Love-Hate Mail 

Letters from our readers

Take her out back and beat the shit out of herThe national attention focused on the Tennessee Republican Party for its dirty tricks this past week, using Barack Obama’s middle name and trying to link him to an anti-Jewish hate group, reminds me of the small part the Scene played in electing G.W. Bush in 2000. Dear reader, back in the fall of 2000, in the columns that Liz Garrigan ran, every rumor or GOP press release about Al Gore, whether true or not, was printed as fact in this “alternative” newspaper. He was a bad landlord, he was a chronic liar, etc. Week after week, with no other purpose than to keep the progressive vote down for Mr. Gore. She never really said why Bush would make a good president, but she sure piled it on Al. I’m just wondering when the Scene is going to step up and take a bow for the 50 major scandals, the broken government, the Justice Department run like a banana republic, the endless war in Iraq, the biggest discrepancy in income between the rich and the rest of us since 1929? Hasn’t it been a wonderful ride, Ms. Garrigan? Will this paper be helping to elect John McCain? Just wondering.CHUCK BOYINGTON1500 Boscobel St. (Nashville)

O profiteersMajor Kudos to Jeff Woods for so accurately describing the current state of affairs on Nashville’s downtown streets (“Outlawing the Poor,” Feb. 21). The homeless have always been in downtown, mostly because they have nowhere else to go. For them, it is the end of the trail. Besides the fact that there are no services for the homeless in the ’burbs, the homeless are even less welcome out there. And though there are always non-homeless people in the ’burbs, downtown Nashville is often abandoned after working hours, even with today’s downtown loft dwellers. These residents spend almost no more time on downtown streets than when they lived in the ’burbs and only worked downtown.

The real issue, as always, is money. These non-homeless people living downtown are expecting to make money off the downtown mystique. They bought property downtown, hoping only to resell it in a short time. Others have opened businesses, hoping to make a huge profit on the inflated costs of downtown living. All of which wouldn’t be such a problem except for one thing—greed.

These people, who call themselves pioneers, are actually just profiteers. And they don’t just want to make a living, they want to make a killing. They want to maximize their profits and are willing to do anything to anyone to make it happen. To them, all profit is good profit—regardless of who they hurt in the process.

They wrongly believe that homeless people interfere with their profit-making processes. Sure, they will provide anecdotal evidence, but there is no hard empirical evidence, no scientific study, proving that a panhandler outside a business will hurt that business’s bottom line. An inconvenience? A nuisance? Perhaps. But we cannot outlaw people for being a nuisance—otherwise every human being would be in jail.

Regardless of all the hype, most people feel safe downtown, even with the presence of homeless people. The Nashville Downtown Partnership’s own surveys prove as much.

If interested parties want to see an end to homelessness in Nashville, they could start by reallocating money they spend to hire cops to harass the homeless and put that money into homeless rehabilitation programs that work.

Again, thanks to Jeff Woods for getting the truth out there. Besides knowing the truth of the matter, he writes it very well.KEVIN BARBIEUXthehomelessguy@gmail.com (Nashville)

Bum support systemI am writing in response to your recent article “Outlawing the Poor” (Feb. 21). I believe it makes a good point in that we do not have the proper support system in place for many of these people. Many of these people are mentally ill and need treatment. Others need drug and alcohol abuse treatment. Some just need an apartment for a few months, and I’m all for that.

But I have several problems with the article. First of all, I do not believe Nashville has outlawed the poor, so please stop being so melodramatic. What we have outlawed is allowing people to approach others when they are at an ATM to withdraw cash—a very vulnerable place, especially if you are on foot—and we have outlawed aggressive behavior from people in areas where we are trying to conduct business. I have had bums literally yell at the top of their lungs while running across a busy street to get to me because they see me at an ATM downtown, and they wanted money. It is annoying, and it’s unnerving. These people approach me almost every time I am in a public area that is in between my house in East Nashville and downtown, and it gets old. Why don’t bums just hold out their hat or hand and just ask politely? This alone would solve a lot of the problem. Say what you want, but most of these people are very bold, and it’s hard to be certain if you are in danger or not when they approach because they are so aggressive. This law, coupled with a psychological and logistical support system, would be the right call, but we do need to address this issue now and work on the support system as we are able.DWAYNE GRESHAMdwyaneandrebecca@netzero.com (Nashville)

Capital ideaJeff Wood’s article on nursing homes had all the trappings of a heart-wrenching tale of woe, the kind that surely generates buzz and increases readership (“Death to Damages,” Feb. 21). One could practically hear the soft weeping of the abandoned grandmother as the greedy plutocrat chomped lasciviously on a Cuban cigar. It lacked just one crucial component: a solution.

Mr. Woods’ position was that caps on punitive payments in nursing home lawsuits are a bad thing. Yet Steve Flatt of National Healthcare made a valid point that remained unchallenged—that a dollar spent on a lawsuit is a dollar not spent on improving resident care, be the lawsuit frivolous or not. With 11 percent of Tennessee nursing homes’ revenue going to legal battles, what makes Mr. Woods so sure an even larger amount will help?

A better solution would be to instill a fair cap that would send predatory lawyers elsewhere, but then force the guilty health care companies to match the punitive payout, dollar-for-dollar, into an account that covers tax incentives for health care companies with cleaner negligence records. The crooked homes go under, and the good homes profit and expand their operations to fill the vacuum—capitalism at its finest.MARSHALL WEBERmarshallbweber@gmail.com (Nashville)

CorrectionIn the article “Death to Damages” (Feb. 21), we incorrectly reported the 2006 profits of National Healthcare Corp. The company actually posted $36.7 million in profits that year. We regret the error.

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