal. Readers can find more information on the Charlotte Metro Zoo and other cruel animal exhibits at

-- Amy Rhodes, Animals in Entertainment Specialist, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Norfolk, VA

Shut It Down

I would like to commend Sam Boykin and the article "Animal House" in the January 22 issue of Creative Loafing. I personally have been aware for the past years of the atrocities committed at "Charlotte Zoo," due to my involvement with wildlife veterinary care. I just wanted to thank Sam and Creative Loafing for the article (and its front page appearance), and hope to see you keep up the good work. Hopefully more public awareness will be generated by the article and this horrific place will soon be shut down and Mr. Macaluso thrown in jail where he belongs. Thanks again for the work you do.

-- Brett J. Pendergrass, Olin

You Think You're Sick and Tired

In response to Rick Henry's letter ("Sick and Tired," Jan. 29), which was in response to my letter ("Death Penalty Debate," Jan. 15): Mr. Henry, the problem with your stance and others like you is that you fail to realize the systemic massive imbalance that your forefathers created and that many whites perpetuate daily. Those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. You're sick and tired?! We're sick and tired. . .tired of being last hired, first fired, tired of being pulled over by racist police officers, tired of receiving inadequate healthcare and education and, with all due respect, sir, we are tired of you, Mr. Henry, and all the white people like you who think that we should just sweep everything under a rug and hope for a better day. Sleep tight tonight knowing that your forefathers tried to destroy an entire race of innocent people, or perhaps things like that don't bother you. Passive indifference to racism is akin to its support.

-- George Thompson, Charlotte

Let's Talk About It

In response to "Sick and Tired" by Rick Henry: I wouldn't call the act of addressing current racial problems "being punished," but being "purged." If my ancestors had caused as much unnecessary suffering for the majority of the world's people as the Europeans have, I imagine that I would also feel anger, guilt and shame toward those who continually hung this fact over my head; it would also strengthen my resolve to get to the bottom of the problem instead of avoiding the issue and hoping no one says anything. Many whites feel they cannot openly air their truly negative feelings about people of color and impose "political correctness" upon themselves, which makes effective dialogue difficult and finding solutions impossible.

Mr. Henry, simply acknowledging that having skin pale enough to be included in the "white" social grouping (which is all it is) still endows special socio-economic privileges and entitlements (whether merited or not) upon its members would be a good starting point, but that would also mean admitting that present-day whites have indeed benefited from the sins of their fathers. Racial antagonism between human beings is an unfortunate distraction from the enjoyment we all seek in life, and it will continue to be so until we decide, without self-editing, that it is worth talking about honestly.

-- Christopher S. Freeman, Charlotte

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