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understanding ruthie
Thank you for bringing Ruthie's situation to the public's awareness ("Who Speaks for the Duck Lady?", March 5). I read the story with great interest and feel compelled to point out some errors in the article, as well as some omissions.

The subheading "Who are Ruthie's real friends?" does not ask the right question. Carol, Dawn, Diane -- we are all Ruthie's friends. None of us have anything to gain by trying to do what's in Ruthie's best interest. The real villian here is St. Charles Health Care. There would be no public debate over Ruthie if the nursing home had given her friends access to Ruthie on her birthday. The question is why is the nursing home lying to us?

Throughout the day, the staff of St. Charles Health Care told anyone who called that Ruthie was not there, but was with "family." Twelve people, not 30, decided to caravan to the nursing home after the party. Steve Lindsley was the first to arrive. He entered the home and asked for Ruthie. Again, he was told she was not there. When the rest of the group arrived, it was very clear that St. Charles Health Care was not going to let us see Ruthie. It was at that moment that I decided to bring the video camera inside. And, boy, am I glad I did. Even after the content of the video was made available to the public, the lawyer for St. Charles Health Care, Steve Sullivan, was quoted in Gambit Weekly, "[The nurse] doesn't understand this business about them saying she wasn't there." Well, it's as plain as day in the video!

Without the video, the nursing home may have successfully continued to perpetrate their lies. They claim they were not aware of the party, even though Diane and Ryan Ardon called the home the week prior to the party for the express purpose of notifying them. The nurses were told about it since the assistant administrator, Bruce Sullivan, refused to take or return any of our calls. If they claim no one has control over Ruthie, why then was Dawn Dedeaux called before the birthday party for an opinion? Why didn't the nursing home contact me, Diane or Ryan?

Steve Sullivan claims the incident was a case of "poor planning by party organizers and friction over the camera." I have thrown five birthday parties for Ruthie. A lot of careful planning and time has gone into them. Ruthie always had a blast until this year.

The tone of the article is that Ruthie sometimes complains about the home, but is well adjusted. The truth is, Ruthie complains about it constantly. In fact, Ruthie has escaped from the nursing home twice. On one occasion, it wasn't until the next day that she was found in the Quarter and brought back to the home. She was placed in the nursing home against her will and doesn't realize she has the right to leave it.

The article claims that having a conversation with Ruthie is often a Q&A session with Ruthie providing the answers. At times, Ruthie can talk on and on. It depends on her mood and whose company she's in. It infuriates me when people marginalize Ruthie to sub-human, without any capacity for communication or participation in human relationships. It isn't just Ruthie's friends who have been loyal all these years. Ruthie also has been loyal to her friends. The important thing is to credit her with some humanity and put the necessary extra effort into understanding her.
Rick Delaup

Building in bucktown
I would like to correct a few misconceptions in "Brouhaha in Bucktown" ("Inside Jefferson Parish," Feb. 12). The article reports that Angelo Pesica, president of the East End Bucktown Civic Association, and other members of his organization are concerned that the development of Bucktown with hotels, condominiums and a marina would turn the area into "another Fat City."

The parish has been in the process of developing a waterfront park and a marina at Bucktown Harbor since 1974 and at no time have there ever been any plans for hotels or condominiums. In fact, we chose the current developer we are working with on the basis of a site plan that is low-scale in intensity and includes only marine- and waterfront-related uses. This includes a full-service marina, a small restaurant/retail village and a small office building. All would adhere to a height limit. We are currently working with a responsible developer who has built and operated a successful marina in Venice, Louisiana, and whose sole focus is providing first-class accommodations for boaters and visitors to the marina. The marina will be fully accessible to the public; there will be no fences. The only restricted areas will be the boat docks and slips themselves, due to obvious public/private property security reasons.

I understand concerns about the future of Bucktown. Bucktown is changing and will continue to change with or without Bucktown Harbor Park and Marina. I would like to assure Persica and his group that every effort will be made to maintain Bucktown as a sustainable neighborhood inhabited by families, but this can only be accomplished through the way Bucktown Harbor is being planned -- carefully and with regard to all interested stakeholders.

While it is not possible any longer to "hunt and fish out here" as Persica lamented in the article, I do believe the parish's efforts to construct a waterfront park and marina at Bucktown Harbor will enhance recreational opportunities for all residents of Jefferson Parish. There will even be a fishing pier for those without boats. The marina will not draw a significant amount of traffic to the area, and the proposed improvements to Old Hammond Highway are intended to ease the current traffic problems. Persica said he "could live with the idea of just a marina." That is basically what we are doing, through a mix of marina and low intensity marina-related uses that all residents of Jefferson Parish and the region can enjoy.

Scott D. Adams
Executive Director Jefferson
Parish Economic Development Commission

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