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Banning the burn

I'd like to thank Metro Times for its attention and diligence regarding coverage of the Detroit incinerator issue. We appreciate what you have done to help keep this up front as one of the most important decisions for the city in years.

This is a great day for the city of Detroit. Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams and Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick are to be commended for having the courage to take the city in a new direction. Councilwoman JoAnn Watson showed wonderful leadership; she and her colleagues on the City Council deserve a lot of credit for holding the line on this.

It is time for Detroit to take back the mantle of cultural and economic leadership in this country that has been a tradition over the years. Moving from the tremendously wasteful old business model for trash to a model that embraces innovation, business investment and job creation is forward-thinking and fantastic. —Donele Wilkins, executive director, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, Detroit, www.dwej.org.


Stopping the smoke

We applaud Jack Lessenberry's column ("Shooting straight," Metro Times, July 2) commenting on the Legislature recessing for the summer but failing to take action on the smoke-free bill. He then states, "Somebody needs to pressure them to get this done."

Here's what supporters need to do: Contact Andy Dillon, House speaker (andydillon@house.mi.gov) and urge him to support and allow a vote for HB 4163. This bill mandates that workplaces including restaurants and bars be smoke-free. Also readers should contact their own representatives and do the same (see house.michigan.gov).

HB 4163 was originally passed by the House in May but exempted casinos, bingo halls and other places of public gatherings. Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, although an opponent of the bill, allowed a "free" vote. The Senate made HB 4163 even stronger by stripping out the casinos and other exemptions and on a bipartisan vote passed it overwhelmingly. It was then sent back to the House for a final vote.

It has been stalled in the House with the claim that it will ruin Detroit's casinos because smokers will stop going. Where will they go? Will they go 145 miles north to Mt. Pleasant's Soaring Eagle? Caesars in smoke-free Windsor is not suffering; they just spent $430 million to upgrade their facility.

If HB 4163 is amended again and sent back to the Senate it will likely die in committee as Sen. Bishop has indicated he is through with smoke-free legislation. Therefore, get House Speaker Andy Dillon to pass HB 4163 into law. —Marx Cooper, director, Michigan Citizens for Smoke-Free Air, Pleasant Ridge, smokefreemichigan.org


Informed reading

I am writing in response to your story "Discovering Connie Calloway" (Metro Times, June 18). I really enjoyed how you gave your story a historical perspective. With the size of a school district like Detroit's, it takes at least a year to do the accounting cycle and know where you are financially. Ms. Calloway is doing what should have been done when Superintendent Ken Burnley resigned, and what should have been done again when management of DPS reverted back to an elected school board from the state of Michigan — in other words, doing a top-to-bottom audit of the district finances.

I truly hope Connie Calloway survives, and the DPS maintains its "first-class district" status. —Winston Shines, Detroit


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