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Letters to the Editor 

DEFENDING MCPHERSON

Regarding your Year in Review section 'Dubious Achievement Awards' (Dec. 28, 2004), I take issue with your own narrow punitive judgment when proclaiming that Louisiana Senator Joe McPherson was unfit to chair the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.

Basing your judgment on one public statement that takes issue with a proposed realignment of health care resources regarding nursing homes is not only rather harsh, it displays how little the (unknown to the readers) commentator is aware of the entire record of one of Louisiana's most knowledgeable and conscientious legislators.

When the Louisiana Legislature gutted Charity Hospital in 2003, Joe McPherson was one of only two senators who voted to oppose the repeal of our state's then-unquestioned long-term commitment to the poor and uninsured -- as well as to the severe slashing of the Charity Hospital system budget that now imperils its accreditation standards. (The other was Cleo Fields.) To their credit, several legislators -- Democrat and Republican -- have acknowledged in this past session that they were caught unaware of the real scope of the cuts and should've listened to McPherson and Fields.

Senate President Don Hines, a physician, knew full well what he was doing when McPherson was appointed. Having spoken before several legislative bodies and committees as a patient of the Charity Hospital system, I have found few such bodies as receptive to both consumer and contrary views than the Senate Health and Welfare Committee under McPherson's chairmanship.

The state of long-term care and how to realign Louisiana's commitment to its citizens can survive contrary viewpoints. Indeed, it is my view that Gov. Kathleen Blanco has invited such views to be aired in order to be fully scrutinized. I trust that McPherson will rise to the occasion and adjust to the changes demanded and will once again earn his standing as one of Louisiana's leaders in health care policy.

K. Brad Ott
Legislative Committee Chair

Advocates For Louisiana Public Healthcare



FIGHTING WORDS
Contrary to local media coverage of the life and times of the late boxer Joe Dorsey ('Passings,' Dec. 28, 2004), who challenged state law and practices of not allowing boxing matches between fighters of different races, he did fight a 'mixed match' at the Municipal Auditorium on May 18, 1966.

On that date, Dorsey took on Johnny Featherman of Tempe, Ariz., and won by a technical knockout in the sixth of 10 scheduled rounds. In addition to his victory, Dorsey was honored with a 'Joe Dorsey Appreciation Night' and was presented with a plaque by the New Orleans Boxing Club and many gifts from business and civic leaders.

In 1957, Dorsey challenged a 1956 Louisiana law banning competition between white and black athletes. In 1958, he won his case in the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Dorsey, however, boxed until 1960 locally, all bouts against black men. He called it quits until 1966, when he was lured back into the ring in a four-round preliminary event. He had been working as a longshoreman and training and managing amateur fighters.

There were no mixed fights in New Orleans until Oct. 25, 1965, when Kenny Lane of Muskegon, Mich., boxed and lost to Eddie Perkins, a native of Clarksdale, Miss., and a resident of Chicago.

Just prior to that historic event, Perkins said fighting a white boxer in the locally historic bout meant little to him. 'It's just another fight to me,' he said. 'All I want to do is give a good show. Most of my fights are mixed anyway. It doesn't matter to me. In fact, I've never given it any thought.'

The only other mixed fight in New Orleans before the 1965 event occurred Sept. 6, 1892, when George 'Little Chocolate' Dixon knocked out Jack Skelly in eight rounds. This bout was part of a three-day boxing extravaganza, which featured the famous Sullivan-Corbett heavyweight championship battle and a match between lightweights Jack McAuliffe and Billy Myre. After the Dixon win, the local black population made such a to-do over the victory that whites were outraged and vowed never to suffer such humiliation again. Mixed matches would not occur again for 73 years.

Dorsey's challenge to the 1956 law had much wider implications than just in the boxing ring. Professional sports had been integrated, and leagues were looking to the South for new venues. Prior to the Dorsey-Featherman bout, the late boxing promoter 'Leaping' Louie Messina said, 'There wouldn't be all this talk of pro football and domed stadiums today if it weren't for Dorsey.

'All he wanted to do was have an equal chance at fighting some fighters, no matter what their race, when he filed the suit. He had no idea of the all-around benefits to sports in Louisiana that would result.'

Dorsey had two more fights after Featherman, both losses. At age 34, he retired from the ring with a lifetime record of 27 wins, eight losses and one draw.

Nat Belloni

PREACHING TO THE CHOIR

Sara Roahen's last restaurant review brought tears to my eyes ('Shucking Her Responsibilities,' Jan. 4). I hope Gambit realizes they have lost a set of great taste buds and will now be lacking in some incredible writing and, after that last review, perhaps a few tears. Best of luck, Sara!

Barry Burchell

CHECK YOUR BOUQUET You gave a bouquet to E.J. Ourso for giving $300,000 for scholarships to African-American youths (Dec. 21).

If I gave $300,000 for scholarships but only for white youths, would you give me a bouquet, too? Or would you call me a racist? This kind of double standard has got to end some day.

Tom Freeman Jr.

MEMORIES OF CHARLIE'S Thank you so much for the article on Charlie's Steak House ('Keeping the Sizzle,' Jan. 11). I remember going to Charlie's during the boom, when you had to get there early to get a seat and the waiter was a Sicilian. I have forgotten his name, but he retired over a decade ago back to Sicily.

I have left New Orleans three times for the oilfield, and this time may be permanent. I miss Charlie's and the old New Orleans atmosphere it has. Among the missing are Kolb's, Maylie's, Ditcharo's Sandwich Shop and the infamous Offshore Lounge. I dread the day that Uglesich's closes its doors.

What I wouldn't do for a Charlie's steak and salad with the world's best blue cheese dressing here in Kuala Lumpur. Thanks again for the article. It is good to know that there is still Charlie's. Roger Knight

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