The Charity Case

After reading the article in the New York Times about contemporary scalawags who want to destroy Charity Hospital in New Orleans, I am aghast. Have they no hearts? After all the devastation we have suffered because of Katrina, do they think we need more? What we do need is the preservation of that grand old hospital, not just for its historic value but also because it is the right thing to do.

Charity is the linchpin and soul of our medical establishment, and its continued existence is literally vital to the locals who depend upon it for health care.

This quote from the Times strikes the deepest chord in me: "As one of the two oldest hospitals in North America -- it was founded in 1736, the same year as Bellevue Hospital in New York -- Charity has from the beginning been a symbol of a social commitment to the poor, and its wards are empty at a moment when thousands of poor New Orleans residents are struggling to return home and fear that government has abandoned them."

I've spent all day talking to friends about this, and no one is in favor of anything except restoration. One citizen said he had heard LSU wants to move our medical schools to Baton Rouge. If they get away with that, they will choke off any growth in our medical complex here. Even if Charity were not revitalized as a hospital, it's still a huge, wonderful space that can be converted into anything, even housing, because this business of there being asbestos there is hogwash. Another quote from the Times : "Veteran doctors at the hospital said the tiles were made of bagasse, a traditional Louisiana building material made from sugarcane residue."

Are we going to listen to those who don't have the best interests of our city in mind, or to our own people?

Veleka Gray

Blueprints for Success

Mr. Frank Etheridge's story, "The Second Responders" (Dec. 20) really requires a follow-up article. In the follow-up, rather than noting the "lack of cohesion among the far-flung grassroots groups," incredible benefits could be derived if the characteristics of successful organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and Communities in Schools of New Orleans were highlighted for the readership.

These groups develop goals, objectives, and strategies that enable them to successfully address fundamental problems within New Orleans and nationally. An article that focuses on such essential elements could serve as a blueprint for coalescing organizations to use when developing their own infrastructure or when identifying how to leverage their abilities to generate tangible results. A follow-up article such as this could enable the community in a time of renovation.

Paul Bidwell-Hanson

Trailer Parking Lots

There's been a lot of discussion about placing trailers in parks, but what about parking them where it makes more sense: on surface parking. There's plenty of surface parking throughout the city, and with the decreased population and the fact that many cars were destroyed in the storm, one can imagine that there's excess space for trailers to be placed.

The city government should take the lead on this and show the country that housing displaced citizens is more important than reserving parking lots for vehicles. If the government fails to lead the way in this regard, then individuals, private businesses, churches and community centers could show them how it's done. Open up your parking lots. Give people a place to stay.

Michael Rolfus

Vienna, Austria

(Formerly of New Orleans)

Mardi Gras Madness

Did we hear Mr. Clancy DuBos correctly on NPR last Friday? Did he really dismiss Mardi Gras as "eight days of drinking"? It's unbelievable that the editor of New Orleans' alternative weekly needs a remedial course in the local creativity and spirit that go into the krewes -- whether organized or impromptu -- spreading music, beauty and humor throughout the city. People think Mama Dee did a lot of damage to New Orleans. A little obvious schizophrenia is nothing compared to a supposedly authoritative voice pandering to the know-nothings across the country intent on kicking New Orleans in the teeth.

Louisiana had the audacity of exposing the Bush administration's failure, four years after 9/11, to come to the aid of Americans hit by disaster. Karl Rove couldn't have the country focusing on that basic institutional failure, so why not spread a little slime about Louisiana. When is Gambit going to cover that story? Are you at all curious about what is contained in the memos the Bush administration is too cowardly to release?

A brickbat for Mr. DuBos and the high horse he rode in on.

Thomas Zitt